If you are like most entrepreneurs, you’ve frequently encountered situations when a customer wants to buy one of your products or services, but they are unable to do so because of a shortage of cash. In the end, both of you are disappointed: The potential buyer doesn’t get what they want, and you miss out on a valuable sale, and perhaps, even a much-valued, long-term customer. Of course, the days of informal credit in which store owners wrote what a person owed on a slip of paper and kept it in a drawer for later payback are over. However, there are still ways you can create a win-win for both your customers and your business. All you need to do is to set up a payment plan.
Payment financing vs. Paypal.
Virtually anyone can sign up for PayPal and accept money via that vehicle. By doing so, you provide customers with a way to buy goods and services from your website. However, this payment method does not offer the same credibility that comes with offering a professional shopping cart. What’s more, you can exponentially increase your appeal if you also offer your customers the ability to pay over time with a convenient financing plan.
Tip 1: Find the best professional payment solution.
If you have never traveled down this road before, you are likely to make the same mistake most other first-timers do: contacting your bank first. Although most of us trust these solid financial institutions implicitly because they have been fixtures throughout our lives, they are not the best place to turn for payment solutions. This is because they tend to offer over-priced packages that force you to become locked into restrictive, long-term contracts. In today’s fluid business environment, you cannot afford to be trapped in this way.
Instead, pick a processor that has no setup fees and does not charge you on a monthly basis. One option is Inovio, an experienced and innovative company that is globally recognized, and works seamlessly with numerous shopping cart and virtual terminal technologies. Keep in mind, however, that any processor you choose will charge a small percentage of every transaction.
Tip 2: Set up your shopping cart.
Similar to looking at payment processors, there is a wide selection of cart options from which you can choose. Take your time to find the one that is best for your business and website. Be sure that whichever one you pick is easy to use and allows you to accept online payments for digital services or physical products. If you want to offer payment plans, decide on a cart that lets you set up the financing for customers, either domestically or internationally, depending on your preference.
Tip 3: Set your currencies.
Although carts vary, all of them will include settings that require you to select your country of origin and the various currencies you want to accept. Once you have completed this step, you will want to integrate your cart with your Inovio account so that customer credit or debit card payments can be funneled back to you.
Tip 4: Add your products.
The time has now come to add all of your various products and services to the cart so customers can purchase them. This entails loading product images, prices, and product types (digital or physical). Examples of digital products include e-books, webinars, and online courses. Physical products include tangible items such as books, jewelry, and phone cases, as well as services that you provide like accounting, music lessons, etc.
Tip 5: Determine the look of your cart.
Achieving a professional and streamlined appearance is more than just aesthetically pleasing. Customers will quickly abandon a cart if the purchasing process is too complicated or if the site is ambiguous or confusing. The shopping cart that you choose will provide you with various options that you can tweak in order to customize your buyers’ experiences. These include cart templates, the text on your buttons, bullet points, bullet point images, and customer testimonials. You can also determine which types of payments you will accept, set up recurring billing options, integrate the cart with your email provider, add a link to thank-you or coupon pages, add tracking code information, and provide a link to your terms and conditions and return policy.
Tip 6: Provide options.
Customers are much more likely to follow through with payments if the amounts are small and regular. Furthermore, they like having the flexibility to determine their own payment schedule. Therefore, allow them to decide how often and how much they will pay — within reason, of course.
Tip 7: Expect the occasional glitch.
No matter how conscientious a customer may be, problems do arise from time to time. Don’t panic or get discouraged if you receive the occasional “insufficient funds” notice. Instead, accept this as an inevitable part of doing business. Then, have strategies in mind to handle the situation when it arises.
Tip 8: Stay in touch with customers.
In order to keep reversals to a minimum, it is important that you maintain regular contact with your customers who are on subscription or payment plans. Without a doubt, this requires extra time and attention on your part, but it pays off in the long run. If you simply don’t have the resources to administer this task, you might consider hiring an outside payment consultant.
Tip 9: Maintain security.
Whenever you take customer money or transmit their payments, you must be in compliance with Payment Card Industry data security standards (PCI DSS). If you fail to meet or exceed these thresholds, you could be held financially liable should a data breach occur, and you could even lose the ability to accept credit cards. PCI compliance is not an option; it is a requirement.
Whether you use a virtual terminal or a physical reader, and whether you have a physical store or only a website, offering customers as many secure payment options as possible is good for everyone involved. When you do, you can increase both the predictability and the amount of your cash flow, retain more customers , and provide options that many of your competitors do not. Start offering payment plans to your customers today!