If your small business doesn’t accept card payments, you don’t need me to tell you that you’re seriously behind the times – or that it’s probably a fear of the perceived complexity and cost of taking card payments that’s putting you off.
However, taking card payments has become simpler, quicker and less costly in recent years, and by not taking card payments, you’re doing your business a huge disservice. Here’s why.
Customers are used to being able to pay by card practically everywhere. Even when you wander around a craft fair these days, most stall holders will whip out a tablet and take your payment. Whether it’s just a debit card that takes their hard-earned cash straight out of their bank account or a credit card with which they can be as silly or as sensible as they like, a card makes it simple for customers to purchase whatever they want – and they’re used to having that power.
Greater spending power
Closely related to convenience is greater spending power. If a customer is expecting to pay by card and can’t, they’ll either:
Know already that they don’t have enough cash and leave. Now your sale depends on whether there’s a cash machine nearby; whether the customer wants or can afford to take cash out of their account; and whether they can be bothered to go to the cash machine, withdraw cash and come back. Let’s hope they don’t wander past a competitor with a card payment logo in their window on the way…
Wonder if they’ve got enough cash and scrabble about for it in pockets, bags, purses and wallets, then ask their friend if they have any cash, forcing them to do the same… hmm. Your customer is getting frustrated and so is the queue building behind them. Are they likely to come back again?
In a consumer survey commissioned by Barclaycard in 2014, 18% of respondents said they had left a store in the last six months because it didn’t take card payments, while another Barclaycard survey of small businesses found that around 1 in 4 of those not offering card payments lost around 60 sales a year because of it.
By not taking accepting card payments, you risk your business being seen as unprofessional, old-fashioned and less legitimate – three qualities unlikely to make customers keen to do business with you.
Card payments often take less time than cash transactions and with the advent of contactless payment, this has become quicker still. Putting aside the myth that Britons love to queue, quicker transactions and shorter queues are better for you and your customers.
Fewer cash security issues
Accepting card payments means less cash in the till, less cash kept on the premises and less trips to the bank to deposit cash. If those deposit trips include a car journey, factor in fuel costs when comparing the price of processing cash payments against the cost of processing card payments.
Opening up online and phone trade
By accepting card payments, you have the option to take orders online via your own website or a third party store, and you can also easily take orders over the phone.
Greater business trend insight
Accepting card payments means receiving detailed statements. Not only does this make it easier for you to keep track of transactions, it can also make it easier for you to identify peak sales periods and customer spending habits.
Most of your competitors are already accepting cards
This one’s a no-brainer. We know the convenience and spending power of cards makes customers favour them and spend more readily. If customers can’t use their cards to pay for your goods and services, they will be using them to pay for the goods and services of your competitors instead.
There are now a multitude of options for small business wanting to accept card payments and card payments are no longer restricted to your premises, either. Technology means you can take your payment system with you to events, fairs and trade shows. So do your research, get a card payment system to suit you and get with the times!
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We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!