Effective Means of Loyalty Programs

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The Numerous Faces of Loyalty Programs

There are many different ways available to produce a loyalty program. Have a quick look in the Google Play or iTunes application stores and you’ll see a large number of apps made to influence customer loyalty. Choices vary from coupons and discounts to games and point systems. Both ways has its own merits and drawbacks, and never all methods work nicely for each business. In the following paragraphs, I’ll be breaking lower a few of the more prevalent methods, along with a couple of less frequent ones, as one example of how both ways works.

When thinking about a loyalty program for the business it’s vital that you realize that despite a complete group of features, a course can’t replace quality goods and service, nor will it produce your passion and drive. It’s your decision to animate your program making it something dynamic and fitting for the business. That being stated, what effective loyalty programs do is help make your job simpler. Consider installing a wall-mounted having a drill versus a normal screwdriver. Neither can accomplish anything without you, only one helps make the job simpler compared to other. I really hope you’ll continue studying to find out what method (or methods) might be the next drill.

The Buy “X” get “Y” Method

customer loyalty programs for small business

Merits. A Buy “X” get “Y” approach to loyalty offers simplicity. In case your customers create a specific buy a certain quantity of occasions they get a reward in exchange. Multiples of 5 are typical purchasing parameters, and also the reward is frequently exactly the same product offered free of charge or for a cheap price (i.e. buy 10 donuts, get 11th free). This easy approach to tracking loyalty can increase repeat traffic and it is tied straight to revenue, as your customers need to still buy “X” to get their reward. Using a punch card program helps both you and your customers keep an eye on purchases and rewards. While the action of really punching an actual or digital card is typical, it isn’t necessary. As long as you’ve got a method in position for counting “X” and offering “Y” this program is functional, whether it is punches, points, or purchases.

Example. Pinkberry provides a simple loyalty program for purchasers who join the rewards card. After every tenth purchase, cardholders obtain a free yogurt. Simple! Pinkberry also provides a totally free yogurt on the cardholder’s birthday. Rewards expire after thirty days, and customers who register with their email will get additional marketing offers.

Downsides. This process can be quite bland and generic, so you’ll have to be just a little creative to be able to differentiate your program. If you’re utilizing a digital program, discover what type of features are for sale to you that will help you stick out out of your competitors, particularly if they will use exactly the same loyalty method. Good quality features to think about are marketing features where you can offer double punches, or additional rewards. Tiered systems will also be a terrific way to diversify your program and encourage continual use. Getting an incredible service or product likewise helps. If you’re an espresso shop encircled by coffee houses, try being bold with unique customer support, personalized products, or daily promotions. You’ll should also consider features that provide you additional control over your program, for example punch or reward expiration, to help keep costs lower.

Industry Match. This process is well-liked by companies that sell exactly the same products repetitiously, for example yogurt and occasional shops, vehicle washes, salons, and pizza shops.

Tiered Structures

Merits. Tiered structures are an easy way to distinguish between frequent and infrequent customers and reward individuals customers accordingly. There’s two common kinds of tiers: status tiers and reward tiers. Status tiers give customers a particular rank, which rank qualifies them for several rewards or benefits. Reward tiers simply offer elevated rewards with elevated point or punch accumulation. Ideally, a 2 or 3 tiered structure provides a small reward at the end tier, probably the most appealing reward or rewards at the very top tier, along with a obvious path backward and forward. This process is effective along with point programs in addition to digital punch card programs. Additionally, it enables more versatility with rewards. You may make acquiring rewards at the end tier relatively simple without having to pay out an excessive amount of for rewards. This will make recurring visits more desirable to customers without having to be too pricey for you. Additionally, it enables you to definitely offer more significant rewards at greater tiers. A person who only stops from your cafe from time to time might not take care of a reward naming a glass or two after them, however a customer who visits multiple occasions each day might.

Example. The My Starbucks Rewards program offers three status tiers for purchasers who pay utilizing a registered Starbucks or Teavana card. Every time a customer pays having a physical card or through the mobile application, they accumulate a star. Every registered card user starts in the welcome level, and rewards increase with every tier. To be able to upgrade to another tier, customers must accumulate a particular quantity of stars inside a year. The truly amazing factor concerning the way these tiers are system is that particular rewards, for example free in-store refills, could be enjoyed anytime.

Downsides. The tricky part about tiers is discovering that magical balance between value and price. It isn’t impossible, however it certainly requires more thought and legwork. Gathering apple from customers and employees to discover what rewards could be most appealing isn’t any easy task. Additionally working out what rewards won’t be too pricey, setting the parameters for every tier, and training the employees to condense this program right into a short, simple reason behind your clients. In case your customers’ status is tiered, there’s even the possibility to isolate lower tiered customers in case your balance is a touch skewed. So, unless of course you really can afford for somebody to complete the legwork for you personally, tiered structures require additional work, but some extra focus on the leading finish will yield better recent results for your company.

Industry Match. This process can be useful for many business types, whether or not they offer specialized products or a multitude of services or products.

Software Match. Perka offers status tiers additionally for their mobile punch card program, an excellent combination worth thinking about if you’re searching into mobile-based programs. Check out the Perka review for more information.

Point Systems

Merits. Probably the most versatile and popular way of loyalty programs may be the point system. It can be useful for simple programs having a static point/dollar ratio, and in addition it works best for more complicated programs with different point/dollar ratios or point/product ratios. With respect to the limitations of the software, point systems could be stable and consistent or dynamic and altering.

Example. The Walgreens balance rewards program offers its people $5 of in-store gift certificates for each 5000 points accrued. Points could be earned on a number of products, for example prescription refills, in addition to certain actions, like exercising, taking bloodstream pressure tests or any other healthy choices. People receive exclusive offers, and rewards are tiered.

Downsides. Really the only downside to some extent system originates from misuse. Point systems can be quite accommodating, but utilizing a complex point system whenever a simple program is the perfect fit for the business could be harmful. The inverse often happens.

Industry Match. Because of its versatility, point systems are a good fit for just about any industry.

Software Match. If you’re searching for search engine optimization, Sweet Tooth provides a great loyalty program via Shopify, BigCommerce, or Magento. This program can hold simple in addition to complex point programs, so make sure to look into the Sweet Tooth review. For physical solutions, Perkville, Fivestars, and Belly have significant point-based programs. You may also browse the comparison article, Fivestars versus. Belly, to determine how one stacks facing another.

Cash Reward Methods

Merits. Cash reward methods are extremely unique and appear not the same as one program to a different. The finest draw for purchasers is it offers something which everybody values: cash. It’s not really a preselected reward or listing of rewards a person needs to select from. Cash return offers are big winners within the eyes of consumers. There are various ways to carry out it: cash return on select services or products, cash return for purchases over a specific amount, cash return on every purchase, or a variety of other combinations.

Example. Walmart’s Savings Catcher program is really a prime illustration of a money reward program. Walmart shoppers can be found the chance in order to save the main difference between Walmart’s prices on the product as well as their competitor’s marketed prices. Could it be dangerous? Yes. But Walmart has been doing a fantastic job using the program to date. This program has contingencies which make this program manageable and lower risk. First, there’s a time period. Shoppers have 7 days to scan their receipt to be able to be eligible for a savings. Second, Walmart compares the prices towards the marketed prices of the competitors. So, if Dove soap is usually cheaper at another store however the cost isn’t marketed, shoppers don’t obtain the difference. Third, when customers redeem cash, guess where they stand? Walmart.

Downsides. There’s a very good reason the reason why you don’t check this out method very frequently within the loyalty category for small companies. It may be devastating otherwise done carefully, as well as an alternate method with lower risk will frequently be a more sensible choice. The price of noncash rewards is frequently less than the price of cash rewards, and developing a system that actually works for your company is very tricky.

Industry Match. Just the bold may enter here.

Compensated Memberships

Merits. Compensated memberships are most generally observed in wholesale stores like Costco, BJ’s or Sam’s club, however they may also be used in small companies. Basically, customers pay a charge to patronize your company, or receive additional discounts and promotions. The truly amazing factor about compensated memberships is this fact method can offset costs before customers buy things. Compensated memberships for companies that sell a distinctive service or experience will get additional advantage to be exclusive.

Example. The Sally’s Beauty Club offers member-only discounts on products on the internet and in shops. People pay an enrollment or renewal fee of $5 each year. After enrollment or renewal, people get a $5 coupon they are able to redeem on purchases through the finish of later, so customers who purchase their membership possess the chance to have it back immediately.

Downsides. Compensated memberships could be a major switch off for purchasers when they don’t begin to see the added value, but when costs are lacking, you won’t have the ability to remain in business. Locating the balance backward and forward can be quite difficult outdoors from the wholesaler / retailer market.

Industry Match. This process could be effective for companies rich in demand, affordable products, or companies that provide unique services or encounters.

Coalition Programs

Merits. I have faith that coalition programs have untapped potential among small companies. Two heads are superior to one, and teaming up with the proper partner can change lives for your online business. What one thinks of most may be the brilliant pairing of groceries and gas. The 2 don’t frequently compete, plus they both offer necessary products. The truly amazing factor about coalitions is how they complement each other while remaining separate. A sea food restaurant can get together having a pancake house, a smoothie shop and a health club can get together, as well as an auto shop can work with a vehicle wash. I’ve only seen a couple of software packages offer the opportunity to facilitate a coalition program for small companies, however it has great potential.

Example. Lately Macy’s, Rite Aid, ExxonMobil, along with other brands launched a coalition loyalty program known as Plenti. Points could be accrued across these companies, and rewards could be redeemed in multiple ways, with respect to the business. For Rite Aid, customers who bring home 200 Plenti points will get $2 in savings using their company companies inside the coalition. This program sticks out since it enables people to redeem more significant rewards. A Macy’s shopper may require a fish tank of gas greater than a tshirt, so getting that choice for spending reward points increases the need for this program.

Downsides. Among the primary downsides for any coalition program is managing it. Concerning aren’t lots of possibilities software-wise, many programs are restricted to shared gift certificates or certificates, or discounts.

Industry Match. Coalition programs are perfect for chains, shopping malls, and noncompeting local companies.

Gamificationgamification-badges-online-games-rewards

Merits. Gamification is a technique that provides a little bit of fun or interaction for your loyalty program. This is often as easy as a meter calculating the space prior to the next reward, or perhaps an actual, interactive game. Gamification makes your loyalty program more intriguing and encourages people to complete an action, for example buying, to carry on the interaction.

Example. For some time a minimum of, the internet food delivery website GrubHub used Tasty Rummy to inspire return visits. After every third order, customers could play a round of Tasty Rummy, an odds game where customers needed to select 1 of 3 cards to win a prize. A few of the prizes incorporated free food or drinks, but even though you didn’t win, you’d obtain a clever quip or joke for the trouble.

Downsides. There’s hardly any downside should you keep gamification simple. Interactions that provide something to expect to another time around will go a lengthy way, whether or not the rewards are extremely small. If you’re utilizing an odds game, however, that is one little tricky. Nobody loves to play a game title they think is rigged against them, therefore if your clients never win anything, it’s game over for the loyalty program.

Industry Match. Gamification is ideal for ecommerce companies, food and restaurant chains, and companies that are looking to include some extra fun for their program.

Conclusion

As the methods described in the following paragraphs offer efficient ways to improve the caliber of your company, applying a course that work well requires a mix of creativeness, industry-specific understanding, and quality customer relations. When selecting a loyalty program for the business, consider what you’re offering, who you’re offering it to, and just what methods perform best for connecting together. Many methods work harmoniously along with other methods, so that your loyalty program doesn’t need to be restricted to only one. Loyalty software programs are still a comparatively new space for small companies, however the choices still improve. Take time to evaluate which works well with your company, and compare several program to determine what you could reasonably maintain. It’s also smart to take a look at companies concentrating on the same business structures to determine what labored (or didn’t work) on their behalf. The Merchant Maverick Loyalty Software section is a superb spot to read reviews from retailers and business proprietors across industries. Best of luck!

