Online sellers are always looking to expand–expand their product catalogs, expand the reach of their marketing, and expand across sales channels. And when it comes to expansion, thereâs no bigger project to undertake than international growth.
Successfully going global is only possible if you have the appropriate resources in the form of products, market, and software. And while finding a market and products is up to you, we here at Merchant Maverick can help when it comes to choosing the correct software.
International sellers demand more from their shopping cart setups than do domestically-based merchants. Youâll need your shopping cart to be able to display your site in multiple languages and currencies. Whatâs more, youâll need to be able to handle complicated taxes and shipping functions. Your eCommerce software should either come with these features already built in or be able to integrate with extensions to fill the gaps.
In this blog, weâll be discussing four carts that offer merchants the features (and integrations) they need to sell internationally. These software companies maintain a global focus, giving you multiple options for global success and staffing a diverse team of developers from all across the world. If you need the power to create a multilingual site — and a multilingual support team on hand at the momentâs notice — look no further than this list.
Keep reading to learn which eCommerce software programs we recommend for global expansion.
With PrestaShop, international is the name of the game. PrestaShop is behind 270,000 stores worldwide. They have headquarters in Miami and Paris and employ over 100 employees who are proud to speak a variety of languages.
PrestaShop is open-source software that is free to download, highly customizable, and offers loads of add-ons. With a strong international user community supporting the development of the software, you can expect new releases and extensions regularly.
PrestaShop’s biggest downfall is that youâll need developer skills in order to best use the software. Whatâs more, PrestaShopâs customer support costs a bit more than you may be willing to spend.
PrestaShop comes with a robust feature set built in. Here are a few of the ways PrestaShop is especially good for international sellers:
Set Currencies & Automate Exchange Rates: Set your shop to accept a wide number of currencies.
Multi-language Product Sheet: Quickly import product information in multiple languages.
International Forum: Find support from other users in a variety of languages.
PrestaShop Translation Product: Users can assist in translating new versions of PrestaShop.
International Add-Ons: Purchase and download extensions from international developers to further broaden your storeâs functionality.
For more information on PrestaShop, check out our full review or try one of PrestaShopâs easy-to-access demos.
WooCommerce is one of the most widely used eCommerce solutions around. While the stats are uncertain (WooCommerce claims a part in 28% of all online stores, while BuiltWith says Woo is behind 42%), what is certain is that Woo is enormously popular in the eCommerce world.
WooCommerce is free, open-source software that plugs directly into WordPress.com. It is highly customizable and scalable. WooCommerce’s Achille’s heel, as with many open source solutions, is the unfortunate combination of limited customer support and a moderate learning curve. WooCommerce also follows a Core+Extensions model, which means that built-in features tend to be rather basic.
Despite these obstacles, WooCommerce is an excellent choice for international sellers. With employees located in 19 different countries, youâre sure to find support in a range of languages. And given the many international developers contributing to the project, international features are well within reach.
Here are a few of the international selling features that WooCommerce offers:
Calculated Taxes: Set tax rates for the countries and regions in which you sell your products. Show taxes based on your customerâs shipping address and billing address and your storeâs base address.
Supports International Transactions: Accept multiple currencies with the right payment gateways.
WooCommerce Translation Project: Users help make WooCommerce available in multiple languages.
For more information, take a look at WooCommerceâs tips for selling internationally. Or, head over to our review and download the software for free.
If youâre looking into open-source solutions, but our first two suggestions donât quite meet the mark, you should take a look at Magento.
Magento is used by developers worldwide and supports a user base of 250,000 merchants. With such a wide base, the Magento marketplace is always growing. You can expect a steady release of new extensions and payment gateways from Magentoâs global developers.
As an open-source software solution, Magento comes with similar advantages to PrestaShop and WooCommerce. The software is free to download, highly customizable, and scalable. Magento includes a robust feature set and boasts an international user community.
As you might expect, the trouble with Magento lies in its usability. In order to best utilize the platform, youâll need to have confidence in your developer skills. The software comes with a steep learning curve, and there is no phone number to dial for technical support.
Regardless, Magento is a great shopping cart for merchants who are looking to expand internationally. Here are a few of the reasons you should consider Magento:
International Forum: Get help from a community of 150,000 developers. These developers can also help you create extensions that work for your target countries.
Extensions: Take your pick of a vast marketplace of extensions. Youâll find extensions for international payment gateways, currencies, and shipping carriers.
For more information on using Magento to sell globally, take a look at the company’s advice on making your site global ready. To learn more about Magento in general, head on over to our full review or get started now by downloading the platform for free.
If youâre in the eCommerce industry, youâve heard of Shopify. This Canadian SaaS solution is famous for its usability and clean design. And over the past few years, Shopify has skyrocketed in popularity. The platform now hosts over 500,000 stores worldwide.
Shopify is the only hosted solution weâll be including in this list. In general, if youâre looking to build a website that reaches customers around the world, open-source is your best approach. With so much opportunity for customization and growth, youâll likely find that an open-source solution better fits your international storeâs needs.
However, like we’ve discussed, open-source comes with its own challenges, including limited usability and technical support. And so, if you want toÂ take a global approach but arenât sure you can handle the technical challenges of open-source, Shopify may be the way to go.
Here are a few of the international selling features you can benefit from as a Shopify user:
Multi-lingual Checkout: You can set your checkout to operate in over 50 languages. Youâll need to translate the rest of your theme on your own.
Non-US Taxes: Set up tax rates for other countries. You can also set your store to charge taxes on shipping rates.
Numerous Payment Gateways: Take your pick from over 100 payment processors in order to accept payments worldwide.
For more information on Shopify, take a look at our full review or get hands-on experience by signing up for a free 14-day trial.
Hopefully, one or more of these shopping cart options has piqued your interest. As always, I encourage you to take your research further. Read our full reviews, look up comments from current customers, and take advantage of every trial and demo you can get your hands on.
You might also read our article, The Most Important Questions To Ask Before Shipping Internationally, and download our free eBook, The Beginner’s Guide To Starting An Online Store. In this fifty page guide, we unpack everything you need to consider as you approach online selling.
But for those of you who are already planning your global expansion, I wish you the best of luckÂ and bon voyage!
The post Best Shopping Carts For Global eCommerce appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
Credit card merchant account setup doesn’t necessary an inconvenience. Obviously it might appear so, especially when you initially dip your toes along the way, but after some advice in the Maverick, you’ll ready to go very quickly, and hopefully, with no stress.
I’ve damaged the procedure lower into phases for simpler consumption. 🙂
Table of Contents
Phase 1: Research a service provider.
The obivous initial step is to do some investigation. There’s anything pricey and time intensive than winding up having a garbage charge card processor. Should you haven’t already done searching for “merchant account” in the search engines, It is best to achieve this now. I really want you to obtain an concept of the number of processors are really competing for the business….thousands!
Sifting through these may take an entire day by itself. Your natural inclination is to shortcut it, and merely select the first company the thing is, however i encourage you to avoid that. Believe me, your money is going to be happy you didn’t. So fire up your preferred internet search engine, and make a start.
Compile a summary of all of the firms that look legitimate enough that you should pursue further. A number of them will appear good at first glance, however the more you investigate, the greater flaws you’ll find. If you wish to know signs of a good company, then take a look at my “About Our Reviews” page. It essentially explains my process for reviewing processors, which may be necessary sometimes on your research phase. You may also check out my merchant account comparison chart to save a lot of time too.
Once you’ve narrowed your research lower to a number of providers, it’s important to come up with your company profile so that you can start trying to get a free account.
Phase 2: Setup Your Company Profile.
The company profile is really self explanatory. It provides credit card merchant account providers a concept of what sort of processing risk they’re coping with, and just how they ought to setup your bank account. There’s a couple of key questions that it’s important to answer when putting it altogether.
How can you plan to accept payments?
Just how much volume are you planning on processing monthly?
What will probably be your average ticket cost?
Is the business periodic?
How can you plan to accept payments? Different business models require different ways of accepting payments. For those who have a brick-and-mortar location you will want to consider through an actual charge card terminal. Should you process checks, then you’re gonna need to question that service too. Same applies to e-Commerce shopping carts, wireless/mobile, restaurant and/or lodging accounts.
Just how much volume are you planning on processing? Credit card merchant account providers need to understand just how much product sales you intend on processing monthly. If you are a brand new business, try to guess just how much you will be processing monthly, inside the first 6-several weeks of operation. If you were running a business for some time, then most likely you’ll curently have the dpi ready.
What will probably be your average ticket cost? Another apparent question. You are able to figure the dpi by helping cover their some quick math (Total Sales Revenue/Final Amount of Sales).
Total Sales Revenue = $100,000 Final Amount of Sales = 300
100,000/300 = $333 (Average Ticket Cost)
Is the business periodic? Taking care of of economic that many retailers ignore is seasonality. A local travel agency is generally periodic, so you will see apparent periods of everywhere volume. Some merchant providers offer periodic downtime, which will save you money during individuals slow several weeks. Remember to ask about it.
Phase 3: Apply.
After you have your busines profile together, it’s time for you to apply. Return to the number of suppliers that you selected, and affect these. It could appear like overkill, but believe me, it’ll provide you with a great bargaining nick to experience this option against one another. Which raises our next subject, Settlement.
Phase 4: Negotiating Terms and Rates.
Retailers frequently get so at a loss for the applying procedure that they forget to barter using their sales repetition. They would like to have it over and done with, to allow them to start their lives, but promise me that you simply won’t be among individuals people.
Sales people could be annoying and manipulative, but you must know they need you greater than you’ll need them. There’s a lot competition between these suppliers that they’re willing to barter along with you to get your company, but you’ll only benefit should you really try. So, I really want you to swear in my experience that you’re the one who’s manipulative and annoying, not the other way round.
There’s a lot of great books on negotiating that you could read to improve in your skills. Listed here are a couple of of these:
I’ll be publishing an extensive help guide to negotiating credit card merchant account charges here soon, so stay tuned in.
Phase 5: Setup Payment Gateway and/or Terminals.
Once you’ve negotiated the right path right into a sweet deal, it’s time for you to setup your bank account. If you need to online shop, you’re gonna need to integrate your credit card merchant account solution together with your shopping cart software via a payment gateway. Most major shopping carts like Magento Commerce, Interspire and OSCommerce have either base integration abilities and have community plug-ins that allow you to obtain setup. Each shopping cart software and payment gateway combination setup will probably be different, making this where you’ll have to utilize the support groups of each of individuals companies. It’s certainly not nuclear physics though. If you want help establishing your gateway, you can get in touch, and I’ll gladly help.
If you are managing a brick-and-mortar shop, you’ll need to setup some charge card terminals. Usually MSP’s provide you with their very own tech’s to obtain setup, particularly if they’re local. So, you might like to take into account that throughout the research phase. Getting a nearby company process your instalments isn’t just great when the time comes to put together your terminals, but they’re also nearby should you have to them rapidly.
Conclusion: See it just like a hawk.
Establishing your credit card merchant account is just area of the process. Once you’re setup, I recommend that you simply keep an eye on all of your transactions and charges. Also, find the best support repetition in the MSP you registered with, and form a detailed relationship with this person. Getting a friend within the organization is going to be of tremendous value.
So, you’re prepared to expand in to the eCommerce realm, however, you have no idea how to start. You’ve heard all of the hype about internet retail sales figures, and also you want in. Ok now what?
Well, probably the most apparent questions which comes up when one considers moving their online businesses is, “How can i accept payments?” Should you can’t answer that question, you very well may too quit now. 🙁
In the following paragraphs, I’ll construct the fundamental process to get setup by having an eCommerce credit card merchant account (online credit card merchant account), so that you can soon answer that question with full confidence.
Note: I am inclined to use “eCommerce,” “online” and “internet” interchangeably through the article. Hopefully doesn’t confuse you.
Have You Got an eCommerce Shopping Cart Software?
Prior to getting began, let’s acquire one more factor taken care of. Should you not have diabetes already, then you’re have to some eCommerce shopping cart software software. That method for you to display your product or service towards the world…wide web.
You will find loads of carts available varying from robust to reveal bones…both free and compensated. The treatment depends on what you need.
I’ve personally used Magento Commerce, and like it. It’s a really effective platform, and pretty intuitive to make use of. On top of that, the basic level version is free of charge. The only real caveat of Magento is it may not be the very best solution for that absolute newbie.
Should you aren’t comfortable enough to choose something as advanced as Magento, then Shopify may be the cart for you personally. It’s not free, however the plus side to choosing Shopify is you get full technical support together with your money. Essential for the beginners.
Like a side note, Magento just lately began their very own “Shopify like” program known as Magento Go. You need to compare the 2 to determine what one you want better.
Selecting the best Online Payment Gateway
Now that you’ve got your shopping cart software, you’re have to a web-based payment gateway. Many people confuse the payment gateway using the credit card merchant account, but they’re really two various things.
The easiest method to comprehend the eCommerce payment gateway would be to consider it as being the “wiring” involving the shopping cart software and also the credit card merchant account or charge card processor. It’s where all of the important charge card details are transferred throughout a transaction. It’s in which the magic happens. 🙂
Similar to shopping cart software software, you will find a large number of firms that offer payment gateways. You’ve most likely already heard of the largest one known as Authorize.Internet. They’re the 800lb gorilla of the profession, but more costly correctly.
There’s a a number of credit card merchant account providers with great gateways that do not charge on their behalf, like CDGcommerce and Payleap, therefore if you’re trying to reduce monthly charges, then try them out.
One essential factor to keep in mind is you wish to make certain your payment gateway works with your shopping cart software. Usually, it’s better to choose both cart and also the gateway simultaneously in order to avoid any incompatibility issues. The great factor about popular carts like Magento and Shopify is they can integrate with an array of gateways.
Furthermore, gateway providers like CDGcommerce (Quantum Gateway) present an Authorize.Internet “emulation” mode which essentially mimics Authorize.Internet, thus which makes it suitable for any shopping cart software that may integrate with AuthNet.
Selecting the best Online Merchant Account Provider
It is really an easy one. Examine my best providers and discover the organization that provides the very best eCommerce a merchant account. When I pointed out above, CDGcommerce and Payleap are wonderful, much like GoEmerchant and Beanstream.
Of course, make certain you may well ask for interchange-plus prices. Try to choose a service provider that won’t lock you right into a hire a cancellation fee, doesn’t charge a yearly or setup fee, while offering great customer care (you’re gonna require it).
If you want more help working out ways to get a web-based credit card merchant account, tell me.
If you are thinking about using free shopping cart software software to produce or migrate a current online shop, odds are you’re whether confident coder or will be ready to employ a professional to build up your shop. Either in situation, you’ll be thinking about two popular free platforms: Magento and Zen Cart.
Launched about ten years ago, Zen Cart is really a PHP/MySQL platform that branched removed from osCommerce. osCommerce was among the first free carts hitting the scene in 2000 (take a look at our osCommerce and Zen Cart comparison here.) Using more than 100,000 users under its belt, Zen Cart’s consistent performance, active forums, and relatively simple to complete installation process turn it into a serious contender which has earned many loyal users. However, many developers complain that although the program is a great candidate for code newbies, its less malleable PHP coding framework shows aging process.
Magento is completely customizable, elegant, flooded with features…and has a steep learning curve. An intricate open cart solution, Magento has been utilized by greater than 150,000 retailers because it launched greater than 5 years ago and it is a finest fit for mid to large-size companies who are able to afford help to obtain their store launched and maintained. I recommend getting a pro developer that has effectively labored with Magento prior to getting began, in addition to a designer based on your developer’s set of skills.
Observe that the next article compares Zen Cart to Magento CE, Magento’s free, free option.
Do not have time for you to read a whole article? Check out our best search engine optimization for any couple of quick recommendations. Every option we present here offers excellent customer care, superb website templates, and simple-to-use software, all for any reasonable cost.
Otherwise, keep studying to understand how Magento and Zen Cart perform within our mind-to-mind comparison.
Table of Contents
Web-Located or Licensed:
Both Magento and Zen Cart are free, self-located shopping carts that is free of charge to download or use.
