The Difference Between Online and Offline Payment Processing



When and how you get paid for your products and services is one of your most crucial considerations as a business owner. Therefore, it is important to understand the differences between getting your payments processed over the internet via your e-commerce site vs. offline in your brick-and-mortar store.

Common Considerations for Brick-and-Mortar Processing

When it’s time for your customer to check out, there are several things you must consider. How will they pay – by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, debit, gift card, check, etc? As a business owner, you may privately ask yourself how convenient it will be to accept a particular form of payment as well as how quickly you will see the customer’s actual money. Finally, you cannot avoid wondering how much the process will cost.

Common Considerations for Payment Processing Online

When your customer is not present and is making the purchase over the internet, you will ask all of the above questions as well as some additional ones. Will there be a way to make the payment using your ecommerce site’s shopping cart? Can it be integrated with your accounting software? How much will it cost? Finally, are you in a position to accept more costly non-credit card payments?

Types of Merchant Accounts

Two things to consider are the type of merchant account you get and the payment processing capabilities you want your customers to have. You can choose to have a traditional merchant account with an in-store terminal and/or POS system, or you could have an online payments account to accept “card not present” payments from your website, via emailed invoices, over the phone or by mail. These days, many businesses with a professional website or who are frequently on the road choose to have both offline and online payment acceptance capabilities. Adding online payment acceptance is an easy and cost-effective way to ensure your customers can pay however they want, so you don’t miss out on any potential business.

In most all cases, traditional, in-store payments will have lower processing fees than those payments accepted online or over the phone. The reason for this is that the risk for fraud increases in online and other card not present transactions. Your credit card processing company will explain all rates and fees when you sign up for a merchant account.

If your business accepts payments in various locations including in-store, online and via mobile payments, it makes sense to choose your merchant account provider carefully. There are companies that are experts in each type as well as providers that can process payments in all of them.

While it is important to take fees into consideration, don’t let them totally rule your decision. Choose a provider that offers reporting that will work well with your accounting methods and delivers outstanding service. If either your in-store or online payment system has an issue, you will want someone to call.