Sarah Davidson writes on behalf of Braintree about how to navigate the minefield of growing your business without compromising on service.
Question: What does every startup want?
Answer: To grow.
This is the most obvious thing in the world but as nearly every startup knows, balancing your ambition to grow without compromising on delivering your service smoothly is a practical minefield.
So what are the fundamentals to get in place to support a slick customer experience while enabling quick and easy growth without a massive technology headache?
Before answering this it is helpful to think about the way customers buy and how it’s changing. There has been a huge shift from buying in store to buying online. The next big shift, already underway, is buying through mobile devices. Companies including Apple and Google have all bet big on customer behaviour moving towards mobile. And the success of apps including AirBnB and Uber are a testament to how quickly customers are embracing mobile payments.
With this in mind, digital payments provider Braintree has bet big on the mobile payments market. Its approach is to make it as easy as possible for merchants to integrate with all forms of digital payment platforms through its v.zero platform.
“For startups and developers, innovation and change is constant,” says Klas Back, GM, of payment solution provider Braintree’s International and Payment Strategy. “That’s why we’ve built v.zero to stand the test of time – any future feature updates will be simple to add so businesses always have easy access to the best in class platform and latest features.”
Earlier this year HotelTonight, the last-minute hotel booking app, integrated with v.zero, enabling it to scale internationally.
“Realising that people who were booking at the last minute were more likely to be on their smartphones than sitting in front of a computer, we focused exclusively on mobile and built the HT app,” says Sam Shank, chief executive and co-founder of the firm.
“This has really paid off, as consumers are increasingly shifting to mobile to do everything from ordering food to getting a ride to booking a hotel. But just as we wanted to give our customers flexibility and choice in how and when they book their hotel rooms, we also wanted to give them simple, speedy options for payment.”
One of the biggest problems facing startups is how to expand quickly and seamlessly outside their first geographical marketplace. In the not too distant past international expansion was a much longer term objective for most businesses. But the world has become a much smaller place because of the internet.
However, challenges remain for businesses looking to capitalise on this opportunity. Currencies are not international and neither is regulation. But the reality is, if you can’t flex your business to meet these challenges, you are restricting the number of customers you can sell to.
For example, if a business owner were to set up multiple payments APIs across different countries they would encounter problems with multiple dashboards. Finding a solution that makes it easy for customers to pay, and for merchants to manage is key. Companies such as Braintree allow merchants to overcome this – and by offering the right local currency to the international buyer, you are more likely to make them comfortable on your site and willing to buy, in comparison to only using a non-local currency.
HotelTonight’s Shank is adamant that Braintree has been critical in growing his revenues. “Integrating with Braintree’s v.zero SDK was not only a quick and painless process, but it also enabled us to accept a wide range of payments, from credit and debit cards to PayPal and Apple Pay,” he says. Indeed month-on-month Shank reports the business is seeing 30% growth in bookings that use PayPal alone.
Compliance and fraud protection
As e-commerce grows so too does the risk that customers’ data is stolen. Cyber crime is on the rise and it’s incumbent on all merchants trading online to take steps to protect their customers.
But taking responsibility for this means merchants aren’t focusing on what they do best. It’s for this reason that many merchants choose to work with a payments provider that takes the headache out of PCI compliance, the security standard in the payments industry.
Companies such as Braintree take on responsibility for data protection and compliance, storing customers’ details in a secure network separately from merchants’ systems. This is even more important given that last year the PCI Council released new requirements regarding browser-based checkouts.
Now, to meet the simplest set of requirements (called SAQ A), merchants must delegate “all cardholder data functions to PCI DSS validated third-party service providers”. In effect, this means that if the fields in the checkout are not hosted on a domain controlled by a payments provider, like Braintree, merchants may be responsible for a much larger assessment than would have otherwise needed to be completed.
It’s not just regulation that merchants need to consider. Increasingly customers expect secure payment processing, mobile device management safeguards, commerce solutions, contingency policies, insurance, encrypted project management, and guaranteed compliance.
Particularly if merchants are considering international expansion, ensuring compliance in multiple jurisdictions is complex. Entering new markets is part of nearly every startup’s growth plan. Planning for success doesn’t necessarily mean being ready to trade anywhere in the world on day one, but it does mean choosing a payments partner that will make things simple down the road.
Sarah Davidson is writing sponsored content for Braintree for Tech City News. For more information on how Braintree can help mobilise your payments and globalise your business, please visit the website.