Software and hardware Needs:
Since they’re both free, downloadable platforms, it’s important to find hosting for the Magento or Zen Cart store. Read information regarding Magento’s hosting requirements here and discover Zen Cart’s guidelines here.
Both Magento CE and Zen Cart are free shopping cart software platforms that won’t cost you a factor to download. However when planning just how much to plan for your store’s creation and launch, bear in mind that it’s important to purchase hosting, charge card processing, (possibly) a design template, security to make sure PCI compliance, and (possibly) a developer and designer. It’s easy to understand the way it can finish up squandering your at least as much to produce an ecommerce site by having an free cart like Magento or Zen Cart instead of a cloud-based option which includes hosting and expenses through the month, like BigCommerce or Shopify.
Simplicity of use:
Champion: Zen Cart
When I just pointed out above, free shopping carts will vary creatures than web-based competitors for example Shopify that include hosting, templates, and security as they are. Both Zen Cart and Magento require technical understanding and a minimum of mid-level coding competency to set up and personalize. If it is not after this you you’ll want to locate a developer to obtain your shop ready to go and train staff regarding how to add inventory, manage customers, fill orders, etc.
I discovered Zen Cart’s admin to become counterproductive, with increased drop downs than needed. Zen Cart’s template system for defining the feel of your shop (its as they are template is particularly underwhelming, so customizing its PHP code is essential) is sensible after committing serious amounts of it, but anticipate to search and peck to locate standard elements like product options and tax settings. That stated, when your store is live you’ll most likely have previously mastered in which the areas of Zen Cart’s admin which are highly relevant to you reside (also known as adding products and managing orders) and may ignore admin tabs like “index listing,” “default page status,” and “option value manager.”
You’ll need to know that some developers describe Zen Cart’s code as sloppy which its periodic software updates can lead to lost design and integration customizations. But overall its PHP-based code helps it to be simpler to get going rapidly, a minimum of when compared with Magento.
Magento’s complex code is notoriously difficult to master, and it is short stack of support tools make partnering by having an experienced pro crucial, particularly if you’re shelling out cash before you’re in a position to start earning it back by finishing sales. Magento’s backend isn’t a lot more streamlined than Zen Cart’s, with confusing system settings and admin pages that aren’t always in which you expect these to be. Intend to spend some time finding out how to add orders and keep your store.
Overall, I discovered Magento to provide a better developed, better quality group of features which are crucial for creating effective online retailers. For instance, only Magento is enhanced for smartphones and tablets, that is a must for reducing abandoned carts, especially since a lot of us are browsing and purchasing on cellular devices. Also, Magento arrives with more powerful fundamental Search engine optimization tools. Plus, I love that it may support several store from one admin–that’s a less frequent feature overall in web-based, downloadable, or free shopping carts.
Zen Cart does present some features you will not find after installing Magento, including gift cards along with a (dated) WYSIWYG tool. But Magento’s product comparison feature, coupon system (Zen Cart offers light coupon functionality), wishlists, and uber important one page checkout tend to be more types of extras making it soar beyond Zen Cart within the features department.
For more information concerning the feature teams of both carts, take a look at our complete Magento review here and Zen Cart review here. If you are confused or at a loss for your choices and would really like help sifting through shopping cart software software we’re here to assist. Take a look at Merchant Maverick’s talking to services.
There isn’t any doubt that both Magento and Zen Cart can establish completely functional shops, but getting there’s most likely likely to mean dealing with a thick pile of customizations or purchasing a theme. It’s one more reason to utilize a professional if you are not confident nipping and tucking code.
When you can tweak the headers, colors, fonts, along with other fundamental elements of design with Zen Cart’s as they are theme, I counsel beginning having a different skin since its default choice is, to become diplomatic, very dated. Take a look at more Zen Cart free themes to get an understanding of what’s available. Or, you are able to employ a designer to carry out a custom look that’s totally unique, that is things i recommend.
Compared, Magento has been utilized to create what, for me, tend to be more elegant stores (browse some Magento live stores here and Zen Cart live stores here to check.) This minimal free Modern Theme for Magento is miles over the skin which comes standard with Zen Cart in looks and usefulness. Plus, Magento’s template system streamlines customizing skins. Take a look at various other Magento templates here.
Integrations and Add-Ons:
Magento arrives with several helpful features as they are, but you’ll wish to browse its countless free and fee-based integrations too. Take a look at its full plug-in list here by selecting “Community” under “Platform” around the left side from the screen. Extras are sortable by rating, relevance, and cost.
As opposed to Magento, which arrives with lots of more features after it’s downloaded, intend to depend on Zen Cart’s plugins to complete your store’s set of features. Zen Cart offers retailers an enormous database in excess of 1,500 integrations, including admin tools varying from bulk order plugins to advanced login features, language packages, social networking and marketing extras, and prices tools. A thing of warning: We found reports claiming that some Zen Cart plugins really are a bear to personalize and aren’t suitable for new versions.
I love that Magento’s application store lets users leave feedback about plugins which each integration earns a “popularity score.” Individuals factors should in no way be the sole reason you choose to make use of an add-on, but a minimum of the scores provide a frame of reference. Overall, I discovered Magento’s integrations to become more curated, reliable, and helpful.
While it isn’t suitable for as many gateways as some cloud-based shopping cart software platforms, Magento integrates with an array of gateways and third-party processors including PayPal.
Zen Cart integrates with lots of processors too, including Dwolla and Braintree, and supports plug-ins for a lot of more gateways. Also, when i pointed out above Zen Cart supports gift cards as they are while Magento doesn’t. However, Magento does support one-page checkout and guest checkout (each of which for me are essentials that internet buyers have started to expect) while Zen Cart doesn’t.
If you want help navigating the payment processor landscape, take a look at our Credit Card Merchant Account Comparison page or call us for any consultation.
Customer Support and Tech Support Team:
Champion: Zen Cart
Magento CE users depend on its active, almost 2 million member forum when questions show up pre and post stores are live, so bookmark the page for reference. Overall, I didn’t have positive interactions with Magento support–answers to questions I sent staff via email or Facebook weren’t clarified. Also, users are convinced that Magento’s documentation is thin, however it does keep growing.
To contrast, Zen Cart offers several additional tools for help which go beyond its 135,000 member forum, including tutorials and FAQs, YouTube videos, along with a wiki since the installation process and upgrades. Or you prefer holding a reference guide with you you may also order Zen Cart’s instructions.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
Champion: Zen Cart
Retailers and developers have lots to complain about with Magento and Zen Cart. After hrs of research and time spent culling user feedback, we could find out the following common negative trends about each cart.
A vintage complaint about Magento is the fact that it’s slow and clunky. Another common gripe concentrates on the Magento customer care department and documentation, with are essentially nonexistent in the CS edition except for a properly-used forum. Other Magento users aren’t happy that developer charges, security, hosting, and processing charges allow it to be an costly option, leveling out the advantages of that download free pretty rapidly.
Zen Cart users frequently complain about its outdated admin design, lagging marketing and Search engine optimization features, and not seamless version upgrades that may result in lost data. Also, some state that the cart is glitchy, miss good choices for mobile integrations, and wish the opportunity to offer customers one-page checkout. Overall, we found more negatives concerning the better-known and harder to understand Magento.
If you wish to look for other complaints about Magento or Zen Cart, make sure to google Magento/Zen Cart reviews, Magento/Zen Cart complaints, Magento/Zen Cart comments, Magento/Zen Cart scam, Magento/Zen Cart testimonials, etc.
Positive Testimonials and reviews:
We collected assorted positive reports about Zen Cart, varying from kudos because of its solid uptime record, great support sources, and broad group of add-ons. Other Zen Cart retailers verify its customizable admin and worldwide achieve.
But we found more users singing the praises of Magento, with lots of programmers building totally unique, effective stores which are scalable, specifically for medium and enormous size e-tailers. Magento users like its meaty attributes, which rivals some fee-based located competitors, and therefore are happy that it arrives with various coupon and promotions options and may support mobile sales and multiple stores.
Zen Cart gives retailers the opportunity to build relationships an active user community that aims to constantly improve its functionality. It is also fast, lighter, and much easier to navigate than Magento and may take a shorter period to understand. Consider it started 10 years ago, some smarter, leaner free competitors like Spree Commerce and PrestaShop have challenged Zen Cart’s comparatively dated admin and lagging marketing, mobile, and Search engine optimization integrations.
Magento is really a workhorse that may create effective, beautiful stores, however it needs a real commitment. It’ll likely try taking some cold income and also the right team of developers to unveil a effective store, but Magento’s capability to scale enough to aid companies which are big names is definitely an appealing plus: The Harper’s Bazaar and Fiji Water web stores are generally operated by Magento. I additionally found it packed with some of the very features cloud-based carts charge money to make use of. When compared with Zen Cart, Magento is really a fight tested and much more impressive bit of software–if you really can afford it.
Prepared to take both ecommerce shopping carts try it out? Download Magento here and Zen Cart here to find out if either choice is the best fit for the business. Also, take a look at our full Magento and Zen Cart reviews for that full lowdown.
Exactly what do the Walmart Savings Catcher, Macy’s Shop The Right Path, and Delta SkyMiles programs all share? They’re loyalty programs operated by large companies generating huge amount of money annually. These programs offer incentives to customers in return for certain behaviors, varying from frequent or greater spending to social discussing and referrals. By providing carefully marketed incentives, loyalty programs boost sales and feet traffic, increase contact with your company, and open a door for future marketing. Sophisticated, digital loyalty programs aren’t always new, but having to pay between tens to thousands and thousands of dollars of these programs make them unattainable for small companies – until lately.
Loyalty and reward platforms are relatively recent towards the small company space. Numerous companies have embarked to produce top quality, digital loyalty programs at affordable rates. The majority of the companies I’ve reviewed average around 2-four years old the first began in ’09. That being stated, loyalty programs are extremely diverse, and also the rules and abilities of 1 aren’t prone to match another. Regardless of this diversity, most programs are made having a couple of things in your mind. The foremost and primary because you have a company that needs significant feet visitors to stay afloat. Companies for example restaurants, stores, fitness gyms, local niche shops, and ecommerce stores which require frequent visits may benefit a good deal from loyalty programs. Essentially, a properly-rounded loyalty program must do three things: increase repeat business, generate start up business, and provide you with an aggressive edge.
Construct it right. Developing a loyalty program that work well for you personally will require forethought and meticulous planning. While adjustments might be necessary after a while, you need to make certain the basic principles of the program are seem. I suggest studying the McKinsey & Co strategies in more detail.
Make use of the right draws. Among the best tools any loyalty program can provide is the opportunity to collect specific data regarding your customers. This data may be used to tailor promotions while offering to some customer’s preferences, giving your choices more quality and increasing the likelihood that buyers will revisit.
Possess the right reasons. Among the goals of the clients are to earn money. Getting stated that, it can’t be the sole reason if you wish to be effective. Your loyalty program is a superb tool. Utilize it to enhance the client experience, services or products you are offering, in addition to express gratitude for your customers for his or her patronage.
“But let’s say companies used their loyalty programs to help make the service or product better for me personally? Let’s say, rather of paying me for which is generally a similar (and of low quality) experience, they provided the knowledge better?” – Taddy Hall on loyalty programs, The Cambridge Group
So, how can you tell if your loyalty program fits your needs? You will find numerous studies which suggest loyalty programs work, and numerous others which claim that loyalty programs don’t. Based on a Stanford Business article, loyalty programs don’t change customer behavior for top spenders, but instead only affect behavior for low spenders whose overall value might not offset program costs. A more modern article from Business Insider implies that companies without loyalty programs grow in a slightly greater rate than companies that do possess a loyalty program. Mckinsey & Company has identified a couple of explanations why loyalty programs neglect to deliver value, citing insufficient differentiation, innovation, and knowledge because the primary causes. Effective programs shared characteristics for example integrated or omni-funnel loyalty encounters, quality data to facilitate targeted marketing, and partnerships with non-competing retailers.
If you’ve didn’t have a loyalty program before, or else you have however it was unsuccessful, my hope may be the tips offered in the following paragraphs will take you better success. Loyalty programs are available in all sizes and shapes, so selecting the correct one for your company is key.
Table of Contents
Choosing the right Program
Steps Choosing the right program may appear just like a daunting task. Whether you’re a physical merchant or work strictly in ecommerce markets, there’s a numerous possibilities. Prior to choosing a course, there are several preliminary steps you need to take that will help you make a good decision.
The First Step. Define your company. Your company type will matter when choosing a course. Some loyalty programs are produced strictly for ecommerce, while some need a location. If you are generating business both on and offline, you’ll find you will find less low-cost options open to you to streamline the procedure. Within each business type you will see limitations according to your company hardware and software. Some loyalty programs operate like a stand-alone product while some require integration. For brick-and-mortar retailers this can typically involve your POS for ecommerce retailers, this can involve your ecommerce platform or shopping cart software.
Second Step. Define your objectives. Knowing what you would like is half the fight in selecting, well, anything, particularly loyalty programs. From the three functions listed, that is most significant for you inside a loyalty program? Give me an idea your program to complete? Once you’ve written lower what you would like, begin defining how you need to keep it in check. Some programs permit you to make changes anytime towards the program, other medication is smaller. Just how much detail do you want in reports? Are you currently searching for simplicity or impressive personalization options? Be as honest so that as thorough as the hectic agenda enables.
Third Step. Define your limits. It’s important to reconcile what you would like with what you could realistically maintain. Many loyalty programs need a subscription, compensated monthly, though some don’t. Just how much are you able to afford? Are you able to invest in an agreement, as well as on what terms? Creating custom rewards and tiers could be a bit tiresome, as well as time intensive. Determine the length of time you’re prepared to invest in creating and looking after your program.
Fourth Step. Define your census. Probably you’ve already defined some, if not completely of those areas, in certain capacity. Your target audience (the shoppers you need to generate), subscriber base (the shoppers you have) as well as your competition (individuals who sell similar products within the same area or space) would be the areas that warrant probably the most analysis. Get just as much feedback as possible from customers about things that they like. This should help you pick which platform works perfect for your company, in addition to assist you in making significant rewards for the customers.
Survey Your Choices
Once you’ve completed your preliminaries, it’s time for you to start narrowing things lower making a top three list (or even more, if you have time). You should check out the loyalty reviews here on this website to obtain began. For physical retailers, I’d recommend you review FiveStars or Perkville for ecommerce retailers or retailers using both platforms, I suggest you take a look at Sweet Tooth. A couple of areas to seriously consider:
Customer Support. Each loyalty review gives information on customer support and overall impressions. If customer support is really a major feature for you personally, pay attention for this area. Some companies offer great products, but horrible interpersonal relations.
Prices, Contracts and Cancellation Policies. Before getting associated with any loyalty program, know with certainty ways to get out and just what do it yourself. Contract lengths and cancellation policies ought to be well defined and clearly expressed. A thing of caution: sales people will frequently downplay cancellation policies with vague or dismissive solutions. Never be afraid to inquire about more clearness about this subject, or request their official policy if it is not easily available online. Regarding contracts and prices, some companies are prepared to negotiate on either of individuals terms, therefore it never hurts to inquire about.
Simplicity of use. Typically, a great loyalty program ought to be simple for your clients to make use of and simple for you to handle. Some companies perform a better job only at that than the others, but make time to view available demos and tutorials on loyalty software to find out if it will likely be a great fit.
*If you are getting trouble narrowing lower your choices, or would prefer to have another person perform the legwork, you are able to call us for further assistance. *
Each program may have its very own group of features open to you, and options and abilities will be different from business to business. A few of the more prevalent features are highlighted below:
Point-based programs. A place based program provides extensive value and versatility. Use a point based system to provide different point values for various services or products, and provide bonus or marketing suggests encourage specific actions.
Tiered programs. Utilizing a tiered system of rewarding your clients does a couple of things. First, it adds some gamification which provides your clients something to achieve for. Second, it enables you to definitely differentiate between customers and provide rewards according to their profitability.
Social Discussing. From Twitter and facebook posts email incentives, social discussing is a superb tool to market your company and special promotions. Most programs have incentivized social discussing (a coupon reward or X quantity of bonuses) however, many provide it without resorting to incentives.
