Integrate Transaction Handling
by J.D. Flint
Into Your Business Plans
Consider these options to boost sales, improve cash flow, reduce bad accounts!
Frequently overlooked in even the best business and marketing strategies are customers' buying habits and comfort levels. No matter how attractive the price, no matter how persuasive the advertising, if people are not comfortable with the way you handle their transactions, or the payment options you offer, they'll go elsewhere - fast! Hundreds of surveys have confirmed that customers will buy more if their "preferred" or "most comfortable" payment option is accepted - favorite credit card, check card, check, etc.
If you are not currently accepting credit cards at your store or website, that should be your first step. The average cash sale (or "send money order to..." type sale) is only $30. Check sales are $52 and credit card sales average $76. A cash sale is actually the least profitable sale!
Many merchants are astounded at the increase in sales they enjoy simply by posting logos or "major credit cards accepted" on their front door, on all ads, and especially on their web sites.
To maximize sales, it's vital to accept all payment options. Examples: 35% of Amex card holders won't enter a store or web site not displaying their favorite logo, and Amex purchases average 20% more than Visa or Master Card. Over 70 million Americans have a checking account but don't purchase with any credit card.
Accepting checks at your website is one way to boost sales. Using a check guarantee service on Main Street allows you to safely accept checks you ordinarily wouldn't - "new account", "out-of-town", etc. Many businesses can reduce slow/no pays by accepting checks via email, fax, and phone.
Web Merchants: setting up a secure, customer friendly, and confidence inspiring site is essential for success. Your customers have heard all the horror stories and demand high security. Also, some processing companies can't keep up on the latest technologies and can't protect merchants from fraud and charge backs.
Brick and mortar: in addition to traditional store fronts, most professional, home based, and service based companies benefit from accepting all payment options, if only to improve cash flow and reduce bad accounts. Usually all you'll need is a merchant account and a terminal or software package.
If you sell at trade shows or craft shows, consider a wireless terminal. On-the-spot processing will really boost sales! Wire- less terminals are also a great idea for mobile merchants - carpet cleaners, limos, food delivery, etc. Wouldn't it be nice to get paid when you finish instead of bill and wait??!!
A couple more cash flow improvers and sales boosters:
If you sell large ticket items/services, you can bill your customer's credit card or checking account in 6, 9, 12 monthly installments. Increase sales with far less risk than open accounts. If you bill your customers monthly, consider setting up a "recurring transaction" using credit card or checking account. Semi-automatic collection for day care, club membership, lawn maintenance, and more! Note: you need approval from your processing company for both.
Many web and retail merchants increase sales by including a "buy" button right in their email offerings. Impulse buying without having to go to the website!
Slash postage and printing costs by including a "pay" button on email statements. Customers choose credit card or check, click, and you're paid!
J.D. Flint is a small business consultant specializing in credit card, check, and EFT transaction management.