Website Hosting versus. Domain Registration Described

Web Hosting vs Domain Registration

Website Hosting and Domain Registration are a couple of aspects of managing a website. However it&#8217s vital that you comprehend the difference and employ cases.

Website Hosting is definitely an account on the computer (also known as server) that may store and serve website files online.

Domain Registration is leasing an individual-readable word (e.g., amazon . com.com) that directs individuals to specific website files using a browser.

Being an example, a website is definitely an &#8220address&#8221 on the web. Hosting may be the &#8220land&#8221 or space where your site files live.

That&#8217s rapid version. But there&#8217s more to website hosting versus. domain registration than their definition.

Disclosure – I receive referral charges from a lot of companies pointed out on this web site. My opinions and knowledge come from my very own experience like a having to pay customer or consultant to some having to pay customer.

How Hosting &amp Domains Work

Website hosting and domain registration are often paired together. However it&#8217s vital that you understand exactly the things they’re doing.

Domain Registration

Internet addresses are technically &#8220IP Addresses.&#8221 IP addresses really are a lengthy number of figures which make no sense to humans.

So rather of keying in 192.168..1.1 to gain access to an internet site, the web site owner can get a domain name which will path to that exact Ip.

Whenever you get a domain name name, you’re leasing it from the web Corporation for Names and Figures (ICANN). ICANN provides domains via approved registrars.

A website doesn’t do anything whatsoever by itself. Registration gives you the authority to &#8220point&#8221 your domain wherever you would like.

You are able to tell it to redirect to a different website.

Truly you&#8217ll would like it to direct browsers aimed at your website&#8230on your hosting account.

Website Hosting

Website hosting is definitely an account on the server that &#8220hosts&#8221 your site files.

If you don’t possess a domain &#8220pointed&#8221 for your hosting account, you have access to it having a string of figures within an Ip.

When you can technically construct your own server in your own home, many people buy hosting from the webhost.

A webhost is really a company that owns a lot of pre-configured servers they lease out based on different plans.

They’ll usually instructions regarding how to &#8220point&#8221 your domain for your hosting account. They’ll offer instructions for software to construct &amp manage your site.

Truly there’s a couple other terms that confuse issues.

Related Topics

There’s a couple of terms that you simply&#8217ll see along the way to explain.

DNS (also known as Website Name System)

DNS is really a system that will the actual work with converting your website name into an Ip. It may be outside of your domain registration as well as your hosting account. But, normally the domain registrar or perhaps your webhost will give you a DNS.

Cms

You are able to technically write and upload plain HTML files for your hosting account. Most website proprietors wish to edit and manage the website directly.

A cms (CMS) is software that enables you to definitely build, edit and manage all of your website files from one dashboard. A CMS should be placed on your hosting account.

WordPress may be the Internet&#8217s most typical cms. But there’s a numerous options. I authored a WordPress setup guide here.

Website Builder / Ecommerce Software

You are able to install &amp run a variety of software in your hosting account server. You will find tools that permit drag functionality, ecommerce functionality, or whatever you can envision.

Keep in mind that all of this software operates on a website hosting service that you simply access via your own domain name.

Ways To Get Began

How do we get began with domain registration and website hosting?

Well &#8211 this will depend on which for you to do. There are plenty of choices to mix, combine and employ different choices. It may be confusing, but almost all options boil lower to 3 usual pathways.

Buy Domain &amp Hosting Individually

With this particular path, you register your domain in a domain company of your liking as well as your hosting in a webhost. You&#8217ll then &#8220point&#8221 your domain for your hosting account.

Personally, i do that path. The domain with this website is at NameCheap and also the hosting is thru InMotion Hosting.

Provider Examples (Domains)

  • NameCheap (review).
  • GoDaddy (review).
  • Google (review).

Provider Examples (Hosting)

  • InMotion Hosting (review).
  • SiteGround (review).
  • Bluehost (review).

Advantages

  • Better lengthy-term prices.
  • Simpler to depart with less service commitments.
  • Companies usually focus on either.
  • Cheaper when the hosting project won&#8217t launch soon.

Disadvantages

  • Will lose out on short-term specials &amp discounts.
  • Less convenient as utilizing a single company.
  • Need to trobleshoot and fix across different companies.
  • Extra configuration steps.

When you purchase your hosting, you are able to install website software in your account. I&#8217ve written how to get this done with free WordPress software here.

Buy Domain &amp Hosting Together

With this particular path, you purchase your domain and hosting together from one company.

This is actually the most typical road to developing a website. It&#8217s convenient and makes lots of sense. Most domain providers also sell hosting. And many hosting providers also sell domains.

Actually, many hosting providers give a free domain for that newbie.

Provider Examples (Hosting + Domain)

  • GoDaddy (review).
  • NameCheap (review).
  • InMotion Hosting (review).
  • SiteGround (review).
  • Bluehost (review).

Advantages

  • Convenience and ease.
  • Unified support in one company.
  • Bundled specials and discounts.
  • No additional configuration.

Disadvantages

  • Harder to up and then leave to a different company or use backup services.
  • More costly lengthy-term with pricier domain renewals.
  • Difficult to manage many domains, particularly if many are inactive.
  • Lack of specialization in domain services (or hosting companies).

When you purchase hosting, you are able to install website software in your account and move from there. I&#8217ve written how to get this done with free WordPress software here.

With this particular option, you usually can transfer your domain to your webhost.

Buy Everything Bundled Together

With this particular path, you purchase your domain, hosting, and your site software in one bundle from one company.

This path is also known as using a &#8220website builder.&#8221

This path is typical among website proprietors. It&#8217s convenient. It&#8217s easy and it can make lots of sense for a lot of website proprietors.

The most important thing would be to recognize that you’re still having to pay for the similar elements because the first couple of options. You’re simply having to pay for any bundle with everything else incorporated.

Provider Examples

  • Weebly (review).
  • WordPress.com (review).
  • GoDaddy Website Builder (review).
  • Squarespace (review).
  • Shopify (review).

Advantages

  • Convenience and ease.
  • Unified support for any single, proprietary product.
  • Integrated functionality so everything &#8220just works&#8221.
  • Professional speed, security, and maintenance.

Disadvantages

  • Lack of total control &amp use of server.
  • Usually more costly over lengthy-term.
  • Lack of ability to personalize specific features / edits.
  • Difficult to trobleshoot and fix without customer care.
  • Difficult to leave company for various option.

When you&#8217ve selected and activated your plan, you&#8217ll need to follow the organization&#8217s steps to obtain began. Usually they’ve organized a obvious path to obtain your website in position and live.

Next Steps

If you’re thinking about an internet site project, it&#8217s important to comprehend the distinction between domain registration and website hosting.

They interact, but additionally behave like different products.

A website is crucial to the website project &#8211 regardless of whether you decide on a webhost or bundled services.

Knowing the website name you would like, download it today at this time from the domain registrar like NameCheap (promo) or GoDaddy (promo).

When you&#8217ve become domain, choose the very best website hosting or even the best website builder on your own.

You might like to bookmark this site setup guide here.

Have some fun!

&nbsp

The publish Website Hosting versus. Domain Registration Described made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

“”

The Intricacies of Invoicing Software: Are You Ready to Modernize Your Billing System?

small business invoice software

If you’re responsible for bookkeeping or billing for any kind of organization, you realize the significance of organization and accurate. You’ve reached stay on the top of who owes what or you’ll never get compensated (duh).

Many people might find the insightful available software choices confusing, though. These days, there aren’t merely a bewildering number of accounting programs to select from, but additionally dedicated invoicing software solutions, particularly created to handle every aspect of invoicing. Should you, too, are at a loss for the amount of electronic invoicing possibilities, you with thankful to understand that for many small companies, a (free!) web-based invoicing program may be all that’s necessary.

Regardless of whether you distribute invoices within the mail, digitally, or both, cloud-based invoicing software programs are a method to simplify your invoicing processes, assisting you do such things as track payments, calculate charges, send more professional-searching invoices, and provide your customers online payment options.

I come up with this short article to assist anybody thinking about making the switch to online invoicing software from traditional invoicing methods discover why it’s worthwhile. You&#8217ll also find out how cloud-based invoicing software will help you meet your objectives and help you save money, which you’ll then invest in more enjoyable online services, like Cinemax NOW and Amazon . com Prime (or simply reinvest it to your business anything you think may be the smarter choice. I&#8217ll defer for your judgement in this situation).

Who Needs Invoicing Software?

Nearly anybody can usually benefit from switching from pen-and-paper or Word-and-Stand out invoicing to dedicated software designed with the objective. Should you&#8217re thinking about making the transition, the first decision is going to be whether to check out invoicing software or accounting software.

Most accounting software includes a minimum of fundamental invoicing capacity. If you’re able to find accounting software inside your cost range that fits your invoicing needs, there&#8217s pointless you’ll need stand-alone invoicing software too. But you may want advanced invoicing features most accounting programs don&#8217t offer (for example auto-billing). Or you will be with limited funds &#8211 and invoicing software programs are frequently just a little less expensive than accounting software.

Obviously, better still than cheap is free of charge, and there are a few excellent free invoicing software options available. They are particularly great for freelancers, sole proprietors, and micro-companies.

A Brief History of Invoicing Software

In researching this subject, I came across that electronic invoicing dates completely to the mid-1960s! As the hippies were going through the limits of the awareness in Bay Area and Woodstock, companies were getting their very own little revolution, envisioning a “paperless office” and electronic file transfers. (Ok, so perhaps that’s being a tad too dramatic, but it’s kinda interesting in my experience that individuals were considering “going paperless” lengthy prior to the computer age.)

Anyway, because of ‘60s businessmen’s non-psychedelic revolution (well, most likely non-psychedelic who knows), the very first Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) systems were established in an effort to exchange transactional data, for example invoices and buy orders, with clients and vendors. These kinds of systems were utilised completely up to the 1990s, when came email and QuickBooks.

Copying a bit, you may be surprised to understand that the initial accounting software was really Peachtree, not QuickBooks. Peachtree (now Sage 50) was created for that first desktop Computers in 1977, but after QuickBooks arrived on the scene in 1992, QB grew to become the de facto software small companies employed for accounting needs like invoicing.

So, e-accounting and e-invoicing solutions have been in existence in excess of fifty years. Wild. Besides, lots of small, mother-and-pop companies and contractors have even today prevented using any type of sophisticated invoicing software simply because, well, they haven’t really required to. Sure, you utilize email, and you will use MS Word or Stand out, but you love to keep things really quite simple.

Today, another kind of another electronic revolution is going ahead (again, I’m most likely being overdramatic, however, are looking for a way to create invoicing software interesting). I’m speaking about cloud-based software. From invoicing to website design, several different popular software companies generally use has moved, or is incorporated in the processing of moving, towards the cloud.

Cloud-computing offers lots of advantages over traditional invoicing methods, also it makes going high-tech together with your old-school paper and snail-mail invoicing system quite simple and much more useful than ever before.

What’s Cloud-computing?

The primary two kinds of software in the marketplace today include software that is a component of a hard disk or server (on-premise software) and software that’s available on the web or “in the cloud.” “In the cloud” implies that information is stored on remote servers that may be utilized from the computer or any other device you receive online with — your smartphone, your tablet or netbook, etc.

Instead of entering just how all of this works, all you will need to know for that purposes want to know , is your data — for instance, your customers’ payment information — is stored online, and that means you can get on online. The information is encrypted, which protects it from online hackers, and also, since it isn’t stored on your pc, you won’t lose it in case your computer dies.

When compared with proprietary (installed) software, that you usually pay a 1-time fee, cloud-based software works a lot more like something. Users of cloud-based software services are usually billed on the recurring monthly (or yearly, or whatever) basis.

Advantages of Invoicing Software versus. Traditional Invoicing Methods

Okay, so remember earlier after i stated cloud-based invoicing software programs are both simple and easy , useful? For example of the items which means, particularly, with regards to the benefits it provides over doing everything by hands (or utilizing a spreadsheet program like Stand out, which isn’t created for invoicing).

Get compensated faster — The earlier you signal your invoices, the earlier you’ll probably get compensated. With smart invoicing software, you are able to schedule invoices to become sent As soon as possible, meaning faster, more reliable earnings for you personally. Furthermore, most invoicing software enables you to definitely collect online payments using a service like PayPal or Stripe, that is way quicker than awaiting a cheque (as well as easier for the clients and vendors).

Become more organized — Invoicing software leaves little room for human error, meaning less missed payments or overdue payments will fall with the cracks. Using smart software, you won’t need to make sure to do important billing tasks because they’ll be performed instantly.

Look more professional — Invoicing software typically includes professional-searching invoice templates, which you’ll personalize together with your company name and emblem.

Collect automatic payments — Should you offer any kind of subscription or membership-based service, you should use invoicing software to gather automatic payments each month (or every three several weeks, each year, etc.).

Collect helpful sales information — Most invoicing software has reporting abilities which allow you to track payments, forecasted earnings, client history, and so on. Some likewise incorporate fundamental expense tracking. After that you can evaluate these reports to create important business decisions.

Better billing statements — Again, with less room for human error, you receive better billing statements so you don’t anger your clients by overcharging them, or lose out on revenue by undercharging. Some software may even instantly calculate taxes and late charges.

Save sources — Handling all of your billing by hands takes considerable time, and everyone knows that point is money. Plus going paperless may also save lots of trees and also the cost to purchase individuals dead trees. Based on this 2013 TechRadar article, e-invoicing, that’s, emailing clients invoices rather of mailing them printed bills, is roughly 10 occasions less expensive than paper invoicing.

Send invoices everywhere — Cloud-based invoicing software could be utilized everywhere with a web connection. Which means you can certainly invoice customers or access your business’s billing information wherever you’re in the planet, as well as out of your phone if you want to.

Audit protection — Using invoicing software results in a obvious record of sales figures along with other cash-flow information. This article prove helpful while preparing your taxes and will also be essential to cover your A-S-S should you ever get audited through the I-R-S. (One caveat, though: Good invoicing practices really are a start. However, you should certainly consider double-entry accounting to maintain your ducks consecutively&#8211especially since most cloud-based accounting programs allow it to be quite simple.)

Better security — Payment information which is presented lower in writing or held in Stand out sheets or even the like is susceptible to thievery and destruction in case of an all natural or technical disaster. Cloud-based software stores such sensitive information within an encrypted format on remote servers. This reduces your liability and causes it to be which means you won’t lose all of your important data in case your server will get hacked or destroyed inside a ton, alien invasion, etc.

Invoicing Software Features

Invoice software typically comes full of helpful features, from customizable invoice templates and automatic florida sales tax calculation to recurring invoices and automatic payment reminders. Using invoicing software doesn’t need to mean going completely paperless, either — some invoicing software systems include “snail mail” services too.

Obviously, its not all invoicing solution includes every possible feature, but here are a few common options that come with invoicing software.

  • Online payment options
  • Customizable templates
  • Estimates/quotes
  • Recurring invoices
  • Automatic payment reminders
  • Online client portal
  • Capability to attach files to invoices
  • Automatic receipts
  • Fundamental stock list along with other inventory features
  • Financial statements
  • Automated late charges
  • Customer statements
  • Offer percentage discounts
  • Auto-billing
  • Multi-lingual abilities
  • Inventory tracking
  • Email services (distribute invoices within the mail)
  • Multi-currency support
  • Time tracking
  • Expense tracking
  • Field for S&ampH or P&ampP
  • Florida sales tax and VAT calculation
  • Mobile phone applications
  • API for developers to integrate the program using their existing systems

  • Fundamental bookkeeping features

If you’re presently looking for invoicing software, it’s smart to check out their list and choose featuring you’ll need, that are &#8220nice-to-haves,&#8221 and which you’ll equally well do without.

Primary Kinds of Small Company Invoice Software

While we’re mostly concentrating on cloud-based invoicing software in the following paragraphs, there’s also some in your area installed options. You may also select from free and compensated invoicing software, in addition to accounting software with invoicing features.

Cloud-based — As pointed out, lots of modern invoicing software programs are cloud-based. Free or pay-as-you-go cloud software provides you with versatility and scalability and frequently requires minimal, or no, commitment. Additionally, it provides secure data storage and backups.

In your area installed — There’s also some invoicing programs you are able to download for your computer, for example Invoice Expert and ExpressInvoice. In your area installed programs could be cheaper over time (a 1-time cost as opposed to a subscription). However, they lack mobility along with other helpful online features.

Accounting software (with invoicing features) — Quickbooks Online, Xero, FreeAgent, and Zoho Books are types of cloud-based accounting software with invoicing features. (FreeAgent and Zoho Books have particularly nice invoicing features, much better than that which you&#8217ll get in some dedicated invoicing software.) An alternative choice is in your area installed accounting software with invoicing features, for example Quickbooks and Sage 50.

Free — You might be surprised to understand that virtually all of the main cloud-based invoicing software services possess a free option&#8211though for many programs, the constraints from the free version render it virtually useless. (FreshBooks&#8217s free version, for example, enables you to definitely manage just one client.) Still, there are several excellent free options available which permit for limitless clients. You might not get as numerous features or just as much customer care just like compensated plans, however for some small companies or freelancers, a totally free plan may be all that’s necessary. Selecting a totally free program will typically help you save between $100 and $500 each year.

Compensated — With compensated plans, you typically have more features, more users, and customer care. Additionally you can remove any software provider’s branding and/or domain around the invoices you signal out, replacing it with your personal company information.

For additional info on the variations between free and compensated cloud-based invoicing software, take a look at Merchant Maverick’s Katherine Miller’s article about them. How to pick Invoicing Software also offers some helpful information on the variations between free and compensated invoicing software, and cloud-based versus. in your area installed invoicing software.

The Best Small Business Invoicing Software

Beginning to obtain a wise decision of the items invoicing software can perform for you personally, and which invoicing features you may want? I really hope so, otherwise why shall we be held spending my Saturday penning this? Great! Keeping that concept in your mind, take the time to see about some the greatest-rated (rated 4 stars or greater by Merchant Maverick) invoicing software systems available so that you can pick which of those programs will best match your specific needs and budget.

The next invoicing software packages are rated 4-5 stars on Merchant Maverick. All of these are web-based solutions with a totally free along with a compensated option.

FreshBooks

Freshbooks small business invoicing software

FreshBooks is excellent cloud-based invoicing solution with a few fundamental bookkeeping features. (Unlike its advertising, however, it’s not full accounting software.) It’s among the finest invoicing solutions available on the market at the moment, also it integrates having a vast number of software. It’s excellent customer care and it is very simple to use. FreshBooks is tailored to independent contractors and small, service-based companies.