Reviews. Not every companies provide the ability for the people to take a look at business from where you are, and also the limitations vary. There are several disadvantages in this selection namely, the possibility backlash from rewarding customers for 5 star reviews.
Data reports. Data reports are part of the effective lengthy-term loyalty program. Mckinsey & Co offer tips on how using data acquired through loyalty programs helps boost sales. Data collected from customer behaviors for example purchases, social networking interactions and reward redemptions will help you figure out what works well with each client and interact them in significant ways as individuals or smaller sized groups.
Campaigns & Promotions. Additionally in managing your loyalty program, some companies offer the opportunity to manage temporary or targeted campaigns and promotions via email, mobile application notifications, or SMS texting. These functions frequently include tracking abilities so that you can see whether a campaign ought to be repeated later on, or thrown within the scrap pile.
Mobile check-in. This selection generally needs a customer to download a particular application on their own smartphone. Mobile scanners such as the one utilized by Belly create a customer’s phone their loyalty card which may be scanned at the purpose of purchase. The iBeacon technology utilized by Perka automates the procedure using your customer’s Bluetooth capacity.
Omni-Funnel Features. Omni-funnel refers back to the ability for an organization to provide a seamless experience across multiple platforms. (i.e., beginning my shopping experience on amazon . com.com and finishing it with my cell phone) The amount of loyalty programs with omni-funnel technologies are still fairly small, however, many companies do provide omni-funnel development for his or her clients.
Companies to think about: Search Engine Optimization
Sweet Tooth Sweet Tooth can be obtained through Magento while offering a softer, Beta version in Shopify. Their point- based loyalty program has a clean front finish design and it is wealthy in features including social networking along with other interaction rewards, thorough program customizations, and product critiques. Sweet Tooth enables API integrations in addition to omni-funnel development. They’ve great customer support reviews, however the program could be cumbersome because of its complex rule system.
S Loyalty S Loyalty can be obtained through Shopify or BigCommerce and it is a place-based program. This program is extremely easy to use and could be setup within minutes. It can be bought in parts or in general package. It isn’t a really robust program, however it will get the task done.
Companies to think about: Physical Solutions
Perkville Perkville offers affordable rates for any card free loyalty program. Their features include social networking and referral rewards, in addition to daily data reports. A good option for fitness gyms, gyms and restaurants, Perkville integrates with multiple POS systems and it has a reasonably seamless process. Their transaction limits can be a drawback, however their program has gotten lots of reviews that are positive from retailers as well as their customers.
FiveStars FiveStars offers seamless integration with multiple POS systems, along with a well-rounded loyalty program. Features incorporate a customizable loyalty program, additional marketing abilities via SMS text and email, and knowledge reports to trace the progress of the program.
Belly Belly provides a customer facing iPad having a “per visit” loyalty platform. The Belly card is really a universal card customers may use at any Belly merchant location. An excellent choice for retailers with DIY customers, Belly offers social networking interactions, review abilities, a simple out-of-the-box setup, and knowledge reports which may be filtered into multiple groups.
Loyalty Gator Loyalty Gator offers an array of choices for your loyalty program. Based on your subscription plan, you may choose multiple campaigns varying from the point system to some punch card system. Additionally they offer worker loyalty programs and coalition programs for multiple retailers. Additionally to data possession, retailers receive accessibility API to build up additional integrations.
Running A Highly Effective Loyalty Program
Promotion Before you decide to unveil your program, and for some time later on, advertise it. For those who have an email list, enable your subscriber base be aware of information on this program ahead of time. Many programs offer marketing kits to brighten your doorways and funds registers (or nifty buttons for ecommerce retailers). Make use of the tools you need to tell your friends regarding your program. In almost any correspondence, your clients ought to be informed regarding how to join, how you can earn rewards, and the way to redeem them.
Should you haven’t already, ask your clients what sort of rewards they’d want to see, or make use of the information you’ve already to produce enticing rewards for the customers. With respect to the loyalty program you select, you could possibly get additional help with this out of your marketing repetition or software programs. Rewards ought to be enticing enough to inspire return visits, although not too pricey.
Once you have your loyalty enter in place there’s a couple of things you want to do regularly:
Train your employees. Unless of course you’re the only real worker, the possibilities your employees may have different responses for your new program. Let everybody know upfront what’s expected of these, and make certain to possess very obvious guidelines to follow along with in situation something goes completely wrong (i.e., will we redeem rewards when the system crashes?). Some companies offer training via tutorials or webinars for the employees, so take benefit of individuals things too.
Inquire. Mainly in the beginning, and also at various times all year round, acquire some feedback out of your employees along with your customers on which they consider this program. According to your responses, you may want to have adjustments or re-train staff.
Use every chance. Whether it’s a complaint, concern, or compliment, use every chance to interact your clients inside a positive way. Versatility and courtesy go a lengthy means by improving customer relations.
Place your data to operate. Most loyalty programs have a helpful approach to data accumulation. Some data reports tend to be more extensive than the others, offering thorough analysis and actionable insights, while some just provide raw data for use at the will. The information abilities of the loyalty program are the best, since the insights attracted from that data may be used to enhance your business in other locations. My advice? Go to whichever you need to make smarter choices regarding your program and business.
Should you not seem like your program is fulfilling all your needs, speak to your customer support repetition. Regardless of whether you need additional tools or perhaps your loyalty program requires a couple of tweaks, contacting your repetition and expressing your concerns can help you save considerable time and. A lot of companies are eager to help you. In the end, your ability to succeed is the success.
Safeguards Every loyalty programs aren’t likely to please everybody, so be ready for negative feedback, and prepare for foreseeable problems. All loyalty programs have limitations, and so i encourage you to definitely read both good and bad reviews when searching for your loyalty program. A couple of commonplace problems to think about are highlighted below.
Mobile Application software. If you are searching right into a mobile application for the loyalty software, it’s essential that you understand how your program interacts together with your customers’ phones. For instance, some mobile phone applications focus on all cell phones, while some only focus on smartphones. Also, apps have a tendency to crash more traditional programs.
Ecommerce software. The loyalty software I’ve reviewed for ecommerce can be obtained on 1 of 3 platforms: Shopify, Bigcommerce, or Magento. Though there are several integrations within the works best for the likes of Sweet Tooth, I haven’t seen anyone loyalty program on the 3 ecommerce platforms, therefore the platform you utilize will limit your choices. There’s a couple of software firms that can make custom integrations for the ecommerce store, however these integrations could cost you.
Program limitations. Some companies limit your program through transaction or signup limits, based on your subscription plan. Be sensible when selecting plans with these sorts of limitations, and think about future growth when deciding.
Guidelines Loyalty programs provide essential tools to assist generate business, but the easiest method to stick out is thru customer relations. Most of all, preserve the connection you’ve together with your existing customers. Listed here are a couple of do’s and don’ts worth mentioning about this subject:
Don’t hide your loyalty program. This can be a horrible practice. If you notice that rewards are squandering your an excessive amount of, make alterations in your program or discontinue it. Sporadically telling your clients “the product is lower,” “the machine is damaged,” or “we’re full-scale,Inches paints your company inside a negative light, particularly when individuals statements are blatantly false. If individuals statements are true, which is likely to happen, attempt to offer positive alternatives (i.e. another reward, additional points/punches/perks, or perhaps an I.O.U.). Small gestures go a lengthy way.
Never be stingy together with your customers. Lavish gifts aren’t expected, but common courtesy is. You shouldn’t provide a “tenth donut free” if my tenth donut would be the tiniest, stalest one you’ll find. Help remind your employees that rewarding your clients is a great factor.
Don’t complain for your customers. In case your loyalty program is squandering your money, you shouldn’t gripe for your customers about this. Making your clients uncomfortable will probably turn them off and them.
Do smile. Smiling at the customers and which makes them feel appreciated for patronizing your company goes a lengthy means by keeping them. Whether they’re buying or redeeming a totally free reward, the interaction ought to always be an optimistic experience.
Do be flexible. Some arguments simply aren’t worth getting. If your potential conflict could be diffused with a small compromise, choose the compromise, particularly if the alternative involves creating a scene or slowing lower service.
Do give advance notice of changes for your program. If you are thinking about altering the guidelines of the program, or plan to cancel this program altogether, provide your customers a manages. Email changes, publish an indication, or inform customers once they buy something (Personally, I’d recommend doing the 3, simply to be thorough).
Getting a loyalty program doesn’t guarantee your company will succeed, but the potential for a effective program can’t be overlooked. Loyalty programs boost profits inside a significant way. Selecting a loyalty program that’s the right fit for the business, creating significant rewards, and preserving the connection between both you and your customers will pave the best way to that success. Make sure to take a look at our loyalty reviews to obtain began with a small company loyalty program, and for those who have additional questions, you can leave a remark or achieve to us!
Phylicia is really a freelancer, indie author, and Google addict. She accustomed to scout all New York’s free venues in her own free time, however she’s reviewing loyalty rewards software for Merchant Maverick. Her professional background includes technical writing and research, though she’s also fluent in toddler gibberish. When she’s not crying over spilled milk, Phylicia enjoys studying, writing, and performing random Google searches.
To put it simply, enterprise eCommerce software programs are software that enables large organizations to market online. The Finish. Just kidding! There’s a little more into it than that. For just one, today’s enterprise commerce solutions aren’t just for multi-million-dollar corporations — not even close to it. Since most software programs are cloud-based and completely scaleable, eCommerce solutions like Shopify Plus are thought enterprise software, despite the fact that lots of small companies use Shopify, too.
In the following paragraphs, we’ll take particular notice at enterprise eCommerce software and assist you in finding out if one of these simple solutions might work with your company.
Are You Currently an “Enterprise” Business?
Being considered “Enterprise” has hardly any related to the amount of employees you’ve, the amount of customers offered, or perhaps your internet revenue. These could be fair indicators, when you are a company has more details on the dwelling of the business.
You may be a company if…
You are offering several type of service or product for your customers
The different departments of the business make use of the same…
Pool of monetary sources
Pool of technical sources
General management team
In case you really would like to get technical, the majority of retail companies might be considered enterprise-sized if their annual revenue exceeds $7.5M. (This can be a very general example, not supposed to have been utilized as a metric.)
What’s Enterprise Software?
This can be a bit simpler to define. Enterprise software, also referred to as Enterprise Software (EAS), is usually an application system made to serve the varied needs of a big business. EAS brings each department under one umbrella, enabling a far more seamless communication platform.
Enterprise software supplies a centralized, company-wide solution for accounting, eCommerce, order processing, or other business need (or combination thereof). This kind of software programs are suitable for multi-location/multi-server companies, and it is cost has a tendency to reflect the bigger budget of “enterprise-sized” companies.
This kind of software might be cloud-located or installed, or perhaps a hybrid. All the major eCommerce Enterprise software programs are cloud-based, however.
Types of enterprise software:
You will find all kinds of enterprise software made to handle diverse tasks varying from order processing to crm. Consider the main focus want to know , is on enterprise eCommerce software, I’ll provide you with some eCommerce types of enterprise software:
What Enterprise eCommerce Software Does
When eCommerce software – also known as “Shopping Cart” software – graduates in to the enterprise arena, several important perks are usually incorporated.
Includes premium web features like custom SSL certificates, SSO (single sign-on, in which a single login provides you with use of several service), and Google Reliable Store tags
Order and inventory management
Payment gateways convey more competitive rates and charges
Multi-funnel and multi-store features
Integrated Reason for Purchase (POS) features
Crm (CRM) features
Personal account managers, assisting in training, and tech support team
“White Glove” Customer Care
Among the main reasons to choose a company plan’s the high level of customer and tech support team incorporated using this type of package. Most eCommerce developers provides you with a passionate account manager who will help with such things as onboarding assistance, demos for the team, and priority tech support team.
Enterprise eCommerce Software Scalability
Enterprise-level software is made to become a fundamental element of your company regardless of how much it grows — consider it as being a framework that may support any weight.
When I pointed out earlier, the scalability of contemporary cloud-based (web-based) software means which you can use some edition of eCommerce software even when your company is closer in dimensions to some lemonade stand than to Zappos. For instance, having a solution like Shopify or Magento, bigger companies rich in sales volumes will most likely pick the “Plus” or “Enterprise” package, while a startup will choose regular Shopify or even the Magento Community Edition.
When compared with starter editions of eCommerce software, enterprise-level plans are specifically scaleable — that’s, suitable for fast-growing companies — because they typically allow unlimited products, bandwidth, and support, letting your resource usage expand as big as the business grows.
Seamlessly Integrated Systems
Enterprise eCommerce software can help you unite all of your business’s departments, making everything run smoother. For instance, CRM functionality aids the HR and marketing departments, while inventory control features inform the warehouse, S&R, and offer chain departments, and integrated POS systems provide the sales teams better tools for everyone the client.
These functionalities aren’t always absent in lower plans, however, an enterprise plan is about scale, so things are included at as high an amount since you need.
When all of these functions are under one software roof, your important business information is updated in tangible-time and you may avoid the glitches that often occur when attempting to integrate disparate software systems.
Though enterprise-level software suites are usually created with a single developer, API integrations for third-party developers can extend the functionality to satisfy highly customized needs.
Types of eCommerce API integrations:
Global wholesale sourcing
You may also make use of an API to integrate your company eCommerce solution with whichever Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), accounting software, CRM, or any other software your company already uses. (Note that most CRM functions are nearly always incorporated only at that degree of eCommerce software, but importing your computer data out of your previous CRM option would be usually super easy.)
You have been neighborhood. You will know you can’t make major decisions in line with the “guess and check” method. You’ll need a solution you will not outgrow, one which won’t hinder preserving your loyal subscriber base or perhaps your corporate identity. Quite simply, you are prepared to accept leap into a company-sized eCommerce solution.
While you take a look at software options, make contact with someone each and every company who are able to show the terms for his or her enterprise search engine optimization. Most shopping cart software providers won’t have qualifications that you’ll want to satisfy, but it’s still smart to contact somebody that can assess your company needs and put you in contact with the proper group of features, in the right cost.
Take a look at our shopping cart software comparison to determine how various eCommerce software programs like Shopify and Bigcommerce compare.
Shannon is really a freelance author and editor located in North Park, CA. Shannon type of wants an apple iphone 7, but she’s not necessarily prepared to lose the headphone jack.
There are many different ways available to produce a loyalty program. Have a quick look in the Google Play or iTunes application stores and youâll see a large number of apps made to influence customer loyalty. Choices vary from coupons and discounts to games and point systems. Both ways has its own merits and drawbacks, and never all methods work nicely for each business. In the following paragraphs, Iâll be breaking lower a few of the more prevalent methods, along with a couple of less frequent ones, as one example of how both ways works.
When thinking about a loyalty program for the business itâs vital that you realize that despite a complete group of features, a course canât replace quality goods and service, nor will it produce your passion and drive. Itâs your decision to animate your program making it something dynamic and fitting for the business. That being stated, what effective loyalty programs do is help make your job simpler. Consider installing a wall-mounted having a drill versus a normal screwdriver. Neither can accomplish anything without you, only one helps make the job simpler compared to other. I really hope youâll continue studying to find out what method (or methods) might be the next drill.
The Buy âXâ get âYâ Method
Merits. A Buy âXâ get âYâ approach to loyalty offers simplicity. In case your customers create a specific buy a certain quantity of occasions they get a reward in exchange. Multiples of 5 are typical purchasing parameters, and also the reward is frequently exactly the same product offered free of charge or for a cheap price (i.e. buy 10 donuts, get 11th free). This easy approach to tracking loyalty can increase repeat traffic and it is tied straight to revenue, as your customers need to still buy âXâ to get their reward. Using a punch card program helps both you and your customers keep an eye on purchases and rewards. While the action of really punching an actual or digital card is typical, it isnât necessary. As long as you’ve got a method in position for counting âXâ and offering âYâ this program is functional, whether it is punches, points, or purchases.
Example. Pinkberry provides a simple loyalty program for purchasers who join the rewards card. After every tenth purchase, cardholders obtain a free yogurt. Simple! Pinkberry also provides a totally free yogurt on the cardholderâs birthday. Rewards expire after thirty days, and customers who register with their email will get additional marketing offers.
