How to increase your online reach for the new normal

Nov 11 2020 | PayPal editorial staff

How has Covid-19 changed your business? The pandemic is changing customers’ shopping behaviour and will continue to do so next year. Therefore, small businesses need to pivot to a new normal. Is your business ready for 2021?
We can probably all agree that 2020 has been a strange year.

Without a doubt, Covid-19 has changed the way that we live and the way that we shop. Many businesses in sectors like hospitality, entertainment and the arts, and physical retail suffered badly as people were unable to go out and do the things they normally enjoy. Global restaurant dining has decreased by 27%1 while income for the travel and tourism industry is expected to be 42% lower than in 2019.2 Offline, non-food retail is expected to decrease by 20%, year-on-year.3

All over the world, even before the Covid-19 pandemic, consumers had shifted to shopping more online. By the end of May 2020, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), reported that online orders had more than doubled in North America, grown by 70% in Asia-Pacific and by 50% in Europe.4

Many businesses are responding to this change by reinventing or rebalancing their sales towards online.

But is selling online right for your business?

You don’t need to have a physical retail store to benefit from selling online. In fact, you don’t even need to sell physical goods. The pandemic has made many businesses think creatively about how they can sell online and meet customer’s changing expectations.

If you sell offline, adding an online channel can help you sell products that are already in your inventory, as well as catering to your customers preferred payment methods.

If you sell services and don’t have a physical product, is there an opportunity for you to offer that service online? For example, many training businesses have moved their classroom training to online facilities like Zoom. Consider whether you can sell gift certificates, vouchers or other future-package offerings.

If you already sell online, you can look to maximise your reach by using new channels, targeting different markets or adopting new digital strategies.

“I wanted to disrupt the packaging industry by creating a natural alternative to single use plastics. Ecoware makes 100% biodegradable food packaging. COVID has severely affected consumer demand. We operate in the F&B packaging space and our customers in hospitality, travel and catering were the first casualties of COVID - and will probably be the last to recover. We export to over 15 countries, but during the pandemic logistics were impacted. However, there’s hope. With many working from home, families are eating in more. As a result, we are seeing increased B2C demand, via our e-commerce site. In the long run we hope this will increase awareness of our products and drive sustainability from the ground up.”
Rhea, Owner of Ecoware

Whether your business is just starting its ecommerce efforts or already has an online presence, it makes sense to consider every opportunity to reach new customers. Here are a few suggestions as to how you can get started.

Explore new channels.

If you sell products or services to your customers, it’s worth exploring as many ways as possible to reach those customers; on your own website, on marketplaces, and on social media. Each has its advantages and often appeal to different markets.

1.) If you already have your own website, whether it is hosted on an ecommerce platform or not, you can enhance the shopping experience you offer – and reach new customers – by making sure your site is optimised for global shoppers and giving them a faster way to pay.

Adding PayPal as a payment option to your checkout or product page is a quick way to increase your sales and get higher conversions on your website. Research shows that when PayPal is presented as a clear option on product and cart pages, half of shoppers spend more at checkout, leading to a 23% increase in incremental sales on both desktop and mobile.5

By streamlining your checkout experience with PayPal, you can make it easier for customers to buy from you locally or abroad without the need to type in personal or payment details every time. Simply copy and paste a few lines of HTML code into your website editor to get PayPal Checkout working on multiple platforms.

2.) If you need a website, consider starting with an ecommerce website builder or an ecommerce platform. This may be a faster way to get a website up and running compared to creating and coding one from scratch.
A few benefits of having your own website include:
  • Owning and building your brand credibility
  • Gaining a wider demographic and geographical reach
  • Managing the customer experience and relationships
  • Building loyalty with customer lists and referrals
Platforms like Wix are customisable and compatible with business services including accounting, inventory management, marketing and shopping cart systems. The way your shopping cart functions becomes particularly important if you need to process things like subscription payments. PayPal is built into many ecommerce platforms so that you can easily set up the store you need with a trusted payment provider. These include Shopify, WooCommerce and Wix.

3.) Online marketplaces have millions of users around the world and can be a quick way to reach new markets. They are fast to set up, have international reach and a ready-made audience. Often, they can also help you with logistics and promoting your business.

