They are everywhere, crumpled up at the bottom of your purse, spilling out of your wallet, scattered all over your nightstand, staining your clothes when accidentally put through the wash… Those good old paper receipts. How is it, in the age of go green activists, environmental consciousness and innovative technology our society as a whole hasn’t moved away from the paper receipt phenomenon quite yet? Although many large retailers are now offering electronic (email) receipts to their customers, smaller businesses have yet to make this switch.
Not only is this a big cultural change for any business, many business owners may not understand how easy and affordable a switch to e-receipts can be. If you are looking to save your business time, money and offer added convenience to your customers you can take the following steps to ditching paper receipts:
1. Get Rid of Old Fashioned Credit Card Terminals and Outdated Software
Chances are, if you are operating a business you have access to a computer and don’t realize that you can accept credit card payments on it. More tech savvy entrepreneurs can also take payments on SmartPhones or tablets as well. Computer programs like Virtual Merchant offer an e-receipt option, allowing businesses to take payments directly on their computers and be used in conjunction with the Virtual Merchant Mobile application on their cell phones or tablets for payments on the go. Programs like talech (for iPad or iPad mini) not only offer e-receipts but can also keep track of inventory and provide business insights to help your company generate better promotional strategies moving forward.
All of these programs and applications are still able to print paper receipts from your connected or wireless printers. In the end, you have eliminated unnecessary terminals, captured customer contact information, offered your customers an added convenience and saved yourself money on expensive ink and paper. Winning!
2. After You Have Their Emails, Don’t Harass Your Customers
E-mail receipts can be an added convenience for your customers, UNLESS, you make it an inconvenience. First, assure customers that their emails will not be sold or used irresponsibly for promotional purposes.
There are, however,responsible ways and frequencies to use email addresses for sales and promotions, and tons of marketing programs out there to help teach you clever, safe ways to conduct e-mail marketing campaigns. Proceed with caution.
3. Practice What You Preach
Tracking receipts electronically can be big savers, not only in ink and paper, but in time as well.Begin to track your own expenses electronically with helpful apps like Expensify. Not only are you being kind to Mother Nature, but apps and programs that track expenses electronically can give you great insight to the big picture for budgeting and tax purposes.
For more information on E-receipts, Contact US at NTC Texas.
It has been termed “iPad-ification.” The phenomenon taking over the small-midsize business world consisting of registers and point of sale (POS systems) operating on iPads or other types of tablet devices complete with trendy apps and friendly interfaces.
Soon, long gone will be the traditional “cash register” as many retailers begin to embrace this change. As the market is flooded with different systems, how are owners and managers to choose the best option to fit their business model? Many popular tablet POS systems are pretty slick to look at, but when the rubber hits the road, are missing basic functions like the ability to capture cash transactions or track inventory leaving businesses in the dark when it’s time to reconcile.
Here are some features to look for when choosing an iPad/tablet based POS system:
1) Capturing Cash – There is no question that using credit and debit cards makes life easier for everyone; one swipe and the transaction is complete. But the reality is - cash isn’t going anywhere. So why have so many existing iPad POS systems been designed without the ability to track or capture cash transactions? Most people would think this is a no brainer; a technologically advanced system that can read credit cards and calculate tips, tax, etc… should have the basic ability to complete a transaction as cash as well? Nope. Not to mention the most important aspect of tracking cash – THEFT! Make sure whatever POS options you are looking at have the ability to record cash transactions.
2) Insights – Many iPad POS systems are designed to do one thing and one thing only; accept payments. That’s pretty lame. In today’s world apps can do everything from manage your diet to find you the best parking spot so there is no excuse for developing a POS app without added features that can give you helpful insight in to your business. Your system should not only be able to take payments but also tell you what part of the day (down to the minute) is the busiest, the items in your inventory that haven’t been selling (or have been flying off the shelves), what days and times are best to run sales and promotions, and what items dramatically increase your ticket size. These kinds of insights can and will help you develop marketing strategies and ultimately, grow your business.
