Authorize.Net Merchants,

Rumors have been swirling that Authorize.Net will be introducing an improved Customer Support website this year. Well it’s official; we’re pulling back the curtain on the updated site and a brand new customer experience. There’s too many changes to list, but here’s a look at some of the improvements we’ve made.

Keeping It Simple

The most notable change in the site is the redesigned interface. It has a clean look and feel, which translates to a very user-friendly experience. Now it’s easier to find what you need.

Searching Is Easy

For those times when you think you might be close to knowing how to resolve a support issue, it might make more sense to just search for documentation. We’ve made it easier and quicker for customers to search for and find the support documents they need.

Simplified Support Requests

Submitting a request for support shouldn’t be difficult. We’ve simplified the submission process for support requests thru General Support case and custom case types (Apply for ECC and Processor Update), along with reducing the number of required information fields.

The new search system performs searches on the text you are entering to offer up solutions/answers whereas the legacy search function wasn’t as interactive or intelligent and it required you going thru multiple steps to be offered up a potential answer.

Mobile Friendly

Being able to do work away from an office desk is essential in today’s business environment. We’ve provided a new mobile-friendly user experience.

Visit the Authorized.Net Support Center to check out all of the improvements we’ve made to the site. It should be pointed out that you’ll still interact with the site in all the ways that you are used to—it’s just going to be better. Thank you to all our Authorize.Net customers. 

For most businesses, repeat customers form the backbone of their revenue. Cultivating returning customers allows you to reap the benefits from these customers, including lower marketing costs, larger purchases and dependable revenue. However, recurring customers don't come with your storefront; attentive service and community outreach are just some of the steps you'll need to take to develop a loyal group of core customers.

Share Your Knowledge

Content marketing is one of the most effective forms of online marketing — and it costs nothing if you create the content yourself. Does your website have a blog section? Write informational content that you believe would appeal to your potential customer base. Within your field, you have unique knowledge that your customers may lack. By sharing knowledge, you'll attract search engine traffic from people who are seeking information in your industry. Every time the information that you provide helps someone, you'll strengthen your brand and establish yourself as an expert within your field.

Offer a Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs are a relatively simple way to incentivize customers to return to your business. You can structure them however you like, but they all boil down to the same format: for each set amount of business the customer gives you, you give them something. To maximize the effectiveness of your loyalty program, give your customers a head start when filling out their first loyalty card. The head start you give your customers increases the completion rate of your loyalty program, encouraging customers to make more repeat visits to your shop.

Provide Excellent Service

In today's ultra-competitive marketplace, few things help a business stand out like excellent customer service. Providing great service doesn't mean you have to just cave in to your customers for every little demand, but it is important to demonstrate to your customers that you care about them and their needs. When something goes wrong, own up to the mistake and work to fix things for the customer. Train your staff to say yes to your customers whenever possible and focus on finding solutions to customer problems. 

Become Part of the Community

Hosting regular events for your community provides you with an opportunity to bond with potential customers and increase the visibility of your business. These events don't have to relate directly to your business, but focusing on your business' mission is an easy way to come up with ideas for your events. For example, if you run a nursery, you can host gardening classes on native plants. A bookstore could hold release parties for popular books or host readings with local authors. Your business could also host parties for important local events, such as a local school's homecoming week.

Listen to Your Customers

If you aren't afraid to listen to your customers, they'll tell you exactly what will get them to come back to you. Sometimes, you might have to bite your tongue to hear a customer complaint, but other customer suggestions are more positive. For example, one of your customers might have a favorite brand that's difficult to find; providing them with a source for their favorite product is an easy way to garner a repeat customer. Of course, you'll always have to use your best judgment when you decide whether to act on customer feedback; some suggestions simply aren't viable. If you can't see an obvious downside to a customer's suggestion, however, err on the side of making your customer happy.

Provide Something Unique

If you want to stand out in today's marketplace, you need to provide something that your customers can't find elsewhere. You can't expect to simply bring in products, put them on the shelf and instantly sell out; if your customers want that kind of experience, they can find it in a million other places. That unique flavor that you provide might be a service that can't be duplicated, a viewpoint that's unique to your shop, or advice that's tempered with your years of experience. Whatever it is about your business that can't be found elsewhere, don't be ashamed of it; embrace those elements and trumpet them in all of your advertising. 

