How small business payment processing can keep your business thriving
Payment processing is an important piece of opening a small business. In fact, it’s the most important piece. After all, you didn’t put in all that effort to not get paid. Receiving ‘payments’ of appreciation (like hugs and flowers) are wonderful, but they don’t pay the bills. So what do you need to consider when you think about small business payment processing? There are a variety of payment features that you can implement for your business and it might seem overwhelming at first. Don’t let that derail you.
You might think about payments like a house plan to build a new home. You’ve got a general idea of the overall plan but when it’s time to get into the details you take it room by room. Think of your merchant account as the overall plan. Then consider features you should have, breaking down options ” room by room” so you can build exactly what you need for your business.
Where do I start with payment processing set-up?
When you begin to think about credit card processing, you should start with a holistic plan for your business and work your way out from there. Whether you’re just starting out with payments, or looking to grow your business or revenue opportunities, think broadly.. Here are a few questions to ask your self. These cover just about everything you should consider:
- Do you plan to process in-store, online or both?
- Do your customers demand or do you want to offer mobile wallet acceptance?
- Do you want to be able to take payments on the go, as in with a dongle at a street market?
- Are you thinking about adding a loyalty program?
- Do you process regular or recurring payments for the same customers, over and over?
- Do you bill customers for services rendered?
- Would you like to offer gift cards?
These questions are a very simple beginning but will help you being to layout your overall merchant account plan.
What should I expect from my payment processing provider?
It’s time to start thinking of your payment provider as a business partner. If you don’t, it’s time to change your thinking. And, if your current provider is not a partner in your success, it’s probably time to change them too. Valuable partnerships not only provide a service but they also help you in other areas of your business. Historically, businesses have thought of payment processors as vendors in a sea of vendors—often a necessary evil, not a strategic partner. However, consumer and technology shifts have put capable processors in the position to serve as commerce innovation agents—helping to connect your business to much more than payments, but to all kinds of complementary solutions to drive your business further. That includes how you might use payments intelligence about your customers to strengthen and grow your relationships with them.
Your credit card processing provider should review your overall business, looking with you at both current needs as well as your plans for growth. Once you layout your business plan you can expect your payment partner to provide some custom suggestions that will be best suited to your business. Payment solutions shouldn’t be complicated for you although there are a number of ways that your payment processor can configure your processing relationship. Rely on them for their expertise. Each business is unique and discussing the specific needs you have as a business owner will help you get the most value in your merchant account.
What do I need to know to think about eCommerce?
eCommerce continues to grow at a double digit pace year over year. In fact, 80 percent of Americans shop online at least monthly. Consumers continue to be attracted to transactions that are easy and convenient with 40 percent of online shoppers say they couldn’t live without online shopping. In an age where digital reigns, what does that mean for your business?
While it might be daunting to think about eCommerce solutions, they’ll be necessary to sustain growth and success into the future. From buying an outfit to paying a medical bill online, having an online presence is necessary to conduct all these transactions. A critical component to processing transactions online is security. Since transactions are anonymous, security solutions are vital to protect your business. Your credit card processor should be walking this journey with you hand-in-hand. The right partner will have solutions ranging from start-up to global eCommerce sites, for just about any size of business too.
Why is payment security still important?
Fraud takes many forms despite the implementation of EMV. While data breaches have become commonplace news and have continued at a double digit growth rate, consumers are concerned about credit card security. The top consumer complaint to the Federal Trade Commission for the past 15 years has been identity theft. Protecting customer data, and thereby your business, should be a top priority for all businesses.
Security features should be incorporated into any merchant account but there are variables within payment providers. Payment security will also differ depending on how you accept payments which is why it’s important to discuss these details with your payment processor. A basic starting point will be ensuring that payments have point-to-point encryption but that’s just the beginning. It will be necessary to understand some payment security language in order to better understand the strengths of different payment processors. You can learn more about security here.
What does data have to do with payments?
Everything. Data will help you say goodbye to guesswork and hello to smart growth. While you may initially be paralyzed by the thought of receiving too much information, there are tools to help you break it down into digestible pieces of information that can help you grow your business. Twenty years ago, businesses were left to guess at how to get and sustain momentum in the marketplace.
In today’s world of digital commerce, payment providers are able to provide information needed to help businesses getting customers coming back more often as well as monitoring online reputations at a time when negative reviews can hurt your business in a real way. Understanding the local marketplace can now be at your fingertips even within a global world. That’s one way to make your business mighty powerful.
Is there more?
While there will always be options that allow you to sign up for an out-of-the-box package, there’s much more value to be gained with having a merchant account that’s customized for your business—putting the right solutions in and around your payments to make them work best for you. The best gifts are the ones with multiple items inside the box. The right partner with the best security, mixed with additional value added features such as gift cards and loyalty solutions allow your business to have one seamless package with the right reporting at your disposal. Consider taking advantage of every applicable item available within a merchant account. Customized doesn’t mean more expensive or harder; it means smarter. Learn how to get started with the right solution for your business.