Buying and selling Ease For Transparency With Interchange-Plus

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Accepting charge cards in your company is something of the two-edged sword. On a single hands, they’re very convenient for the customers, which usually means more sales. Simultaneously, processing a charge card transaction is expensive, and also the charges connected with maintaining a free account cost much more money. These expenses eat to your profits while increasing your general price of conducting business. Nevertheless, as customers more and more turn from having to pay with cash and employ debit or credit cards whenever you can, most companies will have to simply accept charge cards to be able to remain competitive.

Figuring out ahead of time just how much a free account will set you back with any amount of certainty is really a extremely difficult task. You will find many competing processors available, each charging different charges and rates. Processing rates themselves are influenced by a bewildering quantity of variables, such as the prices model provided by your credit card merchant account provider.

The total cost of the credit card merchant account will probably be a mix of the rates you spend your processor for every credit/bank card transaction and also the charges that you might also need to pay for, usually on the monthly or yearly basis. While we’re going to pay attention to processing rates with this article, be familiar with this: Charges are usually exactly the same for any given credit card merchant account provider, whatever the size your company. In case your provider charges $99 annually for PCI compliance, you’ll pay that fee regardless of whether you have $100,000 in annual sales, or $a million. So, for small or micro-sized companies (or new companies just beginning up), charges are most likely the greatest expense you incur by getting a free account. For bigger companies with greater sales volumes, processing rates will often become your greatest expense.

What kinds of Prices Models Exist?

Clearly, you’ll would like to get the cheapest processing rates you will get, right? Theoretically, lower processing rates should result in a smaller amount of the cash out of your sales visiting your processor and much more from it remaining along with you. In actual practice, it’s a lot more complicated than that.

Let’s begin by searching in the general kinds of prices models for setting processing rates. You will find four of these: 1) tiered prices, 2) interchange-plus prices, 3) subscription/membership prices, and 4) blended prices.

Tiered prices is, regrettably, still the most typical prices model available, and also the one most processors offer for their retailers. We don’t enjoy it. Tiered prices simplifies a large number of processing rates into three fundamental tiers: qualified, mid-qualified, and non-qualified. Which tier a specific transaction will fall under depends upon numerous criteria, that are set through the processor. These criteria include items like card-present versus card-not-present transactions, if the transaction was processed on the day that it happened, and which of a number of possible groups the products purchased fall under. Tiered prices may appear tempting, since it simplifies lots of variables into just three tiers, making your monthly statement much simpler to decipher. Regrettably, as the figures might be simpler to know, they’ll frequently be considered a lot greater than you had been expecting. Tiered prices models allow it to be impossible to inform the amount of a processing charge will the issuing bank, the charge card associations (i.e., Visa, MasterCard, etc.), and just how much will your credit card merchant account provider. Tiered prices also results in a very deceitful marketing gimmick: the company will advertise the cheapest possible (i.e., qualified) rate, but many transactions won’t really be qualified, and can process in a much greater rate.

Interchange-plus prices, however, breaks lower the costs visiting the issuing bank and charge card associations, enabling you to begin to see the markup they’re charging you for processing your transaction. This can be a a lot more transparent prices model, it makes your statements harder to see. Generally, that’ll be a little cost to pay for, as interchange-plus prices minute rates are usually lower overall than tiered rates.

Subscription/membership prices is a touch different. You’ll still spend the money for interchange rates that visit the issuing banks and charge card associations, but rather of having to pay a portion markup for your processor, you’ll pay a regular monthly membership fee along with a fixed per-transaction charge. With respect to the nature and size your company, this prices model could possibly lead to even lower immediate and ongoing expenses than interchange-plus prices. However, very couple of processors presently offer it. For a good example of subscription prices, see our overview of Payment Depot.

Flat/blended prices is comparable to tiered prices, however the three tiers are blended into just one predetermined fee for those transactions. This rates are, naturally, a great deal greater than you’d pay within tiered plan. However, the possible lack of a regular monthly fee makes it less expensive overall for small or periodic companies. Square and PayPal use blended prices.

For any more thorough discussion of those prices models, please visit our Complete Help guide to Charge Card Processing Rates and Charges.

What’s Interchange-Plus Prices?

As the actual figures could possibly get pretty complex, at its core interchange-plus prices is very simple. The prices model includes two elements: an “interchange” along with a “plus.” The interchange may be the number of the transaction that must definitely be compensated to both issuing bank and also the charge card association. Since your processor needs to pay this charge, they’ll give it to you. The plus may be the amount in addition to the interchange costs that you’ll also need to pay for your processor. It’s their markup for processing your transaction, and it’s made to cover their costs to do business – also to produce a profit.

Interchange-plus prices may also be known by alternate names, for example interchange go through prices or cost-plus prices. These different terms all make reference to exactly the same factor. Helcim, our favorite processors, uses the word cost-plus prices. Additionally they give a very handy explainer of methods their prices plan works online.

Interchange-plus prices minute rates are usually expressed because the interchange rate along with a markup, which may be a portion, a set, per-transaction fee, or both. Helcim, for instance, presently charges interchange + .18% + $.08 per transaction for any retail transaction.

So, just how much will the interchange set you back? These charges are positioned directly through the charge card associations, plus they could possibly get pretty complicated. There are various rates for debit and charge cards, for instance, in addition to different rates for various kinds of charge cards. Card-present and card-not-present transactions also provide different rates, because they reflect the amount of risk the issuing bank takes in extending credit for any given transaction. Fortunately, Helcim supplies a handy review of Visa and MasterCard interchange rates online. In case you really wish to dig much deeper in to the subject, official rate information from Visa and MasterCard can also be available on the web.

Here’s a good example of how all of this works used:

You have a store and also have a credit card merchant account with Helcim. A person is available in and purchases a product for $100.00 (including tax). He pays having a MasterCard Consumer charge card. The interchange price is 1.580% + $.10, or $1.68. Helcim passes this cost for you, and so they charge a markup of .18% + $.08, or $.26. Your overall cost to take the charge card is $1.94, or 1.94%.

How Can Interchange-Plus Prices Save Me Money?

The essential flaw using the traditional tiered-prices model is it hides the interchange costs and enables processing companies to charge much more of a markup. By consolidating a multitude of rates right into a smaller sized quantity of tiers, processors can basically “round up” towards the greatest rate in every tier. Although this could make your monthly statement a great deal simpler to see, additionally, it means you’ll be having to pay greater rates for several transactions – and also you most likely won’t have the ability to tell which transactions are now being billed abnormally high rates.

By demonstrating the particular interchange costs, interchange-plus prices enables you to definitely easier see exactly what the markup is. Therefore encourages processors to create more modest markups. The charge card processing market is highly competitive, and processors realize that many retailers will join the organization that provides them the cheapest rates. This transparency in separating out interchange and markup costs generally leads to lower overall rates, and many interchange-plus prices plans can cost you less cash than the usual tiered-prices plan. However, you should know that there’s nothing stopping a processor from charging an unreasonably high markup. The main difference is it will always be simpler to place, particularly if you look around.

How About American Express?

American Express differs! Unlike Visa and MasterCard, American Express charge cards are issued directly by American Express – an economic services company. Thus, American Express can serve as both issuing bank and also the charge card association. This will result in lower rates, right? Wrong! Keep in mind that American Express requires its cardholders to repay their balance entirely each month. Although this is a seem financial practice for consumers, additionally, it deprives American stock exchange from the chance to charge interest around the delinquent charge card balances. They compensate for this by charging considerably greater processing rates than Mastercard or visa.

Until very lately, accepting American Express cards would be a real hassle, requiring retailers to register directly with American Express. In 2014, however, American Express introduced their OptBlue Prices plan, which enables retailers to simply accept American stock exchange cards through your regular credit card merchant account provider. Processing minute rates are still greater than Mastercard or visa, but it’s an absolute improvement within the older arrangement. Whilst not all credit card merchant account providers support OptBlue Prices, the majority of our preferred providers include it in their accounts.

Final Ideas

Generally, we really like interchange-plus prices. It can help you save lots of money, and it’s certainly a lot more transparent than traditional tiered-prices plans. The majority of our preferred providers offer it. Actually, most of the best and many innovative processors in the market (for example Dharma and Helcim) offer it solely.

Regrettably, that’s not necessarily the situation. Until fairly lately, interchange-plus prices was just open to bigger, more-established companies. Processors felt they could make amends for offering lower rates by only which makes it open to retailers who’d a really high monthly product sales. Traditional small companies were tied to tiered prices plans, and compelled to pay for reasonably limited for being small companies.

Today, getting interchange-plus prices is simpler than it’s have you been. However, it’s not really a guaranteed factor. Some processors still don’t offer it whatsoever. A number of other processors offer both tiered and interchange prices, plus they usually don’t disclose this fact within their advertising. Many of these processors also depend on independent sales people, who’ll – naturally – attempt to sign you track of a far more costly tiered prices plan. If you would like interchange-plus prices, you’ll have to inquire about it.

It’s also important to note that interchange-plus prices is not one hundredPercent guarantee of lower rates. Processors continue to be capable of making money at the expense by charging above-industry-average markups in their prices plan. The main difference is the fact that it’s much simpler to determine that they’re doing the work, a minimum of should you look around before joining a processor.

You should also consider the total cost of the credit card merchant account, particularly if you’re a smaller sized business. As we’ve noted above, your rate plan is just one part of the process. While it may be the biggest a part of that equation, you should also look carefully at monthly and annual charges before joining any processor. The supply of interchange-plus prices is not an assurance that you’ll receive the very best overall deal.

Our very best advice would be to look around before buying a specific provider. If you wish to save considerable time and aggravation by doing this, take a look at exactly what the best providers in the market have to give you first.

The publish Buying and selling Ease For Transparency With Interchange-Plus made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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How EMV Affects eCommerce

How EMV affects eCommerceEvery sector features its own language. The federal government, the military, and also the healthcare industry aren’t the only real ones that appear to possess more acronyms than actual words now, the non-public sector will get to participate in the esoteric fun. In the following paragraphs, I’ll reveal the most recent acronym that retailers have to know &#8211 EMV.

What It’s

Acronyms should make complex phrases simpler to speak, however the irony is the fact that some, like EMV, don’t communicate any helpful information.

What’s EMV?

EMV may be the standard which governs the brand new charge cards which use chips to keep consumer data additionally, it governs the POS hardware that recognizes individuals cards. The acronym means EuroPay, MasterCard, and Visa, that have been the banking institutions to initially get the standard. The EMV standard has become controlled by a consortium, with control split one of the global banking institutions of Visa, Mastercard, JCB, American Express, China UnionPay, and Uncover. As a result, you might even see EMVco in communication out of your a merchant account, but don’t worry &#8211 it’s exactly the same factor.

When the acronym were SCC (for Secure Nick Card) its common usage would stimulate significant words for that hearer. But apparently the PCI is vainglorious.

What’s different about EMV cards?

EMV cards, more in modern language referred to as Nick Cards, vary from the ever-present Magnetic Strip Cards in the way they keep card owner&#8217s data (namely, the charge card number, expiration date, and security codes). The chips also store apps. But don’t get too excited &#8211 you won’t be playing Angry Wild birds in your charge card in the near future. These apps are pretty straight forward programs which help result in the card so secure. They operate entirely without anyone’s knowledge, offering the best information within the exchange using the card readers, and they may also instantly generate special per-transaction “passwords” that stop your card from being duplicated in almost any significant way. This is actually the primary method in which they cut lower on charge card fraud.

Prepaid credit cards should be &#8220dipped&#8221 or placed right into a special card readers, instead of &#8220swiped&#8221 with the common magnetic strip readers. It has posed a bit of an issue, since while dipping the credit card isn’t a complex operation to understand, we’ve the “swipe” completely ingrained within our muscle memory. Employees may need extra training, and consumers may require time for you to overcome trepidation within the change. And I’m unsure what’s going to take place in American Sign Language, which still utilizes a sign for “credit card” which resembles the act of while using carbon-copy charge card machines from the 1970’s. However I digress.

What It Really Method For Retailers

What’s Promising

The good thing is these nick cards tend to be safer in card-present transactions, for example in-person swipes in a physical check out. Transactions using traditional cards are inclined to several ways of fraud, and issuing banks are only able to verify the identity from the user through the signature around the paper receipt. Considering that retailers need unreadable scribbles or perhaps smiley faces as signatures, anybody owning your card might make purchases without your consent. Most EMV-capable terminals make use of a PIN to ensure the identity from the cardholder. The attempted-and-true approach to securing your bank card in the ATM will be employed to secure your EMV card at each physical reason for purchase.

Unhealthy News

Unhealthy news is the fact that purchases made over the telephone or Internet (known as card-not-present, or CNP transactions) are simply as prone to fraudulent transactions because the magnetic strip cards are. Each issuing bank is attempting out its very own means of improving CNP security, but there’s presently no sufficiently elegant or efficient solution.

Another not so good news is the fact that, with all this elevated fraud protection in card-present transactions, the credit card-issuing banks have had the ability to effectively implement a &#8220liability shift&#8221. Which means that retailers will result in any fraud occurring because of non-approved hardware and operations.

To make use of Visa&#8217s vernacular, &#8220The party which has made purchase of EMV deployment is protected against financial liability for card-present counterfeit fraud losses about this date [March 1, 2015, within the U.S.]. If neither or both sides are EMV compliant, the fraud liability remains just like it’s today.&#8221 In a nutshell, which means that if you’ve updated your POS hardware and trained the employees, the issuing bank it’s still responsible to compensate fraud victims. But individuals retailers that aren’t compliant (by October 1, 2015) is going to be responsible to pay back fraud victims for his or her losses.

A couple of kinds of companies take presctiption another compliance schedule. Gasoline stations, for example, have to be compliant between 2017.

This liability shift doesn’t apply in CNP transactions, for example online, mobile, and also over-the-phone purchases.

What It Really Method For Customers

Apart from elevated fraud protection, hardly any can change for purchasers utilizing their new nick cards. Actually, current nick cards likewise incorporate that old familiar magnetic strip, to make sure backwards compatibility. Consumers can pay safely utilizing their nick with retailers who’ve updated terminals, and taking advantage of their magnetic strip for that &#8220late adopter” retailers available. This migration towards the EMV technology will probably take many years to end up being the new norm according to observations within the United kingdom, which began applying we’ve got the technology a couple of years back, Visa and MasterCard project that it could take before the year 2022 to achieve 90% saturation.

Having a change this gradual, most consumers is going to be comfortable and acquainted with the brand new cards lengthy before magnetic stripes die away entirely.

Before the market is able to completely eliminate the magnetic strip, consumers using the &#8220dip&#8221 method can experience slightly longer wait occasions in the register. This delay, merely a couple of seconds more than the &#8220swipe&#8221 method, is a result of processing the additional steps which will make the chips so secure. As technology progresses and also the EMV standard is improved upon, the additional transaction time will progressively disappear.

What Retailers Have To Do About This

There’s two ways of thinking.

Some retailers are ready as lengthy as they possibly can. They’re waiting to help make the shift to EMV compliance until there’s an extensive, unified solution that covers both POS and CNP transactions. They already know prototype and Version 1. technologies are inelegant, buggy, and liable is the most rapidly outdated, so that they watch for Consumer Reports to vet their cars, phones, and toaster ovens. And today, their POS too.

Other retailers see the opportunity to plug an opening within the financial boat, and invest immediately.

