Gratitude Friday VIII: Online Payment Processing Is Back!
Dictated By: Will Oseroff
Transcribed By: Danielle Schoen
One of the really big things that happened this week that I am enormously grateful for is the fact that we now have credit card processing back on our website.
This is totally huge for us. We are always looking for new ways to streamline our processes and make them even more effective for even more people, and this is an incredible change.
Let’s fill you in a little bit, because we know that this might not sound that exciting since we’re an online store and should traditionally have credit card processing.
But it’s not that simple.
Back in October, we had our credit card processing shut down. For two and a half years prior, we had been using PayPal. PayPal had given us permission and said that they were okay with selling CBD topical products, so that was how we processed all of our online and mobile payments. We ran all of our processing through PayPal from November 2015 through October 2017.
I was also paying employees through PayPal, because that was where our money was coming through.
One day I went to pay Mallory, our graphic designer, and noticed that our PayPal wasn’t working. Then checked my email and realized we had gotten a notice that our PayPal account had been shut down.
We were in deep trouble. PayPal had decided to officially stop working with CBD companies.
I didn’t know what we were going to do but I kept on keeping calm.
I had honestly dreaded this day for a while because I knew it was a possibilitybecause it had happened in the past to other companies using PayPal. I thought that we were good because I had written consent, but that wasn’t the case.
What happened was that PayPal decided to shut down our account and hold all of our assets, all of our money, except enough to get us through a few weeks, for up to six months.
Six months without access to your money would have halted operations.
We worked with our attorney and were forced to go through some legal processes including explaining the legality and threatening lawsuit which would have been a nightmare. A week later, we were able to get them to release our funds, something that DOES NOT happen in so quickly in other cases, but we didn’t get them to let us start processing payments again.
That was an issue because, as an online business, we need to be able to process online payments. We shut the website down for an entire day (which at that point was a significant hit) and started to look for other solutions.
We decided that the best thing we could do would be to process payments over the phone, and that is where things became really, really difficult.
Essentially, processing payments over the phone came down to me personally answering hundreds of calls a day, running credit card payments, explaining to people why we had to do this because, let’s face it, it’s not normal in 2017/2018 to only process credit card payment over the phone.
There were so many things that came from this that were out of the norm, that took away from the day to day flow of the business, took away from the growth of the business, and made us stagnant.
It went from me having to process all of the payments, to bringing on Danielle to process all of the payments, and her job sucked. Literally all she did was sit around all day long and process all of the payments.
Then I would process payments on nights and weekends, often staying until 4 answering calls and waking back up at 8 to start it all over again.
I remember talking to hundreds of you as we processed each and every order over the phone.
While this was not the best use of my time or Danielle’s, we had to stick to it.
The time spent talking to our community and hearing their support brought us tremendous gratitude.
That lasted about a month or so and we ended up burnt out.
We were losing out on sales because we weren’t able to get to all of the people that were making orders and had orders falling through the cracks. Our online conversion rates were dropping. We were tired. It was not the most fun experience.
At that time, we started looking into more solutions to streamline the payment process, because if we were stuck processing payments by phone we might as well be doing it in the best way possible.
That is when we started a relationship with a company here in town. They are a phone service that answers calls primarily for hospitals and security services and brought them on to start processing payments. Shoutout to Jamie L., the manager of our account!
We started having 24/7 telephone operators process payments for orders over the phone, not online like a traditional website, but at least we had something that was more professional.
We were able to accept every call that came in and place outbound calls everyday that were reaching our customers and getting people’s orders processed.
That was still a challenge and we have still been seeing about 20%–30% of sales that come through the website falling off due to incomplete payments and us not having the opportunity to process those payments.
If you can, just imagine how a 20–30% drop in revenue can cause some issues.
We’ve continued to push and we’ve continued to grow throughout all of this. That is something I’m proud of. Our team has put in the work to make that growth happen.
Despite the challenges, we followed up with our biggest month ever the next month in November, followed up with a solid December, and kicked off the new year in January on the right foot. Now, in the last week of February and start of March we are having an amazing period of growth and it’s only going to continue now that we have online payment processing on our site like a traditional online business.
We’re really excited by this and I’m actually really grateful for the opportunity we’ve had to learn.
I never thought that I’d be saying this when it first happened, but it really ended up being a great learning experience and a great opportunity for us to see how important it is to be able to pivot.
Man, did we have to pivot. We had to change everything that we were doing, our entire day to day operations, and we came out on top.