Best features:

  • More integrations than every other software
  • Recurring invoices
  • Auto-billing
  • Automatic payment reminders
  • Client statements
  • Customizable automatic notecards
  • Discounts and late charges
  • Partial payments
  • Online payment option through PayPal
  • iPhone/Android apps

Prices:

You should use FreshBooks free indefinitely to handle just one client. Based on the number of users and clients you’ve, compensated plans vary from $19.95/month to $39.95/month.

Invoicera

small business invoice software

Invoicera is yet another excellent, easy-to-use cloud-based invoicing software solution with wonderful features, although the customer support could stand improvement. It is among the pricier options, however it provides more features than most invoicing software and includes auto-billing. Actually, if you would like each and every invoicing feature obtainable in stand-alone software, your decision is nearly certainly Invoicera.

Best features:

  • Auto-billing
  • Inventory tracking
  • Project budgeting
  • Client portal
  • 21 payment gateways
  • Invoice personalization options
  • Smooth navigation
  • API
  • Time tracking
  • Estimate tool to deal with quotes
  • Multi-currency

Prices:

Free plan includes limitless invoicing for 3 clients and something user. Compensated plans vary from $19.95/month to $99.95/month.

Zoho Invoice

small business invoicing software

Zoho Invoice is definitely an attractive cloud-based invoicing choice for many companies, because it provides a slew of features at an affordable cost. Technology-not only by itself or along with other Zoho products.

Best features:

  • Recurring invoices
  • Online payments
  • Payment reminders
  • Intuitive interface
  • Multi-currency
  • API
  • Time tracking
  • Send invoices via snail-mail (for further cost)
  • Reports
  • Import/export abilities
  • Florida sales tax calculation

Prices:

Free plan includes one user and 5 clients. Compensated plans vary from $15/month to $30/month.

Invoiceable

small business invoice software

Invoiceable is free of charge for everybody to make use of without any limits — it doesn’t actually have a compensated version. You could have as numerous clients and send as numerous invoices as you desire. It&#8217s even the only free version that provides you the opportunity to create and send recurring invoices. For really small companies and freelancers who’ve a comparatively low invoice volume – particularly if your present option would be typing up invoices in MS Word or Stand out – Invoiceable is definitely an option really worth thinking about.

Best features:

  • Recurring invoices
  • Email or PDF invoices
  • Discounts and partial payments
  • PayPal online payment option
  • Multi-currency
  • Client list
  • Ultra-easy and simple to make use of

Prices:

There’s no recurring monthly charge, however, you will pay a 1-time payment to get rid of the Invoiceable Branding (£49) or show your personal domain on emailed invoices rather of Invoiceable’s (£39).

Debitoor

small business invoicing software

Debitoor is really a fundamental cloud invoice software service that’s simple to use and proficient at what it really does. It’s very decent customer support, even on free plans. Debitoor is tailored to independent contractors and small companies.(Note for the United States readers: this program isn&#8217t yet obtainable in the U.S. or Canada.)

Best features:

  • Estimates feature
  • Set default payment terms by client
  • Reports
  • Florida Sales Tax/VAT
  • API
  • Bank reconciliation

Prices:

Debitoor offers three cost tiers: Free, Premium (€5/month) and Premium Plus (€10/month).

Compare the top five cloud-based invoicing software programs at-a-glance.

Final Thoughts:

With regards to the current software small companies use, it’s a real buyer’s market. With cloud-based software, automating your invoicing responsibilities no more requires you to purchase an expensive QuickBooks software suite. Heck, you barely even require a computer nowadays, you are able to run your entire business out of your iPad if you would like.

Lightweight cloud-based invoicing software enables you to cover just the features you’ll need, which may be offered free of charge. Such invoicing software programs are usually simple to learn and employ, and certainly simpler and fewer time-consuming than doing everything by hands. As well as for traditionalists — you don’t always need to lose out on snail-mail features, either.

To help you get began on the road to an simpler, more organized invoicing system for the business, browse a lot of our invoicing software reviews or you can call us with any queries you may have about invoicing software.

The publish The Intricacies of Invoicing Software: Are You Ready to Modernize Your Billing System? made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

Spark Pay Versus Shopify

shopify-vs-spark-pay

Shopify is really a broadly popular cloud-based shopping cart software which is used by greater than 175,000 big and small e-tailers within the U.S. and abroad. Its elegant simplicity, gorgeous styles, and accessible customer support earned Shopify an almost perfect ranking on Merchant Maverick (see our full review here.) Types of stores presently using Shopify include include Tattly and Good As Gold.

But Shopify has lots of solid competition. Other web-located carts are used to produce killer stores, and something towards the top of the heap is Spark Pay (formerly AmeriCommerce, a good eCommerce cart which Capital One acquired to higher meet the requirements of the small company customers.) While Spark Pay is less popular than Shopify, it’s created many beautifully designed stores, appeared around the 2012 Corporation. 5000 list, and snagged a CODiE Award this year. Notable stores using Spark Pay include Kellogg’s Store and USA Hockey League.

Spark Pay and Shopify offer full teams of features and integrate with assorted payment processors and add-ons. Plus, each cart includes a history of consistently increasing the UX of the admin backends. But exactly how do these competitors compare when it comes to prices, user feedback, and style? We check out the intricacies of both shopping carts within the following comparison.

Don’t have enough time to see a whole article? Check out our best search engine optimization for any couple of quick recommendations. Every option we present here offers excellent customer care, superb website templates, and simple-to-use software, all for any reasonable cost. Otherwise, continue reading for that full scoop on Spark Pay and Shopify.

Web-Located or Licensed:

Spark Pay and Shopify are generally web-based, cloud-located shopping cart software solutions.

Software and hardware Needs:

Spark Pay and Shopify are fully web-located. Nothing apart from a safe and secure web connection and updated internet browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari) are needed to gain access to the cloud-based software. While all os’s and browsers are supported, installing the most recent technologies are usually a good idea.

Prices:

Champion: Shopify

Spark Pay and Shopify both offer free 14-day trials that don’t need a charge card to gain access to. Neither charges set-up or cancellation charges or insists upon sign an agreement. Both could be cancelled anytime.

Information regarding plan prices have been in my complete Spark Pay and Shopify reviews, however i&#8217ll address the popular features of each cart here.

Spark Pay charges $24.95/month because of its starter Steel plan and Shopify charges $29/month because of its comparable Fundamental plan. (Shopify also provides a $9/month Lite plan, that provides Facebook integration as well as an embeddable Buy Now button, but doesn’t present an online shop of their own.) After that, plans diverge a little more. Spark Pay has 5 plans, varying from $24.95 to $299/mo. Shopify has 3 primary plans, weighing $29, $79, and $179/mo. Custom-tailored Enterprise sized plans can be found by each, with variable prices.

In this category, Shopify may be the obvious champion. Its $29 plan can be a couple of dollars greater than the competing plan from Spark Pay, but almost every other plan’s considerably less, all while supplying a lot more overall convenience. Including limitless products, limitless bandwidth, and limitless online storage at each subscription level. They are three of the Big 4 points of comparison for each shopping cart software, the 4th being Transaction Charges. This is actually the only reason for similarity backward and forward carts, as neither charges transaction charges.

Simplicity of use:

Champion: Shopify

Spark Pay&#8217s admin includes more functionality than most retailers will require, although not a lot of extras that the store is going to be bogged lower. To obtain began, you’ll make use of a wizard to include information regarding your shop, select a template, set tax and shipping rates, and employ a style editor to change your store’s fonts, colors, and (if preferred) fundamental page structure. Soon you’ll anticipate to incorperate your first product. The newest form of the admin includes a standardized UI pattern that’s enhanced for cellular devices.

It didn’t take lengthy that i can get my bearings within the Shopify admin, with four steps to accomplish before you start selling, published in the forefront around the dashboard: adding products, customizing styles, establishing a domain, and entering tax and shipping info.

For me, after using both tools I discovered Shopify’s live theme editor to become more intuitive and accessible than Spark Pay&#8217s theme editor. Plus, with Shopify adding groups, products, and customer data is easy. Your nav menu could be rearranged via drag too. Overall, I love that Shopify comes as they are with what’s important and enables you to pick the functionality that’s most useful via its application store.

Though we provide the win to Shopify within this category, I wasn’t whatsoever displeased with the simplicity with Spark Pay.

Features:

Champion: Spark Pay

Both Shopify and Spark Pay offer an array of as they are features: see our Shopify review and Spark Pay review for that full lowdown. Spark Pay is phenomenal for the reason that it offers all features on all plans no matter its cost. So rather of sifting through lists to make certain your plan features a e-newsletter or Google Analytics integration, for instance, Spark Pay customers garner accessibility cart’s total suite of features, which simplifies the sign-up process. Another primary Spark Pay distinction is its multi-storefront feature that allows you to maintain several shop at any given time from one admin (additional stores are $39 each to include on.) Plus, Spark Pay offers one-page checkout, gift cards, and multi-language support as they are, while Shopify doesn’t.

Note that gift cards are offered on Shopify’s Pro and Limitless plans, and you may go for plug-ins for many any feature that doesn’t come immediately with Shopify via its application store, although doing this could cost extra.

Shopify introduces new features on regularly. And That I like this Shopify provides a mobile application so that you can keep your store everywhere via tablet or smartphone. (Spark Pay offers 31 Mobile Responsive themes to be sure that your store displays properly from the device, but hasn’t introduced a downloadable application to higher manage your store on the run.)

Website Design:

Champion: Shopify

I love that Spark Pay&#8217s skins could be customized via its Live Design Theme Editor that allows you to edit widgets and drag layout elements. If you’re a coder you’ll have the ability to gain full use of each template’s CSS and HTML (Shopify enables you to edit raw files through the &#8220Template Editor&#8221 within the admin too.)

Shopify features its own form of an active theme editor. You are able to follow together with alterations in a preview window before they’re printed and modify other elements of design instantly without requiring to refresh the pop-up window.

Even though many of Spark Pay&#8217s themes are eye-pleasing and fresher than what’s provided by competing carts, there are less of these than&#8217s provided by Shopify.

Templates are among Shopify’s most powerful selling points, with superbly designed free and premium options. It’s difficult to really ruin Shopify’s styles while making customizations, consider there are plenty of good options to select from, the probability is good that you simply won’t have to execute heavy changes to obtain selling to begin with. If you’re launching a brand new business and don’t cash experience building online retailers, you almost certainly want something which&#8217s simple to tweak which looks great. For me Shopify and Spark Pay have what must be done, but Shopify ends track of a narrow lead within this category.

Integrations and Add-Ons:

Champion: Shopify

Spark Pay offers some helpful add-ons to go with its set of features, having a couple of free and lots of premium options including Quickbooks, LivePerson, and Amazon . com Ads. However the amount of extras offered in Shopify’s application store blows Spark Pay out from the water. You’ll find countless marketing, reporting, shipping, social networking, and inventory integrations, including tools for strengthening product options and loyalty programs. Shopify also keeps a well-reviewed iPhone application. But beware: as pointed out above the price of plug-ins can also add up fast.

Payment Processing:

Champion: Shopify

Spark Pay is suitable for a large number of domestic gateways, including Authorize.net and Chase Paymentech and most 50 processors including PayPal. Shopify integrates using more than 70 gateways. Like Shopify, Spark Pay offers a free account. But don&#8217t worry- I won&#8217t point out that I distrust &#8220Persolvent&#8221 purely based on its absurd name for a A Merchant Account provider. You&#8217re welcome.

Overall, I’m more impressed using the new Shopify Payments. The processor approves sales instantly, displays payments in tangible-time, and includes chargeback recovery for all of us-based retailers. Registering cancels the transaction charges Shopify tacks onto its less costly plans. On Shopify Payments here.

Customer Support and Tech Support Team:

Champion: Shopify

While my encounters with Spark Pay customer support happen to be mostly positive, If only there is a method to interact with the tech team after 6pm. You are able to submit emergency tickets if trouble does show up throughout the weekend or overnight and study a forum, watch older video tutorials, and check for solutions inside a Understanding Center.

Shopify’s customer care team is among the very best in the biz. You’ll find a variety of methods for getting info, together with a Understanding Base, discussion forum, wiki, and Ecommerce University (that is basically only a couple of blogs on eCommerce topics.) Plus, customers located in The United States, the United kingdom, Australia, and Nz can call a delegated regional telephone number.

Watch will claim that they can offer top-notch support. However the proof is incorporated in the user community. Granted, users who’ve had unfortunate encounters are far more prone to leave feedback than users who’d positive encounters, but we are able to still consider the volume, severity, and customary styles one of the reviews for a concept of the likely trouble spots. The following two sections covers a few of these details.

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

Champion: Spark Pay

An intensive online search of user interactions and comments about both Spark Pay and Shopify switched up an extensive selection of complaints about both carts.

Spark Pay merchants are unhappy about its poor resolution rate for intricacies, however the recent acquisition by Capital You can (or might not) impact this. The possible lack of 24/7 phone support is another sore point of these reviewers. Other users want the opportunity to integrate with a lot more worldwide payment processors, but still more grumble about all of the extra charges for bandwidth overages, etc.

Many Shopify retailers detest the transaction charges Shopify contributes to its least costly plans (as pointed out above, the firPercent to twoPercent fee is waived should you join Shopify Payments) and don’t like this add-ons can rapidly make an inexpensive payment more costly. Others don’t like this clients are redirected towards the Shopify domain (checkout.shopify.com) to do purchases because it could (theoretically) result in abandoned carts. Additionally you won’t locate one-page checkout with Shopify (it’s an element Spark Pay has offered since its beginning) or discounts within the Starter and Fundamental plan. Spark Pay includes all features on all plans, making the sign-up process more straightforward and convenient.

Positive Testimonials and reviews:

Champion: Shopify

Retailers have ample good stuff to report about both Spark Pay and Shopify. Spark Pay customers cite the cart’s dependability with little downtime, regular software updates, and customizable styles. Others like its as they are reporting and powerful product management tools and discover its multiple storefront feature useful and simple to use.

But overall Shopify users reported a larger selection of positives, centering around stellar customer care encounters and general simplicity of use. Others love Shopify’s styles, its mobile application, auto backups, and healthy uptime record, as well as its limitless bandwidth.

While both carts stand out with positive user feedback, Shopify&#8217s depth and breadth of positives simply outweighs Spark Pay.

Final Verdict:

Champion: Shopify

Shopify and Spark Pay both got their start in 2005 and earned almost perfect star ratings within our reviews, placing greater than any competing cart.

For me, Spark Pay offers a effective suite of features that’s a great fit for established firms that don’t always require a simplified interface, but enjoy an intuitive admin nevertheless. I’ve found Spark Pay to be considered a well-built cart supported by a whip smart group of engineers. Plus, through the years it’s been making plans to become a bit more hip and welcoming to newbies. And it is multi-storefront feature is indeed a draw for retailers that run several online stores but wish to man the ship from one backend.

Shopify is easy to make use of, and it keeps improving upon that success. It markets itself to first-time retailers while offering a $9 starter plan for those who would like to test the waters. Despite the fact that I’d want to see a plumped up attributes which includes one-click checkout and multi-language support (and transaction charges dropped permanently) Shopify’s 24/7 support, number of integrations, mobile application, and beautiful styles provide the advantage over its competition.

Prepared to discover for yourself? Consider using a free demo of Spark Pay and take Shopify for a trial run for fourteen days and find out which shopping cart software may be the right fit for the online shop.

The publish Spark Pay Versus Shopify made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

The Best Help guide to Accepting Mobile Payments

This Year, the PewResearch Internet Project discovered that 65 % of respondents in the survey thought that by 2020, mobile payments may have almost entirely replaced the requirement for cash or perhaps charge cards. And if you&#8217re a merchant who&#8217s not accepting mobile payments yet, you&#8217re already behind the bend.

Now is a great time to have a look at why you ought to accept mobile payments, we’ve got the technology in play (and just what&#8217s coming), not to mention, the main players. We&#8217ll also demonstrate how to pull off obtaining the tools you have to accept mobile payments.

Why you ought to Accept Mobile Payments

Accepting mobile payments

Infographic by Jess3. Source: http://visual.ly/global-rise-mobile-payments

The truth is, business proprietors can&#8217t manage to focus on cash-only systems. Even though you&#8217re only a small-time crafts business and attend a couple of shows annually, should you don&#8217t accept card payments, you’re passing up on an enormous quantity of potential earnings.

Based on a 2012 study through the Fed, lots of people carry less than $20 in cash. Even though cash transactions were the most typical kind of transaction, their overall value was under credit, debit, or electronic transactions. By 2017, experts predict cash will take into account just 23 percent of transactions.

In a nutshell: if you would like people a larger investment along with you, you have to accept cards.

Technological progress around the mobile payments front continues to be slow. Square introduced its mobile payment system, enabling smartphone proprietors to show their devices into card readers, in ’09.

Google Wallet debuted this year, turning individuals same phones into digital wallets that replaced cards and funds, supplying, obviously, the business had the required equipment.

PayPal, the darling of e-commerce for a long time, didn&#8217t introduce its very own mobile payment solution until 2012.

However in 2014, Apple finally debuted its very own mobile payment solution, Apple Pay, which utilizes biometric authentication and NFC to create payments through the iPhone and Apple Watch. The adoption rate among Apple Pay is promising, with major retailers reporting massive increases in mobile payments.

In a nutshell: Apple joining the mobile payments field, and getting aboard a large number of major companies along the way, would be a big advance.

And also in 2015, Google made the decision to exchange Google Wallet&#8217s mobile payment abilities with a brand new application known as Android Pay. Google Wallet grew to become a peer-to-peer payments tool, allowing users to transmit money to buddies and family.

A 2015 study through the Given discovered that 22 percent of cell phone users and 28 percent of smartphone users had designed a mobile payment in the past year. That&#8217s up from 16 percent of cell phone users in 2014. And mobile transactions increased with a whopping 118 percent over five years, according to Business Insider.

Comprehending the Consumer Mindset

Researching the market may be the cornerstone associated with a effective strategic business plan. Here is exactly the same: Before you begin adding mobile payments for your business, it&#8217s essential that you understand a bit concerning the consumer mindset regarding them. Knowing your consumer can help you choose which option is the best for both you and your business.

Overall, there&#8217s great news. In america, Europe, and lots of japan, the outlook is usually positive and individuals are receptive. And when people begin using mobile payments, they are more inclined to keep doing so. The rate and ease of mobile are generally big factors within their appeal, so you have to remember this.

Plus, smartphones are starting to saturate the marketplace. An astonishing 82 % of 18-to-25-year-olds had smartphones by Q4 2013. About 60 % of the parents have smartphones, too.

