GS Logo
The Green Sheet, Inc

Please Log in

A Thing

Send an Email to:

Sell a Bundle, Make a Bundle

By Patty Colby

Take a look around; I doubt there's a shortage of competitors willing to go toe to toe to sell basic credit and debit point-of-sale solutions to your target merchants.

But take another look. How many of your competitors are ready, willing and able to learn how to package and sell a bundle of POS applications suited to a particular type of merchant?

In this day and age, keeping it simple is a formula for churn-and-burn economics. It leaves you competing solely on price and forever at risk from competitors who will undercut you and cost you merchant accounts.

Many definitions of bundling exist, but they all come down to the same concept: providing customers with a packaged offering of multiple products or services that collectively provide greater value than if they had to acquire them separately.

Additionally, bundling allows you to stand out from the competition by offering suites of products and services tailored to particular market segments or individual customers.

Bundling is now standard practice in many industries; however, it's not yet in ours. Part of the reason this industry has been slow to adopt bundling strategies is because in the past, several smaller applications were "daisy chained" or linked together to become a single, larger piece of code within a traditional payment environment.

And these monolithic applications became problematical because:

  • Payment applications must undergo stringent certification processes, and each time a change is made the entire piece of code must be recertified at a significant cost to the developer and acquirer.

  • Large, linked-together applications have significant performance penalties and unacceptably long download times.

  • Whenever developers add new functions or make changes, the risk of corruption to the entire application code increases.

This all changed, however, with the industry's adoption of multi-application terminals, such as VeriFone Inc.'s Omni 3750. Designed with the Verix multi-application architecture, the Omni 3750 and similar products enable merchants to securely run multiple payment and value-added applications.

Different developers create the applications on the same platform, and the core payment application is isolated from them and thus does not require recertification.

Multi-application terminals allow the addition of applications for merchants, and every new application installed on a merchant's payment terminal creates an added business relationship with that merchant.

These growing relationships build strong barriers to competition that make it less attractive for merchants to switch to working with one of your competitors.

What's the best way to take advantage of this opportunity? First, become aware of and comfortable with the range of applications available. Then become savvy in learning how to package them together to meet the needs of particular merchants.

Let's look at the needs of liquor store merchants, for example. Credit and debit obviously provide key benefits in allowing merchants to extend added payment options to their customers, but they also reduce merchants' risk of cash theft.

While many consumers have readily adapted to debit cards, many still prefer to use checks, so adding a check authorization and conversion application makes check acceptance about as easy as using a credit card.

In addition to offering their customers more convenience, merchants also reduce the risk of accepting fraudulent or bounced checks. Liquor store operators also face the risk of selling to minors. With multi-application terminals, it's a breeze to add age- and ID-verification applications.

With these applications, clerks can swipe a mag-strip license, scan a bar-coded license or manually enter a birth date, and the system calculates age eligibility.

These applications might also store a log of the transactions so merchants can provide authorities with proof that a person was "carded."

Now let's get a little more creative. Offer merchants of all sizes the opportunity to use their payment devices as time and labor management solutions to better manage employee time and payroll functions.

These applications optimize labor costs by enabling merchants to electronically collect, process, track, update and report labor information. They ensure uniform payment practices and decrease the volume of Department of Labor compliance issues for merchants.

Another workforce application is employment verification. Using the POS terminal as a data entry point, merchants can quickly and easily screen potential and existing employees. An application on the POS terminal searches databases to electronically confirm the identity of new hires.

Merchants can use this information to prevent the hiring of workers who have committed fraudulent or criminal activity for related organizations. This solution is particularly valuable to merchants experiencing high employee turnover.

While merchants have customers' attention at the check out counter, they have a golden opportunity to present a variety of prepaid solutions that not only provide consumers with convenience but also provide merchants with fee income from card activation and reloads.

It's not only about long distance calling cards anymore. Merchants have the ability to also offer prepaid debit and signature cards in their stores.

Prepaid debit often serves as a great payroll check cashing alternative that lets merchants cash customers' checks and hand them an immediately useable debit card. This reduces merchants' risk of keeping cash on hand, allows them to sell a new product (the card) and sets customers up for repeat visits to the merchant location every payday. I've just described five applications to present to retail merchants in a bundled solution. You can sell that application suite just as easily to convenience store merchants with similar issues. If they don't sell liquor, they undoubtedly sell tobacco and lottery products that require age verification.

If you're not comfortable handling the details of this type of sale, no problem. The bundle creates a great post installation telemarketing opportunity.

If you still think you can't handle it, the terminal manufacturers and the value-added service providers will make the calls. This provides you with the benefit of the revenue without the sales work to make it happen.

If you're still not sure, send merchants flyers in the mail to help them understand the possibilities; they might even call when they want to be signed up.

Once you become more comfortable and familiar with these applications, mix and match different suites to different customers.

For example, a dry cleaner doesn't need age verification and labor management, so why not sell them on the value of check authorization and conversion, along with gift cards that will increase repeat business?

Restaurants might be well suited to time and attendance labor management, along with gift and loyalty applications.

The possibilities seem endless. It's a matter of sizing up the needs of merchants and figuring out how to best package and sell them a suite of solutions.

Each additional application loaded on merchants' payment devices strengthens your relationships with those businesses and makes it that much harder for the competition to move in.

Don't wait ... call your equipment sales reps today and ask them about bundling solutions for your merchant sales team.

Patty Colby is the Manager of VeriFone's North America Value-add Program. She manages the company's strategy regarding all Value-add Program initiatives. She also coordinates the acquisition and executions of new value-add relationships and launch programs. Colby has more than 14 years' experience working with electronic payment systems and 19 years' experience in the issuing and acquiring industry. E-mail her at .

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.
Back Next Index © 2005, The Green Sheet, Inc.