It wasn’t that long ago that as a business owner, your payment options were limited. At a bricks and mortar store, there was the choice of a traditional card reader terminal for taking card payments, and businesses in the service trade were usually limited to cash or checks. These limited options put service businesses and trade show sellers at a distinct disadvantage due to the inability to accept credit cards, but fortunately times have changed
The payments industry has modernized. As well as the more traditional methods of accepting payments, there is a new generation of credit card readers, which are making it easier than ever to accept credit card payments on the go.
Different Types of Card Readers
Aside from traditional countertop terminals, there are several types you can consider:
- B2B Terminals. If you serve large volumes of B2B clients, and don’t have a B2B terminal, then like many merchants, you could be paying too much in interchange fees.
- Ecommerce. Payment gateways provide a secure environment for customers to make payments. They are used on websites, but they can also be used for transactions made via mobile devices. Payment gateways also have anti-fraud measures in place to help protect the merchant.
- POS Systems. These include a cash register and often a credit card reader as well. POS systems are multifunctional and allow you to manage inventory, print invoices, and they help to make the accounting side of your business easier.
The New Generation of Card Readers
One of the most significant advances in card readers has been the introduction of mobile/wireless devices, and smart phones can also be used as credit card readers.
Mobile card readers offer a convenient payment method for both the consumer and the merchant, and they are well suited to merchants who conduct their business on the move, such as Mobile hairdressers/beauticians, pet groomers, tradesmen, or sellers that regularly visit trade shows.
However, mobile card readers can also be used in your physical business to allow employees to take payments and orders on the go, which leads to greater efficiency, and it can also add to the overall customer experience you provide.
Moreover, newer card readers can often cater for newer payment methods, such as Apple Pay. In 2016, most of the contactless payments in the United States were made by Apple Pay, and consumers are showing an increased appetite for making payments this way.
A mobile card reader can be obtained via your merchant services provider or they can be purchased independently. Depending on the model, some are available free of charge, however, you’ll need to look at how cost effective it is in terms of transaction/ongoing fees.
What Are the Main Benefits of Accepting Credit Cards?
As detailed below, there are several ways your business can benefit from accepting credit cards.
- Consumers love the convenience and security of buying on credit; If you can’t accept credit cards, then you risk losing customers.
- Research shows that consumers tend to spend more when they pay with credit cards, which could result in an increase in your profits. It also allows buyers to make impulse purchases, even if they don’t have any spare cash on them.
- It gives your business greater flexibility by allowing you to accept payments over the phone as well as on the move.
- Credit cards clear quicker than check payments, so it helps to improve the cash flow of your business.
- As a services business or someone who sells at tradeshows, being able to accept card payments gives you a more professional image, and gives physical businesses greater flexibility.
However, finding the reader that is right for you will depend on the individual requirements of your business.
Choosing the Right Card Reader for Your Business
To narrow down your choices, begin by asking yourself what you want from a card reader. For instance, if you regularly sell at trade show, you own a services business, you’ll want a mobile credit card reader. Alternatively, if you run a catering business you might want a multi-functional option like a point of sales system.
However, there are some further requirements to consider when choosing a card reader. For instance:
- What are the upfront costs and are the ongoing/monthly fees/swipe fees affordable for your particular business?
- Will the card reader meet your business’s current and future needs?
- Do you need a card reader that offers flexibility so you can use it on the move and in the day-to-day running of your business?
- Is it compatible with any existing software your business might already be using?
- Is it already PCI compliant, or will you need to deal with that separately?
- What type of internet connectivity does the card reader use? Is it wireless?
- Is the variety of credit card/debit cards you can accept limited or will it allow you to accept a broad range of payments?
The Importance of EMV Compliance
The change to EMV is well underway in the United States; many merchants have already made the switch and the rest are being actively encouraged to change over to an EMV compliant card reader. If they don’t, merchants can find themselves liable for the cost of fraudulent transactions, when previously the liability would have fallen on the card issuer.
Some retailers are reluctant to invest in an EMV compliant card reader while they can still swipe cards. However, if you are upgrading, or you are investing in a credit card reader for the first time, check if the card reader is EMV compliant.
The way consumers shop has changed, and the new generation of credit card readers cater to these demands. However, with so many different choices to select from, it can be difficult to determine which is right for your business.
If you remain uncertain over which method best suits your needs, speak to your chosen merchant services provider, who can help you to decide which will be the most suitable solution for your individual business’s needs.