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I N T H E T RENCHE S

UNDERSTANDING TODAY’S PAYMENT OPTIONS By Allen McBroom

Occasionally, I unintentionally remind myself that I’m a lot older than I feel like I am. For example, I recently had a conversation with our youngest employee, and I jokingly mentioned S&H Green Stamps as a payment option. I got a quizzical look in return, which was his way of saying, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” So, I explained the concept of Green Stamps to him. If you’re reading this and displaying your own quizzical look at the moment, Green Stamps were a customerloyalty program years before the term “customer-loyalty program” came into vogue. At Sperry & Hutchinson (S&H) member businesses (primarily gas stations and grocery stores,

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many decades ago), for every dollar you spent, you’d receive a green paper stamp about the same size as a postage stamp. You’d collect those stamps in S&H stamp books, and the books were redeemable only at S&H stamp stores. Eight books might get you a toaster, 25 books might get you a blender. Green Stamps faded from our society about the same time credit cards were becoming a common-use item. When Green Stamps were being used, cash was king. If you wanted to pay for an item, there were three options at the store: Cash was No. 1, checks were No. 2 and in-store credit was usually No. 3. Credit cards eventually replaced most in-store credit accounts. Personal checks have pretty much been supplanted by the ever-more-present debit card. Today, the list of payment options is sort of overwhelming, and if you’re still accepting only cash, checks and cards as payment options, you’re probably encouraging potential sales to go elsewhere. As a society, we’re now slaves to convenience, and cards are used for everything from a soft drink at the corner store to a new car at the dealership. There is also a host of digital wallet apps like PayPal, Venmo and Apple Pay to contend with. To keep up with today’s available money, you need to have (at the very least) a card strip reader, a chip reader and the newest kid on the block, which is the contactless (aka “tap”) card reader. The tap card reader works ex-

actly the same as your regular card reader, but the customer merely taps the reader with his card. The tap reader reads the card, your machine dings and the money’s on its way to you. Just as importantly, the tap reader will also accept Apple Pay, Google Pay and other digital payment methods. Customers may wave their phone or watch over the reader and pay that way. It’s not necessary to know which specific method the customer is using, as long as your card reader notes the payment as received. If you are a Square merchant, the tap reader is already built into your chip reader. If you’re not already seeing a demand for tap payments in your store, that is about to change. All Chase Visa cards will be tap cards by the end of 2019, and some companies are offering bonus points to users who increase their use of the tap payment method. Simply put, if you don’t want to miss out on sales, you need to be to be able to take most forms of payment your customers have on them when they walk into the store. But what if your customer is in the store and doesn’t have a form of payment that will cover the gear they want to buy? What if the customer needs (fasten your seat belt) … credit? The days of in-store credit are long gone for most MI merchants, but you can still offer credit to your customers without risking your own resources. Synchrony Financial offers store-branded credit cards with a credit limit that will let your customers buy from you and DECEMBER 2019

Profile for Music & Sound Retailer

Music & Sound Retailer December 2019, Vol 36 No 12  

In the December issue of the Music & Sound Retailer, we provide a preview of next month’s The NAMM Show, highlight all Music & Sound Award N...

Music & Sound Retailer December 2019, Vol 36 No 12  

In the December issue of the Music & Sound Retailer, we provide a preview of next month’s The NAMM Show, highlight all Music & Sound Award N...