Mitrefinch Payroll Review 2020

By Julia Watts | Content Manager

Flexipay is Mitrefinch’s flexible and intuitive payroll software program. But is it right for your business?


Mitrefinch logo

Pros:

  • HMRC-recognised
  • Easy to use and quick to implement
  • Comes with forward-thinking features, such as instant calculations and anytime pay
  • Free demo available

Cons:

  • Doesn’t transparently advertise its pricing
At a glance: Mitrefinch’s payroll software, Flexipay, is innovative, easy to use, and suitable for businesses big and small.

Picture the UK in the late 1970s. Ford Cortinas and Austin Allegros roamed the streets. ABBA was spinning in everyone’s cassette players. And Mitrefinch was busy pioneering computerised clocking in systems.

In the decades that have followed, Mitrefinch has continued to develop innovative workforce management solutions for businesses – from HR software to time and attendance solutions. Today, though, we’ll be holding the metaphorical microscope over Mitrefinch’s HMRC-recognised payroll system: Flexipay.

So, can Mitrefinch – and more to the point, Flexipay – meet your business’ unique payroll needs? Let’s find out.

Quick facts

  • Mitrefinch has gained over 7,500 customers around the world
  • Flexipay is used by some of the leading outsourced payroll providers in the UK

What are Mitrefinch's payroll’s best features?

Let’s kick off with a snapshot of our favourite things about Flexipay… 

Unique instant calculations

Quite possibly the most exciting thing about Flexipay is its unique ability to make instant calculations. That’s right – no more waiting endlessly for payroll calculations to run! In fact, during Mitrefinch’s benchmark testing, the software was able to produce gross to net calculations for 10,000 staff in just 20 seconds.

How does this work? Well, just as the Hulk’s secret is that he’s always angry, the key to Mitrefinch’s super rapid sums is that its innovative calculation engine is always running, 24/7, in the background. So essentially, whenever you need gross to net calculations, they’re just… already there.

As well as winning over the impatient among us, this feature also enables more accurate reporting, as well as more flexible submission deadlines. Mitrefinch has solved a prevalent payroll frustration here, and we’re impressed.

Adaptable paydays

Flexipay offers optional integration with Wagestream, which enables employees to draw down pay when they need it most, instead of having to wait until their official payday.

In enabling staff to access pay that they’ve earned whenever they need it – in the face of an unexpected bill or expense, perhaps – you’ll be offering an excellent workplace perk that’ll not only make your employees’ lives easier, but also show them that you care about their wellbeing. That can only boost their loyalty to you as an employer.

Speedy implementation and dedicated support

Paying staff is, of course, a time-sensitive endeavour – so when it comes to setting up a new payroll system, holdups and hiccups are the last thing you want. Fortunately, Mitrefinch promises pain-free implementation, providing an on-site “implementer” and a dedicated project manager to ensure the installation goes as smoothly as possible.

Plus, the company offers robust customer support and guided training to help your team get to grips with Flexipay quickly. In fact, Mitrefinch states that full implementation can be achieved within just three weeks. It helps, of course, that the Flexipay system itself is incredibly easy to learn and use, with highly-polished, intuitive, user-friendly dashboards.

Flexible integration

Mitrefinch’s workforce management solutions can work independently of one another. So, if Flexipay is all you want from the company, that’s fine – it’ll work well as a standalone product.

However, if you’re looking for a full suite of management software, you’ll be happy to know that Mitrefinch’s systems can integrate with one another to create a cohesive end-to-end management tool. This minimises the time you’ll spend inputting information and gathering reports across different platforms.

So, what exactly can you integrate Flexipay with? Well, besides payroll software, Mitrefinch also supplies time and attendance systems (don’t forget to check out our review of those here!), HR software, and access control systems.


How much does Mitrefinch's payroll cost?

One of the frustrations of working with a big payroll software provider like Mitrefinch is that its pricing is bespoke. In other words, it’ll depend on factors such as the size of your businesses, the number of users who’ll need to have access to the system, and whether or not you choose to integrate it with any of Mitrefinch’s other systems, as discussed in the section above.

The crux is this: we can’t tell you how much Mitrefinch will charge you right now. But tell us a bit about your business, and we can help you to quickly and easily gather tailored quotes from the payroll service providers that can best meet your unique needs.

Simply answer a few quick questions about your business, and we’ll match you up with the right payroll providers for you. They’ll then be in touch with no-obligation quotes that are tailored to you. It’s a super easy way to compare the price options and suppliers available, without hours of endless research. Oh, and it’s completely free!


Is Mitrefinch's payroll right for my business?

Check the statement that applies to you to find out!

“I run a small business with a handful of employees”

Flexipay is a breeze to use and pretty painless to set up, which makes it a solid option for small businesses that are new to the world of automated payroll. Plus, Mitrefinch’s focus on dedicated, responsive customer service means you’ll be in reliable hands if something ever goes wrong. It has to be said, too, that Flexipay is easy to scale – adding new payments and deductions is super easy – meaning it can grow as your business does.

All that being said, we know that as a small business, your budget may well be a limiting factor. Unfortunately, due to its bespoke pricing model, we can’t advise on whether Flexipay will suit you in that respect. But we can help you to quickly find and compare prices from providers that do suit your needs. Just answer a few quick questions about your business, and payroll providers that can cater to your unique requirements will be in touch with no-obligation tailored quotes. Simple!

“I run a larger business with 100 or more employees to manage”

That’s great – we think that Flexipay’s flexibility, scalability, and integration options make it ideal for businesses like yours! 

With so many employees to manage, any number of complex scenarios could arise while processing payroll. Fortunately, Flexipay is well-equipped to deal with all sorts of unique calculations, handling multiple pay groups, tax references, and pay elements and benefits all on one payroll. Plus, its instant calculations engine will save you serious time when it comes to running those numbers.


Compare tailored quotes from leading payroll system providers Request free quotes

What do Mitrefinch’s payroll customer reviews say?

Now, you can’t get a clear picture of what a supplier’s really all about without checking in with its customers. So we took to Mitrefinch’s Trustpilot page and scoured through acres of reviews to find out what real users honestly think of it.

Happily, the majority of Mitrefinch’s reviewers seem very pleased with the company – it boasts a rare ‘Excellent’ rating, with 74% of reviewers awarding it five stars. A further 14% gave it four stars, with just 12% of users rating it average to bad.

We have to bear in mind, of course, that not all of these reviews are about Flexipay specifically. However, we’ve plucked out a few of the most telling reviews that shed light on Mitrefinch’s payroll offering.

The majority praise Mitrefinch’s speedy customer service and system implementation:

“We chose Mitrefinch on the promise of a speedy implementation, having been let down by another provider who shall not be named.

 

“I'm happy to report that we went live on time and to budget – paying our staff accurately using the payroll module without a hitch. Having moved into support, we find the team both knowledgeable and responsive.

 

“Highly recommended and we are pleased we made the right choice.”

 

– Paul, Mitrefinch payroll customer

“Whenever I have a problem using the payroll system, or have a new payment to set up, the Mitrefinch support team is very efficient in sending a reply and easy to follow instructions, with screenshots, on how to do it.

 

“The online process to create a ‘ticket' for a query seems to work much better than waiting for an advisor to call you back.

 

“Often, with payroll, a response is needed pretty urgently, especially if a payday deadline is looming. Mitrefinch seems to understand this, and responds quickly.”

 

– Dianne, Mitrefinch payroll customer

Some highlight the fact that they have had technical issues with the system – however, that’s countered by the fact that Mitrefinch has been quick to fix those problems:

“I use Mitrefinch to process payroll, and although there have been some problems with the system, Mitrefinch has always been friendly and helpful in solving these issues.”

 

– Jenny, Mitrefinch payroll customer

Meanwhile, others laud the system for its ease of use, and the fact that all of Mitrefinch’s tools can be integrated for a smooth user experience:

“One of the things I like best is the interconnectivity of the software. We used to have several different softwares for the different sections of HR and payroll, and were constantly manually entering information several times into different systems. Now, if it’s in one it’s in them all, so there’s less room for human error. I also love how I can automate and customise pretty much anything through field calculations, reports, and overnight server processes.

 

“Flexipay is a godsend with HMRC. It does all the tax and NI automatically, RTI is a breeze, and month-end PAYE and year-end submissions are all done for you. It has all the AOE parameters set up in the background, and the sick diary makes SSP very simple. I can’t really say much bad about Flexipay – it does everything. I bought the p11d and benefits module, and that’s very straightforward too – it handles all the p46 submissions, which saves me navigating that awful HMRC website, and it sorts out p11d at the end of the year.”

 

– Stuart, Mitrefinch payroll customer


Mitrefinch payroll: the expert verdict

In our opinion, Mitrefinch’s Flexipay should definitely be on your list of payroll software programs to investigate. It’s forward-thinking – its instant calculations engine and integration with Wagestream are pretty innovative – and importantly, it comes with slick, intuitive dashboards that are easy to navigate. Plus, its existing customers seem to be very happy with it, which is always a fantastic sign.

Unfortunately, Mitrefinch’s downfall is that it isn’t very transparent about its prices. However, we can help you there. 

It’s so important to compare your options – pros, cons, prices and all – before committing to a single supplier. That’s what our service aims to help you to do. Simply answer a few quick questions about what your business needs, and we’ll match you up with the very best payroll providers for you. They’ll then be in touch directly with no-obligation, tailored quotes and further info. It’s fast, easy, and free – why not try it today?


What other payroll systems could I consider?

If you haven’t completed your payroll-hunting journey just yet, why not check out some of our other reviews of popular payroll software providers:

The GuildRead review
IrisRead review
MoneySoftRead review
SAPRead review

Compare tailored quotes from leading payroll system providers Request free quotes
Julia Watts Content Manager

Specializing in business energy, fleet management and fuel cards, Julia’s here to help your company power up and get on the move. Having spent years working in the dynamic world of startup entrepreneurship, she loves creating content that might help exciting ventures, big or small, to flourish.

Best Fulfilment Companies for Small Businesses in 2020

By Julia Watts | Content Manager | 9 April, 2020

Often, the smallest businesses come with the largest workloads. Find out how you can ease yours, with our top six order fulfilment providers in the UK


Growing your ecommerce business is fun. 

Seeing orders rush in, watching your bank balance grow, and witnessing your products (quite literally!) fly off the shelves – it’s all part and parcel of the adrenaline rush that is online selling.

What’s less fun, though, is the legwork. Staying up late to sort through stock and pack goods, with only a cup of coffee and a few flattened cardboard boxes for company… who wants to be doing that?

Not you – so it’s time to start outsourcing your ecommerce fulfilment responsibilities. By hiring a company to handle the picking, packaging, and postage of your sold stock, you can cut costs, streamline your operation, and free up time for what matters.

In other words, you can focus on growing your business – not running it.

But choosing the right ecommerce fulfilment company (also known as a third party logistics, or 3PL, supplier) isn’t always that easy. Most 3PL providers are geared towards catering to clients with larger sales volumes. Smaller businesses tend to get the short end of the stick, becoming saddled with minimum charges and bloated monthly fees.

It’s not fair. So, we decided to put together our list of the best fulfilment companies for small businesses.

Read on to explore which one is best for yours.

best fulfilment companies for small businesses

Time, money, hassle, coffee consumption… outsourcing your small business’ order fulfilment duties can save you more than you think


The best fulfilment services for small businesses

We compared the range of ecommerce fulfilment services in the UK to find the ones best suited to the needs of small businesses. In particular, we kept an eye out for low fees, straightforward pricing, and a focus on catering to the needs of smaller scale operations. And here’s what we came up with.

The best small business fulfilment companies in the UK are FedEx, Huboo, Core Fulfilment, Abstrakt, James and James, and Amazon FBA. 

The best order fulfilment companies for small businesses:


FedEx

Best for online stock and order management

FedEx is, quite simply, a huge name – if not the name – when it comes to delivery services. In the UK alone, FedEx boasts 75 locations, over 4,000 employees, and a fleet of vehicles that’s more than 2,200 strong. FedEx is common knowledge – but what’s less well-known is how adept this big business is at catering to small ones. As well as integrating with marketplaces such as Etsy, Magento, eBay and more, FedEx’s stock and order management software is among the best on the market. Why?

Well, FedEx’s cloud-based platform syncs with your existing software to provide insight into the whole ordering process – from placement to fulfilment, and all the way to transit and delivery. You’ll also know exactly when it’s time to order in new stock, while FedEx’s best in class analytics let you crunch the numbers to drive better business decisions.

Just ask FedEx Supply Chain’s senior vice president Ryan Kelly:

“FedEx Fulfillment gives small and medium-sized businesses the potential to achieve profitable and scalable growth. Online shoppers show deep-rooted loyalty to brands with fast shipments, easy returns, positive customer service experiences and flexible delivery options.”

Pros:

  • Its brand name inspires trust and confidence
  • Its broad network of fulfilment centres promises quick delivery
  • Integrates with payments, payroll and accounting tools, such as Square, Quickbooks, and Xero

X Cons:

  • Rates aren’t transparent, so you won’t know how much you can expect to pay unless you enquire with FedEx directly

FedEx pricing

FedEx offers pricing that's tailored to the unique product, storage, and packaging demands of your business. Get in touch with FedEx with a few more details, and they’ll be able to provide a better idea of what your fees will be. 

Alternatively, you could answer a couple of quick questions and receive quotes tailored to your small business right here, right now. 

It’s nothing like a survey – we’ll just ask for a little more info about how you currently deliver your products, where you deliver them, and how many parcels you ship daily. 

In return, you'll receive quotes from the best ecommerce fulfilment suppliers in your area. And you can rest assured that the companies that get in touch have all been hand-picked by our team, to help small businesses like yours scale.


Huboo

Best for lowest costs

If there’s anything small businesses shouldn’t have to do, it’s pay through the nose for fulfilment services. And with Huboo, you won’t – its rates are the lowest in the industry, and by a fair distance, too. Huboo offers two months' worth of free storage when you sign up, and tailored discounts on space after that. Huboo also boasts an incredible range of integrations – not just the big names such as Amazon and eBay, but the more obscure ones, too. And if they don’t already have it, Huboo promises to build that integration for you – for free!

Pros:

  • Offers instant setup
  • Provides strong customer support
  • Huboo sports excellent online customer reviews across the board

X Cons:

  • You'll need to be shipping at least 30 units per month for it to be worthwhile

Huboo pricing

Huboo’s packing and packaging fees start from 29p for a small letter, going up to £2.95 for each extra-large parcel you wish to send. 

Storage fees begin at 7p for a large letter, and cap at £1 for a medium-sized parcel.

Monthly subscription rates are as follows:

  • Bronze (30 unit per month limit) £10
  • Silver (300 unit per month limit) £25
  • Gold (1,500 unit per month limit) £50
  • Enterprise (5,000 unit per month limit) £150

For corporate rates of over 5,000 units per month, contact Huboo directly. 

Ready to find out how the right ecommerce fulfilment provider can help your small business scale? Get Free Quotes

Core Fulfilment

Best for late order cut-offs

There’s a lot to get excited about when it comes to Crewe-based 3PL provider Core Fulfilment. Its industry-leading 10pm order cut-off times for next-day delivery, for instance. Its weekend order processing, too. Oh, and did we mention Core Fulfilment’s cloud-based software, and its seamless integrations with Magento, Shopify, and WooCommerce? Core Fulfilment is also totally upfront with its pricing, with a handy cost calculator on its website to help you understand exactly what you’ll pay in fees.

Pros:

  • Allows you to offer your customers a wider choice of parcel delivery partners
  • Has experience in several sectors, including cosmetics, clothing, and consumer goods

X Cons:

  • You’ll need to be processing at least 250 orders per month to be eligible

Core Fulfilment pricing

Core Fulfilment’s picking and packing fees start at £1.95 per single order with one item in it. It’s 25p extra for each additional item added to the same order.

Storage fees weigh in at £10.88 per pallet (approximately one m³), when you have up to 50 unique products (SKUs, or stock-keeping units) in your inventory. As you add more unique SKUs, storage fees will increase accordingly.


Abstrakt

Best for returns handling

These days, handling returns is a huge part of running an ecommerce business. If it’s not easy to return, a customer won’t buy it. That’s why it’s such a relief that Abstrakt goes the extra mile to accept and process any returned items; getting them repackaged, re-shelved, and ready for resale. Abstrakt also offers kitting, reworking, and gift-wrapping services, too, while its software chips in with daily insights into the status of your stock.

