You’ve started (or are starting) a business and recognize the all-important need to accept debit cards and credit cards. Now what? There are seemingly thousands of providers with hundreds of different gadgets to accept payment they’re hosted online or plug into your computer, phone, iPad, or internet connection. What should you get?
Although it’s easy to be lured in with low teaser rates and instant setup, after speaking to thousands of businesses that have wound up with an ill-fitted solution, I wanted to provide some assessment questions so you be sure to establish your business needs and goals first. Here are three critical aspects of accepting credit cards you’ll want to keep in mind to cover your bases before you begin to price shop.
- Access to Pay — How do you want to collect, or how do your customers (clients, members, donors, students) want to be able to pay you? Run through this list of options below and check off the ways that apply to your business. Then, reference the tool or solution needed on the right so you’re armed with these terms when shopping for credit card processors.Key Note: If you’ve checked off multiple items in the list, make sure to ask if these are offered in one integrated solution when shopping. If they’re separate, you could be in a world of hurt with manual reconciliation of accounts or extra charges to try to integrate them later.
|Access to Payment||Solution or Tool Needed|
|In person||If at your office or store, a USB credit card reader that connects to your computer.
A register product can also offer this, but do not typically offer adjoining functionality like that listed below.
|Over the phone||Payment Gateway (or Virtual Terminal)|
|On your website||Web Payment Forms|
|Click-to-pay invoice||Electronic Invoicing with click-to-pay button ? likely connected to a secure web payment form|
(in person, not at your office)
|Mobile app and credit card reader|
|On an automatic schedule||Recurring billing with a securely stored customer payment account|
- Payment Reconciliation: Are your customers one-time purchasers, or recurring?
If one-time and your business is more of a retail format, a register solution will likely make the most sense. Register solutions will process transactions in person and maintain no record of the payment tied to a customer account. You’ll see individual payments and aggregated totals, but no client information.However, if you have recurring customers or clients, you’ll likely want to have a history of transactions tied to the client record. A register product will not cover this need for you instead, you’ll want a solution that contains a customer management component, or mini-CRM if you will. This will allow you to track all payments and invoices (no matter when or how they were paid) back to the client, so accounts are automatically reconciled.
- Receipts and Follow-ups: How would you like to handle receipts?
If you’re collecting payments on-the-spot for purchases, you’re likely handing out receipts at the point of sale. For this method, a simple receipt printer with your credit card reader will do the trick. However, if your customers are paying via invoice, on a web payment form, over the phone, with a mobile card reader, or on a recurring billing schedule, you’ll need another method to get that receipt to your customer email. This is the most common format of receipt delivery and what customers have come to expect. Make sure to look for a solution that can email receipts to clients automatically after every transaction.Bonus Tip: Some solutions that offer email receipts also offer automated email payment reminders (for bills upcoming due). If this is a feature of interest, make sure to ask when comparison shopping.
Once you’ve established your needs and goals in accepting credit cards, you’ll be prepared with the right questions to ask when shopping your options.
PaySimple is the industry-leading provider of billing, payment acceptance, and customer management solutions for SMBs in the service sector. To learn more about its solutions or see a free demo, visit http://paysimple.com.