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Payment links: what they are and how they work

Payment links: what they are and how they work

Struggling with a high abandoned cart rate? With too much friction at the checkout – or a slow, cumbersome payment process?

Chances are, you may have just not found a way of accepting payments that works for you – and your customers.

But have you heard of payment links?

Offering speed and convenience in spades, payment links are a straightforward way of collecting payment that doesn’t require time – or tech know-how – to set up.

But what is a payment link, and how do they work? Which types of merchants are they best suited to, how can they benefit your business – and how can you go about setting one up?

We’re answering all these questions, and more, below. Read on.

What is a payment link?

A payment link is a URL, QR code, or payment button you can send to your customer. Clicking or scanning it will take them to a secure checkout page, where – after inputting their payment details – they can make a purchase.

You can set up a unique payment link for a single intended recipient, for whichever service or product they’re interested in – then share this with that customer, across whichever sales channel you like. In this way, payment links function similarly to an invoice – albeit one your customer can pay, without distractions or deviating from the page, on the spot.

Payment links are provided by a payment link service provider, such as Checkout.com – so you’ll need to select one before accepting payments this way. (We’ve provided our top tips on how to choose the right payment link service provider below!)

How do payment links work?

Payment links are end-to-end solutions. That means they handle card tokenization – the process of safeguarding the sensitive cardholder details the payment process requires – as well as the payment request and authentication.

What does that mean for you, as a merchant?

That, basically, the heavy lifting is done for you. Once you’ve requested the payment link from your payment service provider, it’s ready to share with your customer. All they have to do is enter their payment details.

Plus, this payment page doesn’t require any effort on your part to set up and maintain. It acts as a kind of hosted payment gateway housed on the website of your payment link service provider, rather than your own. So you don’t even need a website to accept payments this way.

Benefits to using payment links for merchants

So – how can payment links boost your business? Let’s take a look.

A tailored approach

When you send a payment link, your customer will be directed to a payment page to complete the purchase. This page is completely customizable: you can tailor it to the needs of the audience, the characteristics of the product or service it’s selling, or the themes of the wider marketing campaign it’s attached to.

A fast, friction-free ride

Payment links can be clicked or scanned in an instant, then completed within moments.

This fast, frictionless process can help drive down your abandoned cart rates – especially because the customer isn’t faced with all the usual hurdles and hassles of conversion (including adding different items to a basket, navigating to that basket, and potentially having to set up an account to make a purchase).

A simple, stripped-back process

What’s easier than clicking on a link – or scanning a QR code?

Payment links make it simple for your customers to pay for the products and services you sell. By stripping the payment process of friction and fuss, you work wonders for the customer experience – and, in turn, boost positive perceptions around your business and brand.

A boost to your marketing efforts

Payment links work brilliantly alongside your marketing efforts – especially when conveying scarcity and urgency around your products, and drumming up interest for upcoming offerings.

This is particularly relevant if your brand engages with your customers across a wide range of sales and communication channels – and if it deals in ‘limited release’ products.

Perhaps, for example, you sell vinyl records: and have a strictly limited stock count of just 10 copies of an album coming in. In the weeks leading up to the release, you could tease the drop with a targeted SMS and social media strategy: reminding customers of when, where, and how many records you’ll be getting in.

Then, on the day of the release, you can get in touch with customers who’ve pre-registered their interest to let them know the records have landed – along with a payment link, tailored to them, allowing them to purchase their copy. (While stocks last!)

When to use a payment link

Payment links are ideal for accepting payments:

  • While you’re still working on your website or app
  • As an alternative to hosting your own payment form
  • In parallel with your existing online integration as another way to reach your customers

You might, for instance, operate a monthly market stall selling handcrafted jewelry. You have a small card reader for taking cardless payments on the day.

You also have a basic website but, because of your low overall sales volume – and the sporadic nature of your business – it’s never been worth adding ecommerce functionality to it. (Or you’ve decided it’s simply not worth the time and money to set up).

