What if there was a way to reduce wrong orders, increase customer trust, and make your restaurant feel trendy and modern? Well — lucky you — there is! The solution: rethink your restaurantâs ordering system. With a modern restaurant ordering system, you can have online orders sent directly to your kitchen display system, servers can send orders from the floor with handheld tablets, and dine-in customers can pay at their table without having to wait for the server to go run their credit card. And those are only a few of the many cool things you can do with a good restaurant ordering app.
What Is A Restaurant Ordering System?
A restaurant ordering system includes any and all features that allow you to accept orders in person, over the phone, or online. As such, there can be a lot of moving parts and several different ordering processes, depending on your setup. Ideally, your ordering system should be as streamlined as possible and linked through your point of sale system. Sometimes, online ordering is separate from the main POS, supported via a third-party app like DoorDash, Postmates, or Grubhub—though many restaurant POS systems offer seamless integration with these apps.
A key aspect of the POS in a modern restaurant ordering system is that it should be tablet-based. At the very least, the POS should work with tablets in addition to a traditional terminal. Why is that? Tablets mean mobility, and they put powerful technology at the disposal of your servers—and your customers. The optimal configuration varies according to the restaurant type; for example, a casual quick-service restaurant system might include self-ordering kiosks or even just a single tablet register equipped with a credit card processing app, while an upscale bar and restaurant setup might have servers use handheld tablets to take orders and payments.
12 Features That Take Your Restaurantâs Ordering System To The Next Level
Now that you’re considering a revamp of your ordering system, it’s time to decide which features are important to you.
The most basic tablet POS consists of a cloud-based POS app installed on an iPad/touchscreen register. But even with a lightweight, single-iPad setup, you might be surprised at all the features a cloud-based system can offer, from online menu management to targeted email marketing campaigns. Your system may also include other additional hardware and accompanying functionality, described in more detail below.
Keep in mind that even if all of these features are available, you only have to use whatâs relevant.
Kitchen Display System
A digital kitchen display system, or KDS, is a lot better than kitchen ticket printing. This allows servers to send orders directly from a tablet to the kitchen, with the ability to prioritize orders, check on cook times, and so much more. The result is a fast, accurate, streamlined ordering process. What are some more advantages of a kitchen display system? Read What Is A Kitchen Display System? for a more in-depth breakdown.
Online & Phone Ordering
With phone orders, the operator may manually key in payments, noting the type of order (call in for pickup vs. delivery) and other transaction details. A smartphone ordering system can save these details for easy re-ordering the next time the customer calls in.
With an online ordering and delivery system, online orders are sent into the queue with the rest of orders (again, this is where KDS comes in handy). Note that online ordering and delivery functionality can be a built-in function of your POS that integrates with your restaurant website, or your POS might support third-party online ordering apps like Grubhub, Uber Eats, etc.
Modifiers & Prompts
A POS system with a menu that allows for modifiers allows for easy order customization. Even better is a POS that prompts servers to ask for choices instead of assuming the customers want the default meal. A handheld tablet ordering system can prompt servers to upsell on the spot, and input the customers’ choices for sides, dressings, level of spice, etc. All of this information is relayed to the kitchen via a KDS or ticket, with no need to ask for a special order.
Seat & Table Management
Using a POS with seat and table management, you can easily assign orders, split items, reassign items to different people, and more. Table management can also include support for reservations, via an add-on or integration (more on reservation management below).
Menu management makes adjusting menu items easy and keeps your offerings up to date. Usually, you can do this with a back-office function online. You might also update your menu to include special time-sensitive offers and daily specials, or manage several different menus for different locations or days of the week. With integrated raw ingredient tracking, menu options stay in sync with ingredient availability.
An emerging trend flips the traditional restaurant payment system on its head, bringing the POS to the customer at their table. Servers simply swipe/dip the card in front of the customer and voila! The customer can sign their receipt on-screen, or the POS may have a mobile receipt printer. The system can also prompt customers to leave an on-screen tip, with percentage suggestions.
Clover Flex and Square TerminalÂ are both examples of mobile POS devices that allow customer payments at the table. These nimble, cordless terminals include both a card reader and receipt printer.
It can be a big investment, but some POS systems give you the option to place tablets at every single table. This lets customers enter their own orders, summon servers, and even split the check themselves. This is typically seen at casual dine-in setups. For example, Chili’s and several other casual restaurant franchises use self-ordering kiosks at tables. Some fast-food chains, such as McDonald’s and Wendy’s, also offer self-service ordering, from touchscreens located at the front of the restaurant.
Customer Relationship Management
Have a takeout restaurant with regulars? A good CRM system keeps track of what they order so if they want to call in âthe usual,â you can plug it in without having to remember it. Customer data can also be used for targeted marketing—for example, sending emails about discounts, promotions or events. Additionally, CRM can include a loyalty program for in-person transactions, which rewards frequent customers with discounts, free entrees, etc.
Server & Customer Notifications
A POS system can include different types of notifications for both servers and customers. For example, some restaurant POS systems can alert servers when orders are ready with an in-app notification sent to their handheld device, or even with a text-message— SMS alerts are probably more effective if servers use a smartwatch to receive these notifications. Customers can also receive texts letting them know when their takeout order is ready, or alerting them that their table is ready. Again, the best way to use notifications all depends on your restaurant’s setup.
Mobile Payment Support
More and more restaurants accept contactless NFC (mobile) payments like Apple Pay and Google Pay. Mobile device payments require the customer to be present, so you usually see this at casual eateries where customers pay at the counter. However, a sit-down restaurant can also accept mobile payments, if you opt to bring the POS to the customer with pay-at-table functionality.
Giving customers the option of email receipts for their orders is beneficial for both you and your customer. Customers can track expenses and past orders, and you can reduce receipt paper costs. Email receipts can also contain CTAs customers can click on, such as surveys or prompts to follow you on social media. Once you have a customer’s email address, you can additionally send them promotional offers in the future.
Depending on the POS system, you use, you might not even have to ask the customer for their email address. For example, Square lets you send automatic receipts to any customer who has already opted into receiving Square email receipts from another vendor.
Online Reservations & Waitlist
When your waitlist and reservations are automated, your staff is freed up to focus on the bread and butter of your restaurant: food orders! While not too many POS systems offer native support for reservations, many restaurant POS systems now integrate with a reservation or waitlist app, such as Waitlist.me or OpenTable, which also serves as a marketplace where new customers can find your restaurant online, similar to Yelp.
Yelp also now has an online waitlist app that, when integrated with your restaurant management system, lets customers hop on your waitlist before they even leave the house. Customers can view their approximate wait time, see how many parties are ahead of them in line, and receive a text when their table is ready.
4 Ways The Right Restaurant Software Will Improve Your Business
Okay, we’ve covered the features to look for in your POS—but we haven’t discussed why these assets to businesses. What are the high-level impacts and how will they change your business? Let’s delve in!
Tableside Ordering Means Fewer Errors
Back to modifiers and promptsâif servers enter orders at the table, they are less likely to forget or make a mistake. This improved accuracy results in less waste and fewer unhappy customers. Even if mistakes are made, they are quicker and easier to fix with a digitized system that allows for easy modifications and instant reordering.
Pay At Table Means Better Data Security
A card leaving a customerâs sight is a liability due to the possibility of credit card skimmers and identity theft. In some cases, you can reduce this risk with a pay-at-table feature and also with mobile payment acceptance. Additionally, the option to pay at the table means no waiters walking away and taking forever to bring the card/check back.
Better Efficiency Means Faster Turnarounds & Happier Customers
All of these features ultimately lead to one thing: a more efficient restaurant. Less time transpires between orders being taken and orders being placed, and less time is needed to complete payment transactions. Tables turn faster, resulting in more customers. And even more important than the faster turnaround is that you’ll have happier customers who arenât stuck waiting. This should also lead to better tips and happier servers!
Updates & Integrations Add Even More Functionality
All of the popular tablet POS systems integrate with other apps. This gives you the potential to extend your system’s functionality ever-further with each new integration that comes out. For example, there are restaurant apps for liquor inventories, tip tracking, social media management, and much more. Web-based systems are also updated frequently to add and improve features, meaning that the system you buy today could be even more powerful with next month’s update.
Cost Is The Biggest Hurdle To A Good Ordering System For Restaurants
There isnât really a disadvantage to having a POS with a solid ordering system. But there is an obstacle: the cash investment required. Some cost considerations for investing in a new restaurant POS:
You need multiple tablets so servers can use them.
You need the space and equipment to charge tablets.
You need additional card readers if you offer pay-at-table.
You need a reliable internet connection, either with cellular data plans or WiFi that reaches across the entire premises. Some POS systems set up local networks as a backup to keep the system functional during internet outages. No matter how you approach it, your internet infrastructure is going to cost money.
Depending on your setup, there are also additional hardware costs such as a KDS, kitchen printers, self-service kiosks, even a digital menu board.
Monthly POS software costs can add up if you have a lot of add-ons or third-party software integrations, e.g., $50/month add-on for loyalty program, $99/month add-on for delivery management, etc.
Whatever you do, donât try to cut costs by leasing POS/credit card processing hardware. This ultimately costs way more and involves contracts. Buy the equipment outright instead. Also, when choosing a restaurant POS system, make sure any system you’re considering offers competitive pricing for payment processing (if in-house payment processing is included) or integrates with a merchant account that offers interchange-plus pricing.
If you need to finance your POS system, this is possible with small business loans. Make sure you research the best options for small business loans for restaurants.
Is It Time For You To Upgrade Your Restaurantâs Ordering System?
Your existing restaurant POS might already support some of the tech-forward ordering features I’ve described in this post. Are you using them? If not, it might be time to consider trying them out. If your POS doesnât support these features, but they sound interesting, it’s probably time to switch to a new POS system. Start shopping around!
So what are the next steps toward implement a faster, more efficient, mobile restaurant ordering system? Talk to your POS provider and learn how to implement existing features you haven’t taken advantage of yet. Or, check out some top restaurant POS providers to find a system that does support the modern ordering features you want and need to make your restaurant all that it can be.
The post Modernize Your Business With A Good Restaurant Ordering System appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
Here at Merchant Maverick, we try to stay on top of the latest trends in point of sale technology and present that information to you, the reader. This, however, will not be one of those blogs. Instead, we’ll be looking at a device from another era that still stubbornly holds onto a small niche in contemporary face-to-face retail.
That’s right, we’re talking about the good old credit card imprinter.
Why, you might ask, would anyone want to look into something so… well, antiquated?
Power outages and internet outages happen. When they do, your business can be left without a way to process payments — turning customers away, and possibly ensuring they never come back. Having a backup can be very important.
In addition, some businesses still operate in locales that don’t support power or internet. At your friendly local Renaissance Faire, for example, you’ll likely see several of the artisans and merchants who accept “Lady Visa” & “Lord Mastercard” use a credit card imprinter. The old-fashioned vibe still fits with the event but allows businesses to make sales to customers who might have run out of cash or come unprepared to step back into a truly low-tech world.
What Is A Credit Card Imprinter?
If you’re over 35, you’ve probably seen one and would recognize its distinct two-part pop-swish sound. If you’re younger: this is what credit card processing used to look like in the bygone analog days.
There are a few design variations, but the most common one, lovingly dubbed “the knuckle-buster,” looks like flat metal slabs with a raised plastic or metal grip that slides over the slab on rails. There’s another version that looks a bit more like a pump or a cross between a stapler and paper cutter.
Regardless of the design, the purpose of these devices is to take a (you guessed it) physical imprint of the customer’s credit card for further processing later. The imprinter captures all the vital information on the card, and much more quickly than you could by copying it by hand. These things were all the rage in the 70s and 80s.
You may have noticed the raised numbers and letters on most credit cards and wondered why they were designed this way when ink would serve just as well for the human eye. Turns out, those little nubs allow credit card imprinters to work their magic. It also means that some modern cards that don’t have bevels may not work with imprinters.
A credit card imprinter essentially uses a miniaturized version of printing press technology. Your card is secured in place along with a paper of some kind; carbon paper can be used, but isn’t always necessary. Typically three papers are imprinted at once, allowing you to provide a copy to the customer and card issuer while keeping a copy for yourself. Old school card imprinters usually came with a custom plate with your business’s information on it, which would be imprinted alongside the card information.
Depending on the model, you will then either slide the roller across the slab, paper, and credit card twice, or press the pump down until you hear a confirming click.
What Do You Need To Process Payments With A Manual Credit Card Machine?
You need three things, at minimum, to process credit cards with a manual credit card machine:
The machine/imprinter itself
Paper for receipts and imprints
A way to process the transaction — that is, a merchant account with the appropriate software or hardware.
The machines aren’t that hard to come by, even today. Credit card imprinters are still being made and they’re not particularly expensive. The knuckle-buster models start around $16.50 and mostly top out around $60. Pump-handle imprinters are bit more expensive, running from around $60 t0 $120. Such is the cost of protecting your knuckles. If you’re really fancy, there are even electric ones that come in at over $200. Your best bet for buying one is probably online. They’re easy to find on Amazon or through sites like POS Supply Solutions.
