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Intro to monetizing payments for SaaS platforms

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Software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms like Shopify, Xero, and Jobber built their businesses around solving a customer pain point—like starting an online store, managing finances, or scheduling home services—and charging a monthly fee to access that service. As these platforms grow, and often at their investors’ insistence, many start exploring how to offer more services they can monetize. Today, platforms are diversifying their revenue streams by monetizing payment features and generating new lines of business.

Payments are often at the core of solving key business needs. By integrating payments into your platform, you can offer a more convenient product experience while eliminating the costs, delays, and non-payment risks of manual billing. For example, DocuSign customers had asked for the ability to request signatures for contracts and payments in one step. DocuSign partnered with Stripe Connect to launch DocuSign Payments, making it possible for customers to request payments at the time of signature. Since launching, DocuSign Payments has processed over $350 million, helping customers get paid faster while delivering a quality customer experience.

DocuSign Payments flow

This guide covers the basics of payment monetization for platforms, from how to monetize payments for the first time to how to charge for other features and services. You’ll learn best practices for monetizing payments, different ways to experiment with pricing, and how Woohoo Card can help.

How to monetize payments

You generally have two options when deciding how to monetize payments: You can charge customers for payments and payment-related features, or depending on your agreement with your payments provider, you can enter into a revenue sharing agreement.

If you’re looking to monetize payments for the first time, charging for payments and payment-related features is a good place to start. This approach gives you more control and flexibility over the cost structure, and allows you to experiment with different pricing and packages.

You don’t have to focus only on one monetization option either—in fact, it may be more beneficial to your business to create multiple revenue streams. For example, if you’re interested in marking up each transaction, you may also want to add monthly fees for access to more advanced payment features so you’re not solely relying on payment volume.

Here are five primary ways to charge customers for payments and payment-related features:

  1. Charge customers a fee to access payments: Bundle payments with other premium features and create a higher priced plan. For example, Squarespace offers four plans: Personal, Business, Commerce (Basic), and Commerce (Advanced). The Personal plan is the cheapest, but doesn’t offer any payment features. The other three plans are more expensive, but allow customers to process payments.
 Basic plan €10/monthAdvanced plan €25/month
Collect paymentsNot includedIncluded
Accept donationsNot includedIncluded
Sell gift cardsNot includedIncluded
Point of saleNot includedIncluded
Sell subscriptionsNot includedIncluded
Advanced discountsNot includedIncluded
  1. Mark up each transaction: One of the more straightforward approaches to payment monetization is to charge a transaction fee for each payment processed on your platform.Just like charging customers a fee to access payments, you could also create different tiers of payment plans that handle this markup differently.
 Basic plan €10/monthAdvanced plan €25/month
Online credit card rates2.9% + €0.302.75% + €0.30

For example, if customers pay for a more expensive payment plan, the transaction fee is lower.

  1. Add fees for advanced payment features: Focus on differentiating your payments offering to create a better user experience. You could offer premium features, like offering chargeback protection or giving customers the opportunity to get paid out faster, like StyleSeat. StyleSeat helps beauty professionals grow their business with tools that help them get exposure to new clients and make more money. Customers can choose to get their money instantly deposited into their bank account or debit card for a flat $0.50, rather than waiting one to two business days.

StyleSeat

  1. Charge a fee if customers use other payment gateways: Many platforms consolidate payments with one provider to help lower transaction costs and add fees if customers choose to use a different payment service. Shopify charges up to 2% in additional fees, depending on the plan, if customers process payments with a provider other than Shopify Payments.
Shopify Payments
Fraud analysisIncludedIncludedIncluded
Online credit card rates2.9% + €0.302.6% + €0.302.4% + €0.30
In-person credit card rates2.7% + €02.5% + €02.4% + €0
Additional fees using all payment providers other than Shopify Payments2%1%0.5%
  1. Charge for advanced, customized reporting: Use data from your payments provider in creative ways to make your own platform more valuable to your customers. For example, Shopify offers a tool that allows its customers to build custom reports in its highest-tiered plan.

Pricing considerations

Regardless of how you choose to monetize payments, make sure to charge enough to make an impact on your bottom line while staying competitive. Your fees should account for both the added value you’re providing to customers and any additional transaction costs you may incur. Some factors to consider include what your competitors’ pricing models look like and how their feature sets differ.

To better understand how your customers may respond to your new payments offering, start with a series of small tests rather than introducing the new plans to everyone at the same time. Perhaps you send an email announcing your new payment features, with pricing details, to a small group of customers. This allows you to better monitor customer feedback and sentiment. Or, you could run an A/B test on your pricing page and track signups to see how different types of plans perform.

You can also consider customizing your payments monetization strategy based on your customer segments. For example:

  • For smaller customers who haven’t started selling online yet, you could consider offering a free trial of your e-commerce package (e.g. waiving monthly fees for three months) to get them started.
  • For larger, strategic customers, you may want to offer discounts or promotions as a way to close more deals. Or, you could consider bundling payments pricing with value-added features like fraud protection.
  • For customers who have physical locations or sell in-person, you may want to promote your online and offline payments solution by running promotions on the payment devices (e.g. buy one device, get the second free).

How to monetize other services

Once you find a successful pricing model for payments, you can experiment with other monetization opportunities. As you’re exploring additional payment-related features or services to offer, make sure to focus on where you can add the most value to your customers. For example, if you know your customers are interested in expanding globally, you can help them improve their checkout experience by offering localized payment methods and automatic currency conversion at checkout.

Here is an overview of three monetization opportunities:

Monetization opportunityDescriptionFeatures to offer
International expansionSupport your customers as they expand their business globally
  • Global payment methods
  • Automatic currency conversion
  • Present multiple currencies at checkout
  • Handle foreign exchange for your customers
Financial servicesHelp customers streamline financial operations
  • Expense management
  • Corporate cards
  • Payout cards
  • Instant payouts
New business modelsAllow your customers to experiment with different business models
  • In-person payments
  • Subscriptions
  • Invoicing