Downsides. This process can be quite bland and generic, so youâll have to be just a little creative to be able to differentiate your program. If youâre utilizing a digital program, discover what type of features are for sale to you that will help you stick out out of your competitors, particularly if they will use exactly the same loyalty method. Good quality features to think about are marketing features where you can offer double punches, or additional rewards. Tiered systems will also be a terrific way to diversify your program and encourage continual use. Getting an incredible service or product likewise helps. If youâre an espresso shop encircled by coffee houses, try being bold with unique customer support, personalized products, or daily promotions. Youâll should also consider features that provide you additional control over your program, for example punch or reward expiration, to help keep costs lower.
Industry Match. This process is well-liked by companies that sell exactly the same products repetitiously, for example yogurt and occasional shops, vehicle washes, salons, and pizza shops.
Merits. Tiered structures are an easy way to distinguish between frequent and infrequent customers and reward individuals customers accordingly. There’s two common kinds of tiers: status tiers and reward tiers. Status tiers give customers a particular rank, which rank qualifies them for several rewards or benefits. Reward tiers simply offer elevated rewards with elevated point or punch accumulation. Ideally, a 2 or 3 tiered structure provides a small reward at the end tier, probably the most appealing reward or rewards at the very top tier, along with a obvious path backward and forward. This process is effective along with point programs in addition to digital punch card programs. Additionally, it enables more versatility with rewards. You may make acquiring rewards at the end tier relatively simple without having to pay out an excessive amount of for rewards. This will make recurring visits more desirable to customers without having to be too pricey for you. Additionally, it enables you to definitely offer more significant rewards at greater tiers. A person who only stops from your cafe from time to time might not take care of a reward naming a glass or two after them, however a customer who visits multiple occasions each day might.
Example. The My Starbucks Rewards program offers three status tiers for purchasers who pay utilizing a registered Starbucks or Teavana card. Every time a customer pays having a physical card or through the mobile application, they accumulate a star. Every registered card user starts in the welcome level, and rewards increase with every tier. To be able to upgrade to another tier, customers must accumulate a particular quantity of stars inside a year. The truly amazing factor concerning the way these tiers are system is that particular rewards, for example free in-store refills, could be enjoyed anytime.
Downsides. The tricky part about tiers is discovering that magical balance between value and price. It isnât impossible, however it certainly requires more thought and legwork. Gathering apple from customers and employees to discover what rewards could be most appealing isn’t any easy task. Additionally working out what rewards wonât be too pricey, setting the parameters for every tier, and training the employees to condense this program right into a short, simple reason behind your clients. In case your customersâ status is tiered, thereâs even the possibility to isolate lower tiered customers in case your balance is a touch skewed. So, unless of course you really can afford for somebody to complete the legwork for you personally, tiered structures require additional work, but some extra focus on the leading finish will yield better recent results for your company.
Industry Match. This process can be useful for many business types, whether or not they offer specialized products or a multitude of services or products.
Software Match. Perka offers status tiers additionally for their mobile punch card program, an excellent combination worth thinking about if youâre searching into mobile-based programs. Check out the Perka review for more information.
Merits. Probably the most versatile and popular way of loyalty programs may be the point system. It can be useful for simple programs having a static point/dollar ratio, and in addition it works best for more complicated programs with different point/dollar ratios or point/product ratios. With respect to the limitations of the software, point systems could be stable and consistent or dynamic and altering.
Example. The Walgreens balance rewards program offers its people $5 of in-store gift certificates for each 5000 points accrued. Points could be earned on a number of products, for example prescription refills, in addition to certain actions, like exercising, taking bloodstream pressure tests or any other healthy choices. People receive exclusive offers, and rewards are tiered.
Downsides. Really the only downside to some extent system originates from misuse. Point systems can be quite accommodating, but utilizing a complex point system whenever a simple program is the perfect fit for the business could be harmful. The inverse often happens.
Industry Match. Because of its versatility, point systems are a good fit for just about any industry.
Software Match. If youâre searching for search engine optimization, Sweet Tooth provides a great loyalty program via Shopify, BigCommerce, or Magento. This program can hold simple in addition to complex point programs, so make sure to look into the Sweet Tooth review. For physical solutions, Perkville, Fivestars, and Belly have significant point-based programs. You may also browse the comparison article, Fivestars versus. Belly, to determine how one stacks facing another.
Cash Reward Methods
Merits. Cash reward methods are extremely unique and appear not the same as one program to a different. The finest draw for purchasers is it offers something which everybody values: cash. Itâs not really a preselected reward or listing of rewards a person needs to select from. Cash return offers are big winners within the eyes of consumers. There are various ways to carry out it: cash return on select services or products, cash return for purchases over a specific amount, cash return on every purchase, or a variety of other combinations.
Example. Walmartâs Savings Catcher program is really a prime illustration of a money reward program. Walmart shoppers can be found the chance in order to save the main difference between Walmartâs prices on the product as well as their competitorâs marketed prices. Could it be dangerous? Yes. But Walmart has been doing a fantastic job using the program to date. This program has contingencies which make this program manageable and lower risk. First, thereâs a time period. Shoppers have 7 days to scan their receipt to be able to be eligible for a savings. Second, Walmart compares the prices towards the marketed prices of the competitors. So, if Dove soap is usually cheaper at another store however the cost isnât marketed, shoppers donât obtain the difference. Third, when customers redeem cash, guess where they stand? Walmart.
Downsides. Thereâs a very good reason the reason why you donât check this out method very frequently within the loyalty category for small companies. It may be devastating otherwise done carefully, as well as an alternate method with lower risk will frequently be a more sensible choice. The price of noncash rewards is frequently less than the price of cash rewards, and developing a system that actually works for your company is very tricky.
Industry Match. Just the bold may enter here.
Merits. Compensated memberships are most generally observed in wholesale stores like Costco, BJâs or Samâs club, however they may also be used in small companies. Basically, customers pay a charge to patronize your company, or receive additional discounts and promotions. The truly amazing factor about compensated memberships is this fact method can offset costs before customers buy things. Compensated memberships for companies that sell a distinctive service or experience will get additional advantage to be exclusive.
Example. The Sallyâs Beauty Club offers member-only discounts on products on the internet and in shops. People pay an enrollment or renewal fee of $5 each year. After enrollment or renewal, people get a $5 coupon they are able to redeem on purchases through the finish of later, so customers who purchase their membership possess the chance to have it back immediately.
Downsides. Compensated memberships could be a major switch off for purchasers when they donât begin to see the added value, but when costs are lacking, you wonât have the ability to remain in business. Locating the balance backward and forward can be quite difficult outdoors from the wholesaler / retailer market.
Industry Match. This process could be effective for companies rich in demand, affordable products, or companies that provide unique services or encounters.
Merits. I have faith that coalition programs have untapped potential among small companies. Two heads are superior to one, and teaming up with the proper partner can change lives for your online business. What one thinks of most may be the brilliant pairing of groceries and gas. The 2 donât frequently compete, plus they both offer necessary products. The truly amazing factor about coalitions is how they complement each other while remaining separate. A sea food restaurant can get together having a pancake house, a smoothie shop and a health club can get together, as well as an auto shop can work with a vehicle wash. Iâve only seen a couple of software packages offer the opportunity to facilitate a coalition program for small companies, however it has great potential.
Example. Lately Macyâs, Rite Aid, ExxonMobil, along with other brands launched a coalition loyalty program known as Plenti. Points could be accrued across these companies, and rewards could be redeemed in multiple ways, with respect to the business. For Rite Aid, customers who bring home 200 Plenti points will get $2 in savings using their company companies inside the coalition. This program sticks out since it enables people to redeem more significant rewards. A Macyâs shopper may require a fish tank of gas greater than a tshirt, so getting that choice for spending reward points increases the need for this program.
Downsides. Among the primary downsides for any coalition program is managing it. Concerning arenât lots of possibilities software-wise, many programs are restricted to shared gift certificates or certificates, or discounts.
Industry Match. Coalition programs are perfect for chains, shopping malls, and noncompeting local companies.
Merits. Gamification is a technique that provides a little bit of fun or interaction for your loyalty program. This is often as easy as a meter calculating the space prior to the next reward, or perhaps an actual, interactive game. Gamification makes your loyalty program more intriguing and encourages people to complete an action, for example buying, to carry on the interaction.
Example. For some time a minimum of, the internet food delivery website GrubHub used Tasty Rummy to inspire return visits. After every third order, customers could play a round of Tasty Rummy, an odds game where customers needed to select 1 of 3 cards to win a prize. A few of the prizes incorporated free food or drinks, but even though you didnât win, youâd obtain a clever quip or joke for the trouble.
Downsides. Thereâs hardly any downside should you keep gamification simple. Interactions that provide something to expect to another time around will go a lengthy way, whether or not the rewards are extremely small. If youâre utilizing an odds game, however, that is one little tricky. Nobody loves to play a game title they think is rigged against them, therefore if your clients never win anything, itâs game over for the loyalty program.
Industry Match. Gamification is ideal for ecommerce companies, food and restaurant chains, and companies that are looking to include some extra fun for their program.
As the methods described in the following paragraphs offer efficient ways to improve the caliber of your company, applying a course that work well requires a mix of creativeness, industry-specific understanding, and quality customer relations. When selecting a loyalty program for the business, consider what youâre offering, who youâre offering it to, and just what methods perform best for connecting together. Many methods work harmoniously along with other methods, so that your loyalty program doesnât need to be restricted to only one. Loyalty software programs are still a comparatively new space for small companies, however the choices still improve. Take time to evaluate which works well with your company, and compare several program to determine what you could reasonably maintain. Itâs also smart to take a look at companies concentrating on the same business structures to determine what labored (or didnât work) on their behalf.Â The Merchant Maverick Loyalty Software section is a superb spot to read reviews from retailers and business proprietors across industries. Best of luck!
The publish Effective Means of Loyalty Programs made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.
For most small business owners, it’s a jungle out there. Danger lurks around every corner, predators seem to be silently stalking your every movement, and – in the immortal words of Jethro Tull – the rivers are full of crocodile nasties. Let’s face it, when it comes to start-ups and small businesses the statistics are grim. According to one recent study, the failure rate of retail establishments after four years is over 50%, and businesses in the service industry usually meet the same fate. Sadly, restaurants tend to do even worse, and the majority are forced to close their doors before a decade has passed.
There are many reasons why businesses eventually fail – bad locations, limited staff, a poor economic climate, etc. But experts are beginning to agree that most failed businesses (no matter what industry they belong to) have one, very important factor in common: inexperience on the part of the owners/managers. It’s all very well to follow your dreams, but man does not live on dreams alone. For most of us, a little thing called money is required if we want to eat, access our electricity, wash our clothes, keep our children shod, etc. That’s right, money. It’s what you get when you run a business that brings in more revenue than it puts out. That sounds so simple: spend less than you make. But the reality is that pulling in a profit takes knowledge, skill, and access to the proper tools. Frankly, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve opened up a cat-grooming boutique or finally launched that grilled-cheese food truck you’ve always wanted – if you don’t know what you’re doing when you set out, and/or don’t bother to learn as you go, you might as well throw your seed money down the storm drain.
Fortunately, at Merchant Maverick (MM), we understand how hard it can be to start a business – let alone to keep one going for more than a year or two. You shouldn’t have to do everything by yourself – keeping up with inventory, payment processing, invoicing, shipping, point of sale, website design and the like is nearly impossible without the right equipment (good ol’ pen and paper just doesn’t cut it anymore). The good news? Advances in software and cloud technology have resulted in some pretty impressive small business tools. Even better news? The writers and reviewers at MM have invested thousands of hours researching, testing, and rating small business services/software. In other words, we know our stuff. Running a business is a tremendous burden, but the heavy lifting has already been done – we’ve done if for you – and all you need do is benefit from our years of experience.
Each company below has undergone a rigorous evaluation by an experienced MM reviewer. We scoured websites, read help articles, and browsed through user forums. We talked to customer service and saw for ourselves how responsive they were. And most importantly, we tested the actual software or service ourselves. The following are our reviewers’ top small business software picks for merchant services/payment processing as well as for mobile payments, shopping carts, point of sale, accounting, inventory management, invoicing, booking, email marketing, CRM, project management, loyalty rewards, and website building.
So, without further ado, let the awards ceremony for the best small business software begin!
Merchant Account Providers
Winner: Dharma Merchant Services
Dharma Merchant Services is one of our all-time favorite companies, period, here at Merchant Maverick. Defined by exceptional customer support, low-cost hardware, excellent industry connection, and reasonable negotiation-free rates and fees, Dharma is an ideal option for small businesses with in-person sales. It distinguishes itself from the competition by using only interchange-plus pricing and charging no early termination fees or monthly minimums. There are no annual fees, no application fees, and no pesky PCI compliance fees to deal with either. In addition, this company dedicates 50% of its net profits to charity. Dharma is basically a paragon of integrity, honesty, and respect, and it’s worth its weight in gold in this sometimes unscrupulous industry,
There is one small catch: businesses must process at least $10K per month to use Dharma Merchant Services. Businesses with smaller revenue streams are directed instead to Flint Mobile (see review below).
Dharma offers amazing in-house customer support during business hours (8:00am â 5:00pm Pacific Time). If you need support outside this time frame, you will be directed elsewhere, depending on the severity of your issue and what processor you’re using.
To read more about Dharma Merchant Services, see our full review here.
Boasting a great reputation and a low monthly base fee (which includes access to Quantum gateway), CDG Commerce is a budget friendly alternative to Dharma Merchant Services, especially for low-volume merchants or web-based businesses.Â CDG was established in 1998, and has had plenty of time to cultivate a reputation for honesty and excellence. In fact, customer complaints are nearly non-existent, which is a miracle in itself after nearly 20 years in business. Like Dharma, CDG offers interchange-plus pricing, does not charge an early termination fee, and has no gateway setup fees or PCI compliance fees.
CDG Commerce charges only $10 per month in base fees; beyond that, you can pick and choose which additional services you want to pay for. This is a great system, as it ensures that you won’t be stuck buying things you neither want, nor need.
CDG offers live chat, email, and phone support 24/7. In our experience, support staff is helpful, knowledgeable, and scrupulously honest.
Click here to read our full review of CDGcommerce.
Winner: Flint Mobile
Flint Mobile is our overall top pick for mobile, based primarily on its speed, ease of use, reliability, and price point. To start off, it doesn’t offer a swiper – not a free one, not a paid one, just no reader whatsoever. You can either key in card numbers or simply use your phone’s camera to scan numbers instead. That in and of itself significantly reduces the cost for setting up your account. Flint therefore has the ability to offer lower rates, which is exactly what they do. And with a ridiculously low rate for processing debit alongside a very fair credit rate, they’re nearly impossible to beat.
Flint has only two rates:
Debit transactions: 1.95%
Credit transactions: 2.95%
Yep, thatâs it. It doesn’t get more complicated than that at any point: there are no per transaction fees, no non-qualified fees, and no surcharges of any kind. Flint Mobile runs transactions at a much faster speed than other similar apps, and while it might take a couple tries to get your scanning settings set up the way you like, Flint makes customization an easy and intuitive process. Our one complaint is that they do not provide any means for printing a paper receipt.
One very important thing to mention about Flint Mobile is that, even with the EMV liability shift (effective October 1st, 2015), users have no need to upgrade hardware. The camera scan will continue to work as it always has, with no change to liability. Currently it’s the only mobile processor we’re aware of that will securely process chip cards with no hardware upgrade.
This app can’t replace a full-feature tablet POS, but it comes with a number of amazing features (integrated QR coupons, invoicing, customizable receipts, etc.) and executes service flawlessly. If you’re looking for a sensible, surefire way to accept payments and grow your clientele, you can’t go wrong with Flint Mobile.
If you’d like more information about Flint Mobile, check out our full review.
