Square Point of Sale is the company’s excellent entry into the point-of-sale arena. Square stands out, not only with its typical easy-to-use technology, but also because it’s managed to combine that with a flatter pricing structure than most competing services. It also offers custom pricing for merchants that do more than $250,000 in annual sales. That means Square Point of Sale is good for everything from a micro-business, like a one-time pop-up store, all the way up to established, high-volume merchants. Along with competitor Vend POS, that makes Square Point of Sale an easy pick for our Editors’ Choice designation.
In addition to its prowess on the POS front, Square also functioned well as a credit card processing service. That’s especially useful to companies that combine brick-and-mortar retail with online e-commerce operations. For customers like that, Square Point of Sale also wins an Editors’ Choice award in the credit card processing space.
Square is known for its flat, transparent fees. All retail and mobile customers get a free Square Chip Card Reader for swiping cards; a Reader that will also take contactless and chipped cards costs $49. Square also sells Square Stands, which are compatible with iPads, and offers over-the-air updates to its applications—one for $99 only swipes cards while a version that costs $169 also handles contactless and chipped cards. The Square Register (which costs $999 plus 2.5 percent and 10 cents per transaction) includes a display, a stand, and a customer-facing display that incorporates card swipes/taps/dips.
The company has also expanded into other services, such as invoicing, marketing, customer loyalty and feedback, inventory control, and small business loans. For payment processing, Square charges a 2.75-percent transaction fee for in-person swipes, taps, or dips as stated earlier. Keyed-in transactions cost 3.5 percent plus 15 cents. Online and over the phone transactions carry more risk of fraud, hence the higher fee. Square vendors can accept only their local currency but can open separate accounts to accept currencies from other countries. Because Square is an aggregator, charges from its clients show up as “Square – Your Business Name” on credit card statements.
Square pays its clients with the fees already taken out. However, since the fees are flat, it’s easier for a bookkeeper to reconcile at the end of each day. Clients can choose their own “close of business day time.”
There are two apps available from Square: one for POS and one for retail, and we’re focusing on the service behind the POS tools with this review. Developers can also access its e-commerce application programming
The POS app is designed for a wide variety of businesses, and includes digital receipts, customer feedback via receipt, and other features. After signing in to your specific store (you can use the app with more than one store), it opens up a simple grid that shows your products and/or product categories on the left-hand side and the sales receipt on the right-hand side. When you choose a product, a pop-up window lets you select size, quantity, and other item choices, taxes, and discounts (which can be selected by customer group, such as Friends & Family or Employee). Customers can pay by using cash, gift cards, credit/debit cads, or other methods such as Android Pay or Apple Pay. If the customer wants to split the bill (for example, use a gift card and cash), then a button at the top right-hand side labeled “Split” lets you do that. Customers can also add a tip if they choose. Loyalty schemes are integrated into the software as well and can be associated with credit cards or phone numbers.
Functions such as customer and employee management can be found in Settings. Square Point of Sale also provides customer lists and lets you assign your customers to different groups. An Items list lets you add inventory items, assign them to categories and discounts, and add modifiers such as size and color.
Like more complex POS systems, such as NCR Silver, Square can operate in an offline mode. This is an important feature for small vendors that may need to operate in venues where internet connections are spotty or non-existent.
For more administrative tasks and to access analyses, Square Point of Sale’s Dashboard lets you access a variety of reports, including lists and charts that illustrate sales summaries and trends such as year-over-year growth, employee sales, and other statistics. While the POS app offers simple employee tracking, more granular tracking can be created by using Square Point of Sale’s Dashboard. The Dashboard lets you assign roles to different levels of employees, giving each role a flexible list of permissions. The Dashboard also lets you track your inventory and check how many items are in each store location; you can set stock alerts when inventory gets low. There is also a separate Dashboard app for phones so that sellers can access this information away from their stores, in real time.
The retail app, which was released in February 2017, includes a bundle of software to transfer and tag inventory, a searchable item library for businesses that sell hundreds of products, barcode scanning, and the ability to save client details and preferences. Because it’s meant for sellers who depend largely on barcode scanners, the user interface (UI) is barebones: items don’t appear on the screen until they are scanned in. It’s customizable for different business types. Inventory management
in the associated Dashboard is also more advanced; otherwise, the Dashboard functionality is very similar to that of the standard POS software. Square for Retail costs $60 per month with a 2.75-percent fee per transaction. There is a 30-day free trial.
All Square customers are eligible for chargeback protection, up to $250 per month. If a credit card holder disputes a charge on their statement that Square determines to be valid, then you’ll be reimbursed the chargeback fee. Vendors must respond
As mentioned, Square has an e-commerce API that developers can use to integrate it as a checkout solution for online purchases. It also has an API with TouchBistro (restaurants) and Zen (retailers) POS systems so that new clients can use the POS system they’ve already customized for their business but still get Square’s rates.
Phone support is available from Monday to Friday, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT. You can also get help by email, social media, including Twitter and Facebook, and an online support center. According to CardFellow, clients can only call customer service if they have a special code, and prospective customers can’t access support by phone at all if they have questions before deciding to sign up.
To help evaluate Square Point of Sale, below we have included a SmartScore and Customer Satisfaction Rating from a website called Finances Online, which evaluates financial solutions. According to the FinancesOnline website, it calculates its SmartScores based on a POS system’s main functionalities and features as well as its “collaboration features, customization, integration with other apps, customer support, and mobility. All these factors are taken into account when calculating the final score (on a 1 to 10 scale).”
FinancesOnline draws its Customer Satisfaction Ratings from its proprietary Customer Satisfaction Algorithm that “gathers user reviews, comments, and opinions across a wide range of social media and calculates a satisfaction rating based on what people think about the product.”
FinancesOnline gives Square Point of Sale a SmartScore of 9.0 and a Customer Satisfaction Rating of 97 percent.
On the credit card processing front, Cardfellow’s review from 2016 outlines the company’s history, fee structure, and product offerings, some of which are out of date. It sources commentary from user reviews as well. Many of those complaints are about cases in which Square suspects fraud and freezes an account and holds payment during the investigation. Square has an A-plus rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), though most of the customer reviews are negative. Out of more than 145 reviews, more than 130 are negative. There are also 1,465 customer complaints, which include issues with account freezes, contacting customer service on the phone, and problems connecting their account with a bank account.
It’s important to note that Square has replied to many of these complaints and that, in many cases, the account shutdowns are based on a violation of the company’s terms of service. As always it’s worth doing your research, including reading the terms of service no matter how long it is or consulting a professional to advise you.
The BBB follows up to gauge the customer’s satisfaction on a company’s response; in this case, more than 190 are satisfied, while the rest are either dissatisfied or did not respond. The BBB logs complaints from the last three years and its most recent review of complaints occurred in April 2016.
Square is a good choice for small business owners, particularly mobile ones, such as farmers’ markets and art fairs or businesses with small transactions, such as coffee shops. If you’re a rapidly growing company, and your transactions suddenly increase, you may be subjected to an account review, since that might look like