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Selling on Facebook: 4 Common Issues

There is a growing integration between social media and ecommerce, and there’s a new term for this integration: social commerce.

Facebook is the leading social commerce platform. Recently I moderated 500 Million People.

Growing: The Facebook Conversation Turns to Commerce,” a Practical Ecommerce webinar that addressed how merchants can tap into the Facebook phenomenon to help grow sales. Joining me in the webinar were representatives from Milyoni, a company that provides a Facebook shopping-cart application. We covered four topics:

Why online merchants should sell on Facebook.
Options for social commerce.
Why social commerce is not about selling.
Unique dynamics about selling within Facebook.

1. Why Sell on Facebook?

With more than 500 million users, over 50 percent of who log on at least once per day, Facebook is the leading social network. Not only that, earlier this year it surpassed Google as the most visited site.

Facebook brings in more than $630 million in revenue from advertising. Facebook fans spend $71.84 more annually on consumer products than do non-fans. They are 41 percent more likely to recommend products and 28 percent more likely to continue using them, according to Forbes magazine. As a result, ecommerce merchants should consider Facebook as a channel to expand their businesses.

2. Options For Social Commerce

Social commerce on Facebook tends to take three forms. They are:

Promote brand loyalty;
Drive fans to ecommerce websites;
Reshape the buying experience.
A number of Facebook shopping applications are little more than glorified photo galleries. That’s fine if the goal is to move the buyer from Facebook to the merchant’s ecommerce site.

However, there is a distinct disadvantage to using such an approach as consumers don’t typically want to leave Facebook to complete a purchase. For many, Facebook is the web and they prefer all interactions, even ecommerce, to take place entirely within the confines of that platform.

3. Why Social Commerce Is Not About Selling

Facebook is a social environment, not a shopping environment. Therefore, merchants should engage fans, not interrupt with over-the-top sales messages. The shopping experience needs to remain social, interactive, and contextual to the experience people are having.

That is not to suggest that, on occasion, it’s not okay to directly post a promotional message. But such behavior should be the exception rather than the rule. Educating, informing and entertaining fans is the guideline for what’s acceptable. Making sure there is a healthy balance between commerce-related updates and those that are simply informative is the key.

4. Unique Dynamics About Selling Within Facebook

Here are some keys to social shopping.

Social Product Catalog. Shopping, and selling, within Facebook should be contextual in the sense that it has relevance to the shopper. Because Facebook provides information on the individual–gender, geo-location, likes, interests–merchants can create a storefront to take advantage of that. With the data from Facebook, it becomes almost like a personal shopper.

Social Merchandising. Putting up a store within Facebook won’t guarantee sales. That’s because fans don’t typically venture too far off a Facebook Wall. By tastefully combining old-fashioned merchandising–the promotion and sale of goods–with social technology, merchants can reach out to fans via the Wall, initiate conversations, promote products, reward participation and bring them to the shopping cart.

Secure Order Processing. Remaining within the Facebook environment is a big part of making the purchase experience more convenient. However, many merchants and consumers have questions about Facebook’s security and privacy.

Each social commerce layer has its own rules on privacy and security. The first layer, Facebook, asks for certain information, such as birth date, gender, and interests, for the purpose of creating a social profile. Facebook-enabled storefronts can then use that information, saving the shopper from having to provide it again. The shopper should just have to supply product selection and shipping details to the storefront. The storefront then passes all of that information to the credit card payment gateway, which securely collects the credit card payment data.

The key privacy and security concern is to ensure none of that information travels back upstream. Shopping cart vendors such as Milyoni allow the merchant to dictate which payment provider, such as PayPal, Authorize.Net and others, is used for the transaction.

Does It Make Money?

During the webinar, one of the greatest concerns expressed by attendees had to do with the return on investment from social media. Representatives from Milyoni shared the following facts:

40 percent of people become fans to receive discounts and promotions;
39 percent become fans to show their support for a brand.
By using good social merchandising manners, such as posting to engage with fans, make commerce secondary, pace your postings, and reward your fans with exclusive offers, merchants can make money off their Facebook efforts.

Conclusion

We ended the webinar by reminding attendees that:

Social commerce is already here and Facebook plays a key role;
Privacy and security can be effectively managed;
To succeed on Facebook, merchants should remember that it’s not about shopping, but rather about engaging, informing and entertaining fans;
Merchants should learn by doing, and experiment with a variety of options

This article was written by Paul Chaney with Practical Ecommerce

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Fifth Third Processing Advances Market Expansion through Acquisition of National Processing Company