Runner-Up: Payline Data
Payline Data is mostly a standard merchant account provider, but it has a good mobile solution and low-volume fee structure. Extra services are offered as-needed, so you only have to pay for what you need. There are two pricing models (to accommodate both low and high volume merchants):
Simple (Under $5,000 per month)
$5 monthly fee
Interchange + 0.50%
$0.10 per transaction
Pro (Over $5,000 per month)
$20 monthly fee
Interchange + 0.20%
$0.10 per transaction
We really appreciate the number of customer service and support outlets Payline provides, and it has an extensive knowledge base and FAQ for self-service support, which is quite nice.
Payline Data delivers on any businesses essential needs, and has managed to maintain positive reviews and a spotless reputation since 2009 â which is no small task in the credit card processing industry. In general, it’s a great pick for mobile processing for small businesses everywhere.
Find out more about Payline Data by reading our full review here.
Shopify is unique in that it can be used as a physical POS or an online shopping cart or both at once. This inherent flexibility gives it a clear edge over other shopping carts, and its low price point make it well within the reach for small businesses, even those with strained budgets. Shopify is the industry standard for shopping cart software, and for good reason. There are never any limits to the number of products you can sell, which is nice, though there aren’t many limits to the software in general.
All Shopify plans come with a full 14-day (no credit card required) trial. There are no setup or cancellation fees. Plans range from $14/month to $179/month with rates ranging from 2.9% + 30Â¢ to 2.4% + 30Â¢. You can pay on a month-to-month basis, but you’ll receive a 10% discount if you choose to pay for one year up front (a 20% discount is offered for those who sign a two-year contract). We’re not terribly fond of Shopifyâs transaction fees, unfortunately, although they do get waived if you use Shopify as your credit card processor.
Shopify is eminently user friendly, and the cart is easy to set up and easy to manage. In our experience, the software works flawlessly from the point of view of both the customer and the merchant, and it is one of the most feature-rich carts available. It is accessible for online mavens, but it is also well within the reach of newcomers and amateurs. Shopify offers a number of apps, some of which are free and some of which may cost a small fee. You can check out Shopifyâs App Store to browse offerings.
Customer support is available via phone, email, and live chat, but there are other great self-help resources as well, including a support center, Knowledge Base, a discussion forum, and a Shopify âExpertsâ page where you can find experienced professionals in design, marketing, development, and photography.
For more information, click here to read our full review of Shopify.
Ecwid, the “go anywhere, sell anything, no manual required” shopping cart, is designed for small eCommerce businesses, as well as for individual sellers and start-ups. We’re big fans of Ecwid, and there are two main reasons why. Firstly, it is extremely ubiquitous, and capable of integrating with nearly every existing website, from social media platforms to blogs. Secondly, it is so reasonably priced, compared to its competitors, that you would be foolish not to take it out for spin. Unlike most shopping carts, there is no typical âfree trial periodâ for Ecwid. Instead, you can simply try out the Free Plan (the obvious advantage to doing this is that your services won’t be cancelled after your trial period ends).
Ecwid offers unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, and no transaction fees on every subscription level, even the free plan. Paid plans range from $15/month to $99/month. Personal support by email and online chat are only available at higher subscription levels.
Like Shopify, Ecwid gives you the option to use the software as a physical POS. However, this function is really best suited for online-only business owners who want the option of having a mobile or âpop up shopâ operation, but aren’t trying to maintain a physical storefront at all times.
In general, Ecwid is a solid product with great, user-friendly elements. It’s not the best solution for high-volume sales, but most companies out there (especially startups and very small businesses) will be fully satisfied with its features and ease of use.
Read our full review of Ecwid to learn more.
ShopKeep is one of the best software solutions we’ve ever encountered at Merchant Maverick. This simple, elegant, and visually-appealing cloud-based POS has carved out a solid niche catering to small-business food and beverage sellers. For a very low monthly cost, ShopKeep can help you manage your inventory, customers, employees, as well as record transactions and offer a variety of reporting options (for analyzing all this data).
ShopKeep does not require you to sign a contract. It is a pay-as-you-go, monthly subscription service. There are no extra maintenance fees, and what’s more impressive, tech support is 100% included in the monthly charge. The actual pricing system is beautifully simple as well: $49/month/register.
Other than it’s extremely reasonable price point, ShopKeep’s biggest selling point is its ease-of-use. There is very little learning curve involved, and even the most technologically deficient should have no problem learning the ins and outs of this software in a matter of days (or hours, more likely).
Customer support is fantastic, and unlimited email, live chat, or phone is included in the monthly price. The support page on the company website is also fantastic, and offers comprehensive articles and video tutorials on every aspect of the software.
Read our full review of ShopKeep if you’d like more details.
SalesVu is a perfect POS for the average small business, offering a robust feature set at a competitive price. eCommerce options are built right into the software, so you can design your own site from the back office without ever having to pay for (and integrate) Shopify or hire an expensive third party designer. Integrated eCommerce also ensures that communications between the web store and the brick and mortar store are smooth and seamless.
Prices range from $25/month to $150/month, depending on how many features you need (things like time tracking, accounting, etc. are a bit extra). Basically, SalesVu can be as affordable as you need it to be. Additionally, when you open an account with SalesVu you get a free credit card reader, which is a nice benefit (for some small business owners, an iPad and a credit card reader may be all you need).
Customer service is good, but the primary strengths of this software are found in its intuitive interface and broad flexibility. It is so much more than just a mobile cash register. With SalesVu, you can monitor inventory, create detailed reports, design custom discounts and promotions, maintain an active customer database, and manage employees – and you can do all these things anywhere you have a Wi-Fi connection. Opening an account with SalesVu gets you a free credit card reader, which is a nice benefit. For some business owners, an iPad and a credit card reader may be all you need.
SalesVu integrates with SalesVu Easy Accounting, Quickbooks, Facebook, and Zapper.
You can check out our full review of SalesVu for more information.
It’s not hard to see why Xero takes the prize for best small business accounting software. It is mobile, cloud-based, easy-to-use, and extremely comprehensible for the small business owner who is handling finances on his/her own (click here for a full list of features). While it can be more expensive long-term than something like QuickBooks Pro, small business owners – especially those who aren’t accountants by nature or profession – are more likely to enjoy using a simple, intuitive program like Xero.
There are multiple pricing plans available, ranging from $9/month to $70/month (these prices include updates as they are released, usually every 3-6 weeks). Small companies with limited invoicing needs would have to look far and wide for a similarly robust accounting/payroll package that trumps Xero’s $9/month price tag. And happily, you don’t have to sign a contract with Xero; plans are paid by the month and you can basically cancel the service at any time. Xero offers a 25% discount for non-profits and a 15% discount on your total bill if you subscribe for multiple businesses. If you do feel comfortable making a commitment and signing up for a 6 month subscription, youâll get a 30% discount.
There are only a few minor problems with Xero, one of which is slow customer support response times. Customer service is offered 24/7, year-round, but some customers have complained of long response times, cut-and-paste answers to questions, and reps who don’t seem to actually know how to use the software. This would be a much bigger deal if Xero was complex or had a steep learning, curve, but it’s not as alarming considering the software’s general simplicity and ease of use. Furthermore, many customers praise Xero’s level of customer service, and the wait times are comparable to those of other accounting software programs.
One real perk of using Xero is that it integrates with over 400 other applications which can facilitate nearly every aspect of business operation, including inventory management, CRM, and POS (some of these are only available to certain countries; in the U.S., there are about 350 Xero integrations available).Â
Read our full review of Xero here.
Runner-Up: QuickBooks Pro
Intuit’s QuickBooks Pro is a robust, feature-rich accounting solution, perfect in many ways for small business (to see a full list of features, click here). It is locally installed software, which results in lower per-year costs and more features than your typical cloud-based software, so if you’re willing to deal with a pretty steep learning curve at the beginning (especially difficult for people who have no previous accounting background), then QB Pro can be an excellent way to save money in your accounting budget. Though it lacks the convenience of a cloud based solution – you don’t get automatic, routine updates or instant access to new features – it is a very viable accounting solution for companies with complex bookkeeping needs.
QuickBooks Proâs list price is $299.95. This might seem a bit high compared to something like Xero, but keep in mind that QB Pro requires a one-time purchase and does not use a subscription model â and it is nearly always available at a discount. While thereâs no free trial available, Intuit does back QB Pro with a 60-day guarantee; if you return the program for any reason within 60 days, you can get a full refund. Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, the purchase price does not include updates, nor do you get full tech support or bank feeds. It’s also worth noting that customer service tends to be slow.
One comment we’ve noticed often on user reviews is that, while people aren’t particularly enthusiastic about QB Pro, it works and does what itâs supposed to do; many claim that it’s the best accounting program available. While thatâs far from a resounding recommendation, itâs also true that despite its drawbacks, for many businesses, QB Pro is more than adequate. And whether you love it or hate it, QuickBooks Pro is often the best option for the money.
Read our full review of QB Pro here.
Inventory Management Software
Winner: Stitch Labs
Stitch, the flagship product of Stitch Labs, is a cloud-based inventory management solution with tons of functionality, myriad useful integrations, and fantastic customer service. Designed to combine inventory, billing, accounting, shipping, and eCommerce features with your choice of 3rd party integrations, Stitch is the do-it-all, full service inventory solution. As the name would suggest, it is intended to be the thread that holds the backend of your company firmly together. Really, its only flaw is that is designed exclusively for American companies. International businesses will have to look elsewhere.Â
Price plans range from $29/month to $449/month, not bad considering how many features this software brings to the table. What’s more, Stitch is easy to use, even for the uninitiated. The UI is clean, understated, and intuitive. Within a few minutes of signing up, you should feel like a pro, able to create products and customer contacts and generate sales orders with ease. It’s easy to pick up on your own just by experimentation, but if you’re queasy about finding your own way around, you can reference one of the many tutorials on each page that take you step-by-step through all the basic tasks.
In general, the customer service department is responsive and helpful. Our questions were promptly answered (never longer than 24 hours, even on the weekend), and ticket creation happened immediately, so we always had a case number toÂ reference and never felt lost in the shuffle. Not surprisingly, the Stitch Labs support team is highly praised all over the web.
Stitch integrates with a large number of other programs and applications, including Amazon, eBay, BigCommerce, Magento, Shopify, and Square, to name just a few. And when you combine an excellent selection of integrations with powerful suite of tools,youâve got inventory management software that is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses.
You can read more about Stitch Labs in our full review.
TradeGecko, a cloud-based inventory application for small to medium sized businesses, is comparable to Stitch Labs in functionality and number of integrations, but is more geared toward international companies (it still works well for American companies, if you don’t mind a time difference with the support staff).
The design of this software emphasizes collaboration, group workflows, and activity feeds. This means that you can reference sales information, purchase orders, and stock levels at once, and they will all update in real time. TradeGecko is intuitive and easy to use, and has a clean – if spartan – UI which is perfect for a bookkeeping system.
TradeGecko offers a free 14-day trial, no credit card required. Plans range from $49/month to $399/month, though you can get a monthly discountÂ if you commit to paying for a year up-front. The company provides a detailed knowledge base, with step-by-step instructions for performing many tasks, and it also offers 24 hour customer support. On the whole, our support experience was positive, though a few of our tickets took longer than we would have liked to resolve.
Integrations include Shopify, Salesforce, Xero, Magento, Quickbooks Online, Amazon, and WooCommerce (to name a few). All in all, TradeGecko isnât the cheapest product on the market (which is why it’s the runner up for this category) but it is so intuitive and feature rich that small to medium-sized businesses with a budget to kick around should give it a look.
For more information about TradeGecko, read our full review here.
Officially, Freshbooks is a web-based accounting solution, though it is fair to say that it’s best utilized for its incredible invoicing features. This software is tailor made for independent contractors and small, service-based businesses; it is easy to use, has lots of interesting features (including time tracking, reporting, and expenses), and integrates with a huge variety of 3rd party applications.
Pricing, unfortunately, is a bit steep for the target market (small businesses), though there is a free plan which allows you to manage a single client. Paid plan range from $19.95/month to $39.95/month. Customer support is available Monday â Friday, 9am â 6pm EST. In our experience, representatives are remarkably quick to respond to emails (usually within 20 minutes during business hours) and are courteous, helpful, and knowledgeable.
As mentioned above, FreshBooks offers more than 60 integrations and add-ons includingÂ PayPal, Shopify, Basecamp, and Stripe. It is as comprehensive an invoicing solution as you could hope for, especially since it does offer other perks, like reporting.
You can read our full review of FreshBooks here.
Invoiceable is simple, easy to use software that allows you to create professional looking invoices. It’s actually free to all, with no feature limits, though you can opt to pay a one-time fee to remove the company’s branding from your invoices: this is a perk that no other free invoicing program offers. Additionally, unlike many of the other major free invoicing programs, Invoiceable isnât just a wimpy, scaled-back version of a paid service. You can have as many clients and send as many invoices as you like.
Of course, with a completely free service you’re going to miss certain features that come with a paid subscription. Support, for example, is unreliable and sporadic. Response times can vary between 1-12 days, and sometimes you may not get any response at all. There is also limited sales tax functionality, which means that the software really only works for businesses that charge a single, across the board tax rate, or don’t charge tax at all.
That said, if you are a freelancer or own a very small business with relatively low sales volume, this may be all you need for now. Itâs leaps and bounds better than simply typing out your invoices into MS Word or Excel, and it is one of the best free options out there that both allow you to have unlimited clients and actually works in the United States! The interface is basic and intuitive, and while customer service is slow, you probably wonât need it most of the time. If this sounds like a good match for you, we suggest you try it out. You’ve got nothing to lose â after all, itâs free.
Read our full review of Invoiceable here.
Winner: Zoho CRM
User-friendly, reasonably-priced, and full of useful features, Zoho CRM is our favorite customer relations management software, hands down. It’s not hard to see why we’re such big fans. The âbuilding blocksâ which make up the Zoho CRM logo are not there for design purposes alone; these blocks allude to the fact that the Zoho team has developed many other business applications, all capable of working together seamlessly (much like Google Apps). In addition, Zoho has an well-deserved reputation for integrating nicely with a number of 3rd party add-ons, including MailChimp, Unbounce, Google Apps, MS Office, and Quickbooks (see a full list of add-ons and integrations here). In short, Zoho CRM software can adjust to any size business, be whatever you need it to be, and grow with you as your business expands.
You can try Zoho CRM for free with a 15-day trial of their Professional package. After that, pricing breaks down as follows:
Entrepreneur: Free, up to 3 users
24-hour Mon-Fri telephone support is available to paying customers, though those using their free edition are limited to email support. However, your email questions can be flagged according to urgency, so that important queries do not fall to the wayside.
You would be hard pressed to find a CRM that provides more functionality at a lower cost. Zoho CRM is, without a doubt, the most bang for your buck.
Read our full review of Zoho CRM here.
Clevertim is a cloud-based CRM system with a firm mission: to cater specifically to small businesses. With a surprisingly reasonable price point, a clean, user-friendly UI, and the ability to integrate with 3rd party developers (via an open API), Clevertim may just be as clever as its name suggests. The only chink in Clevertim’s armor is the lack of a mobile app. As it is now, the app functions smoothly on a desktop, but is only so-so on a tablet and virtually nonexistent on a phone.
Clevertim offers a 30 day free trial. After that, plans range from absolutely free to $99/month. You can upgrade, downgrade, or cancel your subscription at any time. Unlike most other CRM systems, Clevertim does not charge on a per-user basis. Instead, each plan has a user limit. There is alsoÂ customized pricing available, which allows you to upgrade the number of users allowed in your plan.
Clevertim is relatively new and does not yet have its own dedicated Technical Support team. However, queries can be sent to the company either via web tickets or through the sales email address.
Read our review of Clevertim here.
BookingBug can do just about anything you would expect from scheduling software, but still manages to be accessible and intuitive. Many companies claim to be versatile, but this software actually is designed for a wide variety of industries, making it one of the only options out there for B&Bs or bike rental shops, and a better option than most for medium-sized spas and salons. It is a perfect tool for businesses that want to offer combination services while managing limited resources and limited staff (see a full list of features here). It is distinct from other appointment booking software other ways as well: first, itâs designed for serious scalability – which again validates its claim to be âthe only real-time distributed booking and reservation system that works for all business typesâ –Â and second, it integrates with a vast number of 3rd-party apps all over the world. This is a company that prides itself on innovation and flexibility.
