Keep Calm and Carry On: How to Function When the Internet Goes Down in Your Shop

by Sean Ross

2 min read

There’s a long line of customers waiting to purchase items from your shop, but just as your sales associate tries to swipe a credit card, the system goes offline. If you can’t connect to your payment processor, it’s impossible to accept credit card payments. Rather than forgoing all that revenue for the day or even for a few hours, it’s critical to have a backup plan in place.

Invest in Software With Offline Functionality

Dealing with an internet outage requires advance preparation. So you can always make sales, consider investing in a point of sale system that works offline. The system should be able to access inventory records offline, and your printer should run without the internet. You also need a payment system that can store credit card numbers and transaction details until you are back online. At that point, the system can sync your offline sales with your online records and finish processing all the transactions.

Buy a Manual Credit Card Imprinter

If you already have a POS system in place and you’re not ready to invest in a new one, you may want to look into credit card imprinters. Popular before the internet but still available today, these machines make a carbon imprint of your customer’s credit card. Then, you run the transactions manually through your POS system when you are finally back online. At that point, you should dispose of the paper receipt or store it in a safe area. You don’t want to risk losing sheets of paper with your customer’s card information on them.

Consider a Transaction Limit

With offline sales, there is always a small risk that the transaction may not go through. If an individual uses a stolen card, you collect the details offline, and then, when you run the transaction, the sale gets declined. This can even happen with well-meaning clients.Consider this common scenario: A client presents his card for a transaction, but you run the sale offline so the funds remain in the customer’s account. Later, the customer forgets about your transaction, uses his card for other purchases, and depletes the balance. As a result, when you run the card later, it gets declined.You can try to run the card later in hopes that it may work, but that it is time-consuming. To reduce this risk, you may want to put limits on offline sales amounts. For instance, you may want to require cash or cheques for any transactions over $20 if you lose the internet temporarily.

Run a Card Reader on Your Mobile Phone

If you don’t want to set limits or deal with the risks of running transactions offline, consider acquiring a card reader for your phone. Square, a popular option, lets you process credit card payments over your phone’s data plan, and it also syncs the information with your QuickBooks accounting software. That lets you process cards safely when you can’t get online, and it can be a convenient backup plan.Internet outages almost always affect credit card sales. If you want to keep your shop running regardless of what the internet is doing, you should make a plan in advance and consider investing in a couple of tools to help you when the system goes offline.

References & Resources

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