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With the adoption of effective and integrated payments, small businesses can utilize fewer resources while decreasing the gap between themselves and larger competitors. Here are a few options that even the smallest business can use to operate at more of a big business level.

Anatoliy Babiy/Getty Images/iStockphoto

For businesses of all sizes, the single most important element for a successful operation is payments. There are a number of resources available from a payment processing perspective for small businesses, allowing them to be more competitive in market. This is the fastest growing merchant bracket in Canada, and it's important to implement flexible solutions to remain competitive.

With the adoption of effective and integrated payments, small businesses can utilize fewer resources while decreasing the gap between themselves and larger competitors. Here are a few options that even the smallest business can use to operate at more of a big business level.

1. Mobile point-of-sale solutions (mPOS). With smartphones and tablets dominating the market at the business and consumer level, small businesses have the ability to accept payments in more ways and just about anywhere with mPOS solutions. Previously, this merchant bracket was limited to accepting cash transactions. Now, they can accept all forms of payment whether that's Interac debit or credit card payments via smartphone or tablet. Mobile payment solutions are designed to help small businesses become more flexible when accepting payments and ideally, increasing their daily transaction volumes.

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A few important things for small businesses to consider when looking for an mPOS solution are data security and business management tools. For instance, chip and PIN is the global data security standard for payments, protecting merchants and their customers' valuable information when processing transactions. Real-time online reporting, tax and tip functionality and email receipts are also valuable mPOS tools some payment processors provide, empowering merchants to operate at a higher level of business efficiency.

2. Business management solutions. For small businesses, it is important to maximize their strengths in all areas of business. Implementing a seamless business management solution with integrated payment functionality can help accomplish this as it enables these merchants to compete and operate with greater efficiency, using big business-like tools. Some valuable benefits these solutions provide is the ability to integrate their existing payment processing solution with their product inventory. This will track their daily sales while updating product inventory all in one unified and automated system, which can be accessed by the merchant online from anywhere. Payment processors have optimized business management offerings to empower small merchants to focus on day-to-day business operations and strategy, much like a large business model would do.

3. E-commerce Online payments are becoming increasingly popular. Small merchants are able to optimize their business through eCommerce capabilities. Payment processors are implementing simple and scalable eCommerce for small businesses through turnkey e-store templates, integrated online shopping carts for customer purchases, and conduct real time reporting. This payment platform provides the data security required by merchants and is adaptable to their growth.

4. Customer loyalty programs. Historically, customer loyalty programs have been the exclusive domain of larger merchants. Today, there are well-known turnkey programs available for small businesses. Statistics show that small merchants providing these programs are 88 per cent more profitable than those that are not. Payment processors support the transaction function behind customer loyalty programs implemented by small businesses, ensuring a reliable and secure transaction process. Customer loyalty programs ultimately help small businesses to differentiate themselves from competitors, in turn growing their business even further.

The above examples are just a sample of the many options that payment processors can provide small businesses today to contend with larger competitors. The bottom line is, small businesses have the resources and payments technology available to them today that can help them be successful in virtually every element of business management and payment processing.

Fern Glowinsky is chief operations officer for Moneris Solutions Corporation, one of North America's largest providers of payment processing solutions. With more than 350,000 merchant locations, Moneris offers credit, debit, wireless and online payment services and processes more than three billion transactions annually.

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