Taking Credit Cards
- Part 6
Easy ways to expand your payment options
Even though more people are using cash in these frugal times, accepting credit cards is a great way to increase sales. The good news is that it's easier than ever. With a very small investment of time and money, your jewelry business can be credit-card friendly in no time.
Like anything with finances, there is a lot to learn and it's crucial to do your homework. There are too many provider options for a comprehensive list, but here is a look at a few of the most common types.
If you have a smart-phone, there are apps that let you accept credit cards with no up-front or equipment costs (sqareup.com is one). They take a small percentage of each sale, perfect for the occasional seller. There are actually more than a dozen smart apps that let you accept credit cards. A couple are free (not counting transaction fees) and will email receipts to your customers. The upside with these is that you'll get immediate authorization. The downside is that if you can't get a signal, you're out of luck.
Another option is a merchant account from a financial institution or a service like Propay or PayPal. These are popular, user-friendly options. Their fees and services differ, so it comes down to individual needs. If you sell on-line you'll probably want to start with one system for everything (though it's possible to have several). Sites like eBay and Etsy provide thorough instructions on on-line payment method options, but there are other considerations at an actual craft fair.
The most low-tech on-site option is to take the buyer's credit card information manually on a standard paper credit-card form and then enter it on your computer after the show. The upside is that you don't have to purchase any equipment (other than a credit card imprinter) and you won't be at the mercy of temperamental technology. The downside is some people (with good reason) may not be comfortable with you writing down their information and walking off with a copy of it. Another downside for the seller is that you are trusting the customer that the transaction will be authorized.
With some plans you can use a small card reader. This means you don't have to physically record personal information, but you are still just storing information to be processed later when you can hoot it up to your computer. The Square card reader is one, and it plugs into a smart phone. Quicken (Intuit) has a similar device for your smart-phone.
With a merchant account, you can buy a wireless credit card machine, a good idea if you're planning to do enough shows to justify the investment.
They operate on wireless networks similar to a cell phone and will print receipts. If you've been to a craft or bead show, you're familiar with these.
Tip: Here's a great idea from Patrice Lewis from an article she wrote for The Crafts Report. "One way to cut down on fraud if you can't verify credit cards on site: Rent or purchase an electronic credit card machine and keep it on display and appearing plugged in. The appearance of an electronic credit card machine may deter a buyer from trying to use a bad credit card."
For more information:
from a supplement to Bead Style magazine