What Merchants Are Looking For In 2018
Innovations in online, mobile, and social technologies have created a revolution in merchant services that is intensifying competition between merchant acquirers and new market entrants.
While there is still much speculation surrounding how the future of the payments landscape will shake out, it is quite evident that for acquiring banks to successfully compete in this space they will need to deliver payment services and merchant solutions that offer a simple and easy cardholder interaction at the point of sale.
Anywhere, Everywhere Acceptance
Alan Nevels, the senior vice president of card risk and merchant services, for ICBA Bancard says that today’s small businesses need options that allow them to expand payment acceptance so that they can easily accept credit, signature debit or even gift cards from anywhere and everywhere their customers are. Whether that’s at the cash register, a restaurant drive-through or a remote location like the local farmer’s market—today’s small businesses demand cost-effective convenience with a frictionless, customer-enhanced experience.
Loyalty and Rewards
Rewarding faithful customers with a loyalty program is one of the ways many small businesses look to retain and grow their business and enhance the customer experience.
“Think of all the times, you’ve had to fumble around in your wallet to locate your rewards card. Today’s modern POS systems can accept both physical and virtual loyalty cards, so that the customer can accrue points via a mobile app or simply by providing the vendor with their phone number or email address.” Nevels adds that the loyalty programs also help merchants track customers’ buying patterns and that the data collected can be used to create targeted deals and discounts.
Business and Inventory Management
Small businesses also want merchant services that can help them operate more efficiently and profitably. Next-gen POS systems can help small businesses by providing an array of business management activity reports that can be used to track customer transaction data, types of tender, and inventory. Merchant POS systems that can recognize when a product has been purchased and instantly adjust inventory levels are especially useful for businesses that operate from more than one
location or have multiple sales people in the field.
“Partnering with a trusted acquirer who can help navigate the ins and outs of PCI compliance is crucial,” says Nevels. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) requires that any merchant that accepts, stores, processes, or transmits cardholder data, adhere to a set of security standards. “This can seem like a challenging process for the small business owner who just wants to be able to serve his or her customer and accept card payments so working with an acquirer that can safely and securely manage transactions and ensure PCI compliance with advanced encryption and tokenization is paramount.”
For community bank merchant-acquirers to grow and sustain their business, Nevels recommends a careful evaluation of how they can differentiate their services. “Value-added offerings, along with investments in technology, can help community bank acquirers reduce costs and enhance the experiences of their small business customers. For community banks seeking support in this evolving environment, ICBA Bancard offers risk-free referral and agent program options to ensure that every community bank can provide viable merchant services to its small business customers.”