Provide an Easy Checkout Experience.

Customer Information Manager from Authorize.Net is a service which allows you to store your customers' sensitive payment information on secure servers for use in future transactions. CIM helps eliminate steps in the checkout process for repeat customers, potentially increasing loyalty and revenue. It can also help you reduce the Payment Card Industry (PCI) scope, since customer information is no longer stored on your local servers.

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Authorize.Net Merchants,

As you may be aware, new PCI DSS requirements state that all payment systems must disable earlier versions of Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols, TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1.  Authorize.Net is set to disable those protocols on February 28, 2018. 

To help merchants identify if they’re using one of the older TLS protocols, Authorize.Net will temporarily disable those connections for a few hours on January 30, 2018 and then again on February 8, 2018.

Today, January 24, 2018, Authorize.Net sent an e-mail to Authorize.Net merchants informing them of this planned disablement.

Based on the API connection they are using, on either one of these two days they will not be able to process transactions for a short period of time. This disablement will occur on one of the following dates and time:      

  • Akamai-enabled API connections will occur on January 30, 2018 between 9:00 AM and 1:00
    PM Pacific time.
  • All other API connections will occur on February 8, 2018 between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM Pacific time.

Merchants using TLS 1.2 by these dates will not be affected by the temporary disablement.
We strongly recommend that connections still using TLS 1.0 or TLS 1.1 be updated as soon as possible to the stronger TLS 1.2 protocol.

Note: Browsers released prior to 2014 may not support TLS 1.2. You can check your browser's TLS support by visiting https://www.howsmyssl.com/.

If you have any questions about this announcement or the upcoming TLS disablement, please refer to our TLS FAQs. Thank you for your attention to this matter and for being an Authorize.Net partner.

Thank you for your attention to this matter and for being an Authorize.Net merchant. 

Guest Blog Writer - Zach Walker- SecurityMetrics

Learn about common security issues and what you can do to secure your e-commerce business.

E-commerce merchants sometimes face confusion and difficulty when it comes to truly securing cardholder data. With this in mind, the Payment Card Industry Security Standard Council (PCI SSC) recently released a supplement with additional guidance for e-commerce websites.

This new guidance updates and replaces the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) E-commerce Guidelines published in 2013. It offers specific guidelines for e-commerce businesses with reference to the PCI DSS version 3.2—which will go into effect on February 1, 2018.  

Here are a few tips based on the new guidance to get your e-commerce business PCI compliant.

1. Know the security considerations of your payment solution

E-commerce businesses have options when it comes to accepting payments. Here are a few examples, along with respective security needs:

Merchant-Hosted Payment Form: In this case, the merchant website hosts the payment page and form. All cardholder data is processed by the merchant web server (and other parts of their system) before being sent to the payment solution provider (PSP). Since the merchant handles the cardholder data, the entire set of PCI compliance controls used on the merchant’s systems is in scope.

iFrame: These methods embed a separate and protected payment page within the merchant’s
webpage. Monitoring and alerting controls will increase security.   

URL Redirect Model: Usually used by small- to medium-sized merchants who aren’t concerned with customizing or adding advanced features to the customer payment experience. The consumer is redirected from the merchant’s website to a third-party page where account data is entered into a payment page hosted by the third-party PSP. In this case, the merchant system doesn’t touch cardholder data, so fewer security controls are needed.

JavaScript Form: JavaScript-based solutions like Accept.js use JavaScript to intercept payment data and submit it directly to your PSP. It is also used by larger merchants who want to control the “look and feel” of their payment form.

To learn what PCI compliance means for your business, consult the PCI DSS Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) table. E-commerce merchants who outsource their payment processing will generally fall under SAQ A or SAQ A-EP, and you can learn the difference between the two categories here.

2. Update your SSL/TLS Certificate

You should be using the most current and up-to-date TLS (Transport Layer Security) certificates. Do not use any version of SSL, which is outdated and has been proven to have multiple exploitable vulnerabilities. The PCI DSS 3.2 requires that all businesses stop using any version of SSL—as well as earlier versions of TLS—by June 30, 2018. Authorize.Net plans to disable outdated versions of TLS  by February 28, 2018.

3. Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt

Make sure you know exactly where and how you are sending cardholder data. Use encryption to secure data in transit and in storage (even temporarily).

PCI DSS Requirement 4.1 requires that cardholder data must be encrypted when sent across open, public networks. Be sure you are using the latest TLS standards. And if you do need to store cardholder data for business or legal reasons, PCI DSS Requirement 3 says that you must encrypt it or store it through tokenization.  

4. Review code

Successful attackers find routes to sensitive data through poorly developed code. Common coding problems can create vulnerabilities, which could then allow attackers to successfully use tactics like cross-site scripting. Cross-site scripting is an attack strategy where hackers embed malicious code into vulnerable websites. Their intent is usually to gather user data like passwords and credit card numbers.

You should take measures to involve objective parties in any code review. To sum up the PCI DSS on this issue: you should review any code that could possibly interact with your payment card environment in any way. For large code introductions, such as product releases or when introducing a new website, consider a penetration test.

5. Limit employee access and train on protocol

Access to cardholder data should only be given to those who absolutely need it to perform their job. But, even if an employee does not have access to cardholder data, their workstation or device may store usernames, passwords, and other info that may be valuable to a hacker. All it takes is one unwitting employee to accidentally introduce malware into your system. Train employees quarterly, if not monthly, on your company’s security measures and protocols regarding email, attachments, downloads, passwords, etc.

 When it comes to e-commerce security, make sure you’re taking the right steps to secure your card data. E-commerce guidance from the PCI SSC is intended not only to help merchants become PCI compliant, but to help them understand the foundational principles of cybersecurity—creating a safer online payment environment for everyone. Remember that you’re not just protecting your clients; you’re looking out for your business and its reputation as well.

Zach Walker is the Director of Technical Support at SecurityMetrics and has been with the company for over 6 years. He has worked in the IT/security field for over 10 years, and has A+, Network+, Security+, CISSP, and ASV certifications. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in IT Security.

Have a great small business tip or want your business to be featured with your small business advice? Submit your story.

Ever had to chase down a payment after someone signs an agreement with you? Results from a recent DocuSign survey show that over 65% of businesses experience payment delays or failure to collect altogether. The two-step, disjointed process that first involves closing a deal and then later collecting a payment leaves uncertainty for receiving on-time payments. That’s why DocuSign worked with Authorize.Net to create a solution that allows Authorize.Net customers to collect signatures and payments together at the same time.

Introducing DocuSign Payments

DocuSign Payments is a new feature from DocuSign that offers a fast and easy way to collect electronic signatures and payments in just one step so you can get paid faster. What’s more, you’ll be able to stop chasing after payments and invest that time growing your business.

Whether you’re closing a deal on an event rental space and collecting a deposit, signing a new client up for an insurance policy and collecting the premium, or receiving a signed waiver for an athletic event and collecting the registration fee, the value of DocuSign Payments is practically limitless for businesses large and small.

With DocuSign Payments, it’s intuitive and easy to send an agreement for electronic signature and payment:

1.  With just a few clicks, connect your existing DocuSign and Authorize.Net accounts (it’s a one-time setup!)

2.  Drag and drop the “Payments” request onto your agreement

3.  Specify your payment request details, and click “Send”

The signer(s) of your agreement will receive an email notifying them they have an agreement to sign and pay and directing them to click a link that opens the agreement securely in the DocuSign cloud. Signer(s) can quickly, easily and securely:

1.  Complete any required fields within the agreement like address, phone number and title

2.  DocuSign the agreement

3.  Pay with a signature debit card or credit card

DocuSign Payments is available in the U.S., U.K., Australia and Canada. For more information, visit www.docusign.com/payments

Guest Author: Bryan Fong (DocuSign)

Authorize.Net Merchants,

As you may be aware, new PCI DSS requirements state that all payment systems must disable early-version TLS by 2018. Transport Layer Security (TLS) is a technology used to encrypt sensitive information sent via the Internet. TLS is the replacement for Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). In preparation for this requirement, Authorize.Net plans to disable TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1 on the following dates:

Sandbox: COMPLETE

Production: Feb 28, 2018 

We have disabled the sandbox in advance of production to allow you and your developer time to test your website or payment solution and ensure you are no longer using TLS 1.0 or 1.1 prior to September 18th. Please contact your Web developer or payment solution provider, as well as your Web hosting company, to confirm that they can support TLS 1.2 for your API connections.

