5 Free Project Management Apps

It goes without saying that paying less for something is desirable. But on the hand, choosing the cheaper of two options can put you in dire straits if that lower-priced product is also of cheaper quality. Sometimes, it’s better to pay a higher cost upfront if doing so means you are less likely to have to replace things later on. But does this axiom hold up in the world of project management?

There are a number of free apps or free versions of apps out there designed to help you and your team manage your work efficiently. Is it worth it to go with a free version when paying might get you access to new features, better support, or more file storage? These are the questions we will be answering here and now.

But first, some housekeeping. For each app, I will cover what the free version brings to the table and how it differs from paid versions (when applicable). I’ll also throw in a few other observations about the value of each app based on my experience in testing this kind of software. At the end of the process, I will deliver a verdict about whether each app is worth your time.

Let’s get started!


Redbooth (read our review) is one of our favorite project management apps here at Merchant Maverick. We love it for its slick, modern interface and excellent, easy to use features. But how much of that awesomeness overflows into the Free version? Let’s find out.

At first glance, the free version of Redbooth might come across as a little underwhelming. With a 10-user maximum threshold, you will have to be operating on a small scale indeed for this to meet your needs. Add to that a strict limit of two workspaces, and you may feel that Redbooth’s usefulness does not outweigh the downsides of the free version.

However, if you keep looking, you will find that many of our favorite features are still accessible in the free version. You still get unlimited tasks and subtasks, Gantt charts, basic reporting, conversations, templates, and email support. Wrap it all up in Redbooth’s gorgeous UI and you end up with a pretty picture.

Are there issues with the free plan? Yes. Like I mentioned above, this is a difficult free app to adapt to larger teams, or even to small teams that handle lots of kinds of projects. But if you are a kind of one-trick-wonder company, or if you work on just one or two major projects at a time, Redbooth’s no-cost plan might work out for you.

Verdict: Redbooth’s free version is worth your consideration

Teamwork Projects

Teamwork Projects (read our review) is another longstanding favorite at Merchant Maverick. And we aren’t the only ones who like it. Teamwork Projects has been winning hearts and minds since back in 2007. And happily, there is a free version. Signing up and entering your email address and a password will give you access to this app’s user-friendly interface and good integrations. But how many of its features carry over to the free plan?

As with Redbooth, things don’t start out promising. The free version of Teamwork projects enforces a maximum of five users, making it a bit less useful than even Redbooth’s offer. With so few users available it will be a small team indeed that can make use of Teamwork Projects for free. And where Redbooth allows free users two workspaces, with the potential of several projects in each, Teamwork projects only gives two projects. That is pretty limiting, to say the least.

Honestly, there is just not much good news to be had here. The free version of Teamwork projects is just not enough. You only get 100 MB storage and what the pricing page describes as “limited” task boards and “basic” project management. You do get access to subtasks and “color schemes,” but part of the appeal of Teamwork Projects is that it is an advanced project management app. If all you really need are basic and limited task management, there are far better options. Teamwork Projects truly does deliver robust features and good value with its paid plans, but I’m sorry to say that the free version is not particularly advanced or valuable.

Verdict: The free version of Teamwork is not worth your time


Unlike the first two entries on this list, Clickup (read our review) is not a long-standing project management solution that has been through more than a decade of refinement. No, Clickup is one of the new kids on the block, and it has something to prove. Notably, Clickup was practically designed around its free version. So what do you get here and how does it compare with other free software?

Put simply, you sacrifice very little by sticking to the free version of Clickup. The only major differences between the paid and free subscriptions are that by paying, you unlock unlimited storage (the free version comes with a paltry 100MB), and onboarding training. Though I find it difficult to imagine working with such small amounts of storage, Clickup’s integrations with Google Drive and Dropbox may solve at least part of that problem. On top of that, Clickup is an absolute joy to use. I find that its usability and interface design are on par with Redbooth’s; both of them are excellent.

To be clear, Clickup is by no means perfect. Like many of the free-forever project management apps floating around out there in cyberspace, it lacks more advanced features like reporting, financial documentation, and budgeting. That is an important factor in the decision-making process; if you need reporting, this may not be the app for you. Having said that, you will struggle to find many software examples out there that do have a reporting feature on their free app. The only one I can think of is Redbooth.

Clickup should absolutely be on your shortlist of free project management apps, especially if you don’t need the financial and reporting stuff I mentioned above. This is not just a free version of a normally premium app, this is a naturally grown, gluten, dairy, and GMO-free burger of an app, designed and built to be free from the ground up.

Verdict: Clickup’s free version is worth a look-see


Squidhub (read our Review) is one of the most pleasant discoveries I made last year. A brand-spanking-new project management app, Squidhub is like Clickup in that it was designed to be free. Also like Clickup, Squidhub’s feature set is on the lighter side and focuses primarily on task management, communication, and file storage. Having said that, paid versions of Squidhub are “coming soon” according to the website’s pricing page, so it is worth taking a few moments to determine whether these subscriptions are worth your time.

Basically, Squidhub’s free features center around a task list, chat panel, and document storage interface. This allows for plenty of new features to be layered on top since Squidhub is already such a barebones app. With that in mind, it is actually a little surprising how limited the planned additions are for the upcoming paid subscriptions. For $5/user/month, the only new features you will get are file recovery, calendar sync, and phone support. Go up to $8/user/month, and you will get an “admin panel,” as well as group templates. Honestly, I can see the value of that higher subscription, but in many cases, the free version of Squidhub is going to be all you need.

I really like Squidhub. However, it would be dishonest of me to say that this is a perfect, one-size-fits-all app. It is extremely limited in its capabilities. What it can do, it does with aplomb. But compared to the likes of Redbooth, Squidhub is a little like a two-stroke weed-eater next to a Rolls-Royce Phantom. But you know what? You wouldn’t use a Royce to trim the long grass in your backyard, would you? Use the right tool for the right job.

Verdict: Squidhub is worth your time, but limited in capabilities


I have said this before, but Trello (read our review) is a project management app I can recommend without reservations every day of the week. The fact that there is an excellent free version is a big part of that. Trello popularized the increasingly common “Board View” that is now ubiquitous in the project management world. They also bring a sense of humor into their app, with stickers and silly “power-ups” for users to enjoy.

Trello’s free version is good, but what are you missing out on by not paying for a monthly subscription? To be frank, quite a bit. Paid versions of Trello come with advanced integrations with the likes of Jira and MailChimp, as well as features like Collections that add to team cohesion. Essentially, if you are using Trello on your own, the free version might be okay for you. Working in a group, the paid subscriptions become increasingly useful as you add more users. If you are willing to shell out for the top subscription, you get enhanced security features that include two-factor authentification.

I still love Trello. But my affinity for this program comes with the knowledge that larger teams may find the free version limiting. If you need an app for a few users and no more, the free Trello plan is probably fine. You may even be able to make it work with more team members than that. But there are other options out there, including several on this list, that will serve you better.

Verdict: Trello’s free plan is worth a trial, depending on your team size

Final Thoughts

It is difficult to resist the draw of the “free” label. But when it comes to your business, you want quality as much as you want affordability. Is it worth your time to work with a free project management app subscription, or should you go straight to a paid plan with more robust features? As with most things, the answer comes down to context. Is yours the kind of business or team that just needs task management? Do you need communication tools? Do you need invoicing or other financial capabilities?

If task management is all you need, nearly every option on this list is going to work well for you, depending on how many people you plan to have using the app. If your needs go beyond that, really the only viable option here is Redbooth — and that option will only work if you have a team of fewer than ten people.

When it comes down to it, the two free project management apps I recommend most highly are Redbooth, for its advanced features, and Clickup, for its wide-open usability. But don’t just take my word for it. As always, the final decision is up to you. Go out and give some of these options a try!

If you’re looking for a free app because you run a nonprofit, there are better solutions available. Read The Top 5 Project Management Apps For Nonprofits for a look at your other options. Otherwise, check out our project management software comparison page for more information.

The post 5 Free Project Management Apps appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


How to Promote Your Website Online (for free!)

How To Promote Your Website

So you want to promote your website online…for free, preferably.

By now, you probably know from experience that the “build it and they will come” philosophy is flawed. You can have great content — in fact, you need at least “good” content — but unless you know how to promote it, your site is a ghost town. But you also don’t have the budget to go straight to advertising online.

You don’t need a grab bag of tips and tricks. You don’t need best practices to “go viral”. Instead – what you need is an actual process to follow that you can consistently do – to create a “flywheel effect“.

Here is an exact, step-by-step strategy that I recommend to anyone who wants to promote their website online. The specific details vary, but it’s a pretty tried and true path for anyone who wants to promote their website.

Start with Definitions & Goals

Before you do anything, you’ve got to start with the foundation: what are you trying to achieve?

Aside – “making money” or “getting customers” does not count. The key is to get specific. Quantify your marketing in other words.

This is the part so many people either get stuck on or skip entirely. Usually, website owners just want to dive in and start doing, doing, doing.

While getting your site out there and testing is great, you need a balance. It’s just as important to test with the right methods as it is to collect a ton of data and learn from it

There are three things you need to figure out before you dive in:

  • what you’re promoting
  • who you’re promoting it to
  • how much you can actually spend on promotion

Let’s break them down.

What You’re Promoting (Your Product)

What is it that you’re actually offering/promoting on your website? A product? A service? Valuable content?

Whatever it is, you need to be able to define it and sell the value. What makes you different from the million and one others out there?

Remember, this doesn’t need to be your life’s mission. In fact, it shouldn’t be. You need to define your product in a clear and concise way. Keep it simple and to the point  — and make sure you emphasize why you’re different.

Who You’re Promoting It To (Persona)

A persona is marketing jargon for a profile of your target audience and having one is crucial to your marketing.

Before your start promoting your website, you’ve got to know who you’re actually promoting it to. What do they want? What problems do they have? How do you solve those problems?

Create 2-4 personas for your brand that outline your ideal customers. Be as descriptive as possible by including things like job title, favorite device, payscale, main frustrations and problems, end goals, what they do in their spare time, etc. Use this detailed guide by Moz to guide you through the process.

Remember that your personas don’t have to be the end all be all. The focus here is to define your initial target market that’s small enough you can effectively reach them but large enough to get some sales and feedback to polish what you’re offering (your product/website/brand).

Nearly every business started this way (think about how Facebook started by targeting college students).Here’s a podcast episode explaining this concept[skip to the ~11 minute mark].

How Much You Can Spend on Promotion (Time & Financial Budget)

Thinking there’s no overhead online is lethal. You’ve got to put real numbers behind what you’re doing. Marketing costs money or time… so put real goals in place.

Outline your budget, even if it feels arbitrary. Define your product/services costs, profit margins, and what kind of marketing spend gives you a positive return. Here’s a more extensive post on quant-based marketing.”

Lay the Foundation

Once you have your goals and definitions laid out, it’s time to lay the foundation. While “build it and they will come” is a flawed philosophy, once you start getting them to come, you need to be sure what you’ve created is decent and captures data.

This is divided into three steps:

Website / Destination Set Up

To promote anything online long-term*, you need a decent website. Whether you’re an ecommerce business who needs an online store, a local business with a brick and mortar store, or an educational website that needs a place to publish content, a decent-looking website will put you ahead and allow you to do more with your brand and marketing.

*Aside – when I say long-term – I mean that you don’t want your project compromised by the whims of a platform (I’m looking at you, Facebook Pages and Google My Business). For short-term projects, plenty of people do well with marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy while content publishers do great with a good email marketing platform.

If you don’t have a website yet, I recommend setting your own website up with a common, well known software like WordPress and hosting it on your own hosting account. I have a simple guide to doing that from scratch here. There is some learning curve, but it will provide maximum versatility.

For ecommerce shops, I recommend either using a high-quality hosted ecommerce platform like Shopify or BigCommerce or set up an ecommerce website with WordPress and WooCommerce.

If you have a website and know it’s a mess, use this guide to help you clean it up.

Create Focused Pages

Depending on what you’re goals are, creating focused pages can be an essential part of conversion.

Focus pages are landing pages that target a very specific need, but they don’t have to be complex. They are simply pages that visitors can land on and take a specific action (buy your product, sign up for your service, etc.)

Why use landing pages? Because nobody cares about or even sees your homepage. Your homepage is for people who already know who you are and are just navigating around to find what they already know exists.

Landing pages, on the other hand, are for new (or returning) visitors to land and convert (AKA take whatever action you want them to take). These pages should target what your audience is searching for on a granular level.

For example, if you’re an ecommerce business, you’d want to create product pages targeting specific product information (i.e. Blue Swimwear) or a specific audience (i.e. Swimwear for Women Distance swimmers).

For service-based businesses, you’d want to create service pages targeting what your customers are searching for (i.e. Atlanta Dentist or Root Canal Services)

For sites that are focused on content creation, think about pages that can organize your posts into broader topics and orient readers who land deeper into your site and encourage them to take additional actions (like reading more or subscribing). Use this guide to using category and tag pages in WordPress to accomplish this.

If you have way too many idea – then think about how to organize your site by topic / keyword.

Set Up Analytics

Before you start promoting your website, you need a way to capture data through an analytics platform. There are tons of options, but Google Analytics is the go-to solution (it’s also free).

If you’re unclear on what Google Analytics actually does, start here.

Depending on what you’re promoting (see above), you’ll want to set up specific goals. For example, if you’re an ecommerce website, you’ll want to make sure you have Ecommerce checkout set up. If you’re a local business, you’ll want to track thinks like clicks to call and contact form completions. Use this guide to set up call tracking in Google Analytics.

You should also link Google Analytics to Google AdWords and set up a retargeting audience with Google Analytics. And lastly, you should set up a Facebook Ads account and place a retargeting (audience pixel) cookie on your website.

Work on Getting Traffic

Now that you have the foundation down, it’s time to get people to your website. This where a lot of people get way too detailed… way too fast. Why?

Because not all marketing channels operate at the same speed. They’re also not all used the same way — they have different strengths and weaknesses. They complement and supplement each other instead of compete, and it’s all about how you use them together.

For example, the US Navy’s main war-going unit is the Aircraft Carrier Group. But it’s not just made up of an aircraft carrier. Instead, it’s a grouping of different types of ships that all do different things at different speeds so that the whole group together is nearly invincible.

A lot of business owners want to start with SEO or with a fully fleshed out social strategy. To keep to the analogy, that’s like sending your battleship and aircraft carrier to scout out for the rest of the group.

Bad idea. Battleships (aka SEO) and Aircraft Carriers (Social) take forever to get going and to turn. Save those until you know where you’re going. You do not want to invest hours and hours and tons of resources and thought into SEO and Social if you have no idea if they will pay off.

Start with channels that can speed up, slow down and change direction at will. That means 3 things: direct outreach, community involvement, and paid traffic, specifically AdWords Search Network.

Testing with Direct Outreach

It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole of promoting something because you think it’s amazing. But here’s the thing — what if no one wants it?

Too often, we make assumptions for our audience. So before you go into a full-blow promotion plan and start running ads, emailing everyone on your list, and working on your SEO tactics, it’s good to get some validation.

Start by soliciting feedback from a small, targeted group. These should be people who are active in your niche, would ideally collaborate with someone like you, would give you some feedback and maybe even promote your website for you.

What we’re really doing here is finding complementary marketing “parents” — think of other bloggers and businesses your target audience also visits. There are infinite ways to do this process. The key piece is to find someone who shares your interests or has a need that you can fill. Here are some examples.

Friends & Family

Ok – friends and family will often be interested by default. They won’t be able to provide useful feedback. But here’s the thing – you are probably friends because you share interests. Additionally, you might share interests with your family.

Those family and friends are a great place to start with your outreach. It doesn’t mean spamming your Facebook page. It does mean not being afraid to show off your work personally to interested friends and family.

Individual Brands / Influencers

I hate the term “influencers” – and I don’t think that you can or should compete with big brands for social media celebrities. Instead, you should use your own advantage as a DIY website owner (rather than social media manager) to find people that you respect and listen to. Figure out what they need / want. Do they need co-promotion? Topic ideas? Reach out and pitch.

