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Running an online store is a great way to start up your own business. It can be done wither as a side hustle on top of your day job, or as a full-time occupation. In an age where ecommerce sales account for a larger proportion of general retail every year, it’s a field that’s ripe with opportunity. However, it can also get fiercely competitive. One of the easiest ways to gain a competitive edge is to make it easier and more convenient for your customers to pay you. And that means choosing the right merchant services. 

Yet, in your zeal to get ahead of the competition and build value for your clientele, it’s easy to choose a merchant service arbitrarily or without being in full possession of the facts. Those who fail to do their homework can find themselves making these common mistakes which are best avoided when choosing a merchant service…

Choosing a service that won’t give you fast access to your money

There are some circumstances under which a processor may freeze your money. In fact, in the early days of ecommerce, it was not uncommon for payment processors to freeze their clients’ funds for several weeks if they noticed any suspicious activity. 

While this practice is less common now, it still behoves business owners to carefully read their merchant service’s anti-fraud policy. Today’s services need a good reason to freeze your funds. What’s more, clearing a valid sale that accidentally triggered their anti-fraud responses should be a quick and easy process. It should neither lock you out of your account nor keep you from your livelihood.

Forgetting that you might need setup assistance and ongoing support

When choosing a merchant service, you’ll likely be drawn to one that has a quick, easy and intuitive setup so that you can get trading as soon as possible.

But be sure to check that the service still offers access to support whenever you need it. The best merchant services offer support on everything from getting set up to problems with sales transactions. We no longer live in a 9 to 5 society and you should opt for a service that offers support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Failing to guard against hidden fees

Low rates are attractive, to be sure. After all, what new entrepreneurs doesn’t want to cut down on overhead costs wherever possible? That said, be wary of rates that look too good to be true. The last thing you want to do is get locked into a contract with a merchant service that claims to offer amazing rates but closer inspection reveals this to be their “qualified” rate.

These lower rates tend only to apply to certain types of cards which are physically swiped through a card terminal. They use much higher “non-qualified” rates for online transactions.

Not choosing a service with enough payment options

Customers tend to have a certain way that they like to pay. It helps them to manage their finances if they know how much money has come out and from where. What’s more, not all customers are happy to use their credit cards online. They prefer alternative payment options which are fast, convenient and secure.

Make sure that your merchant service offers a wide range of payment options which are as diverse as your customers’ needs. Otherwise you will lose them to your competitors.

Choosing a service that doesn’t do enough for your data security

All ecommerce businesses need to take active steps to guard against fraud. However, implementing your own fraud protection systems can be costly and time consuming. Be wary of rates that seem too good to be true, even if they aren’t “qualified” rates.

Because a service provider that seems too cheap to be for real may be skimping on security provision and data security services. Take a close look at your service’s fraud protection measures and opt for the most secure service you can within your budget.

You shouldn’t have to compromise security for affordability.

Choosing a service with insufficient fraud protection

What will your provider do if a customer tried to pay you with funds stolen from a hacked credit card? What if they claim they never received a product when, in reality, they did?

These transactions are usually fairly inconsequential, but they can certainly add up. Choose a merchant service that will work with you to prevent fraudulent transactions from eating into your profit margins. 

Assuming that you have to take care of your own PCI Compliance

Finally, PCI Data Security Compliance is absolutely essential when doing business in the U.S.. This pertains to how you process and store your customers’ credit card data. 

However, wrapping your head around the complexities of this system and establishing your own PCI Compliance system can be difficult and time consuming. You can make your life much easier by choosing a merchant service that is PCI compliant.