Article | March 10, 2020
Technology is changing at a fast pace and so is every industry related to it. People are moving from Facebook to Instagram, Google to Pinterest, blogs to video content, and so on. While the content remains to be the driving force behind all the marketing strategies, it is how it is generated, monetised, and marketed to the target audience that matters. Traditional marketing included pop-ups to divert the audience from what they were already watching, reading or listening. Agencies and media firms would utilise the space to spread a message in order to attract customers as per the size and demographic of the audience. Today, it is different. Today, Internet advertising industry is more sophisticated than ever before which lets retailers deliver their up-to-date graphics to target audiences and measure their responses simultaneously.
Article | May 19, 2021
Running a small business requires a tight eye on profits. More than likely, you will face scenarios in which you incur higher transaction fees you didn’t expect and could have avoided in the first place. Knowing how to navigate processing fees is a key part of your success. Whether you run a single location, a multi-location business, or even a mobile business, avoiding unnecessary fees should be part of the game plan.
Unfortunately, less-than-reputable POS providers are out there, and understanding fees associated with taking payment from customers isn’t easy, but knowing what to look for will help. In this article, we cover fees to keep an eye on and how to save more on your processing fees.
How To Avoid Paying Unnecessary Credit Card Processing Fees
Unfortunately, if you want to accept credit and debit cards as a form of payment in your business, you’re going to experience processing fees. The financial benefits outweigh the transaction costs, but you can still save some money on your POS system and credit card processing.
Negotiate Your Processing Fees
The reason it can be so hard to understand the actual cost of processing fees is that many merchant service providers bury fees in the fine print, and these fees can come back to haunt you. In general, the more upfront a company is about all its charges, the more trustworthy and reliable they are because they have nothing to hide, and typically those rates will be fair. But it also helps to keep an eye on certain aspects of a contract. You can then negotiate them or repackage services to boost your profits.
Transaction Fees: Choose The Right Plan
When setting up your contract, you are given the option of a range of credit card pricing plans. Here are three of the most common pricing models.
Interchange Plus Fee Pricing
This option offers different transaction rates for different card types, bank issuers, methods of transactions, and more. By understanding these fees when processing transactions, you can benefit financially by encouraging the usage of certain cards or procedures that are least costly.
In this scenario, you are charged different rates for different tiers created by your provider. It’s important to evaluate this option carefully because most transactions can fall into a less favorable tier rate.
Flat-fee Structure Pricing
This fee allows for one charge for card-present (CP) transactions and another for card-not-present (CNP) transactions, regardless of card type. This predictable, one-rate pricing model is easy to follow, allowing you to encourage a lower cents-per-transaction option and formulate special pricing deals. However flat-rate can sometimes come out as more expensive than interchange-plus pricing.
How To Avoid Monthly PCI Compliance Charges
A semi-regular fee many merchants run into is not falling in line with PCI Compliant in how they handle payment information. Being PCI compliant means maintaining important standards for customer data protection, and it is taken seriously. Compliance is required for major credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard and is becoming more popular as businesses continue to shift to online sales.
Rule enforcement is most often the responsibility of payment processing companies. Your provider will charge you two fees: a PCI compliance fee – which is once a year – and a PCI non-compliance fee – which occurs every month you have not completed your yearly PCI Compliance audit. Providers are free to charge however much they like for each service, and it can range anywhere between $30-$99 a month. Monthly charges are done both directly or indirectly via higher monthly fees, processing rates, or both. In some cases, the charges begin months after originally signing up with the processors hoping you won’t keep a close eye on all your ongoing processing fees.
As a merchant service provider, we at BNG Point-Of-Sale have a long and reliable history in helping our customers practice PCI Compliance within their business and avoid non-compliance fees.
PCI Compliance is necessary and it does require some work by the processors, so the charges aren’t a hoax, but there are some ways to keep costs down:
You can take on the responsibility of PCI Compliance yourself and forgo the processor’s fee; however, you will be on your own if issues arise. In today’s world of increasing e-commerce, it’s not recommended.
You can prevent the risk of non-compliance fees by working with companies that handle compliance internally. If they (not you) are the source of customer purchasing data, they are automatically in charge of it. Square and PayPal are examples of companies that handle all PCI Compliance, and we often account for these services when onboarding our customers and annually remind them to follow PCI Compliance.
At first glance, it may appear you are not charged by these companies for compliance and non-compliance, but in reality, compliance is still built into the standard fee for service; you just won’t see it specified. Still, you won’t be responsible for non-compliance fees since they own the data and are fully responsible for it.
