Get Paid in the Digital Era

Choosing the Right Payment Vendor


Online payment is the obvious solution to a range of transactional challenges in an era when the “cash is king” maxim no longer holds true. Whether ordering via the internet or buying face to face at the corner cafe, a range of transactions – often using smart phones – enables business owners to offer and access simple, intuitive and user-friendly payment solutions.

Pop-ups, start-ups, stall holders and street traders, as well restauranteurs, shop owners, and online traders all face the challenge of getting paid. The range of service providers can seem bewildering. There’s Snap Scan and Zapper with their smart phone applications, and a vast range of online options come from Payfast, PayU and PayGate to name a few.

Rabia Ebrahim is an expert in the South African e-commerce landscape. As the Customer Support Centre Manager at SID Instant EFT, she especially enjoys being part of an innovative culture where staff are mentored to achieve their goals. She is eager to share her excitement for the digital age and knowledge about online payment opportunities with small entrepreneurs, for whom the new payment technologies that revolutionise payment processing.

In a highly competitive arena Rabia advises small entrepreneurs to seek out and work with a payment vendor who understands the needs of merchants as well as developers. She offers the following advice:

Build a website
As more and more businesses move into digital delivery, merchants who build fast, stable and elegantly designed websites are setting themselves apart. These industry leaders are the ones who understand the cost of downtime and just how important a role the payment system plays in excellent customer experience.

In fact, research company Forrester said that, on average, retailers were spending 7% of their online revenues supporting the technology which underpins their e-commerce operations.

This is not surprising considering the cost associated with downtime. One of the most famous examples comes from e-tailer giant Amazon. In 2007, Amazon’s net revenue was $14.8 billion, which translates into $29 000 per minute. In June 2007, the site crashed. In just two hours the estimated cost of that downtime amounted to a staggering $3.48 million.

While South African e-commerce sites are not yet in that league of transactional value, every merchant’s business is put at risk by transactional interruptions.

Communicate change
Payment gateways will, from time to time, issue updates or changes to documentation. These changes must be communicated ahead of time. More particularly, the information must be communicated to the right people and action must be taken immediately. Business owners need to anticipate this in order to avoid transactional failures.

Payment vendors do well to send out change and update notifications in good time, closing the loop promptly with merchants and technical teams.

Choose carefully and work with your developer
Updates and changes are further complicated when processing systems are changed or experience downtime due to high volumes.This situation will often cause panic as the merchant sees multiple failed transaction messages coming through. Their first point of reference will be the developer, who can both explain why this is happening and has a solution at hand.

The key to resolving these kinds of headaches is to have absolute transparency across the ecosystem, between merchants, technical teams, developers and the payment vendor – and to ensure that the right people are looped into the communication chain.

A payment vendor who really understands the needs of merchants and developers builds a support system that can deal with technical questions quickly and thoroughly.

Working closely with developers from the outset can make all the difference. Getting the payment setup and integration right, as well as taking the time to explain the system, means developers are far less likely to encounter complications and delays later on.

Answer the phone!
Anyone who has ever dealt with a help desk will understand the frustration of waiting endlessly and, when you’ve finally been heard, being passed from person to person as you try find someone with the right expertise to resolve your problem.

Having a support team who are able to answer the phone promptly and then can handle any level of query from the most basic, to the highly technical, means you can resolve your problem in a single engagement.

Being able to choose the means of communication is also helpful. Multiple communication channels allow merchants and developers to engage in a way they prefer. Telephone, email and live chat should be a standard in any offering.

Transactional websites
As business increasingly goes online, e-commerce is no longer the sole domain of the Business-to-Consumer organisation. Global trends show that even the traditional Business-to-Business companies are developing e-commerce platforms and websites to engage their clients.

The age of online self-service is here. When it comes to delivering transactional websites which are stable and profitable, merchants will need to be incredibly selective about who they choose to work with.

Every since Mark Shuttleworth launched the ground-breaking software that propelled Thawte to the forefront of technology, financial safety in e-transactions has become increasingly a realistic, attainable and affordable option. As you select your online payment gate, ensure that your provider can guarantee your and your clients’ safety and security.

Recommending a payment vendor which not only delivers excellent rates and service, but which understands the needs of the merchants and developer for security above all, will mean a better build and support experience – and ultimately, a more profitable business.

rabia-ebrahim-sid_logoRabia Ebrahim joined SID in 2008 as junior technical support. A year later she headed up customer service and support. Monitoring daily operations and ensuring service level agreements are met, she manages customer-facing teams handling integration and technical support. Rabia is driven to establish and maintain processes that achieves customer service excellence.