Woof! With an article title like that, we're impressed that you kept reading. Nice job.
What's Changing: Big Picture
Right now, if a customer orders an item on your website or through a quote fulfill cart, Sidewalk Pro charges their credit card right away. It's called "charging at the time of ordering."
In Pro version 3.26.7, Pro gained the ability to charge your online or quote customers' credit cards when you fulfill their order. This is called "charging at the time of order fulfillment." You can read the details of that release here.
Why the switch?
Your store might be open for sales in July, but receive the bulk of its textbook shipments in August. In the Fall, you might do the same thing: orders coming in in December while your inventory arrives just before the January Rush.
If you charge your customers right away, before your textbooks have arrived, then you've lost the ability to adjust the charge based on the condition and numbers of inventory you have on hand. You'll also confuse a few customers by charging them in July for a book they won't see for another 6 weeks.
This way, the money and inventory change hands at the same time.
Also, if you employ accountants (or keep your own books) this will make your life much easier. Sales reporting will match with inventory reporting immediately--not weeks down the road.
What's Changing: Customer Experience
Your customers won't see any change to their web checkout experience. They'll still add items to a cart, then provide credit card information and select shipping preferences at checkout.
Your customers will see a change in their billing statements, since they won't see a charge right away--unless you're able to fulfill their order immediately. Instead, your customers will see a charge when their books are bagged, boxed, or bundled together and ready for shipment or pickup.
What's Changing: Order Fulfillment
Once Pro starts charging credit cards at the time of fulfillment, Pro will stop your staff from fulfilling an order if the customer's credit card declines, passing along whatever error message it receives from your payment processor or the credit card company itself. If the card declines, your staff won't ship the order.
This way, whether you ship the order or make modifications to it, you can charge the customer the right price at the right time.
If you need to cancel a customer's web order, the customer will no longer be refunded any money, because there won't be any money to refund.
What's Changing: Reporting
Accountants will notice a change as well--and they'll like it! Since Pro will capture funds when orders are fulfilled, your online sales reporting is going to reflect money coming in at the same time that inventory goes out, making for easily balanced reports.
Those sales reports will show the same numbers that they always would have, just at a different time: the fulfillment, rather than the order date.
What's Not Changing: Everything but Web Commerce and Quote (Pay Later)
We figured that we should state that outright.
Your Amazon orders will flow into your system just like they always have, since Amazon handles the part of the transaction that charges a customer's card. Your in-store and phone transactions will work just like they always have as well, since in a way they're already charging at the time or order fulfillment.
What Questions You Might Have:
Will charging at the time of order fulfillment capture funds or create a pending transaction that lasts for weeks?
- Nope! Pro will verify through your payment processor that the customer's credit card is valid, but won't hold the customer's funds hostage. They'll be charged when the order's fulfilled.
What about web commerce transactions that took place before this change?
- They'll still be good to go! In those cases, the funds have already been captured, so they're ready for you to fulfill.
What about debit cards?
- Great question! As far as Pro is concerned, debit cards will function in this new world just like credit cards. Different issuing banks or payment processors could treat debit and credit cards differently, but we suspect that the majority of cardholders won’t see a difference.
What's the Catch?
There's always a catch. But this one isn't bad. You use Heartland Payment Systems as your payment processor, and right now, every one of our stores uses a payment gateway called Heartland Connect for web transactions.
Charging at the time of order fulfillment will only work with Heartland Portico, Heartland's new, more secure payment gateway (some of you already use Portico in your stores!).
It's easy to make the switch. In fact, we'll help you through it. Expect us to contact you soon!
As always, if you have any questions or comments, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.