by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 3 November 2011
There was a time when most small businesses received payments exclusively through cash. Then, the credit card payment revolution happened. The Internet complicated matters with online payments.
With multiple options for payment, which one do you opt for?
This week we look at a service that provides a possible answer to that question. We will review PaySimple - an electronic payment solution for small businesses. We will look at its interface, features and see how it can be of use to you.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT ELECTRONIC PAYMENTS
Most of us associate electronic payments with big business or web-based businesses. However, electronic payments are on the rise for small businesses as well. Jenae Wiegert, vice president of product management at PaySimple, cites reports stating that 70 percent of small businesses expect half of their payments to be electronic in the next two years.
According to her, the surge is related to factors such as cash flow challenges in the down economy (or getting paid as soon as possible) and the rise of e-billing.
PaySimple is a pioneer in providing electronic payments solutions for small businesses. It's beginnings are rooted in personal experience.
"Back in 2005, a group of property managers and owners asked our founders if they could create a system that would help them collect payments faster and easier," explains Wiegert.
She says PaySimple was built to simplify and empower the lives of small business owners. The founders realized that one of the ways to do this was to enable small businesses to accept credit cards and automated clearing house (ACH) payments based on customer preferences.
Products such as Square (developed by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey) have already enabled mobile billing for small businesses.
PaySimple takes the concept a step further.
"For many businesses, being able to track customer payments and enable seamless repeat transactions with secure payment storage is vital to their customer relationship management," says Wiegert. "Additionally, many businesses receive payment beyond just their mobile phone, so they require a solution that enables them to process mail and phone order payments, accept payments on their website, send invoices and automate recurring billing," she says.
So, the system bundles a plethora of payment options from email invoicing to mail, phone and mobile payments into one package.
And, the results are showing.
Wiegert says a recent survey showed that 85 percent of PaySimple customers reported saving time as a result of implementing their solution. In the same survey, 55 percent reported they were able to process payments faster after implementation. In addition, PaySimple enables big business to serve small businesses better. According to Wiegert, their company has an outsourcing program for large enterprises (such as American Express, JP Morgan Chase and Vantiv) to quickly develop and market value-added offerings for their small business customers.
SIMPLIFYING ELECTRONIC PAYMENTS
The thing to remember about PaySimple is that it is a receivables package for your system. Thus, the system is focused on enabling customers to pay you through multiple options.
The first step in doing this is to setup a merchant account in the system. This includes entering important information about your business such as addresses, credit card details, and business tax ID to the system. Next, you need to specify modes of payment acceptable to you. As I mentioned earlier, available options range from e-checks to credit card payments to telephone payments. Once you have entered the details, you are ready to roll!
Your homepage is a dashboard which displays a snapshot of the most important details in your account. These include transactions processed, aging invoices and recurring payment schedules. The idea is to get you to up to speed on your financial position quickly. From here on, it is simply a matter of scaling and adding details to your business. You can schedule payments using the "Collect New Payments" option under payments or add customers using the "Add New Customers" option under customers. PaySimple also has a robust analytics menu that helps you see details such as customer and product information at a glance. What's more you can also create custom reports for specific customers.
I think the greatest utility for the system lies in its analytics capability. Using data gleaned for analytics, businesses can easily do a causal analysis of payment modes and determine appropriate strategies to target new businesses. Finally, PaySimple is scalable. According to Wiegert, the solution is ideal for small businesses of many types, especially those that provide services to other businesses or consumers. "Our solution works for businesses of all sizes," she says. "Sole proprietorships to medium-sized enterprises quickly realize a tangible ROI within a short period of adopting the PaySimple solution.
THE BASICS: WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
PaySimple has an excellent interface. A global navigation panel on the left enables you to move between various screens. In addition, scrolling ensures that you can get a snapshot view of multiple kinds and types of data using the same screen. For example, the dashboard distills four charts and data into a single screen.
SUPPORTING YOUR PAYMENTS
Some numbers might provide context. According to Wiegert, another survey conducted by the company shows that 91 percent of customers started with ease and 96 percent love their support. That's a pretty high number. So, I asked her more about their support plans.
The crux of PaySimple's support plans is hands-on account management. Each customer is assigned a dedicated account manager upon signup. The manager helps them get started with live demos, product and phone support and email. In addition, Wiegert states that a "getting started" page in each section of the product explains the application through a visual flow, videos, and documentation with links. Subsequent support takes the form of an "incredibly robust user guide inside the product" and phone and email contact. No wonder, then, most customers rave about their awesome support.
IS IT FOR YOU?
This is an intriguing solution. Electronic payments are on an upswing. PaySimple might be a good way to catch up with the future at an affordable price. Every small business owner should consider this option.