“Nothing happens until the sale is made.” Tom Watson Sr. at IBM came up with that one. For your business-owning client, it’s all about ringing the cash register. Technology has increased the number of ways customers can choose to pay their bill. Are your clients ready for the future or living in the past?
We are looking at ways customers of your business-owning client might prefer to pay. Everything does not apply to everyone. After all, there are different types of businesses. There are geographic considerations. A diner in a restaurant will not be expecting to settle up the bill with an Electronic Funds Transfer. On the other hand, if you are in a city that attracts huge numbers of foreign tourists, you need to be aware of their unique needs.
There are restaurants that don’t accept credit cards. Peter Luger’s Steak House in NYC is a high-profile example. (They do have their own card for house accounts.) In 2012, a Zagat survey found about 40% of potential customers avoid a restaurant that only accept cash, not credit cards. There are restaurants that don’t accept cash. According to USA Today, Starbucks has experimented with the concept at one of its Seattle locations. There are even some businesses that will accept paper money, but not coins.
As mentioned earlier, a lot depends on the type of business your client owns. For B2B transactions, invoices with terms like net 30 days is standard business practice. Let’s assume your client’s business deals with walk in customers.
Six Basic Payment Methods Retailers Should Know About
Your business-owning client just wants to get paid. What do they need to do to stay on top of trends?
- Cash: That’s pretty obvious. That’s what cash registers are for.
- Personal Checks: If a restaurant doesn’t accept credit cards, they often have a policy of accepting personal checks.
- Credit Cards: According to 2012 data from valuepenguin.com, Visa, MasterCard and Discover are accepted in about 9 million establishments nationwide. American Express trails at 6 million. (3) A 2019 USA Today article describes the VISA and MasterCard’s “near universal acceptance.” Swipe fees are often an issue. Some businesses pass along an upcharge if you use a credit card to pay.
- Apple Pay: It’s one example of a digital wallet service. The customer pays through their phone. It’s referred to as a contactless payment service. Many store terminals accepting credit cards also indicate Apple Pay is accepted.
- Gift Cards: It’s a reverse version of a store credit card. Someone receives the card as a present. It can be used in the named store or restaurant instead of cash or a credit card. This is worth exploring in detail. If you visit your local Costco, you will probably see signage allowing you to buy gift cards for specific local businesses with $100.00 face value for $ 80.00.
- SNAP Cards: If you client sells groceries, they are familiar with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), an outgrowth of the food stamp program. Recipients use an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card in stores affiliated with the program. If your business sells staple foodstuffs, they can apply to the USDA to become an authorized retailer in their program.
Five Additional Payment Methods
The six examples listed above should cover most scenarios, but there are more. These can be important if you are in specific niche markets.
- PayPal: This one’s pretty obvious if you are doing business online.
- Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT): If the amount is large enough, the money travels from their bank to your bank. It’s often used in settling up invoices.
- Union Pay Cards: Many Chinese tourists visit the United States. Simon Properties, owner of Woodbury Commons and the King of Prussia Mall, has a program in place for Chinese tourists to use their Union Pay cards for payment in stores. FYI: It’s the largest card payment organization in the world. According to Statista, in 2017, approximately 3.17 million Chinese tourists visited the US. If your client’s business is in New York City, San Francisco, Washington, DC or other cities attracting Chinese tourists, this can be important.
- Foreign Currency: You’ve traveled overseas. You’ve probably stayed at hotels listing currency exchange rates on the wall near the reception desk. Although many tourists carry credit cards, what if someone wants to pay in cash that isn’t denominated in dollars? If you are in a city attracting lots of foreign tourists (like NYC), there are probably currency exchange locations nearby. How will you handle this situation?
- Cryptocurrencies: We probably aren’t there yet, but amazingly there are retailers that accept bitcoin as payment, usually as part of an online transaction. Your client probably doesn’t need to address this yet, but the day might not be far away.
If your business owning client can address most of the first seven examples, they are probably providing enough payment options for almost any customer that walks through their door.