The publish Effective Means of Loyalty Programs made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Spark Pay Versus Shopify

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

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

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

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

Web-Located or Licensed:

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

Software and hardware Needs:

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

Prices:

Champion: Shopify

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

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

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

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

Simplicity of use:

Champion: Shopify

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

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

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

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

Features:

Champion: Spark Pay

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

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

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

Website Design:

Champion: Shopify

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

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

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

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

Integrations and Add-Ons:

Champion: Shopify

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

Payment Processing:

Champion: Shopify

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

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

Customer Support and Tech Support Team:

Champion: Shopify

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

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

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

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

Champion: Spark Pay

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

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

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

Positive Testimonials and reviews:

Champion: Shopify

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

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

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

Final Verdict:

Champion: Shopify

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

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

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

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

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

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Best Small Company POS

The owner of small restaurant

POS systems (that’s point-of-sales, for that uninitiated) have gone through some major innovations previously couple of years. The greatest of those changes range from the move of numerous systems “to the cloud” and also the emergence of mobile POS systems. While Square is most likely the very best-known mobile POS, it’s fairly fundamental and works well with casual micro-companies. However that doesn’t imply that your online business must lose out on the mobile revolution. Take a look at ShopKeep, SalesVu, and Shopify POS — three fully featured POS’s for small companies that contain cloud and mobile technologies for an entire POS experience.

After giving a short overview of the high small-business POS systems (plus one honorable mention), I&#8217ll let you realize which of those POS&#8217s we believe is the overall best POS for small companies — considering cost, set of features, reliability, along with other factors.

ShopKeep — Hybrid iPad POS for convenient Serve, Restaurants/Bars, and Retail

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  • Hybrid cloud-based iPad solution
  • $49/register/month
  • Perfect for small-to-medium-sized food service and niche shops
  • Offline functionality
  • Excellent customer care
  • Integrates with many payment processors
  • Back-office features including worker, customer, and inventory management
  • Raw component tracking
  • E-mail marketing (MailChimp) and QuickBooks integration
  • Fundamental hardware package includes: Stand, Card Readers, Receipt Printer &amp Cash Drawer
  • EMV nick card readers to simply accept nick cards, mobile payments (including Apple Pay) — free for any short time

Founded by Jason Richelson this year as a solution to poor-quality Home windows POS software, ShopKeep is straightforward-to-use iPad POS software with lots of helpful features. ShopKeep is particularly well-liked by food service and beverage retailers, because of features like raw component inventory tracking and onscreen tipping.

ShopKeep was among the first cloud POS’s having a “hybrid” setup. The program operates on an iPad register, but syncs its data towards the cloud when there’s a web connection. The application is constantly on the run once the internet goes lower, and queues charge card payments before the connection is re-established. This hybrid setup offers stability for companies concerned about a flaky web connection.

Affordable at $49/register/month, ShopKeep is really a terrific all-around POS for small companies which have only a couple of registers. Additionally, it includes helpful back-finish features like worker time tracking, real-time analytics, and marketing features. ShopKeep can also be noted for getting great customer care.

Finally, this POS integrates with many payment processors (including its very own well-received ShopKeep Payments), providing you with the versatility you ought to get the very best charge card processing rates. You may also accept mobile payments (including Apple Pay) with ShopKeep. And due to ShopKeep&#8217s EMV (nick card) terminal, retailers using the service are looking for the October 2015 nationwide change to EMV. 

Obtain the full story on ShopKeep within our complete ShopKeep review.

SalesVu — Advanced Mobile POS for Retail, Food, and repair Companies

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  • 100% cloud-based mobile POS
  • Operates on iOS or Android devices (see Supported Hardware)
  • Packages vary from $25 to $150/location/month
  • Perfect for small-to-medium-sized companies
  • Works great for retail, food service, and expertise
  • Capability to charge decimal and fractional quantities (may charge through the pound or partial hour)
  • Limitless devices per location
  • Scaleable and customizable — can buy bundles or POS system “a la cart”
  • Must use with either Mercury Payment Systems or Century Payments credit card merchant account for charge card processing (see processing rates here)
  • Self-checkout kiosk (offered by $75/month level)
  • Integrated eCommerce and recurring billing options
  • Extensive back-finish features include accounting (QuickBooks integration), inventory monitoring, reports, custom discounts and promotions, customer database, worker management, appointment scheduling, and much more
  • One free charge card readers incorporated

SalesVu is yet another cloud-based mobile POS and one of the greatest for small companies, regardless of whether you take payments inside your brick-and-mortar store or on-the-go. Founded this year, SalesVu is marketed being an all-in-one business management solution, with sophisticated back-finish features like worker management and integrated online ordering, SalesVu greater than only a mobile register.

SalesVu is provided at three different cost tiers, using the “Basic” mid-level package which includes most features along with a self-checkout kiosk setting you back $75/month/location, with limitless devices permitted each and every location. Should you only want the POS without all of the features, you pay $25/month. Learn more about the characteristics you receive with every cost level here.

Additionally to food service companies and retail boutiques, SalesVu’s online appointment booking abilities and skill to charge customers fractional amounts (for instance, a small fraction of an hour or so) helps make the service ideal for service-based companies, for example therapists, fitness instructors, and sweetness professionals.

An area where SalesVu has room for improvement is its insufficient payment processing options. At this time, the program only integrates Mercury Payment Systems or Century Payments, meaning you’ll need to use one of these simple as the credit card merchant account. There’s even the problem with the inability to process charge cards in case your Wireless goes lower.

Find out more about the SalesVu POS system within our SalesVu review.

Shopify POS — Web-based iPad POS with Integrated eCommerce for Stores

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  • iPad and iPhone POS
  • Designed particularly for retail companies
  • Best for promising small to medium companies
  • Integrated payment processing with Shopify Payments
  • Fully web-based (can&#8217t process charge cards offline)
  • Has a free Shopify card swiper that matches in to the headphone jack of the iPad (you can purchase peripherals just like a cash drawer and bar code scanner within the Shopify Home Improvement Store)
  • Lite Plan — $9/month — in-person charge card rate of two.7% (no online shop) Basic Plan — $29/month in-person charge card rate of two.7% Professional Plan — $79/month, 2.4% Limitless Plan — $179/month, 2.2%
  • Limitless devices
  • Syncs instantly with Shopify eCommerce
  • Capability to generate custom payment options, accept partial payments, accept multiple types of payment
  • Discount, gift certificate, store credit, and custom sales item functionality
  • Back-end features include inventory management, reports (integrates with QuickBooks and Xero), gift cards, customer management, staff accounts

Shopify has been available since 2005, though its iPad point-of-sale system is really a newer offering. Shopify began by helping cover their eCommerce but still does well in this region — a large draw of the POS is it syncs seamlessly with Shopify eCommerce.

Even though you don&#8217t do eCommerce, Shopify continues to be a great POS for small retail companies. This POS has fully integrated payment processing with Shopify Payments, while offering a distinctive prices structure, whereby your rate per month determines your charge card transaction charges. At most fundamental $9/month plan, you receive a charge card processing rate of two.7% (for in-person swiped transactions) however a couple steps up in the $79/month plan, you receive a very decent rate of two.4%, or perhaps an excellent rate of two.2% in the $179/month level. Learn more about what you’ll get each and every prices tier here.

Another perks of Shopify POS include limitless products, inventory management features, advanced reporting, gift certificate functionality (at $79/month and greater levels), store credit, staff profiles, and the opportunity to accept multiple types of payment for the similar transaction. Responsive, 24/7 support can also be incorporated with all of packages.

Overall, Shopify is really a solid iPad POS for small stores, with affordable prices, integrated eCommerce and charge card processing, and lots of helpful point-of-purchase features. One of the only drawbacks is that you’ll require a web connection to process charge cards.

Learn more in our Shopify Review.

Honorable Mention: Quetzal — Hybrid iPad POS for Apparel and Shoe Retailers

quetzal-logo

  • Hybrid iPad cloud POS (created for iPad but could operate on a desktop if you like)
  • Particularly for clothing and shoe retailers
  • $990/location/year for 1-4 locations $940 for five-7 locations $890 for 8-10 locations
  • Limitless terminals per location
  • Offline functionality
  • Integrates with ROAMpay, Velocity, Gravity, National Discount A Merchant Account, and Mercury Mobile Payments in US Moneris in Canada
  • Rear customer-facing display
  • Multi-location
  • Multi-language
  • Discount and gift certificate features
  • Retail back-finish features including detailed customer profiles, Apple Figures reports (doesn’t integrate with QuickBooks), inventory management
  • Get Began Bundle includes Ipad Air, iPad Enclosure, Cash Drawer, Receipt Printer, Hands Scanner, Ethernet Cable and three Rolls of Thermal Receipt Paper
  • Accept swiped cards with Roam G4X headphone jack wordpress plugin device or nick card payments by having an (incorporated) EMV readers.

Established this year, Quetzal is a slick iPad-based POS and business management system made particularly for small, independent clothing and shoe retailers. Should you choose food service or a different type of business, it’s and not the POS for you personally. That stated, Quetzal is excellent at what it really does, if you operate a clothing or shoe store, pay attention.

From discounts and gift certificates to inventory management and customer accounts, Apple-centric Quetzal offers an array of helpful features, which you’ll begin to see the full, extensive listing of here. Most retailers will discover that Quetzal offers almost everything they require, as well as for a yearly cost of under $1,000 (minus peripherals such as the receipt printer, hands scanner, cash drawer, etc.), it presents an excellent deal over a traditional POS system.

Like ShopKeep, Quetzal is really a hybrid system with offline functionality, meaning you can keep to use Quetzal even if your online connection goes lower. When the connection returns, all pending transactions are processed and knowledge is synced towards the cloud.

For payment processing, Quetzal integrates with several credit card merchant account providers, including Mercury, Velocity, Gravity, and National Discount A Merchant Account. You may also use Quetzal with ROAMpay, which isn’t a free account by itself, but enables you to definitely process mobile payments with many major charge card processors, from Chase Paymentech to Bank of the usa. The only real downside with using ROAMpay is it’s yet another monthly fee, on the top of anything you pay your a merchant account provider.

Obtain the complete rundown on Quetzal within our Quetzal POS review.

What’s the very best POS in my Small Company?

Now it’s time to determine which provider meets your small business’s specific needs:

ShopKeep — Perfect for … small food companies/niche shops/liquor stores/mall kiosks with a couple of registers, who require some back-finish features, and wish a large selection of payment processors, offline functionality, EMV compliance, and skill to simply accept Apple Pay along with other mobile payments.

SalesVu — Perfect for … small food, retail, hourly professional companies, with single or multiple points of purchase (mobile registers), who would like sophisticated back-finish features, and maybe want to process payments on their own Android device. Comfortable with using Mercury or Century for payment processing and conducting business cash-only when the Wireless is out.

Shopify POS — Perfect for &#8230 small retail companies with a lot of products to market, particularly if you would also like integrated eCommerce and payment processing. Comfortable with using Shopify Payments as your credit card merchant account and conducting business cash-only when the Wireless is out.

Quetzal — Perfect for … small clothing and shoe retailers who would like a sleek, modern iPad POS with integrated sales and reporting features (and therefore are fine with using Apple Figures rather of QuickBooks).

If you want some assistance sorting which POS is the best for your store or restaurant, you are able to complete the shape in this article and our experts can help you determine the best idea POS for your online business.

