Nano merchants and why there’s nothing small about them

Small businesses are the backbone of the economy. As Britain emerges from the pandemic, more and more people are choosing to shop locally. Barclaycard reports that small businesses expect 8% sales growth this year. But government support for the sector is minimal, making it crucial to have merchant services for small businesses which actually make life easier. Simply minimising card machine costs can make a real difference.  This article shows how.

Small business. Very small business. And even the nanobusiness

It isn’t new to say that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are crucial to the economy. The Federation of Small Businesses reports nearly 6 million businesses with fewer than 50 employees, with half the turnover of the entire private sector. Over 60% of total private sector turnover was in this sector last year. Total employment in SMEs was 16.8 million (61% of the total), whilst turnover was estimated at £2.3 trillion (52%).

Some of these are very small – 59% are entirely run by the proprietor. And the latest development is the “nano merchant”, with “fewer than one” people engaged in the business, often working from home even before the pandemic. Nano merchants:

  • Trade on eBay. 

  • Provide part-time consultancy. 

  • Influence thousands of followers. 

  • Make videos. 

  • Translate. 

Services which can be provided in addition to a “regular” job and which may blossom into full-time business.

Why is local shopping booming again?

Consumers have emerged from the long lockdown still wary of risk, reluctant to travel long distances and encounter large crowds or inadequate safety measures. And many feel a renewed loyalty to local shops and are grateful that they’re still part of the community. Many small businesses teetered on the edge but fought their way through to better times. People appreciate it and value them. 

According to Barclaycard’s Barometer, four in ten (42%) small and medium enterprises believe the current national lockdown will be our last, and 70%  feel hopeful about what comes next.

But that resurgence is fragile, and consumer choices can be fickle. It’s vital for small businesses to make customers feel comfortable, so they keep coming back. And one of the key factors is simply the card machine that the business uses.

What are the key features of card machines for small businesses?

  • Flexibility. Customers have everything from credit cards to ApplePay. The card machine shouldn’t care.

  • Price. Small businesses need a low standard merchant account fee, not an elaborate structure for multiple card machines.

  • Simplicity. Developing a flourishing small business is challenge enough. The card machine should help – not add complexity.

Why does SumUp make sense for small businesses?

SumUp is tailored to merchant services for small business, and that makes it ideal for nano merchants, setting out to accept small payments but too small to commit to length contracts or minimum monthly payments. 

We focus on what makes small business work. We understand the need for merchant services in the UK to make life easier for merchants and customers alike, with card machine charges that work for even the smallest nano merchant. Our card machine prices are competitive, and our fee per transaction is incredibly competitive

Here are some of SumUp’s key features:

  • Accepting any cashless payment option. Credit cards. Contactless. ApplePay. Google Pay. We don’t make customers adapt to the machine.

  • A flat rate fee of 1.69% per in-person transaction. Any time. Anywhere. Card machine charges shouldn’t be complicated.

  • No monthly costs. Why should you pay a monthly merchant account fees for a card machine that isn’t yet in heavy use? Just pay that 1.69% when it’s actually used.

  • Simple remote payments. Our remote payment products are all free. Just pay a 2.5% fee per remote transaction.

  • No binding contracts. Try one of our machines. If it suits you, great! If you don’t like it, no worries – you’ll never pay merchant account fees for it again.

  • Get paid anywhere. Charge customers for orders or bookings placed remotely and accept their payments anywhere.

  • Sell on any channel. Send your payment links via email, SMS, WhatsApp or any other messaging platform.

  • Easy, fast, secure. Share payment links straight from the check-out screen. Customers can pay via a secure website.

Are nano merchants the future?

No. They’re part of the future. More than ever during lockdown, creative minds have found ways to operate businesses without high street premises. Many have flourished, either supplementing another income or growing to become a full-time business. And even though it’s legal once again to open a town centre shop, few will rush to do so. 

The future is flexibility. Will the business become big enough to open a physical store? Will the market shift, so that a business security consultant branches out to offer IT security services as well? Might it make sense to have a small town centre outlet, but still conduct much of the business online? 

Nor is the future entirely under our control. Will the pandemic return with new variants? Will the business environment change? Will town centres even exist in a recognisable form in 20 years, or should we expect the American model with sprawling cities with no single centre?

And yet – people in small businesses are resilient, as we’ve seen over the last year. Neglected by governments, overshadowed by the marketing giants, and yet still quietly growing as the central mainstay of the British economy. For those of us providing merchant services for small business, perhaps the main requirement is a readiness to change together with them.

SumUp was founded in 2012 and is already active in over 30 countries. But our home has always been in the UK – serving small business into the future. 

SumUp Team