Plans run from $19.95/month to $69.95/month, or you can scale up to an Enterprise plan, which are priced on an individual basis. Customer service comes free with your account. Like most companies, BookingBug relies heavily on email support, but phone support is available for some of the more expensive plans. We received helpful responses to our email inquiries within hours – always a great sign.
One terrific thing about BookingBug is that it offers your customers the option to make online payments (full or partial, including pre-payment and bulk payments); you can also issue full or partial refunds directly through the site via one of the software’s numerous payment integrations. BookingBug integrates with programs like MailChimp, WordPress, Facebook, and Dropbox as well.
There isn’t much negative feedback about the company online or in user reviews. Granted, some people have complained about issues with their mobile apps, but BookingBugâs receptivity and responsiveness to these issues speaks well about the companyâs commitment to customer service.
To read our full review of BookingBug, click here.
Runner Up: Bookeo
Bookeo is cloud-based booking software with a lot to offer. Not only does it include important booking features, but it provides a surprising variety of marketing solutions, integrates with many payment platforms and third party applications, and boasts excellent security features. This is innovative software as it is, and Bookeo continues to improve with age; significant new feature releases occur every few months, and updates are frequent. The only consistent complaint disappointed reviewers have is with its lack of phone support. (Bookeo relies on email and a store of 300 tutorials for its customer support.)
Bookeoâs pricing differs by product (in other words, by whether you want to book appointments, classes, or tours), but each version offers a 30-day free trial and a 30-day money back guarantee on the first paid month of subscription. Bookeo accounts do not require set-up or processing fees and you don’t have to sign a contract – always a good sign.
One of the best things about Bookeo is that it is user-friendly. Action items and information are intuitive and clearly distinguishable, and the software in general is organized neatly, in a very manageable way. There isnât much setup support, unfortunately, but the self-help tutorials available are precise, and sufficient enough to help you circumvent most major problems.
Customer service centers on the Bookeo Help Portal, which consists of 300 tutorials and an email support form. There is no phone support, however, and this is the only consistent complaint from disappointed reviewers. You can receive some support via a live chat option on Bookeoâs promotional website.
Read more about Bookeo here, in our full review.
Email Marketing Software
At Merchant Maverick, we’re all in agreement that MailChimp is the boss when it comes to email marketing. It’s a mature, time-tested software with reasonable pricing plans, a great selection of features, and tons of integration, and it scales well to just about any size campaign. Better yet, for users with modest needs, MailChimp offers a robust, flat-out generous free plan which lets you have up to 2,000 subscribers and allows you to send up to 12,000 emails per month. There’s only one real catch: if you do your email marketing with the free plan, there will be a small MailChimp badge at the bottom of every email you send out.Â
Paid plans come in two basic varieties: send-based (pay as you go) and list-based (monthly). These plans are fairly specific and complex, so if you’d like more details about pricing you should navigate here.
MailChimp is generally very easy to use, and signing up for a MailChimp account is simple; enter a name and email address and youâre on your way. The customer support system is pretty extensive as well, though it lacks telephone support, which is slightly disappointing. However, our experience with them has been good; representatives were courteous and well-informed, and inquiries were answered in anywhere from 20 minutes to 20 hours, depending on urgency. MailChimp’s biggest selling point, however, is that it offers over 500 integrations and add-ons. (These include Google Analytics, Zendesk, SHopify, Magento, and Salesforce).
Check out our full review of MailChimp here.
AWeber appeals to a smaller niche than MailChimp, but it’s still incredibly easy to use and quite affordable. It comes with some very nice features, especially for businesses which want to send all new subscribers the same series of messages: the autoresponder setup in particular is easy, intuitive, and well explained within the program, and users have a lot of options.Â
AWeber offers a free 30-day trial for lists of up to 500 subscribers. After that first month, there is a single list-based pricing plan available. It’s reasonably priced for the most part, but so robust that very small companies may find they are paying for lots of extra features they may not even require. If you don’t need much from your email marketing tool, you might be better off with MailChimp’s generous free plan.
In general, AWeber finds a healthy balance between ease of use and high functionality. Navigation is remarkably intuitive, considering the number of features available. The WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor has some quite impressive characteristics, and recent updates to the software have have managed to significantly improve the email design experience. Additionally, the analytics and reporting capabilities are well above par for an email marketing tool of this type, as are AWeberâs investment in numerous 3rd-party integrations.
Our experiences with customer support have been positive overall. As a rule, we’ve found AWeber’s representatives to be friendly, helpful, and prompt in responding to queries. Response times to our inquiries varied in time between 20 minutes and 6 business hours.
Read our full review of AWeber here.
Project Management Software
Trello is a visually-oriented, Kanban-based project management tool that works by allowing users to see and manage their tasks and projects via detailed âcardsâ which are then pinned onto âboards.â At its most basic level, Trello is an ingenious way to create and organize a set of virtual 3Ã5 cards without the risk of misplacing them, but it also can also work as a simple task management tool, offering features like file storage and automatic email notifications.
The standard, free version of Trello allows for unlimited boards, users, and attachments (with a 10 MB max per file upload). However, for a fee, Trello also offers two upgraded versions of the software: $3.75/user or $5/user
Trelloâs simple, visually-appealing UI makes it incredibly easy to use; there is almost no learning curve involved. A mere five minutes after I signed up I was able to navigate the software quickly, creating cards and boards like a pro. It may be integrated with several 3rd party apps, including Zapier, Google Drive, Box. Dropbox, and OneDrive.
Trello provides email support (via [email protected]) to all users during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST).
Not only is this software reasonably priced, but it is characterized by elegance, simplicity, and user-friendliness. It would be difficult to find a basic project management solution with a more intuitive, visually-appealing design. And in terms of sheer adoptability â of getting your employees to actually use a software-based task management tool â Trello scores extremely high.
You can check out our full review of Trello if you’d like more information.
Runner Up: Basecamp
With over 9,000,000 current users, Basecamp is considered the most popular cloud-based project management software system of all time. It is, without doubt, one of the most user-friendly project management programs out there. When it comes down to brass tacks, simplicity is an enormously valuable characteristic, and Basecamp is just that â simple. This is project management software at its most basic and effortless level.
This software is celebrated for its no-frills, no-fuss pricing system. There are no hidden fees and no per-user costs. Plans range from $20/month to $150/month. Features include task tracking, a calendar, email notifications and a daily recap of activities, text documents (basically giant legal pads), and very simple reporting.
Basecamp is known for fast, reliable service. While they donât provide the level of immediate personal support that you can get from other software companies (read: no phone or live chat support), the folks at Basecamp respond quickly to email requests and offer a large variety of ready-made aids and live training tools.
Basecamp itself is a pretty basic program, but there are a huge number of optional 3rd party applications available if you want or need to increase softwareâs functionality. You can see a complete list of Basecamp integrations on the official product website
If you have plain, bread-and-butter management requirements, we think youâll find that Basecamp is a suitable, extremely affordable way to go. One of the best things about Basecamp is the fact that it is designed, updated, and supported by an established parent company. It is a sure bet, in other words.
Read more about Basecamp in our full review.
ShipStation is a reasonably-priced, web-based shipping solution for eCommerce retailers. Designed to streamline the fulfillment process as much as possible, this software has invested in a huge number of integrations that make it possible for you to sync up your business with the most popular sales channels, shopping carts, payment gateways, and mail carriers.
Pricing plans range from $25/month to $145/month. Thereâs a free 30-day trial that includes access to all features, with no credit card required. If youâre not satisfied with the product within 90 days, ShipStation offersÂ a full refund, no questions asked.
The user interface can be a bit overwhelming at first, as there multiple options, menus, and sub-menus displayed on most pages. A bit of patience is definitely required when you start out, though you can take advantage of a number of video tutorials, a large knowledge base, and a pretty robust community forum if you run into trouble. Actually, you can have your own personal account manager if you want, and this person will help guide you through the setup phase of your account. Some of the higher paid plans can receive chat support as well. In general, customer support is slightly disappointing, and the responses we received to queries were somewhat boilerplate and indifferent.
One of ShipStationâs biggest selling pointsÂ is that it integrates with an enormous number of carriers, marketplaces and shopping carts, especially when compared to the competition, including FedEx, UPS, USPS, and Fulfillment by Amazon, as well as Shopify, Etsy, Magento, Square, eBay, etc. The list goes on.
Check out our full review of ShipStation for more information.
ShipWorks is probably the best shipping software available, though unfortunately it’s a PC-only app (which removes about half of the world’s users) and the learning curve is extremely high. The good news is that this software, which is designed to streamline the order fulfillment process for small to large businesses, has many amazing features you can’t find in other shipping applications. With a few clicks, ShipWorks can download shipping informationÂ from an online sales channel, calculate and print postage, generate labels, packing slips, and more. Combine this functionality with integrations for over 40 different mail carriers and eCommerce platforms, and you’ve got a shipping solution that really packs a wallop. Additionally, ShipWorks scales well, in a way that its SaaS competitors don’t.
Cost per monthÂ is determined by two different factors: shipment volume and number of licenses. Shipment volume is divided into three tiers:
$14.95/month for 0-99 shipments/month
$29.95/month for 100-999 shipments/month
$49.95/month for 1,000+ shipments/month
The price forÂ shipment volume is then added to your licensing fee to determine theÂ monthly bill. How much you pay forÂ licensingÂ is based on the number of online sales channels you useÂ with ShipWorks.
Our own experiences with ShipWorks support have been positive. Turnaround times on support tickets were 24 hours or less, and we never had trouble reaching anybody on the phone. The Knowledge Base is extensive, and covers everything from setup and configuration to online marketplaces and shipping providers. What’s more, the articles are clearly written and provide plenty ofÂ screenshots.
As I mentioned above, ShipWorks integrates with a huge variety of shipping carriers and online marketplaces (including USPS, FedEx, UPS, Magento, Etsy, Shopify, Volusion), but if you happen to use a store that isnât directly supported by ShipWorks, you can always work with a developer and use the ShipWorks Generic API to create your own integrations.
Click here to read our full review of ShipWorks.
Loyalty Rewards Software
Winner: Sweet Tooth
Sweet Tooth is a prolific loyalty rewards software that currently works with over 3500 merchants worldwide, including Delta, Universal, and Olympus. Sweet Tooth is dedicated to increasing customer engagement, and case studies from many of the clients mentioned above have demonstrated nearly 20% increases in customer lifetime values, sales and repeat purchases. It is complex software with a high learning curve, but in general, the benefits of using a robust loyalty rewards software outweigh the inconvenience of having to learn how to use it! Sweet Tooth is an ideal solution for both eCommerce merchants and merchants who use combined methods of commerce.
Sweet Tooth works best – and is most full featured – when it’s used through Magento, though you can use a lighter, simpler version of Sweet Tooth on BigCommerce or Shopify (this is free for up to 500 customers). Sweet Tooth subscription plans are offered monthly and automatically renew unless cancelled. Plans begin at $49/month, and are broken down by loyalty point transactions and annual revenue generated on Magento. If your activity exceeds the limitations of your plan you will be required to upgrade to the next available plan. You can view the full pricing details for Shopify, BigCommerce and Magento on the Sweet Tooth website.
Customer service is available Monday to Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm EST. Overall, our experience with Sweet Tooth has been positive. Everyone we’ve spoken to at the company has been knowledgeable and friendly, and most reviewers on Magento cite the technical support as an essential part of their loyalty program.
Read our full review of Sweet Tooth if you’re interested in learning more.
Belly provides a more hassle-free loyalty rewards program than Sweet Tooth, and is ideal for smaller businesses with brick and mortar store fronts (such as bakeries, cafes, grocers, bars, spas, fitness clubs and boutiques). What’s really unique about Belly, though, are its customizeable rewards offerings and “all in one box” setup, which includes an iPad (with stand and combination lock), data reports, a personal support representative, social media integrations, and email marketing tools. Even more significantly, Belly customers get a mobile page for their business on the Belly app, where potential customers can look to find Belly-compatible businesses.
Monthly subscription costs range from $99 â $199,Â and all contracts run for 12 months. The cost of the iPad, iPad stand, application software, and unlimited rewards cards are included in the subscription costs forÂ the highest plan, but an additional $150 installation fee is charged for lower plans.
Right now there are only a few drawbacks to Belly, most important of which is its steep price. Customer service can be a bit spotty as well, and unfortunately, not enough other businesses currently use it, which doesn’t provide much incentive to customers to get in the Belly network. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for an easy, no-worries loyalty program, you can’t go far wrong with Belly.
Read our full review of Belly for more details and information.
Website Building Software
Wix is our number one choice for web building software, and it’s not difficult to understand why. With its sleek editing interface and multiple selection of apps and integrations, it is an extremely effective do-it-yourself website designer. In addition to being easy to use, Wix provides a great selection of unique and visually appealing templates (there are hundreds to choose from).
The free version of Wix is provided to anyone who signs up, though any website you create under the free plan will be branded with the Wix logo. Paid plans range from $4.08/month to $24.90/month. Wixâs store offers payment processing through a handful of vendors, including PayPal, WebMoney, Skrill, and PayU.
All in all, Wix is intuitive and user-friendly. Within a few hours, you should be able to take a template, mess around for a bit with the editing tools, and build yourself an incredibly fine looking website.
Because Wix allows developers to create and share their own add-ons, other users are given the opportunity to expand and diversify their websites as well. Some of the most popular integrations available include online shop expansions (like the Etsy app), the Wix Hotels premium booking system, live Instagram feeds, website profile systems, and a variety of other site boosting applications
There is one downside to the software: unlike most other website-building services, Wix does not offer 24/7 live-chat or provide an email response system. There is a toll-free number you can call for help with technical issues, but be aware that you could possibly be put on hold for an unspecified amount of time.
Click here to read our full review of Wix.
With its reasonable price points and clever, yet simplistic editor, Jimdo has made a mark on the website building industry. Managing to be both straightforward and comprehensive, Jimdo allows users to make custom, professional looking websites. Templates are provided, of course, but you’re not bound to the confines of the template you choose; you have total freedom to edit and can essentially be as hands-on about the design process as you want.
Jimdo plans range from free to $20/month, and all plans come with an HTML5 WYSIWYG web editor, usage of professional-grade templates, social media tools, a mobile device editing view, blogging tools, photo galleries, Google Maps, contact forms, direct video embedding, widget integration, optimized mobile websites, and unlimited bandwidth.
While the only online payment processor currently supported by Jimdo is PayPal, a selection of various real-world payment methods can be activated in a websiteâs store, including invoicing, payment-in-advance, collection-upon-delivery, local pickup, and local delivery.
This is an easy-to-use service that somehow still manages to astound with the depth of its overall functionality. Some things may be a bit too simple, and Jimdo isn’t sophisticated enough to work as a tool for a professional web designer, but it is perfectly suited – price-wise and in ease-of-use – for small businesses who would otherwise have to hire out their web design services.
Read our full review of Jimdo here.
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If youâve been maintaining around the recent EMV liability shift, this really is most likely the 4 hundredth and 70-second article youâve find out about it. But itâs still October and weâve still got information to talk about, particularly if youâre believing that now might be time for you to change your POS system. Not every systems are EMV-compatible yet, which could start squandering your soon. No, itâs not time for you to panic and also you donât absolutely need to be EMV-compliant right this second, however these nick cards arenât disappearing. Actually, they’re already scheduled to develop more and more advanced within the next couple years. Youâre have to a POS system around the innovative of the shift should you hope to maintain your business running easily. That leads me to begin this, the 4-hundredth and 70-second article youâll discover the EMV liability shift: to talk about the very best EMV compliant POS systems available on the market.
For your benefit and titillation, below is really a break lower of 5 POS solutions that provide great functionality for various differently sized companies and industry types. The factors through which each system was selected include EMV compatibility, overall system functionality, affordability, and offline abilities (the opportunity to accept debit and credit transactions with no Wi-Fi connection).
