In a Nutshell: Once upon a time, accepting credit card payments was a convenience not available to just anybody. The costs associated with credit card payments were prohibitive for many independent merchants and small businesses. But Square now makes it possible for businesses of all shapes and sizes to easily accept credit cards. The company is continually expanding its product line and services to meet the shifting needs of today’s consumer. It also evaluates feedback from clients and consumers to determine how to best move forward with its mission to continue serving merchants.
Several years ago when my first book was published, the publishing company distributed it to small and large book sellers around the country. I also had a few hundred copies to sell personally at a book release event and at a local festival.
As a writer, dealing with the money side of things was new to me. But one of the first questions that came up was whether I would accept credit card payments. And if so, how? I consulted with some friends who own local businesses and they recommended the company, Square, and its Square Reader for my smartphone to accept credit cards.
The convenience of allowing people who didn’t have cash on hand to buy my book right on the spot with a credit card far outweighed the small fee Square charged to process the payments.
Between the two local events and a number of mail orders, I sold several hundred copies of my book from my personal stash. This would not have been possible without using Square. More than 100 potential customers didn’t have cash on them and would have walked away without a book if they weren’t able to pay right then and there.
Who knows if they would have actually followed up at a later time to order one online or buy one at a bookstore?
Square truly delivers credit card payment solutions to merchants of all sizes.
We recently had a chance to speak with David Talach, Head of Financial Services for Square, to learn more about the company’s mission, the effectiveness of its products, and what other customers have to say about its payment solutions.
Identifying a Need to Help Small Businesses Stay Competitive in the Marketplace
Square was founded in 2009 with the small Square Reader (the same one I used) as its flagship product and the notion that businesses of all sizes should have the opportunity to compete in the marketplace, no matter the industry.
“Square was very much born from the historical struggle that many small business owners experienced in simply accepting credit cards,” Talach said. “Before Square, businesses faced onerous contracts, expensive hardware, clunky software, and overall a poor and lengthy experience.”
This ultimately excluded many from even accepting cards. It also inspired Square to enable anybody to participate in the economy, Talach said.
“We hold this observation and belief system close to us, and with every new product, we strive to democratize tools for sellers of all sizes,” he said.
Before Square, businesses had to piece together hardware and software that oftentimes didn’t work together and created more problems than solutions, Talach explained.
“Businesses would have to compromise one or the other, but because Square builds both hardware and software to work together, any business can use our integrated products,” he said. “Square prides itself on being a cohesive platform where sellers can utilize all the business tools they need in one place. This makes Square an ideal, all-in-one solution and partner for businesses.”
Before Square, small and independent businesses were truly met with a challenge when it came to accepting credit cards. It was possible, but there was a significant overhead cost to install point-of-sale machines, and legacy payment processors at the time weilded contracts that discouraged many small businesses from even thinking about accepting cards.
And some of the small businesses that did would tack on a minimum purchase amount or boost prices a bit to cover the cost of procuring the legacy card processor’s services.
Providing a Range of Credit Card Solutions
Since the early days of offering its tiny Square Reader to merchants and small businesses, the company has expanded its product line to meet a far wider range of business needs, from point-of-sale readers to e-commerce solutions and even payroll services.
“From side gigs to sports stadiums, we’re helping power businesses of all sizes and types to help them succeed — no matter what success means to them,” according to the Square website.
Talach discussed the company’s expanding product line and the evolving preferences of consumers.
“Consumers are continuing to shift to contact-free commerce and are expecting a lot more options in how they shop, requiring businesses to let their customers pay in whatever way they feel most comfortable,” he said. “With these new consumer preferences, businesses need to be able to reach their customers wherever they are whether that’s in-person, online, or remote.”
This may include contactless payment methods like tap cards and mobile wallets, appointment-based shopping, websites with complete online stores, social media shoppable links, and curbside pickup and delivery, all of which Square enables, Talach said.
“No one should be left out of the economy because the cost is too great or the technology too complex,” according to Square. “So we’re building easy tools to empower and enrich people. Tools that shorten the distance between having an idea and making a living from it — because we believe in fair and square.”
Square provided some impressive stats to illustrate just how effective it has been in helping merchants of all sizes keep up with the times,
Between September 2019 and 2020, card-not-present (over the phone or online) transactions more than quadrupled year-over-year, according to Talach. And after helping sellers pivot online during the COVID-19 pandemic, 40% of all Square sellers were accepting online payments by August 2020.
Prioritizing Feedback and Addressing Perennial Struggles of Business Owners
Talach also discussed how Square believes listening to the feedback from clients and consumers is extremely important, and spoke to how the company sees its role in the future of commerce.
“We listen to the range of struggles and suggestions of our customers, whether that be assisting them in pivoting to online, offering curbside pickup, or something as nuanced as a 6.5-foot-long cable for Square Register,” he said. “The key is to be open-minded to any and all feedback so we can better understand what our sellers need.”
The challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in a decline in overall satisfaction with merchant services providers. But Square remained a merchant favorite and actually ranked highest for merchant satisfaction in the The J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Merchant Services Satisfaction Study.
But the company is never one to rest on its laurels.
Talach said the company sees a few perennial struggles that businesses, unfortunately, experience that Square believes must be improved.
“First, we believe their tools should work together better from automating, simplifying, and giving time back,” he said. “Cohesion within our ecosystem and with API partners remains top of mind for us.”
Square also sees omnichannel adoption increasing, even in a post-COVID world, and it will continue to invest in online, mobile, order-ahead, QR, and many of these kinds of new digital experiences, Talach explained.
“Lastly, we believe cash-flow remains a key concern for small businesses and we will invest in bringing together many of our tools that allow sellers to manage cash-flow, utilize proceeds, and gain access to capital,” he said.
Whether you’re an established business looking for all-in-one payment solutions or just one person selling books, Square can provide you with just the right solution.