Make transactions anywhere in your garden center with new mobile card readers.
It might be time to get digital in the garden center. Fewer and fewer customers are keeping cash in their wallets, and today’s busy shoppers are always looking to save some time.
Several mobile payment systems have hit the market in the last two years, looking to help small businesses manage finances and process credit cards without the hassle and cost of a full system. Rather than purchasing or renting a point of sale system that can range anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000, these services provide the user with an encrypting reader that plugs into the audio jack of a smartphone, tablet or both, turning your device into a mini-register.
With a mobile payment system, customers won’t have to wait in line or haul that heavy bag of mulch to the cash register before loading it into the car. A sales associate can spot a shopper with a plant they like and make the sale right then and there, instead of taking the customer to the register.
“You have the interaction with the consumer, it expands the selling opportunities and gives so much more flexibility on the grounds of the garden center, and inside the garden center itself,” says Mike English, executive director of product development for Heartland Payment Systems. “That’s something that’s going to be in higher demand.”
In February, about half of merchants polled by the National Retail Federation said they will use a mobile device as a cash register within a year to 18 months, compared with 6 percent using them now. According to technology researchers at Yankee Group, mobile credit card transaction processing is expected to exceed $1 trillion by 2015 as more merchants are utilizing mobile payment processing systems to increase revenue and offer convenience to their customers.
Cindy Glover, owner of Fireflies Gardens and Flowers, started using a mobile payment system to add credit card capabilities to her small business. It saves her time and trouble, while keeping her mobile.
“I wasn’t sure which way I wanted to go when it came to accepting credit cards. I knew I didn’t want to have a big bulky machine, and have the chore of adding rolls of paper, and the headaches system failures,” she says. “It just all made sense for me. I needed something easy, reliable, and without fuss or muss! It has changed the way I have done business. My customers are fascinated at how easy and quick it is.”
Customers are already using “virtual wallet” systems like Google Wallet and ISIS, and the mobile idea is catching on. Users can load their credit card information into their phone, and simply tap it to pay. Using near field communication, the device establishes a radio connection with the reader to exchange payment information.
“I think the timing is good on this,” English said. “We’re seeing an exponential growth in consumers using their mobile phones for consumer banking so I believe that trends is contributing to the rise. You have the interaction with consumer; it expands selling opportunities and gives much more flexibility on the grounds and in the garden center itself.”
Whether it’s a backup to the traditional terminal or an additional point of sale option for busy days, sidewalk sales or farmers markets, mobile payments are infiltrating the retail market. Here’s a look at a few of the more popular options out there right now.
Hardware: Square works with iOS 4.0+ and Android 2.1+ phones and accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover cards.
With Square, you can connect to a cash drawer to track dollars and cents transactions. You can print receipts from your tablets by connecting a supported Star printer, which costs about $280. Receipts from old transactions can also be printed by accessing the payment history.
Transaction cost: Square charges 2.75 percent per swipe, or a flat rate of $275 per month for the first $250,000 in swiped transactions per year. If you process more than $250,000 in a year, you will pay 2.75 percent per swipe. Manually entered card transactions are 3.5 percent, plus 15 cents each. Cash payments entered into the system do not cost anything.
Transaction history: The Square Register app offers a way to look at total daily sales, generate reports and print and share tables. You can download your payment history and view it in Excel, QuickBooks or any other spreadsheet or financial software. Square also offers an interactive analytics dashboard where you can track your sales volume over time with charts and graphs.
Extra Features: Square allows your employees to accept payments on your behalf without allowing them to view your Square account information. You can add or remove staff at will. The Pay with Square app also allows customers to open a tab, and pay without swiping.
Hardware: The reader works with iOS 4.0+, Android OS 2.1+ and BlackBerry OS 4.7+ devices, and accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. PayAnywhere users can connect to a Star printer, and print receipts from an iPad. The device also works with a $135 Vasario cash drawer, but only with an Apple interface.
Transaction cost: PayAnywhere charges 2.69 percent for all swiped transactions and 3.49 percent plus 19 cents for manually keyed transactions. There is no charge to track cash transactions.
