The 3 Essential Things You Need to Know When Processing Credit Cards

By Nicole Leinbach Reyhle

The customer path to purchase is more complicated than ever and likewise, the journey to accepting, processing and ultimately protecting credit card payments is not straight forward, either. There are many variables that impact credit card payments and more specifically, credit card payments within retail environments. Among these include:

  1. Transaction Fees
  2. Fraud Protection
  3. Customer Convenience
  4. Mobile Payments
  5. Cancellation Terms

Keeping these key considerations in mind, merchants need to proactively identify ways to not only protect their customer and company data alike, but also do so with fiscal responsibility. After all, retailers are in business to make money not spend money unnecessarily. Yet too often, retailers settle on credit card processing terms without understanding the variables they have on both their operations and overhead. For instance, companies that solely process credit cards via mobile have different needs than brick-and-mortar retailers who also sell via eCommerce and need a shared commerce point-of-sale system that integrates credit card transactions in combination with sales and customer data.

To further understand what merchants need to know in regards to credit card payments, consider the following:  

The Fine Print Details of Credit Card Payments

From payment security to transaction fees and more, there is no shortage of details to consider when it comes to processing credit card payments. As a merchant, understanding the variety of variables that impact your company’s credit card processing – and the sensitive data that goes along with that – is a must. To help, be sure and review the following details to help make the best decision possible for your unique retail business.  

  • Pricing – It is important to have clarity on what your expenses will be when it comes to credit card processing. Identify all costs involved when determining which processor works best for your business – then be sure to routinely review your statements in case any surprise fees are incurring.
  • Contracts – Are you working on a month to month contract or an annual contract? Which is more beneficial to your unique commerce needs? And what cancellation fees and terms are involved? Understanding the details that make up your credit card processing contract does not just limit at actual processing fees and functionality, but also the future. Be sure your contract terms support you in all angles.
  • Hardware – With the exception to online exclusive businesses, you will need some hardware to get your credit card processing up and running. Most companies offer EMV-compliant credit card terminals, POS systems and mobile card swipers – yet not all companies offer these at the same price. Some are free while others include a fee attached to them. Retailers even have the option to buy their own equipment to work with their preferred providers service in some instances. As a general rule, however, know upfront what the conditions are for each credit card processor you are considering for your business.
  • Support – Having support to assist both your staff and your customers is a must – plain and simple. The quality of support will vary, though, and as you consider credit card processors also consider this as a variable when making your decision. Is it 24|7? Chatbots only? Or also available via phone? Again, the fine print details matter and this is not something to overlook.

Subscription Based Pricing Benefits Retailers Across All Categories

Whether you sell exclusively online or offline, via mobile or need to combine all of these selling avenues into one consolidated system, there are many advantages to subscription based credit card processing terms versus having to pay a percentage on every credit card transaction made. Understandably, the most obvious advantage is reducing your overhead and retaining more profit for your retail business.

Payment Depot leads this type of pricing option for merchants with the goal to bring transparency to retailers while delivering trusted payment processing solutions along the way. For retailers, this also delivers ease and confidence in their overall operational efforts since they can trust they will not be surprised by unexpected fees. Instead, by combining all of the necessary fees into a single monthly subscription, Payment Depot reduces the average operational costs for processing credit cards for their merchants. The end result? More profit for retailers to appreciate.

Security Standards Are the Same for All Retailers – Big or Small

Whether you have one store, ten stores or a few hundred stores, the standards set in place for payment security are the same. Likewise, no matter what payment processing service you work with, these same standards exist. As a result, it’s critical for merchants to acknowledge, understand and be proactive in ensuring they meet the necessary compliance measures set in place by the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard since not meeting them is non-negotiable.

Among the factors for retailers to consider when it comes to retail security includes the new PCI changes implemented June 30, 2018 which requires all eCommerce merchants to update their security measures by using either TLS (Transport Layer Security) 1.1 or TLS 1.2 to better encrypt credit card and customer information transmitted between their server and browser.

Additionally, 3-D Secure 2.0 is set to take over their 1.0 version in 2019 – which will help retailers strengthen their online payment authentication process while also helping to improve on the user experience. Thus, it’s clear to see that it’s essential for merchants to leverage technology to help seamlessly integrate these necessary standards – and others, as well – into their credit card processing system. The catch? It’s critical to have the right partners by your side to help do this.

Final words

While the customer path to purchase remains more complicated than ever before, their expectations to make payments is expected to be easier than ever. Recognizing this should encourage merchants to make positioning payments – and specially, credit card processing – on the top of their to-do-lists in the New Year and beyond

Author Bio

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the Founder and Publisher of Retail Minded as well as the Co-Founder of the Independent Retailer Conference. Recognized for her expertise in independent retail, Reyhle has published thousands of articles about small business and is the Author of the book “Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business” from McGraw-Hill. Additionally, Reyhle has contributed to Entrepreuner.com, Forbes, IBM and more, and has been the Spokesperson for Small Business Saturday from American Express since 2014. Learn more about Retail Minded at www.retailminded.com, at @RetailMinded on Twitter or at Facebook.com/RetailMinded.