Best Business Security Systems

Best Business Security Systems

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It’s a good idea to set up a business security system before you need it.

For too many companies, the decision to make this investment is reactive. Their company’s physical security gets compromised, resources are lost, and employees feel unsafe.

A lot of people see cost as a barrier to installing a reliable business security system. That used to be true, but today, there are tons of really affordable solutions.

A small shop can set up basic video surveillance for under $300 for the first year. No joke. And the high-end systems cost nothing compared to the losses they prevent.

Don’t want to drill holes and run wires? That’s fine. There are DIY wireless systems available for a song.

And, with video storage in the cloud, most business owners can monitor all their alerts and recordings from a smartphone.

I’ve put together a list of five of the best business security systems. You’ll find lightweight options that cover the basics, as well as powerful systems with competitive pricing.

In here, there’s going to be a business security system that meets your specific needs. By the end of this post, you’ll know which one.

The Top 5 Options for Business Security Systems

  1. SimpliSafe – Best for DIY Security System for SMBs
  2. Vivint – Best for Professional Monitoring
  3. Alarm.com – Best Professional Security System for SMBs
  4. Alibi Security – Best for Upgrading Existing Security Systems
  5. Wyze – Best for Affordable DIY Video Surveillance

How to Choose the Best Business Security Systems for You

Pretend you are a thief. Could you break into your own business and get away with it?

Without a full business security system in place, every office or storefront is going to look like an opportunity to the wrong crowd.

But what does it take to really secure a space?

Not that much, unless you’re trying to lock down a casino or bank.

The typical workplace and even huge corporate headquarters can get by with a surprisingly modest amount of equipment.

Let’s break business security systems down into their basic elements:

  • Access control
  • Intrusion detection
  • Video surveillance and recording
  • Professional monitoring
  • Installation

I’ll go over the major considerations in each section. From there, you can decide which equipment is going to work best in your space.

Access Control

One of the key responsibilities for a business security system is controlling access to the property. The products I really like have smart locks, which can be controlled remotely.

What’s more fun than having to let someone into the office on your day off?

Plus these locks can be set to open or shut at particular times, ensuring that a building is secure even if the last person out forgets.

Many smart locks come with keypads and let you assign unique PIN codes that identify who is entering. No more missing keys.

Some of the more advanced access control features include keycard systems, which create a log of everyone coming and going.

Intrusion Detection

Adding sensors to doors and windows lets business owners know when something has been opened.

Usually, owners can configure the types of alerts they get. This means a manager might get an alert that a service door was left ajar, but only the owner would see that the safe was opened.

There are also motion sensors, which can trigger alerts or blare a warning siren to let an intruder know they’ve been detected.

Glass break sensors are triggered by the specific frequency of someone smashing a window, which can provide an alert even when a burglar is not in view or range of other equipment.

Some cameras come with built-in motion detectors, alarms, lights, and sirens. Mounting one of these cameras over an entrance can deter would-be criminals, especially if they trip the motion detector and find themselves bathed in light, frowning at a camera.

There’s actually quite a bit these cameras can do, so let’s jump to that now.

Video Surveillance & Storage

Each camera that is part of a business security system has two important jobs: capture video and store it safely.

To accomplish both these tasks, a camera has to have the right capabilities. Let’s break down each responsibility.

In terms of capturing footage, here are the core camera features to be thinking about:

  • Resolution: the quality of the picture (look for 1080p or better)
  • Field of view: how wide an angle the camera sees
  • Pan: the range a camera can swivel from side to side
  • Tilt: the range a camera can swivel up and down
  • Zoom: the camera can reframe and enlarge part of the field of view
  • Infrared: the camera can use heat signatures to improve lowlight/night vision.

Let’s say there’s one camera pointed straight down a hallway, and another in a parking lot. The hall cam doesn’t need a wide field of view, night vision, or the ability to pan/tilt/zoom.

The parking lot cam might need all those features, plus a higher resolution to keep image quality when zooming in on a car at the end of the property.

Now, surveillance footage is pretty much useless if you can’t access it when needed. In terms of video storage, here are some of the major things to think about:

  • Camera type: analog, cellular, IP, and WiFi cams
  • Resolution: the higher the image quality, the more storage required
  • Clip capture: whether a camera records a picture every x seconds or records for y seconds after motion is detected
  • Continuous recording: the camera is rolling 24/7
  • Storage location: recordings can be stored on a video card, in the cloud, on a DVR, NVR, or some blend of these locations.

The overarching question is, how do I make sure that every camera can deliver its recordings to a centralized place where everything can be managed?

With cellular and WiFi cameras, you really just have to get power to them. WiFi cameras have to be in range, but cellular ones can be anywhere service is available. If these are battery-powered and record to a memory card, they are 100% wire-free solutions.

When it comes to IP and analog cameras, they have to connect to a recorder. If the cameras are PoE (power over ethernet), power and recording can be delivered with the same wire. If not, you’ll need to both power the camera and wire it to the central hub.

Professional Monitoring

Some business security systems have the option to include professional monitoring. That means that emergency alerts will be routed to a security center who will contact police, fire, and/or EMS.

The cost of professional monitoring can vary widely and sometimes it is only available via a third-party service.

Installation

Some vendors offer installation for supposedly DIY systems and I recommend pricing that out. If it takes you and one other person all day to set things up, is that really more economical than paying a pro $100 to get it right before lunch?