Both ways of thinking possess some knowledge, so it’s your choice. Personally, I believe when a couple of dollars spent can now save me potentially thousands later, it’s a no-brainer. Even when a more recent, better POS is released six several weeks from now, this is actually the price of conducting business.

Just how will the EMV shift affect eCommerce? Well, if you’re conducting business solely online, there’s very little you can do at this time. MasterCard is attempting out its Nick Authentication Program, and Visa includes a near-identical Dynamic Passcode Authentication program. These two solutions are actually placed at the disposal of the customer (and never the merchant) through personal handheld card readers. These visitors mainly for that reassurance from the consumer, nor benefit nor harm the merchant by any means.

Should you&#8217re doing any company in a physical reason for purchase, there&#8217s very little need to delay switching. Obtain the new card readers installed, get the employees acquainted with their use, and obtain busy experiencing the same-or-better fraud protection you&#8217ve always had. And you never know? You may also encourage customer loyalty for that mere appearance more secure and tech-savvy transaction processing.

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Shopify vs Square

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Square is probably the most comprehensive free mPOS app out there. It was really the first company to make card processing widely available to everyone using just a free card reader and a smartphone.

Shopify launched in 2006 as e-commerce software. Like Square and mobile payments, Shopify has made selling online much easier for merchants, especially those who are just starting out with their business.

Not only that, both companies have since branched out considerably. Square now offers a comprehensive suite of business products for merchants who want to sell in store, online, and on-the-go. And Shopify has branched out from e-commerce with a powerful POS system and its own payments service, so merchants don’t need to have a merchant account.

The result is that two services that started off catering to very different audiences now have very similar offerings. Square and Shopify both have powerful POS apps targeted for iPads, a mobile solution, and multiple e-commerce options. Both give you tools you need to run a brick-and-mortar shop beyond just a POS app. 

Their card processing rates are also identical, with a couple of important caveats. The first of these is that Square and its POS app, Square Register, are completely free, while Shopify will charge you a baseline monthly fee, plus the credit card fees, plus additional fees for add-ons. The second of these caveats is that if you opt for higher-priced packages, you can also get lower processing rates.

Square is still the better option for merchants who only process credit card payments sporadically (such as artists who vend at conventions and art shows), because there’s no monthly fee. If your e-commerce site only gets a little traffic and your sales are infrequent, you’re better off using Square as well. But if your online sales are good enough to justify the added cost, Shopify has some very nice features and stunning themes for your store.

So what if you sell online and in-store, or on the go? The answer isn’t quite as clear-cut.

As a merchant, which one should you choose? Which service is the better value? Which has the best features? That depends largely on your own particular situation. Read on for a detailed comparison and find out which service comes out on top in the Shopify vs. Square debate.

Products and Services:

Winner: Shopify

Bear with me, but there’s a LOT to discuss here. Let’s look at each of the core offerings — POS app, payment processing, and e-Commerce, and see how they stack up individually.

POS App

Shopify’s POS used to be strictly for iOS, but as of January 2016, the app is now available for Android smartphones and tablets, too. Square, too, supports your choice of Android and iOS devices. However, to make the best use of either app, you need an iPad, as many of the best features are only available there. You’ll also find that you can use the app on any number of devices without needing to pay for additional license fees (but you won’t be able to differentiate among employees without paying for that feature).

Shopify POS Features:

  • Accept all forms of payment: Credit card, debit card, cash, check, and other customized payment methods — even Bitcoin.*
  • Split tender: This is useful and you can actually accept more than just 2 payment forms on a transaction.
  • Discounts: Apply discounts on individual items or on the whole order, by percentage or dollar amount.
  • Store credit: The only fault with the store credit option is that there’s really no accountability in it. You can simply mark a payment as paid via store credit, with no need for proof of it at all. Still, this is a useful feature.
  • Reporting: Track sales, compare how products are selling, monitor traffic to your store, customer data, and more. With the higher-tiered plans you can even built custom reports. Data can be exported to CSV, as well.
  • Item limits: The limit on the number of items you can include in Shopify POS depends on which device you’re running the app from. Also note that you can choose to hide or delete items depending on what you need. However, your Shopify store can have unlimited items and you don’t need to sync them all with your POS unless you want to. (It’s worth noting that you can’t actually make updates to items in Shopify POS, only through the browser interface.)
  • Item variants: Set different colors/styles/pricing for your various items.
  • Syncing: Shopify automatically syncs inventory and product information across all your sales channels.
  • Email/print receipts: Send digital receipts, or if you have an iPad and Shopify’s retail package, print them out.
  • Inventory: Shopify’s inventory features are pretty impressive. In addition to tracking your stock levels across every channel where you sell, you can print barcodes, manage products you order from suppliers and automatically update inventory counts, and more. You won’t get low-stock alerts without an add-on, though.
  • Employee accounts: In a retail setup, knowing who is ringing up sales is especially important. With Shopify’s retail package, you can assign individual staff PINs, track register shifts and sales, and more.
  • Invoicing: Shopify actually has a simple form you can fill out to auto-generate an invoice. You can email it to customers, save it, or print it out.
  • Full/partial refunds: Issue a refund or issue store credit.
  • Gift cards (iPad only): You can only get gift cards if you opt for the Standard plan or higher. However, you can sell physical and digital gift cards.
  • Offline capabilities: You can’t log in during an outage, but if you are already logged in you can still accept payments other than credit cards. This is very limited functionality, but it could get you through an outage mostly fine.
  • Auth-capture: You can pre-authorize a transaction for 7 days in Shopify, which isn’t the longest period of time we’ve seen, but absolutely workable if you need this feature.
  • Tax rate calculation: Shopify will auto-detect your tax rate based on your store’s location (if using the POS), or based on your shipping zones for eCommerce. Shopify doesn’t calculate tax for international orders. However, Shopify does generate tax reports for you if you have Shopify Standard or higher. You can also set up tax overrides for entire collections of products or individual products (or product variants, such as digital books vs print editions). Just remember to confirm that Shopify’s tax rate is correct when you get started.
  • Loyalty programs: This is not a native feature to Shopify. If you want a loyalty program, you’ll have to start looking at apps in the Shopify ecosystem and find one that works for you. There’s at least 1 free program, but the more advanced systems will cost you more.

*Shopify POS lets you connect external terminals and third-party payment providers, which may cost you more. 

Square Register Features: 

  • Accept credit card payments: You can also log cash and check transactions, but this feature isn’t nearly as robust as Shopify’s.
  • Split Tender: Accept cash and card, or cash and check, or check and card.
  • Discounts: Apply discounts on individual items or on the whole order, by percentage or dollar amount.
  • Reporting: Square’s reporting features are pretty solid, but they’re not quite on the same level as Shopify’s. Still, Square’s reporting will cover all the basics and does have some advanced filters so you can customize the data.
  • Item variants: Set different colors/styles/pricing for your various items.Square prefers to call these “price points” and you can track them in inventory. You can also add item modifiers, which are add-ons that don’t affect your inventory counts, though restaurants are far more likely to use this feature than retail shops.
  • Syncing: Square’s inventory feature will automatically sync across your online store and Square Register, and you can view it in the online dashboard.
  • Low-stock alerts: Square will send you daily email alerts for low- or out-of-stock products. Being able to get a daily alert is very useful for busy merchants, especially because Square lets you set the threshold for low-stock alerts.
  • Email/SMS/print receipts: Send digital receipts via email or SMS, or if you have an iPad, print them.
  • Inventory: Square has a solid free inventory management system, but you can also integrate with Stitch Labs and other inventory services.
  • Employee accounts:You can use Square on any number of devices, but if you want employee accounts, multiple permissions, and timekeeping, you’ll need to sign up for Square’s employee management ($5 per employee per month)
  • Invoicing: Send invoices from within Square Register or online.
  • Full/partial refunds: Pretty self explanatory here.
  • Gift cards: No subscription required, no redemption fees. Just pay the cost of the cards themselves, and load them up on demand. Note these are physical cards only, but you can use them online.
  • Offline capabilities: Square’s Offline Mode is actually one of the most powerful I’ve seen. You can still process credit cards during an outage, and they’ll go through so long as you connect to the Internet within 72 hours. The caveat, of course, is that you’re assuming responsibility for any transactions that don’t go through.
  • Tax features: You can disable or enable tax collection with Square, and set price to include tax, or have it added on separately. As with Shopify, you can enable or disable tax on specific items. However, there’s no auto-detect feature, so you need to manually look up your applicable tax rates.
  • Loyalty programs: For $25/month you can add a punch-based customer loyalty program. All consumers have to do is opt for a digital receipt. You can set the purchase requirements to earn a reward (Which could be a free item or a discount). It’s not the most advanced system, but it’s still pretty flexible.

Square also has a host of features/subscription services targeting restaurants and other service-based companies, none of which you’ll find in Shopify. This includes kitchen ticket printing, adding tip (by percentage or dollar amount), appointment booking, delivery services, and much more.

All in all, though, the two POS systems are about evenly matched. Shopify is more robust in most areas, such as its support for many payment methods and store credit, whereas Square shines with the simple things, like supporting SMS receipts as well as email, low-stock alerts, and its offline mode.

Card Processing

Shopify and Square are both aggregators — that means, when you sign up to process payments through either of them, you don’t get your own merchant account; your transactions are simply lumped in with everyone else’s. Shopify actually processes through Stripe Payments.

Aggregating is what has lead to the common complaints you get about Square holding funds or terminating accounts at random. Shopify generally appears to be more stable, which is good given that Stripe also has a reputation for funding holds and account terminations. However, I was still able to find a few complaints about account holds — I wouldn’t say Shopify is immune, but it does a lot better on the stability front. Most of those holds happen when merchants suddenly fall within Shopify’s requirements for 1099-K reporting.

We’ll look at specific processing rates later on, but for now, here’s what you need to know:

Shopify will let you use its Payments service at no extra charge beyond your swipe fees and monthly service charges. If you choose to use a third-party gateway (PayPal, Braintree, your own merchant account, etc.), you’ll be charged an extra 0.5-2% transaction fee. Note that you get a choice of more than 70 gateways, which is quite impressive. There’s no charge at all for accepting cash, check, or alternative payment methods (such as Bitcoin) using the POS app.

Square will lock you into using its service for payments. You’ll pay standard rates for credit card processing, and nothing for accepting cash and check. However, you can’t set up any other alternative payment methods and log them using Square (unless you want to mark them as cash/check).

Shopify has the advantage in terms of sheer versatility. I like that you can process through a third party and even connect terminals and PIN pads (allowing you to get interchange rates for debit, if your processor offers them), but a 2% transaction fee is high, especially for a small merchant. However, if you don’t need all the bells and whistles, Square is a solid option for payments. You’re covered for all the basics and you know exactly what you’re going to pay for each transaction, every time.

Both Shopify and Square now have APIs that allow you to build payment processing into your own apps as well.

eCommerce

Shopify started as an eCommerce product, and it’s stayed true to that idea with robust shopping cart software and an easy-to-use design that even newbies to selling online can handle. Features include:

  • Hosted site: Shopify provides hosting for your site with unlimited bandwidth and unlimited products.
  • Domains: Use your shopify hosted domain only, purchase a domain through Shopify and set up a redirect, use an existing domain with a redirect, or buy your own domain and set up the redirect. There are a lot of options.
  • Buy buttons: Even if you don’t have shopping cart software set up on a site, you can use Shopify’s buy buttons to enable purchases on the web, or in an app, or via email with the Buy Button feature.
  • Sell on social media: With Shopify you can set up a store directly on Facebook, and also sell on Twitter and Pinterest.
  • Abandoned cart recovery: Millennials are especially guilty of cart abandonment but with this feature, you can win them back. Only available for Shopify Standard and up.
  • Store migration: Making a switch? Use one of Shopify’s third-party add-ons to migrate your store from eBay, Amazon, and Magento without having to manually upload all of your products.
  • Import/export via CSV: Add your products to your store using Shopify’s CSV template.
  • Automatic data sync: Inventory is automatically updated and synced across all your sales channels, including your POS and social media.
  • Reporting: We’ve mentioned this already, but it bears repeating that you get some solid reporting features and can separate data by sales channel.
  • Order management: Shopify has some comprehensive order management tools that work in the app as well as through the dashboard. You can also get integrations to help with it.
  • Third-party integrations: There are a LOT of integrations out there for Shopify (just check out the app store). Some are free, some will cost you. But in addition to your standard accounting, inventory, and order management integrations, you can opt for a Fulfillment by Amazon integration and recurring billing/layaway services.
  • Discounted postage rates: Postage can be one of the biggest expenses for online shop owners, but if you print your postage through Shopify, you can get a discount. The higher-tiered packages give bigger discounts.
  • Many themes: Design-wise, Shopify gives you a huge selection of store themes and you can even customize them further if you have programming knowledge.

Square’s eCommerce support initially felt more like an after-thought. It was very limited, but lately the company has really expanded its offerings, which makes me happy.

  • Hosted site: Square will give you a webstore on its own domain. This feature is pretty limited, but it’s a great starter site and there’s no monthly cost.
  • Domains: You can also integrate your store with Weebly, Bigcommerce, or Ecwid. 
  • Import/export via CSV: Get your online store loaded up quickly, or update your inventory counts en masse. Also helpful for migrating stores.
  • Automatic data sync: Inventory is automatically updated and synced across your online store and the Register POS.
  • Reporting: All of your data is available and can be downloaded from the Square dashboard.
  • Third-party integrations: Square’s list of integrations includes some robust inventory and order management tools. There’s a custom API you can use to create your own.
  • Order management: You can manage your orders through Square’s online dashboard, but not in the app. Integrations can extend the functionality.

Shopify offers far more eCommerce features, but it’ll be interesting to see what Square does in the future. It’s also worth mentioning that if you opt to integrate your existing site with Square, you’re going to get the benefits of whatever shopping cart software you choose, so even if Square lacks a feature you need, you might be able to get it another way.

Compatible Hardware:

Winner: Shopify

Both Square and Shopify offer a range of hardware options, from free credit card readers to full-fledged retail kits with everything you need for a conventional register setup.

At the very least, you’re going to need a card reader to use with your smartphone or tablet. You have a couple different options there:

Shopify Card Reader Options:

  • Magstripe reader: Free
  • EMV/NFC reader: $129 (retail: $149)
  • Lightning magstripe reader: $99 (includes charging capabilities)
  • Third party terminals and PIN pads: $199 and up

Square Card Reader Options: 

  • Magstripe reader: Free
  • EMV/Magstripe reader: $29
  • EMV/NFC reader: $49 (includes free magstripe reader)
  • EMV/NFC reader with PIN pad: $129 (iOS only)

That’s just for the basic setup for smartphones or tablet. If you happen to have an iPad, you can take advantage of both services’ more advanced features (such as receipt printing), but you’ll need more hardware. Both provide ready-to-go retail bundles that you can use to set up your register.

Shopify Retail Kit

A bundled, ready-to-go retail kit from (excluding your tablet) costs $779. That includes:

  • iPad stand (retail price $129)
  • Bluetooth receipt printer ($399)
  • 16-inch cash drawer ($139)
  • EMV/NFC card reader ($139).

