Square Versus Flint

Flint-vs-Square

Although some mobile processing apps focus exclusively on card-present transactions (like Spark Pay and PayAnywhere), others, like Flint and Square, offer online selling tools to supplement in-person payment options. Should you choose any type of e-commerce, Flint and Square are generally solid payment processing services, presenting an exciting-in-one payment processing solution.

Despite the fact that you’ll pay somewhat steeper transaction charges compared to a conventional payment processor, with mobile-based processors like Flint and Square, it’s not necessary to pay for any monthly charges and its not necessary to undergo the procedure or cost of opening a traditional merchant account. This will make them good payment processing options for lower-volume retailers. Plus, you receive all of the nifty on the internet and mobile features (PayPal is yet another such all-in-one online payment processor take a look at my PayPal versus. Stripe comparison if you are like doing so).

Personally, I really like the simplicity any type of “all-in-one” solution and I’m prepared to pay a bit more not to have multiple accounts with various, sometimes overlapping, services. I additionally consider no monthly charges to become a major plus, thinking about the unpredictable earnings that is included with my being self-employed. Everything stated, both of these processors are certainly not produced equal. While they’re comparable in many areas, after researching both Flint and Square, I’ve found some pretty stark variations backward and forward services.

In the following paragraphs I’ll give a side-by-side comparison of Flint and Square when it comes to online selling features, total cost, reliability, along with other factors. You can chime along with your opinion, yell at me, etc., within the comments.

Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:

Champion: Tie

Here’s the offer with Flint and Square:

  • No contract
  • No early termination fee (since there isn’t any contract to terminate, duh)
  • No fee every month

It’s as easy as that! Just payg. I love this arrangement much better than PayPal’s, making you have to pay a regular monthly fee to obtain all of the features.

Features:

Champion: Square

I love both Square and Flint’s features, but Square has much more of ’em actually, they most likely possess the best set of features associated with a pay-as-you-go mobile payment processor.

Before I list all of the features, I ought to explain that Square and Flint process in-person payments differently: With Square, you utilize a mobile terminal (iPad, Android device, etc.) combined with a totally free card readers. You may also process payments with no readers while using application, however the fee is greater.

Flint is exclusive for the reason that it doesn’t use any type of readers or swiper — rather, the application uses your phone’s camera to scan card figures. Obviously, you may also key the figures in if you want to.

OK, moving forward, here’s a sampling of Square’s best features:

  • Advanced inventory management features – This is when Square really shines. One fantastic aspect is when Square syncs on the internet and in-store sales in inventory management counts.
  • Receipt printing abilities – This selection is particularly absent from Flint’s service.
  • Electronic invoices – In-application or online
  • Located storefront – Great design includes choices for shipping or pickup. Great for quick service/takeout cafes and restaurants in addition to e-commerce.
  • Embeddable item links – This enables you to definitely add some item aimed at your website, outdoors of Square.
  • Coupons – Nice feature to have an online shop.
  • Customer comments management – A valuable feature known as Square Feedback enables you to definitely manage your status and cope with customer complaints before they publish an awful Yelp review.
  • Advanced reporting – Check this out page for an entire listing of reports offered. (There is a lot!)

Now, here are the features you get with Flint:

  • Your personal Merchant ID number (MID) – This can help lead to account stability, and also you don’t acquire one with Square (I’ll delve further into this afterwards).
  • Electronic invoices – In-application or online. Can attach coupons/promotions to invoice.
  • Payment buttons – Customizable, simple to embed in website, attractive integration (much like Square’s embedded item links, but performed differently).
  • Located payment pages – Great for discussing on social networking as well as for companies with no website.

The characteristics Flint has are solid, but taking everything into consideration, Square may be the definite champion here, supplying a more complex group of features. The issue, I suppose, is whether or not you undoubtedly need all of the features Square offers. Begin to see the complete listing of Flint’s features here and on Square’s features in Tom DeSimone’s Square review.

Charges and Rates:

Champion: Tie

Flint and Square are generally great about offering no hidden charges or monthly charges. Therefore it all comes lower towards the transaction charges. Flint offers considerably lower transaction charges for debit payments, but slightly greater charges for credit payments, whereas Square offers the advantage of accepting American stock exchange and Uncover cards, in addition to worldwide payments.

Square doesn’t have monthly charges. Its transaction fee breakdown is really as follows:

  • Swiped transactions: 2.75%
  • Online/invoice transactions: 2.75%
  • Keyed-in transactions: 3.15% + $.15
  • Accepts all major charge cards
  • Accepts worldwide cards via keyed-in transactions
  • No processing limits — but large transactions or high monthly product sales may trigger account suspension

Flint also offers no monthly charges and merely the next transaction charges:

  • Debit transactions: 1.95%
  • Credit transactions: 2.95%

Flint only accepts Visa and MasterCard and doesn’t accept worldwide payments.

Flint also offers the next standard processing limits:

  • Max per scanned transaction: $1000.00
  • Max per typed transaction: $250.00
  • Max each week: $3000.00
  • Max per invoice: $250.00
  • Total invoice limit: $1000.00

Upfront processing limits are frequently a great factor because guess what happens amount will trigger a free account freeze. You should consider asking to have an increase to those limits should you provide Flint with increased details about your company.

For a lot of retailers, Flint will finish up to be the cheaper service due to its excellent 1.95% debit fee (about 50 % of card transactions come from an atm card). However, greater-volume retailers may like the greater payment versatility provided by Square. So, it’s a tie for me personally.

Account stability:

Champion: Flint

Here’s where Square incurs some major issues. When I pointed out formerly, you aren’t getting your personal merchant ID with Square, making your bank account less stable. Many Square customers complain about unfair account freezes, funding holds, as well as account terminations. As Tom DeSimone explains in the Square review:

Square’s aggressive fraud prevention tactics have put many small companies ready where they’re not able to access their earnings as their transactions have elevated an over-all warning sign for a variety of reasons.

A whole lot worse, Square doesn’t even disclose to customers its reasoning behind account freezes, apart from notifying the client they have either “(a) violated the relation to this Agreement, every other agreement you’ve with Square, or Square’s policies, (b) pose an unacceptable credit or fraud risk to all of us, or (c) provide any false, incomplete, inaccurate, or misleading information or else participate in fraudulent or illegal conduct.”

Flint customers, however, rarely complain about account stability issues for example funding holds or sudden account terminations. I consider not getting to bother with your funds being withheld a substantial benefit of Flint over Square.

Software and hardware Needs:

Champion: Tie

The Square mobile application and free Square Readers use all newer android and ios devices/os’s. However, you should utilize an iPad to gain access to the receipt printer, cash drawer, and bar code scanner. The $99 Square Stand must also be employed by having an iPad.

Flint can also be suitable for all newer iPhones and Android phones. You may also run the application with an iPad. Not one other hardware is essential simply download the Flint application in the Apple Application Store or Google Play and you’re all set.

Security:

Champion: Tie

Quite a few users might concern yourself with the safety of Flint’s readers-free scanner, however i personally feel confident about utilizing their PCI-compliant technology. Here’s what Flint says around the subject of security:

Flint has integrated with state of the art financial services and infrastructure companies to supply a reliable, secure and scalable platform. Sensitive information is protected based on PCI DSS along with other industry guidelines and all sorts of connections are encrypted for optimum security. The Flint application safely scans only the primary card number. No card data or images are stored on the telephone. Standard card verification info along with a touchscreen signature are needed to accomplish transactions.

Flint also provides a “Mask Card Scan” feature that enables you to definitely stop the center figures from the card in your screen to have an added feeling of security.

Square also offers robust security measures, which you’ll on here — however, many might reason that its exhaustive fraud security measures come at the chance of a less stable account.

Sales and Advertising Transparency:

Champion: Flint

Both Square and Flint offer very-obvious prices transparency, without any sales gimmicks or hidden charges. This really is laudable, and somewhat uncommon within the payment processing world.

However, In my opinion Square’s insufficient disclosure about its frequent account holds — which appears is the primary issue customers complain about — can be viewed as a transparency problem. Disclosure concerning the risks natural with third-party processors plus some obvious processing limits would most likely perform a realm of good in this region. I believe Square also needs to disclose to customers the particular cause of any holds installed on their own account.

Customer Support and Tech Support Team:

Champion: Flint

Square is broadly noted for its poor customer care. Its support channels, provided via email and over the telephone, have apparently improved recently, but you may still find numerous customer complaints about sporadic support.

For instance, Square support claims it’ll answer email queries within 24 hrs, however, many retailers claim it requires nearer to 2-three days to obtain a response. Once the among the primary problems individuals are calling and emailing about is account freezes affecting remarkable ability to work, unresponsive support becomes especially frustrating.

Alternatively finish from the spectrum, you’ll find very couple of complaints about Flint’s customer care. Flint comes with an excellent overall support profile, offering high-quality phone and email support during business hrs (7am-5pm Off-shore, Monday-Friday).

Final Verdict:

Champion: Flint

It wasn’t easy declaring a champion within this race, but ultimately I must choose Flint. Flint’s superior account stability, better-quality customer care, and unbeatable debit transaction charges turn it into a less dangerous and much more affordable choice.

To put it simply, Square has more features than Flint, however the accounts are less stable and could be more costly. I can’t in good conscience recommend Square over Flint understanding that small companies might have their accounts frozen and money withheld without receiving a lot being an explanation.

For low-risk companies that will really take advantage of Square’s added features for example receipt printing and American Express acceptance, Square is certainly worth thinking about. Individuals requiring more complex features may should also take a look at our invoicing software reviews and shopping cart software reviews.

Shannon Vissers

Shannon is really a freelance author and editor located in North Park, CA. Shannon type of wants an apple iphone 7, but she’s not necessarily prepared to lose the headphone jack.

Shannon Vissers

Shannon Vissers

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Ebay and paypal Refer To It As Quits: Split Arriving 2015

eBay PayPal spliteBay is nearly single-handedly accountable for championing PayPal and reworking it in to the world’s premier online payments option. The internet auction marketplace scooped in the fledgling company in 2002, after greater than a decade together, they’re prepared to refer to it as quits. Later this season, PayPal will spin removed from eBay and be its very own full-fledged (and openly traded) company.

This can be somewhat surprising, especially thinking about that PayPal makes up about roughly 1 / 2 of eBay’s revenues. Chief executive officer John Donahoe initially rejected the thought of splitting the 2 companies, too.

It is also important to note the decision came in the finish of September 2014, soon after Apple Pay broke to the scene. Mounted on eBay because it is, PayPal certainly offers quite a bit to deal with when it comes to mobile wallets and e-commerce.

And thus we now have the breakup looming ahead. But it’s not necessarily a bad breakup. Actually, it’s quite the friendly one. Not things are obvious yet, but here’s what we should can say for certain.

The Nitty-Gritty from the Breakup

The greatest takeaway out of this breakup is the fact that Ebay and paypal continue to be greatly buddies. Actually, they’ve signed a 5-year agreement (along with a 1-year transition period) that ensures they’ll carry on doing business together, by having an choice to renew. Basically, if PayPal transactions drop below 80% of eBay’s volume, eBay will need to compensate the organization towards the tune of $13 million each year. If PayPal transactions surge, it’ll need to compensate eBay. And when PayPal’s part of eBay transactions hits below 75% percent, eBay is going to be spending $50 million year for each additional percentage point.

In addition, there’s a non-compete agreement in position. We will not be seeing an eBay branded payments platform, or perhaps a PayPal marketplace whenever soon — unless of course PayPal will get selected up by an eBay competitor, by which situation eBay is free of charge to build up its very own platform after 18 several weeks.

The 2 companies also share some consumer data. PayPal has announced changes to our policy and described the way the information exchange works. Follow the link to discover how you will be affected.

Finally, PayPal provides eBay exactly the same rates it provides other clients (for example Amazon . com or Alibaba), and PayPal will begin having to pay eBay referral charges for each eBay customer who results in a PayPal account.

In a nutshell, regardless of the breakup, it appears as though a great deal is going to be business as always, a minimum of for the moment. The only real major change is management.

When PayPal spins off into its very own company later this season, current eBay Chief executive officer John Donahoe will step lower from his executive position at eBay and join the PayPal board of company directors. PayPal’s current president, Dan Schulman, will step-up to get PayPal Chief executive officer, and Devin Wenig, current president of eBay Marketplaces, will require over as eBay Chief executive officer.

That stated, both eBay and PayPal are likely to look much more appealing to others since they’re not during sex with one another. We probably won’t see an instantaneous acquisition or partnership from either company — but there’s certainly a great deal that may happen.

5 Predictions for What’s in the future

Conjecture abounds so far as what could happen next. Who’s the first to snap up a brand new partner? What new items can we see? How will all this affect consumers and retailers? Here’s what we’re thinking:

1. Will PayPal Retailers See Additional FeaturesOrAbilities? 

With PayPal in a position to pursue new partnerships with various companies, it’s highly likely that retailers using PayPal to simply accept online payments may benefit, whether it’s by means of additional integrations (there’s already a substantive list) or all-additional features. In a nutshell, this really is potentially an excellent factor.

2. Will Some eBay/PayPal Integrations Disappear?

One huge advantage to the present partnership backward and forward companies, a minimum of for eBay sellers, is when carefully the 2 are integrated. Using the split, can we use whatever of individuals features disappear? Probably not. Actually, PayPal continues to be dedicated to developing eBay-specific tools.

3. Will PayPal Make Buddies with Amazon . com? 

Using the split, PayPal is free of charge to partner track of Amazon . com, that has been a been a large speaking point online. Since PayPal has lengthy been underneath the supervision of Amazon’s greatest competitor, it’s no shocker that you simply can’t use PayPal to accomplish purchases on Amazon . com.

While it’s certainly possible we’ll see some arrangement come through, I simply don’t think it’s be likely. Amazon features its own platform, Amazon . com Payments. Why would Amazon risk stunting the development of its very own product? Granted, Amazon . com comes with its fingers in many pies — from data warehousing for enterprise companies to payments and shortly even craft creativity-and-crafts marketplace à la Etsy, known as Hand crafted at Amazon . com.

Alibaba, however, is most likely searching just like a great friend for PayPal to possess. Alibaba is really a China-based marketplace which has really removed previously couple of years, and PayPal integration would most likely help it to expand its achieve.

However, Alibaba lately were built with a massively succesful IPO here in the usa. Additionally, it already has its very own payments platform, Alipay, that has mobile abilities. Actually, Walmart has drawn on Alipay to simply accept mobile payments in the Chinese stores. (Ironic, thinking about Walmart belongs to the Merchant Customer Exchange, a company backing the QR code-based mobile payment option CurrentC here in america, rather from the popular NFC.) A partnership between Alibaba and PayPal is much more likely than a single with Amazon . com, but it’s still no sure factor.

4. Will eBay Make Buddies with Google Wallet or Apple Pay? 

It’s most likely that eBay might consider a partnership with Google, which already features its own full-fledged mobile/digital wallet, known as – surprisingly enough – Google Wallet. Google Wallet has battled for a great deal to obtain off the floor, along with the arrival of Apple Pay, it’s certainly looking for a lift. In the past eBay is a fan of Google compensated advertising and Google Shopping, therefore it will make lots of sense.

It’s much less likely that we’ll visit a partnership with Apple Pay. For just one factor, PayPal has partnered with Apple’s longtime rival Samsung to integrate mobile payments into its next-generation smartwatch, exactly the same way Apple Pay is going to be hitting Apple Watches later on.

5. Is really a PayPal Mobile Wallet Within the Works? 

PayPal already includes a massively effective card swiper mobile application for retailers along with a business bank card. With mobile payments increasing, if the organization isn’t already focusing on a complete-fledged mobile wallet solution for consumers, it will likely be beginning soon. Their bond with Samsung is simply further proof that PayPal is searching to get involved with the mobile game. There’s some 165 million people to sell to, and they’d be simple sells, given that they already use PayPal.

It’s a thrilling amount of time in e-commerce and mobile payments, with the much new technology constantly appearing. No matter what to with the PayPal-eBay split, it’s likely to be interesting to determine how everything plays out.