With the more heavy-duty systems, professional installation is going to be required. Getting dozens of IP cameras wired and placed throughout a large property is not something a non-specialist should tackle.

There are also codes and regulations to consider for the non-DIY systems. Usually a sales rep will be able to answer all your questions about fire code and other laws that might affect your system.

It’s nothing to lose sleep over, just not a problem you want to discover with the inspector.

The Different Types of Business Security Systems

The breakdown of different types of business security systems is pretty straightforward. Depending on your needs, you may know exactly what type is going to work.

Alternatively, you may fall somewhere in between these categories. Then the decision will come down to the specific equipment that makes up the system.

If anything, I’d err on the side of caution and make extra sure you are securing the entire property, rather than trying to stretch a lighter system to its limits.

DIY Business Security Systems

The so-called DIY business security systems are made up of WiFi and cellular cameras that don’t necessarily require any extensive setup.

Since the cameras record directly to the web, there’s no need to wire them to a central recorder. Mostly it’s just mounting the cameras and plugging them in to a power source.

All the cameras, sensors, locks, and other equipment are accessible from a browser or mobile app. If you are not climbing ladders, the whole installation may take no more than an hour.

DIY business security systems are really affordable, but they have their limits. They don’t typically accommodate a large number of cameras and start to lose their effectiveness at longer ranges.

Professional Business Security Systems

When it comes to business security systems that have to be installed by a professional, you’re going to get a much greater range of capabilities than with a DIY system.

For one thing, you will be able to deploy a large and complex system. This means as many cameras, sensors, and locks as necessary. All of it will be centralized in one place, regardless of the type of camera.

They’ll also have more robust access control equipment that’s designed specifically for businesses, like keycard systems.

The cameras tend to be more expensive than their DIY counterparts, but they capture better quality images, have greater range of vision, and include enhanced night vision or other capabilities.

If you think that a DIY system won’t cut it but you’re not sure you need a  commercial-grade security solution, this category is going to cater to your needs.

Commercial-Grade Business Security Systems

The biggest difference between commercial-grade and professional security systems is the range and depth of the equipment available. These are solutions that work for casinos, airports, correctional facilities, and so on.

We’re talking thermal cameras that can record body temperature so that workers clocking in can be alerted if they have a fever. They’ll be able to recognize faces and license plates, quantify foot traffic, and come in virtually indestructible casings.

They also tend to offer a much richer system to manage video surveillance at scale. Hundreds or thousands of cameras can be linked to a unified system that uses analytics to surface the most critical alerts.

Not every business needs a commercial grade solution, but those that do shouldn’t settle for anything less.

#1 – SimpliSafe — Best DIY Security System for SMB

SimpliSafe is one of the most popular security systems for home and business. Why? The equipment is easy to install and gets the job done.

SimpliSafe’s hardware is basically plug and play, with the entire system controlled from its mobile app. From the base station, which is the core of the system, it’s possible to build out a fairly extensive system with their range of sensors and multipurpose SimpliCam ($99 indoor, $119 outdoor).

Because these cameras have cellular and WiFi connection, they only need power to start working right away. This cuts down on setup hassles and gives more flexibility in terms of how far you can place cameras from the base station.

From the app, you can arm/disarm your system remotely. You can also create unique PIN codes so you know who exactly is accessing the building. Create one code for cleaners, one code for each employee, and grant or deny access without ever having to come in.

A lot of SMBs lease space that someone else is responsible for. When the landline goes down or there is a power outage, they can rely on SimpliSafe’s cellular cams with battery backup to maintain security.

Some of the highlights of a SimpliSafe business security system include:

  • HD video/audio cameras
  • Smart locks
  • Sensors for entry, motion, glass break, temperature, and water
  • 105dB siren (about as loud as a car horn)
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Centralized dashboard for multi-site management
  • 24/7 alerts

I really like it for SMBs because the setup is truly DIY and covers all the bases of business security. They have dedicated business packages for offices, storefronts, and restaurants which come with tools designed to meet the challenges of each space.

Plus, the professional monitoring services are really affordable. It’s 50¢/day for Standard and 83¢/day for Interactive, which comes with a lot more features.

With either plan, when an alarm is tripped, SimpliSafe confirms with video verification that the threat is real before dispatching police.

They also provide assistance with the permitting process for security systems, which takes another responsibility off the plate of SMBs located in cities or states with important regulations.

There are no contracts with SimpliSafe and you can cancel any time. On top of the extremely competitive price, SimpliSafe offers free shipping, free returns, and a 60-day money-back guarantee. They’ll even pay the return shipping.

That gives you basically two months to figure out if SimpliSafe works in practice. And if it doesn’t, don’t pay.

#2 – Vivint — Best for Professional Monitoring

Vivint is a great professional business security system. For companies that can’t use a DIY solution, but they also don’t need the hefty services associated with commercial-grade security, Vivint strikes the right balance.

They have a wide range of equipment and 24/7 professional monitoring comes with every plan they offer.

Vivint doesn’t outsource monitoring to a third-party service. Since it’s kept in-house, the average wait time for an emergency is eight seconds. That’s 7.5 times faster than the national average.

Cellular connection with battery backup will keep the system operational during a power outage, so the 24/7 professional monitoring remains unbroken.