The amount of compliance required of your business depends on how you take in payment and store customer data. Since processors have numerous clients and prefer not to get specific about it, they may charge a basic fee to cover most issues. This means you could be overpaying, so it’s a good area to evaluate this price of the packaged service vs. when it is priced individually.
There may be companies that don’t charge for compliance, but they are rare and may be suspect. In most cases, any free compliance is covered with higher fees in other areas.
How To Avoid Chargeback Fees
Chargeback fees should be avoided since they are more expensive than traditional transaction fees – especially if you are categorized as a “high risk” client. The first step is to avoid chargebacks in the first place.
Chargebacks can be the result of sales errors by you and your team, a misunderstanding by the customer, or the result of identity theft. Here are some ways to combat each.
Reduce Transaction Errors
Know when to stop a transaction. If an error occurs, push the cancel/hold button inside the transaction. If you are unable to do this, the transaction has already been claimed by the processing company.
Accurately process credits as credits and sales as sales.
Receive an Authorization Approval Code (AAC) before running a transaction.
Before batching your credit card processing at the end of the day, review all charges to verify all charges are correct and not duplicated. Keeping this as an active daily routine can prevent costly mistakes.
Ensure shipped items arrive to the customer to avoid disputes. Select the “ship product to billing address” to alleviate data error.
Keep Records Of Voids
Provide records to your customer of any proof of voids and include companion documentation for any disputes showing details of each purchase.
Decrease Risk Of Theft
If your processor charges more for card-not-present transactions, which most do, it’s because the risk of theft is higher. By requiring a driver’s license and signature and doing manually keyed-in card payments in person rather than over the phone, you lower the risk and enjoy lower charges per transaction.
Try to avoid non-qualified processing (when a card isn’t present or keyed or is missing billing information.) This type of processing is considered a high-risk factor, and processors charge accordingly.
When Possible, Run Orders On Debit Cards
Debit cards are considered a lower risk than credit cards and, in turn, the transaction rates are quite a bit less. This has mostly to do with the fact the purchase is a direct bank-to-bank transaction, but other factors make a difference such as PIN verification and signature requirements, bringing these purchases into a lower risk category. And typically the rates hold. You will still experience rate differences among debit cards related to how the purchases are conducted and who the issuing bank is.
Special incentives such as loyalty programs for debit card users help to easily boost profits.
A Final Thought On Keeping Processing Fees Low
As you can see, several variables can affect your processing rates. From fines to the pricing model your merchant service provider recommends, there’s a lot to consider.
As tempting as it can be to just try and find the cheapest option, be careful going with the lowest bidder. Remember, all POS and payment processing providers have to make some money to cover the costs of support their merchants. If you choose a processor with incredibly low fees, you run the risk of getting what you pay for when it comes to supporting your business.
If you’re not sure if you’re overpaying on your processing fees and want a free analysis, let our team review your current monthly statements and we’ll let you know if you’re getting a good deal or not.
Article | May 12, 2021
Point-of-sale (POS) software is constantly evolving. Clunky cash registers alone can’t keep up. Brick-and-mortar retailers are adopting leaner systems that operate on mobile devices in favor of complicated setups that cost thousands of dollars.
But it’s not just retail stores that are interested in POS systems—online store owners who sell at craft fairs, trade shows, and farmers markets are also in need of inexpensive and easy-to-use point-of-sale solutions.
So, what exactly is point of sale software, how do you know if you need it, and how do you choose the right tool for your business?
What is point-of-sale (POS) software?
Point of sale software is what brick-and-mortar retailers use to conduct sales in person. It's sometimes a cash register, computer, or even a tablet where cashiers input products, tally the cost, and conduct the financial transaction. Most POS software will also communicate with inventory levels to keep everything in balance.
A lot of big-box stores have wildly complex and expensive POS solutions, some of which were custom built for their needs. Independent retailers are moving away from these traditional POS systems and toward cloud-based point-of-sale solutions.
Types of POS software
There are two main types of POS software: on-premise and cloud-based. On-premise POS software requires you to be on location to use it. Terminals are the most common on-premise POS. Cloud-based POS software offers more flexibility, as you can use any connected, compatible device to access the dashboard. Cloud-based POS software is becoming more mainstream—the market was valued at around $1.29 billion for 2019, with an expected growth rate of more than 21.38% through 2026.
