PCI Compliance 101: All Your Questions Answered

Do you have the best practices in place to help you both achieve and maintain compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)?

Nodus Technologies and Dara Security are hosting a joint webinar on December 8, 2015 to discuss the basics of PCI Compliance and how Nodus can help merchants achieve compliance through secured payment applications.

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Some of the highlights of this webinar are:

  • Payment transaction trends
  • Overview of PCI and how it applies to merchants
  • Secure processing and storage of credit card data

Register for our webinar here.

Can’t make it but still want answers to your PCI questions? Give us a call at (909) 482-4701 or email sales@nodus.com.

 

 

 

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Customized Invoice Templates Breed Comfort

Customizing the display of electronic invoices with a professional layout and informational content helps customers to feel more comfortable when viewing and paying bills online.  In addition, it provides strategic opportunities for businesses to engage by including targeted promotional content to specific customers segments, and express branding in a manner that breeds comforts and builds loyalty from new users.

When paper invoices are generated they generally include a professional header, client information, payment details, services or products sold, and other details such as the date, invoice number, and additional information relevant to the invoice or company.   These invoices are printed and mailed with high quality graphics and form a tangible deliverable that is received by customers, hence, contributing to the customer experience and overall satisfaction score.

Paper invoices often also include promotional content designed to help businesses achieve a desired behavior or business goal.  For example, during the holidays, businesses may run discounts or participate in local charity drives and add one or two lines to invoices to communicate involvement with customers.  These campaigns add value and help correspond marketing objectives from a ground level, at little to no extra cost.

Traditional billing statements provide openings to convey branding using company logos, style guides, taglines, value props, website addresses and contact information.  This is an important element since invoices are generally reviewed by various decision making members of an organization, and over time, become a part of the experience when doing business with vendors and contractors.  Hence, a document meant to request payment can actually serve as a strategic tool for entities – if they choose to make the most of it.

The drawbacks of paper invoices, and the reasons many are migrating to electronic bill presentment, surrounds cost, environmental impact, and operational efficiency.  There generally is no longer a debate that electronic invoices can be produced, distributed and received at lower cost, with less detrimental effects to our planet, and greater functional benefits for organizations.

The key, however, is to maintain the same level of engagement and comfort by customizing electronic invoices to identically match paper statements, without growing days sales outstanding (DSO).   Templates should be created so electronic invoices can be automatically applied to specific situations and customer segments.  Graphical elements should be choreographed using professional layouts and familiar looks and feels.  With the right technology and execution, a customized electronic invoice can effectively replace a paper invoice, and yield a list of benefits for both businesses and customers.

NEW RELEASE: Nodus ePay Advantage 5.0.2 R2

Nodus ePay Advantage, our integrated online bill pay solution for Microsoft Dynamics ERPs, will soon be releasing a new version, ePay 5.0.2 R2, now with integration to Microsoft Dynamics AX and a list of new features including but not limited to an additional fee option, subsidiary account management, customizable terms & conditions, multi-currency acceptance, customizable invoice templates, and more.  Below is quick summary.  Please contact us to schedule a demo or request pricing:

Additional Fee

Use this new feature to automatically add on an additional amount to the transaction. Additional fee is supported for Online Bill Pay and AutoPay modules, and can be captured as a percentage of the total transaction or based on a fixed amount.  This feature can be enabled separately for credit card or ACH transactions. Include a name and description of the fee for customers.  One example use of this new feature is if you want to charge a service fee in addition to your product price.

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Terms and Conditions Agreement

Organizations can now easily set up and edit a customized Terms and Conditions Agreement to meet their business’ unique legal requirements.  Require customers to review and accept the agreement before proceeding through checkout.  Once accepted, it will be stored and tracked in a detailed log that can be used for auditing purposes.

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Subsidiary Account Management

Multi-entity organizations can now easily make a single payment across subsidiary (child) accounts.  Parent company accounts can view historical subsidiary (child) account payments or invoices in a single view.  AutoPay contracts can be created for Parent company accounts that can be used to pay for either all subsidiary (child) accounts, or a specific subset.

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Multi-currency 

Process transactions in other currencies using a separate merchant account best suited for the chosen currency.  Easily filter, sort or view transactions processed in a specific currency.  Keep processed transactions separate based on their currency type.  Use Auto-Pay to automatically make payments against invoices in alternate currencies.

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Customizable Invoice Templates

Businesses can now easily customize the display of invoices using our new HTML editor.  Match invoices to meet company branding, theme or style guide so customers easily recognize billing statements and feel comfortable paying online.  Include targeted promotional content on invoices for additional value.   Save multiple invoice templates and assign them to display according to different types of invoices.