There are three motion-activated cameras that Vivint offers, all of which deliver real-time alerts to you and the Vivint security team.

My favorite, the Outdoor Camera Pro, comes with Smart Sentry detection, which recognizes human movement. It lets off a loud chirping noise that draws the intruder’s eyes up to the camera where a red recording light lets them know you’re on camera.

With the two-way voice feature, you can hear what’s happening and deliver your own choice words about the attempted intrusion.

Vivint’s outdoor camera also captures really high-quality images. With the 4k image sensor, it’s possible to zoom in on faces and license places, even in the dark.

Every camera Vivint makes is just as feature-rich as their outdoor cam, and I didn’t even cover everything that comes with it. Their other business security features are similarly robust, including:

  • Wireless security cams
  • Pan and tilt cams
  • Doorbell cams
  • Door and window sensors
  • Sensors: Door and window, recessed door, motion, tilt, glass break, temperature, and flood
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Medical pendants
  • Smart locks
  • Smart thermostats

The Vivint Smart Drive stores all captured video, automatically creating clips whenever sensors detect unusual activity. Everything stored can be viewed, managed, and controlled on the mobile app.

The Smart Drive automatically stores 30 days of continuous footage. This is nice because businesses don’t always know something has happened immediately, even with professional monitoring.

If someone is playing funny money with the register, being able to look back and zoom in on the cash drawer can be crucial.

You can call Vivint to get a price for how much a business security system is going to cost. Be advised, the equipment is fairly expensive.

The Outdoor Camera Pro is $399.99 purchased alone, but they offer zero-interest payment plans broken down over the course of years to help keep the monthly payment competitive.

All Vivint equipment comes with a lifetime warranty and strong encryption to prevent footage from being accessed by unauthorized users.

There’s just a lot of peace of mind you get with Vivint, because you know they are always there if something happens.

#3 – Alarm.com — Best Professional Business Security System for SMBs

Alarm.com is famous for both its home and business security systems. Their technology is used to protect more than 5 million properties and they have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

For business, they are focused on serving small to mid-market business owners. This means they don’t have the same range of products as commercial-grade solutions, but what they do offer is tailor-made for the challenges SMBs face every day.

Their Smarter Business Security centralizes all security cameras, lights, and locks for easy automation and control. Information that the devices capture is reported on clear dashboards from the website or mobile app.

You can set schedules to automatically lock doors at a certain time each day of the week as an extra safeguard. If there is an intrusion detected, real-time viewing allows owners to see if the disturbance warrants calling the police.

Alarm.com can be deployed across multiple sites, where the reporting features can be really helpful in ways beyond business security.

For one, you can visualize trends, identifying rush times and customer traffic.

And since the lights and the thermostat are connected to the alarm system, the building will always be comfortable when people are there and energy-efficient when they’re not. Alerts prevent a window from not being shut all the way, which limits waste and eliminates a potential security breach.

In terms of cameras and equipment, Alarm.com offers:

  • Indoor/outdoor cameras
  • Wired/wireless cameras
  • Fixed/Pan cameras
  • Smart locks
  • Keycard systems
  • Entry sensors

Analog cameras can be connected to your Alarm.com system and every camera they sell comes with anytime mobile access, instant video alerts, intelligent clip capture, and real-time streaming.

To purchase an Alarm.com business security system, you’ll have to reach out to an authorized service provider in your area. Depending on your needs and requirements, all of their providers offer a range of self-service and professional installation options.

Alarm.com is a step above the full DIY systems. It unifies intrusion detection, access control, video surveillance, and energy management into a single, intuitive app.

Business owners are always informed and their property is always safe.

#4 – Alibi Security — Best for Upgrading Existing Security Systems

Alibi Security is an umbrella company that sells equipment from a number of high-end security brands. Because of this, they offer an incredibly wide range of devices that can tie into any system.

It’s a great commercial-grade option for companies that want to upgrade instead of replace their existing infrastructure. No matter how you have deployed your system in the past, Alibi has the tools to help you improve it.

There’s just a stunning range of top-of-the-line equipment that can be adapted to fit any scenario. Just looking at security cameras, for instance, Alibi has:

  • Cloud IP cameras
  • HD-TVI Cameras
  • Network IP cameras
  • Wireless cameras
  • Pan-tilt-zoom cameras
  • Doorbell cameras
  • Deterrent cameras
  • Hidden cameras
  • Micro cameras
  • Board cameras
  • Snake cameras

What does a hidden camera look like? Alibi has some that look like ceiling speakers, motion sensors, and even smoke detectors.

They have the video recording solutions to completely support any array of cameras—analog, IP, wireless… it doesn’t matter. All Alibi recorders have common management software, centralizing operations and decreasing the learning curve for users.

When it comes to intrusion detection and access control, Alibi has a full set of hardware and software to set up keypad, keycard, and request-to-exit systems.

Much of Alibi’s equipment is compliant with the National Defense Authorization Act, which means it’s good enough for the U.S. Military.

You’ll have to get in touch with a licensed Alibi dealer in order to get pricing. It’s going to be on the high end, like other commercial-grade security solutions tend to be.

Where it stands out from its direct competitors is the ease with which Alibi’s equipment integrates with your existing hardware. Since all of their HD/TVI recorders have Hybrid+ technology, it’s not hard to migrate from analog to HD or to install a hybrid analog/HD solution.