You can also purchase each piece of hard hardware separately, but buying the bundle will save you about $25. Other available hardware includes:

  • Barcode reader ($229/$399)
  • Barcode dock ($79)
  • Barcode printer ($119)
  • EMV/NFC reader dock ($39)
  • Cash drawers ($139-$349)

Square Retail Kit 

Square offers a few options for retail kits that range from $486 to $659, depending on your tablet (it even offers kits for select Android tablets. The iPad Air kit, which is $659, includes the following:

  • Square stand ($99)
  • USB receipt printer ($299)
  • Bundle of receipt paper ($49)
  • 16-inch cash drawer ($229).

Note that doesn’t include an EMV-compliant card reader (the Square Stand has a basic built-in magstripe reader), which will add $29 to $129 to the cost, depending on which EMV reader you want. You can add an iPad Air for $399, as well.

Something worth noting is that Square does not officially support bar code printers, whereas Shopify does. Some Square users have had luck with a Dymo printer, but there’s absolutely no guarantee.

Other available hardware includes:

  • Barcode scanner ($199)
  • EMV/NFC reader dock ($29)

Square actually offers a selection of both wireless and Ethernet-based receipt printers, as well as a kitchen receipt printer, and multiple cash drawers. With Shopify, there’s only one receipt printer but you do get multiple cash drawers.

It really comes down to your person needs. I like that Shopify’s kit includes an EMV card reader by default, because it is very important for businesses to transition over to accepting the new chip cards. It’s a nice thought that Square includes receipt paper, but I think an EMV reader is a lot more important.

Fees and Rates:

Winner: Square

At first glance, Shopify and Square appear to have identical pricing: 2.7% for swiped transactions and 2.9% + $0.15 for online transactions. Simple, right?

However, that doesn’t account for Shopify’s monthly fee or its retail add-on package, or the transaction fees if you choose another payment processor. Depending on which features you need, the cost of Shopify can really start to add up over time, especially with add-ons. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you should look closely at your budget and projected sales to see if you can justify the expense.

Square Fees

Square will charge you $0 in monthly fees, PCI compliance, etc. You will pay nothing beyond the credit card transaction fees unless you opt for one of the add-on services (appointment booking, email marketing, employee time management/payroll). It really, really is that simple.

  • Credit card fees: 2.7% swiped, 3.5% + $0.15?? keyed, 2.9% + $0.30 eCommerce.

Shopify Fees

There are four Shopify plans. As you can expect, with higher-tiered plans, you get a greater number of features. Check out the Shopify pricing page for a full breakdown of features:

Shopify Lite ($9/month) 

  • Facebook store
  • Buy buttons
  • Shopify POS
  • Invoicing
  • 24/7 support
  • Credit card rates: 2..7% swiped, 2.9% + $0.30 eCommerce

Shopify Basic ($29/month)

  • 2 staff accounts
  • 24/7 support
  • Online store + blog
  • Discount codes
  • Fraud analysis
  • Sell on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest
  • Credit card rates: 2..7% swiped, 2.9% + $0.30 eCommerce

Shopify Standard ($79/month)

  • Everything in Shopify Basic
  • 5 staff accounts
  • Professional reports
  • Gift cards
  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Credit card rates: 2.6% + $0.30 per online and 2.4% for swiped transactions,

Shopify Advanced: $299/month

  • Everything in Shopify Standard
  • 15 staff accounts
  • Advanced report builder
  • Real-time carrier shipping
  • Credit card rates: 2.4% + $0.30 for online/2.2% swiped.

The plan I really want to draw your attention to is Shopify Lite. If you are just starting out, this is the most affordable option, and you can still sell online via Facebook or your own site (or even Tumblr). If you find that Shopify is right for you, you can upgrade to the Basic or Standard plans. If that’s still too much of an expense, or you want a hosted eCommerce site without paying for it, you’re better off with Square.

For large businesses, there’s Shopify Plus, which is the company’s enterprise solution with custom pricing based on your volume and features.

Shopify Retail Package 

If you want to track staff shifts and run a proper register setup with receipt printers and other hardware on your Shopify POS, it won’t come cheap. You need the Retail Package, which will give you individual PINs for your staffers and allow you to use hardware and integrations for $40/month.

This is where it’s worth doing the math. Square doesn’t charge you for using add-on hardware. But it will charge you for employee management (timekeeping and staff IDs). That’s $5/employee monthly, so if you have more than 8 employees, Shopify winds up being the better value, if we’re just counting the retail package, not the monthly fee.

Shopify Transaction Fees

We’ve already covered what you’ll pay if you use Shopify payments to process credit cards. (Note: there’s no fee at all for cash, check, or alternative payment methods). But what if you already have a credit card processor and just need an eCommerce solution and mobile processing? Shopify will let you do that!

It’ll just cost you.

Let’s say you’ve got a great interchange-plus plan where you’re actually getting the very low debit interchange rates. You’ve got a PIN pad so your customers can process cards as debit.

First of all, you need to have the Retail package — so that’s $40 plus whatever Shopify plan you have. You’ll pay your credit card processor whatever they normally charge, and then an additional percentage to Shopify.

  • Shopify Basic: 2%
  • Shopify Standard: 1%
  • Shopify Advanced: 0.5%

So that’s a lot to consider. I highly encourage you to do the math and figure out where the best deal lies for you!

Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:

Winner: Tie

Square has no contracts what so ever. Everything is pay-as-you-go, with all of its add-ons on a monthly subscription. You can even try each service out for 30 days, no charge.

Shopify is a monthly service. You can pay for an annual package and save some money per-month, but otherwise there are no contracts or obligations. You can get a 14-day trial, no credit card required.

Either way, there’s no long-term commitment, which is a serious advantage.

Sales and Advertising Transparency:

Winner: Tie

Overall, Square and Shopify are both very transparent as far as their sales and advertising go. There’s no hidden fees, no contracts, no sneaky auto-renewal clauses. I like the resources that both companies put out — blog posts on topics that merchants should be aware of, and tips for helping their businesses thrive. This is important, especially when serving small businesses. We live in the information age, and yes, content is king. You should absolutely expect this out of any service you use — especially in the payments space. Educated merchants make for better customers.

Both are doing very well on the social media front as well, with active Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages, as well as dedicated Twitter support channels (@SqSupport and @ShopifySupport, respectively).

This is exactly what we like to see. You know exactly what you’re paying for, you know all of the terms, and you know what you’re getting. Best of all, you can move on whenever you’re ready.

Customer Service and Technical Support:

Winner: Shopify

Shopify is the clear winner in this category. No matter what Shopify plan you have, you get 24/7 access to the support team, which is astounding. Not only that, but the support team’s overall reputation is quite good, with timely responses and helpful answers. I also like that Shopify’s knowledge base is incredibly detailed. You should be able to get answers to a lot of the questions you’ll have without having to get anyone on the line. You can also get email, live chat, and phone support. There’s a community forum, and Shopify will even help pair you with experts who will help you complete your project. This is a convenient way to get up and running if you have more capital but not a lot of time or know-how — expect to pay for these experts’ time and insights.

Square…well, if you check out our Square review, you’ll see what others have said. While the company has made major strides to improve, it’s far from perfect. That said, Square’s knowledgebase is astounding. As with Shopify, unless you’re dealing with a complex, account-specific problem, you’ll be able to find an answer without having to contact one. You can get phone support, but you’ll have to get a code first. Otherwise, it’s email only to contact Square directly. It’s also interesting to note that Square just added a user forum where merchants can connect. I expect to see this feature take off soon.

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

Winner: Shopify

Square’s complaints fall into two categories, mostly: account holds/terminations and bad customer support. The issues are related, too: merchants find out their accounts have been shut down or funds are being held until additional verification is required, and run into a brick wall when it comes to support and getting the matter resolved. We’ve seen an overall improvement on this front, but these are no minor concerns. (Another concern we’ve seen a lot of recently is faulty EMV hardware, but Square is generally good about replacing it.)

The complaints about Shopify are far different. One of the biggest complaints is that you can’t get a hosted payment page — any time customers complete a purchase they’re directed to checkout.shopify.com, which may drive off some potential buyers, who are understandably wary. Another common complaint is the difficulty of learning Shopify’s programming language, Liquid. If you want to make code-level tweaks to your site you are much better off hiring a Shopify expert. Something else that comes up quite often is that many of the apps and integrations available through Shopify aren’t free. This isn’t surprising, but it can be understandably frustrating for merchants, especially those who are just starting out.

We have found a few complaints about Shopify holding merchants funds, but nowhere near on the scale of Square or even Stripe, through which Shopify processes payments.

Positive Reviews and Testimonials:

Winner: Shopify

Most of the positive chatter you will find about Square comes from the Reviews page, or big news publications (linked to on said page). From general user chatter, merchants love how easy it is to get started, the fact that all of the core features are free, and the overall ease of use. The fact that it offers an EMV reader for just $29 is amazing when most hardware runs upward of $100 is nice, especially for merchants who are just starting out, and the offline mode can be very useful.

With Shopify, people also rave about the ease of use. The fact that you have so many gorgeous themes to choose from with your online store is a major advantage. The rates are competitive (especially if you use Shopify Payments), and with the higher-tiered plans you get some really great features especially. But even the basic plans have everything you need.

Final Verdict:

Winner: Shopify

It’s difficult to say unequivocally that Shopify or Square is better than the other. Shopify does have many more advantages than Square — more robust POS app and eCommerce features, round-the-clock customer service, and less of a reputation for holds. But that doesn’t mean that Square isn’t a good choice for some merchants. Especially for new merchants, Square makes a LOT of sense.

Let’s look at a few key factors that will influence your decision:

Cost: Square is by far the less expensive service, especially if you are just starting out. If your online sales or in-person credit card payments are infrequent, Square’s pay-as-you-go plan with no monthly fee is ideal. As your cash flow improves, and business steadies, it makes more sense to invest the cash in tools that will make managing your business easier (and less time-consuming!).

Features: Square Register is easily the most robust free mPOS app out there. But that’s among free apps. Shopify isn’t free, and when you look at the feature sets, it’s pretty clear why. You’ll get more features suited to growing eCommerce and retail businesses than you would with Square. If you are doing steady business, you should absolutely consider upgrading if the features work for you.

Add-Ons and Integrations: How do you run your business? Do you print barcodes for every product? If not, the fact that Shopify supports barcode printers and scanners is probably irrelevant to you. But what other services do you use for your business? Both Shopify and Square offer a custom API that you can use to integrate if you have the technical know-how, but if you don’t, which one has a greater selection of ready-to-go integrations that suit your business? Keep in mind that Shopify’s app store is full of a huge selection of free and paid integrations that can do everything from help you migrate your inventory from eBay to Shopify to setting up layaway plans.

Level of Support: Hands-down, you will get better customer support from Shopify than Square. You can contact them 24/7 by email, phone, and live chat, whereas Square only offers email and phone (during limited hours and only with a code). Both have community forums and pretty respectable knowledge bases, so most of the basic technical questions may not ever require contacting a support person. It also bears mentioning that Shopify allows you to connect with experts who can get you set up, or take your business to the next level. If having someone you can reach at any time with questions is of the utmost importance to you, then Shopify is the obvious solution. If you’re the go-it-alone type, Square should do you just fine.

I hope this has helped you understand some of the big differences between Shopify and Square! They look quite similar at first glance, but when you scratch beneath the surface you’ll find they both have so much to offer. You absolutely need to consider costs when making the choice, but keep in mind your long-term goals and the features you are most interested in pursuing.

Have experience with either or both of these services? We’d love to hear from you, too! Leave a comment! And as always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact us!

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What’s SaaS?


what is SaaS

Definition

SaaS means Software like a Service, a way to license and operate software entirely in “the cloud.” In a nutshell, which means that any software offered ‘as a service’ doesn’t need to be installed on your pc to become used. You just on line around the software vendor’s website, sign in, and employ the program entirely from the window inside your internet browser. SaaS programs will also be sometimes known as “on demand software,” but mercifully, that isn’t in usage as the second acronym. (However if you simply begin to see the term floating online, just realize that it’s talking about SaaS.)

The prevalence and near-predominance of SaaS piques the eye of first-time entrepreneurs and Enterprise-sized companies alike. Actually, deploying software in this sort of online-only platform results in a rare win-win scenario for companies and consumers alike. SaaS isn’t a flash within the pan it’s a milestone in technology that will become a fundamental element of our future.

Using Software like a Services are usually accomplished through simply a internet browser with an internet connected computer. However in more complicated or high-bandwidth cases, some SaaS usage is much better accessed through a little client downloaded for your computer. These clients act like a easier interface towards the same online software. (These include installing mobile clients in your phone or tablet for CRM apps or using desktop clients to gain access to gaming systems.)

In the following paragraphs, we’ll cover a little more than simply the fundamentals. Continue reading to obtain the full picture, and find out how SaaS might benefit your company.

Advantages of SaaS

I’ve damaged lower the main advantages of SaaS in the perspectives of both software vendor and also the finish user, but in the two cases, software of the type might be summarized as “faster, cheaper, simpler, smarter.” Investors and early adopters don’t hear individuals words, though rather, they simply hear “cha-ching.”

For Software Vendors:

For that vendor, SaaS deployment is about reducing costs and growing BI (Business Intelligence):

  • No media to buy (physical CD or DVD which to load the program to market like a physical product)
  • No media encoding (dedicated disc burners, location to accommodate production equipment, etc)
  • No packaging (disc inserts, jewel cases, boxes, cellophane, etc)
  • No shipping associated with a physical product to the distributor. (Just like Netflix put Blockbuster bankrupt, there’s no software on the CD to distribute to retailers).
  • No retail space needed (no contracts or partnerships to bother with, which further reduces costs for that finish-user and increases profits for that vendor).
  • A lot more accurate metrics on usage, which guides product.

For Users:

  • No exorbitant one-time license, but an infinitely more manageable recurring subscription.
  • No (or couple of) technical needs to satisfy.
  • No IT department needed in-house.
  • Near immediate deployment (zero local installation and minimal configuration).
  • New upgrades and security patches are carried out instantly and without anyone’s knowledge
  • Wide selection of technical support is generally incorporated, from extensive documentation to reside talk to powerful telephone calls (in some instances)..
  • Scalability. Forget about positive over-achieve. Sign up for exactly the thing you need, and upgrade whenever you&#8217re ready.
  • Compatibility. Remember when Ms Word documents couldn’t be opened up when the other user were built with a different form of Word installed? Or once the other user were built with a different platform altogether (Mac versus PC)? With SaaS, all users access the very same software. Compatibility issues basically disappear.
  • Ubiquity. Have to access your software admin whenever you&#8217re outside? As lengthy you may already know your username and password, you’ve full use of your software subscription from the internet connected computer. Should you&#8217re traveling, go to your hotel&#8217s data center or perhaps a library and sign in to obtain some impromptu work done. Many SaaS developers also support access from cellular devices, so that your tablet will be your go-anywhere workstation.

When the budget-friendly perks of SaaS were its only benefit, that will be monumental. SaaS enables you to definitely lease something outside your normal budget limits, greatly extending your purchasing power. If a bit of software costs a 1-time $1500, however, you sign up for its service for $30/mo, you&#8217ll have compensated for that software entirely in 50 several weeks (just a little over four years). However that&#8217s four years to do business which you may not have access to had the ability to accomplish otherwise.

Hold on! There’s more! See also &#8220Extensibility&#8221 below, like a single perk worthy of its very own subheading.

Drawbacks of SaaS

It’s not every sunshine and rainbows, but nearly. Here are the trade-offs.

