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3 Great Tools for Small Business Payment Processing

Small business owners need to stay ahead of customers’ ever-growing need for customization and mobile access to products and services. Turning to cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) systems is an efficient and cost-effective way to approach small business payment processing at brick-and-mortar stores, online or on-the-go.

“The software is frequently enhanced and always up-to-date, with minimal installation required, if any, by the user,” says Christine Scappa, SVP of operations for Sage Payment Solutions, a division of Sage North America. “A cloud-based deployment benefits from not being tied to a physical location, so it is more mobile.”

Many POS options are similar, offering data analysis on transactions, inventory and employee time sheets, and allowing retailers and consumers to use multiple forms of payment quickly and conveniently. Still, it’s important to find a payment processing system that meets your business’ unique needs. You may require a system to integrate with your legacy accounting software, or to generate leads, gift cards, coupons and other digital loyalty products. Expect to face upfront startup fees (for credit card readers, for example), monthly and annual user fees, and per-transaction fees.

Here is a rundown of the biggest POS players and what you can expect from each:

  1. Revel Systems – Designed to run on the Revel app for the iPad, transactions, data and reports are all cloud-based for back-office mobility, though the POS can also operate offline if you lose internet connectivity. You can manage the iPads your employees use remotely. Revel 2.0 steps up its security game by integrating new credit card standards, and facial recognition linked to Facebook profile photos so merchants can easily verify customers’ identities. Revel connects barcode scanners, cash registers, scales, kitchen display systems, and receipt printers, making this a great option for hospitality-based businesses. Pricing is tiered according to your industry, running from $500-$1,500 software license per iPad, based on the number of items for sale and terminal locations you require. There are additional fees for things like a monthly support plan, which is mandatory.
  2. Square – Accept credit card payments on most smartphones and tablets with a plastic card reader that plugs into the headphone jack of your device. You can integrate your mobile payment system with your business’ mobile app, all data is stored in the cloud, and you can manage inventory on your iPad or computer. This is one of the easiest ways small – especially very small – businesses can accept credit card payments. Your bank account is connected to Square’s app, so after swiping a customer’s card you can get the money as quickly as the next day barring any suspicious payment activity. Both the app and card reader are free, and there aren’t any monthly minimums, termination or other nickel-and-dime fees, but you will pay a 2.75% credit card processing fee for each sale and around $100-$500 for a hardware “bundle.” That could include cash drawers, barcode scanners and receipt or kitchen ticket printers, among other things.
  3. ShopKeep – This entrepreneur-founded iPad-based POS solution offers many of the same features as the legacy providers, namely inventory, payment processing (internally and through partners) and employee management. It’s easy to use and a great option for small- to medium-sized businesses such as specialty vendors and small foodservice outfits. It can handle inventory up to 10,000 items scanned by barcode or based on manual search. There’s no contract, and you pay-as-you-go with a monthly subscription service of $49 per register with no additional fees. Hardware bundles range from $649-$1404. Reputably great customer support is included in the price.
Miriam Reimer

Miriam Reimer

Small Business & Entrepreneurship at Fundera
Miriam Reimer is a small business and entrepreneurship columnist at Fundera. Previously she wrote for Forbes, TheStreet, Jewcy and StarChefs. Follow her @miriamsmarket.
Miriam Reimer