Businesses that special in retail all have one
The next evolutionary step for every retail outlet is in their ability to process credit cards through a merchant services account. Most have already made that step and businesses who are lagging behind may get left in the dust if they don't act now. The good news is that signing up for your merchant services account is quicker and easy now than it ever has been before. Once you have your account set up you will be able to process credit and debit card payments quickly, easily, and securely.
After you have decided that a merchant account is right for your business, the first step is going to be getting some information together. When you open this account your provider is going to need some information from you about your business. Mostly this is just to certify that you are a legitimate enterprise.
Your merchant account provider will first need the information regarding your business's bank account. This is so that after they have processed your customer's credit or debit card, the money can be deposited in your account. They will also need some documents that confirm the existence and credibility of your business.
This can mean a lot of things. Different providers require different documents that can include past tax returns, a business license, photographs of your storefront, and sometimes references from people who work in your field. The best game plan is to get what you already have together, and if your account provider wants anything else you can worry about that later. There's no reason to get one of your warehouse guys to write you a letter of recommendation if you don't have to.
Once you are all set up with your account it is just a matter of getting the right equipment that will allow you to start processing credit card payments. The most common machine for a retail store is the swipe terminal that you see on the counters of pretty much any convenience store. Most merchant account providers will actually provide you with a complimentary card swipe terminal.
There are different types of swipe terminals that you can get depending on your needs. Most have build-in keypads so that your customers can type in their PIN number to use their debit cards. Others have a screen on which they can sign their name instead of signing a receipt. If you prefer a signature on paper you can also get swipe terminals with built-in printers. There are even wireless terminals that allow you to swipe cards from virtually anywhere.
As was mentioned above, many account providers will set you up with free swipe terminals. However, make sure you double check to see if there are any hidden penalties if you cancel your account. If you aren't sure about a provider and think there is a chance you might want to switch, it can sometimes be worth it to just buy the swipe terminal outright. You can use them with virtually any account provider.
After you have your account set up and your equipment in hand that is pretty much the end of your worries. And all this can really be accomplished in a few short days if you have all of your information together. Once your customers start swiping their cards your merchant account will handle the rest. It usually takes about two or three business days for your provider to process the transaction and then have the money deposited into your business bank account.
One of the nice things about processing cards using a real physical terminal is that they have some of the lowest fee rates as well. The account providers recognize that there is far less fraud when people interact face-to-face so there is no reason to kill you on the fees.
Your merchant account provider will also keep you updated on what is going on with your business. They will produce comprehensive reporting packages that are tailored specifically to your business's place in the retail community.
There is still time to get on board with a merchant services account. Although more businesses are taking advantage of this major opportunity every day, you can still sign up now before it is too late. You and your customers will be glad that you did. Mort Paulsen is a freelance writer who writes about a range of topics including merchant services retail merchant account options.