Successful businesses capitalize on meeting customers’ needs. In today’s marketplace, accepting mobile and even online payments is essential to remaining competitive. Whether you already accept mobile payments, or are looking to invest in this technology, make sure you consider the following best practices. You will not only be meeting your customers’ wishes, but you inevitably will see an increase in your bottom line.
Embrace the technology
Many people fear the unknown. If you’ve never accepted payments on a mobile device, it might seem intimidating. The good news is that this technology has advanced in the past few years. You might be surprised at how easy it is to choose, and set up the equipment, as well as how much your customers will appreciate the option.
Discover your options
From your accounting software to your credit card company or banking institution, the vendors you already work with have preferred methods for accepting credit card payments. These preferred methods can save you time and even affect your bottom line as fees may be lower for these over other solutions. For example, Intuit QuickBooks™ has mobile and online solutions already built into the software that can integrate with your bank account and even update your books as payments are made.
Pro tip: If using QuickBooks, also look into the “Pay Now” option on invoices, which enables emailing invoices to customers so they can pay them online.
Alternatively, there are many stand-alone solutions that can connect to your bank account and be used on most mobile devices. Among other vendors, solutions such as PayPal® and Square should be on your evaluation list. While researching, assess information from independent sources, not information sponsored by or contributed to by one of the providers you’re researching. Additionally, even if a solution states it will work with your banking institution, be sure to contact your bank to confirm before signing up for the service.
Also, take all payment processing activities into consideration when looking for options. If you introduce new technology to your business, are there other technologies with which it should integrate? Are there other payment processes you can eliminate after implementing this new method?
What to compare
Fees vary when it comes to payment solutions so make sure to ask a lot of questions. Ask if there are fixed, recurring fees each month as many solutions do not have these any longer. Ask about the processing and transaction fees as some vendors include not only a percentage of the transaction (between 2-4 percent of the total transaction amount) but also have a per-transaction cost (such as $.25 per swipe). Also, some vendors charge more based on the type of card or method of payment, like manual card entry.
Compare the type of technology used within the device to scan the card as this is an area that is always evolving. It’s more than just a simple swipe device these days and using a solution that does not accept EMV Chip Cards, named after its original developers (Europay, MasterCard® and Visa®), puts your business at greater risk. If you’re looking to procure new equipment now, the cost for this type of acceptance device is minimal –usually less than $150. If you already have card acceptance equipment, plan to invest in this type of device in the near future.
Emerging as the newest technology, some devices even allow for Near Field Communication (NFC) payments like Apple Pay or Android Pay. It makes sense to consider what your customers are using, and what you may have been asked to offer before choosing a device type.
Another comparison point is the types of payment the solution will accept. Some solutions accept credit cards only, whereas others include alternatives like ACH debits, gift certificates, and more.
Other considerations in choosing the vendor are the time it takes for the funds to deposit into your account, what mobile devices are compatible with it, and what support is available from the vendor.
Once a solution is chosen, implementation is one of the easiest steps. Even the least tech-savvy are surprised with the ease of setup. Choosing a vendor with good support ensures the help of customer service representatives from the vendor during this process and in the future. Also, make sure to have a contact available at your bank or any other integration point (such as QuickBooks) to finalize everything.
Although the setup is usually painless, you are not exempt from additional responsibilities, and there are some important items you do not want to miss:
- Take advantage of any fraud-watch tools provided by your vendors.
- Keep technology up-to-date including payment devices, mobile devices, and software within.
- Secure your devices with effective passcodes.
- Do not download questionable applications or jailbreak/root your mobile device.
- Never store any credit card data.
In addition, train all those using the company payment technology on how to use it and how to help the customers use it as well. For example, if you accept the NFC payments, it is emerging technology so be prepared to help the customer understand how to use it as well.
Ready, Set, Go!
Once your solution is implemented, you’re ready to begin accepting payments. Make sure you’ve tested the equipment before using it with a customer. Also be sure to know what to do if the system or your device fails – so that you are prepared if needed. Finally, make sure to promote to your customers that you have this technology. Not only will having this ease the payment process for all involved, but it will even give you a competitive advantage.
Jodi O’Toole is Director of IT and Web Development at the National Wood Flooring Association in St. Louis. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.