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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Online Payment Options - Paypal Customer Service Downgraded
Paypal's recent inability to quickly repair two glitches has online merchants worldwide looking at other options. Paypal took 12 days (May 15 - 28) to repair the disappearance of the shopping cart handling fee. The other glitch prevented companies located outside the billing company's country from paying! Paypal did not issue a warning statement to merchants. Many companies lost money. In many forums and blogs, merchants vented their frustrations, provided each other with technical roundabouts and discussed other online payment options. Other more traditional options were also recommended; credit cards (merchant credit card service), checks, direct deposit.

Paypal has a 23% share of online payments and Google Checkout has a 4% share. Paypal's been available since 1998 and Google Checkout, a year at the most. Google Checkout was the one most mentioned but (at this time) the following prevents or limits the number of merchants willing to switch:
it is only available to US/UK merchants,
requires 3rd party shopping cart,
locked out of eBay auctions,
does not able recurring subscriptions.

Doug, on May 28, offered the following shopping cart option:
"Went looking last nite--to the wee hrs--for a reasonable alternative to the PayPal shopping cart. Evaluated dozens of shopping cart links provided by our merchant account (Echo Inc); the closest I found to the PayPal cart is designcart.com, a relatively simple secure cart hosted on their secure server, implemented with html buttons like PayPal, and reasonably priced at $15/month ($165 annual). Not sure about subsciption capabilities, but they do have the equiv of the handling_cart variable in PayPal. Also, the bonus of your customers able to pay via Google Checkout or PayPal or numerous other gateways of your choice if you already have one, like we did for over-the-phone orders. We're going for it."

Other online payment options mentioned were alertpay.com, 2CheckOut.com, Cybersource and authorize.net and Go Amazon FPS (flexible payment system). Amazon FPS is in beta and Cybersource, whose api is better for recurring subscriptions, has just bought authorize.net.

We learned about another payment method in mid-January at the ANCA Wholesale Workshop in Lake Placid. One of the participants uses a wireless laptop to process payments at their shop or at shows. They will be adding a cell phone plug in to the laptop to maximize their wireless access. They use Virtual Terminal available through Paypal. At $30/month with a transaction fee of $1.35 the convenience and minimum paperwork involved made this combination the most practical for the small business owners. Korths' information came mostly from Statcounter.com, pdncommunity.com and Techcrunch.

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