Brick-and-mortar stores are still very much with us, but it’s undeniably true that ecommerce is an increasingly popular shopping option among contemporary consumers. It’s no big mystery why this is the case. While in days past shoppers had few options, apart from getting in the car and driving to the place of business that sold the goods they needed, these days they can do just about anything on their laptops or smartphones. This means that businesses are losing out on significant opportunities if they aren’t selling their goods and services through the Internet.

However, it should be noted that ecommerce, as it is called, is still more or less in its early days, and there are a number of issues that businesses frequently encounter with online payment processing platforms. One problem is that poorly configured and inadequately monitored ecommerce platforms are vulnerable to exploitation by malicious hackers.

Another issue lies with the difficulty of designing a payment portal that accommodates the shopping preferences of today’s busy, picky consumers. Fortunately, many businesses have managed to surmount these problems and successfully set up an ecommerce payment processing solution that substantially boosts their bottom line.

Here are some tips for business owners who strive to get the most out of the growing ecommerce trend.

Don’t Force Customers to Make a Website Account

It happens all the time: Consumers stumble upon some useful piece of merchandise for sale on an unfamiliar site, only to experience a last-minute change of heart when they attempt to purchase the item. What went wrong? The price was reasonable, the payment card was of a type accepted by the site, and company was only too happy to ship the product to the intended address.

The problem was that the customer could not purchase the item without making a new account, a process that involves creating a unique ID and password in addition to providing a number of additional pieces of personally identifiable information. It’s a lot of bother for what is likely to be a one-time transaction with the website. It also potentially exposes the customer’s sensitive data to any hackers who succeed in penetrating the site’s cyber-defenses.

Instead of making customers create yet another online account, give them a Guest checkout option. Many online shoppers will thank you for this.

Computer mouse in a cart

Accept Many Types of Cards

Nowadays, consumers are looking for options—they want a wide selection of goods and services to choose from. This preference for flexibility extends to ecommerce payment platforms as well. Ideally, you should offer your customers as many different ways as possible to give you their money.

Accepting only Visa and MasterCard payments isn’t enough. You should also consider expanding payment options to include American Express and Discover credit cards, as well as debit cards. Some consumers have grown fond of PayPal, which is used by a large number of small merchants; this is another option worth thinking about.

Finally, bank transfers provide another payment method you should consider supporting. Again, the more payment options you can supply, the better.

Entering Credit Card Information into Computer

Manually Check Large Transactions

Credit card fraud can lead to major headaches for ecommerce businesses, particularly smaller operations that can’t comfortably sustain serious losses. There are, happily, a number of strategies for minimizing your chances of becoming victimized in this way; one of them is to take a close look at any big-money transactions made through your business’s ecommerce website.

If something odd is in progress—like an established customer suddenly deciding to ship merchandise to another country—you can try to contact the consumer and verify the transaction. Failure to perform due diligence may cost you in the long run, as chargeback fees can be substantial.

Similarly, it may be a good idea to perform manual checks of any transaction in which the billing address (where the cardholder lives) does not match the shipping address (where merchandise is to be sent). These types of transactions aren’t always fraudulent, but a non-trivial number of them are. Take a look at these cases before you ship valuable goods.

Online Shopping

Highlight and Explain Checkout Errors

There are few Internet experiences more annoying than filling out a lengthy form, hitting the Send button, and getting an error message accusing you of having made some mistake. The phone number may have been improperly formatted (some web forms demand hyphens, some don’t), the ZIP code could have tripped up the system (not every form understands those optional four-digit extensions), or something else happened that made it impossible for the site to process the information.

Matters get considerably more irritating when you can’t figure out where you went wrong—there’s nothing but a vague rejection message demanding that you do something or other to make it right.

When this sort of thing occurs, you need to ensure that the incorrect information is highlighted by the system—for example, put a big red box around the inaccurate ZIP code, with a text explanation of the issue.

One really easy way to kill conversions is to supply only a generic error message, forcing the consumer to play a guessing game. Don’t do that to your customers—tell them exactly how to correct their mistake. Otherwise you can expect a significant number of customers to simply abandon their carts in exasperation before completing the purchase.

In App Shopping

Place Limits on Declined Transactions

While you want to help customers fill out shopping forms correctly, it’s also prudent to limit the number of times they can hit the Send button without getting their accounts automatically locked or triggering some other event that prevents further attempts in the immediate future. Why is this? Frequently, declined transactions can often be traced to a hacker who is attempting to use another person’s card in an unauthorized manner.

The rejected transactions may be due to the hacker’s efforts to guess certain types of sensitive information that they don’t possess—in many cases, they have the targeted person’s address and credit card numbers, but they lack the Card Verification Code (the three-digit number on the back of most payment cards). This forces the hacker to simply guess the CVC number over and over until they hit the right one. It’s a strategy that can work if there is no mechanism to lock the account after a certain number of failed authentication attempts. That’s what you need on your checkout page.

Cart on a bag

Use IP Tracking Software

Many hackers are located in foreign countries. Utilizing IP tracking software enables you to detect suspicious activity on your site. Often, your payment processing company will give you the site tools you need to block purchases from IPs linked to individuals with dubious intentions, or from individuals in certain overseas locations.

Bear in mind that a lot of cybercriminals are aware of IP tracking software and prefer to use proxies to circumvent them. This is another area where your payment processing company may be able to help, by detecting proxies and allowing you to take appropriate precautionary action.

Look for Instant Funding Opportunities

One of the common problems that ecommerce businesses face is the delay in getting their funds. Credit card merchant service transactions sometimes take days to process—this can be a serious burden on small businesses that need quick access to their cash for critical functions like payroll. The best practice is to minimize these processing delays.

For a lot of merchants struggling to establish themselves, ecommerce is a big, scary new world full of pitfalls. Yet, with a little due diligence and help from an experienced merchant processing company like Leap Payments, it’s possible not only to survive but to thrive in our increasingly competitive Internet-based economy.