3) Inventory – Who on earth wants to manually keep track of their entire inventory, counting and recounting and recounting every week or month? Well, if you are smart about the system you choose, you won’t have to. Choose a POS that tracks your inventory at the time of sale and save yourself time, plus keep a good handle on theft or loss.
There are a few systems out there (I won’t name any names) that spend a lot of money on marketing their product, but not so much on developing their products to add features that will actually help businesses. If you are looking for an iPad system with all of the above features and more check out talech or contact us for more information.
Here’s a thought for you to ponder: In today’s world, it’s not actually bombs or guns that should be of the most concern… it’s computers.
With all of the violent tragedies that have occurred in the last year, I’m sure that statement seems unlikely, but imagine this scenario for just a minute: Imagine a foreign hacker is able to hack the networks controlling all of our country’s banking systems and electrical grids. Imagine no-one, not you or I have access to our hard earned money or electricity. Security and IT experts are unable to get things back up and running and banks are flooded with angry customers demanding their money. After a while starts the looting and pillaging. A state of anarchy ensues and NOT ONLY would there be violence but the potential to seriously damage our communities, our economy and most likely, our businesses.
Ok, so maybe that was worst case scenario. Truth is however, in early March, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon announced that cybercrime has overtaken terrorism as the number one threat to the United States. “We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets. Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, and our air traffic control systems,” Obama said in his State of the Union Address in February.
As businesses become more technologically savvy with cloud computing programs and advanced networks, hackers are advancing their strategies in an effort to launch a serious attack on the U.S. and our economy.
“Increasingly, U.S. businesses are speaking out about their serious concerns about sophisticated, targeted theft of confidential business information and proprietary technologies through cyber intrusions emanating from China on an unprecedented scale,” Donilon said in a speech to the Asian Society in New York, according to Defensetech.org.
According to a joint survey released by the National Cyber Security Alliance and security specialists Symantec, the vast majority of small business owners in the US feel like they are safe from cybercrime, and only 17% have a formal cyber-security plan. Cause, it’s never going to happen to you, until it happens and your business is at risk of going under.
Take the necessary precautions to protect your business from cybercrime by visiting The National Cyber Alliance’s Website at http://www.staysafeonline.org/business-safe-online/. This section of their site is designed for business owners looking for resources to do anything from assess risks to implementing cyber security plans.
A little effort now could go a long way in the event of an attack….
The heat is on and the debate is strong between card networks, payment professionals and businesses about the legitimate need to heighten the security of payment technology in the United States.
As major Credit Card Networks continue the discussion of their looming requirements for Smart-Chip (also known as EMV) card readers, businesses are fighting back. The outrage, associated with the cost of replacing existing credit card terminals and point of sale systems, has been the focus of many conversations at recent retail and payment conferences.
“The [card associations] chose to take the low road and do as little as possible,” George Odencrantz, vice president of IT for Sinclair Oil Corp., said at Nacha’s 2013 Payments conference in April, according to a recent PaymentsSource article. EMV’s about two decades old and doesn’t affect all types of fraud, Odencrantz noted. “If [EMV] addressed online transactions and [totally removed] PCI compliance burdens, that may be different,” he said.
According to Sinclair, it will cost approximately $40 million to switch their purchasing systems to EMV compatible technology. The question businesses like Sinclair are raising are: How much will this technology actually save them in terms of costs associated with fraud? What’s the tradeoff?
Also referenced in the PaymentsSource article, Gavin Waugh, vice president and assistant treasurer for Wendy’s, offered her thoughts about the issue of the Cost vs Benefit of Smart Card technology.Waugh explained that Wendy’s absorbs chargebacks for swiped card purchases under $25, which constitute the majority of business for the fast food chain. And fraud is rare she explains, “The fraud rate we ‘eat’ today is about one basis point — so small it’s not worth measuring. It’s tough to figure out how much the issuers are ‘eating,’ but we don’t think it moves the needle that much.”
