As a business owner, you can benefit tremendously from integrated payment solutions. They keep your transactions running fluidly, ensure more accurate records, and save you time and money.
In short, integrated payments help you to keep your digital processes more organised and efficient. And even if you’re not familiar with the term “integrated payment solutions,” you’ve probably seen or at least heard about them.
Integrated Payment Solutions Overview
Integrated payment systems are designed to connect your payment processing and merchant services with other aspects of your business, including your accounting systems, CRM software, and payroll.
In short, an integrated payment system reduces the number of steps required for you to manage your payments. When a payment is processed by your merchant services provider, it is automatically routed to the appropriate channels for accounting and recordkeeping.
This results in a more streamlined experience for your business and your customers. For retail businesses that use a point-of-sale (POS) system, the integrated solution can be built into the POS. If your business operates exclusively online, an integrated system can be devised using software solutions that are compatible with your merchant services.
If you don’t already have integrated payment solutions in place, now is a great time to incorporate them.
How Does an Integrated Payment Solution Work?
When a customer completes a credit card transaction with your business, there are a number of critical steps that must be followed.
Non-Integrated Solutions: With a traditional transaction, you would process the credit card information and collect a receipt and an invoice. After collecting all of your invoices for the day, you would record payment information into your ledger and check to ensure that the total amount matches your receipts.
Integrated Payment Solutions: If you have an integrated payment solution in place, the process is much easier. You would process the credit card information directly into your accounting software and then let the integration take care of the rest. The information is automatically processed by the bank, posted to your ledger, and saved to your CRM or other integrated software.
The Benefits of Integrated Payment Systems
Every business should consider integrated payment solutions because they offer a myriad of benefits:
- They save you time
- They reduce the potential for errors
- They improve your cash flow
- They reduce your costs
- They’re more secure
- They allow for better customer service
- They enable you to manage key data more efficiently
When you convert to integrated payment solutions, you notice the difference almost immediately.
Manual accounting is enormously time-consuming. The process of manually entering credit card payments into an accounting system and cross-referencing for accuracy can take up valuable hours every day.
With an integrated payment solution, the data entry is automated. Once the credit card information is processed, it automatically goes where it needs to go. You don’t have to manually record it.
The time saved can be allocated toward more important processes, like customer service, marketing, or streamlining other aspects of your business.
Reduce Human Error
Manual accounting and data entry are rife with errors. It’s inevitable when you’re trying to manually transfer dozens or hundreds of pieces of financial information from paper receipts to a digital accounting system. One wrong decimal point can throw off your books and potentially even expose you to costly legal or tax liability.
When these errors occur, it’s not always easy to determine where the mistakes were made. It can be extremely time-consuming trying to match the digital data to your original transactions, especially if the discrepancy exists across multiple systems.
Integrated payment solutions afford you the assurance that your precise credit card transaction data is accurately recorded and stored by all connected software. This means a lower likelihood of accounting errors, a lower likelihood that a customer will be charged the wrong amount, and a lower likelihood that the wrong customer will be charged for a transaction.
Improve Your Cash Flow
Cash flow is a measure of the amount of money transferred into and out of the business. In order for a business to thrive, cash needs to move quickly.
One problem with manual accounting and record-keeping is that it slows the processing of invoices and can result in costly monetary delays.
With an integrated payment scheme, a business can clear transactions and process invoices in almost real time. Not only do you receive essential payments more quickly, but you’re able to maintain better relationships with your processing banks, your vendors, and your customers. This puts your business in a stronger position over the long run.
Reduce Your Costs
Manual accounting can necessitate full-time bookkeeping services. But if your systems are automatically populated with precise transaction information, you have less of a need for full-time oversight and can reallocate some of your accounting costs to other organisational needs.
You’ll always need the services of a trained accountant or accounting team to maintain your records, interpret your financial data, and manage your taxes, but if you can scale back on the day-to-day bookkeeping, it can make an enormous difference for your bottom line.
Accurate reporting can also spare you from a range of supplementary costs such as legal fees resulting from accounting errors.
Maximise Your Security
Integrated payment systems are more secure for several reasons. They require fewer people to have direct access to your financial data. They require less manual input and therefore have fewer opportunities for third-party interception.
Most importantly, integrated payment systems are designed with sophisticated safeguards in place—like end-to-end encryption and tokenisation. Tokenisation makes it safer to store sensitive credit card data, and encryption prevents hackers from intercepting credit card data and other personal customer information.
The best systems are designed to be PCI-compliant, so you don’t have to worry about securing all of the software in your integration. Everything is ready to go right out of the box. When you have encrypted software paired with a PCI-compliant payment gateway and fraud scrubbing tools, your business is prepared to weather even the most aggressive cyber-threats.
Improve Your Customer Service
When every piece of software communicates seamlessly with one another, you never have to worry about important data being lost in the shuffle. If a customer wants to know the status of a transaction, requests a refund, or wishes to dispute a charge, you can find the information you need and resolve the matter within seconds.
You don’t have to comb through invoices, audit your paper receipts, or use clever detective work to address your customer’s concern. And if you do need to update or reverse a transaction, you can rest easy knowing that the change is automatically reflected throughout all of your integrated software.
Manage Your Data More Efficiently
Some of the new and more sophisticated merchant services providers—like Unicorn Group—offer complete mobile dashboards with comprehensive payment data and analytics. Gauge your payment trends, seasonality, customer behaviour, and much more at a glance. This information allows you to make informed decisions that can help you improve your business over time.
In order to get the most from these types of tools, it’s absolutely imperative that you have an integrated payment solution in place. This ensures that you have access to all of the necessary data points in real time.
How to Integrate Your Payment System
A strong integrated payment system begins with the right payment processor. This is the nucleus of your integration, as it’s responsible for feeding all of the transaction data to your other connected software.
Make sure to choose a payment processor that:
- Supports integrated payments and is compatible with leading shopping carts and accounting solutions
- Provides access to detailed transaction data and analytics
- Is fully PCI-compliant
- Offers fraud scrubbing and chargeback mitigation tools
- Offers straightforward pricing with no hidden fees
Unicorn Group offers all of these features and more. We’re an all-in-one payment solution that supports currencies and alternative payment methods worldwide, and our system integrates with all major shopping carts, ERP and CRM systems, and accounting software. We can even help you set up your integrations.
Once you have your payment processing and PCI-compliant gateway established, you’ll need to find software and platforms that are compatible.
Examples of integration-friendly accounting platforms include:
- Microsoft Dynamics
- Zoho Books
Examples of integration-friendly shopping carts include:
- Zen Cart
Once your shopping cart is installed, you can use third-party apps or APIs to integrate your payment processor, your accounting software, and any other software.
If your payment systems aren’t already integrated, try it today. It will make a world of difference for your business.