Melissa Johnson

Melissa Manley is definitely an independent author and editor who loves e-commerce, internet marketing, technology, and social networking. Not so long ago, she earned a journalism degree, but she continued to uncover that they could work at home, researching, editing, and covering the items she found most fascinating. When she’s not associated with her laptop, Melissa usually can be based in the kitchen, studying a magazine, or doing something from the nerdy persuasion.

Melissa Johnson

“”

Does Mobile Payment Place You In Danger Of Fraud?

mobile payment fraud

Starbucks continues to be making the incorrect type of headlines recently because of a string of security breaches relating to the accounts of the mobile application users. The online hackers drained money from users’ accounts and transferred the balances to fraudulent gift certificates. Because the Starbucks application is frequently organized to illustrate a effective mobile payment application, it begs the issue: do mobile payments expose retailers and people to fraud?

To be certain, all transactions carry together a danger of fraud. Cash, that has been counterfeited for hundreds of years, isn’t any exception. Now you ask , whether mobile payments expose retailers and/or people to an unacceptably high-risk of fraud.

Table of Contents

What Went Wrong using the Starbucks Application

The Starbucks mobile application enables users to “load” an online gift certificate by having an in-application purchase. Consider it as being buying Starbucks currency on the 1:1 basis. The virtual card’s QR code will be scanned at POS to help make the purchase, and cash is deducted in the card. Technically, the purchase is made prior to the scan, the Starbucks clerk is simply decrementing credit in the customer’s account.

The vulnerability exploited through the online hackers was the password security login. Because the application doesn’t lock lower the user’s account, even if multiple incorrect passwords are attempted, online hackers could use brute pressure strategies to circumvent the password protection. On accounts enabled with auto-reloading, fraudsters could steal continuously.

As the Starbucks application talks to some alarming vulnerabilities around in-application purchases, it isn’t an excellent illustration of either the strengths or vulnerabilities of mobile payment technology.

NFC Security Measures

Apple Pay and Google Wallet are not the same creatures compared to Starbucks application. These payment systems use near field communication (NFC) to permit two bits of hardware (the customer’s mobile phone and also the merchant’s POS terminal, typically) placed within centimeters of one another to speak.

These payment systems have additional security measures not located on the Starbucks application, hardening them against both software and hardware-based fraud. Apple Pay requires people to unlock their phone having a passcode after which scan their fingerprint to approve transactions at POS, making hardware thievery alone inadequate for fraud–thieves will have to also have the passcode and clone the user’s fingerprints. Traditional magnetic strip charge cards can’t repeat the same.

The program protection is a touch more complicated. Apple Pay doesn’t really store charge card info on the mobile phone or on Apple servers. Rather, “token” details are substituted with the charge card information throughout the purchase. A brand new, randomized token is generated for every purchase, making the tokens themselves not so helpful for online hackers.

Claims that Apple Pay is immune from fraud really are a bit excessively positive, however. While charge card information isn’t exchanged at POS or stored around the mobile phone, users still need enter charge card information throughout the initial account setup. These details could be harvested by traditional adware and spyware that exploits bugs within the iOS operating-system. Thieves may then link that charge card to their personal tool and make fraudulent purchases through Apple Pay. Apple has blamed this security flaw around the card-issuing banks who it claims unsuccessful to effectively verify the consumer identities when cards are associated with Apple Pay.

NFC and EMV Security Standards

The emergence of NFC payments transpires with coincide using the charge card liability shift moving in America in October 2015. The liability shift is made to combat America’s roughly $15 billion in annual charge card fraud by encouraging charge card companies and retailers to upgrade the safety options that come with their cards and terminals, correspondingly.

Charge cards will upgrade based on the Europay, Mastercard, and Visa (EMV) standards. EMV charge cards are outfitted having a nick like the one utilized in Apple Pay transactions that generates an arbitrary, one-time token at POS. The present magnetic strip system utilizes a static value associated with the strip, so fraudsters only need clone that information to create a dummy charge card. Customers then verify the acquisition having a flag or signature. There’s some debate over the easiest method to verify customer ID at POS, with American charge card companies seeming to favor signature verification (claiming easy customer use), though it may be typically vulnerable forgery, as well as natural variations in how you might sign their name.

Retailers, however, ought to upgrade to EMV terminals. The party who didn’t result in the security investment, or no, is going to be held responsible for fraud following the October shift. If both or neither party active in the transaction makes the upgrade, liability is decided exactly the same way it had been before the shift.

What’s promising for retailers would be that the security technology in NFC and EMV payments make use of the same communication protocol, so a careful purchase of an EMV terminal will include the opportunity to conduct NFC payments at little expense.

Card-Not-Present Fraud

The United kingdom, Australia, and France all saw a rise in fraud involving transactions in which the card wasn’t present (CNP transactions) within the years following EMV adoption, suggesting that EMV security measures were good at discouraging using counterfeit and stolen cards at POS.

Since NFC mobile wallets satisfy the EMV standard, they’re considered card-present transactions when they’re used at EMV terminals. When accustomed to make online purchases, however, they’re considered CNP transactions. Verifying the customer’s identity during CNP transactions will probably be important than ever before as thieves turn their attentions to reduce-hanging fruit.

It ought to be noted that, presently, QR-code transactions don’t fall under this paradigm like a charge card isn’t billed at POS–the primary NFC competitor, CurrentC, links straight to a financial institution account and store-specific apps pre-load credit via in-application purchases.

Chargebacks

Chargebacks really are a turnaround of funds using a debit or credit card that may cost retailers in processing charges. If the transaction is carried out through NFC or EMV, a credit or card will typically be billed for that purchase. Which means the entire process of resolving a mobile payment chargeback will appear nearly the same as what credit card transaction.

There are many reasons a chargeback can happen, and payment having a fraudulent mobile account is one kind of them. At least, the store will typically be billed a $20 non-refundable processing fee, and also the funds in the transaction might be withheld before the dispute is completed.

Observe that the formerly pointed out liability shift will affect who’s considered accountable for the fraudulent charges that trigger the chargeback.

Takeaway on Mobile Payment Security Issues

Despite some vulnerabilities within the setup stage–that can be handled with increased aggressive CNP identity verification for issuing banks–mobile NFC payments satisfy the enhanced security standards of EMV plastic. These functions, if adopted through the merchant, allow it to be not as likely the store is going to be held liable on chargebacks or mobile payment fraud. However, vulnerabilities because of the negligence of consumers or issuing banks can lead to undesirable chargeback arbitration much like what retailers have underneath the current system.

Chris Motola

Chris Motola is definitely an independent author, journalist, programmer, and game designer that has mastered the skill of using his laptop in no less than 541 positions, many of them unergonomic. When he isn’t pushing keys or swiping screens, he’s most likely out exploring urban or natural environs, experimenting in the kitchen area, or delighting/annoying his buddies together with his ideas and theories.

Chris Motola

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What PayPal’s Bitcoin Integration Method for Online Retailers

Bitcoin1

There’s quite a bit happening around the PayPal front right now (take a look at our lately updated PayPal review here) — it’s not only getting ready to spin removed from its longtime parent company, eBay, but PayPal now enables its retailers to simply accept Bitcoin payments.

For individuals who have no idea about Bitcoin, it’s an online currency, sometimes also known as a cryptocurrency. Bitcoins aren’t printed or minted. Actually, they merely ever exist as records of transactions, collected inside a virtual wallet. They’re processed more than a network, and also the entire platform is open-source, meaning it’s very easy for anybody to get involved with the procedure and begin earning Bitcoins. Take a look at our help guide to accepting Bitcoin to learn more.

PayPal initially announced support for Bitcoin in September of 2014 using a partnership with Braintree, confirmed within the SEC filing from April 2015. (Also worth mentioning: eBay initially purchased Braintree in 2013. Using the approaching split, Braintree will come under a brand new entity known as PayPal Holdings, that will oversee eBay’s payments segment from the business.) Furthermore, PayPal has partnered with three major Bitcoin processors: Coinbase, BitPay and GoCoin.

What Bitcoin Acceptance Method for Retailers

The takeaway is the fact that PayPal, clearly among the greatest names in online payments, clearly thinks that Bitcoin may be the coming trend. Let’s take particular notice at what it really method for retailers, whether you possess an online shop, a brick-and-mortar location, or both.

Who Controls Bitcoins

Banks don’t control Bitcoins like they are doing other currency. Actually, Bitcoins are unregulated, that is a benefit: Not one institution controls the woking platform, and thus unlike national currencies, a financial institution simply can’t print more (resulting in devaluation and perhaps inflation).

Bitcoin can also be semi-anonymous. Every transaction is distributed to some Bitcoin address and put into an open register (known as the blockchain), but the master of that address isn’t known. You are able to setup multiple Bitcoin addresses, further obscuring your data. This is actually the Internet we’re coping with, which means you should absolutely learn on how to safely handle Bitcoin payments and safeguard yourself.

However, though, additionally, it means there isn’t any way of recovering Bitcoins in fraudulent transactions. It’s like cash in this way (except, obviously, that Bitcoins don’t really possess a physical form). And Bitcoins aren’t safe from cost fluctuations, either. By penning this, just one Bitcoin is equivalent to $236.61 U.S. dollars, but prices spiked greater than $600 within the summer time of 2014, have arrived at $1,100 formerly.

Payment Charges

Among the key benefits of Bitcoin is always that the payment processing charges tend to be, reduced than individuals assessed by banks along with other institutions. In some instances, there aren’t any transaction charges whatsoever.

However, that’s a specific item if you use the Bitcoin network, no intermediary like PayPal or Braintree. In September, Coinbase announced on its blog that retailers using Coinbase via Braintree to simply accept Bitcoins would pay a set 1% fee — which continues to be a great deal under the two.9% + $.30 normally assessed by PayPal and Braintree.

If the transaction charges are going to remain low (or nonexistent) as Bitcoin gets to be more popular remains seen, however if you simply have knowledge about Bitcoin and transaction charges, we’d like to learn about it! Drop us a line within the comments.

Time for you to Process Transactions

Because Bitcoins aren’t controlled like other currency, time to process transactions is shorter — nearly immediate in some instances. You are able to send money in one continent to a different within ten minutes, for much under a wire service with no worries about frozen funds. PayPal works nearly immediately too, causeing this to be an excellent fit for retailers who would like their cash immediately.

Mobile Payments and Bitcoin

An advantage of Bitcoin being digital is the fact that it’s perfectly suitable for mobile apps. For those who have a Bitcoin wallet application installed, you are able to send money or make payments utilizing a QR code or NFC. Which means retailers whose systems are established to handle both Bitcoin and mobile payments can readily accept payments at brick-and-mortar locations plus online stores.

The way forward for Bitcoin

In the realm of retail, PayPal’s Bitcoin integration means merchants convey more payment options with almost no try to do on their own part. However, PayPal (by extension, its subsidiary Braintree) is way from the only method to accept Bitcoin. Actually, Stripe, Shopify and Square all offer Bitcoin integration. Menufy, a web-based ordering system for restaurants, also enables restaurants to simply accept Bitcoin.

Like a number of other technologies, like mobile wallets, NFC, and beacons, Bitcoin continues to be hovering around close to digital scene for quite some time. There are many proponents who choose what Bitcoin means — namely freedom by means of a really digital, mobile presently. It certainly has the ability to alter the way we consider spending cash on the internet and e-commerce generally. But at this time, it isn’t prevalent.

That certainly looks going to change. Much like Apple finally backing NFC payments with Apple Pay has resulted in an uptick in mobile payments, PayPal offering Bitcoin integration may be the catalyst that pushes Bitcoin in the forefront on the web stage.

Melissa Johnson

Melissa Manley is definitely an independent author and editor who loves e-commerce, internet marketing, technology, and social networking. Not so long ago, she earned a journalism degree, but she continued to uncover that they could work at home, researching, editing, and covering the items she found most fascinating. When she’s not associated with her laptop, Melissa usually can be based in the kitchen, studying a magazine, or doing something from the nerdy persuasion.

Melissa Johnson

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Searching in the Sell On Etsy Mobile Payments Application

I spend considerable time at conventions and humanities-and-craft fairs, helping a buddy sell her merchandise. It’s a great chance to satisfy other vendors and talk shop, which isn’t only a great resource of suggestions for new merchandise, but additionally a great way to compare notes regarding how to run a business.

That’s just how I discovered about Etsy’s branded card swiper. Among the vendors in an event had one of these simple vibrant orange special gems. I was intrigued, therefore i put down for more information.

What’s Etsy?

Etsy is definitely an online marketplace focusing on vintage products, homemade goods (costumes, jewellery, clothing, interior decor) and crafts and arts. It was once solely for hand crafted goods and craft supplies, consider 2013, Etsy has permitted mass-created goods, that has upset some sellers because they’re now rivaling cheaply manufactured mass created goods. Management claims it is not the situation, however, many sellers were — and still are — unhappy with how occasions performed out.

Nevertheless, Etsy hosts greater than 1.4 million sellers and almost 20 million active users, with revenues just shy of $200 million.

Among the big advantages of selling on Etsy is having the ability to setup your personal shop having a URL around the Etsy domain. It’s a great deal simpler than building your personal store online, particularly if you aren’t particularly tech-savvy, and also the Etsy name gives you some credibility. (That stated, Etsy may also suspend or close your shop without any warning whether it thinks you’ve violated its policies, and there is not much that you can do about this. This will help remind you of complaints against Square.)

An additional advantage to selling on Etsy, if that’s your niche, may be the listing charges: just $.20 per listing and three.5% per transaction. That’s much better than eBay, that charges 10% from the final value, or perhaps Amazon . com, which charges even greater charges than that in line with the product type you sell. Amazon . com also doesn’t presently possess a craft or niche marketplace, though we all know that it is a minimum of thinking about a Hand crafted at Amazon . com platform.

In comparison, let’s say you sell by yourself site, your charges is determined by which payment method. PayPal Here charges 2.9% plus $.30 cents. On other platforms, for example BigCommerce and Shopify, vary based on which plan you select. You might only pay a regular monthly fee (between $14 and $80 monthly, or even more), or else you may pay a regular monthly fee along with a transaction fee, which may be as low as 1.5% or around 2.9%.

The Way The Card Readers Works

Based on Etsy, in regards to a third of their sellers don’t just sell online — like me and my pal, they attend conventions, craft fairs, along with other occasions as vendors. Prior to the Etsy readers, that meant these sellers needed to depend on Flint, Square or PayPal Here to simply accept charge card payments, or work on a money-only basis.

Etsy’s readers works exactly the same way as other mobile card readers: open the application with an Android or iOS device, plug the readers in to the headphone jack, and go into the necessary info. It’s all pretty straightforward.

The credit card reader is directly built-into your Etsy store. Rather of just punching in the quantity of a purchase, you are able to select something that has already been indexed by your store, and Etsy will instantly update the inventory. You may also just enter a sum if what exactly the same thing isn’t listed online.

All the sales created using the credit card readers count toward your Etsy sales. Customers who buy personally may also make you reviews for the Etsy store.

But the good thing may be the rates: Card swipe charges are simply 2.75% per swipe — that’s exactly the same cost as Square. (PayPal is 2.7%, for that record Flint is 1.95% for debit or 2.95% for credit.) Manual records using the Etsy readers are simply 3% plus $.25, when compared with 3.5% + $.15 for Square and PayPal manual records. The normal Etsy transaction fee, 3.5%, doesn’t affect goods offered personally, which means you cut costs.

Obviously there are lots of features provided by other apps the Etsy application doesn’t have, for example invoicing, coupons, discounts, QuickBooks integration, etc. However for someone already using Etsy or searching for any simple all-in-one solution for selling hand crafted products, it’s virtually unbeatable.

There doesn’t seem to be any kind of needs to get qualified for any readers, for example getting a collection quantity of sales. The application itself, known as Sell on Etsy, is free of charge to download from Google Play and also the iTunes Store.

The reviews on the internet Play are promising: a 4. across greater than 2,300 ratings. The iTunes comments are less glowing. The newest version does not have enough reviews to show a rating, however with all versions combined, it features a 2-star rating from 790 reviews. Many users complain of glitches and crashing within the newest form of the application, but Etsy has had time to reply to a number of these complaints.

