It makes sense to want to accept credit cards in your business, both online and in-person. According to the latest statistics, plastic credit is the single most common form of paying for goods and services in the U.S. and most other developed nations, with about 40 percent of all payments being done with credit cards. Cash, year by year, continues to decline in frequency of use while non-credit plastic, namely bank debit cards, continue to gain. In fact, credit and debit cards are the top two ways to pay for anything these days, both in the U.S. and many other countries.
For merchants, there are four key points to bear in mind. First, you need to decide the “how,” in other words, in what way should you accept cards. There are three main ways to do so: in person in your storefront, online in e-commerce shops, and via mobile devices. Note that some sellers do all three, and others just do one or two methods that suit their style of commerce.
The second, third, and fourth points are: knowing the details of all the benefits that you get when accepting credit cards, understanding exactly how to use all three techniques, and having a list of questions to ask potential service providers.
Benefits of Accepting Plastic Forms of Payment
There are pros and cons that come with nearly every decision an entrepreneur makes, and the same is true about the decision of whether or not to accept credit cards as a form of payment. However, when it comes to accepting plastic, the benefits far, far outweigh the negatives. What is the potential downside? Unlike cash, plastic cards are susceptible to fraud. However, the incidents are few and far between. And merchants who only accept cash are at a huge competitive disadvantage in the marketplace.
On the other hand, what are the advantages of moving to a card-based payment system? It’s hard to answer the question briefly because of all the pluses sellers get when they accept credit cards. The bottom line is that for small businesses, which are literally the backbone of the global economy, not accepting plastic credit is no longer an option. Here are just a few of them:
- Owners save time: Cash and non-card payments take up your time ans low down everything else you do. The key advantage of plastic is speed, both in terms of processing and payment.
- Sales have unlimited potential: In a cash-based operation, more business means you’ll need more security. Not so with plastic. Card-readers and other processing methods can accept an unlimited amount of through-put.
- Your customers receive an overall positive experience: Buyers like to have options. Even if they occasionally use cash or debit cards, they are happiest when merchants give them a variety of choices, including credit-card payment.
- Risk of theft and robbery are virtually eliminated: Cash is problematic for lots of reasons, primarily because it is a magnet for thieves and robbers. The less cash you have on hand, the lower your physical risks are.
- Detailed reports give owners the power to improve selling practices: Credit card statements can tell you a lot, like how many customers bought which items, when they were purchased, and more.
How To Take Credit Card Payments
If you are a one-person seller of in-person services, like massage therapy or home health care, accepting credit cards via a mobile device (like a smartphone or tablet) is an ideal solution. E-commerce sellers who have no storefronts likely want just a simple platform for taking plastic payments. Any owner who purveys goods and services via a physical storefront will probably do well to use a dedicated card-reading device. Of course, depending on what you sell and how you sell it, two methods, or all three might do the trick.
Here are the details about how to use each method:
In-person hardware, known as point-of-sale (POS) systems are quite common in today’s credit-based economy and marketplace. The machines themselves are the hardware. The software, or app used by the machine, does the actual work of processing the payments when buyers insert or swipe their credit or debit cards. POS machines either decline or approve purchases immediately.
Via Mobile Devices
In order to take mobile, or “on-the-go” payments, you need three things: a device-based payment app, a smartphone or similar device, and a mobile card-reading machine. Actually, there’s a fourth requirement: an internet connection. Most of the card-reading machines are small and easy to operate. So, once you download the app and acquire the machine, you’re ready to accept card payments anywhere, any time.
Payment gateways that are online-based do the work when your customers pay with a credit card in your online store. Likewise, you might choose to work with accounting systems that are cloud-based and do all the processing via built-in apps. Either way, your service provider can set you up with the kind of e-commerce payment method that suits your particular style of operations.
Questions To Ask Service Providers
Spend five minutes on the internet searching for service providers and you’ll notice that there are literally hundreds of companies that offer to handle merchant credit card payment systems. The bad news is that the choice can be daunting in an environment with so many competitors for your attention.
What’s the good news? You can whittle down the candidates by asking a series of direct questions. The following list will get you started, but don’t forget to add some of your own to the collection, based on unique aspects of your company:
- Are you a full-service provider or do you just do card acceptance systems? Beware of signing on with providers who just do one or two things. That’s because you’ll almost certainly want more services as your company grows and gains more customers.
- What kind of fraud protection do you have on your service menu? Always ask about fraud and what specific steps the provider takes to make sure every transaction is optimally protected against payer or third-party abuse and other kinds of fraudulent activity.
- What is your fee structure? Get a detailed fee menu, and skip over providers who are either reluctant to tell you their fees or who have non-detailed, vague fee structures. It’s important to know what the service will cost so that you can decide whether it’s worth the cost or not.
- Do you process all three types of credit card payments, namely face-to-face, mobile-based, and online? Be careful here. Right now, perhaps you only use one type of card-acceptance method and would be happy with a service provider that can deal with that one method. But, as you grow and as your company’s goals change, it’s highly probable that you will want a provider who can process all three kinds of card payments.
There’s no reason so ponder endlessly about which service provider to use or what type of credit card method you will be using. The goal is to get started as soon as possible so you don’t miss out on any sales. The faster you have a full-fledged card-acceptance method up and running, the better. At Metro Payment Technologies, we have helped thousands of sellers, merchants, and e-commerce entrepreneurs get their pay systems in place without delay.
Plus, for business owners who need reliable support and a host of related services to choose from, we offer a full menu of selections for growing businesses, like payment terminals, e-commerce solutions, POS systems, wireless terminals, e-check processing, payroll help, customer support, PCI compliance, charge-back/retrieval handling, and more. We specialize in working with businesses that need to get up to speed with technology and meet their customers’ demands for streamlined, hassle-free buying.
Find out more by visiting our website or phoning us directly at 1-800-771-3719