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The Green Sheet Online Edition

June 22, 2009 • Issue 09:06:02

Stand alone or marry up

By Dale S. Laszig
DSL Direct LLC

As anyone who has combined disparate technologies can tell you, the result can be a bitter disappointment or a match made in heaven. The right combination can produce robust, end-to-end systems that are more than the sum of their parts; the wrong combination can produce discord among products that are not able to communicate.

This article offers ways merchant level salespeople (MLSs) can help merchants bridge gaps between stand-alone devices to create transformative, integrated processing solutions.

Credit meets debit

The resurgence of PIN-based debit use is largely due to price-conscious consumers. They have learned that selecting the cash-back feature on a retailer's POS device can be more convenient and less expensive than making an additional trip to an ATM machine.

If they use ATMs unaffiliated with their own banks, customers often have to pay out-of-network fees imposed by their banks in addition to ATM transaction fees.

The simple addition of an external PIN pad to a countertop terminal will both increase a merchant's average ticket and decrease the weight and frequency of daily cash deposits to the bank. Countertop terminals that do not have Payment Card Industry PIN Entry Device-compliant PIN pads would benefit from this inexpensive upgrade.

Be sure to check with your help desk or processor for a list of compatible hardware types, and follow the recommended procedure for encryption and testing prior to deployment and installation of PIN pads.

Front office meets back office

Most processors and gateway service providers offer online account access to merchants, enabling them to view real-time transactions from a variety of payment platforms. This ability can save merchants time and money, as well as add value to your processing services.

While many MLSs routinely demonstrate features and benefits of online account access to multilocation merchants, a smaller number show it to mom-and-pop stores. This feature should be front and center in all presentations, regardless of a merchant's size.

Even merchants who use a single device to process credit card transactions would benefit from logging in to a secure site and managing their credit card activity. This tool can help them track transaction flow, prevent fraud by reacting quickly to questionable activity and reconcile daily settlements with online banking.

Offering this routinely will reduce the number of calls you and your help desk receive from merchants who want to confirm receipt of transaction batches and find out when funds are expected to arrive in their bank accounts.

MO/TO meets brick and mortar

Make it a habit to ask all merchants you sign if they have virtual stores or do any MO/TO business. If you fail to ask this question, you could be leaving money on the table. Virtual terminals can be incorporated into existing office infrastructures, eliminating the need for additional hardware or phone lines.

Virtual terminals will more than compensate for their small gateway and transaction fees by providing an efficient, cost-effective way for merchants to process MO/TO transactions, as well as seamless navigation between processing platforms and online back offices where they can manage transaction data.

Accounting software meets card processing

The proliferation of payment processing software that can be integrated into Intuit Inc.'s QuickBooks applications and POS management systems attests to our need for integrated, enterprise-scale applications that provide a single point of access to an array of business logic (algorithms handling the exchange of information between a user interface and a database).

Credit card processing incorporated into inventory management, e-mail and accounting systems decreases errors caused by double entry. It also optimizes operating efficiencies for business owners, regardless of their size or industry.

E-commerce meets mobile commerce

It used to be that only the largest retailers had virtual stores and Web sites with shopping carts. Today's growing trend toward entrepreneurship has accelerated the adoption of Internet technology and e-commerce sites that include shopping carts, payment forms and links to virtual terminals.

Many retailers, consultants and private citizens are supplementing their income by promoting goods and services online to a global audience. More of us are learning about search engine optimization to make our Web sites visible to wider audiences.

Most virtual terminals can be accessed from anywhere, from laptop computers to smart phones, making it easier than ever to process credit card transactions from wherever merchants happen to be.

A large corporation can load an array of applications into mobile workers' smart phones to enable payment processing; track mileage, time and attendance, and general satellite positioning; and stay connected through text messaging, e-mail and paging.

Mobile workers can also use netbooks, laptop computers and proprietary devices with integrated payment processing so they can scan barcodes and qualify for lower card-swiped rates at the point of delivery.

Getting engaged

As payments industry professionals, we understand end-to-end solutions. Now it's time for us to educate our merchants on this concept and show them how it can help them grow their businesses.

In today's fast-paced, multitasking workplace, a single-use device that stands alone and has no relationship to any other part of a business is no longer sustainable. Let's help merchants add depth and dimension to older legacy devices by incorporating them into larger enterprise frameworks.

When merchants are not ready for wholesale upgrades to new processing systems, show them how to leverage old credit card terminals, smart phones or laptops. Show them how easy it is to view real-time transactions on a secure Web site. Show them how much money they can save by adding PIN pads to existing devices.

And the two shall be as one

To revamp an old expression, an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of card swipes. Make sure your hardware and software platforms are compatible and have the full support of your family - in this case your processor and customer support team - before attempting to tie the knot.

A true end-to-end solution that offers real-time access to transactions, mobility and interoperability is more than just a credit card system: It is an integral part of a merchant's business, an extension of his or her brand and, for you, the beginning of a beautiful relationship. end of article

Dale S. Laszig is a writer and payments industry executive with a diversified background in sales and marketing. Her company, DSL Direct LLC, helps industry professionals and business owners leverage electronic transaction technology. She can be reached at 973-930-0331 or dale@dsldirectllc.com.

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Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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