Brick-and-mortar is hurting right now. Having to shutter doors to help curb the spread of a global pandemic isn’t easy. Regardless, companies are finding ways to conduct business, even in adverse times. But, they may have forgotten to update their merchant account to reflect the changes.
The world of retail will likely never be the same once we come out on the other side of the Covid-19 crisis. There’s no doubt the retail and hospitality/leisure industries have been of the hardest hit during this unprecedented time. Many have been told to shutter their doors and halt conducting business with no indication of when they can open again for business as usual.
In fact, there probably will never be “business as usual” again. Entrepreneurs are very resourceful. You have to close your doors for now, but you may not have to stop making sales. Business owners have had to adjust how they conduct business, when they do business, and even where they conduct their business. Still, businesses all across the nation have come up with unique and creative ways to continue to serve their customers.
Today we’d like to talk about some of the ways merchants can keep afloat during this time and how the changes can affect their merchant account. In many cases, your merchant account is where you would need to start before you begin implementing new ways to sell your products. Luckily, there are great ways merchants can update their merchant account to reflect the new ways they are conducting business.
Time to tune up your merchant account and gateway to better serve your business.
Your merchant account is more feature-rich than you probably realize. Each merchant account comes with a complex set of features that can be turned on. As you’re implementing new ways to continue offering your products and services don’t forget to consider the role your merchant account plays.
Maybe you own a retail store transitioning to eCommerce and/or mobile commerce. Maybe you have a restaurant and need to transition to delivery or curbside pickup. Either way, you’ll need to make sure your merchant account is ready to accept payments in new ways. You’ll also want to make sure you have all of the necessary solutions to accept these new types of payments. If you are looking to accept mobile and eCommerce payments you will need things you may not already have such as mobile card readers and payment gateway access.
Update your merchant account to better utilize the features included to ease the pain and help create new ways to serve your customers.
For example, did you know customers don’t have to be in front of you to take payments through your POS gateway? Your Virtual Terminal can be used to take over-the-phone payments as well. It just needs to be turned on, which is an easy activation by your processor. Keep in mind it does cost more to hand key in credit card information into your terminal. If you can, it is better to turn on the virtual terminal within your gateway in order to accept over the phone payments without increasing your overall processing costs.
For merchants who don’t work with a POS system and gateway, there are features you will want to employ to help keep costs down while making hand keyed transactions. When you hand key in credit card information you want to make sure you use Address Verification Services (AVS) with each transaction. AVS requires you to enter the address that is associated with the card to help prove the person using the card is the owner of the card. Doing so will keep the transaction from defaulting to a higher rate. And as a bonus, it is also a great way to combat fraudulent transactions.
Expand your business with an eCommerce merchant account.
A lot of merchants don’t realize that card-present transactions are treated differently by processors than card-not-present transactions. Card-not-present transactions generally describe transactions associated with eCommerce or online sales. But banks look at hand keyed transactions the same way. If you have a retail merchant account, you may want to have us add an eCommerce merchant account as well. This will allow you to drive online sales in addition to your curbside pick up.
We can also provide you with mobile terminals, portable wireless, or wifi enabled terminals. All of these payment solutions are meant to empower you to think outside the box to serve customers and remain relevant. Portable terminals can be carried outside your establishment to complete take out and curbside payments. Provide your delivery drivers with mobile terminals to enable them to accept payment at the time of delivery. And, to even further limit the need for contact, all terminals are NFC compatible. NFC technology works with both contactless credit cards and most mobile wallets used today. This will allow your employees to accept payment without the customer touching the terminal, keeping both the employee and the customer safer.
B2B? Give your B2B customers a contactless way to pay their invoices.
Even B2B companies need ways to keep costs down and limit engagement with their customers. Merchant account features can also make things more convenient for B2B companies, while also limiting exposure.
