Accepting payments for curbside pickup.

Accepting payments for curbside pickup.

Virtually overnight, the coronavirus (COVID-19) changed life as we know it, with both consumers and business owners thrown into a “new normal” that turned everything about the way they socialized, dined, and transacted product purchases upside down. If you are a merchant who is attempting to remain afloat during these unprecedented conditions, you’re probably trying to think of new ways to accept credit card payments from your customers, while maintaining social distancing, and complying with other health regulations. Once again it’s technology to the rescue.

The mobile payments revolution.

As a consumer, you doubtless have an Apple or Android smartphone that goes everywhere with you. Far more than an old-school telephone, it enables you to communicate, play games, interact with social media, and yes, make payments for products and services. In fact, the modern smartphone is nothing less than a microcomputer that is capable of completing numerous functions.

Buried within your built-in applications is digital wallet technology. Regardless of whether your phone uses iOS or Android, it is equipped with a solution that enables you to securely store your sensitive payment information, including all of the various credit cards that you possess. Via this digital wallet, you and your customers alike, can participate in secure checkout processes without ever coming into physical contact with each other. 

Different types of mobile payments.

Offering curbside delivery is an excellent way for business owners of many stripes to continue serving their customers in these ever-changing times. Food, clothing, home goods, and pet-related items can be delivered safely and seamlessly right to a customer’s car. When that all-important moment of product payment arrives, you’ll have a choice of which method of mobile payment acceptance to offer.

The first scenario involves taking advantage of technology known as a virtual terminal. Think of this as the online equivalent of your in-store point of sale (POS) system. In this situation, you simply take a customer’s product order over the phone, including their credit card number and security code. The system’s software encrypts the information just as your physical POS would, working seamlessly with the other actors in the process to ensure that the payment goes through successfully and securely. All that remains is to wait for the client to arrive and hand off their goods, either by leaving them for a totally contactless experience, or by delivering them through a vehicle’s window or into the trunk.

A second mobile payment strategy involves your customer using a platform such as Apple Pay or PayPal to complete the sale. This can occur via the digital wallet apps within consumers’ mobile phones, before the purchases are retrieved curbside.

Customers can also use the browsers that are built into their mobile phones to go online. Simply by clicking on the products they want, adding them to a shopping cart, and providing credit card information, a buyer can pay for the items they want online and then simply drive to the business’s physical location to pick them up. It should go without saying, but encouraging people to buy products from your website is made exponentially easier if your page is easy to use, uncluttered, and if the checkout experience is seamless. If things get too complicated, customers will simply take their business elsewhere.

The costs of accepting mobile payments.

It probably comes as no surprise that with the privilege of accepting mobile payments also come costs. Depending on the payments technology company you partner with, you can expect to shell out money for one or more of the following:

  • Setup fees.
  • Flat fees per purchase.
  • Monthly charges and more. 

If the above costs seem burdensome, remember that these times in which we live are like no other. Feel free to shop around for the best deal, keeping in mind that a low cost is only one of the factors that should be taken into consideration when choosing a reputable payments partner. 

Get ready to start accepting mobile payments.

By now, you are probably convinced that these nontraditional payment options may be exactly what your business needs. Perform the following steps to take the mobile payments plunge:

  • Select a mobile payment provider after doing research into costs and ease of use. Remember to keep your business’s unique needs and customer preferences in mind.
  • Notify potential customers of your new payment options. Use email, social media, written signage, and your own website to advertise the fact that you now take mobile payments and offer curbside delivery services.
  • Provide incentives. It may seem counterintuitive to give any handouts at a time when you can barely remain solvent, but rewarding your customers for paying in new ways with cash back, product discounts, or loyalty points will bring many of them back again and again.

These days, flexibility and transparency are qualities that consumers particularly value. Allowing them to pay for the products and services they want using the payment methods they prefer, makes sense for businesses of all sizes.

Most likely, things will never fully return to the way they were before COVID-19 became a household word in early 2020. Although no one knows what the updated status quo will look like in the near or distant future, it seems reasonable that customers will continue to demand enhanced choices when it comes to paying for their purchases. Instituting mobile payments and curbside delivery today to help your customers navigate the uncertain waters of the pandemic.