A local business donates 20K meals
Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 3rd, 2009

A successful business person has recently donated 20,000 meals to the needy for the holiday season.  This businessman has several companies with one being a credit card processing firm. All the donations come from him personally. With his generosity, it has enabled him to become even more successful by developing key relationships with other local businesses. Last year he donated 8,000 meals which this year is a big increase over last year. I think it is great when other business people share what they can when they are able to. It helps make the word a better place. His credit card processing firm is called Global Electronic Technology. Personally, I have never heard of them, but I am assuming the company must be doing very for the owner to be able to afford to give 20,000 meals to people in need.

Have cash back credit cards expired
Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 2nd, 2009

A recent report showed that there is a decline in the number of cards being issued that are tied to cash back offers.  Back in 2005, there were over 40 cards and now less than 15.  It appears many of them are going to other forms of rewards, such as points and airline miles.  All of these cards are known as rewards cards.  Merchants essentially pay for the rewards are the Interchange is higher for these types of cards.  The future may shift on these types of cards due to the economy, changes in people’s spending habits and possible government regulation in the future if that day does come.   Reward cards have become a bigger expense for merchants and a profit area for some credit card processing companies. Many processors charge merchants heft fees when they process reward cards. The downside is if reward cards disappear, overall credit card usage would decline as many consumers simply use credit cards as a convenience and pay the bill off every month. A larger percentage than you may imagine do this actually.  I personally am  a firm believe behind this philosophy, only using credit cards as a convenience and nothing more.

What some CEOs have done to prepare for the holiday sales
Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 2nd, 2009

A few CEOs have shared their strategies for the holidays that I thought was helpful. The CEO for Barefoot Books brought on a new management team, new web site and a new focus. Instead of mailing out 150K catalogs like normal, they are relying on social media to do the selling this year and hopes it works out. The CEO of Daddies Board Shop ordered 10% more of their inventory than last year and have already had to reorder some products. She mentioned the discounting was very tough last year and they are not getting into it this year. Instead they are selling on the quality of product, that it is new and just arrived and worked on their sales presentation. She also believes consumers are tired of seeing sale signs. The CEO of has introduced a new line of baskets in the $20 range, but is being careful not to steer away from their core sale in the $60 range. Introducing lower in products can have a big impact on your sales, but you must also consider your credit card processing costs on those transactions as well if your margins are very slim.

Cyber Monday is a success for Amazon
Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 2nd, 2009

Amazon is starting to release its sales data for sales on Cyber Monday.  They are reporting a 44% increase in visitors compared to 2008, which is great news for the ecommerce world.  This doesn’t indicate sales, but gives you an idea that things may be looking up.  Among the top retailers, they received over 15% of all US shoppers which is a big market share.  My personal favorite store, JCP, only received 2 1/2%.    Amazon’s success may have been because of the price wars between them & Wal-Mart which generated a lot of buzz.  Amazon also reported nice numbers for the third-party marketplace on their site, some sellers seem to have done nicely for Cyber Monday.  This should also be positive news for the credit card processing industry as our revenues are all tied to how much merchants process. We will know for sure in January, but I’m feeling good about things already.

A few tips to boost your sales for the holidays
Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 2nd, 2009

Many merchants contact GrooveCommerce during November but are afraid to touch their store until after the holidays.  They don’t want to make any changes and hurt their potential holiday sales.  This may be true, but it also works the other way around.  If they do not make any changes, then they could be giving up a lot of extra sales as well.  Site load time – us consumers are more impatient when looking online than ever before.  With most users on high speed Internet, we expect everything to happen instantaneously.  Studies show that you only have a few seconds for your site to load or many of your visitors may leave.  So it is very important to have a fast loading web site, which all comes down to your web host.  Shipping schedule – it doesn’t matter if you are solely an ecommerce store or not, you need to prominently display your holiday shipping schedule so shoppers know when they should expect their package and if it will arrive in time.  Lastly, check your site for errors.  Go through your site like a shopper and see if you can find any errors that may present issues for your customers.  Such as add an item to your cart, check out and leave some information blank like email, phone, address, etc.  What kind of error message does it give you and is it descriptive?  This also includes your shopping cart and credit card processing integration.

Is evaluated too high
Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 1st, 2009

A new site called Square, has been valued at 40 million and it hasn’t even launched yet. One of its creators is the founder of Twitter.  This may be a big part in their success in funding an evaluation, but my response to that is this.  You have a guy that was lucky and founded a site like Twitter that took off. He hasn’t done anything in my opinion to demonstrate that he is a great entrepreneur.   Twitter has yet to make any money!  The concept of the site is to a be a credit card payment service similar to Paypal.  They promote that anyone can accept a credit card.  Whether it is for some t-shirt sales nor a one-time event.  All you need is a phone that has an audio input jack.  They also claim you can accept credit cards within minutes.

Being in the credit card processing business, I was a little concerned about this once I started reading the article. After reading all of it, I received the impression that this service will be targeted to merchants on the street that have their customers in front of them. There will not be any online sales like Paypal, so no worries in that area. I also don’t see much of a concern with regards to merchants wanting to take payments in-person. I only see very small merchants that would be attracted to this type of service, ones that process so little or infrequently, that they are not profitable merchants. The article also gave the impression it would focus on consumers that simply need to take a payment or two, not merchants with real businesses. The big concerns would be security and it being embraced by consumers. I don’t think many consumers will be comfortable with the setup but time will tell. Either this will turn into a profit or it will sink fast. I give them a year before we see the final fate of this company.

A restaurant may be in trouble with Visa/MC
Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 1st, 2009

It saddens me to read something like this article.  A restaurant in Ohio recently had their credit card information stolen.  The manager said he was notified a month ago that the system was hacked into and credit card data was stolen during the months of July & August.   Police have been notify local residents that their credit card data may have been compromised.  The restaurant has hired an outside firm to monitor the system and paid a $5K fine.   This is another example of why it is so important for merchants to understand the importance of being PCI compliant and ensuring your system & networks are safe.  From the consumer standpoint, most get worried with their credit card data is stolen.  I wish everyone knew that they are not liable for a penny if they never lose the physical card itself.  It is just a hassle but nothing more.  In summary, be sure whomever you choose as your credit card processing provider, that your system is definitely PCI compliant.

Are you buying stolen goods?
Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 1st, 2009

Is that particular bargain product you are considering buying from an online merchant stolen merchandise?  There are many online stores that sell products that have been stolen or counterfeited, such as pain relievers and diabetic testing strips.  If the bargain you are looking at seems a little too good to be true, then it very well may be.  Many of these fraudsters still products from retailers and then try to sell them online for a quick buck.   Online auctions are a popular choice for many to sell their stolen goods quickly.

Another issues is many merchants are selling replicas of other brands.  Such as selling a bag from Coach that really wasn’t made bythem, but someone else in China or some other place.  This is called replica goods.  It is not legal and I have heard of a lawsuit of a big fashion brand going after a few credit card processing companies for they allowed those merchants to process credit cards on their system. The suit mentioned they should not have even allowed them to setup an account with them. I assume the brands expect our industry to do some policing which it is not our job. It is illegal and most processors will not touch it. If anything, the idea that the products are not legal to sell should convince them enough.

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