The COVID-19 pandemic has moved us all into unchartered territory. Businesses are adapting in all possible ways to support themselves and one another. With customers shopping from home and ecommerce websites feeling the resulting surge in demand, now is an ideal time to add a website to your business if you’ve had to close the physical door due to recent events.
The first step is, of course, building a website. To sell anything on your website, it needs to be compatible with payment software and other plug-ins designed for doing business. There are many ecommerce platforms to choose from, so you will want to research carefully and make sure the platform you’re considering has what you need and the potential to accommodate your business if it grows.
WordPress, the most widely used website management service, offers WooCommerce as its default ecommerce platform, which is a great starting point. BigCommerce, Shopify, and Clover POS are a few examples of platforms with the ability to integrate with your delivery and inventory management systems. If you don’t have experience, it is usually a great investment to hire a professional website designer, especially if you want to start selling quickly. You never know if it could become your business’s strongest asset down the road.
If this is your first foray into the online marketplace, It’s important to understand the different risks associated with card-not-present transactions. Fraud is most prevalent online and having the proper tools and resources in place to reduce your risk is critical to good business.
Many resources are built into payment gateways to alert you to suspicious order attempts. You can set custom rules to filter orders and handle them appropriately to accept immediately, hold as pending until you manually review them, decline, etc. For instance, many choose to decline all orders from countries that are heavily associated with fraudulent transactions. Or, as you are just getting started, perhaps you want to keep business somewhat local as you work on building shipping carrier relationships in other states. The nice part about selling online is the flexibility you have to make changes as you go.
Once your website is ready, contact the merchant account provider that handles credit card payments for your retail store. Every provider is different, as some specialize in ecommerce and others storefront. Many have specific niches they serve, providing valuable experience. Ask questions and despite the time pressure of the situation, shop around a bit instead of signing an agreement on the spot. Ask for recommendations from fellow business owners before you make a decision. Avoid any binding contracts, confusing terms or pricing structures. We recommend interchange plus or flat rate pricing because they are the most transparent.
Your merchant account provider will set you up with an ecommerce merchant account and payment gateway such as Authorize.net, the most widely used payment gateway in the U.S., to start accepting payments on your website. Authorize.net features an Advanced Fraud Detection Suite where you can set your own criteria for acceptable payments and much more), there are typically a variety of value-added capabilities you can choose to enable such as recurring billing for the subscription or trial/continuity business models, integration and real-time transaction data exchange with your accounting software (Authorize.net offers a free Sync for QuickBooks, but many integration options are available).
Authorize.net is suitable for a wide variety of businesses, especially those that are just getting started online. However, large companies may be interested in options such as Visa’s CyberSource Payment Gateway. BankCard USA offers both of these options, in addition to others, along with free consultations if you have any questions about which payment gateway is right for your business.
Setting your website up as quickly as possible is important, we understand, but failure to implement the proper fraud tools in your haste could result in unexpected expenses. Take advantage of resources built into your payment gateway to protect your new online business.
Authorize.net Advanced Fraud Detection Suite (AFDS)
There are an array of tools available in Authorize.net’s AFDS including:
- Transaction filters and thresholds. You can choose to filter suspicious orders according to your own ruleset. For example, automatically accept an order if the billing and shipping information are the same, whereas hold for manual review orders with mismatching information. While this type of automated tool certainly promotes efficiency, nothing can replace a set of human eyes on the filtered group of orders before fulfilling them.
- Advanced IP Address Tools. Know where orders originate by picking up the customer’s IP address and then referring to any location settings you’ve chosen. For instance, this tool can help you block or allow orders from countries, regions, or individual IP addresses you specify.
- Suspicious Transaction Search. Use unique, filter-specific criteria to search for transactions that have triggered a filter with this advanced lookup system.
- Suspicious Transaction Reports. Authorize.net will log your transaction history and much more, including insightful reports that allow you to recognize trends at a glance. A big-picture view of your company’s activity may springboard a new idea to address a problem area that you may not have noticed as quickly if not highlighted in the report.
- Control Response to Customers. You know your customers better than we do. When a customer gets stopped by one of your filter triggers, such as pending review, write your own message to let them know what’s happening, what to expect, when to expect confirmation that their order was approved or declined, and how you plan to send them that information. A default message is available but the more details you can provide about the process, the less likely that customer is to contact your customer service team looking for answers you could have provided without using any staff hours.
- Email notification. Receive an email notification the moment AFDS is alerted to a transaction considered suspicious by your criteria.
If you have any contact information such as email addresses for your customers, now is a good time to pull that list out and let them know your business is selling online. An email announcement can reach your entire customer base with one click. Social media is a great place to start advertising as well.
Contact us to get set up with an ecommerce merchant account today. Our fraud and chargeback prevention support is complimentary and tailored to meet the needs of your unique business. We also provide free PCI compliance fulfillment, ensuring that you are selling online safely in accordance with payment industry standards.