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Merchant Credit ~
Higher Sales and It's Not a Lot of Extra
(Back to the beginning of the article)
(About five years ago some
processing units sold for
$1800-$2400; one type is called a P.O.S unit, for Point-
Of-Sale.) It takes the place of the imprinter, cell-phone
and the Tranz or other type modem, and can be used on-the-spot for
charge card authorizations. Since they are used more commonly
now, the price is considerably less.
Old Technology: I had a simple Tranz 330, which didn't have a
printer; it plugs into a modular phone jack in the wall, and needs an
electrical connection. About 15 yrs ago I used a pressure imprinter
cell phone at shows. Sales were written up at shows, getting
authorization for just the higher sales (sales were guaranteed that were under
the floor limit - less than $75). I only got authorization for
sales over $75 and I keyed
in the rest when I return home. I was comfortable doing it this
way, but floor limits disappeared several years ago. Few (if any)
companies provide a guaranty or floor limits today. Now it's
all our responsibility.
You may want to have all your credit-card sales
authorized, in which case I'd suggest a P.O.S. (Point-Of-Sale) Unit.) Some units print out a receipt, with the reference number,
authorization number, date, transaction amount, merchant I.D. etc. on
duplicate paper copies. This is a nice unit when things are
P.O.S. units also have a built-in printer: a
nice feature at a busy show; this same unit automatically dials out on
satellite signals to get a authorization. There
are a wide range of options and you can make choices to suit any budget
or need, but no matter which unit you get , make
sure you also have a simple pressure imprinter (knuckle-buster) at
show, just in case the high-tech unit's battery ran
down! (Keep it out of sight! If a scam artist decides you don't
have access to immediate authorization for a sale, you may become a
target for his theft. He'll 'charge' items, 'pay' for it with
his phone credit card, and know that you can't get authorization
until you're back home and he's long gone!)
Years ago we all worked with paper sales slips.
We used to mail in paperwork, but I got a Tranz because my
bank charged more to deal with paperwork, and some
won’t work with you unless you key in your information via
modem, or swipe the card on-site.
Since I don't leave
the office, I use a virtual terminal on
my computer. This is where I enter mail Order/Telephone Order
(MOTO) information to process charges, but I've kept my account with
the Tranz unit open, just in case I don't have internet access for some
reason. If I were doing shows now I would use a POS
cover the following Eastern US States:
would like to mail your credit card information, or to send a check,
here for an order form to print out. Then fax or mail it in.)
What has been
your experience with merchant credit? Does offering to take
charge cards really increase sales substantially?
Yes, it does increase sales. Most merchant credit
companies claim the increase is usually 20-40%, I found that my
increase was somewhat higher, probably because I’m a
silversmith. What lady can resist looking at jewelry for
herself when she shops for a gift? I often sold several
pieces to customers who charged their purchases, and walked away without
buying the gifts for which they’d budgeted, and for which
they had cash or money in their checking accounts. By using
plastic, their purchases were off-budget for the
moment. Impulse sales account for much of the credit card business;
-it’s a good way to increase your gross sales. It’s
a tool, like any on your workbench. If you’re
serious about your business, you need good tools.
Is it a giant
increase in paperwork, etc?
No. It’s not a giant increase at all, but
the sales must processed through the
imprinter, and then through the modem at home, or transmitted through a P.O.S. unit. If you’re nervous about not getting an
authorization on-site for the charge,
it’s worth getting the P.O.S. model that works on satellite signals to have immediate
authorization. The bank mails you notification of funds deposited to
your account, and the credit card company also sends notification of
the same sales. At the end of the month you match up the credit company’s notifications, and your bank statement.
My paper charge slips are separated and filed in
chronological order, according to month. I use an expanding
check-file because it's the perfect size, and set it in a
drawer. When I open the drawer, the file is open,
and I pop the transactions into the proper opening.
I also list names and sale amounts in a steno book
as a cross-check, by date, noting whether they used Visa or MC, or
AMEX, etc. When I reconcile my business account, I have the
transactions listed in the steno pad, with the end-of-day totals, and balance my account as I do my checks.
pay a different discount rate for AMEX transactions, it makes life
easier because they are marked in the book so I know which discount
rate to use for each sale. My American Express (AMEX)
transactions are processed separately, so the steno pad list
is a blessing when reconciling. It’s all one process -not
a lot of work, but there are procedures to follow.
(Back to the
beginning of the article)
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