Adding more cameras is also easy, as many Alibi recorders support up to 64 IP channels that are each pre-licensed and fully-enabled.

Easy to tie in and easy to scale out, Alibi is the choice for companies looking to beef up their security with the latest and greatest technology.

#5 – Wyze — Best For Affordable DIY Video Surveillance

Wyze has ridiculously low priced cameras that get the job done for businesses that need to record what happens onsite.

Really, Wyze is aimed at homeowners more than business, but if all you need is video surveillance, what’s the difference?

The latest version of the Wyze Cam is $19.99. It’s small, yet it’s got 1080p color night vision and IP65 weather resistance. The Wyze Outdoor Starter Bundle ($49.99), which comes with one outdoor cam and a required base station, lets you mount a cam anywhere.

Really, anywhere. The outdoor cam is wire-free and powered by batteries that last 3-6 months. With Wyze, there’s a lot of freedom to get a video surveillance system set up at very little cost.

The Wyze Cam Pan ($29.99) can spin 360° in under three seconds. It also has motion detection so it can follow the action. This is essentially at one-third to one-tenth the cost of most other cameras that can pan.

Some of the Wyze smart home products are really helpful for business owners. Wyze Bulbs, for instance, connect to WiFi to give you the ability to control them at once or individually.

Change the light color temperature to better suit the mood of a restaurant—soft and warm for the diners and then bright as day for the nighttime clean up crew. Set a schedule so lights come on during the night to make would-be intruders think someone is there.

Some of the other nice products and camera capabilities include:

  • Doorbell camera/intercom
  • Smart thermostats
  • Smart locks
  • Motion detection sirens
  • Motion detection zones
  • Mobile app
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide alerts

Beyond the motion detection siren on the Wyze Cam, they don’t have any products for intrusion detection, though a new line of Wyze Sense products is on the horizon.

In terms of access control, they offer the smart lock ($99) and keypad ($20) that fits over most single-cylinder deadbolts. It will give you a record of everyone who keys in and out and alert you if the door is open.

For video storage, the Basic plan is free and comes with 14-day rolling cloud storage, though it only captures a 12-second video when it detects motion or sound. There’s also a five-minute cooldown period before you can see the video.

My guess is that a lot of business owners are going to want the CamPlus plan ($1.25/month per camera). It’s a very competitive price and comes with unlimited video length recordings and no cooldown period.

At the end of the day, several Wyze cameras are going to deliver 1080p video surveillance for well under $300 in the first year, including the cost of the equipment.

Summary

Some tasks are really hard to define. Securing a business is not one of them.

The goals are clear and the stakes are high. Offices, shops, restaurants, and warehouses are responsible for keeping their shared space safe.

It’s not just about protecting assets. A business’ reputation with staff and customers are on the line.

For SMBs that want a security system they can set up themselves, SimpliSafe is a really great option. It’s got the full range of intrusion detection, access control, and video surveillance necessary, yet the system remains easy to deploy and manage.

If you only need video surveillance, the best DIY option is definitely Wyze. The price is impossible to beat and the cameras are surprisingly good.

Should DIY security systems not rise to the challenge, Alarm.com can outfit a business completely. Whether they protect one or many sites, owners get total oversight of their business security in the sleek interface.

Vivint is an excellent choice for businesses that need professional monitoring. Their equipment is really solid and their security team will verify the incident over video before alerting the authorities. Cutting down on false alarms is huge for ensuring a quick, reliable response.

Looking at commercial-grade solutions, Alibi Security is a really strong choice. Not only do they offer best-in-class security solutions, they’ll integrate seamlessly with your existing stack. For businesses that want to evolve their security in the right direction, Alibi is it.

Should You Add Buy Now, Pay Later Options to Your E-commerce Site?

Should You Add Buy Now, Pay Later Options to Your E-commerce Site?

There have never been as many ways to pay online as there are today. Nor has it ever been more important to make sure you offer your consumers their preferred option.

For some, that might be a long-trusted Visa or Mastercard. Others may prefer Apple Pay, PayPal, or another digital wallet. And, increasingly, consumers are choosing to use buy now, pay later solutions when they checkout.

But what is this payment solution? And is it time you added buy now, pay later to your website? Read on to get my views on the topic.

What is Buy now, Pay Later?

The name says it all. “Buy now, pay later” literally lets consumers buy a product and have it delivered while delaying payment until a later date.

This option is very similar to the old-school layaway method, in which stores let consumers reserve an item while paying it off in installments. Once all payments were made, they’d then be able to take the item home.

Buy now, pay later offers an even more consumer-friendly alternative to layaways. There’s no need to wait to access the item until it’s paid off in full—consumers only have to wait for their items for as long as they take to reach their doorsteps.

You’ve probably seen buy now, pay later payment options at checkouts in many places you shop. Mattress company Leesa partners with Affirm. Anthropologie partners with Klarna. Sezzle partners with Bodega.

Unlike layaways, consumers don’t necessarily use buy now, pay later to fund expensive purchases. They use the payment method to buy all kinds of things, from everyday needs like clothing and homeware to big-ticket items like fitness equipment.

While there are several options for buying now and paying later, they all broadly offer the same thing. The consumer gets to make repayments over several installments (typically between two and four) or in full within 14 to 30 days. Failing to pay will usually result in a fee, but not always.