The money out of your in-person sales are put into your Shop Payment account and it is transferred to your money every Monday (unless of course you request payment sooner). In PayPal, your money is available quickly, as well as in Square they sometimes take 1-2 working days for that transfer to undergo.

Also, Etsy’s readers is presently only accessible within the U.S., though Etsy claims it intends to expand the service.

If You Work With the Etsy Card Readers?

Etsy is offering competitive rates on its card readers, which is ideal for sellers. The truth that it waives its online transaction fee is unquestionably a motivation, much like the rest of the features you’ll get in the Etsy branded readers. I love that there’s a listing integration, especially, since keeping inventory could be a discomfort.

That stated, Etsy isn’t a industry for everybody. Despite the onslaught of mass-created merchandise, it’s still largely referred to as the site to visit for hand crafted goods and crafts and arts, so you have to be sure your goods match that image. Etsy also provides extensive risks, and also you don’t always have lots of control of what goes on for your store. That’s a large problem if this sounds like your sole or primary supply of earnings.

The Etsy branded readers is actually only an attractive option should you already sell on the website and therefore are pleased with your merchandise. For those who have intends to open your personal store beneath your own domain (and you ought to, especially if you wish to scale your business!), you’re most likely best choosing another mobile card swiper. You are able to compare our top-reviewed services here. Or check out some tools to construct your personal simple selling website here.

And even if you’re pleased with Etsy, make sure to support your data, from product photos to descriptions, prices, and purchasers figures, somewhere secure.

If you are a new comer to accepting charge card payments on the mobile phone, take a look at our comprehensive guide. If you’re thinking about creating a web-based shop on Etsy or any other platform, we encourage you to check out our shopping cart software reviews and compare services.

That stated, this Etsy-branded card readers could alter the game for online sellers who should also sell personally. Can we see more branded readers later on? Maybe. It’s certainly worth keeping watch.

Melissa Johnson

Melissa Manley is definitely an independent author and editor who loves e-commerce, internet marketing, technology, and social networking. Not so long ago, she earned a journalism degree, but she continued to uncover that they could work at home, researching, editing, and covering the items she found most fascinating. When she’s not associated with her laptop, Melissa usually can be based in the kitchen, studying a magazine, or doing something from the nerdy persuasion.

Melissa Johnson

“”

What’s Enterprise eCommerce Software?

enterprise ecommerce software

To put it simply, enterprise eCommerce software programs are software that enables large organizations to market online. The Finish. Just kidding! There’s a little more into it than that. For just one, today’s enterprise commerce solutions aren’t just for multi-million-dollar corporations — not even close to it. Since most software programs are cloud-based and completely scaleable, eCommerce solutions like Shopify Plus are thought enterprise software, despite the fact that lots of small companies use Shopify, too.

In the following paragraphs, we’ll take particular notice at enterprise eCommerce software and assist you in finding out if one of these simple solutions might work with your company.

Are You Currently an “Enterprise” Business?

Being considered “Enterprise” has hardly any related to the amount of employees you’ve, the amount of customers offered, or perhaps your internet revenue. These could be fair indicators, when you are a company has more details on the dwelling of the business.

You may be a company if…

  • You are offering several type of service or product for your customers
  • The different departments of the business make use of the same…
    • Pool of monetary sources
    • Pool of technical sources
    • General management team

In case you really would like to get technical, the majority of retail companies might be considered enterprise-sized if their annual revenue exceeds $7.5M. (This can be a very general example, not supposed to have been utilized as a metric.)

What’s Enterprise Software?

This can be a bit simpler to define. Enterprise software, also referred to as Enterprise Software (EAS), is usually an application system made to serve the varied needs of a big business. EAS brings each department under one umbrella, enabling a far more seamless communication platform. 

Enterprise software supplies a centralized, company-wide solution for accounting, eCommerce, order processing, or other business need (or combination thereof). This kind of software programs are suitable for multi-location/multi-server companies, and it is cost has a tendency to reflect the bigger budget of “enterprise-sized” companies.

This kind of software might be cloud-located or installed, or perhaps a hybrid. All the major eCommerce Enterprise software programs are cloud-based, however.

Types of enterprise software:

You will find all kinds of enterprise software made to handle diverse tasks varying from order processing to crm. Consider the main focus want to know , is on enterprise eCommerce software, I’ll provide you with some eCommerce types of enterprise software:

What Enterprise eCommerce Software Does

When eCommerce software – also known as “Shopping Cart” software – graduates in to the enterprise arena, several important perks are usually incorporated.

  • Offers unlimited everything (quantity of products, product variations, online storage, bandwidth, traffic, etc.) 
  • Includes premium web features like custom SSL certificates, SSO (single sign-on, in which a single login provides you with use of several service), and Google Reliable Store tags
  • Order and inventory management
  • Payment gateways convey more competitive rates and charges
  • Multi-funnel and multi-store features
  • Integrated Reason for Purchase (POS) features
  • Crm (CRM) features
  • Personal account managers, assisting in training, and tech support team

“White Glove” Customer Care

Among the main reasons to choose a company plan’s the high level of customer and tech support team incorporated using this type of package. Most eCommerce developers provides you with a passionate account manager who will help with such things as onboarding assistance, demos for the team, and priority tech support team. 

Enterprise eCommerce Software Scalability

Enterprise-level software is made to become a fundamental element of your company regardless of how much it grows — consider it as being a framework that may support any weight.

When I pointed out earlier, the scalability of contemporary cloud-based (web-based) software means which you can use some edition of eCommerce software even when your company is closer in dimensions to some lemonade stand than to Zappos. For instance, having a solution like Shopify or Magento, bigger companies rich in sales volumes will most likely pick the “Plus” or “Enterprise” package, while a startup will choose regular Shopify or even the Magento Community Edition.

When compared with starter editions of eCommerce software, enterprise-level plans are specifically scaleable — that’s, suitable for fast-growing companies — because they typically allow unlimited products, bandwidth, and support, letting your resource usage expand as big as the business grows. 

Seamlessly Integrated Systems

Enterprise eCommerce software can help you unite all of your business’s departments, making everything run smoother. For instance, CRM functionality aids the HR and marketing departments, while inventory control features inform the warehouse, S&R, and offer chain departments, and integrated POS systems provide the sales teams better tools for everyone the client.

These functionalities aren’t always absent in lower plans, however, an enterprise plan is about scale, so things are included at as high an amount since you need.

When all of these functions are under one software roof, your important business information is updated in tangible-time and you may avoid the glitches that often occur when attempting to integrate disparate software systems.

Enterprise-level API

Though enterprise-level software suites are usually created with a single developer, API integrations for third-party developers can extend the functionality to satisfy highly customized needs.

Types of eCommerce API integrations:

Global wholesale sourcing

E-mail marketing

Shipping

You may also make use of an API to integrate your company eCommerce solution with whichever Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), accounting software, CRM, or any other software your company already uses. (Note that most CRM functions are nearly always incorporated only at that degree of eCommerce software, but importing your computer data out of your previous CRM option would be usually super easy.)

Conclusion:

You have been neighborhood. You will know you can’t make major decisions in line with the “guess and check” method. You’ll need a solution you will not outgrow, one which won’t hinder preserving your loyal subscriber base or perhaps your corporate identity. Quite simply, you are prepared to accept leap into a company-sized eCommerce solution.

While you take a look at software options, make contact with someone each and every company who are able to show the terms for his or her enterprise search engine optimization. Most shopping cart software providers won’t have qualifications that you’ll want to satisfy, but it’s still smart to contact somebody that can assess your company needs and put you in contact with the proper group of features, in the right cost.

Take a look at our shopping cart software comparison to determine how various eCommerce software programs like Shopify and Bigcommerce compare.

Shannon Vissers

Shannon is really a freelance author and editor located in North Park, CA. Shannon type of wants an apple iphone 7, but she’s not necessarily prepared to lose the headphone jack.

Shannon Vissers

Shannon Vissers

“”

The Top 5 Payment Gateways for Online Credit Card Processing

Online payment gateway

Setting up an eCommerce business involves making a lot of choices, but one important decision you might have overlooked is choosing the best payment gateway to allow your customers to actually make purchases on your site. Pick a good gateway, and you’ll be able to accept just about any payment method imaginable, interface with the online shopping cart of your choice, and, perhaps most importantly, easily be able to migrate your customer payment data to a different system if you later decide to change gateway providers. If you pick a not-so-great gateway, you may someday find yourself with a product that no longer meets the needs of your business – and no easy way to switch to a better one.

If you’re new to eCommerce, your first question might be “Just what the heck is a payment gateway, anyway?” Admittedly, payment gateways are something of a nebulous subject. Merchants are often unsure about what they do, and why they might need one in the first place. They’re also often confused with merchant accounts, which is a related (but separate) merchant service that you’ll also need to accept credit cards and other forms of payment.

We’ll try to keep it as simple as possible. A payment gateway is a software application that establishes a communication link between your eCommerce website and your merchant account provider’s payment processing system. Much like your computer’s BIOS and other operating system functions, payment gateways run in the background, and your customers won’t have to interface with them directly. The primary purpose of a payment gateway is to allow your customers to make purchases on your site using the payment method of their choice. While almost every gateway will support credit card purchases, the better ones will also allow customers to pay using eChecks, debit cards, their PayPal account, and even contactless payment methods such as Apple Pay. Most gateways also maintain a secure database of your customers’ payment method data, shipping and billing addresses, and other information. With this database, returning customers won’t have to re-enter their payment method information every time they make a purchase. This feature naturally translates to increased sales due to the convenience it offers your customers. For more details about payment gateways and how they work, see our article The Complete Guide to Online Credit Card Processing With a Payment Gateway.

Merchant accounts, on the other hand, process payment transactions and disburse the funds to you after a customer makes a purchase. Both retail and eCommerce businesses need a merchant account to accept credit card payments, although today payment service providers (PSPs) such as Square and Stripe can offer basic credit card processing without the need for a full-service merchant account. If your business is strictly retail and you don’t make any sales online, you can stop reading now. You won’t need a payment gateway. eCommerce merchants, on the other hand, will usually need both a payment gateway and a merchant account. This is because their transactions will all be in a card-not-present environment where they won’t be able to verify their customer’s identity or have access to the magstripe or EMV-chip data that helps to prevent fraud in the traditional card-present environment of a retail location.

With so many different choices of merchant account and payment gateway providers on the market, you might wonder what the best way is to set your business up with both of these services. There are two methods you can use: an integrated approach, or a non-integrated approach. Under the integrated approach, you’ll use the same provider for both services. For example, an account with a payment service provider (PSP) like Stripe includes both payment gateway functions and transaction processing services. The non-integrated approach, on the other hand, requires you to sign up for each service separately. The easiest way to do this is to use the payment gateway offered by your merchant account provider. Often this will be a proprietary product, such as the Quantum Gateway provided by CDGcommerce. While most providers will charge you additional fees for a payment gateway, CDGcommerce will let you use their gateway for free. Many providers also offer access to third-party gateways, which may be a better option if you need more advanced features than what the proprietary gateways have to offer or simply want to have more flexibility to change your merchant account provider at some point in the future. The majority of merchant account providers (including CDGcommerce) offer Authorize.Net as one of their payment gateway options. Signing up for the Authorize.Net gateway through your merchant account provider is often less expensive than going with the company directly, as providers can negotiate discounted rates and fees for their customers.

Another way to take the non-integrated approach is to sign up for your merchant account and payment gateway separately. For example, let’s say you’ve found a great merchant account provider that offers significantly lower processing rates than you’ve been able to find elsewhere. Unfortunately, they don’t offer a gateway that includes all the features you need for your business. You can always sign up for a third-party gateway and integrate it into your merchant account. While this may be the best option for some merchants, be aware that there are two disadvantages to this approach. For one thing, you’ll have to make absolutely sure that the two services are fully compatible with each other before you sign up. Also, you will almost always end up paying more money with this approach. Watch out for gateway setup fees and additional per-transaction charges for using a third-party gateway.

So, which approach is right for your business? There’s simply no clear-cut answer to this question, unfortunately. As a general rule, however, smaller businesses will usually save money by signing up with a payment service provider (PSP) that doesn’t charge monthly fees for either transaction processing or the use of their payment gateway. The trade-off, of course, is that you will pay higher per-transaction processing costs, as most PSPs only offer flat-rate pricing. Upgrading to a full-service merchant account and adding in a payment gateway will cost you more in monthly fees, but you’ll usually save money on processing charges – at least if your provider offers interchange-plus pricing. Larger businesses that have a higher monthly processing volume can more easily afford the extra fees and will save money overall because of the lower processing rates available from full-service merchant account providers. Because of the number of variables involved, there is no easy way to determine what your processing volume needs to be for a full-service merchant account plus a gateway to be more cost-effective than simply going with a PSP. We recommend that you take a close look at the total percentage of your transactions each month that goes to paying for merchant services and compare this to what you would pay under a different provider.

How We Chose:

While all payment gateways offer the basic function of processing transactions over the internet, there’s a lot of variability beyond that. The best gateways on the market offer a combination of fair pricing and a robust feature set that will meet the needs of most eCommerce merchants. In evaluating how well each gateway stood up against the competition, we used the following criteria:

  • Pricing: While everyone wants to save money, we firmly believe that pricing should be evaluated in terms of overall value rather than simply trying to find the cheapest option available. Trying to save a few dollars can easily result in being stuck with a product that doesn’t fully meet your needs. Nonetheless, there are some things to look out for. Many gateway providers, for example, charge a gateway setup fee when you first open your account. While this is a one-time charge, it’s mostly a junk fee that you should avoid paying. You’re more likely to get hit with a setup fee if you sign up directly with a gateway provider. Merchant account providers often waive this fee if you get your gateway through them. Monthly gateway fees (usually around $15.00 – $25.00 per month), on the other hand, are very hard to avoid. Unless you sign up with a company like CDGcommerce, which doesn’t charge a monthly fee for their gateway, you can expect to pay this on top of whatever monthly fee you have to pay for your merchant account. Gateway processing charges (typically $0.05 per transaction) are another thing to look out for. Some companies will charge you separately for this, while others will include it in their processing rates. You might also have to pay PCI compliance fees, particularly if you’ve signed up directly with a gateway provider. Usually, however, these fees are included in your merchant account pricing.
  • Contracts: Most payment gateway providers will bill you on a month-to-month basis, with no long-term contract and no early termination fee (ETF) if you close your account. However, your merchant account provider might include both of these provisions, so read all your contract documents very carefully before signing up. It won’t do you much good to be able to drop your payment gateway whenever you want if you’re stuck in a three-year contract for your merchant account.
  • Features: Obviously, you’ll want a gateway that includes the features you’ll need to run your business. Confirming that a gateway will meet your needs, however, isn’t always as easy as it should be. Companies naturally tend to play up the unique features of their services, but in most cases, they won’t disclose the limitations or shortcomings of those services. For starters, you’ll want to confirm that the gateway supports all the payment methods your customers use. For example, almost every gateway on the market will support Visa and MasterCard credit card purchases. Support for less-common cards isn’t as easy to find. If your customers use Diners Club (as unusual as that may be), you’ll want a gateway that supports it. Support for multiple currencies is also important for some merchants, and you’ll obviously need a gateway that supports the specific currencies your customers use. If you prefer a particular online shopping cart for your site, you’ll need a gateway that is certified to integrate with it. If you need to customize the integration between your site and your gateway, access to an API that allows you to do that will be essential. Finally, we recommend that you choose a gateway that allows for easy and convenient data portability in case you need to switch to a different gateway.
  • Security: No eCommerce merchant ever wants to have their site hacked and their customer’s sensitive payment data exposed in a data breach. Your gateway provider doesn’t want this to happen, either, which is why every gateway on the market comes with a number of security and encryption features to keep your account safe. Some of these features, however, are more effective than others. Look for point-to-point encryption (P2PE) and a gateway that meets Level 1 PCI compliance standards. Other features, such as data breach insurance, are also useful to have.
  • Customer support: Like any other software product, payment gateways are prone to occasional hiccups and glitches – often at the most inconvenient times. The eCommerce world runs around the clock and isn’t limited to just regular business hours. For this reason, you’ll want a gateway that’s backed up by 24/7 customer support. While options like email and online chat are nice to have, you really should be able to talk to a customer service representative via telephone when a problem arises.