That, however, doesn&#8217t mean there aren&#8217t any barriers to resistance or objections. Actually, a couple of pervasive myths might be keeping consumers from going mobile:

Infographic: Mobile Payment Myths

Infographic by Intuit. Source: http://payments.intuit.com/
mobile-payments-myths/

A 2013 survey by Accenture revealed some surprising insights about consumer sentiment toward mobile payments:

  • Many people understand their phones can complete mobile payments, however the adoption minute rates are low. That stated, once individuals have designed a mobile payment, they’re certainly going to keep doing so.
  • People aren&#8217t prepared to switch banks, upgrade phones, or make other changes just to obtain more support for mobile payments. Quite simply, it&#8217s around the merchant to become as flexible as you possibly can where mobile payments are worried.
  • Most importantly, individuals are concerned about privacy, security, and convenience with regards to mobile payments. Additionally they worry about value. Sixty percent of people that make mobile payments will make much more of them if utilizing their smartphone generated instant coupons. Several-third of mobile payment users are prepared to give private information in return for that convenience. They’re also thinking about value-added tools like receipt tracking.
  • Additionally to coupon incentives, consumers want to see other tools to supplement mobile payments. Which means features like receipt tracking or perhaps balance checkers might make an impact in adoption rate, as would having the ability to make use of a cell phone as evidence of ID.
  • Possibly most surprisingly, consumers AREN&#8217T waiting to determine what technology claims dominance. Which means there&#8217s likely room for a lot of types of mobile payments on the market, and it wouldn’t be impractical to think about finding a method to accept variations.

There&#8217s a little bit of push and pull happening here. There&#8217s a proper segment of shoppers who wish to use mobile payments. You may also lure new users to use mobile payments with the proper incentives.

Also important to note: Millennials, undoubtedly the greatest users of technology, are far interested in financial choices from technology, e-commerce and payment giants like PayPal, Amazon . com, Google, and Apple compared to what they have been in services using their own banks. One-third of them feel they won&#8217t want to use a financial institution whatsoever soon.

That stated, over fifty percent from the commercial banks have some type of mobile banking, and 61 percent of 18-to-25-year-olds who own smartphones use mobile banking. They have a tendency to determine their bank as interchangeable along with other banks, that is most likely one of the reasons for curiosity about alternative payments. The 2008 recession most likely didn&#8217t do much to assist Millennial perceptions of banks, either.

Mobile Payment Technology

At this time, you will find three contenders competing for dominance in mobile payments. They all have its very own advantages and disadvantages:

  • NFC
  • QR Codes
  • iBeacon

Let&#8217s take particular notice each and every to actually know how they might dominate mobile payments.

NFC

NFC, or near-field communication, is really a contactless data transfer system similar to RFID. When two NFC-enabled devices enter into range, you are able to transfer data from together (for example getting a telephone in selection of a charge card terminal). It plays well along with other technology for example Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, that is a huge advantage.

NFC isn&#8217t ubiquitous (yet), however it&#8217s found in many phones, particularly the flagship devices from Samsung, LG, and The new sony. Apple finally leaped in to the NFC game in 2014, and Google relaunched its mobile payments service as Android Pay in 2015. Samsung also launched its very own application, aptly named Samsung Pay, in 2015.

NFC is really a safe way of payments. Sensitive information is kept in a safe and secure element, either included in the Sim of the phone or put into another nick. Generally, retailers never really see your card or banking account data.

For any much deeper take a look at NFC, check out our guide, &#8220What is NFC, and Why Would You Care?&#8221

QR Codes

QR codes, or quick-response codes, have the type of ubiquity that NFC lacks. They work similar to your standard barcode symbols, with the exception that rather of counting on one-dimensional analog checking, they’re digital. This means that having a QR code readers application, your smartphone&#8217s camera could be temporarily converted to a scanner. QR codes can embed far more information than your standard barcode symbols, which provides them the ability to complete such things as open mobile sites, lead you to YouTube Videos, you will find, even allow you to complete mobile payments.

iBeacon

iBeacon is definitely an Apple-developed technology that utilizes Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE, or sometimes also known as Bluetooth Smart). Unlike another two kinds of technology, it&#8217s really still within the developmental stages. While you can use it for mobile payments, right now the greatest application for iBeacon is really as closeness alert or geo-fence that may go where Gps navigation doesn&#8217t.

It really works such as this: iBeacon units are positioned up within a building (like a mall). If somebody by having an iBeacon-enabled device makes selection of individuals beacons, they transmit information. A few of the ways fraxel treatments might be used is always to transmit mobile coupons or any other special deals, to steer customers through the store by department, or perhaps to enable them to find specific products on the grocery list.

A primary reason that NFC had an edge over Bluetooth for any lengthy there was a time the huge quantity of energy that Bluetooth needed. However, BLE uses much less energy than its predecessors, and that’s why it&#8217s now becoming more popular for pairing wireless rodents and keyboards (the batteries can last considerably longer). iBeacons with Bluetooth Smart technology won&#8217t be considered a massive power-suck for consumers. Plus, iBeacons have a further range than NFC: NFC devices have to be within 8 inches (though 2 ” is really most effective). iBeacons, however, have a variety of 50 meters, or about 165 ft.

For payments, iBeacons works as being similar to NFC: the telephone would wirelessly transmit payment information towards the terminal or beacon via Bluetooth.

It&#8217s also important to note that although iBeacons are Apple technology, they aren’t only at iOS devices. The telephone just will need Bluetooth Smart and also the appropriate application. In addition, Samsung announced its own form of the iBeacon, known as Closeness, at its 2014 developer conference in November. it really works exactly the same way as iBeacons, but instead of dealing with an application, Closeness works directly using the phone&#8217s hardware.

Even Facebook features its own Beacon service for companies. The beacons prompt people to the place to love the organization&#8217s Facebook page and offers additional information.

Major Players in Mobile Payments

Let&#8217s begin by analyzing a few of the major players in mobile payments, where they stand, and just how they compare when stacked facing one another. Included in this are:

  • Apple Pay
  • Android Pay
  • CurrentC
  • Flint
  • Square
  • LevelUp
  • PayPal Here
Apple Pay
apple-pay-logo

When Apple announced the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Also in September 2014, additionally, it introduced Apple Pay, which utilizes a mix of biometrics and NFC to accomplish mobile payments. Furthermore, Apple already had major retailers arranged to begin accepting Apple Pay. With this particular mobile payment method, consumers never need to give their names, charge card figures, or security codes to retailers. Rather, Apple utilizes a unique device ID to process the transaction.

Apple Pay works together with debit and credit cards for major US banks, including Visa, MasterCard and American Express from Chase, US Bank, Wells Fargo, PNC, and much more. You should check out the entire listing of banks and retailers here.

&nbsp

Android Pay

Before Apple Pay, there is Google Wallet. It never acquired much traction, however in 2015, Google launched Android Pay, the successor to Google Wallet. (GW continues to be available, but because a mobile wallet and peer-to-peer payments application.) Android Pay also uses NFC. To really make it work, you have to let the lock screen in your device. Unlock the telephone together with your preferred method (fingerprint scanner, PIN, or pattern) and tap it towards the terminal to accomplish the transaction.

There&#8217s also the Google Wallet Card. It&#8217s debit cards from MasterCard, that’s linked straight to your Google Wallet balance. You are able to link your GW account to your Android Pay account as well as withdraw cash from ATMs using the card.

&nbsp

CurrentC
CurrentC_App

Apple Pay encountered some trouble when some major retailers (including CVS and Rite Aid) disabled its NFC terminals to bar Apple Pay. The main reason? Wal-Mart, Best To Buy, Rite Aid, CVS along with other retailers have partnered inside a partnership known as the Merchant Customer Exchange, that is creating a mobile payment option known as CurrentC.

CurrentC uses QR codes instead of NFC. However the CurrentC process is slow, much slower than NFC, and extremely clunky. It&#8217s exactly the same kind of system combined with direct deposits. First, the client must scan the QR code generated by register while using CurrentC application. Then, the cashier scans the QR code generated through the phone.

The main reason people from the MCE are tossing their support behind CurrentC is it could conceivably enable them to sidestep the charges that charge card issuers charge. Most retailers pay between 1 % and three percent from the transaction in charges. CurrentC would sidestep this by utilizing checking accounts, gift certificates, and store-issued an atm card.

Right now, CurrentC hasn’t gone live, however the application will come in iTunes and Google Play. Worth mentioning is the fact that in October 2014, CurrentC was hacked and user emails were stolen. That&#8217s before the woking platform is fully ready to go.

Here&#8217s why that&#8217s so troubling:

CurrentC collects your driver&#8217s license number, your ssn, as well as your birth date to ensure your identity. Additionally, it collects your wellbeing information. Plus, among the key selling options that come with CurrentC may be the coupon-and-rewards feature. While it might be a large draw for purchasers, additionally, it reveals a lot of data about users as well as their shopping habits. Everything information goes directly to retailers, since retailers are the type who developed the platform.

Apple Pay, by comparison, doesn’t collect that data, also it doesn&#8217t share any information with retailers.

Flint
Flint-mobile-logo

Unlike another mobile payment options we&#8217ve discussed to date, Flint doesn&#8217t need any kind of terminal. It&#8217s a really &#8220mobile&#8221 solution because all that you should accept payments is the phone, that makes it well suited for service companies which make house calls along with other vendors who travel. Flint&#8217s mobile application works together with the digital camera to scan cards (note: it never stores the photos it requires of the charge card) and process payments. Which means no fighting with card readers as you’ve to with PayPal and Square. However, you are able to only accept Visa and MasterCard right now, with no pre-compensated cards. (It&#8217s also important to note that in October 2014, Flint guaranteed $9.4 million in funding, with Verizon adding the majority of it).

Flint offers invoicing, support for mobile coupons (via email and Apple Passbook), and digital receipts for money and appearance options. Should you also sell online, you may also setup an e-commerce system for checkout using Flint. For retailers, Flint&#8217s rates rely on regardless if you are charging a debit or credit card: for debit, you have to pay 1.95 % for credit, 2.95 %. Money is deposited straight into your bank account within 2 working days.

Square
Square-POS-Logo

Square really was the very first company to go in the mobile payments space, completely in 2009. Anybody having a cell phone could start swiping cards and accepting payments having a dongle that connects to headphone jack. Square, like other mobile payment services, charges a set rate per transaction.

For card swipes, retailers pay 2.75 %. Should you key the transaction in by hand, that jumps to three.five percent plus $.15. Square&#8217s greatest issue, from the merchant perspective, is its difficulties with holding funds if this suspects fraud. Otherwise, retailers obtain money within 1-2 working days.

Using the EMV liability shift, Square introduced a brand new card readers that is capable of doing studying the nick-and-PIN cards. It provides 2 types of the readers, including one which has NFC support to be able to accept payments via Apple Pay, Android Pay, along with other NFC-based services.

LevelUp
LevelUp-logo

LevelUp is really a mobile payments processor with increased functionality than the other available choices we&#8217ve seen. It really works much like CurrentC for the reason that you scan QR codes. However, instead of linking to some banking account, it enables users to produce a mobile wallet using their debit and credit cards (the website states any U.S. debit or charge card is recognized). Additionally, it integrates with loyalty programs and generates coupons for you personally. LevelUp has greater than 14,000 partners, and you should check out their email list here.

Like Square, LevelUp includes a POS functionality. However, LevelUp also adds its very own terminal devices, that also support NFC and iBeacon. Much more promising, LevelUp&#8217s application for consumers can be obtained not only for Android and iOS, but additionally Home windows Phones.

Another thing that sets LevelUp apart is its open platform, that can be used to integrate to your own systems. You are able to integrate it into greater than 40 other POS systems in addition to e-commerce an internet-based ordering platforms.

Retailers pay just 1.95 % per transaction, without any chargebacks. Money is deposited the following day to your account.

PayPal Here
paypal-here-logo

PayPal is, unquestionably, a huge in e-commerce, as well as in 2012 it finally moved into mobile payments. Like Square, you need to simply swipe the credit card while using free card readers. The funds you collect go straight into your PayPal account are available for you quickly. If you possess the PayPal bank card, the different options are the cash inside your PayPal account when it&#8217s inside at any location that accepts charge cards.

Like Square and LevelUp, retailers are billed flat charges per transaction. There’s additionally a POS system and support for invoicing. You are able to accept checks by snapping photos together with your phone&#8217s camera. PayPal Here charges 2.7 % for card swipes, though manual key-ins are 3.five percent plus $.15.

Something also worth mentioning is PayPal&#8217s One Touch. This mobile solution enables you to definitely stay logged to your PayPal account in your phone and employ that to accomplish any in-application purchases.

Like Square, PayPal also offers an EMV-compliant readers with NFC abilities to be able to accept mobile payments via consumers&#8217 selected apps.

Accepting Mobile Payments with a free account

What must you do in order to start accepting mobile payments? Should you travel for the business, a mobile solution like PayPal Here’s most likely the greater choice for you. However, if you want POS capacity and also have a brick-and-mortar location, you’ll need an NFC-enabled terminal that may accept Android Pay, Apple Pay, yet others.

Credit card merchant account providers can frequently assist you to get yourself a terminal, because of free or at an inexpensive. Let&#8217s check out a few of the top-rated providers, using their charges for their terminal options.

  • Dharma A Merchant Account
  • CDGcommerce
  • Helcim
  • PaylineData
  • PaymentDepot
Dharma A Merchant Account
dharma-merchant-services-logo

Dharma A Merchant Account offers retail and e-commerce solutions alike, if you come with an web store in addition to a physical store you are able to integrate them easily. As opposed to a tiered prices model Dharma charges a $15 fee every month (including PCI compliance) by having an interchange-plus cost model for transactions. Dharma charges .25 % along with an additional $.10 per transaction for in-person transactions, and .35 % plus $.10 for e-commerce.

For small companies (individuals earning under $10,000 per month), Dharma includes a partnership with Flint, so use a smartphone or tablet to process charge cards. However, this doesn&#8217t provide NFC abilities.

Terminals: During the time of penning this, Dharma can re-program your overall equipment to utilize its services for $100. For $299, you can aquire a VeriFone Vx520 terminal, that is NFC enabled in addition to EMV ready.

(EMV is really a global standard that will become a lot more common stateside in 2015 because of the massive liability shift that starts in October 2015. Essentially, this means that debit and credit cards includes a unique nick that gives extra security. Basically we&#8217re more worried about mobile payments here, you need to certainly locate a terminal that’s EMV compatible too.)

Also worth mentioning: Dharma donates 50 % of their profits to charitable organization. It&#8217s additionally a certified eco-friendly business and B-corp. If social or ecological responsibility are part of your company model, this appears such as the apparent fit.

CDGcommerce
cdgcommerce-logo

CDGcommerce also offers retail and e-commerce payment solutions — but additionally, it includes a mobile payment option that Dharma lacks, known as ProcessNow.

Prices wise, CDG charges 1.95 % plus $.30 for online transactions, 1.7 % plus $.25 for swipes, and 1.7 % plus $.25 for mobile transactions. On the top of this, there&#8217s a $10 monthly support package as well as an optional cdg360 package with value-added security measures for $15 per month.

Terminals: For $79 annually, CDG will give you an EMV-ready and NFC-enabled PerkWave terminal along with a customer-facing readers. It&#8217s suitable for Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and Softcard, along with the remaining NFC payment services. CDG also promises to replace it all within 24 hrs. The long run-proofing guarantee helps to ensure that if another bit of technology becomes standard (for example iBeacon), it’ll change your terminal. Plus, you receive free terminal reprogramming for just about any existing equipment, a totally free USB card swiper that&#8217ll use most Home windows and Mac devices for those who have existing software, and much more.

Helcim
helcim-logo

Helcim is yet another processor with multiple solutions: it provides an online terminal for implementing computers or running an e-commerce site, retail solutions with terminals, along with a mobile payment solution, all on the monthly subscription plan plus interchange-plus prices (Helcim calls it cost-plus prices).

The virtual terminal package runs $30 per month, the retail package runs $12 per month, and also the mobile package runs $25 per month. CDG charges just .18 percent per transaction for mobile and retail transactions, and .36 percent for virtual/e-commerce transactions.

Your monthly subscription also covers PCI compliance. The mobile package incorporates a totally free card readers and limitless users — but additional card visitors $45 each.

Terminals: With Helcim, you possess an range of terminal choices to accept mobile payments, beginning at $199. Re-programming of terminals is free of charge, and the organization offers exchanges for $45, where it’ll give back a refurbished pre-programmed model.

Payline Data
payline-data-logo

Payline Data again provides retail, e-commerce, and mobile solutions, also it claims to give the cheapest rates, guaranteed. They&#8217ll even provide you with $500 whether they can&#8217t beat your overall prices.

Payline uses interchange-plus prices on the top of the fee every month. Standard plans start at $5 monthly for any subscription, though you will get the professional take into account $20. Using the standard plan, you have to pay .five percent plus $.10, and pro accounts pay .2 percent plus $.10.

Terminals: Once again you can buy multiple terminals from VeriFone and Ingenico, including EMV and NFC devices. Prices start at $195. There is also a number of other retail supplies, including check readers, card readers, PIN pads, as well as receipt paper.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that Payline Data will donate 10 % from the processing revenue from your bank account to some charitable organization of the selecting from Payline&#8217s listing of approved partners.

Payment Depot
payment-depot-logo

Payment Depot operates a little differently compared to other processors we&#8217ve spoken about here. Again you’ve mobile, retail, and e-commerce solutions. You are able to pay a regular monthly fee or perhaps an annual fee that discounts the price by 20 %. But rather of interchange-plus, you have to pay a set rate.

That fee depends upon the package you select, which depends upon your monthly volume.

  • For sales under $10,000: $199 each year ($20 monthly) $.25 per transaction.
  • For sales as much as $40,000: $399 each year (40 monthly) $.15 per transaction.
  • Limitless: $599 each year ($60 monthly) $.10 per transaction.

Using the mid-tier package there is also a totally free virtual terminal so that you can enter payments from the browser or mobile phone. Using the limitless plan, Payment Depot offers an EMV-ready Smart Terminal.

Terminals: Again, you can aquire a free Smart Terminal using the limitless plan. Should you&#8217re not doing quite that volume, Payment Depot can reprogram existing equipment free of charge. Otherwise, you are able to use the organization to obtain a new terminal of the selecting, which will come at wholesale cost (the website states costs start just $49).

Final Ideas

We&#8217re residing in digital age, folks. Consumers have not had a lot of options, approximately much power — and for retailers, that may certainly appear frightening. And when you&#8217re not devotedly following a latest developments in technology, the idea of stepping into the sport can appear overwhelming.