ShopKeep Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
ShopKeep is our number 1 pick for retail and food service POS systems, and that i really want it to be made to accommodate service industry companies too, because not just is ShopKeep an excellent system with things to look for along with a finely-tuned suit of features, but it’s also creating a surprising offer. Named the ShopKeep EMV Liability Promise, Chief executive officer and President Norm Merritt guarantees that as lengthy as you’ve purchased an EMV device from ShopKeep, the organization covers any EMV-related chargebacks until their software programs are EMV-enabled. Essentially, though ShopKeep is selling nick card readers, their POS product is not EMV-compatible. Rather of creating you have to pay with this, however, they’ve agreed to defend myself against EMV-related chargebacks until they’ve their system so as, because itâs not your fault they arenât quite compatible yet. This really is something Iâve never witnessed completed in the POS industry before and talks to the lengths that ShopKeep would like to choose its customers.
Obviously, without impressive customer support, ShopKeep is much more than able to standing by itself with features like:
An intuitive and easy to use interface
An easy prices structure ($49/month/register)
Multiple payment processing options
A complete suit of back-office functions
Raw component tracking
Integrations with MailChimp and QuickBooks
Created for promising small to medium-sized companies, ShopKeep provides a effective cloud-based iPad POS solution in a cost that wonât carve an excessive amount of chunk from your budget. Together with various hardware bundles available on their online shop, they provide two EMV devices:
Ingenico iPP320, $299 â a wired, Apple Pay-enabled nick and swipe card readers
Ingenico iCMP, $249 â a radio nick and swipe card readers that’s also Apple Pay-enabled
As well as, ShopKeep is presently offering $500 in free hardware for individuals who register soon, however the deal is just good while supplies last. I’d encourage you to look into the complete ShopKeep review for any more in-depth look. This robust, ease to make use of system has enjoyed positive results recently and it has constantly demonstrated itself around the innovative of POS solutions, but when youâre less than convinced, weâve had a couple more choices for you.
Clover Small Â
Clover Small is yet another food service favorite, but can also be well outfitted for essentially any company within the service industry. Clover provides a unique undertake POS solutions by basically designing the unit to enhance your charge card processor. Though produced by First Data, Clover Small is offered alongside a free account by a number of banks, business suppliers, and a merchant account providers. This enables retailers to look around to find the best rates andâsince each provider sell the unit in a different priceânegotiate the very best deals around the actual product.
The machine itself is equally as flexible because the charge card processing options it provides. Having a modular platform created for customizability, Clover Small could be made to suit nearly any quick serve restaurant, dine-in restaurant, or service companies. Some abilities either incorporated and among the service plans or on the Clover application store include:
The opportunity to sell fuel in-store or in the pump
A pre-ordering application
SMS and social internet marketing abilities
The opportunity to produce a customer layout of the store
A purchase kiosk
The opportunity to pre-authorize cards for a specific amount on bar tabs
Appointment and reservation schedulers
A time verification feature
Integration with Constant Contact, MailChimp, QuickBooks, Xero, Magento, and Shopify
Phone order manager
Their email list above only includes a few of the basics without mentioning the entire inventory, worker, reporting, and customer management functions offered within this effective little device. Although the interface has already been simple to learn and employ, set-up is even simpler since Clover Small has a built-in scanner, receipt printer, magstripe card swipe, nick card readers, and contactless NFC payment readers. Having a compact, 7-inch screen, Clover is fantastic for the tiniest storefronts, although it should handle mid-sized companies too. Read the entire review if youâd like more information, but itâs hard to fail having a system you are able to so carefully tailor for your businessâs unique needs.
Revel is yet another POS solution with sufficient features and add-ons to match different types ofÂ businesses.Â UnlikeÂ Clover Small and ShopKeep though, Revel could be customized for everyone just about any business size in essentially any industry it’s a favorite for managing liquor stores and wineries, particularly. Revel is multi-locational, can manage as much as 500,000 SKUs, and hosts some good features like:
Matrix inventory management
Extensive and intelligent reporting
Loyalty and CRM programs
DTT security integration
Custom menu building
Cinema distribution compliance
Shipping compliance and delivery keeper
Bar tab management
Worker scheduling and management programs
PayPal, Shopify, Magento, QuickBooks, Xero, and social networking integrations
Obviously, there are lots of more available functions, and Revel enables you to choose which features your company needs with industry-specific feature packages and additional add-ons. Because Revel is really feature wealthy, its beginning pricing is just a little greater than ShopKeep and Clover Small at $119 per month for that first terminalâs software license, 24/7 live support, limitless data storage, limitless software updates, as well as an integration with QuickBooks. Next, the cost only goes lower though, using the second terminal visiting $70 monthly and $40 for every additional terminal. In almost any situation, Revelâs prices continues to be comparable with lots of POS systems, even individuals with less features, less functionality, and fewer usability.
Revel integrates with a few payment processers including Mercury Payment Systems, LevelUP, and First Data (though there are other). For your EMV options, Revel Systems presently offers two devices:
Ingenico iPP350, $300 â EMV and PCI PTS certified, also accepts NFC payments
Verifone VX805, $180 â nick and magstripe card readers, also accepts NFC payments
Like a bonus, Revel offers additional hardware integration, and therefore if youâre not deeply in love with either from the certified EMV options, they are able to use you to definitely add any standard card readers for your system. Overall, Revel has got the options, customizability, featuring you have to keep almost any business running easily. Browse the complete break lower if youâd like, but when youâre searching for something a bit more specialized and industry-specific, weâve still had a couple POS solutions which are worth exploring.
ERPLY is really a system which i personally reviewed a few several weeks ago and required a specific shine to due to its specialization in retail ERP functionsâhence the name ERPLY. ERP is short for for enterprise sources planning, and is a brand-encompassing expression used to explain the entire process of managing all of the different aspects of a company, in the front-finish reason for purchase to back-office functions. Essentially, ERPLYâs goal would be to provide promising small to mid-sized companies using the tools to handle every facet of their companies without getting to purchase pricey third-party ERP software. Iâd argue they exceed this goal though, since the amount of features and integrations they provide helps make the system attractive to large companies plus the smaller sized ones.
A few of the features which make ERPLY stand out from other POS systems include:
A simple shipping management module
Automated reordering and tracking of purchase orders
Advanced worker and customer management
Easy sales promotions and coupon features
Customizable sales reports
Customizable dashboard feature
QuickBooks, PrestaShop, Magento, and Shopify integrations
A warehouse web application accustomed to manage and ship products, receive inventory, and configure shipping/receive rules everywhere
ERPLY also provides its very own accounting and eCommerce platforms, that is nice if youâre searching to side-step integration problems that can occasionally include third-party providers. The selection can be you.
Another option thatâs your decision is the charge card processor. ERPLY has partnered having a pretty lengthy listing of them:
Bank of the usa
Mercury Payment Systems
Element Payment Services
Apple Pay can also be not far off, however if you simply donât visit your preferred processor out there, contact ERPLY plus they might be able to add some integration for you personally. ERPLY has additionally taken a positive method of EMV compliance with three devices to select from along with a 4th scheduled to get available early 2016.
Verifone MX915, $480 â NFC and EMV-enabled video display readers
Verifone MX925, $570 â another NFC and EMV-enabled video display readers
Verifone VX520, $175 â a smaller sized, more rugged EMV and NFC readers
Verifone VX805, $270 â scheduled to be shown Q1 2016
You standard countertop EMV readers will probably be about $200 to $400, putting the 2 Verifone MX models over the average cost youâd normally purchase a nick card readers. As these devices have video displays, though, they are a good spot to put targeted advertisements and marketing information. Ultimately, youâll need to determine if that sort of feature could be well worth the extra $100 or $200. In almost any situation, if youâre an entrepreneur within the retail industry, Iâd recommend taking ERPLYâs free trial offer for any spin or at best exploring just a little further using the full review.
Quetzal, created for promising small to mid-sized shoe and apparel retailers, is among my personal favorite POS systems simply because they have several the friendliest staff Iâve ever labored with. Customer support is definitely an essential facet of any POS solution, because every software will have the periodic glitch and you will find certain to be questions throughout the first couple days of operation (otherwise longer). A great tech support team team ensures that you will get the most from neglect the and Quetzal (together with ShopKeep) takes the prize for the reason that category. Although, I shouldnât be amazed thinking about Quetzal is really a Canadian company.
Thatâs not saying that youâre going to need to useÂ Quetzalâs support everything frequently, since the interface carries the Apple aesthetic and general simplicity of use. The rear-office and front-finish functions are without effort made to minimize user error and streamline the setup and checkout processes. You can handle as much as 10 locations with Quetzal, that is a pretty reasonable cap for many mid-sized companies. When you get bigger than that, youâre gonna need to transfer to a POS system made to handle large inventories and much more locations. However, even when youâre striking the maximum with 10 locations and a pair of,000,000 SKUs, Quetzal it’s still equipped to handle your operational needs. Some highlighted featuresÂ include:
Simple, easy to use checkout functions
Decently priced hardware (especially because the built-in iPad camera can be the scanner)
Extensive reporting functions and options
Simple to use color and size inventory matrix
Customer account management (includes Tag Cloud feature which makes for simple upselling)
Offline operation functionality
9 fully integrated language options
Integration with Appleâs Figures
Such as the other POS systems, Quetzal offers several charge card processing options. Quetzal integrates with payment partnersÂ National Discount A Merchant Account, Mercury, Velocity,Â Moneris, CardSmith, and SumUp. These payment gateways provide use of acquirers likeÂ Bank of the usa, Chase Paymentech, First Data, Global Payments, Heartland Payment Systems, TSYS, and Vantiv. The EMV options Quetzal offers include:
Ingenico iPP320, $299 â a wired, NFC-enabled nick and swipe card readers
SumUp Pin+ â SumUP isnât available in america yet (itâs mostly the UKâwhere in EMV standards will be in place for some time), but it’ll be soon and Quetzal has intends to utilize their EMV abilities
With reasonable hardware costs and competitive licensing charges (as little as $890 per place for a 1-year license), Quetzal is really a robust POS solution that wonât blow a significant hole inside your budget. It wonât even blow a medium-sized hole, but youâll have virtually all you need to cultivate a effective business. If youâre interested, Iâd encourage you to definitely have a gander in the full review.
I understand, I understand. I simply put a lot of information to you, but stay. Iâve got a bit more for you personally.
Like a general tip for anybody buying a new EMV deviceâor really any charge card readerâdonât ever lease it. Should you canât covering the $200 to $400 for every new terminal, place the purchase on the business charge card. The eye minute rates are far better and also the purchase is tax deductible. Read this article if youâre thinking about a rent-to-own deal for your nick and pin readers.
Another good point is if the readers youâre purchasing can also be in a position to accept near field communication (NFC) or contactless payments. Though these aren’t as prevalent as traditional card transactions yet, they’re certainly growing in recognition, and itâs most likely smarter to possess that option now rather of getting to exchange your hardware again inside a couple years.
Finally, all of this talk of EMV liability and nick card readers ultimately leads us to your a merchant account provider. If youâve observed bad rates, hefty charges, or simply poor service, now may be time for you to consider altering processors. Iâd research just how much you ought to be having to pay for charge card processing and explore a few of the options available. If youâre ending up just a little overwhelmed on the bottom, though, you can call us. Weâve got the sources to assist you.
The publish The Very Best EMV Compliant POS Systems made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.
Being able to accept credit and debit cards is the lifeblood of any business. For brick-and-mortar locations, it’s worth knowing this: About half of all Americans carry just $20 in cash with them on a daily basis, and about 80% of Americans carry less than $50 daily. This means if you don’t accept credit cards, you could be missing out on sales.
If you sell online, you have to have a way to accept credit and debit cards, period. And it’s crucial that you have a professional system that shoppers will trust with their payment details. For most people that means a merchant account with an established payment gateway.
But are cards and cash â and all the traditional ways of doing business â the only options?
Of course not. There’s no shortage of companies devoted to changing the way we think about paying for things. New technology is bringing concepts like using phones to make payments into the mainstream. Having multiple ways for customers to pay is a good thing, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of convenience to you â or higher fees!
Let’s take a look at some alternative payment methods that you can integrate into your business now, what it’ll take to do so, how secure they are, and how popular they are.
1. Apple Pay
Apple Pay was not the first company to offerÂ contactless mobile payments, but it was the first to make them popular. Apple Pay uses NFC (learn more about this technology here) and the TouchID fingerprint reader to enable contactless in-store payments, as well as in-app purchases. With iOS 9, it also supports loyalty cards and rewards programs.
iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and later models
Apple Watch (with iPhone 5 and later models)
iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4, iPad mini 3
Apple claims to support credit and debit cards from most major banks in the U.S. and the U.K. (A press release from Apple says that with support for Discover added this fall, the app supports 98% of credit card purchase volume.) That’s good news. The launchÂ of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus is also good, because it means consumers with older iPhones will likely startÂ upgrading their older devices, expanding the potential user base.
Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t actually publish usage statistics. A survey done in June 2015 found that 13 percent of users with an Apple Pay-capable phone had used the feature; another 11 percent had plans to do so. We know that Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones in the first quarter of its 2015 fiscal year (the first quarter Apple Pay was available) â but not all of those were necessarily the 6 or 6 Plus. Still, it’s safe to say there are likely several million Apple Pay users across the country, even if some studies suggest that Apple Pay adoption rates are decreasing.
You’re still going to have to have a way to process credit cards to accept Apple Pay, so you’ll need a merchant account, a functioning POS, and an NFC-enabled terminal. The good news is Apple doesn’t charge any fees for Apple Pay transactions, so you only pay the standard credit and debit card processing fees.
Mobile payments like this have several measures for security. First, merchants never actually handle buyers’ credit card numbers. Instead, Apple Pay generates a single-use codeÂ (this is called tokenization). Even if a hacker gets the information, it’s useless because the number is good for one timeÂ only. Second, when consumers tap their phones to the terminal, they have to confirm the purchase with the TouchID fingerprint sensor.
Finally, the phone itself provides some security. The card numbers aren’t stored on the device â they’re kept in the cloud and the device can be locked remotely if it’s ever stolen. The CPU never handles the processing of the NFC transaction, either. A secure element or a separate chip bypass the rest of the system to communicate directly with the NFC-capable unit.
2. Samsung Pay
Samsung Pay is (you guessed it!) the Korean company’s response to Apply Pay. It is also an NFC-powered contactless payments app. It works on a handful of Samsung Galaxy devices:
Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S6 Edge+, and later models.
Galaxy Note 5 and later models.
Samsung Pay just launched in September of 2015, which means it’s quiteÂ new. We’ll update you with usage numbers when we have something reliable and representative to report. But we do know that Samsung had sold an estimated 45 million Galaxy S6 phones (including the Edge and Edge+ variants), plus the Note 5 (for which sales numbers aren’t available right now). The potential user base is very large, but we’ll see how it pans out.
At this point it’s worth noting that the app requires consumers to be on one of fiveÂ networks (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or U.S. Cellular) and have a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express card issued by Bank of America, U.S. Bank, or Citi. The app also accepts merchant credit cards issued by Synchrony Financial. You still earn any rewards or points linked to those cards, but specific loyalty cards and coupons aren’t supported. There’s no in-app payments feature either, though Samsung hasn’t ruled it out.
Again, you need an established way to process credit cards and a compatible POS, and you won’t pay any additional fees for Samsung Pay transactions. But your existing credit card terminal might already accept this particular type of payment. That’s because Samsung Pay uses both NFC and something called magnetic secure transmission (MST). Basically, it allows the phone to emulate a traditional card with a magnetic stripe. That means you don’t need an NFC-capable terminal â but if you don’t have NFC, you can’t accept Apple Pay or Android Pay (next on this list), which limits your options.
Most EMV terminals are also equipped for NFC, so the machine you just got as a result of the liability shift most likely supports these contactless payments. But if your terminal isn’t EMV capable, that’s another issue entirely.
Samsung Pay relies on aÂ fingerprint scanner as well. Users need to launch the app, swipe their fingerprint, and then pass their devices close to the terminal. That’s not quite as intuitive as Apple Pay from a user-friendliness standpoint, but apps evolve and change. At this point it’s just too early to say anything definitively.
