For small to mid-sized business (SMB) owners, preparing for the holiday season is already a big task with inventory orders, staffing, expanded business hours and planning for the anticipated leap in sales traffic. Now thanks to Apple, restaurants, bars, liquor and retail stores have one more option to add to that list with the launch of Apple Pay.
While this new mobile wallet technology may help make the holiday season more profitable for SMB owners, there is no instructional manual for adding Apple Pay to a Point of Sale (POS) infrastructure. Consequently, SMB owners who choose to implement will have to “learn as they go.” That may involve a fair amount of trial and error, a potentially costly and time intensive endeavor during the already chaotic holiday shopping season.
With Apple Pay now available for VISA card holders, shoppers will gain the ability to make payments using their Apple devices. To gear up, more than 220,000 merchant locations around the US have already installed contactless readers, which can allow these businesses to use Apple Pay.
Even though Apple Pay is still new to the market, this is our warning to every SMB owner to jump on this bandwagon now to avoid any consequences that may occur from failing to fully embrace this technology.
The inevitable security deadline
Credit card breaches are turning into a plague for retailers, and it’s causing some customers to shop in fear. The more hacks that occur, the more consumers (and thus business owners) care about security. Every business owner should think twice about their own security system, which could be a blessing in disguise.
Why? Because in order for Apple Pay to work, your tech security needs to be essentially bulletproof. While a security upgrade might not be on the forefront of the minds of SMB owners, it should be. A new regulation states that by October 2015, all merchants will be required to support credit cards with EMV Chips. EMV (which stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa) is a smart chip technology that features payment instruments that can store and protect cardholder data. Credit cards that are backed by EMV chips are more secure and decrease the risk of liability in the event of a security breach.
So give your business the security upgrade it needs in order to prevent a dreaded hackathon. If you don’t, it’ll be like leaving the cash register wide open for anyone and everyone to help themselves.
The future of Apple Pay
The concept of a mobile payment app isn’t new. If anything, it’s borderline stale. But this could be the way Apple wins the hearts of SMBs owners who have been reluctant to implement this technology for their businesses.
In a way, Apple is forcing SMBs owners to use all Apple products, from purchasing items with Apple Pay to checking inventory on the iPad, or accepting traditional credit card payments on an iPhone. The cohesiveness of Apple products is what draws people in for a lifetime. The Apple Pay platform may be the first perk of many. Plus, there’s a good chance if you’re an early adopter, Apple will be more than likely to help you along the way.
The next product launch or service Apple comes out with may benefit SMBs owners and it’s only a matter of time before the company is fully integrated into every aspect of a business.
Building customer loyalty
Customers love being rewarded for their shopping habits. One of the best examples is Starbucks’ rewards program through their mobile payment app. Typically, implementing a loyalty program can be challenging for a small business because they just don’t have the resources or capacity to employ it. We believe Apple will soon allow a business to build their own Apple Pay rewards program because it would be a triple-win situation for Apple, the business and its customers.
Additionally, the security upgrade will draw in customers. They will gain the assurance of knowing there’s a significantly smaller chance of a security breech and identity theft. All of the different benefits of Apple Pay could ultimately win a business a lifetime of loyal customers.
It may seem we’ve put Apple Pay on a pedestal, however, it is still important to beware of the hidden fees. The primary selling point for Apple Pay is there are no extra fees for your business. But be sure to read the fine print. You will need to invest in an upgrade to your business’ security to comply with a payment terminal that supports near field-communication based (NFC) technology. NFC technology is what connects wireless devices—such as an iPhone—to payment terminals. With each Apple Pay transaction, individual banks will collect a fee. And while those specifics haven’t been disclosed publicly yet, it’s something to be aware of when implementing Apple Pay.
Based on experiences with Apple’s new product and technology launches - or dropping U2’s new album into iTunes libraries (ahem) - we’re confident Apple is scrambling to put together a one-pager that explains how this will all work in the end. With that said, the sooner you jump on the Apple Pay craze the better. It’s time to get onboard, give yourself a leg up on the competition and fully prepare your business for the upcoming holiday shopping season.