If you haven’t previously used an internet merchant account then you’re probably not familiar with the different ways you can use internet payment gateways to accept payments from your customers.
If you are currently using ONE of these four methods, then perhaps this will open your eyes to some of the possibilities that you can take advantage of.
There’s 4 ways to use a payment gateway along with your merchant account.
- Virtual Terminal
- API Redirect
- API Integration
- Smart Phone/Mobile Phone
This is a stand-alone web interface that allows you to enter a customer profile and charge a card through an internet based web portal.
You can access the web portal through ANY internet based device (PC or MAC), tablet device or mobile phone. Simply navigate to a specific website address and plug in your username and password and you’re ready to start charging cards for your product or service.
The customer never sees the web portal so this is a “back office” type of solution used mostly in service businesses or non-retail settings.
Most virtual terminals will allow you to email an invoice to your customer so it eliminates the need to print a receipt after each transaction, but you can if you so choose.
A wonderful feature of the virtual terminal solution is the recurring charges function. Most gateway services will allow for the ability to charge a customer each month for a subscription or payment plan without the need to re-enter the credit card number each month.
Yes, this is the wonderful “set it and forget it” method. You can set a start date AND an end date so all you have to do is monitor whether the money is going into your bank account.
A company like NMI.com uses a Vault Function to accomplish this recurring billing and is an add on feature that simply needs to be activated. Authorize.net and other gateway providers offer similar functionality.
One of the best features of using a payment gateway is that you virtually eliminate the security risk of having your customers’ card numbers stolen from your server.
API redirect works by simply placing a “Buy” button on your website that takes your customer to a web page that is hosted by your payment gateway provider.
So here’s the flow – the web links below are for illustrative purposes only:
1- Customer sees payment page at www.bancardsales.com/buy-a-product-now-payment-page-for-example
2- The customer gets redirected to a page hosted by your payment gateway provider: www.nmi.com/sample-secure-hosted-payment-page-for-example#
3- The customer completes their order and then is redirected back to the thank you page at: www.bancardsales.com/thank#%-You-Page-for-example-*&#$
With the API redirect function the transaction passes through the securely encrypted payment gateway and the customer never enters their card number on your website.
This option is very nice for a business that does not have an IT team or a web developer on staff. Often times a button generator is included with the payment gateway options menu and all you have to do is copy and paste it into the webpage that you want it to be on.
This process eliminates the need for elaborate shopping cart creation.
So again, the API redirect function takes your customer from a webpage on your site, redirects them to a payment page which is hosted by the payment gateway provider, and then sends them back to your thank you page on your website after the purchase is made.
This is the most comprehensive solution to processing payments online.
With full integration the payment gateway provider “plugs” into the shopping cart solution that you have chosen (or the shopping cart that your IT/Web development team has built) and the customer completes their transaction all within the pages of your company website.
The customer never leaves your site so you can control everything that the customer sees including advertisements for other products or services that you offer.
The diagram shown here is taken from the NMI.com developers website and it illustrates the transaction process flow between your company website, the customer and the payment gateway provider. (image credit given to NMI.com)
This method of utilizing the payment gateway is typically used by large online retailers or businesses that have multiple products or services to offer to their customers.
Smart Phone/Mobile Phone Integration
The first three methods of using a payment gateway can all be accessed by a smart phone device that has internet connection.
Mobile phone integration is listed in a separate category because you can use the payment gateway’s app to process customer payments “in the field” by plugging in a card swiper. By utilizing a card swiping mechanism, you will receive swiped or retail rates which are lower than internet merchant account rates by about 0.50%.
With this option, the customer only sees the interface when being asked to sign for their purchase and the transaction is controlled by you or one of your employees.
This is useful for businesses who are service oriented and are out on location selling products perhaps at a customer’s home or at a trade show.
This option uses the payment gateway solution so if you have the need to sell products online (who doesn’t these days) and you want to process transactions in a mobile setting then you can marry the two together by just using one payment gateway provider and plugging your merchant account into it.
Select Your Method
So, you can see there are multiple options to processing payments online and all of them are pretty easy to set up if you understand the process.
If you would like help configuring your merchant account so that it is optimized to fit your business please get in touch with us by filling out the LET’S TALK form.