Accepting electronic payments is already the norm for many businesses, and more companies are getting on board all the time. According to Business Insider, by 2023, e-commerce in the U.S. is set to exceed $1 trillion by 2023.
If you want your small business to keep up, you’ll want to work with a payment processing company, but make sure you get one that meets your individual needs. Here are some of the features to focus on when exploring your options.
What Is a Payment Processor?
Before looking at the specifics of payment processors, it helps to understand what they are and why they’re important.
Payment processing systems handle all the details necessary to process an electronic payment. This includes encrypting the information, connecting with the customer’s bank, and depositing money in your account.
Methods of payment have evolved over time. Some people still pay by cash or check, but you could also accept:
- Credit or debit cards
- Automated Clearing House (ACH) or bank payments
- Contactless pay (such as Apple Pay)
You’ll need a payment processor that supports the types of payments you accept. This should also integrate with your point of sale system, which will let you easily keep track of your payments.
When choosing a payment processor, one of the first things to look at are the processing fees, including any hidden fees. You won’t be able to avoid them altogether, but you can minimize the amount.
You should expect standard transaction fees, often 2-3%, but how much you pay beyond that depends on the pricing model. You’ll find options for a few models:
- Subscription: A monthly fee based on the size of your business, plus a flat fee per transaction
- Interchange-plus: A fixed fee, typically $0.10 to $0.50, as well as a small percentage of the purchase
- Flat-rate: A flat monthly fee and fixed transaction-fee
- Tiered: Credit card transactions are classified as qualified, mid-qualified, and non-qualified, and fees depend on the category
Note that qualified fees are the lowest, but they often only apply for certain cards that are physically swiped in a store or terminal.
The fees don’t end there, though. You should also look for any fees related to equipment, missing monthly quotas, early termination penalties, or anything listed as “additional fees.” You want to make sure you’re aware of everything before you make a commitment.
You can also consider looking at ways of easing the burden of those fees. Consider options like surcharges, cash discounts, and convenience fees to balance out all those processing fees.
Another consideration is online payment methods for small business you’ll be using.
For a physical store location, consider if you’ll need a terminal for a countertop checkout, or if a mobile card reader is a better option. Even when you support in-person purchases, you may also want to allow purchases online, which means looking for a payment processor that supports both options.
Additionally, if you support credit card payments, you could also explore allowing contactless payment, or transfers from an ACH system.
Companies that have a subscription model need a system that allows recurring payments, and you could think about one that has discounts for repeat business.
It’s also important to remember that customers have different preferences for payment types. Some may always want to use their credit card, while others refuse to use it online, and if someone doesn’t see their preferred payment method as an option, they’ll often choose not to buy.
This is why it’s important to support multiple payment options. When you do, you’ll see an increase in the number of customers who complete their transaction with you.
When choosing payment companies, security is a critical factor. You need to be able to assure your customers that their sensitive information won’t get into the wrong hands.
Since any company that processes credit cards needs to be PCI-compliant, you’ll want to confirm that compliance with the payment processor. You should also look at the methods they use to keep the data safe, such as point-to-point encryption and tokenization.
Fraud protection services are also important. Find out how the processor handles any suspicious-looking activity, as well as how they respond to any customer complaints of fraudulent charges.
Finally, the best online payment processor is one with excellent customer support.
When you first get started, you want to make sure the setup goes smoothly. Ideally, the process should be straightforward, but it helps to have support in case you have questions, or something goes wrong.
Once you’re up and running, while you don’t want to think about your processor having problems or going off-line, it can happen. In those cases, each minute of delay in getting back online means you lose business, and if it happens in the middle of the day, those losses can get high very quickly.
Even if you have problems in off-business hours, you don’t want to wait until the next day to get things back up in running. That’s why you should look for a provider with 24/7 support.
You should also make sure you can talk to someone when you have a problem. Email works fine for smaller problems, but in any critical situation, you need access to a live support agent help you resolve it.
Your Payment Processing System Is Key
Getting paid on a timely basis is critical for any business, and keeping those payments secure is critical for your customers. You need a robust payment processing solution to keep you up and running, and your customers happy, so be sure to evaluate your options carefully before deciding on which system to use.
Are you looking for a good payment processing system? Check out SeamlessChex solutions to find the right fit for your business.