We have done a couple emails and FAQ’s about the best ways to pay for merchandise at markets and fairs, and lucky for all of us, new and better methods of payment are happening all the time. Since it seems like all small business people rely on their laptops and phones to do business and keep on top of sales, here are a couple apps we have used to buy local and handmade, and keep track of what we are up to financially and socially in crafting.
Allowing your shoppers to use plastic or virtual methods of payment opens your biz up for many more sales. Cash is great but it runs out fast at a fair but maybe your customer happens to have their credit card or smart phone on them! Wrap it up, I’ll charge it.
This works with a bunch of different kinds of smart phones and tablets, and has no sign up fees or monthly charges. You just get charged a % of each transaction, and that’s it. The system works with a tiny card swiper that you plug into your phone (which they send to you FOR FREE). Shoppers don’t have to have a smart phone or any special accounts. To them it is just a regular credit or debit transaction, and the only thing they need is an email address that the receipt can be emailed to. The Square Up application is free, and super convenient.
Most people these days have a Paypal account, and if they have the app on their phone, they don’t even have to take out their credit card. If shoppers don’t have a Paypal account, they can still make a payment via check, by taking a photo of the check with your phone and having it deposit into your Paypal account. Apparently you can also use SMS messaging codes to have shoppers text the payment amount to you! Then there is my favorite, the bump application for iPhones where you just bump your phones together to process a payment. The phone apps are free, and a % of the transaction is paid to Paypal. The receipt of the transaction details are emailed to the buyer.
If you like doing things in a slightly more old fashioned way (or you don’t have a smart phone), ProPay may be the method for credit card processing that’s for you! You have to buy a ‘knuckle buster’ (for imprinting credit cards) or hand-write your customer’s cc information but it’s a snap and the imprinters are quite affordable. After your event you take all your slips home and process them on the super easy-to-use ProPay site. After all the transactions clear you can have that money transferred over to your bank account – easy!
I have also heard of Charge Anywhere, which seems like a good option for sellers with higher sales volume. It has a monthly charge, but no contract and unlimited transactions for smart phones. Similarly it is now upgrading to swipe cards, but the interface looks a bit bigger than Square. Have you tried this out,. or used or heard of other apps that sound promising?
If you’re looking for a way to consolidate all of your money-business into one handy-to-reference place, check out Mint.com. Using their online site and app you can keep track of multiple accounts at once. You can even make budgets so you can get a little warning pop-up on your phone if you’ve exceeded your self-imposed limit on trips to Jo-Anns or orders from your favorite bead shop.
And what about networking? No transaction involved but swapping contact info and things like Twitter names and Facebook addresses can be just as important as making money! We love the iPhone/Android Bump app. It uses the same bump-those-phones-together technology that the PayPal app utilizes and it’s so much fun. Instantly, effortlessly trade virtual Rolodex cards with other vendors, potential wholesale customers, #1 fans, anyone really!
So these are what we have been using our phones for, what about you? What do you like to use as a buyer or a shopper?