Top 10 Reasons to Integrate Your Payments Environment

From cash, checks and credit cards to online payments and mobile phone card readers, retailers are recognizing more and more that new, innovative methods of accepting payments for goods and services means increased revenue. This requires tools to integrate the payment environment so that everything can be tracked. The following are the top 10 reasons to integrate payments with the environment:
1.       Improve cash flow. When you integrate all points-of-payment directly to the bank for settlement – and to the accounting system for reconciliation it maximizes your cash flow. Sitting on checks and receipts minimizes cash position, which impacts a retailer's liquidity.
2.       Optimize sales channels. Any payment method – whether a credit card terminal, e-commerce web site or a mobile phone equipped to take payments – that's not integrating directly to the accounting system isn't optimized for sales execution and back-office efficiencies; therefore, increasing cost-of-sales.
3.       Eliminate manual data entry. Manually entering data in both a point-of-sale (POS) solution and an accounting solution doubles the time it takes to complete the payments process. By integrating the payments environment, time spent on accounts receivable (A/R) processing is reduced, so the retailer can spend more time on revenue-generating opportunities.
4.       Automate the reconciliation process. Duplicate data entry also results in more manual errors, which someone has to untangle and reconcile. When payments automatically "post-back" to the accounting system, errors are reduced and posting and reconciliation are streamlined, saving time and money.
5.       Organize your payments environment. The payments industry is highly fragmented and confusing. An advanced, integrated payments portal can offer Web and mobile access to a reporting dashboard, merchant statement, billing support, a single toll-free customer support line, and administration of all the connected payment devices, applications, and services.
6.       Improve your PCI compliance situation. Payment Card Industry (PCI) certified payment platforms can improve PCI compliancy as a retailer. These platforms remove connected payment solutions from the scope of PCI (PA-DSS) by ensuring all connected payment solutions never store or transmit unencrypted credit card data. In return, the PCI audit is more streamlined. More importantly, the business is secure and customers' data is safe.
7.       Improve your audit position. Manual processes increase auditor scrutiny and require additional sampling of data and processes, driving up costs and use of resources. Automating those manual payment processes can cut costs on financial and regulatory audits.
8.       Gain the value of consolidation. An automated and integrated payments environment is often offered by a single vendor or consortium, creating price efficiencies across a spectrum of payment services, while reducing the cost and complexities of managing multiple vendors.
9.       Take advantage of what's next. An extensible, integrated payments platform is more capable of adding advanced features and solutions, such as mobile payment apps, automated invoicing, or integrated loyalty systems. Traditional merchant accounts are standalone solutions that don’t 'connect' or offer opportunities to add integrated payment services.
10.   Because you can. High costs and heavy IT requirements for building custom solutions have previously made integrated payment systems an option for only larger businesses. Now, business software providers are bringing pre-integrated payment solutions to market, so small and midsized businesses (SMBs) can easily and cost effectively 'turn on' an integrated payments environment from inside select accounting or ERP solutions.
Greg Hammermaster is president of Sage Payment Solutions for Sage North America’s payment processing division. Sage is a supplier of accounting and business management software to small and midsized businesses. Its purpose is to help customers run their businesses more effectively – helping gain greater insight into business activities and providing them with lasting benefits by automating their business processes.

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