Much of the innovation in the SMB space has been focused on retail POS or eCommerce rather than on service-based merchants, which need the same tools as their retail counterparts. That's why Eric Remer, Founder and CEO of PaySimple, says there was high demand for a “holistic solution” for service-based SMBs, allowing them to sell, collect and grow their business under one umbrella. In a recent interview with MPD CEO Karen Webster, Remer explained how his company has such a solution, how PaySimple has changed since its 2006 launch, and what’s on the roadmap for the rest of 2015, including the official launch of an end-to-end scheduling software product that integrates PaySimple payments and customer management.
KW: Let's start by talking about what PaySimple is up to these days. PaySimple’s website says the company is all about making it simple for businesses to bill and collect payments. How do you do it, and what makes your approach different?
ER: We’ve been laser-focused from Day 1 on the service space SMB. If you think about a lot of the innovation over the last several years in a small business payment space, almost all of it has been focused on that retail POS or eCommerce client. That service merchant, which we define as the service commerce merchant, needs the same type of tools that a lot of their retail counterparts have and they don’t really have it. Our real value proposition that we’ve been able to differentiate is creating this holistic solution to allow SMB service-based businesses to sell, collect, service and grow their business, all under one umbrella. Nobody else has done it as well as we have.
KW: You started in 2006, and have really been one of the pioneers. What’s changed for the business and how you’ve simplified what is obviously a very simple process for SMBs now?
ER: Because we’ve been focused on that service merchant, for better or for worse, it took a little longer for them to gain the traction of recognizing the needs that retail merchants knew they needed for many years. We’re seeing a huge inflection point in the market segment happen, and we feel we’re in a really great position to take advantage of what has come into the marketplace today.
What’s changed is market demand – our product offering continues to meet that demand in ways that we know will help those merchants grow their business. We feel very fortunate that we’ve been the early pioneers in providing those services.
KW: What are SMBs asking for today that they perhaps weren’t asking for 5 years ago, or 9 years ago when you guys started?
ER: If you think about the context of the service merchant versus retail for this conversation, really early on, we realized that service businesses focused more on customers as opposed to transactions. That was how it started. What it evolved into is understanding the customers, having that transaction, and then needing to know what’s going on in their business. What we’re seeing now is the next stage of that – helping merchants connect with their customers more efficiently and effectively.
We just launched a product called BookSimple, a full end-to-end scheduling software which then integrates to our payments software, which then integrates into our reporting customer management. For professional services, customers can book online, and then can pay online or in person, and then the business can do full reporting on that and ultimately connect them back for full connectivity. So making that loop seamless for that service SMB has really been our focus.
KW: So you mentioned that it’s taken a little while for the service-based businesses to get on the bandwagon. Who were the early adopters by segment and how has the service-based business base grown for you over the years?
ER: If you think about the fitness world, they knew early on they needed to take electronic payment and have current billing or people wouldn’t come back. Fitness in that kind of world were early to adopt systems in place, and there’s been really successful companies in that. What we’ve seen is, across the board, more and more businesses are proactively looking for solutions right now.
I just read a stat that said by 2020, 75 percent of all retail transactions will be Web-based. So all of us as consumers are expecting to buy our services the same way we’re buying other products and goods. These service-based merchants are realizing that they need to provide the same tools to their customers to buy those services that they used to buy. It’s as much driven by consumers asking their providers to offer these tools as it is by providers themselves knowing ahead of time that they need better solutions.
KW: So you enable these businesses to accept a variety of payments methods. What are you looking at in terms of helping to expand the mix of payment methods that these businesses want to accept? For example, with Apple Pay and PayPal and all of the alternative payment methods that are coming into the payments landscape.
ER: We respond to our market, continually talking to our tens of thousands of customers and that’s actually not something they’re asking for at this point. They want more ways to accept – whether that’s recurrent billing, invoicing, online, face-to-face, and more – but accepting alternative forms of payment isn’t on the roadmap right now for them. It’s not on the short-term roadmap but we will shift that quickly if that becomes a priority. From their perspective, all of their customers can pay them with Visa, MasterCard, AmEx or ACH, and they’re happy to take those.
KW: So what’s important to this particular type of merchant is just getting paid efficiently.
ER: Yes, and giving their clients the ability to pay more efficiently. If Apple Pay becomes everybody’s wallet and it becomes such a seamless process that everyone wants to use, that will definitely become part of our ecosystem. But it will more be driven by what they’re asking for and that’s not part of any type of the conversations we’ve had with merchants recently.
KW: So what are SMBs thinking about these days when you have conversations with them? Are they optimistic?
ER: Anecdotally, people are excited. They are seeing the world that’s changing around them, opportunities to grow their businesses, and doing well in groups they’re serving.
Most of these SMB owners are consumers and act like consumers – they use so many apps to run their daily lives, so they’re starting to realize there has to be better ways to run their business. One recent stat said 67 percent of all small business owners will be using at least one SaaS-related service to run their business in the next year. That’s the reality.
KW: So how is PaySimple responding to that trend, that statistic you just shared?
ER: We think we’re in a position where we’ve created the brand awareness, infrastructure and product to support what these customers are looking for. If you look at the three main focuses – customer management, business processes and ultimately cash flow – those three things fit into the core of what PaySimple is doing. Those are three of the biggest focuses that organizations will be looking to buy SaaS products for. We feel fortunate that the market has evolved in the way it has a long time ago, and it’s come closer to what the core functionality is already doing.
KW: Sounds like 2015 is off to a great start. Give us a sense of what the rest of the year will look like for PaySimple?
ER: To look at the big picture, we are really growing fast right now. We’re at the inflection point of our organization and we’re expecting to continue that fast growth throughout the year. From a product standpoint, there’s BookSimple that’s in beta testing now but we’ll launch that in the next 30-60 days. Then we’re doing this entire redo of our eCommerce product, giving the full end-to-end shopping cart experience for service-based businesses. That will probably be a Q4 launch.