Pros:

  • Offers excellent integration with the big ecommerce marketplaces, such as Amazon
  • Its Birmingham-based warehouse allows it to cater to businesses from all over the UK

X Cons:

  • No pricing information available

Abstrakt pricing

Abstrakt doesn’t advertise its rates transparently on its website. All of Abstrakt’s pricing is bespoke, so you’ll need to get in touch with the supplier directly, and provide some information about your business.

Remember, though, that you can also do that here. Simply provide us with some brief details about where and how you currently sell online. Then, leading 3PL providers will be straight back in touch with quotes tailor-made for your small business.


James and James

Best for startups and micro-businesses

Unlike many 3PL providers in the UK, James and James offers a fulfilment service that caters to businesses taking as few as 150 orders per month. As well as being tailored towards young businesses looking to grow, James and James’ service is also highly scalable – which means it’s perfectly placed to handle spikes in demand from marketing pushes, fresh investment, or kickstarter campaigns. Better still, this is all powered by James and James’ award-winning cloud-based software, which offers real-time stock and dispatch information to keep you in the loop.

Pros:

  • Its highly intuitive software provides a 360-degree view of your stock levels
  • Its US, European, and New Zealand fulfilment centres pave the way for your business to scale internationally

X Cons:

  • Its network of fulfilment centres isn’t as wide as those of the big 3PL providers

James and James pricing

James and James is also coy when it comes to disclosing exact ecommerce fulfilment rates. What it’s website does tell us, though, is that you’ll pay three different types of fees:

  • Fulfilment services costs: These include dedicated customer support, integration with your shopping cart, and your order fulfilment software licence fees
  • Fulfilment centre costs: These are what you’ll pay for the receipt and storage of your stock at James and James’ fulfilment centres (warehouses)
  • Order fulfilment costs: These fees are for the picking, packing, packaging, and shipping of your stock, and include a returns handling service
Ready to dip your toe into the warm, inviting waters of ecommerce fulfilment? Get Free Quotes

Amazon FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon)

Best for selling small-sized, low value goods at high volume

Amazon may have its faults, but we’ll say one thing – it has big, big brand power. Its name and logo alone inspire enormous consumer confidence. And, for your small business, ‘piggybacking’ on that brand recognition can go a long way towards boosting sales – at least in the early days. Add to this Amazon’s slick returns handling, excellent customer care, and vast network of fulfilment centres, and you’ve got a whole host of reasons to give it a go.

Oh, and those faults we were talking about? Well, Amazon FBA hikes its prices during the leadup to Christmas. It’s also widely known that Amazon co-mingles stock, meaning the product your customer ordered may not be the one they actually receive.

Pros:

  • Provides 24/7 customer support
  • Has no monthly minimum order amount
  • Allows you to sell through a variety of ecommerce channels and platforms – not just Amazon

X Cons:

  • Amazon has strict guidelines for having goods shipped to their fulfilment centres

Amazon FBA pricing

Amazon FBA’s fulfilment fee starts from 60p for a small letter, and goes up to 80p for a large letter (providing the value of the item itself is £9 or less). Envelopes range from £1.35 to £2.17, while parcels start from £2.14 (for an item weighing up to 150g), and reach £5.52 for an item weighing more than ten kilograms.

These prices are for goods sold on Amazon.co.uk and fulfilled by UK-based inventory. It costs only slightly more to sell on Amazon’s European marketplace (providing it’s fulfilled with locally-based stock). However, you should steer clear of selling abroad with UK-based stock – it’s almost three times as expensive!

Amazon FBA’s monthly storage fees start at 39p for clothing, shoes, and bags (between January and September) and go up to 91p for ‘all other categories’ items between October and December.

Essentially, Amazon isn’t cheap. But, if you’re looking to sell small-sized, low value goods at high volume, it’s a solid partner to start your ecommerce fulfilment journey with.


Next Steps

Which ecommerce fulfilment provider you ultimately choose for your small business should depend on several factors.

The first is down to which kind of features you’re looking to prioritise. If it’s total visibility and control over your inventory and order management – with excellent reporting features to match – then FedEx is your best bet. If low fees are at the top of your wishlist, though, don’t look past Huboo.

As a young, growing business, you’ll also need to think about how to best optimise your customers' experience. To do this, we’d recommend both Abstrakt (for making the returns process as seamless as it can be), and Core Fulfilment (for offering your customers late cut-offs for next-day delivery).

Finally, you’ll need to take into consideration the size and specific needs of your ecommerce business. If you’ve literally just started out, James and James is the best option for you. Likewise, if you’re building your reputation selling low value goods at high volume, Amazon FBA is a good place to start.

Don’t just take our word for it, though – find out for yourself which ecommerce fulfilment service is the most well-suited to your small business. It takes 30 seconds, and it’s your shortcut to getting the best deal. 

Simply answer a few short, straightforward questions about your current situation. We’re talking about:

  • How long you’ve been trading for
  • How you currently deliver your products
  • Where you sell your stock
  • The number of parcels you deliver daily
  • The rough size of an average parcel you’d deal in

Once we have all this, we’ll match you with the suppliers that are most well-equipped to handle the channel and volume of the products you’re shipping. 

They’ll then provide you with quotes tailored to the responses you gave, ensuring you get an ecommerce fulfilment solution that’s as unique as your small business is.

Julia Watts Content Manager

Specializing in business energy, fleet management and fuel cards, Julia’s here to help your company power up and get on the move. Having spent years working in the dynamic world of startup entrepreneurship, she loves creating content that might help exciting ventures, big or small, to flourish.

How to Take Payments Online and Over the Phone

By Julia Watts | Content Manager | 7 April, 2020

Learn how to accept ecommerce payments, and safeguard your business against the uncertainties of COVID-19


“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change”.

For British businesses, at least, Albert Einstein’s words have never been more relevant. Because things have changed, and they’ve changed fast.

Though the first confirmed UK cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) didn’t arrive until late January 2020, by the end of March the high street was unrecognisable. Shops across the country have been forced to close their doors indefinitely, but – with the population in lockdown in an attempt to stymie the virus’ spread – does this mean they’ve been robbed of their customers, too?

Well, no – because online buying and selling (ecommerce) remains as strong as ever. The postal service is continuing to function, websites are still live, and people are at home with more time than ever before – and with the same desire to shop. 

So it’s time to take Albert’s advice: to change, to adapt, and to make the smart choice for your business. 

It’s time to start accepting payments online, and over the phone, too. But how? Let’s take a look at how you can embrace ecommerce to defy COVID-19’s impact on your sales – and future-proof your business while you’re at it.

Alternatively, get straight to the good stuff with credit card processing quotes tailored to your business. Answer a few brief questions about your business’ industry and requirements (it takes about 30 seconds), and we’ll match you with hand-picked merchant account providers that’ll help you accept online payments.

Before we begin: This article focuses solely on accepting payments online, helping businesses respond to the government’s recent measures to close bricks and mortar establishments. 

For information about how to accept payments in person (with a PDQ machine and an electronic point of sale (EPOS) system), dive into the article below.

Read more: How to Take Credit Card Payments 4 Simple Steps


How to take payments online

how to accept payments online

Merchant account

First things first, any business that's looking to accept credit or debit cards (whether that’s in person, online, or over the phone) needs a merchant account

Of course, if you were accepting card payments from your physical store (i.e. at the point of sale) before COVID-19 happened, you’ll already have a merchant account. 

If this is the case, you can skip to the next section.

Jump to: Payment gateway

If you’re completely new to accepting credit or debit card payments, though, you’ll need to apply for a merchant account before you can get online.

Think of a merchant account as a kind of holding pen. It’s where funds go to be settled, before they arrive in your business bank account.

Types of merchant account

Merchant accounts are either:

  • Dedicated (or traditional): This kind of merchant account exists to process your business’ transactions only. Dedicated merchant accounts offer negotiable rates and flexibility, and are ideal for businesses that process larger amounts of transactions.
  • Aggregated: This kind of merchant account is offered by providers that ‘batch’ together your transactions with those of other businesses. Ideal for small or seasonal businesses, aggregated accounts are typically easier to get approved for than their dedicated counterparts – and offer simple, flat rate pricing to boot.
  • High-risk: This kind of merchant account exists for businesses with poor credit, or those that operate in a high-risk industry such as gambling, travel, or online pharmaceuticals. If this sounds like you, we recommend our list of the best high risk merchant account providers in the UK – find it here.

You can apply for a dedicated merchant account directly through an acquiring bank such as Barclays. Your other option comes in the form of third-party merchant account providers. In industry parlance, these companies are known as ISOs (Independent Service Organisations), and include suppliers such as takepayments and First Data.

As the name suggests, ISOs are independent companies that offer dedicated merchant services directly to businesses. They still work with the banks, but are generally cheaper, and offer superior customer support. 

Sure, dedicated merchant account fees can be trickier to get your head around. But in the long run, a dedicated account is a more cost-effective route for businesses – especially those that accept more than £2,000 per month in card transactions.

Alternatively, you can opt for an aggregated merchant account through a company known as a payment facilitator. Funky name, but you’ll certainly be familiar with the likes of Square, iZettle, and SumUp – their modern, mobile card machines are a staple on the counters of market stalls and micro-breweries across the country.

Payment facilitators (PayFacs) are well-suited to small businesses and sole traders. They offer straightforward, flat rate pricing, charge no monthly fees, and are typically easier to apply for (Square, for instance, doesn’t run a credit check). 

PayFacs are also called ‘all-in-one’ providers, because they give you the ability to take payments via multiple channels (online, in-store, over the telephone, by mail, and via invoicing) with the convenience of handling everything through a single supplier.

As for the application process, you’ll have to do it the only way most of us have these days… online. When that’s done, it’s time to get down to the real business – accepting payments online. To do that, you’ll need a…

Payment gateway

A payment gateway is a piece of software that authenticates and secures payments made through your website. 

A payment gateway is hosted either on your website (to help maintain a consistent customer journey) or on the website of your payment gateway provider (cheaper and more compliant, but potentially disruptive to your customers' user experience). Either way, it can usually be customised to fit the look and feel of your business’ colours and brand. So how do you get one?

Well, how you source your payment gateway service will depend on the type of merchant account you’ve selected (head back up to refresh your memory on what those are). Take a look at your options below.

With a dedicated merchant account

If you’ve opted for a dedicated merchant account, a payment gateway should be available to purchase as an ‘add-on’. Most providers offer it as a service for which you’ll pay a monthly fee (typically around £20), and in return get a set amount of ‘free’ transactions (usually between 350 and 400 per month).

If you exceed your number of transactions, you’ll then be eligible for a small per transaction fee (most likely around the 10p mark).

To reiterate, most merchant account providers offer a payment gateway. But if yours, for whatever reason, doesn’t, then stress not. You can also integrate your merchant account with a payment gateway from a third-party provider

Many providers (Authorize.Net, Braintree, and Amazon Pay included) specialise in such a service. Some, such as Stripe, are customisable to the extent that they’re almost a white label solution. So, if you’re tech-savvy (or have a software engineer or two at your disposal), then this could be the best option for you.

Be warned, though – this is a more complicated solution, and will probably be pricier, too. We always recommend entrusting your credit and debit card payments to a single provider, such as takepayments or First Data.

With an aggregated merchant account

If you’ve opted for a PayFac such as Square or iZettle, accepting payments online is a fair bit easier. That’s because – as we mentioned earlier – these companies offer an ‘all-in-one’ service. It’s a payment gateway, virtual terminal, and invoicing tool, all rolled into one

All-in-one providers also help you remain PCI compliant, and also throw in a bunch of other added benefits – including fraud management, subscription billing, and customer loyalty features.

Providers such as Square also work with website builders such as Wix. This team-up allows you to use drag-and-drop functionality to create a stunning website, then start selling through it. These providers also integrate with a range of shopping carts and ecommerce platforms, including Shopify, Etsy, and BigCommerce – allowing you to manage your sales and inventory from a single, convenient hub.

Going down this route is surprisingly affordable, too. Unlike with certain dedicated merchant accounts (where there can be hidden fees), you’ll pay only a small fee on each transaction you accept via your website. This cost will be a bit more expensive than it would be if you were accepting card payments in person (because of the higher level of data risk involved with ecommerce transactions), but it’s still minimal.

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How to take payments over the phone

how to take payments over the phone

Of course, you won’t only need to get on top of accepting payments online now that COVID-19 has shut down the high street. You’ll also want to explore the possibility of accepting card details remotely over the phone, or via mail order.

Here’s how.

Virtual terminal

A virtual terminal is a secure webpage that allows you to accept payments over the phone. You simply log into the page from your device, enter your customer’s card details (which you’ve received either over the phone, or via mail), and take the payment. These payments are called MOTO (Mail Order/Telephone Order) transactions.

Once chiefly the domain of freelancers, tradespeople, and food delivery businesses, MOTO payments might just be exactly what your SME needs to send sales back in the right direction. And they’re simple to accept, too – virtual terminals are basically an online version of a card machine.

Sage Pay virtual terminal

Sage Pay offers a slick, simple example of what a good virtual terminal interface should look like


Virtual terminals can also be used to process invoices, and you can save customer card details to speed up service. Better still, they’re totally secure – virtual terminals use AVS (Address Verification Service) to authenticate the payment, and are fully PCI compliant, too – providing, that is, that you don’t leave anyone’s card details lying around on a scrap of paper in your office.

Virtual terminals – a no-brainer, right? So how do you get one?

With a dedicated merchant account

Well, as it turns out, it’s as simple as obtaining a payment gateway. A virtual terminal is available as an optional add-on with a merchant account. It’ll set you back a monthly fee, usually starting at £10, plus a small cost per transaction beyond an agreed limit of sales made through the terminal.

With an aggregated merchant account

If you opt for an all-in-one provider, a virtual terminal will be included as standard – no monthly fees or hidden costs in sight. However, you will pay a percentage-based fee for each transaction you accept through it. With Square, that’s 2.5%, while SumUp will set you back 2.95% + 25p.

Ready to receive virtual terminal quotes tailored to your business? Yes, I'm Ready

Next Steps

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”.
Albert Einstein circle

This is another Einstein quote. Like the one we referenced earlier, it also sums up the days and weeks you have ahead of you.

Because, though COVID-19 will continue to test your business, it also presents a myriad of opportunities to take a look at your existing processes – and how you can improve them. How much does your business have to gain by accepting card payments online, or over the phone? 

More sales, for example? More customers? More ways to connect people with your services, products, provisions, or pleasant diversions that might even help them through a tough time?

Plus, even if the current pandemic wasn’t happening, accepting payments online and over the phone would still make perfect business sense. So let us help you get started.

To begin, simply take a minute to answer a few short questions

We’ll ask you about your industry, and the total number of card payments you’re looking to accept per month. We’ll also ask for your postcode, so we can match you to suppliers in your area.

Once we have a sense of your requirements, we’ll match you with merchant account providers that fit the bill. They’ll then be in touch directly, with quotes tailored to the specific needs of your business, and information about your next steps towards accepting payments online and over the phone.

It’s free to complete, and you could be speaking to an expert today. Why not give it a go?

Julia Watts Content Manager

Specializing in business energy, fleet management and fuel cards, Julia’s here to help your company power up and get on the move. Having spent years working in the dynamic world of startup entrepreneurship, she loves creating content that might help exciting ventures, big or small, to flourish.

The Best Countries for Social Distancing and Remote Work During COVID-19

By Julia Watts | Content Manager | 27 March, 2020

Social distancing. As the world writhes in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been cited again and again – along with hand washing, of course – as the public’s best defence against contracting and spreading the deadly coronavirus. 

So what does it actually mean? Well, social distancing measures include staying home, avoiding large gatherings, and refraining from touching others – fist pumps are out, elbows are in, and traditional handshakes have been replaced by the Wuhan variety. People all over the world have been told to work from home, and – when allowed out for essentials – they must remain at least two metres from one another.

Social distancing during COVID-19

It’s gotten so bad that most of Western Europe has clamped down, enforcing increasingly draconian measures to keep people indoors. Yet – in the UK, at least – people are still ignoring the advice. Similar circumstances have been seen in the furbizia of Italian citizens, and the Parisians’ flouting of the French capital’s strict lockdown laws en masse. Which begs the question…

How good are we all at social distancing? More pertinently, are certain countries better set up for success in minimising the ravages of COVID-19 through effective self-isolation?

Let’s take a look at what the data says.