Anything you do, don&#8217t just sit around at nighttime ages.

We&#8217re here to assist. Take a look at our reviews of charge card processors/credit card merchant account providers, in addition to our overview of mobile payment solutions. Need assistance selecting a service provider? Call us for help. We will also help you select a web-based shopping cart software to get involved with e-commerce, and pick a qualified POS software for you personally.

What else would you like to learn about accepting mobile payments? Ask away!

The publish The Best Help guide to Accepting Mobile Payments made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

Mobile Payment Processing 101

how do mobile payments work

Should you focus on Internet buzz whatsoever, you&#8217ve most likely heard the term &#8220mobile&#8221 tossed out a great deal. Almost everything&#8217s gone mobile — gaming, marketing, shopping, you will find, even payments.

Using the rise of apps like Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay, more shoppers have found it easy to ditch the credit card altogether and merely depend on their own phones for payments. And much more phones support we’ve got the technology needed, too.

Just how will it all work? How can you even start establishing your company to simply accept mobile payments? And really should you?

Today we&#8217ll cover the fundamentals of methods mobile payments work, what you ought to enable them for the business, and regardless of whether you really have to accept mobile payments at this time.

What Exactly Are Mobile Payments?

Mobile payments aren&#8217t by any means new. Individuals have been toying with the thought of having to pay with mobile phones because the 1990s, although it&#8217s only lately removed as a possible option for consumers AND retailers.

However the term &#8220mobile payments&#8221 is really a broad one. Generally, it refers to 1 of four things:

  1. In-store mobile payments: Also known as contactless payments, or sometimes mPOS payments. This requires utilizing a phone (or smartwatch) to pay for rather of swiping a charge card or having to pay with cash.
  2. Mobile eCommerce: Sometimes known as mCommerce. This requires making use of your phone to create purchases online, for example with the Amazon . com application, in addition to online bill pay using your phone.
  3. Mobile peer-to-peer: Also referred to as P2P. Including services for example PayPal, SnapCash, Square Cash, and Google Wallet, which allow you to send money to buddies and family totally free.
  4. Mobile Charge Card Swiping: This is alternative way the word &#8220mobile payments&#8221 is most generally used, also it describes retailers using their phones (or a tablets) to simply accept cards, as opposed to a traditional POS terminal. You may hear this more precisely known as mobile processing.

Ideas&#8217re mostly worried about in-store payments, but we&#8217ll discuss a few of the others.

How Popular Is Mobile Payment Processing?

So what would be the adoption rates like? The Given, in the 2015 survey, discovered that 28 percent of smartphone users and 22 percent of cell phone users had designed a mobile payment previously year. That, obviously, includes all sorts of payments sent via a phone, not only to-store payments.

Not just that, however the industry appears majorly poised for growth, with payments likely to hit $37 billion in 2015 — and jump to some massive $808 billion by 2019, based on estimates by Business Insider. Individuals figures are really slightly less than BI&#8217s original projections due to how late around Samsung Pay and Android Pay launched.

Want more statistics and compelling good reasons to consider going mobile yourself? Take a look at our Ultimate Help guide to Mobile Payments. Should you&#8217re thinking about taking payments in your phone, make sure to take a look at our comprehensive guide.

How Can Mobile Payments Work?

Nowadays, most mobile payment processing methods depend on NFC — that’s, near-field communication. NFC works nearly the same as RFID technology. When two NFC-enabled products are in range, they are able to transfer data (for example payment information) from together. Within this situation, we&#8217re speaking a good NFC-enabled charge card terminal (we&#8217ll return to that in just a minute) and also the consumer&#8217s smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch.

You can aquire a more in depth explanation of NFC within our article here.

The less-common alternative is using QR codes. They&#8217re similar to traditional barcodes, except they are able to hold a lot more information. The mobile phone opens an application that generates the QR code and also the merchant&#8217s POS system scans the bar code. At this time, LevelUp is among the few mobile payment options that utilizes QR codes. It supports NFC, as well as an less-common technology known as iBeacons.

The great factor about LevelUp is the fact that the organization works with companies to build up white-colored-label mobile payment apps. That means they&#8217ll produce a custom, branded application only for you. Consumers can download the application and employ that to create payments inside your stores (or restaurants).

The Customer Merchant Exchange, helmed by Walmart along with a couple of other institutions, have attempted to push CurrentC, a QR code-based choice for greater acceptance, however it&#8217s simply not removing the way in which NFC-based payments did when Apple Pay broke to the scene.

How Secure are Mobile Payments?

It&#8217s becoming more and more harder to help keep consumer data secure. Take, as an example the great Target Hack of 2013. As well as on a far more personal level, how many occasions have you ever received a brand new bank card just because a merchant&#8217s data was compromised?

Swiping a charge card just isn&#8217t a really secure type of payment because charge card figures are now being stored and transmitted more than a network.

Mobile payments — particularly, NFC-based ones — offer greater peace of mind because many of them depend on tokenization. Each time a shopper uses their mobile device to create a payment, the unit generates just one-use charge card number it transmits towards the merchant. Consequently, you, the shop owner, will never be really coping with the client&#8217s sensitive information.

Not just that, however the mobile phone&#8217s CPU rarely, when, handles the transaction and also the card details aren&#8217t really stored around the device. Rather, a safe and secure element or smart nick, outside of the CPU, generates the amount and transmits it towards the merchant&#8217s system. Card information is kept in the cloud and may usually be easily wiped remotely if your device gets lost.

Additionally, most devices that support mPOS payments require consumer to ensure their identity in some manner before finishing the transaction. For Apple Pay, it&#8217s the TouchID fingerprint scanner. For Android Pay, it&#8217s the action of unlocking the telephone (meaning consumers need to enable the lock screen to start with).

None of the is completely invulnerable, but the truth is, no payment technique is. However, you don&#8217t need to bother about mobile payments being less secure than other methods.

What Must you Accept Mobile Payments?

The good thing is that you simply don&#8217t have to significantly overhaul your whole system if you wish to accept mobile payments. All you actually need is definitely an NFC-capable charge card terminal. Since NFC is exactly what drives Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay, you are able to accept the 3 payment methods (in addition to whatever other apps might emerge later) with similar bit of hardware.

Yes, upgrading terminals sounds somewhat costly proposition, particularly if you have multiple registers and locations. The good thing is by using the EMV liability shift on October first, 2015, lots of credit card merchant account providers and pay-as-you-go services (Square and PayPal, for instance) happen to be offering new, &#8220future proof&#8221 terminals to retailers. Most of those terminals will also be already outfitted with NFC. If you just got such a terminal, you may curently have what you ought to accept mobile payments. Should you&#8217re still searching at obtaining a new terminal and you need to accept mobile payments, search for one with NFC. And when you upgrade in the standard magstripe readers that Square and PayPal offer, you will get an NFC-enabled device.

Now, should you&#8217re searching at LevelUp, you&#8217re gonna need to purchase the QR code scanners (should you don&#8217t have), which run $50 each. And when your POS isn&#8217t suitable for LevelUp, you’ll need a tablet or more, or three ($100 each through the organization).

In The Event You Result in the Change to Accept NFC?

At this time, mobile payments and NFC are extremely small players within the bigger payments industry. Yes, the adoption minute rates are rising, but you’re most unlikely at this time from the game to really lose sales because of not accepting mobile payments. (Not accepting charge cards whatsoever is yet another matter entirely.)

However, having the ability to process NFC payments will help you stay around the leading edge of the profession. In case your audience is youthful and tech savvy, it&#8217s more worth purchasing we’ve got the technology to simply accept mobile payments than if, for instance, most of your audience is seniors.

Have questions regarding mobile payments? Leave us a remark! And when you&#8217re not setup with charge card processing, we will help you choose a payment processor and obtain a low-cost machine with nick card and NFC abilities.

The publish Mobile Payment Processing 101 made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

Heckler WindFall Box Set Unboxing and Review

WindFall-Box-Set-Grey-White-Location-760x450

Heckler Design is definitely an American-based product design company, most widely known for pairing minimal designs with solid commercial-grade construction. Founder Dean Heckler is mind of the perception of the organization as well as an artist in the own right based on the Heckler Design website, Heckler oversees the style of best of luck, and try to using the finish-user in your mind. He states he has &#8220long had a love for smart simplicity and finding uses of technology intelligently and superbly.&#8221 This passion is instantly apparent in the organization&#8217s number of products, from cash drawers to wall frames to iPad stands.

At Merchant Maverick, we&#8217re always interested in new kinds of hardware, so that as a POS software reviewer, I’ve got a special devote me for POS paraphernalia. Naturally, after i learned about the WindFall Box Set, I needed to obtain a first-hands take a look at a number of Heckler Design&#8217s latest innovations. Like Heckler&#8217s entire WindFall collection, the WindFall Box Set includes strong, helpful POS hardware having a simple, smooth appeal. It’s beautiful, in the own way, in addition to compact, which makes it a fantastic choice for small companies with hardly any space.

Continue reading to see what else I came across&#8230

Packaging

The Heckler WindFall Box Set is well-organized and comes nicely packaged, a minimum of in my opinion. Generally, this area set will ship within 24 hours you order it when the order is positioned before 12 pm. I had been pleased with how quickly it showed up inside my door, however i was especially impressed with how good it was it to the shipping process.

Securely nestled within the primary shipping container itself were two compact card board boxes: one for that cash drawer and yet another for that iPad Air stand. They were simple to open and didn’t require me to compromise, tear, or else maim the types of materials having a knife or a set of scissors. Every component showed up undamaged, there was tight bubble-wrap around any factors that may have been prone to scratching or damage. Overall &#8211 similar to the product itself &#8211 I discovered the packaging to become both minimalist and functional. The interior boxes were sturdy and multiple-use, and would prove useful should you required to move your hardware in one place to another.

Additionally towards the check out and iPad Air stand, the 2 boxes contained screws, mounting equipment, along with other paraphernalia, and several installation directions (filled with diagrams) along with a flier which alerted me how to locate an instructional set-up video online. Each component was present and taken into account. On top of that, after opening everything up there wasn’t any mess! Obviously, there were a couple of inevitabilities &#8211 small plastic bags and a little bit of tape in some places &#8211 however i didn&#8217t need to get rid of any annoying Styrofoam peanuts or wads of packing paper. It&#8217s always nice to locate a company which understands how to use space correctly (thanks, Heckler Design!) and that i appreciate there weren’t any wasted materials or unwieldy, oversized boxes that i can cope with after unpacking my Windfall Box Set (I&#8217m searching to you, Amazon . com.com).

What&#8217s Within the Box?

The Heckler Windfall Box Set includes:

  • WindFall Are A Symbol Of iPad Air Box Set Edition
  • WindFall Cash Drawer (Automatic)
  • WindFall Cent Tray
  • WindFall Hanger for Star Micronics Receipt Printers
  • Kensington ClickSafe Cable Lock
  • Drawer-Kick Cable for Star Micronics Receipt Printers
  • Drawer-Kick Cable for Epson Receipt Printers
  • Two Manual Override Keys
  • Counter-Top Mounting Screws (optional installation)
  • Under-Counter Mounting Screws (optional installation)
  • PivotTable for WindFall Cash Drawer

Specs

Colors: Black-Gray, Gray-White-colored, Vibrant Red, Seafoam, or Emerald

Cash Drawer Dimensions: 11.9 inches wide, 8.5 inches deep, 4 inches tall

Cash Drawer Weight: 18 lbs

Materials: Powdercoated Steel, Urethane, Polypropylene

iPad Stand Viewing Position: 45 levels

Cost: $339-$399 (cost varies slightly based on that which you order)

Compatible Devices:

  • Ipad2
  • Ipad 3
  • Ipad 4
  • Ipad Air 1
  • Ipad Air 2
  • Ipad small
  • Ipad small 2 with Retina Display
  • Epson OmniLink TM-T70II-i Receipt Printer
  • Epson OmniLink TM-T88V-i Receipt Printer
  • Epson TM-T20II Receipt Printer
  • Epson TM-T70II Receipt Printer
  • Epson TM-T88V Receipt Printer
  • Epson TM-U220B Receipt Printer
  • Star Micronics DK-AirCash
  • Star Micronics FVP-10 Series Receipt Printer
  • Star Micronics TSP143L Receipt Printer
  • Star Micronics TSP650II Series Receipt Printer (Ethernet)
  • Star Micronics TSP654II BTi Receipt Printer
  • Star Micronics TSP654II WebPRNT Receipt Printer
  • Star Micronics TSP700II Series Receipt Printer

Compatible Card Readers:

  • Bank of the usa Mobile Pay on
  • Groupon Payments
  • IDTECH iMag Pro
  • IDTECH iMag Pro II
  • IDTECH iSmart
  • IDTECH Shuttle
  • IDTECH UniMag II
  • IDTECH UniMag Pro
  • IDTECH UniPay Card Readers
  • Intuit GoPayment
  • iZettle
  • MagTek iDynamo
  • MagTek uDynamo
  • PayAnywhere
  • PayPal Here
  • Rambler
  • ROAMPay
  • Shopify
  • Square
  • SumUp
  • Verifone SAIL

Set-Up

The WindFall Box Set is straightforward and doesn&#8217t require much setup, that is nice. Actually, the whole set up process includes investing in a couple of screws in some places, sliding your tablet device in to the iPad stand, deciding where &#8211 or perhaps if &#8211 you need to mount the entire unit for your countertop and/or mount an invoice printer somewhere, and winding cords with the proper channels (though this really is much more of a pleasing issue and it has no impact on function).

For complete instructions about establishing your hardware, and also to discover for yourself how easy it may be, browse the instructional video below:

&nbsp

First Impressions

WindFall goods are a minimalist&#8217s dream, and never with no certain oddly aesthetic charm, particularly if you&#8217re keen on a glance that’s at the same time bold and austere. Bear in mind, however, this isn’t any-nonsense equipment. It&#8217s heavy, it&#8217s stark, also it&#8217s utilitarian. It’s not only really made from hands-welded steel, however it looks enjoy it&#8217s made from steel and, more considerably, it feels enjoy it&#8217s made from steel (it really contains as much as 300% more steel than a lot of its competitors). Don&#8217t drop it in your feet, quite simply. Around the plus side, the sheer majority of the money drawer means that it’s unlikely to be taken in by opportunistic robberies.

One great feature from the WindFall cash drawer is it is made to be repaired and upgraded, not only replaced, if this malfunctions. This can be a huge money saver over time. What&#8217s more, the engineering is simply plain solid. Actually, &#8220to be sure that your drawer opens reliably each time, the automated WindFall Cash Drawer employs exactly the same electronic latch utilized in hospital crash carts.&#8221

The iPad stand is unremarkable, though well-built and functional, which is mounted in a perfect 45 degree position. The many other components also appear to operate perfectly in a fundamental, utilitarian level. I’d go to date regarding state that the entire box set is well-built, otherwise exactly attentively designed.

No method is without flaws, however. If only the money drawer inserts were as impressive because the cash drawer itself. Unsurprisingly, Heckler Design offers quite a bit to say of the innovation and mass benefit of their funds drawer inserts, that are certainly unique. Begin to see the image below:

2014-0625-Heckler-Design-518-F-600x400

The crux from the design is it can hold many currencies and isn’t restricted to the dimensions or denomination from the bills/coins (it works with $ $ $ $, Canadian Dollars, Australian Dollars, Euro, small denomination British Pound notes, Yen, and Rubles). In this manner, it features a mass, worldwide appeal, and may function exactly the same wherever it is worldwide. There’s one serious problem wonderful that, obviously: innovation doesn&#8217t always result in better functionality. Heckler Design has attempted to reinvent the wheel here, that is nice of these, don&#8217t misunderstand me, but finances lots of lovely, circular wheels that roll exactly where we want these to go. These re-imagined cash drawer inserts will vary, there&#8217s without doubt, however they&#8217re also confusing, a little cheap-searching, and reminiscent of a kid&#8217s check out set &#8211 less than the sense you need to convey for your customers. In Heckler Design&#8217s defense, the money drawer is produced from the strong polypropylene and it has no moving parts particularly in order that it doesn’t creak, slam, and groan in the same manner that the traditional cash drawer does. Should you&#8217re searching for something with minimal noise and minimal fuss, this can be the perfect drawer for you personally.

Another part of the cash drawer that stymies us a bit is it locks at the base. So, if you wish to have the ability to secure your money &#8211 who wouldn&#8217t? &#8211 you are able to&#8217t mount the register on your countertop. You need to either let it rest united nations-mounted (by which situation look out for thieves and/or perhaps your toes!) or mount the drawer around the bottom of the counter, and then leave the iPad stand on the top (begin to see the below image for a concept of the salt water evaporates).

WindFall-Box-Set-under-760x450

This can be a solution, obviously, however it isn&#8217t particularly appealing, particularly if your counter doesn’t have a front (such as the one above) and definitely doesn&#8217t convey the content: I&#8217m An Expert Store, Please Business Here. Frankly, I&#8217m unsure why they didn&#8217t just place the lock around the back or front from the cash drawer, where it might really be around. Because it is, you need to either turn the system over any time you wish to lock it (i adore that weighs 18 lbs?) or stoop lower underneath your counter, just like a little retail gnome.

Basically we&#8217re speaking about confusing design decisions, I must state that I’ve found the Kensington ClickSafe Cable Lock absolutely baffling. Meant to &#8220quickly and safely connect your countertop towards the WindFall Box Set&#8221 and stop against thievery, it appears for the world just like a bike lock. A little, toy-sized bike lock. Which, once more, doesn&#8217t scream professional establishment!

I suppose the cable lock is supposed to provide security, not just so that your hardware doesn’t get broken, but so that you can leave your money drawer unmounted without having to worry. The factor is, I’d think the sheer heft from the factor will probably be much more of a deterrent than the usual little bitty cable lock. Anybody who commits to some smash and grab robbery with this particular till will have a great deal of steel to cope with anyway.

Final Ideas

So what can I only say? The Heckler WindFall Box Set includes a pleasing (if austere) visual appeal, also it&#8217s very well built. It will be a terrific investment for any low volume business or perhaps a start-up. And man! It&#8217s unequalled that cost! At $399, it&#8217s a genuine steal for those that steel (see things i did there?) Overall, it truely does work well and really should be sufficient to obtain anybody through their first couple of years running a business.

