PayAnywhere Storefront Free Tablet Placement - Is It the Best Credit Card Processing Solution for Small Business?
Free Equipment, Tablet Based Credit Card Processing Solution
In March, 2014, North American Bancard released a new tablet-based credit card processing program called PayAnywhere Storefront. The flagship App was designed initially for Android tablets and is rolling out to iOS devices, though secondary devices running either Android or iOS can use a previous version of the PayAnywhere software in conjunction with the primary account for outside sales or a second in-store terminal. This is good news for small businesses that want to replace traditional countertop card swiping terminals for a more robust and potentially less expensive processing solution.
PayAnywhere Tablet App and Web Portal
Included in the Free Program
New accounts are set up with a brand new 10-inch Android tablet in a countertop stand. The frame has a built-in card reader for swiping and should be upgradable for EMV standards over time. While the tablets will be locked from loading in outside APPS, there will web access to gain insights into the merchants processing through the secure merchant portal which can be used to run sales history or item reports, as well as assign user logins and view heat maps of outside sales. The tablet ships with an additional card reader as well, which can be used on any compatible phone or tablet device, giving the merchant effectively two sales stations for no charge.
Because the app is free to download, the merchant can use any compatible device for key entered transactions even without a card reader, or sync the app remotely to monitor card sales when away from the business location — including cash transactions if the app is being used as the main cash register. When logged into the web portal on a PC, the same transaction information is available with the additional benefit of being able to import data into a Quicken file or Excel spreadsheet (though I have also downloaded and opened Excel files from the site on my own Android device).
Additional Equipment Options
The system comes with only the tablet and card reader setup, which in and of itself is a value of easily over $400, with comparable equipment offered by competitors like ShopKeep or Gopogo Live costing considerably more for very nearly the same functionality. What you do not get for free, however, are the electronic cash drawer and receipt printer. These are not required for all businesses, but options should be explored.
Most businesses will need to offer receipts, at least as an option. PayAnywhere (which is the same basic app as Phone Swipe and is developed by the same parent company) has always offered email receipts and is also expanding to SMS receipts. For those merchants who require printed receipts, it has a couple of options built in. First, it can use Google Cloud Print. This is a good general service for merchants who don’t want to spend the money on a new printer just for the occasional receipt and will very likely work with equipment the business already has. For frequent receipt printing, a Star Receipt Printer would be necessary, and these can range in price from around $100 and up for a compatible unit.
North American Bancard’s PayAnywhere service offers a rental option for either a printer ($14.95/month) or a printer and cash drawer combination ($19.95/month). The equipment is plug and play compatible, however the rental would not be recommended as a long-term solution since the printer and cash drawer could be purchased and paid off over a year or so. Printers can be found online for around $200 and cash drawers for around $100 — and much less, if the cash drawer can be manually operated instead of only triggered by the app. Many merchants who still use a cash register can continue doing so and simply integrate the PayAnywhere app for processing and inventory management while still ringing the final charge on the register.
Mobile Processing Options
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Tablets Vs Phones
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How the Free Equipment is Paid For: Rates and Fees for PayAnywhere Storefront
This is not a “Pay As You Go” program like SquareUp or the other versions of Phone Swipe or PayAnywhere, but it shares many of their features while still integrating lower rates than those programs. Although it is possible to get the PayAnywhere Storefront service without being tied into an expensive long-term contract, there is still a monthly service fee of $12.95 and an annual PCI Compliance fee of $79 (which is still among the lowest in the industry). “Pay As You Go” plans cover these expenses through their higher rates, typically beginning at 2.69% for Phone Swipe and up to 2.75% for Square. In exchange for the monthly fee and the passed along cost of PCI Compliance, NAB offers PayAnywhere Storefront accounts a simple tiered rate plan beginning at 1.69% for swiped cards, with no transaction fees.