Individual Bloggers / Site Owners

A blogger of any size & influence will be deluged with pitches from big companies. Again – use your advantage as an actual site owner to go around the social media managers to reach small and up and coming bloggers. Use your agility to solve problems that agencies cannot quickly solve.


Journalists have an infinite black hole of content that they need to fill. They are always looking for a story (not a product). If you can create a story based on your insider expertise, then you should pitch them. Keep it short, keep it relevant. Start with small sites and use successes to pitch bigger publications.

The good example is a local package delivery service pitching a story about “porch pirates” to news outlets in Philadelphia.

Complementary Business Owners

Your product probably pairs with other companies’ products. Swimwear pairs with beach resorts. Festivals pair with beverage companies. Wood refinishing pairs with historic preservationists. The list is infinite.

Find businesses where you can co-promote.


Your vendors want you to succeed…because your success means more sales for them. Pitch your vendors on co-promotions.

Then, get to emailing and messaging. Send them to your landing pages or content piece to buy, subscribe, or review. Ask for feedback and referrals and keep notes!

Keep in mind that you are emailing people. It’s easy to get into a spammy quantity mindset. But remember that that a single, quality connection is worth way more than you can measure right now. Your goal is to get feedback and access. You cannot and should not make this a primary sales channel. Your goal is feedback to promote more effectively and more broadly.

Check out this case study or this post for even more detail.

Find Like-Minded Communities

To expand your direct promotion efforts means finding groups of individuals. And that means finding communities.

Communities can not only provide a lot more feedback – but you can also find opportunities to get sales.

The issue with a community is that you need to be a part of it. Nobody likes someone who shows up to promote rather than participate.

Even though you might need sales right now – you absolutely must set aside that need and look to the long-term.

Figure out what the community likes & needs. Provide that. Focus on being overly helpful rather than promotional. Here are some examples.

Industry Specific Forums

Whether it’s ProductHunt / HackerNews in tech or Wanelo for trendy shopping – there is an industry specific forum for everything. Find it and get involved.

Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups are super-accessible and cover topics on everything under the Sun. They are a great way to build an organic presence on Facebook now that business newsfeed organic reach does not exist. Use creative Facebook Open Graph searches to find the non-obvious ones.

Website Forums

Yes – website forums still exist. And yes, they can be extraordinarily powerful. Do your research and get in touch with moderators.

Blog Comments

Yes – people still read these. Set up alerts via Google or via RSS feeds and stay involved in relevant discussions on high-traffic blog posts.

Reddit & Crowdsourced Forums

Reddit is the world’s largest general forum – but everything from Kickstarter to Pinterest could technically be considered a forum. Again, find where your target audience hangs out. Focus less on teh actual platform and more on the people using it.

Amazon Comments

Ever noticed the “questions about this product” or the discussion sections on Amazon product? Yep – those have insane engagement…and provide an opportunity to piggyback on Amazon’s traffic. Look for complementary products / services to yours that your target audience is purchasing. Use your expertise to answer questions.

LinkedIn & Business Groups

This angle is similar to crowdsourced forums – but for B2B and vendor relationships. Discussions happen all over the place on the Internet. Everything from Slack to LinkedIn Pulse to IRC are open. They are all tools for people to connect. Think about who your people are and find where & how they talk.

Guest Posting

Do you know of high-traffic blogs that your target audience reads (not simply blogs in your industry)? Find out guest post requirements and go there.

Once you’ve found a channel that you feel comfortable with and “get” – focus on expanding your presence and being as helpful as possible. People will notice and talk.

Using Paid Traffic to Get Data

Jumping right into ads isn’t always the best approach for promoting your website. It can get expensive, especially for the return on investment. However, our goal here is a bit different.

Using some (even on a small budget) search advertising can be a great way to get data faster. Instead of relying solely on direct outreach and a content strategy that takes a few months to grow, we can get lots of data in a short amount of time by doing some advertising.

For a full breakdown of different paid advertising channels, see this guide about how to advertise your website online.

You should be doing a few different things with this data:

  • Looking at what keywords are driving conversions. AdWords gives you this information.
  • Looking at which landing pages (or content pieces) perform best based on your goals. How can you optimize those pages and use those findings to improve the ones that aren’t performing?
  • Determining which ad copy performs best
  • For ecommerce, identifying which types of offers do people find most enticing (i.e. free shipping, 20% off welcome discount, etc.)
  • Setting up retargeting campaigns – not generic “buy, buy, buy” campaigns but interesting retargeting ads that you can afford to do when your traffic is small. If you want to divert some paid budget to Facebook, follow this guide.
  • Once you have retargeting campaigns going, you should be looking at where your audience goes online. We covered this topic on this podcast episode.
  • Improving your ad campaigns in general

Understanding Organic Search

The world of organic traffic sources is wide and takes time. So while I won’t tell you it’s the best channel for immediate satisfaction, there are still some amazing results to be had.

For most, a successful SEO campaign would be a huge win due to the sheer volume of traffic that Google organic search can drive. Google processes over 3.5 billion queries per day and most of the clicks go to an organic result.

You’ll learn pretty quickly that in paid advertising, clicks for commercial keywords can be quite expensive. That’s a cost you don’t have to pay if you rank in the organic search results.

When you’re setting up your website promotion strategy, you’ll just have to know what it takes to get organic traffic and what it will take on your part to get it done.

SEO boils down to 3 components.

The first component is technical SEO.

Technical SEO is all about ensuring that Google/Bing bots can crawl and index your website effectively. It’s about making sure you’re not generating tons of duplicate content. Here’s “Technical SEO for Nontechnical Marketers”

The good news is that you are using WordPress or an HTML-based website builder (aka not Flash or Wix), you have the big barriers taken care of. THe same applies to ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Bigcommerce or a self-hosted store with WordPress + Woocommerce.

If you are already using a different platform, a technical audit might be the one SEO thing worth paying for. Mentioning a “stand-alone technical audit with recommendations” to an SEO expert can be valuable if you’re on a custom built site. Just don’t let them sell you on “ranking #1 tomorrow!”

If you are running WordPress, install WordPress SEO by Yoast and run through my guide for using it effectively.

If you are using Shopify or Bigcommerce, then your technical issues are 90% solved if you have it set up by the book (Shopify’s guide and Bigcommerce’s guide). You should just be sure to use their SEO-related toolset to implement your on-page content, which happens to be the second component of SEO.

The second component of SEO is on-page content and optimization

It is all about “targeting” the right keywords and ensuring that your website is laid out in a coherent way that is understandable by search engines and users browsing your website.

I wrote about the concept of keyword mapping and some basic on-page SEO concepts (like keyword research, title tags and meta descriptions, and using Google Search Console) previously.

Depending on what your goals are, there are a ton of different pieces of content that can bring in visitors. The goal is to bring in new people AND support sales. Don’t create keyword-stuffed content that won’t help customers on your website make a decision. Make the authoritative content that addresses problems, questions, etc of your market.

The great part about creating the absolute best content that you can find about everything your target market cares about related to your product is that it will naturally drive the third component of SEO – off-page factors.

“Off-page factors,” is the third component of SEO

This is SEO-speak for getting links, with the caveat that links are not all considered equal.

Sketchy links, the type that you buy for $5, can harm your website. However, quality links placed on a related or well-known website are the primary factor for getting better visibility in search results.

There are a lot of ways to get links. But the best ways that I’ve found for website promotion are:

  • Creating content that no one else has done well, and then promoting it. I wrote this guide to creating prequalified content. I’m a fan of this guide for the promotion angle as well
  • Hustle PR promotion – Find the blogs they read. Find the news websites they follow. Find the social media feeds they are involved with. Research and stalk every single one until you can craft a manual email pitch (see direct outreach above)
  • Get even more ideas in my guide to Ahrefs

Using Social Media

If SEO is your giant battleship, I think of social as your aircraft carrier. It’s easy to burn a lot of energy flying planes for no reason, but nothing gives you a tactical edge and far reach like your aircraft.

Social media experts make social out to be rocket science. It’s really not. Unless you started a business you know nothing about, you should know where your audience hangs out.

The key is to realize that you don’t have to be 100% present on every single social network. Effective social media is about having direct interactions where you build relationships and learn more about your audience.

So with that said, go ahead and claim your branding across all the various social networks, but focus on one or two that will generate an outsize of impact on your goals.

This is particularly effective for getting feedback on what you’re promoting. Similarly to direct outreach, you can use social media to solicit public feedback through forums like Reddit, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, etc. Just remember — it’s not about blasting your message out there for everyone and their mother. It’s about targeting the right audience. Find where they are and go there.

For the other profiles, learn how to automate them so you can have a presence without actually interacting. Set up alerts so you can “listen” even when you aren’t actively participating.

Lastly, remember you can make the process faster by paying to jump ahead. Just as you used AdWords or alternative channels to collect data on what works and what doesn’t for your website promotion goals, you can use social ads to test networks.

Next Steps

That’s the website promotion strategy I would map out for any website. It’s a long post, but it’s a plan you can implement quickly by breaking each section into small, doable steps.

Immediate next steps: start by defining your goals, personas, and revenue/budget. Then, put a plan in place that takes you through each phase of the process outlined above in a methodical manner. Go one section at a time and break each down into smaller steps you can follow without getting overwhelmed.

I’ve also written versions of this post for both local businesses and ecommerce websites.

The post How to Promote Your Website Online (for free!) appeared first on ShivarWeb.


Top 10 QuickBooks Capital Alternatives

Top Alternatives To QuickBooks Capital

QuickBooks Capital (see our review) is a brand new lending feature designed for QuickBooks Online (see our review) users that offers installment loans at competitive rates. QuickBooks Capital uses your accounting information to determine whether you’re eligible for a loan, making the application process incredibly simple.

However, if you need fast capital, you may not have the time to wait for QuickBooks to contact you. Or maybe you’re looking for a loan with a higher borrowing amounts and longer term lengths. It’s important to explore all of your options before making a decision, so you’ve come to the right place.

In this post, we’ve picked the top 10 alternatives to QuickBooks Capital. These lending options vary in loan type, borrowing amount, and borrower requirements, so that no matter what kind of business you run, you can find the best option that works for your business’s needs.

Read on to discover more about QuickBooks Capital and see which, if any, QuickBooks Capital alternative is right for you.

Getting A Loan Through The QuickBooks Capital Marketplace

If you don’t receive a notification saying you’re eligible for QuickBooks Capital, or if you want to explore all of your options, you can access the QuickBooks Capital Marketplace. The Quickbooks Capital Marketplace is where you’ll find seven additional lenders with which QuickBooks Capital directly partners: OnDeck, CelticBank, Fundbox, LoanBuilder, Funding Circle, BlueVine, and Direct Capital.

The QuickBooks Capital team says:

The 7 partners on our platform meet our guiding principles for transparency, privacy, security, consumer protection, and overall cost of capital including rates and fees.

The best part about applying for a loan using the QuickBooks Capital Marketplace is that the application is simple. Instead of going directly to one of these individual lenders, you’ll apply directly through the QuickBooks Capital website. QuickBooks Capital will use your existing QuickBooks Online data to fill in your application. Then you will be able to view offers from the lenders you are eligible for.

Several of the lenders on this list are QuickBooks Capital partners. Read on to learn which of the seven are our favorites.

1. Fundation

Top Alternatives To QuickBooks Capital

Best For…

Established small businesses looking for a loan or line of credit for working capital or business expansion needs.

Products Offered

  • Installment loans
  • Lines of credit

Founded in 2011, Fundation (see our review) has quickly become one of the top choices for business lending. With competitive rates, excellent customer service, and almost no negative reviews, it’s easy to see why. Fundation offers installment loans (also commonly referred to as term loans) and lines of credit.

The qualifications for Fundation are a bit more stringent than those of the other alternatives in this post. To qualify, you must have a credit score of 660 or higher, have been in business for at least a year, and have $100K/year in revenue. You must also have three full-time employees.

Here are the rates for Fundation’s installment loans:

Borrowing amount: $20K – $500K
Term length: 1 – 4 years
Origination fee: Up to 5%
APR: 7.99% – 29.99%
Collateral:  Personal guarantee, UCC-1 blanket lien

Here are the rates for Fundation’s lines of credit:

Borrowing amount: $20K – $100K
Term length: 18 months
Additional fees: $500 closing fee
2% draw fee
APR: 7.99% – 29.99%
Collateral:  Personal guarantee, UCC-1 blanket lien

How To Apply For A Fundation Loan

You can fill out an application online. As you’re applying, Fundation will tell you if the business characteristics you’re entering are good or bad, so you’ll have a better idea of whether your application will be approved. You will need to provide some documentation as well. It takes between two to seven days to complete the application process and receive funding.


Fundation is a great option for established businesses with good credit who are looking for a loan that offers the competitive rates of bank and credit card lenders, without the long, complicated application process. Read our complete Fundation review to learn more.

Visit the Fundation Site

2. SmartBiz

Top Alternatives To QuickBooks Capital

Best For…

Established businesses in good standing looking for an SBA loan to be used for working capital, debt refinancing, or commercial real estate.

Products Offered

  • Working capital
  • Debt refinancing
  • Commercial real estate purchasing

SmartBiz (see our review) has been simplifying the SBA loan process since 2009. SmartBiz does not issue loans themselves; instead, they help pair eligible applicants with an SBA lender. SmartBiz specializes in the General 7(a) Small Business Loan, which can be used for working capital, debt refinancing, or commercial real estate purchasing.

Because SBA loans are government-backed, it is harder to qualify for these loans than some of the other alternatives in this post. You must have at least fair credit, have been in business for two years, and have enough cash flow to support repayments. You also cannot have any tax liens, current charge-offs or settlements, or any bankruptcies in the last three years. You must be a US citizen or permanent resident. If you’re using your SBA loan for commercial real estate, the real estate in question must be at least 51% owner-occupied, and you can’t have any previous defaults on government-backed loans.

Here are the rates for working capital and debt refinancing loans:

Borrowing amount: $30K – $350K
Term length: 10 years
Interest rate: Prime rate + 3.75% (loans of $30K – $49K)
Prime rate + 2.75% (loans of $50K – $350K)
Other fees: Referral fee: 2%
Packaging fee: 2%
Guarantee fee: 0% – 2.25%
Bank closing costs: ~$450
APR: 5.85% – 8.95%
Collateral: Personal guarantee
Lien on business assets

Here are the rates for SmartBiz’s commercial real estate purchasing loans:

Borrowing amount: $500K – $5M
Term length: 25 years
Interest rate: Prime rate + 1.5% – 2.75%
Other fees: Referral fee: 0.5%
Packaging fee: 0.5%
Guarantee fee: 2.25% – 2.75%
Bank closing costs: ~$5K
APR: 5.85% – 8.95%
Collateral: Personal guarantee
Lien on the real estate

How To Apply For a SmartBiz Loan

The good news is, SmartBiz can determine whether you have a good chance of qualifying for an SBA loan in minutes. If you pass their questionnaire, you’ll be assigned a SmartBiz representative who will help you fill out your application. Depending on the number of documents you need to provide, this step can take a few weeks. Once you’re approved, you can receive funds right away (unless you’re using the funds for commercial real estate, in which case there are several extra steps required before you receive funding). Overall, the application can take anywhere from one week to three months depending on the type of loan you are applying for and the size of the loan.


If you’re an established business looking for an SBA loan, SmartBiz loans are much easier to apply for than most SBA loans. This option is not suited for startups. If you’re interested in learning more about SmartBiz, read our full SmartBiz review.

Visit the SmartBiz Site

3. StreetShares

Top Alternatives To QuickBooks Capital
Best For…

Small- to medium-sized businesses looking for a loan or line of credit to be used for working capital or business expansion needs.

Products Offered

  • Installment loans
  • Lines of credit
  • Contract financing

StreetShares (see our review) is a peer-to-peer lender that started back in 2013. The company was founded by veterans, for veterans, but you don’t have to be a veteran to use this small business loan service. StreetShares has competitive rates and low borrower qualifications making it a good option for merchants looking for installment loans, lines of credit, or contract financing. For installment loans, the maximum you’ll be approved for is 20% of your annual revenue.