4.) Social media is becoming a popular sales channel, social commerce is growing rapidly with 1 in 3 consumers, and the same proportion of businesses, saying they use it.6 In India, 57% of shoppers say they have used social commerce recently.7  If your business has an established social media following, consider selling there too. Creating and using a makes it simple and secure for your customers to pay on social media.
“I founded The Atelier & Co. 7 years ago. I‘ve planned some of the most elaborate events this part of the world. The COVID situation has heavily impacted how we function. A large part of what we do is dependent on gatherings and travels, both of which are currently restricted. We've pivoted and have since switched our focus to our e-commerce floral gifting arm, investing heavily in our web store. Personally, and professionally, I’ve streamlined and done away with non-essentials. The team and I are forging ahead with the realisation that you actually need very little to thrive”
Lelian, Owner of The Floral Atelier

Reach a global audience.

Global cross-border online sales are growing at twice the rate of domestic online sales8 and even before Covid-19, the market was worth an estimated US$412 billion.9

As countries continue to face restrictions into next year, we can expect online shopping and sending gifts overseas to be the new normal way to connect with loved ones afar, especially across big holidays and celebrations such as Christmas, Chinese New Year, Singles Day, Diwali or Three Kings Day. This can open new opportunities for businesses to target international sales.

However, cross border shoppers may not feel confident if they are unable to pay in their preferred currency or unfamiliar with the payment option provided. In recent research, 1 in 5 consumers said they had abandoned a purchase because their preferred payment method wasn’t available. The largest percentage of mobile shoppers said they use PayPal for purchases via mobile (53%) followed by the next most-used payment type: credit card (44%).10

Furthermore, online shoppers are significantly more likely to buy abroad if they can do so in their own currency.11 Many payment providers allow you to list prices in different currencies, so opt in if you have the option. With PayPal, you can accept payments in over 25 currencies, helping you to become an instant global business and connecting you with over 340 million PayPal customers across the world when you add PayPal Checkout to your site.

Whichever markets and channels you choose to increase your online presence, consider the following when setting your business up for success in the new normal.

Plan ahead. Proactively set aside time on how best to increase your online presence in a way that meets the needs of your chosen market. 2020 was a very reactive year for many businesses. Think about your available budget, how much money, time and resources you might need to manage the different online aspects of your business. Consider the software and payment providers you need to provide the online experience you want.

Make it easy for people to pay. Reach all types of customers by enabling frictionless payments and letting them pay the way they want to pay, whether that be online, mobile or within an app.

Look for simple and single integration. Some payment solutions are complicated and time-consuming to implement on your website. With PayPal Checkout, all that’s required is one integration that keeps it up to date from there, so there’s nothing else you need to do. It can be as simple as copy/pasting a line of code which you or your developer can do. Or you can easily integrate it on your shopping cart through an ecommerce platform if you’re not technically minded.


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[1] Statista (2020),
[2] Statista (2020),
[3] Forrester (2020),  
[4] OECD (2020), Connecting Businesses and Consumers During COVID-19: Trade in Parcels,
[5] Forrester Total Economic Impact study, Q1 2018
[6] PayPal (2019), PayPal mCommerce Study.
[7] PayPal (2019), PayPal mCommerce Study.
[8] OECD (2020), Connecting Businesses and Consumers During COVID-19: Trade in Parcels,
[9] PayPal (2020), PayPal Borderless Commerce Report,
[10] PayPal (2019), PayPal mCommerce Study. On behalf of PayPal, Ipsos interviewed a quota sample of c.2,000 (22,000 total) consumers (aged 18-74) who owned or used a smartphone and c. 300-500 (4,602 in total) business influencers or decision makers who sell or take payments online to Consumers (and businesses) in 11 countries (UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, India, Japan, US, Mexico and Brazil). Interviews were conducted online between July 23 and August 25, 2019. Data was weighted in Australia on age and income to replicate study conducted previously. No other weighting was applied.
[11]PayPal commissioned Ipsos MORI PayPal Insights 2019. N=34,000, 31 markets. Online survey of adults (aged 18+) between March – May 2018.  

