General Business News for February, 2011

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Boost Sales by Expanding Payment Choices for Clients

If your business is like most, your clients come from diverse backgrounds and income levels. Some are old, some young and more than a few of them are among the millions of baby boomers approaching retirement. What do these seemingly different types of customers – and potential customers – have in common? They all demand a variety of choices when it comes to paying for your products or services.

The Cashless Consumer

According to a recent survey, in 2008 about 80 percent of American consumers carried a debit card; 78 percent had a credit card; and 17 percent had a prepaid card. The survey also reported (no surprise here) that paper check and cash payments have steadily declined.

Credit and debit card use has increased dramatically in a global economy where carrying large amounts of cash is much less common than it was a generation ago. Direct deposit has become routine, meaning many consumers never see cash unless they withdraw it from the bank. As a result, debit cards have proliferated as the vehicle for making purchases with checking account funds.

Move Over Cash and Credit – Debit Cards are King
According to, the total number of Visa debit cards in the United States increased to 382 million in 2009, while the total number of Visa credit cards decreased 11 percent to 270.1 million. MasterCard credit cards were down 22 percent, and American Express and Discover were down 9 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Debit cards are quickly becoming the preferred choice for e-commerce transactions as well as those conducted in person.

How Credit Cards Can Increase Your Sales
Accepting credit card transactions can increase your sales by encouraging customers to spend more, giving them the flexibility to buy bigger ticket items and make monthly payments when they cannot afford to buy an item outright. In addition, credit card companies often incentivize their cards with reward programs offering rebates, travel discounts and other benefits to encourage use.

Security and Convenience
Consumers rate security and convenience as the two most important aspects of making purchases. This applies whether orders are received by mail, phone or online through a virtual terminal. The major card providers have instituted a variety of methods to screen for fraud, even if you are not physically swiping the card at your terminal. Internet sales continue to climb and a merchant account from a reputable provider is the first step toward getting your share of these transactions.

Choice Brings Benefits
At the counter, over the phone, by mail or online, your customers expect security, convenience and speed when they make a purchase. Failure to provide all three of these essential elements will result in lost sales, even after the buyer has placed your items in their shopping cart.

Above all, your customers want the choice to use their preferred method of payment. By offering a variety of payment options, your attention to flexibility and choice will make a good impression on the buyer, expand your customer base and retain existing customers.

The flexibility for your customer to pay securely with a variety of credit cards, debit cards and through electronic funds transfer can bring many benefits, including:

  • Improved cash flow
  • An expanded customer base
  • Better client retention rates
  • Higher sales revenues
  • More international customers

Is your business taking advantage of this cashless trend, which will only continue to grow? You can meet your diverse customers’ requirements by ensuring that you are ready to accept a variety of payment methods – and that your buyers don’t run into any glitches or surprises at checkout.

If you don’t already have a merchant account for your business, now is the time to find the right provider for that service and give your customers the payment options they need. If you don’t, your competition will.


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