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Whether you are a large enterprise or starting your business from the ground up, merchants need to know how to put together the right checkout experience, especially in light of ever-evolving technology, increased security concerns and the rise of mobile.

In the next year, merchants may want to take a good look at their checkout process to ensure they are ready for the digital, tech-savvy consumer of tomorrow. Here’s what the merchant should be thinking about now.

Participate in the trust economy. Trust is becoming the most valuable global currency and merchants need to work to instill trust in consumers by assuring them that their personal information is secure at checkout.
Businesses must be transparent on what they do with consumer data and how they are protecting it. Invest in keeping the consumer’s personal data safe through security solutions like PCI-validated point-to-point encryption (P2PE) to help ensure your business and its customers are protected from potentially unforgiving data breaches.

Rethink the brick-and-mortar checkout experience. Many consumers want to place and pay for orders all from one device—and that’s only going to increase in the year ahead. To the customer, this is the way a modern retailer operates. That means credit card acceptance needs to be directly integrated into the software that takes orders, updates inventory and runs your business. Consider updating your inventory and payment technology systems to an integrated solution for a seamless checkout experience.

Get one step ahead. Be sure you are using updated payment technology to protect your business from fraudulent chargebacks. Small businesses and perhaps even large enterprises may not understand the risk they take by only accepting swipe cards. Even some major retailers aren’t using the most updated point-of-sale systems. It can cost the merchant if their payments technology systems are not updated to accept EMV technology, or chip cards.

It’s important that merchants find a payments technology platform they can grow into regardless of their payment acceptance needs. Adding efficiencies early can save time and money and put you ahead of the competition.

Combine digital and real world. Businesses can win by creating new consumer experiences that never existed but that consumers suddenly can’t live without. The increase in Near Field Communication (NFC) devices, which allow for the acceptance of contactless payment systems, will be the way of the future.

Imagine the day when you pull up to the gas station and your car, synced to your credit card, securely communicates to the pump your credit card information. This is not a distant reality, as car companies like Ford have been working on payments for a while. It may not be something fuel dispensers worry about today, but the point is that payment systems should be configured in advance to be ready to adapt.

Invest in the mobile consumer. Mobile payments are expected to reach $503 billion in 2020. So, that means mobile isn’t going away anytime soon. While you are updating your technology, consider the needs of the mobile-first and mobile-only consumers. These are consumers who rely on their phones as the primary point of interaction, and in this case the point of sale. About one in four consumers will match this shopper profile, according to a projection from UPS. Ensure you have the capability to accept Apple Pay and Android Pay even if you don’t plan on doing this right away.

If you want to stay relevant to the consumer, you will end up offering this type of payment in the future. It is easier to implement in advance than to be the last business to convert to mobile pay.

The need for speed. Consumers don’t want to wait in lines (virtually or in-person) and once they insert their credit card, they also don’t want to wait for their credit card transaction to go to Mars and back. Or, worse yet, the credit card system isn’t working. Make sure you have a reliable point of sale system that checks out shoppers fast, so you don’t lose the sale. A sophisticated EMV chip system will process payments in about three seconds—a vast improvement since chips were first introduced.

Consider self-service kiosks or equipping employees with mobile devices to check out customers fast. This can also increase add-on sales and even tips for your staff while making payments quicker and more seamless. In a restaurant setting, think about creating an experience that allows customers to pay at the table and leave immediately when they are done. Now that’s speedy.

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