Cash may be king, but as a business owner, you’ve probably noticed more and more of your customers and clients prefer other ways to pay. When many businesses were forced to close their doors early in the pandemic, consumers’ spending and paying behavior shifted from in-person to online which naturally led to fewer paper payments. As in-person shopping resumes, consumers still opt to pay electronically, often with contactless cards and mobile wallets.
To avoid losing sales, your business must be able to accept a customer’s preferred form of payment safely and securely, whether in-person or online, while also ensuring you receive your money as fast as possible. One of the best places to start is the bank where you have your business’s primary checking account.
“Merchant services,” the term used to describe a suite of products and services that enable businesses to accept card payments, has come a long way in recent years. Gone are the manual card imprinters and carbon paper slips. Merchants no longer call for approval on transactions over a certain amount. In addition to electronic terminals that authorize transactions in seconds, today many merchant services programs can provide valuable payment data to help owners better manage their business and cash flow.
Digging into the payment data
Facilitating sales is the core function of a merchant services program, but business owners may be surprised about the amount of data behind those sales, the insights the data reveals, and how it can be used in other areas of the business such as:
- Inventory management. By identifying top-selling and most profitable items, business owners can maintain inventory on those products and consider adding a broader range of similar or complementary items to increase sales.
- Marketing. For privacy concerns, business owners do not have access to personally identifiable information but anonymized transaction data reveals customer characteristics that help determine which customers and prospects to target, which products to promote, and the marketing channels to use to get the most out of your marketing dollars.
- Competitor insights. Businesses can see how their sales compare to the competition, and make any necessary adjustments to pricing, hours, or product mix.
- Staffing and payroll. Payments data can show the times when sales activity is highest for bricks-and-mortar locations. This is important at a time when many retailers and restaurants are facing staffing shortages and businesses need to leverage employee hours to ensure they are properly staffed.
As more customers choose to pay with cards, even more relevant information will be available that can be used to make sound business decisions. With the valuable insights it provides, it may be time to crown payments data as king.
Are you getting everything you need from your merchant services provider? Learn more about how Merchants & Marine Bank’s offerings do more than help your business process transactions.