In a report by customer messaging platform Podium, convenient payment options are a priority. Customers rank it as the second most important factor (40%) next to customer service (61%). Businesses then must provide a variety of payment methods to stay competitive.
Consider implementing various payment methods for your business. You may opt to go the traditional route and offer cash, check, or card payments. Or adapt with the trends and use digital methods like e-wallets and online transfer. This will open up your business to a variety of consumers.
Use this guide to better understand the different payment methods and choose the safest for both you & your customers.
Traditional Payment Methods
There are three traditional methods for customers to pay for goods or services: cash, check, and credit/debit card. These are tangible methods that usually require face-to-face contact. Each method has its advantages and downsides.
Cash is the original, oldest, and easiest payment method. When you accept cash, you are not spending more money on processing fees or monthly charges. But, a problem with cash is its anonymity. Items purchased with cash are not trackable by any parties, which can be especially dangerous for small businesses selling services or trade secrets.
Checks are documents that authorize banks to transfer funds from the customer’s bank account to yours. These are usually used for high-ticket purchases. Checks offer consumers the security of making large purchases without carrying large amounts of cash.
Its downside is that it may take a few days for bank clearing before it is transferred to your account. It is also susceptible to cases of bouncing checks and fraudulent transactions.
Credit / Debit Cards
Most customers prefer to pay with credit or debit cards because they are quicker and more convenient at checkouts than cash or check. They are also accepted almost everywhere.
A POS device is required to use this method and you may have to pay a percentage for transaction fees. Processing may also take a few days before the payment reaches your account. This method is also prone to fraud since card theft is common.
Digital Payment Methods
Digital payments include any transaction where the money transfers from one account to another electronically. Unlike traditional payments, digital transfers are intangible. Everything goes through a processing system on devices that has an internet connection like mobile phones and computers.
Most customers prefer digital payment methods because it is safe, easy to use, and time-efficient. The two main types of digital payment methods are mobile wallets and online transfers.
Mobile wallets are virtual wallets that store customers’ payment information and allow them to pay conveniently online and in person. Examples of mobile wallets are Apple Pay, Google Pay, Alipay, and WeChatPay: they allow customers to store money on their phones and then use it to complete a transaction using biometrics.
Mobile wallets are a popular payment method since they are convenient, safe, and usually free. However, since these apps need to be downloaded and connected to a bank account, it can be time-consuming. In addition, some mobile wallets only work on certain devices.
Online Bank Transfer
Electronic transfer is a quick and easy online method of transferring money. It refers simply to the direct transfer of funds from a customer’s bank account into a business’ bank account. It is convenient, since it does not require any special setup to begin accepting payments from customers.
The actual transfer is usually instant, but it can take a few hours for the transfer to clear your bank account. You cannot use or access that money until then. Some customers might not feel comfortable transferring money directly from their bank account to your business.
Choosing the Right Payment Method for Your Business
No one type of payment is best. It will depend on the needs of your business. Make sure you understand how the different methods work before offering to customers.
The right payment method for your business will depend on several factors – the demographic you’re targeting (for example millennials vs seniors), how much you value security over convenience, and the risks involved. It’s not necessary to implement payment methods that will not add value to your business.
When considering payment options, remember that they need to be convenient for both you and your customer. Offering more payment methods means offering a much better checkout experience to your customers. But, you also have to consider the cost of implementation and the security of the platform.
The key is to recognize the existing consumer demand while paying close attention to the new emerging technology trends. Chances are, if it works for your customers, it will work for your business, too.