A sampling of e-retailer and vendor announcements from the NRF show floor this week.
It cut the time spent reconciling transactions from two hours to 15 minutes.
When Inkjet Superstore launched its online store in 2000, president Ilan Douek says he didn’t know where to begin or what questions to ask when choosing payment processing vendors. “When we started our web site, we looked for the big names, and we at first were happy to be up and running,” Douek says.
All online merchants are faced with the task of how to convert the card data consumers enter on their web sites into money into their bank accounts. And it can be hairy. First there is the payment gateway—the software that connects an e-commerce site, mobile app or site to a payments network to process a transaction. Next, payment processors take the transaction data, feed it through the payment networks to the consumer’s bank or credit card issuer, get approval for the purchase, and carry out a series of other steps that lead to the consumer’s bank placing funds into the merchant’s bank account. Many vendors offer retailers help with the process—from gateways to send the info, to help with processing the transaction, to merchant accounts—the bank accounts retailers must maintain to accept payment cards.
Douek quickly found that keeping track of sales with the system he chose was an extremely time-consuming process. Douek had to access four separate reporting systems to reconcile transactions, including Inkjet Superstore’s back-office accounting system, its merchant account, its payment gateway and its commercial bank account.
“It was nearly impossible to reconcile across the reporting systems,” he says. For example, one system might update once a day at midnight while another might update every hour. Moreover, there was little continuity between what the systems displayed. For instance, one system showed attempted or pending transactions while another would only show completed transactions.
In 2009, the e-retailer decided it had to streamline its payment process. This time around Douek asked potential vendors: ‘How do I reconcile my transactions?’ and ‘How many interfaces will I need to log in to?’
Douek ultimately chose Merchant e-Solutions because it offered both the payment gateway and the merchant account, and a single interface for both. “Now I can see real-time online reporting that allows me to look at the transactions authorized and see them flow through to our bank account,” he says. “Our time spent on attempting reconciliation is significantly reduced. Our accounting staff used to spend two hours a day trying to reconcile transactions across a bunch of systems and now they only spend 15 minutes. The process is almost 100% automated and there is only one system to log in to.”