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May 24, 2023 | 6 minute read

The Ultimate Guide to eCommerce Payment Processing

written by Kirsten Aebersold

eCommerce is booming, and with more people shopping online than ever before, having a streamlined and efficient payment process is essential. However, with so many payment methods and processors available, and so many new payment trends, it can be overwhelming to know where to start.

When you have a reliable eCommerce payment processor, platform, or service provider, you spend less time maintaining the back end of your commerce experience and more time managing orders, improving customer experience, and expanding your business. Having a great payment processing setup gives you the freedom to work on business priorities, such as landing new clients and providing customers with a sterling experience.

In this ultimate guide to eCommerce payment processing, you’ll learn everything you need to know about accepting payments online – from understanding the different types of payment methods to choosing the best payment processor for your business.

What is eCommerce Payment Processing?

eCommerce payment processing is the process of accepting online payments. eCommerce payment processing first involves the customer inputting payment information, which a payment gateway validates and uses to process the transaction via a merchant account. The goal of eCommerce payment processing is to provide a secure, reliable, and convenient way for customers to pay for online purchases – while also ensuring that sellers receive payment quickly and efficiently.

As digital commerce has grown, reliable and secure payment solutions are necessary to handle the high volume of online transactions. eCommerce payment processing is now crucial for any online business, as it allows merchants to accept payments from customers worldwide. And with the growth of mobile and digital payments, eCommerce payment processing is set to become even more important in the future.

What is a Payment Gateway?

A payment gateway is a software application that makes it easy for businesses to accept and process customer payments online. Payment gateways act as a bridge between a merchant's website and the financial institution handling the customer's payment, ensuring that sensitive information such as credit card details are appropriately encrypted. 

While most payment gateways come with fees, there are many different options available on the market today. Businesses can choose the one that best fits their needs and start accepting payments online quickly and easily.

Payment Gateway Examples

With a bevy of choices available, choosing the best payment gateway for your business can be hard. Here are some of the leading payment gateways that could fit your unique business needs:

  • PayPal: PayPal is a popular online payment gateway that allows individuals and businesses to make and receive payments online. Users can link their bank account, credit card, or debit card to their account and use it to make or receive payments for goods and services.
  • Stripe:Stripe integrates with business websites and mobile apps, allowing customers to enter their payment information and complete a transaction securely. Stripe often processes payments, deducts fees, and transfers the funds directly to a business's bank account.
  • Square: Square is a digital payment processing platform with a range of features and services for businesses, including point-of-sale (POS) hardware and software, online payment processing, invoicing, and analytics. The platform is designed to be easy to use and accessible to businesses of all sizes, with no setup fees, monthly fees, or long-term contracts.
  • Elastic Path Payments Powered by Stripe:Elastic Path Payments, powered by Stripe, is a fantastic all-around eCommerce payment processing solution for businesses of all sizes. With a robust and secure payment processing platform and a broad range of plug-and-play integrations and solutions, this state-of-the-art payment system will propel your business to a new level of efficiency and profitability.    

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Factors to Consider When Choosing an eCommerce Payment Gateway

While many payment gateway options are available, brands should still look for a few specific factors when choosing a payment gateway. Here are some of the key factors brands should consider when choosing an eCommerce payment processing system: 

  • Security: To protect your business from the stress and potential liability of a data breach, be sure that your payment gateway is as committed to security as you are and can protect your business’s and clients’ sensitive information. 
  • Integration: Your payment gateway should seamlessly integrate with your website or eCommerce platform to ensure a smooth checkout process for customers.
  • Fees: Consider the fees charged by the payment gateway, including transaction, monthly, and setup fees, and make sure they’re affordable for your business.
  • Customer Support: Pick a payment gateway that offers reliable customer support to address any unforeseen issues during the payment process.

What is a Payment Processor in eCommerce?

A payment processor is a third-party service provider that facilitates transactions between a merchant and their customers. Payment processors handle the authorization, processing, and settlement of payment transactions in a secure environment. 

eCommerce payment processors act as a bridge between the merchant's bank account and the customer's bank account, ensuring the secure transfer of payments. While payment gateways act as a conduit between the merchant and the payment processor, it is the payment processor that handles the actual transaction.

Best Practices for eCommerce Payment Security

Making online purchases is simple and convenient, but has historically also come with risks, particularly regarding payment security. As a result, businesses need to take extra steps to secure their eCommerce payment processing systems and protect their (and their customers’) sensitive information. Here are eCommerce payment security best practices:

  • Use HTTPS and SSL encryption for security: HTTPS and SSL encryption ensures that all data transmitted between the customer's browser and the website is encrypted and can’t be intercepted by hackers.
  • Implement two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring customers to enter a code or use a separate device to confirm their identity before completing a transaction.
  • Store customer data securely: Proper storage of customer data incorporates a range of techniques, including using strong passwords, limiting access to sensitive data, and regularly backing up data to prevent loss in the event of a breach.
  • Conduct regular security audits and updates: Security audits and updates involve regularly reviewing and updating security protocols, testing for vulnerabilities, and staying up-to-date with the latest security threats and technologies.

Streamline Your eCommerce Payment Processing with Elastic Path

Clearly, eCommerce payment processing involves many moving parts. Your customers expect a strong, seamless commerce experience, and will do business elsewhere if paying is a hassle or their data is breached.

At Elastic Path, we’re dedicated to providing the best eCommerce payment processing solutions for businesses of all sizes. Our experts are always on hand to assist you in choosing and setting up an eCommerce payment solution that works for your brand. Get in touch and learn how Elastic Path can provide an eCommerce payment processing solution that serves your customers, boosts your brand, and grows your business.