Our research

We wanted to find out which of the world’s citizens are best-placed to work from home during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. To do this, for each country, we’ve examined nine of the most useful metrics for exploring the comfort, speed, and overall effectiveness of the average white collar remote worker:

  1. Number of internet users, relative to population
  2. Broadband download speed
  3. Digital evolution
  4. Contactless mobile wallet payments at the point of sale
  5. Number of households with a computer
  6. Social media usage
  7. E-government development
  8. Intelligent connectivity
  9. Mobile download speed

Sources: 1, 2 & 9, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

We ranked the world’s countries across each of these nine metrics to come up with a total aggregated score for each. The higher the score, we reasoned, the better-equipped the country is for social distancing success… and, therefore, the better it’d be at slowing the spread of the virus.

So which countries came out on top?

RankingCountryIndex score
1South Korea6.7
2Denmark6.5
3Sweden6.2
4Singapore6.1
5Norway5.7
6Netherlands5.6
7UK5.4
8USA5.3
9Switzerland5.1
10Canada5.0
11Australia4.7
12New Zealand4.3
13Japan4.0
14China3.4
15Germany3.2

The top five: unpacked

With huge smartphone penetration, high internet usage, and a particularly prominent penchant for social media, South Korea tops our list. Denmark is next, and is joined by two of its closest comrades – Sweden and Norway – in the top five.

Like Scandinavia, East Asian countries fared well – and it’s Singapore that rounds out our top five countries for social distancing during a pandemic. Let’s take a closer look at these countries… and why they might just be some of the best places to hole up, hunker down, and work from home during COVID-19.

South Korea flag

South Korea

  • Has the highest social media usage
  • 95% of South Koreans regularly access the internet…
  • And almost 9 in 10 of them own a smartphone

South Korea. One of the hardest-hit countries in the early devastations of COVID-19, its denizens can at least take solace in their smartphones. More than 87% of South Koreans own one, while basically all of them utilise the internet.

It’s no surprise, then, that South Korea’s social media usage is the highest in the world. As well as the usual suspects (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), South Korea sports a vast array of its own local social media platforms. So – even if its citizens must continue to stay at home indefinitely – social media, at least, will ensure that the distancing remains only geographical.

South Korea also ranks third in the world for e-government services, second for broadband download speed, and first for mobile download speeds. This potent combination has allowed South Korean authorities to succeed with a ‘self-health check’ mobile app, empowering those entering the country to monitor any potential symptoms of the virus.

Denmark flag

Denmark

  • Boasts the best levels of internet access
  • Has a near perfect score for e-government development, which takes in online services, human capital, and telecommunications infrastructure
  • 88% of Danish citizens interact digitally with public authorities

Denmark’s excellent levels of internet usage, computer penetration, and hygge propelled it to number two on our list of the best countries for social distancing. 

Similar to the rest of Scandinavia, the last 20 years have seen Denmark’s public sector undergo a rapid push towards digitisation. This, combined with the Danes’ already elevated levels of trust in public authorities, makes communication during COVID-19 a speedier, safer, and more effective proposition – particularly when 88% Denmark’s people already interact digitally with the government.

And why wouldn’t they, when their country dominates the rankings for e-government development? With top telecommunications infrastructure, high human capital, and on point online services, there aren’t many better places to hole up during a pandemic.

Sweden flag

Sweden

  • Ranked highest for digital evolution
  • This includes supply and demand conditions, as well as innovation and change
  • Swedish businesses reacted quickest to quell the onset of the coronavirus

Not to be outdone by its next-door Nordic neighbour, Sweden topped our rankings for digital evolution. This metric takes into account the growth rate of a country’s digitisation, and is based on supply conditions, demand conditions, institutional environment, and innovation and change – and Sweden bosses it.

Sweden’s always provided a nurturing home for startups, and its corporate stars were characteristically ahead of the curve when it came to COVID-19. Big names including IKEA and Spotify reacted swiftly to the virus’ spread, closing their offices and initiating remote working procedures even before anything official was announced. Great spot!

Singapore flag

Singapore

  • Scored higher than any other country for broadband speed
  • Ranked well across all data points
  • One of the first to use a mobile app to combat COVID-19

Singapore’s quick internet and mobile download speeds (plus its impressive e-governmental development scores) haven’t just made it a haven for working-from-home wizards. It’s also helped authorities and citizens join forces in using tech to combat COVID-19. 

How? With an app, of course. TraceTogether allows local authorities to use wireless Bluetooth technology to track people who’ve been exposed to those with the coronavirus, helping medical teams to react quicker to new cases.

Norway flag

Norway

  • Almost 97% of the population uses the internet
  • Over 95% of households have a computer
  • Tied with Sweden as the most digitally evolved country

More commonly known for fjords and expensive beer, Norway has a few more feathers in its cap. Alongside Sweden, it boasts the highest ratings for digital evolution, and 19 out of every 20 households have computers. On top of this, almost all Norwegians access the internet on a regular basis.

To be honest, there was barely a metric that Norway didn’t excel in. If it was let down by anything, it’d be its lower e-government development score, which saw it sink below Scandinavian rivals Denmark and Sweden in our index.

Still, with fast internet, good mobile wallet penetration, and the Northern Lights on your doorstep, it’s certainly not the worst place to be stuck during an outbreak!


…The rest

How do the remaining ten countries in our top 15 stack up?

6-10

Claiming the next five places is a predominantly European contingent, with the Netherlands, the UK, and Switzerland being joined by the US and Canada. 

As it turns out, the Dutch are pretty well-equipped to work from home, with almost 98% of households owning a computer. Switzerland and Canada achieved average scores across the board, while here in the UK our folks have a bit of a mixed bag.

While Britain’s percentage of internet users, e-government development, and computer penetration are all good, we’re let down by – wait for it – the second worst broadband and mobile internet speeds on the list (it’s the Aussies that take that unwanted plaudit). Still… wifi in the UK is slooooow.

Want the proof? A mere fortnight into the more serious anti-COVID-19 measures, and our broadband is already floundering.

That said, it’s not all bad for Britain. We do, after all, have magnificent e-government development scores. Take the MyGP app, for instance – which recently updated its remote consultations section to streamline COVID-19 diagnoses – or NHS software provider AccurX, which has added video consultation to its services. 

USA flag

Spotlight on: USA (8th on our list)

  • Ranked highest for intelligent connectivity
  • This metric is based on ICT (information and communications technology) investment, ICT maturity, and economic performance in broadband, cloud, IoT (Internet of Things), and AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology
  • Scored poorly for percentage of internet users relative to population (75%)

Ah, the United States. The Land of the Free – at least, until state orders instructing over half of its population to stay at home came into effect this week. Luckily, the US population has the tools and technology in place to successfully self-isolate, and work from home with ease.

The USA’s investment in the growth and performance of broadband and cloud technology is empowering its workers to keep the communication lines open, and pave the way for real-time collaboration through the internet. 

After all, most businesses are powered by some form of cloud technology – whether it’s CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, payroll, or a communication tool such as Slack or Google Hangouts

However, the US was let down by its internet usage, with only three quarters of the country using the worldwide web. Though, as more and more states order citizens to stay home without much to do, we’d be surprised if this number doesn’t start to accelerate!

11-15

Further down our list, it’s a trip down under, where New Zealand and Australia’s strong social media usage and e-government development should see them through these dark times. They’re joined by Japan and Germany in our 13th and 15th positions, while in 14th place, it’s the country where it all began…

China flag

Spotlight on: China (14th on our list)

  • Lowest number of internet users on our list
  • Highest mobile wallet usage (by far) at the point of sale
  • High contactless cap encourages more hygienic, cashless spending

China’s story is a tale of two halves. On the one hand, its citizens’ efforts to work remotely and effectively socially distance were stymied by the worst levels of internet access on the list – just under 59% of Chinese people have accessed the internet in the last year

Away from the confines of the (home) office, though, China excels – particularly when it comes to making purchases in stores. China’s contactless usage was unprecedented, with a whopping 36% of transactions at the point of sale being made with mobile wallets

Experts around the world have already pointed the finger at banknotes as a major culprit in the spread of the notoriously contagious virus. So, China’s propensity to favour a completely hands-free way of paying should help its citizens to social distance effectively. 

Plus, at CN¥1000 (over £100), China has one of the highest contactless spend limits in the world. That means Chinese consumers can buy more, without reaching a cap at which they have to handle a well-thumbed card machine and enter a PIN code. 

For context, this is something we’re desperately trying to replicate here in the UK – our own contactless limit was increased by 50% just days ago!


Our methodology and metrics: explained

Methodology

Our index was created to measure how countries stack up when it comes to the factors that contribute to a digitally advanced society. These countries are more well-equipped to work from home; and their citizens, therefore, have a better chance of successfully social distancing.

These are the nine metrics mentioned above, and countries were only chosen if data was available for seven of the nine sources we used (Sorry Finland, Iceland, and Hong Kong; we tried). 

In order to be able to accurately quantify how digitally-equipped a country is, we awarded each one a score from 1-10, on each metric. The higher the score, the better a country’s capability in that specific area. 

We obtained a score for each metric from the raw data, via this formula:

Score(i) = 10 * ( ( (x(i) – x(min) ) / ( (x(max) – x(min) ) )

Final scores (the ones you see in the table up at the top) were calculated from the total sum of the points awarded for each category, divided by the number of datasets that we had for them.

Metrics

The nine metrics were chosen because we felt they represented the most accurate, overall reflection of how able a country's citizens are to work from home, connect with one another remotely, and buy essentials without too much contact. We figured that people who are more empowered to do these things will be more successful at social distancing.

Basically, these countries are the best ones to ride out the current COVID-19 pandemic in.

To further narrow down our nine metrics, we sorted them into five categories:

Internet capabilities

This includes:

  • Number of users of the internet
  • Broadband download speed
  • Percentage of households with a computer

Why is this important?

The distribution of decent internet (and functioning computers) across a country is instrumental to the effectiveness of home-working. Anyone who’s ever had to struggle through a video meeting with slow internet – or fill out a spreadsheet without a computer – will know exactly what we mean.

Digital infrastructure

This includes:

  • Digital evolution
  • Intelligent connectivity

Why is this important?

Endava defines digital evolution as a country’s:

“[I]ntentional choice to rapidly accelerate its organisational rate of digital adoption and change, through the simultaneous creation, renovation, and marshalling of digital products, alongside the creation, flexible reinforcement, and agile maturation of their platforms and infrastructure.”

Essentially, it refers to how committed a country is to going digital

Intelligent connectivity, in this context, is a country’s commitment to investing in, and making available, technology that facilitates human communication.

Without a more digitised, cloud-based approach to connecting people, a country’s population will struggle to work remotely – just look at the current mad scramble for cloud services for all the evidence you need of this!

Digital communication

This includes:

  • Social media
  • Mobile download speed

Why is this important?

The importance of social media in maintaining virtual (if not physical) human contact in pandemic times simply can’t be overstated. Instagram, TikTok, and Zoom are but a handful of the big platforms to have benefited since real-life social events began slipping off the calendar.

Why does it matter? Well, the more access a country’s citizens have to social media, the less need they’ll have to defy government warnings against gathering in public. Thus, they’ll be better at social distancing, and more effective when it comes to working from home.

Public services

This includes:

  • E-government development

Why is this important?

E-government development relates to the effectiveness of a country’s online services, plus its telecommunications infrastructure. 

It matters, because how well a country’s existing processes are equipped to handle communication and coordination during a crisis will affect its citizens’ ability to concentrate on work, and maintain a commitment to social distancing practices.

Contactless payments

This includes:

  • Mobile wallet penetration

Why is this important?

Supermarkets are basically some of the only shops left on the street – and, COVID-19 or no COVID-19, buying food will always be a necessity.

Yet banknotes are a proven conductor for the virus, and consumers will always require a quick, seamless experience at the checkout. The availability of contactless-equipped terminals, penetration of mobile wallets, and ability to spend more with contactless will always be huge factors during a pandemic.


Conclusion

We are in truly unprecedented times. COVID-19 has swept the earth, sending the world’s countries into panic and its economies into recession. Governments are responding by enforcing oppressive lockdown measures, and businesses by sending their employees home – with a paycheck, or without one.

People all over the world are faring differently. So how does your country stack up?

As we’ve seen, the data suggests that South Korea should be the country most capable of weathering a lengthy spell of remote work and social distancing. Denmark, Sweden, Singapore, and Norway also all possess the infrastructure and technology in place to ride out the devastating storm that is COVID-19.

To what extent our research will bear out in real life, though, we can’t say. How well a country reacts depends on when it gets hit, where it is, and the customs of a nation’s people and culture… not to mention the scope and accuracy of reporting on the pandemic.

What we can say is this – with almost half a million recorded cases (at the time of writing), COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere soon… and neither is remote working. And everyone, whether you’re in Swansea or Switzerland (and regardless of the speed of your broadband!), has a responsibility to stay home, and follow government advice about social distancing.

That’s all from us. Tweet @robdbinns to chat. Alternatively, send us an email at rob.binns@expertmarket.co.uk if you have any questions about the data, or our approach to it.

But most of all, stay safe.

Julia Watts Content Manager

Specializing in business energy, fleet management and fuel cards, Julia’s here to help your company power up and get on the move. Having spent years working in the dynamic world of startup entrepreneurship, she loves creating content that might help exciting ventures, big or small, to flourish.

9 best fuel card providers for your small business

By Julia Watts | Content Manager | 5 December, 2019

Find out what the top 9 fuel card providers are and choose the right one for your business


You’ve arrived on this page because you need a fuel card and you want to make the responsible choice for your businesses. But with so many different fuel card companies and types of fuel card on the market, how do you make the right decision — especially if you’re a first-time buyer?

No one likes spending too much on fuel, and no business owner has time to waste on unnecessary admin tasks. Fuel cards are the solution to both these issues. 

We’ve looked at the range of fuel card suppliers on the market in 2020, and have done the hard work for you. Use our free custom-built fuel card comparison tool to get quotes that match your business needs.

With 15 years experience in the industry, we’ve compiled a list of our top 9 picks for fuel cards for small businesses.

Jump to:

Fuel card providerRecommended asStar rating
UK FuelsBest all-round provider
EssoBest for regional fuel prices
BPBest for fleet management
ShellBest for range of services
AllstarBest for small businesses
TexacoBest for rural areas
EDCBest for international businesses
The Fuel StoreBest for the basics
KeyfuelsBest for heavy goods vehicles
Find a fuel card supplier for your business Get free quotes
best fuel card providers

Find the fuel card supplier perfectly suited to the unique needs of your business


The best fuel card providers

Now that you’ve seen our top nine fuel card providers and ratings above, the next step is to find out which would be the perfect match for your business.

Read on for a deep-dive into each provider, or if you're interesting in getting prices for fuel cards for your business, join the 4,000 people that compared fuel card prices with us last year. Our custom-built comparison tool has been created from 15 years of experience in the business – get matched to a provider today.

Our top fuel card providers include UK Fuels, Esso, BP, Shell, Allstar Business Solutions, Texaco, EDC, The Fuel Store, and Keyfuels.

The best fuel card providers for UK businesses:


UK Fuels

Best all-round provider

UK Fuels is one of the largest suppliers in the industry. It offers fuel cards from all the major players, as well as its own branded cards.

As a middleman working between you and the major oil brands, the team at UK Fuels don’t care if you go with Shell, Esso, or BP. All they want is to help you choose the right fuel card for your business.

Supplier Rating : Read review

By working with such a wide variety of providers, UK Fuels can offer tailored options for large fleets, HGVs and small businesses. It also provides fuel cards for European and public sector use. With UK Fuels, you’ll have access to over 6,500 sites UK-wide – and its app makes it easy to navigate to your nearest one.

UK Fuels’ award-winning fleet management tool ‘Kinesis’ lets you track your vehicle and fuel data. You can optimise your routes and monitor your drivers, helping you save both time and money.

Pricing

No signup fees. Annual price depends on the fuel card you select.

Pros:

  • Over 25 years of expertise
  • Excellent reputation for customer service

X Cons:

  • Site coverage not as large as some bigger providers

Esso

Best for regional fuel prices

Esso is undeniably a goliath of the fuel industry. Its national network has over 3,000 fuel stations to its name. And it offers a choice of either fixed price or pump-price payment methods. Esso cards can also be used at BP and Shell sites. And you can collect Tesco Clubcard points with fuel purchases.

Supplier Rating : Read review

With Esso, transactions are listed on an invoice that’s easy to digest and HMRC VAT approved. An online management tool shows your closest filling station, and lets you block cards or cap spending from your living room.

