How to Set up Payment Plans for Customers Online

how to take online payments imageHere’s a quick and easy walkthrough of how to set up payment plans for customers.

In this guide I’ll show you how to you can accept payments online without using Paypal.

At the end of this guide, you’ll have everything you need to offer customer financing and look very professional doing so. All without paying extortionate monthly fees. Yay!

So let’s get started…

My Client Was Looking For a Payment Plan Solution…

During a recent consultation with a client who runs his own small business, he told me how he was losing jobs because he wasn’t offering a payment plan solution. He was positive that if he could offer customer financing, he’d be able to close all those customers who really want his service but can’t quite afford it.

Most customers promise to come back in the future after they have saved the required amount (ever heard that? heh…) Most people are genuine in their intention, but things go pear-shaped very quickly in life (the car breaks again, the rabbit needs new teeth…) and that means that the well-meaning customer will never make that promise good.

The rabbit thing is true by the way… consider rabbit dentistry as a career if you what to get rich quick…

Without a Payment Plan Solution, You’re Leaving Money on The Table

My client realised that not being able to offer customer financing was costing him dearly – probably more than he dares to imagine.

The fact is that just by offering a payment plan on your website you differentiate yourself from a lot of the competition and convey professionalism, all of which helps to convert more prospect into customers.Click To Tweet

I call this invisible money because – unless you’re tracking things properly – you never quite know why people bounce off your website.

Assuming that they were untargeted or unlikely prospects is an all-too-easy way to categorise those who don’t buy… but I walked out of a Ferrari showroom once with my tail between my legs… not because I don’t want the product, but because I can’t afford it!

And this is precisely why setting up payment plans for customers is a very worthwhile thing to do – it’s the way to capture those who want it but can’t quite afford one lump sum.

By the way, if you want to track things properly when it comes to your website visitors, you can use a tool called Hotjar.

Why Would You Want to Take Payments Online Without Using Paypal?

PayPal is a solid service and I do sometimes accept payments via PayPal if and when the customer requests it.

  • The good thing about PayPal is that it’s so accessible. You sign up and you’re done.
  • The bad thing about PayPal is that it’s so accessible. Anybody working from their bedroom can have a PayPal account, and that fact – in business – can hurt your conversions.

A PayPal button on a page does not inspire the same trust as a professional checkout process. Period. That’s not really PayPal’s fault because it’s a great idea and a great service. Rather, it is the reason that the entry barrier is so low that even my dodgy neighbour could be selling false rabbit dentures online.

A professional cart is a differentiator. The entry barrier is perceived to be much higher, which means that if you have a great looking payment page, you are perceived as professional and trustworthy.Click To Tweet

My client is a tradesman and most of his customers pay via cheque or bank transfer. Accepting payments online as a small business will move him to a new level of professionalism (and therefore trustworthiness).

If as well as being able to accept payments online you're able to offer payment plans, your trust factor rockets significantly, especially when the rest of your competitors don't (or can't) offer customer financing.Click To Tweet

So offering online payment options other than PayPal is a must, in many cases.

So What do You Need to Set up Payment Plans for Customers?

Here’s what you need:

  1. a payment processor
  2. a cart

Easy, eh? Well, it will be when I show you the way we did it. And you’ll be able to set up payment plans for customers in under 5 minutes when you see the method.

If you run a small business or you sell digital products like online courses, offering payment plans as an option can help those who can't afford the full price convert into new customers.Click To Tweet

Here’s How Not to Setup a Payment Plan Solution

  • don’t go to your bank (the bank is the obvious place you’d go to, but these archaic institutions are very adept at locking people into contracts from hell. Moreover, you’ll probably have to pledge your home and first child as collateral for them to consider you.
  • don’t use PayPal for recurring payments unless your customer asks, or offer it as an alternative to a professional payment solution.

OK, let’s go grab the tools we need.

Setting up a Checkout to Accept Recurring Billing

Step 1: Get Set up to Start Accepting Payments Online

You need a payment processor to act as the bank for you. Think of a payment processor as an entity with the ability to process payments.

Here’s what you want in a payment processor:

  • free to set up (no setup fees)
  • no monthly fees (yay!)

This is where you go to get it: Stripe

Why Stripe?

because…

  • it’s globally recognized
  • it has been around for many years (reputation)
  • they don’t charge monthly fees
  • they integrate with a ton of carts and processors – including PayPal, which means that you can accept PayPal payments via Stripe (don’t worry about this bit if it sounds confusing)

I’ve been using Stripe for a long time now, and I’ve never had a glitch.

Some frequently asked questions about this payment processor:

  • do they charge a percentage? Yes, they take a small percentage of each transaction. Yo! They don’t charge monthly fees… so they have to make money somewhere. The fact is that nobody with the ability to process payments is going to work for you for free (ask the bank…)
  • do they pay into your bank account straight away? Of course not. That would be madness when you consider that it may take them anything from 1 to 3 days to actually receive the payment. This may or may not be true in the world of banking, but since this is what they all say, it’s irrelevant if it’s true or not. Now, in the UK we have the faster payments system (banks suddenly discovered a way for computer digits to transfer ledgers at the speed of light, instead of taking 3 days…) but Stripe is an international processor, so if a customer in the UK pays you, for example, it’s not going from a Uk bank to another UK bank.

