What should I know before doing merchant onboarding?

A modern company, especially one working with e-commerce, can only truly grow if they work with and possibly assimilate other sources of business. This is why merchant onboarding is such an important thing for a modern business to succeed. Now, the concept of onboarding in and of itself could mean a host of things. You could be allowing a third party to work as a merchant through your platform, you could be bringing them on as a subsidiary, you can be partnering up with them, any host of concepts. Regardless, without customer verification and business verification, you are shooting in the dark quite literally.

Think about it, just for a moment. When you are about to hire a new employee, what is one of the first things you do after looking over their resume and maybe talking to their references? You may have an initial interview to avoid wasting further time on someone who is obviously unfit for your corporate culture, but aside from that, you immediately do a background check.

Quite frankly, their social media presence, their references and past employers are really enough to verify that they are a safe, secure and reliable individual. You need to know where they’ve been, who they are and what they are about. You may have a little sensation of queasiness when you think about this level of investigation, especially with privacy being the hot topic that it is today, but you can’t be too careful with your employees, people representing you and upon whom your business depends.

Well, you need to do this even more in-depth when it comes to merchants and potential direct-contract customers. You actually need to know more about them than you do about employees, amazingly enough. For starters, you need to know what their credit scores like, their financial history and what their customers and previous partners are saying about them. You need to know what the Internet thinks of them, because the opinion of the Internet is a fickle beast and something that can make or break a business these days.

This investigation isn’t as easy as you might expect. Superficial research isn’t enough, you need to get to legal documents, in-depth financial reports and other business reports and financial logistics, things that are public record but not that easy to investigate unless you make your living doing such investigations. This is where customer verification and merchant onboarding research companies come in. They have long-established pathways to get this information, and they have business experts that can model trends and forecast potential behaviors, problems and the like with various companies, merchants and customers.

With this information, you can save yourself a lot of grief, and you can avoid guilt by association in cases where these individuals of cultivated a poor reputation with any particular community online, something you absolutely want to avoid. It used to be a shot in the dark, with this kind of investigation taking too long to be practical in a pre-digital world. Thankfully, times have changed and you can look before you leap with any professional decision like this!

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Adam Ali