Payment Solutions: Components that can solve problems for merchants
Whether helping customers, managing employees, or tracking income and expenses, owners of small- and medium-sized businesses have a lot to think about on a daily basis. With so many responsibilities, it’s easy to overlook one important facet of doing business: accepting credit cards. Payment solutions are comprised of the hardware, software, and related services that allow businesses to accept credit cards, as well as other payment types, and do so both in-store and online. When evaluating payment solutions, it is important to consider payment processing options that can enhance and streamline business operations.
So, what payments components are available, and what might you need? The answer depends in part on what type of business you have. Do you operate from a physical storefront? Online? From remote locations? Or a combination of all of these? Do you have other systems in place that need to work with your payment solution, such as accounting, employee scheduling, or inventory tracking programs? Answering these questions is a good place to start. From there, we’ll delve into three main categories of payments: in-store, online and integrated solutions.
In-store payment solutions
If you operate a brick-and-mortar store and only accept payments at that location, you need to look at in-store payment solutions. The first place to start is with a point-of-sale (POS). POS systems vary widely in their complexity, from simple tablets to comprehensive desktop models. The type you choose depends on what type of business you operate– and POS systems are available for every type of industry you can imagine from retail to restaurant and everything in between.
After you have chosen a POS system, you’ll want to consider related hardware such as cash drawers, barcode scanners, product scales, and more. Many POS systems come as a complete package with all the peripherals needed for a specific industry. Fvor example, a standard POS for a retail operation may include a computer and monitor, receipt printer, cash drawer, scanner, credit card reader, pole display, keyboard and mouse.
When choosing a POS system and peripherals, it’s important to consider how you will be taking payments. As consumer preferences are increasingly driving commerce, you want to be able to accept the payment types your customers prefer, whether cash, check, debit and credit cards, EMV chip cards, or mobile/contactless payments– and be able to accept all of these payment types in a secure fashion. It may seem complicated, but more and more payment solutions are enabled to accept all these payment types securely. Many EMV-enabled payment devices for example, also accept NFC/contactless mobile payments such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay with a tap or wave of a smart phone.
A payment solution that works with your business’ other systems such as accounting, inventory management, and employee scheduling programs, can be a life saver. All-in-one systems like these can save enormous amounts of time because the hardware incorporates software applications that can be customized to suit your particular business needs.
Many countertop instore POS systems come equipped with handheld hardware that allow staff to help customers onsite. In a retail setting for example, mobile POS devices make it easy for employees to check inventory and accept card payments away from the stationary register. This is especially helpful for engaging with customers and for line-busting during busy times.
Online payment solutions
With consumers’ increasing preference for online shopping, ecommerce is growing at a breakneck pace. There are a few considerations when deciding to accept payments online. First, are you a brick and mortar merchant who wants to add online payments capability? Or are you selling strictly online? If you are adding online payments capability to an existing in-store POS system, you will need to make sure the two systems are compatible. They need to communicate and work together so that, for example, everything you sell online is accounted for in your in-store inventory tracking so you don’t inadvertently sell out of items customers have ordered online. If you are strictly an ecommerce business, you’ll have similar considerations in terms of inventory and sales. And for both scenarios, you’ll want to be able to track customer information, analytics, customer buying trends and more.
Another important consideration with an online payment solution is security. While EMV enabled devices protect against card present fraud, they do not secure your business against card not present threats like those found online. Encryption and tokenization are two security technologies used to secure sensitive cardholder data. An easy way to remember the difference between the two is that encryption protects data in transit, while tokenization secures data at rest for post-authorization transactions such as tip adjustment and recurring billing.
An integrated payment solution is one in which the payment processing platform is built right in, enabling the application to connect directly with the credit card processor. Integrated payments make credit card transactions fast and easy, help streamline operations, consolidate data, and improve customer service and access to support. With an integrated solution, merchants can synthesize various systems to eliminate duplicate accounting efforts. Many integrated POS solutions offer advanced transaction reporting features and automated processes that help reduce common human errors. Both instore and online payment solutions can be integrated to payment processing.
Next steps to accept credit cards
When you are looking at accepting credit cards at your business, it’s important to evaluate your options carefully. Not every payment solution and credit card processor is the same, and what works for your business will be different than what works for another business. Take the time to do your research. Consult with your trusted payments partner, Vantiv today. The time spent in evaluating your options will pay off in the end.