As Americans continue to carry less and less cash, businesses must continue to be prepared to accept any types of payments for their goods and services. Despite the variety these days, the process is the same: capture a payment, authorize a payment and settle a payment. Let’s look at three cashless payment options you may have or want to expand into using in order to ensure you get the sale.
Credit card machines are nothing new for point-of-sale payments. For small businesses just starting out, you’ll need to open a merchant account and select a merchant card processor in order to authorize and settle a payment. When selecting a merchant card processor, consider that fees will vary depending upon the type of card being used — Visa, MasterCard, American Express, etc. — as well as whether the card is a premium or a standard card. Also consider the timeframe for fund distribution, which ranges from same-day to up to five business days for American Express. Ask your card processor for specifics on how to reduce your overall fees while receiving your funds as quickly as possible.
In addition to a merchant account and processor, you’ll need an actual credit card terminal for capturing payments. Consider purchasing this equipment rather than leasing to save money in the long run.
An alternative to machine captured point-of-sale card payments is using a mobile device: either a smartphone or a tablet, enabled with a card-capturing attachment like Square, which essentially acts like a credit card terminal that you can take anywhere. This option allows a business to be mobile, since all you need is a mobile device and Wifi. Using mobile payments, especially if you sell products on the go, will allow you to keep the money rolling in wherever you may be.
While your existing merchant card processor may support payments made with a mobile device, be sure to double check. Ask detailed questions about their solutions and their advice on PCI compliance when processing payments with a smartphone or tablet.
If you’re an Ecommerce business, you have many options when it comes to your online payment platform. You may decide to use a third party vendor like PayPal or Google Wallet and outsource the process. Be sure you understand the fees involved as well as the timing of funds distributed. This can vary significantly from almost immediate disbursement to more than a month depending on the service you use.
The other option is, rather than using an outside vendor, you may decide to control the entire customer experience by creating a hosted page to process payments.
Both options have pros and cons to consider such as types of fees and data security compliance. You’ll have to decide what is right for your business. For example, if your business follows a subscription business model, you will probably want a hosted page that automates these monthly recurring payments.
Regardless of how you decide to set up your online payment system, you’ll need to select a payment service provider. Many banks offer this service, making it easy to get all your payments processed by one vendor.
Capturing, authorizing and settling payments is more than just opening a cash register these days but with the right vendors and know-how, small businesses can be sure they’re prepared to take money in whatever form it comes.