Originally written by Dan Matthews on Small Business
The way consumers pay for goods and services has been revolutionised in recent years. From the coins and notes that we have all used for decades, to the smart digital applications of the 2020s, people now have more ways to pay than ever before.
As a small business owner, keeping up with advances in payments technology can feel like a challenge, but in truth getting set up is easier than you might think.
Why go contactless?
Cash remains a popular way to buy. According to the Bank of England, there are around £70bn-worth of notes in circulation, or about £1,000 for every member of the British public.
But plastic has caught up and, in 2017, overtook paper and coins as the UK’s preferred payment method. At the same time, the old-style Chip and PIN method has been joined by contactless as a quick and easy way to settle bills of £45 and under.
Before the coronavirus took hold in the UK, there were 889m contactless payments in February 2020 alone, the vast majority of which were made via credit or debit card. But customers also increasingly use their phones or smart devices to pay.
But at the peak of national lockdown, the percentage of card-not-present payments taken by businesses signed up to Square payment processing increased 15-fold, from 2 per cent in January to 33 per cent in April.
Increasingly, businesses have gone entirely cashless: by July one third of all Square’s food and drink business customers had gone cash free, with similar upticks for professional services (29 per cent) and healthcare & fitness (29 per cent).
As well as being fast and convenient for consumers, these payments can help save business money, reduce some of the risk and bureaucracy associated with handling cash and cut out some of the admin of handling cash.
>See also: 40% of the UK’s micro businesses do not accept card payments
How to incorporate smooth payments for your customers, wherever they are
The key to providing an effortless service is to allow your customers to pay the way they want to, be that via a smart device, a card or remotely via your website, phone or a secure payment link. The best way to do this is to pick a payments platform that’s flexible enough to work in synchronicity with your business, enhancing your offer and creating smooth experiences every time.
It’s about delivering more than just payments: you need a solution that links online and in-person transactions seamlessly; one which integrates with your existing ecommerce website, enables you to create a new one, or gives the option to add shoppable links.
Square helps businesses to accept all forms of payment, in person, over the phone or online, and make a sale anytime. Square provides a suite of products that are reliable, easy to use and flexible, with no need for additional staff training and don’t tie you into any long-term commitments. It’s so easy that you can create an account in minutes, plus there is an extensive choice of solutions for all business types:
Square Reader (£19 + VAT) enables you to accept Chip and PIN, contactless card transactions and mobile payments with Apple Pay and Google Pay. Connect wirelessly to your mobile device wherever you are and start accepting payments fast, safe in the knowledge your funds will be with you the next business day as standard.
Square Stand (£109 + VAT), meanwhile, turns your iPad into a seamless point of sale. It comes with a Square Reader and Dock, so you can take card payments on your countertop. Square Stand’s innovative swivel motion enables your customers to enter their PIN securely on the screen and its USB hardware hub lets you easily add accessories such as cash drawers or printers to your POS system.
Then there is Square Terminal (£199 + VAT), a portable all-in-one card machine with built-in point-of-sale software which lets you manage items, take contactless payments, print and email receipts and send invoices. Best of all, its interface is designed to be intuitive and easy to use so there is no training required to know how to use it.
To really meet your customers’ needs wherever they are, you need a solid ecommerce website. Square’s online solutions provide the answers whether you simply want to integrate payments to your existing website or build an online store from scratch and offer click and collect or delivery.
It integrates with your Square POS so you can import your item catalogue in real time, so that orders, items and inventory all remain synchronised for hitch-free inventory management.
You can build a new, professional website fast, whether you’re just starting out or looking to upgrade. No coding skills are required with Square’s site builder, with which you can create an elegant website that works on any device, and best of all you can get started on one of Square’s free subscription plans.
Regardless of what you sell, Square Online has it covered, from online retail, to food ordering and accepting donations from fans. You can even sell on Facebook, Instagram and other platforms without breaking a sweat.
Square Point of Sale
Square’s electronic point of sale (ePOS) technology enables you to run and build your business by managing sales, payments, records and inventory. It has been designed with efficiency in mind and is easy to set-up, so your team needs no additional training or skills. And you only pay when you accept a card payment, there are no monthly subscription fees or long-term commitments.
You can treat your customers like VIPs by creating profiles to serve their needs better. Meanwhile, customising your ePOS system lets you speed up check-out, add locations and employees, plus connect to a range of third-party apps you already use.
Can you afford not to?
Before the pandemic, around half of all in-person payments to Square customers were being made with cash. As of July 2020, that shrunk to fewer than one-in-four in-person transactions.
In many areas, this pandemic has accelerated trends which were going to happen anyway. Businesses have embraced contactless and one third have even gone fully cashless. As we enter 2021, can you afford not to?
To find out more about how Square can help your business with contactless, go here
How to sell anywhere with contactless payments