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Offline Credit Card Payments in WooCommerce

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Are you an online store merchant and have noticed that online credit card processing fees chew up a significant portion of your profit margin? Offline credit card payment gateways offer a secure (PCI DSS compliant) method of reducing your credit card processing fees.

An offline credit card payment is based on the following type of transaction:

  • a website customer visits your online store, adds to their cart and goes to the check out
  • during checkout, the customer enters their credit card details
  • the credit card details are stored using a PCI DSS compliant service
  • the merchant is notified of the sale, and they subsequently login and securely access the saved details to process the transaction using their Eftpos terminal, just as they would for mail order transaction
  • Customer result: a secure online sale using their credit card
  • Merchant result: a secure online sale, processed with a much lower Merchant Service Fee (MSF) enabled from their Eftpos account, as compared to the MSF for online transaction gateways.

So, if you are an eCommerce merchant interested in lowering the costs of credit card processing, you might consider checking out the benefits offered by e-Path.

Disclosure: this article is written by OM4. We wrote (and provide ongoing support) for the WooCommerce integration plugin for e-Path, an Australian offline credit card gateway (we initially wrote it some some of our WooCommerce clients could use the gateway). We don’t get any payment from e-Path, however as plugin developers we receive a portion of the proceeds when merchants purchase the official WooCommerce e-Path plugin.

e-Path is an Australian based, offline credit card payment processor. It allows you to accept credit card payment authorisations in AUD or USD currency on your website and then process the actual credit card transaction using your standard retail point of sale merchant facility.

A lot of merchants already have a facility with their bank that lets them take, for example, mail orders or telephone order credit card payments. They can process a credit card transaction in their shop without a card being present. The e-Path facility takes advantage of that because you don’t have to pay a commission on every credit card transaction on your website.

You just pay an annual fee and the commission rate that gets paid on the credit card transaction is the one that you’ve already got with your bank for your existing merchant facility.

For a lot of merchants the percentage commission that you pay is a lot lower than you would pay if you have a fully online credit card merchant account.

This is something many online retailers often don’t fully understand. An online merchant account is often a much more expensive base than a traditional MOTO (mail order, telephone order) credit card account.

Here’s how e-Path works when a customer goes to your store. They go to your check out. They choose to pay by credit card. They get taken to an off-site page just like they do with many payment processes like Paypal. They enter their credit card details on a secure page. As far as the customer is concerned, they have authorised a sale to the value of that sum.

All that has happened is that the credit card details have been stored securely. This is a PCI DSS secure facility, so that the credit card is now stored. The merchant gets an advice that a transaction has occurred. They’re told the amount but don’t get the credit card details by the email notification.

What the merchant can do on the same day is log into their e-Path account. They can then retrieve the credit card details and process the sale using their offline credit card system.

From the customers perspective, they only get that one bit of feedback. The payment amount has been authorised. Most of them wouldn’t know the difference between it being an online credit card transaction where the amount is automatically processed by the banks versus this one where its not actually processed on the spot.

For many merchants this way of working with credit payments results in a lot lower cost because they are working with just that one off set up fee. Having an online merchant account can be a lot more complicated. In those cases, you often have to pay an account establishment fee. You might have to pay a monthly fee. You may also pay a per transaction commission rate. It can add up pretty quickly.

To use the e-Path with WooCommerce you sign up for the e-Path service, and then purchase the WooCommerce e-Path extension and install it on your website. We designed and built this extension to ensure WooCommerce talks to e-Path cleanly. There’s no complex, technical integration for you to manage. You just install the extension and configure your e-Path key and you’re away.

When e-Path first launched they were only working with the Australian dollar but now it works with all currencies, including USD, GBP, and more.

There are a few different offline credit card solutions around. Probably one of the main differences is that e-Path is very well established and they’ve got the full certification in the PCI DSS which they publish clearly on their website.

If you’re doing this sort of thing with offline credit card processing and you’re just storing the credit card in a non-PCI certified location then you’re actually outside the terms of the credit cards companies regarding the use credit card numbers. It isn’t a good plan for a business to be working outside the credit card companies rules.

We’ve have a lot of clients using the e-Path plugin and we’ve discovered something interesting. It happens at the stage when the merchant gets the order and they’ve got the authorisation to charge the amount on the card.

At that point a lot of merchants get in touch with their customer before they finalise and ship the order. They might get in touch to confirm that everything is available.

It could be that a particular colour the customer wants is out of stock. The merchant might get in touch to offer an alternative. There’s an interaction with the customer. In many cases the customer will end up  buying more. It’s like the up-sell opportunity merchants used when interacting face to face. We find our clients are getting a much better up-sell outcome on their transactions.

Probably the hardest part of the process in using the e-Path system is just getting yourself signed up and established. Once it’s up and running it is trouble free.

In summary e-Path lets you lower the costs of credit card processing. You might also find that it offers you an opportunity to have further interaction with the customer after the authorisation but before the sale closes. This gives you a strategic opportunity to increase the sale value.

View the e-Path website or the WooCommerce e-Path plugin