LIFE AS WE KNEW IT
We came into 2020 feeling good about the outlook for the future. Our economy was going strong, unemployment numbers were the lowest we’ve ever seen, the stock market was strong and retail was booming. Then it hit… COVID 19, the pandemic and everything changed, in a heartbeat. The life that we all lived, made a dramatic turn unlike anything the majority of us have ever seen. Over the next few months, we all made some serious adjustments to our lives. People scampered after and began hording toilet paper, of all things. I don’t think we really knew what to do with ourselves as we had to “shelter at home”. For me, the majority of my business has been online, from home, with merchants all over the country. From an operational standpoint, that hadn’t changed for me but what did happen was, there were no merchants to talk to. They were forcibly shut down and business came to a screeching halt and livelihoods were crushed. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know and have experienced for yourself so let’s move on to what’s next.
As I write this, it is June 24th and segments of the country are gradually starting to reopen, albeit with much different operating conditions. Fewer people at a time in your establishment, possibly wearing masks and, of course, proper social distancing (there’s a term I bet you never used before). Additionally, since the majority of people have lost a lot of income during the past three months, discretionary capital for spending has been greatly reduced which, of course, has a negative impact on merchants bottom lines. So, what can you do to capture as much business as you can from the pent up demand and keep more of it in your bank account? There are ways that maybe hadn’t been considered in the past that you might want to take a look at.
First, let’s talk about how people pay for their purchases. Likely, the majority of your business transactions are paid for with some form of plastic. In the past, customers would just hand over their card for you to swipe, if you didn’t have a customer facing germinal to swipe or insert their card on their own. Now, with this virus still alive and well, customers are real hesitant to hand over their card for fear of catching COVID 19. Utilizing a FREE forward facing terminal or FREE POS system is crucial to provide safety for your customers now. In fact, even better than that is a terminal that offers NFC (Near Field Communications), where the customer simply holds their card or mobile phone over the device and it reads the card info, without touching anything (unless maybe it is a debit transaction that would require entering their pin number. This is how I personally pay as often as is available to me by utilizing the Wallet App on my mobile phone. Fact is, I have been doing this for quite some time even before the virus hit, simply because of the convenience of it.
Okay, so now we’ve talked about the best solution to help your customers feel comfortable when paying for the goods or services from your establishment. Now, let’s talk about what you are doing to drive more of the sales volume to your bottom line. Are you utilizing gift cards in a creative fashion to bring customers back to your business? If not, there are some great ideas that many of my merchants have used in the past that are really ramping up now to try to drive sales to regain some ground after the lengthy shut down. Unfortunately, and sadly, there are many businesses that were simply hit too hard and won’t be back. But, if you’re up and running, you simply need to look at anything you can do to get the ball rolling quickly.
When was the last time you had an analysis done of your payment providers services? Are you properly taking advantage of the much lower debit transaction fees? Are you set up on the most transparent pricing platform available to minimize the percentage you’re paying? One of the newer pricing mechanisms available to merchants these days, is a program that gives you the edge where you can make the same profit from non-cash transactions as you do from cash transactions. Now there’s something you should at least look into. This program alone, enables you to keep much more of any transaction, in your pocket and help you in regaining lost ground over the past few months.
Well, I’ve rambled on long enough for now. I had meant to write this for a few weeks now but I’ve been busy finishing up projects on my honey do list, if you know what I mean. And now that business is starting to call more and more for my attention, it’s time to get back to work. I wish you great success in recovering and pray that you stay safe and healthy.