In addition, we have retired the 3DES cipher (a data encryption standard) in production on September 18, 2017. 

Please refer your developer or solution provider to our API Best Practices for cipher recommendations, details about TLS 1.2 platform support, and other integration suggestions. 

Note: If you are not using the current version of your Web browser, please take a few moments to upgrade it now. Browsers released prior to 2014 may not support TLS 1.2. You can check your browser's TLS support by visiting https://www.howsmyssl.com/. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter and for being an Authorize.Net merchant. 

 

The Price of a Fast, Growing Business. How do I manage all these customers?

For business owners, scaling your business and managing that growth effectively is always going to be one of your top priorities. There’s no better testament to your business's success than a quickly expanding customer base. However, with every victory tends to come a new challenge to tackle. For example, more customers could lead to the potential for billing errors, which in turn means time, money and resources that you will have to dedicate to the problem.

The good news is, if your business operates on a subscription-based model, there are tools available that offer an easy way to automate and simplify payments. You can find examples of successful businesses using the subscription model everywhere.

So what’s the secret to managing recurring billing?

Recurring billing software such as Authorize.Net’s Automated Recurring Billing™ (ARB) Customer Information Manger (CIM) and ChargeOver can be a huge help with handling the heavy lifting of managing subscriptions—freeing you to focus on growth. What used to be a painstaking process full of endless paperwork and spreadsheets can be handled almost effortlessly. And, as you’ve heard, two heads are better than one—so if you want to create a real recurring billing powerhouse, integrating
ChargeOver and Authorize.Net is the answer.

Customize and Automate Your Workflow

Authorize.Net’s ARB solution allows you to create subscriptions that include a payment schedule, the billing amount, and the customer’s payment information. If you need to bill a different amount, CIM offers that flexibility. Once a subscription begins, it will run without any added labor required from you. You can also customize the pricing for your subscriptions, and even trial periods!

For businesses that need a more comprehensive tool, ChargeOver is fully compatible with Authorize.Net. ChargeOver allows you to customize your invoices’ look and feel, allowing you to stay consistent with your brand and identity. ChargeOver also provides you with plenty of email templates for you to personalize. And if you don’t see what you need in a template, ChargeOver also allows you to build yourself custom events, giving you full rein to configure notifications to you and your customers according to your specific needs. You can also set up as many pricing plans for products and services as your business requires—tiered, unit, volume pricing, etc.

Don’t Leave Yourself, or Your Customers, Out of the Loop

Each solution does a great job of keeping you ‘in the know’ about important details like upcoming subscription and credit card expirations, reducing your worries of failing to renew a customer’s subscription, or losing sales due to an expired credit card. Each solution also offers reporting and other tools as well. Authorize.Net has the added advantage of being integrated to our new Account Updater service which automatically updates expired or replaced cards, so you never lose out on a sales. 

The Ultimate Solution to your Subscription Billing Woes

For those who have been searching for a way to manage their recurring billing process smoothly and effectively, ChargeOver and Authorize.Net both offer intuitive, flexible and powerful tools potentially saving you time and money. Getting started is as simple as visiting the Authorize.Net Merchant Interface or entering a few of your Authorize.Net details when signing up for ChargeOver.

To get a hands-on experience of how you can automate your subscription billing, sign up for a free trial with ChargeOver. It's easy to get started!

Have a great small business tip or want your business to be featured with your small business advice? Submit your story.

 

While it may be true that you need to spend money to make money, small businesses often have limited funds to spare. To keep your small business profitable, you need to make every marketing dollar bring the highest possible return. Here are six great tips that can help you get the most out of your marketing budget.