For Software Vendors:

  • Data security becomes (almost) the only responsibility from the vendor. One exception to this is where users are needed to buy an SSL certificate to secure the bond using the vendor. Normally, this is only needed by retailers who require to keep PCI compliance.
  • New software vendors possess a harder time entering the, because a lot of technical burden falls on their own shoulders the program mustn’t simply be created, but located on the server, and also the UI (interface) should be entirely accomplished via a internet browser window. The complications with delivering software entirely within the cloud keep snowballing into bigger and much more intricacies, however i think you begin to see what i mean.

For Users:

  • Reliable high-speed internet access is essential. And also, since just when was any ISP noted for its reliability? In instances where the SaaS implementation processes orders and financial transactions, any downtime is particularly difficult. Some SaaS vendors particularly affected by downtime are beginning to provide &#8220offline modes,&#8221 which sync up all offline transactions towards the server once the connection is restored. But this isn’t a typical feature yet.
  • Should you ever choose to migrate to a different software solution, you’ll possess the arduous task of transferring vast amounts of information exclusively over the internet. No ethernet or firewire transfer or CDs to endlessly copy your backed-up files. Not a chance, you’ll depend on good ol’ internet-governed progress bars. And don’t forget, upload speeds are generally 1/10 the rate of downloads.
  • All of your business processes offered through the software vendor are in risk when the vendor should close shop or else discontinue the program.
  • Arguments over data possession can ensue. Look at your SLA (service level agreement) prior to signing up and investing in something.

Selection of Vendors

SaaS is really a revolutionary milestone for the way clients are conducted, on componen with email, mobile phones, and fax machines and copiers (technologies which within their time redefined and reprocessed the company landscape). The prevalent utilization of SaaS has already been prevalent, and also the technologies are well from its infancy. Actually, you’ve probably used it for a long time, regardless of whether you were conscious of it or otherwise. Ever encountered Facebook? Netflix? Both are Software like a Service. They’re not just handy, although complex, websites are all a web-based program, which needs only a internet browser to gain access to.

Here’s only a small mix portion of the industries already using SaaS, in addition to a couple of specific examples that you recognize:

  • eCommerce software (website builders like WordPress and Wix, and shopping carts like Shopify and Bigcommerce, etc)
  • Group messaging software (Slack, Asana)
  • Crm (CRM)
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
  • Keeper
  • CAD software
  • Development software
  • Games and Entertainment
  • Accounting software
  • Invoicing software
  • Hr Management (HRM)
  • Service Desk Management (i.e., Help-desk Software)

CRM apps have especially dominated the SaaS model. Salespeople who generally focus on-the-go can access all the data they’d have at work: full contact details for each lead (including contact history, notes, and relevant documentation), sales pipeline tracking, chance management, as well as sales forecasting, from their phone or tablet. Yet, though this “on-demand” sales data in the users hand of the hands is impressive, it’s not even close to the entire scope of the items SaaS can facilitate.

You don’t need to be a higher-tech sales rep to utilize SaaS applications. We’ve already pointed out Facebook, which is often used by individuals of every age group. But whether you’re someone or an entrepreneur, SaaS opens lots of doorways.

Selection of Customers

Who can usually benefit from SaaS? It might be sufficient, and succinct, to merely say “umm, everybody.” Speculate we enjoy being thorough at Merchant Maverick, I’ll elaborate.

  • Retailers
    • B2C (Business to Consumer) Most retail eCommerce has already been offered by a mix of SaaS solutions.
    • Business to business (B2b) These kinds of companies can leverage SaaS to sync up calendars, task managers, CRM and ERP suites, as well as inventory, invoicing, shipping, etc…
    • Internal use. Employees have to collaborate more proficiently compared to what they can by standing round the water cooler. Sometimes workers are divided by cubicles, floors in an office, or hemispheres from the planet. Using SaaS, internal communication platforms like Slack enables for immediate, secure, global communication.
  • Personal use. Many of the aforementioned-pointed out software groups also provide apps created for individual use. Some SaaS CRM apps simply help remind the consumer of people’s birthdays, as well as an growing most of games are created to be performed along with other gamers all over the world.

Common Charges Connected with SaaS 

Even though the SaaS subscription model is a lot more affordable than purchasing the same software outright, you will find charges which could accumulate rapidly if you’re unaware of them in advance. But don’t worry- we’ve got the back. Listed here are the most typical charges connected with SaaS. Not every charges is going to be relevant or enforced by all kinds of software, so research your options prior to signing up.

  • Recurring subscription, (monthly or yearly) at whatever tier and services information you select.
  • Transactions charges, designed for individuals services which offer commerce functionality to retailers.
  • Online storage. When the software for use is located within the cloud, then most (if not completely) from the data that every user builds up can also be kept in the cloud, File storage isn’t minor, which price is sometimes forwarded to the consumer. However the rate of development in software technologies have required commensurate development in data storage technology, which reduces the price of those storage drives basic demand and supply.
  • Bandwidth overages. Also called Customer Quota, as well as other similar name. Bandwidth charges seem uncomfortable, and lots of consumers vociferously complain about these charges. However the vendors that decide to impose bandwidth caps and overage charges achieve this to safeguard the shoppers around the lower finish of the prices structure. Think about this if your software vendor includes a wide spectrum of bandwidth usage among its users, then bandwidth limits avoid the smaller sized merchant from having to pay for that greater bandwidth use of the bigger retailers. &#8220Pay that which you use&#8221 logic. However, very effective software companies have sufficient infrastructure to soak up many of the bandwidth-related costs, and can promote &#8220unlimited bandwidth&#8221 which provides every merchant one less factor to bother with. And that’s the core tenet of SaaS to begin with.
  • SSL certificates. Again, they are mostly required to ensure PCI compliance. Most vendors who must make sure safe transmission of sensitive data ensure their very own guaranteed connection.
  • Supplemental technical support. This is extremely circumstantial – it might be mandatory for many users, and irrelevant for other people.
  • Extensions. That leads us to&#8230

Extensibility

This might be listed under &#8220Benefits,&#8221 however it deserves enough explanation to warrant its very own heading.

The &#8220cloud sourced&#8221 deployment of software applies perfectly to enabling 3rd party integrations. Solo developers, in addition to firms that particularly concentrate on creating plugins, possess a built-in audience once they list their add-ons on an SaaS vendor&#8217s website. Most SaaS vendors promote their very own &#8220app marketplaces&#8221 where organizations may submit add-ons which extend the functionality of the software.

This really is another win-win-win scenario. The seller is benefited just because a large assortment of compatible add-ons will make sure more customers find their software useful new developers are benefited because they may be a lot more easily promoted, and customers are benefited simply because they can basically pick whichever add-ons they require to create a wonderfully tailored software solution.

The way forward for SaaS

It’s unlikely that SaaS usage will decline in the near future. It’s also unlikely that in your area installed software is going to be totally eclipsed. This leaves us having a hybrid deployment structure mandated on the personal computers, and most importantly, on the cellular devices. If SaaS were ever to totally edge out local installs, our mobile technology would start to see (much more) rapid advancement because the needs for local storage, local processing power, and copious electric batteries could be minimal. However that&#8217s an aspiration for that distant future.

Meanwhile, many software companies have fully dedicated to SaaS deployment. Because these companies expand and offer several categories of software, a brand new layer of SaaS ensues: SaaS Integrated Platforms (SIP). If &#8220normal&#8221 SaaS is really a entrance right into a single store, SIP is really a entrance right into a shopping center. You might be surprised to listen to that you’re most likely utilizing a SIP already. For those who have their email having a major provider like Google, it most likely operates like a SIP, supplying email functionality, text document and spreadsheet support, calendar features, video chat, online storage, and so on. All of these are SaaS applications residing under one umbrella (one entrance, consistent with our previous metaphor). These types of SIPs are growing in number as well as in potential. You might have heard about a couple of: Google, Yahoo, Salesforce, Zoho, and Oracle happen to be within this arena of software development.

Between your impressive listing of benefits, the narrow your search of drawbacks, and also the growing reliance on the web during out lives, the effectiveness of Software like a Services are only starting to present itself. As internet speeds increase and our devices become much more interactive, SaaS will rapidly end up being the new norm within our lives. And That I&#8217ll function as the some guy who remembers the era when mobile phones could only call someone.

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What’s SSL? An Initial Take a look at Internet Security

ssl, ssl certificate, online security

Ever wondered why we shake hands when meeting new people? Among the prevailing theories is it originated in an effort to make sure the mutual safety of two other people by trembling each other’s hands, both sides could know if another “had something up their sleeve,” like a weapon. Each individual could verify the other was the things they claimed to become.

This practice is becoming ingrained within our behavior like a cultural norm. Actually, we’ve even adopted the practice to validate the safety between two machines (just like a pc along with a server). Making certain our security on the web is literally an “SSL Handshake.”

When you’re surfing the net, it’s likely that the majority of the websites you visit don’t need to make use of file encryption. In the end, it doesn’t really impact you greatly if your hacker has the capacity to determine for you a BuzzFeed video about adorable kittens. But with regards to websites that collect private information, you certainly want individuals surfing sessions safe and secure. An SSL Certificate is exactly what your internet browser uses to make sure a website is authentic and reliable.

Definition 

The word SSL means Secure Sockets Layer it’s the technology that encrypts your link with an internet site. Once installed, it really works without anyone’s knowledge and it is almost immediate, making certain that any web site that you provide sensitive information will instantly be safeguarded.

If you’re creating an eCommerce website, acquiring an SSL Certificate isn’t just advisable – it is important to becoming compliant using the PCI (Payments Card Industry).

Savvy internet users look out for SSL indicators on any web site that prompts them for log-in information, charge card figures, or other personally identifying information. Indicators of the SSL connection are usually exactly the same across all browsers, though there might be some minor variations. Signs of an SSL connection incorporate a lock symbol appearing before an internet address, along with a eco-friendly highlight within the address bar indicating an encrypted connection.

How It Operates

Entire volumes happen to be discussed the finer points of SSL. However for today’s purposes, we’ll keep to the basics.

The Handshake

I pointed out earlier that SSL is sort of a handshake involving the browser and also the server hosting an internet site. The truth is, it’s a lot more like a secret handshake, only more awesome. If a person pretends to become your friend not understanding your secret handshake, the imposter is going to be immediately discovered.

Or, to place it a little more technically, SSL functions encrypting data which could then simply be deciphered by three “keys.” The web site has one key as well as your browser has another. When a connection is made backward and forward, another, temporary “session key” is produced this key streamlines the exchange before you sign off. Many of these keys operate in tandem to produce a distinctively encrypted connection. If it’s adequate for banks (so it is) then it’s adequate for me personally.

Certificates

To facilitate this “negotiation” in guaranteed connections, websites paid by SSL have SSL Certificates. Consider them as IDs issued not through the condition, but through the Bbb or Consumer Reports. Your browser lists all of the most dependable SSL Certificate issuers available, then when it encounters an internet site without a reliable SSL, you’ll be cautioned the website you’re going to communicate with might not be what it really appears. To become incorporated about this “safe list,” an SSL provider is going to be audited and should adhere to certain authentication standards.

SSL certificates offer “rules” for encrypted sessions. Very fundamental SSL certificates is only going to have a single page, like a sign in screen or perhaps a checkout screen, secure for shopping online. Other certificates can cover several regions of an internet site, and therefore, provide handier security. Certificates may also be issued depending on how completely they validate the website’s authenticity.

The primary functions of the SSL certificate are listed below:

  • Supply the user having a understanding key
  • Describe how completely an internet site continues to be vetted
  • Pick which websites (domains and sub-domains) the certificate is going to be valid for

Kinds of SSL

For eCommerce websites, you will find three major amounts of SSL validation:

  • Domain Validated. DV Certificates would be the least expensive and quickest to issue. They often only validate your web presence (your domain and Ip, for instance).
  • Organization Validated. OV Certificates validate a couple of from the fundamental information on the business which owns the web site, including its name and street address.
  • Extended Validation. EV Certificates dig just a little much deeper, and verify your web presence, fundamental business details, and your legal business identity. These harder to become issued, because they are a lot more thorough. Website proprietors who go for this sort of certification are rewarded using the “green address bar,” which provides customers a lot more buying confidence. Some issuers may also give a “Secured by (Issuer)” stamp which may be shown on an internet page.

These amounts of validation can use to 3 types of certificates:

  • Single-name Certificates. These are generally for companies that only have to ensure a safe and secure connection on one page, like a shopping cart’s Checkout Page.
  • Wildcard Certificates. These kinds of certificates possess the most utility, in that they’ll be utilized across several subdomains. For instance, one online shop might only secure the checkout page, where charge card and billing information are input. But another store should secure several (or every) area of the visitor’s browsing experience, from signing in (login.mystore.com), to maintaining username and passwords (account.mystore.com), to final checkout (sales.mystore.com). All of these are subdomains of the identical website (mystore.com), and something Wildcard SSL can cover these.
  • Multi-domain Certificates. Whenever a single business identity maintains several disparate websites, one certificate could be issued to pay for each unique domain (website). Consider “sub-domains” as rungs on one ladder, and “multi-domain” as several separate ladders. Each domain (ladder) might have many sub-domains (rungs).

As a result, a “DV Single-name Certificate” may be the least expensive and also the easiest to setup, whereas an “EV Multi-domain Certificate” will definitely function as the most costly and intensive.

It’s remember this that all certificates provide the same fundamental kinds of file encryption (128-bit or 256-bit.) The variations together are 1) how completely they verify the certificate holder’s identity, and a pair of) the dwelling from the website or websites they cover.

Who Needs SSL?

As you may suspect, there’s a spectrum here. We reside in a world where everybody is selling us something, and also the prevailing message is usually that people “need” whatever has been offered. The majority of us are utilized to filtering this word out. We don’t “need” a brand new vehicle, more often than not.

I’ll provide you with the straight truth first, and follow-up with my opinions. The fact is that there’s just one criteria to find out regardless of whether you need to utilize an SSL: does your website collects charge card information? The PCI (Purchase Card Industry) takes financial security pretty seriously, unsurprisingly.

For me, though, any web site that can take in private data from the users must have an SSL. This really is in everyone’s welfare – even the very best interest from the one having to pay for that SSL up front. Here’s why.

As pointed out above, lots of people positively search for the telltale indications of a guaranteed website, namely the lock symbol and also the eco-friendly URL bar. If your customer feels the seller reaches all unsafe, they’ll secure. Which means no purchase. Nobody wants a shady website stealing their identity. Just a little advanced budgeting within an SSL will engender customer trust, and you’ll have lifted a significant roadblock in the path between both you and your customer.

ssl, https, green url bar

And even if you’re not obtaining purchase card information, an SSL continues to be strongly suggested for websites that collect any type of private information (address and name, age, gender, telephone number, or other non-public and identifying information). This comes lower to merely as being a responsible person in society. I’m not incentivized by any means to advertise SSL sales of any sort – I imagine that some effort to conform with Internet Guidelines goes a lengthy way.

In case your website doesn’t consume information only offers it (your very best muffin recipes, videos of the pet turtle, or quizzes to check someone’s understanding of Harry Potter trivia), you’re completely within the obvious and don’t need to make use of an SSL.

Prices

The best SSL for the site is going to be priced commensurately with the thing you need it to complete.

Don’t result in the mistake of thinking “bigger is much better.” If you purchase the more costly SSL package, you’re apt to be having to pay for stuff you don’t need and won’t use. Unused features don’t help make your site safer.

