A merchant accounting system is a computerized means by which a business that accepts payment cards (credit, debit, gift, etc.) keeps track of each individual transaction as well as the overall processing. The merchant’s gateway and payment processing services, combined with an e-commerce shopping cart program and accounting software, allows merchants to conduct business in real-time.
The most efficient merchant accounting system will create a common environment for accepting credit cards, processing them in real time and integrating all the steps into the company’s “back-end office” (or “back office”). The back office comprises all the administrative functions that support the operations of the business, primarily operations that involve accounting and finance.
Package Deal or à la carte
Various account services and processing capabilities are offered to
merchants by the different account providers, either issuing banks or
the companies that develop business for them. Such integrated systems
allow merchants to accept credit cards through all major credit card
associations, and have continuously updated data with which to develop
forecasts and spot trends.
Robust, customized systems can integrate input from magnetic stripe readers, PIN pads and signature capture devices to process all manner of card-present transactions. For the mail order/telephone order (MOTO) and e-commerce markets, providers expand on the payment processing solutions by having their systems integrate with various point-of-sale (POS) providers.
These accounting systems also offer plug-in support for such popular accounting software as Intuit’s QuickBooks Pro and Microsoft Office Accounting Professional, among others. With plug-ins, merchants can continue using the software with which they are familiar, thus reducing possibly costly modifications to current back-end office environments. Because the merchant’s core back office operation remains unchanged, the plug-in enables transaction processing from within the existing applications, eliminating the need for software changes.
Easy Does It
The plug-in method does not require any additional database setup or maintenance, and will not adversely affect a merchant’s existing software (or Operating System) configurations. With both processing “continuity” and back-up functionality, well-integrated accounting systems will minimize processing interruptions and ensure both merchant and customer satisfaction, for all kinds of transactions – in-person retail sales, MOTO orders and e-commerce, too.
How well an accounting application or system will integrate with service providers and other components of the business is a question that may require a bit of research. The leading accounting software packages can usually be integrated into most merchant accounts and overall payment processing solutions, although there may be some customizing involved. As with any other such undertaking, due diligence and clear thinking will pay off with the best solution.