Share Your Knowledge

Content marketing is one of the most effective forms of online marketing — and it costs nothing if you create the content yourself. Does your website have a blog section? Write informational content that you believe would appeal to your potential customer base. Within your field, you have unique knowledge that your customers may lack. By sharing knowledge, you'll attract search engine traffic from people who are seeking information in your industry. Every time the information that you provide helps someone, you'll strengthen your brand and establish yourself as an expert within your field.

Connect With Your Customers

Word-of-mouth advertising is free — and people love to tell others about the great experiences they've had with local businesses. You already do everything you can to delight customers when they visit your shop or online store. Do you capture their online contact information to connect with them in the future? Harness the full potential of social media by connecting with your customers on social media and making yourself available to respond to their questions and concerns. 

Hire Online Freelancers

Freelance aggregators offer access to both local and national talents who can provide a wide range of services to enhance your business. From search engine optimization, to writing and photography services these professionals are well-suited to meet the needs of small businesses and in an affordable and time-efficient manner. Use your imagination for how you can leverage this talent pool—need a logo, promotional art or a blog post—it's easy thanks to these sites.

Use Templates for Everything

Does your company regularly incur large expenses creating product brochures, newspaper advertisements or online promotional pages? If you start from scratch every time you create marketing material, you're increasing your costs and extending the amount of time needed to produce the material. When you create a promotional item that works well, save it as a template. When you want to run another promotion, simply change the details in the template to save time.

Partner With Other Local Businesses

Is there another local business that doesn't compete with you but has a similar customer base? Team up with them for cross-promotional benefits. If you have a graphic design company, for example, you could partner with a printing company. If you have a restaurant that serves juices and smoothies, you could partner with a local gym. Set up a partnership in which both businesses display advertisements for the other. You could also offer exclusive discounts to customers who patronize both businesses. 

Repurpose Your Content

Even with templates and freelance workers, creating new content always costs
something. If you want to reduce your marketing budget even further, you need to do more with the content you already have. Does your website have a large archive of blog posts that have always brought you consistent Web traffic? Gather the best of those posts and release them as a free e-book that you can give away to new mailing list subscribers or social media followers. Each time you post a new article, record an audio version of the same article, and release it as a podcast. Alternatively, film a video and upload it to YouTube. Repackage your most successful online advertisement as a product brochure for direct mailing. By doing more with the content that you already have, you can make the content more effective and reduce the cost of creating it.

Marketing is an important part of any business. The challenge is finding cost-effective ways to market your products/services and brand without going over budget. The good news for small business owners is when it comes to marketing you don’t have to be a marketing professional to get the word out about your business. The right planning can help you ensure that every dollar is being spent most efficiently. Give these tips a try and see how they work for your business. 

Have a great small business tip or want your business to be featured with your small business advice? Submit your story.

We spoke to Mitchell Callahan at SAU/CAL – certified WooCommerce website developers.

The Business 

Lantern & Scroll is a designer and manufacturer of exterior and interior lanterns. This family-owned company was established in 2009 in South Carolina and manufactures its products in America. With a deeply rich history in the southern textile and manufacturing industry, Lantern & Scroll began when the parents of the current owner acquired a small lighting manufacturer that catered to the local community. In the company’s early years, Lantern & Scroll sold their products through a brick and mortar store, but later they realized the audience they were after could only be reached through an online sales channel. They were referred to SAU/CAL, by word of mouth, as an expert in eCommerce development.

The Challenge 

Lantern & Scroll’s previous website was a simple brochure-type site and did not support online sales. As a growing business, the company needed an online store to showcase their products, allow online orders and reach a larger audience. Because the company specializes in custom-made lighting, the online store needed to be designed to demonstrate the variation of their products.

The Solution 

Using WooCommerce, SAU/CAL built a storefront that featured a product builder, which allows customers to select their preferences for various product features and preview the product as options are selected. Understanding that the key to an eCommerce platform is getting the right product to the right customer as efficiently as possible, SAU/CAL developed a tool that enables customers to search and sort the products by style, collection, and other categories.
Reviews and customer-submitted photos are also displayed to help customers choose and visualize their order. Pricing and upgrades are clearly outlined in order to ensure the flexibility of these configurable products. Now that the company’s audience grew to cover a larger area, shipping charges have become automatically calculated based on the location and number of products in the user’s cart.