Before we dive into our specific recommendations, let’s be clear about one thing: there really isn’t a perfect gateway out there that will meet the needs of every merchant. Even the best gateways fall short of perfection in one aspect or another. Nonetheless, there are several gateways that provide a significantly better combination of features and services than others. Here are our recommendations:

Authorize.Net

Authorize.Net logo

Originally founded in 1996, Authorize.Net is one of the oldest and most experienced payment gateway providers in the industry. Thanks to partnerships with a host of merchant account providers, they’ve also cornered the lion’s share of the market for payment gateways. There’s a good chance that your merchant account provider offers Authorize.Net as their payment gateway.

But, does being the biggest gateway provider also make them the best? Well, maybe. With over twenty years in business to perfect their product, they’ve definitely managed to add a lot of bells and whistles to their core product. Their gateway can accept all major credit cards (yes, even Diner’s Club), debit cards, eCheck payments, and even digital payment methods such as PayPal and Apple Pay. They can accept international transactions from just about any country in the world, although your business must be based in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, or Australia. Their Advanced Fraud Detection Suite (AFDS) can protect your site from card-not-present fraud – a common issue with eCommerce. Best of all, their gateway seamlessly integrates with a huge number of third-party eCommerce platforms.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, there are a few things to watch out for. Pricing can be on the high side if you sign up directly with Authorize.Net, with a $49.00 gateway setup fee, a $25.00 monthly gateway fee, and a $25.00 fee for chargebacks. If you already have a merchant account, you’ll still pay an additional $0.10 per transaction for the use of their gateway. International transactions also pay an additional 1.5% for processing. If you don’t have a merchant account, Authorize.Net will set you up with one, but it uses a flat-rate pricing plan of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. While this is the same as what you’d pay for PayPal or most other payment service providers (PSPs), you can get lower rates by signing up with a merchant account provider that offers interchange-plus pricing.

The good news is that you can usually get a better deal on the Authorize.Net gateway by signing up with a partner merchant account provider. Most providers will waive the setup fee, and they’ll often charge a lower monthly gateway fee and per-transaction processing fee (typically $0.05 per transaction). However, Authorize.Net does have one major weakness: data portability. Or, rather, the lack of it. Their Customer Information Manager (CIM) is a powerful feature that allows you to store customer data, including credit card numbers, securely. Unfortunately, it’s difficult and very expensive to download that data and take it with you if you ever decide to switch to a competing payment gateway. This is a serious limitation, especially considering that other providers (such as Braintree) offer you the freedom to take your customer data with you if you want to. You’ll want to very carefully evaluate whether Authorize.Net will be able to meet the long-term needs of your business before you sign up.

PROS:

  • Broad support for multiple payment methods and currencies
  • Strong security and fraud prevention features
  • Month-to-month billing with no long-term contracts

CONS:

  • Pricing is expensive for merchants who sign up with the company directly
  • High flat-rate pricing for optional merchant account
  • Data portability is unusually difficult and expensive

For a more in-depth look at Authorize.Net, check out our full review.

Braintree Payment Solutions:

Braintree Payment Solutions logo

Founded in 2010, Braintree Payments Solutions is now a PayPal company. They offer an integrated approach to eCommerce, with each account including both a payment gateway and a full-service merchant account. It’s available in 44 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and most of Europe. Payments can be accepted in over 130 currencies, including Bitcoin if you’re particularly adventurous.

Standard accounts at Braintree follow a pay-as-you-go pricing model, with no account setup fees, monthly fees, or even gateway fees. All transactions are processed at a flat rate of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. Billing is on a month-to-month basis, with no long-term contracts or early termination fees. While the flat-rate pricing is not particularly cost-effective for larger businesses, the lack of monthly fees makes it a great deal for smaller companies. Braintree addresses this limitation by offering enterprise pricing for larger businesses (presumably with interchange-plus rates), but you’ll have to process over $80,000 per month to qualify for it.

Braintree’s gateway includes some excellent standard features, including its Drop-In UI for customer checkouts and support for recurring billing. It’s also compatible with a huge variety of third-party integrations, including shopping carts, accounting software, and analytics. Developers can further customize the gateway using Braintree’s client and server SDKs. Perhaps the best feature Braintree has to offer is that they provide complete data portability for free. If your needs change and you want to switch to a different provider, you’re free to take your customer data with you.

While Braintree offers an excellent service at a fair price, it’s not for everyone. If you already have a separate merchant account (particularly if you’re stuck in a long-term contract), their gateway-only option is quite expensive at $49.00 per month and $0.10 per transaction processed over the gateway. There’s also almost no support for card-present (i.e., retail) transactions, although they do support a handful of third-party mPOS solutions.

PROS:

  • Pay-as-you-go pricing with no monthly fees
  • Simple flat-rate pricing for standard accounts
  • Free, unrestricted data portability

CONS:

  • No support for eCheck (ACH) payments
  • Gateway-only option is expensive

Check out our full review of Braintree for more information.

PayPal:

PayPal Logo

You might not think of PayPal as a payment gateway provider, but their Payflow Payment Gateway is actually a very capable product. In fact, PayPal offers a host of merchant services for eCommerce businesses, and you can integrate most of them with the merchant account, shopping cart, or another service you’re already using.

Offering PayPal as an additional payment method is the simplest option, as it’s free to set up and there are no monthly fees or long-term contracts. Pricing is pay-as-you-go and based on a flat rate of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction (4.4% + $0.30 per transaction for international transactions). While this is certainly the least expensive option, realize that as a payment service provider (PSP), PayPal is not giving you a full merchant account. Instead, your account is aggregated with those of other sellers so that you won’t have a unique merchant ID number for your business. The downsides to this arrangement, of course, are that your account won’t be nearly as stable as a merchant account, plus account freezes and holds on your funds are more common. PayPal is rather notorious for withholding seller’s funds at the slightest suspicion of fraud, so it’s better to use them as a backup payment method rather than relying on them entirely for your transaction processing needs.

If you already have a merchant account through a different provider, the Payflow Payment Gateway is designed to integrate with it and expand your payment options. There are two pricing plans for the Payflow gateway: Payflow Link and Payflow Pro. Payflow Link (the best choice for most merchants) is practically free. There are no gateway setup or monthly fees. You pay an extra $0.10 per transaction, and that’s it. You can use a PayPal-hosted payment page or a template embedded on your website. Payflow Pro, on the other hand, offers full customization and additional PCI compliance features. However, it’s rather expensive, with a $99.00 setup fee and a $25.00 monthly fee after that. You’ll also still pay $0.10 per transaction with this option.

PROS:

  • No setup or monthly fees (for Payflow Link)
  • Simple, transparent flat-rate pricing with no hidden fees
  • Easy to setup and begin accepting payments

CONS:

  • Flat-rate processing charges are higher than most merchant accounts offer
  • Elevated risk of account holds, freezes, and terminations
  • Inconsistent quality of customer support

For more detailed information about PayPal, see our complete review here.

PayTrace:

PayTrace logo

While they’re not nearly as well-known as the other heavy hitters in the payment gateway industry, PayTrace offers a solid product with lots of specialized features, particularly for merchants in the B2B sphere. Unlike other merchant services providers who offer a broad range of products and services, PayTrace is a payment gateway provider first and foremost. They don’t offer merchant accounts or any hardware, so you’ll have to go with a third-party provider for these items. Although the PayTrace gateway is their primary product, the company also offers a virtual terminal and a mobile payments app.

PayTrace offers both Basic and Pro pricing plans, with the former being suitable for small eCommerce businesses and the latter offering specialized options for larger B2B merchants. The Basic plan has no setup fee and costs only $15.00 per month after that. You’ll also pay $0.30 per transaction processed over the gateway, which is in addition to any processing charge you pay to your merchant account provider. The Pro plan requires a $75.00 setup fee, and $20.00 per month after that. However, your gateway processing fee drops to $0.10 per transaction. You’ll also be able to process Level II and Level III credit card data, which will save you up to 1.0% in processing charges due to the lower interchange rates for these transactions. Processing Level III data requires some additional data input on your part and is mostly useful for B2B transactions, but if you process a lot of these types of transactions, the savings could be significant.

The PayTrace gateway also supports additional features such as eCheck (ACH) processing and recurring billing. However, these are optional features requiring additional fees, and are only available under the Pro plan. PayTrace bills on a month-to-month basis only, so there’s no long-term contract and no early termination fee to worry about. Be aware, however, that your merchant account provider might not be so generous. As always, we highly recommend that you read all contract documents thoroughly before signing up for a merchant account. The same advice goes for payment gateways, even though gateway providers are generally much more flexible about contract terms.

Like most gateway providers, PayTrace also offers a customer information database so returning customers don’t have to re-enter their payment method data every time they make a purchase. Unfortunately, it’s only available under the Pro pricing plan. Data portability is supported, although PayTrace notes on its website that “only truncated payment information is available for export from the system.”

PROS:

  • Month-to-month billing with no long-term contracts
  • Integrates with most merchant account providers and shopping carts
  • Supports Level II and Level III credit card data for B2B merchants

CONS:

  • High per-transaction processing charge under Basic pricing plan

To learn more about PayTrace, check out our full review.

Stripe Payments:

Stripe logo

Much like Braintree, Stripe Payments is a tech-focused merchant services provider that specializes in serving the eCommerce community. Those services are tightly integrated into their payments system, so the company doesn’t offer a discrete Stripe-branded payment gateway. Instead, it’s built into their overall payments platform and comes with every Stripe account. For small businesses, this is a very affordable approach, as there’s no separate account setup fee, no monthly gateway fees, and no additional per-transaction processing fee. You also don’t have to worry about trying to integrate two or more third-party services into your website. Another advantage is that Stripe includes several additional features for free that most gateway providers charge extra for, including eCheck (ACH) processing and recurring billing.

Stripe’s pay-as-you-go pricing couldn’t be simpler. Credit card transactions are processed at a single flat rate of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. eChecks are 0.8%, up to a maximum of $5.00. Stripe also supports digital payment methods such as Bitcoin and Apple Pay. Qualified nonprofit corporations get a discount on these rates, and enterprise users (i.e., those processing over $80,000 per month) can also negotiate volume discounts on their processing rates. Like most of its direct competitors, Stripe bills month-to-month only and doesn’t impose long-term contracts or early termination fees.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? If you think that there must be a catch – of course there is. Stripe is a payment service provider (PSP), and so they don’t provide true full-service merchant accounts. Like other PSPs (i.e., Square or PayPal), funding holds and account freezes or terminations are distressingly common. Customer service is another weak point, with almost all communications between Stripe and its merchants being conducted via email.

The best thing about Stripe is that it’s designed specifically for eCommerce merchants. Most providers are more focused on the retail sector, and their support for eCommerce always comes at a higher cost in the form of gateway fees and additional per-transaction charges. With Stripe, new eCommerce merchants get everything they need to start accepting payments as soon as their account is approved. While a Stripe account covers all the basics, you can also add or customize features through their huge API library or supported third-party integrations. Stripe also supports data portability, so you can easily take your customer information with you if you decide to change providers later.

PROS:

  • Pay-as-you-go pricing with no setup or monthly fees
  • Simple, transparent flat-rate pricing structure
  • No long-term contracts or early termination fees
  • Huge API library for developers

CONS:

  • Flat-rate pricing is more expensive than interchange-plus for high-volume merchants
  • Frequent account holds and terminations
  • No telephone customer support

For more information, see our complete review of Stripe Payments here.

Final Thoughts:

If you’ve been reading this far, you’ve probably concluded that selecting a payment gateway provider can be a very complicated decision. While that’s sometimes true, it doesn’t have to be all that difficult. Gateway providers offer a dizzying array of options, customizations, and add-ons, but in most cases, you won’t need all of them. Take a close look at what your business needs are today, and consider how those needs might expand over time as your business grows. For example, if you don’t need recurring billing, there’s no reason to pay extra for it. If your needs change later, you can always add it to your service. Level II and III credit card data processing is another feature that a sales agent might try to upsell you on. Yes, the rates are lower, but you still pay extra to access them, and if you don’t take many B2B transactions, you’ll wind up paying extra for something you don’t use.

You’ll also want to put some thought into whether the integrated or non-integrated approach will work best for you. Payment service providers (PSPs) like PayPal or Stripe are an excellent way to add credit card processing to your business without spending any money up front. However, once your business grows large enough, the high flat-rate pricing will end up costing you more money than you’d pay with a traditional merchant account offering interchange-plus pricing. Since there’s no long-term contract to worry about, it’s relatively easy to make the switch once this happens. However, you’ll probably have to find a merchant account provider and a new gateway.

Although there are no hard and fast rules, we recommend providers such as PayPal or Stripe for new, low-volume eCommerce businesses. Braintree is also a good option, especially if you’d like to get all your merchant services from the same company. When you’re ready to step up to a full-service merchant account, Authorize.Net is a good option. However, we recommend getting their gateway through a third-party provider rather than the company itself due to the generally lower costs. PayTrace is also an excellent choice if you already have a merchant account, especially if you run a lot of B2B transactions.

Much like merchant account providers, there is no single “best” gateway provider. Even the companies we’ve profiled here have their shortcomings. Every business has different needs, and it’s up to you to decide what features your business needs the most. Fortunately, most payment gateway providers offer a similar set of standard features that cover the most common requirements of a majority of businesses. They also provide a very high degree of customization to make their service work with your business, although in many cases you’ll have to have developer skills (or hire one) to implement them. If you’ve had any experience with the providers profiled in this article or you want to highlight a gateway provider we haven’t mentioned, please feel free to tell us about it in the Comments section below.

The post The Top 5 Payment Gateways for Online Credit Card Processing appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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PayPal Versus Stripe

Paypal-vs-Stripe

PayPal and Stripe are tools to deal with online payment processing, but they’re also a lot more. Using its slew of interconnected products varying from mobile payments to financing services, I believe it’s reliable advice that PayPal is really a household name. And Stripe, while much more of a “behind the scenes” processor whose name customers don’t always recognize, includes a lengthy listing of extremely popular clients and partners. So within the PayPal versus. Stripe debate, that has the benefit?

First, let me explain that neither PayPal nor Stripe provides the least expensive payment processing rates around. For any fundamental payment processor with lower rates, you’d need to be obtaining a regular credit card merchant account. You&#8217ll acquire some fundamental eCommerce support, which can be recommended that you&#8217re centered on cost and never so much on features.

However if you simply&#8217re searching for features and versatility, you&#8217re in the best place. PayPal and Stripe’s strengths lie within their myriad eCommerce features, including support for digital goods, subscriptions, as well as mobile application payments. However, even though these two services do essentially exactly the same factor, they are doing do it diversely.

If you’re unsure which of those online payment processors suits your company, or simply want a little more context for prior to deciding, continue reading in my comparison of both companies&#8217 selling points: features, prices, customer support, and much more. For those who have something to include or perhaps your experience is different from my conclusions, you can leave me a comment!

Services and products

Champion: Stripe

PayPal&#8217s core offering happens to be its payment processing: allowing anybody to create a payment to some merchant utilizing their own PayPal balance or perhaps a debit or credit card.  But nowadays, retailers using PayPal obtain access to a number of supplemental services where you can exceed selling on eBay.

You will find three service plans for PayPal:

  • Express Checkout: Add PayPal like a supplemental checkout option additionally for your standard payment processor for normal PayPal rates.
  • Payments Standard: Get online payment processing and invoicing for normal rates.
  • Payments Pro: Get the standard PayPal features Along with a Virtual Terminal and located checkout page for any fee every month plus processing fee.

You will discover much more about these different plans here.

PayPal’s other services include:

  • PayPal Here: PayPal’s mPOS application
  • POS software integrations
  • Located payment page (with PayPal Pro subscription)
  • PCI compliance
  • PayFlow Payment Gateway
  • Online &amp in-application invoicing
  • Virtual terminal
  • Digital goods
  • Subscriptions
  • Donation collection tools
  • Buy now buttons
  • Mass payout
  • PayPal Credit: Provide no-interest financing to customers

Plus, PayPal offers SDKs along with other developer tools so that you can create custom integrations &#8212 as well as power your personal mobile payments application with support for Android Pay and Apple Pay.

