This past weekend was Thurmont, Maryland’s 48th Annual Catoctin Colorfest. What’s Colorfest you may be wondering? It’s one weekend in October where hundreds of crafters (generally from all over the East Coast) come to display and sell their creations. It’s something the entire town looks forward to and gets involved in. When the weather is nice (much like it was this past weekend) the streets are filled with people and there are long lines to purchase just about anything.
I’ve lived in Thurmont for the last 23 years. I’ve probably attended Colorfest 18 out of those 23 years, so I’ve seen how it’s changed over the years. A lot of the same vendors still come year after year, new food venders have been popping up, and some of the crafts now represent culturally where we are – ie. the “Behave or I’ll post this on Facebook,” hand painted sign that I saw. I remember for the longest time the majority of vendors only took cash and checks. Then one year more and more vendors started accepting credit cards, but used imprinters and sales slips. Up until last year, this was the main way I can recall vendors accepting credit cards. Well, that and credit card machines. Both could be slow and tedious and with the rate fees that vendors would get slapped with – often times not even worth the effort. Obviously in 2010, this frustrated a lot of shoppers. Speaking from personal experience only, the odds of me having more than $20 in cash on me at any given moment, is slim to none. It’s just so much easier to use my debit or credit card, not to mention faster and I don’t hold up the people behind me trying to dig for exact change while juggling all of the things I purchased before stopping at a particular vendor.
Technology is constantly evolving and changing, and it’s dramatically changed over the last year. This year, not one of the vendors that I stopped at were using imprinters and sales slips. Every vender now accepted credit cards, because their smart phones allowed them to. Every vendor that I purchased something at (10+) used their iPhone, Blackberry or Android with some type of credit card app and attachable widget to process the transaction. It was quick, easy, and I didn’t have a single receipt to carry around – everything was emailed or texted directly to me. Now that’s not to say every single vendor in all of Thurmont was using their smart phones. I’m sure there were many that were using credit card machines designed especially for small businesses, and some that still insisted on cash and check only. By the way, I didn’t come across one food vendor that accepted anything but cash.
I am in no position to sit here and review credit card apps, and tell you which is the best – but what I can do is urge you to check out the following apps and decide which is best for you and your small business. Take into consideration the smart phone you use, the rates charge, if a widget is necessary and overall which app seems to be the quickest and easiest to use in regards to YOU and YOUR small business.
Square – Available for iPhone, Android
Roam Data – Available for iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry
Mobile Merchant Pro – Available for iPhone, iPod, Blackberry and Android
Intuit. GoPayment – Available for iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry
iPay POS – Available for iPhone and iPad
Innerfence – Available for iPhone and iPad
Merchant Warehouse – Available for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows
ChargeBerry – Available for Blackberry
Paynet Systems – Available for iPhone, Android, Windows and Blackberry
Again, I want to stress that I cannot advocate or suggest one application over another. The choice comes down to what works best for you and your small business. Just like I can’t tell you which business card design or logo is best for you (I don’t know your business and what you stand for!), I can’t tell you which application will suit the needs of your business. Take time to evaluate and research all of the applications above and make an educated decision.
Let us know which you went with or currently use and what you like or dislike about it!