To qualify for a StreetShares’ loan, you must have a credit score of 620 or higher, have been in business for a year, and have 25K in annual revenue (if you have $100K in revenue, you can qualify after being in business for only six months). If you’re interested in contract financing, the qualifications are even laxer; you just have to be a B2B or B2G business that sends invoices to your customers.

Here are the rates for StreetShare’s Installments loans:

Borrowing amount: $2K – $100K
Term length: 3 – 36 months
Interest rate: About 6% – 14%
Closing fee: 3.95% or 4.95%
APR range: 7% –  39.99%

Here are the rates for StreetShare’s lines of credit:

Borrowing amount: $5K – $100K
Draw term length: 3 – 36 months
Interest rate: About 6% – 14%
Draw fee: 2.95%
APR range: 7% –  39.99%

Here are the rates for StreetShare’s  contract financing:

Credit facility size: Max $500K per invoice
Advance rate: Up to 90%
Discount rate: Varies
Max overdue account: 180 days
Additional fees: None
Contract length: N/A
Monthly minimums/maximums: None
Factor all invoices: No
Recourse or non-recourse: Non-recourse
Notification or non-notification: Notification

How To Apply For A StreetShares Loan

To apply for a StreetShares’ loan, you simply fill out an online application. If approved, you’ll have to provide additional documentation. The whole process usually takes less than a week, so you can expect fast funding.


StreetShares is one of our top-rated small business lenders for a reason. This lender offers fast, affordable funding for small to medium-sized businesses and boasts some of the best rates on the market. Check out our complete StreeShares review for more details.

Visit the StreetShares Site

4. OnDeck

Top Alternatives To QuickBooks Capital

Best For…

Small- to medium-sized businesses looking for a loan or line of credit with a fast application process.

Products Offered

  • Short-term loans
  • Lines of credit

OnDeck (see our review) is an incredibly popular online lender that was one of the first to use technology for lending decisions — making approval fast. OnDeck also has relaxed borrower qualifications, although the loans can get expensive. OnDeck offers both short-term loans and lines of credits, and payments are made daily or weekly.

To qualify for an OnDeck loan, you must have been in business for twelve months, have a credit score of 500 or higher, and have an annual revenue of $100K.

Here are the rates for OnDeck’s short-term loans:

Borrowing amount: $5K – $500K
Term length: 3 – 36 months
Factor rate: x1.003 – x1.04 per month
Origination fee: 2.5% – 4%
Effective APR: Learn more
Collateral: UCC-1 blanket lien, personal guarantee

Here are the rates for OnDeck’s lines of credit.

Borrowing amount: $6K – $100K
Draw term length: 6 months
Draw fee: None
Maintenance fee: Typically $20/month
APR range: Starts at 13.99%
Collateral: Personal guarantee

How To Apply For A OnDeck Loan

OnDeck is one of QuickBooks Capital’s partners, so you can go fill out an application in the QuickBooks Capital Marketplace and QuickBooks will let you know if you qualify for an OnDeck loan. Or, you can apply with OnDeck directly.

Simply fill out the application on their website. OnDeck may ask for some documentation. Approval usually takes less than 24 hours, and if you accept an OnDeck loan, you can expect to receive your funds in one to two days.


While OnDeck can get expensive, its relaxed borrowing requirements make it a good option for merchants looking for fast funding who may not be approved elsewhere, or who need a little extra capital to hold them over until they qualify for better financing. Read our full OnDeck review to learn more.

Visit the OnDeck Site

5. Breakout Capital

Top Alternatives To QuickBooks Capital

Best for…

Small businesses in need of short-term loans to be used for working capital, inventory purchasing, or other short-term needs.

Products Offered

  • Short-term loans

Breakout Capital is one of our top-rated lenders and specializes in offering short-term loans to small businesses. These loans are more flexible than those of many of the other alternatives in this post. Depending on the strength of your business, you may be able to choose from multiple payment schedule options.

To qualify for a Breakout Capital loan, you must be in business for a year, have a credit score of 600, and have at least $10K/mo in revenue.

Here are the rates for Breakout Capital’s business loans:

Borrowing Amount: Up to $250,000
Term Length: Up to 24 months
Factor Rate: 1.25% to 3.5% per month
Origination Fee: 2.5%
Effective APR: Learn more
Collateral: Blanket lien and personal guarantee

How To Apply For Breakout Capital 

To apply for a Breakout Capital loan, you’ll need to fill out a pre-qualification form first, either online or by calling a Breakout Capital rep. You’ll then have to provide some basic information and a few documents. Breakout Capital will let you know if you qualify for one of their loans. The cool thing about Breakout Capital is that they will also let you know if one of their lending partners has a better offer for you.


Breakout Capital can be good option for small businesses looking for short-term financing. Read our full Breakout Capital review to see if this QuickBooks Capital alternative is right for you.

Visit the Breakout Capital Site

6. BlueVine

Top Alternatives To QuickBooks Capital

Best For…

Small businesses looking for invoice factoring or a line of credit for consistent cash flow.

Products Offered

  • Invoice factoring
  • Lines of credit

BlueVine was founded in 2013, and this online lender has been revolutionizing invoice factoring ever since. In addition to invoice factoring, BlueVine also offers lines of credit. The lender is known for positive customer reviews and plenty of customer support options.

BlueVine has relaxed borrower requirements. To qualify for invoice factoring, you must be a B2B business that’s been operating for three months, have a credit score of 530, and have a monthly revenue of $10K. To qualify for a line of credit, you’ll need to be in business for six months, have a credit score of 600, and have a monthly revenue of $10K (some states are not supported).

Here are the rates for BlueVine’s invoice factoring:

Credit facility size: $20K – $5M
Advance rate: 85% – 90%
Discount rate: 0.3% – 1% per week
Max overdue account: 13 weeks (91 days)
Additional fees: $15 wire transfer fee (no charge for ACH transfers)
Contract length: N/A
Monthly minimums: No
Factor all invoices: No
Recourse or non-recourse: Recourse
Notification or non-notification: Both (see below)

Here are the rates for BlueVine’s lines of credit:

Credit facility size: $6K – $200K
Term length: 6 or 12 months
Interest rate: 0.3% – 1.5% per week
Draw fee: 1.5% per draw
APR: 15% – 78%
Personal guarantee: Yes

How To Apply For BlueVine

BlueVine is one of QuickBooks Capital’s partners, so you can go fill out a QuickBooks Capital Marketplace application and QuickBooks will let you know if you qualify for a BlueVine loan. Or, you can apply with BlueVine directly.

Simply create an account, answer a few basic questions,  and provide three months of bank statements or connect to your bank account (you can also connect to your accounting software if you’d like). Approvals usually take a day. Once approved, you can start drawing from your credit line right away; transfers normally take one to three business days.


While BlueVine may not have the cheapest rates, it does have some of the lowest borrowing requirements. If you’re interested in learning more about this financing option, read our full BlueVine review.

Visit the BlueVine Site

7. Fundbox

Top Alternatives To QuickBooks Capital

Best For… 

Microbusinesses looking for invoice financing or a line of credit for consistent cash flow.

Products Offered

  • Invoice financing
  • Lines of credit

Fundbox (see our review) started out in 2013 as an invoice financing provider. Today, Fundbox also offers lines of credits and is known for good customer support and positive customer reviews.

To qualify for Fundbox’s invoice financing, you’ll need to have been using a compatible accounting or invoicing software for at least three months. To qualify for Fundbox’s lines of credit, you’ll need to have had a compatible bank account for at least six months.

Here are the rates for Fundbox’s invoicing financing (called Fundbox Credit):

Credit facility size: Up to $100K
Advance rate: 100%
Advance fee: 0.4% – 0.7% per week
Term length: 12 or 24 weeks
Additional fees: None
Contract length: N/A
Monthly minimums: No
Factor all invoices: No
Recourse or non-recourse: Recourse
Notification or non-notification: Non-notification

Here are the rates for Fundbox’s lines of credits (called Direct Draw):

Borrowing Amount: $1K – $100K
Term Length: 12 weeks
Borrowing Fee: 0.5% – 0.7% per week
Draw Fee: None
Effective APR: 12% – 54%

How To Apply For Fundbox

Fundbox is one of QuickBooks Capital’s partners, so you can apply to the QuickBooks Capital Marketplace and QuickBooks will let you know if you qualify for a Fundbox loan. Or, you can fill out an application with Fundbox directly.

Simply make an account and hook up your accounting or invoicing software to apply for invoice factoring, or hook up your bank account to apply for a line of credit. You’ll usually hear back in one to two hours. If approved, you can start requesting funds right away.


Fundbox is a great option for startups and small businesses looking for an invoice factoring solution or a line of credit. Read our complete Fundbox review for more details.

Visit the Fundbox Site

8. PayPal Working Capital

Best For…

PayPal users looking for a loan for working capital, inventory, or other short-term needs.

Products Offered

  • Short-term business loans

PayPal Working Capital (see our review) is incredibly similar to QuickBooks Capital. This lending service is available for PayPal users only, but since many QuickBooks lovers also use PayPal, we kept it on this list. PayPal Working Capital offers short-term business loans that operate like merchant cash advances (meaning payments are deducted from your daily PayPal sales).

To qualify, you must have been in business for three months and have $15K – $20K/year in revenue, depending on your PayPal account type.

Here are the rates for PayPal Working Capital’s loans:

Borrowing amount: $1K – $97K (first loan)
$1K – $125K (subsequent loans)
Term length:  Max. 18 months
Factor rate: Approx. x1.01 – x1.58
Origination fee: None
Effective APR: Learn more
Collateral: None

How To Apply For A PayPal Working Capital Loan

Applying for a PayPal Working Capital loan is easy. PayPal autofills an application for you. All you have to do is verify the information. If you are approved, the loan amount you accept will automatically be deposited into your bank account. If you aren’t approved, there are some steps you can take to try again.


While the factor rates can be potentially high and loan approval is inconsistent, PayPal Working Capital can still be a good option for PayPal merchants looking for short-term financing. Read our full PayPal Working Capital review for more details.

Visit the PayPal Working Capital Site

9. Funding Circle

Top Alternatives To QuickBooks Capital

Best For…

Established, large businesses in good standing looking for a medium-term loan.

Products Offered

  • Installment loans

Founded in 2010, Funding Circle is an online lender that specializes in offering loans to large businesses and franchises. Because of this, Funding Circle’s borrower qualifications are more stringent than those of some of the other lenders on this list.

To qualify, you must be in business for two years and have a credit score of 620. You also cannot have had any bankruptcies for the last seven years or any tax liens for the last 10 years.

Here are the rates for Funding Circle’s installment loans:

Borrowing amount: $25K – $500K
Term length: 6 months – 5 years
Interest rate: 4.99% – 26.99%
Origination fee: 0.99% – 6.99%
APR: 7.4% – 36%
Collateral: Personal guarantee, lien on business assets

How To Apply For A Funding Circle Loan

Funding Circle is one of QuickBooks Capital’s partners, so you can apply to the QuickBooks Capital Marketplace and QuickBooks will let you know if you qualify for a Funding Circle loan. Or, you can fill out an application for Funding Circle directly.

The Funding Circle application is fairly long, but it is still much faster than applying through a bank or credit union. Multiple documents are required. The complete application process usually takes around 10 days.


Funding Circle is a good fit for large business or enterprises that are established. Startups and small businesses will be better off with any other lender from this list. To learn more about Funding Circle, read our complete Funding Circle review.

Visit the Funding Circle Site

10. Lending Club

Top Alternatives To QuickBooks Capital

Best For…

Businesses of nearly any size with fair credit looking for a medium-term loan.

Products Offered

  • Installment loans
  • Personal loans
  • Auto refinancing

Founded in 2006, Lending Club (see our review) is one of the oldest lenders to offer loans online. Lending Club has competitive rates and good customer service. This lender offers personal loans, auto refinancing, and business installment loans (which are what we will be focusing on).

To qualify for a Lending Club business loan, you’ll need to be in business for 12 months, be 18 years old, be a US citizen or long-term resident, and have $50K in annual revenue. You also have to own 20% of the business and cannot have had any bankruptcies of tax liens.

Here are the rates for Lending Club’s installment loans:

Borrowing amount: $5,000 – $300,000
Term length: 1 – 5 years
Interest rate: 5.9% – 25.9%
Origination fee: 0.99% – 6.99%
APR range: 9.77% – 35.71%
Collateral: Personal guarantee
Blanket lien on loans above $100,000

How To Apply For A Lending Club Loan

To apply for a Lending Club loan, you’ll need to fill out an online application. You’ll receive a quote, and if you’d like to continue, Lending Club will ask you for more information and several documents. Approval usually takes one to two weeks.


Lending Club can be a great option for businesses of many sizes. Learn more about Lending Club and it competitive terms in our complete Lending Club review.

Visit the Lending Club Site

What Type Of Loan Is Right For Me?

You may have noticed that the lending options above all offer a large variety of products, like installment loans, lines of credit, SBA loans, invoice factoring, and short-term loans. To decide which loan is best for you business, ask yourself:

  • Which loans am I eligible for?
  • What do I want to use this loan for?

It’s also important to know the differences between each type of loan.

For installment loans, short-term loans, and merchant cash advances, you’ll receive your funds in one lump sum. Once these funds are gone, you’ll have to apply for a new loan, which makes these loan types ideal for working capital, inventory purchasing, and business growth projects.

For lines of credit, you’ll be able to draw however much you’d like up to your maximum borrowing amount as you need the funds. Most lines of credit revolve, meaning once you pay back the money, you can draw from the line of credit again. For this reason, lines of credits are good for consistent cash flow, unexpected expenses, and time-sensitive business opportunities.

To learn more about financing option, check out these articles:

  • Installment loans
  • Short-term loans
  • Merchant cash advances
  • Lines of credit
  • Invoice factoring

No matter which you choose, these lenders vary in one distinct way from QuickBooks Capital: You get to take the initiative in finding capital, instead of waiting for QuickBooks Capital to reach out. While QuickBooks Capital offers competitive rates, these 10 alternatives are more than worth looking into if you need fast capital, a higher borrowing limit, or a different type of loan.

Looking for even more options? Check out a comparison of our favorite small business lenders, or our full list of reviews.

The post Top 10 QuickBooks Capital Alternatives appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


Shopventory VS Square For Retail

Let’s get right into things. Today we’re looking at Shopventory vs. Square for Retail. Why? Because if you need more inventory support than the basic Square Point of Sale app offers, they are your two best bets. Square (see our review) has been a pivotal force in the mPOS space since its beginning, but lately it has also been edging into the tablet POS market with an ever-growing number of features. Shopventory is newer, but it’s carved a niche out for itself as a supplement to not just Square, but also PayPal Here, Clover, and now even Shopify.

While Square dominates the mobile space as far as features, it lags behind tablet-based systems, particularly in terms of inventory. But now there’s Square for Retail. If you need more comprehensive inventory features, you’ll get them with an upgrade to Retail.

Shopventory is a monthly service that integrates with your Square account. While Square for Retail is a full-fledged POS, Shopventory is strictly an inventory-focused add-on for Square for Point of Sale. It replaces most of the in-app inventory management with its own web browser but it does keep the inventory lists automatically synced and generates reports.

A really quick disclaimer before we get onto the comparison: We’re not looking at the full Square for Retail app here (which I’ll also refer to as just “Retail” or “the Retail app”). We’re just focusing on how its inventory management tools stack up against Shopventory’s. It’s important to consider whether the cost of either service justifies its use. Retail offers many of the same features as Shopventory, but also includes employee management. However, it could be a more costly service given that the subscription is monthly per register. Shopventory offers monthly inventory management for three locations for less than the cost of one Square for Retail register subscription.

You don’t get everything that the standard Point of Sale app offers either, such as offline mode. In fact, the Retail app is more of a pared-down version of the POS app, but with more beefed up inventory and reporting. That’s not to say Shopventory offers all the inventory tools you could ever need, either. But it certainly seems to have the upper hand in terms of capabilities and pricing.

I think for the most part that either of this will do well. Although they might not be perfect, they’re both capable. But in the end, Shopventory has more features and more competitive pricing. I would test it out before upgrading to Square for Retail.

For more information, I encourage you to check out our full Shopventory and Square for Retail reviews. Otherwise, read on for our Shopventory vs. Square for Retail comparison and see how they stack up in the great battle for inventory management!