Why ShopKeep Is the greatest Small Company POS

While all four of these solutions are really excellent, as well as your choice will be based somewhat in your business’s specific needs, ShopKeep may be the champion if you need to pick one. ShopKeep’s exceptional customer service and wide selection of recognized payment processors makes this specific cloud POS the safest, surest bet (SalesVu and Shopify have good customer care, but ShopKeep’s is top-notch) .

ShopKeep can also be affordable, versatile (works for food service, retail, and service industries), while offering helpful backend features like worker management, marketing features, and inventory management, in addition to offline functionality. Plus, you are able to accept Apple Pay along with other mobile payments.

Another major reason for ShopKeep&#8217s favor is its EMV-compliant card readers, which protect merchants from the approaching 2015 Payment Networks’ Liability Shift (whereby issuers and retailers who don’t accept customers&#8217 EMV-compliant cards will held responsible for fraudulent charge card transactions caused by swiping individuals cards).

Although it doesn’t offer each and every feature available, ShopKeep will greater than meet the requirements on most small companies searching for any solid POS — and all sorts of for under $50/month.

Wish to have a Try Out?

ShopKeep and SalesVu offer free trial offer versions — ShopKeep includes a 14-day free trial offer, along with Shopify POS, and SalesVu includes a 15-day free trial offer for whichever degree of service you need to try. Quetzal doesn’t formally provide a free trial offer, however, you can refer to them as to look at a demo from the service.

If you would like more options, you may also compare another top POS systems within our handy POS comparison chart, or take a look at our POS software reviews to judge much more systems.

The publish Best Small Company POS made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Merchant Maverick’s Awards for Best Small Business Software

Best small business software

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

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

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

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

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

Merchant Account Providers

Winner: Dharma Merchant Services

dharma-merchant-services-logo

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

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

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

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

Runner-Up: CDGcommerce

cdgcommerce-logo

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

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

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

Click here to read our full review of CDGcommerce.

Mobile Payments

Winner: Flint Mobile

Flint-mobile-logo

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

Flint has only two rates:

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

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

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

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

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

Runner-Up: Payline Data

payline-data-logo

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

Simple (Under $5,000 per month)

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

Pro (Over $5,000 per month)

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

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

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

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

Shopping Carts

Winner: Shopify

shopify-banner

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

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

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

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

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

Runner-Up: Ecwid

ecwid-logo

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

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

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

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

Read our full review of Ecwid to learn more.

POS Software

Winner: ShopKeep

shopkeep-logo

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

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

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

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

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

Runner-Up: SalesVu

salesvu-logo

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

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

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

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

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

Accounting Software

Winner: Xero

best small business accounting software

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

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

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

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

Read our full review of Xero here.

Runner-Up: QuickBooks Pro

Best small business accounting software

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

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

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

Read our full review of QB Pro here.

Inventory Management Software

Winner: Stitch Labs

stitch-labs-logo

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

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

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

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

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

Runner-Up: TradeGecko

tradegecko-logo

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

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

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

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

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

Invoicing Software

Winner: Freshbooks

freshbooks-logo

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

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

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

You can read our full review of FreshBooks here.

Runner-Up: Invoiceable

invoiceable-logo

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

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

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

Read our full review of Invoiceable here.

CRM Software

Winner: Zoho CRM

zoho-logo

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

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

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

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

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

Read our full review of Zoho CRM here.

Runner-Up: CleverTim

clevertim-logo

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

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

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

Read our review of Clevertim here.

Booking Software

Winner: BookingBug

bookingbug-logo

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

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

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

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

To read our full review of BookingBug, click here.

Runner Up: Bookeo

bookeo-logo

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

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

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

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

Read more about Bookeo here, in our full review.

Email Marketing Software

Winner: MailChimp

mailchimp-logo

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

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

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

Check out our full review of MailChimp here.

Runner-Up: AWeber

AWeber_EMDlogo_blue

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

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

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

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

Read our full review of AWeber here.

Project Management Software

Winner: Trello

trello-logo-blue

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

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

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

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

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

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

Runner Up: Basecamp

basecamp-logo

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

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

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

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

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

Read more about Basecamp in our full review.

Shipping Software

Winner: ShipStation

shipstation-logo

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

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

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

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

Check out our full review of ShipStation for more information.

Runner-Up: ShipWorks

shipworks-logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to read our full review of ShipWorks.

Loyalty Rewards Software

Winner: Sweet Tooth

sweet-tooth-rewards-logo

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

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

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

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

Runner-Up: Belly

belly-logo

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

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

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

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

Website Building Software

Winner: Wix

 

wix

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to read our full review of Wix.

Runner-Up: Jimdo

Jimdo-Logo

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

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

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

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

Read our full review of Jimdo here.

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

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8 Benefits Of Using WordPress For The Online Shop

Wordpress Online Store

// Begin Editor&#8217s Note //

This publish is while being updated from 2012 to 2017. It&#8217s still fairly helpful, but needs some freshening.

Take a look at the next related posts &#8211

  • Shopify versus. WordPress + WooCommerce
  • Selecting An Ecommerce Platform
  • Establishing a WordPress Ecommerce Website

// Finish Editor&#8217s Note //

One option ended up being to use software to create a website &#8211 then &#8220plug in&#8221 shopping cart software software to make use of.

With regards to building websites, couple of can match WordPress.

It forces countless sites from CNN for this humble website.

What many don&#8217t know is it is definitely an incredible eCommerce platform.

Here&#8217s 8 reasons why you need to use WordPress for the online shop (and and summary of what shopping carts to &#8220plug in&#8221 to really make it work.

8 Benefits Of Using and employ WordPress

1. No ongoing charges

Many located, as they are ecommerce platforms charge a regular monthly flat rate (along with a transaction fee).

That may accumulate.

For any small store &#8211 a regular monthly fee could be a big barrier to simply get began.

As well as for bigger stores &#8211 it may really begin to add facing the conclusion.

However, WordPress is free of charge and may operate on nearly any webhost. Your main ongoing charges are anything you pay your webhost (HostGator, for instance, is starting as low as $4/mo).

Even add-on software (just like a shopping cart software)  is always offered by license &#8211 therefore it&#8217s only a one-time purchase cost.

So if you’re able and prepared to learn to keep your site (mainly updating your software, which any designer or online tutorial can display how you can do)  &#8211 you may make your monthly overhead as cheap or as pricey as you would like it or need so that it is.

2. Open-source having a large community

WordPress is free of charge because lots of people deeply active in the community lead some time and expertise to help keep it updated.

What’s usually done in a company with a couple of compensated developers is performed at WordPress by a large number of volunteers one bit at any given time.

The benefit of running open-source software is you aren&#8217t counting on a business&#8217s finances or hiring ability to maintain your store running.

WordPress has a large number of eyeballs searching in the code, and thousands prepared to step-up and lead a little bit of code &#8211 that makes it a really reliable, lengthy-term solution.

That also ties along with #3&#8230.

3. Deep pool of developers and designers

Since WordPress can be used by a lot of websites &#8211 and it has this type of large community &#8211 there&#8217s always someone available using the expertise to complete anything you need &#8211 regardless of whether you need someone simply to set some misconception, design, do Search engine optimization, or scale your store to compete at the very top tier.

In comparison, located eCommerce platforms usually don&#8217t possess the contributors available (or in the right cost) to create anything and everything perfect.

4. Infinite personalization

With WordPress, you may create whatever store you would like &#8211 with any feature imaginable. Now, you might want to pay a custom developer &#8211 but a minimum of it&#8217s possible &#8211 unlike many as they are solutions, which limit you skill due to their built-in systems.

5. Free, simple to install sources

WordPress terminology is the fact that a Theme controls the way your site looks, and a WordPress plugin contributes to what all of your site can perform (just like a shopping cart software). Here&#8217s a screenshot of my screen at this time.

WordPress Backend

You can observe the Add New wordpress plugin button, and just how the page editor is setup (just like a Word document). It features a learning curve, but certainly not really a Information Technology degree. If you’re able to use Stand out or rock out Gmail &#8211 you can study to make use of WordPress.

6. Scalable

WordPress enables you to definitely arrange for success. In case your store will take off &#8211 and starts doing very well, WordPress are designed for it. It handles sites as large as the brand new You are able to Occasions &#8211 and may certainly handle yours, despite a large number of products, and a lot of traffic.

7. Secure

There are numerous tales about hacked WordPress blogs. And WordPress is a big target for online hackers. But WordPress also offers the sources, and individuals to help keep WordPress secure.

As lengthy while you follow fundamental protocols (like not installing sketchy plugins, keeping WordPress current, etc) and installing a burglar wordpress plugin like WordFence or WordPress Better Security &#8211 your installation is really as safe as having faith in your computer data to a different company.

8. A lot of extra functionality available

Have to buy items inside your categories independently? There&#8217s a wordpress plugin for your.

Have to [insert random need here]? There&#8217s a wordpress plugin or perhaps a developer for your.

The good thing about WordPress is you can extend it making it your personal.

Shopping Cart Software Plugins For WordPress

WordPress alone doesn’t do eCommerce &#8211 you must have extra time do this.

Here&#8217s my personal favorite eCommerce plugins for WordPress.

WooCommerceWooThemes is really a major producer of WordPress designs and styles. They also have created the sleekest, easiest to set up (and free) eCommerce wordpress plugin known as WooCommerce. It’s most all you&#8217d ever have to develop a store (it’s used by us at ShivarWeb side projects). The only real downside is it doesn&#8217t fully trust all types of WordPress design &#8211 so you might need a custom web design to integrate rid of it.

&nbsp

WP eCommerceWordPress eCommerce by GetShopped is probably the most flexible WordPress wordpress plugin. It really works with virtually every theme, is loaded with lots of features, also it&#8217s free. The only real bad thing is that it is support forums really are a bit spotty, and also the software continues to have a couple of nuisance bugs inside it. Less sleek as WooCommerce &#8211 but nonetheless a great choice.

&nbsp

Shopp eCommerceShopp wordpress plugin is kind of the very best of the WooThemes and WordPress eCommerce &#8211 it&#8217s feature wealthy and versatile, and delay pills work with virtually every design and theme. However, it&#8217s compensated &#8211 but at $55, it&#8217s still a really affordable deal especially lengthy term.

&nbsp

MarketPress eCommerce For WordPressMarketPress, like Shopp, is definitely an ecommerce wordpress plugin produced by a professional company. It&#8217s compensated &#8211 only $19. It’s a lot of features and utilizes any WordPress design &#8211 it&#8217s marketed as WordPress eCommerce with no bugs.

Get Began

Browse the full guide regarding how to generate a WordPress ecommerce website here!

The publish 8 Benefits Of Using WordPress For The Online Shop made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

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The Very Best EMV Compliant POS Systems

best emv compliant pos

If you’ve been maintaining around the recent EMV liability shift, this really is most likely the 4 hundredth and 70-second article you’ve find out about it. But it’s still October and we’ve still got information to talk about, particularly if you’re believing that now might be time for you to change your POS system. Not every systems are EMV-compatible yet, which could start squandering your soon. No, it’s not time for you to panic and also you don’t absolutely need to be EMV-compliant right this second, however these nick cards aren’t disappearing. Actually, they’re already scheduled to develop more and more advanced within the next couple years. You’re have to a POS system around the innovative of the shift should you hope to maintain your business running easily. That leads me to begin this, the 4-hundredth and 70-second article you’ll discover the EMV liability shift: to talk about the very best EMV compliant POS systems available on the market.

For your benefit and titillation, below is really a break lower of 5 POS solutions that provide great functionality for various differently sized companies and industry types. The factors through which each system was selected include EMV compatibility, overall system functionality, affordability, and offline abilities (the opportunity to accept debit and credit transactions with no Wi-Fi connection).

