When most business owners hear the term “merchant services provider," they may think of a traditional credit card processing terminal; the same one that's been on countertops for years. And yet a good merchant services provider does much more than just help your business process credit cards— the right system can be an engine that fuels a company's growth.

Quality merchant services providers, “offer everything merchants need to help serve customers better, grow sales, and simplify business management," explains Paul Rasori, VP, Global Product Marketing at First Data Corporation, which teams with First Horizon Bank to serve the bank's business customers.

Today's businesses need to reach beyond the traditional merchant services providers that simply process payments and look to those that can provide a wide array of important services, from improved security against hackers and fraudulent transactions, to offering insights about clients through data analysis, to improving cash flow through improved efficiency, and even generating revenue through promotional programs.

However, even just a few years ago, the services that merchant providers offered and the technology they used were often quite limited.

The Evolution of Merchant Services

“Traditional terminals were used for one purpose," says Rasori, “to take and process payments. With Clover [First Data's platform], a merchant's POS [point-of-sale] system can be used for so much more, with a range of capabilities to manage many aspects of a business."

Clover is a platform solution that small businesses can use to transact with customers, manage operations, attract new — and retain existing — customers and, as Rasori notes, “It's all tailored to the merchant's individual type of business." Clover offers email and social media integration as well, to help business owners operate more efficiently and market more effectively, explains Rasori.

Using Clover, business owners can:

  • Process credit and debit card payments – including EMV – and checks
  • Accept other forms of payment, such as Apple Pay®, Android Pay™, and Samsung Pay
  • Issue and accept gift cards, coupons, and promotional offers
  • Protect themselves and customers from unauthorized transactions
  • Manage their product inventory to see what's selling, and what's not

In addition to these capabilities, the Clover App Market features nearly 200 apps designed to streamline and improve many business functions, including:

  • Creating and managing a customer database
  • Analyzing customer and market data
  • Tracking employee time and associated labor costs
  • Generating custom cloud-based reports
  • Processing employee payroll
  • Calculating and filing automated tax payments

Many of the apps in the Clover App Market have been customized for particular types of businesses. These include beauty salons, retail stores, restaurants, clubs, and event concessions, among others. For example, there's an app that can manage a waitlist so customers can be sent a text when their table is ready, eliminating the need for the restaurant to purchase pagers.

With a more sophisticated merchant services engine, businesses can also choose the best hardware option that meets their needs and budget.

  • For example, retailers might find the robust Clover Station the best solution for managing everything from inventory to people to customer data.
  • Food trucks and other businesses that need to take payments from their customers, wherever they may be, may find that the portable Clover Mobile or the smartphone- or tablet-enabled Clover Go gives them all the flexibility they need.
  • Clover Mini, which is the size of a tablet, and Clover Flex, an all-in-one handheld or countertop device, round out the array of product options.

And while many of these high-powered features were once available only to companies willing to invest in higher priced platforms, they are now affordable for even the smallest of businesses.

The First Data-First Horizon Bank Relationship

First Data teams with First Horizon Bank to help business banking customers transform their businesses. “First Data offers powerful tools for both online and in-store payment acceptance that work seamlessly to help the merchant manage and grow their business, regardless of how they acquire customers," says Rasori.

First Horizon Bank Merchant Services Executive, John Levesque, speaks highly of the relationship. “First Data provides First Horizon Bank bankers with information and tools they can share with merchants, as well as a dedicated team of business consultants. These consultants help merchants determine the right mix of products and solutions to meet the unique needs of their businesses now and as they grow."

Valuable Insights Are Built In

"At the core of what a good merchant provider can offer is business intelligence – beyond pure data to real insights about how their business is performing," says Rasori. "With Clover Insights, for example, the merchant is able to track many aspects of their own business and how they stack up against the local competition."

This information can help business owners:

  • Bring in new business, by analyzing customers' spending patterns in order to find more like them.
  • Improve target marketing, by categorizing customers by factors such as frequency of purchase, distance to location, or "new."
  • Monitor results, to track the impact of particular marketing efforts, to be able to replicate or adjust them as needed.
  • Understand the local economy, by being able to see where customers live and shop, to better target customers and to assess where future locations should be established.

"The best merchant providers offer powerful all-in-one solutions, such as Clover, that actually help merchants run their businesses better and more easily," says Rasori. First Horizon Bank Merchant Services is ready to put our business technology experience to work for you in finding solutions that make your life as a business owner/operator easier. Visit firsthorizon.com/Merchant to learn more.

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