Features & Services

Winner: Shopventory

Both of these services offer enough that they merit full reviews in their own right. Our comprehensive reviews of Square and Shopventory explore the advantages and limitations of each. For simplicity’s sake, I am going to focus on three core aspects of inventory management and see how they stack up: inventory tracking, reporting, and purchase order/vendor management.

Inventory Tracking

With both Shopventory and Square for Retail, merchants get the ability to count inventory and have each sale deducted from total stock numbers. Both offer location management as well. You’ll be working with Square’s standard item listings, which means you can include all of the following: product name, photo, SKU/barcode, item description, and item variants with the option to set different price points.

Shopventory Inventory Tools

Screenshot of Shopventory home page

Shopventory works by syncing with Square. It pushes its inventory data (item prices, bundles, etc.) into the POS app and pulls sales data from Square into its own dashboard reports and updates the inventory counts in real time. Once you get inventory set up, you manage everything inventory-related through Shopventory, NOT Square. It might take some merchants a while to get used to that, especially if they’re used to relying on the Dashboard.

Shopventory’s pricing plan, which I’ll cover in the next section, focuses on the number of locations you use, not the number of registers or products. And setting up multiple locations is actually very easy. When you log into Shopventory, the dashboard asks you to create a location and then add an integration (that is, link to your POS). It works a little bit differently for each software, but here’s what you need to know for Square.

If you have separate Square logins for each location, that’s fine and you can connect each Square account to each location. However, if you take advantage of Square’s free location management instead, Shopventory will ask you to select a location from your list of Square locations after you connect the POS. (That means you should set up your locations in Square before you setup Shopventory.) If you’re using employee management and device codes to run multiple registers, it doesn’t matter. Shopventory tracks everything at the location level.

After you’ve created your locations and linked your POS systems, Shopventory will ask you to enable two major settings: “sync items and variants” and “sync item quantities.” This will establish the connection and effectively make Shopventory your primary inventory service.

Once you’ve set up Shopventory, you’ll continue to use Square POS as usual. Just make sure that you log into Shopventory to pull inventory and sales reports. This is especially important if you’re using the Shopventory-specific inventory features like bundles. Everything is synced in real time so you can log in and check whenever.

Here’s a quick run-down of Shopventory’s features:

  • Bundles: Square doesn’t support bundling, but this feature allows you to track raw ingredients, deduct gift basket items from main inventory stock and even keep track of goods sold at wholesale versus retail. It also allows for tracking of items by partial quantities (yards of fabric or goods sold by the pound, etc.) The bundling feature even includes bundle variants. None of this is currently supported by Square for Retail.
  • Low-Stock Alerts: You can set a custom threshold for each item, so you know when it’s time to reorder something.
  • Automatic Restocks On Refunds: You’ll have to enable this feature, as it isn’t turned on by default. It also doesn’t work on partial refunds in Square.
  • Multi-User Access: Shopventory also allows you to create multiple accounts with different permissions. Enable your managers and staff to better manage store inventory while ensuring accountability.
  • Inventory Transfers Between Locations: Is one location out of a product while another has too much of it? Use the Shopventory dashboard to keep track of internal transfers of merchandise.
  • Inventory History: Shopventory keeps a log of your inventory history, including when counts go up or down. When you manually adjust stock counts you can add a note to indicate why (theft, damaged goods, etc.). We’ll get a little bit more into some related features when we talk about reporting.
  • Inventory Reconciliation Tools: If you’re a bit old-fashioned, Shopventory does offer an easy downloadable reconciliation sheet for inventory. Just the basic details that you need, not a lot of extra information, which you can download via printable PDF or spreadsheet. However, Shopventory has also introduced a barcode scanner mobile app for inventory reconciliations. Each Shopventory user can download the app and scan and update inventory counts through the app, and Shopventory will keep a record of when and who was responsible. This is actually a pretty awesome tool.
  • Barcode And Label Printing: Shopventory lets you chose from a Dymo or Brother label printer, as well as computer printing on Avery label sheets.

Square For Retail Inventory Tools

Screenshot of Square for Retail home page

Square for Retail works pretty similarly to Square Point of Sale. Everything is controlled from the Square Dashboard or the app, though the dashboard gives you the most functionality. Even though the app (or at least parts of it) will look very different from the free version, your dashboard should look pretty much the same and the data entry process will be the same.

If you have a lot of inventory (and if you’re looking at this article, you probably are), the odds are good you don’t want to create each inventory item one by one. That’s where Square’s Bulk Upload feature comes in. You can download the spreadsheet template, populate it with your inventory, and upload your item library all at once. Likewise, you can also export your library to a spreadsheet if you need that data elsewhere.

Your item descriptions are nearly identical to the standard Square offering. Even though Square for Retail doesn’t display photos in the app, you can upload them for viewing the back end. Check out Square’s how-to video for creating items manually.

Technically, Square for Retail gives you access to the Inventory Plus features, but these are really (mostly) reporting tools or PO/Vendor management. So some of these features are actually just Square’s inventory features.

  • Low-Stock Alerts: You can set a custom threshold for each item so you know when it’s time to re-order something. (This is a standard Square feature.)
  • Employee Management: Square includes employee management at no additional charge with a Square for Retail subscription. So if you have a lot of employees this could end up being a good deal for you. You can set different user permissions, track time, and more.
  • Inventory Transfers Between Locations: Square initially required you to manually add or subtract inventory at different locations to record transfers, but that’s no longer the case with the Retail app. Now you can record merchandise transfers in the app.
  • Inventory History: Another feature that wasn’t present at Square for Retail’s launch, inventory history will show you all your sales, transfers, received shipments, etc. to show why your inventory count is what it is.
  • Barcode And Label Printing: Like Shopventory, you can choose to use one of two select label printers (A Dymo or a Zebra) or print from a computer onto standard Avery labels.
  • Vendor Library: All items associated with a particular vendor (as well as their prices) are stored in each vendor’s data file.

Note the lack of bundling features here and all that this entails: no bundles, no raw ingredient tracking, no partial ingredient tracking. This is one of the biggest limitations to Square’s inventory.

However, Square also doesn’t offer any sort of inventory reconciliation. You could download your inventory for export and modify the spreadsheet, but it’ll take a bit of work on your end to make that happen.

But that’s just for inventory management. We’ve still got to talk about reporting and purchase orders/vendor management.

Reporting Tools

First of all, Square’s reporting tools, overall, are pretty robust. (Check out the list of reports.) Shopventory’s reports exist mostly as an extension of Square’s, not a replacement for them. This makes sense given that Shopventory is an extension of Square, not a standalone app. In addition to some identical reports, Shopventory offers several reports that Square doesn’t — and a couple that Square for Retail doesn’t, either.

Square’s inventory reports are somewhat lacking. Specifically, something that merchants have been clamoring for is cost of goods sold (COGS) reporting. Square for Retail finally offers this feature, but thus far it hasn’t impressed. Editing the item costs isn’t easy to begin with, and the information isn’t available at key points in the Retail app experience. And all of that’s left merchants understandably upset. However, you can also keep a record of additional costs associated with a purchase (such as shipping or handling fees) that are added to your COGS tracking. That’s helpful.

In addition to COGS reporting, Square for Retail introduces a profitability report and an inventory by category report that lists the value of the items, projected profit, and profit margins in each category. This last report is more a combination of several other reports, but it’s nice to see.

On the other hand, Shopventory’s COGS reporting is a bit more advanced. Accessing pricing information seems a bit easier than with Square for Retail. Shopventory also tracks lot costs in addition to default costs. For advanced users, Shopventory has a cost averaging feature.  You can even back-fill lot costs using the default cost feature.

But apart from cost and profitability reporting, there’s another feature I like that Shopventory offers: a dead inventory report. You can print off a list of every item that hasn’t sold recently, and specify just how “recently” you want — whether it’s a week, a month, six months, etc. This is pretty handy because “slow” for one business isn’t slow for another.

It’s hard to ignore the fact that Shopventory outclasses Square for Retail in terms of reporting — it offers everything that Retail does, plus more. I’ve found that Shopventory and Square dashboards are both fairly intuitive and easy to use, so they’re evenly matched in that regard.

Purchase Order & Vendor Management

Since the upgrades to inventory and reporting tools are relatively small in Square for Retail, it’s nice to see that the additions in this category are actually pretty big game-changers. With the Retail app, it’s now possible to create purchase orders from within the Square dashboard and send them via email. You can also receive inventory from within the Square for Retail app.

If I’m being honest, Square for Retail and Shopventory are well matched in this category. There are a few differences — for one, with Shopventory you can only receive inventory through the web dashboard, not the app. But I think that, overall, their feature sets are pretty similar.

Square PO & Vendor Management

While you’ll need to use the Square dashboard to create purchase orders, you can receive stock from a PO directly in the Square for Retail app, which is nice. With Shopventory, everything has to be done from the dashboard, which is a major trade-off. However, it shouldn’t be a dealbreaker.

A few other features from Square that I like: You can create a new vendor listing from within a purchase order, whereas with Shopventory you must have all of your vendors already entered. You can also edit and cancel purchase orders as needed, and Square keeps an archived file.

I mentioned previously that Square does have an item library associated with a vendor, but I don’t think it’s the most effective display. When you add an item to the PO it is added to the vendor’s item library, but you can’t browse the item library while creating a PO. Instead, you need to search for the items you want in a drop-down menu. I know that some merchants have been frustrated that Square can’t auto-populate a PO using low inventory items. Others are also frustrated that they can’t see how many of an item are in stock. Instead, these merchants wind up flipping between tabs or screens to formulate a list of what is needed.

Shopventory PO & Vendor Management

Shopventory has a handle of the same shortcomings that Square for Retail does in this regard. Namely, you can’t auto-populate a PO based on low inventory, and you can’t view stock levels in the PO.  However, you can clearly browse every item associated with a vendor and select which ones you want to add to it. This kind of display seems kind of obvious, and it should be, but it’s not.

This might be the one area where I think Square has a modest upper hand. For one, Shopventory lacks the ability to edit POs or archive them to clear them out of your way while preserving the information. (The company says it’s working on this last bit.) But you can save as a draft, just like you can in Square. So if you’re not sure or you’re not ready, you don’t have to send the purchase order out into the world. With Shopventory, you also need to create your entries for vendors before you start the PO.


Winner: Shopventory

Square for Retail’s pricing is very simple: $60/month per register. No tiered packages, no add-ons, no extra fees for priority phone support.

Square for Retail Pricing

That’s fairly competitive for an iPad-based POS system. But as we noted in our full review, Square for Retail actually removes several of the features available in the standard (and free) Point of Sale app. It’ll be up to you to decide whether the new interface and new inventory tools justify the cost.

Thinking more broadly, you’ll also need as many iPads as you have registers ($350+) and likely a Square Stand with a reader ($169) as well as any cash drawers, printers, and bar scanners you want for each device.

However, there is one caveat: Square for Retail provides employee management for an unlimited number of employees. With the standard Square plan, that cost is $5 per employee per month. So if you have 12 employees and one register, you actually break even on costs.

Shopventory’s pricing plan is focused not on the number of devices or the number of users, or even the number of transactions. Pricing is based just on the number of locations. There’s a limited free plan that provides analytics, but the paid plans start at a very reasonable $30/month.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Starter ($29/month): 1 location, 1 year order history, 1 year reporting
  • Standard ($59/month): 3 locations, 2 years order history, 2 years reporting
  • Professional ($199/month): 10 locations, unlimited order history, unlimited reporting
  • Elite ($499/month): 25 locations, unlimited order history, unlimited reporting

If you want access to purchase orders, vendor management, and the bundling features, you’ll need to get the standard plan. The starter doesn’t support these capabilities at all. In addition, the higher-tier plans throw in a few other perks (free QuickBooks syncing, otherwise $30/month; access to beta features, phone support).

Keep in mind that you still need hardware and devices to run the Square app — and an iPad is the most full-featured option. But you could use Android tablets or smartphones too. You have a lot more options and no charge for using multiple devices at the same location. So at three locations, ignoring costs of hardware, you’re already saving $120 with Shopventory. (That’s the cost of 24 employee management subscriptions, by the way.)

You can also save a bit of money if you opt to pay for Shopventory on an annual plan instead of a monthly one, which is nice. I think designing an inventory system whose pricing focuses on locations is the smart option.

While I think Shopventory’s pricing is definitely better, I can’t say definitely that it’s the better value overall. For one, Square for Retail is optimized for businesses with very large inventories. And if you’re dealing with hundreds and hundreds of items you might prefer the search-and-scan based user interface that the app offers. But if you have a small inventory, or you’re not a retail business, and still want all the management tools? If you don’t care about the UI but want some of the Square POS features like offline mode or open tickets? It’s pretty obvious that Shopventory is the better solution. What’s right for you will depend on your priorities and your budget, so check out our complete reviews of both services before you commit to anything.

Web Hosted Or Locally Installed

Winner: Tie

Both of these solutions are web-hosted, which is awesome. Yay for the cloud! Don’t forget that you’ll also get some in-app reporting capabilities if you don’t want to log into a web browser, but they aren’t inventory driven, and they’re far more limited than using the web dashboard.

Customer Service & Technical Support

Winner: Tie

Apart from a small team on the Square Seller Community (a forum for online merchants), Square for Retail doesn’t have any exclusive support channels that are separate from regular Square support. So you should expect business as usual in this regard.

Square’s been plagued by complaints of shoddy customer service pretty much since the beginning. But honestly, I think most of those complaints are rooted in Square’s tendency to freeze or terminate accounts. For most technical (not account-related) issues, Square does seem to offer more reliable support. There’s email and live phone support, as well as a very comprehensive self-service knowledgebase. And the Seller Community is honestly a great resource as well.

But I find that the amount of information and how-to’s concerning Retail specifically to be troubling. There’s not a lot. Square has tons of videos but they seem to gloss over showing how to use the Retail app. If you want to know about specific features before you sign up, you should get on the Seller forum and ask. Otherwise, the only way to find out is to test-drive Square yourself.

Not only that, but it certainly seems like the process of obtaining a code to access phone support requires more effort than some merchants are willing to put forth. I get it. I loathe automated menus that make you jump through hoops to get to a real person as much as anyone else. And I’ve heard a smattering of complaints about email support. I think Square’s support is mostly good, but occasionally something does go wrong.

If you one of the merchants who’s felt frustrated at Square’s support, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised at the quality if Shopventory’s. Phone support is only available for higher-tiered plans, but the chat option is great and the knowledgebase is extremely helpful as well. (I know. I’ve tested both.) The chat option isn’t quite live chat because it might take a few to get someone to answer your question, but once you get one of the reps to respond, it is a live conversation. I shouldn’t have to say this about any customer support, but sadly I do: I like that you get to talk to a helpful person who isn’t going to shoehorn you into a script.

Shopventory isn’t quite large enough to have the kind of active forum that Square has for support, but the knowledgebase is easily as detailed as Square’s. I find the video tour is super useful as an orientation to Shopventory, despite how much I absolutely hate watching video tutorials longer than about one minute.

It’s worth noting that you’ll still have to deal with Square for payment- and account-related issues if you use Shopventory. But for inventory-related issues, you can deal with Shopventory instead.

Negative Reviews & Complaints

Winner: Shopventory

At this point, merchants’ biggest point of contention with Retail is that in some ways is a step back from the standard Point of Sale app. A few features are lacking in the Retail app. Plus, I’ve seen complaints that features Square promised at launch (or at least showed in screenshots) haven’t actually appeared yet.

Some of the complaints about Square for Retail we’ve seen include:

  • Problems With Cost Of Goods Recording And Reporting: This is a big one and it manifests in a lot of ways. Currently, the only way to update costs is to upload a spreadsheet. The app itself doesn’t allow you to manually edit individual item costs, and Square’s current reports don’t list item costs on everything. Merchants who were expecting to finally get COGS reporting haven’t been thrilled, though Square does say it’s on their list of improvement to make, so we may see some enhancements.
  • Lack Of Features: Specifically, with Retail, you lose access to Square’s offline mode and the open tickets capability. You can upload images as part of the item listing, but they don’t display in the app. Merchants have complained about their removal. I haven’t been super thrilled about how Retail feels like a step back from the Point of Sale application in terms of interface and features, either. And one big missing feature that I’ve seen a lot of chatter about is the ability to auto-populate purchase orders based on low inventory (or even the ability to see the inventory count in the same window as the PO).

