Merchants today are bombarded with choices. Besides choosing the right credit card processing services for your business, you also have to determine how to design your online storefront, how to market your products and how to position your checkout pages. And that’s just the tip of the e-commerce iceberg.
The real substance is what exists beyond the surface — the different types of services a merchant has to choose from. Understanding how all those pieces fit together can be complex, but once you get to the surface of the many credit card processing services — and why they’re essential to your overall e-commerce strategy — you can be well equipped to market your business better.
To help merchants better understand each service, what purpose it services, and how you can determine what’s needed for your business, we’ve created a how-to-guide to make your decision-making process easier. Using this guide, you should be able to know with more clarity how and why specific services are beneficial to what types of businesses — and how you can leverage them to grow your own customer base and boost your bottom line.
Credit Card Processing Services
Feature 1: Virtual Terminal
Today’s merchants are always on the go. Conducting business is no longer constrained to being attached to clunky, old legacy payment terminals. Instead, the world of credit card processing services has been transformed by the ability to accept and track payments from multiple devices.
With a virtual terminal, you can turn your device into a credit card terminal. What this means is that you will have the power to process payments directly from your computer or phone. Unlike a traditional payment terminal, a virtual option creates more flexibility in how you want to conduct business with your customers. For example, a virtual terminal can allow you to accept payments by phone, or by mail order with a manual payment option. This type of credit card processing service also helps you quickly sync transactions into your accounting software so payments are easily managed.
The real benefit of a virtual terminal is that it requires little set-up and maintenance for businesses that want to get up and running quickly. Your customers already expect speed and flexibility in how they want to pay, and this option provides that same perk to both you and your customers. Instead of being forced to only accept credit cards through physical terminals at a specific location, a virtual option makes your credit card processing services ready for the mobile-first world.
Feature 2: Mobile E-Commerce
Speaking of mobile, this is another trend that merchants should already be catching on to. For online credit card processing services, mobile is a must. This allows you to accept payments anytime, anywhere and on almost any devices. In today’s fast-paced retail world, having the ability to accept payments on the go is a necessity.
The world of mobile credit card processing services has gotten increasingly more dynamic as mobile payment technology itself has continued to expand into the mainstream market. Consumers have warmed up to the concept of paying on a mobile device, which means merchants should be equipped to accept payments using this method.
There is an ample number of benefits of integrating mobile credit card processing services into your business. To start, they’re convenient for both you and your customers. Not only does it provide a quicker way for customers to complete their purchase, it helps your business seamless manage your digital payment options. By offering faster checkout options, this can also help you build stronger brand loyalty among a larger customer base.
Beyond the convenience, merchants can also find cost savings in offering mobile credit card processing services. Adding a mobile payments system can be a considerably less expensive investment when compared with other options in the market. Typically, all you need is a mobile app and a scanner, or a mobile plug-in card swiper on your mobile device to get up and running quickly. Compared to a traditional POS system, this can be a quick way to upgrade your payment infrastructure, while catering to what consumers expect out of their shopping experiences.
Feature 3: Level 3 Processing
All merchants want to minimize the risks associated with online credit card processing services. For Level 3 data processing needs, you’ll want to work with a payments partner that understand how to pass on enhanced transaction data in a way that can help you protect yourself while reducing interchange costs.
Regardless of what type of business you’re running, protecting transaction data should always be at top of mind. This is one of your biggest assets to growing a successful business. This is why PCI compliance standards have become a required practice for businesses that accept credit and debit card payments. PCI standards ensure that all companies that process, store, or transmit credit card information maintain a secure transaction environment.
Level 3 credit card processing refers to transactions that require capturing specific line item data to make a transaction possible. This is when merchants might need special product codes, item descriptions, merchant info, or commodity codes included in the data. Merchants who want to broaden who their customer base is should consider if Level 3 credit card processing services are right for them.
