If have an existing retail store, or are ready to launch one, whether an online store or brick-and-mortar, you need to consider payment services. One buzzword in consumer purchase systems for businesses is the merchant service provider system. You may have heard of merchant service providers before, or it is a new term, either way it is important to remember. Why? Merchant service providers are essentially the connectivity point between consumer plastic (credit and debit cards) and your business bank account.

“Recognizing the significance of the point of purchase is not enough,” according to Harvard Business Review. “Consumer goods marketers must pay more attention to developing effective POP programs and, even more important, to ensuring that they are properly implemented at the store level.” If you want to do business and make retailer to consumer purchases streamlined, you will need a merchant services provider.

Point of Sale Terminal

Let’s take a closer look at what these providers do and how you can choose the best one for your business.

Merchant Services Provider Facts

Before choosing the best merchant services provider for your retail business, you need to know a bit more about what they are and what they do. On the surface, merchant services providers do two main things:

  1. Providers let you accept consumer credit and debit card purchases in-store and online.
  2. These providers also let retailers meet payment security guidelines necessary to open and stay in business.

Meeting Security Guidelines of the Payment Card Industry

The authority for all things payment related for retailers is the Payment Card Industry organization (PCI). They’re the governing body that sets and governs rules and policies regarding business and consumer transactions. These rules are important to follow, since the digital era has brought about clever cyber attacks that affect businesses large and small.

According to the PCI on security, “The breach or theft of cardholder data affects the entire payment card ecosystem. Customers suddenly lose trust in merchants or financial institutions, their credit can be negatively affected — there is enormous personal fallout. Merchants and financial institutions lose credibility (and in turn, business), they are also subject to numerous financial liabilities.”

A security issue involving your business and your customers’ payment information can pretty much destroy a business if you’re not adherent to PCI guidelines. How do you make sure you stay compliant? By having a merchant services provider, like Worldpay to take care of the red tape involved with the transaction process.

Online payment processing

How to Choose the Best Merchant Services Provider

Now that you have a better idea of what a merchant services provider and system can do for your retail business, let’s take a closer look at how you can make the best choice for your business. After all, there are a lot of choices on the internet, and it can get confusing at times to wade through the features you need, rather than the services you don’t. There’s no doubt that having a quality merchant services provider is important. If you fail to meet the standards for consumer transactions, or if you don’t make it easy and secure for your customers to pay, your business will fail. You need reliability!

Here are a few additional tips to choose a merchant services provider:

Understand what will fit best for your retail business

This is a big one. Many businesses in the retail space will simply choose whatever pops up first on Google and not truly think about how a merchant services provider fits into their overall business. You also need to think long-term, which means researching providers that will be innovative, ensuring your business merchant services evolve with the times.

Do your due diligence when choosing a merchant services provider

Thinking innovation is a must. But also look at the current ratings and reviews of your potential merchant services providers too. Due a bit of online review reading, and see what providers are getting the most fanfare from their current clients. Know the service charges and fees upfront.

Last, you need to get all the service charges and fees on the table to make the best decision for your business

If you are a startup entrepreneur, budget may be tight and a hidden fee or two could be a budget-buster. Communicate with potential merchant services providers and ensure you know the fee structure before signing on the dotted line.

Smartphone Payment

Conclusion

Choosing the best merchant services provider is definitely important for your retail business, whether you are running an online ecommerce store, or opening a brick-and-mortar outlet in your community. It’s essential to know what you’re getting into, the standards you need to meet legally, and the fees you will pay. This is where a quality provider plays a valuable role.