By Neal Taparia, Contributor
Digital businesses and e-commerce are having a moment. While there has been a long-term trend away from brick-and-mortar businesses, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has put this shift into overdrive as consumers look for more convenience, safety, and flexibility in the way they shop.
According to one report, the pandemic has accelerated the shift toward e-commerce by five years, and the consensus is that the changes will be permanent. For businesses large or small, this means re-evaluating future plans to favor digital offerings.
Part of this retooling is to offer payment options that cater to your users and help drive transactions. These days, consumers have countless payment options available to them, and they'll avoid businesses that don't let them have it their way. Offering a standard credit card check out may be holding you back.
You likey don’t need a primer on payment processors like PayPal, Square, or Apple Pay. However, there are other options to consider, many of which can save you costs and drive more sales. Here are three of the best to consider:
1. Consumer finance options
One of the ways that big e-commerce businesses like Amazon keep customers locked into their ecosystem is by offering financing options that spread out the cost of large purchases. Big companies have the financial flexibility to wait for a customer to pay down a balance without worrying about cash flow.
However, startups can now offer similar financing options by partnering with companies like Affirm or QuadPay, meaning even the smallest retailers can give customers the ability to make a purchase and pay it off over time.
Moreover, the costs for offering this payment option is similar to typical credit card processing fees. Customers gain access to a credit line with an interest rate that's typically in line with what an average credit card offers.
This translates into bigger, more frequent purchases, and the money arrives in your account within two days on average.
2. Digital currency payment options
A few years back, businesses were scrambling to accept cryptocurrencies as payment for goods and services. After the initial rush many companies deprioritized supporting digital currencies. Today, only around 36% of small and medium sized businesses in the US currently accept cryptocurrencies as payment.
However, new innovations provide better, easier and more cost effective ways to accept crypto payments than ever before. Companies like TrustSwap offer simple, API-based solutions that are inexpensive and support a variety of cryptocurrencies.
For that reason, it may be time for businesses to reconsider accepting cryptocurrencies as a form of payment, especially as they become more commonplace.
3. International payment options
One of the big benefits of e-commerce is that it allows businesses to access markets that they otherwise couldn't reach. But to do that, it's necessary to accept payments in a variety of currencies. While many businesses turn to well-known companies like PayPal to handle such transactions, they're not always the best option, particularly for small startups.
In many cases, low-volume merchants can get a better deal from less well-known processing platforms without sacrificing any flexibility for their customers. Companies like Skrill allow businesses to accept payment in over 40 different currencies, often at lower rates than PayPal.
For even greater international flexibility, companies like Payoneer offer businesses the ability to have country-specific bank accounts to accept payments in those markets. This not only simplifies international sales tracking, but it also helps manage tax liabilities and other location-specific merchant issues.
On the cutting edge
There's no right or wrong set of digital payment options. Because there are so many options now available to choose from, startups should mix and match to find the right set of offerings for their specific markets. They may even find ways to access markets that the competition isn't paying attention to.
Ultimately, you should do what’s best for your customers. If they want to pay in their local currency, give them that option. If they want to pay in installments, you can now easily offer that service. If they prefer digital currencies, you can easily support that too.
By focusing on the consumer and their payment preferences, not only do you create a positive buying experience, you’ll increase conversions and payments. In a competitive marketplace, every dollar, no matter the type or currency, counts.
This article was originally published By Neal Taparia, forbes.com.
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