Tips & Tricks

should I accept PayPalA question I get asked all the time is "should I accept PayPal payments?" most of the time the reason for the question is something like "I've heard bad things about it". I'll admit I've heard some bad things about PayPal too, but I've also seen our customers process over a hundred thousand pounds worth of sales through it, and so far not had seen any problems first hand.

PayPal is a service which allows businesses and individuals to collect money for products and services.

Like every third party service you may use to conduct your online business you need to read the terms and conditions and weigh up the pros and cons to ensure it suits your business, for example, if your average transaction value is £1000 you shouldn't choose a payment processor who only offers you protection for transactions under £500, similarly if your average transaction value is £10 you shouldn't choose a payment processor who charges a flat rate of £5 per transaction with no monthly fee

Here is a few of the general pro's and con's of using PayPal.

Why Should I Accept PayPal

No Sales, No Costs

Sometimes problems occur when starting up your business and you may not be quite ready to sell as soon as you planned, this may be problems in documentation, manufacturing, supply or a whole host of other reasons, even when everything does go to plan it could take a little while before sales really get going.

When using PayPal there's no startup costs and for most account types no monthly fee, this means if you don't make any sales you won't have to pay any fees.

Instant Set Up

A PayPal account is quick to set up, in fact the longest part of the process is the time it takes to read the terms and conditions. It's also a quick payment method to integrate into a website, and offers many levels of integration from a simple buy now button to more complex shopping cart systems.

No Unknown Variables

Often when applying for a merchant account from your bank you have to negotiate your fees based on projected turnover, which is great if you've been selling online for a while and have enough turnover to get a good rate, but if you don't hit your projected turnover you risk being hit by a higher percentage rate. With PayPal you know exactly where you stand, PayPal fees work on a simple scale, the more you sell in a month, the less you pay in fees.

Instant Access To Funds

If you start fresh with a merchant account from a bank they will probably put your money on hold for 30-60 days to ensure you have funds available in-case of charge backs, this can cause severe cash-flow problems for small businesses.

With the PayPal Access Card, you can have instant access to your PayPal funds, and while the fees for taking money out of a cash machine, the access card, which is simply a prepaid Mastercard can be used to pay for stock and other essential business costs seconds after your customer has paid.

"PayPal Money Isn't Real Money"

PayPal being outside of people's standard bank account is often considered as bonus money not earmarked for anything such as bills, and with a price to withdraw small amounts to a bank account people often look online for things to buy rather than transfer money into their bank.

What's more, PayPal make it very easy for individuals to receive money from others and it's not just people who sell unwanted goods on eBay who are receiving PayPal payments. Mobile PayPal apps are making it much more common for friends to give each other money via PayPal, splitting meal bills, birthday presents and even trading PayPal cash for real cash with a friend on a night out because the cash machine is broken all add up to people having healthy a PayPal balance waiting to be spent.

People Feel Safe Using PayPal

Some people like to pay via PayPal, it's a method which requires no real trust in the seller, as PayPal offers buyer protection, customers also know the process to pay with PayPal and are aware that a seller will never see their card details.

Reasons Not to Use PayPal

People don't like PayPal

For one reason or another some people will not use PayPal, this could be because they have had a bad experience in the past or may just be because they have heard bad stories. Offering no alternative to PayPal will fail to convert these customers.

Solution : Offer an alternative alongside PayPal

"I Don't Have A PayPal Account"

Not many people are aware that buyers can make purchases through PayPal using a debit or credit card without a PayPal account and PayPal doesn't make the option very obvious during the payment process either. Unfortunately it's tough to educate these users, so offering only PayPal could fail to convert people who don't want to have a PayPal account.

Solution : Give clear instructions or offer an alternative alongside PayPal

Your Product Doesn't Qualify for Seller Protection

You must check your products and processes qualify for seller protection, for example if you sell digital goods you will not qualify, or if you use a shipping service with no online tracking, which includes in-house shipping solutions.

Not qualifying for seller protection is not always a reason not to use PayPal but you you must decide if you can take the risk of charge backs, often these are the same risks you take when accepting other payment methods, for example accepting credit cards but not requiring 3D secure authentication for every purchase.

You Might Get a Better Deal Elsewhere

There are many payment processors and many different fee structures, if your transactions are high value you may be able to find a processor who charges a small one off fee per transaction which will be much better than one which charges a percentage, if your transaction value is low a percentage may be better than a fixed fee.

PayPal May Not Match Your Brand

In some cases PayPal may not fit in with your product image, for example; if you have a particularly high class or exclusive product.

PayPal May Put Holds On Your Funds

Much in the way a bank may impose a long clearing period, in some rare cases PayPal has been known to put a hold on an account when they feel it necessary to review, PayPal are also not the quickest to complete reviews. From research this seems to be more prominent with businesses who collect money for things other than the sale of goods (donations etc.).

Man taking advantage of highstreet sales

It's important to keep things fresh during the holiday season with most of the high street stores promoting Boxing Day Sales your potential customers are tempted to venture off their computers and visit shopping centres across the country. Fortunately e-commerce stores still have the upper hand, with no looking for parking spaces, queues, bumping into people and fights at the tills a small sale of your own should be very effective to convince your customers to stay indoors.

The great news is with an e-commerce store not only does it cost you less than the high-street stores to put up sales banners you can automate when your sales begin and end so you can plan them in advance.

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Blurry Photo

There are three main causes of blurry images, out of focus subject, camera shake and the image captured at too low a resolution, sometimes all of these factors are the reason why your product images are blurry.

Out of focus images are by far the biggest problem with most of the product images seen on the internet, and all it takes to get good focus is a little bit of time getting to know your camera, learning to focus your camera is going to be time well spent. Using auto focus on your camera is fine, but it is important to understand how your camera's auto focus works and to know when to use your camera's macro focus setting is essential to taking good product shots.

Another extremely common cause of blurry images is camera shake or motion blur. Using a tripod along with the camera's self timer or a remote will eliminate motion blur in most cases. When taking close up photos of products in macro mode slightest movements of the product itself can cause motion blur so ensure you place your both your tripod and product on sturdy surfaces.

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Although not as common a cause of blurry images as the other two, shooting the image at too low a resolution can result in a blurry image. You don't have to buy an expensive 14+ mega pixel camera, in fact most cameras on the market these days are sufficient to take your product shots. Camera phones while claiming high pixel resolutions are not good enough for your product photography.

It's necessary to shoot an image at a higher resolution than you intend use because a lot of the detail will be lost as the image is processed. Most product photographs need to be cropped, adjusted and resized, all of these cause loss of detail, just by saving your pictures as jpegs will cause loss of detail.

There are lots of social network websitesWhen I mention Social Networking to our business customers, the first thing that always pops into their mind is Facebook, but is Facebook the most efficient use of your businesses time or resources?

There are literally hundreds of social network s and although Facebook certainly has size and popularity on it's side,  bigger is not always better when it comes to getting your point across.

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When starting your businesses Facebook page your first task is to get some fans, now before you run off to buy fans, which are almost certainly going to be fake and do nothing for your business, you should look closer to home and invite all your Facebook friends to support your business. Unfortunately if you have more than a few Facebook friends Facebook has made this a particularly tedious task where you have to tick each friend individually in order to invite them.

Fortunatley, there are a few tricks you can use to take the sting out of inviting many friends at once, this will work on a number of browsers including Chrome , Internet Explorer 9+ and Firefox (with the firebug plugin).

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