In today's marketplace, the ability to take a credit card is as important as it once was to bite a coin and not have it bend in your mouth. Merchants and consumers alike have come to rely on credit and debit transactions to bolster their selling and purchasing powers to compete with businesses and individuals of greater wealth and influence. Whether you're a merchant just getting started or a seasoned business owner, the transition to a mobile platform for your payment systems is inevitable, so you might as well get on board with one of these great companies, the reputations and features of which will keep your sleep at nights that much sweeter.
For anyone already familiar with Intuit Quickbooks, whether you use it for your personal or your professional business accounting, Quickbooks Payments DirectToMerchant system will prove the perfect companion to your mobile purchasing system. There are two simple pricing choices, each of which seamlessly connects with Quickbooks to help you keep your books in spectacular order. The first choice carries no monthly fee whatsoever with it, but a 2.4% charge applies for swiped transactions and a 3.4% charge plus a $.25 fee for any keyed transactions. For $20 per month, those percentages go down to 1.6% and 3.2% respectively, though the keyed fee of $.25 remains. There's no compatibility with Windows phones or Blackberry devices, however, so it's Apple and Android only.
Swipe Right On These Swipe Rates
Innerface provides you with one of the sturdier readers on the market. They also offer unique features like a map in your transaction history to help you track and categorize sales by their location, which is especially useful if your business is exceptionally mobile. New merchants get one simple plan to choose, which means you either take it or leave it with no wiggle room. That plan gets you a 2.9% swipe rate plus $.30 per transaction for $9 per month. There are special rates for non-profits, as well as a three-tiered pricing system for existing merchants. Those merchants see swipe rates starting at 1.9% and going all the way down to 0% at the highest tier, though that tier will run you $299 per month.
All Kinds Of Payment
Although Shopify is better known for the web stores it builds, their mobile POS is among the best in the business. They let you accept any form of payment, from credit and debit cards, to checks, IOUs, gold coins, and more. They provide comprehensive analytics, multiple users on each account, and an optional retail package that includes an iPod mount, cash drawer, item scanner, and receipt printer. The best of these features, unfortunately, are only available as you move up the pricing tiers toward the top, with their website package only available to subscribers paying $29 per month and above.
Keeping It Simple And Salesworthy
PayAnywhere is simplicity incarnate, which is a metaphor because a mobile POS system in human form, though not entirely unlikely in our lifetimes, does seem rather terrifying. You choose between mobile and storefront options depending on the style of your business. The mobile plan boasts detailed reports, next-day funding, a 2.9% swipe fee, and a 3.49% fee with a $.19 bump for keyed transactions, all for $0 per month. That's right; the only way PayAnywhere gets paid for its mobile plan is when you conduct transactions. Their storefront package does carry a charge of $13 per month, but that gets you a swiveling tablet stand, and a low, 1.69% swipe fee. Both packages offer you unlimited users on your account, but neither outfit you with any hardware beyond the tablet stand, and both are limited to credit and debit card transactions.
Mobile Card Swipers: In-Depth
A Cautionary Tale
I once worked for a company that sold its product through trade shows and fairs, where demonstrations of the product led to purchases. The more time I spent demonstrating, the more sales I could accumulate, and the pay was 100% commission, so, naturally, I wanted to demonstrate all the time.
The only problem was, my company would not invest in a mobile POS system like these card readers. Instead, they outfitted me with a traditional card terminal that had to connect to a phone line run through the convention hall.
What’s more, the old readers almost never worked properly, which meant I had to physically call in each and every order to a different 1-800 number for different credit card companies, manually entering card information, merchant numbers, sales figures, and more. As a result, a sale that should have taken 2-5 minutes would take 8-10 minutes.
While demonstrating at a good show, I could sell about three units per demonstration hour, and these call-in sales cost me an average of 6 minutes per sale. Every ten sales I made cost me a whole demonstration hour, just over 25% of potential revenue for my company and myself.
And here’s the rub: the convention halls charged to run the phone line whether or not our equipment functioned. Add that to the charge that each credit card company levied when I called in an order, and the company lost additional money in transaction fees.
In this day and age, there is no excuse not to utilize the mobile sales technologies available to us. This example is a stark and, unfortunately, a common one, in which a company refuses to own up to the promise of change ends up slaughtering its bottom line.
A Customer’s Fit
Whether you’re just starting this business, or you’ve had it running for a moment and you’re looking to expand into the digital marketplace, it’s crucial for you to understand its current scope and its future promise when investing in a system for mobile sales.
Some of the providers on our list, for example, offer retail options that you may or may not need. If you have both a roving operation and a brick-and-mortar storefront, going with a company that will allow you to more seamlessly integrate your mobile and stationary sales will be worth whatever cost increases or package limitations that might present themselves.
If your business only operates in a mobile capacity, then you won’t need any of the storefront materials, but you still have a few questions to ask yourself about your operations, specifically related to size and intention.
A few of the mobile options on our list have tiered packages that reduce your rates as you pay more monthly. Newer, smaller businesses with shorter profit margins may do better confining themselves to a lower monthly rate and a higher percentage charge per swipe , where businesses that handle more expensive materials, more sales in general, and have a greater amount of incoming and outgoing money would likely do better maximizing their monthly rate in exchange for endless, free swiping and the most available features.
Whichever camp you fall into, there are a few other special features to look out for when comparing plans. Available analytics, customized coupons and receipts, and accepted forms of currency can make immense differences to the right companies.
Take that last point, the currency acceptance, for example. A larger corporation with hundreds of satellite sales associates may not be interested in taking IOUs or gold coins as payment. A smaller start-up, however, working a trade show with fellow vendors, some of whom might offer products that could help your business, would benefit greatly from the ability to catalogue a barter and trade sale on their books.
An End To Swiping
Credit cards weren’t always the easy debt traps they are today. There was a time when they were a legitimate status symbol, offered up only by the stores that sold the goods they represented. If you had a credit card from a certain business, it was only good in that store.
Those cards were backed by banks, however, and in very short order the banks saw the opportunity available to them were they to cut out the stores as middle men and situate themselves as the few providers of available credit.
Fast-forward thirty or forty years and you have a country up to its ears in unmanageable debt without much relief on the horizon. One change to the system does seem inevitable, though, and that’s the gradual obsolescence of the physical credit cart itself.
As companies like PayPal, Apple Pay, and others make the physical swiping of a credit card less and less necessary, so, too, will the cards and their readers fade away. What that means for you, as you peruse your options, is that you might want to consider a service that already accepts wireless payment options, as they’ve established themselves ahead of the impending curve.