That stated, will i recommend the product to medium or high volume companies? No, and it wasn’t designed for use in individuals environments. Do It could be great for a thriving loaves of bread or perhaps a busy thrift shop? Again, no. It isn&#8217t created for volume, it isn&#8217t created for speed, also it isn&#8217t particularly professional searching. However it&#8217s unfair to anticipate a starter package such as this to become any longer than what it’s: a good, functional beginner&#8217s hardware package with fundamental features &#8211 ideal for the merchant who processes couple of cash transactions and it has minimal counterspace.

The publish Heckler WindFall Box Set Unboxing and Review made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

Using Amazon . com for Search engine optimization & Content Marketing

How To Use Amazon for SEO Content Marketing

Amazon . com may be the world&#8217s largest online shop. They offer greater than the following 12 largest online retailers&#8230combined.

Should you run a web-based store, it&#8217s senseless to see Amazon . com like a competitor (while they are).

Rather, it’s more lucrative to make use of Amazon . com like a platform to create your store as lucrative as possible.

Listing your product or service on Amazon . com is easily the most straightforward method. You may also use Amazon . com&#8217s PPC platform to create these listing effective.

But Amazon . com requires a cut of all the listing that erodes your margins. For a lot of storeowners, it seems sensible to take a position more in your store.

But if you are planning to purchase your personal store, you are able to (and really should) use Amazon . com.

Amazon . com may be the largest supply of ecommerce data on the web.

And lots of that information is public-facing. Here&#8217s a couple of tips on using Amazon . com like a data gold mine for the Search engine optimization &amp content marketing efforts.

On Amazon . com Search engine optimization

Observe that this publish isn’t about doing internet search engine optimization (Search engine optimization) on Amazon . com.

That’s separate, but interesting subject. It will pay to position in Amazon . com&#8217s internal product results.

But ranking there involves another strategy that drives sales on Amazon . com. I authored an extensive summary of Amazon . com marketing sources here. I additionally discussed it about this podcast episode.

This publish covers mining Amazon . com data for enhancing your online shop by yourself domain.

That stated, for those who have an Amazon . com listing, you should think about profits data for ideas.

For instance, use lucrative Amazon . com search keywords for the Search engine optimization &amp PPC campaigns.

Actually, many retailers list their product on Amazon . com utilized.

Let&#8217s take a look at using Amazon . com for market and keyword research and content development.

Market And Keyword Research &amp Content Development

Market and keyword research is definitely an art. There are many compensated and free tools to help you scale your market and keyword research.

But, you’ve still got to evaluate keyword difficulty, the need for ranking, and keyword intent.

But &#8211 you’ll need a supply of ideas that you simply don&#8217t realize that you don&#8217t know. That&#8217s what Amazon . com offers ecommerce proprietors.

*other sources which i&#8217ve covered include Quora, Reddit, Wikipedia, Google Books, Google Correlate, Display Planner, Pinterest, Slideshare, Search Analytics and YouTube.

Never exhaust ideas 🙂

Use Amazon . com Suggest To Locate Keyword Modifiers

Most SEOs and marketers learn about Google Suggest. It&#8217s a attempted and true market and keyword research method.

But don’t forget that Amazon . com has got the same functionality. Key in a keyword and it’ll suggests modifiers and alternatives.

Amazon Suggest

These suggestions originate from Amazon . com&#8217s internal search data. That time is crucial for keyword discovery.

Whether or not the recommended keywords are just like Google Suggest &#8211 they are available from the different dataset.

If suggestions overlap with Google, you already know that keyword modifier is essential.

When the suggestions don’t overlap with Google, then you’ve found a brand new market and keyword research &#8220thread.&#8221

But in either case, you will know Amazon . com&#8217s keyword suggestions have high purchase intent.

Quite simply, nobody searches on Amazon . com for the it. If a person searches on Amazon . com, they would like to *buy* that something.

Use that data to enhance your targeting. Utilize it to start a little Pay Per Click campaign.

Use Amazon . com.com like a Keyword &#8220Casting Internet&#8221

There are a few websites that rank well for everything. They’re very well-known and also have a lot of links that Google &amp Bing serve them up for any large range of searches.

Wikipedia and Quora are a handful of examples, but Amazon . com.com is  really the very best example.

I call these websites the &#8220casting nets&#8221 of market and keyword research.

They permit you to cast across countless keywords to locate a new thread to concentrate your quest.

Drop the whole domain right into a market and keyword research tool like Ahrefs (or SEMRush, Moz, etc).

You&#8217ll get a summary of countless keywords.

Amazon Keywords Ranking

Now, use known keywords to sift, sort and narrow.

There is also a subject or keyword thread that you’d haven’t imagined.

Reverse Engineer Product Pages

You may also go to the Amazon . com pages that contend with your products.

Most Amazon . com product pages will rank well for something.

Amazon Product Ranking

Go ahead and take best selling products in almost any given subcategory. Obtain individual URLs. Drop them into AdWords&#8217 Keyword Planner or perhaps a tool like Ahrefs.

Harvest the information.

Reverse Engineer Category, Trending &amp Bestseller Pages

Amazon . com includes a bigger Search engine optimization budget than you’ll have. They perform a large amount of optimization &#8211 specifically for mid-level and trending terms.

You are able to snoop on their own work via their category, trending (also known as &#8220Hot&#8221), and Bestseller pages.

Go ahead and take URLs for the relevant pages. Drop them into AdWords&#8217 Keyword Planner or perhaps a tool like Ahrefs.

Amazon Category Research

Harvest the information.

Scrape Product Titles &amp Product Descriptions for Keyword Ideas

Top sellers on Amazon . com know the strength of a great title and relevant product descriptions.

In competitive verticals, every seller may have an enhanced title with alternate terms.

Amazon Product Titles

Their product descriptions that mention use cases and operate in keyword modifiers.

You are able to by hand browse the titles. For bulk data, make use of the Scraper extension for Chrome or IMPORTXML for Google Sheets to drag within the data.

Amazon Scrape Product Titles

Search for repeats, patterns and different keywords.

By hand Read Reviews &amp Customer Questions

Platforms like Quora and Reddit are invaluable for market and keyword research. They’re rare platforms where one can scrape keywords from people&#8217s natural language.

Amazon . com&#8217s reviews and customer questions serve exactly the same role for products.

You’ll find real existence keywords from real existence use cases in context.

Quite simply, you are able to real people speaking like real people.

Amazon Read Reviews

With context, you are able to determine a variety of hidden jewel keywords that the keyword tool would *never* suggest.

If you wish to go that step further, you are able to (ironically) make use of a tool to evaluate review pages for keyword patterns.

You should use automated tools to process more pages. But, I suggest studying plenty of reviews and questions. You’re going to get a much better feeling of customer problems.

Use Amazon . com&#8217s Node System for Category and Keyword Planning

Website architecture and keyword mapping would be the foundation for effective, sustainable Search engine optimization campaigns.

Every ecommerce store faces a difficult tradeoff when planning expansion. It is almost always difficult to arrange for just how much vertical or horizontal expansion that you simply&#8217ll see.

It&#8217s also difficult to build the right groups in the beginning if you have little data.

The final wrench in planning are the competitors.

They don&#8217t know what they’re doing either. Stop searching their way.

Rather, take a look at Amazon . com. Amazon . com uses an well-performed &#8220node&#8221 system for groups and architecture. It&#8217s designed for scale, however it&#8217s also flexible enough for moving out complementary pages.

Study it.

You are able to explore it by hand or use a site like BrowseNodes that pull from Amazon . com&#8217s API.

Download Kindle Books Become Text and Run Keyword Analysis

Within my Google Books publish, I spoken about the strength of books for market and keyword research.

The issue with Google Books was it had become difficult to evaluate the entire text from the books.

Not too with Amazon . com.

This method isn’t free, but useful should you prefer a deep dive right into a subject. If you’re a non-expert inside a niche, this is actually useful.

Purchase the best selling books for the target vertical in Kindle format.

Convert the whole book into TXT format.

Take segments of text and chapter titles and run it through keyword analysis tools.

Or really browse the book &#8211 searching for great finds.

Order &amp Use Best Selling Products (especially Books)

With that, you are able to really buy best selling books &amp products inside your target vertical.

Amazon . com has virtually every product on the planet for affordable. For those who have budget, you will get invaluable data from book text, product manuals, and packaging text.

Or check out the products searching for questions like a consumer.

Such as these earphones &#8211 I had no clue the way the charging labored until I purchased it.

Amazon Product

For those who have product, this can be a lesser concern. However if you simply are dropshipping or adding Amazon . com affiliate products and programs for mix-sells / upsells, this really is critical.

The power here’s which i be certain that your competition aren’t carrying this out. If you’re looking to get unique product copy, these studies vein provides you with difficult to get information.

Search for Wrong Intent Queries for Amazon . com

I&#8217ve heard too many people complain that you could&#8217t out perform Amazon . com.

Everything equal &#8211 that maybe true.

But Amazon . com includes a problem which comes from ranking for everything.

However , Amazon . com ranks for terms that it shouldn’t rank well for. It ranks for irrelevant queries.

Consider research and consideration queries.

Sure, many people might do their research beginning to end on Amazon . com. However that not typical.

Your work being an online shop owner would be to stand before your clients *before* they’re going to Amazon . com.

Which means planning content that suits the query intent.

Quite simply, you need to determine the &#8220question behind the issue.&#8221 You need to answer that question much better than other people.

And Amazon . com.com is the beginning point with this.

Drop Amazon . com.com pages into Ahrefs or perhaps your favorite Search engine optimization tool. Search for keywords that don&#8217t match the page that ranks.

Amazon Wrong Intent

Search for &#8220how to&#8221 or &#8220vs&#8221 or &#8220compare&#8221 or &#8220why&#8221 keywords that send individuals to product pages.

Develop a page that completely solutions individuals queries.

Use Best Selling Product Descriptions to produce Content Template

You won’t ever have a similar budget or traffic that Amazon . com has. They are able to do rate of conversion optimization (CRO) at incredible scale.

Additionally they incentivize their third party sellers to ruthlessly concentrate on rate of conversion. Amazon . com sellers are continually improving with copy, images, and FAQs.

So steal everything.

Don&#8217t copy or plagiarize. But do steal the merchandise page / description of product template and roll it to your website.

Amazon Product Descriptions

Amazon Product Description

&nbsp

Perform the bestselling products use bullets or breaks? What objections will they overcome? What keywords and employ cases will they highlight? What features will they discuss?

Help make your product pages &amp descriptions your personal. But use effective Amazon . com pages as the beginning template.

Backlink Building &amp Content Promotion

Amazon . com doesn’t have to complete backlink building. They’ve built a brandname and marketing culture which brings in links on the scale that many stores could only imagine.

But Amazon . com isn’t invincible. In almost any given vertical, they may really be considered a second or 3rd tier player. In outside goods, REI beats Amazon . com on Search engine optimization and Backlink Building hands lower.

You are able to and really should study from Amazon . com&#8217s successes to focus on pathways of success. Targeted backlink building and content promotion is easily the most effective approach.

Reverse engineer Amazon . com to locate links and content promotion angles that actually work.

*Note &#8211 for those these tactics, you&#8217ll require a premium Search engine optimization tool like Ahrefs, Moz, SEMRush or Regal. Read my help guide to Ahrefs here.

Search for Links and Link Growth for Product Pages

This plan seems straightforward.

Find links to Amazon . com product pages which are like yours, and then try to have them.

However, you may take it much beyond that. Here&#8217s a couple of examples.

First, you’ll find all of the links to any or all the very best-selling product pages inside a given category. You are able to perform a straightforward link pitch.

Second, concentrate on the product pages which have the most powerful link growth. Strong link growth ensures they are presently accruing links. Place the popularity and obtain in front of it.

Amazon Link Growth

Third, concentrate on links to *complementary* products on Amazon . com and do link outreach. Pitching baseball mitts link is going to be simpler when the page links to some baseball bat instead of more baseball mitts.

4th, consider the referring domains and just what other sources they connect to. Place any content gaps where one can pitch an academic resource. For instance, your baseball bats product page may not get interest from the writer already linking to some baseball bats product page. Your &#8220perfect batting position to obtain home runs&#8221 guide could easily get more interest.

Fifth, remember that you could leverage Amazon . com&#8217s scale with this particular tactic. They’ve a large number of product pages in each and every vertical. Rely on them like a &#8220casting internet&#8221 for links possibilities.

There’s two notes to bear in mind &#8211

First, many links to Amazon . com is going to be affiliate links. Make sure to understand *why* publishers are linking to Amazon . com. Be ready to offer value far above.

Second, please personalize and become thoughtful together with your outreach &#8211 for that passion for the web.

Many publishers &amp consumers possess a soft place for innovative small companies. Don’t abuse that trust with spammy outreach.

Search for Links and Link Growth for Category, Trending &amp Bestseller Pages

This plan is much like researching product pages.

Publishers will connect to category, trending and bestseller pages for various reasons. It&#8217s vital that you understand why &amp the way they got each link.

You&#8217ll frequently find possibilities to pitch educational sources here.

You&#8217ll also find possibilities to obtain individuals invaluable category-level links in your site.

Make certain your category and academic pages are link worthy.

By hand Look for Amazon . com Pages w/ Links

Amazon . com&#8217s &#8220Customers Who Bought This Bought&#8221 is definitely an incredible bit of data for just about any store.

Amazon Related

By hand collect each and every URL and discover links to individuals pages. This method is much like searching for links to product pages &#8211 but focused on complementary links.

Search Amazon . com.com for Footprint Links

This plan is much like my &#8220casting internet&#8221 tactic for keywords.

Look for every connect to Amazon . com (yes, these).

Then, narrow lower with assorted &#8220footprints&#8221 that suit your goal.

Footprints may include URLs with &#8220resources&#8221 and &#8220[keyword]&#8221 within the URL.

Amazon Link Analysis

It could include URLs with &#8220[keyword]&#8221 within the domain and &#8220review&#8221 within the URL slug.

You may also concentrate on quantity of outlinks from individuals pages (ie, whether you’ll probably obtain the link). You are able to further concentrate on Domain Authority as well as other metric.

*Note &#8211 make sure to take a look at Amazon . com damaged links for a little bit of ecommerce damaged backlink building.

Use Amazon . com in Link Intersect along with other Ecommerce Stores

Most backlink tools possess a &#8220link intersect&#8221 tool. Even when yours doesn&#8217t, you may still perform the same process with Stand out.

The concept is to discover which websites connect to Site X and Y but don’t connect to Site Z.

The technique will get the best link prospects and also the best link types.

Since Amazon . com has so&#8230many&#8230links &#8211 it can make a great link intersect site.

Amazon Link Intersect

Amazon Link Intersect

The procedure here can be your imagination and vertical. But here&#8217s a couple of examples.

Suppose you need to find publishers that connect to independent companies. Search for publishers that connect to competitors but do *not* connect to Amazon . com.

Suppose you need to find publishers that link to whoever, whenever. Search for publishers that connect to all of your competitors AND Amazon . com.

Suppose you need to get links that the competitors don’t have. Search for publishers that connect to Amazon . com but don’t connect to competitors.

Again &#8211 the technique depends upon your objectives and sources, but Amazon . com constitutes a very helpful domain for this.

Next Steps

Should you run a web-based store, you can’t ignore Amazon . com. Regardless of whether you sell on Amazon . com or otherwise, you need to use their openly available data to enhance your site.

You won&#8217t function as the next Amazon . com. But &#8211 whenever you combine an solid ecommerce online marketing strategy with solid data &#8211 you’ll beat your competition. And you will &#8211 just maybe &#8211 beat Amazon . com working for you from the Internet.

Each week, I distribute some most helpful marketing posts which i&#8217ve read on the web. Should you found this publish helpful, you&#8217ll think it is helpful too. Register here.

The publish Using Amazon . com for Search engine optimization &#038 Content Marketing made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

“”

Merchant Maverick’s Awards for Best Small Business Software

Best small business software

For most small business owners, it’s a jungle out there. Danger lurks around every corner, predators seem to be silently stalking your every movement, and – in the immortal words of Jethro Tull – the rivers are full of crocodile nasties. Let’s face it, when it comes to start-ups and small businesses the statistics are grim. According to one recent study, the failure rate of retail establishments after four years is over 50%, and businesses in the service industry usually meet the same fate. Sadly, restaurants tend to do even worse, and the majority are forced to close their doors before a decade has passed.

There are many reasons why businesses eventually fail – bad locations, limited staff, a poor economic climate, etc. But experts are beginning to agree that most failed businesses (no matter what industry they belong to) have one, very important factor in common: inexperience on the part of the owners/managers. It’s all very well to follow your dreams, but man does not live on dreams alone. For most of us, a little thing called money is required if we want to eat, access our electricity, wash our clothes, keep our children shod, etc. That’s right, money. It’s what you get when you run a business that brings in more revenue than it puts out. That sounds so simple: spend less than you make. But the reality is that pulling in a profit takes knowledge, skill, and access to the proper tools. Frankly, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve opened up a cat-grooming boutique or finally launched that grilled-cheese food truck you’ve always wanted – if you don’t know what you’re doing when you set out, and/or don’t bother to learn as you go, you might as well throw your seed money down the storm drain.

Fortunately, at Merchant Maverick (MM), we understand how hard it can be to start a business – let alone to keep one going for more than a year or two. You shouldn’t have to do everything by yourself – keeping up with inventory, payment processing, invoicing, shipping, point of sale, website design and the like is nearly impossible without the right equipment (good ol’ pen and paper just doesn’t cut it anymore). The good news? Advances in software and cloud technology have resulted in some pretty impressive small business tools. Even better news? The writers and reviewers at MM have invested thousands of hours researching, testing, and rating small business services/software. In other words, we know our stuff. Running a business is a tremendous burden, but the heavy lifting has already been done – we’ve done if for you – and all you need do is benefit from our years of experience.

Each company below has undergone a rigorous evaluation by an experienced MM reviewer. We scoured websites, read help articles, and browsed through user forums. We talked to customer service and saw for ourselves how responsive they were. And most importantly, we tested the actual software or service ourselves. The following are our reviewers’ top small business software picks for merchant services/payment processing as well as for mobile payments, shopping carts, point of sale, accounting, inventory management, invoicing, booking, email marketing, CRM, project management, loyalty rewards, and website building.

So, without further ado, let the awards ceremony for the best small business software begin!

Merchant Account Providers

Winner: Dharma Merchant Services

dharma-merchant-services-logo

Dharma Merchant Services is one of our all-time favorite companies, period, here at Merchant Maverick. Defined by exceptional customer support, low-cost hardware, excellent industry connection, and reasonable negotiation-free rates and fees, Dharma is an ideal option for small businesses with in-person sales. It distinguishes itself from the competition by using only interchange-plus pricing and charging no early termination fees or monthly minimums. There are no annual fees, no application fees, and no pesky PCI compliance fees to deal with either. In addition, this company dedicates 50% of its net profits to charity. Dharma is basically a paragon of integrity, honesty, and respect, and it’s worth its weight in gold in this sometimes unscrupulous industry,

There is one small catch: businesses must process at least $10K per month to use Dharma Merchant Services. Businesses with smaller revenue streams are directed instead to Flint Mobile (see review below).

