Published December 16th, 2015
Whether you’re a recent startup or you’re an established small business owner who wants to learn more about merchant services, read on to find out more about what products and services can make your business run more smoothly.
The best merchant companies will offer you products and services that help your business grow and reach more customers, do business more efficiently, and have good customer service when you need it. But they will also have readily available customer service as well.
The most common options you have available with most merchant service companies include:
Check Processing Services
- Check Processing Options
- Point-of-Sale Systems – otherwise known as “POS”
- Micro Payment Solutions
- Merchant Cash Advance Options
- Loyalty Program and Gift Card Options
Believe it or not, checks still account for a large chunk of transactions—despite the even larger uptick in debit and credit card use. A merchant service company can provide valuable services to keep your check chasing secure and efficient:
- Remote Deposit Capture
- Internet Check Payments
- In-Store Processing
- Recurring Check Processing
- Mailed Check Processing
- Phone Processing
The following services are typically a standard expectation in merchant check cashing services:
- Remote Check Guarantee
As a business owner, accepting checks is still an important part of everyday business, so make sure that you are taking advantage of all the check cashing services available to you—the more payment options you give your customers, the more opportunity for a sale.
Finding the Best Point-of-Sale Options
You have many options in finding the best point-of-sale solution for the needs of your business. The POS refers to the cash drawer, barcode scanner, monitor, customer displays, and your credit card processing device. Touch-screen is also becoming more popular for both the customer and the staff’s interface. The POS software also comes with many options to make your life easier. More on that below…
A simpler system may be right for you, but you also may realize that your business potential can increase by enabling you to do so much more than ring up items including:
- Track Inventory
- Exchanges and Returns
- Track Customer Purchasing Trends
- Sell Gift Cards
- Apply Promotions and Discounts
- Make the Checkout Process More Efficient for Sales
- Mobile-Connected Device
- Credit Card Processing
Having an easily updated system can take away the confusion for your sales team, and make for a faster checkout time when the customer is ready to pay. The most important tool that a good POS system can give you, however, is the ability to track your inventory in new ways.
According to the NRF (National Retail Federation), businesses in the US are losing out on $45 billion in sales from not having items in stock sought out by their customers, and an even heftier $224 billion from ordering too much inventory that never gets sold.
While software can’t replace your keen business sense, having the power to track and analyze your customers’ buying trends can go a long way in preventing losses.
You can also be sent alerts when it gets close to reordering when your POS system sees there is a low supply of a particular item. Business owners find that this benefit alone can cut overhead administration costs and save time—and that this benefit ends up paying for the POS system itself.
In addition to the basic software capabilities, you may own a business that would benefit from specialized software. For instance, a hardware store may benefit from stronger software to navigate special orders, purchase orders, repair tickets, and other rental programs specific to their inventory. Options in POS systems also can include the increasing the physical durability of the equipment.
Additionally, when you get in touch with your merchant service company, you can inquire about micro-business options and other specialized features you’re looking for in your upgrade.
Getting a Merchant Cash Advance – The Basics
You may find yourself facing a considerable business opportunity without the credit to qualify for a small business loan. Or you may find yourself in some serious need of cash to cover an unforeseen problem that hit your business. Being a startup and needing funds can also make it hard to get a loan as well. Whatever the case, a merchant cash advance is a way you can get ahold of cash quickly and without a lot of paperwork.
With a merchant cash advance, you could expect funds within the week because you won’t be going a traditional loan route through the bank. Additionally, you won’t have to put up collateral which can be both a con and a pro for the business in need of fast cash.
The benefit of not needing to put up your home is that of course, your house won’t be vulnerable in the event you can’t pay, but the con of not putting up collateral is that you’ll have to pay for it at higher rates than the traditional loan. Simply put, the merchant loan advance is a riskier way to lend money for the merchant cash advance company, so you do pay much higher rates for that reason.
The way that you pay the loan back is a little different, too. Instead of making a fixed monthly payment until the funds have been paid back, you’ll pay a percent on every card purchase until the funds are paid back—including the fees.
In a nutshell, here are the advantages of a merchant cash advance:
- Zero restrictions on how you use the cash
- Merchant cash advance is easier to get than a loan if you have less-than-solid credit
- There is a set repayment plan based on a small percent of each purchase made to your business
- Quick and easy approval of funds
Below are some of the disadvantages of a merchant cash advance:
- Limited flexibility of switching merchant service providers if desired
- Repayment is more expensive over the long run
- No benefit to early repayment – you agree to make a specific amount of payments
When it comes time to choose which company is for you, call around to get the best rates, and make sure you understand the repayment agreement. To assist you on your search, check out the top-rated merchant cash advance companies
for this month.
Using Loyalty Programs and Gift Cards
Are Loyalty Programs For You
? Ask your merchant services company how you can begin using a loyalty program to
begin reaping the benefits. You may wonder if a loyalty program is right for you, but consider the impact that using the card to gain information for targeted mailings can have to draw customers in to your business.
Using the tracking capabilities from a POS system, you can identify certain buying patterns and suggest specific add-on products or services to those who have signed up. While a loyalty card looks similar to credit card, the magnetic strip or barcode holds information specific to your promotions. It also enables you to better track customer activity.
By integrating the new loyalty program with the rest of your marketing efforts, you’ll develop new sales angles and more opportunities to make a connection with your customers.
In addition to being able to improve your targeted marketing efforts, think of the benefit a card brings for keeping your company’s name in sight. Whether it’s a typical card or a key-chain card, it brings greater exposure for your brand.
Gift Cards Increase Your Sales
Some small businesses feel a bit squeamish about the idea of needing to pay for the ability to offer gift cards. You
may think that ignoring them all together is the way to go, but consider these statistics, brought to you by Synergy World
- You can expect the recipient of the gift card to spend an extra 20% - 50% more than the gift card.
- Over half of retailers offer mobile gift cards in 2015.
- The most profitable space in many retail stores is the gift card area.
Clearly, offering gift cards can benefit not only your customers, but your sales as well. To stay out in front of the big box stores and other competitive markets, offering gift cards offers new opportunity. Gifting a dusty gift certificate is dated, but a branded gift card is easier to use for both the vendor and the receiver.
Another reason gift cards have gained popularity as the go-to gift in the last few years is because cash can be inappropriate in many instances and it seems very impersonal to some. A gift card to a local small business offering unique products or services is often a welcome change from the regular fare available at the larger corporations.
Finding the Best Company
You have more choices than ever as a small business owner—there are hundreds of merchant service companies out there, but they certainly don’t all offer the same level of service. When it’s time to find a company, do you research and make a few calls until you find the merchant services company you feel comfortable with.
To get you started, head over to check out the top merchant service companies
we feel go above and beyond to offer value, effective products and services, and consistently great customer service.