Since these are mechanical devices with moving parts that can wear out with heavy use, make sure to read the user reviews to make sure you’re buying a durable model. You’ll also want to take size into account for portability and storage.
Credit card sales slips for imprinters vary widely in price, ranging from $4 or $5 for 100 to around $40 for 100. The only point of caution here is that you’ll want to get papers that align nicely with your machine’s dimensions for easy imprinting.
When you’re ready to process the transaction, you’ll have to key it in through a terminal, gateway, mobile POS, or virtual terminal.
Will Manual Credit Card Payments Cost You More?
Not if everything goes well.
If your business takes credit cards, you may have noticed that certain transactions incur a higher processing fee than others. When you take credit card information over the phone, or through the internet, it’s considered a card-not-present (CNP) transaction. The higher cost reflects the greater fraud risks associated with processing a card payment without directly capturing that card’s information, as well as a higher risk of human error.
Normally, processing a transaction as card-present (CP) involves POS hardware reading a magnetic strip or an EMV chip to capture the card’s information.
But wait! Aren’t you capturing the card’s information with the imprinter? As it turns out, yes, an imprinted transaction counts as card-present and should be processed at lower cost. Be aware, however, that most POS service providers don’t see a ton of these transactions these days and probably won’t assume you’re working with an imprinter when you enter the information.
You’ll want to make sure you’re working with a reputable processor, and one that has policies in place to give your old-school efforts their due. If they won’t, it may be time to switch processors.
Other Concerns With Credit Card Imprinters & Manual Credit Card Transactions
Making a nearly complete copy of a customer’s credit card information introduces some security concerns you normally don’t have to worry about.
There are no fancy encryption and two-factor security features here. You’re literally making a physical copy of the customer’s credit card information for later processing. You won’t have to worry about your slips being hacked, but they can be stolen or copied by hand. Any security involved in the process will need to be directly provided by your business practices. You’ll need to store the slips securely until such time as you can process them, making sure only authorized personnel have access to them. To ensure you and your customers are protected, you should adhere to the PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). As we touched on earlier, imprint-captured transactions can be considered card-present even though the information isn’t immediately being transmitted, but check with your processor to be sure.
You’ll likely want to hold onto the receipt for the 180 days or so during which the customer can dispute the sale. When the receipts are no longer needed, make sure they’re promptly and completely destroyed.
And, of course, when it comes time to process the slips, you’ll be dependent upon the security features of whatever program or medium you’re using to submit the information. You also need to make sure that you are keying in the transaction properly — both the card number and the transaction amount. An incorrect amount could cause a dispute, while an incorrect card number could be a failed transaction.
You should also be aware that using an imprinter means you won’t know if you’ve accepted a declined card until you attempt to process the transaction. The imprint does provide precious evidence in your favor should a chargeback investigation be conducted, but it can’t do much with a failed transaction. That does mean you’re at risk of losing the cost of any inventory associated with the sale as well.
Alternatives To Using Manual Credit Card Machines
Still not excited about going back to the 20th century when the internet goes down? Fair enough.
POS service providers like Square allow retailers to process transactions in “offline mode.” Assuming your service offers this feature, you may still be able to capture card transactions with your local terminals and mobile devices. When your connection is restored, you can process the backlog. If you’re using a cellular-data-ready mobile device to process the payments, you may not even need to wait; services like Square allow you to transmit data over the cellular network.
Be careful, though. You’ll want to have an idea of the number of transactions your POS service allows you to cache; if you’re doing a lot of business with your connection interrupted, you could run into problems.
Now, if you’re unlucky enough to have your power go down as well, and you’ve drained your battery-powered devices arguing about the election on Facebook, you may need to go cash-only (or if your customers are adamant, throw up your hands and break out the manual processor). That, or just take the day off.
Do You Really Need A Credit Card Imprinter?
With the ability to process transactions in offline mode, most businesses probably can sleep soundly at night without a credit card imprinter in their closet. That said, there are outlier cases where certain businesses may find them useful. If you do a lot of business at markets, fairs, or outdoor flea markets where you don’t have easy access to electricity and/or make occasional credit card sales, a knuckle buster can fill the gap. Just be aware of the risks — and be prepared to do a little bit more work.
The post Everything You Need To Know About Using A Credit Card Imprinter appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
We at Merchant Maverick like Square. Itâs a great service that opens up the ability to process credit card payments to many small businesses, and weâve written a lot of articles about Square’s point of sale, payment processing, inventory, booking, and invoicing features. These articles can be prohibitively in-depth to the uninitiated, however, so you might want to read this quick overview of Square for a summary before digging into the details.
A Brief History Of Square
Square was founded in 2009 when Jack Dorsey (also of Twitter) tried to help his friend Jim McKelvey take a credit card payment of $2,000.00. Squareâs first product was a magnetic stripe credit card reader that could be inserted into a smartphoneâs headphone jack to take credit card sales.
Square became a public company in November of 2015, and its stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol SQ. While Square does bring in a lot of money ($3.3 billion for the year 2018), it still has not made a profit. For the moment, the company seems to be more focused on growing by adding new services for its customers.
While Square’s main focus continues to be helping small businesses quickly and easily set up taking credit card payments, it has also expanded its services to point of sale, inventory, and employee management — giving small businesses the ability to run more like large ones (more on these services below). To this end, it has bought the food delivery business Caviar, the catering service Zesty, and the website building service Weebly. It also owns a consumer-centric digital wallet called the Cash App, where users can send money to each other and even buy from any store with the money in the app.
In the span of about ten years, Square has grown from a startup focusing on one aspect of helping small businesses grow to a large business providing a suite of services that help small businesses expand. With so many additional services, what exactly does Square do these days?
What Does Square Do?
At its heart, Square is still a credit card processing aggregator (also sometimes called a third party payment processor or a payment service provider (PSP)). We have a great article on the difference between a merchant account provider and an aggregator, but below is a quick explanation.
Square’s Credit Card Processing Services
Traditionally, if you want your business to take credit card sales, you would work with a provider to set up something called a merchant account. To get a merchant account, you typically undergo a long application process and provide a lot of financial information before you are approved. These providers want to make sure that, based on your businessâs existing history, you don’t present a huge financial risk.
Credit card processing aggregators take more of a see-as-we-go approach and assume financial risk for bad accounts. Aggregators merely need to verify the identity of the applicant before authorizing a new account, and generally don’t ask too much more information. They have more freedom on who they sign up and how they do business with those they sign up.
While this means aggregators can quickly set your business up to take credit card payments without needing an established history, they tend to be cautious afterwards. These types of payment processors have advanced systems in place to analyze each transaction for any red flags. Suspicious transactions can cause the processor to hold funds until it has more information. Worse, third-party processors often have a clause in the contract that says they can terminate your account if they see fit. Usually, this happens to businesses that have high numbers of chargebacks or fraudulent transactions.
Square is an aggregator, so essentially the above is its business model. You can sign up for Square within minutes and without providing detailed financial information. In addition, Square gives you a basic set of free hardware and software so you can start taking credit card payments almost right away. The free items include:
Square Point Of Sale Software: Square’s free POS software is incredibly advanced for being free, though it’s certainly not a full-fledged POS. Still, for most small businesses it is more than sufficient. Square also offers premium iPad POS systems for a monthly fee if you need more advanced features.
Credit Card Reader: You can get a basic magnetic strip reader for free, but if you want support for chip cards, you’ll have to upgrade to another reader, which will cost you.
Invoicing: For those businesses that bill a larger amount but less often (e.g. lawn care services), Square offers an electronic invoicing function. The invoices are free to send, but you will pay a transaction fee when your customer pays with their card.
Square’s Value-Added Services
As mentioned earlier, Square has been adding more services to its core credit card processing business. Some of these services are for free, but others are available for a small fee. These services include:
Employee Management: With this service, you can manage your employees from anywhere. You can add new employees to the system, track their hours, track their register/sales (at either single location or multiple locations), edit and close employee timecards, and give selected employees selected access to various parts of this software (e.g. so they can enter their own hours but not see your weekly sales numbers).
Payroll Services: This service imports data from the employee management software so that you can easily pay your employees and contractors. Square will handle tax filings and withholdings, and they can handle the payments to other employee benefits such as health insurance and 401(k). You can even offer direct deposit to your employees.
Inventory Management: Square offers basic inventory management in its Point of Sale app for free, but the premium iPad POS systems offer a more detailed system that can track and analyze your business’s inventory across multiple stores and multiple registers. You are notified when inventory is low, and items are automatically removed from inventory when they’re sold, whether at one of your physical locations or online.
Business Debit Card (Square Card): When you are paid by your customers through Square, the money goes to an account kept by Square. Rather than moving the money to your bank, you can use it immediately with the Square Card. The Square Card is a debit card sponsored by Mastercard, and you can request it from Square for free. Check out How Does Square’s Instant Deposit Work?Â for more information about how to access your funds.
Appointments: Square provides a booking calendar for professional service businesses (like hair salons). The calendar not only tracks and moves appointments, but it can also send appointment reminders to customers. The POS and booking system is free for a single user, but if you have multiple users you’ll need to pay a monthly fee.
Square Online Store: Pretty much every business needs an online presence, and Square can help you build a professional-looking website even if you’ve never done it before. Square provides tools that can help you track your inventory sold through your online store and helps you with shipping (printing labels, discounted rates). Best of all, when you sell out of state, it tracks all the different sales taxes that you might owe. There’s a basic free webstore, but if you need more advanced features, you’ll need to upgrade to one of the other plans.
Other Services: Square offers many more services designed to make a small business owner’s life easier. For instance, Square offers marketing software to help you build email and social media advertising campaigns. It has an installment payment service for certain businesses so that a customer can buy a big-ticket item and pay Square in installments while you get paid right away. Square can help you build a loyalty program where customers can redeem goods or services with points. You can get your own branded gift cards to sell to your customers. Square even provides online store owners with a product photography service so that the items sold through webstores are presented in their best light.
As can be seen above, Square is well on its way to offering an entire suite of software and services that not only help you take credit card sales, but also help you manage your entire business’s operations.
What Are The Advantages of Square?
Every successful business has a few things it does extremely well, and Square is no exception. Square basically provides you with a free, fast, and easy-to-get-out-of way to start taking credit card sales. To elaborate a bit, the following are some advantages for signing up with Square:
Fast Setup: You can sign up for Square within minutes and get a credit card reader shipped to you very quickly.
Easy Termination: If you sign up and find that you don’t like Square, you can stop working with Square any time you want. There are no penalties for leaving, so you can sign up without fear. (There may be loose ends to tie up, but you can still terminate the services at will.)
Easy To Use: Square is focused on small businesses that are just starting out. They provide a simple piece of hardware and intuitive software to help you run your business and help you grow.
Simple Fee Structure: Compared with other pricing models, Square has an easy-to-understand flat fee structure so you can better predict your profits.
Fast Payment: With Square, you can get paid almost right away after a customer makes a charge. You can instantly deposit these funds into your outside account or use the funds directly with the Square Card debit card. In contrast, traditional merchant account providers typically hold the funds for at least 24 hours before releasing it to you. For a small business with tight cash flow, Square’s fast payment can make a difference to the business’s survival.
No Minimums Or Monthly Fees: A small fee here and there might seem insignificant, but they can add up in the long run. Square’s credit card processing service (and a lot of their other services) have no minimum or monthly fees, so a small business doesn’t have to worry about paying for anything other than the transaction processing costs.
These are just some of the advantages for signing up with Square. Of course, no business is perfect, and neither is Square. Under some circumstances and for some types of businesses, Square is not the best option.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Square?
No business can be everything to everyone, so Square is not suitable for every type of business. One of the biggest complaints we see about Square is that Square sometimes withhold funds in a merchant’s account, with or without warning. Sometimes, you never get paid. If you fit into one of the categories below, you might want to think twice before signing up with Square:
Not Suitable For High-Risk Businesses: A “high risk” business is usually defined as a business that deals with guns and ammo, tobacco and vaporizers, pharmaceuticals, gambling and financial services, and similar — anything highly regulated or prone to chargebacks and disputes. If you deal in any of these, Square is likely not the right business partner for you. Specifically, in its Terms of Service, Square reserves the right to terminate service if you violate any export control regulations (for example, sell military-grade items to specific countries) and money laundering laws, sell weapons or devices designed to cause physical harm, or “use the Services except as otherwise allowed” under their agreements.
Not Suitable For Business With Many Chargebacks: If you have a business that causes a high rate of dispute or chargebacks (even if it’s not otherwise a high-risk business), then Square is probably not the right company for you. Going back to Square’s business model, it fronts you the money that you take from your customers so you can collect right away while it waits for the banks to settle the charges. So, if Square can’t eventually get the money from the banks, it might stop fronting you the money (put a hold on your account) or stop working with you altogether.
