As of July 5th, 2016, the Canadian public and business are facing a mail strike in three days. Small businesses will lose as they see cheques stop arriving at their door, but the public also loses as they see the prospect of businesses using alternate, more expensive methods of delivery like UPS or FedEx, and passing costs on to their clientele. While we can’t help get your packages delivered, we can tell you there are ways for small business to bring in their money! There are AFFORDABLE alternatives to cheque payments, and strike or no strike, it’s still great to provide alternatives for payments to your customers, and we’ll show you a few examples!
The first is our current favourite – PayPal. Years everyone asked if it was secure or if you needed a PayPal account to use it. Both are non-issues nowadays. PayPal is secure, and though it was true you needed an account in the early days, that is no longer the case. The good news is the PayPal name and reputation is ingrained in the public psyche as the “go to” for online payments, m. Most only worry about their online transactions when they AREN’T handled through PayPal. You can probably associate PayPal’s success with the success of Ebay, both of which fall under basically the same ownership.
PayPal offers many ways for small biz to get paid, but the best are “self serve” solutions that put your clients in control, and options for you to run cards through manually on their behalf.
One client option is an option you can find right on our own website at https://www.reaxiongraphics.com/payments/ – we’ve been using this for nearly 7 years. It does involve third party programming not found on PayPal’s website, but clients can go to that page, enter their invoice information, and be forwarded to PayPal.com to complete their payment with or without a PayPal account (though having an account will make transactions faster without having to enter credit card and personal details already provided by the user’s PayPal account). Configuring a solution like this to accept payments on your website is easily setup by your website provider (feel free to ask us!). Good news is the payment process is easy for everyone, though PayPal does take 2.9%, but there is also no credit card terminal fee and maintaining a PayPal account is also free. That means even if you get a credit card payment once a year, the only cost is the percentage PayPal takes, so why not always offer that option? Signing up and attaching your bank to retrieve your money is easy, but a matter for a future post! It should also be mentioned you don’t have to have a payment page to get paid, you can send invoices or payment requests through PayPal that lead to the same end.
Another PayPal option is their “Virtual Terminal” that allows you to key in a client’s card at the same 2.9% transaction rate, which is THE BEST when you have a client on the phone waving money at you! The only downside is a fee of about 3.1% + $0.30 per transaction + a montly fee of $35, but the fees do go down as you use it more per month.
Here is a new one to us (but not to others), however, it could be an upcoming new favourite – Square. Their shtick is to send you a free card swiper to attached to your smart phone, and they process payments at a lower cost than Paypal at 2.65% or allow you to key in card numbers at 3.4% + 15¢ per transaction. In considering this article we did the signup in less than 10 minutes, but be warned, there will be a few questions about your personal credit history to verify you (who gave you a car loan in 2014, did you open this credit account in 2014, etc.), but the clincher is if you fail that verification test they won’t send you a swiper, they’ll only allow you to key in card numbers.
Another awesome suggestion for payments is to use “INTERAC e-Transfer” payments. These are payments directly from your client’s banking institution to yours. There is no transaction free for you, only the sender, which ranges between free and $1.50. We encourage this form of payment, since like many businesses, we pay hundreds of dollars in transaction fees otherwise, but it is also a good courtesy to offer clients permission to minus their transaction fee from their payment.
So what’s the best choice? Obviously the INTERAC option is the best with it’s low cost. Though we can’t vouche for “Square” since we are a new signup, their fees do top them slightly over PayPal, but here is the catch 22 – as we look at a mail strike you will have a bad time receiving your free swiper in the mail! So if you are in a time crunch and want to hedge your bets, PayPal is the winner in this short term crisis!
Canada Post is having a tough enough time as it is right now without the strike, and businesses forced to do business other ways will continue to hurt Canada Post, but businesses have to pay the bills too and (un)lucky for us, they already get paid online! We’ll see how long this strike goes. Hopefully it will be averted before it even starts, but it doesn’t look that way. It will be interesting to see if this will turn out to be one of those watershed moments that really turn the tide even further away from traditional postal service.
Questions? Let us know! Most of our knowledge is based on first hand experience and experience helping our clients! We will be posting more in depth on these payment methods in the future!
Scott Kasprick is a graphic designer in Brandon, Manitoba and owns and operates Reaxion Graphics while helping his wife raise three lively daughters!