Independence Day is an important affair for the seaside city of Southport, North Carolina. Its celebrations last days and boast a long lineup of events and activities that draw in tourists and vendors from along the East Coast. Sellers need to cater to the event’s approximately 50,000 annual attendees — a crowd about 14 times the city’s 2017 population. To do so, they need mPOS solutions that make payment experiences convenient.
PYMNTS recently spoke with the owners of two participating vendors to understand what they need to enable sales at Southport’s celebrations, the technologies they use, and why transparent, predictable mPOS fees are vital.
Kris Krafts Wrestles With Surprise Fees And Weak Wi-Fi
Kris Naradzay, who crafts and sells glass wind chimes, suncatchers and similar items out of her Gainesville, Virginia-based business, Kris Krafts, treks to Southport each year for its Independence Day festivities. Although business often varies, she typically sells about $3,500 worth of wares at the event, making it critical for her to enable smooth purchases.
The two days before the Fourth of July typically require Naradzay to operate from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and her patrons are usually locals. Attendees flood the vendor stands, and sales jump on the Fourth once the parade ends, she noted, adding that it’s important for her to offer both cash and card payments if she wants to keep operations running smoothly. The right mPOS tool is key for such festivals, as some solutions may charge fees when users surpass $2,000 in transactions a month.
“I do four shows a month, and I’d go over that,” she said. “I didn’t like the surprise at the end of the month of [not knowing] how much the charge was going to be.”
Unexpected charges were a major pain point for Naradzay, who recounted receiving fees of $200-$300 without credible explanations. This encouraged her to select a device that charged a certain percentage for each transaction, without other costs or fees. Her mPOS system is relatively simple: She prefers to manually write down the items that she sells, rather than key detailed inventory information into her phone, so systems that provide transaction reporting features and can accept different payment methods are enough to suit her needs.
“I’m 67,” she said. “I don’t type as fast as my grandchildren do. I’m not going to type all that into my phone.”
Naradzay said she still runs into some mPOS challenges that can cause snags at events. The card reader she purchased does not work with her new iPhone, and without her Samsung device she is at the mercy of the on-site Wi-Fi network when she has to process payments. Connectivity tends to drop at crowded events, forcing her to write down customers’ credit card numbers by hand to process later. Such failures also require her to manually take down her customers’ phone numbers, in case she encounters an issue when running their cards.
Jupiter Pies Keeps It Simple
Cherrette Jupiter, owner and baker at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina-based dessert company Jupiter Pies, typically sells baked goods at farmers markets and festivals. This year marks her first trip to Southport. A “mediocre” day at a farmers market earns her about $1,000, but she earns up to $1,600 at busier events. Jupiter noted that many of her customers use hard currency, but she has an mPOS solution on hand to ensure she’s not leaving money on the table when customers approach without cash.
“If they aren’t walking around with cash — most tourists don’t — [and you do not have an mPOS tool] it’s money lost, a sale gone, 10 or a dozen sales just lost,” she said, adding that tourists make up the majority of her Myrtle Beach customers.
Like Naradzay, Jupiter prioritized finding a system with a straightforward fee structure. She discovered that many mPOS options included complicated, surprise charges and requested detailed information for onboarding. She did not want to handle these concerns and complexities when she was focusing on running her business.
“I need simple,” Jupiter stressed. “With running a one-woman show and having [tons of] recipes in my head, having to remember the hiccups of all the people who work for me — what they’re good at and not good at, and sometimes even their personal problems — because I’m the boss, I need [my mPOS system] to be simple.”
Owners juggle a lot to keep small businesses running, and they need payment solutions that will not add to the burden. The only surprises they want to face at Independence Day fairs are what shapes the fireworks will be — not which fees will blindside them.