If there’s one thing all businesses can appreciate, it’s customers who pay their invoices on time! If you find collecting payments from your customers to be a drawn-out or frustrating process, consider taking payments online to make it easier for your customers to pay you on the spot. We’ve listed a couple of options in this blog post with their pros and cons for your consideration.
Payment links on invoices
You may already have the ability to accept online payments without realising it via your accounting software.
Both Xero and QuickBooks Online allow you to attach a payment link to your invoice so when your customer receives the invoice, they can immediately pay it via the link using their credit card.
- Xero: pay via debit or credit card, through PayPal, or from their Stripe account
- QuickBooks Online: pay via credit card or PayPal
As an added bonus, if you’re a Smart-Toolbox customer these payments will be reconciled automatically in Smart-Toolbox so your records are always up-to-date.
Via an online checkout on your website
Going through an online checkout on a company’s website is probably the form of e-commerce you’re most familiar with (i.e. paying for Amazon products directly on Amazon’s website).
The advantage of having your own dedicated payment system is it feels like a seamless experience for your customer – they’re familiar with using online checkouts and it’s all branded to look like the rest of your website which builds trust. The disadvantage is, to do this well, you’ll probably need to employ the services of a web developer to set it up for you which is a large up-front expense.
It's likely that the best solution will be to use a payment gateway system that the web developer can then integrate into your website. Before you get started, map out exactly how you’d like the payment system to work and go through your requirements carefully with the developer to ensure it can be done. You don't want to end up with a fancy new system that you can't use because it doesn't integrate well with the accounting/operations side of your glazing business.
A quick note on merchant accounts
Most payment gateways will require you to set up a merchant account before you can use them. A merchant account is a dedicated bank account for receiving debit and credit card payments. You'll likely be able to set it up with the bank you normally do business with but the merchant account sits separately from your usual bank account. Any payments to the merchant account are batch processed into your regular account (most banks do this on a daily basis).
Unlike an ‘aggregator’ account (like PayPal use), you’ll have to work with your bank to set up a merchant account and provide them with paperwork, go through credit checks etc. It’s more work to establish but you’ll have more control over your money as you work directly with the bank rather than going through a middleman.
If you accept credit or debit card payments in any form, you're likely to come across payment processing fees which you can choose to absorb or pass on to the customer. If you’re concerned about transaction costs, add up the amount of time it takes for you or your staff to process a payment currently. If you’re replacing a large chunk of administrative work by implementing an online payment system, you may find that absorbing processing fees is the more cost effective in the long run.
Explore your options
Don't assume that implementing an online payment system will be too technical to bother with, it is an increasingly common practice so there plenty of user-friendly options out there.
Look into what your accounting system can do and if you're on an older version (i.e. QuickBooks instead of QuickBooks Online), see if there are new features in a later version that would make taking online payments possible. If you're particularly interested in taking payments via your website, see what payment gateways are on the market and talk to a web developer about what might work best for your business.