One of the reasons buy now, pay later solutions are proving so popular is because they offer consumers an easier way to access credit. Unlike credit cards, which require users to hand over a lot of information and pass a rigorous credit check, buy now, pay later providers only ask for a consumer’s name, email address, date of birth, and billing address.

The solutions also mirror the purchasing habits of young consumers who are more likely to buy a selection of items, try them out at home, and then return the ones they don’t want. Returns are often more manageable and less stressful using a buy now, pay later solution since consumers don’t pay for the products in the first place.

6 Reasons to Add Buy Now, Pay Later Options to Your E-Commerce Site

It’s not just consumers who like buy now, pay later solutions. There’s a lot to like about them from a store owner’s point of view, too.

Here are six benefits to buy now, pay later.

Potential Sales Increases With Buy Now, Pay Later

When you allow consumers to spread out payments, they may be more likely to make a purchase. Consumers don’t even have to have the money in their account to buy your products.

They just have to be confident they can pay for them in the next few weeks. This is particularly handy for capturing consumers with paydays on the horizon.

The increase in conversions can be particularly dramatic if your items are higher priced, as consumers may be more willing to buy something pricey they otherwise wouldn’t when they can split the payment into manageable chunks.

Buy Now, Pay Later May Entice New Customers

More and more consumers are choosing this payment option. Even if they have the cash in their banks, there is little downside to spreading the payments out when they aren’t charged interest.

That means some consumers might actively look for stores that offer their favorite buy now, pay later options. Recognizing this, many buy now, pay later providers offer lists of where the service can be used. Some, like Klarna, even have apps allowing consumers to shop online directly through them.

Buy Now, Pay Later Could Build Trust

It used to be almost impossible to get a trial period for many consumer products, but buy now, pay later often makes this possible. By purchasing via a buy now, pay later solution, consumers can test out your product without committing to the purchase.

If they like it, they can pay as usual. If not, they can return it without having to worry about getting a full refund since they haven’t spent much, if anything, yet.

A small increase in free returns may cost you more in the short-term, but the long-term benefits of increased consumer loyalty can be substantial.

Customers may see you have enough confidence in your products to risk the possibility of returns and trust them enough to make good judgment calls for themselves, free of the questioning they may get in stores.

You May Decrease Cart Abandonment With Buy Now, Pay Later

Around 6% of cart abandonments are caused by a lack of payment options, according to the Baymard Institute. If you increase payment options by including a buy now, pay later solution, you may see a decrease in your abandonment rates.

That’s not all, though.

Buy now, pay later can also make your checkout process much smoother. Consumers don’t have to enter card details or a billing address; they only need to log in with their Klarna or Affirm account. This fact is important because 28% abandoned their carts because they didn’t want to create an account, and 17% didn’t trust the sites with their information.

Your Competitors May Already Use Buy Now, Pay Later

If your competitors haven’t already integrated at least one buy now, pay later solution into their checkout, the chances are high they will do it soon. Research shows one-third of US-based e-commerce stores plan to integrate a purchase finance option over the next one to two years.

If you fail to keep up with consumer demands, you’ll inevitably lose customers to competitors that do keep pace.

Buy Now, Pay Later May Give Consumers a Better Credit Solution

The fact of the matter is buy now, pay later is a much more affordable finance solution than credit cards for many consumers. Not only that, they are often a much safer form of debt than credit cards or payday loans.

The former can have double-digit interest rates, while the latter can trap you into a spiral of debt. And if your customers need those to pay for things, they may hesitate to make purchases at all or end up in a financial situation where they can’t become a repeat customer.

You may worry about selling to customers who can’t afford the products up front, but don’t worry: like credit cards, buy now, pay later companies pay you when the transaction is made, and it’s on them to pursue non-paying customers.

3 Reasons Not to Add Buy Now, Pay Later to Your E-commerce Site

Buy now, pay later tools aren’t perfect for everyone. As a consumer finance solution, there are some issues you need to consider.

Buy Now, Pay Later Services Often Require Higher Fees

There’s a cost for the increased conversion rates and new customers that buy now, pay later can bring. They come in the form of higher fees. Klarna, for instance, charges a $0.30 fee and a variable charge of up to 5.99%. That’s significantly higher than almost all Visa and Mastercard payment gateways.

It’s not just the higher fees you need to worry about. There’s also the opportunity cost of listing another payment solution. Every time consumers use a buy now, pay later option, they are choosing not to use another payment option with lower fees.

Buy Now, Pay Later Could Encourage Consumer Debt

While buy now, pay later solutions are marketed as consumer-friendly finance products, some critics believe they are just another way to trick consumers into taking on more debt than they need.

This is true whether you sell t-shirts at $10 a pop or mattresses for $1,000. Buy now, pay later encourages consumers to take out credit agreements with third-parties even if they can already afford to pay for the product in cash.

You Could Risk Your Reputation if Buy Now, Pay Later Problems Arise

Owing to the issues above, buy now, pay later solutions have received a lot of negative media coverage. There’s every chance these solutions may be looked on favorably in the future given the value they provide for some consumers—but only time will tell.

If negative media coverage of these solutions grows, and public opinion turns against these options, brands that facilitated these payments may become targets.

