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SF Small Business Week. Celebrate Small Business.

American Express: Enriching Lives and Building Business Success

We’ve asked some of our #SFSBW2018 sponsors to share their insights, and how they help small business flourish in San Francisco. Today we hear from American Express.

american express customers in a flower shop

What the mission of American Express? 

American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. We are uniquely positioned to deliver on our promise to have our customers’ backs as they live life and do business.


How does American Express support and engage the small business community? 

American Express supports and engages the small business community in many different ways. The company has made significant investments to change the way that it works with small merchants.

We introduced the OptBlue® program, which helps small businesses work with third-party processors to find a rate that works for their business.  Thanks in large part to OptBlue, more than 1.5 million additional places in the U.S. began accepting American Express in 2017 alone.*

American Express also is continuously enhancing and advancing our fraud-prevention capabilities, which have enabled us to achieve the lowest fraud rates in the industry. We have made a series of updates to our disputes policies that can save time and money for merchants. We also help drive customers through the doors of small businesses with targeted, relevant offers and merchant recommendations to Card Members.


What tools and resources has American Express created to help small businesses tap into new opportunities to reach new customers, increase their revenue, and grow their business? 

We know that attracting customers is important to small businesses, so it’s important to us.  We provide access to free marketing tools that help spread the word about their businesses — a benefit small businesses receive simply because they accept American Express® Cards. We recommend customers to their business with emails to our Card Members, in Card Member online accounts and on our Shop Small Map.

American Express also advocates for small businesses through Small Business Saturday and the Shop Small Movement, which encourages consumers to support small businesses at the start of the prime holiday shopping season.


What are the trends you see when you think about the small business marketplace, and how will these trends shape the future of small business? 

We see more and more small businesses getting comfortable providing a variety of different payment options to customers including both plastic and digital transactions.  Allowing customers to use their payment choice of preference drives customer satisfaction and retention.  American Express has dramatically expanded our merchant network and added millions of additional locations— many of which are small businesses.


Can you share one brief story about how American Express is helping San Francisco businesses thrive? 

Thanks to the OptBlue program, small businesses can accept American Express Cards through their merchant service provider.  This gives them the ability to find a rate that’s right for their business and one point of contact for all the card brands they accept.  It’s made it easier for small businesses to start accepting the card, streamline their bookkeeping and connect to more potential customers.

Local small business owner, Anna Thiel, manager of San Francisco pet shop Jeffery’s Natural Pet Food, has shared, “OptBlue makes it easy for us to do the things that we have to do: Focus on our customers, focus on our products and be the best pet shop that we can be.”

american express customer quote


What words of advice or wisdom would you like to share with small business owners? 

Customer experience is key. You can always reflect on your business model and ask yourself if you’re making your customers as happy as possible. Ask yourself, are my employees trained? Are my payment processes up-to-date? Should I offer a new loyalty program?


*Based on internal comparison of American Express small merchant locations in December 2016 to American Express small merchant locations in December 2017.


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