Business Woman Holding Credit Card and CalculatorIt’s easy to confuse the purpose of a website.  Many entrepreneurs get sidetracked into thinking that their business website is a tool to inform and educate clients about their products or services.  Or perhaps the site is simply supposed to be an aesthetically pleasing introduction to the business.  The truth is, however, that the entire purpose of a business website is to convert leads into customers.  And the only way a customer can pay a company money via a website is through a merchant service provider.

A merchant service provider is a banking institution that allows small businesses to accept credit card and debit card payments via a company’s website.  In this article, we will discuss several of the key benefits that small businesses gain by partnering with a merchant service provider in order to accept credit and debit cards.

Streamlined Process

Any business that is able to sell a product or service via a website ought to be optimized as much as possible in order to fully automate the sales process.  Lessons from the industrialized age are especially pertinent here.  In American business history, industrialization transformed the young American economy into the world’s most powerful and richest economy by automating manufacturing processes.  Widgets that once took 1-2 days to make, were now being assembled in a few hours.

The takeaway here is that any business process that can be automated has the potential to increase one’s competitive advantage against other businesses.  Merchant services allow businesses to take sales automation to an entirely new level.  Now, prospective clients can visit a business website, peruse the products and services, and purchase without ever even contacting the company.

Expanded Reach

By accepting online payments, companies suddenly break free from regional constraints.  In the past, it was very difficult for companies to gain national exposure due to high costs of advertising and the cumbersome nature of waiting for checks to arrive and clear.  With online marketing and the ability to accept online payments, companies can begin to build a national reach overnight.

No 3rd Party Redirects

Paypal was the first major merchant service provider.  But the problem with Paypal is the customer is redirected to Paypal’s website at the point of purchase.  This can be disconcerting for the customer.  Customers do not want to be redirected to another website at the point of purchase.  They want to provide their credit card information to the company they have chosen to do business with.

Fortunately, there are dozens of merchant service providers that allow businesses to integrate payment gateways directly into their websites, which keeps the customer on the business website through the entire purchasing experience.

Merchant service providers serve an exceptional need for small businesses by allowing them to accept and process credit card payments in automated fashion.

Danielle Thomas is a graduate from Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California,  now working as a freelance writer, entrepreneur, and researcher. She covers a wide range of topics for with a particular interest in technology, the Internet, and the emerging business systems of the 21st century. To find out more on the payment industry and where it is headed click here.