Esso provides around the clock support for if you get stuck at night or on the weekend. It’s perfect for international businesses, too: Esso’s European network includes over 10,000 service stations in 15 countries, so you’ll never be too far from a top up. And because Esso fuel is priced locally, it’s usually very competitive – especially outside of major cities.

Pricing

There’s no charge to get set up, but a nominal annual fee applies.

Pros:

  • Plenty of stations on motorways for convenience
  • 24-hour support line

X Cons:

  • Not the best for online features
Did You Know?

Esso is the official fuel partner of Red Bull Racing’s Formula One team


BP

Best for fleet management

BP boasts a card you can use to top up at over 8,000 sites in the UK. That includes a third of all motorway service stations, and equates to nine out of 10 UK forecourts. And BP’s branded site coverage is so extensive that an estimated 90% of Britain’s population lives within 5 miles of a BP forecourt. Now that’s convenience!

Supplier Rating : Read review

BP’s intuitive app allows you to quickly find your closest refuelling station. And you can quickly and easily log your vehicles’ miles using its automated mileage capture tool. And when you factor in BP’s strong brand power and solid customer support? It’s not hard to see why over 40,000 UK businesses use its fuel cards.

Pricing

No signup fees. Annual fees depend on the size of your fleet and the card selected. Minimum spend applies.

Pros:

  • Extensive network coverage
  • More than 100 years of experience

X Cons:

  • Higher card fees for businesses with smaller fleets

According to a report by Reseaarch and Markets, fuel card volumes will increase by 9.4% Between 2018 and 2022. Don’t let your business get left behind — find the best fuel card provider.


Shell

Best for range of services

Shell fuel cards have been around for over 50 years. They give you access to one of the largest fuel station networks in the world, offering discounted prices at over 40,000 Shell forecourts and 10,000 partner stations. Shell offers several tailored plans for different levels of spend. And its range of services goes beyond the expectations of a fuel card.

Supplier Rating : Read review

Shell’s impressive online portal lets you manage the security, costs and transactions of your fleet remotely, 24/7. And its clever route planner makes it easy to plan your next pit stop.

What’s more, Shell’s fuel cards let you pay for more than just fuel. You can use them for tunnel and bridge tolls in all major European countries, and for ferry crossings too. Your team can use them for ‘truck on train’ services, so your drivers don’t need to worry about carrying cash everywhere. A Shell fuel card also gives you access to reliable breakdown assistance if you get stuck out on the road.

Pricing

Prices start at £18/year, with a minimum spend of £300/month.

Pros:

  • Breakdown assistance in almost 40 countries
  • Huge network of stations

X Cons:

  • One of the more expensive options
Save by Comparing Fuel Card Quotes from Leading Suppliers
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Allstar Business Solutions

Best for small businesses

Allstar may not be as much of a household name as BP, Shell, or Texaco, but it’s still a big player in the fuel card world.

Allstar offers a choice of four cards that can be used at up to 7,700 stations in the UK – that’s a staggering 90% of all UK fuel stations. Partner brands include BP, Shell and Esso, as well as supermarket chains such as Morrisons and Tesco.

Supplier Rating : Read review

Allstar boasts the largest network of fuel sites in the UK and a fuel card used by over 1.1 million drivers. Its concise online reporting streamlines your invoicing process, meaning you can cut down on the tedious admin stuff and get back to growing your business.

Allstar offers diesel at cheaper than the national average at selected sites. And your drivers can claim up to 30% discount on servicing and repairs at over 9,000 UK garages.

Pricing

Allstar’s prices are available on request. Click here to get quotes and compare top Expert Market approved suppliers.

Pros:

  • 24/7 support service
  • One of the most secure networks on the market

X Cons:

  • Transaction fees apply

Texaco

Best for rural areas

Texaco

With a household name and thousands of UK sites, Texaco is an established and reliable fuel card provider. It’s especially great if your business operates in rural areas outside of major cities. As a major global brand, Texaco can offer some of the most competitive prices on fuel of any fuel card supplier.

Supplier Rating : Read review

Texaco is one of the four major oil brands in the world, distributing 270,000 barrels throughout Europe every day. That’s nearly a billion barrels a year. You would expect Texaco to offer extensive coverage, and it does, with over 2,300 stations in the UK alone. These sites include Morrisons, Murco and Jet service stations, as well as Texaco own brand sites.

Pricing

No setup or joining fees. A small fee for topping up at BP stations applies. Texaco is the only UK fuel card supplier to offer competitive fixed weekly wholesale prices for both petrol and diesel.

Pros:

  • Card can also be used at 1,200 BP stations
  • Trusted, internationally recognised brand

X Cons:

  • Surcharge to top up at some non-Texaco stations

EDC

Best for international businesses

With more than 6,500 European refuelling locations, the European Diesel Card (EDC) is perfect if your business spans the continent. EDC lets you wrangle discounts of up to 50% on road and tunnel tolls across Europe.

Supplier Rating :

EDC cards offer no minimum spend and don’t rope you into a contract. So how much you spend is solely up to you and the demands of your business.

Pricing

Weekly fixed rates for diesel. You’ll need to enquire for further pricing details.

Pros:

  • Intelligent e-route online map tool helps you plan journeys

X Cons:

  • Less effective for businesses operating in the UK only
Find a fuel card supplier for your business Get free quotes

The Fuel Store

Best for the basics

Up-and-coming fuel card provider The Fuel Store was only started a couple of years ago. But it already claims to offer the largest multi-branded site network in the UK.

And with approved HMRC invoicing, 24/7 payment management and competitive pricing, it’s already showing its ambitions to take on the industry big guns.

Supplier Rating :

The Fuel Store’s fuel card, like its rivals, lets you monitor your fuel consumption and total spend. It gives you more control over your business and lets your drivers go cashless. You’ll get fuel reports and transaction information at your fingertips, and have access to a friendly team of account managers if you get stuck.

The Fuel Store’s weekly fixed pricing means your business won’t be at the mercy of the tectonic week-to-week shifts in fuel prices, so you can save more in the long run.

Pricing

As its other services show, the Fuel Store does the basics well. It offers weekly fixed pricing with no hidden fees and a small annual card fee. A minimum usage fee applies if you end up drawing less than 300 litres of fuel per month.

Pros:

  • Simple account setup
  • Annual fee a third cheaper than many big suppliers

X Cons:

  • Limited range of features compared to other suppliers

Keyfuels

Best for heavy goods vehicles

Keyfuels gives you access to a UK network of over 2,750 multi-branded sites, including Tesco and Morrisons supermarkets. Keyfuels started out in the haulage industry, so its fuel card is great for catering to the bigger vehicles on the road.

Over 540 of its forecourts are tailor-made for heavy goods vehicles, with high canopies and faster pumps. These forecourts are also strategically placed, meaning you won’t lose time taking detours to fill up.

Supplier Rating : Read review

Keyfuels also offers ‘ControlMax’, an intelligent online system exclusive to its brand. It gives you more control over your fuel security by letting you monitor fuel card velocity controls. You can enforce these in real time to make sure you stay on top of your fleet and drivers.

Pricing

Keyfuels’ standard pay-as-you-go plan offers a fixed weekly rate. However, it also offers a card that lets you negotiate directly with fuel suppliers.

Pros:

  • 35 years of experience in fuel management
  • Strategic fuel site selection

X Cons:

  • Less effective option for fleets with smaller vehicles

Expert verdict

The fuel card you choose has to reflect the unique needs of your business.

If you’re starting out and need a card to do the basics, you should go with one from UK Fuels or Allstar. Heavy-hitters like BP, Esso and Shell still offer the weight of big names and even bigger network coverage. But lesser-known fuel card providers like The Fuel Store are bringing great value and simpler solutions for small business owners.

Still unsure which supplier is the best for you? That’s understandable — it’s a huge industry, and we could only scratch the surface in this article.  Start comparing prices from industry-leading fuel card suppliers today.


How do I choose the best fuel card supplier for my business?

Three questions to consider:

The fuel card supplier best suited to your small business isn’t always the one offering the biggest savings on fuel. There are several other factors to weigh up before choosing your provider. Before you dive in, ask yourself these three questions:

What type of vehicles make up my fleet?

Is your business fleet mostly made up of HGVs? You’ll want to go with a fuel card supplier with access to as many HGV-friendly sites as possible, such as Keyfuels. Some companies offer extra savings on the price of either diesel or petrol. So it’s essential to match your fuel card supplier with the needs of your business – and your engines.

Where do my vehicles operate?

If your vehicles operate nationally, then it pays to choose a supplier with a large network of motorway refuelling stations, like BP. If your business is a regional operation, you’ll find that Esso offers great savings. And if you operate mostly in continental Europe, then the EDC should be your first point of call.

What’s my business’ average monthly spend on fuel?

Some fuel card suppliers slap you with a minimum monthly spend. While this isn’t really a factor for larger businesses, it’s something you should consider if your fleet is still small.

Julia Watts Content Manager

Specializing in business energy, fleet management and fuel cards, Julia’s here to help your company power up and get on the move. Having spent years working in the dynamic world of startup entrepreneurship, she loves creating content that might help exciting ventures, big or small, to flourish.

What are the different types of websites?

By Julia Watts | Content Manager | 14 January, 2020

Learn all about the 12 most popular website categories and get the expert tips you need to build a brilliant website.


But what are these website categories, exactly? Worry not – that’s why we’re here!

Sifting through every website type can feel overwhelming, but we’ve done the hard work already. We’ve conducted hours of research to narrow it down to the 12 best website categories for you to choose from. We also appreciate the difficulty in choosing the right website for your business. We've been in the web design business for 15 years and so have collated our research to create a custom-built form to match you with a provider perfect for your business needs.

Get all of the tips, tools, and tricks you need to build a brilliant website that stands out from the ever-growing crowd.

types of websites

What are the different types of websites?

While it’s clear there are more than just twelve different types of websites in the world, we’ve picked the most common categories to give you a general idea. These types of websites include blogs, corporate, ecommerce, portfolio or photo-sharing, crowdfunding, news/magazine, social media, TV or video streaming, educational, portal, and a wiki or community forum.

Here is our breakdown of the 12 most popular types of websites.

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1. Blog

You’ve likely come across blogs in your browsing experience, but for those who aren’t familiar, they’re online journals or informational pages that are regularly updated. 

Typically managed by an individual or a small group, a blog can cover any topic – whether it’s travel tips, financial advice, or doughnut reviews. While they’re often written in an informal or conversational style, professional blogging has gone on to become an extremely popular method of making money online.

Looking to start your own blog, but not sure where to start? We’d recommend trying Wix – it’s the best website builder on the market today, letting you build your own blog in a couple of hours, at no cost. Wix also offers some brilliant blogging-specific tools, such as performance analytics, a comments feature, and social bookmarking.

wix blog example

2. Corporate

50% of small businesses don’t have a website. That’s an astonishingly high figure, given how important an online presence is for a company’s credibility. And luckily for you, this means you can build a website to give your business the competitive edge. If you're interested in getting a corporate website, join the 4,000 people who requested quotes from Expert Market last year. Just tell us your website needs and we will save you time by matching you with the best website builder for your business.

You may not sell directly through a corporate website, but you can use these sites to provide information about your business, and to let potential clients or customers know how they can get in touch with you. 

Best of all, it doesn’t cost much to create a credible corporate website – you can easily build a site that looks great, and delivers results, for as little as £1/month with the website builder 1&1 IONOS

corporate website example

3. Ecommerce

An ecommerce site, otherwise known as an online store, allows you to take online payments for products or services. Stores can function as standalone websites, or be combined with a blog or corporate website.

For example, a purely corporate website without ecommerce functionality can still indirectly encourage users to purchase something, but cannot accept any payments.

If you’re looking to build an ecommerce store today, then we’d recommend trying Shopify’s 14-day free trial. Not only is it the easiest platform to use, but Shopify is the most comprehensive and versatile ecommerce platform on the market, letting you sell across multiple channels including Facebook, Instagram, eBay, and Amazon.

You can try Shopify for free, with prices starting at £23/month after the free trial period.

shopify website example

4. Portfolio

Just like a physical portfolio, these types of websites are used to display and promote examples of previous work. Primarily used by those in the creative industry, a portfolio website can be used like a CV, demonstrating your skills in order to impress clients, customers, or future employers.

To build an impressive portfolio that helps your work stand out, you need the leading website builder for design, Squarespace. This platform has the best design tools of any website builder, letting you create a professional-looking site in a matter of hours.

portfolio website example
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5. Brochure

Brochure websites are like digital business cards. Mainly used by small businesses, these types of websites are used to advertise services, and to display contact information, with just a few pages.

For example, a small plumbing company would build a brochure website with a homepage to display contact information, an ‘about us’ page describing the company, and maybe a few photos of their work. 

If you don’t have time to create a website yourself, then why not read about the best web design companies for small businesses?

brochure website example

6. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising small amounts of money from lots of different people. These types of websites are becoming a go-to resource for new startups. 

In the past, the only way to fund a new business venture was to seek large investments from only a few people (think Dragon’s Den). But these days, you can create a crowdfunding site with ease – you’ll just need to create a pitch video for your project, and then set a target amount and deadline. 

Internet users who believe in what you’re working on will pledge an amount of money to your cause. You can also offer incentives in exchange for donations, such as discounted products or VIP experiences. 

crowdfunding website example

7. News or magazine

News and magazine websites need little explanation. The primary purpose of a news website is to keep its readers up to date on current affairs, whereas online magazines will focus more on entertainment.

Are you a budding journalist looking to build an online presence? Then you can’t really go wrong with Wix’s sublime templates. You can even install the News Page app to your business website, which will automatically feed and update your website with relevant news articles. And better still, with paid plans starting from just £3 per month, Wix won’t cost you the earth. You can also get support from our 15 years experience, and tell us what you’re looking for to get other cost-effective suggestions.

news website example

8. Social media

We all know Facebook and Twitter, but social media sites can take many other forms. These sites are usually created to let people share thoughts, images or ideas, or simply connect with other people in relation to a certain topic. Social media sites are also increasingly becoming the go-to destination for people to read up on the news. 

social media website example

9. TV or video streaming

Netflix, along with similar sites like NowTV, have revolutionised the way the world watches television. These video streaming sites have seen their popularity soar in recent years, with catch-up sites like BBC iPlayer and All 4 representing more traditional examples of this particular website theme.

streaming website example

10. Educational

Educational websites are also quite self explanatory. These websites are designed to display information on certain topics, either using interactive games or engaging designs to keep the user hooked. If you’re looking to build one of these websites, you should think about hiring a freelance web developer to create some fun tools, games, or quizzes.

educational website example
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11. Portal

Portals are primarily used for internal purposes within businesses, schools, or institutions. These websites often involve a login process, allowing students to access the school website, or granting employees access to their emails, alerts, and files all in one place.

Web portals are quite complex when it comes to design, so we’d recommend hiring a web design expert to handle the tricky web development process.

portal website example

12. Wiki or community forum 

A wiki website allows people to collaborate online and write content together. The most popular example is Wikipedia itself, which allows anyone to amend, add to, and assess the content of each article.

wiki website example

FAQs: What are the types of web design? 

You now know more about the different website themes out there, which can range from ecommerce and crowdfunding to portfolio and video streaming – but what are the different types of website design

In this FAQ section, we discuss web design in terms of content and mobile responsiveness.

Dynamic content design

A website’s design will usually depend on how dynamic the page’s content is – that is, whether the content changes, updates, or remains still over time. 

There are two types of page content web design:

1. Static/fixed

Static (or ‘fixed’) websites are the most simplistic websites when it comes to design. The content on these websites doesn’t automatically change or adapt depending on the user, and is not regularly updated. 

Static websites are built using simple HTML code, and are usually there to provide information.

2. Dynamic

A dynamic website will display different content each time a user visits. This type of design is commonly used for blogs and ecommerce sites, or any website that is regularly updated.

Dynamic content design can also show different content to each user at different times of the day. The upside of dynamic content web design is that it creates a more personal and interactive experience for the user; the downside, however, is that these websites are more complex to develop, and may take slightly longer to load than static sites.

Optimisation design

Optimised design is when a website reformats its layout to clearly display the page on a different screen size. For example, a website that is mobile responsive will completely reshuffle its layout in order to fit on a mobile screen, keeping the user journey as smooth as possible.

