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Prep your business for a socially distant world with online sales, delivery, curbside and new ways to take payments

As the pandemic continues to unfold, it’s drastically changing how businesses can interact with and accept payment from customers. Social distancing measures may be in place for the long-term, and another wave of shutdowns isn’t out of the question.

This uncertainty has pushed many companies to turn to online sales or phone orders to stay afloat. And with the growing concern over hygiene and touching cash and credit card terminals at grocery stores or other essential businesses, the need for alternative payment acceptance is soaring and becoming mainstream.  

For business owners, adapting contactless payments and broader solutions like online, phone ordering, curbside pick-up or delivery, as well as virtual gift cards, can be a game changer.

Here’s what you need to know about the different types of contactless payments and how they can make a difference in your business.

In-store contactless payment terminals
You may have heard of “tap to pay.” This contactless payment technology lets people link their bank accounts or store their credit card information on their smartphones, watches or other wearables. Many banks are also issuing contactless credit and debit cards that don’t require device connections. They can either tap the device or card on a contactless reader or hover over it to pay. It reduces the need to touch cards, cash, payment equipment or keypads, making it safer and cleaner than ever to pay in-store.

There is no doubt that we’ll be seeing more contactless payments in the future, and the good news is that most Point-Of-Sale (POS) devices already have the ability to accept them – so there’s nothing special you need to do to set it up. For those with older POS systems, there are low-cost solutions that can make it possible. 

Taking your business online
Selling and taking payments online is a surefire solution to getting around social distancing barriers and even another shutdown. Many existing payment or POS systems can give you the ability to build an attractive, functional website with everything you need to take your business online. You can receive orders and fulfill them, all while securely taking payments and integrating seamlessly with your POS system. It also provides the tools you need to open an online store on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram and marketplaces like eBay and Amazon.

Using a virtual terminal to take orders by phone  
Whether you run a service business that interacts with clients over the phone or a retail or restaurant that takes phone orders, a virtual terminal can help you take payments when there is no card present. With a virtual terminal, you can key-in credit card information so you can run transactions from your computer, laptop or mobile phone without needing a card reader.

Curbside pickup and delivery services
These are both good ways to put the above strategies into practice, and both make it safe and easy for retail stores and restaurants to continue generating revenue while giving their customers a way to get what they need.

Restaurants can easily integrate with delivery services, add a service charge and enable tips. They can work with Uber Eats, DoorDash, GrubHub, Postmates and other third-party services and avoid paying employees as drivers and extra auto insurance. Before you start with these services, however, carefully review the terms of service to make sure you are fully aware of the fees and percentages they charge.

With third-party applications, you can give customers the ability to order from your website, Facebook page and mobile apps. You can receive orders automatically, manage delivery and service charges, offer coupons, and much more. Also check your point-of-sale system to see if it supports mobile devices so you can take payments on the go or in the parking lot for curbside service.

Virtual gift cards
Gift cards can create opportunities for businesses to quickly gain income and make deposits. Since a customer pays up front to load a value on a gift card and redeems it later, it means you get an instant stream of revenue. While manufacturing plastic, physical gift cards can take 2-4 weeks, virtual gift cards are available in 24 hours and can be sent to a customer by email or text, so they can never lose their card or balance.  

In a new, contactless world, implementing alternative forms of payment can help your business increase revenue while offering convenience to your customers. Now is the time to make sure your business is ready for a future with these payment methods. Talk with a financial or treasury management advisor to start a conversation about how they could work for your business.

 

Julie Lewis is a merchant card services manager with Pinnacle Financial Partners based at the firm’s West College Street office in Murfreesboro, TN. She can be reached by phone at 615-849-3371 and by email at [email protected].

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