ShopKeep                                         best emv compliant pos

ShopKeep is our number 1 pick for retail and food service POS systems, and that i really want it to be made to accommodate service industry companies too, because not just is ShopKeep an excellent system with things to look for along with a finely-tuned suit of features, but it’s also creating a surprising offer. Named the ShopKeep EMV Liability Promise, Chief executive officer and President Norm Merritt guarantees that as lengthy as you’ve purchased an EMV device from ShopKeep, the organization covers any EMV-related chargebacks until their software programs are EMV-enabled. Essentially, though ShopKeep is selling nick card readers, their POS product is not EMV-compatible. Rather of creating you have to pay with this, however, they’ve agreed to defend myself against EMV-related chargebacks until they’ve their system so as, because it’s not your fault they aren’t quite compatible yet. This really is something I’ve never witnessed completed in the POS industry before and talks to the lengths that ShopKeep would like to choose its customers.

Obviously, without impressive customer support, ShopKeep is much more than able to standing by itself with features like:

  • An intuitive and easy to use interface
  • An easy prices structure ($49/month/register)
  • Easy set-up
  • Affordable hardware
  • Multiple payment processing options
  • A complete suit of back-office functions
  • Raw component tracking
  • Offline functionality
  • Integrations with MailChimp and QuickBooks

Created for promising small to medium-sized companies, ShopKeep provides a effective cloud-based iPad POS solution in a cost that won’t carve an excessive amount of chunk from your budget. Together with various hardware bundles available on their online shop, they provide two EMV devices:

  • Ingenico iPP320, $299 – a wired, Apple Pay-enabled nick and swipe card readers
  • Ingenico iCMP, $249 – a radio nick and swipe card readers that’s also Apple Pay-enabled

As well as, ShopKeep is presently offering $500 in free hardware for individuals who register soon, however the deal is just good while supplies last. I’d encourage you to look into the complete ShopKeep review for any more in-depth look. This robust, ease to make use of system has enjoyed positive results recently and it has constantly demonstrated itself around the innovative of POS solutions, but when you’re less than convinced, we’ve had a couple more choices for you.

Clover Small  best emv compliant pos

Clover Small is yet another food service favorite, but can also be well outfitted for essentially any company within the service industry. Clover provides a unique undertake POS solutions by basically designing the unit to enhance your charge card processor. Though produced by First Data, Clover Small is offered alongside a free account by a number of banks, business suppliers, and a merchant account providers. This enables retailers to look around to find the best rates and—since each provider sell the unit in a different price—negotiate the very best deals around the actual product.

The machine itself is equally as flexible because the charge card processing options it provides. Having a modular platform created for customizability, Clover Small could be made to suit nearly any quick serve restaurant, dine-in restaurant, or service companies. Some abilities either incorporated and among the service plans or on the Clover application store include:

  • The opportunity to sell fuel in-store or in the pump
  • A pre-ordering application
  • SMS and social internet marketing abilities
  • The opportunity to produce a customer layout of the store
  • A purchase kiosk
  • The opportunity to pre-authorize cards for a specific amount on bar tabs
  • Appointment and reservation schedulers
  • A time verification feature
  • Integration with Constant Contact, MailChimp, QuickBooks, Xero, Magento, and Shopify
  • Phone order manager
  • Offline functionality

Their email list above only includes a few of the basics without mentioning the entire inventory, worker, reporting, and customer management functions offered within this effective little device. Although the interface has already been simple to learn and employ, set-up is even simpler since Clover Small has a built-in scanner, receipt printer, magstripe card swipe, nick card readers, and contactless NFC payment readers. Having a compact, 7-inch screen, Clover is fantastic for the tiniest storefronts, although it should handle mid-sized companies too. Read the entire review if you’d like more information, but it’s hard to fail having a system you are able to so carefully tailor for your business’s unique needs.

Revel Systems

best emv compliant posRevel is yet another POS solution with sufficient features and add-ons to match different types of businesses. Unlike Clover Small and ShopKeep though, Revel could be customized for everyone just about any business size in essentially any industry it’s a favorite for managing liquor stores and wineries, particularly. Revel is multi-locational, can manage as much as 500,000 SKUs, and hosts some good features like:

  • Offline capacity
  • Matrix inventory management
  • Extensive and intelligent reporting
  • Loyalty and CRM programs
  • Appointment scheduling
  • DTT security integration
  • Custom menu building
  • Cinema distribution compliance
  • Shipping compliance and delivery keeper
  • Bar tab management
  • Worker scheduling and management programs
  • PayPal, Shopify, Magento, QuickBooks, Xero, and social networking integrations
  • Catering management

Obviously, there are lots of more available functions, and Revel enables you to choose which features your company needs with industry-specific feature packages and additional add-ons. Because Revel is really feature wealthy, its beginning pricing is just a little greater than ShopKeep and Clover Small at $119 per month for that first terminal’s software license, 24/7 live support, limitless data storage, limitless software updates, as well as an integration with QuickBooks. Next, the cost only goes lower though, using the second terminal visiting $70 monthly and $40 for every additional terminal. In almost any situation, Revel’s prices continues to be comparable with lots of POS systems, even individuals with less features, less functionality, and fewer usability.

Revel integrates with a few payment processers including Mercury Payment Systems, LevelUP, and First Data (though there are other). For your EMV options, Revel Systems presently offers two devices:

  • Ingenico iPP350, $300 – EMV and PCI PTS certified, also accepts NFC payments
  • Verifone VX805, $180 – nick and magstripe card readers, also accepts NFC payments

Like a bonus, Revel offers additional hardware integration, and therefore if you’re not deeply in love with either from the certified EMV options, they are able to use you to definitely add any standard card readers for your system. Overall, Revel has got the options, customizability, featuring you have to keep almost any business running easily. Browse the complete break lower if you’d like, but when you’re searching for something a bit more specialized and industry-specific, we’ve still had a couple POS solutions which are worth exploring.

ERPLY

erply-logo

ERPLY is really a system which i personally reviewed a few several weeks ago and required a specific shine to due to its specialization in retail ERP functions—hence the name ERPLY. ERP is short for for enterprise sources planning, and is a brand-encompassing expression used to explain the entire process of managing all of the different aspects of a company, in the front-finish reason for purchase to back-office functions. Essentially, ERPLY’s goal would be to provide promising small to mid-sized companies using the tools to handle every facet of their companies without getting to purchase pricey third-party ERP software. I’d argue they exceed this goal though, since the amount of features and integrations they provide helps make the system attractive to large companies plus the smaller sized ones.

A few of the features which make ERPLY stand out from other POS systems include:

  • A simple shipping management module
  • Automated reordering and tracking of purchase orders
  • Advanced worker and customer management
  • Easy sales promotions and coupon features
  • Customizable sales reports
  • Customizable dashboard feature
  • QuickBooks, PrestaShop, Magento, and Shopify integrations
  • Offline functionality
  • A warehouse web application accustomed to manage and ship products, receive inventory, and configure shipping/receive rules everywhere

ERPLY also provides its very own accounting and eCommerce platforms, that is nice if you’re searching to side-step integration problems that can occasionally include third-party providers. The selection can be you.

Another option that’s your decision is the charge card processor. ERPLY has partnered having a pretty lengthy listing of them:

  • Bank of the usa
  • Chase
  • Citibank
  • Wells Fargo
  • US Bank
  • HSBC
  • Mercury Payment Systems
  • Element Payment Services
  • PayPal
  • Cayan

Apple Pay can also be not far off, however if you simply don’t visit your preferred processor out there, contact ERPLY plus they might be able to add some integration for you personally. ERPLY has additionally taken a positive method of EMV compliance with three devices to select from along with a 4th scheduled to get available early 2016.

  • Verifone MX915, $480 – NFC and EMV-enabled video display readers
  • Verifone MX925, $570 – another NFC and EMV-enabled video display readers
  • Verifone VX520, $175 – a smaller sized, more rugged EMV and NFC readers
  • Verifone VX805, $270 – scheduled to be shown Q1 2016

You standard countertop EMV readers will probably be about $200 to $400, putting the 2 Verifone MX models over the average cost you’d normally purchase a nick card readers. As these devices have video displays, though, they are a good spot to put targeted advertisements and marketing information. Ultimately, you’ll need to determine if that sort of feature could be well worth the extra $100 or $200. In almost any situation, if you’re an entrepreneur within the retail industry, I’d recommend taking ERPLY’s free trial offer for any spin or at best exploring just a little further using the full review.

Quetzal

best emv compliant pos

Quetzal, created for promising small to mid-sized shoe and apparel retailers, is among my personal favorite POS systems simply because they have several the friendliest staff I’ve ever labored with. Customer support is definitely an essential facet of any POS solution, because every software will have the periodic glitch and you will find certain to be questions throughout the first couple days of operation (otherwise longer). A great tech support team team ensures that you will get the most from neglect the and Quetzal (together with ShopKeep) takes the prize for the reason that category. Although, I shouldn’t be amazed thinking about Quetzal is really a Canadian company.

That’s not saying that you’re going to need to use Quetzal’s support everything frequently, since the interface carries the Apple aesthetic and general simplicity of use. The rear-office and front-finish functions are without effort made to minimize user error and streamline the setup and checkout processes. You can handle as much as 10 locations with Quetzal, that is a pretty reasonable cap for many mid-sized companies. When you get bigger than that, you’re gonna need to transfer to a POS system made to handle large inventories and much more locations. However, even when you’re striking the maximum with 10 locations and a pair of,000,000 SKUs, Quetzal it’s still equipped to handle your operational needs. Some highlighted features include:

  • Simple, easy to use checkout functions
  • Decently priced hardware (especially because the built-in iPad camera can be the scanner)
  • Extensive reporting functions and options
  • Simple to use color and size inventory matrix
  • Customer account management (includes Tag Cloud feature which makes for simple upselling)
  • Offline operation functionality
  • 9 fully integrated language options
  • Integration with Apple’s Figures

Such as the other POS systems, Quetzal offers several charge card processing options. Quetzal integrates with payment partners National Discount A Merchant Account, Mercury, Velocity, Moneris, CardSmith, and SumUp. These payment gateways provide use of acquirers like Bank of the usa, Chase Paymentech, First Data, Global Payments, Heartland Payment Systems, TSYS, and Vantiv. The EMV options Quetzal offers include:

  • Ingenico iPP320, $299 – a wired, NFC-enabled nick and swipe card readers
  • SumUp Pin+ – SumUP isn’t available in america yet (it’s mostly the UK—where in EMV standards will be in place for some time), but it’ll be soon and Quetzal has intends to utilize their EMV abilities

With reasonable hardware costs and competitive licensing charges (as little as $890 per place for a 1-year license), Quetzal is really a robust POS solution that won’t blow a significant hole inside your budget. It won’t even blow a medium-sized hole, but you’ll have virtually all you need to cultivate a effective business. If you’re interested, I’d encourage you to definitely have a gander in the full review.

Final Ideas

I understand, I understand. I simply put a lot of information to you, but stay. I’ve got a bit more for you personally.

Like a general tip for anybody buying a new EMV device—or really any charge card reader—don’t ever lease it. Should you can’t covering the $200 to $400 for every new terminal, place the purchase on the business charge card. The eye minute rates are far better and also the purchase is tax deductible. Read this article if you’re thinking about a rent-to-own deal for your nick and pin readers.

Another good point is if the readers you’re purchasing can also be in a position to accept near field communication (NFC) or contactless payments. Though these aren’t as prevalent as traditional card transactions yet, they’re certainly growing in recognition, and it’s most likely smarter to possess that option now rather of getting to exchange your hardware again inside a couple years.

