What are the options to receive payments from my website?

Eva Pettifor


May 2013


Selling online can seem daunting. It's often wiser to start off with something basic if you're dabbling in a new product or service offering. The pros and cons of the most popular methods of receiving payments from your website are below.

1. Enquiry/booking form

The simplest, quickest and lowest cost option - you can use your website as a 'brochure' and have an online form to collect enquiries and registrations of interest. You will need to then follow up the client for further details and payment arrangements usually over the phone.

In addition to the form to collect info, you could also list payments methods such as: BPay code to pay into your credit card (check with your bank), direct deposits (ie you supply your bank account details) and cheque/money orders. Ideal for small business that don't need a full ecommerce function yet.

Advantages: easy and quick to set up (inexpensive) on most websites, simple to use and follow up, no payment fees or charges relating to the website.

Disadvantages: payments are not accepted online instantly – there is a manual procedure to follow up. This would be cumbersome for large companies with high online sales volume wanting to be more automated.

2. Third party payment system eg "PayPal"

The best option for most businesses starting an online shop. Making a payment from your website with this option requires the client to click a link which goes to a secure PayPal payment form. Payment processing, fraud protection and tools to accept payments are all included. Order is processed and payment goes to your PayPal account which you can then transfer to your own bank account at intervals suitable to you. Great for small to medium sized businesses or those wanting to try an online shop for the first time.

Paypal provides this service but make their money by charging 2.4% + 30 cents on each transaction (as at 7/4/06).

Its easy to set up. You would need to sign up online for a PayPal Business Account (this is free). This is simple and you need to provide details such as your contact details, email address, bank account details (for deposits) and specifying the types of payments you wish to receive.

Advantages: relatively easy and quick to set up on both basic brochure style websites and eShops. PayPal gives your website a true e-commerce web presence with shopping cart style web pages and it is a secure, safe and well respected brand. PayPal handles all the private data on their own secure server, so you do not have access to your customer's credit card number. Your customers do not have to have a PayPal account to use the service.

Disadvantages: Paypal takes a percentage of each sale (although they are providing a service so that is fair enough). This cost is usually lower than other payment methods however. The payment form itself is not on your website so may not suit some businesses if they want a seamless experience for their users.

3. Credit card payment gateway eg "eWay"

You will need a merchant bank account to accept credit cards (subject to approval from your bank) and an internet merchant account. This option is good for high volume sales.

The pricing and procedure will vary from bank to bank.

Ongoing fees include bank fees and charges, payment gateway (usually a yearly fee) and secure server certificate - SSL (yearly fee).

Advantages: Provides a seamless experience as payment information is entered on your own website's secure payment page. Funds are deposited directly into your bank account rather than in a holding account that requires you to transfer manually.

Disadvantages: Can be more expensive although not a great deal more if you shop around. The set up procedure is longer for you as the applicant and also for the web designer to hook up and test on the website itself. Your website content will need to meet certain requirements.

Eva Pettifor

Founder and project manager at Darwin Web


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