As a business owner, you may remember when online shopping began to rise in popularity. Perhaps you even pictured what your customers must have looked like as they perused your website on their desktop PCs. Of course, times have changed a great deal since then, with smartphones rocketing into prominence as many buyers’ preferred shopping method.
The flexibility and convenience of this type of 21st-century payment method make buying products easy, efficient, and secure. However, the benefits don’t just flow to the browsers on your website or shoppers in your physical store. You as a retailer can harness this new buying revolution, especially if you enlist the assistance of what will surely become one of your best allies: The smart terminal.
What are smart terminals?
Chances are good that you already accept credit card payments in your physical store. These days, failing to do so generally results in alienating customers that you can ill afford to lose. However, the actual hardware and software you use to conduct these transactions have evolved significantly during the past few years. In other words, you are behind the times if you are still using the hardware you purchased years ago.
Those old-school pieces of equipment are sometimes called “dumb” terminals. That’s because all they do is one job: Accept payments. The customer inserts their card into a reader, and their information is passed on to the appropriate players in the payment process for authentication, fraud screening, funds checking, and eventual confirmation or declination.
Modern smart terminals not only perform this task better than traditional terminals, they also take things many steps further in terms of what they can do for your business. Used in conjunction with the right payments software and secure, online merchant portal, smart terminals can help you simplify a variety of important tasks. These include customer, employee, inventory, and chargeback management, as well as customized report generation.
How smart terminals are advancing the touchless payments trend.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, buyers and sellers alike have become even more aware of the importance of having a hygienic, safe shopping experience. So-called contactless payments, a technological innovation that had been in existence before COVID-19, went from being a mildly popular option to a necessity that everyone wanted to incorporate into their checkout.
Just how does a smart terminal make this possible? In order for a merchant to accept contactless payments, they must have a system that includes readers equipped with near-frequency communication (NFC) technology. NFC-enabled terminals can interact with chips embedded into customers’ smartphones or wearable devices, as well as the digital wallets in their smartphones. No actual contact needs to take place between the two, provided they are within one to two inches of each other. Even so, buyers’ payment information can be quickly and securely transmitted and authenticated hygienically.
All modern smartphones come with a built-in wallet application designed to securely store the credit card information that the customer has inputted. When the time comes to make a purchase, the customer simply opens their digital wallet, places their device near the smart terminal NFC reader, and authenticates their identity with a fingerprint or other biometric. Behind the scenes, the transaction information is sent to the payment processor and the customer’s bank to complete the authentication, verification, and confirmation process. All in a matter of seconds!
Smartphones and the online payments revolution.
Smartphones are also making their presence known in the realm of online ecommerce. Consumers are discovering that they can purchase things just as quickly and securely with their hand-held devices as they once did when confined to their desks. Thanks to the emphasis that has recently been placed on making websites mobile-friendly, shoppers can now navigate digital environments, browse your full selection of products and services, and complete seamless and secure purchases via their iPhones, Androids, or tablets.
Your smart terminal and phone payments.
You may be wondering what to do if you run a business that takes orders over the phone. Fortunately, the payments technology company that supplies you with your POS system or smart terminal should also offer access to what is known as a virtual terminal that will allow you to accept these types of transactions easily and securely.
Not actually a physical terminal at all, a virtual terminal is instead a web-based software application that enables you to manually key in customers’ credit or debit card information without ever actually seeing their physical card!
Smart terminals and security.
Although the desktop PC may be receding into the attic for most users, concerns about data security continue to grow. Fortunately, smart terminals check all of the boxes when it comes to protecting payment information, whether it is processed in person, online, or over the phone. This data protection comes in the form of built-in compliance with the data security standards specified by the payment card industry (also known as PCI compliance). These protocols combine with certified, point-to-point encryption and tokenization that guarantees information will be protected from cybercriminals.
If you’re running a business in these uncertain times, it’s imperative that you do everything possible to enhance your customers’ shopping and purchasing experience. At the same time, you must maximize your revenue streams to move your brand forward and continue to increase your profit margins. As hand-held phones and wearables become the shopping and payment vehicles of the future, your smart terminal can optimize both the buying and selling experiences and situate your business for sustained success!