Transaction history: PayAnywhere offers a free “merchant portal” where you can access account activity, schedule email alerts, and print reports and monthly statements. Through the dashboard, users can also print detailed billing information, map purchases through Google Maps and see when funds are hitting your account. The system will soon offer an inventory management service.
Hardware: The GoPayment reader works with iOS 4.0+ and Android 2.1+ and accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover.
The GoPayment system will allow you to send receipts to customers via text or email, but is only compatible with Android devices and supported Bluetooth printers. However, it does allow you to add a customer’s email to your contact list for e-newsletters and other communication. It is not capable of tracking cash transactions.
Transaction cost: GoPayment offers two payment plans: a monthly rate of $12.95 per month with a 1.7 percent swipe rate and a 2.7 percent keyed in rate or a pay-as-you-go service with a 2.7 percent swipe rate and a 3.7 percent keyed rate.
Transaction history: You can go to the online Intuit Merchant Service Center where you can process transactions, track deposits, fees and statements, manage web payments, run reports, add users and sync to QuickBooks.
Extra Features: Every GoPayment account can have up to 50 users. GoPayment also offers a way to deposit your funds into an Inutit reloadable credit card from Visa.
Hardware: SAIL is compatible with iOS 4.3+, and a beta version has been released for Android devices. It can accept Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express and China UnionPay cards. Users can print receipts directly from a VeriFone printer, or email receipts through the dashboard on the SAIL website.
Transaction cost: Sail offers a Go Plan with no monthly fee and a 2.7 percent charge per swipe or 3.7 percent for keyed-in transactions. The Pro Plan is $9.95 per month and charges 1.95 percent per swipe or $2.95 for keyed-in transactions. American Express cards are charged a 3.7 percent fee regardless of transaction type. The device also tracks cash transactions free of charge.
Transaction history: The SAIL dashboard offers a comprehensive view of account action, create and download reports, re-send email receipts and manage other functions.
Extra Features: SAIL allows you to sync inventory across mobile devices and through the website, even with your register if you’re using a VeriFone terminal. The receipt system also allows you to link to your social media profiles right in the receipt. The in-store reader also supports NFC devices like Google Wallet.
SAIL also lets you add multiple users and devices under one account, and allows you to set different permission levels so that your staff can accept, but not alter payments or account information.
Hardware: Mobuyle can accept all major credit, debit and gift card payments, but requires users to purchase a $75 Mobuyle encrypting reader. The reader works with all iOS 3.2+ and Android devices. Users can print receipts with a supported printer through USB or Bluetooth.
Transaction cost: Mobuyle is operated by Heartland Systems and not passed through a third party, so there are no set-up, monthly service or transaction fees. The average cost of a transaction is about 25 cents per swipe. Users can swipe or key in payments.
Transaction history: With Mobuyle, you can void sales, process returns, settle batches, keep track of purchase locations, run reports, and process mail or telephone and online orders. Through the Heartland Merchant Center, users can get detailed reports and customize their email receipts for customers.
Extra Features: Mobuyle has a voice authorization capability and can store and forward purchases when WiFi access isn’t available. You can authorize multiple people on your account and sync the activity.
Hardware: The PayPal Here card reader can accept PayPal, checks, cash and Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express cards. It works with iOS 4.3+ and Android 2.3.3+. Users must have or create a PayPal account. Funds are available within minutes through the user’s PayPal account.
Transaction cost: In the U.S., users pay a 2.7 percent transaction fee plus 15 cents per transaction. There is also a Pro plan with a $30 monthly fee and additional features that allow users to create their own checkout pages and accept payments over the phone or by mail.
Transaction history: Through the profile, users can check on their pending, saved and completed sales, along with customer information. Users can also manage their inventory on the app and their websites.
Extra Features: Multiple accounts with multiple passwords can be set up for staff members. The app also allows users to transfer money within the U.S. for free. The service works through PayPal for online purchases. Retailers also get a debit card for quick access to funds with a 1 percent cash back feature on eligible purchases.