Integrating Your POS Systems and Getting Rid of the Headache
If you run a retail business, chances are good a substantial chunk of your revenue comes to you by way of credit or debit card transactions. About 40% of purchases are paid via some form of tender other than cash or check, and by the beginning of 2010, the Federal Reserve reported that more consumers were paying by debit card than by credit card, check, or cash. That means both lots of transactions and lots of dollars for you (or the person who handles your bookkeeping) to handle.
What complicates the picture further is that you have four major card networks (VISA, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express), and, as with most merchant processors, AMEX (and sometimes Discover, too) deposits separately from the rest of each day’s batch.
You also have to refer to three separate reporting systems (your accounting software, your banking information, and your merchant processor reports) to reconcile credit card transactions. If your POS system doesn’t talk to your accounting system, that becomes four systems, because each day’s credit card batch has to be entered on the accounting side from your POS reporting.
Just reading about this may give you a headache.
Fortunately, there’s a better way. It’s possible to integrate your retail payment system with your accounting system. Generally speaking, this can happen in one of two ways. First, by linking your accounting software with a terminal point-of-sale system that automatically pushes each day’s data back to the software, or secondly, by integrating your payment gateway directly and the accounting software.
If you happen to be in a non-retail line of business, or at least one that isn’t a garden-variety retail store or restaurant, small business accounting packages often include the ability to process credit cards from directly within the accounting system. QuickBooks is a great example. The customer payment transaction allows you to enter customer credit card information on the Receive Payments screen and automatically process the payment when you click the “Save” button, eliminating any separate steps for credit card payments. This is handy if you are in business-to-business, online, or catalog sales, where you don’t typically face the customer across a counter.
Even if you do look your customer in the eye every day, integration is still possible. You’ll need to link your POS system, your payment processing, and your accounting software to achieve it. Most POS systems these days (and a POS system can be software and hardware, or just software) include an option for integrated card processing.
Having your POS system talking to your payment processing will save you the step of matching up credit card payments tendered to the batch total from a standalone terminal. If your POS system can talk to your accounting system, you’ve just saved the trouble of transcribing all your daily sales data—and that’s more than just your credit card transactions.
It’s been said many times before, but it’s worth saying again: time is money. Reducing the labor involved in your accounting processes saves money. Even if you’re the one doing the work, your time could be better spent in building your business than in doing routine bookkeeping. Computers are great at mind-numbing data crunching, so let them do what they do best by integrating your POS, credit card processing, and accounting systems as fully as possible.