Frequently asked questions.

As you begin your selling journey, or start selling after a while, we hold the initial payments you receive for up to 21 days. This is a common industry practice to cover any potential buyer complaints that may happen in that time.   

We review sellers' accounts each month to see if some/all sales proceeds can become available immediately. Once you build a positive selling history on your account and confirm your identity, we’ll give you access to your money faster.  

You’ll be able to request an increase, once a month, in the amount immediately available to you in each calendar month, once you:  

  • Confirm your bank account or debit/credit card  
  • Confirm your phone number  

We’ll also ask you to complete some or all of the following:  

  • Reach a specified number of sales/orders  
  • Receive a specified total amount from sales  
  • Receive no buyer disputes for a specified number of days

What exactly is PayPal changing?  

PayPal historically supported the capability for some merchants to allow users to amend orders in the context of checkout to add (or remove) services like shipping fees or taxes. While the user consents to the final amount in the merchant Checkout, this wasn't completed in a session with PayPal.   


  • Merchant sends the buyer to PayPal to authorize a transaction of 100.00 EUR.  

  • Consumer reviews and authorizes the transaction at PayPal for 100.00 EUR  

  • Consumer returns to the merchant site where the transaction amount increases to 110.00 EUR due to the addition of shipping, taxes, FX conversion, etc.    

Effective April 2022, PayPal will obtain an authorization from each customer for the maximum amount of transaction before redirecting a customer to the merchant. If the merchant captures more than the authorized amount, the transaction will be declined.  

This will impact all global merchants (for both domestic and international transactions) that sell to PayPal buyers from the countries subject to PSD2. 

Why is PayPal making this change?  

Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) requirements, which are part of the Second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) mandate additional authentication measures and restrictions to be performed on electronic transactions involving consumers (buyers) from the PSD2 countries. 

The changes are in response to the below principles set by The European Banking Authority (EBA) for transactions where the final amount is unknown.  

  • The final transaction amount can't be higher than the authenticated amount: “If the final amount is higher than the amount the payer was made aware of and agreed to when initiating the transaction, the payer’s PSP shall apply SCA to the final amount of the transaction or decline the transaction.”   

  •  The final transaction amount may be lower than the authenticated amount: “If the final amount is equal to or lower than the amount agreed in accordance with Article 75(1) of PSD2, the transaction can be executed and there is no need to re-apply SCA, as the authentication code would still be valid in accordance with Article 5(3)(a) of the [RTS].” 

What regions are impacted?    

This impacts Merchants globally (for both domestic and international transactions) selling to buyers from the EEA (PSD2 countries). 

My business is not based in EU, why do I have to comply?   

Any merchant who is selling to buyers from the EEA region (PSD2 countries) will be impacted. The impact is determined on the consumers (or buyers) country and not on the merchant country. 

Does this impact all my PayPal, Venmo, Braintree transactions?  

The current impact is only on PayPal wallet transactions, i.e. merchants who are integrated on PayPal Branded XO. This can be direct PayPal integration or through Braintree. There's no impact for Venmo transactions because Venmo is not offered to EU consumers.  

For direct card transactions (Unbranded DCC), the card issuer will automatically be rejecting transactions above what was approved by the consumer during the 3DS review.   

When will this change take effect?   

PayPal is perusing a slow ramp starting from April. Some merchants may start seeing declines for sales to buyers where PSD applies, if the final captured amount is more than the buyer authorized amount.  

I over charge regularly as part of my business model, what should I do now?   

  • To minimize the declines, PayPal will leverage in-house machine learning algorithm estimate for a higher amount and authorization the consumer for the same. Only if the merchant requested amount is higher than the estimated authorized amount would the transaction be declined. 

  • In case of a decline, PayPal would be returning an existing error code requesting the merchant to send the buyer for a re-review and this review would happen with the new amount. Post the successful buyer review the merchant can reattempt the capture. 

  • In future, we encourage you to initiate the transaction with an amount inclusive of shipping, tax, etc. so that PayPal wouldn't have to decline the transaction later during the payment lifecycle. 

Do I need to make any integration changes?   

