Card Payment Processing: A Missed Opportunity for Web-Developers?

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There is a slightly old fashioned expression in the UK that refers to the value of “sticking to your knitting”. I’m never exactly sure of its origins, but the implication is quite simple. People and businesses should stick to what they are familiar with and what they know, because venturing into relatively “uncharted teritory” is unwise as it invariably ends up in disaster. Much like if one was to try crochet or even, heaven forbid, one of those dastardly fangled sewing machines I suppose!

I do genuinely believe that there is a place for such a sentiment in business, as I am a great believer in focus. Ultimately I would always advovocate being an expert in a few disciplines rather than a multi-disciplinary dabbler. Yes of course I refer to another old English addage advocating that we should avoid being a “jack of all trades” and rather aim to be a “master of one”.

But at the same time, modern business is what it is, and whether it is just a case of your business’ margins getting squeezed in your traditional markets, or you are accountable to share-holders who are looking for even greater returns on their investment, sometimes sticking to one’s knitting is simply not an option. And lets face it, is there anyone out there that thinks that Google should have stuck to building search engines? Or that Tesco made a mistake of venturing into personal banking and finance? Or that cave men should have avoided rubbing sticks together, on account of the fact that their loin cloths may catch fire?

Ultimately other market places offer additional revenue opportunities for established businesses, and in many instances, turning down such opportunity simply does not make good business sense. What is undoubtedly true is that any such venture should be throughly thought-through and researched, but with a few carefully considered NDA’s and agreements, and a bit of planning, surely opportunity knocks for us all?

There is a classic example here in my own industry. Last week I went to see a prospect who is in the business of fixing PC’s and laptops, and succesfully rebuilt mine about 5 years ago. As such technically minded wizardry is way beyond my capability, I held onto his business card, kept in touch, and lo and behold he is now in the market for a PDQ card machine.

As one does, I asked him how things are going, and by all accounts it sounds like he is doing pretty well, and that he himself has profited by venturing beyond his core business of fixing hardware. “Do you build e-commerce sites by any chance?” I probed, knowing that I have another prospect who is very much looking to overhaul his own on-line shop, but the response I got was less than expected. “Yes, in fact I finished 3 last week!”.

This surprisingly bullish response made my inner sales person came to the fore, and of course I had to ask the question… “So, errm, what did you do about helping them to take card payments?”

The next response was rather more expected, but still resulted in my nearly bursting into tears. “Well I just told them to go to their bank”.

At this point I went into a full-on pitch about how easily I could pass his clients’ customers out at the point of purchase to a static web-page, completely seamlessly and fully branded of course, where the end-customer can complete their purchase by making a card payment as quickly and easily as if they were in-store or using PayPal (but far, far cheaper for the merchant). And at the same time how he as a web-developer can earn a hefty chunk of the on-going revenue gained from the profit of processing the transaction.

But at this point I got a classic “I’m going to stick to my knitting” response! “What happens if it goes wrong? Who will my customer call? Well of course they will call me because they will always call me when stuff goes wrong. And I really don’t need the hassle”.

There are many out there reading this (I hope anyway… please feel free to comment if you are, it’s a lonely place this blogging when nobody makes any comments) who will probably fully agree with the sentiment, but I of course am going to challenge you with 3 questions, which I hope you can answer honestly…

1. When was the last time that you tried to make an online purchase with your credit or debit card that failed for any other reason than you entered the card or security details incorrectly?

2. If you were selling a pair of shoes, would you really consider only supplying the leather uppers and expect your customer to source, and fit, their own soles?

3. Would the world really be a better place if our ancestors had decided not to descend from trees and walk upright?

The last question I have to admit to being a little dubious about asking, as there are many days that I just crave for a much altogether simpler existence. But then I always come back to the fact that we are human beings and that we crave progress, and ultimately we will always think that the grass is greener over there.

Well if you agree, and if you have ever developed an e-commerce web-site for someone without offering to integrate the ability to take card payments, do get in touch. The rewards are significant, and the solution just works. Really.