There are three different types of optimised design:

  1. Static/fixed
  2. Fluid/liquid
  3. Responsive

1. Static/fixed

A fixed website is not optimised for screens of different sizes. The website will remain a fixed width of pixels, no matter which device it’s displayed on – whether that’s a desktop, tablet, or mobile.

When viewing a static/fixed website on a mobile, you’ll need to pinch, zoom, and swipe in order to see what’s written on the page. This results in a bad user experience, and means we would not recommend this design.

In fact, 57% of internet users would not recommend a business that had a poorly designed mobile website. If your website has static design, you might want to do something about it.

2. Fluid/liquid

A website built with a fluid or liquid design ensures that the website looks the same in terms of proportions no matter which screen it’s displayed on. Each element of the website, such as the navigation bar, will take up the same relative amount of space on every device, resulting in a simple user journey.

3. Responsive

Responsive design goes one step further than fluid or liquid. A website with responsive design will actually look different on each device – in fact, some less important elements will even disappear in order to fit on the screen, in order to minimise the need for zooming, pinching, or scrolling.

If your target audience spends most of its time on mobiles, then it’s absolutely vital that your website is mobile responsive. Luckily, website builders like Wix offer mobile ready themes, so you don’t need to worry about optimising your website.

an example of a responsive website

Next steps

Feeling inspired? Thankfully, getting a website of your own has never been easier.

Whether you need a website for your business dream, or a blog about your football team, you can get your very own professionally designed website from as little as £200. If you’d like to receive free quotes from the UK’s leading web design experts, then just tell us about your website ambitions – it only takes a minute.

On the other hand, you can build your own website using a website builder. These platforms are easy to use, letting you create killer websites in just a few hours. There are all sorts of brilliant options out there, so check out our roundup of the top 5 website builders on the market today to help you decide.

Julia Watts Content Manager

Specializing in business energy, fleet management and fuel cards, Julia’s here to help your company power up and get on the move. Having spent years working in the dynamic world of startup entrepreneurship, she loves creating content that might help exciting ventures, big or small, to flourish.

10 Best CRM Strategy Examples

By Julia Watts | Content Manager | 20 January, 2020

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a business software that allows you to manage your company's interactions with existing and new customers. Think of it as a phonebook – a system where you can store your customers’ data in one place and stay connected with them.

This can make a huge impact on your company’s success and is a worthwhile investment. So where do you start? We at Expert Market have got 15 years in the business, and with our custom-built tool, we can match you to the most suitable CRM system for your business.

Providing examples of the successful use of a CRM strategy can be very useful in illustrating the power of the principles, processes and supporting information systems involved.

Benefits of a CRM

Need some examples of how CRM can revolutionise your business? Check out the top ten benefits below:

As you can see, there are so many benefits to having a CRM system for your company – but how do you choose the right one for you? We know looking for a new system can be time-consuming; switching to a different one can be disruptive; and getting it wrong can be expensive for your business. This is why we’ve made the whole process easier for you. Use our tool to answer a few short questions, and our experts will provide a CRM system perfect for your business.

1. Behavioural analysis and associated marketing

Understanding the total purchasing patterns and associated behaviours of your customers is critically important in helping to develop new marketing models and sales propositions to deliver to them.

For example, knowing that one person is purchasing both your fashion and sports footwear might suggest that they would be receptive to targeted marketing relating to other types of sports equipment.

2. Decision support

Making decisions related to the total credit limit of customers purchasing from you is not always easy.

Credit scoring can be a powerful tool to help but it may be less than totally effective in situations where you do not have a single consolidated customer view.

For example, failing to identify a new applicant for credit as being someone you have previously had difficulties recovering debt from, simply because they had changed address, might restrict your ability to make an informed decision.

The integrated single customer view is often a fundamental prerequisite of automated decision support systems of a type frequently associated with internet commerce.

3. Customer service integration

Contacting a customer or sending them a sales proposition can prove to be extremely embarrassing in situations where you have simply misunderstood the totality of your engagement with them.

So how can you avoid responding incompletely to customer enquiries simply because you are not able to see the totality of their transactions with your organisation? Get matched with a CRM system that caters to your specific business needs and allows you to easily keep track of your customer interactions.

Remember that reputation damage can arise in situations where your sales staff are asking customers to explain to them just how they, the customer, are dealing with your organisation at the present time!

4. Customer relationship identification

Whilst an individual has a legal right to a degree of privacy, nevertheless, it might be exceptionally important to understand that somebody you are dealing with has some form of professional or personal relationship with another of your customers.

For example, being able to identify that a customer has two young children resident at the same address might be important both in terms of marketing potential but also to avoid major embarrassment, such as sending inappropriate sales propositions to under-aged children.

5. De-duplication and customer profitability

In the days of an ever-higher degree of environmental awareness, no company wishes to be sending out identical information and sales propositions multiple times to the same individual.

Not only is this an environmental issue but also one relating to perceptions of professional competence. However, multiple customer entries for the same individual can easily arise due to legacy systems or departmental silos all having their own customer databases.

De-duplication and CRM should eliminate this.

More importantly, being able to consolidate all your sales and costs by customer, should help immensely with the sometimes thorny subject of customer and customer segment profitability analysis.

6. Data cleansing and customer intelligence benefits

Unfortunately, the media regularly covers stories concerning organisations trying to communicate with customers they should have known were long-deceased or continually addressing communications to a married couple that have been long-divorced.

This is usually a characteristic of duplicated customer entries on different systems but occasionally also due to updated information in one system not being correctly populated into another.

This must be addressed and that should eliminate negative publicity and occasionally customer distress.

7. Legislative compliance

Although this should not be read as qualified legal advice, the data protection act (DPA) requires that people storing information about individuals ensure that it is accurate and up-to-date.

A failure to do so may leave you liable to prosecution, particularly in circumstances where you have used incorrect data as the basis for flawed decision-making or related reputational damage.

8. Improved customer retention

Acquiring new customers is useful but not if you lose them almost as quickly as you gain them.

Understanding your customers in detail and avoiding service errors of the type outlined at various points above, should help you improve your overall customer service experience for them.

It also allows you to engage in proactive customer servicing activities that might include things such as birthday greetings and so on.

9. Shareholder, stakeholder, media, auditor and accounting credibility

All of the above professional bodies may, in certain circumstances, expect you to be able to deliver an accurate segmented view of your customer base.

CRM allows you to do this quickly and efficiently and it will make a much more powerful impact than the traditional non-CRM approach involving people trying to merge spreadsheets extracted from a multiplicity of different sources.

10. New proposition development

Of course, maximising your share of wallet percentage with your existing customers is important but equally developing sales propositions to attract new customers is critical.

Understanding what is or is not working with your existing customer base may be critical in product / service development activities and CRM should be an important part of the product development and new target marketing lifecycle.

Summary

CRM systems aren’t always easy to understand, moving an organisation away from your current system can be difficult, and you’re spoilt for choice. There are so many CRM Systems available on the market. How do you choose which is best for you? Let us do the hard work for you.

Join the hundreds of people we helped save money on their CRM System last year. Our team of experts can easily pair the perfect CRM system with your company – all you have to do is tell us a bit about your business.

Need some more guidance? Organisations that might be able to help with consultancy include:

Mareeba, Amersham – formed in 2004 and providing full spectrum CRM services.

Icreon, London and Bradford – a company specialising in CRM software solutions.

Julia Watts Content Manager

Specializing in business energy, fleet management and fuel cards, Julia’s here to help your company power up and get on the move. Having spent years working in the dynamic world of startup entrepreneurship, she loves creating content that might help exciting ventures, big or small, to flourish.

Best credit card machines for small businesses – 2020 guide

By Julia Watts | Content Manager | 13 November, 2019

Credit and debit cards have overtaken cash as the UK’s favourite way to pay, and all signs point to the onset of a completely cashless society. If your business still isn’t accepting cards, you're losing out to the 56% of small businesses that do.

But if you’re selecting a credit card (PDQ) machine for the first time, which one should you get? What features do you need, and which would lead to inflated costs? With plenty on the market, how do you pick the right one for your unique business without hours of research?

That’s where we can help. We’ve compiled research on top UK card machine suppliers and the types of businesses they work best for. Our 15 years of expertise means we can match you with the best supplier for your company’s size, budget and scalability goals.

In this article, we share with you our top picks for UK credit card machines and how they can benefit your small business. What are the different types available? How much do they cost, and – most importantly – how can they benefit your business? Let’s take a look.



What’s the best credit card machine for small businesses?

We get it – it’s difficult to choose the right PDQ machine for your business when they all seem to promise the same benefits.

Sure you want a chip-and-pin machine – that’s a given – but do they all facilitate smartphone payment? What about a swipe function for magstripe cards? And PCI compliance — that’s important, right?

It can all get a bit confusing.

You’ve landed on this page, so you’re clearly interested in finding the right machine for your business. Using a custom-built comparison tool takes the legwork out of the research; it’s an efficient way of matching your business with the ideal supplier based on its requirements.

Also, to make your life easier, we’ve picked out the best mobile, countertop and portable card machines on the market.

Read on for our reviews of the iZettle card reader, Ingenico iCT220, Ingenico’s iWL series, Sumup Air, PayPal Here, and Worldpay Reader – or jump straight to a supplier by clicking the list below.


Best mobile card machine

iZettle card reader

iZettle has shaken up the mobile payments industry in recent years. Its distinctive iZettle Reader is a cost-effective card processing solution designed specifically for small businesses. Costing just £29 (+ VAT), it connects with the iZettle App to allow businesses to take payments via a smartphone or tablet.

Overall Rating :

Key Features

  • Accepts a wide range of credit and debit cards
  • No monthly fee. Repeat: there are no monthly fees
  • Battery life — up to 8 hours
  • No set-up fees
  • Card reader costs £59, but it’s more or less constantly discounted to £29
  • UK-based support
  • PCI and EMV compliant

Not sure this is the right credit card machine for your business? After 15 years in the business, we have created a custom-built comparison tool so you can get matched and save money with the right provider today.


Best countertop card machine

Ingenico iCT220

The iCT220 from Ingenico is a great example of an all-around countertop card terminal. It’s practically indestructible by PDQ machine standards. (Seriously. In a fight between an Ingenico ICT220 and a wall, we think the Ingenico would win.) With crystal-clear backlit display and jumbo, finger-friendly keys the ICT220 allows you to easily enter payment details even in low-light conditions. And as a tasty bonus it comes with a speedy built-in receipt printer.

Overall Rating :

Key features

  • Multi-merchant capability (ideal for multiple self-employed workers sharing one payment terminal)
  • Accept smartphone payments
  • Swipe function
  • Ethernet connection available
  • Backlit keypad
  • Large buttons
  • Built-in receipt printer
  • PCI and EMV compliant

Still unsure? Getting a card machine is so important for your business, and getting it wrong is costly, frustrating and time consuming. To help you with the process, you can join the 900 businesses who requested credit card machine quotes with Expert Market last year.

 


Best portable card machine

Ingenico iWL series

The iWL card machine from Ingenico is a lightweight, feature-heavy handheld card terminal. Users can choose to connect using GPRS, 3G, WiFi or Bluetooth technology. And what’s more, iWL series card terminals are water and shock resistant, making them an ideal choice if your business operates in an outdoor space.

Overall Rating :

Key features

  • Up to 650 transactions on a single charge
  • Accept smartphone payments
  • Swipe function
  • Water and shock resistant
  • PCI compliant

Confused? Join the 900 number of business owners who got matched to a card machine supplier and saved money through Expert Market in 2019.

Did You Know?

Cash payments are decreasing on a global scale and new digital payment technology is taking its place. Mobile wallet payments now make up more than a third, (36%), of all payments in China and, even in the UK, mobile wallet payments account for around one in twenty, (5%), of payments.


Best of the rest

Here are three contenders that didn’t quite make our list, but still deserve a full review:

SumUp Air

SumUp is a trendy startup bidding to dethrone rivals iZettle as the king of mobile card machines. The company offers a flat transaction fee of 1.95% and no fixed monthly costs. Their pocket-sized card reader, the SumUp Air, measures just 84 x 84 x 23 mm. It can be bought outright for the downright competitive price of £19 + VAT.

Overall Rating :

Key features

  • Accept all major debit and credit cards
  • Accept smartphone payments
  • No fixed monthly costs
  • Short-term contract
  • Low upfront costs -the reader itself costs just £29
  • PCI compliant

Compare quotes >


PayPal Here

PayPal Here is a mobile card reader that integrates seamlessly with your PayPal account. By doing this, it allows merchants access to funds from card payments just seconds after approval. The Paypal Here falls behind the iZettle Reader and the SumUp Air because of its slightly higher price (£54). But other than that, there’s not much to pick between the three.

Overall Rating :

Key features

  • Integrates with your PayPal account
  • Gives access to funds from a transaction just seconds after approval
  • Compatible with both Apple Pay and Google Pay
  • No fixed monthly costs
  • No fixed term contract
  • PCI compliant

Read our PayPal Here review for more info.

Compare quotes >


Worldpay reader

The Worldpay reader is this global payments giant’s answer to the iZettle and SumUp mobile card readers. Designed specifically for small businesses, the Worldpay reader can be bought outright for just £39.99. The keypad is covered with a 12-month warranty, and users can choose to issue receipts via email or SMS at the press of a button. If that wasn’t enough, the Worldpay reader comes with a virtual terminal for taking card payments over the phone.

Overall Rating :

Key features

  • Take card payments face-to-face and over the phone
  • Issue receipts via email or SMS with the press of a button
  • Keypad is covered by warranty for a year
  • Pay-as-you go payment plan with no monthly fees
  • PCI and EMV compliant

Compare quotes >


Ingenico iCT250 countertop card machine

The Ingenico iCT250 is a robust, cost effective countertop terminal ideal for retail businesses. Its keys are so large even your gran could use them, and sports a vibrant colour screen display. And crucially, it meets the payment industry’s highest security requirements for a PDQ machine. And because it plugs straight into both the power and the internet, you’ll never have to worry about the Ingenico iCT250 running out of juice.

Overall Rating :

Key features

  • PCI and EMV compliant
  • Compact, intelligent, and easy to use
  • Crisp display to drive increased brand power
  • Telium 2 technology for fast, secure transactions
  • Accepts all kinds of payment options
  • Built-in printer churns out 18 lines a second

Compare quotes >


Vega3000 countertop card machine

The Vega3000 Countertop PDQ terminal is one of the most widely used — and colourful — PDQ
machines in the industry. Boasting WiFi, GPRS, Bluetooth and USB connectivity (the full house!) it
provides a fast, reliable and cost-effective solution for small businesses. It’s equipped with
the latest high-tech software to safeguard transactions at lightning-quick speeds. And to top it all off, there’s even a touchscreen model available!

Overall Rating :

Key features

  • Accepts all payment types
  • Optional rechargeable backup battery for mobility
  • PCI and EMV compliant
  • Smooth, visually appealing interface
  • Powerful microprocessor enables speedy payments

Compare quotes >


Ingenico Desk/3000 countertop card machine

The Desk/3000 from Ingenico belongs to a new era of PDQ machines, for a new generation of small businesses. It’s capable of handling over 2,500 payment applications in 170 countries, including Apple and Android Pay. And it’s not just fast; it’s flexible, too. The Desk/3000’s intuitive operating system, Telium, integrates with a host of smart business apps. So you won’t just be taking payments; you’ll be getting more insights into sales and employee performance. Which means you can work smarter – not harder.

Overall Rating :

Key features

  • Accepts many payment methods at the counter, including Google Pay
  • Wide range of connectivity options
  • Backlit keypad with full colour display
  • User-friendly interface
  • PCI and EMV compliant

Compare quotes >


Verifone VX680 wireless card machine

The VX 680 is Verifone’s most compact payment terminal yet, but it doesn’t compromise on features. It boasts an almost IMAX-sized colour touchscreen display, as well as Bluetooth, 3G, 2G and WiFi connectivity. And when you add in its Herculean battery life and quick processing speeds? Well, then the VX 680 weighs in as of the most versatile mobile PDQ machines on the market – and perfect for small businesses.

Overall Rating :

Key features

  • Integrates with a wide range of apps
  • Quick payment processing speed
  • Optional base stations offer flexibility
  • Long-lasting battery
  • Durable and reliable

Compare quotes >


What is a PDQ machine and how does it work?


How can you accept card payments for your small business

You can’t just grab a device and start taking payments – there’s more to it than that. To start accepting card payments for your small business you’ll need an EPOS system and a merchant account, too. And to take payments online and over the phone, you’ll also need a payment gateway and a virtual terminal.

