Managing your customer experience can be essential in maximising the profitability of your growing business.

Both farm shops and pick your own (PYO) businesses will need to provide a way for customers to pay for their produce, and streamlining this process can be essential in maximising customer appeal and speeding up transactions in busy periods.

Making this process easier will also increase the amount that people are likely to spend either by allowing them to spend more frequently – an extra cup of coffee while picking fruit – or increasing total spend without worrying how much cash is in their wallet. While established farm shops are more likely to have a fixed till point, new businesses without those facilities may find this a challenge. PYO businesses may also wish to move payment facilities around their site as customers are steered towards different fields that are ready for harvest, so having a movable payment system can be helpful here – especially to reduce the time between picking and payment when fruit can be eaten before it is weighed. It also means that security is easier to maintain as equipment can easily be packed up at the end of each day rather than being left in place.


Cash is No Longer King!

How customers pay for their goods is also changing - debit card transactions overtook cash in 2017, and these are forecast to represent over half of all transactions by 2024. The move away from cash has also be driven by the increase in contactless card payments, and this is likely to only continue as the maximum cap has recently been lifted to £45 – these are forecast to reach 37% of all payments by 2028. This has be driven by reduced access to normal cash machines, and this can be a particular problem for tourist-facing businesses in Wales where visitors are unlike to have reliable access to cash points in the more remote locations.

As a result of these changes, many growers are considering card payment systems for their customers to streamline sales and broaden customer access. Payment systems have rapidly accommodated mobile technology, and card payments are now easily made in market stalls, temporary “pop-up” shops and the outdoors where previously sellers were limited to cash-only transactions.


Mobile Payment Systems

While conventional card machines are still an option, mobile card readers may be a much more viable choice. These are small, palm-sized, card readers that carry out transactions through an app on a mobile phone or tablet paired via Bluetooth and cover both PIN and contactless payments. Contact between banks is then made across Wifi or mobile data networks to allow the transaction to take place. A number of low-cost mobile app-based systems are available and are quick and easy to set up. You only need to purchase the card reader without signing up for a contract or subscription with no monthly fees – you only pay a small fee with each transaction of around 1 – 2%. While this is less than general merchant card handling fees associated with more conventional sales terminals, it is without a monthly subscription so you only pay for the service when you’re using it – this is particularly helpful for PYO growers that only need to process transactions over the specific periods.

Besides offering card payments, the apps supporting the readers tend to offer a range of other benefits to help streamline your sales process from inventory management and invoicing through to stock control and accountancy, and easy-to-view analytics of your sales.

There are a range of mobile payment systems available to small businesses, and the key features of three of the main systems are given in this downloadable factsheet: An overview of mobile card payment systems