Not The Best Pricing For High-Volume businesses: Despite its transparent pricing, Square might not be the cheapest service provider for your particular business. If your business is mature, you have an established financial history and are doing a consistently high volume of card payments, and you know how your customers tend to pay for your goods or services, then you might want to shop around a little more to find the merchant account provider that can offer you interchange-plus pricing and volume discounts. (That said, Square does negotiate custom rates for high-volume businesses, but you should absolutely shop around all the same.)
We have an article that gives more details on why Square is not suitable for high risk and high chargeback businesses. If you have an established business and wish to shop around, here’s some information on where you might be able to get a better deal.
What Are Square’s Fees?
Business owners like having predictable operating expenditures every month. Because credit card fees usually have a percentage component and a flat fee component, the cost of allowing credit card sales tend to be less predictable. Compared to traditional credit card processors, however, Squareâs fees are easier to predict.
With Square, you usually only have to worry about just one fee, expressed in a percentage form. Right now, if you use Squareâs free credit card reader and free Point of Sale software, you pay 2.75% of the sale. Thatâs it. If your customers choose to pay online, your rate is 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.Â Having only to keep two numbers in mind makes it easier for you to figure out your markups so you can make a profit for your entire business.
Note, though, that if you use Squareâs premium hardware or software, the charges can get a little complex. Here’s an article giving a more detailed breakdown of Square’s fees.
How Do You Use Square?
When it comes down to it, it’s fairly easy to start using Square’s services. You can do it in four steps:
Sign Up For A Free Account. This only takes a few minutes, and we even have an article walking you through the process. You wonât have to provide a lot of financial information, and they wonât do a credit check on you at this stage (they will later, after youâre all set up).
Get Your Free Square Reader. Youâll have quite a few hardware choices–some of which you will need to pay for–but thereâs always one thatâs free for either iOS or Android.
Download The Free Square App. The app is called Square Point of Sale, and you will need this app to process payments through a mobile device.
Log In To The Free Square Dashboard And Explore. This is a fairly robust piece of software that manages all your credit card charges. You can customize reporting in a centralized hub, and do much, much more (some of which cost extra). Here’s a Merchant Maverick article on the details of the dashboard.
As mentioned above, Square wants to help you run your business. There are a lot of value-added services they offer, so once you’re all set taking credit card sales, you might wish set aside a little time to explore these additional services to see how they can help you run your business.
What Kinds of Businesses Is Square Best For?
Square isnât right for every business, but if your business is small or new, Square is very likely the best bet for you. With Square, youâll get lots of free software, hardware, and add-ons to get you up and running very quickly. You can use Square on the web, at a brick-and-mortar store, and even at mobile locations such as food festivals.
We’ve compared Square with PayPal and Clover Go and believe Square really does offer the best value for the price for a start-up business. As long as youâre not one of the âhigh riskâ businesses, you should have no problems getting payments from Square or with your account being abruptly suspended or terminated. Best of all, if you use Square and then after a while decide you donât like them, you can stop using them at any time.
Is Square right for you? This more in-depth article can help you decide.
The post What Is Square And How Does It Work? appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
If you’re reading this article, chances are that some of your customers have recently asked whether you accept Apple Pay or Google Pay. Your preliminary research has yielded the terms digital wallet and mobile wallet, but while you may have heard of these forms of payment before, you don’t yet know many of the details.
What do these terms mean? Is there a difference?
The short answer is that digital wallet is a broad term covering software that electronically stores credit card numbers, debit card numbers, loyalty card numbers, etc. on your laptop, tablet, phone, or the cloud. A mobile wallet is a type of digital wallet that lives only on your phone and allows you to “tap to pay” in stores, often using NFC technology.
Below is a more detailed explanation of what these wallets are, as well as how they might affect your small business.
What Is A Digital Wallet?
A digital wallet is an electronic method for storing payment information. It is a broad term covering many types of functionalities, and not every wallet offers every type of functionality. Below is a list of major functions typically found in digital wallets.
Store Credit & Debit Card Information: All digital wallets can store credit and debit card information. Some, like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay, will allow payment directly from the card. Others, like PayPal, draw funds from a stored credit or debit card but pay out through the service itself.
Pay At A Store: Many digital wallets will allow a user to pay for purchases made at a brick-and-mortar location. Apple Pay and Google Pay both allow this type of payment when an NFC-capable point-of-sale terminal is available.
Peer-To-Peer (P2P) Payments: Most digital wallets allow users to transfer funds to one another. Typically, these payments are small amounts used to split a lunch bill, pay a babysitter, or even pay a share of the rent. The Cash app, Venmo, Zelle, Apple Pay, and Google Pay all allow users to transfer money this way.
Online Payments: Digital wallets can be used to pay for online purchases. At checkout, a merchant who takes digital wallet payments will display the appropriate button for the appropriate wallet. PayPal is the most well-known wallet having this type of pay with button, but Apple Pay and Google Pay have similar buttons.
Hold Funds: A digital wallet can store cash in the same way a gift card can hold cash. The funds are held in a cash account, and a user can link a bank account or a credit card to this cash account to cover shortages. Square’s Cash app and PayPal’s Venmo are examples of digital wallets that hold funds, and they even provide their users with physical prepaid cards (Visa for Square and Mastercard for Venmo) so the cash can be used at brick-and-mortar stores.
Hold Coupons & Loyalty Cards: Many digital wallets can hold coupons or loyalty cards so a user can be given the appropriate credit or discount for using a particular card or for shopping at a particular store. Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung pay all hold coupons and loyalty cards.
Store ID: Some digital wallets will allow a user to store IDs. For instance, Apple Pay will allow a college student to store a student ID and use it to access various buildings or even pay from a student account.
Store Transit Tickets: A number of digital wallets allow users to store transit tickets. Users can tap the phone (or a wearable linked to the phone) on a reader to enter subway or bus stations in an increasing number of cities in the US and abroad.
Security: All digital wallets have security features that keep the stored information safe. The information is not only protected by password or biometrics (fingerprint scan, iris scan), but is also encrypted in many ways. Credit card information, for instance, isn’t even kept on the phone. Only a token that represents the information is kept on the phone.
Given that digital wallet is an overarching term that includes all the above features, is there a meaningful difference between a digital wallet and a mobile wallet?
How Is A Mobile Wallet Different From A Digital Wallet?
An easy way to distinguish mobile wallets from mere digital wallets is that mobile wallets let the user make a payment at a storeâs point-of-sale terminal. The payment is usually pulled directly from a credit or debit card rather than from a cash balance kept in the digital wallet.
With a mobile wallet, a user typically pays by tapping on a credit card terminal with a smartphone or a wearable device like a smartwatch or a fitness tracker. The device then transmits the payment information from the phone to the terminal via Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. Other mobile wallets (e.g. Dunkin’ Donuts, Walmart) send payment information through QR codes that a merchant can scan or the user can import through the phone’s camera. A third technology proprietary to Samsung (Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST)) mimics a magnetic swipe and transmits payment information that way.
As a side note, the popularity of NFC technology for payment processing has a lot to do with security. In the US, NFC is favored because it transmits the information only over very short distances. This way, there’s less likelihood that a snooping device can steal the payment information. In comparison, QR codes are less secure because a user can innocently scan a rogue code and be tricked into sending money to the wrong destination.
In this article, we try to draw a distinction between digital wallets and mobile wallets, but, in truth, the nature of these wallets is still in flux. When most people speak of mobile wallets, they tend to only be thinking of Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay. While digital wallets like PayPal and Cash can be loaded onto smartphones as apps, they cannot make NFC-based payments, so they are technically not mobile wallets. (PayPal can be linked to Google Pay and Samsung Pay, so it is still possible to pay at a store with PayPal, but the app itself is not capable of handling NFC payments.) However, Google Pay and Apple pay do let users make P2P payments and send cash, and these features tend to be major functions of pure digital wallets. Google Pay and Apple Pay, therefore, blur the line between digital wallets and mobile wallets.
If the line between digital wallets and mobile wallets is blurry, is there even a reason to draw a distinction between them? For a consumer, the answer is likely “no,” but for a merchant who wishes to take these payments, the difference can be significant.
What Mobile & Digital Wallets Mean For Merchants
For a merchant, there is a subtle but meaningful difference between a mobile wallet and a digital wallet. If you operate an online store or sell through a mobile app, then you can take digital wallet payments, but likely it will take a little work because you must add new code to your web store or your app. If you can’t handle coding yourself, you’ll need to hire a developer to implement these payment options. This is a bit different than some other online payment options that allow you to accept credit cards with minimal setup.
If, however, you operate a brick-and-mortar store where your customers pay through a point-of-sale terminal, then you can probably take mobile wallet payments without doing anything extra. If you have an NFC-enabled terminal, then you are all set to take Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay. If you are still using an older terminal that only takes a magnetic stripe card, then you can still take Samsung Pay because it has that the proprietary MST technology that mimics a magnetic strip card swipe.
Below are some of the additional advantages of taking digital and mobile wallet payments.
Digital and mobile wallets are secure. Digital wallets store payment information on a specialized, super-secure environment called the Secure Element (SE). Apple uses an SE chip embedded in the phone while Google and Samsung use one in the cloud.
When a customer makes a purchase, instead of the real credit card number, only a tokenized number is sent to the merchant. Hereâs a more detailed explanation of credit card tokenization, but for quick reference, a credit card token is just a random number with the same number of digits as a real credit card number. Only the credit card company has a way to match that random number to a customerâs real credit card number. So, if a token is stolen, the credit card company simply issues another token and disallows payment requests made with the stolen token. The real credit card number is kept safe and other purchases made with the real number (or other tokens) can continue.
From a merchantâs standpoint, the explanation above just means that tokenization takes you out of scope for PCI compliance (meaning less work for you) and you won’t be held responsible for fraudulent charges made with a stolen credit card. Thatâs a great reason for taking digital or mobile wallet payments.
Digital and mobile wallets make checking out faster. Whether you operate online only or have a brick-and-mortar store, faster checkout typically translates to more sales.
If you have a webstore or an app that takes in-app purchases, digital wallets often can populate all the payment fields with the push of a button. This means your customer wonât have to dig out a credit card, enter a long series of numbers, triple check to see the number is entered correctly, enter in their email twice, etc. etc. Being able to pay easily and quickly makes a better overall purchasing experience, and that means a better chance of a returning customer.
At a brick-and-mortar store, payment with an NFC enabled phone or wearable also makes checking out faster. Tapping a phone or a smartwatch over a point-of-sale terminal takes a mere second or two. Compare that to digging out a card from a wallet, dipping a card into the reader, waiting for the reader to approve payment, and making sure the customer does not forget to retrieve the card, you can see the time savings right away. Whatâs more, all the customers behind the one making the payment can see their time savings as well. The more happy customers you can move through your checkout, the more sales you can make.
In line with faster checkout, taking digital and mobile wallet payments offer additional conveniences to your customers. These days, most people pay for their purchases with a credit or debit card, and mobile wallets are increasingly being used to store these cards, especially by the young and/or tech-savvy. Millennials and Gen Z’ers transfer cash between friends using mobile wallets without a second thought and never seem to carry actual cash on them.
For these customers, it would be convenient to consolidate spending into one wallet, so they can easily keep track of their cash, credit, and debit spending. Most digital and mobile wallets also allow users to pay faster by approving a purchase using stored information. PayPal has a one-touch feature that allows a customer to instantly approve a payment with stored data. Google Pay allows a user to approve a purchase by just unlocking the phone and hovering the phone over the payment terminal without ever opening the Google Pay app.
Of course, digital and mobile wallet users won’t stop patronizing your store just because they can’t pay with their mobile or digital wallet. But, if you do allow it, they might come back to you more often because you take payments in the way they prefer to pay.
Do You Need To Accept Mobile & Digital Wallet Payments?
You probably do not absolutely need to take digital and mobile wallet payments, but allowing them might bring you more sales. If you have an online store, then you might have to invest some time or money to connect up to the wallet services. However, if you own a brick-and-mortar store, you likely already can take them. In fact, if your customers tend to be tech-savvy and/or young–or you want to attract more such customers–the ability to pay with digital or mobile wallets will offer them the convenience they want and induce them to do more business with you.
Whatever you do, if you decide to take digital and mobile wallet payments, be sure to advertise it properly. You can request signs and stickers from the wallet providers and of course download logos and the appropriate buttons for your webstore. Once this is done, you are on your way to taking digital and mobile wallet payments.
If you already take digital and mobile payments, what has been your experience so far? Have you increased your sales? Have you gotten positive comments from (hopefully pleasantly surprised) customers that you have improved your technology to allow for this new way to pay? Leave us a message in the comments!
The post Digital Wallets VS Mobile Wallets appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
When a merchant signs up for a new Square account to start processing payments, many times the focus isnât on the other features; itâs on getting paid â and rightfully so. But after signing into your account for the first time, it may become evident to you that there is a lot more to Square than just payment processing.
