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all aboard the payment process

What’s In, What’s Out and What’s a Must?

Sure, onboarding has been a mandatory area of focus for merchants ever since the introduction of modern payment technology some ten years ago. Attaching a dongle to your smartphone was considered by some a fad that will never catch on, but some saw the potential and the inevitable changes the innovation would bring.

Customers Value Speed

Paypal has demonstrated how onboarding a merchant in five minutes or less - as opposed to three and five days that was traditional - is a major draw for customers. Quick and easy onboarding, along with providing good security solutions and easy payments options, is what customers flock to. SMEs that skip this lose customers and business.

This is why software companies have an advantage over traditional acquirers; they are able to automate the merchant boarding process. This automation was possible because software companies would perform far fewer checks of onboarding merchants. 

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The aforementioned PayPal could therefore onboard in five minutes, and so could other popular service providers, such as Stripe or Square. Today, this is standard, so what else should SMEs look for?

Diversity Rules

The main question is how to balance efficient onboarding with the quality of your offerings. Competition today is, of course, fiercer than ever. MSPs work hard not only to provide their clients with the best service possible but also to offer a wide range of services. 

And it is here that an MSP can truly set itself apart from its competitors. The word used often is "stickiness", meaning that more products on offer increase the chances of attracting and retaining clients. As technology develops, MSPs are expected to both improve their existing offerings as well as create new ones.

PayPal’s iZettle acquisition there are concerns that the combined business could reduce competition enough to lead to higher prices and less innovation.

The merger is all about increasing the payments presence in physical retail outlets across Europe.

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Source: Payments Cards & Mobile

Little Things Make All the Difference

Money is always an issue with SMEs, therefore, they will always be looking for the best possible ratio of price to quality and quantity of service offered by a prospective MSP. Good customer service is at the top, of course: fast, reliable and always on-call

Bundling is proving to be an excellent solution for MSPs. Put several products and services together, tie them up with a proverbial bow by aiming them at a particular segment of your target clients and selling them as "tailored to your needs", and you will reap the benefits once your potential clients become actual clients, drawn in by the feeling that an MSP has created the offer specially for them.

Lack of friction means many customers will be relaxed enough to spend more than they perhaps would have using cash. Thus, many SMEs prefer the ability to create and send offers with a link that their customers can use to pay in full or an advance, thus simplifying both reservations and sales. 

Since cash payments in such situations are slower, friction is once again greatly reduced with card payments, leading to customer satisfaction.

good user interface is also important: one that provides data on daily sales from both physical and online retail locations is often cited as a draw for SMEs, as it is an easy process for placing new items and services on sale. In fact, data on sales and customer activity can be of great help to an SME, and MSPs should consider focusing on providing them with tools for such analytics when upgrading their service.

Being Flexible in the world wide web

Flexibility is the key for MSPs when approaching both their offerings and the way they are presented to potential clients. In other words, professionally made sites that are easy to navigate will be a boon when it comes to increasing onboarding. A wide presence is also important.

For example, payments company Worldpay partnered with Amazon and in doing so allowed the retail giant to place its Amazon Pay at the fingertips of over a million US merchants, along with already present payment options of Visa, Mastercard and American Express. 

However, even though offering more services will lead to acquiring more clients, balance must also come into play. 

Importantly, this could also allow Amazon to layer on further services into the mix for merchants, which could potentially include netting third-party merchants into its popular Amazon Prime subscription scheme for free shipping and more.

The Amazon Effect - The Future or Not?

There is also the "Amazon Effect", a phenomenon where the rise of online marketplaces has led to customers becoming used to going to one place for their needs. Why it was named as such is obvious: if you can buy books, DVDs, T-shirts and lawnmowers at the same retailer, you are also very likely to reach for them for anything else.

However, most can't afford to even attempt at becoming a new Amazon and should be careful not to spread themselves too thin. Quantity is good but if the quality of offerings begins to suffer because the MSP is primarily focused on providing "more" without considering if it's also good, they may discover their business failing.

As far as online retail experiences go, virtual malls should also be taken into consideration. The idea behind this was simple: provide shoppers with an online replica of a real-world mall experience.

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There, they could take a virtual walk from one shop to another, visit anything from pharmacies to banks, clothes stores and bookshops. 

But while a compelling idea on paper, the realization of a virtual mall encounters several problems. Many people find it hard to navigate them using a virtual person, and there have been many security concerns regarding the theft of personal and account information. 
Both these issues make a simple SMB online store - or Amazon - much more preferable.