The benefits of integrated payments and payroll: why picking one provider is best for your business
New technology can seem like a double-edged sword. As a business owner, powerful tech might help you streamline your processes and even improve efficiency. But who has time to learn the ins and outs of a new software solution every couple of years? And the effort it takes to juggle numerous platforms must outweigh the benefits, right?
That assumption is where many small businesses go wrong. The truth is there’s an easy way to take advantage of software solutions without having to become a tech pro yourself. It’s the power of integration. Nowadays countless aspects of your business, from payment acceptance and point of sale (POS) devices to payroll and HR, can be integrated into one platform.
And yet — that’s not even the biggest piece of the puzzle. Yes, software integration is vital to businesses that want to jumpstart their efficiency. But if your goal is to implement the most effective workflows with the best staff, gain a greater understanding of your customers and outsmart the competition, it’s smart to go with one provider for all your solutions.
of small business owners say that technology platforms help them enjoy running their businesses more
report that technology helps them run their businesses more efficiently
agree that tech helps them have more time to spend with their family away from their businesses
Source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce
It’s clear that the right technology can help a business thrive. But it’s also important to consider all the technologies you use and how they all work together. Because when tech solutions operate independently of one another and are supported by different providers and platforms, it can create costly inefficiencies and annoying support headaches when things go wrong.
In this blog, we’ll explain what “integrated” means and the many ways you can leverage the benefits of integrated technology. Read on to learn about:
Integrated vs stand alone: What’s the difference?
So, what does it mean when we say something is an example of an integrated solution? A good way to think about it is the opposite of a stand alone solution.
Remember old fashioned cash registers? They rang up a sale, essentially acting as a calculator, and gave the merchant a total amount to charge the customer. They weren’t capable of taking a credit card payment on their own. So when credit cards became an in-demand payment type for customers, merchants started using a credit card terminal for their electronic payments. That device was great at taking payments. But it wasn’t connected to the cash register, so at the end of the day, the merchant had to count their cash receipts separately from their electronic payment totals, and add them together to get their daily sales totals and other data. The cash register and the payment terminal essentially “stand alone.”
Fast forward to the development of the modern point of sale and things began to change. Today, the cash register is an electronic, cloud-based POS that is integrated with the payment acceptance terminal. They are no longer two individual pieces of technology operating separately from one another. They essentially share a brain, and the merchant can run one report at the end of the day to see their daily sales as a single figure — no calculating required.
How integrated solutions can help you reach your goals
At its root, integrated tech is all about convenience. That might mean automation that saves an hour a day for your staff, easy payment options that delight your customers or scheduling solutions that make shift swaps a snap. Let’s explore all the ways that convenience can greatly impact your business success.
Integrated payments: Reduced data entry and greater efficiency
Let’s start with payment integration. When small business owners integrate their payment processing, that means they can now process payments within their existing software. Perhaps you run a boutique hotel with a property management system that controls room reservations and booking requests. By embedding payments into that software, you’ve added an essential functionality and sped up the check-in process — without having to train your employees on a new software system.
For you and your staff, tracking down transaction data and manually entering it into your records can be cumbersome and time-consuming. Pair that with matching payments to invoices and constantly needing to manually update stock levels, and the long hours can really add up.
But a POS with an integrated payment system can help improve workflows, alleviate the stress of managing all your books and reduce the potential for human error. That’s because it automatically links the core financial systems of your business, translating to real time updates of sales accounts, inventory management, invoicing and more. In the end, you can spend less time on busy work and more time running your business.
Integrated loyalty programs: Better customer experience and data collection
Believe it or not, your customers will likely benefit from your new tech just as much as you and your employees. And as we all know, happy customers can lead to repeat (and even new) customers — as well as a boost to your bottom line.
of customers will recommend a brand to a friend following a positive customer experience
Let’s start simple: the checkout process. Whether in person or in the ecommerce world, an integrated solution can turn checkout into an integral touchpoint for each of your customers. Say you run a nail salon. Happy with her manicure, your new customer approaches the POS device to pay. She’s prompted to join a loyalty program, which she readily does, and your business receives her cell number in return. Your customer quickly and easily tips her technician and leaves excited about the loyalty points she just earned. Best of all, she was able to pay touch-free with a contactless digital wallet (which helped her freshly lacquered nails stay pristine).
With one visit, you gathered enough data to reach out in the next couple of weeks when her nails need a fresh coat. Your integrated solution provided a frictionless and pleasant checkout experience — and also granted you an opportunity to earn repeat business.
Not only do comprehensive integrated solutions offer the ability to gather data, but they also provide powerful analytic insights into that data that you can harness for growth. With transaction histories and demographic info, you can better segment your audience and deliver targeted marketing that boosts conversions.
An integrated POS can also improve your business operations and efficiency, helping you keep an eye on current inventory and demand forecasts, which ultimately leads to (you guessed it) happier customers.
Integrated accounting tools: Improved cash flow
As we’ve discussed, one of the main themes of integration is the streamlining of operations and syncing up of processes. Those benefits can have a significant effect on your cash flow.
Say you have a stand alone accounting system. It’s great at tracking numbers and balancing your books, but at the end of the day, it still leaves plenty of work for you to do. You’re likely tired of manually inputting your credit card sales, listing your cash and then subtracting the money paid to your supplier for inventory each day.
Now, let’s imagine instead your POS connects directly to your payment software and automatically records transactions in your accounting system. All of those processes are taken care of for you, reducing manual data entry and speeding up invoicing. With the power of integrated solutions, you can automate and sync payment and accounting processes — increasing your cash flow as a result and improving the chances of long-term growth for your business.
