Let’s face it. Opening up a business is a challenge. Running the day-to-day is rigorous. Satisfying customers is imperative. Making sure you are getting paid correctly is necessary. Finding the right payment processor and knowing what to look for can be daunting. Our hope today is to help outline the top 10 key features you need to look for when deciding on a payment processor for your business.
Why Do You Need a Payment Processor?
If you want to be a competitive merchant in your industry, accepting digital payments is an absolute must. Everyone carries debit and credit cards on them or stored in their mobile wallet. This is the most convenient way to accept payment from your consumers.
Businesses of any size need to accept credit cards. To do so, you will need help with processing that payment, meaning, you will have to partner with a merchant service provider. Simply because there is no way to accept card transactions without first partnering with a credit card processing company.
What is a Payment Processor?
Though person-to-person digital payment has become increasingly popular, it varies vastly from commercial payment processing. For example, with P2P payments, individuals use digital wallets such as Zelle, Venmo, or Apple Pay. These digital transactions transfer funds with a bank account and routing number. Conversely, business payment processing uses credit cards to receive payment for goods and services. They can do this through multiple payment solutions.
A payment processing company offers services that allow merchants to accept credit and debit card payments. They are often partnered with merchant service companies. Together they provide businesses with card reading equipment, send payment information to the banks, and fund a merchant’s bank account.
These companies offer payment processing solutions for any type of transaction. Whether a transaction happens in person or online, credit card processors handle it all. They can offer POS systems, integrations, online shopping cart check-out, and mobile applications.
In previous articles, we have gone into further detail explaining the payment processing process, what a payment processor is, and its role in the entire electronic payment ecosystem. This in-depth outline will help give you a better grasp if you want further foundational knowledge to help you choose the best payment processor for you.
What Features Should Your Payment Processor Offer?
Payment processing is a booming business. With so many choices in the payments industry, it may be a challenge to know exactly what you need and which company can supply the best solutions for you. To assist you in this process, we have prepared 10 key items, other than cost, that you should factor into your decision to meet your needs.
Your time is valuable. Your payment processor must offer the ability to save you not only money but time! An all-inclusive payment processor should offer services that will cut down your time spent on accounting, billing, payment processing, and seeking support from customer service reps.
2. Trustworthy and Transparent
Ultimately, business owners who fully understand the services they are being provided will know exactly what to expect from their payment processor. Their decision will likely meet their satisfaction.
Be sure you locate a provider with a trustworthy payment processing business model. One that offers transparency in their services including:
- Pricing structure including transaction fees, processing fees, interchange fees, and monthly fees
- Scope of solutions
- Product features
- Contract terms and conditions
- Payment tools and hardware provided
- Merchant support availability
Making sure you understand all provided services, solutions, and costs upfront, will save you a world of headaches. Additionally, it will save you from possible money loss in the future. Be sure you check off all the above items before signing any contracts.
3. Customer Convenience
You want to be sure you choose a payment processor that offers flexible point-of-sale solutions and value-added services. Creating a more efficient transaction process for both you and your customers.
The biggest way to offer convenience for your customers is to offer payment through multiple avenues. Consumers want to choose the payment method that is easiest for them. Your customers will be more appreciative of the convenience your business has added to their life if you offer this.
Offering any of the below conveniences will surely satisfy customers. This is imperative to small business success in a saturated market. SMBs need to do everything they can to stand out amongst their competitors. Convenience in SMB payment processing is key!
Contactless and Mobile Payments
First, an increasingly favorable option is contactless payments. With the rise in mobile wallet usage throughout multiple generations, offering contactless payment solutions will surely please your customers.
Research shows that 84% of American adults use smartphones. In fact, most Americans do not leave their house without their smartphone on them. And plenty of Americans wear a smartwatch every day. These devices have payment information integrated right into them.
Offering contactless payments means your customers do not need to pull out a wallet, look for cash, a checkbook, or credit cards. Although issuing banks are providing plenty of contactless cards, they are not always needed. Your customer can simply hover their smartphone or smartwatch over your contactless card reader to complete a transaction.
Additionally, contactless transactions can also occur online through a virtual payment gateway. Online payments occur with a stored card in a virtual vault, a text-to-pay option, a QR code, or a payment portal.
Consumer Financing Options
Next, your business can conveniently provide consumer financing options to its customers through the right merchant service company. Allowing your customers the convenience to purchase their goods or services on the spot without needing to pay upfront is huge! Fundamentally, splitting payments over time is more manageable and will oftentimes produce higher conversion rates for your customers.
Automated Recurring Payments
Lastly, automated payment plans eliminate unnecessary hassle. This stress-free payment option takes the responsibility off the consumer. They no longer need to remember to pay their monthly installment for large transactions or recurring bills. Ultimately, it reduces client frustration and increases timely payments for your business.
4. Simple Reporting
Did you know that a payment processor can provide useful insights regarding your daily transactions, monthly statements, chargebacks, and fees? Having instant real-time access to financials is vital to a business’s economic understanding.
ECS’s one-of-a-kind online reporting tool is designed exclusively for our merchants. ECS merchants have access to an online profile. This portal maintains all reporting tools you need to efficiently run your business.
There will be no more time wasted on calculating batch receipts, creating your own spreadsheets, or logging into multiple sites to decipher your sales and monthly statements. ECS lays it all out on a (virtual) silver platter. With one login, you have everything you need at your fingertips.
