Flexible Payment Solutions Help Small Businesses Thrive
Most of us are beyond the debate of "if" we need credit card processing. Credit and Debit cards are a simple fact of life for most Americans. Consumers are trading out the hassles of cash for the convenience of debit cards, and like it or not, some consumers have credit cards for different occasions (special event, emergency, medical, travel, etc.). As society becomes more dependant on virtual cash, new technologies have emerged that make payments more flexible. These payment options offer savvy small businesses of all types a competitive advantage as they receive payments from the consuming public. A June 2012 study by the Javelin Research Institute lists the break down of consumer spending preferences as:
By 2017, the study predicted, cash will constitute just 23 percent of total sales volume.
Smart phones and tablet computers continually make the workplace more "paperless" (I think that was promised in the 90's, but better late than never). One evolution of the paperless work environment is the decentralization of the Point of Sale (POS) system. In many small businesses, staff is out from behind a counter, working with the public to provide a product or service.
Until recently, closing a sale meant bringing a consumer to a "check out" area, and "ringing them up". Both of the terms "check out" and "ringing them up" point to the history of the retail trade. The term "check out" refers to a physical sign out station where people would sign for goods and services. "Ringing them up" is a phrase that refers to the actual sound of the old ringing cash register. What if a small business could attend to a sale on the sales floor, or what if sales could be made off-site? This style of sale would benefit small businesses with attentive staffs, service businesses that often deal with clients outside the office, or businesses that want to increase labor efficiency by making a transaction a one-step process. Newer technologies, when added to your smart phone or tablet, can create a unique consumer environment devoid of the dreaded "line" or disconnect with wait staff as they disappear to complete a transaction at a set station.
These are a few of the newer adaptations to smart phones or tablets that businesses are taking advantage of (click their link to learn more):
Square- This is by far the most popular mobile payment system. Square systems allow two types of payment surcharges. Businesses can either pay 2.75% of each "swipe" total, or they can simply pay a monthly fee of $275. While these fees may look expensive at first glance, consider that many consumers simply won't purchase from you if you do not allow credit or debit card processing, and your volume of monthly sales may make that $275 monthly payment option a much lower end percentage than traditional credit card processing. Without traditional monthly fees and contracts, Square is helping redefine processing.
Paypal– An old favorite for on-line payment collection goes mobile. PayPal mobile allows for multiple payment types and is a familiar system for those that have used PayPal online payment options in the past. The charges include 2.7% per "swipe" of the customers credit debit or credit card for the transaction.
Payanywhere– A newer mobile payment platform, Payanywhere boasts "the lowest processing fees in the industry". Processing is listed at 2.69% per swipe without contracts or monthly charges and includes the ability to integrate with many types of mobile devices.
Phone Swipe– The final highlighted payment system (there are A LOT more out there) is "Phone Swipe". Like most of the other systems listed, the card reader and application software are free for signing up with the system. Processing charges for this service include 2.7% per "swipe".
How much money could a bar or restaurant save per year if consumers could simply pay their bill instantaneously at their table by signing a phone or tablet? How much faster could you help customers if you were continuously adding items to a running "tab" on the floor of your business so you were ready to process payment at any time. How much labor could you save if you could take instantaneous payment from a consumer anywhere, instead of relying on a paper billing process?
Small businesses are constantly looking for ways to differentiate themselves from the larger competitors. By utilizing technology that enhances your ability to stay connected to customers and help them quickly, you provide better service. By decreasing your time spent billing by incorporating instantaneous payment systems, you save your business postage and time (which equal money). By creating off-site payment opportunities, your business can expand your consumer reach to anyplace where you have products (or services) and your mobile processing device. Better customer service, better payment rates and less labor… That's what you want, right?
Changes in technology can be scary. Given enough fear, we cantalk ourselves out of adopting any new technology or adapting to market changes. Successful businesses find ways to adapt to their target customer bases and make it as easy as possible for consumers to spend money with their business. Instead of looking at new technology as something new and daunting, view technology as a potential new tool to help your business (and sales) grow. Think of customers or sales lost because you couldn't take a particular payment, or customers that were frustrated in a slow payment system. Think of all the extra man ours spent by employees in a cumbersome attempt to accept payments. Aren't those reasons enough to consider utilizing new tools?