No immediate integration change is needed, as long as merchant is redirecting the buyer back to PayPal for a re-review in the event of PayPal declining the transaction.  

What is PayPal doing to reduce impact to my business?   

  • PayPal would use inhouse algorithms to detect impacted merchants, compute the potential overage for the transaction and disclose maximum amount (cap) to the consumer during payment authentication on PayPal.  

  • The computation of the overage is based on multiple factors like transaction amount, previous overage trends, zip code of the consumer and merchant, etc.  

  • Once the consumer consents to the higher amount cap at PayPal, the merchant would able capture up to that amount.  
  • If the merchant requested capture amount exceeds the consumer consented maximum amount, then PayPal would decline the request using existing error codes and the merchant would need to send the consumer to PayPal for a rereview or attempt a capture with the previously approved amount.  

How do I know what over charge threshold PayPal have presented to my customer?  

Merchant won't have visibility on the maximum amount threshold their customers will be presented with. 

If a payment is declined, what should I do?  

In case of a decline, PayPal would be sending an existing error code requesting the merchant to send the buyer for a re-review and this review would happen with the higher amount. Post the successful buyer review the merchant can reattempt the capture.  

What error codes will I receive?   

We're reusing existing Decline error codes when the requested amount exceeds what was consented by buyer. 

I need technical support; how do I access it?   

Please reach out to your Customer Success Manager/Integration Engineer/Customer Service for support.

You can learn more about the second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) regulation here.  

Congratulations on receiving your recent sale! 

We’re excited you’ve chosen PayPal to process your payments. Let’s get started with how selling on PayPal works, what you should expect and how we manage access to your money as you get started. 

As a new seller or someone who hasn’t sold in a while, we want to ensure you’re able to serve your customers with the high standards they deserve. At the same time, we want to protect you, as a seller, as you navigate how payments work. We therefore require that you confirm your identity and monitor your performance as a seller. As you begin your selling journey, or start selling after a while, we hold the initial payments you receive for up to 21 days. This is a common industry practice to cover any potential buyer complaints that may happen in that time.  

How do I get access to my money? 

We review sellers' accounts each month to see if some/all sales proceeds can become available immediately. Once you build a positive selling history on your account and confirm your identity, we’ll give you access to your money faster. 

I have access to some money instantly, how can I get access to more? 

You’ll be able to request an increase, once a month, in the amount immediately available to you in each calendar month, once you: 

  • Confirm your bank account or debit/credit card 
  • Confirm your mobile phone number 

We’ll also ask you to complete some or all of the following: 

  • Reach a specified number of sales/orders 
  • Receive a specified total amount from sales 
  • Receive no buyer disputes for a specified number of days 

How do I get my payments released sooner? 

In some cases, you might be able to help to release your held payment(s) sooner. Check your account for more details.

We may place payments on hold for many reasons, such as you’re a new seller with PayPal or you haven’t sold in a while.

In a calendar month, you have a set amount of money you can withdraw or use. Above that amount, the money becomes available 21 days after you receive the payment or earlier. The amount you can access immediately is reset every month. 

Here's how to request an increase in the amount of money available to you each month:

  1. Click the Pay & Get Paid tab at the top of the page. 
  2. Under Wallet click Money
  3. Click Request an increase under "How to help get your money sooner". 
  4. Select the appropriate amount. 
  5. Click Done

We’ll review your request and send you an email within 3 business days. You can request an increase once every 30 days.

You can help to release eligible payments by following one of the below steps: 

  1. Add Tracking. Use one of our approved shipping carriers and we’ll release the hold 24 hours after the courier confirmed delivery to the buyer’s address. 
  2. Update the order status if the held payment is for a service or intangible item (e.g. piano lessons, e-book). We'll release the hold 7 days after you confirm the order status as Completed.

In rare cases, the payment may not be released after this time. For example, this may happen if your business model has changed or we see a significant difference in your selling price. In this case, we’ll release your payment 21 days after you received it.

The contents of this site are provided for informational purposes only. The information in this article does not constitute legal, financial, IT, business or investment advice of any kind and is not a substitute for any professional advice. You should always obtain independent, professional accounting, financial, IT and legal advice before making any business decision.