The corollary is you shouldn’t just opt for the least expensive certificate and think about yourself “safe enough.” The advantages of obtaining a better-than-minimal SSL will frequently be worth the additional cost.

That stated, the “Types of SSL” in the above list will graph fairly evenly around the prices scale. Around the low finish, I’ve seen ultra-minimal SSL Certificates for $10/year. These could assuage the fears of the anxious blogger, but won’t accomplish anything else. If your respectably diverse enterprise maintains multiple websites, it’s not unthinkable to buy an EV Multi-domain Certificate for between $900/year and $1500/year.

For many eCommerce SMBs, an acceptable cost is near $80-$100/year.

Though this selection of prices is accurate (by the date this information is printed), I’d be remiss within my responsibilities basically simply left it at this.

Opt for the truth that many web hosting companies have some kind of SSL built-in, relieving you from the responsibility to locate and buy your own. There&#8217s no guarantee this is actually the situation, so you’ll have to make sure your internet host.

Also, if you’re beginning an online business, you’re most likely utilizing an SaaS like Shopify or Bigcommerce to streamline your store. Many Shopping Cart Software vendors have a variety of SSL options to select from. Prices of these certificates may be average or less than normal, or they could be included in your monthly SaaS fee and touted as “free SSL.”

How You Can Secure Your Website With SSL

The precise instructions for adding SSL aimed at your website will be different, for the way your internet site is located.

With eCommerce platforms like Shopify, your internet site is located on their own servers. Therefore it may have little related to installing and verifying your SSL certificate.

If you’re hosting your eCommerce site yourself (or on third party frameworks like Rackspace) you will have to do a lot of “paperwork” to obtain SSL Certificates configured properly.

Generally, fundamental essentials generic steps which are taken:

  1. Obtain your site’s dedicated Ip.
  2. Purchase the SSL Certificate that best meets your requirements.
  3. Activate your Certificate Signing Request out of your web host’s user interface.
  4. Install the certificate (often a simple copy/paste).
  5. Make sure that your sensitive pages (sign in screen, take a look at page, etc) make use of an address preceded by “https.”

The instructions above may not mean greatly towards the average user. Thankfully, your internet host will probably perform some, if not completely, of those steps for you personally. Otherwise, take a look at these instructions for a little more detail.

What’s Next in Internet Security

The Internet Security Industry has hit a plateau. It’s presently treading water within an obsolete (thought presently sufficient) technology. You will find newer and safety measures available. It’s mere recognition, not brilliance, which will keep SSL firmly in position because the standard for internet security.

Why aren’t we while using best technology available? For the similar reason why we don’t have biodiesel gasoline stations on every corner it’s near impossible to phase out a properly-established system that is almost globally and solely relied upon upon.

SSL is dependant on cryptographic algorithms that simply hit their 20th birthday. In technological terms, it’s a dinosaur. It’s prone to a couple of known cyber attacks, which, though mercifully rare, can lead to your individual information being skimmed with a hacker. Newer cryptographic systems tend to be more efficient and much more secure, for example TLS (Transport Layer Security).

In case your hosting company offers TLS options, hop on them. There’s no completely impenetrable security measure, but TLS may be the next-gen protocol for conducting business online.

Conclusion

This informative guide is just introducing the subject. If you are considering establishing some for clients, acquiring an infinitely more thorough understanding of SSL Certificates is going to be essential to your ability to succeed.

The good thing is that, generally, when you setup an SSL Certificate for any website, you most likely won’t need to revisit it much, if. If you choose to remove your site (or affect the addresses of the data-sensitive pages) unconditionally, make sure to speak to your hosting company and SSL provider, since they’re going to have probably setup automatic renewal and billing.

Best of luck, and happy selling!

The publish What’s SSL? An Initial Take a look at Internet Security made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Five Best Small Company Charge Card Processing Companies

Paying with credit card

Unless of course your online business includes managing a lemonade get up on a corner of your street, eventually you&#8217re gonna need to accept debit and credit cards as payment to be able to compete in today&#8217s marketplace. Clients are more and more counting on their &#8220plastic&#8221 to create purchases, and therefore transporting less money. eCommerce – something which barely existed two decades ago – has become a significant competitor to physical stores. The greater recent creation of smartphones, and also the mobile payment features which are being put into them, promise to consider this evolution even more by permitting customers to leave both their plastic and their funds in your own home.

Basically we&#8217re still a lengthy way from a really cashless society, the variety of processing debit and credit card payments have elevated dramatically in only yesteryear couple of years, and also the set-up costs came lower to the stage that the tiniest business are able to afford to provide this method. While accepting charge cards has typically needed a substantial purchase of card-studying terminals and costly point-of purchase (POS) systems, today&#8217s options leverage smartphone technology and cloud-based data storage to supply exactly the same abilities inside a lighter, less expensive, and much more mobile package.

In ’09, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey introduced Square, the very first service that permitted retailers to simply accept charge card payments utilizing their smartphones. Square incorporated a card readers which, when mounted on a smartphone, could browse the magnetic strip info on a person&#8217s debit or credit card. The Square application provided an interface between your card readers and also the merchant&#8217s take into account tracking transactions. While Square remains the leading player in the area of mobile payments today, additionally, it offers quite a bit more competition. Today&#8217s small business operator has quite a number of providers to select from. While all provide the same core function (i.e., debit and credit card processing), each provider also provides improvements and options that differentiate it from the&#8217 competitors.

So, which fits your needs? The reply is likely to rely on the character and size your company. Would you operate from a conventional brick-and-mortar establishment? Would you sell online, either solely or along with an actual business location? Is the business a complete-time occupation having a large amount of sales, or perhaps is it simply a component-time side gig? Below, we&#8217ve put together our top chioces one of the current crop of card-processing services, and summarized what we should like (and don&#8217t like) about all of them. Regardless of whether you&#8217re managing a large store or simply selling fresh produce from the back of the truck in the local famer&#8217s market, there&#8217s a card-processing service that&#8217s best for you.

Dharma A Merchant Account

Dharma A Merchant Account got its name in the term dharma, which can be found in several Eastern religions. Although it often means a variety of things and there’s no direct translation, it roughly alludes to some &#8220right lifestyle.&#8221 Individuals at Dharma take this seriously, supplying a full spectrum of charge card processing services for any fair and reasonable cost. Their fee structures are transparent – interchange-plus prices can be used solely and you will find no annual charges. Additionally they don&#8217t charge account setup charges, early termination charges, or PCI compliance charges. Dharma is exclusive in the realm of charge card processing companies for the reason that they donate an astonishing 50% of the profits to charitable organization, living as much as their motto &#8220Commerce with Empathy.&#8221

Additionally to merchant services, Dharma offers a number of wireless and wired countertop terminals for in-store use. Their terminals are EMV-compliant as well as support Apple Pay. Dharma supports mobile swiping through Authorize.internet, as well as uses ShopKeep, our favorite iPad-based POS systems. Authorize.internet may also support on the internet and mobile payments, and integrates with QuickBooks.

Dharma easily provides the fairest and many transparent fee structure in the market. Additionally to some flat $10.00 monthly fee for store and eCommerce accounts, transactions are billed based on an interchange-plus cost model. In-person transactions are billed .25% above cost, plus $.10 per transaction, while eCommerce transactions are billed .35% above cost, plus $.10 per transaction. More complex charges (for example Address Verification Charges) are clearly typed on Dharma&#8217s website.

While there’s no minimum monthly volume requirement, Dharma freely acknowledges their full-service merchant services don’t make sense financially for low-volume companies processing under $10,000 monthly in transactions. In case your business falls into that category, they recommend either PayPal or Square.

PROS:

  • Full-range of services and equipment for storefront and eCommerce companies
  • Great customer care
  • Transparent prices without any additional charges
  • Discounted rates for non-profits

CONS:

  • A bad fit for low-volume (under $10,000 monthly) accounts

To learn more about Dharma, see our complete review here.

CDGcommerce

cdgcommerce-logo

Another our favorite providers, CDGcommerce has been available since 1998 – lengthy enough to possess determined what must be done to operate a effective processing company and keep customers happy. CDG stands out of the crowd by not charging you the nickel-and-cent hidden charges that many others in the market are well known for. Their merchant services include no account setup charges, no PCI compliance charges, no monthly minimums, and month-to-month billing without any early termination charges.

A fundamental credit card merchant account with CDGcommerce costs only $10.00 monthly, and includes free utilization of their proprietary Quantum payment gateway/virtual terminal (a totally free Authorize.Internet gateway can also be available as a substitute). Based on your requirements, you can include capabilities similar to their cdg360 security package, which supplies $100,000 in data breach/thievery protection, PCI-DSS vulnerability scans, customized security alerts, and many other features – all for $15.00 monthly.

Basically we normally recommend buying your charge card terminals outright rather of leasing them, we’ve made the best for CDG. Instead of lock you into an costly, four-year lease, CDG only charges $79 each year for terminal insurance. Wireless terminals may also need a $20.00 monthly data plan as well as an additional $.05 per transaction processing fee. This can be a far better deal than the usual standard terminal lease, which could finish up costing your 1000s of dollars within the full term from the lease.

CDG also provides very competitive processing rates. All their prices is interchange-plus and disclosed online. Listed here are their current rates:

  • Online: interchange + .30% + $.15 per transaction
  • Retail: interchange + .25% + $.10 per transaction
  • Mobile: interchange + .25% + $.10 per transaction
  • Non-profit: interchange + .20% + $.10 per transaction

With features such as this, CDGcommerce hasn’t generated a lot of complaints from dissatisfied customers through the years. They’re, however, the only company we’ve seen in which the Chief executive officer has personally walked directly into address the couple of complaints which have from time to time tricked in. Because of CDG’s things to look for and support, however, he hasn’t had to get this done very frequently.

PROS:

  • Interchange-plus prices
  • Month-to-month billing without any lengthy-term contracts or early termination charges
  • Free virtual terminal/payment gateway
  • Things to look for

CONS:

  • Only accessible to all of us-based retailers

For any more in depth take a look at CDGcommerce, make sure to take a look at our full review.

Helcim

&#8220Trust, transparency, and fair prices&#8221 is Helcim&#8217s motto, plus they meet it by supplying probably the most up-front, clearly-described prices structure of the charge card processing companies we&#8217ve reviewed here. A Canadian company, they likewise have a workplace in San antonio and supply full support to all of us-based retailers.

Helcim provides a full gamut of services and equipment for storefront an internet-based companies. The website features a number of EMV-compliant charge card terminals, beginning at $199. Terminals with NFC capacity for Apple Pay support start at $329. Unlike a lot of their competitors, they encourage US people to buy their terminals outright, instead of renting or leasing. Helcim will reprogram your present equipment free of charge whether it&#8217s up-to-date. Regrettably, Canadian EMV-compliant terminals are not shipped to become transferred or sold again, so Canadian customers will need to make use of the rental option or purchase a new machine. Renting on the month-to-month basis (that is totally different from leasing) is often the smartest choice for Canadian retailers.

Helcim supports eCommerce through their Helcim Virtual Terminal, one hundredPercent web-based solution that processes both on the internet and manual payments on your pc, generating receipts that may be emailed or printed. Including an internet-based virtual terminal, payment gateway with API, support for recurring billing, billing information vault storage, e-invoicing, shopping cart software integration, and located payment pages. No additional software or hardware is needed. On top of that, you receive all of these features for any flat $25.00 monthly fee.

Mobile payments are supported with the VirtualMerchant Mobile application for android and ios. This has a free universal card readers that connects to your smartphone&#8217s audio jack (additional visitors $45 each). There&#8217s additionally a flat $30.00 fee every month to have an limitless quantity of users.

Helcim utilizes a Cost+ prices model, with a monthly subscription fee and interchange-plus prices for every transaction. Retail users pay $12.00 monthly, while eCommerce users pay $25.00 monthly for that Helcim Virtual Terminal service. Support for mobile payments needs a $30.00 monthly subscription. Additionally towards the per-transaction interchange rate billed through the issuing charge card company, Helcim charges .18% + $.08 per transaction within the interchange rate for retail and mobile payments. Online transactions are billed .36% + $.25 per transaction, as well as the relevant interchange rate. Helcim doesn&#8217t charge charges for account setup or termination, and PCI compliance is incorporated within the monthly subscription fee. Helcim&#8217s website features a detailed explanation of the charges, and several truly eye-opening disclosures about how exactly their bank-owned competition is ripping you served by hidden charges and lengthy-term contracts.

PROS:

  • Very transparent fee structure
  • Excellent customer care
  • Very competitive rates for companies processing over $2,500 monthly

CONS:

  • Not suited to really small companies processing under $2,500 monthly
  • eCommerce minute rates are greater for Canadian customers

To learn more, see our complete review here.

Payline Data

Payline Data covers all of the bases for small company transactions, from mobile an internet-based payments to in-store sales. They provide easy-to-understand prices plans which are very economical, specifically for low-volume sellers. However, the organization&#8217s website fully explains all the additional features as well as their connected costs, which means you know in advance that which you&#8217ll need to pay. Payline also stands out of the crowd for his or her corporate philosophy of charitable giving and support for non-profits through discounted prices as well as their &#8220Commercial Co-Venture&#8221 program.

For traditional, in-store charge card transactions, Payline offers a number of EMV-compliant charge card terminals. Additionally they provide a virtual terminal, plus a USB-connected device that enables you to definitely process charge card transactions from the Internet-connected computer. Payline Gateway ties your physical hardware for your internet account, allowing online transactions and instantly generating detailed analytical reports. Payline also provides NFC-capable terminals that support Apple Pay (at no additional cost).

Payline’s standard merchant services cost you a flat $15.00 monthly and have interchange-plus prices. Billing is month-to-month, without any lengthy-term contracts or early termination charges. Retail prices is interchange % + .2% + $.10 per transaction. Online prices is interchange % + .35% + $.10 per transaction. In case your business processes greater than $80,000 monthly, enterprise prices with lower rates can be obtained.

For eCommerce retailers, Payline also provides a number of bundled prices plans which include features you’ll have to setup and run an internet business. Options incorporate a Standard plan featuring predetermined fee prices for small companies and startups, and Professional and Enterprise plans for bigger, competent companies. The second two plans feature interchange-plus prices and various features that aren’t incorporated within the Standard plan, for example website hosting and website setup.

Payline’s Standard plan costs $29.00 monthly and expenses a set 2.9% +$.30 per transaction processing rate. The program features a secure payment gateway and virtual terminal for manual order entry, in addition to online shopping cart software integration. You’ll need to provide your personal website hosting and PCI security scans are just like a choice. Nevertheless, it’s an excellent economical option for a little online business, particularly if you’re just getting began.

The Professional plan costs $79 monthly featuring interchange-plus prices, with rates beginning as little as .49% per purchase. You’ll would like to get an estimate prior to signing up, as the actual processing rates will often be greater compared to marketed “as low as” rate. Additionally to each of the features from the Standard plan, the Professional plan includes website hosting, website setup and personalization, and PCI security checking. It’s a great option for a recognised business, regardless of whether you sell only online or along with an actual retail presence.

With regard to added large companies, the Enterprise Plan includes all the same features because the Standard Plan, plus website name registration. Interchange-plus processing rates start as little as .29% per purchase. The Enterprise Plan costs $159 monthly. It’s only cost-effective for any large, established business.

Payline also provides additional optional features, just like an iPad-based POS system and support for mobile payments via smartphones. While these functions cost extra, prices is extremely competitive. See Payline&#8217s website for details.

