In June this year, figures released by banking trade body, UK Finance, revealed that card payments overtook cash use in the UK for the first time. With increasing numbers of consumers shunning cash in favour of the speed and convenience of contactless, small businesses that aren’t set-up to accept card payments could be missing out on all-important sales.
Yet setting your business up with a card and contactless payment system is relatively simple and doesn’t have to cost the earth. James Howard, whose company Yorkshire Payments’, card systems procesed more than £470 million between March 2017 and March this year, shares his tips on where to start.
First thing’s first; weigh up the pros and cons
As a small business, spending any amount of money must be justifiable. You might be put off by the initial investment required to introduce card payments, but it’s highly likely that you’ll see a fast return on your investment.
You might see the cost as a reason to put it off, but think of it this way; if a customer wants to buy something in your shop but you don’t take card and it’s their only means of payment, and your competitor’s selling the same item just down the road and they’re all set-up with contactless, who do you think is more likely to bag the sale?
Not being set up for card payments might mean turning away customers, which is no good for any business looking to grow.
Next up; understand the process
The process of collecting payments via card essentially involves three different parties. There’s the card issuer (i.e. the bank that provides the card to the customer), the acquirer (the organisation that facilitates the authorisation, processing and settlement of the transaction) and the card scheme (the card brand, e.g. Visa or Mastercard).
Each of theses parties will take some form of payment from you, the ‘merchant’. You’ll than pay a rate for debit and credit card processing, and either 15p per transaction or a percentage of each transaction. The cost will depend on how many transactions you carry out and what the average value of each is.
Now, find a reputable service provider
Reliability is key to the success of card payments for your business, so a reputable service provider is crucial. Do they have engineers near your business? What are their call centre opening hours? The last thing you need is for your card machine to stop working and then face a struggle to get anyone to come and sort it out! For example, we offer a same day service on card machine swap outs which all of our customers value.
Never go with the cheapest
It may be tempting to pay as little as possible when getting started with card payments for your business, but you really do get what you pay for. Make sure the company you contract with conducts a full site survey and understands your network/comms requirements.
Don’t go with the cheapest company, but instead pay what you feel is fair and what leaves you feeling confident you’ll receive help and support. For example, if your card manchine fails on a busy weekend and your provider can’t fit a new one, what is more valuable – a £3 per month saving or a weekend of lost trade?
Work with a provider who can support your business growth
As your business grows and your investment in card payments bear fruit, you may want to think about expanding into other areas. You might want to introduce and EPOS (Electronic Point of Sale) system to help link payment processing to stock levels, or start selling online where a payment gateway is required.
Working with a reputable service provider who knows your business will help support you with these milestones by recommending the most cost effective and appropriate solution based on your individual circumstances.
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