Guide to Credit Card Processing for Retail

retail credit card processing

Why is running a retail business such a painful affair sometimes? For starters, retail businesses can be inherently stressful due to fast-changing environments and too many “moving parts” that the owner has to handle.


Then, on top of that are the issues related to retail credit card processing which make other pain points seem to grow. That is precisely why we put together this easy-to-digest guide for retail business owners.


Dig in because we’re going to highlight one of the biggest mistakes a retailer can make when it comes to accepting credit cards. We’ll also give you key details on the following:

  • Credit card machines for retail
  • Unengaged retail staff 
  • Retail payment processing solutions
  • Contactless payments in retail
  • Financial constraints in retail 


Huge Mistake With Retail Credit Card Processing

So many retailers have learned hard lessons about data and payment security
because they were given bad information about compliance. The sad truth is that
basic compliance is often insufficient to protect your retail business data, customers’ privacy, and payment details. 


National Processing always suggests taking the extra steps available to enhance security in all your systems. Your credit card processing provider should guide you on setting up those extra steps. Beefed-up layers of security help protect your business from risks that include:


  • Stolen credit card use
  • Excess returns via “friendly fraud”
  • Fraudulent purchases
  • Hacking 
  • Viruses and ransomware


Did you know that even outdated payment terminals are risky for retail credit card processing? Older technology leaves openings for criminals who actively seek out systems that are not updated with the latest security measures.


Modern payment terminals reduce your risk (as seen here).


Still, credit card terminals mean more than security.


Retail Credit Card Processing Machines

Your payment devices matter to your customers, even though that seems kind of strange, right? After all, you would imagine customers only care about the great products in your retail store.


The thing is… customer experience matters as much as products on the shelves!


Checking out is part of that experience. Make extra effort to ensure customers can pay quickly and easily so they will be back to shop with you again!


We can’t stress how critical it is that there are no hiccups at checkout. One reason is that if a payment doesn’t go through, it can cause the customer to be embarrassed. It could seem as though their credit card got declined when actually it was an equipment glitch.


An embarrassed, irritated customer is likely to shop elsewhere on their next outing. So you could lose that sale in the moment and untold future sales from the customer (and all their friends they tell about the ordeal). 


Speaking of ordeals…


Staffing And Retail Payment Processing Solutions

You already know the struggles of finding ideal employees for a retail business. The labor market is always tight in this industry and even tougher these days.


However, it’s vital to have awesome staff members because this elevates customer experience.

People you hire and train have the opportunity to make a positive impact on sales.


Great workers who care about customers can drive repeat business and referrals, both are essential to scaling a retail business.


Team members should be fully trained on all of your business’s payment processing solutions. Again, checking out is a key element of the shopping experience. Furthermore, employees who understand how retail credit card processing connects to other business systems can lighten the owner’s workload. 


For example, train staff to:

  • Run sales reports
  • Diagnose terminal problems
  • Securely transfer data from payment platform to other software (if they are authorized)
  • Utilize all the robust features of your point-of-sale system
retail credit card processing

You may be pleasantly surprised how well some workers respond to being given more responsibility. 


An engaged employee is one of the greatest assets a retail store can have.

Not sure about that? See this McKinsey employee report.


It highlights how damaging a disengaged employee can be (described as a “disruptor”). Don’t despair though. The report notes 38% of employees are “reliable and committed.” 4% are “thriving stars.”


Imagine lifting that 4% by getting more buy-in from those 38% of reliable workers.


Now for a look at why scaling your retail business is a must.


Retail Credit Card Processing Affects Financials

Another pain point that stings small and medium businesses? Financial issues.


Retail credit card processing can add to that financial stress. Especially if your payment provider is using sneaky tactics with their fees. 


You may be paying more than what you were led to believe when you signed their contract.


Hidden fees are a huge problem in the credit card processing industry, negatively affecting business owners already facing financial challenges. 


We’ve helped hundreds of retail businesses over the years save money on fees. Many owners tell us they didn’t even realize their previous provider was overcharging them because their processing statements were too complex!