PROS:

  • Fair prices with easy-to-understand contracts with no hidden charges.
  • Great customer support, including phone and email support.
  • Integrates with Apple Pay along with other mobile wallet services.
  • Month-to-month contracts without any early termination charges

CONS:

  • Presently only accessible in the united states and Canada.

To learn more, see our complete review here.

Square

Finally, there’s Square, the earliest and perhaps best-known company within the mobile payments industry. It’s worth noting that although Square will help you to process charge card transactions and run an eCommerce website, it doesn’t give a full-service credit card merchant account. Due to this, you won’t obtain a unique Merchant ID number or the type of 24/7 customer support that normally includes one. While it’s still a great option for startups and smaller sized companies, it’s a tad too limited for bigger, competent retailers.

Square was the very first company to provide smartphone-based mobile payments if this launched in 2009. Today, it’s lots of competitors, nevertheless its insufficient a regular monthly fee, reasonable transaction charges, and powerful features still turn it into a great choice, specifically for low-volume sellers. Square replaces the standard charge card terminal having a simple dongle that attaches for your smartphone or tablet and works along with Square&#8217s mobile application to swipe debit or credit cards. Square supports retail locations, eCommerce, and (naturally) mobile payments.

The center of Square&#8217s product is its group of charge card readers. Square’s original card readers was free, however it could only read magstripe cards. While it’s still available, most users may wish to obtain the new, EMV-compliant readers. Such as the original readers, it connects to the headphone jack of the smartphone and works with the Square application. At just $29.00, it’s one of the most affordable EMV card readers available. Square also provides a better card readers that reads EMV-enabled cards and supports uses NFC technology to aid contactless payments for example Apple Pay, Android Pay, yet others. The Square contactless readers communicates together with your smartphone or tablet using Bluetooth, and charges $49.00.

Square customers may also connect to the Square Dashboard, available on the web or through the Square Dashboard mobile application. This free service features a number of effective features to handle your company, including inventory management, invoicing, and detailed analytical data.

Square&#8217s simple prices structure is among its most engaging features. Every debit or credit card swipe incurs a couple.75% fee. When the transaction needs to be joined by hand, the charge increases to three.5%, plus $.15 per transaction. Money is deposited in to the user&#8217s account within 1-2 working days, unless of course fraud is suspected.

Regrettably, among the disadvantages in using Square is the fact that fraud frequently is suspected, for a price that&#8217s well over the industry average. This frequently leads to sudden, inexplicable account terminations and account holds as high as 180 days. You will find multiple causes of this, only one major factor is the fact that Square accounts are aggregated together, instead of each account getting its very own unique Merchant ID number. In addition, Square&#8217s customer support hasn&#8217t been the very best. Initially missing any type of phone support, Square has progressively improved as a result of user complaints, and today offers both email and make contact with support. Their online understanding base for self-assistance is also excellent.

To make use of Square, you&#8217ll need to setup a totally free Square account, obtain a compatible card readers, and install the Square Readers application. The Square Readers mobile application requires either an apple iphone, iPad or ipod device touch running iOS 8. or greater, or perhaps an Android phone or tablet running Android 4..

PROS:

  • No monthly account charges.
  • Free and occasional-cost card readers available.
  • Free use of effective business management and analytical tools through the web or smartphone application.
  • No lengthy-term contracts or early termination charges.

CONS:

  • No unique Merchant ID number for merchant services.
  • Frequent account holds and account terminations.

To learn more, see our complete review here.

CONCLUSION

Regardless of whether you&#8217re attempting to juggle multiple retail locations or simply selling products online, among the five services we&#8217ve highlighted here ought to be a &#8220best match&#8221 for the business. While each service features its own standout features, all of them offer competitive rates, transparent prices, and a simple, low-cost setup. Square is really a solid contender for really small, low volume companies, while Payline, Helcim, and CDGcommerce be more effective for bigger stores. Should you&#8217re managing a non-profit, Dharma might actually be your very best choice. The point is, many of these services will, generally, supply you with a better, less expensive service than you&#8217re prone to get with the traditional, bank-owned charge card processing companies. You may also compare our top processors (aside from Square) mind-to-mind using our Credit Card Merchant Account Comparison Chart.

The publish The Five Best Small Company Charge Card Processing Companies made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Top 7 Things to Look for in a Merchant Account

online transaction

While credit cards have existed in one form or another in the United States for almost a century, it’s only been during the last few decades that their use has become commonplace. It wasn’t all that long ago that most people made just about every purchase with either cash or a personal check. Today, most consumers have a variety of credit and debit cards, and prefer to use them instead of cash whenever possible. As a business owner, it’s more important than ever that you have the ability to accept credit cards, whether you’re running a traditional retail store or selling items online. Simply put, credit card acceptance translates directly into more sales and, hopefully, more profits.

Unfortunately, accepting credit cards is anything but free. Credit card associations, issuing banks, and transaction processors will all get a cut of every credit card transaction you accept. Obviously, you’ll want to minimize the cost per transaction as much as possible, but there are other factors that are equally important. The processor with the lowest processing rates might not provide the best overall service.

In order to accept credit cards, you’ll need a merchant account. This is simply an account with your credit card processor that you can use to both deposit funds from cleared transactions and also to pay the various fees and per-transaction charges that you will incur. Merchant accounts can also include a variety of associated products and services that you’ll need to run your business, such as credit card terminals, mobile credit card readers, point-of-sale (POS) systems, and more.

Selecting the merchant account provider that’s best for you and your business is not an easy task. Too many merchants fall into the trap of simply looking for the provider with the lowest processing rates. This can turn into an expensive mistake over time, as the credit card processing industry is notorious for tacking on a host of pricey – and often undisclosed – monthly and annual fees for just about every service provided as part of maintaining your merchant account. So, don’t get too focused on processing rates – it’s the overall total cost over time that really counts. This includes processing rates, account fees, and other costs (such as chargebacks) that you might have to deal with.

Not all merchant accounts provide the same level of service. Popular small-business processors such as Square, for instance, don’t actually provide a full-service merchant account. While you’ll still be able to process credit card transactions, you won’t get certain features (i.e., a unique Merchant ID number, PCI compliance services, and robust customer service) that full-service merchant accounts include. The lack of these features often create real problems for merchants, with complaints about frozen or terminated accounts and poor customer service being very common. For a very small business that’s just starting out, this might be a reasonable trade-off in exchange for the money you’ll save over a full-service account. However, once your business grows beyond a certain point, you’ll need to transition to a more stable, full-service account and the security features it provides.

We’ve identified seven different features that you need to look at very carefully in selecting a merchant account provider. They’re all equally important, and you’ll want to examine all of them in evaluating any merchant account provider that you’re thinking of signing up with. While it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to come up with a precise estimate of your overall costs, you should be able to get a pretty good idea by evaluating these seven features.

1. Hardware that meets the unique needs of your business

No matter what kind of business you run, you’ll need equipment to process your sales. Even a purely eCommerce venture is still going to need some hardware – even if it’s just your own personal laptop. For most other businesses, however, your hardware needs will be more extensive. Basically, you’re going to need some type of equipment to read your customer’s credit card information and send it to your processor for (hopefully) approval.

Options for reading credit cards are a lot more robust today than they were just a few years ago. In addition to the traditional wired credit card terminals commonly seen in retail establishments, there are now numerous wireless terminals and mobile processing systems that combine a smartphone with a very basic credit card reader to offer the same capabilities as a dedicated terminal.

Wired credit card terminals are still the most commonly-used card readers out there, and they offer a number of distinct advantages. Perhaps most importantly, they’re simply more reliable. You don’t have to worry about your wireless internet connection suddenly going down and leaving you unable to process a sale. Wired terminals are also generally better at supporting newer features such as EMV credit cards and contactless payments using near-field communications (NFC), such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay, and others.

Today, wired terminals are more affordable than ever, and we highly recommend that you buy your own terminals outright rather than leasing them from your merchant account provider. Unfortunately, the credit card processing industry figured out a long time ago that they could make a lot of money by leasing terminals to their merchants rather than selling them directly. Here’s how the scam works: You sign up for a traditional merchant account, with comes with a three-year contract. You need terminals to actually process your customer’s cards, so you lease them from your merchant account provider. What you don’t realize (and your sales agent usually won’t tell you) is that the lease agreement for the terminals is actually with a separate company – and it’s for four years, not three. Not only that, but your terminal lease is non-cancellable, meaning that you’ll still have to pay for all of the remaining months on your lease if you try to cancel early. Even if you close your account and send the terminals back, many companies will still charge you for every remaining month of your lease. The end result? You’ll wind up paying literally thousands of dollars for a piece of equipment that you can buy outright today for as little as $100.00.

Some companies will even try to tell you that it’s more cost-effective to lease your terminals rather than buy them. Don’t believe it! In almost all cases, this is simply not true. If you read the terms of your leasing agreement and most importantly, do the math, it should be pretty obvious that, in most cases, those “low” monthly leasing fees and associated charges will add up to far more money out of your pocket than simply buying your own equipment. One possible exception to this general rule is if your business needs a large number of terminals, but you don’t have the capital available to buy them all at once. Given that businesses large enough to need a lot of terminals generally aren’t short on capital, this is a pretty unlikely scenario.

Another very unique exception is if you sign up with CDGcommerce, one of our favorite processors. Rather than lock you into an expensive, four-year contract, CDG provides their terminals in exchange for a $79.00 per year insurance fee. This works out to about $6.59 per month, far less than what most other processors will charge you in leasing fees. This fee also includes any necessary re-programming and software updates, plus you can also exchange your terminal for a newer model. It’s the one exception we’ve found where you’ll get a good deal by “renting” your terminals from your merchant account provider.

When shopping around for terminals, there’s one last thing to bear in mind. With the advent of EMV terminals in the US in 2015, there are a lot of older, magstripe-only terminals still out there. Not only are these terminals essentially obsolete, they’re also potential liability traps with the EMV liability shift that occurred on October 1, 2015. Many of the true bottom-feeders in the processing industry are still trying to push these terminals onto unsuspecting merchants. Sometimes they’re advertised as being “free” (they’re really not), and other times they come with a traditional lease. Now that it’s 2016, there is simply no reason whatsoever to buy or lease a non-EMV-compliant terminal. Yes, some customers will still have magstripe-only credit or debit cards, and this will be true for some time. Nonetheless, since almost all currently available EMV-compliant terminals also include a magstripe reader, you should never accept a terminal that doesn’t include both capabilities.

In addition to EMV, you’ll also want a terminal that supports contactless payments through near-field communications (NFC). NFC-based payment systems allow customers to leave their wallets behind and use their smartphone to make a payment. Apple Watch and Android Wear users can also use the technology to make payments with their smartwatches. Currently, the world of NFC-based payments is very splintered, with Apple Pay only working on Apple devices, Android Pay only working on Android devices, and Samsung Pay being proprietary to Samsung’s Android-based smartphones. Despite the confusing choices out there, NFC payments are currently the most secure form of payment that’s available. Read more about it here.

Wireless terminals are also available, and while they’re not necessary for a traditional retail establishment, they can be very useful for any type of business where you have to go to the customer, rather than having the customer come to you. Plumbers, electricians, and others in similar trades will find them essential. If you’re in a business that needs a wireless terminal, realize that 1) the terminal itself will be more expensive than a wired terminal, and 2) wireless terminals also require a wireless data plan (typically about $20.00 per month). Depending on your needs, it might make sense to go with a mobile processing solution, such as Square, as a lower-cost alternative.

Mobile processing itself is a capability that didn’t even exist just a few years ago. Square, launched in 2009, was the first company to combine a smartphone with a plug-in credit card reader, allowing merchants to process credit card transactions anywhere they had cell phone or Wi-Fi coverage. Today, Square has a lot of competitors and many traditional processing companies are trying to get in on the action by offering their own apps and card readers. Unfortunately, none of them offer anywhere near the robust capabilities that Square offers, and many of them are actually more expensive. Square itself is certainly not perfect – complaints about frozen accounts and poor-to-nonexistent customer service are all too common. Nonetheless, it’s a respectable alternative for very small businesses, startups, and seasonal sellers who neither need nor want a full-service merchant account. It’s also a very economical way to add mobile processing to your existing merchant account.

Point-of-sale (POS) systems are also very popular with merchants today, combining transaction processing with database capabilities that allow you to track not only sales, but also inventory, customer relations, employee performance, and numerous other metrics. Modern POS systems truly bring “big data” concepts to small and not-so-small businesses. Again, your merchant account provider will usually have a POS solution that they’ll want to sell to you. Whether you truly need (or can afford) their “solution” is another matter. While a modern POS system is ultimately a software solution, the hardware required to input and display the data involved can vary from a dedicated terminal (such as Clover) to a tablet-based system that runs on your iPad or Android tablet. For most small businesses, we recommend a cloud-based POS solution rather than a far more expensive dedicated terminal. See our Best Small Business POS article for more specific recommendations.

2. Software to keep track of your business and help it grow

The days of tracking your sales in a paper ledger and collecting a shoebox full of sales receipts are, thankfully, long gone. Today’s merchant accounts harness the power of the internet to track and store your account data digitally. Cloud-based systems make that data available just about anywhere, on any internet-connected device. Physical and eCommerce businesses alike will need the appropriate software to take advantage of these capabilities.

If your business operates out of a physical location and you don’t make any sales online, your needs will be pretty simple. One useful product to consider is a virtual terminal. This is simply a software program or web service that allows you to process credit card transactions on your computer using a USB card swiper. While it won’t be quite as mobile as using Square, it will still allow you to process card-present transactions and access your sales data.

eCommerce merchants will have more extensive needs in order to run their virtual businesses. For online sales, you’ll have to have a payment gateway as part of your merchant account. Payment gateways connect customers wanting to make a payment with the bank or merchant account provider that processes the transaction. Most merchant account providers in business today will offer a payment gateway as part of their services, usually through Authorize.net. One of our highest-rated providers, CDGcommerce, will offer you either their own proprietary Quantum gateway or one through Authorize.net – for free. Most other providers, however, charge a monthly fee for payment gateways.

For eCommerce merchants, an online shopping cart that allows customers to select items and place orders is also essential. Shopping carts integrate directly into your website rather than functioning as a stand-alone feature. Shopify, one of our favorites, is perhaps the most well-known online shopping cart. For a good overview of the best shopping carts available, check out our Shopping Cart Comparison chart.

3. Reasonable, transparent fees

Merchant accounts don’t come cheap. In addition to the processing rates you’ll have to pay on each transaction, your merchant account provider will also charge you a bewildering variety of one-time, monthly, and annual fees for the privilege of maintaining your account. For a small or recently-launched business, these fees can quickly eat up your profits and threaten the growth of your business.

Just as there’s no such thing as a free lunch, you’re also never going to find a free merchant account. Merchant account providers have to make a profit in order to stay in business, and they have to charge reasonable fees in order to do so. Traditionally, merchant account providers have relied on tacking a lot of nickel-and-dime fees onto your bill to compensate for the low processing rates they offer to entice you into signing up with them. These fees allow a processor to make money from a merchant account regardless of your monthly processing volume. In fact, they often still make money even if you’re not processing any transactions at all. Fortunately, a number of newer, more technology-focused merchant account providers are disrupting this old business model by offering accounts with low, fully-disclosed fees. It’s no coincidence that many of our highest-rated providers fall into this category.

