ARE you one of the staggering three million small businesses in the UK that are still cash only?

Although nearly half of Brits (47 per cent) would prefer to make payments by card, many small business owners continue relying on cash, as taking card payments has typically been expensive and complicated in the past.

In order to remain competitive, businesses need to find a way to keep pace with customer demand, and the way they want to pay for goods and services.

It’s no secret that the British high street is a tough place at the moment, and this can only get worse for businesses who only accept cash payments as high street banks close, cash machines disappear and the number of people carrying cash declines.

Recent research has revealed that the true cost to small business owners of dealing with cash is more than seven million business hours a week in labour, and a staggering £39m which is lost each year in loose change as consumers admit to pocketing the wrong change.*

In order to support small businesses and encourage people to shop on their local high street, payments company Square has created Digital Bishop Auckland, Shildon and Spennymoor, an initiative that will set up businesses with card machines so customers can support local shops and enjoy the convenience of paying by card.

The initiative is being spearheaded by MP Helen Goodman.

“This initiative offers a much-needed boost to businesses in Bishop, Shildon and Spennymoor,” she says. “With banks vanishing from our high streets and fewer shoppers carrying cash, it’s important that our local businesses are equipped and supported to accept a wider range of payment types.”

Whether you have a traditional brick-and-mortar shop or a mobile business, you can use Square Reader to take chip and PIN cards, contactless cards, and mobile payments like Apple Pay and Android Pay, anywhere you’re doing business.

* Square commissioned a nationally representative survey of 1,000 small business owners in the UK, which was conducted by Censuswide in September 2018.

The Northern Echo: Helen GoodmanHelen Goodman

Whatever your business, you can sign up free** – with no contracts or catches – and you’ll receive a free card reader worth £39+VAT and a dock worth £19+VAT, plus get free processing credit for your first £1,000 of transactions.

Square enables millions of small and medium-sized businesses to take credit and debit card payments without monthly fees or long-term commitments, and by accepting all forms of payment, you will increase the number of people you can do business with.

Here are just a few ways Square can help transform the way you work:

• Get paid fast – usually the next business day

• No monthly fees to pay or minimum use

• Free account set up which only takes five minutes

• Accept Visa, Mastercard and American Express

• Accept contactless, chip & PIN, Android Pay and Apple Pay

• Pay just 1.75 per cent per transaction for payments made in person

• Pay just 2.5 per cent for telephone orders, online payments and electronic invoices

• Use your existing device. Square is compatible with multiple iOS and Android phones and tablets, including iPhone 6 and 7

• Track your sales and inventory through the free Point of Sale app

** Limited time offer valid only for new Square customers and is not transferable. Waived processing fees are reimbursed to your account on each deposit. Open to businesses or individuals with a DL2, DL4, DL11, DL12, DL13, DL14 or DL16 postcode. One per customer. After waived fees expire, Square charges 1.75% for all swiped transactions including Visa, MasterCard and American Express and 2.5% for manually entered transactions.

For more details and to claim a free reader, visit www.squareup.com/go/bishopshildonspennymoor

The Northern Echo:

Business is booming

Meet Samantha Townsend, Shildon town councillor, owner of Geeky Baby and one of five founding directors of Parenting North East.

In 2013, Samantha had her first child, but as a new mother, struggled to find a baby carrier or sling on the high street that was comfortable for her and her newborn. Frustrated, Samantha started to look online for different options, and it soon became clear to her that the one-size-fits-all approach didn’t work for the different body types and lifestyles of new parents.

Realising the opportunity this could present, Samantha began sourcing new and second-hand carriers and slings from a growing online community, major retailers and manufacturers, which she could rent out to parents in her local community.

By the end of 2013, Samantha’s ‘sling library’ was growing steadily and parents across the region would meet her in coffee shops and community centres to hire a sling or baby carrier from her collection for a month or two before bringing it back, hiring another or being signposted towards the best places to buy their own.

Two years later, Samantha teamed up with five other like-minded parents who were providing similar services, and Parenting North East was born. Today it offers more than 500 slings and baby carriers to borrow or buy and has expanded to sell a range of other baby accessories as well as offer one-to-one consultations and training services.

Not content to rest on her laurels, Samantha then set up Geeky Baby, home for a baby carrier and changing bag she had designed. She soon realised both her businesses needed a payments solution that would work remotely, but was also cost-effective, fast and hassle-free.

Samantha heard about Square through her work with Shildon Town Council, and realised that the flat transaction rate charges would offer a flexible and cost-effective solution to her small business needs.

Today both of Samantha’s businesses are growing from strength to strength, thanks in part to the fact that they are able to accept payment any way their customers want to make it.

To find out more about Samantha’s products visit her Geeky Baby website at www.geeky-baby.com.

The Northern Echo: