You may be a small business owner, but your customers expect big things from you. One of them is certainly the convenience of the payment experience you can offer them. The good news? They take their payments just as seriously as you do, so offering the broadest set of options will have them return to your business with a smile and more money to spend each time.
But do you know all the pros and cons of each payment method available today? Read our guide on the most common payment methods for your business and optimize them for a cutting-edge customer experience!
How to attract the widest range of customers with your payment options
When it comes to payment, your options are as broad as your client profiles, you may say. Let’s see how this works.
- The first line of payment methods includes the old-school classics such as cash and checks.
- They are followed by the so-called “plastic” options in the forms of credit and debit cards.
- Finally, the increasingly popular mobile payments are following in the footsteps of the now established electronic bank transfers.
Now, what you’ll have to consider in the post-pandemic age is that cash is no longer the king of payments. Even credit cards had their thrones shaken after Covid-19 skyrocketed the popularity of online payments. So, yes, update your expectations and actions accordingly.
Whatever you go for, just remember to decide on some things in advance:
- Consider the location of your business,
- The potential size of your transactions,
- The financial profile of your customers,
- Type of services and/or goods you offer.
How does this work in practice? For instance, if you can foresee doing much of your business online, offering electronic payment is pretty much a no-brainer in this day and age.
Next, if your services and goods are expensive, your customer may have second thoughts when it comes to carrying a huge amount of cash in their pockets. So, you must consider this and offer a viable alternative in the form of cards and checks. If you are working with a more tech-savvy or younger audience, offering them a mobile payment option can spare you a headache or two down the line.
On the other hand, if you are providing relatively affordable items and services, people may prefer doing business with you with their hard-earned cash. It’s faster and more convenient, surely. Cash is also an attractive option if you find yourself in an area in which many of your customers are unbanked or underbanked or with poor card processing infrastructure.
Which are the most popular payment options among your clients?
Knowing this, no amount of preparation will leave you with a universally good payment method. Each of them comes with a set of advantages and pain points, but the readier you are to meet them, the safer you can expect to play it out.
Now, let’s start with the basics: cold hard cash. It’s the most familiar payment method since the dawn of time and involves charging your customers with paper money and coins.
If you can foresee dealing with a more mature crowd of customers, this payment method will be pretty much expected of you. In this case, failing to favor cash at the expense of more “confusing” payment methods will only draw ire from your customers! Always think of your audience.
- It involves no fees nor hassle. Yes, the payment is processed at the point of sale, so you do not depend much on the availability of networks and no party takes the cut of the transactions.
- Client convenience – some clients prefer cash because it helps them stay on budget and avoid overspending. They may also simply want to get rid of the change they carry around in their wallets. Allowing them to pay with cash will earn you some extra points from them.
- As explained above, large-sum payments in cash may leave your customers feeling a bit uncomfortable with that amount of physical money. They may shell out their cards instead, so be prepared to give them this option.
- If you hoard larger amounts of cash, you’ll want it to keep out of your bed mattress at home. That’s risky for various reasons, burglars being the chief among them. This is why you want to avoid this option and transport your earnings to the bank ASAP. Yet, money transit can be a risky endeavor in itself, so make sure you do not become too dependent on cash.
- There is also an issue of having to keep your stock of spare change always ready. On bad days, this can really be stressful and cause unnecessary delays.
- Finally, counting and tracking cash may not be an idea of fun for everyone. Also, bear in mind that you may be counting fake (counterfeit) cash at the end of the day!
If your small business is running on thin margins, foregoing the fees associated with credit and debit cards can help you squeeze a precious penny from each transaction. Just consider the disadvantages presented above and be prepared to handle cash as an unavoidable payment option with all factors considered.
This one is yet another golden standard of payment you’ll have to include, no matter how much devoted to cash your clients may be. For many, this is a favored method of payment whose advantages clearly outweigh the cons.
- Card payments are largely safe. As such, they can make your clients engage in larger transactions, simply by not having to fear for the cash they need to carry.
- You will automatically broaden your customer base by being able to service the needs of international clients more smoothly. Travelers, tourists, you name it.
- Whatever business you run, your premises will feature less cash, but without being the poorer for it. This should make you a less attractive target for potential burglars.
- With cards, counterfeit money is no longer your concern.
- Compared with cash as the speed king when it comes to payment, the funds you get from the card-based payments are a bit slower to arrive in your account. Be prepared to wait a day or two, depending on the agility of your payment processor.
- Yes, the fees are a pain in the back and they refer to a percentage of the transaction that goes to a third party. Check the fees for various debit or credit cards you want to support (support at least one of them) to avoid unpleasant surprises.
- As explained, you’ll have to shell out money for a purchase or a rental of a point-of-sale device that can process card-based payments.
