It’s likely that you have used a card machine to buy something with you know that it’s an easy, convenient, quick way for a customer to purchase something from a store either in person or online, and that it means not having to worry about having cash around, which is both a temptation for thieves and a problem for business owners due to having to take it to the bank to get it all paid in. Card payments are preferred, and for good reason, but in order to take card payments, businesses need a card machine to do it.
The first thing that happens is that a request via broadband or telephone line is sent from the card machine to the merchant bank. This checks that the bank account is valid and that there are no problems with the card or account.
Next, the transaction is submitted from the merchant bank to the card provider, which could be VISA or MasterCard, for example).
Once the card provider has ‘agreed’ that the transaction can take place, the details are passed to the issuing bank (ie, the bank that supplied the card and where the money will be taken from for the transaction). The bank checks the customer details before payment is made.
When everything has been verified, the payment is sent across from the issuing bank to the acquiring bank. This usually happens within seconds, although it can sometimes take two to three days for the money to arrive.
Studies have shown that 37% percent of potential customers will look to buy their goods elsewhere if the store they initially walk into doesn’t have a card machine. There are a number of reasons for this – they might want to pay using a credit card, or perhaps the nearest cashpoint charges (often as much as £2.50) for withdrawals. Whatever the reason, if card is the preferred method and you don’t give them the choice, they will walk away and find somewhere that does.
Plus, even if they do have cash and want to use it, that might not always be the case; next time they are out and about and they have run out of cash, they will’ll know they can use a card at your shop and so they will happily head to you.
When you embrace technology such as card machines, you are giving your business more credibility. Cash only businesses are viewed with suspicion in many cases, and even if everything is entirely above board, there is always the thought that perhaps not everything is being told to HMRC, for example.
Displaying credit and debit card logos, and giving customers the chance to pay by card if they want to, makes your business more trustworthy.
If a customer is using cash, they have a spending limit – once it’s gone, it’s gone. If you have a card machine, you can boost the chances of your customers deciding to spend a little more with you because they are not limited. If they see something else they want, they know that they can spend a little more, and since they are already in the shop you want to keep them there. What you don’t want is for them to see something else that they want and head off to the nearest cashpoint to grab the funds for it. This might give them the chance to change their minds, and not only will you lose the additional sale, you might well lose the original one too.
Card payments are quick and easy, and make transactions quicker too. That means your customers won’t have to wait for long to be seen and buy their goods. Too long of a queue is always going to make some people think twice, telling themselves that they’ll come back later to make their purchase (and perhaps then finding somewhere else to spend their money).
Contactless payments make things even quicker, and for smaller (under €30) purchases, the entire process can take just a few seconds.