Many small and medium businesses (SMBs) are broadening their sales channels and developing strategies to adapt to new consumer shopping habits and preferences triggered by the pandemic. Some of these SMB continuity strategies include offering online and offline shopping experiences and a blend of the two with “buy online pick up in store” (BOPIS).


As they embrace new ways of doing business and ramp up for the holiday shopping season, small businesses will need to ensure they are providing customers with a seamless and convenient shopping experience over every sales channel. This starts with being able to accept payments across all channels and further emphasizes the importance of selecting the right merchant processor.


While this might sound simple, the many considerations that go into selecting the right merchant services provider can be challenging. Small businesses can more easily navigate the complexities of evaluating a payment processing solution by understanding four common payment processing hurdles and how to overcome them.

  1. Multi-Channel Support


Merchant services providers that only support one sales channel function translate into a major headache for today’s multi sales channel businesses. Utilizing one provider for POS payment processing support, another strictly for online shopping, and one for mobile or on-the-go payments makes it harder to view and manage payments and increases complexity and cost.


Integrated payment systems provide multi-channel support that solves this problem. These systems connect payment processing functions with accounting, payroll and customer relationship management (CRM), streamlining and optimizing core business operations.


Multi-channel support is a must have for businesses as they adapt business models to include new sales channels and respond to evolving consumer payment preferences.


Consulting firm McKinsey notes that physical distancing and stay-at-home orders changed the way whole consumer segments shop. Consumer shopping online has increased significantly across many categories and these habits are likely going to stick, as consumers report an intent to shop online even after the COVID-19 crisis. McKinsey data shows a 15-30% growth in consumers who purchase online for most categories.


Online shopping will massively accelerate this holiday season. Adobe projects online sales will reach $189 billion this year, up 33% year-over-year. Small businesses should see a boost in online sales as 38% of consumers will make a deliberate effort to shop at smaller retailers throughout the holiday season according to Adobe data.


Consumer payment preferences are also changing. The use of mobile payments and contactless payments are increasing along with consumer worries about touching surfaces during the coronavirus pandemic. According to the National Retail Federation, since January, no-touch payments have increased for 69% of retailers surveyed. Among retailers that had implemented contactless payments, 94% expect the increase to continue over the next 18 months and at the time of the survey, 19% said no-touch accounted for more than half of their in-store transactions.


In this environment integrated payment platforms that deliver functionality, scalability, speed and reliability are critical to merchant success.


As small businesses diversify sales channels and deliver the payment experiences consumers want, they should look for an all-in-one merchant service provider, offering an integrated platform and simplified experience. Consolidating payment processing functions under a single platform, allows businesses to take advantage of a faster, simpler and more cost-effective payment processing experience.


  1. Lack of Support


Lack of support can be another major pain point in dealing with some payment processing providers. What ifs, including what if the businesses payment processing equipment goes down, what if the business has a billing question or what if the business has a change they need to make, all point to the need for a merchant service provider dedicated to providing the best customer service and support.


A good credit card processor will always be one with exceptional customer service. Businesses should look for a credit card processing company that has a reputation for providing superior

customer service and should not overlook customer support in favor of ease of signup and sleek technology.


To keep their businesses running seamlessly and accepting payments at all times, it’s critical for small businesses not only to find a provider that offers support around the clock, but also offers an online knowledge bank of resources that are accessible anytime. This ensures that businesses, their employees, and their customers don’t run into unpredictable situations without having someone there to have their back.


  1. Information Security


Card fraud can be extremely costly and catastrophic for business brand reputation and elevates risk for small businesses. If businesses don’t have the proper safety mechanisms in place, they run the risk of not only putting their business on the line, but their customers, as well.


And according to the NRF, fraud remains the top payment-related challenge retailers have in their business.


These concerns are not going away any time soon. A Lexis Nexis Risk Solutions study found that credit card fraud volumes are increasing along with the massive shift to online and mobile transactions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The True Cost of Fraud Study found that fraud costs increased 7.3% for U.S. retailers year-over-year and costs companies $3.36 for every dollar lost to fraud compared to $3.13 in 2019 and $2.40 in 2016.


In order to avoid exposing their customers to fraudulent credit card processing transactions, it is important for businesses to find a payment processor that is adherent to payment card industry (PCI) data security standard, industry standards that ensure companies process or transmit customer payment information in a secure way. This is critical to minimizing fraud, protecting customers and reducing risk to the business.

  1. Fluctuating Processing Fees


Business owners already accepting credit card payments are likely no stranger to the pain of unpredictable payment processing fees. Businesses paying a percentage of their credit card sales to processing companies and card issuing companies rarely know what their bill will look like at the end of the month.


There is a lot of variance in processing fees and how they are calculated. Whether it’s the type of card used, the method of accepting the payment, or average transaction size, these factors make fees unpredictable and put a strain on small businesses budgets.


A typical approach to solving this issue might be for businesses to find a provider that will sit down and explain each fee the business is impacted by every month. The best solution, however, is to find a merchant service partner that is not only transparent about fees but goes beyond this by offering a service to eliminate them completely.


There is a payment processing solution that provides business owners with unlimited monthly credit card processing for one flat, low fee based on the merchants monthly processing volume. This solution eliminates merchant worries about hidden fees, perpetually increasing interchange rates, and unpredictable bills. This approach is designed to create a transparent payments environment where business owners not only understand the fees that come with credit card acceptance, but also have the option to avoid them completely.


Small businesses have a tall task to prepare for the influx of payment processing over a holiday season that is projected to boost revenue 107%. To survive and thrive during the season and beyond, they will need to partner with a merchant services provider that offers payment technology optimized for all sales channels, provides top notch customer support, adheres to payment card industry (PCI) data security standards and eliminates unpredictable processing fees.

Austin Mac Nab is CEO, co-founder and executive leader of VizyPay, a West Des Moines, Iowa-based provider of payment technology solutions for businesses across the U.S. Mac Nab has been in this role since April 2017 when he co-founded the company. Mac Nab, an expert in the payment processing, bank card and retail industries, is responsible for overseeing the company’s strategy and running the day-to-day business operations. Since co-founding VizyPay, the company has experienced consistent triple-digit revenue growth, going from $96,000 in 2017 revenues to a projected $8 million plus this year. Prior the joining VizyPay, Mac Nab was executive director of San Rafael-based Central Payment from 2006 to 2017; regional manager of Card Payment Solutions from 2004-2006.

Payment processing stock image by Peang 99/Shutterstock