This debate will continue, perhaps until card networks give businesses no choice but to switch. The deadlines aren’t exactly clear, the best information I could find was published by Visa. But when the grips are tightened and deadlines are enforced, businesses without EMV compatible terminals will become 100% liable for credit card fraud happening on their watch.
This is a scary prospect for businesses who can’t afford to lose thousands of dollars… I say, it’s better to be safe than sorry folks.
For business owners there is nothing like that dreaded moment when a customer whips out their American Express(AmEx) card to pay for a high ticket item with a low profit margin. Not only are AmEx’s rates traditionally higher than other card types, but the funding time is 3-5 business days not to mention separate statements and fees and customer service reps and…why do businesses need to accept AmEx anyway?
Truth is, nobody HAS TO do anything, but having the capability to accept American Express cards at your business is important for three reasons.
- You will attract higher spending customers –consumers spend an average of 43% more with AmEx Cards than with other cards.
- Many companies and individuals use AmEx as their preferred card for expenses. Not accepting Amex means turning away all that business.
- You may lose potential customers.
This is where AmEx One Point comes in. One Point is a program, released by AmEx a few years ago, that eliminates many of the traditional challenges and drawbacks businesses typically find with AmEx merchant services. With One Point business will:
- Receive funding for Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express at the same time and within 24-48 hours. No more waiting for AmEx funds separately.
- Have one month end statement for easy reconciliation. The One Point account can be set up through their regular processor (as long as that processor offers the One Point program.)
- Have only one contact for customer support (through their processor).
In many ways, AmEx as a company is evolving to adapt to today’s market. With the release of their pre-paid BlueBird card they made a bold move towards offering card services to the unbanked- a huge jump from the elitist branding they have traditionally had. It seems if the want to stay competitive in today’s market they need to offer more competitive services not only to cardholders but to businesses as well.
If you are a business owner interested in the American Express One Point program contact us at NTC Texas.
It’s no secret that traditional marketing is dying off as new advances in social media and technology explode. The less B2B entrepreneurs know about effectively marketing to other businesses in our Social Media saturated economy, the further they will be left behind.
According to SocialMediaB2B.com, a news and discussion site on the topic of social media’s impact on B2B companies, 37% of B2B businesses say staff limitations is the biggest obstacle to achieving objectives.
The data visualization gurus at visual.ly have also put together an informative infographic about the state of B2B social media based on information taken from the 2013 B2B Marketing Social Media Benchmarking Report.
According to the Report:
• Only 38% of B2B owners had a defined Social Media Strategy, while 61% had an ad-hoc strategy (they just go with the flow) and the remaining 1% didn’t know.
• The most popular B2B social media platform was Twitter with a whopping 85% then Linkedin with 82%. Google+ came in last with only 36%
• 29% of B2B owners did feel that Google+ would be the frontrunner within 12 months.
The primary measurement focus (or ways in which B2B owners are measuring the effectiveness of their social media efforts) in order were:
1) Website traffic
2) Number of Followers
3) Content Downloaded
4) Leads generated
When asked about the degree in which B2B owners could calculate return on investment (ROI):
- 44% Said rarely or not at all
- 30% Said some of the time
- 9% Said don’t know
- 9% Said most of the time
- 7% Said half of the time
- And only 1% said they could 100% calculate their ROI.
If you are interested in learning more about B2B marketing checkout the blog at SocialMediaB2B.com.
Photo Courtesy of http://mkhmarketing.wordpress.com/
While everyone is up in arms (no pun intended) about their rights to own guns or get married the IRS is reading their email…News outlets all over America were buzzing this week with a new and disturbing revelation by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is under fire for its belief that it doesn’t need any permission, warrants or otherwise, to look through email, texts or any other form of electronic correspondence. This revelation was spawned by internal IRS documents recently released through a Freedom of Information Act.