To accept card payments for your small business you’ll need a combination of the following:

  1. EPOS system
  2. Merchant account
  3. Payment gateway
  4. Virtual terminal
  5. Card reader/PDQ machine

1. EPOS system

First up, if you serve customers face-to-face, you will need an Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) system to pair with the credit card reader. This is essentially the till: a cash drawer, user interface and usually a receipt printer.

2. Merchant account

Next, you’ll need a merchant account with a merchant bank.

A merchant account is a type of credit account that allows your business to accept credit and debit card payments. It’s where the money sits while the bank checks that the customer has the sufficient funds to make payment. It also serves as protection against fraud.

PDQ machines are most commonly leased as part of a merchant account agreement. A merchant account can be setup with a dedicated merchant bank, such as Worldpay, or by special arrangement with a PSP (payment service provider) or ISO (Independent Sales Organisation).

Our guide to the best merchant account providers in the UK is essential reading for those looking to start accepting credit card payments.

3. Online payment gateway

To take card payments online you’ll need what is known as a ‘payment gateway’.

Integrated with the shopping card your website, a payment gateway is a secure piece of software that encrypts the customer’s card details and transmits them to the merchant bank.

4. Virtual terminal

And businesses that need to accept credit card payments over the phone or by email will require a ‘virtual terminal’.

Like a payment gateway, a virtual terminal secures sensitive payment details while the bank authorises the transaction. Unlike a payment gateway, card details are entered into the system by the merchant, rather than the customer. This type of transactions is known as a MOTO transaction (Mail Order / Telephone Order).

5. PDQ machine

Once you’ve got all that sorted, then you can go about choosing a card reader or PDQ machine for your business.

The best PDQ machine for your business will vary depending on your specific requirements as a merchant. What works for a static brick-and-mortar business such as a coffee shop, probably won’t suit a food vendor who trades in a different location each week.

PDQ machine costs vary, so it’s important to choose the type that’s best suited to the unique needs of your business. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of devices available in the UK.

Did You Know?

Cash payments have declined by 43% since 2016 and thousands of ATMs are disappearing from UK high streets every year. As paying by card becomes the norm, our researchers estimate that cash machines could become extinct by 2041.


Types of Card payment machines

Pick a Card Machine Type..

mobile card machines

wireless card machines

Countertop card machines

Mobile card machines

mobile card machine

Mobile credit card machines allow you to accept card payments anywhere with mobile network coverage. They offer users ultimate flexibility, and have opened the door to a whole host of remote businesses for which a card reader was previously out of the question.

Remember when you used to have to ask the cab driver to stop at a cashpoint before dropping you off? Those days are over because of mobile card machines.

Most work via a pre-installed SIM card that connects your machine to a mobile network. Recently, though, more modern mobile card readers (like the iZettle card reader) have done away with the need for a SIM and instead connect to your phone via an app.

The benefits of a mobile card reader are:

Portability — great for merchants such as food vendors and market traders

Minimum hardware required — with some models, all you need is the card reader and a smartphone or tablet to connect it to

No long-term contract — most mobile card reader providers offer short-term contracts tailored specifically for UK small businesses

Perfect for UK businesses such as: food truck vendors, cab drivers, pop-up shops.


Wireless/portable card machines

Wireless card machine

A portable card machine allows merchants the flexibility to move around and take payments without relying on mobile network coverage. They’re the perfect choice for a restaurant or bar setting where the point-of-sale is often at the customer’s table.

Wireless terminals usually connect via WiFi, but if you don’t have an internet connection they can be hooked up to a traditional landline too. Most will operate for around eight hours before needing to be recharged and work at a range of up to 200 ft.

Benefits of a portable card machine include:

Improve customer service — bring the card terminal to your customer. Ideal for hospitality businesses

Flexible with a stable connection — not reliant on mobile network coverage for connection

Choice of Wifi or Bluetooth connectivity — connect to the network via the internet or a traditional phoneline

Perfect for UK small businesses such as: cafes, restaurants, bars.


Countertop card machines

Countertop Card Machine

Many small businesses choose to rely on countertop card machines to process payments. With a hardwired connection, they’re sturdy, reliable, and often the cheapest option in terms of upfront cost.

This varies from provider to provider, but you can expect to pay around £100 to buy a countertop card machine outright, compared with £200-£300 for a portable machine. The savings are real.

So for businesses like coffee shops, where the customer pays at the counter, a countertop card machine is often the best option.

The advantages of countertop card machines include:

Reliable connection — you're not reliant on WiFi or mobile network coverage

No charging — there’s no risk of the dreaded low battery warning

Save on upfront costs — countertop card terminals are generally cheaper than portable and mobile card machines

Perfect for UK small businesses such as: coffee shops, newsagents, beauty spars.


Contactless Card Machines

Accepting contactless payments

Contactless payment is the fastest and most convenient payment method for customers. Modern PDQ machines come with a contactless payment facility as standard. So while there’s not much to compare in terms of hardware, it is important to compare transaction fees, as these can vary a lot.

Some providers will charge as much as 4p to process contactless payments, others won’t charge at all. To ensure you’re getting a good deal for your business it is important that you compare quotes from multiple providers.

Did You Know?

Contactless card limits differ massively across the globe; whilst Poland and Brazil have limits of just £10, China has a much larger cap of £100+. In the UK, nearly two-thirds, (63%) of people pay using contactless cards with a cap of £30 per transaction.

▶ Read more: Contactless card payments


Pros + cons of card machines for small businesses

Advantages of accepting credit cards

Higher revenue — card payments account for over half of all UK transactions, and that number is set to rise year-on-year. That's right by 2025, only one in four of all transactions will be made with cash. Businesses that don’t accept card payments will be left in the dark ages.

Credibility — as a business, if you don’t accept debit and credit card payments you look amateur. That’s a fact.

Better end-to-end customer experience — a quick tap or swipe of a credit card is much more convenient for a customer than laboriously counting out cash. Streamline their shopping experience with a card reader. Remember: a satisfied customer is a loyal customer.

Better cash flow — providers that specialise in making the best card machines for small businesses prioritise a speedy transfer of funds as part of their service. Cashflow can be a major problem, so having having quick access to the money from card payments is a major benefit.

Upsell — it’s been proven that customers typically spend more when paying by card. Why? Well, when they aren’t physically parting with any cash, a quick stop for coffee can easily turn into a full blown lunch (and maybe even a muffin for dessert!)

Security — handling large amounts of cash poses an obvious security risk to your business. Reduce this risk by accepting payments electronically. Plus, the EMV computer chip in modern cards makes them extremely difficult to clone, further reducing the chance of fraud.

Disadvantages of accepting credit cards

Cost and transaction fees — you will be required to pay a transaction fee for every card payment processed. Fees vary depending on the volume of transactions; the more transactions you process, the lower your rates will be. This poses an obvious problem to small businesses who tend to process a low-volume of card payments. Don’t worry though, the providers reviewed on this page specialise in PDQ machines for small-scale business operations, with fees to match.

Chargebacks — dealing with chargebacks can be a long and arduous process for business owners. Customers have the right to challenge any card payments they see on their statement, which can sometimes mean business owners have to refund the transaction plus a chargeback fee of around £15.

Fraud — fraudulent transactions may be few and far between, but when they do occur it is usually the merchant who loses out.

best credit card machines for small businesses

Save money on the cost of a card machine by comparing quotes with Expert Market


How much do credit card machines cost for a small business?

A card machine is usually rented as part of a merchant account agreement. But if you can afford to swallow the upfront cost, in the long run it pays to buy the terminal outright.

Aside from a charge for the payment terminal itself, there are two other fees you need to know about: transaction fees and a minimum monthly charge.

Type of costPrice
Card machine rental£20 to £30 per month
Purchase device outright£100 to £300
Transaction fees1-3% + 2-4p fixed authorisation fee
Minimum monthly spend£5 to £25

▶ Read more: PDQ machine costs

Transaction fees for debit cards are typically around 1% and credit cards 2%, while the authorisation fee for both is the same.

The minimum monthly spend is the minimum amount in fees you will pay each month, regardless of the number of transactions processed. For smaller businesses especially it pays to choose a merchant account with a low minimum monthly spend to avoid unnecessary charges.


How do I get a PDQ machine for my small business?

Do you need to start accepting payments but don't have enough time to search what's available? Keen to get a machine that'll work first time and not waste resources switching to the wrong provider? Always interested in saving time and money? That's where Expert Market can help. We have 15 years in the business and have created a custom-built form to compare quotes from the UK’s leading card machine providers. It’s quick, easy and there are no hidden fees.

The questions asked are designed to match you with the most suitable suppliers, and there’s absolutely no obligation to buy.

Julia Watts Content Manager

Specializing in business energy, fleet management and fuel cards, Julia’s here to help your company power up and get on the move. Having spent years working in the dynamic world of startup entrepreneurship, she loves creating content that might help exciting ventures, big or small, to flourish.

10 best VoIP providers in the UK

By Julia Watts | Content Manager

Chances are, you’ve landed on this page because you are interested in finding a hosted VoIP phone for your business.

You’ve made a wise decision.

Did you know that VoIP solutions can save your business up to 70% on call costs?

And that’s while having the same features and functionality as a traditional on-premise system. Plus, with VoIP you can make calls on the go, support remote working, manage everything via a computer app and so much more. 

Without in-depth knowledge of the industry, choosing a VoIP phone system can seem like a daunting task. This is where we come in.

We’ve been in the industry for 15 years, and know that switching phone providers can be difficult, and setup can be time consuming – not to mention the economical impact of getting it wrong. If you have a couple of minutes, our custom-built tool can speed up the whole process for you. All you have to do is answer a few simple questions about your business to be matched to the best provider. It could be the most productive two minutes of your week!

Need to get to grips with VoiP providers first? This comprehensive guide has been compiled by our telephones systems expert, exploring the ins and outs of top-rated UK providers and VoiP products in 2020. 


What is a VoIP Phone System?

VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol and refers to the software-based technology which allows businesses to make their telephone calls using a broadband internet connection, rather than through traditional phone lines. You’ve arrived at this page, so you must be interested in a VoiP system, but do you need advice on which would be better for your kind of business? Use our quote-finding tool to connect with the best VoiP providers directly. Or, take a look at how it all works:

VoIP phones systems convert the sound signal of users' voices into digital data streams, which can then be sent in “packets” over the Internet.

The signal is passed through an Ethernet cable to the VoIP server or gateway, before connecting with the Internet. Investing in a VoIP Phone system means a business has the freedom to use a variety of different devices to make and receive calls, including physical IP phones, computers or laptops, and smart phones.

Once you’ve set up a VoIP phone system, get ready for cheaper domestic calls and low price per minute international calls, too. There are also a large number of VoIP providers to choose from to suit your business. It's difficult to find the time to compare the best deals online, which is why Expert Market partners with the most reputable VoIP suppliers, to save your business time and money. Join the 1,100 users who read this page last year which led them to get matched to the best provider for them.

Not only that, VoIP desk phones can either be set up as a new system or integrated into an existing one.

If you’re looking to integrate business phone systems, contact your current system supplier for advice.

In this guide, we've highlighted 10 of the best VoIP phone models in the corded and DECT (cordless) phone categories. Each of them will integrate fully with a VoIP phone system.


If you've read enough, and are already sure that a VoIP telephone system is the best solution for your business, answer the quick question below. Then, simply provide us with a few brief details about your business, and the kind of phone system you're looking to implement.

It takes about thirty seconds to complete, and it's free. When you're done, you'll receive quotes from several leading VoIP telephone system suppliers. Why not give it a try?

Save by Comparing VoIP Phone System Quotes from Leading Suppliers
Do you already have a VoIP Phone Telephone System? YES NO

What is hosted VoIP?

With hosted VoIP, the infrastructure is based ‘in the cloud’ rather than on your premises. A service provider owns, manages and maintains the infrastructure in a secure data centre. You pay a monthly fee to use the service. Most businesses find hosted VoIP to be the best option as it’s so easy and low-maintenance.

VoIP Benefits


Top 10 best UK VoIP provider reviews

The following suppliers offer the best VoIP Phones available in the UK, as reviewed 14th January 2019. Read on for more information about the VoIP services and features of each supplier, and which businesses they are best suited to.

4com Plc

4Com is a successful, fast-growing company. They’ve installed thousands of business telecoms systems across the UK so far. 4Com provide hosted VoIP with UK based support, and were a finalist in the National Business Awards for the Customer Focus and Service category.

Supplier Rating : Read Review

What makes 4com’s VoIP phones stand out is their Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) system. CTI seamlessly integrates phone and computer information (such as customer records) for better call handling and customer satisfaction.

Their VoIP product is feature-rich and reliable. Any maintenance issues that do arise can be dealt with by their Bournemouth call centre, or local agents and engineers.

How 4Com VoIP systems can benefit your business:

✓ Comprehensive call reporting

✓ Computer Telephony Integration enabling instant caller information

✓ On-hold marketing messages

✓ Call recording

✓ Easy-to-use auto-attendant feature

✓ Voicemail to email functionality

✓ Easy installation and setup

✓ Excellent UK service and support

✓ Flexible for any size business, ensuring future compatibility

✓ No upfront costs

Save by Comparing VoIP Phone Systems Quotes from Leading Suppliers
Do you already have a VoIP Phone System? YES NO

Lily Comms

A relative newcomer, Lily Comms has gone from strength to strength within the UK telecoms industry over the last ten years. They offer a broad range of services with well-priced basic plans, making them suitable for businesses of all sizes.

Supplier Rating : Read Review

Lily Comms currently supply over 2500 businesses. Their fully hosted phone systems are state-of-the-art. Horizon Unified Communications is their primary hosted VoIP product, with fixed and mobile telephony facilities via a high-speed cloud-based portal.

How Lily Comms VoIP systems can benefit your business:

✓ Reliable service with full 24/7 support, training and number porting

✓ An end-to-end single solution

✓ Powerful call handling features

✓ Virtual conference room

✓ Fixed and mobile telephony solutions

✓ Solutions for mobile and home workers

✓ Multi-language auto attendant

✓ Personal call routing

✓ Future proof and feature-rich

Of course, every provider has a different offering, and comparing them based on all these features and information can be difficult. An easy way to find the best match is to use a comparison tool which does the legwork for you. Join the 2,000 businesses we helped last year. Tell us a few simple details about your business to quickly get matched and receive tailored quotes.


Vonage

Vonage are a leading global provider of cloud-based communications. They have nearly two million customers globally. They offer complete flexibility, with no installation charges, line rental, excessive contractual terms, or upfront costs. Their solutions are scalable and designed for today’s flexible working environment. All you need is a broadband connection and Vonage will take care of the rest.

Supplier Rating :

Vonage have a UK head office based in London. Their core packages are offered at three levels: for home and small businesses, for offices of two to 30 employees, and for medium and larger businesses.

There are over 40 call features available with Vonage, only some of which are listed below. It really is a comprehensive VoIP telephony service, built with flexible working environments in mind.

How Vonage VoIP systems can benefit your business:

✓ Full call handling features

✓ Call recording with unlimited storage

✓ Hunt groups for incoming calls

✓ Multi-device extensions

✓ Conference and group calling

✓ Choice of UK area code and number, or port existing numbers

✓ Smart working in and out of the office with Vonage’s flexible solutions

✓ App for smart mobile phones, tablets, and desktops/ laptops


Berry

Berry is the “people’s choice” when it comes to providers of VOIP systems in the UK. Its personalised service and 24/7 support has led to a bagful of awards since it started out in 2011. And its overwhelming customer satisfaction levels online show Berry’s commitment to being the ‘berry’ best.

Supplier Rating : Read Review

As well as offering VOIP services, Berry provide on-premise phone systems – plus dynamic solutions that combine the two. Its handsets look great and offer a range of impressive call reporting and recording features.

Berry provides a scalable, flexible VOIP service that integrates seamlessly with your database. It connects with your CRM tool to equip you with all the info you need to never miss a sale. And Berry’s range of collaborative tools aims to bring your team members closer together. Which means happier staff and happier customers.