In evaluating any merchant account provider, you’ll want to look for a fee structure that is both reasonable and transparent. Fees that are in line with the industry average aren’t necessarily reasonable, as there are still a lot of “junk” fees out there. For our purposes, a reasonable fee is one where the account provider actually provides a valuable service in exchange for that fee, and the fee is reasonably related to the value of that service. Fees should also be transparent, or fully disclosed before you sign up for an account. While all of our favorite providers fully disclose their fees right on their websites, most traditional processors do not. Instead, they’re buried in pages of fine print and often not disclosed by sales agents.

So, what kinds of fees might you be charged? Here’s a brief overview of common fees associated with merchant accounts:

Account setup or application fees: While they’re gradually becoming less common, some merchant account providers will charge you a hefty, one-time fee for setting up your account. We consider this a junk fee because it only requires a few minutes of an agent’s time to set up your account, and both the agent and the account provider stand to make money off of you, not the other way around. Usually running around $150 (!), a setup or application fee is a clear red flag that you should avoid doing business with that account provider.

Monthly or annual account fees: Almost all providers – good and bad alike – charge some sort of fee to maintain your account. This might be billed monthly, or charged as an annual fee. Either way, it’s something of a catch-all charge to cover all the things your account provider isn’t charging you for directly. This can include things like PCI compliance scans, “free” credit card terminals, “free” virtual terminals, and other services that come with your merchant account. What constitutes a reasonable account fee will depend on how many services come with your account and whether or not you actually need them.

Monthly minimums: Not a fee in itself, a monthly minimum is a requirement that your business process a sufficient total amount in transactions to incur at least a specified amount (typically $25.00) in processing charges. As a hypothetical example, if all of your transactions were charged a flat 2.0% processing rate, you’d have to process $1,250.00 in total sales in order to meet the $25.00 minimum. You only have to pay if you fail to meet the minimum, and even then you only pay the difference between your actual processing charges and the amount specified as the monthly minimum. While they’re won’t affect a large, established business, they function as a penalty for very small, part-time, and seasonal businesses. If you fall into that category, you’ll want to avoid any provider that includes a monthly minimum in their contracts.

PCI compliance fees: Your merchant account must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) security standards. This protects both you and your customers who, after all, are entrusting you with their credit card information. Since an in-depth discussion of PCI compliance is beyond the scope of this article, you’ll want to read this post for a good overview of the subject.

PCI-related fees come in two flavors: 1) PCI compliance fees, which are fees for services that your processor provides in order to ensure that your account remains PCI compliant, and 2) PCI non-compliance fees, which are effectively penalties for not being PCI compliant. See our article on the subject for more in-depth information. PCI compliance fees are a reasonable cost of doing business as long as a) your provider is actually doing PCI scans and taking other steps to protect your account and your customers’ data, and b) the fee is reasonable ($99.00 per year is the current industry average). On the other hand, you should never have to pay PCI non-compliance fees. If your provider can’t keep you compliant, find another provider. Also note that some of the newer providers do not charge a discreet PCI compliance fee. In most cases, you’re still paying for this as part of your monthly or annual account fee.

Statement fees and other “junk” fees: Traditional merchant account providers are notorious for adding any number of miscellaneous fees to your monthly bill, often with little or no actual service provided to you in exchange. While most of these fees are pretty minor and won’t add much to your costs, things like statement fees can add up quickly. Although the processing industry is slowly phasing out the statement fee, there are still plenty of companies that continue to charge it. Statement fees are usually around $8.00 per month. Think about that for a minute. That’s an extra $96.00 per year – just for them to send your statement to you every month. Considering that your statement is automatically generated by software and most companies today send your statement via email, it’s a complete rip-off.

Early termination fees: Most of the traditional merchant account providers in the industry will sign you up for a long-term contract (typically three years), and will charge you an early termination fee (ETF) if you try to close your account early – for any reason. ETFs are expensive (typically around $495.00) and are designed to discourage you from switching your account to a different processor. None of our favorite processors charge an ETF, allowing you to maintain your account on a month-to-month basis with no penalty for closing it.

Chargebacks: Any time your processor has to reverse a charge and issue a credit, you’ll be hit with a chargeback. Chargebacks can occur due to technical errors, returned merchandise, or actual fraud. Even though you as the merchant probably haven’t done anything wrong, most processors will still charge you a chargeback fee (typically about $20.00) to investigation what happened and issue a refund. For more information, see our article on avoiding chargebacks.

4. Fair, understandable processing rates

The processing rate is simply the total percentage of a transaction that you’ll have to pay to your merchant account provider in exchange for their processing the transaction. Processing rates can be very complicated and confusing, especially since the processor only keeps a portion of whatever they charge you. Fees (called the interchange) have to be paid to the credit card association (i.e., Visa, MasterCard, etc.) and also to the bank that issued the card, with the remainder going to the processor. Companies have devised several different pricing models to pass these costs onto you, including the following:

Interchange-plus pricing: Like its name, this pricing model consists of an “interchange” and a “plus.” As we’ve noted, the interchange is paid to the issuing bank and also the credit card association. The “plus” is simply the amount that your processor actually keeps from each transaction. Interchange-plus rate quotes are often expressed as “interchange + X %,” with the X % being the “plus.” Some processors also charge a fixed per-transaction fee (typically $0.10 to $0.25) as part of the “plus.” Because you can easily see exactly how much your processor is keeping from each transaction, it’s considered the most fair and transparent pricing model. It’s also usually less expensive overall than tiered or flat rate pricing.

Tiered pricing: This pricing model consolidates dozens of different processing rates into three tiers: qualified, mid-qualified, and non-qualified transactions. Which tier a transaction will fall into depends on a number of variables, such as whether the card was swiped or manually entered, what the items purchased were, when the transaction was actually sent to the processor, and many others. Companies offering tiered pricing often only advertise their qualified rates, with phrases like “rates as low as…” In reality, most transactions will fall into the mid-qualified or non-qualified categories, where the rates are almost always much higher.

Flat-rate pricing: eCommerce-focused companies such as Square and PayPal offer flat-rate pricing as an alternative to traditional pricing models. Each transaction is charged a flat percentage rate, and often a fixed per-transaction fee as well. Rates are simple, easy to understand, and fully disclosed right on the companies’ websites. Flat rates are usually higher than what you’ll get with interchange-plus pricing, but companies that offer them also charge you a lot less in monthly and annual fees.

Which pricing model is right for you is going to depend on a number of factors, with your monthly processing volume being one of the most important ones. For small or newly-established businesses with a low processing volume, flat-rate pricing is more economical because you’ll avoid most of the nickel-and-dime fees that make maintaining a traditional merchant account so expensive. On the other hand, a larger business that isn’t as concerned about fees will save money with interchange-plus pricing. For more information about processing rates, please see our Complete Guide to Credit Card Processing Rates and Fees.

5. Honest, non-misleading marketing and advertising

“My sales agent lied to me!” It’s an all-too-common complaint we see from merchants who’ve signed up with a traditional merchant account provider – and it’s often true. Rather than hiring and properly training a staff of professional, in-house sales agents, many companies rely on independent sales agents who are only paid on a commission basis. With practically no educational or experience requirements, just about anyone can become an agent. Combine this with generally inadequate training and intense pressure to close a deal, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Independent agents have a bad reputation for failing to disclose some of the more onerous terms of the contracts they’re selling, especially early termination fees. Yes, there are some naturally talented independent agents who have done well and can provide you with quality service. However, the odds are against it. We recommend that you stick with companies that have their own dedicated, in-house sales staff. Some of the best companies will even assign you a dedicated account representative, which is about as good as it gets.

Online advertising has now become the single most important way to market any business, including merchant account providers. A website can tell you a lot about a company, both good and bad. Unfortunately, most merchant account providers have very poor websites. Filled with misleading advertising gimmicks and lacking any sort of educational information, they frequently tease you with claims of low processing rates, while failing to disclose any of the actual rates or fees you’ll be paying. You’ll know that you’re dealing with a good, ethical company if their website includes some (or all) of the following features:

  • Full disclosure of processing rates and all monthly and annual account fees
  • Educational articles that discuss the details of credit card processing
  • A detailed knowledge base for customer self-service
  • Clear options for contacting customer service (telephone, email, and chat)
  • No misleading low rate claims or “lowest rate guarantee” gimmicks
  • Positive testimonials from actual merchants, including full personal and business names

6. Month-to-month contracts

The credit card processing industry has an absolutely horrible (and well-deserved) reputation when it comes to contracts. Signing up for a merchant account typically locks you into a long-term contract, usually for three years. If that wasn’t bad enough, most contracts also include an automatic renewal clause that will extend your contract for an additional year if you don’t take very specific steps to cancel it ahead of time. Most processors will also include an early termination fee in your contract, which serves as a penalty (typically around $495.00) for terminating your contract early. Some of the worst processors will even include a liquidated damages clause in their contracts, which could potentially cost you even more money if you try to get out of your contract.

Naturally, these one-sided contract provisions have generated a huge number of complaints from merchants over the years. Fortunately, the industry is responding in a positive way, albeit very slowly. Most of our highest-rated processors will allow you to sign up for an account on a month-to-month basis. There’s no long-term contract, no early termination fee, and no liquidated damages clause. Given a choice between the two, there’s simply no reason whatsoever to sign up for anything other than a month-to-month account.

7. High-quality customer service and support

Service after the sale is just as important for merchant accounts as it is for anything else – maybe more so. Things can and will go wrong. Credit card terminals will suddenly stop working on a busy day. Mysterious, unexplained charges will show up on your statement. Chargebacks will occur, despite your best efforts to prevent them. For all of these and many other possible issues, you’ll want solid customer service and support from your merchant account provider.

For minor issues, self-service should always be an option. Good providers maintain extensive FAQs and knowledge bases on their websites, allowing you to fix a problem on your own. This is particularly handy during non-business hours.

Most processors (even the bad ones) offer support via telephone or email. Chat support through the company’s website is also becoming more common. Telephone support that’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year is ideal. Realize that many companies offering 24/7 telephone support outsource that function, so you might end up talking to someone who may or may not be able to resolve your problem. Some companies will assign you a dedicated account representative, which is about the most personalized support you can hope for.

Final Thoughts

It’s 2016, and it seems like today just about everyone’s an entrepreneur in one way or another. More people are opening their own businesses than ever before, either as a side gig or a full-time occupation. The advent of eCommerce and low-cost processing options like Square make it easier than ever to start up a business. Whether you’re taking the plunge for the first time or you have many years of experience running a business, selecting the best possible merchant account provider is a critically important decision that can have a real impact on how well your business does.

If you’re just starting out, or your business is never going to be anything more than a side gig, you might not need a full-service merchant account. Low-cost providers such as Square will allow you to process credit cards without having to pay for many of the bells and whistles that come with a true merchant account. At the same time, you won’t have a unique merchant ID number for your account, increasing your risk for account freezes and terminations. Square also doesn’t provide much in the way of customer service, although they are getting better. Larger businesses will definitely need a full-service merchant account for the security features and robust customer service that come with it.

What if your business falls in the high risk category? If you’re a high-risk merchant, your options are more limited and you might not be approved for an account by some of our top-rated processors. Many of the processors that will give you an account will charge you higher rates and fees than the industry average. For a good processor that specializes in high-risk merchants and offers fairly-priced accounts, we recommend Durango Merchant Services.

Despite all the unscrupulous practices in the processing industry, there are some good companies out there that offer high-quality service at a fair, reasonable cost. For a side-by-side comparison of our top-rated processors, see our Merchant Account Comparison Chart. For a more detailed look at the features and benefits of each company, check out this article.

The post The Top 7 Things to Look for in a Merchant Account appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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5 Stuff You Didn’t Know You Could Do This by having an mPOS

accept mobile credit card payments

Mobile Reason for Purchase (mPOS) systems make it easy for almost any business to setup shop and begin taking payments almost immediately. They’re flexible. They’re affordable. Which days, they’re also boast-wealthy, delivering abilities that may, at occasions, rival a conventional or iPad-based POS system.

Are you currently getting the most from your smartphone and card readers? Let’s take a look at five very helpful mPOS abilities you will possibly not be familiar with:

1. Run an eCommerce Store

Anybody using Square and PayPal Here most likely isn&#8217t shocked to understand that you could run an eCommerce store by having an mPOS. PayPal is most likely the greatest name in eCommerce available. Square made waves within the payment space using its offer of the online for free store. It wasn&#8217t much to begin with, but Square&#8217s done a great deal recently to grow its eCommerce support.

If this sounds like news for you, you need to certainly be aware. It&#8217s good timing because, generally, the is shifting toward omnichannel solutions &#8212 services and products that allow you to sell seamlessly online, available, within the field, as well as on social networking.

PayPal Here doesn&#8217t seamlessly use your web store, but everything is going to be centralized inside your PayPal account. Square has a seamless interface between on the internet and mobile sales. SumUp, a family member newcomer towards the US mobile processing scene, will also support an eCommerce API so that you can sell online.

Should you&#8217re using Clover Go, it’s also wise to realize that Clover comes with an eCommerce integration. It doesn&#8217t sync up directly using the Go platform, however if you simply&#8217re using all of those other Clover suite (let&#8217s be genuine should you&#8217reusing Go, you probably are), it&#8217s a choice.

And lastly, don&#8217t forget that let’s say you sell online, your eCommerce suite might already support mPOS. Shopify, for instance, provides a POS system that actually works on tablets in addition to smartphones and it is quite feature-wealthy.

2. Manage Your Inventory

Square has got the most feature-wealthy inventory feature associated with a mPOS system. It sticks out partly since it&#8217s the only real mPOS that presently supports inventory counts. It syncs across in-person an internet-based sales as well as supports multi-location inventory.

However, that&#8217s not saying you are able to&#8217t manage your inventory with every other mPOS. Most mPOS options permit you to keep track of particular products, add photos, descriptions, as well as list item variants at different prices, usually within the application itself. PayPal Here and SumUp both support these functions, along with Spark Pay. (Clover Go requires you to definitely make your inventory list in the web based dashboard.)

If you are using Shopify&#8217s POS/mPOS additionally towards the eCommerce features, you&#8217ll get automatic inventory syncing across on the internet and in-person sales too, without trying needed.

If you want some thing robust or hate Square and Shopify&#8217s inventory solutions, there&#8217s an add-on known as Shopventory. It integrates with PayPal Here, Square, and Clover, amongst others, and may handle your inventory for you personally.

It&#8217ll set you back more monthly, however if you simply make use of your mPOS system fairly frequently (or daily), this may be an important tool.

Both Spark Pay and Square integrate with Stitch Labs too, providing you with an alternative choice for inventory management.

3. Offer Special Discounts and deals

A great POS will support special deals and promotions since it&#8217s a terrific way to awaken sales. Which include is less frequent within the mPOS space &#8212 but nonetheless available, knowing where you can look.

Spark Pay, for instance, supports special deals for users who depend around the mobile readers. (If you are using the terminals, this isn&#8217t supported.) You&#8217ll also discover that Square and PayPal Here both support discounts, so that you can mark lower whole orders by percentage or perhaps a amount of money. Square enables you to also discount individual products. Shopify&#8217s POS also enables you to apply discounts to transactions.

The greatest advantages listed here are that you simply won&#8217t have to use a calculator to calculate an order total. So if you’re using some kind of inventory or sales tracking, you won&#8217t mess that up simply by entering a fast-purchase or custom amount without logging these products.