Typically, it has mainly been the domain of the “Pay As You Go” plan to offer swiped processing without a transaction fee, and even that is not all of the time. Those plans may have transaction fees for some swiped cards, and always for key-entered cards (as this program does, too). With the PayAnywhere Storefront program, the processing goes a step further which will excite many business owners who have a high volume of American Express transactions: the base rate for swiped cards includes all AMEX cards at 1.69% with no additional fees and no additional American Express statement necessary. This way, AMEX processes at the same rate as basic bank cards from Visa, MasterCard, Discover and even the new PayPal card, all without additional transaction fees or Interchange costs added on.
The next tier of rates is reserved for Rewards Cards and Corporate Cards that are swiped through at 2.69%, again with no additional transaction fees or Interchange costs added on. All of the incidental fees are rolled into the percentages, making the billing very simplified and clean. The third tier is reserved for keyed transactions, only. When manually typed into the app, all cards process at 3.69% and incur a $0.19 transaction fee.
If this program is being used by small-ticket merchants, such as a coffee shop, then the savings by not having transaction fees at all on swiped charges could be astounding. The Interchange cost alone of a single transaction will range generally between $0.10 and $0.22, and this is before the addition of the processing company’s fee (which can range from $0.03 to $0.30 depending on how badly the sales agent took advantage of pricing confusion). That transaction fee can eat up a significant percentage of profits on a small cup of coffee, 25% on a $1 charge as compared to the simple 1.69% or 2.69% (less than 2 or 3 cents on the dollar respectively).
Free Additional Card Reader
The Major Caveat: Volume Processing Fees
The reason that this program is best for merchants who do over $5,000 monthly is that the program charges merchants who process less than this amount a “Volume Processing Fee” to cover the cost of the equipment and value-added aspects of the service. In truth, if a merchant is doing less than $5,000 in monthly card revenue, a “Pay As You Go” plan is probably a better choice to begin with, because the savings incurred with lower rates are offset by the addition of monthly fees. (I actually recommend that all merchants who process under $2,000 each month stick to “Pay As You Go” plans, and usually keep that recommendation until merchants are consistently over $2,500 in monthly card revenue.) It is not until around the $5,000 level that most merchants will see a noticeable advantage to having a plan with monthly fees and the associated PCI costs.
Merchants who process under $5,001 in any given month will have a pre-set fee that is provided to them by their sales agent as part of the account setup. While the basic “Volume Processing Fee” is $79, an agent can lower it to as little as $35 for months where the processing falls below the threshold. If this is only going to happen once a year, while other months may be considerably higher, it might still work out in a merchant’s advantage in spite of the painful ding. However, most merchants see a relatively small fluctuation in their monthly charge volume and if there is concern that it would fall below this amount a different plan is most likely going to be a better option, even if it means buying a tablet for processing on a “Pay As You Go” plan at the higher rates.
Advantages of PayAnywhere Storefront
Recapping some of the exceptional points about this service, as well as a few additional items that there was not enough room to mention above, here are the main highlights of the PayAnywhere Storefront program:
- American Express processing at the lowest rate in the Industry and without a second statement
- Acceptance of the new PayPal card at the same low rate as Amex, Visa, MasterCard and Discover basic bank cards
- Next Day Funding on all swipes made before 5PM Eastern Standard Time
- No need to batch out or settle transactions — each charge reconciles automatically as it happens
- Simple pricing with no transaction fees added to swiped charges
- No hidden rates or fees, no additional Interchange costs
- Cost effective replacement of traditional terminals
- Many benefits of high-cost POS systems, including robust reports and cloud syncing
- Free placement of 10” Android tablet with attractive base and frame
- Built-in card reader PLUS additional audio jack card reader for second device
- No cost for use of additional devices logged in with the app
- Online sales tracking, heat maps and ability to run reports on individual products, categories, sales team members and more
- Multiple device printing, email and SMS receipts
- Cloud based syncing for multiple devices and PC backoffice
- Targeted marketing services are being built in
- Untethered solution: completely WiFi and battery powered for mobility
- Updates rolling out include adding “modifiers” to inventory options
- Updates rolling out include inventory tracking through sync between all devices
Wireless Receipt Printers
Star Micronics TSP 100 Lan series printers work by connecting to the router or ethernet hub on the same network as the processing device.