For those of you who are new to Square or if you are shopping around and checking out your options to make a final decision â youâre in the right place. We are going to take a look at what is available in the free Square POS app. We’ve discussed both Square (read our review) and Square POS (read our review) in depth, so check out their respective reviews for a more comprehensive look. Don’t forget, when you sign up with Square Payments, you get access to the POS app, the online selling tools, invoicing, and a whole lot more.Â
But before we dig into all that, letâs quickly review Squareâs payment processing costs for the price savvy among us. Square has very upfront pricing, but keep in mind that your processing costs change with the Square hardware you use. With the free Square POS and your own smartphone or tablet, youâll pay a flat rate of 2.75% per swipe, dip, or tap. Check out How Much Does Square Charge? for a thorough explanation of any other fees you might incur with Square, including software.Â
While itâs true that Squareâs fee for payment processing may seem a bit higher on the face of things, keep a few things in mind: Square doesnât charge any additional monthly account fees, and you can expect the same flat rate for all of the cards you process, even American Express. You can also close your account any time with no cancellation fees whatsoever. However, one of the more notable reasons we like Square here at Merchant Maverick is that merchants get end-to-end, PCI compliant payment security included with every account, without paying a dime for it.
While Square may not be as packed with features as a traditional POS, there are still a wide range of features waiting if you take advantage of them. In addition to features within the app itself, Square’s back-end management tools (centralized in the web Dashboard) are powerful.Â
We have much to cover, so letâs discover the most noteworthy POS features you can start using to manage customer engagement, employees, inventory, and take charge of your business like the pro you are!
If you have an existing customer list, you can migrate that over via CSV right into the directory and get started. Every time you complete a sale, your customer directory grows to include your customerâs name, purchase history, location, and credit card (save this only with their permission). If your customer enters their email for an e-receipt, that gets added to the directory, too!
The customer directory builds automatically with each sale, but you can also manually add customer information from the Square POS or the Square dashboard. (See Why We Like Squareâs Online Dashboard and Analytics App for a primer on the dashboard.) In the Customer Directory, you can add an email, birthday, make notes about their order history, or add their company, for instance.
As your customers continue to shop with you, Square builds reports on customer behavior patterns, too. You can find out things like visiting frequency and when they purchased something from you last. You can view some reports from the in-app reporting in the Square Point of Sale, but to access all of the reporting features, youâll need to get to the Square dashboard.
A lesser-known Square feature is the private feedback you can gather after a sale. Giving your customers this opportunity to share their opinions with you directly (and right from their receipt) helps keep the lines of communication open. When your customer leaves feedback, you can respond to them directly and offer to comp their item if you wish. In this way, you can hopefully also avoid negative public reviews â and keep your customers happier while youâre at it.
Keeping up with inventory changes and accurately ordering the stock you need is probably one of the most critical business matters there is. Not only does good inventory management build loyalty and trust with your customers, but you can also avoid some unneeded expenses surrounding both excess and deficient stock. The great news is that basic inventory management comes along with your free Square POS software.
Have a large amount of inventory? You can easily import any existing stock with a CSV spreadsheet. You can also add items manually through your dashboard or Square POS. Either way, you can quickly update product names, prices, and quantities as needed. Setting up low stock alerts is easy â set alerts to send when inventory gets to the amount you decide. In the screenshot below, you can see that this shop has 20 prints in stock and the alert will be sent when there are three left.
Have different sizes or other variables of the same item? Square supports setting up different price points and variants, too. Square does not support partial quantities â but donât lose heart! If you sell in partial quantities, you can work around this issue by setting up a Variation, as seen in the screenshot below.
Whether youâre a micro shop or you move hundreds of items a day, you can set Square up for what makes sense for your business. However, if your business has several hundreds of items, youâre likely going to find the inventory navigation a bit unwieldy. Thatâs because you have to scroll to find the item manually; you canât just type the name in a search bar. Square does offer a more robust solution with Square for Retail (See our review), starting at $60/month/register/location.
To keep up with inventory and track customer spending, you can also assign your products to specific categories. Keep in mind that all of the initial work you do to distinguish your inventory through categories, variations, and accurate item descriptions pays you back with richer insights when it comes time to check out your reports. Square creates free basic reports such as Sales Summary, Sales Trends, and Category Sales, to name a few.
Itâs worth it to mention that if you are in a time crunch or you donât have an item already in your inventory, you can still ring it up easily in quick sale mode â simply punch in the amount, and youâre ready to take payment!
The proof is in the pudding â loyalty programs lead to more customer spending. This fact is proven time and again in retail spending statistics, but Square also reports that customers spend over 30% more after joining their loyalty program. Thatâs a nice chunk of change, but making the loyalty program work for your business is the key to profitability.
The Square Loyalty Program is not free â it starts at $45 and the prices scale with the number of loyalty visits. That means that you wonât be paying for what you donât use, but we still suggest checking your reports to track success. However, you really are in charge of the program and its success in your business. Thatâs because everything is highly customizable. From a classic digital punch card to earning points each visit, you control what â and how â your customers earn rewards with you.
According to Square, merchants get the best responses with their loyalty program by offering a meaningful reward, making the reward happen sooner rather than later (about 30 days from enrollment), and limiting the rules when it comes to earning rewards.
When you ask your customer to join your loyalty program, they enter with their phone number, which you can then promote via text messages. The other cool thing about the loyalty program is that the add-on software gives you even more data about your customerâs purchase history and buying behavior. All of this information makes it easier to personalize customer service or even plan your next promotion.
The optional employee management software can make a significant impact on your business if you have multiple locations or many employees. From customizing permissions to timekeeping, performance tracking, and advanced reports, there is a lot of potential here.
With your basic Square account, you can let employees take payments as Mobile Staff and allow or disallow issuing refunds. Beyond these two functions, you are limited unless you opt for Employee Management at $5 / month per employee, however.
For example, employee-specific reporting only comes with advanced Employee Management. In the screenshot below, you can see what types of insights are available under the Employee Sales reports that come along with Employee Management.
In addition to gaining better insights regarding your employeeâs performance, you also have much more control over employee permissions. Choose who has access to cash drawer reports, assign individual access codes, and choose other custom permission settings both at your Point of Sale and in your Dashboard.
Cash Drawer Management
From the Square Point of Sale app, you can enable cash drawer management to promote greater accountability across the board. Take note that you can only manage your cash drawer from an iPad or Android tablet â you canât track and manage with your smartphone. Basic information about your cash drawer session includes:
Cash paid in and out
Expected cash amount in drawer
Cash Drawer Management lets you know exactly how much cash you start with and what to expect in the drawer at the end of the session. You can set up cash drawer reports to be auto-emailed at the end of the business day. Because the reporting is specific to the device connected to your cash drawer, youâll have to run a separate report for each device. You can view your drawer history at any time from your Square app, too. All you need to do is select the date and the drawer session to see details.
If you have Employee Management software, you can also control employee access to your in-app cash drawer reports. Grant your manager access while restricting other employees from accessing cash reports you may not want to make privy to everyone.
For days when even the Internet canât seem to work correctly, being able to accept payments offline prevents losing customers and sales. Offline Mode is also a game changer for the many businesses who arenât bound to four walls. Whether you have set up shop in a more remote location or you are a mobile business traveling across the country, you can use your offline mode to swipe your card and securely accept payments. There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to Offline Mode, however:
Offline Mode only works with a magstripe swipe card, and you must swipe it.
You have to connect to the Internet within 72 hours of the sale, or it expires.
Offline transactions automatically process when you get connected with the Internet again.
If payment doesnât go through after connection, you are responsible for the cost of goods or services.
The good news is that thereâs no additional charge for Offline Mode, just the standard rate of 2.75% per swipe. And there are a few things you can do to protect yourself from the issues listed above. When you take a sale in Offline Mode, be sure to check for the signature on the back of the card and have your customer sign so you can compare signatures. Checking your customerâs ID is also recommended, of course. Youâll also want to double check the cardâs expiration date. If you remember these simple best practices, you can still accept offline payments with a reasonable amount of assurance that your sale is good to go.
Is Square Right For You? Â
Square offers a wide range of features to support a growing small business. If you are adding employees and locations, Square is ready with advanced software that grows with you, including Employee Management and the highly customizable Loyalty Program. (Not to mention the less glamorous but just as important features like cash drawer permissions, inventory management, and offline support.)
Want to find out even more about Square? Check out our Square POS review for more insights on the Square Point of Sale or visit our full Square Review for more helpful insights. If youâre ready to try Square out and see for yourself, head over and set up your free Square account to start processing your first payments!
The post 6 Square POS Features To Run Your Small Business Like a Pro appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
Square has carved out quite a spot for itself in the world of payment processing. When it comes to accessibility, there are few rivals. With no credit checks, sign-up fees, monthly fees, or cancellation fees, and a very transparent pricing model, itâs no wonder why Square remains the go-to option for business owners who want a no-hassle choice.
In fact, itâs so easy to get started, that you can usually start taking payments immediately after setting up your Square account! That being said, it helps to get a bit familiar with the process before ringing up your first customer â and there is more than one way to do it. If you are interested in weighing your options, this post is for you.
We are mainly going to focus on taking payments with physical cards in this post, so if you have an eCommerce shop, you may want to check out ourÂ Square Online Store and eCommerce Review. If, however, you want to know how to ring up your sale and get some important details to help you choose the best options, keep reading.
To start us off, here is a short list of the ways you could accept payment with Square:
Your device + Square Point-of-sale (POS) app + Â Square card reader
Keying in credit card information in the Square POS app
Square POS hardware (e.g., Square Register)
Accessing the Square Virtual Terminal from your laptop
Below, we are going to start by explainingÂ how to accept payments with the Square Reader. After going through some different scenarios, weâll also explore Squareâs POS hardware for those of you with a physical storefront. By the end of this post, you should feel confident navigating your options and finding the best solution (or solutions) for your business processing needs.
But first, a note on Squareâs payment security.
Square & Payment Security
Right out of the gate, we need to take a quick minute to cover payment security. Itâs that important. Regardless of how you accept a payment â whether that is keying in a card, Â swiping with a magstripe reader, a dip or tap, etc. — Square provides secure and PCI compliant payment transactions. That is to say, Square is fully compliant with the latest Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS). And that also means you wonât have to pay additional PCI fees or hire a team to manage ongoing compliance, either.
This out-of-the-box payment security is just one reason Square is such a powerhouse for the millions of small business owner who trust it.
Let’s take a look at the Square reader options next.
How To Use A Square Reader For Mobile Payments
We’ll start with the obvious: the Square reader. Assuming you have already downloaded the Square app, itâs effortless to accept payment with your reader.
Step One: Open the app on your device. You will already be at the screen you need to make a charge. No fumbling required!
Step Two: If you have entered inventory into your Items list, find the item and click what you need. The total will automatically update.
Step Three: Tap the Charge button when youâre ready.
Step Four: Swipe or insert the card, or tap your connected reader. You can also manually enter the card number (keyed entry) if necessary.
Step Five: Your customer will sign their name and the sale is complete!
Donât have a connection? Suffering from a spotty connection? Squareâs offline mode helps you avoid losing the sale. Your customerâs data is securely saved in the app and the transaction will process when you connect your device to the internet again (WiFi or cellular connection). You must reconnect within 72 hours, though, or the transaction will cancel.
Itâs really that easy. To see how Square stacks up next to other mobile credit card processors, check out our Mobile Credit Card Processing Comparison table.
Square Transaction Fees & Mobile Reader Costs
As stated at the start of the post, Square offers very transparent pricing. If you use Square Point of Sale on a smartphone or tablet with a mobile card reader, youâll pay the standard processing fee of 2.75% per swipe, dip, or tap. And keep in mind that no matter what type of card your customer hands you, Square charges the same fee per transaction. If for some reason you need to key-in the credit number, you will pay 3.5% + 15 cents for manually-entered transactions. We will revisit the types of card-not-present transactions later in the post.
Letâs talk a little more about the Square Reader, because you do have some choices that go beyond the free magstripe device. The good news is that Square readers work with nearly all Android or iOS devices running the latest updates. If you’re in doubt, Square offers a compatibility tool so you can look up your device and see for yourself.
After signing up for a new Square account, you can choose which free Square reader you would like — and they’ll ship it directly to you for free. Depending on your device needs, you can choose between the lightning adapter for iOS or the standard 3.5mm headphone jack reader. The other option you have is to shell out $49 for the Contactless + Chip reader.
The free magstripe card reader is great for getting started, but I recommend considering the upgraded Contactless + Chip Reader for improved payment security in processing. (It also offers your customers more ways to pay you.)
Square also sells a small charging dock so you can keep your contactless reader fully charged through the day. If you opt for the contactless reader, you can also purchase a specially designed Otterbox case from Square. You can slide the contactless reader on the back of the case if youâre on the go. Unfortunately for Android users, the case only fits an iPhone 7 or 7 plus, but I have a hunch there will be more options for this one when the demand grows.
