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Retail Guide: How to Accept Payments Online

Aine Hendron
14 Dec 2021

As the demand for online shopping grows, so too does the need for better online payment options. To put this demand into perspective, let’s look at some statistics:

  • In the past year digital payments have increased by 53% and have more than doubled in the last five years [1].
  • The average cart abandonment rate has soared to 83%, with a lack of payment options cited as one of the top reasons [2]. 
  • The average customer uses 3.6 different payment methods each month [3].

Today, consumers have even more payment options available with the advancements in digital wallets and mobile payment applications. So, what payment methods should you offer, and what are the best ways to accept payments online?

Why offer multiple payment methods

As a retailer, it is important to find a payment method that works for you. Consider the price per transaction and the payment processing time, as these things can massively impact how much and how quickly you’ll get paid, as well as your cash flow.

Offering various billing options has been proven to increase customer satisfaction and the overall customer experience. A poor selection of options, a long and complicated checkout process and a lack of trust in the website are other factors that lead customers to abandon their purchase [4]. These concerns can be alleviated by carefully providing multiple reputable payment options. 

The most popular ways to accept payments

There are several ways to accept payments online. Credit and debit cards rank top as the most popular method, along with eWallets, third-party processors, and payment links. 

Credit or debit card payments

Customers expect websites to offer credit and debit card payment options. To do this, you’ll need to decide whether you want to process transactions with your own merchant account or use a third-party payment processor. 

Both options have different funding release times, different fees, will accept different card providers, and offer their own hardware solutions. For example, some merchant acquirers provide card terminals, and others don’t. Some charge a flat-rate transaction fee, for others they charge varying rates.

Ensuring that your payment processor accepts the most popular credit and debit cards is important. Visa, Mastercard, Citibank, Amex, and Chase are currently the top five providers in 2021 [5].

eWallet payments

eWallets securely save card information saved by users - the name presented on the card, full card number, expiration date, and in some cases the CVV number. This way, users simply click the relevant eWallet icon when checking out, and use the same verification method that they use to unlock their phone, like entering a PIN, using Face ID or Touch ID. 

The most popular mobile payments include Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay. 

Mobile wallets have preinstalled security features, such as encryption technology, that are designed to stop anyone else from using the account. Mobile wallets are harder to steal from because they are harder to replicate [6].

Third-party payment platforms

Some popular examples of third-party payment platforms include PayPal, Venmo, Stripe, or Revolut. These platforms all have a dedicated app and let users create an account that they can connect to their bank account, so they can be accessed anywhere that you can log into your account. 

Third-party payment platforms act as payment processors between the bank and the recipient so there is an additional barrier for fraudsters to navigate, making these platforms very secure and reliable. From a user perspective, these options are quick and convenient, as the delivery and card-holder address are already available in their chosen app.

Pay by link links

Businesses can request a specific amount of money by sending a secure link to the customer via email or SMS. Here, customers will be prompted to enter their own card details or will be able to access the retailer’s details in order to set up a transfer. Oftentimes these links do not have an expiration date, but some facilitators may offer this. 

To avoid confusion, retailers should add a message to remind the customer of the transaction. This also saves time when bookkeeping and accounting for the merchant. 

Hosting payments internally

There are several steps to handling payments yourself. The first is to access a merchant acquirer

A merchant acquirer is a financial institution that processes payments sent by a customer to a business. In other words, it’s the retailer’s bank account. 

Merchant acquirers are necessary for every card transaction you’ll accept for your business, both in-store and online. They require a fee with each transaction to use their services, and use the designated software that they provide - this is unavoidable.

As mentioned, some, but not all, merchant acquirers will give the merchant a card terminal. Some merchant acquirers even support the purchasing or leasing of a point of sale (POS) to help retailers accept payments in-store. For online transactions, the merchant acquirer will establish an internet payment gateway where customers can pay safely and securely online.

When creating an online store, it pays to know how the entire process works. When you know as much as you can about payments, you’re more likely to know what to do if things go wrong, allowing you to minimise sales and service interruptions for customers. You might want to read our resources on Payment Gateways vs Payment Processors, and tips on setting up a merchant account for more information.

Epos Now Payments

As a leader in retail and hospitality technology, we know that businesses need flexibility and freedom to thrive and serve their customers.

Epos Now Payments takes measures to provide the best services in three cornerstones of payment processing: pricing, payments, and hardware. 


  • Retailers pay one blended rate for all card types.
  • Merchants pay one consistent, flat monthly fee for merchant services.


  • Chip-and-pin, swipe, and contactless options.
  • Take major UK and international cards, and emerging services like AliPay and WeChat Pay.
  • eWallets like Samsung Pay, Google Pay and Apple Pay are supported.


  • PCI DSS compliant hardware for robust security.
  • Countertop, handheld, and portable terminals are available.
  • Directly integrated with your Epos Now system for simplified reporting.

Simplify financial management with a reliable POS system

Financial management is a huge part of running a business, but it doesn’t have to be stressful and time-consuming. By choosing the right financial software for your small business, you can turn your attention to other areas of your business, like operational efficiency and taking care of your customers. 

Let your point of sale (POS) system handle things like reviewing sales, bookkeeping, and accounting tasks. Epos Now offers state-of-the-art POS systems for businesses in various industries. We let you choose the tools and insights to help make your business achieve its goals. You can do everything from process transactions and print receipts to take inventory and manage staff. 

With Epos Now, you can also:

  • Receive and pay ongoing invoices automatically
  • Review profitability reports based on individual product performance, trending items, best and worst sellers, and employee sales
  • View sales analyses on profit margin, cash flow, and other expenses
  • Access multi-award-winning inventory management systems that sync online sales and in-person sales for the most up-to-date stock levels
  • Automate stock purchasing so you never miss a sales opportunity
  • Save customer contact details and shopping preferences for more targeted marketing on our CRM system
  • Integrate with the business automation apps that are right for your business
  • Simplify employee management for more efficient scheduling and payroll

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