February 24, 2011, 2:37 PM

How a fledging e-retailer shopped around for an e-payment provider

FairIvy.com used an online comparison site to find a payment processor that fit its budget.

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When online-only retailer FairIvy.com launched last year, the site, which sells surprise gift packages on a subscription basis, only accepted payments made using PayPal.

The reason?

Founder Lucy Fairweather, a newcomer to e-commerce, says she was familiar with PayPal and figured her customers would be too.

But when she started to aggressively market FairIvy.com in November, she found that her customers wanted more payment options and she wanted a processor that could help her support recurring payments and customize the site’s shopping cart.

Fairweather says she spent a considerable amount of time doing online research on e-commerce payment options. However, she found it difficult to see how her business aligned with vendors’ systems. Feeling stuck, she turned to Google where she searched for “credit card processor comparison.”

Among her results was FeeFighters, an online comparison tool for credit card processing services that matches e-retailers with payment processing vendors. The site asked Fairweather to enter details about FairIvy.com’s processing needs, such as an estimate of monthly volume and transaction size, and returned bids from several processors for a side-by-side comparison of estimated costs, capabilities and contract terms.

“It was a pretty easy online form,” she says. “I put in what I needed and got back results.”

Still, she says, she wasn’t sure how to interpret those results. Two phone calls with FeeFighters customer service helped her understand her options and she settled on CoCard as her new processor. CoCard’s service enables FairIvy.com to accept all major credit cards and handle recurring payments. She says FeeFighters kept her query private until she selected CoCard so she didn’t receive calls from all the vendors that appeared in her search results.

FeeFighters doesn’t charge e-retailers a fee for matching them with a payment processor. A FeeFighters spokeswoman says the selected payment processor pays FeeFighters a portion of the monthly fees paid by the new customer.

“There are so many things to worry about, especially when you’re first getting started with a new business,” Fairweather says. “This helped cut through the clutter of credit card processing.”

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