In today’s market, accepting credit cards is imperative for almost any business. More consumers are turning to credit cards wherever they shop, be it their local brick-and-mortar grocery stores or online specialty shops.
You know that, as a business, you need to offer easy payment solutions for your customers, and putting credit card processing solutions in place is one important way to offer ease and convenience in making payments.
Whether you’re thinking about implementing a credit card processing solution for the very first time or you’re reviewing your current agreement, it’s important to remember the basics so you can consider the best possible solution for your business.
Location, Location, Location
Where are you accepting credit card payments? If you have a brick-and-mortar store, you will need a different set-up than if you are operating an online store.
There are three primary places payments are made: in a store (point of sale), online, and mobile. Mobile solutions allow your smartphone to become the card reader, providing a virtual terminal. These options are ideal for merchants that move around, such as those offering deliveries, making service calls or selling via in-field reps.
Merchants that have a physical storefront will need a card-reader terminal, which can be stationary or mobile.
Merchants that operate online shops require payment gateways and shopping carts. If your company does business online and in-store, then you will need solutions for both shopping venues. In all cases, you will need to set up merchant accounts to accept the payments.
The main reason merchants avoid accepting credit cards is due to the fees associated with processing the payments. This can discourage small businesses, especially if they do not have high sales volumes.
In general, you will encounter three types of fees: a percentage of the transaction, a fixed per-transaction fee and your set-up and service fees. The solution and fee structure that works best for you will depend on the types of transactions your business normally does. For example, a business that manages a number of transactions averaging around $25 does not want to pay high per-transaction fees. A business that normally sees transactions that value in the hundreds or thousands of dollars does not want to pay high transaction percentages.
Always ask about the fees, including set-up fees and monthly or ongoing fees associated with service, as well as the transaction fees. Will you be required to purchase or lease hardware? Look for providers that offer credit card processing solutions with fee structure options, so you can select an option that best reflects your business.
Credit card payment often seems instantaneous: The customers swipe their cards or enter their information during checkout, the transactions complete and the customers go on their way. But actually getting the funds you have collected is another story.
Different providers have different processing times. Depending on your provider, you might receive your payment in as little as two business days; other providers can take up to a week to actually release the funds. Some providers offering online payments can take even longer; it is not uncommon for online transactions to be held up to 30 days! This is an anti-fraud measure, but it can also spell cash-flow problems for small businesses.
Look for a provider that has strong security but that will also process your payments quickly to keep your funds flowing.
No matter where you are doing sales—in the field, at your store, or online—you need to know your transactions are secure. More than that, your customers want to know their transactions are safe! Be sure to investigate what kind of security measures your credit card processing solutions offer.