Can You Use A Square Reader With Multiple Devices?
You may be wondering about the possibility of sharing a reader between different devices — or maybe even switching readers. Good news! You can do either of those things! If you have more than one device, decide to upgrade a device (or reader for that matter), need to swap a device, or hand your Square reader to a different team member for them to plug into their phone, you can do so without an issue.
Thatâs because your account is anchored to your Square POS app, not to a specific reader. When you or your team member signs into the Square POS app, transactions go into the system automatically. You can use the same reader across different accounts, too. So if you have two businesses, or you have more than one Square POS app (like Square Retail or Square Restaurants), the reader works interchangeably with those as well.
Keep in mind that when you choose your reader, you may limit your usage. For example, you can only use the lightning reader with iOS, but the standard 3.5mm headphone jack reader is compatible with multiple devices. Of course, you can always purchase more readers to suit your needs and keep up with a growing team. As long as they are signed into your Square account, all sales will be synced to your account.
How To Use Squareâs Countertop POS Systems
If you are considering how you can use Squareâs countertop POS systems to make business flow, here are your options:
Square Standfor Contactless and Chip:
When you use the Square Stand with the free Square Point of Sale (POS), you will need to bring along your own compatible iPad (most recent model) or purchase an iPad to go into your stand. The magstripe reader is built-in if you must swipe, but we recommend utilizing the Square Reader for contactless and chip payment for the latest payment security protections. The Square Stand also comes with a dock to keep the contactless reader charged and stable.
When it comes time to ring up an order, youâll complete the sale just as you would through your mobile device, as the free Square POS app is still the engine thatâs running the whole thing. The Square Stand for Contactless and Chip makes a great choice if you are looking for a more prominent, bonafide countertop POS option. It has a simplistic design with minimal cords and offers more screen real estate to find inventory and add to your sale. Â
With the Square Stand, you can run your Square POS app or the premium options created just for retail and restaurants. Find out why these might be a better option for you (and see the fee differences) by visiting our Square for Retail or Square for RestaurantsÂ reviews.
The Square Terminal is a great all-in-one choice if you want a little more portability than the Square Stand offers. You can swipe, dip, or tap credit and debit cards, and it even has a receipt printer built right in. Terminal runs the free Square POS app, so itâs easy when it comes to ringing up a sale. You can also access features such as your customer directory, reports, and inventory tools.
If you are running Square for Restaurants, you wonât have access to all of the bells and whistles, but Square Terminal does have limited compatibility with the Restaurants POS. For example, you can pull up an open ticket and settle payments right at the table â complete with a receipt! When all is said and done, The Square Terminal can hold its own as an excellent countertop solution, but itâs also lightweight enough to use as a mobile solution. And because Square POS has an offline mode built right in, you donât have to worry about losing connection. Transaction data is all saved safely with Square and ready to process when your device is back online.
They built the Square Register with both your and your customerâs ease of use in mind. Thereâs one 13.25-inch screen for you, and one for 7-inch display customers, complete with magstripe, chip card, and contactless payment processing built in! Square Register runs Square POS and supports Square Loyalty and other software add-ons. The Square Register also supports the back-end features of the premium Square for Retail software, such as the advanced reporting and inventory features, but can’t run the POS app itself.Â
Not sure what you need? Check out A Guide To Square Credit Card Readers And POS Bundles to compare and explore your options. Below, we’ll break down the cost of the hardware we just talked about, and discuss the transaction fees associated with each.
Square POS Hardware Costs & Transaction Fees
As always, Square pricing is very straightforward. Below weâve listed prices for the hardware and what it will cost you to process payments.
Square Standfor Contactless and Chip: Â The cost for this one is $199.00. If you want to add an iPad, you can do so for $329.00. Note that the stand is only compatible with an iPad (2017, 2018), iPad Pro 9.7â, or iPad Air (1, 2). Youâll pay a flat 2.75% per swipe, dip or tap transaction at the Square Stand so long as you are running the free Square POS. Square For Restaurants and Square for Retail process at different rates — 2.6% + $0.10 for Restaurants and 2.5% + $0.10 for Retail.
Square Terminal: To get your business a Square Terminal, youâll pay $399.00, shipping included. You can also opt to add on 20 rolls of terminal print paper for another $20.00. Your payment processing fee is 2.6% + 10Â¢ per swiped magstripe cards, swiped or inserted chip cards, and contactless payments.
Square Register: Square Register costs $999.00 to purchase it outright. Shipping is free, and it arrives in seven business days or less. Itâs ready to start processing payments right out of the box, so thereâs no fuss when it comes to launch time. Contactless payments, swiped or inserted chip cards, and swiped magstripe cards processed through cost 2.5% + 10Â¢ fee.
If you add on specialized software, such as Square for Restaurants or Square for Retail, you will have an additional monthly charge (both starting at $60/mo). Both of these premium POS systems are geared towards specialized businesses and include features such as advanced reporting (for retail), and table mapping (for restaurants). Â
How To Accept Card-Not-Present Payments with Square POS Â
There may be some situations when you need to take a payment from your customer, and you canât swipe, dip, or tap the card. Maybe you donât have your reader with you, or you want to take an order over the phone. Whether the card is physically present or not, if you manually enter in the card information, itâs considered a card-not-present transaction.
In the next section, we will lay out the payment processing costs for such transactions. But first, letâs discover the ways you can process a card with Square if you donât have your reader (or the card) in hand.
If you log into the Square Dashboard from your computer, you can key in manual payments from your Virtual Terminal (not to be confused with the Square Terminal hardware). You wonât need additional hardware to complete the transaction. You simply go into the terminal and enter the amount, credit card information, and even add a note to describe the sale. Then you hit “Charge,” completing the transaction. You can also take âCard on Fileâ payments from the Virtual Terminal (more on that below).Â If you have a Chromebook or Apple laptop, you can connect a basic magstripe reader to swipe transactions. In that case, you’ll pay the standard swipe rate instead of the keyed entry rate.
Whenever you ring up a sale, you can also opt to save your customerâs card number on file for future use. After that, you always have the option of selecting âcard on fileâ to complete the sale. However, keep in mind that whenever you ring a card-on-file transaction later and donât swipe, dip, or tap, you have entered into âcard-not-presentâ territory and slightly higher processing rates apply.Â
Security Concerns with Card On FileÂ
The Square app only reveals the last four digits of your customerâs credit card on file and does not save CVV card data to remain PCI compliant. Any time you make a transaction with Card on File, Square automatically sends a receipt to the customer so they have a record of the transaction, to help minimize the risk of unauthorized charges.
You should never save your customerâs card data unless it is stored with PCI-compliant software (such as Square). Businesses that store customers’ payment data improperly put everyone in danger of a breach, and the company can be liable for the breach, should it occur. Small businesses are targeted by fraudsters looking for unsecured data, and it is a lot more common than you may think. If you save the card on file through Square POS or Virtual Terminal, keep in mind that Square also requires you to obtain written consent to store the card on files — the site provides a form you print off and store somewhere secure.Â Also, your customer can revoke their consent to keep their card on file with you at any time.
Manually Keying-In Credit Card Information
In addition to the Virtual Terminal included with Square, you can always opt to enter credit card information manually with the Square POS app. Because there is a higher chance of fraud when you donât capture the electronic data, itâs going to cost you a bit more to process. However, sometimes it is necessary to take these types of payments. Use your discretion with these types of transactions, and swipe, dip, or tap the card if at all possible to reduce your fees (and your chargeback risk). However, if a card is particularly worn down, the card reader is just misbehaving, or you don’t have your Square reader handy, it’s good to know you have a backup option to accept payments.Â
If you are looking for yet another workaround when it comes to processing payments, donât have your reader handy, and you don’t want to key in the amount, you always have an option to send an invoice. Your customer will get the invoice via an email right away. From there, they can open their email and follow the prompts to enter in their credit card information from their own device. This is especially good for higher-value transactions where keying in the card number might send up a red flag.Â
Check out our Square Invoices review for a more in-depth look at Square’s free software, but for now, what you need to know is that you can link your inventory to invoices, allow customers to send tips, take down payments, and even enable installment payments.
Square Keyed-Entry Transaction Fees
As we covered above, there are several scenarios in which you may want or need to key in your customerâs credit card information and more than one way to do it. Hereâs how much itâs going to cost you to process these types of payments:
Is Squareâs Credit Card Processing Right For You?
Square offers several solutions for businesses at every stage. That means that if youâre a one-person shop now, you donât really have to worry about finding a new solution when you grow because Square offers so many scaleable hardware options. When it comes to taking payment at your storefront or on the go, there are many ways to go about it. And with a transparent pricing model, there are no surprises on the back end. Because Square offers an all-in-one solution with payment processing and PCI compliant security built right in, you donât need to worry about jumping through hoops to keep up with the latest global payment security regulations.
So is Square right for you? Sometimes the best way to find out is to see for yourself! ConsdierÂ setting up a Square account and playing around with the possibilities. Itâs free to set up a Square account, and there are zero commitments or contracts required.
If you are still weighing all of your options when it comes to processing, check out this Mobile Credit Card Processing Comparison table for a quick side-by-side view of some top-rated companies.
Free App & Reader
Square for Retail
Square for Restaurants
Free, general-purpose POS software and reader for iOS and Android
Easy integration with popular platforms plus API for customization
Specialized software for more complex retail stores
Specialized software for full-service restaurants
The post How To Use Square To Accept Credit Cards In Person appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
Thinking about using Square to process payments for your business? Whether you are a solopreneur or a busy boss running multiple locations, you can quickly set up an account with Square with little to no fuss. Square offers several time-saving benefits for the small business owner looking to start processing payments, including no credit checks, a free magstripe reader to get you started, and a free Square POS app which enables you to start taking credit card payments right away. Not only that, but the Square dashboard offers analytics reporting, inventory management, alerts, and (with optional add-on software) even the ability to plan email marketing campaigns!
With all of these conveniences and freebies, you can expect slightly higher transaction fees than you’d get with a traditional merchant account. However, as a third-party processor, Square offers a very transparent pricing plan that starts at 2.75% per swipe dip or tap, and 3.5% + 15 cents for keyed-in transactions. You wonât be surprised with hidden fees or contracts, and you can enjoy the same processing rate for all major credit cards. Square also offers payment dispute assistance, chargeback protection, and secure, PCI compliant software â all included.
If your interest in Square is piqued, but you need a little more information before getting started, then you’ve landed on the right post! Below, we’ll take you step-by-step through the process of signing up for a new Square account. As you will see, setting up your Square account is relatively straightforward. And the best part? Itâs completely free and requires no commitment on your part whatsoever.
What Do You Need To Get Started?
Before we get started, here is the main information youâll need to set up your Square account:
Last four digits of your Social Security number (to confirm your name)
Bank account number to set up your direct deposit schedule
You don’t need:
Proof of revenue
Your full social security number
A credit check
We are going to get pretty detailed in this tutorial, but rest assured, the application itself takes less than ten minutes. Follow along with the guide below to discover how to set up and make the most of your new Square account!
How To Create A Free Square Account
First, visit Squareâs sign-up page and hit the âSign Up With Squareâ button.
The next screen is straightforward and asks if you are an individual or represent a larger business, charity, or religious organization. Enter in your business name or another title that you would like to appear on your receipts. I’m typing in “Blue Heron Content” as my business name.
Now we are getting closer to the meat â Square wants to know where you plan on processing payments. In this example, I donât want to limit myself, so I am choosing all of the possibilities!
It’s important to mention that even if you don’t plan to use some of these options right away, you can still access them later at any time.
Next, Square asks what else they can help you manage. I am also going to select all of the options again to get a better idea of what Square may suggest right off the bat. I donât personally need employee tracking for my business, but letâs see what it can do!
Now it’s time to make decisions. Because I selected that I was interested in restaurant-related products, I am offered a free 30-day trial of Square for Restaurants, one of Square’s premium iPad POS apps. (Check out our full review of Square for Restaurants for a more detailed look at pricing and features.) If you are a restaurant owner, check out some of the perks Square lists below. For this particular tutorial, though, we are going to stick with the free POS system.
Now that I have selected Square Point of Sale as my preferred POS app, I’ve made it to the âLetâs talk about youâ page. This is the place to plug in the rest of your information. Note that Square is not going to perform a credit check on you or your business, they just need the last four digits of your social security number or ITIN, your legal name, street address, and phone number. They use this information to verify your identity.
I’ve finished filling in this form, so I am going to hit “continue” and see whatâs next on our journey.
Choose A Magstripe Reader
Great news! By the time you arrive at the next screen below (3-5 seconds, give or take), Square will have successfully verified your identity. Now it’s time to select a credit card reader to accept in-person payments. For my part, while the Contactless + Chip Reader looks very enticing at $49, I am going to accept the free reader for now.