Like PayPal, Stripe&#8217s primary function is online payments. The organization offers retailers a boatload of features to enhance its core offering, but unlike PayPal, they&#8217re much more of supplements than capabilities beyond payment processing. Listed here are Stripe’s primary features:

  • Payment processing
  • Located payment page
  • PCI compliance
  • Customizable checkout
  • Subscriptions
  • Marketplace tools
  • Platform-building tools
  • Coupons and free trials
  • Customizable reporting tools
  • Buy buttons in mobile phone applications

It bears mentioning that Stripe states convey more than 100 features &#8212 and that i&#8217m inclined to think it. It&#8217s a really robust platform that may focus on almost any type of internet companies. Plus, past the general features, you&#8217ll also find Stripe&#8217s Atlas suite of tools, made to help worldwide entrepreneurs begin a business in america. Stripe also offers a strong API for simple integration with a number of other applications. You may also integrate stripe with mPOS apps &#8212 if you&#8217ll be having to pay exactly the same rate, that is considerably greater than most mPOS apps. However, the integrations do support Android and Apple Pay too.

PayPal versus. Stripe: Featuring Do You Want?

Since we&#8217ve covered the fundamentals, it&#8217s time for you to consider what&#8217s essential for your company.

Sigma is Stripe&#8217s reporting tool, and I wish to call focus on it since it&#8217s easily probably the most robust and different reporting tool I&#8217ve seen. PayPal will generate reports for you personally &#8212 but nobody besides Stripe enables you to definitely make your own custom SQL queries to create reports. This isn&#8217t just selecting from the pre-generated listing of options &#8212 if you’re able to ask it using SQL, you can aquire a report. Should you&#8217re after a little serious business data, it&#8217s difficult to ignore it. PayPal&#8217s reports are fairly advanced (also it&#8217s a lengthy list), but they’re not customizable. A minimum of nothing like Stripe&#8217s.

I continue being surprised by Stripe&#8217s insufficient an online terminal. You are able to by hand enter transactions with the dashboard, but the organization positively discourages by using this feature greater than from time to time. Additionally, it leaves you responsible for PCI compliance. PayPal&#8217s virtual terminal comes at a price &#8212 along with a greater processing rate &#8212 but based on your company, it may be an excellent tool. Most omnichannel platforms provide a virtual terminal nowadays. On the other hand, Stripe is mainly for online commerce.

An associated note: Stripe generally handles PCI compliance for you personally, meaning no charges or additional work. If you possess the PayPal Standard plan, you&#8217re instantly PCI compliant too. However, around the PayPal Pro plan you aren&#8217t. Rather, PayPal provides you with transparent redirects to assist, and also you much complete a yearly self-assessment in addition to quarterly scans and much more. It won&#8217t set you back more past the monthly plan you&#8217ll have to put more work in it.

Something which Stripe recommends to obtain around PCI compliance concerns for manual transactions is applying an invoicing service. You&#8217ll need to find an add-on service that integrates with Stripe &#8212 for instance, Zoho Invoice, or Flint. This will be significant because Stripe doesn’t have native invoicing support. PayPal enables you to send invoices out of your computer or from inside the PayPal Here application.

However, there&#8217s without doubt that Stripe has probably the most capable tools for designing checkout processes and managing subscriptions. PayPal has some solid management tools for subscriptions and recurring billing, however, you do not have control of the checkout process around the Standard plan,  and the professional Plan&#8217s checkout tools just don&#8217t appear to stack facing Stripe&#8217s.

While PayPal and Stripe offer methods to exactly the same problem (online payments), they do it in Completely different ways. PayPal may be the entry-level solution &#8212 something which anybody (or at best, almost anybody) with a fundamental knowledge of eCommerce or technology can use. However, there is also much more tools to consider your company beyond only the Internet: an mPOS, invoicing, POS integrations, and much more. Unless of course you&#8217re searching at something completely custom, the majority of PayPal&#8217s features don&#8217t require specialized understanding.

To obtain the most from Stripe, you&#8217re have to a developer, because it wasn’t created for the layperson. It&#8217s intended for companies that require a very customizable and tech-based solution for payment processing. If you want a plentiful variety of features, Stripe may be the obvious champion as well as your emphasis is particularly online payments. If your priorities lie elsewhere (simplicity of use, or omnichannel commerce), you may be very likely to think about PayPal.

Charges and Rates

Champion: PayPal

Both PayPal and Stripe charge merchants the same per-transaction processing fee: 2.9% + $..30. Additionally, Stripe will also support both ACH and Bitcoin, charging .8% per transaction, limited to $5 maximum.

Stripe charges nothing extra for accepting worldwide cards, because of its subscription services, or its located payments page. This really is certainly a perk. However, if you are planning to make use of Connect, Stripe&#8217s platform-building suite, you&#8217ll encounter additional charges.

PayPal&#8217s base subscription bills you nothing monthly &#8212 however, you don&#8217t obtain a located payment page. To achieve that, you have to change your intend to PayPal Payments Pro. There is also PayPal&#8217s virtual terminal (which has a different prices plan for transactions). However, if you would like recurring billing/subscriptions, there&#8217s yet another fee.

  • PayPal Payments Pro + Virtual Terminal: $30/month
  • Virtual terminal prices: 3.1% + $.30
  • American Express prices for Pro and Virtual Terminal: 3.5%
  • Recurring billing: $10/month

Forty dollars per month for located payment page and recurring billing appears just like a lot. However, you need to do will also get the virtual terminal &#8212 an element Stripe doesn&#8217t support. Plus, should you&#8217re once subscription management, you don&#8217t must have PayPal Payments Pro. A $10/month add-on is much more reasonable, otherwise ideal.

It&#8217s also worth mentioning that PayPal is really less expensive in other situations. Particularly, PayPal provides a non-profit discount for 501(c)(3) organizations, in which you&#8217ll pay 2.2% + $.30 for transactions. And let’s say you sell low-value digital goods (under $10 typically), PayPal really provides a micro payments plan that can save you money within the typical rates. You&#8217ll pay 5% + $.05 per transaction &#8212 and since the transaction fee is gloomier, you find yourself saving cash although the percentage fee is greater. There&#8217s additionally a Mass Payout option, where one can s finish a bulk wave of payments for just twoPercent, limited to $1 per transaction.

If you want an mPOS, PayPal Here’s also less expensive than dealing with Stripe &#8212 2.7% per swipe, instead of 2.9% + $.30. Again, based on your average ticket size, this might mean substantial savings. (However, if you are using Shopify Payments, that is operated by Stripe, you will get 2.7% on swiped transactions. However that means building on Shopify&#8217s platform, not Stripe&#8217s.)

You’ll find a lot of PayPal’s prices here, or take a look at Stripe&#8217s prices.

I truly dislike PayPal&#8217s cost because of its located payment page, virtual terminal, and recurring billing, considering that other available choices available &#8212 not only Stripe &#8212 with lower prices. However I like that exist nonprofit prices, there&#8217s a micropayments choice for retailers who sell digital goods, and you obtain a flat percentage rate for mPOS transactions. Which makes PayPal much more flexible on prices compared with Stripe.

Simplicity of use

Champion: PayPal

Both Stripe and PayPal allow customers to pay retailers. But because a merchant, your experience is going to be a great deal different. While PayPal has tools for developers, it&#8217s created for almost anybody so that you can setup and begin taking payments. For those who have no training with code, establishing Stripe will probably be much more complicated. You might be able to setup the fundamentals yourself (we&#8217ve seen reading user reviews affirming this). However, if you want something more complicated than the usual fundamental eCommerce site, you probably wish to just bite the bullet and employ a developer. Otherwise, you&#8217ll be fairly limited in you skill.

Here’s a good example: You’ve most likely seen PayPal’s ubiquitous “Buy it now” button, which enables you to definitely order and purchase products on numerous sites. To be able to integrate a “Buy it now” button to your site, all that you should do is copy the related code from PayPal’s website and paste it to your website. Stripe includes a similar “Pay with card” option, however it requires you because the merchant/developer to create the necessary coding framework.

Now, if you’re a developer, there&#8217s no doubt that Stripe is the foremost choice. You can perform a lot with PayPal nowadays. But that can be done a lot more with Stripe. Again, Stripe was created first of all for developers&#8230so this will make lots of sense. However if you simply&#8217re not tech savvy and also you don&#8217t have quick access to a person using the requisite skills, PayPal will probably be the smarter option.

Contract Length and Early Termination Fee

Champion: Tie

Neither PayPal nor Stripe needs a contract (both services are pay-as-you-go), which means no early termination fee for either service either. Yay!

Sales and Advertising Transparency

Champion: Tie

Both PayPal and Strike are extremely upfront regarding their charges and services. Neither company employs any schemes or gimmicks which will catch you unexpectedly if you notice your bill. As pointed out, PayPal’s charges could be a little trickier to wrap the mind around due to their complexities. Still, they all are clearly organized around the firm’s website which means you certainly couldn’t give them a call “hidden charges.” Both services will also be pretty much known, so that they don’t have to junk e-mail the web with annoying advertising, and also you&#8217re not getting salespeople pounding at the door (or perhaps your email inbox).

Customer Support and Tech Support Team

Champion: PayPal

PayPal offers a number of ways to achieve an assistance repetition. Included in this are:

  • Self-Help Center
  • Online Community
  • Email support
  • Developer Center: PayPal&#8217s dev documentation most likely isn&#8217t as thorough as Stripe&#8217s, however it exists.
  • Phone support (available Mon–Fri 5 a.m.–10 p.m. PST): Word in the pub (see “Negative Reviews and Complaints”) would be that the quality of PayPal’s phone support is sporadic.
  • Twitter – The @AskPayPal account fields service and support questions Mon–Fri 9 AM – 5 PM CST
  • Facebook: You are able to&#8217t publish towards the page, however, you can discuss posts and message PayPal directly for those who have questions.

Stripe, however, provides more limited support:

  • Understanding base
  • Email support
  • Developer Docs: Stripe&#8217s documentation is frequently a good option to understand more about what particular features can perform, even though you aren&#8217t a developer. This a part of Stripe&#8217s support is much more comprehensive compared to knowledgebase, which&#8230really isn&#8217t everything surprising. Again, this can be a developer-focused option, and Stripe&#8217s invested its sources accordingly.
  • Freenode-based chat support (#stripe)
  • Facebook: No posting towards the page permitted, however, you can message Stripe.
  • Twitter: There&#8217s no dedicated support account, however, you can tweet @Stripe or check @StripeStatus for outage notices and updates.

Stripe’s support is decent, sure, but PayPal provides you with a choice to obtain on the telephone about actual payment-related issues. Whether or not the quality isn’t terrific, the significance of getting live phone support can’t be understated.

Negative Reviews and Complaints

Champion: Tie

Both services are usually loved, but it is easy to locate complaints online. Here are the primary complaints about PayPal:

  • Withheld funds, freezing of accounts, and termination of accounts
  • High transaction charges (when compared with traditional payment processors)
  • Sporadic phone support
  • Limited seller protection

You&#8217re likely to visit a similar thread of complaints about Stripe. Listed here are the most typical issues retailers encounter:

  • Ended accounts, frequently with funds inside
  • Unresponsive customer support
  • Frequent chargebacks

Both PayPal and Stripe possess a pretty careful approach with regards to accepting online payments, which could cause account freezes and chargebacks for many retailers. It is because they&#8217re both third-party processors &#8212 they aggregate accounts into one large account. Around the one hands, it&#8217s simple enough to on line. Alternatively, the minimal underwriting means that you&#8217re in a and the higher chances of the sudden hold or termination. Regrettably, that&#8217s something&#8217ll suffer from when you purchase ANY third-party processor. It may sound frightening, but people build effective companies being worn by these types of services constantly. If you believe you may be a higher-risk merchant, or else you know your profession is on either company&#8217s listing of prohibited companies, you should most likely consider using a traditional credit card merchant account or perhaps a high-risk processor for example Durango A Merchant Account (DMS) rather.

You may also check our guide: How to prevent merchant holds, freezes, and terminations.

Positive Testimonials and reviews

Champion: Tie

It may sound frightening, but people build effective companies being worn by these types of services constantly, even with the connected risk. Finding reviews that are positive associated with a service is commonly tougher than finding complaints because individuals are more inclined to speak up if they’re unhappy with something, but you’ll be able to locate them.

Stripe&#8217s list of high-profile users, for example Reddit, Mashable, Foursquare, Squarespace, and Shopify speaks by itself. Clearly, it’s the darling of tech-savvy companies. But dig just a little much deeper and also you&#8217ll find more feedback using their company users. Here’s what individuals like about Stripe:

  • Fast and simple signup
  • No “fine print” charges
  • Nice API to utilize
  • Great documentation
  • All services incorporated in a single cost point

You&#8217ll have some similar praises for PayPal, particularly about its payment processing and prices. I&#8217m not very surprised at the possible lack of praise because of its API or even more advanced features &#8212 though they did show up over a couple of reviews. Listed here are the highlights:

  • Easy setup
  • Broadly recognized/reliable payment form
  • Offers multiple products/services besides payment processing
  • Transparent prices

Final Verdict

Champion: Tie

Within the finish, I don&#8217t think it&#8217s simple to draw a obvious champion within the PayPal versus. Stripe debate.

Ultimately, the selection depends upon your requirements. For those who have developing experience (or someone in your payroll using the requisite skills) and wish to develop a customized online storefront or perhaps a complex platform for any SaaS subscription product, Stripe is the foremost choice. If you’re not really a developer, don&#8217t possess the way to hire one, or don&#8217t have very complex needs, PayPal is probably more appropriate. If you don&#8217t obtain a located payment page with no $30/month subscription, PayPal does have a superior amount of consumer trust, therefore it&#8217s a lesser concern if PayPal redirects your clients to the site to accomplish the transaction.

Bear in mind that you simply aren&#8217t just searching for the way to consider payments online. Almost any service available can perform that. Concentrate on the features you’ll need, not only now but later on. An mPOS, invoicing, flexible checkouts, subscriptions &#8212 whatever can help you run your company easier.

However, either service requires you to definitely sign an agreement, and that means you can check out one of these simple services (or both services) without getting to commit. Need to see which runs better? It could take some work, however, you can totally test them out both out as lengthy while you&#8217d like.

Which, my pal, is fairly awesome.

What exactly are your ideas on Stripe versus. PayPal? Have you ever attempted both services? Which did you go searching for? We like to listen to readers, so please leave us your comments!

The publish PayPal Versus Stripe made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Spark Pay Versus Shopify

shopify-vs-spark-pay

Shopify is really a broadly popular cloud-based shopping cart software which is used by greater than 175,000 big and small e-tailers within the U.S. and abroad. Its elegant simplicity, gorgeous styles, and accessible customer support earned Shopify an almost perfect ranking on Merchant Maverick (see our full review here.) Types of stores presently using Shopify include include Tattly and Good As Gold.

But Shopify has lots of solid competition. Other web-located carts are used to produce killer stores, and something towards the top of the heap is Spark Pay (formerly AmeriCommerce, a good eCommerce cart which Capital One acquired to higher meet the requirements of the small company customers.) While Spark Pay is less popular than Shopify, it’s created many beautifully designed stores, appeared around the 2012 Corporation. 5000 list, and snagged a CODiE Award this year. Notable stores using Spark Pay include Kellogg’s Store and USA Hockey League.

Spark Pay and Shopify offer full teams of features and integrate with assorted payment processors and add-ons. Plus, each cart includes a history of consistently increasing the UX of the admin backends. But exactly how do these competitors compare when it comes to prices, user feedback, and style? We check out the intricacies of both shopping carts within the following comparison.

Don’t have enough time to see a whole article? Check out our best search engine optimization for any couple of quick recommendations. Every option we present here offers excellent customer care, superb website templates, and simple-to-use software, all for any reasonable cost. Otherwise, continue reading for that full scoop on Spark Pay and Shopify.

Web-Located or Licensed:

Spark Pay and Shopify are generally web-based, cloud-located shopping cart software solutions.

