Merchant services are the services and solutions businesses rely on to process payments from customers. Large enterprises and small businesses alike leverage merchant services for reliable and efficient payment processing. Sourcing the best merchant services for a specific business need starts with knowing what is available. Here is what merchant services providers help businesses manage today.
Card payment processing
Most people equate merchant services with the tools your business needs to process debit or credit card payments.
These services enable you to offer convenient and multiple methods of payment for your customers. For your business, a merchant services provider will ensure that your customer’s payment methods are secure, and that your team can rely on a solution that’s easy to use and efficient. Behind the solution itself, the provider will service the technology that verifies payments are authorized before being deposited into your bank account. This keeps your business secure from fraud, bounced checks, and other failed methods of payment.
Many merchant services providers also facilitate secure online payments through a website. In doing so, a business will likely use an online payment portal with payment forms from the merchant services provider they are working with. Behind a portal or payment form is a payment gateway; the technology that connects payment systems and securely communicates information between parties involved in the payment processing. A payment gateway typically is provided alongside a merchant.
Both online payment portals and forms allow businesses, like physical therapists or freelance graphic designers, to accept payments for invoices. Depending on what the merchant services provider allows, automatic and recurring payments may also be possible for businesses that need installment billing.
These systems ensure small and large businesses alike get paid easily and with little effort.
> Supporting Post: Payment Gateways for Online Businesses
Point of sale systems
In addition to straightforward payment processing, most merchant services providers also offer full-scale point of sale (POS) systems. These two services complement each other, both aiming to make transactions easier for a business and its customers.
Comprehensive point of sale systems come with both in-store and mobile payment tools. They also allow you to streamline certain parts of your business, like:
- Tracking inventory and sales over time
- Managing employee information
- Reconciling tips and commissions
POS systems may also pair with additional features like branded gift cards or customer loyalty programs.
Also commonly provided within merchant services is a merchant account the provider manages. There are two different types of merchant services accounts: dedicated and aggregated accounts. The main difference is in how many entities “share” the account.
Dedicated accounts work directly for your business. The money provided in transactions, less processing fees, are deposited directly into your bank account. The provider can correct errors, react to potential fraud, and debit your account for customer “chargeback” claims on your behalf.
The only company processing credit card transactions through a dedicated merchant account will be yours. As a result, you are in full control. For many business owners, this type of security can offer peace of mind.
On the other hand, aggregated accounts (such as those provided by PayPal) use a single merchant account to provide credit card processing for a group of entities.
The money provided in transactions will go to the service provider first before being deposited into your bank account at the provider’s discretion. The disadvantage of using aggregated accounts is that they have the power to make and change the rules on their platform. For this reason, it’s important to pay close attention to the contract terms of these types of accounts.
How to Select the Best Merchant Services Provider
Merchant services can and do differ among providers depending on what they offer a business. While some may handle only merchant accounts and nothing else, others may service end-to-end payment processing. Ideally, a business is able to work with one merchant services provider for all or a majority of their needs. With a lot of options out there, it is helpful to look for providers that not only meet solution needs, but also make working with them a good experience.
Look for providers that do the following:
- Manages multiple services for your business: As noted, a provider who can “do it all” can help your business now and as it grows over time. They can also streamline and automate some of your day-to-day tasks as a business owner.
- Takes your business seriously: Your business is your top priority, and your merchant services provider should feel the same way. Find one that will stand with you over the years and provides a designated point person for your account.
- Focuses on security: Work with a merchant services provider that can ensure your customers’ information is safe and secure. Additionally, they should protect your business with high protection standards.
- Provides always-on communication: When you’re in a pinch, you need an expert customer service team who can answer your questions or concerns, by online chat, email, or one-on-one phone calls.
- Delivers great value for cost: Find a provider that is honest and up front about the cost of their services. Fees should be both reasonable and predictable.
- Offers flexibility: Flexibility is often important, especially for new business owners. Consider a company that has no contract or can offer you shorter contract lengths. Once you’re confident in the services they provide, you can consider entering into a longer contract.
- Has a great reputation: A great reputation goes a long way. Look into what other business owners are saying about the provider you’re considering.
In order to compare these providers, look at your specific needs now and potential ones in the future. Take some time to jot down features that are important to you and your business.
Whether it’s communication, reliability, additional features, price, or a variety of other factors, your top concerns should be addressed. Keep that list handy as you research providers for your business.
Learn More About PaySimple
At PaySimple, we combine our expertise in merchant services with a team that is always ready to help you and your business. We provide dedicated merchant accounts so you’re in control, and help you set up reliable and straightforward payment tools for your customers.
Beyond this, we’re your partner in business, ensuring that we stay on the cutting-edge of consumer habits so you can always offer the options your customers want. That’s what sets us apart from other merchant services providers.
Visit PaySimple.com to learn more or start your free trial today: