Sometimes, the best way to solve a problem is to go straight to the source to fix it.
That was PayPal’s approach as it readied its release of a range of new capabilities and features to help small business owners do what they do best — run their businesses.
By leveraging the communication channels established with its nearly 15 million merchants, PayPal relied on their feedback and comments to build out the services and tweak the products that merchants said they needed most.
In anticipation of an announcement about the new offerings being brought to the SMB table, Amit Mathradas, GM of SMB for PayPal, sat down with Karen Webster to share some of the biggest frictions facing merchants today and how these new capabilities will help accelerate the way they do business.
For many businesses, reporting remains one of the most tedious yet critical parts of doing business. Businesses need to know their numbers and understand how they are truly performing, but being given a massive dump of data can make it more difficult to gain insights and make meaningful connections about what’s really going on in the back office.
Mathradas said merchants told PayPal they needed help not only pulling out the data but boiling down that data into actionable chunks so that they could better operate their business.
In response, PayPal made some changes to its recently launched reporting product, including the ability for merchants to access up to three years’ worth of data and pull out specific pieces of information that can be converted to various file formats. PayPal also works with Intuit to ensure that those exported files of data can be uploaded immediately into a business’ accounting system.
“It’s more than just a data dump,” Mathradas noted.
Though this same information was available to merchants previously, Mathradas explained that the biggest change is that merchants can now have a deeper understanding of certain pieces of the data to glean insights around different categories, sources of revenue, chargebacks, expenses, etc.
The data is also organized in a certain way that helps merchants to run their businesses leveraging the information that’s most important or relevant to them, he added.
All merchants want to get paid, but getting from Point A of invoicing customers to Point B of actually receiving payment can be a long, drawn-out journey.
Mathradas said that much of the feedback PayPal received from its merchants when it comes to invoicing is that it’s about being paid but also about being paid faster.
Merchants are also looking to take advantage of the growing role that mobile is playing.
The shift of everyone going to mobile and expecting to be able to do business on-the-go also means that more invoices are also being opened and paid on mobile devices as well.
As part of the new capabilities PayPal is bringing to the market, invoices that are sent out from a merchant to their end users will be 100 percent mobile-friendly.
This means no more magnifying invoices or images of invoices on a mobile device to see the details — Mathradas said it will all be optimized for mobile.
Not only that, but PayPal’s checkout tool, One Touch, will also be brought into the invoicing fold, enabling consumers to use the feature to quickly and easily pay the invoices sent to them by merchants.
“We know that, traditionally, One Touch has an 87 percent conversion rate, but imagine adding that to an invoice and getting paid a lot faster and quicker,” Mathradas noted.
Within the invoicing category, introducing One Touch can help to make payment to the merchant faster, while also providing end users with the benefits of single sign-on and security to actually pay the merchants, which brings advantages to both sides of the payment.
“What I think will happen with this is that merchants will actually start sending a lot more invoices because it is so much easier now for people to actually pay them with the One Touch capability,” he added.
Better invoicing also presents merchants with an opportunity for better engagement with their customers.
What PayPal is out to prove is that invoicing doesn’t have to be this painful, onerous process it has come to be associated with. As invoicing becomes more streamlined and efficient, merchants will have the chance to offer more to customers than just a description of services rendered.
This could come in the form of helpful tips or information related to their purchases or even being able to put more contextual messaging or marketing in place.
“I think contextual plays as a next step into where invoicing potentially could go,” Mathradas explained, adding that this type of offering could potentially help to take the pain out of receiving a bill or paying for the service by offering meaningful information that could help an end user run their business or life better.”
- Mobile App
Invoicing will also be added to the PayPal Business mobile app, allowing merchants to fire off an invoice directly from the app.
But merchants don’t just want access to business information on mobile solely because they are always on the go; the feedback PayPal received points to a greater need for a tool that allows SMB owners to run their businesses from their mobile devices.
Through PayPal’s business app, Mathradas explained that merchants can accomplish tasks such as invoicing, payments, managing refunds, withdrawals, as well as do things like sending a payment reminder and managing a customer list.
“What we’d love for [the app] to be, and what merchants are using it for, is a business tool more than just a payment mechanism,” he added.
The app also features a money transfer piece that streamlines receiving or sending money into one selection. The actions of adding money to a PayPal account or withdrawing money from a PayPal account have now been combined into one function in a single flow, which Mathradas said makes it a lot more convenient for people to put in and take out money from their business account.
“All these new features are being collectively launched to help improve a merchant’s cash-flow by helping them get them paid faster,” he added.