Integrated data security: Enhanced anti-fraud and compliance protection
As a business owner, you’re the potential target of costly data breaches every day.
In fact, CNBC reports that the average cyberattack costs small businesses $200,000. And that 60% of them close their doors within just six months of being hacked.
The good news is that the right integrated solution will unlock a heap of security features that can protect your business from fraudsters looking to steal customer credit cards and other payment information. Some of the most important features to look for include:
Encryption: Encrypted payment data has been converted into code that can only be unlocked with a “key.” The only parties that have access to this encryption key are the sender and the bank processing the transaction.
Tokenization: This process substitutes the customer’s card number with a random string of numbers to be used in the transaction. That way, if the token gets intercepted, it can’t be used for any other transaction.
PCI compliance and support: In exchange for the ability to process payments, you must comply with established PCI standards for the safe handling of sensitive cardholder data. Not doing so can incur costly fees, but the right provider will offer you compliant equipment (like EMV®-ready terminals) as well as the expertise to help you maintain your compliance as these standards continue to evolve with payment technology.
With these security features embedded in your integrated system, you can rest assured that you’re storing payment data throughout all your business software in the safest way possible, protecting the security of not only your data, but that of your customers as well.
Integrated payroll: More accurate employee compensation and labor cost forecasting
Another aspect of running a business that takes up a lot of energy is payroll and HR responsibilities. No one wants to spend hours a day on tedious, back-office HR tasks … but getting payroll calculations wrong costs you money, time and potentially employee satisfaction. Luckily, integrated payroll can make your life easier by streamlining your operations, unifying employee data and making it all accessible in a convenient, cloud-based system.
Here are some of the ways an integrated, all-in-one payroll and HR solution can help your business:
Reduce the risk of costly payroll mistakes: With an integrated system, employee hours, sales and more can be automatically transferred from your POS to your payroll software, improving accuracy while cutting back on manual entry. Plus, with insight into your staff’s demographic information, your payroll software can help you manage ever-changing compliance requirements that vary state by state.
Track labor costs and improve budgeting: Real time data sharing between integrated solutions can reveal a more in-depth picture of your labor costs. This increased visibility allows you to make better informed decisions about staffing levels, scheduling and budgeting — leading to a healthier bottom line.
Simplify tip distribution: In many industries, tips are a significant chunk of employee compensation. But any restaurant manager will tell you that divvying up tips can be a time-consuming process. Integrating your POS and payroll solutions allows you to automatically capture and allocate tips, ensuring employees take home their fair share while also streamlining your task of reporting and distributing the money.
Why one tech provider is best for your small business
Now that we’ve detailed the many ways integrated tech can drive your business forward, let’s uncover the secret that even the most tech-savvy entrepreneurs may not have yet realized: Utilizing one provider for all of your business needs will help you unlock even more advantages and outsmart your competitors in the marketplace. Let’s find out how.
A bundle of savings
What business owner doesn’t want to optimize their operational costs? Businesses can access the most cost-effective pricing by “bundling” all their solutions with a single provider.
Better support and more productivity
We’ve already talked about the importance of the customer experience as it relates to your own business. But what about when you’re the customer?
If an issue arises with any of your integrated solutions, you’ll want to get your service up and running again ASAP. When your core systems work together and you have a single source of support, you can expect smoother operations and less finger pointing when things go wrong. By working with a single provider, you’re more likely to get exceptional customer support and a clearer path to resolution. Thanks to easier access to your systems, your provider can determine issues and address them more quickly. Plus, the support team of your chosen provider will grow familiar with your business account and be able to suggest the best solution based on their previous experience.
Easy setup and migration
When you sign up for a new tech platform, you’re anxious to start reaping the benefits for your business right away. Setting up your new equipment and migrating your data can feel like it takes ages, and configuration and compatibility issues might even cause delays. So why repeat that process with a new vendor for every service when you could just do it once?
On top of the initial setup, you’ll likely want the occasional upgrade of your equipment — especially if you’re trying to keep up with payment technology and other trends. A single provider is more likely to continue to meet your business needs with little to no downtime.
Holistic reporting in one central portal
From payment data to inventory levels, payroll estimates and more, your business operations depend on an assortment of information to keep functioning. With one provider, you’ll get access to all of your most important data and analytics in one centralized place, usually accessible anytime, anywhere in the cloud.
By syncing your data through one portal, you’ll get a holistic view of the health of your business and more easily pinpoint any areas of improvement. A single provider offers a true ecosystem of inter-connected business data, ensuring you have all the analytics you need to make better-informed decisions than if that info were siloed in different platforms.
In short, with one provider, the sum is greater than its parts — and you’ll get more bang for your buck.
Transform your business with comprehensive technology
It’s no secret that today’s tech can support the growth of your business, but the story doesn’t end there. If you want solutions that offer ease and convenience, integrated technology offers many benefits that can lead to success. And if you’re hoping to achieve optimal, top-to-bottom results that are quick, cost-effective and comprehensive? Choosing one provider for all of your business needs is the best way to go.
If you’re ready to get started with a trusted provider that can cover all your integrated technology needs, chat with us today.
Heartland is the point of sale, payments and payroll solution of choice for entrepreneurs that need human-centered technology to sell more, keep customers coming back and spend less time in the back office. Nearly 1,000,000 businesses trust us to guide them through market changes and technology challenges, so they can stay competitive and focus on building remarkable businesses instead of managing the daily grind. Learn more at heartland.us