What Is a Gateway and Why Do You Need One for E-Commerce?

Has anyone tried to buy a poster lately?  Like, at a poster store? Recently I set out to buy some new posters for my son’s room and quickly found that the poster and novelty stores of my youth are now sadly obsolete. Skeptical of the quality and sizes of the prints, I avoided buying online until reality set in and I realized there was no other choice.

The reality of today is we have stepped in to the age of e-commerce where most businesses will suffer if they aren’t selling or accepting payments online. In 2012 E-commerce sales hit the $1 trillion mark. That is $1 trillion dollars of transactions taking place on the World Wide Web.

This is exactly why you need a payment gateway. Because to stay competitive in today’s market you should to be conducting business online and to conduct business online, you need a payment gateway.

What is a Gateway?

The definition of a gateway can get pretty technical, so I will try and make it simple for you. A payment gateway is basically a middleman, or a “plug” that transfers information between a business payment portal (like your website, or mobile site) and the payment processing company.
Let’s use the plug analogy.  Think of a payment gateway as you would an electrical outlet or plug in your wall. If the gateway is the outlet then the plug is your e-commerce site and the electric company is the payment processor.

How Do I Choose The Right Payment Gateway?

It’s extremely important that while choosing a gateway you keep the user experience in mind. If you had a store, you wouldn’t want to make the checkout process at the register to be complicated and tedious for your customers, would you? Then why do it to your online customers?  How many times have you been on a website ready to make a purchase and suddenly you need to log in, create an account, verify an email and so on, just to buy something?

Looking for a New Payment Provider? We can Help.

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Do you follow through with those purchases? I don’t. Don’t lose customers and sales because you failed to do your gateway homework, or just decided to sign up with Paypal.

Here are some guidelines to follow in your pursuit of a quality gateway:

  • Can the gateway be integrated in to your website completely or will customers have to leave your website entirely to make a purchase?
  • Do customers need to set up some kind of account to purchase your products?
  • Is it intuitive enough for less tech savvy customers to navigate easily?
  • What kind of fees do they charge? Are there setup fees? Do they charge per transaction, and how much?
  • How quickly do you receive your funds once your customers have made a purchase or a payment?
  • What security features do they support? Is it secure? Will the URL of your payment page be a https (s for secure)? Do they offer additional protection in the case of fraud?

Implementing a quality, secure gateway can be confusing at first, but once it is integrated with your site and business is booming, you will be thankful you invested the time in doing your homework.

Photo courtesy of: www.picserver.org