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Taking Plastic Above and Beyond

cash only business

Guest Author: John Marshall, Beyond Business Advocate

A seasonal farm market and garden center expressed interest in accepting credit card payments for the first time in their 46 years in business. They are presently a cash-only business with a $2.50 per-use dial-up ATM; a combination that may be limiting sales and creating friction rather than happy customers. Being a seasonal business, they need to encourage every shopper to buy and maximize each transaction before the season comes to an end.

According to Diary of Consumer Payment Choice:

  • 47% of consumers prefer to pay with cash for purchases under $10, however 46% prefer plastic.
  • Plastic is preferred 4:1 for purchases over $25! Are you prepared to discourage 80% of the marketplace?

Consumers Vote with Their Feet 

In fact, Finder suggests big potential revenue loss when businesses don’t accept credit cards:

  • 73% of people would leave a store without making a purchase if they did not accept card payments and didn’t have enough cash on hand.
  • 50% of those above said they would not buy anything, while the other half said they would shop elsewhere.

Challenging Path to Frictionless Payments

Most card processing terminals now use ethernet or WiFi to process transactions quickly. Dial-up connections are simply too slow for the speed of retail businesses today. So, what happens when there is no internet service available or installed at the place of business? It is time to get creative and think outside the box!

This merchant did not have internet service, and frankly did not want the added expense since they are open for just a portion of the year. They did have a relative that lived nearby who has internet service, but the two structures are separated both by distance and a busy driveway used by large vendor trucks. These factors made it nearly impossible to string a cable overhead and impractical to bury.

Going the Distance

Being a dedicated Beyond ‘Business Advocate’, my first step was to look into possible solutions. It appeared likely that a high-power outdoor wireless access point mounted on the side of the house facing the market might have enough range to reliably provide a signal throughout the market. I suggested that their network support provider give that a try as some claim to have a range of up to 300’. Sadly, the two structures were too far apart for reliable high-speed connections using just the access point.

There was a backup plan – two wireless repeaters aimed at each other, one on the house and the other on the market to create a wireless bridge. These devices have directional antennas designed for greater distances and include configuration software to help aim the devices to maximize the connection speed.

Having successfully ‘bridged the gap’, the initial access point device was repurposed by connecting it to the bridge repeater within the market building thereby providing a large radius of WiFi coverage that could support card terminals or even allow them to use other ethernet devices.

Keeping up with payment trends is essential in today’s market. CNBC recently highlighted the shift toward touch-free payment methods due COVID-19:

  • 51% U.S. consumers say they are using cash less often or not at all since the pandemic began March 2020.
  • 51% Americans are now using some form of contactless payments including tap and go and mobile wallets like Apple Pay.

Internet Access Allows New Capabilities

This merchant will also be adopting our Beyond Storefront online ordering platform to help automate curbside pickup. It too will utilize the available WiFi for tablet, e-print, or browser-based PC order access for staging and packing.

The market owners are looking forward to a Spring reopening with these updated purchase options, especially in a post-COVID contactless retail environment. We will need to wait a while longer to gauge consumer response (but I’m personally excited being a regular patron of theirs myself!). It will be interesting to see to what degree customers vote in favor using their cards and phones instead of cash. StartUpNation recently found:

  • Consumers spend 12 to 18% more when using credit cards than when using cash.
  • 83% of Small businesses that accepted credit cards saw increased sales.
  • 52% of those surveyed made at least $1000 more per month, and 18% $20,000 more.

Great customer service often requires thinking outside of the box, careful consideration of consumer preferences, perseverance, and a willingness to go above and beyond for both customers and merchants! If you have a business challenge relating to payment handling, acceptance methods, B2B discounts, POS, e-commerce, or streamlining payroll including automating applicant tracking and on-boarding that get you there, let’s have a conversation.

About the Author: John Marshall, Beyond Business Advocate

John Marshall is an MBA and seasoned industry professional with expertise spanning payroll, POS, lending, e-commerce, and payment solutions. Marshall was a multi-site restaurant owner for more than 30 years and served as the President of the Princeton Merchant Association for four. Today he is proud to “help merchants with the very services and tools that I was a consumer of for many years” as a Beyond Business Advocate out of New Jersey.

Learn more or contact him at: me.getbeyond.com/johnmarshall

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