However, this coverage could disappear or improve as people become more used to these products, so it’s something to consider but not necessarily something to panic over.

Best Buy Now, Pay Later Tools

Competition in the buy now, pay later space is fierce and growing. That means consumers have more options. You’ll probably want to consider having more than one buy now, pay later option to keep consumers happy.

Here are some of the leading players you should consider integrating into your checkout.

Klarna

Klarna is a Swedish bank and one of the most prominent players in the buy now, pay later market, partnering with thousands of businesses in almost 20 countries. The platform offers users two ways to make repayments: “slice it” and “pay later.”

With slice it, consumers pay for purchases in four installments over six weeks. With pay later, consumers receive a bill for the full amount after 30 days. The payments are interest-free for consumers who qualify. Brands using Klarna include Uniqlo, H&M, and Anthropologie.

Affirm

Affirm is designed to help consumers finance purchases of all sizes. It supports small, everyday purchases like the rest of the solutions in this list, with interest-free payments split over weeks or months.

It also helps consumers make more significant purchases or needs like car repairs with interest-bearing loans spread over six to 18 months. How long consumers spread out the payments is up to them.

Affirm also doesn’t charge any fees, including late and repayments fees. There’s no fee to open or close an account, either. Brands using Affirm include Peloton, Walmart, and adidas.

Quadpay

Quadpay lets consumers split purchases into four installments paid over six weeks when they shop online or in-store. Approval is instant and performed using soft credit checks.

There’s no need for store owners to install Quadpay at their checkouts. The payment tool is available anywhere Visa is accepted because the company provides users with their own Quadpay Visa card numbers.

All your customers need to do is choose the retailer and enter the purchase amount—Quadpay takes care of everything else.

Sezzle

Sezzle lets consumers split purchases into four interest-free payments due over six weeks. There are no fees if consumers pay on time, and there’s no impact on their credit ratings.

Sezzle partners with over 24,000 stores, including Brandless, YoungLA, and GHOST, and integrates with all leading e-commerce platforms.

Afterpay

Afterpay lets consumers make interest-free purchases and repay the amount with four equal payments due every two weeks. If consumers miss a payment, Afterpay charges them $10. A further $7 will be charged if they fail to make payment within a week.

Afterpay differs from some lenders on this list by approving users for every purchase rather than approving an account. The company has stated its algorithm has been programmed to favor users who have previously used the service and paid on time. Participating brands include Jimmy Choo, lululemon, and UGG.

Conclusion

It’s essential to provide as many payment options as possible and give your consumers their preferred choices. Integrating a buy now, pay later solution can result in more sales, decrease cart abandonment rates, and build trust.

You also need to consider drawbacks, like the higher rates that come with buy now, pay later options.

Will you be adding a buy now, pay later solution to your site, and if so, which one?

Business: Business and Life Lessons From Tony Hsieh, former CEO of Zappos

Business: Business and Life Lessons From Tony Hsieh, former CEO of Zappos

 4.7/5 (43)

I had a “holy shit” moment when I ordered from Zappos for the first time.

This happened over a decade ago. I chose the slowest shipping option to save money.

I expected the shoes to arrive in 7 to 10 business days.
My shoes arrived the next morning.

Keep in mind that this was years before Amazon made 2-day shipping the standard.

There were other little things I noticed about Zappos as a customer.

  • Other companies hid their customer service phone number to save on costs. Their phone number was boldly on the top of every page.
  • I called their customer service and expected the agent to be overseas. Nope. She was located in Las Vegas.
  • Most companies had a 30-day money-back guarantee. They had a 365-day money-back guarantee.

Zappos set the standard for customer service on the internet. Because of their initiatives, the rest of the eCommerce world had to step their game up.

Their former CEO, Tony Hsieh, was the heart and soul of the company.

For those of you that don’t know, Tony Hsieh passed away last week at the age of 46.

I usually don’t pay too much attention when a celebrity passes away. But Tony’s death felt different. I lost a big brother that I never had a chance to meet.

I read Delivering Happiness in 2010. It was the first biography I’ve ever read. While I researched and went over my notes, I didn’t realize how many of my personal philosophies were based on his.

I didn’t want to just share a picture of him on social media. Tony spent so much of his life sharing his wisdom. The best way to honor him would be to keep his teachings alive.

The following are some of the best lessons that I learned from Tony Hsieh.

The Value of Customer Service

“To WOW, you must differentiate yourself, which means do something a little unconventional and innovative. You must do something that’s above and beyond what’s expected. And whatever you do must have an emotional impact on the receiver. We are not an average company, our service is not average, and we don’t want our people to be average. We expect every employee to deliver WOW.” – Tony Hsieh, CEO @ Zappos

Every company wants to have great customer service, but none of them are willing to do what it takes.

Zappo’s is known for their customer service. That wasn’t a deliberate strategy at first. They were broke and couldn’t afford marketing.

The levers to business growth are simple:

  • Increase new customers
  • Increase average order value
  • Increase repeat purchases

They couldn’t afford to market to get new customers. Their inventory was limited, so it was difficult to increase the average order value.

They realized that improving their customer service would encourage existing customers to come back.

Now “good” customer service isn’t simply answering emails faster.

Tony’s goal was something called the “wow effect.

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It’s when there’s a huge difference between what the customer expects and what actually happens. This difference causes a flood of positive emotions. The positive emotions lead to word of mouth advertising and repeat purchases.

