There are several trends that mean great news for e-businesses that have credit card processing, and should prod those sites that are not processing plastic yet.
First, consumers are embracing the ease and convenience of online shopping like never before. With busy schedules and the rising cost of gasoline, the option to shop from home is looking better and better. No sitting in traffic. No cruising through a parking lot looking for a space close to the door. And the store is open when the consumer is ready to shop, whether than be 1 in the afternoon or 1 in the morning.
Second, as people gain greater comfort with the online shopping experience, they are broadening their shopping lists to include "everyday" types of items used to hit the bricks-and-mortar stores for. There are even parts of the country where online grocery shopping – a concept that crashed and burned in the '90s – is making a comeback.
These two factors are great news for e-store owners processing plastic because coming into this year over 80% of all Web purchases were made with a credit card, and that number is expected to jump this year. During the final two months of 2007 card use over the internet accounted for over $ 25 billion.
Another factor to keep in mind is the number of credit cards people carrying. Although the studies vary slightly, the average adult American consumer has at least two of the major credit cards (VISA, American Express, MasterCard or Discover) in their wallet, not to mention at least one debit card with the VISA or MasterCard logo. And this does not take into account store-specific cards, which can also be used on the Web site of that particular store.
However, just because the consumer environment is encouraging when it comes to card usage does not mean that e-merchants should run out and sign with any company out there offering merchant account services. Indeed, there has probably never been a more important time to access all the choices and find a card processing partner that can put together the most cost-effective package for your business.
Before you even consider making a decision on a merchant services vendor, take a look at your own business. If you sell expensive, hard-to-find, antique pocket watches than you probably will not be needing an arrangement to handle the same amount of traffic as, say, a seller of discount golf balls will. The latter will need a smaller per-transaction fee, because (hopefully) their site will be processing dozens of purchases per day. The former can afford a slightly higher rate and not see profits suffer.
The bottom line is you have to know your business inside and out, and then do some careful research to find the best merchant account partner for that business. And it's a buyer's market, so do not be shy about asking a lot of questions and doing a little negotiating to get the best possible deal.