Choosing a Payments Platform
Retailers looking to upgrade their payment systems can be overwhelmed by the large number of merchant service providers and options to choose from. At a high level, retailers should start the process of choosing a new payments platform by assessing their needs and goals and evaluating how well the services offered by merchant service providers can help their business grow and thrive.
Success in the retail sector today often hinges on factors such as cash flow, customer satisfaction and actionable data insights. The right payments platform can help increase each of these critical business success factors. Toward that end, retailers should look for a payments system that offers fast processing options, a comprehensive range of payment methods, and business management analytics.
For most businesses, including retailers, the issue of when they receive funds after a sale is an important consideration. Not all merchant service providers offer the same quick access to funds. In fact, funding processing with some merchant service providers can take between two days to three days. Waiting on funds can be difficult and challenging, especially if a retailer needs to order inventory, pay bills or meet payroll. Retailers should look for a merchant services provider that offers same-day funding programs. Same-day funding can reduce the headache of managing cash flow, allowing retailers to access funds when they need them to keep their businesses growing and thriving.
Comprehensive Range of Payment Methods
Consumer expectations for convenience are continuing to increase. For retailers, this means offering a comprehensive range of payment methods to provide a frictionless customer experience. These payment methods should include the following:
- EMV: EMV terminals, which are pre-programmed to accept chip cards and Apple/Samsung Pay, should be an integral part of payment platforms for retailers. EMV cards or “chip” cards are a more secure form of payment for customers. EMV-enabled terminals allow customers to dip their cards instead of swiping. The chip on the card encrypts card information, so it’s more difficult for thieves to steal cardholder data. According to Visa, merchants that accept chip cards witnessed a 76 percent decrease in card present (CP) counterfeit payment fraud since the U.S. payments industry began the shift to EMV chip in 2011.
- NFC: NFC payments, or “near field communication,” refer to payment options such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, and other contactless mobile wallets. With a growing awareness of this option as a convenient and secure way to pay, NFC payments are a popular form of payment across industries. Contactless payments are expected to generate close to $190 billion in transaction value in the U.S. by 2021. A 2019 survey by Statista also found that 29 percent of Americans would like to pay with their smartphones all the time. This number will only continue to grow as we see an increase in digital wallets and alternative payment methods.
- Online Payments: According to Digital Commerce 360, “consumers spent $517.36 billion online with U.S. merchants in 2018, up 15 percent from $449.88 billion spent the year prior …” Retailers that want to increase their percentage of e-commerce sales need a method of quickly and securely accepting payments online. Additionally, to reduce the rate of cart abandonment and allow consumers to check out with ease, retailers should ensure their checkout page accepts as many forms of payment as possible.
Real-time data and analytics can help retailers better plan for and manage the growth of their businesses. Retailers should look for a payment platform that offers an online dashboard of accurate, real-time data and business analytics. These platforms give them insights into their business, such as lifetime value of a customer, percentage of new vs. returning clientele, peak hours of transactions, and more. The right payment system should also easily integrate with business software retailers are already using. With a comprehensive payment platform, retailers can better monitor the overall state of their business, track transactions in real time, develop better customer experience programs, create new products, and introduce customer discount programs.
Today, when most every transaction leaves a digital footprint, retailers should be using a system that tracks data and analytics to help them run their business more effectively. When retailers can act on the data gathered from an updated payment system, they have access to valuable insight to help them establish benchmarks, set goals and develop strategies for growth.
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