Finally, all of this talk of EMV liability and nick card readers ultimately leads us to your a merchant account provider. If you’ve observed bad rates, hefty charges, or simply poor service, now may be time for you to consider altering processors. I’d research just how much you ought to be having to pay for charge card processing and explore a few of the options available. If you’re ending up just a little overwhelmed on the bottom, though, you can call us. We’ve got the sources to assist you.

The publish The Very Best EMV Compliant POS Systems made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Why Your Site Platform Matters (and the way to choose…)

Website Platform

Imagine building your house. Regardless of whether you or perhaps a contractor builds it &#8211 you’ll mainly worry about the look, layout, and if the cupboards have sufficient space, right?

But &#8211 you&#8217d also care on the certain level concerning the materials, engineering, and craftsmanship behind the curtain &#8211 even though you don&#8217t know precisely the way they work.

You&#8217d want the best materials to do the job, so you&#8217d possess a house that lasts that does what you would like it to achieve that isn&#8217t a discomfort to make use of doesn&#8217t cause you to dependent on that builder and doesn&#8217t break your budget.

It&#8217s exactly the same way with websites &#8211 here&#8217s why (and the way to choose).

The Fundamentals

An internet site includes&#8230

  • Files that may be read from your browser (Chrome, Firefox, Ie)
  • A spot for individuals files to reside where your browser have access to them

Optionally, an internet site may have a &#8220backend&#8221 system that assist you in making and manage individuals files.

Which &#8220backend&#8221 product is what we should usually call a &#8220website platform,&#8221 because hands-coding an internet site is generally too tiresome, way too hard to handle, and extremely quite unwieldy.

Kinds of Website Platforms

1. Site Builders

Site builders assist you in making your website, but don’t assist you to keep it in check.

They’re usually incorporated free with hosting plans, or are bundled on your computerOrMacintosh (for example FrontPage, DreamWeaver, or Illustrator).

Site builders perform the heavy-lifting to produce the files for the website &#8211 but they are typically difficult to maintain, update, and don’t permit you to manage content (like images, blog, etc) easily. I&#8217ve done reviews of Squarespace, Weebly and Wix who’re the 3 largest players within the space.

2. Cms

Cms make use of a computer database to keep your site information, then utilizes a computer language (for example PHP should you&#8217re curious) to produce, manage, increase the web site.

WordPress is easily the most popular (and it is free), but you will find countless them available on the market &#8211 including proprietary systems. Here&#8217s a exactly what the WordPress backend appears like:

WordPress Backend

3. Niche Platforms

Niche platforms they fit out by companies for particular purpose websites &#8211 for example eCommerce websites.

They often function just like a Cms, except that they’re owned and located with a single company &#8211 to allow them to personalize exactly for his or her customers.

There’s also free shopping carts that permit eCommerce &#8211 but limited website management.

Here&#8217s why the only goal&#8230

Cost

The woking platform you and your designer chooses may have costs. Here&#8217s things to bear in mind&#8230

1. There is nothing truly online for free. If something is free of charge &#8211 it will often be manipulative about upsells (I&#8217m searching to you, &#8220free site builders&#8221), or will need extra support and training (WordPress), or is going to be absolutely horrible (the remainder).

2. You will see upfront and lengthy-term costs. You will be able to lay them out and predict what they’re &#8211 including switching costs if you want to change later on.

Foundation

Although the primary reason for the web site would be the look, layout, and feel &#8211 the woking platform should have a very good foundation for the web site to grow, or simply wallow in it.

Here&#8217s a couple of questions you should ask your designer or ponder should you&#8217re selecting yourself&#8230

  • Could it be well-supported and frequently updated?
  • Could it be determined by a business remaining running a business?
  • Could it be determined by volunteers &#8211 and therefore are there many of them?
  • Is there good security?
  • Is there good Search engine optimization?
  • Am I Going To be determined by my designer?
  • Have i got the 100% legal rights to my technique for using it?
  • Could it be reliable?

Functionality

Will the web site platform do what you would like it to complete?

Could it be simple to use?

Does having the ability to easily update it matter for you?

(If that’s the case &#8211 you most likely wish to avoid proprietary cms, and builders).

Do you want eCommerce bundled, or 24&#2157 support?

How ShivarWeb Rolls

I personally use WordPress for everything. I&#8217ll also consider Shopify for many eCommerce stores.

Much like houses &#8211 there’s no right answer. As well as your contractor (ie, web design service) most likely has excellent reasons why they’re doing the things they’re doing.

But the thing is to understand and become a good consumer. Make sure to know why and what about your website platform &#8211 and when it’ll obtain the features that you would like.

The publish Why Your Site Platform Matters (and the way to choose&#8230) made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

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Finding the right EMV Hardware

woman paying with EMV terminal hardware

The EMV liability has formally shifted, and lots of companies haven’t switched to fancy new terminals yet. If you’re certainly one of individuals companies, we know. You would like the very best EMV terminals for your company, however, you don&#8217t have plenty of time to make sure that 1) you&#8217re obtaining the best hardware, and a pair of) you&#8217re getting a great deal on stated hardware.

What about we help make your job simpler? We&#8217ve been looking to find the best new, EMV-compliant terminals available on the market so you don&#8217t need to. Whether your company is small or large, retail or industrial, you&#8217re sure to locate a terminal that fills your requirements.

The Minimalistic Terminals: Square

best emv terminals

Square happens to be among the front runners in innovation, therefore it wasn&#8217t surprising they released certainly one of their readers, the headphone jack nick readers, completely in 2014. In the event that version doesn&#8217t have sufficient features for you personally, they&#8217ve had a couple other available choices that may.

Nick Card Readers ($29): At $29, this is among the least expensive EMV terminals available on the market. We’ve become our on the job one of these simple little guys so we were very impressed. The cash doesn&#8217t enable you to get everything, however it will get you sufficient. This terminal is capable of doing processing nick cards in addition to magstripes. Like the majority of Square products, it doesn’t possess a PIN pad, so any nick-and-PIN cards will default to some signature rather (read this article to understand why that may become an issue in the future). If you are using Square, and all that you should do is process nick cards, this can be the readers for you personally.

Contactless + Nick Readers ($49): This readers continues to be small, sleek, and glossy (and, obviously, square), but it features a couple of more features than Square&#8217s other version. Namely, it&#8217s wireless (though it is also connected to Square&#8217s iPad stand) and accepts NFC. It’s also suitable for Android and iOS devices.

This device does not do magstripes, but Square will be sending a free headphone jack magstripe swiper while card swiping continues to be necessary, or if you’re planning on making use of it having a Square stand, the stand includes a build-in swiper. Regrettably, this reader won&#8217t be accessible until sometime this fall. However, Square covers any fraudulent charges for now.

The POS-Friendly Terminal: Miura M010

best emv terminals

This is actually the preferred countertop terminal for several different mobile POS&#8217s including Square, Paypal Here, and Shopify. It&#8217s a surprisingly affordable terminal that also has all you&#8217re have to for that near future: it&#8217s bluetooth, able to processing nick-and-PIN cards, and NFC enabled. If you’re searching for one of these simple, make certain to have it out of your POS provider, because oftentimes they aren’t mix-compatible. Also, remember that while Paypal Here and Shopify&#8217s Miura products are suitable for android and ios, for whatever reason Square&#8217s is just suitable for iOS.

For Square you are able to purchase one for $129. For Shopify, you may also purchase one for $129, however they&#8217re on pre-order (like Square, they&#8217ll get the liability until your device arrives). For Paypal Here, you are able to purchase one for $149, however if you simply process greater than $3,000 inside the first three several weeks after activation, you receive a $100 rebate.

Another POS-Friendly Terminals: Ingenico iPP and iCMP

shopkeep-smart-EMV-terminal-cropped

Shopkeep and Bindo are providing two Ingenico readers: the iCMP and also the iPP320/350.

Ingenico iPP320/350 (~$299): Here’s your run-of-the-mill wired terminal that does nick-and-PIN, magstripes, and NFC. Shopkeep is providing the iPP320, Bindo is providing the iPP350. The only real difference backward and forward may be the 350 includes a color display.

Ingenico iCMP (~$249): Here’s your run-of-the-mill wireless terminal. Additionally, it does nick-and-PIN, magstripes, and NFC, however it connects for your smartphone, tablet or computer POS via Bluetooth. There&#8217s no requirement for another data plan just for that terminal (such as the ones needed by traditional wireless terminals) which majorly cuts your monthly expense.

The Rugged Terminal: Verifone VX520 + (optional) Verifone VX805

verifone-VX520-EMV-terminal-cropped

The Verifone VX520 is probably the most widely used standard smart terminal available. It&#8217s likely to set you back a little more, however it&#8217s likely to do its project for a really lengthy time (the merchandise description aptly describes it as being &#8220rugged&#8221). It&#8217s able to processing all you&#8217ll require it to (nick-and-PIN, magstripes, NFC) and, optionally, you are able to connect the Verifone VX805 so you’ve a person-facing pinpad. We&#8217ve taken an individual see this one and may make sure it will, actually, do its job. It&#8217s nothing special, however it&#8217ll do what you really need it to.

The conventional VX520 is wired, however they provide a wireless one too: the VX520 GPRS. Appears like if you prefer a wireless one, you&#8217re going to need to have it from a 3rd party, because all of the payment processors provide the standard version.

You are able to pick this terminal up from the majority of the most popular credit card merchant account processors. Dharma is providing it for $299, or $499 for that 520 and 805. Payment Depot can also be offering it for $299. And CDGcommerce offering leases from the 520 and 805 for $79/year, Normally, we don&#8217t recommend leasing a terminal, but if you need to, we believe that CDGcommerce has an excellent deal. Obviously, you might have the ability to buy the terminal cheaper from another source and also have it reprogrammed.

The Bare-Bones Terminal: Ingenico iCT220

ingenico-iCT220-EMV-terminal-cropped

In case your account processor doesn&#8217t provide the Verifone VX520, they most likely provide the Ingenico iCT220. It&#8217s able to processing nick-and-PIN, however it&#8217s incompetent at doing NFC. So, should you&#8217re not anticipating the requirement for NFC in the near future, you might like to save a couple of dollars and choose that one.- Helcim, for instance, is selling it for $199.

* If you’re anticipating the requirement for NFC, many payment processors also sell the 250, that has NFC also it&#8217s colored. However, you&#8217re searching around $329, which might be more costly compared to Verifone VX520.

The Conventional Wireless Terminal: First Data FD130

first-data-fd130-EMV-terminal

Require a heavy-duty standard wireless terminal? First Data FD130 may be the best choice. It&#8217s able to processing all kinds of payments, also it&#8217s got an advantage around the competition since it&#8217s wireless. We all do possess some other standard, wireless terminals out there, however this the first is built just like a brick. Your Miura may not last forever, however this you will. It ought to be sturdy, since it applies to around $339.

The Long Run-Proof Terminal: Poynt POS

poynt-POS-EMV-terminal

Produced by the fellow responsible for Google Wallet, Poynt is really a &#8220future proof&#8221 terminal with integrated POS software. This neat device can perform all you need it to&#8212swipe cards, dip cards, enter signatures or PINs, accept NFC payments, print receipts, scan barcodes and QR codes, as well as track where you are via Gps navigation. It arrives with two different screens, there&#8217s you don’t need to buy a separate device or switch the screen around, also it can link via bluetooth, 3G or wireless.

The developers declare that it&#8217s &#8220future proof&#8221 simply because they&#8217re constantly developing newly discovered apps so it may be customized for any kind of business. Regrettably, it&#8217s unavailable towards the public quite yet, however it&#8217s rumored to become selling for $299 a pop. To have an attractive, fully functioning, wireless, affordable, two-screened little terminal, it may be well worth the wait.

