Retailers know that keeping their customers happy means making their shopping experience as convenient as possible. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, a growing number of retail customers were choosing the convenience of shopping online. The best way to accommodate online shoppers is by using a merchant virtual terminal that accepts credit card and debit card payments without the customer or the card having to be present.
In addition to providing your customers with more shopping and purchase options, merchant virtual terminals benefit retailers by making their wares available to people who are located far from their physical store. The technology also turns your business into a 24/7 operation while providing you with greater insight into your customers’ preferences and tendencies—all without requiring high hardware and software costs or extensive training.
How Do Merchant Virtual Terminals Work?
A virtual terminal is software or a web-based application that provides a contactless method of completing sales transactions in person, by phone, through a store’s website, or via its mobile application running on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. The programs connect to the store’s merchant account payment gateway, which charges the retailer a percentage of the transaction as a processing fee.
A major advantage of merchant virtual terminals is their ability to run on a range of hardware platforms, including desktops and laptops, mobile devices, and standalone customer-facing kiosks. The programs connect to card readers, receipt printers, and other peripherals wirelessly or via USB or other wired connection; they also replace many of these devices by entering card information manually and delivering customer receipts via email or text, for example.
Six Ways Merchant Virtual Terminals Benefit Retailers
Any business that takes payment from customers by credit card or debit card can benefit from using virtual terminals, from restaurants and small brick-and-mortar shops to professional services, including medical, accounting, and legal offices. Here’s a look at the top six benefits of merchant virtual terminals for boosting a retailer’s online sales.
1. Open Your Business to a Wider Audience of Customers
Retailers need to take advantage of every opportunity to reach new customers, and virtual terminals are one such opportunity. Any business that takes payments over the phone can extend its reach by using virtual terminals, including delivery services, freelancers, and merchants who work on a subscription basis.
Most importantly, customers’ preference for online shopping shows no signs of abating. According to SmartInsights, in 2020, total retail eCommerce in North America increased by 31.8 percent over the previous year. Growth was especially strong in non-store retail (77.7 percent), textile, clothing, and footwear stores (30.9 percent), and department stores (29.7 percent).
2. Complete Transactions and Conduct Other Business Anywhere, Anytime
Imagine having a business that never closes. A virtual terminal converts your business’s website and mobile app into an always-open storefront that is ready to serve customers when and where customers are ready to shop. Your store’s POS system serves as the foundation for your online transaction processing by integrating online and in-store orders to ensure accurate inventory counts, sales tracking, and customer relationship management.
3. Set up Virtual Terminals in an Instant on Standard Hardware
Adopting virtual terminals allows retailers to save money by using smartphones, tablets, and other standard hardware in place of single-purpose card readers, cash registers, and standalone POS terminals. A mobile POS solution delivers the features and functionality of conventional POS without the expensive hardware.
A mobile POS system has three primary components:
- Mobile devices that run the cloud-based POS application
- The POS app, along with secure cloud storage and access
- Mobile POS peripherals, such as card readers, barcode scanners, and receipt printers
An important consideration when choosing a merchant virtual terminal is whether it will be able to scale up efficiently and affordably as your business grows. The pay-as-you-go model helps ensure that your shop doesn’t get locked into using outdated POS hardware.
4. Process Multiple Payments Simultaneously
When your store uses a traditional hardware POS terminal, you’re able to process only one transaction at a time. When your store’s traffic picks up, customers have to wait to make their purchases, which may cause some to abandon their buy. A major benefit of merchant virtual terminals is their ability to launch as many instances as you need to accommodate your customers right away.
5. Support Recurring Charges by Securely Storing Customer Payment Information
A virtual terminal feature that your returning customers will appreciate is the convenience of having a virtual “store account” by being able to make purchases securely using their stored payment information. The added potential for fraud that is associated with transactions completed without the person or the card being physically present is mitigated by two security features of virtual terminals:
- The Address Verification System (AVS) verifies the card holder’s address by matching the billing address provided by the customer with the address on file with the person’s credit card company.
- The Card Verification Value (CVV) code, which is also called the Card Security Code, or CSC, is printed on credit cards and debit cards. The CVV for Visa and MasterCard accounts is three digits near the card’s signature strip, while American Express uses a four-digit CVV on the front of the card. By providing this number to the store, the purchaser confirms that they possess the physical card being used for the sale.
In addition to credit cards and debit cards, virtual terminals allow retailers to accept and record cash payments and purchases by check and gift card. They allow customers to split transactions and use multiple payment types for a single purchase.
6. Track Sales Online in Real Time via a Payment Gateway
As your store supports more payment methods and adopts new sales channels, it becomes more challenging to monitor your sales and inventory. The sales reporting features of POS systems that support virtual terminals put up-to-date sales figures at your fingertips via custom reports and a clear, intuitive dashboard interface. The real-time sales tracking lets you know when a product’s inventory is running low, as well as when slow-moving items may need to be promoted more heavily. Stores can also get a better understanding of how well individual sales staff are performing.
Making the most of your business’s eCommerce operations requires working with a POS vendor who gets to know your processes and has the experience to craft a custom solution that will boost your online sales. Merchant virtual terminals are an important component of a retailer’s strategy for attracting and retaining customers in the virtual world as well as the real one.
In a period of change, talech has a number of POS solutions that can help your retail business adjust operations smoothly. From reaching new audiences to engaging with your existing customers more often, we give you the tools to adapt quickly and with confidence. Get your free personalized demo to see how you can benefit from talech POS.
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