The costs of running a business add up quickly. Ask any small business owner about their expenses, and you’ll likely get a long list of items and services, all of them indispensable, but all of them taking away from the bottom line. But while these expenses may be intimidating, small businesses that find ways to make these costs manageable—even profitable—can establish a dominant position in the marketplace.
A major expense for many businesses is the cost of processing transactions and keeping those transactions secure. The good news is that merchants are now able to use one partner for a point-of-sale system, payment processing and security protection. This offers fast processing and increased security for transactions, keeping customers happy while minimizing the risks of fraud. Good security protections are an absolute necessity, and they are always changing. A payment processor will save you time and money by managing all these challenges for you.
Here are three expenses your business can better manage without sacrificing quality or security.
1. Point-of-Sale SystemsOnly a few years ago, buying a point-of-sale system required a major investment of time and money. Installations were difficult and frustrating, with bulky machines and software that required lots of tech support to get online. Once these systems were in place, sales personnel had to manually enter data while ringing up customers, including sale price, applicable discounts and customer-loyalty information. These processes were slow and inefficient, and could result in multiple data-entry errors that took even more time to fix later on.
Today’s POS systems are different. These web-based programs are easy to install and run on machines as small as an iPad. Since the program is hosted on the cloud, you don’t typically have to worry about updating your system. When the software company releases an update, that update automatically downloads onto your POS system.
A modern POS can also help your business run more efficiently. Touchscreen monitors, especially those on mobile devices, allow people to check out faster. This can allow customers to avoid the checkout line entirely and instead pay right in the store aisles. With today’s POS systems, employees don’t have to manually enter nearly as much information as they once did. A few taps on the screen processes the transaction, eliminating the possibility of costly data-entry errors.
Lastly, a POS system can save money by delivering real-time reports about the state of your business. Everything from sales sheets to inventory to employee hours can be managed quickly and efficiently from your POS dashboard.
2. Payment ProcessingMany merchants think of card payment processing—and its associated costs and risks—as a necessary evil of doing business. Customers expect the option of paying with credit and debit cards, but this convenience requires a great deal of risk and expense for business owners.
Payment processing costs money. From interchange fees to chargebacks to cross-border expenses, merchants pay for every transaction they process. Small business owners also have to worry about fraud. Small and medium-sized businesses are the biggest targets for cyber attackers, and the consequences are serious. According to research done by the National Cyber Security Alliance, more than half of small businesses end up closing their doors within six months of a data breach due to massive fees, penalties and the loss of consumer trust.
3. MarketingBusinesses thrive or die based on the effectiveness of their marketing. Product pricing, loyalty programs and sales promotions all play a vital role in helping businesses keep customers coming through the door.
Your POS system can simplify the process by integrating and automating various marketing-related tasks. For instance, merchants can change the sale price on an item in several store locations by making one simple adjustment on the POS dashboard. Your system will also recognize loyalty-program customers during their transactions and record their purchases, allowing you to send relevant, compelling offers to them in your advertising.
New POS and payment-processing systems can help businesses save time and money on day-to-day operations. But small businesses should also be sure to safeguard their systems against potential fraud and cyber-theft to keep them and their customers safe. To learn a few simple steps your business can take to guard against security breaches, see our articles on securing your business against data theft and the various ways to spot a fake credit card.
Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.