Payments Innovation

SMB Payments Technology Check List In Six Easy S’s


It’s not as though SMBs don’t want to – or even need to be convinced that they should — embrace new payments technology. But the operative word in “small business” is “small.” And the day-to-day realities of running their businesses — combined with the sheer number of options presented to them as well-suited to their needs – grinds those wheels of progress to a halt.

“I think the dilemma that SMBs face is complexity – people being a little scared to throw 0ut what they know for what they don’t really know,” says Chris Wuhrer, SVP of Product at Sage Payment Solutions. “They need to be convinced that there’s a real cost/benefit to the switch – and that’s the internal struggle we find ourselves in the middle of a lot of the time when talking to SMBs.”

That, says Wurher, screams out for a simple framework to help SMBs simplify their decision-making – one that, he says – has to strike “payments-speak” from the conversation and removes the FOBTHTS – fear of being too hard to switch – from the narrative.

That’s the origin of Sage’s SMB checklist – the Six S’s SMBs should consider before integrating new technology into their business:

  • Scalability: Does it allow business to grow?
  • Solution: What problem are they trying to solve?
  • Security: Are their data, customers and business going to be safe?
  • Simplicity: Does it create POS functionality, etc.?
  • Service: Does it create a better environment for their customers?
  • Sales: Does it drive more business?

Sage Payments CEO Paul Bridgewater provides his perspective on why these six “need to know” items for SMBs are critically important.

Scalability: Helping SMBs grow

“When you look at startups and small businesses they don’t necessarily think about scalability upfront. It’s not at the forefront of their mind. But it should be on the forefront of technology providers’ minds so that they don’t end up encumbering a SMB from growing their business at a pace that can sometimes be quite alarming,” Bridgewater explained.

What that also means is ensuring that SMBs are focused on the entire business and its journey to scale instead of just a set of products.

“We think that it is unrealistic for one product that enables a company to go from zero to 100 all within that single product,” Bridgewater emphasized.

This also applied to the solution providers who create solutions for SMBs. In turn, this means that SMBs need to be cognizant of the solutions they integrate with to ensure they offer scalable features.

“Solutions providers need to be thinking about how they can easily migrate customers along a predetermined product journey in a way that does not impair or impact the growth of their business, but instead opens up the aperture of that business to grow in a very straightforward and accelerated fashion,” he added.

Solution: What SMBS need to consider 

In this area, Bridgewater says, many businesses make one fatal mistake: designing or selecting a solution based on a specific technology that doesn’t fit the needs of their own business. SMBs need to be cognizant of the solutions they integrate to ensure they offer the solutions they need most.

One problem that exists, however, is that technology providers don’t always put themselves in the shoes of the SMBs when the solutions are created.

“If you’re not sitting where the target market lives then you might be guilty of creating a technology solution based upon the lens that you look through vs. the lens that the business owner looks through. If you’re not garnering the voice of the customer, if you’re not in the market – living, breathing and understanding what the needs are – you are for sure, unless you are lucky, going to get it wrong,” he explained.

More importantly, he noted: “It might look good from a tech perspective, but if it’s not a solution, it’s an impairment.”

Security: The Fear Factor

Fear is a debilitating plague that holds many SMBs back from evolving and adapting to the current needs of customers. They know they need to protect and grow their base of customers, but getting the right tech to do so can be overwhelming.

For obvious reasons, many SMBs fear that their company will be victim to a breach, a data issue or a security issue.

“Not only do businesses worry about the impact to their customers, but also the ability to ruin their brand within hours and days,”Bridgewater said. “And that brand may have been built by three generations of family. Security issues may put them out of business or hurt their business significantly.”

Simplicity: Tying It All Together

This “S” is particularly important because it relates to the previous three points. It’s the chicken-and-egg dilemma for SMBs: You can’t have one without the others.

“The importance of simplicity also ties directly into scalability, solution and security. You get the solution right by putting yourself in the seat of the end-point user. Simplicity has got to come with scalability because that scalability is what helps the customer grow,” Bridgewater said.

Bridgewater goes on to say that it also needs to be simple, but simple in a way that has security as a core proposition. Simplicity, according to Bridgewater, comes not just with the integration of functionality and product solution, but more with the thought process around how those different features and functions are embedded into the user experience intuitively. Bridgewater emphasizes that an intuitive approach has to be in the design from Day 1.

Service: Thinking Customer First

An obvious one to some, but, Bridgewater says, overlooked by many. Regardless of how advanced technology gets, it’s all about providing service to customers — particularly in how SMBs think and use technology in their interactions with customers from start to finish.

“When you’re thinking about how you service your customer, the word flexibility comes to mind. It’s important to understand that you’ve got to change, even if it’s uncomfortable for you, it could be more comfortable for the end customer,” Bridgewater said.

Sales: Knowledge + Data

Generating sales isn’t just about selling and marketing a product, Bridgewater says, it’s about having the tools in place to make the sale of that service or product seamless to the right audience at the right time for the SMB.

“Sales are made up of two things: knowledge and data that helps you steer you in the right direction, and point your arrows at the right targets. That intelligence only comes from data and knowledge,” Bridgewater said. “Embracing data helps an SMB understand where they can be successful in sales. Then it still comes back to personality and engagement. If you can’t engage in a personal way with your target audience, no matter how good your product is, and no matter how much you know about the end point target, you’re not going to be successful,” Bridgewater said.

Which, he says, is about finding a mix between new and old.

“Embrace the new, which gives you the intelligence and the information to be more successful and more targeted,” he says. “But don’t forget the old, which is quite often sitting in front of someone telling stories, engaging face to face, and getting a deal done over lunch or over coffee. It’s that mix of new world and old world sales.”

Tying those pieces together, Bridgewater said it’s important to be customer-centric and enable your customers to succeed by ensuring a company is built to support the Six S’s mentioned above.


Featured PYMNTS Study: 

With eyes on lowering costs to improving cash flow, 85 percent of U.S. firms plan to make real-time payments integral to their operations within three years. However, some firms still feel technical barriers stand in the way. In the January 2020 Making Real-Time Payments A Reality Study, PYMNTS surveyed more than 500 financial executives to examine what it will take to channel RTP interest into real-world adoption. Here’s what we learned.

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