Payment processing has taken several major leaps forward over the past two decades. As the internet has opened up new possibilities for processing payments, as well as new ways to pay for things, businesses have been forced to adapt.
Now, consumers are starting to have higher expectations for SMBs; they’re paying attention to the latest payment trends, and if your business can’t keep up with them, your customers may choose to support one of your competitors over you.
So which of these trends are most important to watch?
1. Mobile payments
Mobile payments are becoming more advanced, but 65% of consumers in the United States still don’t see any benefit in paying with a mobile wallet. In time, the increased convenience and ease of accessibility for this technology may catch on, the way it has in markets like the United Kingdom and Australia, where “tap to pay” terminals are becoming increasingly common.
If you want your business to be on the leading edge, you should be thinking about how to upgrade your capacity for mobile payments—if you haven’t already.
2. Digital currency
Even though just 8% of consumers are currently invested in cryptocurrency, the world is watching the development of Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Being one of the first businesses to accept cryptocurrency as payment could make you seem like a thought leader in your industry, and could win over a crowd of crypto enthusiasts to your brand. Expect to see more brands accepting Bitcoin and altcoins in the near future, and try not to get left behind.
3. In-depth customer rewards
More than 60% of Generation X and millennial consumers say that loyalty programs are important to them. More stores are offering customer rewards and loyalty programs as a result, which adds even more competitive pressure on you to meet or exceed those standards. Offering your own store credit card, or some type of card that can be used alongside payment to support coupons, promotions, and deals in the future is one of the best investments you can make for customer retention.
4. POS user experience
If you have a brick-and-mortar store, you also need to think about the point-of-sale (POS) experience for your average customer. Do you have an intuitive device to help guide your customers through the payment process? Is it fast, easy, and straightforward to check out? If not, your customers will be comparing your business to similar businesses with more streamlined POS user experiences.
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5. Fraud (and fraud prevention)
Payment technology is growing more sophisticated, but so is the technology available to cybercriminals and other propagators of fraud. There are many types of payment fraud your business is vulnerable to, including the theft of your customers’ payment information. These types of attacks can rob your business of money directly, hurt your customers, and, if your business is found to be vulnerable, harm your brand’s reputation as well. Accordingly, you’ll need to stay tuned to the latest schemes and weaknesses exploited by cybercriminals, and invest in more secure payment resources as necessary to keep your business protected.
The importance of flexibility
There are a few different reasons why it’s so important to keep up with the latest trends:
- Customer convenience. Customers want the most convenient payment experience, which means being able to pay with the currency they prefer as quickly and efficiently as possible. Offering this advantage can boost your customer retention and loyalty significantly.
- Competitive differentiation. Adopting new trends relatively early also helps set you apart from your competitors, one of the most important factors for success in a crowded market. Conversely, if you fall too far behind, your competitors will look superior to you, and you may lose even your most loyal customers.
- Brand reputation. Depending on the appearance and reputation of the new payment trend, adopting it could make your brand look like a thought leader or a trendsetter. Cryptocurrency, for example, is a popular, exciting topic, and showing off that your business accepts it could make you seem more advanced or more stylish.
Ultimately, you don’t have to have the latest and greatest payment standards, or be ahead of the curve, to accomplish these goals. Instead, you can keep your business relevant and keep your customers happy just by being flexible—accepting as many payments as possible, upgrading what you can, and remaining open to new possibilities.
Think critically about which new upgrades will be most beneficial to your business and stay agile as payment tech grows even more sophisticated.
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