A cloud-based POS allows you to conduct sales and check in on your business even when you’re not at the store. You access it directly from the internet, and it’s often compatible with most POS hardware (cash drawers, printers, etc.) and other tools in your tech stack. This is great if you’re a small business that sells in a store and online along with the occasional in-person event.
When you use a cloud-based POS and link it to your Shopify store, your inventory automatically adjusts, helping you mitigate costly problems like stockouts. Cloud-based POS systems are also typically less expensive and more convenient than a tethered on-premise solution.
There are other types of POS software that fall into one or both of the above categories:
Mobile POS (mPOS): A mobile point-of-sale can move around inside or outside a store. Store owners can take transactions from a central point of purchase, like a traditional checkout counter or cash register, or wherever they need it to be. To take transactions on the go, retailers often use hardware like a tablet or smartphone to process transactions. Best for: Pop-up shops; increasing in-store conversion rate
Tablets: A tablet POS can be both mobile and docked to a station. These POS systems run on Android tablets or iPads, acting as either the main POS or supplementing your central POS station. This is also a mPOS. Best for: Selling products with lots of details, features, and/or use cases; collecting lots of customer data at the point of purchase; self-serve options; pop-up shops and event sales
Desktop: POS systems that run on a desktop computer are typically on-premise solutions docked to a checkout station. They’re bulky but often more powerful and reliable, depending on the hardware you choose.
The main POS station in a permanent brick-and-mortar store; businesses that want to add mPOS in addition to their desktop setup
Self-serve kiosks: Self-serve kiosks are common in food-based businesses, especially for quick-service restaurants and fast casual dining. This type of POS can drive a 15%–30% increase in average check size. They also work in retail environments. Best for: Food-based businesses; reducing lines and wait times; digitally savvy customers
POS apps: Depending on the POS, there are a few point of sale apps to choose from. POS apps work with your hardware and other compatible devices to enable you to access your data and manage business operations. Best for: Businesses that want flexibility and customizability without needing lots of technical resources or budget
Open-source POS: Open-source software allows companies to use their source code to build custom solutions with their platform. You can build your open-source POS system internally or with external collaborators. Best for: Enterprises with lots of technical resources; highly unique POS needs
Multichannel POS: A multichannel POS can integrate with various commerce channels, an increasingly important capability. These channels include your own website, third-party online marketplaces, your store, pop-up shops, event sales, wholesale, social media, and more. Best for: Ecommerce merchants who do or plan to sell in-person; multichannel online brands
Retail POS: A retail POS has features tailored to a brick-and-mortar business selling products. These features could include inventory management, forecasting, and multichannel selling. Best for: Pop-up shops; permanent brick-and-mortar stores in a traditional retail environment
Restaurant POS: Restaurant POS systems are designed with food-based businesses in mind. Specific features might include menu planning and costing, ingredient-level tracking, dish customizations, and self-serve ordering. Best for: Food-based businesses (fast food, casual, quick-serve, sit-down, etc.)
Components of a POS system
There are other pieces of hardware that can complement your POS setup:
Barcode scanner: In addition to scanning barcodes, you can also use some scanners to add discount codes. There are 1D barcode scanners that use the traditional bar code, and 2D barcode scanners that can read QR codes.
Cash drawer: Unless you only process cashless payments, you’ll need somewhere to put the cash customers use to pay for your products. The cash drawer is a safe, secure place to organize bills.
Credit and debit card reader: This piece of hardware can read debit and credit cards. There are several ways to read a card, including swipe, tap, and EMV chip. You need this for payment processing so you can receive the funds from the customer’s bank.
Receipt printer: These aren’t always essential, especially if you use Shopify POS, because you can send email receipts, but a printer can connect to your POS and spit out receipts on the spot.
Label printer: There are some instances where you’ll need to print a label—ship-from-store, for example. With a label printer as part of your POS setup, you can do that on the spot.
Scale: If you sell products by weight, you’ll need a scale to be able to determine how much to charge customers. Some scales connect directly to your POS for a seamless checkout.
What does a POS system do?
Modern POS systems offer far more functionality than simply administering transactions. They can complete other business functions, as well as inform important business decisions, including:
Managing inventory across all locations, both online and offline
Providing sales metrics and reporting
Managing customer data effectively
Improving in-store sales
Adapting to business needs with customizations
Managing inventory across all locations, both online and offline
Whether you have inventory at your storefront, pop-up shop, or warehouse, keeping accurate counts across the board is a tricky (and sometimes tedious) task. Inventory is one of your largest expenses as a retailer, and you need a simple way to manage it. That means having the right products in the right place at the right time—and a POS that helps you achieve that goal.
