Its a great question that still comes up frequently. And when someone is holding a large order of soap, or selecting a hand dyed silk scarf and they ask that question I used to cringe. Yes, Cringe because at one point we did not take credit cards because traditional credit card services through a bank is a small fortune in hidden fees, maintenance fees, and percent of sale.
Technology has made it possible to take credit card transactions without going through a bank processing system, and with greater metric results. There are a few out there…. Paypal, and square up among the most popular. We like squareup.com, an independent source of credit card processing that has no monthly fee, and fee simple percentage of sale per transaction. I learned about this service several years ago, and decided to subscribe, order the square swiper dongle (free, by the way, and as many as you need), and linked out bank account to it. That was three summers ago. We initially noticed about 30% increase in sales and surprisingly it has improved our overall sales performance
And the process is simple. You do a small amount of set up on the back end – Business name, contact info, link your bank account, set up your logo and determine if you will have your tax button turned on or off.
Here are the fees:
- Using the swipe – 2.75% of transaction
- Keying in the card – 3.75% of transaction
The start screen looks like this:
Enter the price, the item, and if you like take a picture of the merchandise. Simply swipe the card, and you are taken to a signature page:
Have the customer sign the page, and determine if they want the receipt sent to email or cell phone as a text. I currently do not have any other capabilities, however there is a wireless printer that will interface with the phone and square which is sold by another company. In the photo below are the options – this was taken from an iPad, that has a printer integrated:
The nicest feature of square-up is the availability to log in and download your transactions. The analytics help us understand and analyze the event. We love the accuracy of the information, and actually have begun considering doing our cash transactions through the system for documentation too. Here is a sample of the screen detail (It is more legible in full screen)
And you can set up multiple tax rates (we travel to different counties and states each having different rate, and we can quickly enter each tax rate, save the profile and switch the one we need on, or off)
Now when someone asks us “Do you accept credit cards” we enthusiastically say “Why yes we do!”. And we stand in amazement at the looks on the faces of people when we hand our cell phone to them to sign the transaction. It still garners comments, and wows about the technology. Occasionally there is that one customer who is questioning of the technology, concerned with the safety of the transaction, that melt away when we explain the encryption system square uses.
Another nice feature is repeat customers are in the system, and their receipt information will populate when they have finished signing. This also surprises customers, but they are growing used to it.
The funds we took in credit card charges are in our bank account the next business day. Happy customers, happy artist! Square has made a significant improvement on our business and if you are not taking credit cards but have a smart phone, consider it!!!
One final thought – When you are in an area that is not receiving a good cell signal it is possible to take transactions offline, to be processed when you are in a good cell signal area. As with the old paper receipt and knuckle buster, there is always the risk of a transaction not going through. If you use this feature please keep good notes, get a cell phone or house phone number and address of the customer. We have not had a problem yet, but its better to plan ahead of it.
Technology is a helpful tool to make business more efficient. Lets take advantage of these tools.