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Self-Service for Forgotten Log-Ins

Customers who forget their ePay username or password can now automatically request their log in credentials through email without having to call in for assistance.     

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RESTful API

Developers can now use our new RESTful API to add ePay functionality to other applications

Ebb and Flow: The Cycle of Supply and Demand

Supply and demand is perhaps one of the most basic theories of economics and it is the driving force of the market economy. The principles of supply and demand apply in eCommerce just like they do for any type of business.

For eCommerce, supply is not necessarily about the number of online competitors, but the strength of the competition. Unlike brick and mortar stores, eCommerce relies heavily on website traffic to gain revenue.

Website rank on search engines is extremely important to consider for measuring up to competition! Ranking on the first page in Google when somebody searches for a product is like having your building on the most popular street in town. Secondary page ranking is like owning a building that nobody knows about. Not a whole lot of business traffic.

Why is it important to know the strength of competition? Your goal as a competitor is to find their weaknesses and become strong in them. The weaker the business, the easier it will be for your eStore to outrank them, both in quality and search engine rank.

When it comes to demand, there are two factors to consider. There are quantitative and qualitative factors to measure the success of a certain product or service in your eStore. The quantitative factor is simple: how often is your product searched per day on your webstore? In addition to looking at the raw search number, you also need to consider the quality, or the specificity of the item or service searched. How specific or targeted is the search? Did the consumer purchase or intend to purchase the item searched?

A targeted search is when a consumer looks at an item or service with the intention of purchasing the item. Generally, targeted phrases are more wordy because it narrows the search for them. Targeted phrases generally include specific product descriptions and brand names. Knowing when your customer is in “buying mode” is key for online commerce, and can help you get ahead of the competition.

Understanding Costs of Not Integrating

When selecting an ecommerce solution you will find both integrated and non-integrated software products available in the market. The initial investment of an integrated solution may appear higher and cause you to wonder just how much is the business process automation and integration with back office or ERP systems really worth? To assist with this analysis, think of the labor required for each step throughout the order cycle.

With a non-integrated solution, you will need to hire workers to enter orders that come in from your website into your accounting or ERP system. Any customer information that is captured will need to be re-entered as well. This duplicative data-entry is manual and prone to keying errors, which can result in additional cost that is not necessary, and could virtually be eliminated with an integrated, automated solution.

Once an order has been placed on your website and entered into your accounting system, a non-integrated solution will require you to hire workers to manually check inventory and see if the product is available in your warehouse. If an item is backordered, you will need to have workers manually contact the customer to inform them of the delayed shipping date, and hope this bad news does not upset the customer and cause them to cancel or delay their order.

If there is a change in a product’s price or you would like to run a promotion, you will need to have workers manually update items online in your web store as well as in your accounting database for each product or stock keeping unit (SKU). Again, these operations are duplicative, labor intensive and more prone to human-error when using a non-integrated ecommerce system, and the associated cost of each step slowly eats away at your margins. Now imagine these issues with thousands of products and / or customers. The diminishing effects on your ROI can be staggering.

After an order has been fulfilled and shipped to the customer, not having real-time automated tracking numbers and shipping notifications readily available through your web store will prohibit customers from self-managing their orders, and often result in increased call center demands for your non-integrated ecommerce business. This means you will need to hire workers to manually service customers and look up information that could be provided automatically with an integrated ecommerce solution. When you consider this in light of a successful web store, it’s clear this type of inefficient business process could weaken profits if not optimized correctly.

The issues discussed above become exponentially more treacherous the more products and customers you serve with your ecommerce storefront. Managing suppliers, large inventories of items in your warehouse and large numbers of customer records in your CRM is difficult, compared to small scale operations, and often prone to waste and error. Even more challenging is constantly keeping accurate, detailed information available for all product SKU’s and customers in your internal accounting database. Updates using non-integrated solutions will require you to hire workers to make duplicative changes to both your online web store and your ERP system each time something changes with a particular item. Over time, and with large inventories of items, this process becomes costly and further undermines profits. Contact us for a free copy of our latest white paper, Planning for Success: Nodus eStore Solution Stack, An Integrated Ecommerce Solution For Microsoft Dynamics GP.

Social Media and eCommerce

Times are changing! Gone are the days of traditional advertising. Technology is advancing and businesses must keep up to stay afloat.

Yet, many brands continue to make the same mistakes when it comes to integrating social media with e-commerce. One of the common misconceptions is that Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms do not have the ability to attract a customer base. The main reason that the average consumer uses social media is to communicate. They communicate with friends, relatives and often their favorite brands, which is a great tool to use when a business wants to understand their target market. According to Ad Week, 77 percent of social media users follow at least one brand and 67 percent prefer to buy from a  brand that they are following.