There’s a lot less user chatter about Shopventory overall (which makes sense with a smaller customer base). I think users who integrate with PayPal or Clover will probably be more dissatisfied than Square users, honestly. I think some merchants will dislike the same sort of shortcomings you find in Square for Retail: missing features like the ability to view inventory levels while creating a purchase order, or the ability to edit purchase orders. Overall, the comments I see from merchants are positive.

Positive Reviews & Testimonials

Winner: Tie

Square gets a lot of love overall for its payment processing. Signup is quick and easy, rates are fair and affordable, and the hardware is good and fairly priced. But the Retail app seems to be less popular overall. In theory, it fills a niche that businesses with a high quantity of inventory have been needing. I know a lot of merchants were excited at the prospect when it launched, but I haven’t seen as much talk about it since then.

I don’t see a whole lot of chatter around the web about Shopventory. The website has a couple testimonials and I’ve seen the Square Seller Community talk about it, too. The discussions I’ve seen a focus on the good customer service and its fair pricing.

I’m calling it a draw here. Both options are good ones and serve their purpose, but there isn’t enough of a discussion to say which one has more positive coverage.

Final Verdict

Winner: Shopventory

I can’t say definitely that Shopventory trounces Square for Retail in every regard. One is an inventory management add-on, the other is a full-fledged POS with inventory management. So I can draw apples-to-apples comparisons about some things and say that yes, Shopventory has more and better quality inventory features. Its pricing is way more competitive if your only concern is inventory tracking. It will work great as an add-on to Square Point of Sale.

But Square for Retail has a search-optimized UI and free employee management tools that might be deciding factors for some merchants. So you could potentially get a better value with Square for Retail if you have a lot of employees and want easy time tracking along with the ability to manage large inventories.

The good news is we’re looking at two companies that are both committed to adding new features all the time. So in six months or a year, we could be looking at two majorly improved products. We’ll have to see how they stack up then.

Check out our complete reviews for Shopventory and Square for Retail to get a closer look at each. Also, both Square for Retail and Shopventory offer free 30-day trials, so you can test drive both of them (preferably not at the same time) and see which one works better. Thanks for reading and good luck with your search!

The post Shopventory VS Square For Retail appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


Best Payment Processing Integrations For Accounting Software

Best Payment Processing Integrations for Accounting Software

Are you ready to start accepting credit and debit cards from your customers? Do you want your customers to be able to pay their invoices directly online? You’ve come to the right place.

Here at Merchant Maverick, we know payment processing can be a tricky concept to wrap your mind around. Finding the best option for your business isn’t always easy. The good news is we’ve done the hard work for you. The even better news? Each of these payment processors integrates directly with your accounting software to make your life that much easier.

This post will discuss five of the top payment processors that integrate directly with accounting software. We’ll cover the pros and cons of each to help you decide which is best for your small business. And we’ve even created a handy chart to help you compare all the payment processors that integrate with major accounting programs.

But before we begin, let’s cover a few basics about payment processing.

If you’re already a payment processing pro, feel free to skip this section and continue on to our top picks for best payment processing integrations. Or visit our merchant account reviews to see more payment processing options.

A Brief Intro To Payment Processing

There are two different types of payment processing companies — merchant accounts and payment service providers (or PSPs).

  • Merchant Account: A merchant account is an individual account that connects your business directly to a payment processor so you can accept credit cards and debit cards. When your customer pays with a card and the payment clears their banking institution, the transaction will be deposited directly into your bank account through your merchant account.
  • Payment Service Provider: A payment service provider also allows you to accept credit cards and debit cards. However, instead of creating an individual account, a PSP will lump all of your transactions into a shared account where multiple merchants transactions are stored.

So which one should you use? There are a lot of factors to consider, including your business type, the size of the transactions you’re processing, the number of transactions you process per month, and whether or not you are considered a “high-risk” merchant.

According to our merchant account expert, Tom DeSimone:

If you plan to process large transactions ($300 or more) or a sizeable monthly volume in card payments (about $10K or more, NOT INCLUDING cash and checks), you will want a merchant account to get the best rates.

On the other hand, he says this about PSPs:

While transactions fees might be a little higher than if you had your own merchant account, PSPs usually do not charge a monthly fee or other schedule fees. You just pay for what you use, which is ideal for businesses that only process sporadically.

It’s pretty simple, really. If you plan on processing large transactions or lots of transactions every month, a merchant account will probably be the way to go. If you’re a smaller business that doesn’t process much and needs a pay as you go option, a PSP might be a better choice.

There are other pros and cons to consider with each type of payment processing company, however.

We borrowed this handy chart from our Beginner’s Guide To Payment Processing to help you better understand the differences between merchant accounts and PSPs:

Best Payment Processing Integrations for Accounting Software

There is one more important concept to cover before we move on. In addition to merchant accounts and PSPs, you might encounter payment gateways.

If you’ve ever bought anything online, you’re already familiar with this concept (whether you know it or not):

  • Payment Gateway: A payment gateway allows you to accept credit and debit cards online. Payment gateways use either merchant accounts or PSPs to connect your business and your customer’s banking institution so you get paid.

Payment gateways account for some of the most common accounting integrations (think PayPal and Stripe).

In order to integrate your accounting software to a payment gateway, you will need to establish an account with that gateway provider. Depending on the payment gateway you choose, you may need to set up a merchant account or PSP account. Your payment gateway may require that you use a specific merchant account or PSP of theirs, or they may offer a payment gateway and merchant account or PSP bundle.

I know this is a lot to take in, believe me, but it gets easier from here. Now you can sit back, relax, and learn about our top five favorite payment processing integrations for accounting software.


Best Payment Processing Integrations for Accounting Software

Fattmerchant integrates with QuickBooks Online.

Fattmerchant (see our review) is a merchant account provider that was founded in 2014. This company sets itself apart by offering subscription-based pricing, making it competitive and potentially more affordable than other merchant accounts. Fattmerchant also offers 24/7 customer support and receives positive feedback from the majority of its customers.

Products & Services

Fattmerchant supports the following products and services:

  • Merchant account
  • Virtual terminal
  • Countertop terminals (pricing not disclosed)
  • Point of Sale (POS) integrations
  • Mobile payments
  • One mobile card reader ($75 for each additional reader)
  • Shopping cart integration
  • eCheck services ($29/mo + $0.25 per transaction)
  • Data analytics

The company does not have its own payment gateway, but Fattmerchant is compatible with Authorize.Net, Payeezy, or the TSYS Payment Gateway. It will set you up with a free gateway or integrate with your existing one.


Fattmerchant offers two pricing plans that are paid monthly. There is no locked-in contract and no early termination fees for either plan.

  • Basic: $99/mo + $0.08 per transaction for retail ($0.15 per transaction for ecommerce)
  • Enterprise: $199/mo + $0.05 per transaction for retail ($0.10 for ecommerce)

If you’re looking for an affordable, honest merchant account, Fattmerchant is one of the best. This option is good for businesses looking for a predictable monthly subscription plan. Fattmerchant does not provide high-risk merchant accounts and may not be a good value for small businesses with low payment processing.

Read our full Fattmerchant review to learn more and see if this affordable merchant account option is right for you.


Best Payment Processing Integrations for Accounting Software

CDGcommerce integrates with QuickBooks Online.

CDGcommerce (see our review) is a merchant account provider with over 20 years of payment processing experience. This company is geared toward small to medium-sized business and also operates on a monthly subscription pricing model. A free payment gateway is included with every CDGcommerce merchant account. The company also sets itself apart with an impressive client retention rate and excellent customer support.

Products & Services

CDGcommerce supports the following products and services:

  • Virtual terminal
  • One credit card terminal (with a $79/yr insurance fee)
  • Mobile payments
  • POS systems
  • Optional security service
  • Data analytics and reports

CDGcommerce offers a free payment gateway. Users can choose between Quantum or Authorize.Net.


CDGcommerce has two types of pricing: simplified pricing and advanced pricing. Simplified pricing rates depend on your business type and size.

  • Online: Interchange + 0.30% + $0.15 per transaction
  • Retail: Interchange + 0.25% + $0.10 per transaction
  • POS: Interchange + 0.25% + $0.10 per transaction
  • Mobile: Interchange + 0.25% + $0.10 per transaction
  • Non-Profit: Interchange + 0.20% + $0.10 per transaction

Advanced pricing offers discounts for business with a processing volume of $10,000+ each month. There are no long-term contracts or early terminations fees for either pricing structure. Check out our complete CDGcommerce review for more pricing details. To learn more about interchange and interchange-plus pricing, read Trading Ease For Transparency With Interchange Plus.


CDGcommerce is a scalable company with an impressive number of products and services. The free credit card terminal is also a huge plus. The only catch with this company is that it is limited to merchants in the US.

If you’d like to learn more about CDGcommerce, read our full CDGcommerce review.


Best Payment Processing Integrations for Accounting Software

Square integrates with QuickBooks Online, Xero, Zoho Books, Kashoo, and Kashflow.

You’re probably familiar with the swipe-based payment processing system known as Square. Square (see our review) is one of the leaders in mobile processing. It offers great features including inventory, invoicing, and customer management features. And to top it off, Square has a ton of integrations.

Products & Services

Square supports the following products and services:

  • Virtual terminal
  • Gift cards ($2 per card)
  • Shopping cart integrations
  • e-Invoicing
  • Inventory management
  • POS app
  • Customer management
  • Customer feedback
  • Advanced reporting
  • Email marketing
  • Appointments ($30-$90/mo)
  • Payroll ($25/mo + $5/mo per employee)
  • Event rentals


Square offers standard fees with no interchange-plus pricing. There are no monthly fees, no locked-in contracts, and no early termination fees.

  • Standard Swipe Transactions: 2.75% per transaction
  • Square Register Swipe Transactions: 2.5% + $0.10 per transaction
  • Virtual Terminal Transactions: 3.5% + $0.15 per transaction
  • eCommerce & Invoice Transactions: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction

Square offers several add-ons and additional monthly services. Be sure to read our complete Square review for more pricing details.

If you’re looking for a mobile payment processor, this is one of the most well-known and developed options. Square is good for small businesses with low processing volumes and can be an affordable choice. However, Square is not meant for high-risk merchants or companies with a large processing volume as the company is known to hold funds and suddenly terminate accounts.

To learn if Square is the right payment processing option for your business, check out our full Square review or read our post: Is Square Right For Your Business?.


Best Payment Processing Integrations for Accounting Software

Authorize.Net integrates with QuickBooks Online, Xero, Zoho Books, FreshBooks (classic), and Microsoft Dynamics.

Authorize.Net (see our review) is a payment gateway that was founded in 1996; it has since supported over 400,000 merchants. Not only does Authorize.Net allow you to accept online payments from customers, it also has a checkout feature, recurring billing, contact management, and fraud protection. In addition, the company offers good customer support and key accounting integrations.

Products & Services

Authorize.Net supports the following products and services:

  • Virtual terminal
  • Mobile payments app
  • Supports mobile card reader ($42-$98 per reader)
  • Simple checkout
  • Apple pay support
  • Fraud detection
  • Recurring billing
  • Customer information management
  • eChecks (additional cost)

If you have a merchant account, Authorize.net is designed to be compatible with your existing merchant account.

If you don’t have a merchant account, you can have Authorize.Net set you up with one. Or, you can choose a merchant account provider that partners directly with Authorize.Net. If you want to go this route, we recommend Dharma Merchant Services, one of our all-time favorite payment processing providers.


Authorize.Net offers two pricing plans: a gateway-only plan and a gateway + merchant account plan. There are no-long terms contracts or cancellations fees (but this may vary depending on your merchant account provider).

  • Payment-Only: $25/mo + $0.10 per transaction
  • Payment Gateway + Merchant Account: $25/mo + 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction

Note: If you are using a merchant account provider that partners with Authorize.Net, your merchant account may lower or even waive certain fees. Read our complete Authorize.Net review for more pricing details so you can make sure you get the best deal.

If you’re looking for a payment gateway, Authorize.Net is a great option. It boasts excellent customer service and tons of features to cover most business needs. One important thing to remember is that Authorize.Net is not good for data exporting. Pricing can also be expensive if you sign up with Authorize.Net directly, so make sure you explore all of your options before deciding.

Read our full Auhorize.Net review for more information.


Best Payment Processing Integrations for Accounting Software

Braintree integrates with QuickBooks Online, Xero, Sage One, FreshBooks (classic), and Saasu.

Braintree (see our review) offers both merchant accounts and payment gateways. This processing company was established in 2007 and offers impressive features, multiple currency options, and excellent customer support. Flat-rate pricing and ample integrations are also a huge plus.

Products & Services

Braintree supports the following products and services:

  • eCommerce integration
  • Mobile payments
  • Recurring billing
  • Fraud detection
  • Tax support
  • Developer tools
  • PayPal integration

Braintree comes paired with its own payment processing, but merchants can choose to use a different merchant account with the Braintree gateway for an added fee.


Braintree has a simple pricing plan. There are no monthly fees, setup fees, gateway fees, or early termination fees. Instead, you’ll pay a competitive, standard rate:

  • 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction

If you only want to use the Braintree gateway and not its payment processing, then you’ll have to pay a flat fee of $49 per month plus $0.10 per transaction instead.

We like Braintree so much that it even outranks PayPal and Stripe in our books. However, Braintree is not suited for high-risk merchants and certain types of businesses are prohibited from using Braintree.

Read our complete Braintree review for more details and to see if this merchant account and payment gateway provider is a good fit for your business.

Which Is Right For Me?

If you’ve learned anything from this post, it’s that when it comes to payment processing there are lots of options to choose from. The right payment processing provider for your business will depend on whether you’re looking for a merchant account or a payment gateway (or a combo of both), plus the number of transactions you process and the extra features your company requires.

One of the main things you should consider is which providers integrate with your accounting software. This will narrow down your decision quite a bit.

While we named some of our favorite companies above, there are several other common payment processing accounting integrations, including PayPal, Stripe, forte, and GoCardless. To make your search for the perfect payment processor easier, we’ve created a chart of the most common accounting programs and the payment processing providers they integrate with.

Software Payment Processing Integrations
QuickBooks Pro BluePay, Durango Merchant Services, QuickBooks Desktop Payments
QuickBooks Online Authorize.Net, BluePay, CDGcommerce, Fattmerchant, Forte, Partial.ly, Payline, PayPal, WorldPay, QuickBooks Payments,    Square, Stripe, WePay, WorldPay
Xero Authorize.Net, Bill&Pay, Braintree, Forte, GoCardless, PayPal, Square, Stripe, WorldPay
Zoho Books Authorize.Net, Braintree, Forte, PayPal, RazorPay, Square, Stripe, WePay
Wave PayPal, Stripe, Wave Payments
FreshBooks (new)  Partial.ly, Payments by FreshBooks, PayPal, Stripe
FreshBooks (classic) Authorize.Net, Braintree, Forte, PayPal, Stripe
Sage One Braintree, PayPal, Sage Payment Solutions,
Stripe, WayPay, WorldPay
Sage 50c GoCardless, Sage Payment Solutions
FreeAgent GoCardless, PayPal, Payal Here, Square, Stripe
Saasu Braintree, eWay, PayPal, PayWay, PinPayments, Stripe
Kashflow GoCardless, Global Payments, PayPal, Square,
Stripe, WorldPay,
Kashoo BluePay, PayPal, Stripe
ClearBooks GoCardless, PayPal,  PayPoint
AND CO PayPal, Stripe

Note: The above integrations are always changing and may vary by country. Check with your accounting software directly for the most up-to-date information.

Remember that when you are choosing the perfect payment processor to integrate with your accounting solution, you can never do enough research. Be sure to check out our merchant account reviews to learn how each software stacks up in terms of features, value for your money, and reliability. If you’re interested in learning more about payment processing, you can also download our free Beginner’s Guide To Payment Processing to learn to evaluate your options, negotiate a good merchant account contract, and more.

