Consider the details
What payments to accept
You’re biggest job is to get paid. Your second biggest job—make it easy for your customers to pay. The decision of accepting credit cards is the first step. The second is to determine which cards to accept. There are the well-known major card brands including American Express, Discover, Visa and MasterCard. And, with so many different types of customers, it’s smart to consider what cards your customers are loyal to, just as they are to your store.
While it’s not mandatory, it’s really important to accept EMV or so-called chip cards—those are the cards that are inserted into a payment device or credit card reader, versus swiped. In addition to the reality that customers are becoming used to them, and expect you to protect them, there’s another reality. As of October 1, 2015, businesses like yours became more liable for fraudulent transactions made in-store if you’re not accepting the chip cards.
Your plan of accepting credit card payments should not only consider the card brands most used by your customers, but the types of cards, including debit and credit, as well as chip cards.
What devices to use to take credit cards
The second set of details to focus on is how you physically receive credit card payments at your checkout counter. This is the set of considerations that small businesses don’t always think as deeply about as they should. You have a lot of choice when it comes to the devices, terminals and systems that you use. What those devices are capable of doing to help your business vary widely.
Basic card acceptance, as well as chip cards and contactless payments, or payments where a smartphone is tapped to make payment, can be accomplished by many of today’s modern stand-alone terminals. Still there are so-called smart terminals that include not only those features, but often add additional tools, such as customer loyalty and inventory management capabilities, that can add value on the back-end of managing your business and your relationships with customers. What you sell, how much of it, how often and to whom are factors in considering which devices to use—as are factors such as the number of stores you have. At the far-end of consideration are integrated point-of-sale (POS) systems. POS systems are often used by highly-specialized businesses, such as eateries and restaurants, where software that drives operations includes functions such as order placement, customer loyalty, back-end business functionality, designed specifically for a certain industry’s needs. These POS systems typically allow small business buyers to select from payment processing options that are directly integrated into the software.
Read more of the companion stories in the sidebar as you consider and evaluate your payment processing options and your selection of possible providers.