Four ways merchants can keep up with Christmas card payments

Christmas is approaching so we decided to tell you how to improve your customer's card payment experience during the festive period.

It’s no secret the Christmas shopping season is the most hectic time of year for consumers and retailers – and 2017 has been busier than ever for SMEs.

Last year, the average household spent £810 on gifts, food, drink, decorations, and travel during the Christmas shopping period, according to the Centre for Retail Research (CRR). And the data suggests that spending will grow to more than £820 this November and December.

It’s time for shops, restaurants, cafes, couriers, taxi drivers, and all types of small businesses to prepare for the influx of shoppers who are ready and waiting to commence their holiday spending. Check out our top tips on how to make sure your business can accommodate payments during the Christmas rush.

1. Embrace the online market

Online shopping was huge last year – according to the CRR, 2016 enjoyed a 12.9 per cent rise in online sales, compared to the Christmas shopping period in 2015. And this year it predicts online spending will grow a further 11.8 per cent from 2016’s success.

Make sure your business is ready to meet the demand. You should have a fast and secure eCommerce setup that’s not only easy for customers to use, but also suits the needs of your business.

For example, if you have an international customer base, make certain you can accept multiple currencies and they’ll all process smoothly. Or if your services are subscription-based, arrange to have recurring or scheduled payments in place.

The CRR also found that more shoppers are making purchases via mobile devices, and so it’s also important that your online payment and contact forms are smartphone and tablet friendly. Creating a customised, optimised payment page can ensure your website is designed to meet your customers’ needs and expectations.

Find out more about setting up online card payments.

With Small Business Pro, track your invoices as well as getting in-person and online transactions at one of the lowest rates on the market. It will also help with the heavy lifting of managing customers, insurance, finance and HR, plus you’ll get a host of personal wellbeing benefits.

You can find out more about Small Business Pro here.

2. Embrace technology to reduce queueing time

We hear Christmas queueing horror stories each year – unhappy customers who have spent two hours waiting to buy a turkey, huddling together as the line stretches back out the door into the December chill…

Safeguard your business from the queueing nightmare by ensuring every payment goes through quickly and smoothly with fast and reliable card machines. A card machine that offers Contactless, Apple Pay, and Android Pay will help you speed up small transactions, as customers can simply tap their cards or devices against the screen for purchases that are £30 or less.

3. Give your customers options

People shop in all sorts of ways, and opening up different payment channels to suit your customers’ habits can help to boost satisfaction and sales during the holiday period.

According to our latest research, more than 50% of consumers would walk out of small businesses offering cash-only payments suggesting that paying by card isn’t something consumers are only used to but are beginning to expect. Accepting Contactless payments in your business is becoming essential.

Beyond the obvious benefits of having an online payment system, there are plenty of other ways you take card payments, based on the way you run your business:

Virtual terminals

You can process transactions and take payments over the phone quickly and efficiently, which is ideal for customers who don’t use or have access to a computer. Over the phone payments are also handy for pre-orders so that both you and your customers can save time.

Mobile card machines

If your business operates from different locations, such as Christmas fairs or markets, a mobile card machine allows you to take payments from anywhere in the UK.

Portable card machines

Great for busy settings like restaurants or cafes, your staff can take a portable card machine directly to the customer, cutting wait times and increasing your efficiency.

4. Prepare your staff

When it comes to Christmas crunch time, it’s your staff who are on the front lines, serving customers and processing transactions. Help them to work smoothly over the peak sales period by ensuring they’re comfortable and confident using your card machines.

Organise a training session

Organise a training session to review the basics of using your machine, along with how to do things like issue a refund or process a discount. During trading hours, make sure an experienced member of staff is always on hand to help out in case anyone gets stuck, and keep the customer service number for your terminal in an obvious place, in case you need support.

Make sure you follow the best practices when taking card payments

According to our latest survey, 29 per cent of consumers like to see what’s going on with their card at all times so make sure your staff:

  • Do not take the card and move away from the customer.
  • Always show the amount they charge to the customers who choose to pay by card.
  • Always ask the customers if it’s OK to tap the Contactless card on their behalf.
  • Preparing your business for the busyness of the festive season is all about looking for ways to make every transaction run that little bit smoother. Having a payment system that best suits both you and your customers is key.

Further reading on Christmas card payments

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

Related Topics

Card Payments

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