Written By Marilyn Wilson, Senior Manager, Small Business Banking, Coast Capital Savings
When it comes to payment, convenience is king. From tap and Apple Pay, to Amazon’s pilot of a cashier-less grocery story, it seems like new, alternative payments are growing faster than the pumpkin spice craze. It’s crucial that your business can keep up, not just to have the latest shiny technology, but because your customers will expect it.
Here are five payment solutions to keep your small business on top:
Give the people what they want – more options!
We’re living in a dizzying world of choice, but when it comes to accommodating your customers’ desires for flexibility and convenience, more options is key. Choose a payment solutions provider that accepts a wide range of payment methods – from credit and debit cards, to gift cards and loyalty programs, to currency conversion for foreign customers. If your customer can’t easily pay for the product or service you’re providing, they’ll head to your competition.
Rest assured, you’re secured
Just like you lock your front door, put a lock on cardholder data. Safeguard your customers from fraud. If you lose your clients’ confidential information, you stand to lose a lot more than just your loyal customers.
Choose a provider that has an integrated solution for customer data and payment information, and make sure they comply with the global information security standard – the Payment Card Industry Data Security (PCI DSS). It’ll put the tricksters out of business (and keep them out of your business), lower your risk of liability, and enhance your reputation as a safe place to do business.
Don’t like surprises? Know the rates and fees
There’s no getting around it – payment providers will charge a fee for every transaction your business fulfills. Some will charge you a flat rate, regardless of transaction size. Others will charge a percentage amount of each transaction. And if you’re using point of sale (POS) terminals, or offering certain payment services to your customers, like recurring billing, you might have to budget a bit more. As the old adage goes, you need to spend money to make money. Assessing if the payoff outweighs the payout will help determine what fee structure and services will best suit your business.
The good news? Rates differ among providers, and you can shop around until you find the solution that fits best. Make your choice based on your business needs and personal preferences, and then take a fine-tooth comb to the contract before signing. The contract should clearly outline only the agreed-upon rates, so question any contract details you’re unsure of. It should also provide information about who to contact should any questions or concerns surface.
Use data, the fuel of business growth
Just like a car won’t run on an empty gas tank, your business needs sufficient data to grow. Data sets the foundation for business growth – it tells you where your company stands financially, which will inform the business decisions you make. It’s important that your payment provider offers you significant reporting capabilities.
- Terminal-based reports are extracted from your POS devices, and tell you the specific sales and transactions processed through the POS system. This information can tell you a lot about your business’ in-store operations.
- Merchant statements consolidate all card transactions that are processed. This will give you a good idea of your customers’ preferred payment methods, whether it’s Visa, Mastercard, or AMEX, and will alert you of chargebacks (if any).
- Online reporting offers flexibility and convenience, so you can work on your business whenever your schedule allows. Online reports also make information-sharing among your internal stakeholders simple. You can download online reports into various formats, like Excel spreadsheets, which can come in handy for accounting purposes.
Getting the support you deserve
It’s essential that your payment provider delivers excellent technical support from the point of first integration into your business, and with ongoing support like a 24/7 toll-free number, live chat software, or detailed FAQs on their website. If you can leave the troubleshooting to the experts, you can focus on the heart of your business.
Partnering with the right payment solutions provider is vital. Simple, flexible payment methods show your customers that you value their business, their time and their convenience.