Now there’s another choice to make. Square would like to know if I would like the 3.5mm magstripe reader that is compatible with the traditional headphone jack, or the Lightning connector version for iOS devices. Iâm choosing the reader that plugs into a conventional audio jack. You’ll obviously choose the option that works best for your business setup.
Compatibility Note: Square’s magstripe and chip card readers and the Square Point of Sale (POS app) are compatible with most Apple iOS and Android devices running the latest software updates. After this tutorial, check out our Square POS Review for more about system requirements, integrations, and a lot more details about Square POS.
After selecting the type of magstripe reader that fits your needs, Square will give you the options to find a retailer close to you and pick up the reader or have it mailed. Personally, I’m opting for Square to send me the reader in the mail. After entering my shipping details, I am one step closer to getting my own Square reader. Oh, and shipping is free, too! Just note that it could take up to 10 days for yours to arrive.Â
After entering my information and clicking continue, the setup process is officially complete!Â That was very easy. Square has already sent me an email letting me know when to expect my reader and another to confirm my email address.
It’s time to head to the new dashboard to set up the backend.Â
How To Set Up Your Square Dashboard
Right away, you can see that the dashboard has a clean layout and is pretty straightforward. Since this is the first time I am visiting this new dashboard, Square is offering up these green bubbles as a setup guide. Letâs explore the dashboard and start setting up inventory, customizing the layout, and checking out the reporting features.
Compatibility Note: Youâll be able to access the full Square dashboard from any web browser, but the Square Dashboard app is only compatible with iPhones at this time. You can still take payments on any compatible iOS and Android device with the Square POS app, however.
Add Items & Build Your Inventory
From your home screen, you will see the teal Items button (pictured in the screenshot above). The place to add inventory is under Items>Item Library. To the right on the screenshot below, note the blue button that says âCreate an Itemâ:
Here is what the “Create an Item” screen looks like in the Square Dashboard before adding a product:
I went ahead and uploaded a product image and filled out my first item below. I can add the amount of stock I have, a price, and set up low-stock alerts for myself here, too! Square will even let me color-code items if I prefer to group categories by colors.Â
It’s also possible to create variant items if you sell the same product in different colors and/or sizes. Plus, for cafes and restaurants, there’s a “modifier” option. Say, for example, that you want to offer coconut, soy, and almond milk alternatives for customers in your coffee shop. You can do that, and even set an upcharge fee for these items using the modifier feature.Â There’s also an option to specify at which locations an item is available if you have more than one shop.Â
Create & Manage Locations
You can create multiple locations from within your Square Dashboard by going to “Accounts and Settings” and then to “Business” and selecting “Locations.” Square will even let you specify a mix of physical locations with a set address and mobile locations without one.
Square’s location management features can help you manage inventory and gather data from multiple stores â and it is totally free:
Linked locations and deposit options
Per-location item libraries
Device management for security
Reporting tools to compare/contrast sales or other data
Square also offers advanced tracking and reporting tools for individual employees across your locations. More on those features and cost in the Employee Management section.
Manage Sales Tax Settings
You will find Square’s sales tax settings nestled under the Items menu in your dashboard.
When you create a tax at your Square Dashboard, the tax will automatically sync to every device in your account, and you can specify which taxes apply to which locations. You can even build the tax into the price of the item if you prefer, rather than adding the tax to the price afterward. Square also lets you modify tax settings from within the mobile POS app as well, which is useful when you need to make changes on the fly.
In addition to multiple tax rates, you can create conditional tax rules, which are preset conditions in which a tax won’t be applied â whether you need that to apply to one item or the entire order. This is especially helpful for restaurants that handle online orders.
Now, let’s head back to the home screen and customize our dashboard layout, and then check out the reporting features!
Customize Your Dashboard Layout
Customizing the layout of your Square Dashboard is super easy. First, you can get rid of anything you know you wonât need right off the bat by scrolling through and unchecking anything in the drop-down menu (pictured on the right-hand side of the screenshot below). Donât worry about making the wrong decision, because you can reset the whole thing or click to re-check one box.
The other way to easily adjust your view is by dragging and dropping the tiles to configure them exactly how you want them. For my store, I switched tiles to move the feedback tile up from the last row. This drag-and-drop feature makes it easy to get the information you prioritize first, and then scroll to other options whenever needed.
As you can see, it’s simple to move things around, and if you change your mind, just as easy to change it back.
Review Square’s Reporting Features
The extensive, user-friendly and (mostly) free reporting features are what make Square a fantastic, no-fuss choice for any small business. As you can see in the screenshot below, there is a long list of possible reports. Every business has unique needs, and Square does a good job of supporting a wide range of small businesses with various options and features.
All of the sales reports, such as Sales Summary, Sales Trends, Items Sales, and Modifier Sales, are free. Custom Reports is another handy and entirely free reporting tool that can help you combine and compare your reporting data. Custom Reports allows you to aggregate reports with multiple filtering options. This feature makes it easy work to create a report that breaks the data down for a single location, or you can pick and choose certain pieces of data and compare them across different locations.Â For instance, you could create one report that compares Gross Sales and Returns for a particular device and/or location.Â
To find out even more about what Squareâs dashboard can offer you in terms of reporting features, check out our post Why We Like Squareâs Online Dashboard and Analytics App.
If you are looking for even more robust reporting and tracking across multiple locations for your employees, it may be worth it to you to learn more about the Employee Management tools, featured below.
Manage Your EmployeesÂ
Within the Dashboard, you’ll find the Employee section, which is the foundation for Square’s Employee Management feature set. Adding a new employee into your dashboard is easy â and adding in separate email logins for Square POS is entirely free. However, if you want advanced reporting on timekeeping, individual employee sales, and sales vs. labor costs, you need to subscribe to Employee Management, which will cost you $5 per employee.Â
Here, I have chosen to select the free “Mobile Staff” option to show you that you can invite employees using the email address that they will then use to log into the Square app. You can also enable or disable permissions for accepting payments in Offline Mode and set or remove Issue Refunds permissions.
It’s important to note that employees assigned to mobile staff can only access their own sales data in the Square POS app.Â
If you want something a bit more substantial in terms of employee reporting, Square offers that, too.Â To track individual employee sales through the day, keep better performance accountability across multiple locations, and closely monitor administrative permissions, the $5/mo per employee cost for the advanced Employee Management feature seems like a pretty fair deal. You also get timekeeping, so your employees can clock into their shifts through the Square POS app.Â
If you want to get started with Employee Management, there are a few ways to do it: Head to Employee Sales or Labor vs. Sales under Reports and start adding employees. It’s free to try for 30 days!
How To Set Up Square Deposits & Funding
When itâs time to get all of that revenue into your bank account, Square has several options for getting your money, all found under Deposits.
Square will automatically deposit your funds on the next business day. You can also change your âclose of dayâ to adjust for your time zone or business hours if you would like. The close of day determines when Square cuts off payment deposits for the next business day.Â If you need your money even faster, Square offers Instant Deposits that transfer your current Sales Balance immediately â whether itâs a business day or a weekend. This faster service will cost you 1% of the transfer amount. You can even use Scheduled Deposits to get your money deposited at each day’s close of business.Â
Find out all the details about the instant deposit feature, and more about how Square’s deposit options work in general, by checking out our post, How Does Squareâs Instant Deposit Work?
To set up your deposit schedule or choose an instant transfer, youâll need to link your debit card (in addition to your bank account). However, you have yet another option for disbursement. You can request your very own Square Card, a personalized business debit card that holds your Square balance.
You can use your card anywhere MasterCard is accepted. If youâd like to order one, youâll find “Square Card” tucked right under the Deposits tab. To be clear, you can request a Square Card and also choose to have funds deposited into your bank account.
Explore More Square Software Options
Square offers a myriad of specialized software options to make business more productive. Here are some of your options:
Customer Engagement: Square’s customer engagement tools includeÂ a customer database, feedback management, and CRM software. The database and feedback tools are free, but the CRM starts at $15 month.Â The image above is a sample CRM campaign I could send to my lapsed customer list. Email campaigns are easy to customize and segment for those reachable-by-email customers.
Loyalty Program:Â This tool starts at $25/month. Read our Square Loyalty Program Review for an in-depth analysis.
Advanced Employee Management:Â As outlined in a previous section, pay $5/month per employee for advanced reporting and employee management tools.
Payroll: Square Employee and Contractor payroll starts at $29/month plus $5/employee. Contractor-Only Payroll is just $5/month per contractor.
eCommerce: Square offers free space and setup for an online store, and you can integrate with major shopping carts. Read our Square Online Store and eCommerce Review.
Invoicing:Â Invoices are always free to send, pay 2.9% + 30 cents per invoice when your customer pays with credit or debit online. For more on the pros and cons, pricing, and an in-depth look at invoicing with Square, check out our Square Invoices Review.
Choose Another Square Point of Sale App
While the free Square POS app will likely fit the bill for many small businesses, Square has developed more specialized tools for retail, restaurants, and appointment-based businesses.
Square For Retail:
This POS system works with an iPad and has a redesigned interface and usability geared for retail businesses that have substantial inventory. Instead of scrolling to an item in your inventory, an item is easily searchable by name. The barcode scanning and printing features make keeping up with inventory a bit easier, too. Check out our Square Retail Review for more on price, pros and cons, and all a lot more details.
Square for Restaurants:
If you are familiar with Square’s POS system, you may be surprised to see how different Square for Restaurants really is. And it has to be. Sit-down restaurants usually require more specialized tools to cover their everyday business needs, and this POS delivers â from table mapping, menu creation, table management, and reporting tools â there are a lot of specialized features here. Check out our full Square for Restaurants review to find out if this is the right choice for your restaurant.
If your business relies on creating and maintaining appointments for just yourself or an entire team, Square Appointments might be just what you need. Note that this POS option is an iOS exclusive. It’s free for individual users, and pricing starts at $50 a month beyond that. Check out our in-depth Square Appointments Review, including functionality, customization, and features.
Choose Hardware Options
Square has expanded to offer so much more than the free magstripe credit card reader. As I mentioned earlier, Square offers a Contactless + Chip reader that lets you accept chip card and contactless payments for $49, which is a smart move to improve payment security.Â Â
If you need something more robust in terms of hardware, however, you can probably find what you need. Square offers countertop POS systems with customer-friendly displays, and if you want to toe the line between countertop vs. mobile, Square also offers a fully portable credit card terminal with a built-in receipt printer.
Squareâs countertop POS devices include:
Square Stand: This hardware option is a tablet stand with a built-in card reader (along with contactless and chip reader) with an affordable price tag, minimal cords, and a swivel stand.
Square Terminal: A more portable option, Square Terminal accepts magstripe, chip card, and contactless transactions. Itâs sleek design, built-in receipt printer, and generous display size make it a nice, versatile option.
Square Register: Need something more robust? The Square Register offers a 13.25-inch display to run your Square Point of Sale, and on the opposite side, you have a 7-inch customer display ready for magstripe, chip card, and contactless transactions.
For an in-depth look at each of the POS options or to take a gander at all the Square POS kits and bundles, head over to A Guide To Square Credit Card Readers And POS Bundles.
Where To Go Next With Square?
When you consider that Square is a secure, PCI compliant option with a transparent pricing plan and offers lots of bells and whistles, it truly is an excellent solution for any small business. I like that itâs so easy to set up an account with Square, and that they don’t ask for much in terms of personal information. When it is time to get set up or find reports, the dashboard is intuitive and easy to navigate. I also love that Square offers affordable hardware and software when it comes time to scale the business.
Not quite ready to make a decision? Check out our Square Review or head over to Square and set up your own account to see for yourself.
Already have an account?Â Square support provides great resources to help answer your questions as you navigate your options.
Have questions, comments? Leave us your thoughts below! (Just make sure you check our comment guidelines, first!)
The post How To Set Up A Free Square Account appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
Have you ever looked around your local bar and thought, âI could run a place like thisâ? For many, itâs easy to get caught up in the excitement ofÂ potentially opening a bar, but for a select few, this is more than just a fleeting idea. These aspiring entrepreneurs want to make this dream a reality.
Opening your own bar or sports pub seems like a fun and exciting experience. After all, who doesnât love gathering with friends and family to watch the big game with a cold drink in hand and appetizing snacks on the table? Behind-the-scenes, though, itâs a little different. While it may seem exciting to become a small business owner and call the shots, thereâs also a lot of planning and work involved in starting a profitable business.
If opening a little corner pub sounds like a dream come true but you donât know quite where to begin, youâre in the right place. In this article, weâll share our top tips for starting the exhilarating and lucrative path to owning your own bar. Weâll go over what you need to legally open a bar, expenses to start and maintain your business, and the importance of a business plan. Weâll also help you decode one of the biggest pieces of the small business puzzle: getting financing for your new business.
If youâre ready to stop dreaming and start doing, keep reading!
Begin With Branding
One of the first things you need to do before you take off running is to visualize a name, a theme, and an overarching concept for your bar. Do you picture yourself running a neighborhood pub where all of the locals gather? Or maybe youâd rather open a thriving nightclub where young club hoppers from around your city come to dance the night away?