Here are several ways that they “wow’ed” their customers:

  • They’d upgrade people to free overnight shipping.
  • They staffed warehouses 24/7. This isn’t cost-efficient from a logistics perspective. But this meant they could fulfill orders a few hours earlier.
  • They put their customer’s happiness over their own profits. If the customer wanted a shoe where their size was out of stock, the agent would stop and research. If they found it available on a competitor’s website, they’d tell the customer to buy it there.
  • One woman had ailing feet. She ordered 6 different pairs of shoes and returned them all. Zappos sent “get well” flowers to her.

Yes, these things cost money. But it worked so well that they didn’t need to spend as much money on marketing as their competitors did.

75% of their orders came from repeat purchases. Great experience means people are more likely to refer their friends.

A few years ago, I went to a workshop for some business training. The material was good, but I couldn’t help but think about how little effort they put into it. I spent several thousand dollars for the workshop, and they didn’t hook us up with lunch.

Later on, I launched my Super Affiliate Intensive workshop. I was motivated by Zappo’s philosophy of the “wow” effect. I sat down and brainstormed all the little things we could do to give people a “wow” experience.

This lead to:

  • I figure everyone’s nervous when they’re flying in the first night. We had a welcome party at the hotel bar. We also had a goodbye party on the final night.
  • The events were held at a nice hotel. Every lunch and dinner was catered.
  • We had goody bags that included copies of Cashvertising, USB sticks, etc.
  • A binder full of slides, notes, etc.

We calculated that giving the “wow effect” cost me an extra five figures for each event. I didn’t care. I did it because I wanted to elevate from a workshop to an unforgettable weekend experience for people.

You don’t have to spend a ton of money to deliver the wow effect. Here’s a story from this weekend.

I ordered a succulent from Etsy the other day and had a wow experience.

The plant was carefully wrapped. She included a handwritten note thanking me for supporting her business. She threw in a few stickers of succulents.

I’m going to buy all my succulents from her from now on.

My fiance is into Korean skincare. One of her favorite websites, Sokoglam, offered her a Zoom consultation with a skincare expert. She learned so much about her skin, and is now a loyal fan of their website.

The online shopping experience is becoming more commoditized. We go online and 1 click whatever we want from Amazon.

Going the extra mile for your customer is one way to stand out in a crowded world.

The Similarities Between Poker and Business.

After selling LinkExchange to Microsoft for $265 million, Tony started getting heavy into poker. He spent an entire summer diving deep into poker strategy and analysis. What he found fascinating was the similarities between good poker strategy and good business strategy.

Here are some of the highlights he shared:

1. Don’t confuse the right decision with the individual outcome.

It’s possible to make the wrong decision and have a good outcome.
It’s possible to make the right decision and lose.

Imagine if you were dealt AA pre-flop. This is the strongest pre-flop hand in poker. The guy has 10 10. The outcome? He got lucky with a 10 on the river giving him Triple 10’s.

You would win 81% of the time.

You made the right decision, but it was the wrong outcome. The worst thing you can do is to change your future behavior based on that.

This happens all the time in the real world. It reminds me of survivorship bias or anecdotal evidence.

I used to work in a gas station. Every day people would come in to buy scratch off tickets. One of my regular customers paid $1 and won $100.

That’s an example of a wrong decision with a good outcome. You think he walked away with his winnings? Nope. That’s how they get you. That encouraged him to play the lottery even more. He thought he was lucky.

He eventually spent several thousand dollars over the summer before he stopped. He didn’t make his money back.

2. Table Selection

Table selection is choosing which table you’re going to sit down and play it. This is the most important decision you can make in poker.

Would you rather play at a table with 9 mediocre tourists who are drunk or play at a table with 9 fresh aspiring poker pros?

This applies to choosing which markets you want to be in.

Think about Goldilocks…it has to be just right.

You want to make a pet training program focused on raising tigers. The market is too small.

You want to compete with Amazon and Walmart by offering the lowest prices. That might be too competitive. That’s like voluntarily sitting at a table with Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu when you don’t have to. And on top of that, you don’t have the right bankroll for that table.

Tony realized that business had several advantages when it came to table selection. He could create his own table aka create his own market. It reminds me of what Cameo did.

A poker table has ten seats. In business, you can increase the size of the table. He entered the existing shoe market and made the table even bigger. Poker is a zero-sum game.

3. Don’t play games that you don’t understand, even if you see lots of other people making money from them.

Tony dabbled for a bit in day trading and stocks. He hated it because he didn’t understand it. He didn’t have an edge. And he realized that with trading, he wasn’t building anything.

An example from my own life is real estate. I’ve been getting pressured to buy real estate from my parents and other people for the past few years.

Are people making money from real estate? Yep. It’s a great investment for the right person.

Not me though. I’m not “handy.” I don’t have an edge in it.

Could I learn it? Sure. At what cost, though? I rather spend that time and energy getting stronger at the things that I’m already good at.

I could invest $150,000 in a house with the goal of renting it out. A better option? I could invest that money into online businesses where my skills can contribute to growing it.

This reminds me of bright shiny object syndrome. When you’re jumping around from one business to another, you’re not going deep.

Going deep is how you build unique knowledge. 

Don’t Outsource Your Core Competency

Zappos started off by drop shipping from brands in America.

