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Is Your Wholesaler up to Scratch? [2] – Payment Options

This is part two of our Is Your Wholesaler up to Scratch? series, and today I’ll be looking at payment options.

How do you know your supplier is a well established and trusted business? How do you know that they’re not some fly-by-night operation with a website and a VOIP phone number? You need to do a little research, and you need to know how to interpret that research.

But don’t worry — the research is easy to do. All that’s required is for you to fill a shopping basket and start the checkout process on the supplier’s website. You don’t need to complete the order, you don’t need to enter your credit card number. All you’re doing is passing through their checkout pages to see which payment options are available.

Why does this help?

The key piece of information that you’re looking for is how this online supplier is perceived by their bank. And the quickest way to do this is to see if they have an online merchant account. Because of the propensity for credit card fraud online, banks are very choosy about who they give an online merchant account to. The business would need to demonstrate a solid trading history, and they would need to satisfy their bank that their website meets various criteria when it comes to order delivery and customer data handling.

So how do you tell if your wholesaler has an online merchant account?

Can they take credit card payments, and can they do so through a recognised credit card payment gateway? This is the key point.

You will usually be faced with a choice of payment options on any website you visit. You may be allowed to pay by PayPal, by Google Checkout, by Worldpay, or by credit card using an external payment collection website such as SagePay.

Of these four payment methods, only the last — “credit card using an external payment collection website such as SagePay” requires the retailer to have an online merchant account from a mainstream bank.

PayPal is not a bank. Anyone with a free gmail account can accept PayPal payments. Google Checkout is not a bank. Anyone can accept payments through Google Checkout without proving to a bank that their business is sound. Worldpay is not a bank. The process of acquiring a Worldpay account for credit card payments is far more strenuous than the non-existent checks that apply to Paypal and Google, but far less strenuous than those applied by a bank when deciding whether to give you an online merchant account.

Recognised payment gateways such as SagePay in the UK or Realex in Ireland require that the retailer has a proper merchant account with a proper bank. This is what you need to be looking for. The absence of a payment option allowing you to pay by credit card using one of these sites means the supplier in question was refused an online merchant account by their bank (very common), or never even applied for one.

If this is the case, you need to ask yourself whether you want to entrust a major part of the success of your business to a company that banks will not give a merchant account to.

Rule 2: Does your supplier have an online merchant account with their bank?

30 May 2013

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