Business Tips

Payment Optimization: A Guide to Enhancing Your Payment Strategy

Read Time: 6 min

A customer enjoying a payment optimized system at a retail store while standing in front of an employee.

As a business owner, optimized payment infrastructure is crucial for your cash flow. But how can you make this process as easy and convenient as possible for your customers? This challenge brings us to payment optimization—the act of streamlining the various facets of your payment procedures. It has various benefits that include improving the speed of payments, bookkeeping efficiency, increased customer satisfaction, and reduced errors, collectively elevating profitability. Navigating through the complexities of payment optimization can feel daunting, but if you want to scale your operations, it’s an important project to tackle.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps and strategies essential for effective payment optimization. From diversifying payment options to combating fraud, we will touch on the techniques that will transform your payment strategy into an asset. Let’s dive in. 

What Is Payment Optimization?

As we touched on, payment optimization is the process of streamlining payment operations within your business. The purpose of payment optimization includes:

  • Enhancing efficiency.
  • Providing a superior customer experience.
  • Accelerating the speed and consistency of payments.
  • Minimizing human error by reducing manual processes.
  • Increasing overall profitability.

Achieving these goals requires a holistic approach, which entails integrating systems, automating tasks, evaluating processing rates, and more. With the help of a good merchant services provider can make this process much easier by providing guidance on the best steps to take for your particular business.

Key Techniques for Effective Payment Optimization

There are nine key techniques to try when you’re looking to optimize your payments. Below, we will dive into each technique. 

1. Diversify Your Payment Options

Customers expect to pay with whatever they have on hand and can feel embarrassed or inconvenienced if their preferred option isn’t available. Remember the last time you tried to pay with a card and discovered the store only accepted cash?

Offering diverse payment options is a great way to reduce that friction while catering to different customer preferences. Whether it’s credit cards, debit cards, mobile wallets, or online payment platforms, providing alternative payment methods can enhance customer satisfaction, improve the speed and consistency of payments, and increase the average ticket for each sale.[1]Nerd Wallet. “Credit Cards Make You Spend More”. Accessed on October 26, 2023. Additionally, if you’re an online business, you should consider accepting international payment methods to attract more global customers and expand your market reach.

2. Utilize Mobile Payments

With the growing use of smartphones, unsurprisingly, accepting mobile payments has become more and more popular. 

By offering mobile payment solutions, your customers can make purchases conveniently and securely using their mobile devices. These mobile wallets have a huge uptake by Gen Z: over 70% of Gen Z has used Apple Pay when available to make a purchase.[2]Tech Jury. “How Many People Use Apple Pay? || Apple Pay Statistics 2023”. Accessed on October 26, 2023. This not only improves the overall payment experience but also helps you tap (see what we did there?) into the mobile-driven market and stay competitive in the digital era.

3. Reduce ‘Time to Collect’ Per Payment

A prolonged payment collection process can lead to delayed cash flow, affecting your company’s financial health. Cash flow challenges account for over 82% of small business failures [3]Score. “The #1 Reason Small Businesses Fail – And How to Avoid It | SCORE”. Accessed on October 26, 2023.

Because of this, when optimizing payments, you should focus on reducing the ‘time to collect’ per payment. This can be achieved by streamlining invoicing procedures, offering easy ways to pay invoices, incentives for early payments (or penalties for late payments), and using automated payment reminders to prompt customers to pay on time.

4. Increase Authorization Rate

Your payment authorization rate is the percentage of successful transactions versus the total number of attempted transactions. A low authorization rate can mean declined payments and revenue loss. 

To reduce decline ratios and minimize chargeback risks, businesses should diversify payment options to cater to customer preferences, employ account updater software to prevent declines in recurring billing scenarios, use fraud detection tools to thwart fraudulent transactions and maintain proactive communication with customers regarding payment issues. Additionally, smart payment routing can optimize payment processing by directing transactions to the most suitable gateways or acquirers for each case.

5. Automate and Simplify Technology

Automation is pivotal in payment optimization. By automating routine tasks such as invoice generation, payment reconciliation, reporting, and recurring billing, businesses can achieve greater visibility, transactional control, time-saving, error reduction, and overall efficiency.

6. Minimize Transaction Fees and Costs

Transaction fees and processing costs can significantly impact your business’s bottom line if you don’t account for them. To achieve true payment optimization, you should regularly review your merchant account statements, learn about them, and explore opportunities to reduce transaction fees. Small tweaks in processing costs can culminate in considerable long-term savings.

7. Integrate Your Payment Systems

Next, you should integrate your payment systems. In essence, they should operate cohesively, minimizing manual effort and eliminating redundant processes. This integration is pivotal for a frictionless payment journey for both customers and your business.

With multiple payment channels available, including online, in-store, and mobile, combined with distinct payment devices, inventory systems, and accounting software, centralizing data becomes pivotal. It simplifies reporting, allows real-time inter-system communication, and facilitates a holistic view of your financial landscape.

8. Combat and Mitigate Fraud

Payment fraud can inflict significant financial losses and tarnish your business reputation. Implementing advanced fraud detection tools ensures accurate customer data. Modern tools like AI-driven fraud detection, address verification, and tokenization can significantly bolster your defenses against fraudulent activities and optimize your payments. Additionally, can try other fraud mitigation techniques including staff fraud training, combating invalid chargebacks, and more.

9. Ensure Compliance with Regulations

Payment processing involves signing an agreement that stipulates you’ll comply with various industry regulations and standards, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)

Setting your systems up the right way the first time will help you avoid headaches down the line. That’s why it’s important when considering your payment optimization process to consider things like regulatory compliance from the start. The best way to ensure compliance is to work with a specialized merchant service provider who is knowledgeable about your specific industry. This is especially important for businesses operating in high-risk industries that are known to have strict government regulations.

Payment Orchestration vs. Payment Optimization

While payment optimization focuses on improving specific aspects of payment operations within your business and technology stack, like internal capabilities, payment orchestration takes an external software approach. This method utilizes software to manage payments from different providers according to backend rules and conditions. For example, if you were setting up online payments for IKEA and wanted to offer local payment options in each of the countries you have stores in, you’d want a payment orchestration software to intelligently route your transactions through different payment gateways, acquirers, and processors.

To summarize, the key difference lies in their scope: payment optimization targets internal payment processes, whereas payment orchestration looks at external payment acceptance and routing. Payment orchestration ensures that transactions are processed through the most suitable channels, optimizing conversion rates and enhancing the customer experience.

Credit Card Optimization: Closing Thoughts

Optimizing your payment strategies is a fantastic way to bolster your business. The more efficient your payment ecosystem, the more you can focus on other aspects of your enterprise.

As we touched on throughout the article, partnering with a credit card processing provider equipped with cutting-edge, integration-ready payment software is incredibly helpful when utilizing payment optimization. They can streamline payment operations by automating tasks, integrating systems, and reducing errors while maintaining regulatory compliance. They also enable you to diversify your payment options and can help to improve the speed of payment processing by integrating with the other tools you already use and are comfortable with.

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Article Sources

  1. Nerd Wallet. “Credit Cards Make You Spend More”. Accessed on October 26, 2023.
  2. Tech Jury. “How Many People Use Apple Pay? || Apple Pay Statistics 2023”. Accessed on October 26, 2023.
  3. Score. “The #1 Reason Small Businesses Fail – And How to Avoid It | SCORE”. Accessed on October 26, 2023.

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