Software and hardware Needs:

Spark Pay and Shopify are fully web-located. Nothing apart from a safe and secure web connection and updated internet browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari) are needed to gain access to the cloud-based software. While all os’s and browsers are supported, installing the most recent technologies are usually a good idea.

Prices:

Champion: Shopify

Spark Pay and Shopify both offer free 14-day trials that don’t need a charge card to gain access to. Neither charges set-up or cancellation charges or insists upon sign an agreement. Both could be cancelled anytime.

Information regarding plan prices have been in my complete Spark Pay and Shopify reviews, however i&#8217ll address the popular features of each cart here.

Spark Pay charges $24.95/month because of its starter Steel plan and Shopify charges $29/month because of its comparable Fundamental plan. (Shopify also provides a $9/month Lite plan, that provides Facebook integration as well as an embeddable Buy Now button, but doesn’t present an online shop of their own.) After that, plans diverge a little more. Spark Pay has 5 plans, varying from $24.95 to $299/mo. Shopify has 3 primary plans, weighing $29, $79, and $179/mo. Custom-tailored Enterprise sized plans can be found by each, with variable prices.

In this category, Shopify may be the obvious champion. Its $29 plan can be a couple of dollars greater than the competing plan from Spark Pay, but almost every other plan’s considerably less, all while supplying a lot more overall convenience. Including limitless products, limitless bandwidth, and limitless online storage at each subscription level. They are three of the Big 4 points of comparison for each shopping cart software, the 4th being Transaction Charges. This is actually the only reason for similarity backward and forward carts, as neither charges transaction charges.

Simplicity of use:

Champion: Shopify

Spark Pay&#8217s admin includes more functionality than most retailers will require, although not a lot of extras that the store is going to be bogged lower. To obtain began, you’ll make use of a wizard to include information regarding your shop, select a template, set tax and shipping rates, and employ a style editor to change your store’s fonts, colors, and (if preferred) fundamental page structure. Soon you’ll anticipate to incorperate your first product. The newest form of the admin includes a standardized UI pattern that’s enhanced for cellular devices.

It didn’t take lengthy that i can get my bearings within the Shopify admin, with four steps to accomplish before you start selling, published in the forefront around the dashboard: adding products, customizing styles, establishing a domain, and entering tax and shipping info.

For me, after using both tools I discovered Shopify’s live theme editor to become more intuitive and accessible than Spark Pay&#8217s theme editor. Plus, with Shopify adding groups, products, and customer data is easy. Your nav menu could be rearranged via drag too. Overall, I love that Shopify comes as they are with what’s important and enables you to pick the functionality that’s most useful via its application store.

Though we provide the win to Shopify within this category, I wasn’t whatsoever displeased with the simplicity with Spark Pay.

Features:

Champion: Spark Pay

Both Shopify and Spark Pay offer an array of as they are features: see our Shopify review and Spark Pay review for that full lowdown. Spark Pay is phenomenal for the reason that it offers all features on all plans no matter its cost. So rather of sifting through lists to make certain your plan features a e-newsletter or Google Analytics integration, for instance, Spark Pay customers garner accessibility cart’s total suite of features, which simplifies the sign-up process. Another primary Spark Pay distinction is its multi-storefront feature that allows you to maintain several shop at any given time from one admin (additional stores are $39 each to include on.) Plus, Spark Pay offers one-page checkout, gift cards, and multi-language support as they are, while Shopify doesn’t.

Note that gift cards are offered on Shopify’s Pro and Limitless plans, and you may go for plug-ins for many any feature that doesn’t come immediately with Shopify via its application store, although doing this could cost extra.

Shopify introduces new features on regularly. And That I like this Shopify provides a mobile application so that you can keep your store everywhere via tablet or smartphone. (Spark Pay offers 31 Mobile Responsive themes to be sure that your store displays properly from the device, but hasn’t introduced a downloadable application to higher manage your store on the run.)

Website Design:

Champion: Shopify

I love that Spark Pay&#8217s skins could be customized via its Live Design Theme Editor that allows you to edit widgets and drag layout elements. If you’re a coder you’ll have the ability to gain full use of each template’s CSS and HTML (Shopify enables you to edit raw files through the &#8220Template Editor&#8221 within the admin too.)

Shopify features its own form of an active theme editor. You are able to follow together with alterations in a preview window before they’re printed and modify other elements of design instantly without requiring to refresh the pop-up window.

Even though many of Spark Pay&#8217s themes are eye-pleasing and fresher than what’s provided by competing carts, there are less of these than&#8217s provided by Shopify.

Templates are among Shopify’s most powerful selling points, with superbly designed free and premium options. It’s difficult to really ruin Shopify’s styles while making customizations, consider there are plenty of good options to select from, the probability is good that you simply won’t have to execute heavy changes to obtain selling to begin with. If you’re launching a brand new business and don’t cash experience building online retailers, you almost certainly want something which&#8217s simple to tweak which looks great. For me Shopify and Spark Pay have what must be done, but Shopify ends track of a narrow lead within this category.

Integrations and Add-Ons:

Champion: Shopify

Spark Pay offers some helpful add-ons to go with its set of features, having a couple of free and lots of premium options including Quickbooks, LivePerson, and Amazon . com Ads. However the amount of extras offered in Shopify’s application store blows Spark Pay out from the water. You’ll find countless marketing, reporting, shipping, social networking, and inventory integrations, including tools for strengthening product options and loyalty programs. Shopify also keeps a well-reviewed iPhone application. But beware: as pointed out above the price of plug-ins can also add up fast.

Payment Processing:

Champion: Shopify

Spark Pay is suitable for a large number of domestic gateways, including Authorize.net and Chase Paymentech and most 50 processors including PayPal. Shopify integrates using more than 70 gateways. Like Shopify, Spark Pay offers a free account. But don&#8217t worry- I won&#8217t point out that I distrust &#8220Persolvent&#8221 purely based on its absurd name for a A Merchant Account provider. You&#8217re welcome.

Overall, I’m more impressed using the new Shopify Payments. The processor approves sales instantly, displays payments in tangible-time, and includes chargeback recovery for all of us-based retailers. Registering cancels the transaction charges Shopify tacks onto its less costly plans. On Shopify Payments here.

Customer Support and Tech Support Team:

Champion: Shopify

While my encounters with Spark Pay customer support happen to be mostly positive, If only there is a method to interact with the tech team after 6pm. You are able to submit emergency tickets if trouble does show up throughout the weekend or overnight and study a forum, watch older video tutorials, and check for solutions inside a Understanding Center.

Shopify’s customer care team is among the very best in the biz. You’ll find a variety of methods for getting info, together with a Understanding Base, discussion forum, wiki, and Ecommerce University (that is basically only a couple of blogs on eCommerce topics.) Plus, customers located in The United States, the United kingdom, Australia, and Nz can call a delegated regional telephone number.

Watch will claim that they can offer top-notch support. However the proof is incorporated in the user community. Granted, users who’ve had unfortunate encounters are far more prone to leave feedback than users who’d positive encounters, but we are able to still consider the volume, severity, and customary styles one of the reviews for a concept of the likely trouble spots. The following two sections covers a few of these details.

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

Champion: Spark Pay

An intensive online search of user interactions and comments about both Spark Pay and Shopify switched up an extensive selection of complaints about both carts.

Spark Pay merchants are unhappy about its poor resolution rate for intricacies, however the recent acquisition by Capital You can (or might not) impact this. The possible lack of 24/7 phone support is another sore point of these reviewers. Other users want the opportunity to integrate with a lot more worldwide payment processors, but still more grumble about all of the extra charges for bandwidth overages, etc.

Many Shopify retailers detest the transaction charges Shopify contributes to its least costly plans (as pointed out above, the firPercent to twoPercent fee is waived should you join Shopify Payments) and don’t like this add-ons can rapidly make an inexpensive payment more costly. Others don’t like this clients are redirected towards the Shopify domain (checkout.shopify.com) to do purchases because it could (theoretically) result in abandoned carts. Additionally you won’t locate one-page checkout with Shopify (it’s an element Spark Pay has offered since its beginning) or discounts within the Starter and Fundamental plan. Spark Pay includes all features on all plans, making the sign-up process more straightforward and convenient.

Positive Testimonials and reviews:

Champion: Shopify

Retailers have ample good stuff to report about both Spark Pay and Shopify. Spark Pay customers cite the cart’s dependability with little downtime, regular software updates, and customizable styles. Others like its as they are reporting and powerful product management tools and discover its multiple storefront feature useful and simple to use.

But overall Shopify users reported a larger selection of positives, centering around stellar customer care encounters and general simplicity of use. Others love Shopify’s styles, its mobile application, auto backups, and healthy uptime record, as well as its limitless bandwidth.

While both carts stand out with positive user feedback, Shopify&#8217s depth and breadth of positives simply outweighs Spark Pay.

Final Verdict:

Champion: Shopify

Shopify and Spark Pay both got their start in 2005 and earned almost perfect star ratings within our reviews, placing greater than any competing cart.

For me, Spark Pay offers a effective suite of features that’s a great fit for established firms that don’t always require a simplified interface, but enjoy an intuitive admin nevertheless. I’ve found Spark Pay to be considered a well-built cart supported by a whip smart group of engineers. Plus, through the years it’s been making plans to become a bit more hip and welcoming to newbies. And it is multi-storefront feature is indeed a draw for retailers that run several online stores but wish to man the ship from one backend.

Shopify is easy to make use of, and it keeps improving upon that success. It markets itself to first-time retailers while offering a $9 starter plan for those who would like to test the waters. Despite the fact that I’d want to see a plumped up attributes which includes one-click checkout and multi-language support (and transaction charges dropped permanently) Shopify’s 24/7 support, number of integrations, mobile application, and beautiful styles provide the advantage over its competition.

Prepared to discover for yourself? Consider using a free demo of Spark Pay and take Shopify for a trial run for fourteen days and find out which shopping cart software may be the right fit for the online shop.

The publish Spark Pay Versus Shopify made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Merchant Maverick’s Awards for Best Small Business Software

Best small business software

For most small business owners, it’s a jungle out there. Danger lurks around every corner, predators seem to be silently stalking your every movement, and – in the immortal words of Jethro Tull – the rivers are full of crocodile nasties. Let’s face it, when it comes to start-ups and small businesses the statistics are grim. According to one recent study, the failure rate of retail establishments after four years is over 50%, and businesses in the service industry usually meet the same fate. Sadly, restaurants tend to do even worse, and the majority are forced to close their doors before a decade has passed.

There are many reasons why businesses eventually fail – bad locations, limited staff, a poor economic climate, etc. But experts are beginning to agree that most failed businesses (no matter what industry they belong to) have one, very important factor in common: inexperience on the part of the owners/managers. It’s all very well to follow your dreams, but man does not live on dreams alone. For most of us, a little thing called money is required if we want to eat, access our electricity, wash our clothes, keep our children shod, etc. That’s right, money. It’s what you get when you run a business that brings in more revenue than it puts out. That sounds so simple: spend less than you make. But the reality is that pulling in a profit takes knowledge, skill, and access to the proper tools. Frankly, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve opened up a cat-grooming boutique or finally launched that grilled-cheese food truck you’ve always wanted – if you don’t know what you’re doing when you set out, and/or don’t bother to learn as you go, you might as well throw your seed money down the storm drain.

Fortunately, at Merchant Maverick (MM), we understand how hard it can be to start a business – let alone to keep one going for more than a year or two. You shouldn’t have to do everything by yourself – keeping up with inventory, payment processing, invoicing, shipping, point of sale, website design and the like is nearly impossible without the right equipment (good ol’ pen and paper just doesn’t cut it anymore). The good news? Advances in software and cloud technology have resulted in some pretty impressive small business tools. Even better news? The writers and reviewers at MM have invested thousands of hours researching, testing, and rating small business services/software. In other words, we know our stuff. Running a business is a tremendous burden, but the heavy lifting has already been done – we’ve done if for you – and all you need do is benefit from our years of experience.

Each company below has undergone a rigorous evaluation by an experienced MM reviewer. We scoured websites, read help articles, and browsed through user forums. We talked to customer service and saw for ourselves how responsive they were. And most importantly, we tested the actual software or service ourselves. The following are our reviewers’ top small business software picks for merchant services/payment processing as well as for mobile payments, shopping carts, point of sale, accounting, inventory management, invoicing, booking, email marketing, CRM, project management, loyalty rewards, and website building.

So, without further ado, let the awards ceremony for the best small business software begin!

Merchant Account Providers

Winner: Dharma Merchant Services

dharma-merchant-services-logo

Dharma Merchant Services is one of our all-time favorite companies, period, here at Merchant Maverick. Defined by exceptional customer support, low-cost hardware, excellent industry connection, and reasonable negotiation-free rates and fees, Dharma is an ideal option for small businesses with in-person sales. It distinguishes itself from the competition by using only interchange-plus pricing and charging no early termination fees or monthly minimums. There are no annual fees, no application fees, and no pesky PCI compliance fees to deal with either. In addition, this company dedicates 50% of its net profits to charity. Dharma is basically a paragon of integrity, honesty, and respect, and it’s worth its weight in gold in this sometimes unscrupulous industry,

There is one small catch: businesses must process at least $10K per month to use Dharma Merchant Services. Businesses with smaller revenue streams are directed instead to Flint Mobile (see review below).

Dharma offers amazing in-house customer support during business hours (8:00am – 5:00pm Pacific Time). If you need support outside this time frame, you will be directed elsewhere, depending on the severity of your issue and what processor you’re using.

To read more about Dharma Merchant Services, see our full review here.

Runner-Up: CDGcommerce

cdgcommerce-logo

Boasting a great reputation and a low monthly base fee (which includes access to Quantum gateway), CDG Commerce is a budget friendly alternative to Dharma Merchant Services, especially for low-volume merchants or web-based businesses. CDG was established in 1998, and has had plenty of time to cultivate a reputation for honesty and excellence. In fact, customer complaints are nearly non-existent, which is a miracle in itself after nearly 20 years in business. Like Dharma, CDG offers interchange-plus pricing, does not charge an early termination fee, and has no gateway setup fees or PCI compliance fees.

CDG Commerce charges only $10 per month in base fees; beyond that, you can pick and choose which additional services you want to pay for. This is a great system, as it ensures that you won’t be stuck buying things you neither want, nor need.

CDG offers live chat, email, and phone support 24/7. In our experience, support staff is helpful, knowledgeable, and scrupulously honest.

Click here to read our full review of CDGcommerce.

Mobile Payments

Winner: Flint Mobile

Flint-mobile-logo

Flint Mobile is our overall top pick for mobile, based primarily on its speed, ease of use, reliability, and price point. To start off, it doesn’t offer a swiper – not a free one, not a paid one, just no reader whatsoever. You can either key in card numbers or simply use your phone’s camera to scan numbers instead. That in and of itself significantly reduces the cost for setting up your account. Flint therefore has the ability to offer lower rates, which is exactly what they do. And with a ridiculously low rate for processing debit alongside a very fair credit rate, they’re nearly impossible to beat.

Flint has only two rates:

  • Debit transactions: 1.95%
  • Credit transactions: 2.95%

Yep, that’s it. It doesn’t get more complicated than that at any point: there are no per transaction fees, no non-qualified fees, and no surcharges of any kind. Flint Mobile runs transactions at a much faster speed than other similar apps, and while it might take a couple tries to get your scanning settings set up the way you like, Flint makes customization an easy and intuitive process. Our one complaint is that they do not provide any means for printing a paper receipt.

One very important thing to mention about Flint Mobile is that, even with the EMV liability shift (effective October 1st, 2015), users have no need to upgrade hardware. The camera scan will continue to work as it always has, with no change to liability. Currently it’s the only mobile processor we’re aware of that will securely process chip cards with no hardware upgrade.

This app can’t replace a full-feature tablet POS, but it comes with a number of amazing features (integrated QR coupons, invoicing, customizable receipts, etc.) and executes service flawlessly. If you’re looking for a sensible, surefire way to accept payments and grow your clientele, you can’t go wrong with Flint Mobile.

If you’d like more information about Flint Mobile, check out our full review.