Writing checks is still the preferred method for paying B2B invoices. But checks are both costly and inefficient. Many business-to-business merchants will accept payment at the time of delivery, but right now, that is unnecessary exposure. If you don’t take payment at the time of delivery then you’re constantly waiting for that check in the mail at month-end.
B2B companies can automate both invoicing and payment. Businesses set up with electronic invoicing deliver invoices straight to their customer’s inbox. Customers then pay by clicking the AutoPay button right from the email to pay their bills instantly. The pay button embedded in the email will take them right to their own invoice and a secure gateway to make their payment.
Right now, it is especially important for businesses to keep their costs in check. Electronic payments are both more economical and more efficient than paying by check. Believe it or not, checks cost more than electronic payments. And, you have to wait for them to come in the mail and wait for them to clear before your funds are available. With electronic payments, you will know when your money is coming and have access to it much quicker. This will help you manage your cash flow much more efficiently.
Not only will electronic invoicing and payments help you serve your customers while staying remote, but they will also save you money in the long haul.
How do businesses sell products without selling products? Start a Gift Card Program.
Have you considered offering gift cards? If you do not already have a branded gift card program now is a great time to start! People cannot go out and shop. But they still want to give presents for birthdays, graduations, and baby showers even though they can’t be there in person.
Store branded gift cards are much more personal than those typical some-dollar-amount Visa gift cards. They say “I know what you like.”
Give your customers the option of giving a gift card from their favorite store. It’ll infuse your business with cash now, and give recipients something to look forward to when this is all over. Gift cards are also cheap and easy to mail straight to the recipient or to the buyer.
But keep in mind, Millennials love eGift cards, so make sure your gift card program has the capability for digital delivery. With a quick call, we can get you going with your own Gift Card Program so you can start selling right away.
You may even want to consider creating a gift card promotion. I know it sounds counter-intuitive right now. But think about it. Times are tight for everyone. Show your customers you understand and give them an incentive to buy from you at the same time.
For example, you could offer 10% off- buy a $50 gift card for $45. Or, for every $50 gift card purchase, customers get a $5 card for their own use. Reward your customers for spending money with you even though they can’t get anything from you right now.
Other great ways to use this downtime to your advantage…
Now is a great time to focus on the important housekeeping your business deserves. Most of the time business owners are too busy running their business to deal with the extracurricular activities needed. This is a great time to do those tasks that always get put on the back burner. Many of these tasks can help to make your business more profitable over the years to come.
Review your credit card processing rates.
We think it’s a great idea to review your processing rates annually. Why? Because many processors and banks will raise your rates every year! You may also find there are a bunch of hidden costs you didn’t know you were being charged. Or, didn’t know you don’t have to be charged. Some processors like to pad your costs with fees such as monthly maintenance, cancellation, authorization fees. You will have a per-transaction fee, but you should not have both an authorization fee and a transaction fee. That’s just double-dipping. Now is the perfect time to review your statement and make sure you’re being charged what you were quoted. What better way to update your merchant account than to lower your ongoing fees? If you’re interested in learning more about how to get your best rates, dive in here.
Fraud/Chargeback policy review.
Fraud is always a risk, but fraudsters jump at the opportunity to take advantage of adverse situations. We are all doing a lot more online, people have their guard down. Merchants tend to put security upgrades on the back burner when they are busy.
Now is a great time to call your processor and ask what your current security environment looks like and go over ways you can improve. If you haven’t done your annual PCI Compliance, now’s the time to get it done.
Also, make sure you review your chargeback ratios and implement a Chargeback Management program if you don’t already have one. Chargebacks cost merchants millions. A good chargeback management program can keep your ratios intact and save you money, which is much needed right now and always.
At Bankcard Brokers we strive to be your credit card processing partner for life.
In this time of uncertainty, our goal is to continue to support our merchants the same way we always have. Give us a call anytime if you have questions about your merchant account. We’d be happy to give you a “how-to” refresher on any payment solutions you already have in place. And, if needed, help you set up any new solutions you may need to compete during this unprecedented time.