We recommend reviewing your contract to see if you can get a fee reduction. If not, it is often best to find a new provider when your contract ends. In some cases, you may be able to get out of an agreement without a cancellation fee if you can prove the provider has not kept up its end of the bargain.


There are many creative ways to save on processing fees, as this article shows.


Yet, scaling your business can ease financial worries too. 

Be sure you take advantage of business growth tools inside your retail credit card processing platform to:

  • Optimize supply chains and vendor communications
  • Expand sales channels 
  • Tweak product offerings based on sales data (popular vs. unpopular products)
  • Automate customer data collection 
  • Pivot operations based on detailed transaction reports 
  • Increase marketing ROI by using customer habits and preferences


Before we head into our FAQ section, let’s look at one more key topic.


Modern Strategies Connected To Retail Credit Card Processing

The retail world is changing fast, and the only way a business can keep up is to maximize technology tools built to manage these changes.


Don’t underestimate your credit card processing platform’s ability to help you navigate change. 


Five years ago, QR codes and digital wallets were hardly talked about at all. Now? It is wise to offer these fresher payment methods along with many more so your customers get the payment experience they desire. 


Another strategy beyond offering more ways to pay comes into play with marketing your business. Most shoppers now use their phone to research products while in a physical store! Make it easy for them by perhaps putting QR codes next to some of your products. Link the QR codes to videos highlighting the best features of those products.


This strategy can work especially well for higher-priced items. A quick bit of content might be the nudge needed to get the sale. Not to mention, the more info you provide on a complicated product, the less likely a buyer is to return it.


So take advantage of all the features in your Credit Card POS System

These powerful features can assist you in implementing the above strategies for increasing sales. For example, look for the most returned item or price range of returned items. That provides intel you need to take steps to better inform shoppers, which reduces returns and chargebacks.


As for chargebacks? If you’re using above-baseline security measures from a solid payment provider, that is a great first step. Next, your staff should be able to answer any questions about products and return policies. That ensures customers are comfortable making the purchase and sees that your business cares about its clientele.


For online sales, provide clear details on all product pages and shipping policies. This sets proper expectations and reduces returns. Also, test your online checkout process. Be certain everything flows smoothly on that last crucial step to every sale.


Ok, you now have proven ways to guide you on every aspect of credit card processing for your retail business. 


The Biggest Takeaways From This Guide?

#1 Payment processing compliance is not enough. Add extra security layers to protect your business.

#2 Processing fees should not hinder your business success. Make efforts to reduce fees and overcome fees by adding revenue.

National Processing will save you more money on payment fees than any other processor. Sign up here to save big from day one.


What if we fail to give you the best rates? You get $500. That’s our Guarantee. There is no risk. You save, or we pay.



What are key features to look for in a credit card processing solution for my retail business?

Contactless payments in retail environments for secure, speedy, and lower-cost transactions. EMV chip technology and reliable uptime are key too. 


Three ways to save money on retail credit card processing? 

1) Compare prices from various providers. 2) Avoid paying for POS features you don’t need. 3) Consider providers that offer interchange-plus pricing.


How have payment technologies evolved in the retail industry over the past few years? 

Customers expect fast, contactless payments in-person, and options to pay with their mobile devices. QR codes and the ability to accept payments directly on newer smartphones without a POS or handheld terminal have created easier paths to starting a business and testing add-on branches of an existing business (i.e., a cafe testing a food truck at farmers markets).

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Shane McLendon

Job Title, Author

Customer focused

If we can't beat your current rates, we'll give you $500!*

We happily accept merchants processing any amount. Price guarantee for merchants processing $10,000 or more per month. Free terminals and other promotions depend on processing volume, credit and qualifications.

Customer focused

If we can't beat your current rates, we'll give you $500!*

We happily accept merchants processing any amount. Price guarantee for merchants processing $10,000 or more per month. Free terminals and other promotions depend on processing volume, credit and qualifications.