Runner-Up: Payline Data

payline-data-logo

Payline Data is mostly a standard merchant account provider, but it has a good mobile solution and low-volume fee structure. Extra services are offered as-needed, so you only have to pay for what you need. There are two pricing models (to accommodate both low and high volume merchants):

Simple (Under $5,000 per month)

  • $5 monthly fee
  • Interchange + 0.50%
  • $0.10 per transaction

Pro (Over $5,000 per month)

  • $20 monthly fee
  • Interchange + 0.20%
  • $0.10 per transaction

We really appreciate the number of customer service and support outlets Payline provides, and it has an extensive knowledge base and FAQ for self-service support, which is quite nice.

Payline Data delivers on any businesses essential needs, and has managed to maintain positive reviews and a spotless reputation since 2009 – which is no small task in the credit card processing industry. In general, it’s a great pick for mobile processing for small businesses everywhere.

Find out more about Payline Data by reading our full review here.

Shopping Carts

Winner: Shopify

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Shopify is unique in that it can be used as a physical POS or an online shopping cart or both at once. This inherent flexibility gives it a clear edge over other shopping carts, and its low price point make it well within the reach for small businesses, even those with strained budgets. Shopify is the industry standard for shopping cart software, and for good reason. There are never any limits to the number of products you can sell, which is nice, though there aren’t many limits to the software in general.

All Shopify plans come with a full 14-day (no credit card required) trial. There are no setup or cancellation fees. Plans range from $14/month to $179/month with rates ranging from 2.9% + 30¢ to 2.4% + 30¢. You can pay on a month-to-month basis, but you’ll receive a 10% discount if you choose to pay for one year up front (a 20% discount is offered for those who sign a two-year contract). We’re not terribly fond of Shopify’s transaction fees, unfortunately, although they do get waived if you use Shopify as your credit card processor.

Shopify is eminently user friendly, and the cart is easy to set up and easy to manage. In our experience, the software works flawlessly from the point of view of both the customer and the merchant, and it is one of the most feature-rich carts available. It is accessible for online mavens, but it is also well within the reach of newcomers and amateurs. Shopify offers a number of apps, some of which are free and some of which may cost a small fee. You can check out Shopify’s App Store to browse offerings.

Customer support is available via phone, email, and live chat, but there are other great self-help resources as well, including a support center, Knowledge Base, a discussion forum, and a Shopify “Experts” page where you can find experienced professionals in design, marketing, development, and photography.

For more information, click here to read our full review of Shopify.

Runner-Up: Ecwid

ecwid-logo

Ecwid, the “go anywhere, sell anything, no manual required” shopping cart, is designed for small eCommerce businesses, as well as for individual sellers and start-ups. We’re big fans of Ecwid, and there are two main reasons why. Firstly, it is extremely ubiquitous, and capable of integrating with nearly every existing website, from social media platforms to blogs. Secondly, it is so reasonably priced, compared to its competitors, that you would be foolish not to take it out for spin. Unlike most shopping carts, there is no typical “free trial period” for Ecwid. Instead, you can simply try out the Free Plan (the obvious advantage to doing this is that your services won’t be cancelled after your trial period ends).

Ecwid offers unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, and no transaction fees on every subscription level, even the free plan. Paid plans range from $15/month to $99/month. Personal support by email and online chat are only available at higher subscription levels.

Like Shopify, Ecwid gives you the option to use the software as a physical POS. However, this function is really best suited for online-only business owners who want the option of having a mobile or “pop up shop” operation, but aren’t trying to maintain a physical storefront at all times.

In general, Ecwid is a solid product with great, user-friendly elements. It’s not the best solution for high-volume sales, but most companies out there (especially startups and very small businesses) will be fully satisfied with its features and ease of use.

Read our full review of Ecwid to learn more.

POS Software

Winner: ShopKeep

shopkeep-logo

ShopKeep is one of the best software solutions we’ve ever encountered at Merchant Maverick. This simple, elegant, and visually-appealing cloud-based POS has carved out a solid niche catering to small-business food and beverage sellers. For a very low monthly cost, ShopKeep can help you manage your inventory, customers, employees, as well as record transactions and offer a variety of reporting options (for analyzing all this data).

ShopKeep does not require you to sign a contract. It is a pay-as-you-go, monthly subscription service. There are no extra maintenance fees, and what’s more impressive, tech support is 100% included in the monthly charge. The actual pricing system is beautifully simple as well: $49/month/register.

Other than it’s extremely reasonable price point, ShopKeep’s biggest selling point is its ease-of-use. There is very little learning curve involved, and even the most technologically deficient should have no problem learning the ins and outs of this software in a matter of days (or hours, more likely).

Customer support is fantastic, and unlimited email, live chat, or phone is included in the monthly price. The support page on the company website is also fantastic, and offers comprehensive articles and video tutorials on every aspect of the software.

Read our full review of ShopKeep if you’d like more details.

Runner-Up: SalesVu

salesvu-logo

SalesVu is a perfect POS for the average small business, offering a robust feature set at a competitive price. eCommerce options are built right into the software, so you can design your own site from the back office without ever having to pay for (and integrate) Shopify or hire an expensive third party designer. Integrated eCommerce also ensures that communications between the web store and the brick and mortar store are smooth and seamless.

Prices range from $25/month to $150/month, depending on how many features you need (things like time tracking, accounting, etc. are a bit extra). Basically, SalesVu can be as affordable as you need it to be. Additionally, when you open an account with SalesVu you get a free credit card reader, which is a nice benefit (for some small business owners, an iPad and a credit card reader may be all you need).

Customer service is good, but the primary strengths of this software are found in its intuitive interface and broad flexibility. It is so much more than just a mobile cash register. With SalesVu, you can monitor inventory, create detailed reports, design custom discounts and promotions, maintain an active customer database, and manage employees – and you can do all these things anywhere you have a Wi-Fi connection. Opening an account with SalesVu gets you a free credit card reader, which is a nice benefit. For some business owners, an iPad and a credit card reader may be all you need.

SalesVu integrates with SalesVu Easy Accounting, Quickbooks, Facebook, and Zapper.

You can check out our full review of SalesVu for more information.

Accounting Software

Winner: Xero

best small business accounting software

It’s not hard to see why Xero takes the prize for best small business accounting software. It is mobile, cloud-based, easy-to-use, and extremely comprehensible for the small business owner who is handling finances on his/her own (click here for a full list of features). While it can be more expensive long-term than something like QuickBooks Pro, small business owners – especially those who aren’t accountants by nature or profession – are more likely to enjoy using a simple, intuitive program like Xero.

There are multiple pricing plans available, ranging from $9/month to $70/month (these prices include updates as they are released, usually every 3-6 weeks). Small companies with limited invoicing needs would have to look far and wide for a similarly robust accounting/payroll package that trumps Xero’s $9/month price tag. And happily, you don’t have to sign a contract with Xero; plans are paid by the month and you can basically cancel the service at any time. Xero offers a 25% discount for non-profits and a 15% discount on your total bill if you subscribe for multiple businesses. If you do feel comfortable making a commitment and signing up for a 6 month subscription, you’ll get a 30% discount.

There are only a few minor problems with Xero, one of which is slow customer support response times. Customer service is offered 24/7, year-round, but some customers have complained of long response times, cut-and-paste answers to questions, and reps who don’t seem to actually know how to use the software. This would be a much bigger deal if Xero was complex or had a steep learning, curve, but it’s not as alarming considering the software’s general simplicity and ease of use. Furthermore, many customers praise Xero’s level of customer service, and the wait times are comparable to those of other accounting software programs.

One real perk of using Xero is that it integrates with over 400 other applications which can facilitate nearly every aspect of business operation, including inventory management, CRM, and POS (some of these are only available to certain countries; in the U.S., there are about 350 Xero integrations available). 

Read our full review of Xero here.

Runner-Up: QuickBooks Pro

Best small business accounting software

Intuit’s QuickBooks Pro is a robust, feature-rich accounting solution, perfect in many ways for small business (to see a full list of features, click here). It is locally installed software, which results in lower per-year costs and more features than your typical cloud-based software, so if you’re willing to deal with a pretty steep learning curve at the beginning (especially difficult for people who have no previous accounting background), then QB Pro can be an excellent way to save money in your accounting budget. Though it lacks the convenience of a cloud based solution – you don’t get automatic, routine updates or instant access to new features – it is a very viable accounting solution for companies with complex bookkeeping needs.

QuickBooks Pro’s list price is $299.95. This might seem a bit high compared to something like Xero, but keep in mind that QB Pro requires a one-time purchase and does not use a subscription model — and it is nearly always available at a discount. While there’s no free trial available, Intuit does back QB Pro with a 60-day guarantee; if you return the program for any reason within 60 days, you can get a full refund. Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, the purchase price does not include updates, nor do you get full tech support or bank feeds. It’s also worth noting that customer service tends to be slow.

One comment we’ve noticed often on user reviews is that, while people aren’t particularly enthusiastic about QB Pro, it works and does what it’s supposed to do; many claim that it’s the best accounting program available. While that’s far from a resounding recommendation, it’s also true that despite its drawbacks, for many businesses, QB Pro is more than adequate. And whether you love it or hate it, QuickBooks Pro is often the best option for the money.

Read our full review of QB Pro here.

Inventory Management Software

Winner: Stitch Labs

stitch-labs-logo

Stitch, the flagship product of Stitch Labs, is a cloud-based inventory management solution with tons of functionality, myriad useful integrations, and fantastic customer service. Designed to combine inventory, billing, accounting, shipping, and eCommerce features with your choice of 3rd party integrations, Stitch is the do-it-all, full service inventory solution. As the name would suggest, it is intended to be the thread that holds the backend of your company firmly together. Really, its only flaw is that is designed exclusively for American companies. International businesses will have to look elsewhere. 

Price plans range from $29/month to $449/month, not bad considering how many features this software brings to the table. What’s more, Stitch is easy to use, even for the uninitiated. The UI is clean, understated, and intuitive. Within a few minutes of signing up, you should feel like a pro, able to create products and customer contacts and generate sales orders with ease. It’s easy to pick up on your own just by experimentation, but if you’re queasy about finding your own way around, you can reference one of the many tutorials on each page that take you step-by-step through all the basic tasks.

In general, the customer service department is responsive and helpful. Our questions were promptly answered (never longer than 24 hours, even on the weekend), and ticket creation happened immediately, so we always had a case number to reference and never felt lost in the shuffle. Not surprisingly, the Stitch Labs support team is highly praised all over the web.

Stitch integrates with a large number of other programs and applications, including Amazon, eBay, BigCommerce, Magento, Shopify, and Square, to name just a few. And when you combine an excellent selection of integrations with powerful suite of tools,you’ve got inventory management software that is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses.

You can read more about Stitch Labs in our full review.

Runner-Up: TradeGecko

tradegecko-logo

TradeGecko, a cloud-based inventory application for small to medium sized businesses, is comparable to Stitch Labs in functionality and number of integrations, but is more geared toward international companies (it still works well for American companies, if you don’t mind a time difference with the support staff).

The design of this software emphasizes collaboration, group workflows, and activity feeds. This means that you can reference sales information, purchase orders, and stock levels at once, and they will all update in real time. TradeGecko is intuitive and easy to use, and has a clean – if spartan – UI which is perfect for a bookkeeping system.

TradeGecko offers a free 14-day trial, no credit card required. Plans range from $49/month to $399/month, though you can get a monthly discount if you commit to paying for a year up-front. The company provides a detailed knowledge base, with step-by-step instructions for performing many tasks, and it also offers 24 hour customer support. On the whole, our support experience was positive, though a few of our tickets took longer than we would have liked to resolve.

Integrations include Shopify, Salesforce, Xero, Magento, Quickbooks Online, Amazon, and WooCommerce (to name a few). All in all, TradeGecko isn’t the cheapest product on the market (which is why it’s the runner up for this category) but it is so intuitive and feature rich that small to medium-sized businesses with a budget to kick around should give it a look.

For more information about TradeGecko, read our full review here.

Invoicing Software

Winner: Freshbooks

freshbooks-logo

Officially, Freshbooks is a web-based accounting solution, though it is fair to say that it’s best utilized for its incredible invoicing features. This software is tailor made for independent contractors and small, service-based businesses; it is easy to use, has lots of interesting features (including time tracking, reporting, and expenses), and integrates with a huge variety of 3rd party applications.

Pricing, unfortunately, is a bit steep for the target market (small businesses), though there is a free plan which allows you to manage a single client. Paid plan range from $19.95/month to $39.95/month. Customer support is available Monday – Friday, 9am – 6pm EST. In our experience, representatives are remarkably quick to respond to emails (usually within 20 minutes during business hours) and are courteous, helpful, and knowledgeable.

As mentioned above, FreshBooks offers more than 60 integrations and add-ons including  PayPal, Shopify, Basecamp, and Stripe. It is as comprehensive an invoicing solution as you could hope for, especially since it does offer other perks, like reporting.

You can read our full review of FreshBooks here.

Runner-Up: Invoiceable

invoiceable-logo

Invoiceable is simple, easy to use software that allows you to create professional looking invoices. It’s actually free to all, with no feature limits, though you can opt to pay a one-time fee to remove the company’s branding from your invoices: this is a perk that no other free invoicing program offers. Additionally, unlike many of the other major free invoicing programs, Invoiceable isn’t just a wimpy, scaled-back version of a paid service. You can have as many clients and send as many invoices as you like.

Of course, with a completely free service you’re going to miss certain features that come with a paid subscription. Support, for example, is unreliable and sporadic. Response times can vary between 1-12 days, and sometimes you may not get any response at all. There is also limited sales tax functionality, which means that the software really only works for businesses that charge a single, across the board tax rate, or don’t charge tax at all.

That said, if you are a freelancer or own a very small business with relatively low sales volume, this may be all you need for now. It’s leaps and bounds better than simply typing out your invoices into MS Word or Excel, and it is one of the best free options out there that both allow you to have unlimited clients and actually works in the United States! The interface is basic and intuitive, and while customer service is slow, you probably won’t need it most of the time. If this sounds like a good match for you, we suggest you try it out. You’ve got nothing to lose – after all, it’s free.

Read our full review of Invoiceable here.

CRM Software

Winner: Zoho CRM

zoho-logo

User-friendly, reasonably-priced, and full of useful features, Zoho CRM is our favorite customer relations management software, hands down. It’s not hard to see why we’re such big fans. The “building blocks” which make up the Zoho CRM logo are not there for design purposes alone; these blocks allude to the fact that the Zoho team has developed many other business applications, all capable of working together seamlessly (much like Google Apps). In addition, Zoho has an well-deserved reputation for integrating nicely with a number of 3rd party add-ons, including MailChimp, Unbounce, Google Apps, MS Office, and Quickbooks (see a full list of add-ons and integrations here). In short, Zoho CRM software can adjust to any size business, be whatever you need it to be, and grow with you as your business expands.

You can try Zoho CRM for free with a 15-day trial of their Professional package. After that, pricing breaks down as follows:

  • Entrepreneur: Free, up to 3 users
  • Standard: $12/user/month
  • Professional: $20/user/month
  • Enterprise: $35/user/month

24-hour Mon-Fri telephone support is available to paying customers, though those using their free edition are limited to email support. However, your email questions can be flagged according to urgency, so that important queries do not fall to the wayside.

You would be hard pressed to find a CRM that provides more functionality at a lower cost. Zoho CRM is, without a doubt, the most bang for your buck.

Read our full review of Zoho CRM here.

Runner-Up: CleverTim

clevertim-logo

Clevertim is a cloud-based CRM system with a firm mission: to cater specifically to small businesses. With a surprisingly reasonable price point, a clean, user-friendly UI, and the ability to integrate with 3rd party developers (via an open API), Clevertim may just be as clever as its name suggests. The only chink in Clevertim’s armor is the lack of a mobile app. As it is now, the app functions smoothly on a desktop, but is only so-so on a tablet and virtually nonexistent on a phone.

Clevertim offers a 30 day free trial. After that, plans range from absolutely free to $99/month. You can upgrade, downgrade, or cancel your subscription at any time. Unlike most other CRM systems, Clevertim does not charge on a per-user basis. Instead, each plan has a user limit. There is also  customized pricing available, which allows you to upgrade the number of users allowed in your plan.

