The leaves are changing, the weather is cooling down, and pumpkin spice everything is back in stores—that can only mean one thing: fall is here!
As a small business owner, you know that the change in season can also change your customers’ spending habits (after all, Christmas is just around the corner- sort of.)
That’s why it’s essential to take some time now to prepare your business for the fall season.
Here are a few tips on how to do just that.
Your small business fall preparation guide
1. Review your inventory. Take some time to evaluate what products or services were popular with your customers last fall, and make sure you have plenty of those in stock.
If you don’t already use an inventory tool, this is the perfect time to set it up and upload SKUs and product information before things get busy. The right tool can help you track your inventory automatically across multiple locations.
This is also the time to see what didn’t sell so well last season and consider putting excess inventory up for clearance before it takes up valuable storage space.
2. Reach out to your vendors. Fall is a busy time for many businesses, so make sure an unexpected shortage of supplies does not catch you off guard by reaching out to your vendors now and confirming that they’ll be able to meet your needs throughout the season.
3. Plan ahead for staffing needs. If you know that you’ll be short-staffed during certain times of the fall season—for example, if you always have a hard time finding employees who are willing to work Halloween night—now is the time to start planning ahead by recruiting and training seasonal employees.
4. Check your calendar. Keep your eyes peeled for important dates— now’s also the time of year to check for grants, rebates, and more before the new year.
Here are a few dates to put in your phone for Fall 2022:
- New interchange rates coming in October (new rates could mean new fees, which means a chance to leave your contract with your old processor).
- Businesses will be able to implement a surcharge in Canada starting this October.
- Were you a small business taking Visa and Mastercard payments between 2001 and 2021? Don’t forget to apply for a $600 claim opportunity before Sept 30th.
5. Review your payment options. Lastly, take some time to review your payment options- whether that is taking the time to check if your contract is up so you can leave and avoid early termination fees or going over your merchant statement to make sure you’re not being overcharged.
This is also the time to review the payment options you offer customers and make sure they align with what’s popular this fall.
If you’re not sure what to look for, we’ve compiled a list below.
According to Deloitte.com, “digital technology has become fundamental to payments models. [...] with real-time payments, blockchain, and digital currencies at the forefront of digital-first customer expectations.”
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the three best payment tools for small businesses to help you keep up with the technological demands of your customers this fall. You’re focused on fulfilling orders, keeping customers happy, and ensuring your product or service is top-notch. The last thing you want to worry about is whether or not you’re using the best payment tools- and yet payments are at the core of your business and customer experience. So, to save you time (and stress), here are three must-haves, if nothing else.
Let’s say you run a bike shop. You’re constantly taking deposits to hold new orders, chasing unpaid invoices, and in some cases returning deposits when stock doesn’t show up or your customer found it sooner somewhere else.
You know what makes all these transactions 10000x easier?
If your customer had to come in every time they needed to put down a deposit, or get their money back for a $40 pair of gloves Giant hasn’t carried for four months, they might get even more frustrated than they already are about supply shortages. Worse, they might start to extend that sentiment toward your business.
Here are all the scenarios where a virtual terminal can save the day:
Your cashier messed up (it happens) and needs to process a payment again or issue a refund. You need to take a deposit. Your customer needs to finance their $20,000 bike (they can be expensive!). Your customer wants to pay their bike off slowly before it comes in installments. Your customer is from out of town and wants to ship it. Your customer is buying a bike for their sister’s boyfriend’s friend’s nephew, who will come to pick it up after it’s paid for.
Aside from these specific scenarios, here’s what a virtual terminal can do:
No payment terminal needed: Key in information to your computer over the phone or have customers use your online checkout. Securely save and store payment information so you can easily pull up frequent customer info. Send an invoice and request payment via email or SMS text message Set up pre-authorized or recurring payments with customer banking information (ACH/ EFT bank payments) or a credit card.
If there’s one thing we learned about consumer habits from COVID-19, it’s that having an e-commerce site is no longer an advantage but mandatory to stay relevant. While Forbes predicts that in-store shopping will rise, highlighting the importance of, “personalization and convenience,” it will also be more important than ever to understand customer payment data and insights to generate loyalty.
Setting up an online checkout is an easy way for your business to:
- reach a larger audience.
- provide a level of convenience for your customers.
- automatically gather customer insights and data.
- increase customer loyalty and brand awareness.
Most businesses have an online presence or store now, but it’s no longer enough to have one- your customers are expecting a certain bar:
Do a manual audit but follow your customer journey from start to finish. Flag any issues such as wrong numbers, broken links and measure how intuitive and easy it is for customers to find what they are looking for and to checkout.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Ensure your store hours and details are up-to-date with your new fall hours and contact info.
- Promote any seasonal promotions you’ll be running.
- Update your images, logo, and colors — blurry or low-resolution images will turn customers away, so make sure all of the images on your site are clear and crisp.
- Add ALT tags for all of your images so that search engines can find them.
- Ensure your payments page is well integrated with your online checkout.
- Make sure your desktop AND mobile site experience is smooth and glitch-free.
You don’t need a Designer or programmer to build your site, you can find customizable and user-friendly Hosted Payment pages through The Helcim Checkout — Add your inventory, images, information, and branding.
Upgrade your (POS) wardrobe
POS stands for Point of Sale, by the way — as in time to upgrade your old terminal! Remember going shopping for new clothes for back to school? Well, now you can spruce up your countertop, too, with Helcim’s new colorful card stands.
If you haven’t heard, swipe is going the way of the dodo. It has been for some time now; with more and more businesses and payment processors phasing this outdated technology out in favor of more secure methods, it might be time to trade in your old look for a new one anyhow.
Read our article on what to look for from a credit card machine in 2022.
Not only may your card reader be old and outdated, but it plays a crucial role in your payment experience. EMV, or chip, compatibility, enables a more secure transaction, while NFC technology means you can bring more convenience to your customers by allowing them to pay via tap or using their phone/ watch for Apple Pay or Google Pay.
The easiest way to tick all the boxes this fall
Preparing your small business for the fall season doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming—a little bit of planning now can go a long way towards ensuring a smooth and successful autumn season!
Consider signing up or switching to a payment processor that is already offering all these tools at no extra cost so you can check off your list all at once.
By following these tips, you can help ensure that your small business is prepared for whatever the fall season throws its way!