A customer would make an order.
Zappos would send a message to the shoe company.
The shoe company would send the shoes directly to the customer.

The problem? This was the late 1990’s. Not many retailers had the ability or the desire to dropship.

This meant Zappos didn’t have a complete selection of shoes. They certainly didn’t have many shoes that customers actually wanted.

It would take years to build some of these relationships with the shoe companies. They figured out a “hack.” They could buy a local shoe store that wasn’t doing too well. Doing that would mean they “grandfathered” into many of the relationships with larger brands.

Their office lobby pretty much became a shoe store to make it official.

Next, they pivoted from a dropshipping model to holding inventory. They partnered up with a company called eLogistics to handle their warehousing.

It was a disaster.

They were losing 5-figures a day because the salesmen oversold what their company could actually do. Tony and several employees moved to Kentucky for several months to build their own warehouse.

“We learned that we should never outsource our core competency. As an e-commerce company, we should have considered warehousing to be our core competency from the beginning. Outsourcing that to a third party and trusting that they would care about our customers as much as we would was one of our biggest mistakes.”

So many companies want to outsource different parts of their business. You can work with a 3PL to handle your fulfillment. You can work with different agencies to handle your marketing. You can hire headhunters to recruit your employees for you.

Figure out what your core competency is and keep it in house.

Getting the Culture Right

Culture’s such a buzzword in the tech world.

It’s not a set of values that the top executives brainstorm on a company retreat. Culture isn’t catered lunches, and bring your dog to work day.

It’s a set of shared values, goals, and attitudes of an organization. It’s how you treat each other on a daily basis.

Tony realized the importance of culture when he was building LinkExchange. They hired the smartest people they could find. Not all of them were a great culture fit. It was obvious that some people were only there for the money.

It created a toxic environment for him, where he dreaded coming to work. He knew there was a problem when he hit the snooze button seven times one morning.

At Zappos, he wanted to develop and protect the culture at all costs.

One thing that Zappos is amazing at is filtering out people who aren’t a great culture fit.

You have to pass both a technical test and a culture test. They don’t want assholes working at the company. Zappos is based in Las Vegas. They have a lot of people flying in to interview, and they’ll get picked up at the airport.

Everyone thinks that the hiring test starts once you sit down in the office. What actually happens is the chauffeur is taking notes on how you’re treating them. Someone that treats a driver like shit isn’t someone that they want to hire.

Everyone that gets hired at Zappos goes through the same 4-week training program. This involves two weeks of customer service at the phones. This means helping pack the boxes. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Vice president!

And finally, there’s the famous $2,000 test.

Every potential employee goes through 4 weeks of intense training. After that, they get the offer.

The offer is $2,000. They’ll pay you $2,000 to quit.

Tony believed this is the best way to filter people out. If someone is overwhelmed by the experience, then this gives them an easy way out.

It reminds me of dating. Some people have “tests” to see if the person is a suitable mate. Tony had this because he wanted to find a suitable employee.

Resumes and interviews can only go so far. You can see how competent they are during the training.

But an offer like this? It’s the final test to see if you’re a good culture fit.

So my question is, what kind of culture do you want to build at your company?

How are you going to filter for it?

Are You Willing to Do What it Takes?

You can’t be good at everything. Strategy is about making deliberate decisions on what you’ll be great at, and what you’re willing to sacrifice.

Zappos has some of the best customer service in the world. Can you name a single memorable ad from them? I can’t. Not investing in marketing allows them to put more resources into customer service.

Costco’s strategy is low prices. That means their warehouses are ugly. Their website is horrible. Those decisions contribute to low prices.

Noma was awarded the best restaurant in the world 4 times. They had 2 Michelin stars. They had a waitlist for months. Then he shut the restaurant down.

Why would the owner do such a crazy thing?

“Routine can be comforting, but it’s also a killer for your creativity,” Redzepi says over lunch at Restaurant Barr, which now occupies the original Noma site. “It was time to change, not just the physical address but shedding off the old routine, moving into something new, building a small urban farm.”

In Remembrance of Tony Hsieh

I did a lot of research for this article. I skimmed through Delivering Happiness again, read a dozen articles, and watched every speech of his that I could find on YouTube.

It didn’t occur to me how much of an impact he had on my thinking. I read Delivering Happiness when it first released back in 2010.

I looked up to Tony because I didn’t have a lot of Asian-American role models. Yes, there are Asians in technology, but most of them tend to be behind the scenes as developers.

Here was Tony as the face of a billion-dollar company. To me, he was the Bruce Lee of entrepreneurship.

For the longest time, I believed becoming wealthy was the key to happiness. That’s how society trained me to think. It’s that mentality that pushed me so hard to succeed in affiliate marketing.

And then I became a millionaire at 24. I was slightly happier because I didn’t have to worry about debt anymore. But it wasn’t this life-changing thing I expected it to be. Then I read up Delivering Happiness.

Whoa, here’s something who went through the same thing. Obviously with way more money though.

That led me to a journey to studying happiness itself. Reading the book gave me the courage to pursue my dream of living in Asia for a few years.

Thank you Tony. Thanks for being unapologetically weird. Thanks for showing me you can build a brand while remaining humble. Thanks for showing everyone the need to find a higher purpose in life than just making money.

Photo by Web Donut from Pexels.

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