Going Cash Free? It’s Not Just for Consumers Anymore…

Yesterday I went to a soft opening for a new artisan bakery, Hewn Bread, in our suburban Chicago community of Evanston.  (Full disclosure: We knew of the soft opening precisely because we know the owners, but I’m a fiend for fresh-baked bread regardless, so I probably would have discovered it by smell alone if I hadn’t already known about it.)

Besides the expected shelves full of fine goods and the nostalgic “throwback” mental association I get from the growth of new businesses using good old-fashioned quality and simple, traditional methods, I was a little surprised to find myself paying for my rustic French Wheat Loaf with a debit card on the bakery’s iPad-style PDA.  I’d gotten used to seeing this at farmer’s markets and other parts of the “smaller” economy, but it was certainly new to witness such technology at a traditional retailer.

Part of the surprise was my own choice to use a debit card for a such a small purchase, which I generally disfavor as a consumer, because it’s typically unnecessary when I’ve got cash.  The other part of my surprise is really less unexpected the more I realize that modern business has changed.  I’m normally sensitive to the fact that the added costs of debit and credit transactions for the merchant are ultimately passed along to us consumers, and I always hear gripes on that subject from small business owners.  However, the social media interaction between this new business and its prospective customers seems well-served by this innovative technology.

At checkout I was given the option of having a printed or emailed receipt.  While I declined both options to avoid adding to the vaults full of paper and electronic receipts that drive my wife crazy, I suddenly got why cash-free or “cash-less” has become just as attractive for some businesses as it is for many consumers.  Small Business Matters recently posted an article on PayPal’s newest entry into the point-of-sale (POS) market that reflects this growing trend.  -Paul for SMBMatters  BTW, the bread was great!  What else would you expect to hear from a bread junkie?

PayPal encourages small retailers to ‘lose your cash register’

Summary: The mobile and digital payment company is running a competitive trade-in under which it will help retailers get outfitted with an iPad solution in exchange for old cash registers.

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PayPal has launched a competitive trade-in-program designed to get more small retailers to use iPad point-of-sale (POS) solutions that happen to use its payment processing services.

Under the Cash for Registers initiative, companies will receive free PayPal payment processing services for the remainder of the year when they turn in their old cash registers and start using an iPad-based payment solutions, such as PayPal Here. The offer doesn’t just apply to the transaction fees for PayPal services, it covers them for credit-card, debit-card and check processing, according to the company’s information about the program.

PayPal Here encompasses an iPad, card reader, iPad stand, cash drawer and printer. There are a number of pre-integrated solutions that PayPal has organized to help with the transformation.

Some of the companies that PayPal is working with include Erply, a POS and inventory management software developer; Leapset, which integrates POS information with a company’s customer relationship management systems; Leaf, which develops customer loyalty  and business intelligence solutions; NCR | Silver, which provides POS hardware;  ShopKeep POS, which sells an iPad POS system; and Vend, a POS and inventory management software application developer.

The program officially kicks off in June, according to a blog post written by David Marcus, president of PayPal.

“In addition to this great offer, we will make participating businesses known to our 55+ million U.S. (128 million worldwide) and growing customer base, and drive meaningful incremental business to them, stimulating the vibrant small-business community in America,” Marcus writes.

The rise of the tablet computer has signaled a turning point for small-business POS solutions, a trend that began accelerating in 2012 and is continuing to gain momentum.

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Reblogged from ZDNET.

By Heather Clancy for Small Business Matters

SMB Cash Flow Management – More Than Just In & Out

It takes conscientious effort and careful planning to properly manage cash under any economic conditions, but cash flow management becomes particularly critcal in a down economy like the one we’ve been experiencing over the past 5 to 6 years.  Cash is the lifeline of your business.

History is littered with promising companies that never reach their potential (or go under) due to improper cash flow or fiduciary management.  As they say in professional sports, “offense sells tickets – defense wins championships.”

For enterprises of all sizes, figures and reports from good revenue numbers and income statements may earn oohs and aahs, but it’s cash which ensures that the company continues as a going concern for another year.  Like anything else in finance and accounting, you have to take some initiative and get little creative for optimal results.  Read how one small business owner made strategic and tactical changes when his cash flow situation became less than desirable in Entrepreneur magazine.

We utilize a few rules of thumb at PARR when it comes to effective cash flow management.

  • Understand your business cycle – historical ebbs and flows and why they occur
  • Plan and forecast both accrual and cash P&L – short and long-term
  • Have a clear view of cash in and cash out – a master planning document or spreadsheet is often helpful to get a bird’s eye view
    • Cash in – by customer.  Understand their contractual obligations, as well as historical behavior
    • Cash out – by vendor.   Understand your contractual obligations
    • Reconcile. Note the variances against the plan; adjust the overall plan for the remainder of the year as appropriate
    • Ensure proper credit facilities are in place in case of misstep
    • Communicate, communicate and communicate – applies to upper management as well as line managers

Cash flow management is an exercise in risk management.  It is necessary because businesses must stretch and leverage their assets for greater return.  When done properly, cash flow management should be in complete synch with invoices that go out and bills that come in.  Your CFO or finance manager becomes a conductor in an orchestra that makes beautiful music.

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