A young man sits at a wooden table outside, surrounded by plants with a parking lot in the background. He holds a credit card in one hand and a smartphone in the other, and a laptop sits open on the table in front of him.
E-commerce payments are usually associated with goods and products bought online, but they can also be used for services offered by businesses. — Getty Images/MStudioImages

While e-commerce is a popular option for business owners, especially in today's highly digital business world, it can be difficult to navigate the ins and outs of the industry. When you think of the phrase "e-commerce," you might immediately think of online shops that sell and ship products to their customers. However, there are also many service-based e-commerce businesses on the market. Here's how to use e-commerce for services.

E-commerce for services

There are many e-commerce businesses that sell services rather than products. According to Calconic.com, technically, any service can be sold online. Online sales often boost revenues and elevate your business. Services are sold either directly or indirectly, though most businesses choose to sell their services indirectly. They use websites to promote their services and attract customers with a promise and brand identity. Direct selling is when businesses give potential customers the opportunity to order and pay for services directly online.

Two examples of platforms you can use to sell your services are Shopify and Amazon.

[Read more: 'Clicks Are Currency:' How E-Commerce Businesses Can Thrive in the Digital-First World]

Benefits of selling services online

Low-cost startup

According to Business News Daily, while developing and selling a physical product takes a great deal of money, time and energy, in a service-based business, the product you’re selling is you. There is little to no startup, overhead or production costs—all you have to do is build up your reputation and get the word out to your potential customers.

Flexibility

Generally speaking, a service-based business is a lot more adaptable than a products-based one. You are able to work on whatever you’d like, and you can tailor your services to best fit your clients’ needs in any given situation. You can also make changes to your services according to your clients’ feedback in real time.

Fulfillment

When you are offering your clients your own time and skills, you are able to interact with them on a more personal level. You can not only find financial success through your clients but also a sense of fulfillment from helping them.

[Read more: This Week on Entrepreneur: How to Grow Your E-Commerce Business and Stand Out]

Online payments transfer money electronically and authorize all sorts of online payment methods, like e-checks, credit cards and direct debit payments.

How to accept online payments for services

Check payments

According to Quickbooks, paper checks peaked in the 20th century and have lost their popularity with the introduction of electronic payment systems. E-checks—electronic versions of paper checks—are now commonly used to make online payments. All you need is a business account in order to accept checks, though it is best to have a policy for checks in place to protect your business. The standard practice is to accept check payments for the exact amount owed using checks that are issued by the banks in your state, and a third-party company will help you to verify each check. But if a check bounces, other consequences can arise.

Credit card payments

Most customers prefer paying with credit or debit cards, as they’re convenient and often facilitate a smoother checkout process. They allow people to finance larger transactions, which is why businesses should accept at least one type of credit card. They also allow for money to be deposited into your account quickly and broaden your customer base.

It is important to note that there is a debit card transaction fee cap, as established by the Durbin Amendment. This helps make processing debit card payments more affordable to sellers and consumers.

However, the amendment doesn’t impact credit card transaction fees, which can cost sellers significantly more. Consumers do have the right to dispute charges on their cards, which can lead to negative consequences for your business. You’ll also need to cover the costs of the physical equipment and pay for merchant services and PCI compliance charges, and you might face monthly minimums.

Online payments

Online payments transfer money electronically and authorize all sorts of online payment methods, like e-checks, credit cards and direct debit payments. They also offer a cheaper and quicker method of getting paid, as the fees charged for online payments are cheaper than those charged by credit card companies.

E-commerce online payment services often make use of a virtual shopping cart to calculate a customer’s total purchase and shipping costs. Calculating this total saves you time and reduces the risk of a mistake. The shopping cart also provides customers with options before they pay and collects a customer’s shipping and payment information. There are several providers who offer this service for free, and it is vital to have this system of payments in place in order to sell services online.

Mobile payments

Mobile payments make use of mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets. They can encompass a somewhat limited range of payment methods: payments made through digital wallet apps and near-field communication technology, money transfer apps (e.g., Venmo or PayPal) or payments using a mobile card reader to swipe debit or credit cards.

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Published December 13, 2021