Amazon Payments Review
Merchant Maverick's Rating: (4 out of 5)
Last Updated: June 2nd, 2013.
Amazon Payments threw its hat into the third-party payment processor ring more than five years ago. Like its main competitors PayPal and Google Checkout, Amazon Payments allows people to complete purchases, make donations, and more on your company’s website by using their Amazon.com account. Merchants currently using Amazon Payments include Jockey and Ace Hardware. Click here to view lists of other businesses that have signed up for the service.
Amazon Payments offers two different options for merchants: Checkout by Amazon and Amazon Simple Pay. On the plus side, Amazon Payments is easy to implement and generally has positive reviews. When customers complete transactions at your store using Amazon Payments, they’ll be able to access Amazon’s popular A-to-z Guarantee and 1-Click shipping options. Also, customers can save time by using shipping and billing info already “on file” in their Amazon account when making purchases in your store. On the minus side, customers must have already made a purchase through Amazon in the past or be willing to open a new account in order to complete transactions using the service. Plus, some online shoppers still prefer to use PayPal, which remains the industry leader in third-party processors. Read on for our full review.
Products and Services:
Amazon Payments offers two main solutions for businesses:
- Checkout by Amazon. - Standard and inline options are available. While customers will stay on your site to complete purchases with both, the inline option is integrated in your store’s checkout flow. Once your account is opened, you can access code for one of a few payment buttons and begin processing sales. You'll also be able to use Checkout by Amazon Mobile that includes fraud protection and 1-Click services. Accounts are managed from a backend that will look similar to standard Amazon merchant accounts you may have worked with in the past.
- Amazon Simple Pay. - You’ll want to use Simple Pay if you’re collecting funds for digital products, games, donations, or other services. Like Checkout by Amazon, Simple Pay lets customers make payments by accessing data stored in their Amazon accounts. With Simple Pay, businesses that sell goods online can send invoices for transactions. The service also allows you to enable subscriptions, accept donations and membership dues, issue one-time invoices, and more.
Fees and Rates:
Amazon Payments maintains the same fee schedule for Checkout by Amazon and Amazon Simple Pay. Both services charge nothing per month. It’s free to open accounts with either option as well. Fees are based on a percentage of each transaction amount (that’s the total cost of items plus shipping and tax) and a transaction fee. Note that after sales are posted as “shipped” Amazon holds funds for three to five days. You’ll also have all initial transactions held in Amazon’s reserve for 14 days when you open an account, so be prepared to wait longer to get paid at first. Chargebacks will cost you $10 each.
Rates are similar to competitors like PayPal and 2Checkout, with Amazon’s standard fee for both Checkout by Amazon and Amazon Simple Pay at 2.9% and $0.30 per transaction for sales totaling more than $10. Credit card transactions that total less than $10 are charged 5.0% and $0.05 each.
Amazon Payments offers reduced rates for non-profit organizations and volume discounts. Keep in mind that you’ll have to apply in order to be considered for a volume discount (for purchases of $10 or more only.) Also, your shop needs to average at least $3,000 in transactions for more than three straight months to qualify. Reduced volume discount rates start at 2.5%. You can read more about price breaks here.
Contract Length and Cancellation Fee:
You won’t have to sign a contract to use Amazon Payments, and if you decide to cancel you won’t get stuck with any fees.
Sales and Advertising Transparency:
Amazon is so well established that it doesn’t need to rely on traditional sales or marketing campaigns to reach users. With payment information stored for more than 200 million individuals living around the globe, it’s easy for the internet giant to spread the word about services through its site, via referral, or word-of-mouth. There are no hidden fees associated with either Amazon Simple Pay or Checkout by Amazon. As long as you take time to read FAQ’s you should have a good grasp of how the services work.
Customer Service and Support:
Amazon Payments offers businesses several different ways to get in touch if problems or questions come up, including:
- Checkout by Amazon Guides. - PDFs walk you through how to get started using Checkout by Amazon, implement in-line checkout, manage orders, and more.
- Amazon Simple Pay Guides. - Includes getting started and advanced guides for Simple Pay users.
- Discussion Forum.
- Contact Form.
- Help Page. - The help topics column is on the left side of page.
- Phone Support. - Phone support is available only after you sign up for an Amazon Payments account, so we weren’t able to check in and see how easy or tough it is to access help like we do for most reviews. Service reps are available from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. PST.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
Compared to competitors like PayPal, we found less complaints floating around online, although that is in part due to the fact that Amazon Payments is still a relatively new kid on the block. We did find a few notable common complaints:
- Withholding Funds and Freezing Accounts. - Users report Amazon holds funds for 90 days or longer and freezes accounts without prior notice.
- Accusations of Fraud. - Some Amazon Payments merchants attest to being falsely accused of selling bootlegged goods. Like virtually all processors, the service will red flag your account if it finds evidence of fraud. Read Amazon’s list of prohibited items and activities here. If this list includes items or services you offer, you might want to consider a payment processor that works with merchants selling high-risk products instead, like Durango Merchant Services. You can read details about ways to avoid account freezes, holds, and terminations over here.
- Initial Hold. - As mentioned above, Amazon’s reserve policy states that funds are held for an observation period of 14 days for new accounts, causing an initial delay in payment. After that they’re deposited daily.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
In addition to testimonials on the Amazon Payments site, there are several reports online from users who are satisfied with the payment processor. A thorough search resulted in the following common positive attributes, including:
- Increased Orders. - Some users associate the integration of Amazon Payments into their site with increased sales.
- Quick Payment Process. - Since shipping and billing info is on file with Amazon, customers can complete orders lickety-split.
- Merchant Protection. - Merchants like being under Amazon’s umbrella for fraud and chargeback protection.
- Name familiarity. - Since millions of people already use Amazon, customers that are less likely to input personal data in a new online store will likely feel comfortable buying through your Amazon Payments account.
Integrations and Add-Ons:
In order to complete a purchase using Amazon Payments customers will need to already have or be willing to sign up for an Amazon account. All major credit cards can be used in Amazon’s system if they’re connected to a U.S. billing address.
Amazon integrates with several shopping carts, although that list isn’t nearly as hearty as PayPal’s: PayPal integrates with more than 250 carts, compared to Amazon’s less than 30. You can view Amazon’s full list of cart providers here. We read that leading shopping cart Shopify, while not currently on Amazon’s provider list, is in talks with the company and may be able to be integrated in the future. If your cart or provider isn’t on the list you can let Amazon know here.
If you’re already a seller with Amazon, using Amazon Payments as a third-party processor for your ecommerce site is a no-brainer. But Checkout by Amazon and Amazon Simple Pay also have their advantages for sellers and organizations not currently affiliated with the company: You’ll manage sales tax, shipping, and cancellations on the Amazon interface, and be guarded from chargebacks that fit into the service’s payments protection policy. In theory, since customers won’t leave your website to complete sales your conversion rates will improve, as well.
If I was a merchant looking for a third-party payment option as a backup in case my traditional merchant account hit any snags I’d surely consider Amazon Payments. It has name recognition (although not quite as much) like PayPal, with an intuitive admin and plenty of users who already have accounts on the main Amazon site. In fact, I'd most likely decide to try the service for several months, check sales reports for an uptick in transactions, and go from there.
Rumor has it that Amazon is planning to relaunch Amazon Payments in the coming months. We’ll be watching to see if the update is more feature-rich or contains new or notable integrations. Click here to sign up for Amazon Payments and see if it’s the right fit for your business.