If you sell any product or service the chances are you should be selling that product or service via your website. With over £60 billion recorded in online sales in 2016 (source) you should take advantage of your website to bring business in.
So how do you go about accepting orders and payments?
Selling from your website.
There are plenty of software solutions (websites) out there which will allow you to accept online orders with online payments built it, but these are aimed mostly for selling physical products rather than services. WordPress is one of the free and most widely used website development platforms which uses the ‘woocommerce’ ‘plug in’ to enable ecommerce. Woocommerce comes with payment integrations built in with several payment providers, so setting it up is pretty straight forward for a web developer. If you are attempting to do this yourself (if you are not a web developer), it’s possible but will take some time to learn the WordPress and woocommerce platform. Your chosen platform must also be ‘responsive’ which means it will work on all devices such as tablets and smartphones. Over half of UK online retail sales came from mobile devices in Quarter 4 of 2015. Read more about online purchases from mobile devices.
What if I want to sell services online?
Selling services online is a different ball game. A physical product has a name, a description, an image and a price which may depend on a couple of variables such as colour & size.
Selling services are completely different. Take training events for example, there are many more variables than colour and size.
A training event could have variables such as;
the course, who the course is accredited by, how long the qualification is valid for, venue of the event, start and end date of the event, number of days it runs for, block or day release, e learning, blended learning or classroom learning, and many more. This means that standard website platforms such as wordpress / woocommerce will not suffice. You need a bespoke platform which is very time consuming and VERY expensive to develop. This is where you should consider a TMS or Training Management System.
The Genius Training Management Platform is a perfect example where the platform was designed specifically for training providers to offer services such as training events. The Genius platform integrates with your existing website by pasting a code snippet into your website. That’s it, no expensive website redesign or integration, it takes 2 minutes and can be done by anyone!
What about accepting payments?
Accepting payments for orders placed via your website is a must. Accepting orders without online payments will just frustrate your customers. So how do we accept online payments? Well lets look at the process.
There are typically two services you need to arrange to accept online card payments, these are;
- an ‘Internet Merchant Account’ typically with a bank.
- a ‘Payment Processing Account’ with a payment provider.
An internet merchant account is a service which is provided by banks to allow you to accept credit and debit cards via your website. Typically when you apply for an ‘internet merchant account’ with your chosen bank they will make a decision in 24 – 48 hours whether to ‘allow’ you this service. The bank may allow your internet merchant account, they may ‘hold funds’ for a period (up to 30 days) or they may flat out refuse you. More than one of my businesses were ‘refused’ by Barclays in the past. Most banks charge an initial set up fee between £100 – £250, although this can usually be negotiated!
In the past I have paid over £2,000 to have Sagepay integrated into one of my websites.
Next you will need a ‘Payment Processing Account’ with a payment provider such as Worldpay, Sagepay etc. There are lots of them to choose from so you have plenty of choice. The payment provider may charge you a set up fee plus minimum monthly fee, this is typically around £20 per month. That means that even if you take no orders you pay £20 per month.
Plus you will typically baying between 2.5% and 3.5% on each transaction for both services combined.
Once you have successfully negotiated that laborious process you need to have your payment solution ‘integrated’ into your website. This is where it can get VERY expensive. Typically a web developer will charge between £60 – £120 per hour – remember you get exactly what you pay for. Pay peanuts and you will get a monkey doing the job. In the past I have paid over £2,000 to have Sagepay integrated into one of my websites.
The Future is here.
Technology has progressed and a new payment processing company has taken the sector by storm. You may be aware of Stripe.com. Stripe have disrupted this old fashioned model of having an internet merchant account and a payment processing account. Stripe have created a payment platform that combines the payment and banking systems. There is also No setup fee, No ongoing monthly fee and Stripe charge just 1.4% + 20p per transaction.
This really is a game changer for the Training industry
The only downside to stripe is that it requires integration into your chosen ecommerce platform.
This is where the Genius Training Management Platform excels.
Genius has partnered with Stripe and developed Genius Pay, which is fully integrated with the Genius Training Management Platform. This means that when training organizations use Genius you can place a code snippet on your website (it takes 2 minutes and anyone can do it) and your existing website can accept training course bookings and payments via stripe.com plus you can process the orders and manage your customers and learners all from the Genius Training Management Platform.
This really is a game changer for the Training industry. Never before has there been a platform which is so quick, simple and low cost to implement, plus with the extra revenue that your website will generate Genius makes you money!
Do you have any experience with selling online, online payments etc? Please comments below.