Dharma offers amazing in-house customer support during business hours (8:00am – 5:00pm Pacific Time). If you need support outside this time frame, you will be directed elsewhere, depending on the severity of your issue and what processor you’re using.

To read more about Dharma Merchant Services, see our full review here.

Runner-Up: CDGcommerce

cdgcommerce-logo

Boasting a great reputation and a low monthly base fee (which includes access to Quantum gateway), CDG Commerce is a budget friendly alternative to Dharma Merchant Services, especially for low-volume merchants or web-based businesses. CDG was established in 1998, and has had plenty of time to cultivate a reputation for honesty and excellence. In fact, customer complaints are nearly non-existent, which is a miracle in itself after nearly 20 years in business. Like Dharma, CDG offers interchange-plus pricing, does not charge an early termination fee, and has no gateway setup fees or PCI compliance fees.

CDG Commerce charges only $10 per month in base fees; beyond that, you can pick and choose which additional services you want to pay for. This is a great system, as it ensures that you won’t be stuck buying things you neither want, nor need.

CDG offers live chat, email, and phone support 24/7. In our experience, support staff is helpful, knowledgeable, and scrupulously honest.

Click here to read our full review of CDGcommerce.

Mobile Payments

Winner: Flint Mobile

Flint-mobile-logo

Flint Mobile is our overall top pick for mobile, based primarily on its speed, ease of use, reliability, and price point. To start off, it doesn’t offer a swiper – not a free one, not a paid one, just no reader whatsoever. You can either key in card numbers or simply use your phone’s camera to scan numbers instead. That in and of itself significantly reduces the cost for setting up your account. Flint therefore has the ability to offer lower rates, which is exactly what they do. And with a ridiculously low rate for processing debit alongside a very fair credit rate, they’re nearly impossible to beat.

Flint has only two rates:

  • Debit transactions: 1.95%
  • Credit transactions: 2.95%

Yep, that’s it. It doesn’t get more complicated than that at any point: there are no per transaction fees, no non-qualified fees, and no surcharges of any kind. Flint Mobile runs transactions at a much faster speed than other similar apps, and while it might take a couple tries to get your scanning settings set up the way you like, Flint makes customization an easy and intuitive process. Our one complaint is that they do not provide any means for printing a paper receipt.

One very important thing to mention about Flint Mobile is that, even with the EMV liability shift (effective October 1st, 2015), users have no need to upgrade hardware. The camera scan will continue to work as it always has, with no change to liability. Currently it’s the only mobile processor we’re aware of that will securely process chip cards with no hardware upgrade.

This app can’t replace a full-feature tablet POS, but it comes with a number of amazing features (integrated QR coupons, invoicing, customizable receipts, etc.) and executes service flawlessly. If you’re looking for a sensible, surefire way to accept payments and grow your clientele, you can’t go wrong with Flint Mobile.

If you’d like more information about Flint Mobile, check out our full review.

Runner-Up: Payline Data

payline-data-logo

Payline Data is mostly a standard merchant account provider, but it has a good mobile solution and low-volume fee structure. Extra services are offered as-needed, so you only have to pay for what you need. There are two pricing models (to accommodate both low and high volume merchants):

Simple (Under $5,000 per month)

  • $5 monthly fee
  • Interchange + 0.50%
  • $0.10 per transaction

Pro (Over $5,000 per month)

  • $20 monthly fee
  • Interchange + 0.20%
  • $0.10 per transaction

We really appreciate the number of customer service and support outlets Payline provides, and it has an extensive knowledge base and FAQ for self-service support, which is quite nice.

Payline Data delivers on any businesses essential needs, and has managed to maintain positive reviews and a spotless reputation since 2009 – which is no small task in the credit card processing industry. In general, it’s a great pick for mobile processing for small businesses everywhere.

Find out more about Payline Data by reading our full review here.

Shopping Carts

Winner: Shopify

shopify-banner

Shopify is unique in that it can be used as a physical POS or an online shopping cart or both at once. This inherent flexibility gives it a clear edge over other shopping carts, and its low price point make it well within the reach for small businesses, even those with strained budgets. Shopify is the industry standard for shopping cart software, and for good reason. There are never any limits to the number of products you can sell, which is nice, though there aren’t many limits to the software in general.

All Shopify plans come with a full 14-day (no credit card required) trial. There are no setup or cancellation fees. Plans range from $14/month to $179/month with rates ranging from 2.9% + 30¢ to 2.4% + 30¢. You can pay on a month-to-month basis, but you’ll receive a 10% discount if you choose to pay for one year up front (a 20% discount is offered for those who sign a two-year contract). We’re not terribly fond of Shopify’s transaction fees, unfortunately, although they do get waived if you use Shopify as your credit card processor.

Shopify is eminently user friendly, and the cart is easy to set up and easy to manage. In our experience, the software works flawlessly from the point of view of both the customer and the merchant, and it is one of the most feature-rich carts available. It is accessible for online mavens, but it is also well within the reach of newcomers and amateurs. Shopify offers a number of apps, some of which are free and some of which may cost a small fee. You can check out Shopify’s App Store to browse offerings.

Customer support is available via phone, email, and live chat, but there are other great self-help resources as well, including a support center, Knowledge Base, a discussion forum, and a Shopify “Experts” page where you can find experienced professionals in design, marketing, development, and photography.

For more information, click here to read our full review of Shopify.

Runner-Up: Ecwid

ecwid-logo

Ecwid, the “go anywhere, sell anything, no manual required” shopping cart, is designed for small eCommerce businesses, as well as for individual sellers and start-ups. We’re big fans of Ecwid, and there are two main reasons why. Firstly, it is extremely ubiquitous, and capable of integrating with nearly every existing website, from social media platforms to blogs. Secondly, it is so reasonably priced, compared to its competitors, that you would be foolish not to take it out for spin. Unlike most shopping carts, there is no typical “free trial period” for Ecwid. Instead, you can simply try out the Free Plan (the obvious advantage to doing this is that your services won’t be cancelled after your trial period ends).

Ecwid offers unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, and no transaction fees on every subscription level, even the free plan. Paid plans range from $15/month to $99/month. Personal support by email and online chat are only available at higher subscription levels.

Like Shopify, Ecwid gives you the option to use the software as a physical POS. However, this function is really best suited for online-only business owners who want the option of having a mobile or “pop up shop” operation, but aren’t trying to maintain a physical storefront at all times.

In general, Ecwid is a solid product with great, user-friendly elements. It’s not the best solution for high-volume sales, but most companies out there (especially startups and very small businesses) will be fully satisfied with its features and ease of use.

Read our full review of Ecwid to learn more.

POS Software

Winner: ShopKeep

shopkeep-logo

ShopKeep is one of the best software solutions we’ve ever encountered at Merchant Maverick. This simple, elegant, and visually-appealing cloud-based POS has carved out a solid niche catering to small-business food and beverage sellers. For a very low monthly cost, ShopKeep can help you manage your inventory, customers, employees, as well as record transactions and offer a variety of reporting options (for analyzing all this data).

ShopKeep does not require you to sign a contract. It is a pay-as-you-go, monthly subscription service. There are no extra maintenance fees, and what’s more impressive, tech support is 100% included in the monthly charge. The actual pricing system is beautifully simple as well: $49/month/register.

Other than it’s extremely reasonable price point, ShopKeep’s biggest selling point is its ease-of-use. There is very little learning curve involved, and even the most technologically deficient should have no problem learning the ins and outs of this software in a matter of days (or hours, more likely).

Customer support is fantastic, and unlimited email, live chat, or phone is included in the monthly price. The support page on the company website is also fantastic, and offers comprehensive articles and video tutorials on every aspect of the software.

Read our full review of ShopKeep if you’d like more details.

Runner-Up: SalesVu

salesvu-logo

SalesVu is a perfect POS for the average small business, offering a robust feature set at a competitive price. eCommerce options are built right into the software, so you can design your own site from the back office without ever having to pay for (and integrate) Shopify or hire an expensive third party designer. Integrated eCommerce also ensures that communications between the web store and the brick and mortar store are smooth and seamless.

Prices range from $25/month to $150/month, depending on how many features you need (things like time tracking, accounting, etc. are a bit extra). Basically, SalesVu can be as affordable as you need it to be. Additionally, when you open an account with SalesVu you get a free credit card reader, which is a nice benefit (for some small business owners, an iPad and a credit card reader may be all you need).

Customer service is good, but the primary strengths of this software are found in its intuitive interface and broad flexibility. It is so much more than just a mobile cash register. With SalesVu, you can monitor inventory, create detailed reports, design custom discounts and promotions, maintain an active customer database, and manage employees – and you can do all these things anywhere you have a Wi-Fi connection. Opening an account with SalesVu gets you a free credit card reader, which is a nice benefit. For some business owners, an iPad and a credit card reader may be all you need.

SalesVu integrates with SalesVu Easy Accounting, Quickbooks, Facebook, and Zapper.

You can check out our full review of SalesVu for more information.

Accounting Software

Winner: Xero

best small business accounting software

It’s not hard to see why Xero takes the prize for best small business accounting software. It is mobile, cloud-based, easy-to-use, and extremely comprehensible for the small business owner who is handling finances on his/her own (click here for a full list of features). While it can be more expensive long-term than something like QuickBooks Pro, small business owners – especially those who aren’t accountants by nature or profession – are more likely to enjoy using a simple, intuitive program like Xero.

There are multiple pricing plans available, ranging from $9/month to $70/month (these prices include updates as they are released, usually every 3-6 weeks). Small companies with limited invoicing needs would have to look far and wide for a similarly robust accounting/payroll package that trumps Xero’s $9/month price tag. And happily, you don’t have to sign a contract with Xero; plans are paid by the month and you can basically cancel the service at any time. Xero offers a 25% discount for non-profits and a 15% discount on your total bill if you subscribe for multiple businesses. If you do feel comfortable making a commitment and signing up for a 6 month subscription, you’ll get a 30% discount.

There are only a few minor problems with Xero, one of which is slow customer support response times. Customer service is offered 24/7, year-round, but some customers have complained of long response times, cut-and-paste answers to questions, and reps who don’t seem to actually know how to use the software. This would be a much bigger deal if Xero was complex or had a steep learning, curve, but it’s not as alarming considering the software’s general simplicity and ease of use. Furthermore, many customers praise Xero’s level of customer service, and the wait times are comparable to those of other accounting software programs.

One real perk of using Xero is that it integrates with over 400 other applications which can facilitate nearly every aspect of business operation, including inventory management, CRM, and POS (some of these are only available to certain countries; in the U.S., there are about 350 Xero integrations available). 

Read our full review of Xero here.

Runner-Up: QuickBooks Pro

Best small business accounting software

Intuit’s QuickBooks Pro is a robust, feature-rich accounting solution, perfect in many ways for small business (to see a full list of features, click here). It is locally installed software, which results in lower per-year costs and more features than your typical cloud-based software, so if you’re willing to deal with a pretty steep learning curve at the beginning (especially difficult for people who have no previous accounting background), then QB Pro can be an excellent way to save money in your accounting budget. Though it lacks the convenience of a cloud based solution – you don’t get automatic, routine updates or instant access to new features – it is a very viable accounting solution for companies with complex bookkeeping needs.

QuickBooks Pro’s list price is $299.95. This might seem a bit high compared to something like Xero, but keep in mind that QB Pro requires a one-time purchase and does not use a subscription model — and it is nearly always available at a discount. While there’s no free trial available, Intuit does back QB Pro with a 60-day guarantee; if you return the program for any reason within 60 days, you can get a full refund. Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, the purchase price does not include updates, nor do you get full tech support or bank feeds. It’s also worth noting that customer service tends to be slow.

One comment we’ve noticed often on user reviews is that, while people aren’t particularly enthusiastic about QB Pro, it works and does what it’s supposed to do; many claim that it’s the best accounting program available. While that’s far from a resounding recommendation, it’s also true that despite its drawbacks, for many businesses, QB Pro is more than adequate. And whether you love it or hate it, QuickBooks Pro is often the best option for the money.

Read our full review of QB Pro here.

Inventory Management Software

Winner: Stitch Labs

stitch-labs-logo

Stitch, the flagship product of Stitch Labs, is a cloud-based inventory management solution with tons of functionality, myriad useful integrations, and fantastic customer service. Designed to combine inventory, billing, accounting, shipping, and eCommerce features with your choice of 3rd party integrations, Stitch is the do-it-all, full service inventory solution. As the name would suggest, it is intended to be the thread that holds the backend of your company firmly together. Really, its only flaw is that is designed exclusively for American companies. International businesses will have to look elsewhere. 

Price plans range from $29/month to $449/month, not bad considering how many features this software brings to the table. What’s more, Stitch is easy to use, even for the uninitiated. The UI is clean, understated, and intuitive. Within a few minutes of signing up, you should feel like a pro, able to create products and customer contacts and generate sales orders with ease. It’s easy to pick up on your own just by experimentation, but if you’re queasy about finding your own way around, you can reference one of the many tutorials on each page that take you step-by-step through all the basic tasks.

In general, the customer service department is responsive and helpful. Our questions were promptly answered (never longer than 24 hours, even on the weekend), and ticket creation happened immediately, so we always had a case number to reference and never felt lost in the shuffle. Not surprisingly, the Stitch Labs support team is highly praised all over the web.

Stitch integrates with a large number of other programs and applications, including Amazon, eBay, BigCommerce, Magento, Shopify, and Square, to name just a few. And when you combine an excellent selection of integrations with powerful suite of tools,you’ve got inventory management software that is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses.

You can read more about Stitch Labs in our full review.

Runner-Up: TradeGecko

tradegecko-logo

TradeGecko, a cloud-based inventory application for small to medium sized businesses, is comparable to Stitch Labs in functionality and number of integrations, but is more geared toward international companies (it still works well for American companies, if you don’t mind a time difference with the support staff).

The design of this software emphasizes collaboration, group workflows, and activity feeds. This means that you can reference sales information, purchase orders, and stock levels at once, and they will all update in real time. TradeGecko is intuitive and easy to use, and has a clean – if spartan – UI which is perfect for a bookkeeping system.

TradeGecko offers a free 14-day trial, no credit card required. Plans range from $49/month to $399/month, though you can get a monthly discount if you commit to paying for a year up-front. The company provides a detailed knowledge base, with step-by-step instructions for performing many tasks, and it also offers 24 hour customer support. On the whole, our support experience was positive, though a few of our tickets took longer than we would have liked to resolve.

Integrations include Shopify, Salesforce, Xero, Magento, Quickbooks Online, Amazon, and WooCommerce (to name a few). All in all, TradeGecko isn’t the cheapest product on the market (which is why it’s the runner up for this category) but it is so intuitive and feature rich that small to medium-sized businesses with a budget to kick around should give it a look.

For more information about TradeGecko, read our full review here.

Invoicing Software

Winner: Freshbooks

freshbooks-logo

Officially, Freshbooks is a web-based accounting solution, though it is fair to say that it’s best utilized for its incredible invoicing features. This software is tailor made for independent contractors and small, service-based businesses; it is easy to use, has lots of interesting features (including time tracking, reporting, and expenses), and integrates with a huge variety of 3rd party applications.

Pricing, unfortunately, is a bit steep for the target market (small businesses), though there is a free plan which allows you to manage a single client. Paid plan range from $19.95/month to $39.95/month. Customer support is available Monday – Friday, 9am – 6pm EST. In our experience, representatives are remarkably quick to respond to emails (usually within 20 minutes during business hours) and are courteous, helpful, and knowledgeable.

As mentioned above, FreshBooks offers more than 60 integrations and add-ons including  PayPal, Shopify, Basecamp, and Stripe. It is as comprehensive an invoicing solution as you could hope for, especially since it does offer other perks, like reporting.

You can read our full review of FreshBooks here.

Runner-Up: Invoiceable

invoiceable-logo

Invoiceable is simple, easy to use software that allows you to create professional looking invoices. It’s actually free to all, with no feature limits, though you can opt to pay a one-time fee to remove the company’s branding from your invoices: this is a perk that no other free invoicing program offers. Additionally, unlike many of the other major free invoicing programs, Invoiceable isn’t just a wimpy, scaled-back version of a paid service. You can have as many clients and send as many invoices as you like.

Of course, with a completely free service you’re going to miss certain features that come with a paid subscription. Support, for example, is unreliable and sporadic. Response times can vary between 1-12 days, and sometimes you may not get any response at all. There is also limited sales tax functionality, which means that the software really only works for businesses that charge a single, across the board tax rate, or don’t charge tax at all.

That said, if you are a freelancer or own a very small business with relatively low sales volume, this may be all you need for now. It’s leaps and bounds better than simply typing out your invoices into MS Word or Excel, and it is one of the best free options out there that both allow you to have unlimited clients and actually works in the United States! The interface is basic and intuitive, and while customer service is slow, you probably won’t need it most of the time. If this sounds like a good match for you, we suggest you try it out. You’ve got nothing to lose – after all, it’s free.

Read our full review of Invoiceable here.

CRM Software

Winner: Zoho CRM

zoho-logo

User-friendly, reasonably-priced, and full of useful features, Zoho CRM is our favorite customer relations management software, hands down. It’s not hard to see why we’re such big fans. The “building blocks” which make up the Zoho CRM logo are not there for design purposes alone; these blocks allude to the fact that the Zoho team has developed many other business applications, all capable of working together seamlessly (much like Google Apps). In addition, Zoho has an well-deserved reputation for integrating nicely with a number of 3rd party add-ons, including MailChimp, Unbounce, Google Apps, MS Office, and Quickbooks (see a full list of add-ons and integrations here). In short, Zoho CRM software can adjust to any size business, be whatever you need it to be, and grow with you as your business expands.

You can try Zoho CRM for free with a 15-day trial of their Professional package. After that, pricing breaks down as follows:

  • Entrepreneur: Free, up to 3 users
  • Standard: $12/user/month
  • Professional: $20/user/month
  • Enterprise: $35/user/month

24-hour Mon-Fri telephone support is available to paying customers, though those using their free edition are limited to email support. However, your email questions can be flagged according to urgency, so that important queries do not fall to the wayside.

You would be hard pressed to find a CRM that provides more functionality at a lower cost. Zoho CRM is, without a doubt, the most bang for your buck.