There is power in having a strong social media presence. You can also maximize your social media presence by integrating it with your ecommerce site. You can increase social sharing of your products and services by placing social network buttons strategically on product pages to encourage customers to share with their friends the products they like and purchases they make. Their reviews produce transparency which is a big deciding factor in purchasing. Ecommerce is no different from brick-and-mortar stores in that building trust is essential. Online stores do not have the same persuading factors that other stores have. Purchasing is all about trust because the customer cannot physically see or feel the product that they’re buying, so the positive reviews of peers can tip the purchasing decision in your favor.

The key to successful social media is to choose networks that are relevant to your customer base. For example, if your customer base is comprised of young adults between the ages of 20 and 35, then Twitter should be included in your social media strategy. By comparison, if your products and services are more B2B, then LinkedIn is a more relevant choice. Facebook should always be maintained, as it has the most far reaching effect out of the social media sites. As of March 2015, there are 936 million daily active Facebook users, according to Facebook’s company information page.

Social media and technology will continue to shape the way consumers are persuaded into making purchasing choices. It is important now, more than ever to utilize it to its full potential to maximize your company’s success with eCommerce.

PCI Compliance

It comes as no surprise that credit card theft is on the rise. Data theft is constantly grabbing news headlines and PCI Compliance is important now more than ever! Well, what is PCI Compliance? The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of requirements designed to ensure that ALL companies that process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment.

Small businesses are especially vulnerable to data theft because they are less likely to be up to date with PCI Compliance standards. Here are just a few ways that you can protect your small business from data theft and work towards maintaining PCI Compliance.

1. Use a strong password- Weak passwords are easily hacked and provide thieves with easy access to your point-of-sale information. Make sure that your password contains both upper and lowercase letters, as well as numbers and special characters.
2. Properly dispose of vulnerable information-Shred all paper that contains sensitive data and wipe the contents of computers before disposal to ensure that the information doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
3. Encrypt sensitive data- Using PA-DSS certified solutions like Nodus’ PayFabric solution helps prevent data theft by removing data from your company environment and putting it into a safe, cloud-based storage system. Be sure to also use a secure payment gateway when processing your customers’ payment information.
4. Make sure your systems and software are up to date-Installing updates to your operating system and software are crucial to both maintain PCI requirements and adapt to changing technology.

Knowing your company’s vulnerable areas is key to protecting your customers’ sensitive payment information. Remember, it is the merchant’s responsibility to protect their customers’ data.

For more information on PCI Compliance, visit http://www.nodus.com/pci_compliance.hmtl

Product Spotlight: Nodus eStore Solution Stack

Nodus eStore Solution Stack is a full featured e-commerce solution that automates the handling of web orders and fulfills them through Microsoft Dynamics GP.  By combining our flagship payment processing solution, Nodus Credit Card Advantage, with a state of the art web store, you will be able to effectively sell products online and seamlessly integrate transactions with your accounting system, in real-time.

Latest Features Include:

Color Swatches | Preview Products in Specific Colors

If you sell products that come in different colors, color swatches are the perfect way to provide your customers with a more realistic idea of what a specific product will look like in various colors.  By utilizing color swatches, you can provide your customers with more purchasing options during the checkout process.   This is important for e-commerce sites since your visitors may not be able to physically touch or try on products.  Once your customer selects a product, they simply scroll or click on a particular color swatch to see what that product looks like in a different color.

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Ship Collect | Allow Customers to Ship on Their Own Account

Shipping costs have a direct impact on conversions.  If customers feel like your shipping options are not favorable or too costly, they are more likely to abort shopping carts at checkout.  With Ship Collect, customers have the option to use their own shipping account for more control over inbound packages and available discounts through merchants and shipping couriers.  Customers simply select their preferred shipping provider and enter their account number.  This data will integrate to a User Defined Field in Microsoft Dynamics GP’s Sales Order Processing module.

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Permission Controls | Specify What Additional Users Can See and Do

Controlling user access is a key component for e-commerce users who allow different people to access their web store account.  With Permission Controls customers can limit the functionality made available for additional users on their account.  Permissions options include the ability to either view or make changes to several components such as Order History, Payment Wallet, Address Records, and more.

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Tips for Streamlining Accounts Receivable

In business, cash is king. Various factors influence an organization’s ability to collect revenue, however proper cash flow management is essential to supporting and advancing business objectives. It is understood that getting a customer to purchase your product or service is only part of what most consider a successful transaction. Getting them to pay in a timely manner, and feel satisfied, changes everything. So what can you do to facilitate timely payments and enhance customer satisfaction? Consider the following suggestions:

  1. Take advantage of available technology. Paper bills are a dying breed. Not only are they more costly, less efficient and worse for the environment, but they often get lost, take longer to process, and don’t provide much convenience for businesses or customers.

