Where Your Small Business Should Focus in the New YearCarolyn Crummey
PAYMENT PROCESSING: Letting the customer choose how to pay.
Checking out at the grocery store the other day, I was informed that I was the first to use their newly installed point-of sale (POS) payment system. It reminded me of being a little girl and going grocery shopping with my mother, watching her write a check, then waiting as the cashier called in and manually wrote an authorization code for the back of the check. We’ve come a long way!
As technology evolves, so will payment processing. It will not only offer new methods of payment but also continually enhance consumer protection from privacy theft and other cyber threats. Just one example is the new requirement finally making its way to the United States in 2015, that all businesses who accept credit cards must become EMV compliant.
A 2014 survey from Accenture revealed key facts about mobile payments that no business should ignore:
- 40 percent of North American consumers have used smartphones to make a merchant payment. This number is up 16 percent from 2012;
- 80 percent of North American consumers use digital currencies at least weekly to make payments. This usage is expected to increase by at least 10 percent by 2020;
- Cash transactions are expected to decrease by 12 percent by 2020
It’s quite clear that today’s consumer is looking for the most convenient method for them when paying. The challenge for small businesses is that what is convenient for one may not be the right fit for all. Small businesses need to adapt and adopt various methods of payment processing, looking at it from the perspective of their current and potential customers.
Investments in point-of-sale (POS) systems and payment processing technologies that allow you to accept credit cards as well as more advanced payments, such as Google Wallet, Apply Pay and perhaps even Bitcoin, will pay off (pun intended) if they resonate with your consumers and provide an additional convenience they cannot necessarily find elsewhere.
TIP: Also consider electronic delivery options for traditional physical goods when it makes sense. This allows consumers the benefit of instant gratification and access, saving you manufacturing costs in the process. eBooks, recorded media and electronic gift certificates with redemption codes are just some of the innovative delivery methods that have transformed industries overnight.
Here is how one smart hustling business is planning on upping their game when it comes to accepting payments:
e.j. blooms is a floral design company located in one of the most competitive markets in the United States: Manhattan, New York. They design exquisite arrangements for events, hotels and restaurants and have been successful in securing preferred vendor status with many key accounts and clients in a heavily contested and highly competitive market.
Putting the wants for improved customer convenience in payment up front, Elisabeth Santana, co-founder and CEO of e.j. blooms, has put a huge focus on adapting to near field communication (NFC) payments. While already available on Samsung and other Android-based smartphones, Apple more recently introduced Apple Pay as NFC solution to the ubiquitous iPhone
“Always focused on leading in customer convenience, we knew we had to offer this payment method,” said Santana. “We know that when Apple embraces such a technology, it generally moves the market, and we want to continue to be at the forefront.”
While Santana and her company have been using PayPal for most of their payment processing, she plans on fully vetting additional payment options in 2015 so she can best serve her clients and offer them a diversity of methods that meets their unique needs.