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    10 Payment Processing Tips for SMBs

    How should a small to mid-sized business approach payment processing?  Greg Hammermaster, president of Sage Payment Solutions, offers 10 things SMBs should know about this field.  Hammermaster has extensive experience with credit card and check operations, and has also worked in the sales and business development of commercial card practices.

    IT Business Edge’s Paul Mah posed a few questions to Hammermaster about how SMBs should go about payment processing. Be sure to read his post, “Implementing Payment Processing in SMBs.”

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    Click through for 10 tips to help you process payments more effectively in your company.

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    Each vendor relationship costs time and money. It’s usually more cost-effective and efficient to use a full-service payments provider who can process all payments (credit cards, debit cards, ACH payments, check services and gift/loyalty cards), and using all methods (retail POS, Web, phone, mobile, check scanner).

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    “Close the sale” by being accessible in all the places your customers want to buy from you: over the phone, on the Web, at the tradeshow, in the field. Forcing your customer to call you or go into your store to make the sale limits sales opportunities.

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    Customers buy from stores/vendors they feel comfortable with. Asking your customer not to use a credit card might make you lose future sales. Additionally, if you’re a business-to-business (B2B) shop, being credit card friendly can position your business as the first alternative when your competitor is out of inventory.

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    A best-in-breed practice is integrating your payment data into your accounting system. Not only will this eliminate the inaccuracy of manual data entry, but it will reduce your days sales outstanding (DSO) and enhance your audit and compliance positions.

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    The infrastructure is there. The technology is there. Are you there? Mobile payments are more than an iPhone that can process a credit card, or a mobile phone that replaces a credit card; they’re also about delivering information and building loyalty through an array of mobile devices that your customers use.

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    As e-payments replace more and more checks, don’t lose sight of the potential increased exposure with fraudulent checks. Converting paper checks electronically to ACH, checks-by-phone, Web, Check 21, and check guarantee can increase cash flow and mitigate losses.

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    Due to product complexities and ongoing investment in infrastructure and security, payment systems have moved from being bank owned to business software-company owned and operated. Select a technically savvy and financially stable payment provider that can meet your business’ unique needs in a safe and secure environment.

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    Payment Card Industry (or PCI) is a requirement of all businesses that interact with credit or debit cards. PCI certification ensures that you’re up-to-date on the latest best practices to protect your business and customers from payment fraud. And, just as you use virus software on your PC, use payment security software that scans your PC and alerts you to potential security leaks.

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    End-to-end encryption (E2EE) starts with your payment capture devices, and goes all the way to the transaction being authorized. E2EE prevents the card account data from being stolen electronically and lessens the cost and impact for your business to become PCI-certified.

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    Using the low-cost provider comes at the expense of limited product functionality, potential security holes, and lower levels of customer service. In today’s competitive environment, take the time to study the best practices of your competitors and understand how your payment system touches your customer and your back-office operations. Taking the lowest-cost route could cost you business.

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