As a violation of the fourth amendment (unreasonable searches and seizures) the ACLU is wasting no time getting the word out, “This question is too important for the IRS not to be completely forthright with the American public,” ACLU lawyer Nathan Wessler told Fox News. “The IRS should tell the public whether it always gets a warrant to access email and other private communications in the course of criminal investigations. And if the agency does not get a warrant, it should change its policy to always require one.”
So how does the IRS justify this kind of blatant violation of the fourth amendment you ask? Well, according to a 2009 IRS handbook, the tax agency says the Fourth Amendment does not protect email or electronic correspondence because Internet users don’t “have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications.”
Huh? So, because the communication is of an electronic nature, we should simply lower our expectations in regards to our own civil rights and privacy- that’s ridiculous.
I guess their shenanigans are catching up with them, earlier this month it was reported that an unnamed HIPAA-covered entity in Southern California is suing the IRS with allegations that agents “stole” medical records for 10 million Americans. The Americans affected could include California State judges and other prominent peoples in entertainment and business. According to HealthITSecurity news, In March 2011 fifteen IRS agents executed a search warrant for financial information pertaining to a former employee of the company. The allegations claim "it did not authorize any seizure of any healthcare or medical record of any persons, least of all third parties completely unrelated to the matter.”There was no authorized seizure of these records and more importantly they had no relevance whatsoever to the IRS search. Oops.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in December 2010 that just because email is transferred through a third-party provider doesn't mean citizens should lose their expectation of privacy and protection. The court ruled that federal and local law enforcers would need a warrant to read through the contents of email. This was just a year after the IRS made their statement about “reasonable expectation of privacy” in electronic correspondence. Maybe they missed the memo from the Court of Appeals?
In a statement Thursday, Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall said, "This is an affront not only to our system of checks and balances, but also to our fundamental right to privacy,”
“In the meantime, I urge the IRS to reconsider its overreach,” Udall said.
How do you feel about the IRS snooping around in your email without permission?
Does your company aspire to sell goods and services to corporations or government agencies? Or perhaps it already does? If so, you may already accept or have been asked to accept something called purchasing cards (P-Cards). You may have thought to yourself, “What is the difference between a purchasing card and a corporate card.” So we thought we would clarify…
Purchasing Card: is used to purchase the types of items that would ordinarily be processed using a Departmental Purchase Order. The P-Card can’t typically be used for any travel or entertainment expenses. Processing rates for purchasing cards are also much lower than processing corporate cards. In order for a business to accept purchasing cards, they must have a special processing system (which I will explain more about later).
Corporate Card: is issued to employees for minor purchases, travel and entertainment-related expenses. Any business with a standard merchant processing account can process corporate cards (at a much higher rate than purchasing cards).
So, about that special processing system… Purchasing cards use a special type of processing sometimes referred to as Business-to-Business (B2B) payment card processing that differs from standard credit card processing because it is capable of something called “Level 3” qualification.
In a very general sense, the rate a business is charged when it processes the sale is typically affected by the “risk level” of the card swiped. Some cards and systems have different levels of risks for different reasons. I won’t go in to all that for the sake of simplicity. But here is a general idea of the different levels of transmitted data or processing risk.
As you can see, in level three the amount of information being collected and transmitted with the sale is significantly more than level one, resulting in a DRASTIC decrease in rates for the business processing the sale. For an even greater discount, businesses may encourage their customers, with tickets greater than $10k, to use Visa’s Advantage P-Card. You can see in the chart below, rates are reduced to as low as .40%.
Accepting P-cards are a great way for businesses looking to grow and deal with large entities to save money on high tickets. For more information on systems like 3-Delta, which allows businesses to process these cards, contact us.
And it’s getting pretty ugly… Thursday, American Express joined the likes of JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and other victims of cyber attacks in the last six months, as their website was taken down for hours; leaving their customers unable to access online account information. These types attacks targeting U.S. financial institutions began last September and have cost these corporations millions of dollars.
A group calling itself the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters has claimed responsibility for the previous attacks, claiming retaliation for the Anti-Islamic video posted on You-Tube during the fall of 2012. U.S. Government officials speculate the group is affiliated with the Iranian Government but has been unable to produce any solid evidence to validate their suspicions.