The Beautiful Terminals: Clover POS

clover-EMV-terminal-station

If you prefer a terminal by having an integrated POS, but could&#8217t watch for Poynt, you might like to consider Clover. Unlike Poynt, the company provides a few different terminal options, which usually are meant to be utilized together. The downside? Clover&#8217s up-front prices are usually the greatest out there.

First, Clover offers the Station (~$999): a 11.6&#8243 display and reciept printer that&#8217s able to processing all payment methods. The screen can swivel between your cashier and also the customer for ease-of-use also it, obviously, has got the built-in Clover POS.

Additionally they offer the Clover Mobile (~$699) and the Clover Mini (~$399 or $449 for that 3G option). Both are created to be transported around. They are able to process all payment methods, and also have a couple of additional features which i&#8217ll let our reviews for that Station, the Mobile and the Small explain. Suffice to state: should you&#8217re searching for any terminal that may do more than merely scan cards, you&#8217re likely to have to have one by having an integrated POS.

Clover is provided by a few payment processors, for example Payment Depot, but because always, you will be able to purchase it from a 3rd party (should you choose, look out for scams).

Honorable Mention: Flint

Completely disgusted using the whole condition of card-present transactions, and need you can get from it entirely? There&#8217s a POS for your. Flint is our very favorite mobile payment POS system, and a part of its appeal is within its simplicity. Rather of dipping or swiping, you use your phone&#8217s camera to scan within the customer&#8217s charge card number. Technically, this kind of transaction is card-not-present, there&#8217s no requirement for any new hardware. Or any hardware at all (apart from a smartphone).

Should you&#8217re a company that may pull off checking in charge cards, it&#8217s unequalled the simplicity and costs of Flint. Should you&#8217re a brick-and-mortar store, or perhaps a bigger business, however, you might like to keep searching.

Before Buying&#8230

We&#8217ve had a couple of last words.

  • Make certain your EMV terminal is going to be suitable for your payment processor and POS software. There&#8217s nothing worse than getting new hardware after which learning it&#8217s not going to utilize your present setup.
  • That being stated, your payment processor might charge a higher cost or just won’t reprogram third-party machines. We&#8217ve spoken before about how exactly this is kind of an inexpensive move ahead operator, also it&#8217s your decision to determine how to handle that information.
  • Don&#8217t lease terminals. CDGcommerce may be the best, but then, consider the deal cautiously.
  • Many POS&#8217s aren’t quite ready for that liability shift. If yours isn&#8217t, they likely cover the liability until they’re ready. That’s, if you purchase or pre-order equipment from them.

It may be overwhelming to possess a wide variety of options, but around the plus side, you will see one that’s suitable for your company: you just need to think it is. Best of luck!

The publish Finding the right EMV Hardware made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Best Three Free POS Systems

Online free web offer and Internet concept with free sign and word on a green laptop computer key for blog website and online business.

They are saying the very best things in existence have the freedom, but, well … that’s not necessarily true with regards to reason for sales systems. That stated, there are many free POS firms that fall under the “solidly good” category and therefore are are utilized and preferred among lots of small companies. While you still need to pay for charge card processing (most likely approximately 2.5-3% of each and every transaction, based on your credit card merchant account provider), these POS’s don’t have any monthly charge, no transaction charges, no setup fee, no sweat.

Continue reading to find out about three free POS systems we like: Square, Vend, and Imonggo. Then, we’ll award one of these simple providers the illustrious title of “Best Free POS” according to what you’ll get for … well, nothing!

Square — Advanced Mobile POS for Small Companies

square-logo

  • FREE &#8211 No fee every month, not one other charges aside from optional peripheral hardware
  • Integrated payment processing with Square Payments — 2.75% for those swiped, nick card, NFC, an internet-based transactions $3.50 + $.15 for keyed-in transactions
  • 100% mobile solution operates on android and ios devices (is most effective on iPad)
  • Pairs with contactless nick readers ($49) to simply accept mobile payments and nick cards (reely magstripe readers for swiped cards)
  • Simple to use
  • Integrated eCommerce/online ordering
  • Inventory management features
  • Numerous software integrations — QuickBooks, Xero, Stitch Labs, ShipStation, and lots of other individuals
  • Other helpful features include offline-mode card processing, split tender, onscreen tipping, email or printed receipts, advanced reporting, customer rewards programs, online menu ordering, and much more

Square POS is, undoubtedly, typically the most popular and have-wealthy mobile register solution without any fee every month. Founded in ’09, Square pioneered the concept a totally free mobile POS that needs no equipment apart from your smartphone. And years later when a number of other such mobile registers exist, Square continues to be among the best.

Unlike another two free POS’s about this list, Square is really a fully mobile payments solution, meaning it runs with an application in your smartphone or tablet as opposed to a internet browser on the computer (you have access to your backend reports as well as your online shop on desktop/laptop however, you cannot process payments by doing this). Square works with most newer android and ios devices, but you’ll require an iPad for recent-printing and hardware apart from the credit card readers Android tablet compatibility isn’t guaranteed.

Another big plus is the fact that Square’s contactless EMV-compliant nick card readers equip your company for that recent 2015 EMV Liability Shift concerning so-known as “chip card” charge cards, whilst providing you with the opportunity to accept mobile (NFC) payments, including ApplePay. (Full disclosure — this bit of hardware isn’t free at $49, however the abilities and protection it offers a superior like a merchant are worth the one-time cost.)

Square is much more than only a mobile register, offering a lot of helpful back-finish features, including a built-in online shop should you also conduct business online inventory reporting and built-in integrations with accounting software for example QuickBooks and Xero, and lots of other individuals. You may also keep going the application and process payments offline in case your web connection is out.

The main one caveat with Square is that you simply must utilize it with integrated Square Payments. Square’s 2.75% transaction rates are decent, and there’s no specified limit on what you can process every month. However, many purchasers report difficulties with funding holds and sudden terminations when they process a really large transaction and have a greater than normal monthly product sales. Square doesn’t possess the best customer care, either, meaning retailers who experience these problems sometimes wait a frustratingly lengthy time for you to resolve these problems.

Square is a superb mobile POS for casual micro-companies, particularly if you sometimes conduct business on the run and/or online. However, because large or “risky” transactions may trigger funding holds and account freezes, we advise Square just for small-time vendors for example mall kiosks, food trucks, and casual, low-volume companies.

Obtain the full story about Square within our Square review.

Vend — Cloud Retail POS with Free Option

vend-logo

  • 100% cloud-based POS software
  • FREE option — 1 store, 1 register, 10 products, 1,000 customers, 1 user account, community support (no use of Vend customer care). Compensated versions allowing more products, customers, eCommerce, and much more, can also be found
  • Operates on any HTML5-compatible browser or iPad application
  • Pairs with any payment processor that utilizes the Authorize.Internet gateway, in addition to PayPal Here, Element Payment Services, and Tyro
  • Capability to process transactions offline
  • Scaleable — simple to change to more complex, compensated version as the business expands
  • Integrates with Shopify, Xero, Stitch Labs, Swarm, and much more
  • Additional features include inventory management, customer management, and customer loyalty programs
  • Works together with most peripheral equipment (cash drawers, receipt printers, bar code scanners, etc.) See a summary of compatible POS hardware here
  • Pair with PayPal’s new EMV card readers so that you can accept nick cards and Apple Pay (you can aquire a free nick card readers if you’re among the first 500 retailers who subscribes before November 27, 2015)

Established this year, Vend was the very first world’s first web-based retail POS using HTML5. Vend’s HTML5 architecture implies that as the POS is fully cloud-based, it caches all of your data inside your internet browser so that you can still process sales even if your online connection is lower. Additionally, it implies that additionally to running Vend around the dedicated iPad application, you may also run it on any HTML5-compatible internet browser (Chrome or Safari).

Vend is a well-liked retail POS since it is easy and simple to make use of. It’s very flexible for the reason that it pairs with any device that runs Chrome or Safari, with the selection of payment processor (as lengthy because they use Authorize.Internet, which most do). It’s also suitable for most peripheral hardware.

While Vend doesn’t offer as many features as Square (especially on the limited free plan), your freedom regarding payment processors enables you to definitely potentially obtain a processor that may charge a much better rate or offer more account stability than Square. Vend is definitely an affordable, no-risk method for a small company with only a couple of products to obtain began. And when your company expands, it is simple to upgrade to some compensated package.

Note that you will get community support/online database access with free version, however these sources are really pretty thorough, and also, since Vend itself don’t process payments like Square, you a minimum of won’t have to contact Vend to solve frustrating payment related issues. Yet another factor to notice assuming you utilize Authorize.Internet, you’ll be billed a $25/month fee (by Authorize.Internet) PayPal Here’s an alternative choice you should use with Vend, without any monthly charge along with a decent processing rate of two.7% per swiped transaction.

Among Vend’s drawbacks range from the limited/confusing cash features (more about this within our Vend review), which means this POS might get better because of companies who don’t handle lots of cash. So that as pointed out, the disposable choice is also rather limited when it comes to quantity of registers, products, and customers, however if you simply check out Vend and extremely enjoy it, you may think about the $69/month package, which enables you 500 products, limitless users, limitless customers, and 24/7 email support.

Learn more about Vend within our Vend review.

Imonggo — Fundamental Web-based Retail POS with Free Option

imonggo-logo

  • FREE plan includes 1 user, an optimum inventory of just one,000 products, and no more than 1,000 lines of transactions each month
  • Runs from the modern internet browser
  • Sales Dashboard application readily available for iPhone and Android devices, and new POS application for iPad in development
  • Pairs with Authorize.Internet for payment processing 
  • Supports a number of peripheral hardware
  • Free email support and forum
  • Integrated fundamental inventory management and purchasers analysis

Though it’s a fairly small player in the realm of POS, Singapore and Manilla-based Imonggo has got the big distinction to be the very first company to provide a totally free POS in ’09. Today, Imonggo is much more of the “freemium” POS like Vend, where one can join a fundamental take into account free, or pay a regular monthly charge to obtain advanced features — only $30/month/branch within the situation of Imonggo.

Talking about Vend, a couple of other similarities Imonggo explains to Vend include integration with Authorize.Internet for payment processing, cheap it’s geared particularly toward small retail companies. Imonggo presently doesn’t have a functioning iPad application (the first is presently in development), although it lately unveiled POS apps for Android and iPhone (until lately, you can only run Imonggo on the computer internet browser).

Although it doesn’t have all of the features of Square or perhaps Vend, Imonggo wins on simplicity — once we authored within our Imonggo review, “A child could setup shop using the Imonggo interface.” Truly, all that you should use Imonggo is really a netbook and a web connection (along with the Premium version, you don’t even need a web connection). Imonggo connects with peripheral equipment for example receipt printers and scanners, but they’re all optional.

Additionally to processing sales, Imonggo comes with some added features, for example fundamental inventory management and purchasers analysis functions, though more complex features, like the opportunity to process sales offline, are just obtainable in the compensated version.

The POS doesn’t presently support nick card readers, which is not ideal, and SSL file encryption isn’t obtainable in the disposable version. Nonetheless, if you’re beginning up a small company and would like to start selling without coming to a advanced budgeting inside a POS, Imonggo might be great for you. In many respects, it’s not just like Square or Vend, however the free form of Imonggo beats Square since you can use any Authorize.Internet-compatible payment processor additionally, it enables you 900 more products compared to free form of Vend does.

Find out more about Imonggo within our Imonggo POS review.