Clevertim is relatively new and does not yet have its own dedicated Technical Support team. However, queries can be sent to the company either via web tickets or through the sales email address.

Read our review of Clevertim here.

Booking Software

Winner: BookingBug

bookingbug-logo

BookingBug can do just about anything you would expect from scheduling software, but still manages to be accessible and intuitive. Many companies claim to be versatile, but this software actually is designed for a wide variety of industries, making it one of the only options out there for B&Bs or bike rental shops, and a better option than most for medium-sized spas and salons. It is a perfect tool for businesses that want to offer combination services while managing limited resources and limited staff (see a full list of features here). It is distinct from other appointment booking software other ways as well: first, it’s designed for serious scalability – which again validates its claim to be “the only real-time distributed booking and reservation system that works for all business types” –  and second, it integrates with a vast number of 3rd-party apps all over the world. This is a company that prides itself on innovation and flexibility.

Plans run from $19.95/month to $69.95/month, or you can scale up to an Enterprise plan, which are priced on an individual basis. Customer service comes free with your account. Like most companies, BookingBug relies heavily on email support, but phone support is available for some of the more expensive plans. We received helpful responses to our email inquiries within hours – always a great sign.

One terrific thing about BookingBug is that it offers your customers the option to make online payments (full or partial, including pre-payment and bulk payments); you can also issue full or partial refunds directly through the site via one of the software’s numerous payment integrations. BookingBug integrates with programs like MailChimp, WordPress, Facebook, and Dropbox as well.

There isn’t much negative feedback about the company online or in user reviews. Granted, some people have complained about issues with their mobile apps, but BookingBug’s receptivity and responsiveness to these issues speaks well about the company’s commitment to customer service.

To read our full review of BookingBug, click here.

Runner Up: Bookeo

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Bookeo is cloud-based booking software with a lot to offer. Not only does it include important booking features, but it provides a surprising variety of marketing solutions, integrates with many payment platforms and third party applications, and boasts excellent security features. This is innovative software as it is, and Bookeo continues to improve with age; significant new feature releases occur every few months, and updates are frequent. The only consistent complaint disappointed reviewers have is with its lack of phone support. (Bookeo relies on email and a store of 300 tutorials for its customer support.)

Bookeo’s pricing differs by product (in other words, by whether you want to book appointments, classes, or tours), but each version offers a 30-day free trial and a 30-day money back guarantee on the first paid month of subscription. Bookeo accounts do not require set-up or processing fees and you don’t have to sign a contract – always a good sign.

One of the best things about Bookeo is that it is user-friendly. Action items and information are intuitive and clearly distinguishable, and the software in general is organized neatly, in a very manageable way. There isn’t much setup support, unfortunately, but the self-help tutorials available are precise, and sufficient enough to help you circumvent most major problems.

Customer service centers on the Bookeo Help Portal, which consists of 300 tutorials and an email support form. There is no phone support, however, and this is the only consistent complaint from disappointed reviewers. You can receive some support via a live chat option on Bookeo’s promotional website.

Read more about Bookeo here, in our full review.

Email Marketing Software

Winner: MailChimp

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At Merchant Maverick, we’re all in agreement that MailChimp is the boss when it comes to email marketing. It’s a mature, time-tested software with reasonable pricing plans, a great selection of features, and tons of integration, and it scales well to just about any size campaign. Better yet, for users with modest needs, MailChimp offers a robust, flat-out generous free plan which lets you have up to 2,000 subscribers and allows you to send up to 12,000 emails per month. There’s only one real catch: if you do your email marketing with the free plan, there will be a small MailChimp badge at the bottom of every email you send out. 

Paid plans come in two basic varieties: send-based (pay as you go) and list-based (monthly). These plans are fairly specific and complex, so if you’d like more details about pricing you should navigate here.

MailChimp is generally very easy to use, and signing up for a MailChimp account is simple; enter a name and email address and you’re on your way. The customer support system is pretty extensive as well, though it lacks telephone support, which is slightly disappointing. However, our experience with them has been good; representatives were courteous and well-informed, and inquiries were answered in anywhere from 20 minutes to 20 hours, depending on urgency. MailChimp’s biggest selling point, however, is that it offers over 500 integrations and add-ons. (These include Google Analytics, Zendesk, SHopify, Magento, and Salesforce).

Check out our full review of MailChimp here.

Runner-Up: AWeber

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AWeber appeals to a smaller niche than MailChimp, but it’s still incredibly easy to use and quite affordable. It comes with some very nice features, especially for businesses which want to send all new subscribers the same series of messages: the autoresponder setup in particular is easy, intuitive, and well explained within the program, and users have a lot of options. 

AWeber offers a free 30-day trial for lists of up to 500 subscribers. After that first month, there is a single list-based pricing plan available. It’s reasonably priced for the most part, but so robust that very small companies may find they are paying for lots of extra features they may not even require. If you don’t need much from your email marketing tool, you might be better off with MailChimp’s generous free plan.

In general, AWeber finds a healthy balance between ease of use and high functionality. Navigation is remarkably intuitive, considering the number of features available. The WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor has some quite impressive characteristics, and recent updates to the software have have managed to significantly improve the email design experience. Additionally, the analytics and reporting capabilities are well above par for an email marketing tool of this type, as are AWeber’s investment in numerous 3rd-party integrations.

Our experiences with customer support have been positive overall. As a rule, we’ve found AWeber’s representatives to be friendly, helpful, and prompt in responding to queries. Response times to our inquiries varied in time between 20 minutes and 6 business hours.

Read our full review of AWeber here.

Project Management Software

Winner: Trello

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Trello is a visually-oriented, Kanban-based project management tool that works by allowing users to see and manage their tasks and projects via detailed ‘cards’ which are then pinned onto ‘boards.’ At its most basic level, Trello is an ingenious way to create and organize a set of virtual 3×5 cards without the risk of misplacing them, but it also can also work as a simple task management tool, offering features like file storage and automatic email notifications.

The standard, free version of Trello allows for unlimited boards, users, and attachments (with a 10 MB max per file upload). However, for a fee, Trello also offers two upgraded versions of the software: $3.75/user or $5/user

Trello’s simple, visually-appealing UI makes it incredibly easy to use; there is almost no learning curve involved. A mere five minutes after I signed up I was able to navigate the software quickly, creating cards and boards like a pro. It may be integrated with several 3rd party apps, including Zapier, Google Drive, Box. Dropbox, and OneDrive.

Trello provides email support (via support@trello.com) to all users during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST).

Not only is this software reasonably priced, but it is characterized by elegance, simplicity, and user-friendliness. It would be difficult to find a basic project management solution with a more intuitive, visually-appealing design. And in terms of sheer adoptability – of getting your employees to actually use a software-based task management tool – Trello scores extremely high.

You can check out our full review of Trello if you’d like more information.

Runner Up: Basecamp

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With over 9,000,000 current users, Basecamp is considered the most popular cloud-based project management software system of all time. It is, without doubt, one of the most user-friendly project management programs out there. When it comes down to brass tacks, simplicity is an enormously valuable characteristic, and Basecamp is just that – simple. This is project management software at its most basic and effortless level.

This software is celebrated for its no-frills, no-fuss pricing system. There are no hidden fees and no per-user costs. Plans range from $20/month to $150/month. Features include task tracking, a calendar, email notifications and a daily recap of activities, text documents (basically giant legal pads), and very simple reporting.

Basecamp is known for fast, reliable service. While they don’t provide the level of immediate personal support that you can get from other software companies (read: no phone or live chat support), the folks at Basecamp respond quickly to email requests and offer a large variety of ready-made aids and live training tools.

Basecamp itself is a pretty basic program, but there are a huge number of optional 3rd party applications available if you want or need to increase software’s functionality. You can see a complete list of Basecamp integrations on the official product website

If you have plain, bread-and-butter management requirements, we think you’ll find that Basecamp is a suitable, extremely affordable way to go. One of the best things about Basecamp is the fact that it is designed, updated, and supported by an established parent company. It is a sure bet, in other words.

Read more about Basecamp in our full review.

Shipping Software

Winner: ShipStation

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ShipStation is a reasonably-priced, web-based shipping solution for eCommerce retailers. Designed to streamline the fulfillment process as much as possible, this software has invested in a huge number of integrations that make it possible for you to sync up your business with the most popular sales channels, shopping carts, payment gateways, and mail carriers.

Pricing plans range from $25/month to $145/month. There’s a free 30-day trial that includes access to all features, with no credit card required. If you’re not satisfied with the product within 90 days, ShipStation offers a full refund, no questions asked.

The user interface can be a bit overwhelming at first, as there multiple options, menus, and sub-menus displayed on most pages. A bit of patience is definitely required when you start out, though you can take advantage of a number of video tutorials, a large knowledge base, and a pretty robust community forum if you run into trouble. Actually, you can have your own personal account manager if you want, and this person will help guide you through the setup phase of your account. Some of the higher paid plans can receive chat support as well. In general, customer support is slightly disappointing, and the responses we received to queries were somewhat boilerplate and indifferent.

One of ShipStation’s biggest selling points is that it integrates with an enormous number of carriers, marketplaces and shopping carts, especially when compared to the competition, including FedEx, UPS, USPS, and Fulfillment by Amazon, as well as Shopify, Etsy, Magento, Square, eBay, etc. The list goes on.

Check out our full review of ShipStation for more information.

Runner-Up: ShipWorks

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ShipWorks is probably the best shipping software available, though unfortunately it’s a PC-only app (which removes about half of the world’s users) and the learning curve is extremely high. The good news is that this software, which is designed to streamline the order fulfillment process for small to large businesses, has many amazing features you can’t find in other shipping applications. With a few clicks, ShipWorks can download shipping information from an online sales channel, calculate and print postage, generate labels, packing slips, and more. Combine this functionality with integrations for over 40 different mail carriers and eCommerce platforms, and you’ve got a shipping solution that really packs a wallop. Additionally, ShipWorks scales well, in a way that its SaaS competitors don’t.

Cost per month is determined by two different factors: shipment volume and number of licenses. Shipment volume is divided into three tiers:

  • $14.95/month for 0-99 shipments/month
  • $29.95/month for 100-999 shipments/month
  • $49.95/month for 1,000+ shipments/month

The price for shipment volume is then added to your licensing fee to determine the monthly bill. How much you pay for licensing is based on the number of online sales channels you use with ShipWorks.

Our own experiences with ShipWorks support have been positive. Turnaround times on support tickets were 24 hours or less, and we never had trouble reaching anybody on the phone. The Knowledge Base is extensive, and covers everything from setup and configuration to online marketplaces and shipping providers. What’s more, the articles are clearly written and provide plenty of screenshots.

As I mentioned above, ShipWorks integrates with a huge variety of shipping carriers and online marketplaces (including USPS, FedEx, UPS, Magento, Etsy, Shopify, Volusion), but if you happen to use a store that isn’t directly supported by ShipWorks, you can always work with a developer and use the ShipWorks Generic API to create your own integrations.

Click here to read our full review of ShipWorks.

Loyalty Rewards Software

Winner: Sweet Tooth

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Sweet Tooth is a prolific loyalty rewards software that currently works with over 3500 merchants worldwide, including Delta, Universal, and Olympus. Sweet Tooth is dedicated to increasing customer engagement, and case studies from many of the clients mentioned above have demonstrated nearly 20% increases in customer lifetime values, sales and repeat purchases. It is complex software with a high learning curve, but in general, the benefits of using a robust loyalty rewards software outweigh the inconvenience of having to learn how to use it! Sweet Tooth is an ideal solution for both eCommerce merchants and merchants who use combined methods of commerce.

Sweet Tooth works best – and is most full featured – when it’s used through Magento, though you can use a lighter, simpler version of Sweet Tooth on BigCommerce or Shopify (this is free for up to 500 customers). Sweet Tooth subscription plans are offered monthly and automatically renew unless cancelled. Plans begin at $49/month, and are broken down by loyalty point transactions and annual revenue generated on Magento. If your activity exceeds the limitations of your plan you will be required to upgrade to the next available plan. You can view the full pricing details for Shopify, BigCommerce and Magento on the Sweet Tooth website.

Customer service is available Monday to Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm EST. Overall, our experience with Sweet Tooth has been positive. Everyone we’ve spoken to at the company has been knowledgeable and friendly, and most reviewers on Magento cite the technical support as an essential part of their loyalty program.

Read our full review of Sweet Tooth if you’re interested in learning more.

Runner-Up: Belly

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Belly provides a more hassle-free loyalty rewards program than Sweet Tooth, and is ideal for smaller businesses with brick and mortar store fronts (such as bakeries, cafes, grocers, bars, spas, fitness clubs and boutiques). What’s really unique about Belly, though, are its customizeable rewards offerings and “all in one box” setup, which includes an iPad (with stand and combination lock), data reports, a personal support representative, social media integrations, and email marketing tools. Even more significantly, Belly customers get a mobile page for their business on the Belly app, where potential customers can look to find Belly-compatible businesses.

Monthly subscription costs range from $99 – $199, and all contracts run for 12 months. The cost of the iPad, iPad stand, application software, and unlimited rewards cards are included in the subscription costs for the highest plan, but an additional $150 installation fee is charged for lower plans.

Right now there are only a few drawbacks to Belly, most important of which is its steep price. Customer service can be a bit spotty as well, and unfortunately, not enough other businesses currently use it, which doesn’t provide much incentive to customers to get in the Belly network. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for an easy, no-worries loyalty program, you can’t go far wrong with Belly.

Read our full review of Belly for more details and information.

Website Building Software

Winner: Wix

 

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Wix is our number one choice for web building software, and it’s not difficult to understand why. With its sleek editing interface and multiple selection of apps and integrations, it is an extremely effective do-it-yourself website designer. In addition to being easy to use, Wix provides a great selection of unique and visually appealing templates (there are hundreds to choose from).

The free version of Wix is provided to anyone who signs up, though any website you create under the free plan will be branded with the Wix logo. Paid plans range from $4.08/month to $24.90/month. Wix’s store offers payment processing through a handful of vendors, including PayPal, WebMoney, Skrill, and PayU.

All in all, Wix is intuitive and user-friendly. Within a few hours, you should be able to take a template, mess around for a bit with the editing tools, and build yourself an incredibly fine looking website.

Because Wix allows developers to create and share their own add-ons, other users are given the opportunity to expand and diversify their websites as well. Some of the most popular integrations available include online shop expansions (like the Etsy app), the Wix Hotels premium booking system, live Instagram feeds, website profile systems, and a variety of other site boosting applications

There is one downside to the software: unlike most other website-building services, Wix does not offer 24/7 live-chat or provide an email response system. There is a toll-free number you can call for help with technical issues, but be aware that you could possibly be put on hold for an unspecified amount of time.

Click here to read our full review of Wix.

Runner-Up: Jimdo

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With its reasonable price points and clever, yet simplistic editor, Jimdo has made a mark on the website building industry. Managing to be both straightforward and comprehensive, Jimdo allows users to make custom, professional looking websites. Templates are provided, of course, but you’re not bound to the confines of the template you choose; you have total freedom to edit and can essentially be as hands-on about the design process as you want.

Jimdo plans range from free to $20/month, and all plans come with an HTML5 WYSIWYG web editor, usage of professional-grade templates, social media tools, a mobile device editing view, blogging tools, photo galleries, Google Maps, contact forms, direct video embedding, widget integration, optimized mobile websites, and unlimited bandwidth.

While the only online payment processor currently supported by Jimdo is PayPal, a selection of various real-world payment methods can be activated in a website’s store, including invoicing, payment-in-advance, collection-upon-delivery, local pickup, and local delivery.

This is an easy-to-use service that somehow still manages to astound with the depth of its overall functionality. Some things may be a bit too simple, and Jimdo isn’t sophisticated enough to work as a tool for a professional web designer, but it is perfectly suited – price-wise and in ease-of-use – for small businesses who would otherwise have to hire out their web design services.

Read our full review of Jimdo here.

The post Merchant Maverick’s Awards for Best Small Business Software appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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