TL; DR: In 2009, Square was launched with a mission to help remove barriers to entry for businesses wanting to accept credit cards and payments through phones or tablets. The company has since grown into a global fintech business offering a range of products and tools concentrated on everything from point of sale and online store payments to banking and payroll services. Even with this growth, Square’s primary commitment has remained the same: to allow entrepreneurs, professionals, SMBs, and even website building teams and developers to streamline their operations and focus on their business missions.
As most business owners can attest, getting set up to accept credit card payments can be a daunting experience. Top of mind are usually the fees credit card companies charge for transactions. Then there are contracts to consider with payment processors, capital expenditures on hardware, and even operational costs associated with payment portals and SaaS-based payment products.
And, although this payment minefield is not easy to navigate, most businesses know that, to succeed, they must accept credit cards. According to one survey, more than 80% of consumers prefer to pay with credit cards over cash. And that same study showed that the average credit card transaction was five times higher than the average cash purchase.
But the modern business owner doesn’t have to fret about leaving this money on the table. Fintech company Square has streamlined the process for small businesses and professionals who want to start accepting credit card payments.
“Square started by enabling anyone to accept payments through their phone or tablet with the goal of never letting someone miss a sale,” said Katie Swett, Product Lead for Square Online. “Since 2009, that small credit card reader has grown into a global technology and financial services company that offers software, hardware, and financial tools to empower millions of businesses and individuals to participate in the economy.”
Katie told us that Square was born from the historical struggle that many small business owners experienced in simply accepting credit cards. Prior to the company’s solution hitting the market, many SMBs were unable to provide payment flexibility for their customers.
“They faced onerous contracts, expensive hardware, clunky software, and overall poor and lengthy experiences,” Katie said. “This ultimately excluded many, and with every new product we strive to offer tools for businesses of all sizes, industry, and complexity.”
Helping Businesses Compete in the New Economy
Katie told us that Square has been helping SMBs and startups add payment flexibility to their businesses for over a decade. However, she said the onset of the coronavirus pandemic really accelerated omnichannel commerce trends.
“This quickly created the need for businesses to sell in different ways to meet consumer demand and preference,” Katie noted.
According to Katie, COVID-19 expedited the digital transformation strategies of many businesses.
“For many, the three-year adoption cycle of moving online was shortened to three weeks,” she said. “Being able to sell anywhere, across any channel allows businesses to reach consumers in their preferred way, helping expand their customer base and stay competitive.”
Doing business in this new paradigm demands flexibility and the ability to pivot. As a result, many retailers shifted and began accepting contactless payments while also making in-person payments safer by following social distancing guidelines.
“Square’s adaptable hardware has always enabled merchants to power contactless payment methods to meet consumer preferences for how they want to buy — even before the pandemic,” Katie said. “Square first introduced hardware to accept contactless and chip cards in 2015, and has continued to feature this in all hardware launched since.”
As Katie noted, Square’s solutions are adaptable and have played a big role in a business’s ability to maintain in-person commerce. The goal is to create a safe environment for all parties — the business owner, employees, and customers — and achieve peace of mind and business continuity.
“Since the beginning, Square has offered hardware options that take contactless payments like tap credit cards and mobile wallets via smartphone and smartwatch (Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay),” Katie said. “We’ve also seen how crucial it is for businesses to catalog their merchandise. Adding images, descriptions, reviews, and more to items helps customers better understand and consider purchases when businesses are not around to assist them. Customers can then initiate and complete purchases with or without the merchant around.”
Compatible Solutions Built to Connect Your Business
Katie told us that flexibility couldn’t be emphasized enough when it comes to a business’s approach to payments. And Square offers a full suite of tools to connect to and streamline almost every aspect of a business’s processes.
“Before Square, businesses had to piece together hardware and software that oftentimes didn’t work together, required painful compromises, and created more problems than answers,” she said. “Because Square builds both hardware and software to work together, any business can use our integrated products. Square prides itself on being a cohesive platform where businesses can utilize all the business tools they need in one place. This makes Square an ideal, all-in-one solution and partner for businesses.”
The company delivers an integrated POS system that helps merchants operate and grow more efficiently. This can bring immense value and save businesses time and boost ROI. Square’s tools work together from five different hardware options, including Square Terminal and Square Register, software like Square Online, Square Marketing (email and SMS), Square Loyalty, Square Invoices, Square Gift Cards, and Square Payroll.
“Running a business is hard, and Square’s ecosystem of products gives businesses all the tools they need to operate from a single place, removing manual work and automating processes on the back-end,” Katie said. “Whether businesses are online, in store, or both, Square Dashboard also aggregates all business data to make it easily digestible. From real-time reports to customer contacts, merchants have everything in front of them to make informed business decisions, further enabling them to grow and operate more efficiently.”
The Goal: Continuous Development to Improve Customer Experiences
After Square’s warm reception and more than 12 years on the market, the company is still committed to continual improvement. Square’s secret? Well, it’s not as complicated as you’d guess: Listen to customers.
“We’re focused on talking to our customers to understand their needs so we can glean what they need to operate, but to also appeal to their customers — something that became even more important during COVID,” Katie said. The key is to be open minded to any and all feedback so we can better understand what businesses need.”
Square’s team maintains a feedback loop with customers to figure out where improvements can be made, what additional features might promote success, and to better understand a user’s pain points. It’s a smart approach that informs the company’s internal development processes.
“We are truly focused on building products to make our customers’ lives better,” Katie said. “Sometimes our customer feedback is obvious for the exact solution that we build. Other times, their requests highlight needs or opportunities, but the right solutions we build take into account macro trends and consumer preferences that may not have been considered in the original feedback.”
Going forward, Katie told us that Square will continue to work on providing tools and services that automate, simplify, and give businesses time back. Cohesion within the Square ecosystem and with API partners remains top of mind for the company.
“Beyond finding ways to integrate within Square, we’re working to also integrate with Cash App so that we can provide enhanced experiences for businesses and their customers,” Katie said. “We also see omnichannel adoption increasing, even in a post-COVID world, and we will continue to invest into online, mobile, order-ahead, QR codes, and many of these new digital experiences.”