Evaluate your different options, considering the type of patrons youâd like to attract as well as where you plan to open your bar. For example, if you want a younger crowd, a nightclub in a trendy part of town makes sense. If you want to attract an older, more sophisticated crowd, consider opening a wine bar, martini bar, or cigar bar in a thriving downtown area. You could also target sports fans by opening a sports bar or draw in foodies with a new gastropub.
Speaking of your barâs name, it goes without saying that youâll need one. Because itâs your bar, youâre free to name it anything you want. However, you want to make sure that you choose a name that reflects your concept. âJohnâs Neighborhood Barâ may incorporate your name, but it doesnât stand out. When brainstorming ideas, think about the audience you want to bring in and pick a moniker thatâs attention-grabbing — a name that lets customers know what to expect when walking through the doors of your bar.
Find A Location
One of the most important first steps in opening your own bar is choosing a location. There are a few options you have at this stage of the game:
Purchase an existing bar
Start from scratch
Buy a franchise
There are advantages and disadvantages for each option. If you purchase an existing bar, you inherit the existing clientele and may see immediate income. However, you could pay a steep premium if the bar is extremely successful at the time of sale. You may also rack up high costs if the bar doesnât mesh with your vision and you have to pay for renovations.
If you start from scratch, youâll be able to see your vision through from start to finish. However, it may take many months (or even a year or longer) to open your doors, and the costs can really rack up if you have to completely renovate a space or build a new bar from the ground up. With this option, careful planning, budgeting, and at least some knowledge of the bar and restaurant industry are needed for the highest chance of success.
Finally, you could purchase a franchise. This option could shield you from some of the mistakes you’d almost certainly encounter if you attempted to go it alone. However, you wonât be able to fully showcase your creativity with a franchise.
Finding a location takes planning and a dedicated eye on financials. Sure, putting your bar in a trendy and popular neighborhood could help your business become your cityâs next hotspot, but real estate costs may be prohibitively high. Before you put down money on a location, make sure to do your market research and understand the costs.
Create A Business Plan
Every successful business starts with a solid business plan, and a bar is no exception. Not only will your business plan act as a blueprint for starting, operating, and growing your business, but itâs also a necessity if you plan to apply for business loans from a bank or other lender.
No two business plans are exactly alike, but there are some standard sections you should have in yours. This includes:
Executive Summary: Basic information about your business and why it will be a success
Company Details: Specific details about your business
Organizational Chart: Outline of your company structure
Marketing Strategy:Â How will you market your business?
Financial Projections: Show the financial outlook of your business
Your business plan should showcase the goals of your company and serve as a map for you to follow, keeping your business on the right path. Lenders will want to see a business plan that demonstrates thought, intelligence, research, and reasonable plans for successÂ in the future.
Register Your Business
Before you open your bar and begin serving customers, you have to register your business. First things first: register the business’s name with your state. This can be completed via the county clerk’s office in the state where youâll operate.
Next, youâll need to determine your formal legal structure. Do you plan to be a limited liability company or a corporation? Your business structure will determine how much you pay in taxes, what paperwork needs to be filed with the government, and your personal liability. If youâre unsure of which structure is right for your new business, consult with an attorney, accountant, or business counselor.
Your business will also need to be registered with the state revenue office and the Internal Revenue Service. Because your business will have employees, youâll be required to apply for an Employer Identification Number. Youâll also need a sales tax permit.
Finally, youâll be required to obtain the proper licenses and permits to legally operate your business. Because your bar will serve alcohol, a liquor license is required. If your bar serves food, youâll need a license from the health department. You can find out more about the requirements in your area by contacting your state Department of Commerce.
Obtain A Liquor License
In the previous section, we touched on acquiring the right permits and licenses. One of the most important things you need to open a bar — if not the most important thing — is a liquor license. This license makes it legal for you to sell alcohol in your business. This should be a top priority, as getting approval from your stateâs Alcohol Beverage Control agency typically takes at least one month. In some cases, it may take up to six months to get approved.
The steps required to obtain your liquor license vary by state. In all states, though, you will be required to fill out an application. You may be required to submit additional documentation with your application, such as a certificate of incorporation, your proposed menu, and the certificate of title for your bar. You may also be required to pay a processing fee.
Once your application is reviewed and approved, youâll have to pay for your license. Fees vary by state and range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Your license will last for at least one year, and you must pay a fee when itâs time to renew.
Even though getting your liquor license is a hassle and can get very expensive depending on your state, this is a critical step that canât be overlooked. To learn more about the process, fees, and type of license required for your business, contact your state ABC agency.
Business licenses. A construction loan or lease. Renovations. You havenât even stocked your bar, and the expenses are already piling up. Unless youâre already a successful entrepreneur with plenty of money in the bank, these expenses may seem completely overwhelming.
Very few small business owners have the resources to launch a business on their own. Instead, they turn to lenders for money to fund startup costs. Even after you launch your business, there will always be a need for more capital, whether an emergency has popped up, you need to expand, or a slow period has affected your day-to-day operations.
Even if your credit history is blemished, youâre a startup with no business history, or you face other challenges, thereâs funding out there if you know where to look. Start with these options.
Many new business owners have at least a little bit of money put away in their savings accounts. If youâve been socking away pennies for a rainy day, now may be the opportunity to put these savings to use. By using your own money, you wonât be indebted to a lender (or at least not as much). You wonât have to worry about making scheduled payments, and there wonât be interest or fees to worry about. On the downside, if your business is unsuccessful, you lose part — or all — of your savings.
Loans From Friends & Family
If you have a friend or family member with extra money to invest, pitch them your business idea to see if theyâre interested. But be careful! Even though you have a more personal relationship with this person, donât just have a casual conversation asking to borrow funds. Instead, give them your business plan and present your pitch just as you would with a bank or other lender. Show them why you think your business will be a success, and give them a good reason to invest in you.
If you come to a loan agreement, get everything in writing, including the total borrowing amount, rates, and terms of the loan. Put your personal relationship aside and make sure you follow all terms of the loans just as a responsible borrower should.
Personal Loans For Business
Getting a startup loan from a bank or other lender can be tough. Sure, there are options, such as Small Business Administration loans, but these loans can be very difficult to receive — especially if you have a short time in business or low annual revenue. However, if you have a solid personal credit profile, more low-cost loan options are available to you.
Instead of going directly for a business loan, try applying for a personal loan for business. With a business loan, lenders consider your time in business, personal and business credit histories, and annual revenues. But with a personal loan, your personal credit score and income are used to determine if you qualify.
By going this route, you may be able to avoid many of the high fees and interest rates of alternative business loans. Depending on your credit history and the lender you select, your cost of borrowing could be much lower with a long-term, low-interest personal loan.
Recommended Option: Upstart
Time in business: N/A
Personal credit score: Minimum 620
Business revenue: N/A
Borrower requirements (click to expand)
You may qualify to receive a personal loan of between $1,000 and $50,000 through Upstart. These loans have competitive interest rates starting at 7.74% and going up to 35.99% based on your creditworthiness. Repayment terms of 36 or 60 months are available. The application process is quick, easy, and completely online.
To qualify for an Upstart personal loan, you must meet a few basic requirements, including having a valid email address, verifiable personal information, a source of income, and a U.S. checking account. You also have to meet the lenderâs credit requirements, which include:
A credit score of 620 or above OR 580 or above for California residents
A solid debt-to-income ratio
No bankruptcies or public records
No delinquent accounts or accounts in collections
6 or fewer inquiries on your credit report over the last 6 months
Lines Of Credit
A more traditional financing option is a flexible line of credit. The one drawback with a line of credit is that business performance is typically a qualifying factor. If you havenât made any sales, you wonât qualify, so this isnât a good financial option if youâre not in business yet.
As you build your business, though, a line of credit can be very useful. It can be used to purchase supplies, inventory, or cover that emergency that pops up when you least expect it. You can also use your line of credit to cover payroll or daily operational expenses.
When you receive a line of credit, a lender provides you with a credit limit. You can make as many draws as you need against the line of credit up to and including the credit limit. Once you initiate a draw, the lender will transfer the money directly to your bank account, giving you access to the money you need. Over time, youâll make payments that are applied to the principal (the amount youâve borrowed) and any fees and/or interest charged by the lender.
A line of credit is a revolving account, so as you repay the lender, money becomes available to draw again.
Recommended Option: Fundbox
No time in business requirements, but must have used a compatible accounting or invoicing software for at least 2 months, or a compatible business bank account for at least 3 months.
Business revenue: $50,000 per year
No specific personal credit score requirement
Borrower requirements (click to expand)
You may qualify to receive a line of credit of up to $100,000 through Fundbox. Fundbox lines of credit have no restrictions and can be used to cover any business expense. Once approved, youâll be eligible to make draws immediately and receive funds as quickly as the next business day.
The Fundbox application process takes just minutes, and itâs easy to qualify. The lender focuses on the performance of your business — not your business or personal credit history — so even borrowers with credit challenges can qualify. You do, however, have to meet the following requirements:
Own a U.S.-based business
Have a business checking account
At least 3 months of transactions in your business bank account or at least 2 months of activity in a supported accounting software
At least $50,000 in annual revenue
Once you make a draw on your line of credit, automatic drafts are made weekly from your linked business checking account. If you do not use your funds, you do not pay. Repayment terms are 12 or 24 weeks and fees start at 4.66% of the total borrowing amount.
Business Credit Cards
Business credit cards work just like the personal credit cards in your wallet, only theyâre used to pay business expenses. Business credit cards are great for emergency expenses or any time your cash flow is a little short. You can also make recurring payments, such as your utility bills, using a business credit card. This is especially beneficial if you have a rewards card that gives you cash back or other rewards simply for making qualified purchases.
When you apply for a credit card, your lender will set a credit limit if youâre approved. You may spend up to and including this credit limit with one or multiple transactions anywhere credit cards are accepted. Each month, youâll make a payment that is applied to the principal, interest, and fees charged by the lender. As you pay down your balance, funds will become available to use again. If you donât have a balance, you wonât pay any interest, although you may have to pay annual fees depending on the card you select.
Recommended Option: Chase Ink Business Unlimited
Chase Ink Business Unlimited
15.49% – 21.49%, Variable
Required credit: Good, excellent
Bonus offer: $500 cash back if you spend at least $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
Purchase intro APR: 0% for the first 12 months
Balance transfer intro APR: 0% for the first 12 months
Foreign transaction fee: 3%
Unlimited 1.5% cash back rewards on all purchases
Notable perks & benefits:
Employee cards at no additional cost
Travel and purchase coverage
More card details (click to expand)
If you have an excellent credit score of at least 740, you may qualify for the Chase Ink Business Unlimited credit card. This is a rewards card that provides you with unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases made for your business. As a new cardholder, you will also be eligible to receive a $500 cash back bonus if you spend $3,000 within 3 months of opening your account.
The Chase Ink Business Unlimited card comes with a 0% introductory APR for purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months. After the introductory period, the card has a variable APR of 15.49% to 21.49%. This card comes with no annual fee. You can also receive additional cards for employees at no extra cost.
Rollover For Business Startups (ROBS)
Do you have a retirement account? If so, you can legally leverage these funds to pay your startup costs without facing tax or early withdrawal penalties. With a Rollover for Business Startups (ROBS) plan, you can put your retirement account to work for your new business.
It’s possible to access your retirement account funds with no penalties in just a few easy steps. First, create a new C-corporation. Next, create a qualified retirement plan for the corporation. Then, the funds from your qualified retirement account are rolled over into the new retirement plan. Finally, the funds that were rolled over can be used to purchase stock in the corporation, giving you access to the capital you need to start or grow your business.
Throughout the process, you do have to remain compliant and follow legal guidelines. For most new business owners, the process can get confusing, which is why ROBS providers are available to help. A ROBS provider will set up your ROBS plan to ensure everything is by the book. To get started, youâll need to pay a setup fee, then pay a monthly maintenance fee for maintaining your account.
The great thing about ROBS plans is that you are using your own money, so you wonât have to pay interest on a loan. You will, however, have to pay a monthly fee to maintain your account. You also risk losing your retirement funds if your business is unsuccessful.
Recommended Option: Benetrends
Varies based on the type of financing you seek.
Must have a personal credit score of 660 or above.
Borrower requirements (click to expand)
Benetrends is a pioneer of ROBS, launching its Rainmaker Plan in the 1980s. This visionary-plan is the longest-running ROBS plan, and Benetrends offers many benefits that outshine its competitors.
With just four easy steps, Benetrends can get the capital you need from your qualified retirement plan. With the Rainmaker Plan, you can have your funding is as little as 10 days.
To qualify, you must have an eligible retirement plan with at least $50,000. Most retirement plans are eligible, with the exception of Roth IRAs, 457 plans for non-governmental agencies, and distribution of death benefits from an IRA other than to the spouse. There are no time in business, annual revenue, or personal credit score requirements.
