Choosing A POS System For Your Business

Point of sale systemsPoint Of Sale systems are becoming more powerful and more complex than ever.  From the humble beginnings of the simple cash register to the sophisticated systems we are installing today, your options for POS systems have exploded.  With hundreds of POS systems available offering a variety of features at varying price points, it’s worth spending some time looking at what matters most: money and time savings for your business.

The case for investing in a POS system

Time: The time savings your business could realize are significant. Take a moment to think about how information is shared across your current systems like POS, time reporting and accounting.  It’s likely that your current POS system and accounting system don’t ‘talk’ to each other. That usually means that someone on your team must spend time manually keying data into the systems that need to record and process the information. Manual entry is not only time-consuming but often fraught with errors.  Costs simply mount up from input, correction, then processing.

Information shortfall:  Running your business without a POS system means there’s a good chance you are guessing at what and how much you’re selling and when you are selling it. You are most likely lacking accurate, up-to-date inventory counts. You probably can’t check sales or the employee work schedule without being on site. If you are capturing any of this data, you are probably doing it manually which requires time and more time.  Having this information readily available would make your business run smoother and give you the numbers you need to make smarter business decisions.

Money: Time and information shortfall are twin demons who combine to suck money out of your business. The time you and your team need to spend collecting and processing data is fueled by the lack of readily available, accurate reports and information transfer. Money is leaking out everywhere if you are continuing to make do with manual processes and isolated systems.

Next step: Create your map and ‘wish lines’

We recommend that you inventory the systems you currently use. Start by drawing a simple map of where they fit into your business process, what information is being shared between them and how it is transferred.  Using a map format to lay out your systems helps you visualize your business workflow and identify gaps . Once your map is created it’s time to add ‘wish lines’ to show what systems you wish could connect and share information.  Now you’ve got a clearer picture of where improvements can be made through systems integration.

Next step: Call us    

As a certified ShopKeep partner and custom payments systems provider, we have the team, the technology, and the experience to seamlessly turn your POS system into a powerful business tool.

In our next post, we’ll share the top ‘must-haves’ when comparing POS systems for your business.

 

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Posted in (1) Strategy, Credit Card Processing, Merchant Services | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Checking In On The Changing Ways To Check Out

Debit and credit paymentsIt was not all that long ago when credit cards didn’t exist and cash was your only option at the register.  Technology has dramatically changed the way we purchase goods and services. These changes bring improvements, speed and convenience to our transactions. But these changes also bring risks along for the ride too.  Let’s take a closer look at the methods of payment, their benefits and their risk to you as a merchant.

Is cash still king?

Cash or currency is the oldest form of payment dating back thousands of years. In a recent article we noted that by 2017 cash transactions will constitute a mere quarter of all sales transactions.

Cash rewards: as a merchant it costs nothing to accept cash; eliminates data security and identity theft concerns.

Cash risks: as a merchant your exposure to employee theft is high; reduces customer impulse buying; large amounts of cash are dangerous to have on your person and to transport for deposit; nationwide trends indicates cash sales are on the decline.

Is debit the new king?

Debit cards came on the scene in 1966 and have quickly spread in use and acceptance.

Debit rewards: as a merchant debit cards give you instant confirmation that the funds are available making them an excellent alternative to accepting checks; consumers make nearly twice as many purchases with debit cards than credit cards according to the Federal Reserve.

Debit risks: as a merchant you are charged payment processing fees; data security, processing compliance and liability issues must be managed.

How does credit fit in?

Credit cards in their plastic form came into use in the early 1900’s and have become a standard point of sale option.

Credit rewards: as a merchant credit cards offer the most convenience and flexibility to your customers for large purchases and recurring charges; security is evolving rapidly to protect both merchant and consumer.

Credit risks: as a merchant you are charged payment processing fees that vary by issuer or card type; data security, processing compliance and liability issues must be managed.

New options

The latest option for both point-of-sale and online transactions are mobile payment systems from ApplePay and GoogleWallet. These apps allow the customer to pay using an app on their smartphone or tablet instead of an actual credit card.

Mobile payment rewards: as a merchant you will never see the name, account number or security code of the customer; greater speed of transaction; improved security features such as fingerprint recognition and PIN code to authorize transactions.

Mobile payment risks: specialized technology is required to accept this payment type; at this early stage smaller businesses may find it cost prohibitive.

Even though the mobile payment options are slower to be adopted don’t be too quick to dismiss them.  A recent report from the World Economic Forum projects that:

As customers lose visibility of their payment choice by identifying default cards in mobile wallets and integrated apps, spending gets concentrated on a single card.

Mobile wallets will be the next technology to change the way we check out.  Stay tuned.

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Posted in Credit Card Processing, Fraud Prevention, Merchant Services, Mobile, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

EMV Chip Card Rollout: How Are We Doing?

Smart Credit cardEarlier this year we talked about the new EMV chip card technology along with the looming deadline of October 2015 when fraud liability will shift. Follow this link to read our post for more details about how the liability shift could affect you. EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, a global standard for inter-operation of integrated circuit or chip cards with IC card capable point of sale terminals and automated teller machines that authenticate credit and debit card transactions.  It’s crunch time for the U.S. because we are among the last countries to adopt this technology.

We shared a graphic on worldwide EMV implementation back in the spring.  In spite of the October deadline, the U.S. is still lagging behind on implementation. Take a look at these stats from this CreditCards.com article on EMV that they posted recently:

575 million: Number of EMV cards to be issued by the end of 2015

59%: Percentage of retail locations that will be EMV-compliant by the end of 2015.