Regardless of who is executing the attacks, their intentions are clear: To disable financial operations in the United States. And so far, they have been somewhat successful at least for a few hours at a time.
For some time now, experts have suspected the primary motive was espionage, but based on more recent attacks, it seems that destruction and paralysis of financial networks and systems are the attackers’ main goal.
“The attacks have changed from espionage to destruction,” Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute, a cybersecurity training organization told the New York Times. “Nations are actively testing how far they can go before we will respond.”
According to the Times article, this was a hot topic at a White House meeting this month which included President Obama and other business leaders, including the executives from JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Exxon Mobil, AT&T and others.
The President’s goal was to further convince the private sector that federal legislation allowing the government more oversight of how companies protect “critical infrastructure,” would be beneficial. Private sector opposition killed a bill last year trying to do just that.
“But I think we heard a new tone at this latest meeting,” an Obama aide told the New York Times. “Six months of unrelenting attacks have changed some views.”
Such a conundrum. Would increased legislation solve the problem? Without it will the attacks get worse, leaving our economy vulnerable? Is this the government’s issue or one that can be handled by the financial industry itself? How far do we let the attackers push the envelope before we find out?
By: Jonah Lieb
A MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL - The American economy has always been based in an atmosphere of fierce competition. Some of the most important moments in our history have arisen from great battles between titans of culture and industry: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Mantle and Maris, Donald Trump and Donald Trump’s hair.
Add now to that list the next great struggle: Justin Bieber vs. the banking industry.
The Canadian pop star and general of a Twitter army is the latest celebrity to promote a prepaid debit card, partnering with BillMyParents to back the Web company’s SpendSmart card. The service is aimed at teens and claims to promote responsible spending (like, for instance, $85 for a ticket to Bieber’s show in Salt Lake City this weekend).
BillMyParents' services specifically target teens and, more importantly, their parents by offering reasonable (if possibly too relaxed) spending, withdrawal, and loading limits: $500 per day in withdrawals and spending and a $5,000 maximum balance. The site also offers strict controls that parents can use to monitor their child's spending, like instant text message alerts for every purchase and the ability to remotely lock and unlock the card. This is where the card differs from the cards that are offered by banks and credit card companies.
This naturally pits Bieber's pet debit card against bigger players like JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and American Express (NYSE:AXP) who have also shown interest in the prepaid card market; increasing regulations on debit and credit cards have banks looking for new revenue streams, and the fee systems that prepaid debit cards employ could make a bundle for the companies that release them.
While bigger banks plan to leverage their huge resources into an increased customer base, companies like BillMyParents are hoping to use big names like Bieber to appeal to a niche market (although a fanbase of over 32 million Twitter followers is a pretty massive niche). The question is whether parents will shell out a little more in fees in order to satisfy their kids’ need to have Bieber’s smirking mug on their debit cards, and it’s never a good idea to bet against the Beliebers. The fees ($3.95 per month, with a $1.50 ATM fee and a $0.50 fee for loading money from a parent's bank account) are reasonable enough for the kind of family that would use such a system.
While BillMyParents CEO Michael McCoy claims that his company, by focusing mainly on a niche market, can co-exist with the big players, evidence elsewhere suggests that the competition may not always be friendly; US Bancorp (NYSE:USB) announced in late November that it would be purchasing FSV Payment Systems, a prepaid debit card payment processor. Even small companies with a decent foothold may have trouble keeping pace with the country’s biggest banks.
Those same banks may have other, more nefarious reasons to want to edge Bieber out of the business; in December, the pop singer clashed briefly with JPMorgan Chase when he and his posse were told that their private ping-pong room was reserved by J.P. Morgan. Bieber reportedly complained, “Why does he get the room and not us?”
Original Article: http://www.minyanville.com/sectors/financial/articles/would-you-give-your-kids-a/1/3/2013/id/47120#ixzz2OBpKK3KF