Financial services and payment solutions firm Square has launched Square Retail, a new point-of-sale platform and collection of business tools optimized specifically for merchants.
Square for Retail features a point-of-sale app, with a search-based interface for faster checkout and barcode scanning to quickly build a cart; a smart customer directory that tracks sales by customer and automatically builds shopper profiles sorted into groups based on sales habits; employee management tools; and a solution for real-time inventory management across multiple store locations, as well as management of purchase orders, vendors and cost of goods sold and margin reporting.
Square, which credits retail stores for 20% of its transaction volume last year, said Square for Retail costs $60 per month per register.
I don't know about you, but I'm getting really good at signing my name with my finger.
That's what I told the the bottle store manager at a small brewery near my house where last weekend I bought refreshments for Super Bowl Sunday, and it's a credit to Square and its ilk that the guy knew exactly what I was talking about. These tablet-based, sign-with-your-finger POS payment apps are becoming increasingly common.
Square and similar systems are becoming go-to platforms for small merchants, and it's kind of surprising that retail locations accounted for just 20% of Square's transactions last year, and not a much higher percentage. However, 20% was enough for Square to decide that it's time to cater a collection of specialized retailer tools.
Last year, Square rolled out some APIs that made it easier for retailers to integrate Square into their existing e-commerce platforms, but now it wants to do more, and growth in retail transaction volume may not be the only reason. Overall, the company's financial performance seemed to shift into a new gear in the second quarter of 2016, with transaction volume and revenue jumping. A similarly strong third quarter followed, and hopes are high for Square's fourth quarter earnings report coming on Feb. 22. The rise probably is giving Square the confidence and financial stability to mount strategic efforts to expand the tools available to its business customers, and retail is the first to benefit.
Regarding those tools, making the suite of offerings very search-driven is probably going to be a key for many merchants, especially stores where the owner does just about everything. Among other capabilities, retailers can create and surf through a customer directory collecting shopper profiles, sales histories and customer interactions with specific sales people. It can even help merchants categorize groups of customers by shopping habits. Additionally, the inventory management capabilities, like counting product across multiple stores and enabling transferring of inventory between stores, can help retailers as they grow.
Square has been a common platform choice for small merchants just starting out, but Square obviously is determined to stick with them as they grow. At some point, these merchants may no longer be asking their customers to sign with their fingers, but Square may still be their POS of choice.