The doorbell rings. You see a little youngster on the other side of the door with her mom or dad sitting in the minivan at the end of your driveway. You smile and brace yourself for the pint-sized sales pitch for popcorn, wrapping paper, chocolates, or Girl Scout cookies. Which one is it going to be? Ah, yes, Girl Scout cookies. “Why not?” you say. Everyone loves a good Thin Mint cookie, right? You listen attentively, praise the sales pitch, and with another smile, you excuse yourself to go get the checkbook. She has almost closed the deal.
But wait. What? You can use your credit card? The badge-wearing wee one says, “Yes! I’ve got my smartphone right here, and with this little attachment, I can run your card right through!”
You can now officially say you have seen it all. It’s happening. No longer do you need a bulky machine or any big supplies. Just a small little attachment to your phone, and – it’s that simple. No more excuses…it appears to be time to jump on the bandwagon!
Yes, you should accept credit cards online. And you may be losing out on quite a bit of business if you choose not to. If you are running a business to consumer (B2C) business, you are officially overdue. If you’re running a B2B? You may not be the very last one to go this route, but this method of payment is here to stay. And remember, this doesn’t mean that you can’t use the old invoice and paper method, as well as the online method. But given the modern use of technology, it’s important to at least offer this choice to your customers.
What are the benefits? There are actually quite a few!
*Increased Sales: Plain and simple. The easier it is to buy, the more likely the sale! Profit is such a pretty little thing, isn’t it? And if you’re in the business of providing a service, for which you bill after an appointment? Just think of how much faster you will be reimbursed if you can send a quick email with a “pay here” tab.
*Time: It’s quick, and you’ll have no follow-up time invested in billing, stamps, envelopes, labor, or time involved. The goal is to build the business and/or to make the business stronger in every way possible, right? The time you will save in paper billing, tracking, monitoring, and recordkeeping is now free for you to do just that: grow the business.
*Customer expectations: Recent studies are showing that almost 75% of Americans are paying bills online. This method of paying for bills, services, gifts, and even everyday necessities is truly expected by today’s consumers.
*Privacy and protection: Think about how much information is swapped when you have to send an invoice and a customer has to send in a payment. All of this information-trading can be completely alleviated if you start to accept online payments. Encrypted programs keep all of the information safe, and in truth, there is a lot less information floating around with the latter choice. This data, if on paper, is actually much more vulnerable to being tracked or stolen. Everyone involved stays better protected.
Once you’re up and running, the only downside is the minimal payment that you’ll be charged per swipe, but if you build that into your sales margins, it will be kind of like getting a measles shot when you were a kid: You won’t feel a thing! And truly, given the cost of paper, ink, stamps, labor, etc., it is hard to even rationalize that this small percentage of the sale is being “wiped out.” In fact, it is not. You will get that money back in your pocket very easily, when you realize all of the steps in the process that are being alleviated by the online method.
Given all of these benefits, can you really afford not to accept online payments? Do take the time to do your research and read the fine print on any potential offer you get in order to get up and running with accepting online payments. It is probably best to start your research process with the well-known national banks. Check in with your local bank and credit union, as well. If you haven’t joined this online financial life yet, you will probably feel more comfortable sitting down with a real person versus taking care of everything online. But hey, if you’re reading this, you are online already!
So, be brave and go forth! Grab one of those thin mints from Little Miss Girl Scout, and enjoy the learning process. Let me know how it goes!
Share your experiences with me at http://gravatar.com/writervaleriewilson.
Valerie Wilson is a freelance writer who enjoys blogging about the economy, ways to save money, and why every business should accept credit cards online.