1. Payment processors
After trying and switching processors for the last 5 years or so, I think paypal is the best service. Fees are low, especially if you have $5000+ per month, and they have grown so big most people have heard of them and many have an account. In the last couple of years they have extended their International reach so it is available in most countries.
Clickbank is another choice, with the added option of managing an affiliate program, which is handy, but I don’t find it worth the whopping 14% fees. I personally find the affiliate program of marginal value as it caters to more sensational, get rich quick type of products and sellers. Just my opinion though, others may differ.
Another disadvantage of clickbank is the waiting period for payout and payment by check, whereas paypal has no waiting period and direct deposit in 2 – 3 days (although they claim 5 – 7 working days, in fact it is 2 – 3).
2. Sales Processing and Downloads
Selling download-able products is the only way to go, especially if you are selling internationally. Regular mail to distant corners of the world, such as Ethiopia or even Thailand or India is not feasible as postal system is too corrupt.
In addition, paypal requires a tracking number, and rightly so, which protects you the seller in the event of a dispute. Selling internationally, this presents a problem when purchasing power and exchange rates are taken into account, the service becomes too expensive.
Depending on what you are selling and to who, you may want to use a fulfillment service, especially if it is a high-end product. I recently bought a package from here and they used a fulfillment service, which seemed quite efficient. They are selling courses for $300+ to the developed world, and charging for shipping, which I didn’t mind paying as it is a small percentage of the total cost. However, if you are selling something for under $50, then the shipping (as well as printing and handling) then the math doesn’t make sense.
So – better to go with downloads. Here is a few things I have learned.
1. Customers have to get an email.
Some people really don’t realize they are being re-directed. I don’t know what they are thinking, but somehow they don’t seem to get it. This kind of problem can be reduced substantially using a bit of code. After processing the credit card for the sale, Paypal displays a white page saying the purchase is complete and a link in a tiny font, that says, “Return to Merchant.” This is quite ambiguous and I am not really sure why Paypal chooses this language and tiny font. Anyway, there is an option for customized code – (full list of paypal developer codes here)
The maximum number of characters is 64, and I have found it works the best to fill the field to the maximum with spaces, as in
that way, a huge button is generated that customers absolutely can’t miss.
As a temporary or partial measure, this works very well and cuts down on “I didn’t get my download” email substantially.
The best solution however is to redirect after purchase AND have an email automatically generated that sends the download link to the customer after purchase.
There are several front end software products that will help. One is Digital Product Guard, which will encode the download URL and generates an email to the customer but doesn’t include the download URL in that email, instead relies on the redirect after purchase.
Another is Paypal Download Manager, which is a great product and does everything except the code is encrypted so you can’t do multi-variant testing or customize it. That is a significant disadvantage – not being able to test the sales pages means you are stuck in the stone age (!) and you are losing more sales than you are getting.
The best system I have found which covers all of the essentials and a has a few nice extras is GETDPD (www.getdpd.com). Customers are redirected, and get an email with the download link, which expires after a pre-set number of downloads. They accomodate different websites under the same account and also administer an affiliate program. And everything goes through paypal.
There are still a few bad boy countries that paypal screens very carefully, so inevitably some people get caught up and can’t use their credit card on the site. Paypal also offers a Virtual Terminal where you can take credit card purchases over the phone – very handy! Great for International orders and perfect for clients that want to send a check.