Best of luck, and stay tuned for more payment processing tips and tricks from the Merchant Maverick team. If you’d like to do more reading on the subject, the following articles will point you in the right direction:

The Complete Guide to Online Credit Card Processing With a Payment Gateway

Are You A High-Risk Merchant?

The 5 Best Small Business Credit Card Processing Companies

The post Best Payment Processing Integrations For Accounting Software appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


The Best Credit Card Processing Apps For Mobile And Service Businesses


Being able to take payments on the go without having to jump through five million hoops is crucial for mobile businesses, whether you’re a service business that visits customers at home or just a small business without a permanent storefront. That’s where credit card processing apps come in: Combining integrated payments and feature-rich POS systems that run on smartphones and tablets, they’re designed to operate anywhere you can get a cellular or Wi-Fi signal.

We took a look at the most promising credit card processing apps for mobile and service businesses, comparing their features as well as their processing rates. Then, we compiled the best options into a list!

Choosing the Best App Features for Mobile & Service Businesses

If your business is primarily service-based or you tend to do more pop-up sales and events than deal with retail storefronts, you probably don’t need (or want) a whole lot of hardware. What you do need is an EMV-friendly reader and a smartphone or tablet to run the system from.

We used two primary criteria in deciding this list: first, the product has to have integrated payment processing, and the app must be available on a tablet (preferably a smartphone as well).

While hardware may not be a priority, knowing which systems can work as a countertop system as well as mobile is helpful. Invoicing, virtual terminals, solid sales tax management, and decent item libraries were also factors. Take a look at our comprehensive comparison chart to figure out which system might work best for your particular needs.

Square for retail review logo imageSquare PayPal Here Shopify Payline Mobile SumUp
Integrated Processing Yes Yes Yes (Other options available) Yes Yes
Processing Rates (for most swiped/dipped transactions) 2.75% 2.70% 2.70% Interchange + 0.5% or 0.3% 2.75%
Monthly Fee $0 $0 Plans start at $9/month $0 / $9.95 $0
Number of Devices Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited 1
Tablet Support Apple, Android Apple, Android, Windows Apple, Android Apple, Android Apple, Android
Smartphone Support Apple, Android Apple, Android, Windows Apple, Android Apple, Android Apple, Android
Email/SMS Receipts Email/SMS Email/SMS Email Only Yes Email/SMS
Receipt Printer Connectivity Bluetooth, Ethernet, USB Bluetooth, LAN, Wireless Bluetooth, USB, LAN No Bluetooth, LAN
Cash Drawer Connectivity Yes (Tablet Only, With Printer Connectivity) Yes (With Star Printer Connectivity) Yes (iPad Only, with Printer Connectivity) No Yes (with Printer Connectivity)
Split Tender Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Offline Processing Mode Yes No Very Limited No No
Full and Partial Returns Yes Yes Yes (including store credit) Yes Full Only
Sub-User/Employee Accounts Yes (monthly fee) Yes (free) Yes (PINS/accounts) Yes Yes (Limited)
Discounts by $ or % Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Tipping by $ or % Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Multiple Tax Rates Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Adjust Tax Rates In-App Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Customizable Receipts Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Generate Invoices Yes Yes Yes No No
Virtual Terminal Yes Yes (monthly fee) No Yes Yes
Bulk Item Upload Yes No Yes No No
Item Counts Yes No Yes No No
Item Variants Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Item Add-ons Yes Yes No No No
Item Categories Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Item Photo Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Create Item from App or Dashboard Yes Yes Yes Yes No (App Only)

You can check out our reviews of each service for more information about features, user experience, and more.


Square business model and mobile credit card processingSquare made its name with a mobile processing service that anyone could use, and while the company is definitely catering to larger entities these days, small and mobile businesses still make up a good portion of Square’s merchants. Square’s totally free processing app makes it easy to create an item library of physical products as well as services.

Square’s tax rate settings are easily adjustable from within the mobile app and you can pre-program different rates if you find yourself flipping between different locations often.

In addition, Square offers invoicing, recurring invoicing/storing cards on file, and a free virtual terminal. You can even integrate Square’s appointment booking software seamlessly.

Square will charge you 2.75% per swiped transaction, but invoicing will run you 2.9% + $0.30, and virtual terminal transactions will cost you 3.5% + $0.15.

PayPal Here

PayPal Here review: One of the top Square alternativesPayPal Here is another staple of mobile businesses with a free mobile app. PayPal has the advantage of massive eCommerce support as well as a solid mPOS so you can seamlessly blend different aspects of your business. Plus, your funds are available almost instantly in your PayPal account, and with the PayPal debit card, you can spend them anywhere. The free mobile app isn’t quite as feature-rich as Square’s, but it’s highly capable.

You’ll also find PayPal Here’s tax settings are adjustable within the app and you can easily accommodate different sales tax rates. Like Square, you get free in-app invoicing. However, if you are looking for a virtual terminal or recurring billing, they’re going to run you an additional $30 and $10 per month, respectively, which is a fairly high price tag.

You’ll pay 2.7% per transaction in the app, whereas invoices will run you 2.9% + $0.30. Virtual terminal transactions (not counting the monthly fee) cost 3.1% + $0.15.


Shopify started out as just an eCommerce offering but it’s expanded into a multi-channel solution for business. You can get Shopify’s Point of Sale app for as little as $9/month with the Lite plan, or you can upgrade to a countertop-friendly version with the Retail package, and even add on integrations for appointment booking. However, if you don’t /need/ a receipt printer or cash drawer and don’t sell through your own site online, the Lite plan will absolutely get you through.

Shopify isn’t the most advanced credit card processing app out there — for example, it doesn’t support tipping — but overall it has most of the features mobile and service-based businesses need, and its integration with the eCommerce tools is definitely an asset. It even allows invoicing.

Shopify allows you to set a tax rate for a shop location and create overrides and exemptions. One thing I do like that I don’t often see in these sorts of apps is tax rates based on GPS location, which eases the burden on you considerably.

For Shopify Payments (the default processing method), you’re going to pay 2.7% per transaction to start out, though if you opt for the higher-tiered plans you’ll see some savings.

Payline Mobile

Payline is one of our favorite merchant account providers, and we like their mobile solution because it’s available independently of the other offerings and suitable for low-volume businesses, which isn’t common with traditional merchant accounts.

The app is overall solid, with inventory features, tipping, and discounts. While there’s no invoicing feature, the mobile plans do offer access to a virtual terminal. The app is also designed for mobile use only: it doesn’t support retail/countertop processing features like cash drawers or receipt printers. However, Payline supports multiple tax rates for different items as well as a master tax rate for checkout, depending on your needs.

Payline’s mobile products offer interchange-plus pricing, too: the Start plan (formerly Spark Plan) will charge you 0.5% over interchange plus $0.20 per transaction with no monthly fee; the Surge plan charges a 0.3% markup plus $0.20, with a $9.95 monthly fee. The $0.20 per-transaction fee is a little high, but doesn’t put Payline Mobile in the realm of unreasonable pricing. However, it does mean businesses with larger ticket sizes will feel the effects of that per-transaction fee less.

Spark Pay

Capital One’s mobile processing solution Spark Pay is part of the larger “Spark” line of businesses solutions, which includes a fairly advanced online store. However, despite that, Spark Pay the mobile app stands alone, with no integrations.

It has all the major features a merchant would need — tipping, custom discounts, an item library, and support for a countertop setup. Unfortunately, there’s no invoicing, and Spark Pay’s virtual terminal is only in beta mode. You can only set one tax rate in the app as well. However, the major shortcoming is simply that while Spark Pay does offer EMV terminals, there’s not currently an EMV-compliant mobile reader, something that all the other options here do offer.

That said, Spark Pay does offer great customer service, and its pricing is competitive. On the Go plan, there’s no monthly fee and transactions cost 2.65% + $0.05. The Pro plan has a $19 monthly fee, but your rates drop to 1.99% + $0.05.


SumUp has been operating in Europe for several years now, but it’s only reached the US in the past year, which definitely makes it the newcomer. The app is overall solid, though more limited than the others on this list.

You do get a free mobile app and free virtual terminal, as well as a fairly unique tool: SMS payments where customers can complete a transaction by opening a link sent through text message.

However, you can only process on one device at a time, so while you can create sub-user accounts, there’s not much of a benefit. SumUp does support multiple tax rates, but tax rates can’t be deleted when they are associated with an item. You’ll have to delete the item first.

The lack of discounts and the ability to make some changes through the dashboard are a bit disappointing — but the fact that you can manage everything from within the app is a major improvement over a platform like Clover Go, which requires you to make many adjustments in the web dashboard.

There are no recurring billing or card-on-file options, though, and no invoicing, either. That said, SumUp charges a simple 2.75% per transaction, and 2.9% + $0.15 for virtual terminal and SMS payments, with no monthly fee.

Final Thoughts

I’m usually pretty hesitant to recommend one product above all others without consideration of the differences from one business to the next. And that’s true here. If you really only have simple needs, any of the options on this list will serve you well. As your needs get more advanced, it’s definitely worth looking at more advanced setups such as Square or PayPal Here. And as always, the price is a major consideration. Make sure you run the numbers and are confident the rates you will pay are competitive.

The good news is that all of these services have a no-monthly-fee option so you can try them out with no risk. I encourage you to check out our complete reviews of any credit card processing app you’re interested in pursuing. And if you have questions, I encourage you to reach out. We’re always here to help, so feel free to leave us a comment!

The post The Best Credit Card Processing Apps For Mobile And Service Businesses appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


How To Identify The Pricing Model On Your Processing Statement

Credit Card Processing Statement image

“It’s 11 o’clock. Do you know where your children are?”

This was a popular PSA broadcasted to parents in the ’70s and ’80s, back when “stranger danger” was just about the scariest thing out there. Now, I have an equally important PSA for small business owners: “You have your processing statement. Do you know your pricing model?”

The ability to recognize merchant account pricing models (and, most importantly, which one you have) is a crucial step toward understanding your statement, as well as increasing your overall merchant-savvy. We’ve found that many merchants recognize the rates and fees they were quoted for processing, but without any broader context of which pricing model they have. This makes deciphering an already-confusing card processing statement all the more difficult, and makes discerning whether you’re paying too much nearly impossible.

Starting with a statement and working backward to an accurate understanding of how your quoted rates actually kick in is maybe not the ideal introduction to pricing models. Yet, this is most often the way things go, and I’m not surprised. No one goes to “merchant account school” for this stuff, and account providers vary widely in both their skill and willingness to thoroughly explain pricing.

The good news is that small business owners are no strangers to learning on the fly. So, grab a statement or two, and let’s get cracking!

A Quick Primer On Pricing

In broad strokes, the main pricing models are differentiated by the way your merchant account provider handles the wholesale cost of processing (what it must pay to other entities in the processing chain) versus its own markup. There are two separate types of wholesale costs — interchange fees and card association fees — but the differences between pricing models mostly center around how interchange fees are handled.

You’re probably already aware of the vast variety of credit and debit cards in circulation. Each type of card has its own pre-set interchange cost (a percentage of the sale and sometimes a per-transaction fee) that all merchant account providers must pay to the card-issuing bank when that particular card type is used. Over the years, the main merchant account pricing models have developed based on two possible ways of dealing with these wholesale interchange costs:

  1. Pass the interchange costs directly to the merchant and also charge a separate “low” markup.
  2. Blend the interchange costs into one or more “high” overall rates for the merchant that already include a markup.

I’m putting “low” and “high” in quotation marks because we recognize they’re super-relative terms. Not to mention, the exact amount of your rate is only one piece of the puzzle. As a helpful simplification going forward, you can think of “low” as well under 1%, and high as over 1% (often at least 2%, or even much more). The important thing to remember is that a low rate may not include interchange already (look for those costs listed separately), while a high rate likely does.

The “Big Four” Models

The most common pricing models are interchange-plus, membership, flat-rate, and tiered. For more background on the models, check out these helpful articles:

  • Trading Ease For Transparency With Interchange-Plus
  • Tiered Pricing: The Epic Fail Of A Pricing Model
  • Get A 0% Interchange-Plus Markup With Membership Fee Pricing
  • Analyzing The Cost-Effectiveness of Square’s Mobile Processing Solution (flat-rate pricing)

If you’re still a bit foggy on the differences, that’s okay. For now, you can start with your statement and work toward a better understanding of merchant account pricing as a whole. We’ll get there!

Good Indicators, But Not Guarantees

While each pricing model leaves tell-tale signs on a statement, it’s important to note that no “standard” indicator is necessarily a guarantee. Think of the indicators we’ll discuss as good clues, or important signs. In truth, processors may include red herrings in their statements, or invent their own strange hybrid systems. Fortunately, most stick fairly closely to the main pricing models.

Now, we’re finally ready to look at the four main pricing models and their most common statement indicators. The more indicators for a certain model on your statement, the better the odds that’s the model you have. I’ll be using a few snippets of statements as examples, but note that any interchange rates listed are not necessarily the current values. Some of the statements are older. In any case, your statement will never match these completely. No two processors display this stuff in the same way.

Interchange-Plus / Cost-Plus Pricing

All things being equal, interchange-plus statements are the most difficult to read. The big payoff is that you clearly see the difference between wholesale costs and your account provider’s markup on your statements. In this model, the rate you were quoted was just the markup piece — the “plus” in “interchange-plus.” In other words, interchange fees and your account provider’s markup are charged separately. Typically, interchange-plus plans charge both a percentage markup and a flat, per-transaction markup. Here’s what you’ll likely see on your statement:

  • Itemized Interchange Rates: 

    Example A: One small section of a long list of interchange rates. Note that each type of card is charged its own pre-set rate, and passed through to the merchant.

  • Consistent “Low” Percentage Markup: Charged separately from interchange fees.

Example B: Consistent markup of 0.40% listed after each card type’s itemized list of interchange fees. All transactions/card types have the same 0.40% markup.

Example C: In the “Rate” column, a consistent 0.31% markup is shown directly above the itemized interchange rate for each type of card/transaction.

  • Consistent Transaction Fee Markup: This per-transaction markup may be found in the same line items as the percentage markups, or down in a separate “authorization” section.

    Example D: Along with a consistent 0.10% markup across the board (Disc %), there’s a consistent $0.10 transaction fee markup (Disc P/I) for all card/transaction types.

Subscription / Membership Pricing

Membership pricing is sort of a riff on interchange-plus. The wholesale interchange rates are still charged separately from the account provider’s markup. The difference is that the markup comes in the form of one flat monthly subscription fee, and also a small, per-transaction markup. No percentage markup is charged. Here are the main statement indicators of subscription pricing:

  • Itemized Interchange Rates: Similar to Example A above.
  • Consistent Transaction Fee Markup: See Example E below.
  • No Percentage Markup: See Example E below. Note that percentages will still be part of itemized interchange rates (not shown below), but no separate percentage markup is present.

Example E: Consistent $0.11 “Item Rate” charged on all card/transaction types. No “Disc Rate” % markup. This account had a membership fee of $120/month (not pictured).  Interchange rates were itemized separately (not pictured).

Flat-Rate / Blended Pricing

This is the model most commonly offered by third-party payment facilitators (a.k.a. PSPs, merchant aggregators) like PayPal, Stripe, and Square. Occasionally, traditional merchant account providers use it as well. In this all-inclusive model, wholesale charges and the processor’s markup are all blended together into your one, flat processing rate. If a per-transaction fee is part of your rate, this also goes toward covering your provider’s wholesale costs plus any profit margin. Your flat rate covers all types of transactions, from inexpensive signature debit transactions, all the way to expensive business rewards cards. You’ll typically observe:

  • No Itemized Interchange Rates: Your statement is quite simple, but you can’t see the actual wholesale cost behind any of your transactions.
  • Consistent “High” Rate: If any rate is displayed at all, it’s usually just one main rate in the high 2% to mid-3% range, and sometimes you’ll see a per-transaction fee as well. Note that some PSPs charge a couple different high rates based on the type of transactions you run (i.e., keyed or ecommmerce vs. swiped/dipped.)

