While there are many services that are essential for keeping the lights on and running your business, your merchant account might ultimately be the most important of all. Why? Because it’s the service that gets you paid.
A merchant account allows you to accept payment with credit or debit cards. Once you select a Merchant Service Provider, apply and configure your account, this provider manages the complex underlying work of processing card transactions, working behind the scenes with your Payment Gateway, the Card Associations and your bank account to deliver customer payments into your account. If your business has multiple bank accounts or both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce operations, you will require separate merchant accounts for each. And while in-person payments will require a physical point-of-sale (POS) credit card terminal, running cards online requires a virtual merchant account that connects with your Payment Gateway.
Sound complicated? Accepting online credit and debit card payments certainly can be, because it requires you to deal with additional providers (and yes, bills). But unlike, say, taxes, the added complexity of getting paid virtually is not a certainty – conversely, if you choose your virtual Merchant Account Provider right, it can help you to consolidate and streamline some of your financial operations. If you’re looking to make life – or at least managing payments – a little simpler, here are three important ways a Virtual Terminal can help.
While business growth is good, it often brings with it added complexity. If you have multiple business locations or both brick-and-mortar and Internet-based storefronts, then you are probably all too familiar with the hassles of managing multiple bank accounts for incoming payments. For each account, there’s separate reconciling and reporting, and measuring and comparing performance across locations or units can be an onerous task. Even worse, each provider you work with to administer these separate accounts will have its own fee model and payment schedule, and you’ll have to stay on top of each of those bills every month.
But this financial complexity isn’t a necessary evil. PayJunction’s Virtual Terminal allows businesses to manage all their merchant accounts on one platform using a single login. But its sophisticated reporting features are the part that truly help businesses to streamline on the back end. Typically, managing multiple merchant accounts requires a considerable amount of manual number crunching. With the Virtual Terminal, you can both pull up batch reports and transaction reports by account or generate high-level and more granular statements with side-by-side comparisons of sales by channel or location, and other useful metrics.
Recurring payment models can be a boon for your business because instead of having to win customers again and again, month-after-month, you are assured of having regular, ongoing income. The downside to such models is that actually getting your money can add hassle to your workflow: you must have a secure way of storing customers’ payment information and authorizations (or track down this information from the cardholder each time you need to run their payment), and you’ll have to remember to process the transaction at very specific times. A virtual merchant account that is equipped with the right technology can eliminate these snags.
PayJunction’s Virtual Terminal, for example, allows you to set up automatic recurring payments on the schedule of your choosing. Simply set up an ongoing transaction and seek the customer’s authorization once, and rest assured that each subsequent transaction will run according to your specifications.
Paper can be the bane of your business’s existence. While it’s important to retain transaction records, the logistics of doing so can add cost and inconvenience (not to mention take a toll on the health of both your employees and the planet). For starters, if you store transaction records in their physical format, you’ll have to pay for paper and ink to print off your records and incur ongoing costs for physical storage space. And if you do have to retrieve a record for any reason, you may have to sift through hundreds of receipts to find the one you need. But throw out those old records at your peril: in the event of a chargeback or fraud dispute, you’ll want to be able to pull the right record quickly to prove your position.
Your virtual Merchant Account Provider can help you get out from that mountain of paper by offering secure cloud-based storage. Storing customer card details and transaction records online means you can quickly and efficiently access information such as authorization signatures should you need them; meanwhile, working with a provider that is PCI compliant allows you to rest assured that this sensitive information is protected by the highest standards of cyber-security.
Does your business have a virtual merchant account? Aside from merely enabling online transactions, what have you found to be the best hidden benefit so far for streamlining your business operations? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.