3. Android Pay / Google Wallet
Android Pay, like Samsung Pay, is very new, launching in September 2015. At the same time, it’s much older than that: Android Pay is the successor to Google Wallet, Google’s contactless payment solution/mobile wallet, which launched in 2011.
Android Pay works on any Android smartphone (Samsung, HTC, LG, and Motorola, just to name a few) running the KitKatÂ OS (Android 4.4)Â or higher. It’s NFC-powered, with support for debit and credit cards as well as loyalty/rewards programs. An in-app payments feature is set to launch later.
These days, Google Wallet has become a P2P payments appÂ â an easy way to send money to friends and family for free.
The wallet supports Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover cards from a handful of banks, including Bank of America, U.S. Bank, Citi, PNC, Wells Fargo, and USAA (check out the full list here; more banks will be added as time goes on).
By now, you should have a good idea of what to expect as a merchant: You need a way to process credit cards, a compatible POS, and of course, an NFC-capable terminal. Payments are kept secure with tokenization. Users also need to enable the lock screens on their phones â which can then be unlocked using fingerprint readers, PINs, swipe patterns, and more.
The alternative mobile payments technique to NFC is the QR code. QR codes work a lot like traditional barcodes, but they can hold a lot more information â like payment data. The biggest difference is that instead of an NFC-enabled terminal, you need a barcode reader.
LevelUp is the leader in QR code-based mobile payments with its app, but it also builds custom white-label apps for businesses. In addition to the QR codes, LevelUp works with NFC and iBeacon. The LevelUp app works for both iOS and Android. In addition to phone-based payments, LevelUp also supports loyalty programs. You can even link any loyalty programs you have set up through Apple Pay into LevelUp (there’s also support for one-touch signups using TouchID).
Despite having been around for a while (it launched in 2011), LevelUp is admittedly a small player. It has some 14,000 partner businesses, including some major names. The app has over 100,000 downloads in Google Play, which isn’t much compared to a lot of other apps. But the company does have white-label solutions, so it’s difficult to accurately gauge numbers.
LevelUp is a little bit vague on pricing, but if you dig around, you’ll find that payments are processed for a flat 2% fee. That’s good, considering Square charges 2.75% and PayPal 2.7% per swipe. It’s not necessarily as low as you’ll get with merchant accounts, but rates vary a lot based on the type of business you run and what kind of cards you process. A flat 2% should be convenient for most people. LevelUp will also charge a 25% cut of any incentives you offer through its campaigns feature.
To accept payments, you need a compatible POS and LevelUp’s proprietary scanner ($50 each). If your POS isn’t compatible, you can get the LevelUp tablet for $100 according to the pricing page on the website.
As far as security goes, LevelUp offers PCI compliance and encryption, as well as tokenization. In fact, LevelUp uses a triple token system: the token your phone generates goes to a token on the LevelUp servers, which in turn routes to a token on the Braintree servers, which is the payments service LevelUp uses to store credit card data.
CurrentC is another QR code-based payments method. It’s developed by the Consumer Merchant Exchange, led by Walmart and some other heavy-hitters in the retail business. Unlike LevelUp, users can pay using either their bank accounts, store cards, or gift cards. For merchants, that means significantly lower fees. (It’s not well advertised, but you can also add merchant credit and debit cards.) CurrentC also links up with loyalty cards and lets you redeem coupons and discounts in the app.
CurrentC is still in test mode, but the website promises it’ll be ready to roll out across the country soon. One advantage for CurrentC is that it’s widely available for consumers â whereas Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are only available for the most recent smartphone models, and Android Pay requires a recent version of Android (which not all smartphones get), CurrentC should be available for download even on budget smartphones.
As far as security goes, CurrentC requires you to put in a PINÂ every time you open the app or switch between apps. You can also lock the device remotely if it ever goes missing. Like the other services we’ve discussed here, the app uses tokenization â it generates a random one-time use transaction ID and doesn’t pass personal data onto the merchants.
As far as requirements to accept CurrentC go, you’re really just going to need a POS and barcode scanner capable of reading QR codes. CurrentC also has a way to allow gas stations to accept payments at the pump by inputting a code. Restaurants can use the app too, with a feature that enables consumers to leave a tip.
I’m hoping when CurrentC gets a broader release that the MCX will be a bit more forthcoming about information. There’s no disclosure of processing fees, for example. The support website, which is hidden from the main site, has much more information about how the app works, which I find a bit frustrating because it took some digging to uncover it.
As a retailer, accepting PayPal has a huge advantage for you. It’s widely recognized by consumers, so they feel secure paying with it. In fact, PayPal has more than 170 million users worldwide, and it’s the payment method of choice on eBay. PayPal lets users link credit cards, debit cards, or bank accounts to make their payments. There’s also a free P2P payments tool, so consumers can send money to friends and family for free.
Merchants can use PayPal to accept payments on a website andÂ through a smartphone or tablet when they’re on the goÂ orÂ in stores.
For retailers, PayPal doesn’t offer a full POS in its own right â it has a decent set of features, but if you need more capabilities, you can always turn to one of PayPal’s partner POS systems, which you can learn more about here. You can build a register out of a tablet, a cash drawer, and a receipt printer, if you want one. You’ll pay just 2.7% per swipe.
For online retail, PayPal integrates with a lot of shopping carts. For most online transactions, the company charges 2.9% + $0.30. That’s higher than you’ll pay with a solid deal from a merchant account provider in most circumstances, but it comes with a super easy setup. (Just beware that you’re at a higher risk of potential holds or freezes on your account given the nature of PayPal’s businessÂ â no contracts, available to everyone, pay as you go.
You can also build a “Pay with PayPal” feature into apps, with PayPal’s One Touch Feature included so that users don’t have to re-enter their usernames and passwords, which adds to the convenience of usingÂ PayPal.
However, if you want a hosted payment page, you’re going to have to shell out $30 a month for the PayPal Payments Pro plan. You’ll also get a virtual terminal for that cost. If you have the standard PayPal plan (which has no monthly fees), your customers will be directed to the PayPal page to complete the payment, then back to your site.
If you’re using PayPal Here, the company’s mobile solution, you should know that PayPal does offer an EMV reader that also supports NFC payments. It’s $150, but you can get $100 in rebates when you process $3,000 in 3 months. That’s not the best deal â Square is able to offer an EMV capable reader for $30, or an EMV/NFC-capable reader for $49, with a rebate available for select retailers. Even if you don’t qualify for Square’s rebates, Square’s EMV/NFC reader at full price is the same as PayPal’s reader when it’s discounted.
Like PayPal, Square lets merchants accept credit card payments on the go and in stores. You can also accept Square online, provided you use either the Square marketplace or build a site using one of Square’s 2 (yup, that’s right, 2) partners. Square’s rates are comparable to PayPal â just a flat 2.75%, no per-transaction fees.
7. Pay with Amazon
Like PayPal, Pay with Amazon (also known as the bulkier “Login and Pay with Amazon”) lets users pay on your site using their login credentials for another site â in this case, Amazon. They can use whatever payment methods they have stored on their Amazon accounts.
While PayPal is universally known, Pay with Amazon seems to be less common â but that doesn’t mean you should discount it. Amazon had 244 million active users in 2014. That’sÂ roughlyÂ 70 million MORE users than PayPal. You won’t be limiting your audience if you choose Pay with Amazon over PayPal.
Pay with Amazon charges you 2.9% + $0.30 per online transaction. That’s identical to PayPal’s rates for online transactions. You can even do recurring billing for subscription packages. Plus, Pay with Amazon is entirely pay-as-you-go: no contract, no early termination fee, no monthly fees.
However, it’s worth mentioning that there’s no mobile support, so if you also sell in person, either at events or in a store, you’re going to have to look elsewhere for a solution. To accept Login and Pay with Amazon, you just need a compatible shopping cart. Fortunately, you have several great options: You can choose from Xcart, Magento, and Shopify, among others. Check out the full list here.
There are some other advantages here. First, Amazon offers a growth guarantee: If you sign up for the service, and you don’t see an increase in sales over the course of 30 days, the company will refund your processing fees up to $100,000. That’s a nice option if you’re really not sure about switching.
Plus, the Login and Pay with Amazon feature gives you a hosted payment page for free. More good news: You get the same fraud protection used by the Amazon.com site, so you’re not liable for any fraud-related chargebacks. (However, that’s not to say you’re protected against everything; you can still expect a $20 fee for any service-related chargebacks.)
One downside is the time it takes to get your money, which has been a pain point for a long time for sellers on the Amazon marketplace. First, there’s an initial 2-week holding period. After that, Amazon will settle your account daily â but it still takes 3-5 days to transfer funds from your account to your bank. With PayPal, your money is available pretty much immediatelyâ¦and if you have the PayPal debit card, you can spend it anywhere at any time, not just online.
Out of all the alternative payments here, Bitcoin is most definitely the most “alternative” option. Unlike cash or credit, Bitcoins don’t have any physical form. No coins, no paper money. Bitcoin exists solely on the web. Unlike other currencies,which are centralized and controlled by governments, it is entirely self regulated. A network of computers handles the processing and records the transactions in a public register (more on that in a moment).
There’s a lot of info available about what Bitcoin is and how it works. You can start here to learn more. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know to accept Bitcoin.
First, not accepting Bitcoin certainly won’t cost you any business. The estimated userbase is 5-10 million people worldwide, with an estimated 110,000 daily Bitcoin transactions as of June 2015 (nearly double the approximate 60,600 daily transactions in June of 2014).Â However, if your target demographic is young and hip to the digital scene, that’s certainly a reason for you to consider accepting Bitcoin.
One nice advantage to accepting Bitcoin is that generally speaking, the fees are incredibly low, especially compared to PayPal or credit card processing rates. Some processors can even take Bitcoin and convert it into US dollars and deposit it in your bank account. However, the fees also vary, and the value of Bitcoin fluctuates. From October 2014 to October 2015, the value of 1 Bitcoin has hit as low as $177.28 USD and spiked as high as $427.24.
Security works much differently with Bitcoin, too. Every transaction is kept as part of a public ledger, but the users’ personal details are anonymous, which makes it harder to steal someone’s identity. No PCI compliance is required. There’s no opportunity for chargebacks, but at the same time merchants can’t alter charges, either. And you can encrypt and secure your Bitcoin wallet in other ways as well.
To accept Bitcoin, you just need to find a processor. Good news is, there are a lot of them. Even PayPal has a way to accept Bitcoin, through the PayPal Payments Hub. Braintree, a PayPal-owned company, also accepts Bitcoin via a partnership with Coinbase.
Cash, debit, and credit are the most popular kids on the block when it comes to payments. Checks lag far behind other options â an April 2014 report by the Fed found that just 3% of people prefer to pay primarily with check, compared to 43% of people who favor debit cards.
That’s not to say checks are totally irrelevant. Some people don’t have debit cards. Or sometimes your debit card gets cancelled and you’re stuck waiting for the new one to arrive, but you need to make a purchase. And you can (sort of) use checks to pay online, thanks to e-checks. Those type of transactions are also called ACH transactions because they’re routed through the Automated Clearing House, which is an electronic network of banks that also handles direct deposit and electronic bill payments. You don’t have an explicit check number with e-checks, but you still have to provide your routing and account numbers, much like the old-fashioned bit of paper.
The numbers on the popularity of ACH are a bit sketchy. In 2014, the ACH handled more than 23 billion electronic payments totaling more than $40 trillion. The problem with that number is that it includes all those direct deposits and bill payments â mortgages and utilities, especially. It’s not a completely accurate depiction of the eCommerce scene.
One of the big advantages to this payment method is how much more affordable it is compared to standard credit card processing rates. ACH fees, depending on who processes them, might be a percentage of 0.5% or 1%, or a flat fee, which is typically in the range of $0.25 to $0.75. That’s not bad at all, especially if you get the flat fee. Assuming a 1.85% rate on credit card processing fees for a $250 transaction, that’s $4.63 in fees compared to a maximum of $2.50 with a 1% rate for ACH.
There are a lot of ways to accept ACH. For one, both Amazon and PayPal allow customers to link and pay with their bank accounts, though you, as the merchant, will end up paying the standard 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction (for a $250 transaction, that means $7.55).
If you have a virtual terminal, you should be able to enable this feature, but fees will vary based on your provider. Some of the services that we’ve reviewed that support ACH/e-checks include:
Forte Payment Systems
Another merchant account provider that supports e-checks is PayStand. We haven’t reviewed PayStand in depth (partly because it just launched publicly in 2014), but right off the bat we’re impressed by the level of transparency on the site and the depth of information available. We’re less impressed by the claim that its credit card rates â 2.49% + $0.30 â are wholesale, especially given the additional $99 monthly fee for the basic plan. However, PayStand also gives you very low-cost ACH transactions and free Bitcoin processing, as well as mobile processing. The service is promising and some merchants are sure to find value in Paystand’s offerings.
You also don’t need to sell exclusively online to accept ACH. If you have a retail setup, you can get a scanner to convert checks into e-checks. That means transactions will be a bit easier â there’s no forwarding checks to banks and waiting to find out if they clear.
ACH is definitely a great backup option to have, but probably not the best choice for a sole payment option. There are a couple of reasons not everyone will want to use ACH payments:
One, ACH takes a bit longer to process than debit or credit. So it takes longer for you to get your money and consumers have to wait longer for the transaction to process.
Two, it’s not the most secure for consumers, because they have to provide both their account numbers and routing numbers. While the rate of fraudulent transactions is low â just 3 of every 10,000 ACH transactions are rejected for being unauthorized â online payments are the least secure form of ACH transfers (compared with direct deposits, P2P transfers, and online bill pay).
And frankly it’s easier for a lot of people to plug in a card number and a 3-digit security code than it is to root around for your checkbook to get the account and routing numbers.
Dwolla is technically a third-party ACH service, but it’s a standout in the field for a few reasons. One, Dwolla’s basic features are entirely free to use. That means ACH payments, recurring payments, and the ability to distribute large numbers of payments (e.g., employee paychecks). And there’s an option of sending money to family or friends, as well, so there’s definitely a consumer base.
Two, with the tiered service plans (starting at $25/month and going up to $1500/month) you get a range of extra features that make Dwolla even more attractive. That includes next-day transfers (a big plus) and the option for white-label payments. That means, basically, you’ll get a hosted payment page. Customers don’t leave your site and don’t get any indication that they’re using Dwolla.
Paying $1,500 per month for the service sounds outrageous, until you consider that you’re not paying any transaction fees. If you’re doing substantial business with ACH payments, you could easily wind up saving money in the long run. And having a hosted payment page is nothing to sneeze at â or the next-day transfers, the higher limits, payment profiles, etc. (There’s also a $250/month option that gives you more than the basic package but not quite as many perks. That’s good if your business isn’t quite enterprise-scale.)
Now, if you don’t want to shell out $250 or $1,500 monthly for all the fancy tools, or don’t care about a hosted payment page, theÂ basic $25/month plan still gives you next-day transfers. If you want to keep your fees even lower, you can forgo the next-day payments all together.
Customers have the option to create a full-fledged Dwolla account or use the simpler Dwolla Direct. The Direct account is a lot less involved compared to Dwolla’s original setup. Customers can get themselves set up in under a minute and they can link their online banking credentials to pay instead of linking their accounts directly.
As far as security goes, Dwolla uses tokenization and TLS 128-bit encryption. There’s also two-factor authentication â and you’ll have to enter your PIN whenever you move money or make a change to an account.
Adding Dwolla to your options for online payments is easy with the custom API, and creating an account is free, so you can give it a try and get a feel for it before you even set up Dwolla for your business.
Alternative Payment Methods: So Where to Now?
If you are looking for alternatives to credit cards and traditional merchant accounts, there’s no better time to get started. Technology is changing the way we think about payments and how we handle money in general: everything from mobile wallets that replace credit cards to decentralized digital currency. There are alternative payment methods to appeal to every market segment, and optionsÂ to appeal to every sort of business. It’s just a matter of finding what works for you and your customers.
Have questions about your options for payment processing? Leave a comment and let us know. We’re always happy to hear from you! We can also help you lower your processing fees or even choose a processor.
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