Regardless of your industry or niche, your customers expect you to accept their preferred method of payment. They also demand that the payment process is convenient, fast and secure. Decades ago, it was common to find businesses that only accepted cash or check as a method of payment. As the years progressed, consumers increasingly relied on credit and debit cards for payments. As a result, many businesses today do not even accept cash or checks. Credit and debit card payment processing has evolved dramatically in recent years, providing businesses like yours with several options to choose from. Choosing the best payment gateway for your business requires a closer review of the methods available as a first step.
The Traditional Point-of-Sale System
The traditional point-of-sale system is sluggish and dated, but it is still effective for some businesses. With this POS system, the consumer physically swipes his or her card through a special terminal. The card’s information is encrypted, sent to a specialized gateway and then dispatched to a merchant bank. Finally, the customer’s bank or financial institution reviews and accepts the transaction. The credit card typically must be presented by the consumer when using a traditional POS system, and the consumer must wait while the transaction is processed. Because of the many steps in the process, it may seem to take a lengthy period of time in some cases. Delays at each stage of the process can occur, and these impact the consumer’s experience as well as the experience of each consumer standing in line waiting for their turn to make their purchase.
A Virtual POS System
A modern and innovative payment processing system is a virtual point-of-sale system. This is an online process that eliminates the need for a special terminal. The merchant enters credit card or debit card details directly into the merchant account using an existing mobile device or computer. With this type of payment gateway, the account is validated and the transaction is processed in real-time. The credit or debit card information can be taken by the consumer through the physical card in person or even online or over the phone.
Factors to Consider
When selecting the best payment processor for your business and customers, consider the sales environment. Are your transactions completed in person or over the phone? Do you complete numerous online transactions? In addition, consider the need to purchase numerous specialized and expensive credit card terminals versus using existing devices. Remember that these terminals will need to be updated periodically, which increases your overhead.
While some businesses find that one payment processing method is ideal, others prefer to take advantage of the benefits of multiple payment gateway methods. Before making this important decision that impacts your business and your customers, take a moment to explore the specific features of virtual and traditional payment gateways in greater detail.