A modern POS system should help retailers manage inventory anywhere you keep your products. Not only does this level of inventory management make tracking easier, but fulfilling orders is quicker when you know how much of a product is at a given location at any time.
With a POS, you can easily monitor stock counts across all your stores, while keeping customers happy by avoiding stockouts and automatically ceasing sales of products when inventory runs out. Accurate stock counts streamline ordering from vendors so you always have inventory in stock wherever your products are selling best.
Complete visibility of your inventory across all locations also makes it easier to move stock from one place to another (e.g., from warehouse to storefront) when you run low on a product. And it’s simpler to create purchase orders and accurately create your demand forecasts.
Providing sales metrics and reporting
A POS is useful for far more than processing transactions. You also can use crucial information from your point-of-sale solution to make data-informed decisions about your entire business.
Modern POS systems make it painless to see analytics across every channel in your retail business, both individually and as part of your business as a whole. The ability to break down and filter sales data this way can often shed light on what’s working—and what isn’t.
So, when you’re assessing a POS system, ensure you can easily track the following:
Data for both in-store and online sales
Sales broken down over time (number of sales by day, week, month, etc.)
Sales per employee
Sales per channel (across all stores and for each location)
Staff activities broken down by employee
Product reports (to see what’s selling and what’s still sitting on shelves)
Number of orders (broken down by various stages of fulfillment)
Easy, intuitive access to this kind of data can help you make better decisions and understand the overall health of your business.
Managing customer data effectively
A POS should also help you easily collect, track, and manage customer information. Access to these details can help you better understand your ideal customers and identify your most loyal shoppers.
When evaluating your shortlist of POS contenders, make sure that your top choice helps you manage the following:
Customer profiles. Collect contact details to build in-depth profiles of your customers to help you learn more about them and their shopping habits.
Customer order histories. Quick access to a customer’s order history can help you effectively cross-sell and upsell by offering on-the-spot, tailored product recommendations based on past purchases.
Customer loyalty programs. A POS should give you access to your loyalty program across all sales channels, whether someone buys online, in-store, or elsewhere.
Improving in-store sales
The traditional shopping experience has changed, and retailers have to meet the ever-evolving demands of customers in order to compete. But a POS system can help you keep up with a shifting industry.
The right POS features can help you appeal to the empowered shopper and make more sales. For example, use your POS to stay in touch with customers and keep your products top of mind after they leave your store. Sales associates can email customers a list of items they were interested in but didn’t purchase while in-store, so, when they’re ready, the customer can buy those items via a feature like Shopify POS Email cart.
Providing a variety of shipping options is another way you can serve your customers’ evolving needs. You can use a POS feature to ship a purchase to whatever address is most convenient for a shopper, whether it’s their home, their office, or another location—which can give you a competitive edge.
A POS that offers flexible shipping alternatives can minimize the need for returns and exchanges and keep sales strong. That’s why the following pickup, purchase, and delivery options are quickly becoming table stakes:
Buy online, pick up in-store. In-store pickup allows customers to buy online and collect their order from the retailer’s physical store or a third-party location. Thousands of stores are decreasing returns and selling more by letting customers check the size, color, and shape of their purchases before walking out—all while offering highly valued flexibility.
Home delivery. After customers buy products in-store—especially heavy or large products, like furniture—they don’t necessarily want to lug it home with them. As an added convenience, offer home delivery. Or, if an item isn't available in-store, but is at another location, customers can buy in store and have the item shipped to their home.
In-store returns/exchanges for items purchased online. Creating a hassle-free returns experience for customers can actually build loyalty. For example, if a customer wants to return a product they purchased online, they may want to make a return immediately rather than sending the product back via snail mail. Make it simple for them to visit your store to make the return.
Article | February 24, 2020
For consumers, shopping can either be an exciting experience or a downright stressful one. Finding enough time to shop for the perfect gift or merely everyday staples while attempting to manage the challenges of work, family and everyday life can undoubtedly add to stress levels. Considering all of the expectations and obligations that exist within a consumer’s life, it’s critical for retailers to be respectful of their time when they have so little to spare. It's no secret that consumers’ choices on how, where and when they buy are dramatically redefining the retail industry as we know it. In order to stay relevant and top of mind for consumers, retailers must work to deliver the best possible shopping experience. Perhaps the strongest demonstration of value a retailer can provide to a consumer isn’t just better pricing or a more engaging environment, but instead to give back something their consumers value even more: time.