If you’ve ever looked into buying or selling online, you’ve come across this term: “eCommerce merchant.” On the surface, it sounds simple. But the way it refers to both retail and wholesale—offline and digital—also means it can be maddeningly vague. In this post, learn more about what you should be looking for in an eCommerce merchant.
An eCommerce merchant tends to focus on the following:
- Accepting credit card, debit, and ACH payments in exchange for your goods/services
- Building an online shopping structure, such as order forms or “shopping cart” functionality
- Handling security, encryption, and fraud monitoring. This builds customer trust and safeguards each transaction
You can’t choose the best eCommerce merchant until you know what to look for. In this post, we’ll take a traditionally broad term and ask what specifically makes an eCommerce merchant worthwhile. We’ll also explore how to differentiate one merchant from another.
What are eCommerce merchants?
An eCommerce merchant is a person, business, or organization that sells products or services online. This definition can include anyone from large eCommerce companies to small stores. Both wholesale and retail companies can be eCommerce merchants as well.
These days, the label “eCommerce merchant” often applies to online shopping platforms. Sometimes, people call these platforms an eMerchant. But the essential meaning remains the same.
The words can get a bit confusing. Aren’t you the merchant, after all, since you’re doing the buying and selling? That isn’t necessarily the case here. Online, “merchants” tend to refer to those providers that make buying and selling possible. Signing up for Stripe or Square, for example, means you would create an eCommerce merchant account.
Who is the “merchant” in a transaction?
Small businesses typically need two things to begin selling online:
- A merchant account with a popular online payment provider
- A payment gateway to handle transaction processing
In the offline world, we often think of merchants as the ones doing the selling. But for our purposes here, a “merchant” facilitates the transaction between a seller and a buyer online.
But eCommerce merchants do more than accept payments and transfer them to you. Used right, they can help your business in all sorts of ways.
eCommerce merchants and how they can help your business
Why not simply set up your own platform to accept payments online? Think of eCommerce merchants as providing the digital infrastructure you need to set up shop. They can offer a lot for your online sales, including:
- Creating an online or digital “storefront,” with the structure in place to handle incoming payments
- Providing multiple options for payment, from credit cards to ACH (bank-to-bank processing)
- Increasing security and accuracy: eCommerce merchants often offer encrypted payments and security certificates
- Integrating shopping cart functionality, such as sending reminder emails to users who sign up and then abandon their cart. In some industries, shopping cart abandonment rates exceed 95%. Automated reminder emails, through an eCommerce merchant, help reclaim some of those lost sales.
An eCommerce merchant platform can add even more to your online presence. One example: migrating to a digital presence. For any store, switching from in-person to online takes some adapting. A capable eCommerce merchant can make your migration much simpler.
An eCommerce merchant can also integrate with other services. One online shopping platform might bring in multiple payment gateways into a single source. Once your business is set up on the system, you can start taking payments from all over the world. You won’t have to reject customers for having the wrong type of card.
Of all the ways you can reach more customers and businesses, getting set up on a robust eCommerce merchant account is the simplest and fastest.
Top eCommerce merchant accounts and where to find them
With that in mind, what are some of the top names? Here are a few popular eCommerce merchants:
- Stripe. Stripe tends to focus on its role as a payment gateway. It handles both digital and in-person payments for businesses that may already have a platform for making sales.
- Square. Like Stripe, Square handles both in-person and digital payments. It also provides robust online store features, creating a comprehensive presence.
- Payment Cloud. Handling payment gateway issues for retail, eCommerce, and even mail and phone orders, Payment Cloud also features integrations with Customer Relationship Management and online shopping software.
- Amazon Pay. Amazon Pay takes the Amazon payment experience (checkouts, purchase protection, etc.) from its own platform and offers it to small businesses.
- Authorize. This is an eCommerce merchant that lets you choose. Do you want to use it strictly as a payment gateway? Or do you want a more robust eCommerce solution for your digital business?
Of course, knowing the names isn’t enough. You also need strategies to maximize your sell-through capacity if you’re going to squeeze as much value from your platform as possible.
To do that, make sure you first match your merchant with your business needs. For example, if you use a specific piece of accounting software or CRM that’s integral to your business, make sure that the provider you choose can integrate with that tool.
For those in the B2B wholesale space, NuORDER is a one-stop-shop for buyers looking to place orders and make payments. Equipped with flexible payment options built for wholesale/B2B, you can accept payments from buyers worldwide and view all transactions and orders from one platform. Click here to learn more about our centralized B2B platform.