And also the Award for &#8220Best Free POS&#8221 Would Go To …

In ways, Square wins the very best FREE POS award automatically, since it’s not “freemium” like Vend and Imonggo — unlike another two POS systems, Square doesn’t provide a premium compensated version. However, you could also reason that there’s no such factor like a “free POS” because whichever POS you select, you’ve still got to cover payment processing. However, even though you don’t overthink things and split hairs the way in which I’ve just done, Square still wins, and here’s why.

Square provides the most options that come with every other POS without any monthly charge. It embraces the mobile POS trend fully, and even, is easily the most tricked-out mobile POS available. You’ll need nothing apart from a smartphone to setup shop, providing you with the versatility to become your personal reason for purchase anywhere you go, with a few scaleability so that you can continue using the POS as the business grows but still don’t pay fee every month. Importantly, Square is EMV-compliant, so your business can accept nick cards and Apple Pay, and you are safe with regards to the 2015 EMV liability shift.

Square isn’t perfect at all, since it’s integrated payment processor doesn’t provide the least expensive rate available, and it is very sensitive fraud controls may freeze your bank account whether it thinks you’re ringing up suspiciously large or else dangerous transactions. However for really small companies with little startup capital to cover a POS — and let’s face the facts, simply small companies can pull off utilizing a free POS — Square will greater than meet most users’ needs. Also, Square&#8217s payment processing issues are apparently improving, based on our Square review.

What’s your preferred free POS? Or do you’d rather purchase a POS that provides better features or better payment processing rates? Tell us within the comments!

The publish Best Three Free POS Systems made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Everything You Need to Know About Alternative Payment Methods

Alternative Payment MethodsBeing able to accept credit and debit cards is the lifeblood of any business. For brick-and-mortar locations, it’s worth knowing this: About half of all Americans carry just $20 in cash with them on a daily basis, and about 80% of Americans carry less than $50 daily. This means if you don’t accept credit cards, you could be missing out on sales.

If you sell online, you have to have a way to accept credit and debit cards, period. And it’s crucial that you have a professional system that shoppers will trust with their payment details. For most people that means a merchant account with an established payment gateway.

But are cards and cash — and all the traditional ways of doing business — the only options?

Of course not. There’s no shortage of companies devoted to changing the way we think about paying for things. New technology is bringing concepts like using phones to make payments into the mainstream. Having multiple ways for customers to pay is a good thing, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of convenience to you — or higher fees!

Let’s take a look at some alternative payment methods that you can integrate into your business now, what it’ll take to do so, how secure they are, and how popular they are.

1. Apple Pay

apple-pay-logoApple Pay was not the first company to offer contactless mobile payments, but it was the first to make them popular. Apple Pay uses NFC (learn more about this technology here) and the TouchID fingerprint reader to enable contactless in-store payments, as well as in-app purchases. With iOS 9, it also supports loyalty cards and rewards programs.

Compatible devices:

  • iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and later models
  • Apple Watch (with iPhone 5 and later models)
  • iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4, iPad mini 3

Apple claims to support credit and debit cards from most major banks in the U.S. and the U.K. (A press release from Apple says that with support for Discover added this fall, the app supports 98% of credit card purchase volume.) That’s good news. The launch of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus is also good, because it means consumers with older iPhones will likely start upgrading their older devices, expanding the potential user base.

Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t actually publish usage statistics. A survey done in June 2015 found that 13 percent of users with an Apple Pay-capable phone had used the feature; another 11 percent had plans to do so. We know that Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones in the first quarter of its 2015 fiscal year (the first quarter Apple Pay was available) — but not all of those were necessarily the 6 or 6 Plus. Still, it’s safe to say there are likely several million Apple Pay users across the country, even if some studies suggest that Apple Pay adoption rates are decreasing.

You’re still going to have to have a way to process credit cards to accept Apple Pay, so you’ll need a merchant account, a functioning POS, and an NFC-enabled terminal. The good news is Apple doesn’t charge any fees for Apple Pay transactions, so you only pay the standard credit and debit card processing fees.

Mobile payments like this have several measures for security. First, merchants never actually handle buyers’ credit card numbers. Instead, Apple Pay generates a single-use code (this is called tokenization). Even if a hacker gets the information, it’s useless because the number is good for one time only. Second, when consumers tap their phones to the terminal, they have to confirm the purchase with the TouchID fingerprint sensor.

Finally, the phone itself provides some security. The card numbers aren’t stored on the device — they’re kept in the cloud and the device can be locked remotely if it’s ever stolen. The CPU never handles the processing of the NFC transaction, either. A secure element or a separate chip bypass the rest of the system to communicate directly with the NFC-capable unit.

2. Samsung Pay

samsung-pay-logo-2015Samsung Pay is (you guessed it!) the Korean company’s response to Apply Pay. It is also an NFC-powered contactless payments app. It works on a handful of Samsung Galaxy devices:

  • Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S6 Edge+, and later models.
  • Galaxy Note 5 and later models.

Samsung Pay just launched in September of 2015, which means it’s quite new. We’ll update you with usage numbers when we have something reliable and representative to report. But we do know that Samsung had sold an estimated 45 million Galaxy S6 phones (including the Edge and Edge+ variants), plus the Note 5 (for which sales numbers aren’t available right now). The potential user base is very large, but we’ll see how it pans out.

At this point it’s worth noting that the app requires consumers to be on one of five networks (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or U.S. Cellular) and have a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express card issued by Bank of America, U.S. Bank, or Citi. The app also accepts merchant credit cards issued by Synchrony Financial. You still earn any rewards or points linked to those cards, but specific loyalty cards and coupons aren’t supported. There’s no in-app payments feature either, though Samsung hasn’t ruled it out.

Again, you need an established way to process credit cards and a compatible POS, and you won’t pay any additional fees for Samsung Pay transactions. But your existing credit card terminal might already accept this particular type of payment. That’s because Samsung Pay uses both NFC and something called magnetic secure transmission (MST). Basically, it allows the phone to emulate a traditional card with a magnetic stripe. That means you don’t need an NFC-capable terminal — but if you don’t have NFC, you can’t accept Apple Pay or Android Pay (next on this list), which limits your options.

Most EMV terminals are also equipped for NFC, so the machine you just got as a result of the liability shift most likely supports these contactless payments. But if your terminal isn’t EMV capable, that’s another issue entirely.

Samsung Pay relies on a fingerprint scanner as well. Users need to launch the app, swipe their fingerprint, and then pass their devices close to the terminal. That’s not quite as intuitive as Apple Pay from a user-friendliness standpoint, but apps evolve and change. At this point it’s just too early to say anything definitively.

3. Android Pay / Google Wallet

android-pay-logoAndroid Pay, like Samsung Pay, is very new, launching in September 2015. At the same time, it’s much older than that: Android Pay is the successor to Google Wallet, Google’s contactless payment solution/mobile wallet, which launched in 2011.

Android Pay works on any Android smartphone (Samsung, HTC, LG, and Motorola, just to name a few) running the KitKat OS (Android 4.4) or higher. It’s NFC-powered, with support for debit and credit cards as well as loyalty/rewards programs. An in-app payments feature is set to launch later.

These days, Google Wallet has become a P2P payments app — an easy way to send money to friends and family for free.

The wallet supports Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover cards from a handful of banks, including Bank of America, U.S. Bank, Citi, PNC, Wells Fargo, and USAA (check out the full list here; more banks will be added as time goes on).

By now, you should have a good idea of what to expect as a merchant: You need a way to process credit cards, a compatible POS, and of course, an NFC-capable terminal. Payments are kept secure with tokenization. Users also need to enable the lock screens on their phones — which can then be unlocked using fingerprint readers, PINs, swipe patterns, and more.

4. LevelUp

LevelUp-logoThe alternative mobile payments technique to NFC is the QR code. QR codes work a lot like traditional barcodes, but they can hold a lot more information — like payment data. The biggest difference is that instead of an NFC-enabled terminal, you need a barcode reader.

LevelUp is the leader in QR code-based mobile payments with its app, but it also builds custom white-label apps for businesses. In addition to the QR codes, LevelUp works with NFC and iBeacon. The LevelUp app works for both iOS and Android. In addition to phone-based payments, LevelUp also supports loyalty programs. You can even link any loyalty programs you have set up through Apple Pay into LevelUp (there’s also support for one-touch signups using TouchID).

Despite having been around for a while (it launched in 2011), LevelUp is admittedly a small player. It has some 14,000 partner businesses, including some major names. The app has over 100,000 downloads in Google Play, which isn’t much compared to a lot of other apps. But the company does have white-label solutions, so it’s difficult to accurately gauge numbers.

LevelUp is a little bit vague on pricing, but if you dig around, you’ll find that payments are processed for a flat 2% fee. That’s good, considering Square charges 2.75% and PayPal 2.7% per swipe. It’s not necessarily as low as you’ll get with merchant accounts, but rates vary a lot based on the type of business you run and what kind of cards you process. A flat 2% should be convenient for most people. LevelUp will also charge a 25% cut of any incentives you offer through its campaigns feature.

To accept payments, you need a compatible POS and LevelUp’s proprietary scanner ($50 each). If your POS isn’t compatible, you can get the LevelUp tablet for $100 according to the pricing page on the website.

As far as security goes, LevelUp offers PCI compliance and encryption, as well as tokenization. In fact, LevelUp uses a triple token system: the token your phone generates goes to a token on the LevelUp servers, which in turn routes to a token on the Braintree servers, which is the payments service LevelUp uses to store credit card data.

5. CurrentC

CurrentCCurrentC_App is another QR code-based payments method. It’s developed by the Consumer Merchant Exchange, led by Walmart and some other heavy-hitters in the retail business. Unlike LevelUp, users can pay using either their bank accounts, store cards, or gift cards. For merchants, that means significantly lower fees. (It’s not well advertised, but you can also add merchant credit and debit cards.) CurrentC also links up with loyalty cards and lets you redeem coupons and discounts in the app.

CurrentC is still in test mode, but the website promises it’ll be ready to roll out across the country soon. One advantage for CurrentC is that it’s widely available for consumers — whereas Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are only available for the most recent smartphone models, and Android Pay requires a recent version of Android (which not all smartphones get), CurrentC should be available for download even on budget smartphones.

In terms of user experience, CurrentC is a bit clunky. Depending on the location, users have to scan a QR code generated by the register, or the cashier has to scan one generated by the user’s phone. If that doesn’t work, then you’ll have to enter a code. With some retailers, you can use Bluetooth Beacons instead of QR codes.

As far as security goes, CurrentC requires you to put in a PIN every time you open the app or switch between apps. You can also lock the device remotely if it ever goes missing. Like the other services we’ve discussed here, the app uses tokenization — it generates a random one-time use transaction ID and doesn’t pass personal data onto the merchants.

CurrentC is odd in that it also collects some personal health information — it’s disclosed in the privacy policy, which you can read here. While it seems fairly innocuous, I highly recommend that you understand what data is collected and how it’s used.

As far as requirements to accept CurrentC go, you’re really just going to need a POS and barcode scanner capable of reading QR codes. CurrentC also has a way to allow gas stations to accept payments at the pump by inputting a code. Restaurants can use the app too, with a feature that enables consumers to leave a tip.

I’m hoping when CurrentC gets a broader release that the MCX will be a bit more forthcoming about information. There’s no disclosure of processing fees, for example. The support website, which is hidden from the main site, has much more information about how the app works, which I find a bit frustrating because it took some digging to uncover it.

6. PayPal

Paypal-Logo-2015As a retailer, accepting PayPal has a huge advantage for you. It’s widely recognized by consumers, so they feel secure paying with it. In fact, PayPal has more than 170 million users worldwide, and it’s the payment method of choice on eBay. PayPal lets users link credit cards, debit cards, or bank accounts to make their payments. There’s also a free P2P payments tool, so consumers can send money to friends and family for free.