4. Operate a Virtual Terminal

Odd because this may seem, sometimes payments on the smartphone (or tablet) aren&#8217t really probably the most convenient solution. Your standard POS system could be complicated and costly, and funds and appearance require a visit to the bank&#8230.which&#8217s where virtual terminals are available in.

Virtual terminals permit you to take payments from the internet-connected computer. Just sign in through your browser and connect the credit card information. (Note: Some permit you to connect a card swiper instead of entering the transaction.)

Not everybody requires a virtual terminal, however it&#8217s ideal for office and a few service-focused environments. Plus, it provides you with a backup choice to accept payments (for the way you consider it).

Square only folded out its virtual terminal fairly lately. However, it&#8217s an unsurprising change from a business that’s positively attempting to end up being the finish-all, be-all suite for small companies. It doesn&#8217t support a card readers, nevertheless its rates for keyed transactions are similar to the eCommerce rates (2.9% + $.30). That&#8217s less than PayPal&#8217s rate (3.1% + $.15).

Second, PayPal&#8216s virtual terminal doesn&#8217t come free. You have to upgrade to PayPal Payments Pro for $30/month to obtain access. You&#8217ll will also get a located payments page let’s say you sell online, however that increases your PCI compliance burden too.

Technically, Authorize.internet is really a payment gateway for eCommerce companies. However, it &#8216s expanded its choices to incorporate a really fundamental mPOS in addition to a virtual terminal for any $25 fee every month. Should you process directly through Auth.internet, you&#8217ll pay 2.9% + $.30 per transaction. Should you only use the gateway and process through another person, you&#8217ll spend the money for fee every month, $.10 per transaction, along with a $49 setup fee along with a $.10 daily batch fee.

Retailers who’ve a QuickBooks Payments account get utilization of not only the mPOS GoPayment application however a virtual terminal, in addition to ACH processing and a few other interesting features. And when you’re using Payline Mobile, you will also get an online terminal at no extra charge (and interchange-plus prices as well).

An alternative choice ideas haven&#8217t spoken about is Converge, from Elavon. We haven&#8217t personally reviewed Converge at Merchant Maverick, though I&#8217ll profess lots of fascination with the machine. This omnichannel commerce solution includes an mPOS in addition to a virtual terminal.

Related thought: Some mPOS providers also store cards on record and permit recurring billing. Square supports this selection at no extra charge, and PayPal will enable it for Payments Pro customers for the next $10/month.  However, you won&#8217t find a number of other mPOS systems that support this.

5. Create Worker Accounts and hang Permissions

Multiple people one mPOS login is a terrific way to make certain you are able to&#8217t find out the supply of any accounting mistakes. Additionally, it means anybody together with your login information have access to sales data along with other reports, in addition to issue refunds.

Should you&#8217re the only person ever running charge cards, it&#8217s not an issue. But when other people will probably be running sales, you might like to consider creating an worker or sub-user account.

Abilities vary with respect to the mPOS. Usually, a sub-user or worker account may have different login credentials and permit the user to handle fundamental functions for example finishing transactions. Simultaneously, they limit use of more sensitive features (sales reports, the opportunity to issue voids or refunds).

PayPal, SparkPay, Clover Go, and SumUp permit you to create worker/sub-user accounts at no extra charge. For Square, this selection can cost you $5/worker/month. However, it’s important to note that Square’s worker management features are much greater than just developing a separate login.

Go Explore the Options of the mPOS

Mobile charge card readers came a lengthy, lengthy means by yesteryear couple of years, and they’re just as one important foundation for a lot of companies due to their versatility. Don’t underestimate an mPOS system. Should you poke around a little, you’ll find interesting features put away which you can use to create your company run better still.

Which mPOS features are you finding most helpful outside your mPOS application&#8217s payment processing? Leave a remark and tell us — we’d like to know what you think!

The publish 5 Stuff You Didn&#8217t Know You Could Do This by having an mPOS made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Top Five Most Typical Credit Card Merchant Account Complaints

Complaint box

As it pertains lower to selecting which charge card processor to choose, retailers get their work eliminate on their behalf. Figuring out value goes past money. Choosing what appears is the cheapest cost quote you’ll find might finish up producing the cheapest value, too. Whenever a processor creates trouble for you and also occupies your energy, that decreases value. To determine value, you need to take a look at both the hazards and rewards of using a given company. To evaluate the potential risks involved, you&#8217ll need to examine some complaints.

But there&#8217s an array of complaints available. Which of them are warning flags and which of them in the event you be prepared to appear from time to time? We’ve come up with the very best five common complaints against credit card merchant account providers that will help you comprehend the common complaints against credit card merchant account providers to be able to make an educated decision.

1. Difficulty Cancelling Services

For processors that don’t have early termination charges, merchant contracts are, for those intents and purposes, month-to-month. This will make it relatively simple to cancel services. However for firms that do charge for early cancellation, getting away from your contract could be a bit trickier.

Most retailers with this particular complaint had problems getting ahold of cancellation departments, frequently being shuffled around from department to department until they either threw in the towel or experienced an elaborate cancellation process.

Remember: make certain merchant contracts are cancelled on paper. Otherwise, you could continue to become billed for services, even though you have previously switched providers.

2. Bad/Costly Leasing Contracts

Another common complaint retailers have is the fact that their contracts for leasing terminals are extremely costly. All leasing contracts can be harmful leasing contracts. Retailers will invariably pay more to book a terminal than simply to outright purchase one.

Leasing contracts are usually non-cancellable, meaning that you need to spend the money for entire lease term regardless of what, even though you close your bank account. The all inclusive costs frequently results in the 1000s of dollars for any machine only worth a couple of hundred.

3. Deceitful Sales Tactics/Representatives

The main factor to keep in mind when entering a merchant agreement is to understand that any provider’s first priority is to help make the purchase. That doesn’t mean processors are evil (not every one of them anyway). It will mean, though, that a number of them is going to do some pretty dishonest things to create a purchase.

Many providers will advertise simplified tiered prices systems. Make sure to read the small print though surprisingly couple of retailers be eligible for a marketed rates. For individuals which do qualify, there frequently hidden charges that completely negate any low marketed rates.

First of all, make sure to be skeptical of independent resellers. Many providers make use of these independent agents who get compensated on commission. These sales people might be poorly trained and under more pressure than normal to market, resulting in bad situations for unsuspecting retailers.

4. Poor Customer Support

Remember individuals independent agents? They’re also well known for supplying poor customer support when a merchant has registered. Oftentimes, after they result in the purchase, they’ve already moved to the next possible client.

In such instances, tracking lower your unique account representative can result in the hot potato pass from department to department with couple of to no results.

Need I even mention the frustration of calling a service provider and becoming an automatic answering services?

5. High Charges

This complaint comes from both deceitful sales tactics and bad customer support, but more retailers complain about high charges (particularly termination and PCI compliance charges) greater than other things.

The standard for early termination charges is about $400. However, the web is full dissatisfied retailers who’d to pay for way in addition to that. Frequently occasions, these charges could be hidden or undisclosed through the provider resulting in an awful surprise, particularly when they are available by means of liquidated damages charges.

Considering there are suppliers that don’t charge PCI or termination charges, having to pay these charges, regardless of how low, continues to be excessive a cost.

Honorable Mention: Crooks and Highway Robbery

Whenever there’s a population of individuals with complaints, there will always be individuals couple of that actually want to be heard. Some might appear at first sight so upset they’re frothing in the mouth about minor injustices. But despite these bold initial statements, the physiques of those complaints are usually the same as the other complaints right here. So don’t disregard these reviews.

Conclusion

Obviously, everyone’s knowledge about a specific processor won’t function as the same. It&#8217s vital that you weigh the complaint amount of a business against its processing volume. A processor serving 100 1000 retailers with 100 complaints is really a very different scenario from the processor serving 10, 000 retailers with 100 complaints. That being stated, a processor with many different complaints comparable issue ought to be an instantaneous warning sign. It’s best to understand the possibility problems of the provider prior to signing the dotted line so that you can prevent them throughout the settlement process otherwise bring your business elsewhere.

Still help sorting with the benefits and drawbacks of merchant services? Send us an email and we’ll be more than pleased to assist you.

The publish The Top Five Most Typical Credit Card Merchant Account Complaints made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Questions you should ask Prior To Committing to some Shopping Cart Software

Selecting an eCommerce platform is among the most significant decisions you&#8217ll make when establishing a web-based store. And it’s the step we concentrate on most at Merchant Maverick, for a good reason. Your eCommerce platform could make or break the first success of the business.

Prior to signing on for any monthly (or yearly) plan together with your favorite eCommerce solution, you need to stop and get your couple of questions. In the end, you have to be absolutely certain that your selected eCommerce platform fits your organization&#8217s goals and budget to some T. Within the finish, selecting the incorrect eCommerce platform can be quite pricey.

Listed here are what you should think about prior to committing for an eCommerce platform:

Performs this Software Have Each of the features I Want?

Ultimately, you’ll need your shopping cart software so that you can perform a number of tasks, based on your business’s model. While you research shopping cart software options, you need to compile a summary of all of the features you’ll need use of and make reference to that list frequently.

Do you want a price reduction engine that may create BOGO sales and condition-specific discounts? Write that lower. Are you currently searching for strong, simple to use Search engine optimization features? Discover which specific tools you’ll need and can include individuals inside your list too.

After you have an extensive list, you are able to dive deep to your selected platform&#8217s attributes and admin panel to make sure that they’ve all you need. Although no software includes 100% from the features you’re searching for out-of-the-box, a couple of can come pretty close. To complete individuals missing features, see below.

Can One Add-On Missing Features Through Extensions and Integrations?

Regardless of how good your software option would be, you’re gonna need to add-on a couple of extensions to gain access to every feature you’ll need.

Prior to signing up for any service, make certain it provides a sizable pool of extensions. If you’re searching for any couple of specifics, you need to make sure that individuals choices are available.

What’s the True Price of Operation?

Nothing running a business is really free. Even when you’re operating on the free, open-source platform, you’ll need to pay to maintain your site online. Listed here are a couple of expenses you should never forget to incorporate while you calculate your overhead.

For SaaS solutions:

  • The rate per month from the platform: Monthly rates change from $9/month to $299/month, with respect to the software and the amount of your plan.
  • Any transaction charges: Very couple of SaaS solutions still charge transaction charges. Shopify may be the one platform I understand of this still takes care of. These charges change from .5%&#82112.%, based on your plan.
  • Any potential bandwidth overage charges: Some platforms charge around $5-$7 per GB that you simply exceed your monthly limit.
  • The price of any styles: There will probably be a wide selection of free styles open to you, but you might like to choose a premium theme rather. These styles vary from about $30&#8211$200 and therefore are usually like a 1-time purchase.
  • The price of any integrations: Integrations are usually billed monthly for SaaS platforms. Your expense is determined by the type and number of integrations needed.
  • Customer support charges or subscriptions: Very frequently, customer support for SaaS solutions is incorporated free of charge. However, some platforms impose a fee for private service. Look at your platform’s policy.
  • To buy a SSL certificate: A shared SSL certificate is frequently incorporated free of charge, however these SSL certificates typically imply that your checkout page is going to be featured on the subdomain of the platform’s website. To possess only your brand visible in your checkout page, you might have to invest in your own SSL certificate&#8211starting at $90/year.
  • Expenses associated with your payment processor: When you can avoid transaction charges together with your eCommerce platform, you can’t prevent them together with your payment processor. Check out our free eBook, The Beginner’s Help guide to Payment Processing, to learn more.

For Open-Source Solutions:

  • The price of permission: Many open-source platforms offer their software free of charge. A couple of platforms charge a couple of $ 100 for that license.
  • Any upgrade increase charges: Open-source platforms that charge for licenses frequently impose a smaller sized fee to get updates and upgrades.
  • The cost of hosting: Prices for hosting depends upon the bandwidth and storage abilities you’ll need.
  • The price of your own domain name: Domains are fairly cheap, typically between $5 and $20 annually.
  • The price of site security: You have to take proper care of every component of your site’s security. You’ll need to pay to have an SSL certificate and be sure your site’s PCI compliance.
  • Any necessary extensions: Extensions for open-source solutions are usually priced like a one-time fee. Some are for sale to free, and a few cost as much as $500.
  • The price of a style: Open-source solutions don’t frequently include free theme selections. You’ll need to get one from the third-party developer, construct your own, or hire a graphic designer to get it done for you personally.
  • The cost of getting a webmaster or designer: Should you don’t have web skills yourself, the cool thing is that you’ll have to bring in help to assist.
  • Expenses associated with your payment processor: You’ll need to pay charge card processing charges for your payment processor. Again, learn more about these charges within our Beginner’s Help guide to Payment Processing.

Have I Completely Tested the Admin, and Will I Feel At Ease Finding My Way Around?

Simplicity of use is among the most significant facets of your eCommerce platform. Regardless of what platform you select, you’ll wish to make certain you are feeling comfortable within the admin panel.

Fortunately, most search engine optimization&#8212cloud-based and licensed&#8212offer free trials of the products. Make certain you make the most of individuals trials. Try out every feature you’ll want to use inside your day-to-day selling.

Try adding products, creating discounts, adding shipping settings, and configuring florida sales tax. If you’re able to, try integrating with any third-party software you’d prefer to use. Try out any design tools your platform has available. Determine whether the look tools are intuitive and when they provide you with enough customizability.

Go ahead and take software through its paces.

Have I Tested Customer Support in a number of Situations?

Quality customer support is crucial, particularly if you don’t have lots of technical abilities. Regrettably, it’s really a small challenge to precisely test customer support when you’re utilizing a demo product. The woking platform is attempting to win your approval, in the end. They’ll do their finest to create a good impression.

Bear that in your mind whenever you check out customer support. Test live chat and make contact with response time. Whenever you encounter an issue inside your trial, achieve out and find out if a person can take you step-by-step through it.

It’s also wise to check out your platform’s self-help options. Dig in to the understanding base to make certain the details are up-to-date.

If customer support is missing on your trial, it’ll only worsen when you’re a having to pay customer.

It’s also wise to look for current testimonials to determine what they say about customer support. However, you need to bear in mind that reviews will invariably trend toward the negative. (Check out our article on negativity bias for more details relating to this phenomenon.)

Will I Completely Understand the Tos along with other Small Print?

Within my review work, I’ve read countless comments from customers and pages of tos. And That I&#8217ve looked at numerous reviews complaining about company policies like limited refunds and bandwidth overage charges. I am unable to stress this enough: make certain you read all the tos before you sign onto a platform so you avoid any uncomfortable surprises.

One suggestion: Many cloud-based services offer reduced prices for year-lengthy commitments for their platform. Prior to signing on for any year-lengthy subscription, I recommend that you simply spend a minimum of six several weeks on the monthly subscription. So frequently these year-lengthy subscriptions are non-refundable. You’ll wish to be certain of the platform before you decide to spend the money for lump sum payment.

Have You Got All Of Your Solutions?

For those who have considered each one of these questions carefully and feel better about the solutions, go forth and join the eCommerce platform of your liking! Personally i think positive about saying you’re creating a smart decision.

Otherwise, I suggest you move back and review any unanswered questions. Crunch individuals figures, test the woking platform, and ensure this software programs are what you’re searching for.

Of course, for in-depth reviews that you can get began, check out our top-rated eCommerce platforms. We are able to help point you within the right direction.

The publish Questions you should ask Prior To Committing to some Shopping Cart Software made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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