* Note: I get my Stripe payments after 3 or so days, which is reasonable.

Below is a screenshot of my Stripe dashboard.

Setting up Payment Plans for Customers
Processing payments online

It’s worth noting that I never log into my Stripe account. I’ve no need to. The payments get processed by Stripe and then show up in my bank account a few days later.

If I wanted to check something, I would log into Stripe, but otherwise, it just runs itself.

Step 2: Get a Cart to Take Payments Online

I’m not talking about a shopping cart here, as in an online store. Forget that. We want easy – super easy, in fact – and fast.

This is where you go to get it: SamCart

Why SamCart?

because…

  • it’s hands-down the best cart
  • you can set up digital products, physical products or services and accept online payment for them
  • you can set up payment plans for customers in almost any country
  • you don’t need a website to be able to start selling

Personally, I’ve only been using SamCart for a relatively short period of time. However, I’ve been selling online for over a decade and I’ve tried more online payment solutions than I’ve had hot dinners, and I’ve never seen a cart as easy and as professional as SamCart. I love it, and so will you when I tell you the rest.

Below is a screenshot of my SamCart dashboard (I blanked out the product name because those relate to a separate business).

best way to accept payments online
Best way to accept payments online

Step 3: Setup Your Currency and Connect Your Stripe Account (so you can get paid)

Once you sign up to SamCart, you will see nice and short video tutorials on how to do everything you need to do, and there’s only a few of them, so it’s not like you’re going to be going through a mad learning curve. It’s intuitive and it really should take you a few minutes to be up and running.

Inside your Samcart dashboard, click the logo in the top right and select Settings from the drop-down menu. Here you set up your country and the currency you want to accept. Easy. Done.

In the integrations section, you can quickly connect your Stripe account with a couple of mouse clicks. This ‘tells’ your cart where to send the money when somebody pays you with a credit or debit card. Cool eh?

samcart settings
Samcart settings

Step 4: Setup Your Product or Service With a Few Clicks in a Couple of Minutes

Back in your Samcart dashboard, click the New Product button to set up your product (see image below).

samcart setup new product
Setup new product in Samcart

Next, you’ll see a popup. Fill in your product details. See image below (note: in my case, my currency is set to $):

samcart setup new product details
Setup new product details

Next, choose what type of product this is: digital or physical (see image below for an example of how the digital product setup looks like).

samcart choose product type
Samcart choose product type

Below you can see an example of how the physical product setup looks like:

Samcart physical product settings
Samcart physical product settings

Examples of digital products you can setup:

  • ebooks
  • online courses
  • video training or webinar access

Examples of physical products you can setup:

  • any service you perform (e.g. accounting, bookkeeping, cleaning windows etc)
  • any physical product (e.g. books, iPhone cases, fridge freezers etc)

Examples of intangible products you can setup:

  • consultations or training (e.g. via skype or any other way you want)
  • onsite visits (if you offer a service and you want to charge customers for visiting their premises)
  • anything else you can think of

Next, you choose the template you want by clicking on it: this is how the cart page will look like (see image below).

Cart page template
Cart page template

Note that in this example I’m setting up a digital product.

Next, you scroll down that page and customise the look and feel if you wish to (see image below):

Samcart customize 1
Samcart customisation

Next, you scroll down a bit more and customise the information on that page, including:

  • the button text (e.g. Buy now, Add to cart etc)
  • bullet points (to list benefits or features of your product or service)
  • bullet point image (if you want to get really granular)
  • testimonials (that’s right, you can add customer testimonials to your cart page to increase conversions)
sam cart customize 2
Samcart customising the information

Next, below that, you get to upload a product image (see image below):

Samcart product details
Samcart product details

Next is the first part of what you’ve been waiting for: setting up the uber complicated (not) voodoo that enables you to start accepting payments online (see image below):

Setting up online payment
Setting up online payment

To be able to take credit card payments online, flick that switch that says Allow Credit Card Payments.

You’re done.

Seriously.

Now, before you explode with excitement and rush off to get yourself set up… let me talk about 2 super cool features and then I’ll show you how you can set up recurring, subscription or payment plans to offer your customers.

  • cool feature 1: note on the image that you can enable PayPal payments too simply by flicking a switch. This enables you to present 2 payment modes on your checkout page. Very nice uh?
  • the order bump: this is SUPER cool. An order bump is an offer related to the product. For example, if you’re a local locksmith, you could have a page that sells a lock, and the order bump could be a lock fitting service. This is presented in the form of a checkbox that the customer can very easily click to add to the order, and the total price will increase by however much your order bump costs.

