How to Collect Money at a Market

Yes, I know that when you sell something, you generally exchange cash money for your goods or services. However, in today’s digital world cash is quickly becoming obsolete. Think about how much cash you carry. The majority of the population carries little, if any, cash.  This is particularly true for millennials.

As a coin collector, I could wax on about the sentimentality of cash, the history of cash money and the fiduciary responsibility that it represents. However, I too must get with the times and board the digital bandwagon.

In order to really succeed at any market or show, you must be flexible and take not only cash but also credit card payments. When I started my first business in the 1990’s, I wanted the ability to collect payment via credit cards. When I inquired about it at the bank, I realized that an entire credit application was required as well as some relatively significant investments to be made. That was then. Fortunately, this is made much, much easier today than it was even a few years ago. There are several options that you have when it comes to accepting credit cards.

Another reason to ensure you have the ability to accept credit cards is because of changing laws. Louisiana has laws on the books that limit the ability to take cash payments for second hand goods and some transactions at markets and shows. I don’t live in Louisiana and don’t know exactly how it is affecting the various markets there or if it is being enforced, but you don’t want to get caught unprepared if a law or regulation like this were to occur in your area.

On a side note, it is stated that the reason for this law was to limit the ability for criminals to buy and sell stolen goods and drugs. I could say that I subscribe to the theory that it is to make sure that all taxes can be collected, but that could just be a conspiracy theory so I won’t say it. I’m already on too many lists.

Below lists some of the alternatives available to you today. This is by no means a complete list and it will change over time as technology is evolving very quickly. Many payment processors are taking advantage of the ubiquitous presence of smartphones and creating add-on credit card readers that make easy work of in-person credit card transactions.

Some payment processors may have a monthly fee while others don’t. They may differ in the fees they charge per transaction. They may have hardware costs that you will incur to get started. Costs alone, however, are not the only thing to consider.

Some payment processors have a wide range of services other than just processing payments. Fraud protection, and business reports are only a couple of included services. Keep this in mind when evaluating the options that work for you. Also, consider not only your needs today but what you may need in the future as your business grows. You may find that you quickly outgrow today’s needs.

While we use and absolutely love Square, you may find that another alternative works best for you. Spend the time to research these and other providers. Once you start using a payment processor, it can be difficult to switch to another one and not have it affect your business reports and business workflow.

Square (www.squareup.com)

As stated earlier, this is the payment processor that we use. At the time of this writing, there is no monthly fee and the percentage that they take of each sale is reasonable.

Square’s software works with either a tablet or smart phone and they not only have a traditional credit card reader for magnetic stripes but were quick to provide support for chip readers when the technology changed. One of the things we really like about square is the online reports so we can see our sales performance for the day, week, month and compare it to what we did last year.

Paypal (www.paypal.com)

The original trailblazer in online payments, Paypal is enabling small business owners to branch out offline as well. Through their mobile card reader that attaches to a smart phone or tablet, you can enable your Paypal account to accept in-person credit card payments.

Shopify (www.shopify.com)

The reason that we know about Shopify’s point of sale solution is because we use Shopify for our online store. In addition to providing a solution for small business to open an online retail store, Shopify now offers card readers that work with your smart phone or tablet.

We have considered moving entirely to either Square or Shopify, but as I stated earlier, once you start using a solution, it makes it difficult to change. In addition, we have found Square to be outstanding in their point of sale payment solution but lacking in their ability to support an online store. On the converse, Shopify is outstanding in supporting an online store, but well behind Square when it comes to point of sale payment processing. This could all change next week.

Other alternatives that we have done little or no research on include:

Quickbooks (www.quickbooks.intuit.com)
NCR Silver (www.ncrsilver.com)
PaySimple (www.paysimple.com)

By the time you read this, this list will likely be obsolete. Do your research and select the option that is right for you.

 

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