Understanding (and Getting the Most Out Of) Merchant Integrations
Integrated Merchant Solutions
If you’re actively managing your merchant account, chances are you’ve come across integrations. There’s also a good chance you have a couple of them already implemented. Integrations are added features that increase efficiency in your processing or billing software. Although confusing at times, integrations give you back time and money while simultaneously removing the risks associated with humans doing the tasks themselves. Raymond Siffel, CEO and Managing Partner at Calibr Merchant Solutions shares a similar view on the benefits of integrated merchant solutions, which he outlined during an integrations deep-dive with Evolve Payment: “Companies can save money by reducing the ‘soft costs’ associated with payment processing. Employees that are dedicated to reconciliation, for example, can be reallocated to a different role in your finance and accounting departments.”
In addition to reducing costs, integrations can also give you cleaner real-time data to act on while creating a better experience for customers. The market for integrated merchant solutions is very competitive, and new integrations with different features and functions appear regularly. Much of the demand for innovations in merchant integrations is fueled by the consumer space, as opposed to business-to-business. Raymond explains one reason why this is the case: “Startups in the business-to-consumer space are key drivers for new integrations. Stripe, as an example, started offering integrated chargeback management to startups. As these startups outgrew Stripe, they expected this feature from the bigger players in the industry. As a result, integrated chargeback management is now a common offering.”
There shouldn’t be any downsides to integrations since, if properly managed, they can be tailored to your company’s needs. Some processors and merchant service providers offer integrations in an a-la-carte fashion, while others bake the integrations into the software. Regardless, it’s essential to know what you’re paying for and how to get the most out of it. Before diving into how integrations can help you, as well as the actions you can take to get the most out of them, let’s explore the benefits of integrations in its most basic form—payment processing.
Integrated Payment Processing, What's That?
Integrated payment processing solutions allow you to combine your payment processing with the traditional accounting activities associated with accepting your customer’s credit cards. Unless your company manually inputs customer data into your payment terminals and POS system during every transaction, you’re using an integrated system, and more often than not, that’s a good thing! The fewer ‘touchpoints’ between your customers’ transactions, the less room for human error, and the more time you get back. Integrating your payment processing isn’t as simple as an on-off switch. Instead, there are multiple options to choose from, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.
What are the Different Levels of Payment Integration?
If your POS system doesn’t talk to your payment processor via card readers, then your transactions are non-integrated payments. In other words, once a customer selects a payment method, you’ll have to manually input the dollar amount of the transaction into the payment terminal. After your customer is done paying, it’s your job to confirm that the transaction was successful and conclude the sale while printing the receipts manually. Once the terminal prints the receipt, you’ll have to manually enter the data into your POS system for record-keeping.
If you’re running an ecommerce store, then the ‘manual input’ is a redirect to a payment processor’s website where the customer enters their payment information. Regardless of if the transaction was offline or online, this process is time-consuming, inefficient, and leaves room for human error. Also, the only data you can retrieve from non-integrated payments is the confirmation that there was a successful transaction with a specific form of payment.
Fully-integrated payments often referred to as simply ‘integrated payments,’ is the most efficient and convenient way to process transactions. The entire process from the POS system to the payment terminal and payment processing software is automated. Fully-integrated payments provide the best customer experience and the least amount of work for the merchant. However, you’ll need to protect your customer’s data, as you’ll have complete access to it during this process. As a result, hacking attempts and data breaches are especially problematic for a fully integrated payment system, so additional security measures are strongly recommended if not required.
Semi-integrated payments blend the elements of integrated and non-integrated payments by allowing communication between the terminal and POS system. After you ring up a sale on your POS, the card terminal will retrieve that information along with the customer’s card data and send it for authorization.
So, why would anybody choose semi-integrated payments over fully-integrated payments? The key benefit to semi-integration is that your customer’s information never passes through your system. Your payment processor will receive cardholder data in a tokenized form directly from the terminal and will approve the transaction, allowing you to accept payment without the liability of protecting your customer’s sensitive information. Some merchants prefer this option, as they don’t have to worry about added protection in case of a data breach.
Everything Else Under the Sun
Although integrated payment processing is a common integration, it’s not the only one out there. Everything from chargeback integrations to wide-scale software automation exists in the world of payment processing. Better yet, many integrations are malleable enough to be customized to a specific industry vertical or use case. If handled properly, you’ll save time, money, and a lot of headaches. On the other hand, it’s important to be practical. Advisors like those found at Evolve Payment and Calibr Merchant Solutions are a fantastic resource for busy merchants, as they have the experience to quickly navigate towards the best setup for your business.
Getting Integrated Payments Right
There’s a lot of empty promises in the integrated solutions world. If integrating your payment processing interests you, it’s vital to have an advisor work with you to sort through the noise and find the best integration for your business. Most merchant service providers tout integrations, but many don’t understand the nuts and bolts behind them. Instead, they’re included as shiny bells and whistles to allure merchants into signing their contracts. Evolve Payment looks at integrations pragmatically when time and money are on the line. You have limited funds and even less time to manage your payment processing. We are your merchant advocates, and we’ll take all the guesswork out of integrations by:
Performing a deep dive into your specific needs as a merchant
Price-shopping different providers and integrations to determine the best fit for you
Uncovering the functionality of the integration offerings
Choosing the practicality of the integrations for your needs
Setting up and educating you on use-cases and how to use them
Providing continual support for you if you have questions or something goes wrong
Integrations are a valuable addition to any merchant’s payment processing setup. The trick is determining which ones are the right fit. Ultimately, you and your employee’s time is the most important thing for your business success, and integrations are a fantastic way to do so. If this interests you, contact Evolve Payment today and ask us anything; we’re here to help.