Accepting EBT payments online is a hot topic in the grocery industry. ShopHero has been working tirelessly to enable this feature for retailers using ShopHero’s Retailer Success Platform. The following is an overview of the current status and steps you can take to prepare your store to accept online SNAP payments as soon as (1)FNS approval is secured.
ShopHero is piloting online SNAP currently, and it is going well. We’ve learned a lot through this process and want to do everything we can to ensure a simple and seamless setup for you and your store. There are a few steps you can take when you’re ready to start.
The first thing you should do is contact your ShopHero account manager. If you don’t know who that is, you can see their name and contact info at the top of your ShopHero Dashboard. Let them know you’re interested, and they will put you on our waitlist.
Currently FNS is only allowing one store to launch at a time. They are taking every precaution to ensure the technology works as it should. Because of this, we are starting a waitlist to prioritize retailers who want to get online with SNAP.
We are at the mercy of the government, so we can’t make any promises on timelines. But we can get you ready so that things go quickly when it’s your turn.
Step 1: Submit Letter of Intent
The first step is to submit a letter of intent. Your account manager has an informational packet they will share with you that contains a template. You’ll need to add some information about your store and send it to the FNS email address provided. FNS is averaging about 6 weeks turnaround on approvals. During that time you will be asked for more information about your store. ShopHero has pre-filled templates for the questions you’ll be asked - we’ve done about 85% of the work and the rest will be specific to your store.
Upon approval, you will receive an FNS number for your online SNAP transactions. This will be different from your current FNS number that is used for in-store transactions. This process should take less than an hour of your time in total over the 6 weeks.
Step 2: Set Up Merchant Account
You will need a separate merchant account for online SNAP transactions. As of June 2022, FiServ is the only provider authorized by FNS. Your ShopHero account manager will help you get in touch with FiServ to start the process. When you are finished with this, you will have 3 merchant accounts - one for in-store transactions, one for online transactions, and one for online SNAP.
Step 3: Kickoff Call
When you have an FNS number and a FiServ account created, you will be ready for a kickoff call. FNS hosts regular calls where they review the process with you and give you an idea of what to expect. ShopHero typically doesn’t attend these calls, but your account manager can join if you’d like them to.
After that call, you will be fully ready to start the process of turning online SNAP on for your ShopHero site. At this point, you will likely need to wait (current estimate is 6-9 months but that could change - FNS dictates this timeline) for your turn.
When it is your turn, you will have another kickoff call. This time FNS, ShopHero, you and your relevant employees, FiServ, and your state will all be on the call. We’ll discuss next steps and begin testing your site. It takes about 2 months from this call before SNAP is live on your eCommerce site.
During that time, we’ll have regular calls between you, your account manager, a ShopHero SNAP expert, and likely your POS person. These calls will keep everyone on the same page and ensure we are getting all of your data correctly.
This may seem overwhelming, and you may have many questions, but with the support of your ShopHero team it is a simple process and we will answer all of those questions. We’re excited to help you offer this great service to your shoppers, and we expect to see an increase in order volume from it. We are waiting on FNS to allow more sites to go live, but you can speed up your timeline by contacting your account manager this week to start the process for your store.
1. FNS-Food and Nutrition Service, the division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that oversees online SNAP implementation