Positions Company as Market Leader in the Small and Medium Enterprise Market and Strengthens Capabilities in Fast-Growing Third Party Sales Channels
Cincinnati, September 15, 2010 — Fifth Third Processing Solutions, LLC today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire National Processing Company (NPC). The transaction advances Fifth Third Processing Solutions’ strategy to grow through complementary acquisitions and creates one of the largest merchant acquiring businesses in the United States, with a particular expertise on meeting the unique payment processing needs of small and medium enterprise (SME) businesses.
The acquisition of NPC expands Fifth Third Processing Solutions’ best-in-class capabilities and facilitates the delivery of the Company’s innovative electronic payment solutions to Independent Sales Organizations (ISOs) and agent banks, strengthening its position in the SME segment and establishing the Company as a major player in the third party and agent bank referral channels. These capabilities will accelerate Fifth Third Processing Solutions’ efforts to cross sell merchant processing to more than 3,000 current Fifth Third Processing Solutions financial institution customers.
“We are delighted about the prospect of welcoming NPC, its customers and its partners to the Fifth Third Processing Solutions family,” said Charles Drucker, President and CEO of Fifth Third Processing Solutions. “This acquisition is an important part of our ongoing growth strategy, as it broadens our client relationships, enhances the innovative services we provide merchants across the United States and expands our cross-selling opportunities among our
clients. We are particularly excited about the opportunities now before us in the fast-growing SME space and the benefits we will be able to deliver to an expanded base of merchants and financial institutions. SMEs will be able to leverage the same industry-leading payments system that our customers in the national grocery, retail, restaurant and drug store verticals rely upon to meet their payment processing needs. Our financial institution clients will gain better support for their merchant customer needs.”
NPC, whose heritage dates back to the 1960s, is a leading merchant acquirer focused on the SME market. NPC’s success in the SME market is driven by its broad third party sales network of independent sales organizations and financial institution clients. The third party sales channel is the fastest growing segment of the merchant acquiring business, having grown at a compound annual growth rate of approximately 8% from 2007 through 20091. NPC ranks as the largest merchant acquirer exclusively focused on the SME market with approximately 242,000 merchant relationships in the United States2. The company is led by President and CEO Tom Wimsett and an experienced management team.
“Today’s agreement represents that next step in NPC’s continued growth,” said Tom Wimsett, President and CEO of NPC. “Fifth Third Processing Solutions provides one of the most comprehensive product offerings to both merchants and financial institutions in the payments industry. I can think of no better partner for our customers and employees. My leadership team and I look forward to working closely with Charles and his team to consummate this transaction and deliver its expected benefits to our combined customer base.”
The transaction is expected to close in early November, pending satisfaction of customary closing conditions. Upon completion, NPC will become a subsidiary of Fifth Third Processing Solutions. It will continue to have locations in Louisville, Kentucky; Houston, Texas and Chicago, Illinois. The combined Fifth Third Processing Solutions will remain headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. Together, Fifth Third Processing Solutions and NPC will partner with over 420,000 merchant locations in the United States, handling approximately $344 billion in annual merchant payments volume.

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When it comes to merchant services focus on the piece that matters!

Interchange and Credit Card Fees Demystified for Business Owners

What is this “Interchange”?

Interchange is the major expense buried into a business’s credit card processing rates and most businesses need help understanding what it is and who controls it. With the new Durbin bill more education and discussion is sparking up around getting the control away from the banks. In fact the US Treasury will soon be in control of Debit Interchange.

The easiest way to think of Interchange is it is the wholesale cost – much like what your distributors charge you. In the same way your suppliers give you proprietary pricing information outlining the costs you’ll pay for goods and services – a credit card acquirer (processor) pays a wholesale rate for each card they process … a.k.a. the Interchange Rate.

WHO CONTROLS INTERCHANGE?

Your acquirer (Processor) has no control over Interchange – the rates are determined by the card brand (Visa/MasterCard/Discover/American Express). All acquirers (processors) buy Interchange at the same cost. So scale doesn’t equivalent to best cost structure on the largest component on what a business will pay for processing. Hence doing business with the largest processor doesn’t mean you get a better deal.
Interesting enough is when you dig into the card brands (Visa/MasterCard) what you find is that they are basically a group of the largest issuers of credit cards (B of A, Chase, Citi etc..) These same banks that set the rates are the beneficiaries of “Interchange”. It’s the wolf watching the hen house and it has been that way for a long time. Another interesting fact is that both Visa and MasterCard have become publicly traded companies in the past 3 years. This payments scheme is a major revenue source for the card Issuing banks.
So back to the processors, the one who are beaten up when they try to set you up for service.
Interchange Wholesale is available for you to see for yourself

Would you like to see for yourself? I thought so! Here are the links to the interchange pdf files you can download from the Associations (Visa/MasterCard) websites – (if nothing else now you can challenge your current provider with them).

