There’s really no good reason any brick-and-mortar store that deals with pleasure products shouldn’t be online, giving customers the option to order products without the hassle and stress of having to physically visit a location. But some are reluctant, thinking the idea of starting an online store is too overwhelming.

“The major benefit to start selling online is to increase sales by virtue of the extended reach that the internet offers versus a regular brick-and-mortar storefront,” explained Raphael Berkien of 2000Charge, one of the many companies available to handle online billing needs for adult companies. “When you start selling online, you tap into a whole new market segment and type of customer. Potential customers from all over the world will now have access to your store from the convenience of their location without having to travel. Search engines make it easier for customers to find you, and a proper website allows them to quickly locate their product.

“Online selling gives your customers convenience and a faster turnaround, Berkien added. “Transactions are in real time, and your online store never closes for business.”

But choosing which company to use for your billing needs might be a little daunting for some. Rest assured—there are some simple steps to take and easy questions to ask both yourself and the prospective billers.

“You need to determine who your customers are,” suggested Hilda Tuel of iProcessing. “Find out who is most likely to order items online, and focus on them.”

Once you determine your online customer base, you might also want to check out what your competition is doing, Tuel said.

“You might want to ask your friendly competitor who they are using as a billing company,” she said. “Find out if they are happy, what services they get, what their rates are. You can even check out your suppliers, and find out what entity they are working with.”

Berkien said deciding on a billing company involves finding out what products different companies offer, and what products are right for you.

“Merchants need a variety of billing options that addresses their consumers’ needs to pay with credit cards (Visa/MasterCard), debit and ATM cards (issued by banks) and charge cards (AMEX/JCB/Discover), as well as alternative payment methods that allows consumers to pay with their bank account (e.g. ACH, IBAN, DirectPay, etc.),” Berkien said. “So the billing company must offer more than just one or two products. In addition to offering the correct billing solutions, coverage is also extremely important and numerous billing options are geographically targeted toward consumer groups.”

And don’t be afraid to ask questions, the experts noted. Tuel suggested asking several companies about the services they offer, as opposed to making their price points your first consideration.

“It’s not all about pricing,” she said. “It’s always about service. If you can’t have someone to help you, to answer your questions, to help you out, then it really doesn’t matter if you are getting a great price. You need a company that’s willing to work with you.”

Berkien added that he believes experience counts when it comes to choosing a billing company, so ask how long they have been in business. He also echoed Tuel’s thoughts on pricing and suggesting that retailers ask about a company’s fees.

“Merchants should review if the billing company charges upfront fees, monthly fees, or any other surprise fee tacked onto the total,” he said. “Billing solutions have different fee structures that can be charged as a percentage of the sales amount, as a set fee per transaction or as a combination thereof. Fees are assessed based on the merchant type and the risk associated with each transaction, and often merchants have to deposit collateral or funds are taken out of the settlement amount for reserves. Merchants should carefully review the terms and conditions offered to them by the billing company and understand their risks and liabilities pertaining to the transactions offered to them via a billing solution.”

And once you’ve waded through the services, fees, experience, and other issues? Tuel says even then you can hold the upper hand.

“Don’t sign a long-term contract,” she said. “You should be free to see if this is a company you are comfortable with and want to work with. Signing a long-term contract could mean trouble in the end if you want out, but need to keep paying for services you no longer want or need.”

Guide to Billing Companies

Alternative Merchant Processing
(888) 525-5059
[email protected]

American Merchant Systems
(702) 454-0760
[email protected]

+ 34 93 224 77 05
[email protected]

CCBill/CCBill EU
(888) 364-4332
[email protected]

CentreBack Payments, Inc.
(650) 430-7311
[email protected]

(800) 996-0398
[email protected]

+49 (0)89/2020889-50
[email protected]

(562) 498-6888
[email protected]

Electronic Transfer, Inc.
(800) 757-5453, ext. 201
[email protected]
0044 7797 752661
[email protected]

Entertainment Processing International
(800) 268-5509
[email protected]

+ 1.310.301.2001 +1.416.703.7200
[email protected]
(866) 314-5182
[email protected]
(310) 664-5700
(888) 627-3888 (toll-free)
[email protected]

+011 376 807 860
[email protected]

Euro Payment Group GmbH
+49 69 6772890-0
[email protected]

Failsafe Payments
+357 22 022 506
[email protected]

Global Accés S.L.
(888) 728-8845
[email protected]

Global Exchange Billing (GXBill)
(877) 411-2278 (U.S./Canada toll-free)
(410) 252-6312 (International)
[email protected]

(888) 889-0788
[email protected]
High Risk Processor
(702) 454-0760
[email protected]

(603) 436-1270
[email protected]

International Processing Solution
(800) 439-1974
[email protected]

iProcessing, LLC
(888) 400-iPRO (4776)
(707) 616-7681 (Cell)
[email protected]

(888) 950-5222
[email protected]

Local Billing Limited
(877) 777-3758

L3 Payments
(805) 449-1191
[email protected]

(818) 401-1888
[email protected]

MerchantConnections, LLC
(310) 902-6620
[email protected]

(888) 357-8166
[email protected]

OrbitalPay Inc./Global Electronic Technology
(888) 776-8801, ext. 216
[email protected]

(800) 975-5196
[email protected]

2000Charge, Inc.
(626) 585-1814
[email protected]

+31 (20) 320 8833
+00 (800) 55 33 2222 (EU toll-free)
(877) 503-1300 (U.S. toll-free)
[email protected] BV
+31 (77) 366 35 77
[email protected]

Web Transaction Services, Inc. (WTS)
(800) 982-9366
[email protected]

This article originally ran in the April 2010 issue of AVN.