Small Businesses Should Embrace Mobile Payments This Holiday Season

  • November 13th, 2013
  • Guest Post
Square Mobile

Photo by joe.ross via Flickr

As a smart businessperson, you stock the products your customers want. Why not take the same approach with the method they want to use to pay for their purchases? This holiday season, more customers will use mobile payment options. Is your small business prepared to accept e-payment?

The mobile payment processing firm TSYS asked consumers to list their top payment preferences. More than one-third — 38% — said they used smartphones to make purchases with credit, debit, or prepaid cards. Almost half (48%) were comfortable paying for online purchases with credit cards. Significantly, 22% said they used PayPal.

Regardless of whether you sell from a brick-and-mortar store or online, accepting mobile payments will help you stay competitive and perhaps encourage customers to shop more often at your business. E-Marketer says mobile payments will likely exceed $1 billion in 2013 and could reach $58 billion by 2017. Consumers will become more comfortable shopping this way over time, particularly when more merchants they visit embrace the trend.

Test Run Mobile Payments With Mobile Coupon

Maybe you want to test the waters before investing in mobile payments. You probably have offered coupons in the past. The most efficient way to track coupons is by barcode. If you are already using barcode technology, get more out of it. Post a specially-barcoded coupon on your website and invite customers to scan it into their smartphones to redeem at your store. Advertise it through email if you deliver a monthly newsletter, or invest in an email holiday sale blast. Be sure you also tweet it out and share it on your Facebook business page with links to your site.

If you don’t have barcode technology, program your register to record when an e-coupon is used.

Revisit Mobile Payments On Your E-Commerce Site

If you sell products through your website, the period leading to the holiday season is a perfect time to review your mobile payment options. You probably accept the major credit cards. Have you considered the other methods customers use to pay for online purchases?

  • PayPal is an online payment service that links to and from a consumer’s bank account. PayPal initially targeted smaller merchants and has been steadily gaining ground among larger merchants, according to a June 2013 report from the Carlisle & Gallagher financial tech consultants.
  • Google Wallet is a virtual, mobile wallet. It can be used with a tablet or smartphone, including Android and iPhones. It stores debit, credit, store, gift, and loyalty cards and can call them up to display on users’ phones at the point of sale. It works with the MasterCard PayPass and Visa’s payWave.

Show Online Customers Your Payment Options

Be upfront about how customers can pay you. As soon as a customer clicks on your Buy It button, they should be taken to a shopping cart page that visually lists their payment options. This page should also be encrypted and display the “https://” address lead.

Online payment gateways take much of the headache out of processing online purchases. They connect your store with a merchant account you set up to accept credit cards. Some of them do not charge setup fees and offer competitive fees. PayPal, which already processes 60% of all online purchases, does not charge a setup fee. Many online merchants offer it along with credit card payments.

Square Your Payments

If you deliver product to customers’ homes or businesses, consider the Square payment system. Square is a free card reader that attaches to a smartphone and allows customers to pay by swiping their card through it. Carlisle & Gallagher gave it high marks for customer and merchant satisfaction for “ease of use [and] simplicity.”

Ruth Ann Monti is the founder of TimeStorm Communications, which provides communications, marketing, Web, and SEO services for entrepreneurs and small business. She lives with her son and two dogs in sunny Scottsdale, AZ.

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