For Visa Interchange: http://usa.visa.com/download/merchants/april-2010-visa-usa-interchange-rate-sheet.pdf

For Mastercard click here: http://www.mastercard.com/us/merchant/support/interchange_rates.html

PROCESSOR PROFITS
Here is where we arm you to understand the scheme a little better. Where processors differ is in their mark-up and their pricing methods, and this is where the battle rages as merchant acquirers fall all over each other trying to get you to switch processors “for a lower rate”.
There are three main ways processors bill.
1) Differential – this is where you are quoted a base rate and pay an extra fee when the transaction is processed different than how you were set up. This could be because you took a different card type (Rewards, T & E, etc..) or because you failed to give additional information that helps you clear better.
2) Tiered- this is where you are quoted 3-4 rates and the cards dump into the buckets based off their Interchange expense.
3) Cost Plus or Interchange Plus – this is where you see true wholesale and then the processors cost are clearly laid out in a transaction and/or basis point format. Most opinions are this is the best one but that is not true, remember 80% of the expense is the Interchange but somehow we focus on the 20% way too much.

Our recommendation on how to select a processor.
1) Don’t focus on your rates – I know it sounds irrational, it’s just like buying a car and focusing on the monthly payment, see the big picture.
2) Focus on getting to the least cost of acceptance meaning these 3 points:
a. How do you clear your cards the best (AKA Interchange Management) Ask the sales person what they do to help you clear better, if you get a vague distorted answer you are dealing with a yahoo which our industry is polluted with.
b. Are you maximizing Pin Debit to leverage your cost per transaction
c. Understand why your cards are clearing differently and what you can do to lower them – THAT IS WHAT DATA ONE does well (my only plug in this article)
d. Now negotiate your processing cost down and when it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, the below will happen.
3) Get a processor that rate locks and doesn’t charge junk or annual fees, negotiating a good deal is nice but when they jack rates (most do) or charge you junk monthly or annual fees, your rates are now irrelevant. $200 a year versus .02 cents a transaction makes all that nogciating worthless now and you probably missed it because they conveniently tucked it away in the billing discretely.

But you still need one thing, understand their service model. Americans have this issue where we want the best deal upfront and then when the service is sub parr (sucks) and we are talking to an automated customer service rep we wonder why. Ask the questions upfront, payment processing is not just a commodity, it is critical to understand as it is a major expense to your business and bottom line.

My final advice – Do yourself a favor and focus on the Interchange, that is the meaningful part of your cost when it comes to card processing.

Questions? Send me an email and I’ll do my best to answer. sales@dataoneintl.com, we don’t charge for free advice or education.

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7 Keys to look for a Internet Based Merchant Services Account

This story was recently shared with Data One
Recently I went looking for an online merchant account, with disastrous results. I made the mistake of taking information at face value and relying on the ecommerce merchant account provider’s good reputation in other areas.
Fortunately, you can avoid the same experience I had by asking the right questions of a potential ecommerce ecommerce merchant account provider.
Merchant Account Provider Questions:
Understanding the answers to these questions before signing an application or agreement will help make for a solid partnership between you and your merchant account vendor:
1. As a merchant, can I accept credit cards both online and offline?
Do I need to get separate authorizations or permissions when setting up my ecommerce merchant account for different types of transaction (Internet, retail, phone orders, etc.)?
What other merchant fees are involved if I accept both online and offline credit card charges?
2. Can I accept ecommerce payments using methods other than Mastercard and Visa (Discover, American Express, Diner’s Club, online checks, debit cards, etc.)?
If so, what are the fees and do I need to do anything to “activate” those ecommerce payment methods?
3. What are the different discount rates and fees for different types of ecommerce and other charges through the merchant account (Internet, in person, telephone, mail, etc.)?
4. What are the other fees related to this ecommerce merchant account – yearly, set-up, application, monthly minimum, statement, support, cancellation, discount, per-transaction, gateway access fees, card reject fee? Are these subject to change?
Are there any other fees involved in order to get my ecommerce merchant account functional?
5. Do I process ecommerce charges manually or automatically?
If manually, is it possible to get automatic merchant account processing?
If so, do you provide a secure online payment gateway for my ecommerce merchant account?
How do I get up and running and what extra charges will I pay to do so?
6. What other software and services do I need to become fully ecommerce enabled online (such as secure gateway provider, etc.)?
Do you have a list of these additional ecommerce providers that are compatible with my ecommerce merchant account?
7. Do I need additional hardware or software not previously mentioned?
If so, what is the cost and how do I get this equipment?
Many of these questions are different ways of getting at the same issue — you want to know every component, every function, every fee, and every charge association with making your ecommerce merchant account work effectively for your business.
If you ask these questions while establishing a mutually comfortable relationship with your ecommerce merchant account provider from the start, you can avoid “traps” and lay the groundwork for a long, solid partnership.
What other items are key to getting a successful Internet Merchant Services Account?
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Data One CEO on Sales Sense Talk Replay

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DataoneIntl is a guest on the Sales Sense Reality Talk Show

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