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Simplifying Payment Processing for You and Your Customers

Simplifying Payment Processing for You and Your Customers
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At one point or another, we’ve all gone to buy something online and had to deal with a complicated process for entering payment information. Sometimes the process is well laid out making it easy to complete as quickly as possible. But other times it can be extremely cumbersome. In fact, one of the main reasons potential customers abandon purchases is a complicated checkout process. Luckily, there are lots of payment processing options out there. And that can help ensure you’re able to offer a simplified payment process for your customers.

Payment Processing Options

Integrated payment processing solutions allow your customers to accept card-based payments online. A modern solution is a great way to simplify checkout for your customers. And as well as being able to offer support for numerous different payment types. Additionally, return users won’t have to input their payment details each time they make a purchase – rather they can securely save them in their account and use them whenever they need or like. As a business owner, integrated payment processing simplifies a number of different processes too. You won’t have to manually handle any sensitive customer data yourself, and transactions will be instantaneous. Third-party payment providers offer additional security features to give your customers peace of mind about shopping with you, such as AVS (Address Verification Service) fraud detection, 3D Secure technology, PCI compliance, and more.

Each time a customer makes a purchase from your website, their details are passed over an encrypted channel to your payment provider’s server. That information is checked against all of their stored data and approved instantly if there’s a match. The transaction amount is debited from their bank account or credit card, money is transferred into your business account – and your customer can carry on shopping without needing to create another login.

Popular Methods of Payment Processing

The two most popular methods of payment processing are swiping a credit card, also known as magnetic-stripe processing, and using a chip card. Swiping your card is standard practice at most places you go, including restaurants, retail stores, online stores—basically anywhere where purchases are made in person. Accepting chip cards can require a larger initial investment than swipe cards but are more secure because they don’t use easily compromised magnetic stripes.

Both swiping a card and using a chip card require a merchant account, which consists of an agreement between you and your bank or other financial institution. A credit card terminal is also necessary to complete transactions for either method. Often, businesses have different terminals including swipe-only terminals that don’t accept chip cards, contactless payment pads that support both methods, mobile devices designed to accept Apple Pay and Google Wallet, and more.

There are other methods of payment processing too, like direct debit or wire transfers, but these require a fairly high level of investment in equipment and software. If you’re just starting out, we recommend that you go with one of the two most popular methods as they’re easy to use. And doesn’t require much on your part, beyond having a merchant account that can be opened through your bank. More importantly, though, is to not let choosing between swipe cards and chip cards prevent you from accepting payments online altogether.

Once you choose a payment processing method, you can select credit card terminals that will work best for your business. These terminals can range in price from as low as $50 to as much as $1,000, or more. Higher cost doesn’t necessarily mean better quality, though—in fact, there are plenty of swipe-only devices that cost closer to the $50 mark while offering features you would expect to see in more expensive models.

Payment Options That Save Time and Money

Understanding the ins and outs of credit card processing can be confusing at first, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s important to note, however, that as your business grows and changes, so will its payment needs.

Start by choosing an established payment processor. One that includes as many services as possible allowing you to avoid extra setup fees and long-term contracts—then focus on ways to streamline payments on every platform available. 

Then you’ll want to find out if your payment provider processes other forms of payment—like gift cards, checks, or NFC payments via mobile devices like cell phones. It’s ok to ask questions as well.

What else can they do? Which new services should you expect in a year? Five years? Is there a fee to change providers? How quickly can they make any necessary adjustments once things change? How flexible are their system and customer service? Can it be integrated into other software platforms you might use in future years? 

Finally, look at reputation: how long has your current payment provider been around? How often does their name come up among business owners like yourself? A combination of these factors is a good way to determine whether you’re able to efficiently grow with the same payment processing solution from one year to another. 

These are serious considerations before making a decision about who will handle your card payments. The best payment processors allow business owners time and flexibility for real success in a fast-changing industry. 

Tools To Help You Accept Payments Online

It can be difficult to start accepting payments online, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying to grow your business. There are many tools available to help you accept payments in a variety of ways—from cash-only services like Square or PayPal, to credit card processors like Stripe or PayPal. How do you choose? Which one is right for your business? That depends on your customer’s buying habits as well as how you want to prepare for the future. Are they primarily paying with credit or debit cards? Do you process a lot of returns or refunds? Is your proposed fee schedule acceptable? Knowing the answer to these things will help you find the best payment solution for your unique situation. 

Different Businesses, Different Needs

You’ve probably heard this before, but every business has different needs. A florist’s payment processing needs will differ greatly from a big box store—and there’s really no one-size-fits-all solution. The best thing to do is start by figuring out your business’s unique challenges, then go from there. Finding a partner with experience in your industry can help steer you in the right direction. And don’t be afraid to ask friends, acquaintances, and other professionals for recommendations. 

Many financial institutions offer free advice through local small business development centers and SCORE chapters. Even if they can’t answer specific questions right away, they can be great resources for anyone just starting out. Once you figure out what kinds of payments your customers use most frequently, take some time to consider which solutions can make it easy on them, including user experience, ease of use, and cost.

Final Thoughts

For small businesses, payment processing can be one of their biggest headaches. It’s important to choose the right solution for your specific processing needs both now, and into the future. For that, you need to take a look at your operations. And carefully weigh all available options that can simplify payment processing for you and your customers. Get up to speed on how we’re changing payments for small businesses today. Secure your transactional records with Microsoft’s finance application.

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