Wed Jan 04 2017
Is revenue growth a New Year resolution for your business? If so, now could be one of the best times to kick-start the plan as the UK’s business landscape is proving particularly fertile.
At 5.5m there are now more businesses in the UK than ever before – and over 1m more than in 2010 – with SMEs accounting for at least 99% of them in every main industry sector1.
And competitiveness could also be given a boost by the fall in value of sterling. Many UK exports will now be cheaper for overseas buyers, while domestic opportunities could increase too as imports become more expensive.
There are a number of ways to help harness this growth potential, and getting your payments in order is one of the most important. Here are some hints and tips on how you can use them to help grow revenue.
Increasing the ways in which you take payments can help grow revenue in a number of ways. For some businesses, launching an ecommerce site can dramatically extend their reach – including to overseas markets – while allowing customers to purchase 24/7.
For others, adding additional ways to pay can make all the difference. Often, that will mean starting to accept cards. Barclaycard research shows that, alarmingly, almost half of SMEs don’t accept card payments despite 70% of shoppers preferring to pay that way2.
And with a third of adults saying they would consider walking away from a purchase if they couldn’t pay by card (and a quarter having done so in the last 12 months), can you afford not to accept them?
Online payment systems, contactless card readers and mobile payment solutions have all, in their different ways, given customers new expectations about how they should be able to pay.
That makes it even more important not to disappoint them if you are looking to grow revenue.
For example, small business owners can avoid losing customers who aren’t carrying cash simply by having card readers. This allows them to capture impulse buys and, with Barclaycard research showing that the average UK adult carries less than £25 in cash2, this could be significant.
But having contactless card readers could be even more important in driving incremental revenue gains for small businesses. A fifth of all card payments are now contactless3, up from just 8% the year before, and it’s clear that consumers want the convenience that it offers.
That’s certainly true at vehicle service centre Hogan Bros, which is taking advantage of the £30 contactless limit to win new customers.
“We’ve priced our MOTs at £30, just so that we can accept contactless payments for them,” says co-owner Kevin Hogan. “People want to pay that way. It’s so quick for them and we’re taking more and more payments this way.”
“The secret to converting online browsers into buyers is to make their journey to checkout seamless,” says Maria Shaw, Head of Acquisition, Small Business, Global Payment Acceptance at Barclaycard.
Maria says it’s the same in a shop. For example, mobile payment technology means if there’s a queue for the till you can get a spare member of staff to go out and take payments on the floor. You could say it’s another way of converting a customer (before they walk out without buying).
Many companies consider their online and offline activities to be two separate businesses. It’s much easier to grow your business and do it faster if you treat it as a single enterprise with two ‘channels’ through which you sell.
Joseph Jessup, Small Business Segment Director, Global Payment Acceptance at Barclaycard, believes one of the biggest challenges is linking online and offline channels to give customers a consistent experience so they can engage and buy the way they want to.
“One solution is to have all of your payments services provided by a single provider, that way you naturally get connectivity between offline and online,” he says.
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