Then, someone reaches out to you after browsing your website. They’re desperate for your latest artisanal necklace – but you haven't set up an ecommerce payment gateway, and they want it now. In this case, you can simply send them a payment link, receive the funds, then same-day ship them the necklace. Simple!

Payment links will also be well suited to your business if:

  • You sell a lot of bespoke items: If the products you sell are personalized to each consumer, you may not want to build them into your website, or promote them at large – so a tailored, individual link to pay is the best option.
  • You don’t want to deal with the hardware of accepting in-person payments: Let’s revisit that market stall example. If you don’t have the space, or the inclination, to work with a physical card reader, payment links can fulfil a similar function.
  • You sell through multiple channels: Maybe you do business not only in person, but through social media, email newsletters, SMS, and blogs. Here, payment links can ensure each payment experience is tailored to the platform you’re providing it through.
  • You have a highly segmented audience: Because payment links are highly customizable, you can create tailored, targeted payment pages that speak to the distinct goals, needs, and pain points of each demographic and audience you cater to.

Does any of this sound like you? Explore how Checkout.com’s complete ecommerce payment processing solution can revitalize the way you sell online.

How to create a payment link

Ready to create your own payment link? Here’s how.

1. Set up a payment request link with your provider

To get going, request a payment link from your payment link service provider. They’ll have all the infrastructure and functionality already set up – you just need to send them the payment information, which includes the amount, the currency, and the customer’s billing address.

Your payment service provider will generate a unique link for a one-time transaction.

2. Customise your payment link

Once the payment link is set up, you should now – depending on the payment service provider you’ve selected – be able to customise elements of how the page looks and feels. This is particularly important if you have distinct audience demographics, or if you’re keen to tailor the page to the channel you’re sending it to your customer through.

3. Send a link for payment

Now, it’s time to actually send the payment link to your customer. Typically, your payment service provider will do this for you, automatically, once the payment link is set up.

But you can also share your payment link with your customer manually via email, text, or social media for a more personal touch.

4. The customer enters their details

After being sent straight to your business’s payment page, the customer will enter their payment details to complete the transaction.

How they pay – and which specific details they’ll need to enter – depends on how you, and your payment provider, have set up the page. It could be through ACH, by entering their credit or debit card information, or via a digital wallet such as Apple Pay or Google Pay.

Here at Checkout.com, our payment links offer a huge range of ways for your customers to pay: including Google Pay, Bancontact, EPS, iDEAL, KNET, Multibanco, Przelewy24, and Sofort.

To decide which is right for your customers, consider their needs and demographics – including their geographical location and pain points – to provide them with a payment method they know and are comfortable with.

5. Collect the payment

After the customer has entered their payment details and finalised the transaction, your payment service provider will do the rest – handling the authentication flow, processing the payment, and notifying you by a webhook.

Job done!

To read more about payment links – and create your own payment link with Checkout.com – explore our comprehensive guide to managing and customising payment links for your business.

Choosing a payment link service provider

With so many payment link service providers to choose from, it’s important to make the decision that works for your business’s unique needs. So before signing on the dotted line, ask:

  • Does the payment link service provider support the currency I work in?
  • Am I able to tailor the payment pages to fit my business’s branding?
  • How customisable is the payment page’s functionality? Can I add multiple line items and custom fields?
  • How easy is the payment link generation process?
  • What fees will each payment link transaction incur?
  • Which payment methods does the payment link service provider support?
  • What kind of customer support does the payment link service provider offer?
  • Does the payment link service provider support alternative payment methods?

Explore payment links with Checkout.com

Here at Checkout.com, our payment links make it easy for your business to get paid. Easily, conveniently, quickly – and in a way that’ll strike the most resonant chord with your customers.

To learn more about the wealth of online payment processing options we offer, and discover which payment methods are the best fit for your business, explore our website – or get in touch with our team.

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