Other things you can do

The rest of the settings on that page include:

  • integrating your email provider (if you want to)
  • adding a link to a thank you page (e.g. you could redirect the customer to a specific page after they buy, like a thank you page, and information page or even a second offer page)
  • adding coupons: you can create coupons to sweeten the deal.
  • add a terms and conditions box to cover your arse (customers can only pay online if they tick the box that says they agree with your terms and conditions)
  • add tracking code (so you can do voodoo and improve your conversions like a real marketer all by yourself)

And here’s the eye candy:

Samcart integration settings
Samcart integration settings

and…

Samcart coupon settings
Samcart coupon settings

Ok, now that we’ve gone through the settings…

Let’s Setup Payment Plans for Customers to Pay in Installments

In order to keep the best bit until last, I deliberately skipped one crucial part at the very start of setting up my dummy product. Let me now reveal what that is…

When you create your product, you can set the frequency of payments (i.e. the payment plan) like this:

Recurring payments setup
Recurring payments setup

and…

Payment plan setup
Setting up your payment plan

and then…

Setting up free trials and subscriptions online
Setting up free trials and subscriptions online

Did you see that? You can set up free trials and set the trial period (e.g. 7 days) as well as controlling the number of payments.

This is seriously powerful when it comes to your checkout page.

If you’re a coach or you run a membership program, you could, for example:

  • set up a 7 day free trial
  • customers enter their card details and get access to a part of your training
  • after 7 days, if they don’t cancel, your cart takes payment from their debit or credit card monthly thereafter, for as long as you specified

Your payment offers could be:

  • a payment plan, which is a set of payments (e.g. 3 payments, or 12 payments) weekly or monthly or quarterly or yearly
  • a payment subscription, which is an indefinite payment (e.g. if you offer a maintenance service or access to a membership site, you could bill quarterly, yearly etc).

Now, let me go the extra mile here for you, just for making it all the way down here!

How to Take Payment Online and Set up Payment Plans for Customers Without PayPal Video Tutorial

Taking Payment With a Card Reader v Online

If you’re self-employed or a business that offers services, you may be tempted to go for what may seem like the easier option of using a card reader instead of taking payments online.

Here are some reasons why that’s not such a great idea compared to the online method:

  • you still have to ask for payment face to face, which can be awkward sometimes
  • you better not have forgotten the card reader
  • the card reader better not be temperamental that day
  • you need wifi to be working well, otherwise, you’ll look like a tool
  • you need your phone battery not to let you down and make you look inept
  • you can’t take recurring payments this way
  • you can’t offer payment plans
  • typically, the monthly fee for the card reader + the transaction fee cost more than this method
  • obtaining the card reader and getting setup may take a few days

And here are some reasons why accepting payments online is better if you’re a service-based business:

  • you can get yourself set up in minutes, following this guide
  • you don’t need a website (because the product you created in your cart is automatically a product page that you can send people to)
  • you don’t need to worry about hosting (because the cart is hosted for you on big snazzy servers)
  • you can email your clients a link to your product page at your convenience – from the bathtub if you like (i.e. you don’t need to be in front of them to ask or to take payment)
  • you can request payment in advance (e.g. for site visits and anything else you want)
  • you will look like a rock star in front of your clients by offering this facility, which in itself can be a source of recurring business and new referrals, putting more money in your bank

Here Are Even More Cool Benefits of Accepting Payments Online, Whether You Sell Digital Products, Services or Physical Products

  • you can set up a coupon (e.g. $10 off) and do an email blast to all your customers or subscribers with a link to your product page, announcing a flash sale
  • you can do the above and just post a link to the product page on Facebook or any social media site where you can get exposure
  • you can run a weekend sale every weekend whilst you’re camping in the middle of nowhere – you don’t need to be there for people to pay you – they just need a link to your offer page
  • you can spend 10 minutes scheduling several posts to go out to Facebook and Twittethroughoutht the entire weekend promoting your weekend sale (and do this as many times as you want, whenever you want)
  • your professional checkout will enhance customer trust and lead to more sales
  • you will fall in love with the order bump and use it to promote addon after addon because it works

Accept Online Payments in 4 Steps

Step 1Sign up to a Stripe
Step 2Sign up to a shopping cart
Step 3Connect your cart to your merchant account
Step 4Set up your product or service (see video example)

Conclusion

A few years ago, being able to accept payment online and especially offering payment plans was neither easy nor cheap. Back in the middle ages, you needed to do this via the traditional bank.Click To Tweet

Today, these 2 tools I have talked about here are game-changers. You can get set up in minutes at a very low cost. Your only cost is a small transaction fee from the payment processor and a small monthly fee for your checkout, which has everything you need to setup products in minutes and host the sales page + cart for you.

Signing up to Stripe and SamCart, then setting yourself up to take payments online should take you no more than 20 minutes if you take it nice and easy. Moreover, you can always cancel or pause your cart if you really wanted to – there’s no contract binding you to them like a second mortgage!

I hope you enjoyed this guide. Now you have all you need to get started!

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