How Berry VoIP systems can benefit your business:

✓ Around the clock support

✓ Collaborative features to enable team coordination

✓ Comprehensive call reporting

✓ Flexible phone system options

✓ Personal Account Manager

✓ Easy to set up

✓ Highly scalable

✓ Knows the unique challenges faced by UK businesses

✓ Simple and intuitive web and smartphone interfaces


RingCentral

RingCentral is a global leader in cloud communications and collaboration solutions. It has over 350,000 businesses relying on their systems worldwide, and partnerships with leading carriers, like BT. Their simple to use, featureful products enable today’s mobile and distributed workforce to communicate, collaborate, and connect from anywhere, on any device. It offers a range of packages for the UK market to suit almost any budget, with prices starting at just £7.99 per user, per month. And let’s not forget there’s the option of a 14 day trial!

Supplier Rating : Read Review

RingCentral unifies voice, video, team messaging, conferencing, online meetings, and integrated contact centre solutions. What’s more, their open platform integrates with leading business apps and is highly customisable.

Their innovative cloud-based VoIP solutions suit businesses of all sizes, from small local enterprises to multinational organisations.

How RingCentral VoIP systems can benefit your business:

✓ Connect anytime, anywhere with mobile and desktop applications

✓ Cloud phone system, video conferencing, team messaging, online fax and more

✓ One provider for all your communications

✓ Low, all-inclusive, monthly pricing starting at £7.99

✓ IVR, auto-receptionist, analytics, and over 50 other features

✓ Out-of-the-box integrations with Salesforce, Google, Microsoft and more

✓ High-quality local 24/7 customer support

✓ Robust security and reliability


BT

BT are a household name and the world’s oldest telecommunication company. They serve a range of telephony and TV services to companies worldwide. BT cover everyone from the smallest to largest of companies. They have a range of solutions from fixed lines to VoIP and managed networked IT.

Supplier Rating :

BT’s cloud-based VoIP phone systems are scalable, with powerful call management features. They offer three core packages:

  • BT Cloud Phone is “plug and play” for up to nine users
  • BT Cloud Voice is more sophisticated for five users or more
  • BT One Phone Office is an integrated mobile and premises operated system for five or more users or call centres. It’s perfect if you have a mobile workforce, and lets you manage all your calls from one mobile device.

Each of BT’s hosted lines comes with an inclusive geographic number, with the option of adding more for an additional charge

If you are already utilising BT fixed lines you may find the BT VoIP a cost-effective product to consider

How BT VoIP systems can benefit your business:

✓ Choice of regional phone numbers, or virtual geographic numbers

✓ Full mobile integration, and diversion for remote working

✓ Call forwarding, routing, voicemail and three-way calling

✓ Call monitoring and recording

✓ CRM integration

✓ Cloud-based, with software-based management portal

✓ Instant messenger for employees

✓ Audio and video conferencing


Teliqo

Teliqo have developed a unique technology for their cloud-based telephony solution. This enables them to offer a highly customisable direct hosted communications service. Customers can deal directly with the technical specialists who created the system, without the need for third party platform providers.

Supplier Rating :

With the benefits and flexibility you would expect directly from the system manufacturer, Teliqo offer a personal service and hundreds of features as standard. They supply thousands of SME’s across the UK, and have great customer satisfaction levels – over 95% of Teliqo’s customers renew their contracts.

How Teliqo VoIP systems can benefit your business:

✓ On-site set-up, configuration, and system changes performed by in-house engineers

✓ Completely customisable and adaptable

✓ Unified communications including softphone, messaging and conferencing

✓ Peer-to-peer video

✓ Mobile softphone application

✓ Call recording, conferencing and voicemail

✓ No up-front cost and low monthly fee per user

✓ Scalable from as little as 15 to over 1,000 extensions

✓ Calls charged at near wholesale cost


Focus Group

Focus Group have grown quickly in the UK since they were founded in 2005, going from a start-up with two employees to an organisation with over 300 staff. Their portfolio of web-based products spans IT, data, and telephony, and offer combined IP PBX telephone and fully cloud-based VoIP solutions.

Supplier Rating :

Focus Group’s main VoIP product is Horizon Unified Communications. With fixed and mobile telephony provided by a simple to use web portal, it’s targeted at any size of business. It can be particularly suited to multi-site operations, and those with off-site employees.

Horizon is used by those who need a ‘business continuity solution’, as they describe it, with comprehensive support to continue operating in the event of a major issue. Services can be instantly moved to a backup or diversion plan, without losing functionality or using call forwarding.

How Focus Group VoIP systems can benefit your business:

✓ Combined IP-based and PBX option

✓ Free calls between branch offices and mobile phones

✓ Shared dial plans and directories

✓ On hold, marketing messages, and call forwarding

✓ Only pay for what you use

✓ Cost effective call recording from any location

✓ “One number anywhere” for desk or mobile

✓ Choice of telephone numbers


8x8

Multi-award winning global telecoms provider 8×8 boast big brand clients worldwide, including McDonalds. Their solutions focus on various sectors including government, healthcare and education. They have over 50,000 satisfied business customers and a full UK HQ.

Supplier Rating :

8×8’s main product focus is on two provisions: Virtual Office and Virtual Contact Centre for call centre operations.

Virtual Office is richly featured and mobile, with extensive analytics for improving productivity. It’s easy to use, and offers a continuous communications services no matter your location.

How 8×8 VoIP systems can benefit your business:

✓ Extension dialling, auto attendant and ring groups

✓ Call recording

✓ Internet faxing

✓ Web conferencing and video meetings

✓ Desktop and mobile applications, or feature rich IP phones

✓ Extensive CRM integration


Mitel

Mitel are the fastest growing global cloud communications provider serving over 70 million customers in almost 100 countries worldwide. They have over 1,600 patents and applications with an excellent reputation for innovation. Their solutions stretch across business communications, contact centre specialisms and cloud services. They have regional offices globally, so pride themselves on ‘global reach, local touch’.

Supplier Rating : Read Review

Mitel categorise their solutions across industry and company size. They offer public and private cloud-based solutions, and combined hybrid cloud solutions for those who need it.

MiCloud is their cloud-based VoIP product, safely housed in multiple data locations to prevent downtime. Users have the same functionality in an office, in the field or working remotely. There are three industry leading packages – MiCloud Office, MiCloud Business and MiCloud Flex – to suit businesses of all sizes.

How Mitel VoIP systems can benefit your business:

✓ Complete mobile integration

✓ The same features on mobile and desktop

✓ Easily deployed and scalable

✓ Focus on the millennial generation and the tech-savvy

✓ Full CRM integration

✓ Call recording, playback, evaluation and storage

✓ Easily managed voice, IM and email from one screen

✓ Powerful business analytics

✓ Contact centre options and integrations


Top 10 VoIP Desk Phones

VoIP desk phones work with a cloud-based VoIP, or hybrid IP-PBX solution. They provide physical desk solutions – ie. not softphones – which are headset compatible. They can be used alongside other components from your VoIP phone system provider, such as smartphone applications and desktop computers.

We’ve included our top picks for entry-level, wired VoIP systems and DECT (cordless) VoIP systems below:

5 Best entry-level VoIP office phones

The selection of phones below includes basic, wired models that function a lot like conventional desk phones:

1. Yealink SIP-T21P Entry Level IP phone

Yealink SIP-T21P

This is a great all-round, entry-level IP phone. It has a slightly lower price point than the Grandstream GXP2200 (see below), but offers the same key benefits. Features include: two VoIP accounts, local three-way conferencing, voicemail, message waiting indication, direct IP call without SIP proxy, and phonebook (1000 entries). There is also an extra-large graphical LCD display, providing more visual information at a glance.

Price: £50

Overall Rating :

The Yealink SIP-T21P is the ideal entry-level phone. Cost effective and easy to install, the handset has a clear display as well as secure privacy settings. High-definition audio makes this phone a great choice for offices of all sizes. It also works seamlessly with IP or IP PBX.

Key features:

✓ HD voice, handset and speaker

✓ Group listening, SMS, emergency calling

✓ Phone book and black list

✓ Language selection and caller ID


2. Grandstream GXP2200 Android desktop phone

Grandstream GXP2200

This is an inexpensive corded multimedia Android VoIP phone. It features a responsive touchscreen LCD, in addition to hard keys for functions such as mute, voicemail, hold and so on. As this phone uses an Android operating system, it enables access to popular applications, such Skype, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Google Voice.

Price: £80

Overall Rating :

The Grandstream GXP2200 is a modern, feature-rich desk phone ideal for forward-thinking businesses. This VoIP phone will suit all types of organisations. Apps can be downloaded via Google Play Store, or you can create custom ones. It has a 4.3 inch touchscreen LCD.

Key features:

✓ Directory with 1000 contacts

✓ Call history holds 500 records

✓ Call transfer, forwarding and waiting

✓ HD wideband audio


3. Yealink T23GN Dual Gigabit Ethernet IP phone

Yealink T23GN

A well-priced phone with an easy-to-use interface and HD audio. Features include: call hold, mute, one touch speed dial and call forwarding. It also has local three-way conferencing, ring tone selection and import, and a local phone book with 1000 entries.

Price: £75

Overall Rating :

The Yealink T23GN is a full featured IP-PBX phone which accepts three lines, has caller display and anonymous call rejection. It’s a good all-round VoIP desk phone for any office, but especially small to medium sized businesses.

Key features:

✓ Large directory

✓ Extensive features

✓ Dual gigabit Ethernet ports

✓ 132 x 64 white backlit display


4. Polycom VVX 600

Polycom VVX 600

The Polycom VVX 600 is a more advanced VoIP desk phone option. It gives exceptional call quality and has a large, very responsive touchscreen. This corded phone supports up to 16 lines, video conferencing and playback through the use of external USB cameras. It also features HD voice technology.

Price: £215

Overall Rating :

The Polycom VVX600 is one of the most popular VoIP phones available. The bright display enables users to manage their calendars, and receive meeting and catch up reminders, all on their phone handset. This capability saves time and boosts productivity.

Key features:

✓ 4.3″ LCD touchscreen

✓ Bluetooth integration

✓ HD voice quality

✓ Dual USB ports


5. Mitel IP485G

Mitel IP485G

A general office VoIP desktop phone, the IP485G has a backlit colour display with a searchable, expanded directory. It has built in visual voicemail alongside standard transfer, conference call and on hold features.

Price: £75

Overall Rating :

The Mitel IP485G phone is ideal for an office-based professional. It has a full duplex speakerphone, visual voice and conferencing capability, and a 10/100/1000 Ethernet switch for Gigabit speed.

Key features:

✓ Eight lines

✓ Expanded call history

✓ LED indicators

✓ 480 x 272 backlit colour display


Best DECT VoIP Office Phones

VoIP DECT phones are cordless. This makes them more mobile than traditional VoIP telephones.

The most innovative phones have a wide range of features including large colour LED displays, SMS facilities, and integrated phone books. VoIP DECT phones are manufactured by many of the big telecoms companies including BT, Mitel, Siemens, Panasonic, Cisco and Gigaset.

Here’s our pick of the top five around today:

1. Panasonic KX-TGP600 DECT Phone

Panasonic KX-TGP600

The Panasonic KX-TGP600 suits small to medium sized businesses which need a more mobile desk phone. It’s a wireless VoIP DECT phone which can fit eight handsets to each base and will handle eight simultaneous calls.

Price: £85

Overall Rating :

This phone has a vivid colour screen and a long battery life. SRTP (Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol) is available for extra phone security. The phone has an excellent and extendable range.

Key features:

✓ Range of 100-200 feet

✓ Noise reduction technology

✓ 200 hours standby battery life / 11 hours talk time

✓ Repeaters available to extend connection range


2. Mitel Aastra 632 DECT Phone

Mitel Aastra 632

The Mitel 632 DECT is a hardy DECT business phone. It can be used outside, or in industrial environments. It’s perfect for factory floors and care or medical facilities, as it’s easy to clean and complies with hygiene requirements. It also has a sensor alarm and an emergency call key suited to hospitals or highly secure areas.

Price: £85

Overall Rating :

A superb quality workplace phone for both general and specialised environments. It has a colour TFT display, extensive telephone book, ambient noise filter, and a mini USB PC interface, and many more features. The Mitel 632 has all the functionality and navigation you would expect, plus the added benefit of its robust design for certain workplaces.

Key features:

✓ 12 hour talk time

✓ Man down, no movement and escape alarm

✓ Hands-free operation

✓ Compatible with high hygiene workplaces


3. Gigaset SL785 DECT phone

Gigaset SL785

The Gigaset SL785 is ideal for home and office-use. It has positive reviews for its touchscreen interface with integrated answering machine (45 minute recording capacity) and ECO DECT technology for reduced battery and power usage.

Price: £195

Overall Rating :

The slick design makes this model perfect for modern businesses and the clear display offers a number of functionality benefits. Other advantages include: directory transfer options and the ability to store multiple numbers under one directory entry.

Key features:

✓ Bluetooth enabled

✓ Base handset locator

✓ Call recording

✓ 15 hour talk time



4. Yealink W52P

Yealink W52P

With a 1.8 inch colour display and intuitive user interface, the Yealink W52P offers all the standard features you would expect including intercom, transfer, call forwarding and three-way conferencing.

Price: £90

Overall Rating :

With a 1.8” colour display and intuitive user interface. The Yealink W52P offers all the standard features you would expect including intercom, transfer, call forwarding and three-way conferencing.

Key features:

✓ Exceptional HD sound

✓ Highly scalable

✓ Up to 4 simultaneous calls

✓ Up to 5 VoIP accounts


5. Grandstream DP720 DECT IP Phone

Grandstream DP720

This is an inexpensive VoIP solution that gets the job done. Up to five phones can be attached to a single DECT hub and up to 10 SIP accounts per handset. It’s a full HD audio phone with a long range that’s perfect for small businesses or as a home phone.

Price: £50

Overall Rating :

The Grandstream DP720 is a high quality DECT wireless IP phone designed for homes and small business. It has three-way local conferencing, phonebook, and DECT authentication and encryption technology. With a modern design and high-end features, it’s a great phone for a great price.

Key features:

✓ 10 hour talk time

✓ 80 hour standby mode

✓ 300 metre outdoor range, 50 metre indoor range

✓ 5 phones per DECT base

Have a better idea of what system would work for you? The next step would be to receive quotes that make sense for your business by answering some questions about your business at the top of the page.


Benefits of VoIP for your small business

VoIP Benefits for small business

VoIP brings several benefits for your business, no matter the size. Let's take a look four ways a VoIP system can help your business grow.

1. Reduce costs

The adoption of a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephone system for your small business can drastically reduce both your capex (capital expenditure) and opex (operational expenditure).

In other words, not only is it a great long term investment, but it will start saving you money on your calls from day one.

Providers such as One2Call offer free inter-site communication, which is hugely beneficial for your business, especially if you're looking to expand. Providers offer VoIP to UK landline calls for as little as 1p per minute.

2. Flexible and mobile communications

VoIP systems can work from any location with internet, or via a VPN (virtual private network). This makes them a great choice for if you run a smaller business, with staff who work from home. Telephone numbers can be retained and will remain directly associated with the main business office, allowing employees to use the same service.

One good example of what UK VoIP providers can offer your small business comes from Voipfone, who deliver up to 800 different extensions (per account).

These can be placed in any physical location, in the same office or internationally, and calls will be free of charge.


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3. Enable growth

VoIP offers the potential to scale up operations as your business continues to grow.

Additional ports can be easily configured and brought online to provide for an extended service, or withdrawn and taken down when you no longer need them.

This can all be achieved seamlessly without disruption or down time, ensuring that communication between your employees and customers will not suffer.

The V-Plan Business VoIP package from Vonage (from £12.25 per month) gives you unlimited dialling to UK landlines, as well as unlimited calls to Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Canada and the US. This makes it a great option if your business is looking to expand into exciting new territories.

4. Connect to the future

Studies have shown that over 45% of UK businesses were already using VoIP phone systems in 2016 and that the majority of the rest would be doing so in the near future. And with call charges of up to 50% lower than BT and other providers, it’s no wonder so many savvy small businesses in the UK are making the switch. Are you?


VoIP Phone Accessories

Some businesses choose to invest in VoIP headsets, which have a number of benefits including increased employee comfort when making long calls, freeing your hands for other tasks such as using a computer while you are on the phone and freedom of movement.

The latest models have significantly improved sound quality compared to earlier handsets. There are a number of different VoIP headphones available with prices starting from around £20 per set.

Other accessories available include conference call sound stations, and cases to protect cordless phones. There’s a wide range of suppliers of VoIP telephone hardware, so shopping around is always a good idea.