5. Inclusive Payment Acceptance
It may be easy to assume that any payment service provider would allow transactions from all credit and debit card types. However, this is something you will want to confirm. Visa and Mastercard have their own registration fees and requirements. Thus, certain merchant service providers may only obtain registration with one of the brands.
Additionally, there may be scenarios where your business is somewhat health-related and you’d like to accept HSA/FSA cards. These cards may be on the same network as Visa or Mastercard. However, your merchant category code (MCC) may not match the processor’s regulations for HSA/FSA acceptance. This would mean, even if you accept Visa and the HSA card is Visa, you would not be able to accept this type of HSA card.
Ultimately, it is up to you as a business if you would like to accept all card types available to you. Although American Express or Discover may be offered, some merchants choose not to accept those card brands. This may be because of higher transaction fees associated with those particular brands that a merchant is not willing to pay.
However, it is best to understand that if a customer cannot use their default card brand or method of payment at your business, they may choose not to return. Being denied the use of their main source of credit or payment technology is a frustrating experience for any customer. When customers can use any payment method of their choice, you are more likely to have repeat business.
ECS’s payment processing includes card acceptance for:
- Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express
This includes transaction technologies such as:
- Contactless NFC
- EMV chip
- Mobile wallets (including Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay)
6. Diverse Solution Options
A thriving business is what every merchant strives for. As your business grows, you will need to ensure that your payment processor can handle differentiating payment needs. In many cases, certain merchant service providers only specialize in one area of digital payment.
For example, company x may only process credit and debit cards. Company Y may only process ACH and electronic checks. But merchant Z needs to take both types of payment from its customers.
Needing to have 2 different payment processing companies to satisfy transactional needs is a hassle. We recommend merchants find a payment processor that can provide a well-rounded package of solutions that fits their needs. This eliminates the need for multiple merchant service companies to provide the products needed for an efficient payment processing system.
For example, ECS provides our merchants with a diverse scope of payment solutions and value-added services. Our knowledgeable account representatives are happy to discuss all our options with you. We want to provide you with the best solutions for your business needs.
Our simple payment processing tools provide solutions such as:
- Credit and debit card processing
- Terminals through Clover and Dejavoo
- Virtual gateways for eCommerce payments
- Payment processing software integrations with your current terminal or virtual gateway
- ACH payment processing
7. Seamless Integration and Set Up
You may already have a POS system or a custom-branded website. Whether you need a physical terminal or a virtual gateway, you want to be sure your payment processor offers seamless integration for your setup.
If you choose to process on a physical terminal, ECS has you covered for easy payment processing with a simple setup. At ECS, we download all software to our terminals and prepare them for instant use. When you receive your new devices, all you need to do is open the package, plug in, connect to your internet, and begin transacting. No customer support calls or difficult setup is needed.
ECS’s payment solutions integrate seamlessly into your online platform or POS system. Our streamlining capabilities will keep your APIs unified and increase your productivity.
We offer solutions to sync your transaction data with all of your other online functions. This may include your availability, reservations, scheduling, catalogs, inventory, employee and customer management, etc.
Consumers will not spend their hard-earned money at businesses they do not trust. You will want to ensure your customers that you protect their card data from fraud risk. When choosing your payment processor, you will need to be sure you are inquiring about data security.
It is important that your payment processor follows all up-to-date compliance procedures. In doing so, sensitive information is safeguarded for both you and your customers.
ECS partners with Security Metrics to help our merchants easily become PCI compliant. PCI compliance is a set of standards designed to protect cardholder data during transactions.
In addition, your payment processor should be able to tokenize sensitive payment information. Stored card information used for repeat purchases, monthly recurring bills, etc should be tokenized and secured in a virtual vault.
9. Reliable Customer Service
A powerful payment processor leads to exceptional customer experiences with your business. Memorable impressions foster enhanced customer loyalty and increased profits. Alternatively, a deficient payment processor can lead to poor customer experience and missed business opportunities.
At ECS, we pride ourselves on world-class merchant service support. All our knowledgeable account representatives go over pricing and contracts in person with our customers. We make sure there is a full understanding of our services and commitment before any customers sign their contracts.
Moreover, our customer support teams are 100% dedicated to ensuring our merchants are set up for success. We make it a priority that our merchants fully understand their products. Any assistance needed is only a quick phone call or email away. We answer phone calls within seconds. And in minutes, you will receive detailed email responses from our knowledgeable support staff.
Furthermore, our dedicated team is available to assist merchants with extended hours of operation. Many payment companies only have representatives available Monday through Friday 8 am-5 pm.
Conversely, our technical support and merchant services support teams are ready to assist you Monday through Friday 7 am-6 pm Pacific and are on call on weekends to offer support when needed. We understand every business has different hours of operation. Having confidence that support is just a phone call away at any time whenever serving customers is a huge confidence boost to our merchants.
10. User-Friendly Interface
Frustrating transaction experiences can have a significant effect on your clientele. Complicated, long, or seemingly impossible point-of-sale is damaging to businesses. Make sure this type of experience does not come from your company.
You want to ensure your customers have an effortless payment experience. Discuss with your potential payment processor how their solutions can offer user-friendly interfaces for both your employees and customers.
Payment Processing Features Conclusion
Your payment processor should save you time and money. They should also positively impact your customer experience. Lastly, they should offer a simple and seamless world of transaction options at your fingertips.