This is a little different from my usual topics, but a lot of people I know are beginning to start their own small businesses, or grow their existing businesses. Recent conversations have caused my subconscious to tune into the nuances of this.
For example, I was traveling this week and I noticed a couple of the cab drivers swiped my credit card on their mobile devices using Square readers and I was able to receive my receipt via email or text message. That would have been unusual even a year ago, but it's very common now.
If you're a business owner that isn't accepting credit cards yet, here is some food for thought.
In TimesFreePress.com, small business owner Josh Lattimer details how being able to accept credit card payments saved his business and boosted his bottom line. In the past, Lattimer required his customers to pay with cash or write checks for his car care services, but since he started accepting credit card payments on his wife's iPad, his sales have steeply increased. In fact, Lattimer estimates that customers use credit cards for 90 percent of his outside sales—that money would have been lost without the right technology in place.
Jumping on Sales
Small business owners have to optimize their revenue by jumping on sales anytime, anywhere. For the hot dog stand owner or the ice cream truck driver, this means realizing that not everyone carries cash, and that it is important to have the technology in place to take alternative forms of payment. For someone who runs an online business or even a storefront, this may mean offering more payment options at checkout. By increasing the number of ways that your business accepts payments, you can pick up more sales and boost your bank balance in the process.
Listening to the Growing Market
The demand is not only there, it is growing. According to the Motley Fool, mobile payments in the U.S. are estimated to hit $90 billion by 2017. Last year alone there were $12.8 billion in mobile payments, representing huge growth. Business owners who are poised to take advantage of this sweeping growth will stand to make more money than their counterparts who let the shift pass them by.
However, the vast number of mobile payment products on the market means that consumers need to spend some time investigating so that they can find the right products for their needs. The main factor to consider is the cost of credit card processing services. This can cost users either a flat fee, or a percentage per transaction. Even large corporations like Starbucks have forgone their traditional credit card processing equipment in favor of more affordable and versatile mobile payments processing.
Companies like Intuit have stepped in to offer a range of credit card processing services for small business owners. Their mobile apps make it possible to process credit card payments using a phone or a tablet, while their online services are perfect for ecommerce sites. All of their services can be synced to your data files so that copies of all your receipts are readily available come tax time.
Business owners who accept mobile payments also need to keep up with the technology surrounding these types of payments. The umbrella phrase mobile payments can refer to devices which allow you to accept credit cards with your smart phone, but the phrase can also refer to accepting credit cards that have been stored in an app or accepting payments via a smartphone with a special chip, reports USA Today. The challenge for small business owners may be staying on top of these trends and anticipating how their clients want to pay both today and tomorrow, but information is available to the smart business owner seeking to stay ahead of the curve.
Mobile payments are going to grow, particularly as more phones have NFC (Near Field Communications) capabilities, more people move to digital wallets, and more consumers become comfortable with mobile payments. If you're not already doing so, it's time to get familiar with the mobile payment landscape, understand your options, and figure out how this shift will impact your business.