VoIP: The Verdict

As we’ve already seen, a VoIP service offers many important benefits that will help you run a more efficient, flexible business. When it comes to VoIP, it's so important to make sure you get the right deal. We've been in the industry for 15 years, and have created an easy to use, custom-built form to help your business save time and money. Answer a few questions about your business, and we’ll match you with the best suppliers – for free!

Julia Watts Content Manager

Specializing in business energy, fleet management and fuel cards, Julia’s here to help your company power up and get on the move. Having spent years working in the dynamic world of startup entrepreneurship, she loves creating content that might help exciting ventures, big or small, to flourish.

10 Best Clocking in Systems for Your Business

By Julia Watts | Content Manager | 4 December, 2019

Rock around the clock with the smartest time and attendance solutions on the market


Gone are the times when workers had to punch a card upon arrival at work. There’s now a huge range of mobile employee clocking in systems (also known as time and attendance systems), all with their own intuitive timesheet software.

Our experts looked at a range of clocking in systems, all of which aim to relieve the HR woes of UK businesses.

We found that a good clocking in system lets you plan timesheets with ease, whilst also tracking overtime and holiday requests. 

After hours of research, we’ve compiled a list of the best clocking in systems, which will help improve the efficiency of your business. These systems are smart, intuitive and scalable – to suit businesses of all sizes. 

Eager to dive straight in and start comparing quotes? After 15 years of experience, we know how essential time is for your business, so we’ve created a quick and easy tool to help you get answers. Start getting to grips with top suppliers, and receive tailored time and attendance system quotes for your business. 

Or you can jump straight into our guide to the best clocking systems for UK businesses, as chosen by the experts.


Top 10 clocking in systems for small businesses

We studied the best systems on the market, and have found that the best clocking in systems for small businesses are:

  • Bodet: best all-rounder
  • Mitrefinch: best for tailored solutions
  • Planday: best for shift planning
  • ISGUS UK: best for customer support
  • TimeTac: best for user-friendliness
  • Kronos: best for scalability
  • Chronicle Computing: best for cost-effectiveness
  • ClockRite: best for innovation
  • Stanley Security: best for solution options
  • Auto Time Systems (ATS): best for range of clocking in devices

Last year, we helped over 1,100 people find their perfect fit. Tell us more about your business, and we can recommend our top picks for you.

top 10 clocking in systems
Clocking in systems are a great way of tracking the comings and goings of your staff

Save by Comparing Time & Attendance Systems Quotes from Leading Suppliers
Do you already have a Time & Attendance System? YES NO

1) Bodet

Best all-rounder

Bodet’s Kelio clocking-in machines boast visually stunning customisable touch screens, which are a pleasure to use for both employee and employer. The terminals can be combined with a fingerprint sensor, card reader or both.

As well as recording information, Bodet’s system can display personal data like holidays, sick days, and overtime to employees when they clock in. It also offers the ability to send time off requests directly to management from the device.

Supplier Rating : Read Review

Bodet is one of the leading companies in time-related equipment in Europe, and has subsidiaries in several European countries and the UK. The first tower clock was installed by Monsieur Bodet in 1868, and they now produce everything from sports timekeeping boards to clocking software, as well as their excellent Kelio terminals and biometric clocking in devices – launched in 2016.

Employers have access to real time attendance data with Bodet systems. They also have options for rota planning and room access control systems. Plus, mobile options and a number of payroll and HR reporting functions.

Installation, training, maintenance, and configuration for Bodet clocking systems is all supported by a team of experts based at their headquarters in France.

Pricing is tailored to each customer, so you'll have to enquire with Bodet directly to get a quote. Keen to get a quote as soon as possible? But don't want to spend hours comparing prices from different suppliers? That's where Expert Market comes in. We have used our 15 years experience in the industry to create a custom-built form to do the hard work for you. Just provide us with a few details about your business, and you'll receive free quotes tailored to your specific needs and industry.

Pros:

  • Intuitive mobile options add a new dimension to your HR management

X Cons:

  • Overseas-based support team not ideal for UK businesses

2) Mitrefinch

Best for tailored solutions

Mitrefinch have a reputation for excellence in managing secure environments and successful fraud prevention. Their clocking in machines are all designed and manufactured in-house and the data can be used for payroll and scheduling. Every mobile option you would expect from a top rated system is included as standard.

Supplier Rating : Read Review

Mitrefinch is a UK-based company responsible for developing the very first computerised staff clocking system, in the early 1980s. This innovation led to the company being featured for their ‘technology of the future’ on the television program Tomorrow’s World, and they have continued to lead the way with biometric clocking systems.

Mitrefinch also has a reputation for developing additional software and systems to suit its clients. This bespoke approach is key to its excellent security. It frequently tailors its technology for larger companies of over 100 employees. There are options for both a one-time license and subscription.

Pricing is tailored to each customer and depends on the solution you choose for the unique demands of your business.

Pros:

  • Bespoke approach to time and attendance means a tailored solution for your business
  • Online reviews speak highly of customer support services

X Cons:

  • Not recommended for businesses with less than 100 employees

3) Planday

Best for shift planning

The Planday app user interface is simple and intuitive. For extremely complex operations more sophisticated reporting may be required. That said, Planday can export clocking data to payroll and be used to generate other kinds of reports. Scheduling with Planday can be difficult to set up initially, but is then easily modified or duplicated afterwards.

Supplier Rating :

Planday is a Danish company that has had a UK office since 2014. It is primarily geared towards businesses where people are employed in shifts, and is well reviewed by users online.

The employee end of the clocking in system is an app that can be installed onto smartphones and other devices. Workers are able to log their arrival from their phone at a location set by their employer.

Planday works a bit like a social networking site, making shift data visible in real time. Employees can swap shifts or vacations, so management need only approve the swap, instead of organising it.

Pricing is very reasonable. At £2 – £4 per user / month, Planday offers some of the cheapest time and attendance software on the market.

There are countless options on the market, and making the wrong choice could be costly. Switching to a provider that doesn't suit your business is time consuming, and imagine the impact on worker hours and their pay if it goes wrong. Let us help you get it right the first time. With a few details about your business, using our 15 years of experience, we can match you to the perfect provider. That’s why they call us the experts!

Pros:

  • Social network-like approach brings you data in real time

X Cons:

  • Might not be as suitable for businesses not working on a shift system

4) ISGUS UK

Best for customer support

ISGUS offer modular systems of real-time staff clocking and access control management. Data can be harvested for project management, holiday scheduling and payroll systems. It provides industry-tailored solutions and excels in providing systems that promote flexible and remote working, making the most of mobile and cloud technologies. Its digital employee sign in machines are tamper-proof and elegant.

Supplier Rating :

Isgus was founded in 1888. In the more than 130 years that have elapsed since, it's gone from patenting mechanical clocks for watchmen to today’s hi-tec biometric equipment and staff management systems.

Reviews of customer support are excellent – particularly in urgent cases, when there is a guaranteed two-hour call back time. It also uses GoToMeetings for remote video help.

The ZEUS user interface works well across a range of mobile devices, tablets, and computers, but is more well-suited to companies with over 25 employees.

Pricing is tailored to each customer, and ZEUS doesn't offer much indication of how much it charges. For more information about how much you can expect to pay for time and attendance software, check out our ultimate guide to time and attendance system pricing – it lives up to its name!

Pros:

  • Accessible, easy to use clocking in machines

X Cons:

  • Not the best option if your business has less than 25 employees

5) TimeTac

Best for user-friendliness

TimeTac is an Austrian company that aims to provide user-friendly clocking software, to monitor projects, resources, holidays and supply payroll data. The data from this system can be seen in real time, and is cloud-based. Software can also be tailored to customers’ needs and updated to adapt to business growth and development.

Supplier Rating :

Timetac doesn't produce its own hardware, but the company has a ‘Green IT philosophy’ – meaning it makes sure its software is compatible with your existing IT infrastructure.

One major benefit of using TimeTac is its excellent user manual with a searchable help function, meaning a system can be installed and operational in minutes.

Pricing is not the most competitive, but there is a free trial for 30 days. After this, employee time tracking will cost roughly £3 per employee and project tracking £6 – 8. Leave tracking will cost you an extra £1 – £1.50. A monthly base fee of around £12 to £15 per account comes with more options.

Pros:

  • Flexible software that’s adaptable to the needs of your small business

X Cons:

  • One of the more expensive time and attendance solutions on the market
best clocking in systems

Some clocking in systems allow your staff to use their biometric data to check in


6) Kronos

Best for scalability

Kronos systems is capable of the complex data triage required by very large companies with thousands of employees in thousands of different roles. It will manage payroll data, make holiday scheduling relatively straightforward, and work with security settings for smart locks that only allow access to selected individuals.

Supplier Rating :

Kronos is arguably the most well known of employee clocking systems. The company is based in the US but has offices all over the world.

It has a variety of biometric clocking in machines, including fingerprint clocking in machines, but they can be scaled down to track computer login data.

On the employer side, its cloud-based approach has the advantage of being modular – so company growth and diversity can be anticipated.

Kronos can monitor different roles in different locations and for different pay rates, even if all these things are happening to the same person on the same day – such as doctors working in clinics that specialise in different areas, from research to consulting. The advantage of this level of detail comes in knowing where to place staff for maximum efficiency.

Pricing is tailored to each customer. However, you can browse bespoke quotes for your business from Expert Market-approved suppliers by completing our quick, free quote-finding form. It takes about 30 seconds, and you can be sure that all rates you rate are tailored to the unique demands of your business.

Pros:

  • Highly scalable system to grow with your business

X Cons:

  • US-based company not as attuned to the unique needs of UK businesses

7) Chronicle Computing

Best for cost-effectiveness

Chronicle has been driving UK businesses for over 30 years. Its cloud-based solution lets you tap into key information relating to your staff on the go, and it can conveniently be downloaded and set up in as little as five minutes.

Chronicle’s intuitive software generates payroll reports and tracks attendance data in real time. Plus, it reckons it can save you about 5% a year on your staffing costs. Not too shabby!

Supplier Rating :

Chronicle Computing offers a huge range of clocking devices to match the unique demands of your business – even supplying waterproof systems for areas of food production and high splashback risk.

It also offers a range of intuitive low cost options – from biometric and smartphone systems to low cost proximity clocking devices.

Chronicle’s clocking systems provide durability and are easily customisable. And another great thing? You’ll get time and attendance data sent straight to your smartphone, tablet, or computer. So no matter where you are in the world, you’ll never miss a trick.

Pricing depends on your needs – Chronicle's solutions are bespoke, and there's no clear-cut pricing structure knocking around anywhere. That said, Chronicle does offer instant free trials for those looking to try before they buy.

Pros:

  • Lets you create simple, visually accessible reports in moments

X Cons:

  • Doesn't yet offer weekend support

8) ClockRite

Best for innovation

ClockRite offer a range of clocking systems for small businesses, compatible with various technology including proximity fobs or cards, and fingerprint verification. The systems come with reporting functions and can export data directly to Sage or an excel spreadsheet for payroll creation.

Supplier Rating :

ClockRite offers a range of proximity fobs and cards as well as fingerprint clocking machines and innovative facial recognition systems.

The company will supply and install their systems for you, then support customers in-house from its head office in Derbyshire.

Pricing varies depending on the clocking in systems and hardware purchased. A proximity clocking machine with 25 badges is £282.00 inc. VAT. Wireless fingerprint clocking machines (for up to 25 employees) are £468.00 inc. VAT, and outdoor system cost £450.00 inc. VAT.

Pros:

  • Wide range of impressive technology supporting its clocking in systems

X Cons:

  • Not the most cost-effective solution on the market

9) Stanley Security

Best for solution options

Stanley Security is all about options; whether you're after a small business time and attendance system, large business time and attendance system, or a solution that's a little more unique. Combine a time and attendance system with its other business security options for a complete smart security solution.

Supplier Rating :

Stanley Security is a division of Stanley Black & Decker (the company behind the famous Stanley Knife).

With a value of over 10 billion USD, the Group has the capital it needs to create superior products.  Stanley Security itself has more than 300,000 satisfied customers on its books, which is strong evidence of its success.

Thanks to its security technology, Stanley Security products have assisted around 170,000 police cases. This figure goes to show just how important it is to own a business security system.

Offering advanced hardware options, cloud-based software, and even a complimentary business audit on offer, Stanley Security is certainly a supplier to consider.

Pricing starts at around £36 per month for small business time and attendance system packages and around £110 per month for large business packages. Just bear in mind that you would be tied into a 60-month contract at those prices.

Pros:

  • Large range of innovative hardware options

X Cons:

  • Long contract lengths

10) Auto Time Systems (ATS)

Best for range of clocking in devices

ATS is another UK company who break their range down into three distinct groups: time and attendance software, the hardware to go with it, and access control systems. They offer a range of cloud-based software with mobile data options and scheduling and resources management.

Supplier Rating :

ATS offers a range of clocking machines, from ones that will literally punch a card, to swipe-card systems, to a full range of sophisticated biometric clocking technology. Its machines are sourced from competitors (such as Bodet), but they have their own telephone technical support team.

Its dedicated system support operates during business hours Monday to Friday, but remote login and site visits are also available.

Pricing will vary according to the hardware and software you select.

Pros:

  • Cloud-based software ideal if you’re not based on-site

X Cons:

  • No weekend or round-the-clock customer support

Next steps

There you have it – our top 10 picks of the best clocking in systems available to UK businesses. And the list doesn't even end there – honourable mentions go to time and attendance software from Safescan and uAttend, too. But how do you decide which clocking in system supplier is the best fit for your business?

By letting us help, that's how. Simply take a moment to provide us with a few quick details about the solution you're looking for. We'll assess the unique requirements of your business, and match you with top clocking in system suppliers, who'll provide you with tailored quotes.

It's free, and takes less than a minute. Give it a try!


FAQ

What is a biometric system?

Sounds cool, right? A biometric clocking system is one that uses ‘human data’ in the clocking in process. It uses fingerprints, handprints and even facial recognition technology to verify that your employees really are who they say they are. This helps eliminate the risks of ‘buddy punching‘ and helps cut out wasted wage spend.

How much does a clocking in system cost?

Prices will depend on the kind of hardware you’re after. If you want a lot of people to access your business’ time and attendance data you may have to pay more. Broadly, it’ll depend on the size of the solution you require, the amount of staff you have, and the unique needs of your business as a whole. Even more so, the supplier you choose will make all the difference.

What are the benefits of using a clocking in system?

Cut costs and save time
Clocking in systems give you accurate information about when your staff are clocking in. Accurate information means accurate wage bills. And getting rid of those perplexing payroll discrepancies will save you time chasing up loose ends. And also save you lots of money!

Manage lateness
Every employer has heard it. “It’s only five minutes, what’s the big deal?” Well, five minutes late for five days a week equals a big chunk of wasted wages over the course of year. Time and attendance systems empower you the data to detect lateness and help get rid of it.

Plan for the future
Time and attendance systems let you plan rotas and timesheets as far in advance as you’d like. It’s easy to work around employee absences and factor in sick days. You can cater to the individual schedules of each of your employees, to keep everyone happy.

Streamline your workload
A clocking in system integrates with your HR records and payroll. It cuts out dead time spent juggling employee records and despairing over endless stacks of paper. And with cloud-based T and A systems now more common than ever, you can manage your business from anywhere. Like, a beach maybe?

Is a clocking in system right for my small business?

That depends – do you employee people, and do those people work from a fixed premises? If so, your business can benefit from a clocking in system. It's just a better, easier way of making sure your office staff are on top of comings and goings.

And it's not about keeping an eye on your workforce, because you don't trust them. Nope; clocking in systems are actually more about equipping yourself with the info you need to reward your most loyal, dedicated staff members – the ones arriving early, leaving late, and going the extra mile every day.

So, is it right for your business?

Well, that depends. If you want to show your team members that you recognise their efforts, while making life a whole lot more simple for your back office staff, then yes – it is! And it doesn't matter whether you're a startup with a handful of employees, or managing a skyscraper full of staff – time and attendance software is scalable, and designed to grow with your business.

You must be invested in your business and your clocking in system if you've landed on this page, and got this far in the article. I'm sure you've noticed, there are countless options on the market, and making the wrong choice could be costly. With a few details about your business, using our 15 years of experience, we can help you get it right the first time. We can match you with suppliers that can accommodate your business needs.

Julia Watts Content Manager

Specializing in business energy, fleet management and fuel cards, Julia’s here to help your company power up and get on the move. Having spent years working in the dynamic world of startup entrepreneurship, she loves creating content that might help exciting ventures, big or small, to flourish.