The greatest benefit of merchants who manage Level 3 transactions is it can be more secure when properly managed. This can help your business attract a wider customer net. For example, some government entities and major corporations only work with businesses who can process Level 3 credit cards. Having this ability can also help you settle payments faster, which can help improve cash flow. Since fraud is less likely with Level 3 transactions — compared to Level 1 and 2 — interchange fees can often be lower for this type of credit card processing.
Feature 4: Electronic Billing
By now, you’ve caught on to just how dynamic the world of credit card processing services truly is. Of course, we’re just getting started. Beyond the features listed above, when considering what processing needs fit your business, you should also determine how an online payment gateway and the ability to accept electronic payments can transform your business.
What the right gateway payment processing does is allow your business to seamlessly integrate a growing number of online shopping cart integrations designed to make your day-to-day operations run smoother. Beyond just debit and credit, merchants must consider where online electronic billing fits into the picture. Since electronic billing can help you cut down on interchange fees, it is a cost-effective solution when needing to accept payments digitally.
Paying for goods and services online in today’s digital-first ecosystem is an expectation today. This extends to the ability to offer electronic billing credit card processing services that can be customized to fit the needs of your diverse customer base. Just like accepting a credit card at a terminal, you should be able to send an electronic bill to a customer for them to be able to pay for their goods or services using today’s modern conveniences. Electronic billing also lets your business gets paid faster, which gets funds into your accounts sooner.
Feature 5: Omnichannel payments
Omnichannel payments have become a buzzword in the retail ecosystem. An omnichannel experience allows for merchants to offer a seamless shopping experience across multiple touch points where customers can engage with your brand. In the world of credit card processing services, omnichannel payments provide choices to your customers of how they’d like to pay.
Empowering your customers creates a positive brand experience with your business, which can help build loyalty and drive repeat business. Whether it’s through your physical storefront, e-commerce site, or mobile app, the customer should be able to seamlessly navigate between each of your channels without feeling disconnected from your products or services.
Unlike traditional credit card processing services, omnichannel payments take the customer experience to the next level. While some customers prefer the brick-and-mortar shopping journey, many others are gravitating toward apps, social media and e-commerce sites to conduct much of their shopping. Instead of determining how to offer payments, you must determine how you can make multiple payment options — across multiple channels — work together to fit the needs of your evolving customer base.
Regardless of how your business engages with an omnichannel strategy to expand your credit card processing services beyond traditional means, you must always keep in mind how the different channels are connecting with each together. When deciding how to scale your omnichannel presence, it’s important to find the right payment partner that can help you seamlessly integrate each of the necessary technologies into your upgraded credit card processing services.
Feature 6: POS systems
Even in today’s digitally-focused retail environment, merchants must still focus on finding the right POS system to enhance their credit card processing services. After all, the right POS can still help you accept payments on-the-go — while protecting your business and customers from unwanted outside threats.
A POS system serves as the core credit card processing service that keeps all your cash flow moving through one central system. With features like built-in, plug-and-play compatibility offered today in the payments marketplace, it’s easy to find a partner that can help you get your POS up and running quickly and seamlessly.
What a POS system allows is for your business to accept payments, but also to monitor the flow of your sales, business insights and cash flow. It can also help you make the refund process faster, keep your customer relations in tack, and help scale your business as you grow. Regardless of where, how and why you accept credit cards, the right POS system can make your day-to-day operations much smoother.
Merchants today should look for a POS system that doesn’t need regular overhauls just to keep it up to speed. You should look for a system that can complement your existing credit card processing services. A POS system also helps enhance your security measures as the right solution comes equipped to make your business PCI compliant from the start. This also helps your business maintain control over the customer payment experience by seamlessly integrating with other, existing payment systems.
The best part? The right POS system can help bring together the above-mentioned feature that is central to successful credit card processing systems. The trick to making them all sync is having one central payments partner built to customize the type of payments processing services your business needs to stay competitive in today’s increasingly crowded merchant ecosystem.
Anna Kragie is a content contributor for Payline Data. She previously wrote for PYMNTS.com, as a Sr. Content Producer, where she focused on financial services and payments innovation, fraud and security, emerging payments, and FinTech news, research and thought-leadership content across the payments industry.