SAU/CAL integrated the Authorize.Net Payment Gateway to ensure Lantern & Scroll’s customers would experience easy and secure payment processing. This integration gave them an easy-to-use fraud prevention suite as well as simple order investigation and reporting tools. For support and other inquiries, SAU/CAL built in an intuitive contact form and included a live chat option for more expedited issue resolution. With its growing list of new customers, they integrated Mailchimp to streamline newsletter creation, improve marketing through list segmentation tools, and provide a cohesive platform to spread brand awareness. All of the above additions were approached not only from a functionality standpoint, but from a brand image perspective as well. Their story is extremely conducive to positive SEO, which was harnessed to complete this project.

The Results 

Lantern & Scroll doubled their revenue in the first year of the site’s launch and doubled their online sales the following year. The Web store now earns over 70% of their annual revenue. Now that the revenue burden is removed from the physical location, Lantern & Scroll’s brick and mortar store can be tailored to fit the local needs more directly improving their image within the local community.

“SAU/CAL completely exceeded our expectations,” says Lantern & Scroll owner, Karen Good. “I've been more than happy with the level of service and openness during the process. The Authorize.Net Payment Gateway has been dependable and easy to use. A truly enjoyable experience all around.”

To learn more about SAU/CAL visit, https://saucal.com/

To learn more about Lantern & Scroll visit, https://lanternandscroll.com/

Have a great small business tip or want your business to be featured with your small business advice? Submit your story.

Bette Lambert of Silloway Maple in Vermont, an Authorize.Net merchant, shares her family’s business story and advice.

Tell us about Silloway Maple.

Silloway Maple is a family run business that makes 100% pure Vermont maple syrup. Our maple sugaring business started in the 1940s by my parents as a side business to our family’s dairy farm. Additional income was always welcome and getting out in the sugarwoods after a long, cold winter was a spring tonic! Back then, a team of workhorses would pull the sap-gathering tank on a sled through the woods to the sugarhouse. In the 1970s we changed from hanging buckets from trees to a sap tubing system.

Tell us about the process of making maple syrup and how has it changed over the years.

The trees are tapped in early spring, and the sap runs from late February into April. Sap is gathered and brought to the sugarhouse where the sap is boiled into syrup. In 2014, we built a new sugarhouse with 70 solar panels. This solar energy subsidizes the energy cost for the sugarhouse which greatly improves the syrup making process while being environmentally friendly.

Silloway Maple seems to really care about the environment. What are some ways Silloway Maple has gone green and been environmentally conscious?

In additional to the solar panels, we also now use a reverse osmosis machine that removes some of the water from the raw sap before it is boiled. This saves about 80% in fuel and labor required for boiling. This means a change from about 60 gallons of sap boiled to produce a gallon of syrup, to about eight. 

Then wood from our logging and firewood industry is cut into three-foot lengths, and used to fire the arch every 10 minutes during boiling. The syrup is checked for density, drawn off, filtered, graded, and stored in 40-gallon drums. Throughout the year, we pack the syrup while it’s hot into the containers we sell in. We also make maple cream, granulated sugar, candy and maple sugar almonds. 

How do you use Authorize.Net?

We use Authorize.Net for the processing of payments on our website. I am not as young and tech savvy as some, and the people at Authorize.Net have been most helpful and patient with my questions. In addition to being able to accept payments online, I have learned to take credit cards over the phone, track down orders, and give refunds when our website charges more for shipping than needed. It is great being able to take orders outside of our Vermont community so we can share our 100% maple syrup across the country.

What is your business advice?

My advice for business owners is to get advice! Whether it is industry specific such as the temperature needed for maple cream, or a broader topic such as Facebook post boosting, there are many people who have done it all before, and there is no need to reinvent the wheel!

To learn more about Silloway Maple, visit https://www.sillowaymaple.com/

Or see the recent CBS feature on Silloway Maple: https://sillowaymaple.com/silloway-maple-press

Have a great small business tip or want your business to be featured with your small business advice? Submit your story.