At first, I debated writing this article from the perspective of “Should I consider an online payment and registration system?” which implied, is there value in implementing an online payment and registration system? As I composed the draft, I found it difficult to argue "should you consider a system" and I realized the more fitting title should be "Why you should consider an online payment and registration system".
If your first reaction is to challenge my rationale, please do so in the comments section at the bottom of the article but first, allow me to present my case.
I've narrowed it down to 5 key compelling reasons why you should consider accepting payments and registrations online.
1) YOU HAVE SKILLS THAT CAN BE PUT TO BETTER USE
You know that feeling when you’re working on a spreadsheet and trying to tally up a bunch of columns of who still owes you payment and why the money in your bank account isn't adding up with your spreadsheet. You're frustrated and you know there is a more efficient way to do this. Online payments can significantly reduce the amount of time spent on this process or eliminate it altogether. Would you not want to automate this process so you can free up time to apply your skills to tasks that make better use of your skills?
Instead of sorting through cheques, spreadsheets and paper registrations, you can be focusing your efforts on email or phone campaigns, sending out promotional materials, social media marketing or whatever better suits your skillset. Freeing up time from non revenue generating efforts to revenue generating efforts are essential to the development to your business and may even offset the cost of the online payment system.
2) ONLINE IS MORE CONVENIENT FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS
As you introduce people to a new process, there may be some initial bumps along the road but the number of people that experience issues with registration and payment is very minimal. Combing through our support records, approximately 1 in 200 registrations results in a support inquiry or failed payment.
With a 0.5% chance that a customer may experience an issue, the benefit of giving your customers a more convenient option than sending in a cheques, cash and forms outweigh that risk.
There are additional benefits to your customers as well;
- They can accumulate points on their credit card
- They have a concrete trail of their transaction versus a cheque or cash payment
- They don’t have to waste time to physically bring a cheque, cash or their registration form to your location
3) You’ll have an advantage over your competitors
There was an interesting study that came out from PayPal in May 2017 that was reported by Northstar Research Partners. PayPal interviewed 1000 Small - Medium businesses and found that only 17% of businesses offer online payments while 80% of people shop online. That signals a huge opportunity.
In the same study, PayPal found that out of those 1000 businesses, those that were offering online payments reported more than double the revenues of business who did not offer online payment solutions. Doubling your revenues may be a stretch but there is something to be said for freeing up more time that can be dedicated to revenue generating efforts.
4) IT will SAVE YOU TIME
To get an adequate assessment of the economics, let’s start by listing the time consuming tasks that can be attributed to accepting cash, cheques and paper registration forms. Let’s assume that each one of these tasks takes approximately 1 hour per week. Time dedicated to these tasks can obviously vary but to get an estimate, let’s apply an average.
Here are a few examples of manual tasks that can be attributed to accepting paper registrations and payments in the form of cash and cheques;
- Going to the bank to deposit cash/cheques (There are online options to depositing cheques but let’s assume you are going into the branch)
- Making follow up phone calls to remind people to pay
- Refunds/adjustments via cheque, cash means having to issue a cheque or cash reimbursement to the customer
- Sorting through forms to match up payments
- Follow-up with customers about missing information on forms or inaccuracies
- Creating financial reports from collected cheques, cash and paper forms
If each one of these tasks takes approximately 1 hour per week, that translates into 7 hours of total time dedicated to labour per week. At an average rate of $20/hour, that’s $140/week. If your business operates for half the year, that’s $3640 a year.
A caveat is that the 7 hours of tasks is dependant on your registration volume and proficiency so understandably, it can vary. Also, we can’t discount that accepting payment and registration online will create work as a result but it will minimize the work mentioned above and in most cases, provide additional tools to be more effective.
To paint a good comparison between hours spent on manual tasks versus expenses incurred with online payment and registration, let’s take a look at the cost for a payment and registration system. For a simple calculation and to demonstrate an extreme case, let’s assume you will pay 7% per transaction which is considered expensive in the industry. We're using a percentage based system in this example but there are other type of systems to consider.
When calculating your online registration system expenses, if you process $50,000 a year or 80 transactions at $500 each, your cost for the online payment system which charges 7% per transaction is $3500. Almost on par with the labour hours spent on collecting manual payment and registration.
One other variable to consider is that as a result of the increased efficiency in accepting online payments, your sales may increase because you’ve been able to free up time which can be dedicated to revenue generating efforts.
If you'd like to crunch some numbers specific to your organization, use this spreadsheet.
5) COST CAN BE PASSED DOWN TO YOUR CUSTOMER
As we found out from the PayPal report, since 80% of people shop online, we can assume that they like the convenience of purchasing online.
If our customers prefer online payments, in order for you to eliminate the cost of the payment processing at 7% per transaction, you would have to raise the price of a $500 product to $535. Again, a reminder that this expense is based on a 7% charge per purchase transaction which is considered high in the industry.
If you're giving your customers the added convenience and benefits of purchasing online, a $35 increase is still good value.
what have we learned?
I want to reiterate that implementing an online registration and payments system is not always a perfectly smooth transition. It's likely that you'll experience a few issues as you make the transition. After all, your customers have to get used to a new process and you do as well. You also have to familiarize yourself with new tools and in general, learn the system.
If you can accept that implementing a new system does come with an adjustment period but at the same time you have the right service partner to help you with the transition, there is a compelling argument to be made about the long term benefits.
I encourage you to give it some thought and ask yourself, what is your time worth?