Tiered / Bundled Pricing

This is another case where you can’t see the itemized interchange rates separate from your processor’s markup on your statement. Instead, your transactions are first grouped into tiers according to the processor’s pre-set criteria. Each group (tier) is then charged a flat rate that already includes the interchange costs for those transactions. If you’ve got a tiered plan but have only been quoted one rate, it’s typically the rate for transactions that fall under the lowest, “qualified” tier. In reality, some transactions may be downgraded to higher priced tiers (mid-qualified and non-qualified). You have no real way of predicting these downgrades ahead of time. Here’s what you’d see:

  • No Itemized Interchange Rates: You generally won’t see a list of interchange charges–because why list them if they’re already blended into your tiered rates?
  • Qualified, Mid-Qualified, Non-Qualified Labels: Any line items with any of these labels (or similar-looking abbreviations) is your biggest clue.

Example F: Transactions are charged 1.75%, 2.75% or 3.25% depending on the tier

  • Multiple Rates, Usually “High”: By definition, a tiered program must have at least two rate levels or tiers shown on the statement. The standard model is three levels: qualified (lowest), mid-qualified (middle), and non-qualified (highest). Note that some providers may create a separate set of three tiers for debit transactions, because these wholesale debit costs are cheaper. The bottom levels of a signature debit tier can actually be “low” (well under 1%) and still account for the interchange cost or act as a loss leader. You’ll need to be sure that there are no other higher rates charged on your statement (and examine other indicators) before you can assume your “low” rate means you’re on interchange-plus! On the other hand, all credit card tiers will likely be well over 1% and in the “high” category, so look for those as a better indicator. When you’re looking for multiple rates on your statement, the mid and non-qualified transactions may be listed right next to the qualified ones, or may be shown as separate surcharges later in the statement (like in Example H below).

Example G: Two “high” rates are charged, 1.75% + $0.10 for credit, and 1.21% + $ 0.20 for debit. These are the two qualified tiers of this plan.

Example H: In the same statement as above, we find a surcharge section. Twenty-two transactions were downgraded to non-qualified (amounting to an extra 2%) and 30 to mid-qualified (an extra 1.47%). Multiple rates for multiple tiers at play!

Final Thoughts

Did you recognize your own pricing model among these main four types? If you made it this far with your statement, I hope you’ve at least developed a strong hunch. While each model has its merits for different situations, you can probably tell we prefer the inherent transparency and comparability of models that separate out the interchange costs from the account provider’s markup. By the same token, we have a hard time getting behind the unpredictable downgrading and surcharging of tiered pricing. I’d encourage you to check out our top merchant account providers if you’re looking for a fresh start. All of them offer transparent interchange-plus or subscription pricing plans.

Parents of the 70s and 80s feared “stranger danger” above all else, but my biggest fear for merchants is that they pay too much or even get scammed because they don’t have a solid understanding of their processing statements. Knowing and recognizing your pricing model is one of your best protections as a merchant. If you’re still unsure about yours, drop us a line and we’ll see if we can help!

The post How To Identify The Pricing Model On Your Processing Statement appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


The Complete Guide to Credit Card Transaction Fees

Are there days when you wonder if it’s even worth it to accept credit cards at your business? Do those days happen to correspond with the days you receive your monthly card processing statements? Hmm…interesting coincidence.

We know that accepting plastic is usually worth the cost in the end, whether or not you occasionally fantasize about the good ol’ days of all cash. Still, there’s no denying that card processing fees add up fast. It can be hard to determine where they are all coming from and why they are being charged. Some fees are automatically charged monthly, while others are charged consistently on a per-transaction basis. Still others are charged on a per-transaction basis but only under certain circumstances. Is your head already spinning?

Fortunately, Merchant Maverick has great resources on all things related to card processing costs. I’ll direct you to these as we go along. As you may have caught from the title, this post will focus specifically on credit card transaction fees. (Okay, we’ll throw debit cards in there too). Let’s begin by defining what we mean by “transaction fees.”

A broad definition of “transaction fee”

When most people think of “credit card transaction fees,” I’m pretty sure they’re thinking of the following definition: anything you are charged on a per-transaction basis. If you want an introduction to all of these various fees, this article might not be for you. Please see our Complete Guide to Rates and Fees for more generalized rate and fee information first. If, however, you are looking at your processing statement and want to figure out what some of the specific “nickel and dime” transaction fees mean, read on!

A more precise definition

In the payment processing industry, the term “transaction fee” can actually mean something a bit more specific. We often limit the use of the term to fees charged as a flat dollar amount per transaction. These are the fees we will examine in this post. We will not be looking at percentage-based fees here. Percentage-based fees are often referred to as processing “rates” rather than fees.

Why am I charged flat per-transaction fees?

Per-transaction fees are usually less than one dollar. Sometimes, they are even fractions of one cent. So why do they even exist, especially if you’re already getting charged a percentage of each sale? Is this just another excuse for “The Man” to squeeze you dry, $0.0001 at a time?

I find it helpful to think of these fees as what you pay for the privilege of using pieces of the processing system each time you run a card. Whatever costs are involved in transmitting, encrypting, storing, looking up, verifying, authorizing or otherwise handling the transaction and card data ought to be covered by flat per-transaction amounts. After all, data is data, no matter if the transaction was $5 or $5,000. We’re just moving electrons around in either case. In contrast, costs based on the percentage of the volume of the transaction cover the relative risk involved in handling different amounts of money.

Why should I keep a close eye on transaction fees?

Here are a few reasons transaction fees deserve your attention:

  • They are often “small” — sometimes even fractions of a cent — but can add up quickly
  • There are lots of different types
  • They tend to have odd or vague names and abbreviations
  • The names and abbreviations are not necessarily standardized across the industry
  • It’s hard to decipher exactly what function each one serves
  • It’s easy for merchant account providers to sneak in extra, unnecessary ones
  • It’s easy for providers markup existing, legitimate ones

How are transaction fees labeled on a statement?

Honestly, the nomenclature for transaction fees is all over the map. We’ll dive into some of the specific names and abbreviations for individual fees as we go. Fortunately, most statements will at least divide any percentage of volume charges and any per-transaction fees into two separate columns. Here are some common headings for flat per-transaction charges:

  • Item rate
  • Item fee
  • Sale item fee
  • Per item
  • Per item rate
  • Per item fee
  • P/I
  • Disc P/I
  • Tran fee
  • Trans fee

When you match up the main column heading to the individual name or abbreviation of each charge along the left-hand side of a statement, you should have a good idea of what the fee is and how much you’re charged each time. Pay attention to the number of transactions that incurred the fee too. This will often help clarify the fee’s identity and purpose.

Where will I encounter transaction fees?

1. Interchange Rates

The interchange rates (a.k.a., interchange reimbursement fee, wholesale rate, or discount rate) are decided upon by the card networks. Interchange rates differ depending on card and transaction type, but most are composed of a percentage of volume rate and a flat per-transaction fee. Interchange costs are considered non-negotiable for merchants.

2. Your Processor’s Markup

Depending on your pricing model (e.g., tiered, blended, interchange-plus, subscription), your processor’s markup will be handled differently. The markup over interchange may already be lumped in with your overall rate, or interchange may be charged separately from the markup. In other words, whatever is quoted as your “processing rate” may or may not have interchange already included. If you’re not sure which pricing model you have, check out our complete rate and fee guide. What you need to know going forward is that your rate — whether it’s just your provider’s markup or a blend of their markup and interchange — may include a percentage fee and a flat per-transaction fee component. And, depending on the pricing model, it may include just one or the other type of charge.

3. Card Brand Fees

These fees are collected by card networks — Visa, MasterCard, etc. — and most of them are charged on a transactional basis. Like the interchange costs, they’re considered non-negotiable, pass-through costs by your merchant account provider, so watch out to make sure they don’t get marked up! Card association fees may involve a percentage of volume or a flat, per-transaction charge, depending on what the fee is supposed to cover (catching a theme here?).

Dharma, one of our preferred merchant account providers, maintains a handy list of card brand fees. I’ll list just a few examples below. Each card brand tends to have fees that cover the same kind of things, but with frustratingly different names, just to annoy us all. As you might expect, Visa and MasterCard’s fees line up more closely than the other card brands.

  • Assessments: This is the main card brand fee. In fact, sometimes people just use “assessments” as a blanket term for all card brand fees. Visa charges 0.13% + $0.0195 per transaction for all your Visa credit card sales, for example. We might call the second piece — the $0.0195 — a “transaction fee” by our working definition. Sometimes, that flat per-transaction bit is separated out and called the Acquirer Processing Fee (APF). For MasterCard, the flat per transaction part of the assessment is called the Network Access and Brand Usage Fee (NABU). Note that some blended pricing plans may already incorporate these assessment costs into your rate quote.
  • Fees for Transaction Problems: Some card brand transaction fees only kick in if something out of the ordinary happens, such as when there’s been a mistake, mismatch, or omission in the way the transaction was processed. This includes fees with exciting names such as the Zero Floor Limit Fee, Misuse of Authorization Fee, and Transaction Integrity Fee.

4. Authorization & Authorization-Related Fees

All transactions require some kind of authorization. If the card is accepted, the authorization turns into a full-blown transaction. If the card is declined, then an authorization procedure has taken place without a transaction ultimately occurring. This means that you can potentially have more authorizations (and authorization fees) than transactions that actually go through.

So how do processors cover authorization costs? Well, some providers bake any authorization costs into the flat per-transaction fee that comes with your rate quote. In my mind, that’s exactly what any flat per-transaction fee charged by your processor should cover. Nevertheless, the technical difference between a transaction and an authorization is part of the reason why you’ll often see them broken down into separate categories and fees.

If you’re on a pricing plan that has no per-item flat fees, you can bet that authorization costs have been covered by a higher percentage of volume charge, or by some other piece of your plan’s overall fee structure. Meanwhile, there are definitely a few authorization and authorization-related costs that are commonly charged separately:

  • AVS Fee: The Address Verification Service is accessed as part of every keyed-in transaction to provide an additional layer of fraud protection. The card’s billing address is requested and verified before authorization is given. eCommerce and telephone-order businesses must use this service every single time they authorize a transaction. Consequently, many quoted rates for eCommerce and card-not-present transactions already have an AVS charge included as part of the flat per-transaction fee. But some don’t! If you run mostly card-not-present transactions, you’ll definitely want this matter clarified up front. Meanwhile, brick-and-mortar merchants will only see an AVS charge on the odd occasion that they must manually key-in the customers’ card info.
  • Gateway Fees: Payment gateways are used to authorize transactions that occur via the internet only. Since not every business needs one, gateways are often separate add-ons to merchant accounts, with separate fees. Gateway fee structures usually involve a monthly fee, and sometimes a flat per-transaction fee as well. You can see how costs could add up quickly for an eCommerce business if there was gateway fee, plus an AVS fee, plus a main transaction fee, plus a separate authorization fee! Thankfully, many eCommerce payment providers will charge a gateway fee in lieu of the AVS fee, or just charge one main “transaction fee” that covers everything. The important thing is to know the exact set-up for your account.
  • Voice Authorization Fee: This is a telephone dial-up service for transaction authorization. When a transaction is outside the normal range of a particular customer’s purchasing behavior, a voice authorization may be triggered. The customer will need to provide additional information over the phone to verify he or she is, in fact, the cardholder. Occasionally, merchants use this service as a backup if their terminal, internet connection, or software isn’t working to authorize transactions. Most businesses will rarely need this service, but it’s typically a per-transaction, flat fee if you do.
  • Other Authorization Fees: You’re gonna hate me for saying this, but there are lots of other authorizations that could be charged in addition to the regular “transaction fee” that’s part of a normal rate quote. Many of these charges come from the large processor behind the scenes of a merchant account, such as First Data, Elavon, or TSYS. This means your smaller merchant account provider might consider them as “pass-through” from their perspective, providing a convenient little excuse not to bring them up. The authorizations are usually named for the way the authorization is communicated, such as over a toll-free number, a “wide area telephone service” (a.k.a. WAT or WATS), a local phone number (LOC), digital data over voice, a dial-up point of sale device, carrier pigeon, stagecoach…you get the idea. So, if that’s the way your transactions are normally processed, you could get charged the corresponding fee every single time.

Final Thoughts: How can I keep my transaction fees under control?

You can’t avoid the fact that when it comes to card processing, multiple entities will whittle away at your profit, one tiny piece at a time. (You were tired of having money anyway, right?) The good news is that with a little time spent educating yourself on transaction fees, you can begin to spot any that are suspiciously high, and perhaps some that shouldn’t be there at all.

Here are a few actions steps, as well as questions to ask your merchant account provider about your transaction fees:

  • Know your pricing model. You should know what type of pricing model you have and which non-negotiable fees (i.e., interchange fees, card brand fees) are already blended into your rates.
  • Before you sign up for a merchant account, ask for a sample processing statement. If they agree to give you one (most good providers will), it may not have every possible transaction fee represented. However, you can still begin to familiarize yourself with their terminology, abbreviations, and categories for fees. It helps to have something concrete in front of you that you can ask questions about. Plus, you’ll have a baseline for spotting unexpected fees later.
  • Ask specifically about transactions fees and authorizations. Don’t be afraid to press your merchant account provider about transaction fees. “Will the transaction fee that’s part of the processing rate I’ve been quoted be the only transaction fee I’ll be charged? Are there any other separate authorization fees I should expect to see on the bulk of my transactions?” POS-WAT or POS-WATS is one that comes up a lot as an extra authorization charge for brick-and-mortar merchants, so you could even ask about that one as an example. If your sales rep can’t adequately answer these questions, ask to be put through to someone who can.
  • Card-not-present merchants: be especially aware of AVS and Gateway fees. All eCommerce and other card-not-present transactions will need to access the Address Verification Service to complete the authorization. This means eCommerce merchants should specifically ask if this fee is already included in your normal transaction fee, or if it will be a separate charge. eCommerce merchants should also inquire as to whether an additional gateway per-transaction fee is part of the pricing plan or if it’s already covered by the main transaction fee in your rate quote. Knowing whether these fees are already included in your rate will also help you better compare costs between providers.
  • Carefully review your statements. Even though this is the Complete Guide to Credit Card Transaction Fees, we couldn’t possibly cover every authorization, strange abbreviation, or totally made-up term your provider may use to identify each of the fees on your statement. Sneaky merchant account providers may mark up card brand fees, or invent tiny transaction fees that add up over time. Then, they’ll name their fees in confusing ways to cover their tracks. If you’re not sure about a certain interchange or card brand fee on your statement, you can usually look it up to see if 1) it’s a valid fee in the first place, and 2) the established price is what you’re being charged. If these wholesale costs were supposed to be blended into your rates, you should still keep an eye out for extra transaction fees charged separately. Compare what you were told when you signed up with what you see on your statement.
  • Watch out for multiple authorizations. Really, you shouldn’t be charged multiple times to authorize one transaction. At most, there may be an extra security step and fee involved (like in the case of AVS for eCommerce transactions). But even in that case, good providers will either charge you one flat per-transaction fee to cover authorization costs, or fully disclose additional fees like AVS, Voice Authorization or a backend processor’s pass-through authorization if it’s charged separately. The most exasperating fees are extra authorizations you were never told about, but that occur on pretty much every transaction. The only way to catch these is to scan your statement carefully for those flat per-transaction charges.

The post The Complete Guide to Credit Card Transaction Fees appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


Crowdfunding For Startups: 8 Tips For Launching

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startup crowdfunding

For a people who revere startup culture and the idea that one can bootstrap one’s way to business success, we seem to prefer the TV version to the real thing — especially as of late. It turns out that new business creation recently approached its 40-year low. Banks are retaining their Great Recession-era tight-fistedness and the costs of education, housing and healthcare continue daily to expand beyond the ability of most Americans to keep pace. Frankly, our veneration of the entrepreneurial spirit does not appear to extend to supporting policies that would actually increase people’s ability to take the financial risks required to start their own business.

Due to these factors — along with the legalization of equity crowdfunding accomplished via the passage of the JOBS Act in 2012 — crowdfunding has arisen as a means of raising startup funds. You may only be familiar with crowdfunding in the context of all the medical- and disaster-based campaigns that have been making the news lately, but crowdfunding is a viable way to raise money for businesses as well.

