Accepting mobile payments can reduce your operating costs and improve customer experience, but introducing new payment technology into your operations does demand that your company make some internal process-based shifts, to ensure you realize a benefit from the transition.
Here are a few important points to consider when determining if your company should in fact, give mobile payments a try.
Do your current processes present cash flow issues?
Cash flow is critically important to a company's ability to grow and weather times of decreased demand. While you may have sufficient access to capital, borrowing can cost your business in the form of interest, and potential credit worthiness as perceived by lenders and potential investors. Mobile payments are a highly inexpensive means to improving your cash flow, on two fronts: Not only do mobile payments empower your sales staff to process customer payments from anywhere on a mobile device, including at your business's physical location, off site at client sites or trade shows, and over the phone; the payment tool gives customers payment flexibility - including the ability to pay using a credit card. If they are experiencing cash flow constraints, it may mean the difference between an invoice that is paid late or turned to collections, or paid in full upon completion.
With that in mind, transitioning your business model to include mobile payments will require you to establish certain payment safety protocols. Though reputable mobile payment processors ensure that mobile payment transactions are Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant so that sensitive data is encrypted throughout transaction processing to minimize the impacts of a security breach, your business must also take the appropriate steps to protect customer data. Educate your staff that they must be connected to a secure and password protected Wi-Fi network when they initiate mobile payment transactions, and to check the connection again before entering sensitive customer data. Many mobile payment providers allow merchants to accept customer payment information "offline," delaying data transmission across the network until a secure connection can be established. However, the person managing the transaction must be aware of the connection in advance.
Could your current promotional and loyalty strategy be improved upon?
Promotional discounts and loyalty programs can help market your products and services, and enhance sales - but the programs present inherent costs in production, execution and the potential for a poor customer experience if there is confusion associated with offer redemption. Mobile payments can streamline such programs. If you sell products directly from a retail storefront, for example, some mobile payment processing apps include location-based targeting capabilities, allowing you to serve relevant offers to customers who are physically near your business. Many mobile payment providers also allow merchants to integrate existing loyalty program information into the customer's record, negating the need for printed coupons. Though you'll need to confirm that your business is compliant with customer privacy laws (some promotions may require that customers 'opt in' to receive mobile marketing promotions), such tools can reduce the costs and waste associated with marketing promotions and loyalty programs.
Could you benefit from reduced overhead and infrastructure costs?
Changes are in the pipeline for the credit card industry at large, and they will impact merchants who accept credit cards. Effective in late fall 2015, credit card issuers will replace magnetic strip cards with Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) smartcards, enabled with a chip on the front of the card. While smartcards are thought to provide enhanced transaction security, the shift requires merchants to invest in new technology to process them. As the EMV smartcard deadline looms, many mobile payment processors are now collecting merchant orders for chip-enabled mobile payment processing technology. The new processing tools will present some expense to businesses, but the cost will likely be nominal compared to that of overhauling an existing point of sale system to accommodate the new EMV cards.
Accepting mobile payments can enhance customer convenience, and increase your own operational efficiency. Though introducing any new payment technology into your business model may require some new policies and procedures, the potential that mobile payment technology can offer your business in the form of improved sales and reduced costs may be well worth the effort.
Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, a credit card processing firm located in the western suburbs of Chicago. She has more than 20 years experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management and marketing.