These days, the retail industry is a fast paced, fast changing and volatile environment. Still, whatever level of business is being transacted, over 80% of consumers nationwide use credit and debit cards for their purchases. If merchants don’t possess the ability to process credit cards, it will have a devastating impact on their business revenue and profitability. Customers prefer the convenience of using credit cards to the more traditional methods of payment, like cash and checks. As another plus, is it gives merchants a more professional look and keeps customers coming back to buy their products.
There are several different credit card processing terminals to choose from. Terminals are also referred to as POS (point of sale) terminals. The kind of business that a merchant is running will determine the types and styles of the terminals required. The prices for these terminals will always vary according to the functionality and technology needed by the business, and there is a wide range of units available.
From Basic to Complex
The more basic types of terminals include the small keypad and display form of the POS style. They are considered the most economical kinds of terminals. The terminal has one key function. It allows for the customers’ credit card information to be received and sent through several different processes before it is finally withdrawn from the card-issuing bank and then deposited into the merchants account.
Many merchants prefer to have a terminal without an attached printer, while others find that this additional function is quite necessary. Wireless credit card processing terminals are mainly used for businesses that continually change their sales location(s). Door-to-door salesmen, taxi cab drivers and seasonal shop owners are among the many users of wireless terminals.
Manual credit card processing is a difficult task and it is more time consuming as well. The best decision is to automate your manual credit card processing machine, if possible. Credit card processing machines use different electronic functions that provide for instant processing and use the encrypted SSL (secure socket layer) for safe and secure transactions. They can also batch transactions and submit them all at a certain time, like the end of the business day.
A PC (or Macintosh, or Linux “box”) can be thought of as a “credit card terminal,” too, since adding certain software to a basic office computer can give you state-of-the-art credit card processing. An Internet-connected PC with the appropriate software can do most anything that a standalone terminal can do, and are particularly appropriate for ecommerce businesses and MOTO merchants.
Using a computer also allows a business owner to “interface” all the credit card processing data with other customer and account records. The flexibility and functionality that this affords is quite valuable to businesses of all kinds, and the costs are quite negligible. It may be that most credit card processing becomes computerized in some way in the near future.
Of course, any leaks or losses of personal information immediately destroy the credibility of a business. This means that normal security measures are just the start, the sort of everyday precautions taken by all businesses against break-ins, losses to fire or other “acts of God,” employee theft and other threats. On top of these basic protections, an additional layer of protection is required for your important financial records and credit card data.
It would be wise to limit access to the customer credit data as much as possible. Also, all communications that deal with customer financial information should be encrypted for everyone’s protection. Even the records maintained in countertop credit card machines can be stolen and misused, so whether a company is using these terminals or a PC, there is always important data to safeguard. Still, the risks are absolutely worth it, since without credit card terminals, hardware- and/or software-based, there will be a lot less business being done. Use your terminals wisely, take appropriate precautions and do your best for your company and its customers.