In lieu of paper bills, consider offering customers the ability to view and pay their bills online. This technique is less costly, more efficient and eco-friendly. It allows for your customers to receive billing statements immediately, and with tracking options, you can actually verify a successful receipt – down to the exact day and time. Once customers receive an electronic bill, they can log on to your website or payment link and self-enter their payment details – which reduces the errors and risk often associated with manual data entry. In fact, with the right technology you can ensure no sensitive data ever hits your servers – which greatly reduces your liability and simplifies your scope of PCI compliance. Plus, with popular features like “Auto-Pay,” your customers can schedule timely payment submissions, and essentially forget about them. Reconciliation becomes easier and less labor intensive since electronic records can be drawn and filtered daily. In sum, online bill payment promotes better cash management, lower administrative overhead, reduced postage and printing, and fewer number of delinquent accounts.

  1. Use a CRM that can accept payments. In addition to offering online bill presentment, recording all interactions with customers is a must. When an account is past due, and a payment has not been received in a reasonable period, you should contact your customer to discuss payment using a CRM that can accept payments. While this is often done by mail or email, a phone call will engage your customer the most and allow them to specify details of their situation, and possibly, even make a payment right over the phone.

Regardless of which approach you take, you should be sure to log the details of each contact so you or other departments can make informed decisions in the future. Keep notes on when follow-up communications were sent and record your customers’ responses to these follow-ups. This will allow you or your employees to schedule subsequent follow-ups more effectively, and use prior information supplied by your customer to judge an appropriate course of action. For example, if the customer was not satisfied and is planning on returning a product or if a customer promised to pay a late invoice in 3 weeks and 5 weeks have passed – you or your team can reference their prior comments in any follow-up discussions, and subsequent resolution process. With the right technology, your customer service representatives or accounts receivable department can take payment from a customer over the phone without leaving the CRM environment. Those payments can be drawn from a customer’s e-wallet on file, automatically integrated with back office systems, and processed immediately in real-time, or later, in a delayed batch. This makes it easier and more efficient to receive payments, while logging or reviewing notes of a customer’s situation. It also will make your customer feel more satisfied when dealing with a representative that has detailed knowledge of prior interactions, and who can expedite payment processing in a fast, efficient manner. For additional assistance with streamlining accounts receivable or electronic payment processing please contact Nodus Technologies or sign up for our free webinar. Call 909 – 482-4701 or email sales@nodus.com

Processing Payments Inside of CRM

A CRM system is important to companies because it integrates every business area that touches the customer and centralizes information for more informed decision making. This includes sales, customer service, order processing, support, and other areas your customer may not see, such as accounting and back-office systems.

Now, your business can maximize the benefits of your CRM system with Nodus Technologies’ CRM Charge

CRM Charge is an electronic payment processing solution that is integrated with Microsoft CRM.

You can process credit cards and ACH transactions and have them verified in real time without ever having to leave the CRM environment. This well-rounded solution is fast, secure, and will keep your payment processes running smooth.

Some of the many CRM Charge features include:

  • Support for both on-premise and online versions of CRM
  • Ability to process payments against virtually any entity, including orders, invoices, and opportunities
  • Connection with multiple gateways and processors
  • Integration with Nodus’ cloud-based payment engine called PayFabric, which provides the safest approach to processing ePayments by not having to locally store the sensitive information
  • Synchronization of payments back into Dynamics GP to provide seamless integration between CRM and your accounting system.

Companies can benefit greatly from processing payments inside of CRM. First, it shortens the order processing cycle which increases customer satisfaction. It also allows companies to process transactions without having employees inside of their accounting system, which provides greater security and less risk. In addition, it provides a user-friendly interface to process payments that both technical and non- technical people can understand.

To show how simple it is to process a payment using CRM Charge, we have provided screenshots of the steps below:

  1. Create an Order.

CRM Charge order 2013

2. Click on “Create ePayment.”

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3. Select a credit card from the customer’s wallet or enter a new credit card. Then click “Process ePayment” to process the transaction.

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The transaction is sent to the payment gateway for processing. If it gets approved, an approval message will appear. If it gets decline, a declined message will appear and you will be able to choose a different form of payment.

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  1. Once you receive the approval, you can view the epayments made against the order.

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To learn more about CRM Charge, download our brochure or schedule a demo today! We can be reached by phone at 909-482-4701 or via email at: sales@nodus.com.