This week’s question is from an agent whose clients are mostly eCommerce merchants.  Many eCommerce merchants are well satisfied with Stripe.  She asks, “What is the talking point and strategy to engage satisfied Stripe customers?”

There are a couple of big benefits of Stripe:

1.    Very easy to integrate with them.
2.    Almost every shopping cart out there integrates with them. 

To begin the discussion, you need to know how, exactly, a merchant is integrating.  I would put merchants in one of two buckets:

#1.  Merchants who have a shopping cart solution that’s integrated with Stripe.  They could easily be integrated with someone else like Authorize.net, NMI.com (my personal favorite), AcceptBlue, or any other processor agnostic type gateways.

Merchants in this situation are an easy pitch.  The pitch goes against Stripe’s one weakness – price.  You could offer an average savings of 40 to 60 basis points while still offering a good service.  You could even integrate ACH Cash Discounting which I discussed on a recent podcast.  Stripe’s biggest and only weakness is their higher price.

The Pitch:  “The good news is that we can integrate with their solution thru our gateway.  Everything would be the same, except we are cheaper.  If I can offer you significant savings, take care of switching your shopping cart solution to another gateway, and save you money in the process, is that something in which you’d be interested?”

This “bucket” of merchants is the easy one.  However, the problem is these merchants are usually smaller accounts – $10,000 to $30,000 per month in volume.  Saving them 50 basis points per month may or may not make switching worthwhile. 

#2.  Bigger merchants who have built a custom integration in Stripe.
Many bigger merchants are with Stripe because they’ve built a custom integration.  They built their own shopping cart or their own technology solution.  They’ve actually built into the Stripe API and are integrated into Stripe big time.

Here is the pitch I recommend for this group of merchants:

“I totally understand why you went with Stripe.  They have great documentation for developers and integration with them is very easy.  However, you probably didn’t realize at the time of integration that you integrated with a gateway which is also a credit card processor.  Stripe has now locked you into their rates. 

Let me ask you a question, Mr. Merchant:  When Stripe raises your rate by a percent or half percent in a year, what are you going to do?  Are you ready to deal with that?  You would just have to eat it, right?  Are you willing to put your future profitability into the hands of Stripe, knowing they have the full ability and authority to do a price increase whenever they want – just like any other processor?  You realize you’re totally powerless to escape that price increase?  It could take you quite some time to build into a different gateway.”

Start by scaring merchants a bit with that; it’s a real thing.  Then say,

“The great news is there are other gateway solutions with whom you can integrate.  Integration with these solutions is probably 90% as easy as with Stripe.  Your developers could build this integration that would be processor agnostic. 

Thus, I can set you up with my preferred processor.  However, if that processor makes a price increase, you simply switch to someone else!  Switching to another gateway or switching your code is unnecessary.  Just change the processor you’re using with the gateway.  

In choosing Stripe, you chose a gateway and processor who locks you in.  That is very dangerous from a business perspective. “

At that point, you transition to a financial conversation.  
“In any business deal, there’s an investment and return on investment.”  

The investment for these merchants is developer time.  You can’t switch them from Stripe; they have to switch themselves.  You sell them, but they must do the work.  This situation is unlike a shopping cart where you could log in and just switch some credentials for them.  

In my experience, the time needed is one to two weeks for a full-time developer to make this kind of switch.  Of course, that is only an average estimate which is true for most companies.  A good developer makes about $100,000 per year, so this computes to an investment of about $5,000 for merchants.  

Break it down to financial reward for the merchants:

“Susan, here’s the situation.  I’m sure you have developers, right?  One of your developers will probably spend two weeks to make a switch from Stripe to something like an NMI.  Roughly how much will that cost you?”  [Sometimes I’ll say, “I’m guessing $5,000, right?”]  “So, you know what the investment is.  The next question is return on investment. 
The first return is freedom.  You’ll have a gateway which allows you to go with whichever processor you want whenever you want.  How do you put a value on that?  However, take that out of the picture for a second. 

The other return is savings.  This is where I need a copy of your credit card processing statement.  It’s doubtful that Stripe is doing interchange optimization or special fraud protection.  These are things I can do to dramatically lower your processing costs.  

If I can dramatically increase your profitability by lowering your credit card processing costs enough to justify that $5,000 investment, and on top of that, offer freedom from being locked in with Stripe, is that something you’re willing to consider?”


I hope this Q&A will help you get more sales in the eCommerce segment of our industry.