78,800: Current number of EMV chip-activated merchant locations

40%: Percentage of US. debit cards that will be issued as EMV cards by the end of 2015

70%: Percentage of U.S. credit cards that will be issued as EMV cards by the end of 2015

86%: Percentage of financial institutions that plan on issuing EMV debit cards in the next two years

$3.50: Average cost for issuing a new EMV card

$500: Average cost of an EMV-compliant point-of-sale terminal

Sources: Javelin Research & Strategy, Aite Group, 2014 PULSE Debit Issuer Survey

Impending Big Bang?

So when October 2015 rolls around in just three months will the banking world crumble? Not so, say the American Bankers Association risk management folks:

“Don’t expect a big bang in October of 2015,” says Doug Johnson, vice president of risk management policy for the American Bankers Association. “In terms of rollout, we expect about 50 percent of banks and retailers to be completely transitioned over. It’s going to take a little time to adapt.”

Aite Group estimates that by the end of 2015, approximately 70 percent of credit cards and 40 percent of debit cards in the U.S. –1.1 billion cards total — will support EMV.

But when it comes to the liability shift issue, we recommend that you get a new terminal by the October 2015 deadline.  It will give you one less thing to worry about in your business.  And what business owner wouldn’t want one less thing to worry about? Call us today to get started.

 

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B2B Marketing: Tips For Marketing With LinkedIn

B2B marketingLinkedIn is among the top tools for marketing to the B2B audience. LinkedIn is growing steadily and evolving to meet the changing needs of its audience.  If you are not using this platform to its full potential, you could be missing out.  Some of the newest features being rolled out, like the ones we wrote about last time, are fee based but worth considering to reach your target audience.  Take a look at these tips for marketing with LinkedIn and let us know what you think.

Start with a connection strategy

B2B business owners should connect with prospects, strategic partners, referral partners and other business owners. Two top tips for a simple strategy include:

  1. Schedule time at least once a week to search for quality connections.  Use the advanced search tool to refine your results based on things like job title that defines your target prospect. Use invites selectively and personalize your request to connect.  Ask others to introduce you whenever possible.
  2. Research and join the groups where your target prospects are members. Groups are important tools for gaining visibility with your target audience if you stay active, make comments and post useful articles.

Build momentum with content

And not just any content, high quality content. Think about ways to give a reader something of value like how to solve a business problem they might be facing or improve job performance.

It’s important to establish yourself as a thought leader and don’t be afraid to share some insider tips.  Your strategy should include a regular posting schedule.  Two ways to post articles:

  1. Sharing an update with a link to your blog or other internet asset location. This action will share your article with your connections.
  2. Post an article through the LinkedIn Professional Publishing Platform feature we mentioned in our last post. If your post demonstrates some momentum LinkedIn will showcase it in one of their categories.  It then has the potential of getting thousands of views.

Don’t sell, build

The best tip we can offer is to avoid selling, particularly a hard sell, anywhere on LinkedIn.  It’s common understanding that this platform is intended for business professionals to do business with other business professionals. Promoting your brand and capabilities is expected but in a more subtle manner. The goal is to be ‘discovered’ on LinkedIn for the value your brand offers.  No doubt, there are plenty of hard sell types spewing their pitch on LinkedIn.  But that’s a great way to turn people off no matter what platform you are using.  Build relationships.  It’s becoming a buzz term in marketing but it is becoming a reality in our social media world.

What practices work best for you?  Have a tip to share? Please comment below or on our Facebook page.

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B2B Marketing: Getting The Most Out Of LinkedIn

B2B marketingWe all know that social media is an important part of any marketing strategy.  But when it comes to B2B, not all social media is created equal.  According to a report on social media use by the folks at the Social Media Examiner, LinkedIn is among the top tools for marketing to the B2B audience.  LinkedIn is growing steadily and evolving to meet the changing needs of its audience.  If you are not using this platform to its full potential, you could be missing out.  Take a look at these ‘must-do’ tips for getting the most out of LinkedIn for your business.

  1. Create a proper company page.  We see this all the time: you visit a company page and it looks abandoned or like it was an after-thought. Take the time to create a proper page that mirrors the branding and messaging of your main website. A proper company page demonstrates credibility to new visitors. And don’t forget to optimize your page for SEO just as you would any page on your website. Include your top 3 or 4 target keywords in the page description at the top.
  2. Manage your company page. As part of the evolution we mentioned earlier, LinkedIn is making it easier to manage a page with their new offering Company Page Notification Center. This new dashboard allows you to do things like get an aggregated overview of how many likes, comments, and shares you’ve received on Company Page updates and view every publicly shared mention of your company.  The feature provides greater insights into the performance of content and messaging on your LinkedIn company page. It’s helpful information when you need to decide which types of content to post to engage with your target audience.
  3. Publish your insights and perspective. Another recent addition to LinkedIn’s features is the Professional Publishing Platform.  Posting articles helps establish you as a thought leader in your industry. Posting consistently will also earn you more followers and build your brand in a professional online marketplace. Take advantage of generating leads by adding a simple call to action with every post such as a link to your white paper or ebook.  The publishing platform is still new so take advantage of the opportunity to stand out and reap the benefits.

These tips only scratch the surface of what LinkedIn has to offer to boost your marketing ROI. In our next article we’ll take a look at a couple of ideas for actively marketing your business on this powerful platform.

Are you using the tools we mentioned here?  How has it worked out? Please share your experience in the comments.

 

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