Non-cash payment transactions have revolutionized the small business landscape. Customers are now accustomed to the speed, convenience, and security that buying goods and services with plastic brings. That said, customers are not the only ones who benefit from non-cash transactions. Merchants like you also gain immeasurably from the numerous gains that integrating a modern POS into your business model provide. In order to maximize the advantages of today’s 21st-century point-of-sale solutions, however, it is important to choose the right payment processing partner and solutions.
Carefully select a payment processor.
Even the most cursory of online searches will show you that not all payment processors are alike. Considering that companies vary greatly according to the products they sell and the age groups, tech savviness, and preferences of the customers they serve, this diversity is a particularly good thing. One of your primary jobs should be to choose a payment technology company that will best serve your business’s unique needs.
To that end, start by considering the types of payments you need to accept. For instance, if you plan to conduct some or all of your sales online, you will want to find a processor with expertise in ecommerce payment solutions such as shopping cart integrations, gateways, and hosted payment forms. Mobile payment solutions are particularly suited to retailers who perform transactions “on the go” at venues such as trade shows, farmers markets, and craft fairs. If you sell your products from a home-based store via phone and mail orders, a virtual terminal may be your best option. Finally, make sure that the provider you choose is not only flexible when it comes to your current needs, but also has the capacity to help you grow with the changing times. After all, the industry is constantly in flux in response to security concerns, technological innovations, and current events. You want to be sure that the products and services that you choose can grow with these modifications as well as your own evolving business needs.
Once you have arrived at a firm idea of the nature of your priorities and the types of payments you want to accept, take note of the following equally important factors as you determine which payment processor is best for you:
- Data security. Customers will not feel comfortable doing business with a retailer who has not done everything within their power to keep sensitive credit card and personal information safe. Your payment processor should, therefore, use the latest, technologically advanced tools such as point-to-point tokenization, encryption, and other fraud management tools to safeguard all aspects of your transactions. The provider should also take the lead in keeping your PCI compliant with the Payment Card Industry’s Data Security Standards.
- Low fees. Although there are some charges that you cannot avoid (such as interchange fees) the right payments partner should be able to minimize those fees to protect your profitability.
- Transaction frequency and amounts. Use your knowledge of your sales trends to choose a provider offering pricing that is compatible with the average frequencies and amounts of your sales transactions. Since these may change over time as your business evolves, your best bet is to opt for a processor that is willing to adjust quarterly according to your shifting needs.
- Ease of setup and maintenance. The importance of easy installation of hardware and software, intuitive staff training, and ongoing excellence in customer service cannot be overstated. A processor possessing these qualities can save you countless hours of frustration and enable you and your staff to be much more productive.
Although selecting a payment processor can seem daunting, taking the time to find the one that best meets the needs of your business and your customers will pay for itself in numerous ways in the long run.
Avoid long-term contracts.
Speaking of business needs, yours are changing with every passing month. Locking yourself into restrictive contracts can inhibit your ability to pivot with the times. Whether you are considering a payment processor for the first time, or you are looking for a new partner, try to stay away from restrictive agreements that penalize you for early cancelation or do not allow you to alter the terms on the fly.
Read the fine print.
Even after you have signed on the dotted line with a payment processor, you need to remain aware of the rules that you have accepted. For instance, some processors require that you collect additional information from customers for transactions that occur online, by phone, or under any other conditions when their physical card is not present. Getting in trouble with your processing company for failing to adhere to the conditions of your contract is one headache you definitely do not need and can avoid with a dose of ongoing vigilance.
Inform your customers.
If you have recently upgraded your systems to accept new forms of payment, it is in your best interest to spread the news to your customers. These shoppers appreciate maximum flexibility in terms of the types of cards and payments they can use when buying goods and services and will respond positively to your willingness to provide numerous options. To that end, post signs in your physical store, and make sure that your website clearly specifies what types of payments and currencies you accept.
Post your policies.
The same transparency should also apply to your return policy. No matter how wonderful your products might be, customers will need to bring them back now and then. Be sure there is no question as to how your business handles these transactions, including time limits, whether customers will receive cash or credit, etc. The clearer you are in this regard at the outset, the lower the likelihood of chargebacks and stress-inducing disputes that could damage your reputation and cause customers to take their business elsewhere.
Keep your eyes open
Although security concerns are handled by the company that processes your payments, that does not absolve you and your staff from being watchful and proactive. If a customer seems unusually evasive or unwilling to provide additional identification if requested to do so, protect your business by politely requesting that they pay with cash or a different card. Encourage your cashiers to come to you if they have concerns about a particular payment, and always use address verification for online purchases. Keeping your eye on the ball when it comes to fraud may seem needlessly time-consuming, but taking this extra care could well save your business thousands of dollars and countless hours.
When you’re running a business, every penny counts. Careful attention to every detail about your payment processing options and security can help to ensure that you are able to protect your profits.