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Which payment options are best for your small business?


Which payment options are best for your small business?

The days of one or two payment types are long gone. If you run a small business, you know the list of ways to take payments keeps getting longer and longer. You’ve probably even been surprised once or twice by a customer asking to pay a certain way that you didn’t even know existed. Digital wallets, credit cards, checks, wire transfers, wearable technology, customers really have their pick of payment types to use when making a transaction. But do all small businesses really offer that flexibility? Or is it better to only accept a few payment types? 

We’ll break down some of the main payment methods for small businesses and help you find out which ones are the best for you. 

Types of small business payment methods

Cash

Physical bills and coins have been around for generations, but little by little they’ve been phased out by more popular options like credit and debit cards, as well as newer payment methods like digital wallets. According to a study by Forbes, less than 10% of Americans use cash to pay for purchases. For some businesses, cash is still  an important payment method as it offers immediate liquidity and no processing fees. However, handling cash involves security risks and requires careful management of funds. 

Advantages:

  • Immediate availability of funds
  • No processing fees
  • Preferred by some customers who prefer to manage their spending with physical currency

Disadvantages: 

  • Security risks related to theft and misplacement
  • Requires time for counting and safekeeping
  • Limited ability to track transactions for accounting purposes

Credit cards

Credit cards are widely accepted and popular among customers due to their convenience and ability to defer payment. According to Forbes, they are the second most popular payment option, with 33% of Americans listing credit cards as their preferred method. For small businesses, accepting credit cards can increase sales and attract more customers, but it can also mean higher fees. 

Advantages:

  • Higher average transaction value
  • Increased sales opportunities, as customers tend to spend more with credit cards
  • Improved cash flow, as funds are deposited electronically

Disadvantages:

  • Processing fees and interchange fees
  • Need for a merchant account and possibly a payment gateway
  • Chargeback risks, which can lead to loss of revenue

With Sekure Payment Expert’s Edge program, however,  you get to save up to 100% of your credit card processing fees. The Edge program is similar to the “gas station model”: if you pay with cash, you pay one price, and if you pay by credit card, you pay a different price. The credit card terminal handles all of the calculations for you, and you end up with the same amount in your bank account on all sales.

Debit cards

Debit cards are linked directly to a customer’s bank account, making them a convenient and secure payment option. Over 47% of Americans prefer using debit cards for payments, making this the most popular payment method. 

Advantages:

  • Lower processing fees compared to credit cards
  • Immediate access to funds, similar to cash transactions
  • Growing in popularity due to convenience and security

Disadvantages:

  • Similar chargeback risks as credit cards
  • Need for a payment processor or merchant account
  • Limited fraud protection compared to credit cards

Checks

Despite the rise of electronic payments, checks are still used by some customers and businesses. They offer a form of payment with a paper trail, which can be advantageous for certain transactions. 

Advantages:

  • No processing fees
  • Paper trail for transactions
  • Preferred by some customers for larger transactions

Disadvantages

  • Risk of bounced or fraudulent checks
  • Time-consuming to process and deposit
  • Not suitable for immediate transactions due to clearing times

Online payment transfers

Online payment transfers, such as ACH transfers and bank transfers, are another option for small businesses, though not as popular. 

Advantages:

  • Lower processing fees compared to credit cards
  • Fast and convenient for both businesses and customers
  • Direct deposit into your business account

Disadvantages:

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  • Security concerns related to data breaches
  • Need for secure payment gateways or platforms
  • Limited protection against chargebacks

Digital wallets

Digital wallets, like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal, offer a contactless and convenient payment method for small businesses. A separate study by Forbes discovered that 53% of people use digital wallets more often than traditional payment methods.  

Advantages:

  • Fast and convenient for customers
  • Enhanced security with tokenization
  • Ability to accept payments from customers worldwide

Considerations:

  • Transaction fees may apply
  • Compatibility with your POS system or payment processor
  • Limited to customers who use digital wallet services

How to choose a payment methods 

When deciding on which payment methods to accept, merchants should carefully consider several factors. First, they need to evaluate the preferences of their customer base and their target market. Understanding what payment methods their customers prefer can significantly impact sales and customer satisfaction. For example, if your customers prefer to pay cash, changing your business to credit card only, can negatively impact your sales. 

Merchants should also assess the costs associated with each payment method, including processing fees, equipment costs, and any potential chargeback fees. 

One of the most important things to consider is security. The security and fraud protection offered by each method should be taken into account to safeguard both the business and its customers. 

Finally, the ease of integration with their existing systems and the availability of reliable customer support are essential considerations to ensure smooth operations and prompt resolution of any issues that may arise. By weighing these factors, merchants can make informed decisions that align with their business goals and customer needs.

How to accept different payment methods

Now that you know the different payment methods, and which ones might work best for you, it’s time to get into the how. There are many ways to accept payments and the more flexible the system, the better the service for the customer. 

POS systems

A point of sale (POS) system is crucial for processing payments and managing transactions. Also giving you the ability to view analytics, inventory, and even access features like employee scheduling.  Here are different types of POS systems that small businesses can consider:

  • Traditional POS systems: Typically involve a terminal connected to a payment processor or merchant account.
  • Mobile POS systems (mPOS): Use smartphones or tablets with a card reader attachment, allowing businesses to accept payments on the go.
  • Virtual terminals: Allow businesses to process payments via a web interface, useful for remote transactions like phone or mail orders.
  • Tablet POS systems: Combines a tablet with a secure stand and card reader, offering flexibility and a modern look.

Payment terminals

Payment terminals are devices used to process payments. Depending on your business needs, you may choose:

  • Countertop terminals: Fixed terminals for in-store payments.
  • Mobile terminals: Wireless terminals for accepting payments anywhere within your store or premises.
  • Integrated terminals: POS systems that integrate payment processing directly into your business software.

Payment gateways

For online transactions, payment gateways are essential:

  • Hosted payment gateways: Direct customers to a secure payment page hosted by the payment processor.
  • Integrated payment gateways: Seamlessly integrate into your website or online store, offering a streamlined checkout process.

Considerations when accepting payments 

Small businesses have a variety of payment methods and terminals available to them, each with its own advantages and considerations. But before choosing the platforms they’ll use to process transactions, there are several factors to take into consideration.

Security considerations

When accepting payments,security is paramount:

  • EMV chip technology: Helps protect against counterfeit card fraud.
  • Tokenization: Replaces sensitive card information with a token, enhancing security.
  • PCI compliance: Ensures your business meets security standards for handling credit card information.

Customer experience

Make sure your payment methods enhance the customer experience:

  • Contactless payments: Offer options like NFC (Near Field Communication) for fast and convenient payments.
  • Multi-currency support: If applicable, consider accepting payments in multiple currencies to accommodate international customers.

Accounting and reporting

Integrate your payment methods with your accounting system:

  • Automated reconciliation: Use tools that automate the process of reconciling payments with your bank statements.
  • Detailed reporting: Access reports that provide insights into your sales and payment trends.

By understanding these payment methods and implementing the right systems, small businesses can streamline transactions, improve cash flow, and enhance customer satisfaction.

Choosing the right payment options for your business

By offering a variety of payment options such as cash, credit cards, debit cards, checks, online transfers, and digital wallets, businesses can cater to diverse customer preferences and behaviors. 

Moreover, adopting suitable POS systems, payment terminals, and secure payment gateways ensures seamless transactions while prioritizing security and compliance.

By carefully evaluating these factors and implementing the right payment solutions, small businesses can create a positive shopping experience, foster customer loyalty, and drive sustainable growth in the competitive marketplace.

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