Choosing the Best Payment Options for Your Business

Choosing the Best Payment Options for Your Business

All small businesses need to offer the right payment options to their customers. With a plethora of choices available, which ones should your business select?

By Dave Howell

Anyone starting or running a business today must ensure they offer a range of different payment options to their customers. This is particularly vital as mobile commerce looks set to eclipse the massive success of e-commerce.

Consumer choice

How many payment options should your business offer? It may seem like an easy question to answer, but with the choice expanding each year as new payment services enter the market, choosing the right ones can be a daunting task.

The checkout and payment components of your business are often the most critical time to ensure your business has low-levels of basket abandonment. A fast, efficient and secure checkout and payment system will gain your business a reputation in your marketplace that ensures high levels of loyalty and brand advocacy. If you’re looking to increase customer satisfaction, improving your payment options and checkout systems is a practical and immediate way to do so.

“Contactless is becoming more important to us," says Lyndan Orvis, e-commerce manager at Hayes Garden World. "With many people spending around an average of £25.00, we can put about 60% of our customers through the checkout much quicker than ever before. It is important for your checkout team to prompt customers to use contactless, or have the POS (Point of Sale) there to prompt them. Getting customers through the till quickly and easily has never been so easy.”

Traditional merchant accounts linked to a store’s EPoS systems have become more flexible as new payment providers have entered the market. Often, they will offer a hybrid solution that links your business’s physical and virtual stores together in a seamless payment processing environment.

“Convenience has become the new loyalty,” says Oliver Rowbory, co-founder of The Good Till Co. “The key thing is to consider the needs of your own individual business, both today and in the coming months and years. As well as thinking about the payment options you offer to customers, consider the other ways your EPoS system might touch other aspects of your business. Data is invaluable in today’s digital world, so consider a system that integrates with your accounting platform and helps manage staff and stock. A till isn’t just for collecting payments – it can help you to work smarter and more efficiently, as well as servicing your customers.”

A new way to pay
A new way to pay:

Mobile payments haven't taken off as fast as some expected, but as more customers start to embrace the technology, businesses will need to get on board too

Millennial shoppers

The speed at which millennial shoppers have adopted mobile payments hasn’t been as rapid as many had expected. High-profile options such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet are gaining awareness in the marketplace, but technical issues and slow payment processing are cited by users of these services.

To give a sense of how quickly (or slowly) these solutions are gaining awareness, Apple Pay is currently recognized by 84% of Brits, while in Italy, where it is next most-well-known, the figure is just 42%. The most notable exception is Samsung Pay, which has a brand awareness gap of just four percentage points – 40% of UK customers versus 36% of Italians.

In its report that looked closely at millennial shoppers, VocaLink concluded: “One third of UK millennials preferred the idea of mobile payments from a service provider recommended by their bank, and when taken together with those who preferred provision directly by their banks, this gives a net 61% of UK millennials more likely to use mobile payments if they were in some way operated by or under their bank’s brand. For the UK at least, that appears to provide a signpost to the future.”

Developments such as PayPal’s Braintree, an end-to-end payments solution that integrates PCI compliance for businesses, illustrates what the future could look like for seamless payment systems for businesses of all sizes.

While some payment gateways can be a source of friction when consumers are making payments – especially on mobile – things look set to evolve. For example, businesses will increasingly adopt white-labelled payment gateways, which will deliver more efficiency with fewer steps in the payment process. “Most SMEs will continue to redirect for payment for some time, but I expect white labelling to become more and more common,” says Vinnie Morgan, CEO of BookingLive, which will use Stripe to deliver its own payment service.

As well as thinking about the payment options you offer to customers, consider the other ways your EPoS system might touch other aspects of your business. Data is invaluable in today’s digital world, so consider a system that integrates with your accounting platform and helps manage staff and stock. Oliver Rowbory, The Good Till Co

Your checklist

Choosing the right payment methods is critical to your business. Follow these steps to make the right choices.

1. Ask your customers

Don’t try and guess which payment methods your customers want. Survey them regularly to understand how their payment preferences change.

2. Merchant or Gateway

Look closely at how your customers are paying. If the majority use credit cards, a merchant account is essential. However, online-only businesses can benefit from the lower costs of a payment gateway provider.

3. Integrate your stores

If you have an online and offline business, consider how you can integrate their payment options. Your customers want to seamlessly switch from physical to online payments when they need to.

4. Watch the costs

Merchant accounts or payment gateways all come at a cost. Take some time to look at your sales volumes on each payment channel to see where your costs could be reduced. Check PaymentBrain or StoreKit to compare payment service providers.

5. More mobile payments

Consumers are still a little wary of using their smartphones for payments due to security concerns. This will change over the next few years. Your business needs to be ready to offer more payments via mobile devices.

The incumbent payment methods are here to stay, but your business needs to pay attention to how its customers change their attitude towards payments. Your business needs to be flexible and sensitive to how payment popularity changes to ensure you always offer the right payment options at the right time.

About the author

Dave Howell has been working as a freelance writer, journalist and publisher for the last 20 years, operating as Nexus Publishing. He specializes in technology and business subjects, with his work appearing in the national press and many of the leading technology and business magazines.