Read our full review of Zoho CRM here.

Runner-Up: CleverTim

clevertim-logo

Clevertim is a cloud-based CRM system with a firm mission: to cater specifically to small businesses. With a surprisingly reasonable price point, a clean, user-friendly UI, and the ability to integrate with 3rd party developers (via an open API), Clevertim may just be as clever as its name suggests. The only chink in Clevertim’s armor is the lack of a mobile app. As it is now, the app functions smoothly on a desktop, but is only so-so on a tablet and virtually nonexistent on a phone.

Clevertim offers a 30 day free trial. After that, plans range from absolutely free to $99/month. You can upgrade, downgrade, or cancel your subscription at any time. Unlike most other CRM systems, Clevertim does not charge on a per-user basis. Instead, each plan has a user limit. There is also  customized pricing available, which allows you to upgrade the number of users allowed in your plan.

Clevertim is relatively new and does not yet have its own dedicated Technical Support team. However, queries can be sent to the company either via web tickets or through the sales email address.

Read our review of Clevertim here.

Booking Software

Winner: BookingBug

bookingbug-logo

BookingBug can do just about anything you would expect from scheduling software, but still manages to be accessible and intuitive. Many companies claim to be versatile, but this software actually is designed for a wide variety of industries, making it one of the only options out there for B&Bs or bike rental shops, and a better option than most for medium-sized spas and salons. It is a perfect tool for businesses that want to offer combination services while managing limited resources and limited staff (see a full list of features here). It is distinct from other appointment booking software other ways as well: first, it’s designed for serious scalability – which again validates its claim to be “the only real-time distributed booking and reservation system that works for all business types” –  and second, it integrates with a vast number of 3rd-party apps all over the world. This is a company that prides itself on innovation and flexibility.

Plans run from $19.95/month to $69.95/month, or you can scale up to an Enterprise plan, which are priced on an individual basis. Customer service comes free with your account. Like most companies, BookingBug relies heavily on email support, but phone support is available for some of the more expensive plans. We received helpful responses to our email inquiries within hours – always a great sign.

One terrific thing about BookingBug is that it offers your customers the option to make online payments (full or partial, including pre-payment and bulk payments); you can also issue full or partial refunds directly through the site via one of the software’s numerous payment integrations. BookingBug integrates with programs like MailChimp, WordPress, Facebook, and Dropbox as well.

There isn’t much negative feedback about the company online or in user reviews. Granted, some people have complained about issues with their mobile apps, but BookingBug’s receptivity and responsiveness to these issues speaks well about the company’s commitment to customer service.

To read our full review of BookingBug, click here.

Runner Up: Bookeo

bookeo-logo

Bookeo is cloud-based booking software with a lot to offer. Not only does it include important booking features, but it provides a surprising variety of marketing solutions, integrates with many payment platforms and third party applications, and boasts excellent security features. This is innovative software as it is, and Bookeo continues to improve with age; significant new feature releases occur every few months, and updates are frequent. The only consistent complaint disappointed reviewers have is with its lack of phone support. (Bookeo relies on email and a store of 300 tutorials for its customer support.)

Bookeo’s pricing differs by product (in other words, by whether you want to book appointments, classes, or tours), but each version offers a 30-day free trial and a 30-day money back guarantee on the first paid month of subscription. Bookeo accounts do not require set-up or processing fees and you don’t have to sign a contract – always a good sign.

One of the best things about Bookeo is that it is user-friendly. Action items and information are intuitive and clearly distinguishable, and the software in general is organized neatly, in a very manageable way. There isn’t much setup support, unfortunately, but the self-help tutorials available are precise, and sufficient enough to help you circumvent most major problems.

Customer service centers on the Bookeo Help Portal, which consists of 300 tutorials and an email support form. There is no phone support, however, and this is the only consistent complaint from disappointed reviewers. You can receive some support via a live chat option on Bookeo’s promotional website.

Read more about Bookeo here, in our full review.

Email Marketing Software

Winner: MailChimp

mailchimp-logo

At Merchant Maverick, we’re all in agreement that MailChimp is the boss when it comes to email marketing. It’s a mature, time-tested software with reasonable pricing plans, a great selection of features, and tons of integration, and it scales well to just about any size campaign. Better yet, for users with modest needs, MailChimp offers a robust, flat-out generous free plan which lets you have up to 2,000 subscribers and allows you to send up to 12,000 emails per month. There’s only one real catch: if you do your email marketing with the free plan, there will be a small MailChimp badge at the bottom of every email you send out. 

Paid plans come in two basic varieties: send-based (pay as you go) and list-based (monthly). These plans are fairly specific and complex, so if you’d like more details about pricing you should navigate here.

MailChimp is generally very easy to use, and signing up for a MailChimp account is simple; enter a name and email address and you’re on your way. The customer support system is pretty extensive as well, though it lacks telephone support, which is slightly disappointing. However, our experience with them has been good; representatives were courteous and well-informed, and inquiries were answered in anywhere from 20 minutes to 20 hours, depending on urgency. MailChimp’s biggest selling point, however, is that it offers over 500 integrations and add-ons. (These include Google Analytics, Zendesk, SHopify, Magento, and Salesforce).

Check out our full review of MailChimp here.

Runner-Up: AWeber

AWeber_EMDlogo_blue

AWeber appeals to a smaller niche than MailChimp, but it’s still incredibly easy to use and quite affordable. It comes with some very nice features, especially for businesses which want to send all new subscribers the same series of messages: the autoresponder setup in particular is easy, intuitive, and well explained within the program, and users have a lot of options. 

AWeber offers a free 30-day trial for lists of up to 500 subscribers. After that first month, there is a single list-based pricing plan available. It’s reasonably priced for the most part, but so robust that very small companies may find they are paying for lots of extra features they may not even require. If you don’t need much from your email marketing tool, you might be better off with MailChimp’s generous free plan.

In general, AWeber finds a healthy balance between ease of use and high functionality. Navigation is remarkably intuitive, considering the number of features available. The WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor has some quite impressive characteristics, and recent updates to the software have have managed to significantly improve the email design experience. Additionally, the analytics and reporting capabilities are well above par for an email marketing tool of this type, as are AWeber’s investment in numerous 3rd-party integrations.

Our experiences with customer support have been positive overall. As a rule, we’ve found AWeber’s representatives to be friendly, helpful, and prompt in responding to queries. Response times to our inquiries varied in time between 20 minutes and 6 business hours.

Read our full review of AWeber here.

Project Management Software

Winner: Trello

trello-logo-blue

Trello is a visually-oriented, Kanban-based project management tool that works by allowing users to see and manage their tasks and projects via detailed ‘cards’ which are then pinned onto ‘boards.’ At its most basic level, Trello is an ingenious way to create and organize a set of virtual 3×5 cards without the risk of misplacing them, but it also can also work as a simple task management tool, offering features like file storage and automatic email notifications.

The standard, free version of Trello allows for unlimited boards, users, and attachments (with a 10 MB max per file upload). However, for a fee, Trello also offers two upgraded versions of the software: $3.75/user or $5/user

Trello’s simple, visually-appealing UI makes it incredibly easy to use; there is almost no learning curve involved. A mere five minutes after I signed up I was able to navigate the software quickly, creating cards and boards like a pro. It may be integrated with several 3rd party apps, including Zapier, Google Drive, Box. Dropbox, and OneDrive.

Trello provides email support (via support@trello.com) to all users during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST).

Not only is this software reasonably priced, but it is characterized by elegance, simplicity, and user-friendliness. It would be difficult to find a basic project management solution with a more intuitive, visually-appealing design. And in terms of sheer adoptability – of getting your employees to actually use a software-based task management tool – Trello scores extremely high.

You can check out our full review of Trello if you’d like more information.

Runner Up: Basecamp

basecamp-logo

With over 9,000,000 current users, Basecamp is considered the most popular cloud-based project management software system of all time. It is, without doubt, one of the most user-friendly project management programs out there. When it comes down to brass tacks, simplicity is an enormously valuable characteristic, and Basecamp is just that – simple. This is project management software at its most basic and effortless level.

This software is celebrated for its no-frills, no-fuss pricing system. There are no hidden fees and no per-user costs. Plans range from $20/month to $150/month. Features include task tracking, a calendar, email notifications and a daily recap of activities, text documents (basically giant legal pads), and very simple reporting.

Basecamp is known for fast, reliable service. While they don’t provide the level of immediate personal support that you can get from other software companies (read: no phone or live chat support), the folks at Basecamp respond quickly to email requests and offer a large variety of ready-made aids and live training tools.

Basecamp itself is a pretty basic program, but there are a huge number of optional 3rd party applications available if you want or need to increase software’s functionality. You can see a complete list of Basecamp integrations on the official product website

If you have plain, bread-and-butter management requirements, we think you’ll find that Basecamp is a suitable, extremely affordable way to go. One of the best things about Basecamp is the fact that it is designed, updated, and supported by an established parent company. It is a sure bet, in other words.

Read more about Basecamp in our full review.

Shipping Software

Winner: ShipStation

shipstation-logo

ShipStation is a reasonably-priced, web-based shipping solution for eCommerce retailers. Designed to streamline the fulfillment process as much as possible, this software has invested in a huge number of integrations that make it possible for you to sync up your business with the most popular sales channels, shopping carts, payment gateways, and mail carriers.

Pricing plans range from $25/month to $145/month. There’s a free 30-day trial that includes access to all features, with no credit card required. If you’re not satisfied with the product within 90 days, ShipStation offers a full refund, no questions asked.

The user interface can be a bit overwhelming at first, as there multiple options, menus, and sub-menus displayed on most pages. A bit of patience is definitely required when you start out, though you can take advantage of a number of video tutorials, a large knowledge base, and a pretty robust community forum if you run into trouble. Actually, you can have your own personal account manager if you want, and this person will help guide you through the setup phase of your account. Some of the higher paid plans can receive chat support as well. In general, customer support is slightly disappointing, and the responses we received to queries were somewhat boilerplate and indifferent.

One of ShipStation’s biggest selling points is that it integrates with an enormous number of carriers, marketplaces and shopping carts, especially when compared to the competition, including FedEx, UPS, USPS, and Fulfillment by Amazon, as well as Shopify, Etsy, Magento, Square, eBay, etc. The list goes on.

Check out our full review of ShipStation for more information.

Runner-Up: ShipWorks

shipworks-logo

ShipWorks is probably the best shipping software available, though unfortunately it’s a PC-only app (which removes about half of the world’s users) and the learning curve is extremely high. The good news is that this software, which is designed to streamline the order fulfillment process for small to large businesses, has many amazing features you can’t find in other shipping applications. With a few clicks, ShipWorks can download shipping information from an online sales channel, calculate and print postage, generate labels, packing slips, and more. Combine this functionality with integrations for over 40 different mail carriers and eCommerce platforms, and you’ve got a shipping solution that really packs a wallop. Additionally, ShipWorks scales well, in a way that its SaaS competitors don’t.

Cost per month is determined by two different factors: shipment volume and number of licenses. Shipment volume is divided into three tiers:

  • $14.95/month for 0-99 shipments/month
  • $29.95/month for 100-999 shipments/month
  • $49.95/month for 1,000+ shipments/month

The price for shipment volume is then added to your licensing fee to determine the monthly bill. How much you pay for licensing is based on the number of online sales channels you use with ShipWorks.

Our own experiences with ShipWorks support have been positive. Turnaround times on support tickets were 24 hours or less, and we never had trouble reaching anybody on the phone. The Knowledge Base is extensive, and covers everything from setup and configuration to online marketplaces and shipping providers. What’s more, the articles are clearly written and provide plenty of screenshots.

As I mentioned above, ShipWorks integrates with a huge variety of shipping carriers and online marketplaces (including USPS, FedEx, UPS, Magento, Etsy, Shopify, Volusion), but if you happen to use a store that isn’t directly supported by ShipWorks, you can always work with a developer and use the ShipWorks Generic API to create your own integrations.

Click here to read our full review of ShipWorks.

Loyalty Rewards Software

Winner: Sweet Tooth

sweet-tooth-rewards-logo

Sweet Tooth is a prolific loyalty rewards software that currently works with over 3500 merchants worldwide, including Delta, Universal, and Olympus. Sweet Tooth is dedicated to increasing customer engagement, and case studies from many of the clients mentioned above have demonstrated nearly 20% increases in customer lifetime values, sales and repeat purchases. It is complex software with a high learning curve, but in general, the benefits of using a robust loyalty rewards software outweigh the inconvenience of having to learn how to use it! Sweet Tooth is an ideal solution for both eCommerce merchants and merchants who use combined methods of commerce.

Sweet Tooth works best – and is most full featured – when it’s used through Magento, though you can use a lighter, simpler version of Sweet Tooth on BigCommerce or Shopify (this is free for up to 500 customers). Sweet Tooth subscription plans are offered monthly and automatically renew unless cancelled. Plans begin at $49/month, and are broken down by loyalty point transactions and annual revenue generated on Magento. If your activity exceeds the limitations of your plan you will be required to upgrade to the next available plan. You can view the full pricing details for Shopify, BigCommerce and Magento on the Sweet Tooth website.

Customer service is available Monday to Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm EST. Overall, our experience with Sweet Tooth has been positive. Everyone we’ve spoken to at the company has been knowledgeable and friendly, and most reviewers on Magento cite the technical support as an essential part of their loyalty program.

Read our full review of Sweet Tooth if you’re interested in learning more.

Runner-Up: Belly

belly-logo

Belly provides a more hassle-free loyalty rewards program than Sweet Tooth, and is ideal for smaller businesses with brick and mortar store fronts (such as bakeries, cafes, grocers, bars, spas, fitness clubs and boutiques). What’s really unique about Belly, though, are its customizeable rewards offerings and “all in one box” setup, which includes an iPad (with stand and combination lock), data reports, a personal support representative, social media integrations, and email marketing tools. Even more significantly, Belly customers get a mobile page for their business on the Belly app, where potential customers can look to find Belly-compatible businesses.

Monthly subscription costs range from $99 – $199, and all contracts run for 12 months. The cost of the iPad, iPad stand, application software, and unlimited rewards cards are included in the subscription costs for the highest plan, but an additional $150 installation fee is charged for lower plans.

Right now there are only a few drawbacks to Belly, most important of which is its steep price. Customer service can be a bit spotty as well, and unfortunately, not enough other businesses currently use it, which doesn’t provide much incentive to customers to get in the Belly network. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for an easy, no-worries loyalty program, you can’t go far wrong with Belly.

Read our full review of Belly for more details and information.

Website Building Software

Winner: Wix

 

wix

Wix is our number one choice for web building software, and it’s not difficult to understand why. With its sleek editing interface and multiple selection of apps and integrations, it is an extremely effective do-it-yourself website designer. In addition to being easy to use, Wix provides a great selection of unique and visually appealing templates (there are hundreds to choose from).

The free version of Wix is provided to anyone who signs up, though any website you create under the free plan will be branded with the Wix logo. Paid plans range from $4.08/month to $24.90/month. Wix’s store offers payment processing through a handful of vendors, including PayPal, WebMoney, Skrill, and PayU.

All in all, Wix is intuitive and user-friendly. Within a few hours, you should be able to take a template, mess around for a bit with the editing tools, and build yourself an incredibly fine looking website.

Because Wix allows developers to create and share their own add-ons, other users are given the opportunity to expand and diversify their websites as well. Some of the most popular integrations available include online shop expansions (like the Etsy app), the Wix Hotels premium booking system, live Instagram feeds, website profile systems, and a variety of other site boosting applications

There is one downside to the software: unlike most other website-building services, Wix does not offer 24/7 live-chat or provide an email response system. There is a toll-free number you can call for help with technical issues, but be aware that you could possibly be put on hold for an unspecified amount of time.

Click here to read our full review of Wix.

Runner-Up: Jimdo

Jimdo-Logo

With its reasonable price points and clever, yet simplistic editor, Jimdo has made a mark on the website building industry. Managing to be both straightforward and comprehensive, Jimdo allows users to make custom, professional looking websites. Templates are provided, of course, but you’re not bound to the confines of the template you choose; you have total freedom to edit and can essentially be as hands-on about the design process as you want.

Jimdo plans range from free to $20/month, and all plans come with an HTML5 WYSIWYG web editor, usage of professional-grade templates, social media tools, a mobile device editing view, blogging tools, photo galleries, Google Maps, contact forms, direct video embedding, widget integration, optimized mobile websites, and unlimited bandwidth.

While the only online payment processor currently supported by Jimdo is PayPal, a selection of various real-world payment methods can be activated in a website’s store, including invoicing, payment-in-advance, collection-upon-delivery, local pickup, and local delivery.

This is an easy-to-use service that somehow still manages to astound with the depth of its overall functionality. Some things may be a bit too simple, and Jimdo isn’t sophisticated enough to work as a tool for a professional web designer, but it is perfectly suited – price-wise and in ease-of-use – for small businesses who would otherwise have to hire out their web design services.

Read our full review of Jimdo here.

The post Merchant Maverick’s Awards for Best Small Business Software appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

Square Versus Credit Card Merchant Account

square-vs-merchant-account

In 2009, a singular company known as Square introduced around the world pay-as-you-go processing, only using a smartphone along with a card readers connected to the audio jack. By doing this, Square altered the instalments game. Before that, most retailers, restaurants, along with other companies needed to open traditional merchant services. Artists along with other small vendors typically needed to accept cash or check only.

Now, in the tail finish of 2015, everything looks a great deal different. Most credit card merchant account providers did away with multi-year contracts rich in early termination charges and began presenting transparent, highly competitive processing rates.

Should you&#8217re a brand new business trying to determine whether to obtain a credit card merchant account or go for Square, the choice could be a complicated one. While Square is really a standardized service that utilizes a &#8220third-party credit card merchant account&#8221 (a shared credit card merchant account along with other people that use the service), traditional merchant services vary in features, prices, and car loan terms. The best choice really depends upon the character of the business: new companies come with an simpler time establishing a Square account. Small companies will dsicover the streamlined, all-in-one solution that Square purports to become more convenient, too. But medium-sized as well as bigger companies might chafe under Square&#8217s prices structure. Nor will all companies find the key they need with Square, making a free account the greater option for many.

Application &amp Account Stability

With Square, there&#8217s no application fee and anybody is thanks for visiting open a free account. Square asks you a little bit of fundamental details about your company and verify your identity, but there aren’t any credit report checks involved. You&#8217ll be up and processing inside a couple of days.

