COVID-19 has disrupted traditional retail businesses across all industries. Currently, business owners across the globe are working hard to find creative ways to execute their business continuity plans to keep revenue flowing into their business.
At Helcim, we are inspired by the creativity and grit shown by business owners during these difficult times as they find new ways to connect with their customers, offer their products or services, and accept payments. If you’re a business owner who is currently looking for payment options to replace in-person payments for the near-term, we want to share a few different solutions that might work for your business.
Having multiple options to accept payments can make it easier to keep commerce flowing if your business faces a disruption that is out of your control. If your business predominantly accepts payments in-person using a traditional terminal setup, having a plan in place to accept payments using alternate methods can provide peace of mind if you ever need to transition to online – or card-not-present – transactions.
Here are some of the different ways you can accept payments if in-person payments are not an option:
Use a Virtual Terminal to Accept Payments Online
If your traditional terminal is not working, or if you’re unable to accept payments at your retail location, you can use the virtual terminal to continue serving your customers. A virtual terminal is basically an online version of your physical credit card terminal and you can use it to accept payments from customers using any online-connected device like your desktop computer, smartphone, or tablet. This means you can process payments over the phone or from a returning customer using their tokenized payment information that is stored in your secure card vault.
Running a transaction is easy, you simply need to enter the transaction information and the customer’s payment information to accept a payment. The virtual terminal can also process refunds, voids, and pre-authorizations to meet all of your payment needs.
If your payment processor offers a card vault, it will work in conjunction with your virtual terminal to make accepting repeat payments even easier. Once you enter a customer’s payment information once, the details will be stored in the card vault. The next time you use the virtual terminal, you can quickly pull up the customer’s information to process the payment without having to ask them for their payment information again.
Create Hosted Payment Pages
Payment pages are a flexible payment option that makes it easy for you to integrate payments on your existing website. Payment pages are secure and easy to set up to work with your shopping cart, as a part of your billing system, or as a payment option using Buy Now or Donate buttons on your website.
If your normal business operations have been disrupted, you can easily use payment pages to accept payments online in the meantime. For example, a restaurant who doesn’t usually offer takeout or delivery can put together a payment page for a special Date Night In package, or a fitness studio that pivots to offering live stream classes can set up a payment page to accept donations from customers who want to continue to support the business remotely.
You often have access to different options that allow you to customize your payment pages to reflect the purchase amount you want and also to add custom fields for the page depending on what you want to use it for. Payment pages are a great option for those businesses who have traditionally taken their payments in person but already have a functioning website that they can direct their customers to for new payments.
Send Online Invoices
Sending online invoices is a quick way to request payments for customers when they are unable to visit your business in person. If you’re accepting orders through email, social media, or over the phone, you can use email invoices to quickly compile your customer’s order and send them a record of their order. If your invoicing tool includes Pay Now buttons, you can use them to make it easy for customers to enter their payment information and pay for their purchases directly from the invoice.
Use automated emails with your invoices to remind customers when new invoices are created and when their payments are due. All of your invoice information should be viewable in your account, making it easy to keep track of which payments are still outstanding and what invoices have been processed.
Launch an Online Store
Most customers are comfortable with online shopping and many will look up a business online to learn more about the company or see what types of goods and services you might sell before visiting you in-person. Having a website for your business makes it easy to pivot to online sales if your in-person sales channel is disrupted.
You can create an online store to promote your business and showcase your products. Even if you don’t want to set up a complete ecommerce option right now, you can use your online store to promote specials or sales, to connect with your customers, or to collect customer information for future promotions or email campaigns.
Sell Gift Cards for Future Use
If your in-person operations have been temporarily disrupted, but you’re confident you’ll be able to return to regular operations at some point, you can encourage customers to purchase gift cards now for future use. Use hosted payment pages or online invoices to collect payments and then issue customers electronic gift cards for a sustainable and easy way to continue to make sales until your business can return to normal. We have seen some service-based businesses, such as photographers, offering vouchers and electronic gift cards that can be purchased now and redeemed for future dates.
Temporarily Offer Delivery of Online Purchases
Customers love convenience, and while online payments are quick and easy to complete, sometimes offering a temporary incentive such as free delivery can help encourage customers to complete a purchase.
If you want to offer delivery, you can use your online payment methods to collect the information you need to complete deliveries. This could include collecting their address, delivery information, or asking for comments. Your invoicing and payment page tools will often include options to create additional information fields that let customers include comments or additional details if you need them. Collecting these delivery details makes it easier for you to get the information you need upfront so you don’t have to spend time chasing down customers for more details.