Most retail merchants think all they need to accept payments is a credit card terminal. While that may be correct in a lot of cases, there are a lot of tools that become available with a merchant account that can help retailers in certain situations.

Luckily with today’s technology, businesses of any size are now able to access innovative tools that used to only be available for large enterprise size businesses with bloated budgets. While you may have just needed to accept card payments initially, there is a whole host of options that are opened up to you once you sign up for a merchant account that can really help you save time and provide an enhanced customer experience. Below, we’ve compiled some tools that every Helcim merchant has access to and how they may help your business to become more efficient and serve more customers.

A Point-of-Sale

We’ll start with the basics. Point-of-sale, or POS Systems, have come a long way since the bulky machines that were originally introduced. Today’s POS Systems include extensive integration options and added functionality that not only helps your customers checkout faster, but also lets you track your inventory, transactions, sales trends, and customer information. If you’re currently accepting payments, but not using a point-of-sale system in conjunction with your terminal or card-reader, then you may be missing out on additional insights and customer trends that could help you make strategic decisions for your business. Some of the hesitation many merchants experience about adopting a POS or upgrading their current POS stems from their fear of complicating their current processes or a burdensome set-up, but POS systems are as easy to set up and use as any other app.

If you’re getting started with a POS for the first time, you can quickly set up a cloud-based POS system, like Helcim’s Point-of-Sale, by simply downloading the software or mobile application onto your tablet or computer. Using POS software allows you to instantly transform technology you already own into a POS without having to coordinate with a third-party company or spend thousands of dollars on a proprietary system.

Because of advances in technology, point-of-sale systems are now more affordable than ever before too, so you can easily add a POS to the suite of tools that you’re currently using. All Helcim merchants have access to our point-of-sale system with their Helcim account, and getting started is as easy as logging into your Helcim account or downloading the mobile app if you’re using a tablet or smartphone.

A fully functioning point-of-sale can help you serve customers quickly while tracking and storing all the information you need to make strategic, informed decisions about your business.

Virtual Terminal

If you’re currently accepting in-person payments with Helcim, you may not be aware that every Helcim user has access to the Virtual Terminal. Most people don’t even know that you can use the Virtual Terminal to accept payments using just your computer, tablet, or mobile device and an internet connection, without the need for any terminals, readers, or payment hardware at all. This allows you to accept payments from anywhere, even if all you have on you is your smartphone.

The virtual terminal is an excellent way to take payments when you have already settled your batch for the day or if a customer forgot their card at home and is retrieving their card info over the phone from their spouse.  At the very least, it can provide you with a backup option if you’re away from your store for some reason, your credit card terminal is down or not working properly, or if you need to take a payment from a customer over the phone.

You would just log in to your Helcim account, navigate to the virtual terminal, and manually key in your customer’s credit card information to take the payment. That’s it! Once you process a payment on the virtual terminal, you have the option to print or email receipts to your customers, so they have a record of the transaction.

Online Payment Page or an Online Store

If you’re running a retail business, you may have had customers inquire about whether they can purchase your products online, or if you have additional product variants online. You may also have some customers who prefer being able to browse from the comfort of their homes, submit their order, and then visit your store only to pick up the product, or to have it shipped directly to them. If this is the case, giving a customer the option to shop online can enhance your customer experience and help you sell more products to more people.

Setting up an online store and expanding into the ecommerce space can be a great way to expand your business to reach more customers, even globally. Having access to the tools needed to set up an online payment page and an online store can help you make more sales and reach more customers. Today’s online stores are significantly easier to set up compared to the initial options and while it may seem daunting before you get started, you may be surprised at how easy it is to list your products online and quickly set up and launch your ecommerce store. You can use your ecommerce store to either supplement your retail locations and provide a little bit of flexibility for the way your customers want to shop, or you can greatly expand your customer base with an aggressive online strategy. And if you already have a website for your business, integrating payments is easy with payment pages.

Shopping Cart, Shipping, and Accounting Integrations

Once you have your online store set up and you’re able to accept payments online, you will most likely need a shopping cart and shipping integration to be able to get the products you’re selling online to your customers. Using integrations like these can be a powerful way to boost your business’s ability to make sales and reach customers. It is now easier than ever to add integrations to your website and have them work seamlessly with your payment system. Helcim offers many different integration options to meet your business’s needs and gives you the option of using our Developer API to create custom solutions if you need them.

Outside of shopping cart and shipping integrations, knowing what your payment processor offers for integrations can help you streamline business processes. For example, if you use QuickBooks for your accounting and you’re a Helcim merchant, you could remove the need for some manual data entry by leveraging the Helcim QuickBooks integration to move data from your Helcim account to QuickBooks and vice versa.

Custom Invoices With a “Pay Now” Button

While your business may not use invoices every day, having access to invoicing tools can help you get paid faster if circumstances do arise. Having the option to send an invoice, without having to find another software or try and reconcile payments between two different systems, can be incredibly helpful. For example, you may decide it’s easier to send an invoice to a customer if they want to make a purchase for an item that hasn’t been added to your product catalog yet, if there’s a special event or workshop you want to sell tickets to, or if a customer wants to make a large bulk order and pay in advance. You can also use invoices to collect payment from suppliers and vendors without having to chase down payment with annoying phone calls and e-mails.

At Helcim, we know that the ability to access different types of payment options can help businesses serve their customers better, this is why every Helcim account has the ability to quickly email an unlimited number of invoices to customers for free. Our invoices include a “Pay Now” button so customers can submit payment instantly, with just a few clicks. Invoices help your business get paid faster, while securely managing your customers' payment information.

Customer Management Tools

Being able to manage your customer information can help you ensure you’re delivering the best possible customer service and meeting your customers’ needs whenever they interact with your business, whether they are shopping in-person at your store, at your online store, or providing their credit card details over the phone. Most payment processors offer customer management tools to help you manage your relationships, store and protect your customers’ personal information, and enhance their overall experience. This is a great way to expedite the check-out process for your regular and repeat customers, adding a personal touch which goes a long way in enhancing their experience with your business. 

Recurring Payments and Subscription Management

If you’re offering any sort of subscription services, then you may want to find a payment processor who offers recurring billing and a self-service customer portal. Using these tools can help you automate your payments so that your subscriptions renew automatically and if a customer needs to update their payment information, they can update their card details themselves through the self-serve customer portal before an expired card causes their payment to be declined. These tools are especially helpful for any businesses who offer (or would like to offer) monthly memberships, regular classes, or regular donations.

Options, Options, Options

Advancements in technology have given retail small business owners access to more tools than ever before. Understanding what options are available and how they can help your business can help you find new ways to streamline your business processes, expand your customer base, enhance your customer experiences, and to help you save time and money in the long run. So even if you’re a retail business and you’ve never needed to send an invoice or use the virtual terminal, just knowing that these tools are freely available to you can provide additional options for different circumstances. By leveraging all of the tools available through your Helcim account you can make your life easier, provide a better customer experience, and find new ways to sell more, faster.