How to Provide the Electronic Payment Options Your Customers Want

In an economy where consumers prefer debit cards and credit cards over checks and cash, accepting only non-electronic payments just doesn’t cut it anymore.

To reach the greatest number of customers, you must accept electronic payments. We’ve consolidated the myriad options into the most popular choices among small business owners, whether you own a storefront, home business or fully online shop.

Before You Begin

All credit card companies charge a per-sale fee, usually between 2.5 percent and 5.5 percent. No matter what technology you use, you will pay for the privilege of accepting credit cards.

To compensate for the lost revenue, most businesses raise prices accordingly. A price adjustment that small is, in most customers’ minds, a drop in the bucket. You probably won’t hear a word about it.

Merchant Accounts

For many decades, the only way to accept plastic involved opening a merchant account through a bank or lending institution. And, for many small businesses, merchant accounts remain the best route.

The bank creates an account to accept all your credit card transactions and provides you with the credit card swiper. They’ll collect the credit card fees. Merchant accounts are a great option if:

· You experience high-volume sales at your registers

· You want a personal relationship with your vendor

· You’re worried new technology may be outdated by the time you install it

Computer-Attached Credit Card Swipers

With products like the USB Swiper and Barcodes Inc., you can plug in a credit card swiper directly into your Mac or PC. Many of these companies also provide online payment options.

If you’re not interested in finding a bank to create a merchant account and prefer working from your computer, this option might be right up your alley.

Smartphone-Attached Credit Card Swipers

Your smartphone could be the answer to accepting credit cards. If you go this route, you’ll need to make sure the swiper and app will work with your phone.

Some of the most popular apps and swipers include Square Card Reader, Intuit GoPayment Mobile Credit Card Processing and Verifone’s PAYware Mobile. Although a multitude of mobile payment options are available.

If you have a storefront or online business that doesn’t conduct large sales volumes, you might want to turn your smartphone into a “swipephone.”

Online-Only Payments

Instead of using a credit card swiper or your smartphone to type in credit card numbers from online sales (something most consumers won’t be thrilled with), you can integrate an online payment service into your website.

PayPal has been the most popular choice for small businesses for years. If you haven’t built your website yet, you might want to investigate products like AccountEdge’s Enstore or Volusion that streamline creating ecommerce websites with online payment already included.

No matter what you decide, make sure you vet the electronic payments option thoroughly so you understand all fees, processes and technology involved. If there’s one thing that’s more of a hassle than purchasing and installing a credit card system, it’s returning and uninstalling a credit card system.

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