By Steven Feldshuh
Merchants' Choice Payment Solutions East
When online reporting was introduced in the payments industry, I thought the demise of paper statements was just around the corner. Why would merchants want to clutter up their desks with paper? And wouldn't business accountants insist on getting online reporting?
After several years, it appears accountants still prefer to view paper versions of processing reports. The reasons, I've been told, are that business accountants need printed statements to make those little check marks they favor, and these accountants, who may have 200 business accounts to manage, don't want to mess around with user names and passwords or logging in for all their clients.
Accountants do like to pull an online report to get an overall picture of a business's health, but that is not an everyday action. Generally, I have found accountants are too preoccupied with deducting expenses, matching deposits and keeping up with the continued changes in tax reporting to spend time focusing in on the present health of a client's business.
Paper statements also are a revenue generator, so even though most processors today offer online services, (generally for a fee), they also keep paper statements in play for additional revenue, which benefits the sales office and the processor. Merchants also like receiving paper statements for their processing and other aspects of their lives. I would compare this to reading some periodicals online. Certain things are better on paper.
So why is an online portal so important? First, a good online merchant portal permits merchants to see much more than their current statements. Usually, statements are accumulated, and merchants can compare year to year. They typically also can see their batches, deposits, pricing setup, chargebacks and notes on their accounts.
Additionally, most portals have comparison graphs and show a breakdown of volume by card type. Some sites will offer "how to" resources and offer new ideas for processing. The information and resources provided can help in adding a new product such as online gift cards, or some type of business analytics – items that increase sales and keep your merchants onboard.
So why doesn't every merchant use the online services provided? Getting busy merchants to devote time to going online is the issue. But we should continue to push merchants in this direction. Reasons are simple: merchants become accustomed to seeing the reporting and making use of the portal.
Additionally, on their own, merchants may see a product or service featured that we, as salespeople, never informed them of. It happens all the time. Also, just the fact of reaching out to merchants to explain the value of the online portal is another way to continue to develop your own brand.
Steven Feldshuh, President of Merchants' Choice Payment Solutions East, has 18 years' experience in sales and ISO development. Directly prior to joining MCPSE in 2012, he was President of Payment Partners. In his current position, Steven devotes the bulk of his time to assisting agents in building their portfolios. Contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 212-392-9202.
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