Since 2010, thousands of stores shut their doors across the United States in what has been called “The Retail Apocalypse.” Today, brick and mortar stores must provide compelling offers and outstanding service to stay successful.
SCORE found that 91% of Americans shop at a small business at least once a week, and many Americans believe supporting local businesses helps the community. Despite this, online retailers are expanding their market share and taking away sales from brick and mortar businesses.
While there are many explanations for this trend, payment processing is a significant issue for many small businesses. According to U.S. Bank, 47% of Americans prefer digital payments over cash. As well as this, nearly half of U.S. consumers carry no more than $20 in their wallets.
The Importance of Payment Processing
A brick and mortar store that does not have a suitable payment processing solution will face major challenges, and may eventually fall victim to the Retail Apocalypse. Here are a handful of reasons why retailers need to upgrade their system to accept various payments.
Online shopping provides fast, convenient service, and 64% of consumers prefer buying from online stores. Considering that 26% of Americans are constantly connected to the web, it makes sense that shoppers will turn to digital retailers since they are only a few keystrokes away.
These statistics are not a death sentence for brick and mortar stores. Rather, they show that local retailers need to offer outstanding convenience to draw in shoppers. After all, a customer can get exactly what they need from a physical store without waiting for shipping. It makes sense to shop small if it can solve problems faster than online stores.
Payment processing plays a role in offering this convenience. A shop that only accepts cash cannot provide this level of service.
Cash is king, right? For many retailers, cash payments are the preferred choice. Business owners don’t need to pay merchant fees and can even offer discounts to encourage cash payments.
However, relying on cash can be a security risk. Business owners assume the risk of fraud and burglary when running a cash-based business. Employee theft also becomes a significant issue. Not only can a worker take money from the register, but they can also shortchange customers and create legal issues for your business.
Accepting digital payments offers a layer of protection for your customers. Any fraud claims are handled by the card company, and having less cash on hand will reduce the likelihood of theft.
Bookkeeping can be a troublesome task for a cash-only brick and mortar business. It may take hours to track sales and calculate revenue, profit, and other key metrics. Even more, tracking how well certain items perform can be impossible if a business does not have a modern reporting system.
Payment processing solutions integrate with cloud point of sales systems, providing it with powerful data to refine operations. Even more, this data can be exported to accounting software like Quickbooks and shave off hours of daily bookkeeping.
Brick and mortar retailers need these features to reduce their expenses and stay profitable, especially when it comes to identifying dead stock. Inventory that is slow-selling not only takes up space, but also leads to capital tie-up and can increase administrative costs. Luckily, a modern POS can quickly determine item popularity and help businesses order stock more efficiently.
Prepare for Future Problems
As we stated earlier, Americans do not carry very much cash in their wallets. This trend could continue and eventually lead to a largely cashless society. Staying ahead of this curve will help any business prepare for a potential shift in consumer buying habits.
More worrying, however, are unpredictable events that can change the economy overnight. Two recent national crises demonstrate threats to brick and mortar shops that may happen again.
The COVID-19 pandemic frightened many consumers, and many were weary to use cash and potentially contract the virus. Shops that cannot accept credit and debit cards may lose business because of this fear. And customers who journey to these stores and find out they cannot finish their transaction will likely become upset. This decrease in customer satisfaction is the last thing a business wants during a crisis.
Secondly, the U.S. is experiencing a coin shortage due to decreased economic activity. Many businesses are asking shoppers to use plastic or pay in exact change. If this can happen with coins, could it possibly happen again with Dollar bills?
Implementing payment processing now can help a business weather the fallout of a similar future event. The market can take an unpredictable term at any moment, and embracing the latest technology puts businesses in the best position to respond.