The fact is, for the right kind of new enterprise, a crowdfunding campaign can be a great way to raise a much-needed initial infusion of capital. The biggest crowdfunding site for startups, Kickstarter (see our review), has seen over $3.4 billion USD raised by product-oriented business projects. To be fair, this money didn’t just fall into the laps of the startups in question. Crowdfunding takes some work to get right. However, it’s hard to imagine that the campaigners who raised that $3.4 billion could have raised that same sum via conventional means.

Just know that you’ll have a lot of competition for those crowdfunding dollars. You need to go into it with more than just a good story (not to discount the value of a good story!) — you’ll need to tailor your campaign to suit your particular enterprise, and you’ll need to give your potential backers a personal stake in supporting you with the promise of rewards, profit, or both.

Here’s what you should do to prepare before you begin.

Table of Contents

1) Learn Which Type Of Crowdfunding Suits You Best

If you know anything about non-charitable crowdfunding, you’ve likely heard of Kickstarter and its rewards-based crowdfunding model. What you might not be aware of is that Kickstarter is but one method of crowdfunding available to startups.

Rewards Crowdfunding

Rewards crowdfunding is what most people think of when they hear the term “crowdfunding.” Along with Kickstarter, Indiegogo (see our review), Patreon (see our review), and GoFundMe (see our review) are examples of popular platforms offering rewards crowdfunding. I’ll get into the differences between these platforms later on, but suffice it to say, these platforms generally involve raising money from The Crowd in exchange for rewards that are directly related to your startup’s mission. The platform will then take a cut of what you raise (except in the case of GoFundMe).

Equity Crowdfunding

Equity crowdfunding is a different beast entirely. The field of equity crowdfunding is a new one. It was legalized by the JOBS Act, which was signed into law in 2012 and whose provisions have gradually taken effect over the last few years. The JOBS Act was seen as a way to facilitate greater access to capital in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Equity crowdfunding differs from traditional rewards crowdfunding in that instead of backing a project in exchange for exclusive illustrations or a gadget or tickets to a performance, backers become investors who receive an ownership stake in the company. Investing is much more heavily regulated than rewards crowdfunding, so it’s a more legally complex way of raising funds than using Kickstarter. What’s more, the JOBS Act provides for two similar yet distinct forms of equity crowdfunding: the type in which you raise money from accredited investors only (which basically means rich people) and the type in which you can raise money from non-accredited investors (everyone else). Most equity crowdfunding platforms, including Crowdfunder (see our review) and Fundable (see our review), offer equity crowdfunding for accredited investors only, while a few upstart companies like Wefunder (see our review) offer equity crowdfunding for all (sometimes referred to as Regulation Crowdfunding).

Debt Crowdfunding

Debt crowdfunding, like equity crowdfunding, involves investing in a security of the company in question. However, with debt crowdfunding, the investor is a lender who gets paid back on a fixed schedule with interest. From the perspective of a startup, getting into debt crowdfunding means you’re borrowing money — not from a bank, but from a crowd of investors. Kiva U.S. (see our review), Lending Club (see our review) and Prosper (see our review) are all prominent debt crowdfunding outfits.

If you’re wondering which of these three types of crowdfunding best fits your startup, here’s a quick rundown for you:

  • Rewards crowdfunding is best suited to startups in the business of producing content for people to consume. Artists, gadget makers, podcasters, filmmakers, and board game producers have all made good use of rewards crowdfunding.
  • Equity crowdfunding makes sense for startups with exponential growth potential that do not produce a singular product or experience to share with a crowd of backers.
  • Debt crowdfunding is for startups that need cash for a defined purpose and that have the ability to pay back the loan.

For more information on the subject, I recently wrote an article comparing and contrasting these three types of crowdfunding. Check it out!

2) Research Different Platforms To Understand Their Differences

Simply knowing the difference between the three varieties of crowdfunding doesn’t provide enough information for you to settle on a platform. For one thing, crowdfunders like Indiegogo and Fundable offer both rewards and equity crowdfunding. For another, the terms, fees, content policies, and even the structure of the crowdfunding campaigns themselves differ from platform to platform.

For instance, you might be trying to raise funds to build your own board game company and have your sights set on Kickstarter. However, Kickstarter is a more exclusive platform than most rewards crowdfunders — it might not accept your campaign proposal. What’s more, you might find Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing funding policy intimidating. With all-or-nothing funding, if you raise less than your stated goal amount during the length of your campaign, you get nothing at all. You might find a platform like Indiegogo more to your liking, as Indiegogo accepts any campaign that doesn’t violate its rules while allowing you to collect whatever you raise with your campaign regardless of whether you’ve hit your goal.

Let’s say you’re an artist collective seeking to put on monthly art exhibitions. The Kickstarter/Indiegogo fundraising-for-a-one-time-event model of crowdfunding may not be for you. You might find Patreon to be a better fit. With Patreon, backers (or “patrons”) sign up to support you on an ongoing basis, either per month or per creation. You won’t have to gin up a new crowdfunding campaign every time you want to start a big project.

Likewise, equity crowdfunders vary greatly in their policies — SeedInvest (see our review), for example, boasts of only accepting 1% of those who apply to crowdfund on its site, whereas EquityNet (see our review) accepts any startup applying to use its services.

3) Check Out Other Crowdfunding Campaigns To See What Works (And What Doesn’t)

When you’re raising money via crowdfunding, you have one big advantage over those trying to raise money via other means. If you’re applying for a bank loan, you don’t get to browse through every loan application ever submitted to the bank or view the result of every application. But with crowdfunding, in most cases, the data is there for everyone to see!

Kickstarter is typical for a crowdfunding site in that every campaign ever posted to its website is left up permanently, regardless of whether the campaign succeeded or not. For the creator whose ridiculous campaign never really got off the ground, this permanent record of failure may not seem like such a boon. However, if you’re a startup looking to identify patterns in past crowdfunding campaigns that correlate with success — as well as patterns that correlate with not-success — this data is quite valuable indeed. I would strongly advise you to make use of it! Don’t be too proud to emulate what has been shown to work.

4) Be An Intensive Self-Promoter

If you’re the modest, retiring sort who spurns self-promotion, get ready to change your approach  — that is, if you want your campaign to succeed. Spend some time promoting your startup’s cause before taking the crowdfunding plunge (Indiegogo recommends at least two months of prep time before launch).

Do the legwork necessary to build up your social media following before starting your crowdfunding campaign, so that when you launch your campaign, you’ll have a built-in audience that is already receptive to your message. Contact journalists who cover your field. Build an email list. Consider buying ads on Facebook or Twitter to promote your campaign. Unfortunately, with crowdfunding as with so much else in our fallen world, you have to spend money to make money.

Remember to tailor your self-promotional efforts to fit your audience. If you’re looking to conduct business with accredited investors, a hard-nosed, data-focused approach may bear more fruit than a flashier look-how-cool-we-are campaign.

5) Create A Professional Video

I suppose I could have included this point in the previous section, but I think it deserves to be emphasized on its own. According to Kickstarter, posting a video to go along with your campaign increases your likelihood of ultimately succeeding from 30% to 50%.

Here’s another example of “spend money to make money” — a professional video with decent production values will make your potential backers more confident in the potential of your enterprise than something produced on the cheap. I’d love to live in a world where one could devote all one’s energies towards their true passions and not have to set aside time and resources for salesmanship, but we don’t live in that world. So, make a video. Keep it to just 2-3 minutes. You can get personal, but make sure to hit all your main points about your startup and its potential. Don’t forget to mention the benefits backers stand to earn!

6) Get Commitments From Backers Before Launching Your Campaign

It might not be fair, but it’s not easy to attract backers when your campaign first launches. An adverse first impression can easily dissuade someone from contributing to your campaign, and seeing “$0 pledged” next to your project can be enough to cause a prospective backer’s wallet to close. That’s why it’s important to line up commitments from backers before your campaign launches.

Time to make your family and friends prove their love to you by securing their backing before your campaign goes live! Gather commitments from your followers as well. Remember how I mentioned that you should build an email list of potential backers? Here’s where you can put that list to good use. Email your followers immediately when your campaign goes live. Get some pledges early and it will be all the easier to get subsequent commitments from backers. Data provided by Kickstarter backs this up — while their overall project success rate is just a hair under 36%, projects that raise over 20% of their goal have a 78% success rate.

7) Don’t Be Afraid To Use Analytics

The use of analytics is the only way you’ll be able to tell just what kind of traffic to your campaign page is converting to pledges. Use whatever analytical tools are available to see where your pledges are coming from and how you can boost them.

For instance, Kickstarter’s Project Dashboard gives you access to a trove of data regarding exactly where your backers are coming from. This data is invaluable when determining where you should focus your marketing.


8) Stay In Touch With Your Backers

Show your backers that you respect them by staying in touch with them. Keep them updated on your progress. After all, these are people who made a financial commitment to you knowing that there’s no guarantee that your plans will come to fruition.

Monitor social media chatter related to your campaign to see if particular concerns pop up repeatedly. If so, do what needs to be done to address these concerns. After all, you’ll want to stay in their good graces if you want to launch another crowdfunding campaign in the future!

Final Thoughts

Crowdfunding doesn’t work out for every startup that tries it. If you do your due diligence, however, you greatly increase the likelihood that your campaign will reach its funding goals. Follow these tips, and you’ll have a fighting chance to get the funding you need so that you can ultimately focus on growing your startup, not on fundraising!

Jason Vissers

Jason Vissers is a writer, cereal chef and Netflix aficionado from San Diego. A native Californian who enjoys the beach, Jason nonetheless prefers to do his surfing on the World Wide Web, the raddest wave of them all. Jason can’t eat raisins.

Jason Vissers


Thank You Page Best Practices, Ideas & Examples

A visitor has taken some sort of action on your site… hurray!

Before you celebrate too much, let’s talk about your Thank You page.

The Thank You page is one of the most underrated pages on a website. We often focus so much on getting someone to take an action (like purchasing a product, signing up for a webinar, downloading a whitepaper) that we forget how valuable a Thank You page can be, or the effort we should put into it.

A Thank You page, when used correctly, can be a crucial part of nurturing your audience.

But before we dive into some best practices, let’s cover the basics.

What is a Thank You Page?

A Thank You page is where a visitor is taken after completing a desired action on your website. It’s also sometimes referred to as a “confirmation” page because it confirms an action was taken.

A Thank You page can follow up any desired action on your site, from filling out a contact form to subscribing to an email newsletter or purchasing a product on your site.

Do I Need a Thank You Page?

If you have some sort of action you want visitors to take (also known as a “conversion” in marketing speak), then you absolutely need a Thank You page on your website.

This page not only serves as a way to confirm the action was taken successfully, but it also allows you to continue to engage your visitors, especially while they’re still “warm” (sales jargon for they’re more likely to want to interact/do business with you).

A visitor who has just taken an action on your site is incredibly valuable because they’re indicating they’re interested in you and what you have to offer. An effective Thank You page is a way to further that relationship and keep that interest growing.

Plus, saying thank you after your audience does something on your site is just plain polite.

Thank You Page vs. Thank You Message

A lot of forms and landing pages include built-in functionality to display a confirmation message once an action is completed. This functionality generally keeps users on the same page and simply replaces the form/download button/purchase area with a thank you message.

While showing this message is enough to confirm the action, in most cases, it doesn’t do much for continuing to engage with your audience. This is where a dedicated Thank You page can do wonders for your post-conversion opportunities.

By leveraging an individual page instead of a message on the existing page, you have more flexibility and opportunities to increase engagement, share relevant content, and provide additional opportunities to convert.

For more about thank you pages vs. thank you messages, check out this article by Hubspot.

Thank You Page Best Practices

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into the details. Here are seven Thank You page best practices you can implement on your own site.

Give Confirmation

The first thing your Thank You page should do is confirm whatever action your visitor just took was completed successfully. For example, if they’ve just subscribed to your weekly newsletter, your page might say something like, “Thank you for subscribing to our weekly newsletter.”

Your Thank You page should also confirm any relevant details relating to the conversion, such as how long it will take you to respond after they’ve filled out a contact form, or when they can expect to receive the whitepaper they’ve opted-in for.

ShivarWeb Thank You Page

Ex: ShivarWeb

Remember, this is someone who has indicated interest in your business. You want them to feel valued right off the bat and to know that the action they took actually worked. The best way to do that is to confirm all of the details as soon as they finish the conversion.

Include Navigation

One of the worst things you can do on your Thank You page is keep your audience stranded there. These are people who have just indicated they’re into what you have to offer, which means this is the perfect time to keep them hanging around your site!

At the very least, your Thank You page should include your website’s navigation to allow your audience to stick around and explore your site some more.

The Skimm thank you page

Ex: The Skimm

Provide Related Content/Actions

Aside from using your navigation to give your audience an opportunity to stick around, your Thank You page is also a great place to provide related content or additional actions your lead may find interesting.

For example, if they’ve just opted-in to a whitepaper, you could provide related content on the same or a similar subject. This is a great way to continue to “warm up” your visitors (AKA make their interest in you grow) without being overly sales-y.

You could also use this opportunity to lead your users further “down the funnel” (the next step closer to purchasing) by offering another relevant action. For example, Hubspot offers a free session to learn more about their software after you opt-in to download one of their guides.

Hubspot Thank You Page

Ex: HubSpot

If your Thank You page shows when a visitor has already taken a purchasing action, you can still use related content to keep them engaged. The easiest way to do so is to display related items they may also be interested in — Amazon is renowned for doing just that!

Amazon Related Items

Ex: Amazon

Add an Offer/Promotion

Did a customer just enter to win a free product? Why not offer a coupon code to encourage them to purchase something sooner?

Adding an offer or promotion can be an excellent way to encourage warm visitors to convert, or to increase the value of a converting customer by enticing them to purchase additional items.

Keep in mind that your offer should be something relevant to their action and worthy of their attention. You don’t want to come across as spammy over overly sales-y. You want to provide something that feels uniquely valuable to your audience and relates to whatever action they just took.

Get Social

Encouraging people to connect with you on social media is a great way to further connect with a warm audience.

Instead of just leaving links to your social profiles, take it a step further and tell visitors why they should follow you. What can they expect to see if on they follow you? News about your business? Tips and tricks related to the action they just took? Spell out the value and make it clear it’s worth it.

katelyn dramis thank you page

Ex: Katelyn Dramis

You can also use your Thank You page as an opportunity to spread the word about your business. This works particularly well for actions like webinar registrations and offer redemptions.

If your Thank You page is confirming an offer redemption or webinar sign-up, include social share buttons to encourage your converters to spread the word on social media with their friends. They obviously think what you have to offer is worth signing up for! There’s a good chance they’ll spread the word for you, too.

Show Off Testimonials

Even if your visitor has just completed a purchase, your Thank You page can still be a place of reassurance that you’re as great as you say you are.

Use your page as an opportunity to show off social proof, whether it be customer testimonials, the number of social media fans you have, or a quick stat or case study.

Your Thank You page should continue to warm your visitors and encourage them either to purchase down the road or to purchase again. Using social proof to help reassure them that you’re the real deal can help this process significantly.

Encourage Opt-Ins & Account Sign-Ups

A Thank You page is the perfect time to ask your audience to become a regular part of your community and an ongoing converter.

For e-commerce businesses, asking your purchases to create an account after converting can yield far more results than asking prior to purchase (and can reduce cart abandonment).

If your business doesn’t include the opportunity for customers to create accounts, you can still invite converters to be regulars by asking them to opt-in to your email newsletter on your Thank You page. Make sure you specify why your audience would want to subscribe to your newsletter — what is it you’ll be offering that makes it worthwhile?

Conclusion & Next Steps

Your Thank You page can be an amazing tool in your sales arsenal if used correctly. Don’t let all of your focus go toward the conversion — spend adequate time on your confirmation page and yield the benefits time and time again.

Start by taking a look at your own Thank You page. Does it confirm the action your visitor took? Does it offer opportunities to stay engaged with your business? If it doesn’t, start by introducing one way for users to continue to interact with you.

Remember, like all pages on your website, your Thank You page isn’t set in stone. Test one approach to adding some meat to your page (like adding related content or a call-to-action to follow you on social media) and see how it works. Then, adapt!