Acquiring a merchant account is really a more involved process. The applications are frequently quite streamlined, but you may expect the procedure to consider longer. Thing about this happens because the processor&#8217s underwriting department will scrutinize every facet of your company to determine precisely how likely they’re to come across chargebacks, claims of fraud, and anything else that processors hate to cope with. You may have several back-and-forths having a representative before getting a free account.

In this way, Square has got the advantage for any small or start up business. There’s a significant trade-off, though: Square&#8217s &#8220come when you are&#8221 approach implies that its underwriting department won&#8217t hesitate to slap a hang on the first considerably (or suspiciously) large transaction until it decides you&#8217re not really a risk.

Merchant services, because there is a more intensive vetting process, are less inclined to do that for you. That&#8217s not saying they won&#8217t ever hold your funds, but good merchant providers try everything they are able to to reduce the opportunity of this.

If you’re just getting began and want a free account rapidly, Square is perfect for you. For those who have a little more time for you to look around, or else you are actually worried about account stability, you&#8217re best using a credit card merchant account.

Cost

Like a small or perhaps completely new business, every cent matters. Which means obtaining a fair rate for payment processing is important.

Square charges 2.75% per swipe (more for manual or offline transactions). There&#8217s no contract, no hidden charges. You pay for that transactions. There&#8217s no messing around with various rates for various cards or kinds of transactions.

Merchant services vary more within their prices structures. Interchange-plus is easily the most transparent and frequently cheapest-cost model, however, many processors depend on tiered prices. Factors like the chronilogical age of your company, the kind of industry you&#8217re in, as well as the kind of cards you process all factor in to the rates your credit card merchant account provider will give you.

That stated, merchant services typically provide you with better rates than Square will. The larger volume you need to do, the greater rate you&#8217ll get. (Square has volume discounts, however it&#8217s a reasonably recent development and never well marketed whatsoever.)

And when you process lots of an atm card instead of charge cards, a free account is going to be significantly less costly. Square doesn&#8217t separate debit and credit — and that means you don&#8217t take advantage of the low interchange charges on an atm card. However, Square doesn&#8217t charge a per-transaction fee, either. For those who have lots of small tickets, this really calculates to your benefit.

Understanding credit card merchant account prices could be more difficult than Square&#8217s super-simple payment model. And when you pursue a free account, you&#8217re gonna need to compare different plans. Pretty much every credit card merchant account provider charges a fundamental fee every month, too, varying from $5 to $35 monthly generally. For sporadic or low-volume users, this may be an unwelcome expense. However if you simply perform the math, having to pay the fee every month still enables for savings generally in comparison with Square — all aside from the cheapest-volume and tiniest-ticket companies.

A free account might also include additional charges. Included in this are statement charges, gateway charges, PCI compliance, and much more. They change from business to business, so make sure to seek advice from each option you&#8217re thinking about.

If you wish to understand much more about charge card processing rates and the way to draw effective comparisons, take a look at our guide here.

Contracts &amp Easy Switching

Square was the first one to offer pay-as-you decide to go processing, and that is still certainly one of its greatest draws. There&#8217s no fee every month, no application fee, no early termination charges for departing, with no lengthy-term commitments. You are able to stop using Square anytime, and begin up again later if you want.

Merchant services vary a lot more within their contracts. It&#8217s still (regrettably) present with encounter 1- to three-year contracts, most of which auto-renew unless of course you provide proper notification, typically a minimum of 3 several weeks ahead of time as well as in writing. Some have early termination charges, or ETFs, (usually within the $300-400 range) should you cancel your contract before that. Even though you don&#8217t possess a lengthy-term contract or ETF, you’ll probably still need to provide formal notice if you are planning to change.

We are able to&#8217t stress enough how important it’s to see an agreement carefully prior to signing. Inquire before you decide to accept anything, and make certain you receive any statements about waiving the ETF or auto-renewing clause incorporated within the contract. You have negotiating power, even while a brand new business.

Like Square, the most popular MSPs also provide month-to-month contracts without any early termination fee, which means you don’t need to accept Square just to avert being locked right into a contract. But you’ll have to consider the price of getting a regular monthly fee with a free account, which could considerably boost the effective rate for low-volume companies.

Equipment

For small companies, the simplicity Square&#8217s setup is effective. Whatever you really requirement for a barebones setup is Access to the internet, a card readers, along with a compatible smartphone or tablet using the free Square Register application installed.

The issue comes lower to costs. An EMV-compliant nick readers from Square can cost you just $30 you will get NFC abilities and EMV for $49. That doesn&#8217t incorporate a receipt printer (yet another $200-300 expense) a tablet stand (the price varies), or perhaps a cash drawer (cost varies). For reference, Square&#8217s ready-made retail kits will cost you between $400 to $600+, not counting a tablet. However, their email list of supported devices are quite small, especially in comparison with the choices a free account offers. (Browse the lists for Android devices, iPads, and iPhones, correspondingly.)

Credit card merchant account providers for example Helcim can provide you with an EMV-compliant terminal having a built-in receipt printer for less than $200. That again doesn&#8217t cover a money drawer or other equipment, like a scanner — nor will it incorporate a POS. But it can save you some cash by choosing a free account which has a good deal with an EMV terminal/receipt printer.

Merchant services offer a benefit for the reason that most enables you to bring any existing equipment you’ve along with you, plus they&#8217ll reprogram results using their system. A lot of Square&#8217s equipment — the readers and also the Square Stand it particular — work just with Square, so if you choose to switch, you&#8217ll need to buy new equipment. For those who have multiple registers or perhaps multiple locations, the expense start accumulated.

Just watch out for merchant services that provide terminal leases: These more often than not set you back more over time. You&#8217re best just purchasing a terminal outright, particularly if you choose a “future-proof” one outfitted with EMV and NFC, since it should last for quite some time.

Your final note about equipment: Square is super convenient for mobile setups, if you have employees who’re on the run or vend at occasions, you’ve all you need to operate. Credit card merchant account providers vary a lot more broadly within their mobile choices. Many are great many are perfectly sufficient but still some don&#8217t have mobile support whatsoever.

In individuals cases, you&#8217ll need to select a processor like Square like a backup whenever you&#8217re on the go. Or, you are able to opt for Inner Fence and pay your merchant&#8217s charges on the top of Inner Fence&#8217s rather exorbitant costs. For apparent reasons, we don&#8217t suggest that route. Given there&#8217s no contract or lengthy-term contract or monthly charges, it&#8217s not to recommend Square like a mobile solution if you want one.

Versatility

With Square, you&#8217re locked into while using Square Register application and Square-supported integrations. There&#8217s some big names among the list of available apps, however the selection continues to be limited. Credit card merchant account providers provide you with much more versatility with what equipment and software you select.

However, that versatility has a trade-off: value. The help Square offers free of charge, or in a minimal cost, really are a spectacular value&#8230if you intend for their services. Let&#8217s check out the entire suite:

  • Square Register (POS): Free
  • Analytics Dashboard: Free
  • Inventory Management: Free
  • Worker Management/Time keeping: $5 per worker monthly
  • Square Payroll (California only): $20 monthly + $5 per worker compensated
  • E-mail Marketing: $.10 per email OR $15 monthly for 500 contacts
  • Appointment Booking: Beginning at $30 monthly
  • Online Shop: Free

In comparison, opening a conventional credit card merchant account enables you to employ almost any POS, inventory management, accounting, loyalty, booking, or customer keeper you’d like, including software that is much more effective and advanced than anything provided by Square. While there are several compatibility limitations despite merchant services, you’ll have much more choices for integration than Square provides. Some software might be incorporated free of charge with a free account, but typically you’ll have to purchase it individually.

So far as eCommerce goes, Square&#8217s offering sounds great. There&#8217s only one little niggling detail: it&#8217s not your personal website or domain — your shop is located on Square&#8217s domain, that makes it more similar to selling on Etsy or eBay. If you like, you are able to construct your website with your personal domain one of Square&#8217s a couple: Weebly or Bigcommerce.

Should you&#8217ve already built your website elsewhere, you&#8217ll need to either switch hosting providers/shopping cart software software or find another payments processor. Given just how much work will go into listing products online, switching providers or software could be a massive inconvenience. Some sites provide an &#8220import listings&#8221 feature, though, which could pull data from marketplaces for example eBay or Amazon . com.

However, if you go searching for a free account, you normally obtain access to a totally free gateway that you could connect to whatever eCommerce software you select. Then you definitely make use of well-done Search engine optimization and proper compensated advertising and may create a lengthy-term presence. Should you choose switch lower the road, it&#8217s simply dependent on connecting the brand new gateway. There&#8217s no guarantee of 100% compatibility, but you will have a greater quantity of options.

For small startups that don’t require the more complex software, and first-time spent online sellers who would like to test the waters, Square frequently offers the less expensive. However for companies that require an element-wealthy POS, comprehensive customer management, and extensive eCommerce choices, a free account is the only method to integrate using the necessary software. So if you’re just beginning out, you may still find great, feature-wealthy choices for little if any cost. MailChimp, for instance, provides a free email arrange for entrepreneurs with less than 2,000 subscribers. Appointy includes a fundamental free service, in addition to a Pro Plan that starts at $19.99/month (billed yearly).

For companies that don’t mind being locked into Square’s software ecosystem or even the small group of integrations, it’s difficult to beat Square on value with the much offered for little or very little. When it comes to versatility, however, a free account provides much more choices for system personalization.

Customer Support

You won’t ever obtain the same degree of service from the company like Square because you will having a traditional credit card merchant account. Credit card merchant account providers typically provide you with a dedicated account manager who are able to address problems you&#8217re getting and supply support when needed. Square&#8217s customer support has improved considerably in the last couple of years (initially the organization didn&#8217t even offer phone support), however it still can&#8217t come near to the type of care and concern you&#8217ll achieve with a home online merchant account providers providers.

That stated, not every merchant services stand out within the customer support department. Seek information to check out warning flags. Watch out for independent sales people and deal directly using the corporate offices whenever feasible.

The caliber of services are a vital factor out of all companies we review, and if you&#8217re unsure, take a look at our top-rated processors.

Conclusion

Will we recommend Square for retailers? Yes. Will we recommend traditional merchant services? Absolutely. So which is much better? That&#8217s difficult to say.

With regards to payments and payment processing, there’s nobody-size-fits-all solution.Age your company, its size, your industry, as well as the way you operate every day all factor into selecting a repayment processor. There are several apparent details: Obtaining a Square &#8220merchant account&#8221 takes much less time — however, you sacrifice stability. Customer support will be better having a highly regarded payments processor. With Square, you don&#8217t obtain a choice with what software or hardware you utilize merchant services provide you with many selections.

Of course, the choice comes lower as to the&#8217s vital that you both you and your business. Weigh the benefits and drawbacks. Should you&#8217re still unsure what&#8217s the best choice, achieve to we and us can point you within the right direction!

Have questions? What happen to be your encounters with Square or perhaps your credit card merchant account provider? Leave us a comment — we&#8217re always pleased to listen to our readers!

The publish Square Versus Credit Card Merchant Account made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

VeriFone VX520 Charge Card Readers Unboxing and Review

verifone vx520

With the various sorts of charge card readers available nowadays, it’s really a nearly Herculean task to find out which kind suits your company. You will find such a great deal of things to consider &#8211 will the card readers accept contactless payments, could it be EMV compatible, will it take gift certificates, could it be portable, how good will it print receipts &#8211 it&#8217s no question that lots of business proprietors end up battling when the time comes to buy new hardware. It&#8217s enough to create anybody&#8217s mind spin!

Have no fear, though. I (along with the other authors and reviewers on Merchant Maverick) make it an individual mission to provide you with the various tools you have to make informed decisions regarding your business. Because of this, I purchased probably the most popular card readers around &#8211 the VeriFone VX520 &#8211 and required a tough consider the basics. I examined from packaging to product specs to testimonials. If you wish to know what to anticipate once you order a VX520, you&#8217re fortunate, my pal. Continue reading to see things i discovered.

Packaging

&nbsp

I purchased my VX 520 from Amazon . com, despite the fact that it required a long time to obtain here (there’s been a higher demand this month for EMV-capable card readers instead of the current liability shift), it showed up in excellent shape. Every element was well packed, paid by bubble-wrap or plastic, and also the set-up instructions were nicely folded on top of this area.

I had been fairly apprehensive before receiving this specific card readers, because there were some real horror tales concerning the VX520 around the Amazon . com site. Actually, multiple customers complained these were sent outdated, non-EMV capable types of the credit card readers, readers that were used and refurbished, or readers which were not really able to NFC transactions. Consequently, I had been unsure things i would find after i opened up in the package. However, to my relief, the readers I acquired was clearly brand-new and EMV enabled. All the associated parts (the ability cables, the receipt paper, and also the phone cord) were also new and untouched. Actually, thinking about the amount of negative reviews around the Amazon . com site, I&#8217m unsure basically just got lucky through getting a non-lemon or maybe service has become better lately. In either case, regardless of whether you&#8217re ordering from Amazon . com or any other site, be cautious whenever you receive your card readers. Check it for indications of previous use, and be sure right from the start that the constituents work nicely.

What&#8217s Within the Box?

verifone vx520 unboxing

  • VeriFone VX520 Dual Comm (M252-753-03-NAA-3) charge card terminal
  • Power
  • Roll of paper
  • Phone cord
  • Twelve months manufacturer warranty

Specs

Cost: $180-$300 (based on where/from that you purchase)

Processor: 400 MHz ARM11 32-bit RISC processor

Memory: 160MB (128MB Flash, 32MB SDRAM)

Display: 128&#21564 pixel graphical white-colored backlit LCD

Connectivity: Dial Ethernet

Printer: 24 lps Standard: 49mm paper roll Contactless: 40mm paper roll

Card Readers: Triple Track MSR

Contactless: ISO18092 supports major NFC/contactless schemes

Peripheral Ports: One Ethernet one telco one RS-232 port one USB 2. Host port one USB Client port

Security: PCI PTS 3.X approved

Power: 8V Electricity, 2.25A or optional 9V Electricity, 4A

Ecological: 0º to 50º C (32º to 122º F) operating temperature. -20º to 60º C (-4º to 140º F) storing temperature. 5% to 90% relative humidity, non-condensing

Physical Dimensions: 203mm L x 78mm W x 87mm H 500g weight

Set-Up

The instructional diagram that included the VX520 is rather straightforward.

verifone vx520 instructions

You may also read a useful reference guide that will help you with set-up instructions and finest practices, but there&#8217s not really much to understand, fortunately. Obtaining the readers prepared to run includes plugging inside a couple of cords, feeding inside a roll of receipt paper, and installing information out of your merchant services provider. This isn&#8217t brain surgery.

First Impressions

The VeriFone VX520 looks just like almost every other standard card readers you seen, although it sticks out somewhat because of its compact, portable design and ATM-style interface. Additionally, the VX520 is distinguished with a large, high contrast screen that has an 8-line by 21-character display. I discovered myself suddenly astounded by the dimensions, brightness, and readability from the display. This readers can endure the earliest or most near-sighted of the clientele, quite simply. And also the display isn’t the only element of the readers that’s backlit for max visibility. The keypad also features large figures and it is backlit in blue, in order to function easily in the dimmest of settings (or most atmospheric of restaurants). I personally don’t like low light environments &#8211 no candle-lit eateries for me personally, should you please &#8211 but I needed to admit the display and keypad about this readers were greater than a match for any dark locale.

&nbsp

The VX520 is EMV-ready, meaning with the ability to process nick cards (either nick-and-pin or nick-and-signature) in addition to standard magstripe cards. EMV compliance hasn&#8217t been a problem within the U . s . States until lately, as a result of liability shift which happened October first, 2015. Now, retailers who’ve not upgraded their hardware have the effect of fraud that may have been avoided by devices that may read nick cards. What this means is potentially huge financial losses for companies with outdated card readers, and makes the truth that the VX520 is EMV-ready that rather more significant.

There’s a slot towards the bottom from the VX520 where nick cards could be &#8220dipped&#8221 &#8211 placed half means by the slot and held there throughout the transaction. Nick cards, in addition to regular old magstripe cards, may also be swiped across the right fringe of the credit card readers. &#8220Dipping&#8221 is really a relatively recent procedure within the U.S., so most new charge cards (additionally to getting a micro-processor embedded for nick-and-PIN or nick-and-signature transactions) may also be outfitted having a magstripe. It might appear counterproductive to provide both options at any given time when everybody is actually attempting to push the convenience and security of nick cards, however the liability shift only has experienced effect a short while swiping is really ingrained within our culture that it’ll take a moment for card dipping to get standard.

&nbsp

Evidently, this readers also offers integrated NFC (near field communication) abilities which support alternative payment methods (contactless payments like Apple Pay, PayPal, Android Pay, etc.) in addition to loyalty card/gift certificate acceptance. However, based on VeriFone&#8217s official data sheet around the product, NFC capacity is just optional. When I pointed out above, there are many online complaints from individuals who bought the VX520 expecting so that you can process contactless payments, only to obtain their hopes dashed. Should you choose end up buying this card readers, I suggest that you simply communicate carefully together with your dealer to make certain the model you&#8217re getting can really try everything you&#8217re planning on do.

VeriFone claims the VX520 is amazingly fast, in a position to manage processing, file encryption, and understanding and processing at amazing speeds &#8220thanks to the effective processor and expanding memory.&#8221 Much more importantly, possibly, is always that we have an optional battery which enables you to definitely go wherever you have to go, within reason. As lengthy as you’ve an electrical source, the purpose of payment could be virtually any place in your store. Thankfully, additionally to merely being portable, the VX520 is lightweight and fits easily within the hands, therefore it&#8217s practical to hold around too.

The final aspect I wish to mention may be the paper door, which appears sturdy and well-crafted. It&#8217s transparent, that is nice, because it enables you to view precisely how have less receipt paper you’re really, also it opens and shuts rapidly and with little wasted movement. It&#8217s efficient, quite simply.

Final Ideas around the VeriFone VX520

Generally, I believe this is a great product: easy to use, portable, readable, capable to process both magstripe and nick charge cards. The VeriFone VX520 appears like an excellent card readers, seems like an excellent card readers, and &#8211 typically &#8211  operates just like a great card readers. I counsel you to definitely continue but be careful, though, particularly if you&#8217re searching for something which can process contactless or NFC payments. The only real tip I’m able to provide you with with that front will be smart. Research your options before purchasing. It&#8217s really about research, in the end. Speak with the vendor, and also to your credit card merchant account provider, to make certain the VX520 can definitely perform all of the functions your company requires.

Are you currently considering obtaining a VeriFone VX520? Do you have one? We&#8217d like to hear your ideas concerning the product within the comments section below.

The publish VeriFone VX520 Charge Card Readers Unboxing and Review made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

“”