An introduction to receiving payments
The ability to receive payment for the products that you are selling on your website can be a bit of a complicated subject to understand, particularly if you've never sold online before.
Put simply, your customers need to be able to enter their credit/debit card information somewhere (combined with an instruction for X pounds to be debited from their account), and for this money to be taken from their card and sent to your own bank account.
Merchant accounts and payment gateway
The way that the money makes its way from one account to another is through something called a merchant account. If you're selling online, you need a merchant account to receive the money from a customer paying through a credit/debit card.
The system that allows a customer to enter their credit/debit card information on a website, and see whether the payment has been authorised or declined, is called a payment gateway. Without a payment gateway, you don't have a way for customers to enter card information and receive notification of whether the transaction was successful.
To receive payments online from your customers via a credit/debit card you'll need to have both a merchant account and payment gateway.
How do you get a merchant account and payment gateway?
Many providers of merchant accounts also provide payment gateways (like PayPal or SagePay).
But payment gateway providers don't always provide merchant accounts. If you choose one of them, you'll need to set up a merchant account with a third party (like your bank).
PayPal Express Checkout
PayPal Express Checkout is a payment gateway and merchant account combined and is very easy to setup.
You can find out more information about PayPal by clicking here.
Other ways to receive payment
Aside from using a traditional payment gateway, and PayPal Express Checkout, another way to receive orders from your customers is to use the 'offline payment' method. Using this payment method, the order is submitted on your website but payment is made away from the site, for example by bank transfer or cheque.
For more information on how to enable offline payment please click here.
We also recommend that you read the article on 'GoCardless' which is a Direct Debit solution by clicking here.
Contact us if you're having difficulty understanding how to receive payments through your website or need assistance with merchant accounts and payment gateways. It can be a tricky subject and our team will be happy to help you.