Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tech Tools: Square

Welcome to our new Wednesday series~ 
Each week I'll be highlighting mobile apps, websites, and tech tools that are useful for those of us in the small business (or micro business for some!) world.  With the help of our team members, I'll feature tools we can all use as well as some more specialized tech.  You are welcome to post questions in the comments section if you need tech help at any stage.

Please share your experience and ideas for future articles with this submission form.

The highest user rating I envision is Excellent, meaning a must have for nearly all sellers and exceptional ease of use for the intended purpose.  To kick off this series, I'll start with a tool that has earned this rating by my own use for over a year and by many of our members--Square.   We've been discussing Square in our Google Group and it comes highly recommended from many of our team members.  As we look forward to holiday shows, I hope you'll consider the benefits of accepting credit and debit cards from customers.

What does it do?
Square is two things:  an app for your phone or tablet and a small device (that's square).  It allows any seller to process credit cards at any volume for a flat rate.

Why should I use it?
The Square app and the combined device make it easy and fast for your customers to purchase with a credit or debit card.  My experience is that this has quadrupled my sales at shows!  The app is free. The device is free and will arrive by mail if you choose.  You are only charged once you make a sale and the percentage comes off of the sale so there is no billing.  Square works on the iphone, ipad, and Droid operating systems and with all major cards.

My experience is that customers are very willing to use the scanner and then 'sign' on my Droid phone.  They can choose to have an email sent to them as a receipt as well.  You can also process charges over the phone, by typing in the numbers rather than swiping the card.  This is useful for wholesale orders or personal websites at a small volume.

Is there a trial/free version?
The best way to try Square is to go to the App Store or Market on your mobile or tablet and search for Square by Square Inc.  The app is free to download.  You do not need the device to use square, but without it, you'll need to type the card numbers rather than swipe.

Any downsides?
Square charges 2.75% on each transaction. (For comparison, Paypal generally charges 2.9% and 30 cents.)  You do need a bank account for the deposit, this needs to be registered at the website:  Square is one of the fastest ways I have seen to process a payment, but at a show, it still may not be as fast as cash, especially if you happen to be out of mobile range.

Have you used Square?  I know some people further use it to capture emails for future mailings and personalize their receipts with product photos.  Please share your experience in the comments!


If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, contact Jen from Mama's Magic Studio about joining SFEtsy!

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