Merchants can use PayPal to accept payments on a website and through a smartphone or tablet when they’re on the go or in stores.

For retailers, PayPal doesn’t offer a full POS in its own right — it has a decent set of features, but if you need more capabilities, you can always turn to one of PayPal’s partner POS systems, which you can learn more about here. You can build a register out of a tablet, a cash drawer, and a receipt printer, if you want one. You’ll pay just 2.7% per swipe.

For online retail, PayPal integrates with a lot of shopping carts. For most online transactions, the company charges 2.9% + $0.30. That’s higher than you’ll pay with a solid deal from a merchant account provider in most circumstances, but it comes with a super easy setup. (Just beware that you’re at a higher risk of potential holds or freezes on your account given the nature of PayPal’s business — no contracts, available to everyone, pay as you go.

You can also build a “Pay with PayPal” feature into apps, with PayPal’s One Touch Feature included so that users don’t have to re-enter their usernames and passwords, which adds to the convenience of using PayPal.

However, if you want a hosted payment page, you’re going to have to shell out $30 a month for the PayPal Payments Pro plan. You’ll also get a virtual terminal for that cost. If you have the standard PayPal plan (which has no monthly fees), your customers will be directed to the PayPal page to complete the payment, then back to your site.

If you’re using PayPal Here, the company’s mobile solution, you should know that PayPal does offer an EMV reader that also supports NFC payments. It’s $150, but you can get $100 in rebates when you process $3,000 in 3 months. That’s not the best deal — Square is able to offer an EMV capable reader for $30, or an EMV/NFC-capable reader for $49, with a rebate available for select retailers. Even if you don’t qualify for Square’s rebates, Square’s EMV/NFC reader at full price is the same as PayPal’s reader when it’s discounted.

Like PayPal, Square lets merchants accept credit card payments on the go and in stores. You can also accept Square online, provided you use either the Square marketplace or build a site using one of Square’s 2 (yup, that’s right, 2) partners. Square’s rates are comparable to PayPal — just a flat 2.75%, no per-transaction fees.

7. Pay with Amazon

Pay with AmazonLike PayPal, Pay with Amazon (also known as the bulkier “Login and Pay with Amazon”) lets users pay on your site using their login credentials for another site — in this case, Amazon. They can use whatever payment methods they have stored on their Amazon accounts.

While PayPal is universally known, Pay with Amazon seems to be less common — but that doesn’t mean you should discount it. Amazon had 244 million active users in 2014. That’s roughly 70 million MORE users than PayPal. You won’t be limiting your audience if you choose Pay with Amazon over PayPal.

Pay with Amazon charges you 2.9% + $0.30 per online transaction. That’s identical to PayPal’s rates for online transactions. You can even do recurring billing for subscription packages. Plus, Pay with Amazon is entirely pay-as-you-go: no contract, no early termination fee, no monthly fees.

However, it’s worth mentioning that there’s no mobile support, so if you also sell in person, either at events or in a store, you’re going to have to look elsewhere for a solution. To accept Login and Pay with Amazon, you just need a compatible shopping cart. Fortunately, you have several great options: You can choose from Xcart, Magento, and Shopify, among others. Check out the full list here.

There are some other advantages here. First, Amazon offers a growth guarantee: If you sign up for the service, and you don’t see an increase in sales over the course of 30 days, the company will refund your processing fees up to $100,000. That’s a nice option if you’re really not sure about switching.

Plus, the Login and Pay with Amazon feature gives you a hosted payment page for free. More good news: You get the same fraud protection used by the Amazon.com site, so you’re not liable for any fraud-related chargebacks. (However, that’s not to say you’re protected against everything; you can still expect a $20 fee for any service-related chargebacks.)

One downside is the time it takes to get your money, which has been a pain point for a long time for sellers on the Amazon marketplace. First, there’s an initial 2-week holding period. After that, Amazon will settle your account daily — but it still takes 3-5 days to transfer funds from your account to your bank. With PayPal, your money is available pretty much immediately…and if you have the PayPal debit card, you can spend it anywhere at any time, not just online.

8. Bitcoin

bitcoinOut of all the alternative payments here, Bitcoin is most definitely the most “alternative” option. Unlike cash or credit, Bitcoins don’t have any physical form. No coins, no paper money. Bitcoin exists solely on the web. Unlike other currencies,which are centralized and controlled by governments, it is entirely self regulated. A network of computers handles the processing and records the transactions in a public register (more on that in a moment).

There’s a lot of info available about what Bitcoin is and how it works. You can start here to learn more. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know to accept Bitcoin.

First, not accepting Bitcoin certainly won’t cost you any business. The estimated userbase is 5-10 million people worldwide, with an estimated 110,000 daily Bitcoin transactions as of June 2015 (nearly double the approximate 60,600 daily transactions in June of 2014). However, if your target demographic is young and hip to the digital scene, that’s certainly a reason for you to consider accepting Bitcoin.

One nice advantage to accepting Bitcoin is that generally speaking, the fees are incredibly low, especially compared to PayPal or credit card processing rates. Some processors can even take Bitcoin and convert it into US dollars and deposit it in your bank account. However, the fees also vary, and the value of Bitcoin fluctuates. From October 2014 to October 2015, the value of 1 Bitcoin has hit as low as $177.28 USD and spiked as high as $427.24.

Security works much differently with Bitcoin, too. Every transaction is kept as part of a public ledger, but the users’ personal details are anonymous, which makes it harder to steal someone’s identity. No PCI compliance is required. There’s no opportunity for chargebacks, but at the same time merchants can’t alter charges, either. And you can encrypt and secure your Bitcoin wallet in other ways as well.

To accept Bitcoin, you just need to find a processor. Good news is, there are a lot of them. Even PayPal has a way to accept Bitcoin, through the PayPal Payments Hub. Braintree, a PayPal-owned company, also accepts Bitcoin via a partnership with Coinbase.

9. E-Check/ACH

Cash, debit, and credit are the most popular kids on the block when it comes to payments. Checks lag far behind other options — an April 2014 report by the Fed found that just 3% of people prefer to pay primarily with check, compared to 43% of people who favor debit cards.

That’s not to say checks are totally irrelevant. Some people don’t have debit cards. Or sometimes your debit card gets cancelled and you’re stuck waiting for the new one to arrive, but you need to make a purchase. And you can (sort of) use checks to pay online, thanks to e-checks. Those type of transactions are also called ACH transactions because they’re routed through the Automated Clearing House, which is an electronic network of banks that also handles direct deposit and electronic bill payments. You don’t have an explicit check number with e-checks, but you still have to provide your routing and account numbers, much like the old-fashioned bit of paper.

The numbers on the popularity of ACH are a bit sketchy. In 2014, the ACH handled more than 23 billion electronic payments totaling more than $40 trillion. The problem with that number is that it includes all those direct deposits and bill payments — mortgages and utilities, especially. It’s not a completely accurate depiction of the eCommerce scene.

One of the big advantages to this payment method is how much more affordable it is compared to standard credit card processing rates. ACH fees, depending on who processes them, might be a percentage of 0.5% or 1%, or a flat fee, which is typically in the range of $0.25 to $0.75. That’s not bad at all, especially if you get the flat fee. Assuming a 1.85% rate on credit card processing fees for a $250 transaction, that’s $4.63 in fees compared to a maximum of $2.50 with a 1% rate for ACH.

There are a lot of ways to accept ACH. For one, both Amazon and PayPal allow customers to link and pay with their bank accounts, though you, as the merchant, will end up paying the standard 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction (for a $250 transaction, that means $7.55).

If you have a virtual terminal, you should be able to enable this feature, but fees will vary based on your provider. Some of the services that we’ve reviewed that support ACH/e-checks include:

  • PayJunction
  • PaySimple
  • Forte Payment Systems

Another merchant account provider that supports e-checks is PayStand. We haven’t reviewed PayStand in depth (partly because it just launched publicly in 2014), but right off the bat we’re impressed by the level of transparency on the site and the depth of information available. We’re less impressed by the claim that its credit card rates — 2.49% + $0.30 — are wholesale, especially given the additional $99 monthly fee for the basic plan. However, PayStand also gives you very low-cost ACH transactions and free Bitcoin processing, as well as mobile processing. The service is promising and some merchants are sure to find value in Paystand’s offerings.

You also don’t need to sell exclusively online to accept ACH. If you have a retail setup, you can get a scanner to convert checks into e-checks. That means transactions will be a bit easier — there’s no forwarding checks to banks and waiting to find out if they clear.

ACH is definitely a great backup option to have, but probably not the best choice for a sole payment option. There are a couple of reasons not everyone will want to use ACH payments:

  • One, ACH takes a bit longer to process than debit or credit. So it takes longer for you to get your money and consumers have to wait longer for the transaction to process.
  • Two, it’s not the most secure for consumers, because they have to provide both their account numbers and routing numbers. While the rate of fraudulent transactions is low — just 3 of every 10,000 ACH transactions are rejected for being unauthorized — online payments are the least secure form of ACH transfers (compared with direct deposits, P2P transfers, and online bill pay).

And frankly it’s easier for a lot of people to plug in a card number and a 3-digit security code than it is to root around for your checkbook to get the account and routing numbers.

10. Dwolla

dwolla-accepted-here-logoDwolla is technically a third-party ACH service, but it’s a standout in the field for a few reasons. One, Dwolla’s basic features are entirely free to use. That means ACH payments, recurring payments, and the ability to distribute large numbers of payments (e.g., employee paychecks). And there’s an option of sending money to family or friends, as well, so there’s definitely a consumer base.

Two, with the tiered service plans (starting at $25/month and going up to $1500/month) you get a range of extra features that make Dwolla even more attractive. That includes next-day transfers (a big plus) and the option for white-label payments. That means, basically, you’ll get a hosted payment page. Customers don’t leave your site and don’t get any indication that they’re using Dwolla.

Paying $1,500 per month for the service sounds outrageous, until you consider that you’re not paying any transaction fees. If you’re doing substantial business with ACH payments, you could easily wind up saving money in the long run. And having a hosted payment page is nothing to sneeze at — or the next-day transfers, the higher limits, payment profiles, etc. (There’s also a $250/month option that gives you more than the basic package but not quite as many perks. That’s good if your business isn’t quite enterprise-scale.)

Now, if you don’t want to shell out $250 or $1,500 monthly for all the fancy tools, or don’t care about a hosted payment page, the basic $25/month plan still gives you next-day transfers. If you want to keep your fees even lower, you can forgo the next-day payments all together.

Customers have the option to create a full-fledged Dwolla account or use the simpler Dwolla Direct. The Direct account is a lot less involved compared to Dwolla’s original setup. Customers can get themselves set up in under a minute and they can link their online banking credentials to pay instead of linking their accounts directly.

As far as security goes, Dwolla uses tokenization and TLS 128-bit encryption. There’s also two-factor authentication — and you’ll have to enter your PIN whenever you move money or make a change to an account.

Adding Dwolla to your options for online payments is easy with the custom API, and creating an account is free, so you can give it a try and get a feel for it before you even set up Dwolla for your business.

Alternative Payment Methods: So Where to Now?

If you are looking for alternatives to credit cards and traditional merchant accounts, there’s no better time to get started. Technology is changing the way we think about payments and how we handle money in general: everything from mobile wallets that replace credit cards to decentralized digital currency. There are alternative payment methods to appeal to every market segment, and options to appeal to every sort of business. It’s just a matter of finding what works for you and your customers.

Have questions about your options for payment processing? Leave a comment and let us know. We’re always happy to hear from you! We can also help you lower your processing fees or even choose a processor.

The post Everything You Need to Know About Alternative Payment Methods appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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