No matter how small your business is or how limited your product line may be, you simply cannot afford to accept cash only. In an era when people are far more likely to be carrying a smartphone than a wallet, you need to embrace today’s buying and payment trends. Doing so can help you to provide what your customers want in the way that is most comfortable for them. Once you learn how payment processing works, you will be ready to go to the next level.
SET UP A MERCHANT ACCOUNT
You might already have a business account with your bank, but a merchant services account is separate from that. When you set up this account, you make an agreement with a payment processor and a merchant bank that is used to facilitate and settle credit and debit card transactions.
CHOOSE YOUR HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE
In order to accept customer payments, you need to provide them with the hardware and software that enables them to have their debit or card information read, securely transmitted, authorized and processed. To make this happen, your equipment as well as the software that runs it must meet all of the security standards imposed by the payment card industry. This protects all of the parties involved from fraud. The hardware you choose can vary widely according to your needs. Many businesses still prefer stationary point-of-sale terminals that are generally placed at the register for easy checkout. Other options include mobile card readers and software that can be used with smartphones and tablets, enabling transactions to be processed throughout the store or off the premises. So-called “virtual terminals” are ideal in situations when a customer’s card is not present for the transaction, including online and telephone payments. By using your desktop or laptop computer as a virtual terminal, you can exponentially expand the flexibility of your business. Augment it with mobile credit card processing, and you can employ your smartphone or tablet just as you would a countertop terminal. All you need is a card reader and an easy-to-install app to be on your way.
CHOOSE YOUR SOFTWARE
Regardless of whether customers are paying at a countertop terminal in person, over the phone or online, your software enables you to keep track of all the details. Your merchant account provider can show you the full spectrum of the options that are available to you, ensuring that you choose the type that is best for your business now and in the future.
You can’t afford to turn customers away because you don’t accept credit/debit cards. Bring your business into the 21st century by shopping around and exploring the wide variety of merchant account provider, equipment and software choices that are available to you. Taking the plunge may feel daunting at first, but you will be swimming before you know it.