- Remember what we said about not having to worry about counterfeit cash? Well, yes, but counterfeit and stolen cards are equally undesirable, so be prepared for any contingency.
Checks are a somewhat old-school payment method today. They are written proof or a document based on which a bank is authorized to transfer the funds from a client’s bank account to yours. They involve the provision of data on the bank account number and other personal information, as well as a handwritten signature on the check in question.
Checks were popular throughout the last century, only to be eclipsed by card and online payments.
In terms of pros and cons, they share some of these with the payment methods we already described.
- Similar to cards, your customers will feel more at ease with checks when paying for more expensive items or services compared with cash.
- They are usually safe.
- They reduce the amount of hard cash on your premises and the associated risks.
- Checks involve no fees whatsoever.
- Transfers of funds between the accounts can take a day or two to show in your bank statement.
- Fake checks do exist, together with the risk associated with the insufficient amount of funds in your client’s account. The latter is usually easily resolved but it can be a nuisance.
Now, this one is experiencing a virtual boom, particularly in the post-2020 era. Online payments need no special introduction. But let’s just remember that they encompass electronic payment gateways for the authorization of payments that can be made with cards, electronic checks, direct debit cards, etc.
The key word to remember here is that they are done electronically. Therefore, this payment method covers not only e-checks but other electronic transactions such as those involving cards, ATM operations, etc.
- They are usually safe, on the account of using advanced cryptographic protocols, digital signatures, etc.
- They are a fast and convenient payment option for an increasing number of customers of all ages.
- Large-volume payments are easier to manage for both the business and the customers.
- It reduces the amount of in-store cash that can draw criminals.
- Counterfeit money is no longer a source of concern.
- This method is also particularly convenient if you are making frequent payments that involve other businesses as clients.
- This payment method is not for the technologically averse among your customers who may prefer other payment methods.
- You have to wait for the actual funds to appear in your account.
Do not make the mistake of treating online payments as something which concerns online businesses only. Just because your business is different, it doesn’t mean you won’t have clients with digital wallets or mobile applications that keep information on their payment cards. So you might as well offer them support for online payments in your physical store or a place of business.
If you are going to future-proof your payment system, supporting online payments is the largest favor you can do for your small business in the years to come.
Of course, let’s not forget the close cousin of online payments – mobile payments. These are made via NFC or contactless technologies, digital wallets, or custom applications for money transfers that are stored on your customer’s phone.
- Mobile payments are usually faster than other payment methods, particularly when going with the contactless payment option.
- Contactless payments have become more affordable lately, recording the increase in their use and the number of users expecting to see such a method accepted by a business.
- While credit cards can be cloned and cash stolen, mobile payments typically require biometric confirmation before transferring any money. This includes a fingerprint scan or face recognition, which can’t be easily forged.
- Given today’s technological environment, the choice of mobile payment solutions may be slightly too overwhelming. Some solutions may be great for your business, others not so much – so a lot of effort may go into choosing one.
- Turning your device into a POS system requires constant updates, which may include costs in the long run. In other words, you may need to switch up your device every now and then as it becomes unable to keep up with the requirements of running mobile payments.
Make it simple
Does this all sound complicated? No, it should not, but why don’t you turn the tables on technology and use it for your own benefits?
vcita is a payment processing software that aims to simplify payment processing to the point of the routine that easily becomes your second skin.
With it, you can manage the whole of your payment process from a single interface. Based on support for around-the-clock payments, automated payment reminders, and confirmations, you’ll skip a learning curve and become a payment veteran in no time. And that’s for certain, no matter what type of business you are running.
To achieve this, each and every payment method will be supported behind a single pane of glass with vcita, making life easier for both you and your customer base.
You’ll get the opportunity to accept payments through a variety of integrations. These include: Stripe, Square, PayPal & Venmo, email, phone, and offline payments. You’ll also get fast invoice payment processing with all types of credit cards, cash and wire transfers, and supported creation of branded payment documentation.
At the same time, your clients will get access to an unobtrusive and convenient payment platform with a single-button functionality – who doesn’t want that? They will certainly remember this convenience and keep coming back to it, improving your bottom line in the process.
Which payment methods should I offer my clients?
Ideally, all of the above.
Yes, it’s that simple, apart from the implementation itself, which, again, can be made much easier if you know all the ins and outs of every payment method. In any case, you’d do well to feel the pulse of your customers and try to ascertain which payment method they may be most at ease with.
In this day and age, the “classics” such as cash and card payments must be complemented by the more contemporary methods such as online and mobile payments. This is something you simply cannot allow or afford yourself to ignore.
The best thing to do? Try to cover all bases and optimize your business around as many payment methods as possible while utilizing modern-day payment platforms as your technological allies on this path.