Business tips

Smart terminals are capable of more than you may think.

By Ryan Gibbons on
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If you accept non-cash payments of any kind at your physical or online business, you are likely already well-acquainted with a traditional credit card terminal. This device allows shoppers to swipe or insert their credit or debit card into your countertop or portable reader to transfer funds from their bank into your merchant account. These days, however, old-school credit card equipment is being replaced by devices known as smart terminals.

What are smart terminals and how do they work?

Just like their predecessors, smart terminals allow shoppers to pay using credit or debit cards by swiping their card into the merchant’s reader or in the case of EMV chip cards, “dipping” the cards. Many of these pieces of hardware also come with the capability to accept contactless payments from smartphones, wearables, and smart chip-enabled credit cards through the use of near-field communication (NFC) technology. Thanks to this innovation, the merchant’s reader can seamlessly interface with the customer’s card or device to accept payments as long as it is near, just a few inches away. Security remains strong due to encryption and tokenization that transforms sensitive payment information into a unique string of letters and digits that is only used one time, and therefore useless to would-be cybercriminals. 

Most smart payment terminals use an internet connection to submit credit card data. They can be hard-wired or wireless, with the latter using wifi, Bluetooth, or cellular networks to securely transmit payment data. This range of choices allows for maximum versatility and flexibility in the payments arena, providing advantages to customers and merchants alike.

For the shopper, buying something with a smart payment terminal offers an unparalleled level of safety and convenience. The purchase can be made from virtually anywhere without compromising security. Best of all, there’s no need to carry inconvenient and unsanitary cash.

Merchants have begun to realize the upsides these revolutionary types of transactions offer. Gone are the days when sellers had to manually record credit card details or update hand-entered spreadsheets that were prone to human error. Furthermore, smart terminals communicate with banks in real time, often catching fraudulent payments before they go through and saving the seller from numerous financial and business-related consequences like chargebacks and a damaged reputation.

What makes smart terminals so, well...smart?

Upgrading from standard to smart systems may involve a certain amount of stress and monetary investment. In these challenging economic times when business owners are making tough choices, it’s no wonder that many are questioning whether upgrading to a smart payment terminal makes sense. Before you decide to remain wedded to an outdated system, however, take a few minutes to learn what separates these modern solutions from their legacy counterparts.

The most important thing to realize is that smart terminals do much more than simply process customers’ payments. They also come fully stocked with features that can help you to run your business more efficiently and profitably than ever before. 

For instance, consider your current accounting practices and software. You may be manually entering data from paper receipts or reports before you can send invoices or order new stock. Today’s smart terminals integrate seamlessly with accounting software, taking note of each purchase and expense to provide you with an accurate assessment of your profits and losses.

A smart terminal is also an invaluable resource when it comes to employee management. Tasks that were once arduous such as creating work schedules, tracking overtime, and gauging individual sales performance can now be accomplished by your smart payment device. As a result, you can determine which staff members are excelling and who is falling short, who is working what hours and who is unreliable, etc. You’ll no longer need to agonize over schedules and wonder if your employees all received them since they can be created and emailed as if by magic thanks to your smart payment device.

By the same token, smart terminals can track your entire sales inventory and contain information on what is not selling as well as what is flying off the shelves. With a click of the mouse, you can generate reports that show buying trends and help you forecast future sales. By doing so, you can maximize efficiency by providing customers with the items they have already shown a desire to purchase while cutting back on waste.

Analyzing data for optimal business performance.

Particularly if you operate a website as part of your business, you need to have as complete a picture as possible about who comes to your page, how long they stay, and what they buy. Fortunately, your smart terminal contains invaluable data analytics capabilities.

The next steps.

If you are now convinced that you should bring smart terminal technology into your retail business, that’s great! However, don’t just jump at the first option. Make sure that the terminal you choose offers the following features. 

  • Acceptance for old-school magstripe cards, EMV chip cards, NFC contactless transactions, mobile payments, e-checks, and cash.
  • Virtual terminal access so you can accept mail and telephone orders. 
  • Signature capture directly on the device instead of via paper receipts.
  • Simplified employee, customer, inventory, and dispute management. 
  • The ability to share information across checkout points.

If you choose a system that includes these features, it will not only help you meet changing customer demands, you’ll have a payment system in place that can evolve and grow right along with your business.

The bottom line.

Today’s smart payment terminals are more intelligent than ever before. Furthermore, thanks to their popularity, they are more affordable than you might think. As a savvy entrepreneur, you already recognize the importance of accepting other types of payments besides cash. When you incorporate smart terminals into your business, you can provide your customers the payment options they’ve come to expect and take your operation to a whole new level.