No one carries cash these days. Checks are prehistoric. Credit and debit cards are the way modern consumers prefer to buy farm goods and services. Farmers’ market vendors, roadside stand and agritourism operators that sell direct to consumers must accept credit cards to remain viable in today’s marketplace.
Processing credit cards is easier and less expensive than you think. New technology for small businesses allows farmers to process payments anywhere sales happen — at the market, on the farm or online.
1. Mobile credit card processing
Companies like Square, PayPal Here and Payline Data offer mobile credit card processing to fit farmers’ needs. Plug a mobile card reader into your smartphone or Wi-Fi enabled tablet and then swipe, insert, tap, or key-in credit card numbers. Contactless chip readers securely process EMV (Europay, Mastercard, and Visa), and NFC (Near Field Communication) like Apple Pay. Card readers cost anywhere from $0 to $149 depending on the host company and technology. The average per transaction fee is 2.7 percent per swipe, insert or tap. Key-in fees average 3.5 percent + .15 per transaction.
2. Retail point-of-sale terminal processing
Terminal systems take point-of-sale (POS) processing to the next level. These systems might be more than a roadside stand seller needs but are a good fit for farm retail stores and agritourism operations that have a stationary checkout. Retail POS terminal systems allow farmers to insert, tap, swipe or key-in credit card numbers. Terminals start at $600. Monthly processing service starts at $30. The average per transaction fee is 2.7 percent per swipe, insert or tap. Key-in fees average 3.5 percent + .15 per transaction.
3. Online credit card processing
Farmers can process credit cards on their home computer with no additional hardware or equipment. Companies like Authorize.net and PayPal offer credit card processing services for merchants. PayPal and Amazon Pay allow customers to purchase farm products from your website using the information already stored in their PayPal and Amazon accounts for a fee of 2.9 percent + .30 per transaction. Farmers can embed Buy Now buttons and hosted shopping carts into an existing farm website to transform it into an e-commerce site.
Shopify provides an online platform for farmers to build an e-commerce website from scratch. Shopify also provides tools to help farmers sell products and process credit card payments from sales on social media.
- Review each processor’s website, watch videos and demos.
- Ask about volume and speed of processing.
- Choose a company with a good reputation for security to protect both yourself and your customers.
- Check pricing for set-up, software, hardware, monthly and transaction fees.
- Ask about service limitations.
- Be realistic about your technical ability.
- Note customer service and technical support hours.
- When your agribusiness grows, will the service grow with you?