These days, it’s a given that you should accept non-cash payments from your customers. If you don’t, you will almost certainly miss out on sales from the ever-growing numbers of potential customers who only carry plastic or who wish to pay online. Today, you have many options.
Credit Card Terminals
If you are of a certain age, you might remember the dawn of the credit card era. In some ways, you can still capture that feel with today’s countertop terminals. These are stationary systems that allow customers to do the traditional swipe of their credit, debit or even gift card to make a purchase. Most of today’s modern terminals also accept EMV chip cards (to be in compliance with a payment industry security mandate) and NFC payments like Apple Pay.
Beyond the basics, these systems are generally supported by reporting sites that can help you monitor sales and assist you with maintaining customer loyalty programs.
Today’s compact hardware and larger storage capacities also give you the option of accepting payments wirelessly. This can be done through a full-service terminal that is slightly smaller than a countertop model, or through a mobile card reader plugin for a smartphone or tablet.
One advantage of a full-service wireless terminal is that it allows for receipt printing on the spot through the device. Another big plus is that, like their stationary counterparts, most modern full-service wireless terminals are EMV compliant and accept both EMV (chip card) and NFC payment types.
A payment plugin device has the advantage of being very compact and easy to manage. You may have seen this technology at use at farmer’s markets and in the hands of small business owners. By using a smartphone or tablet connected to online software, the customers’ cards can be swiped and their payment processed.
While most payment processors offer mobile card reader plugins for free, the devices do have some disadvantages. First, most mobile card readers only allow for swipes of a card’s magnetic stripe (vs. an EMV chip “dip”) and thus are not EMV compliant, which could put your business at risk for liability due to credit card fraud. Second, while receipts can be emailed or even sent to a printer in many cases, mobile card readers do not provide receipts on-the-spot through the device. Finally, mobile card swipers may have limited viability as phone manufacturers such as Apple remove the necessary headphone jack in order to provide a sleeker appearance and more options for customers.
Point of Sale Systems
Due to continued technology advances, former “smart registers” have evolved into high-tech point of sale (POS) systems. In addition to taking customer payments, a high-quality POS can transform your business with sophisticated marketing programs, inventory management and sales and profitability tracking and reporting. Perhaps the best news is that over the past few years these sophisticated systems have become both cost-effective and remarkably easy to use.
Online sales are steadily growing each year. If you are considering an expansion of your business online, you need a payment solution that offers maximum security and ease of use. The best ones provide an integrated shopping cart, optimized shopping and secure payment solutions that make your customers’ experience as intuitive and efficient as possible. Many e-commerce packages also allow you to safely take credit card information over the phone or through the mail for buyers who do not wish to buy online.
With all of these solutions, how do you know which is best for you? Take some time to think about your business, your customers and your goals. Are you solely brick-and-mortar or do you want to be online and mobile? Do you want the ability to take customer payments from anywhere on your sales floor, or are you content with the traditional countertop? Do you simply want to accept payments, or do you want a system that can perform numerous other functions such as managing inventory?
Only you can answer these questions. Once you do, begin to talk with representatives from credit card processing companies. Carefully review your options before signing anything, and ask for help from objective third parties if you need it. All of your diligent research will ultimately mean that you have the best payment processing solution for your business.