Who Is This Program Best For?
While it is clear that this program is geared toward merchants who process in excess of $5,000 each month, it offers extra benefits to merchants who typically process in particular ways and it may not offer the best overall pricing to all merchants. For example, a merchant who does typically $25,000 monthly in card sales through only a few high transactions will see a far greater savings on a good Interchange based plan and would not ever notice the transaction fees lumped in with the overall percentage. After all, the goal is to lower the TOTAL cost of processing to the lowest percentage possible, including the monthly fees and the cost of PCI compliance.
Small businesses which cannot compete for the bulk pricing of their major box store counterparts, on the other hand, might find this to be a terrific fit. While the software is not a full-blown POS system, it does share many of the features of systems that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to step into, plus anywhere from $49/month to over $100/month per terminal just to use these features. PayAnywhere Storefront offers many of the same reports, multiple device integration, a robust inventory feature and more without any upfront cost, without any additional cost for multiple devices and for only the $12.95 monthly fee. It should be noted here that all monthly processing services come with fees ranging from $5 to $30, depending on the processing company and the plan — most mobile plans involve an additional fee from $12 to $25 for processing over their service, or at least a $5 per device fee on top of the basic cost. This program does not charge any of those additional fees, so the $12.95 covers the basic monthly service, each additional device used on the account (including the second card reader or any others that can be purchased for as little as $9.99) and access to the web portal. There simply is no other comparable monthly service with the same features.
The best fit, of course, is going to be any merchant with a high volume of low dollar swiped transactions. That means it is perfect for café or coffee shop locations that do not need intense inventory tracking (especially of consumables that must be monitored) or employee hours tracked directly through the device. Any location that uses a traditional cash register or swiping terminal could transition to this program for immediate benefits from the software and pricing. Retailers who sell low-priced items and have consistent sales under $20 will also likely see an immediate savings even if the charges mostly go through at the higher swiped rate. And ANY business that takes a high percentage of American Express Cards should consider this option because of the significantly lower rate being assessed for this card type.
If you want to know whether this is the right program for you, see if you can answer YES to these questions:
- Does my business process over $5,000 in credit card purchases every month?
- Does my business have a WiFi connection (or can it justify putting one in)?
- Are many of my business' sales for amounts under $25?
- Will my business benefit from being able to run reports to analyze sales?
- Is mobility an option that my business can take advantage of?
If a merchant is able to answer yes to all of the these questions, then this program is almost certainly a good fit. Even if a merchant simply wants to replace a countertop terminal with something more current and save on rates in the process, it might be worth looking into, but if all of the above questions have been answered in the affirmative then the new PayAnywhere Storefront should be a serious consideration. Feel free to email me with any questions about whether this would be the right choice for your business.
About the Author
Jeffrey Poehlmann is a professional writer and filmmaker who learned the ins and outs of the merchant processing industry as part of a media-centric business consulting service he set up about ten years ago. For the past few years, he has assisted many small merchants in setting up processing accounts so that they could take advantage of the same savings usually limited to large accounts or big box stores. While it is not always possible to compete on a level playing field, Mr. Poehlmann's special emphasis has always been on finding the right processing niche to serve his clients and help the smaller proprietor or budding entrepreneur get a leg up.
Poehlmann's blog, Adventures In Merchant Services, takes a look at all aspects of the industry, with advice on new programs and services as well as how to spot dishonest agents or tips for avoiding problem merchant accounts. It is read by business owners and sales reps alike. While he may prefer certain programs over others, his first loyalty is always to his clients and finding the company that provides the best service for the client's needs. To that end, Poehlmann works with a broad portfolio of vetted companies and services throughout the consulting process.
© 2014 Jeffrey Poehlmann
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