How Vendors Can Persuade SMBs to Adopt Mobile Payments

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Consumers are coming around to the idea of paying for in-store purchases with their mobile devices, but getting local merchants on board is proving to be more difficult than anticipated. Mobile-based payments are expected to reach $142 billion by 2019, according to a report by Forrester, however a survey by Rocket Lawyer found that roughly one-fifth of small business owners have no interest in mobile payments and 17% still aren’t sure how they feel.

If hyperlocal vendors are going to continue growing their networks of merchants willing to accept mobile payments, they’re going to have to find ways to get small business owners excited about the concept. Here are nine strategies for doing just that.

1. Become a trusted advisor. “Vendors should serve as trusted advisors when discussing mobile payment options with their business partners — providing perspective and counsel around the topic. They need to present the facts, and when appropriate, encourage businesses to accommodate a wider variety of clients and their payment preferences. It’s the vendor’s job to understand [mobile payment] trends, and become the subject matter experts, in order to relay accurate insights to their businesses partners.” (Ran Oelgiesser, vCita)

2. Focus on the problem being solved. “I think vendors need to explain the problems that mobile payments and advanced POS systems solve. For example, what are the pain points, and how do mobile payments and point of sale solutions resolve those issues?” (Chris Ciabarra, Revel Systems)

3. Assess customer needs. “Technology vendors should first assess their customers’ needs. Is there a need for line busting? Is there an opportunity for the business to take payments on the road? Do mobile payments even make sense? If mobile payments do make sense, vendors should be educators to ensure the long-term success of their customers.” (Chris Poelma, NCR Small Business)

4. Assume the role of consultative selling associate. “Vendors would be well served to assume the role of consultative selling associate. Education on the overall opportunity, as well as the specific technology, will be important to delivering a seamless experience for the business and for its customers. An easy experience, which presents increased convenience and an improved customer experience, will aid in adoption. Ongoing training of the business staff including frontline customer-facing associates who can facilitate the mobile transactions will need to be a part of the process, as will well-placed signage that reminds customers that mobile pay is an option.” (Pat Dermody, Retale)

5. Emphasize security. “Mobile payments such as Apple Pay and POS platforms such as Revel System’s iPad POS system offer superior security benefits. The magnetic strips of old-school credit cards are notoriously insecure, and many outdated cash registers don’t mitigate risk by tracking the sales personnel who login to process transactions. Updating to mobile payments and an advanced POS solution can have tremendous security benefits that can save SMBs from security breaches and financial loss.” (Chris Ciabarra, Revel Systems)

6. Provide a great experience. “[Vendors should] provide an easy and reliable experience. If the transaction fails and people repeatedly ‘can’t get it to work,’ its adoption curve will be slower than desired. Education, information and support in the installation and deployment processes will also be helpful. Sometimes big businesses forget how important even several hundred dollars is to a small business or how disruptive a new technology installation can be to ongoing business operations.” (Pat Dermody, Retale)

7. Emphasize brand perceptions. “The primary incentive for SMBs is going to be perception of the brand. SMBs are not going to lose sales because they don’t offer mobile payments. Once [mobile payments] are in place, they can start educating [their clients] and teaching them how they can grow their businesses by enabling digital offers, and identifying, engaging and rewarding their best customers through loyalty and coupon programs.” (Damien Hugoo, Easy Solutions)

8. Tailor technologies to individual verticals. “It’s crucial that vendors design technologies that are specific to unique types of retailers to drive adoption. For example, a quick service restaurant has different needs than a salon. That’s why Revel’s iPad POS has personalized POS solutions specific to various verticals. By tailoring technologies to diverse verticals, vendors will experience much wider adoption rates.”(Chris Ciabarra, Revel Systems)

9. Bring up online competitors. “One pain point [for SMBs] is the difficulty of competing with online retailers. By offering emailed receipts, loyalty programs, and the convenience of paying with a smartphone, modernized payments systems help brick-and-mortar stores gain a competitive edge against online retailers. I read recently in The Atlantic that mobile payments dull the agony of spending. If people can pay with wearables versus wallets, or add a tip via an iPad versus with cash, the in-store shopping experience is vastly improved for consumers.” (Chris Ciabarra, Revel Systems)

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.