Are You Utilizing the Internet to Process Payments?
The internet has changed a great deal about the way we do business. One of the most important is in the way it has enabled even the smallest business to operate on a much wider scale. However, this all comes at a price. Getting online means finding a way to process payments – and for small businesses that’s not always straightforward.
Around the world, e-business is opening up new frontiers to entrepreneurs all the time. For example, in South Africa, 70% of shoppers use the internet or expect to do so in the future. Even in poorer African countries such as Rwanda, there are concerted moves in the pipeline to increase the provision of high-speed internet.
The implications for small business are revolutionary. Given the ability to work online they can dramatically expand their reach. From being a tiny Mom & Pop operation, you can sell to anyone in the world – as long as you’re able to ship the products to them.
However, this creates a number of challenges. If you’re a small business working across borders it is quite likely that you’ll be considered a high-risk proposition by merchant account providers. There are huge numbers of companies out there who simply do not have access to these kinds of services because they have been categorised a high risk.
There are some providers out there who will be happy to work with you, but these can be more expensive. Costs can come in greater fees, and restrictions on revenue for reserve accounts to safe-guard payments. All this can have an impact on your profitability and cash flow. It’s important to shop around until you find a provider who is the right for you.
Be Seen to Be Safe
You have to also consider the customer. Although we have become much more comfortable with e-commerce as consumers the risks are all too apparent. Barely a week goes by without a fresh scandal involving online fraud. Even large companies aren’t immune to security breaches. For customers looking at a small company they have never heard of, making a payment can be a leap of faith.
You can reassure them by providing clear and concise information about your payment processes and proving why they are secure. Trusted third party sources are one route, but if all else fails include some content about what happens to their money and the guarantees they have that they will be safe.
The final thing to remember is that, for all the bold claims you make, you have to follow through with them. In business there is an old saying “you should under promise and over deliver.” In the online world it’s all too easy to get this the wrong way around. Even the smallest operation can develop an impressive site – something which gives the impression of a larger and more professional outfit than you actually have. The problem is, your customers will be expecting the fast and slick operation they’d expect from a large company. Whatever happens, don’t make it seem that you can do more than you can.
The internet, therefore, is a whole new world of opportunity, but it’s one which you should approach with caution. Make sure you know what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. In that way you’ll be able to make the web work for you.