To get started with Benetrends, youâll be required to pay a setup fee of $4,995. After paying this fee, your C-corporation and ROBS plan will be set up. After your plan is set up, youâll be required to pay a monthly maintenance fee of $130. This fee covers ongoing support and services including legal support, audit protection, and compliance.
Paying your vendors will be an ongoing expense for your business. You have multiple options available to pay your vendors. You can pay out-of-pocket, you can use a credit card or line of credit, or you can take advantage of purchase financing.
With this type of financing, your vendors are paid immediately, while you get more time to pay. A lender pays your vendors up front, then you repay the lender over a set period of time. The lender will add fees and/or interest to your loan balance for paying your expenses upfront.
By using purchase financing, youâre able to pay your vendors immediately to receive the supplies, inventory, or services you need for your bar. Then, you can spread out your payments over time to make these purchases more affordable for your business.
Recommended Option: Behalf
No specific time in business, revenue, or credit score requirements.
Borrower requirements (click to expand)
Behalf offers purchase financing of up to $50,000 for qualified borrowers. Repayment terms of up to 180 days are available. Behalf charges fees of 1% to 3% of the borrowed amount per month for using this service. There are no additional fees. You can repay on a weekly or monthly schedule.
Behalfâs financing can be used to pay merchants for inventory or services. However, there are some restrictions. You canât pay bills, cover payroll, or pay other existing debt through Behalf.
Behalf analyzes the performance of your business when making its approval decisions. There are no time in business or business revenue requirements. Behalf does not have a minimum personal credit score for approval, although your credit history will be considered during the application process.
Create Your Menu
Before you open your bar, you need to know what food and drinks you plan to serve and what equipment is needed to properly prepare each menu item.
When planning your menu, think about your theme and the type of customers you plan to attract while also keeping your budget in mind.
Decide what type of drinks youâll serve. Most bars serve a variety of wines, beers, liquors, and mixed drinks, but what you serve may be different based on the theme of your bar. For example, in a sports bar, your drink menu may feature a wide selection of beers. If you open a nightclub, you want to have a variety of liquors and mixers on hand to create many different types of drinks. If you have a cigar bar, wines and craft beers may make up the bulk of your menu. Again, the type of bar you want, the theme, and your target audience can help you determine what you serve.
If your bar will serve food, think about the types of food youâll serve. In a neighborhood bar, appetizers like fried cheese sticks or nachos may be enough to keep your customers happy. If you have a gastropub, meals made with high-quality ingredients should make up your menu. Remember, creating the perfect menu takes careful planning, so take the time to brainstorm your ideas.
Itâs also wise to start off small and add new items as your business grows. If you have a huge menu that features every type of food and beverage you could think of, your bar will require more equipment. More equipment equals more expenses. Working with a smaller menu can also ensure that your bartenders and kitchen staff arenât overwhelmed and can focus on creating high-quality food and drinks. As you draw in customers to your bar, you can tweak your menu based on what customers are ordering, what gets rave reviews, and what falls flat.
Once youâve determined what your bar will be serving, youâll need to talk with suppliers to get estimates of costs. As you approach opening day, youâll place your order with your selected suppliers.
Still stuck on your menu? Check out our tips for creating a great menu.
Purchase Your Equipment
Once youâve secured a location and have moved further into the process of building your bar, itâs time to think about the equipment and fixtures that you need. What your bar needs depends on the theme youâve selected and what youâll be serving, but some items you may consider include:
Bar & barstools
Tables & chairs
Industrial ovens & other kitchen equipment
Coolers, refrigerators & ice bins
Blenders & other bar equipment
Microphones & other audio equipment
After youâve leased, purchased, or built your building, itâs important to create a detailed layout of your business. You want to ensure that you have enough room for everything required to run your bar, while also leaving enough space for seating, a dance floor, and other features that will be important to your customers. As you grow your business and need to add or update equipment, consider equipment financing to make these expenses more manageable.
$2K – $5M
As low as 2%
$5K – $500K
24 – 72 months
Starts at 5%
Up to $250K
1 – 72 months
Starts at 5.49%
Select Your POS System
Gone are the days when most businesses just needed a cash register or two for their customers. With the rising use of credit cards, debit cards, and mobile payments, businesses — especially bars — need a more advanced system for accepting payments.
A point of sale (POS) system is one of the most important pieces of equipment youâll need for your new bar. A POS system combines software and hardware to create a centralized point for business operations. Through this system, youâll be able to take orders and accept payments, but thatâs not all.
Some of the most advanced POS systems come with features beneficial to bars. This includes built-in tipping systems, inventory management that allows you to track your stock levels, and an open ticket system for creating bar tabs.
Your POS system plays an important role in your business, so itâs important that you know what to look for before making your purchase. Check out our top picks for POS systems for bars and nightclubs.
Breadcrumb POS by Upserve
Get a quote
Cloud-based or Locally Installed
Compatible credit card processors
Cayan or Mercury in US; iZettle in Europe
Shopkeep Payments & some others;Â contact your processor to see if they are supported
TouchBistro Payments, Square, PayPal, Moneris, Cayan, Chase Paymentech & more
Upserve Payments only
Small to medium
Small to medium
Small to large
Small to medium
Small to large
To make sure your bar is a success, you need to have the right employees working for you. If you havenât done so already, you need to apply for an Employer Identification Number for tax purposes. Next, you need to determine how many employees you need and what their roles will be in your business.
Youâll need at least one bartender that prepares and serves drinks in your bar. You will need to add additional bartenders based on the number of bar areas you have in your business, as well as the number of customers you have to serve.
If your bar will serve any type of food, you will also need a kitchen staff. This includes at least one cook, but you may also need prep cooks, dishwashers, and other staff as your business grows.
Youâll also need servers to distribute food or pass out drinks to customers not seated at the bar. The number of servers you have is based on the size of your bar and how busy it gets.
While your servers may be able to handle cleaning tables at first, as your business grows, you may want to add a busser or two, who are responsible for cleaning off tables for new customers.
You may also require additional staff. For example, you may hire a doorman that checks IDs before customers enter the door. A security guard may also be a staff member you hire to handle tempers that flare from customers whoâve had one too many.
You also need at least one manager to oversee the staff. A managerâs role may include hiring employees, firing employees, training, making schedules, and making sure that all staff members are doing their jobs properly.
Before you start seeking job applicants, make sure to create an in-house organizational chart to know exactly who you need to hire. You also need to do your research to figure out what salaries you will offer, as well as any benefits.
Unsure of where to hire new employees? You have a few options. First, post a job ad on online job boards or classified ads to find potential employees. This is an inexpensive (or even free) way to find candidates.
You can also ask for referrals. If you know someone in the industry, ask if they have any new hires to recommend. Donât know anyone in the industry? Ask other colleagues, family, and friends for recommendations.
Bolster Your Web Presence
After completing all of these steps, youâll be that much closer to opening your bar. However, you want to make sure to spread the word about your business, and thereâs no better way to do that than with the internet.
One of the easiest ways to get the word out about your business is through social media. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are just a few of the ways you can reach your target audience, andÂ Yelp For Business is a must. Best of all, these accounts are free to use. As you grow, you may consider moving past the free advertising you get through your posts and pictures and invest in advertising on these social platforms.
You also need a good website. Keep your barâs theme in mind when you design your site. Make sure that your website reflects the image you want to project. There are many small business website builders you can look into if you want to create your website yourself. These make it easy for you to create a professional website with no prior web design experience required.
Hosted or Licensed
Templates & Themes
Compatible Credit Card Processors
$14 – $179/month
Go to Site
Free – $29.90/month
Go to Site
Free – $25/month
Go to Site
Go to Site
Make sure that you include your address and phone number on your website. Information about your bar including dress code and hours of operation are also extremely useful for customers. You can also include your menu, photos of your establishment and patrons, and news and updates on your website.
Also, remember that word-of-mouth is one of the best forms of advertising for a bar. If your customers love your drinks, food, service, and atmosphere, theyâll tell others. If they dislike your bar, theyâll also tell others â¦ who will make sure to avoid your establishment. Whether your bar is brand new on the block or youâve been in business for some time, keep customer satisfaction high so that customers online and off will have nothing but positive reviews for your business.
As you can see, creating a bar where everyone gathers to have a great time takes a lot of hard work. But just as Theodore Roosevelt said, âNothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.â Running your own bar means planning, budgeting, and always being ready for growth. While your bar wonât make you an overnight millionaire, you can become a successful entrepreneur with this potentially-lucrative venture if you put in the work.
The post Want To Open Your Own Bar? Top Tips To Get You Started appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
It feels sometimes like Apple dominates the field as far as availability of credit card reader apps. After all, there are plenty of iOS exclusives, but I can count on one hand the number of Android-exclusive POS apps. It hurts my Android-loving heart, in some ways.
In part, the difficulty with Android-based mobile processing apps is how fractured the Android space is — there so many devices, and updates to the OS depend on both the device and the cellular carrier. But good Android-based mPOS apps for credit card processing do exist. You just have to know where to look! Happily, it looks like many companies are starting to understand the importance of accepting Android, and I’ve seen several POS offerings branch into the Android space recently.
Let’s talk about your best options for Android mPOS apps — which ones offer the best experience, the best hardware, and the best pricing!
Best Android-Based Credit Card Processing Apps
To be considered one of the best Android-based mPOS, the mobile app must be available for Android devices and include a mobile credit card reader, rather than a terminal. And obviously, it needs to be a highly-rated solution, too.
Without further ado, here are our favorite recommendations for Android users in need of a credit card processing app!
Square (read our review) features in a lot of my articles — and honestly, that’s because it’s one of the best options out there, period. As far as features, pricing, and hardware, Square is top of the line in each category. Square’s free mobile POS app, blandly named Square Point of Sale (read our review) has more features than your standard POS app, even if it doesn’t quite reach the abilities of a full-fledged POS system. Plus, Square throws in invoicing, a customer database, and intermediate inventory tools (including item counts) at no additional cost. Payments process at 2.75% for swiped, dipped, or tapped transactions using Square POS and a mobile card reader. Invoices process for 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, and keyed entry sales for 3.5% + $0.30 per transaction.
Square works on iOS and Android, though it’s worth noting that particular features aren’t always supported by Android tablets or smartphones. For example, you can run a cash drawer session on an Android tablet, but not on a smartphone, and you can’t track sales by employee at all on Android.
Until recently, the best way to get the most Square features on a single device was to use an iPad. However, Square Register (read our review) has changed that.
Register is an Android-based, all-in-one POS platform with a 13.25-inch touchscreen display and a 7-inch customer-facing display with built-in card readers. It runs Square Point of Sale and has many features that aren’t available on Android tablets or smartphones. Payment processing with Square Register is a departure from the standard 2.75% per transaction; instead, merchants will pay 2.5% + $0.10, which means merchants with an average ticket size of $40 or more will see the most savings with this processing rate.
If Register isn’t quite for you, Square still offers plenty of choices for affordable hardware; its Contactless + Chip Card Reader sells for $49 with financing available. You can also purchase additional hardware for Square directly from the company if you’re using Square for a register setup — including Android-compatible tablet stands!
Free App & Reader
Square for Retail
Square for Restaurants
Free, general-purpose POS software and reader for iOS and Android
Easy integration with popular platforms plus API for customization
Specialized software for more complex retail stores
Specialized software for full-service restaurants
I honestly feel like more people need to be aware of the fact that Shopify POS is available as a standalone payment processing option for businesses that need a mobile app but maybe don’t want a full-fledged online store. The Shopify Lite plan (read our review) gives you access to the Shopify POS app (available on Android and iOS) as well as a few extra tools. That includes customizable website payment buttons if you have, for example, a WordPress site, as well as a Facebook shop and invoicing.
The Lite Plan goes for a very reasonable $9/month, with payments processing at 2.7% per swiped, dipped, or tapped transaction. Invoiced and keyed transactions process for 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. Now, admittedly, the Shopify POS app isn’t as full-featured as Square. And the Lite plan doesn’t give you access to all of the features of the POS app, but you do get all the essential, standard mPOS features.
If you want something more resembling a traditional POS setup, with staff PIN access, register shifts, and so on, you’ll need to upgrade to the higher Shopify plan tiers. However, Shopify doesn’t charge any per-device subscriptions, so $79/month for the Shopify standard plan gets you a very powerful ecommerce plan, plus a POS that runs on unlimited devices with quite a few features that bring it on par with traditional POS apps. (Oh, and discounted processing rates, too!)
Finally, you should know that Shopify’s mobile card reader, the Chip & Swipe Reader, retails for $29. However, Shopify does offer a free card reader to new merchants. We’ve previously reviewed the card reader and were very satisfied with it, in terms of design and pricing.
Payment Depot Mobile (Swipe Simple)
Payment Depot has mostly operated as a wholesale merchant account provider, offering a whole range of merchant services, from ecommerce to mobile processing. However, we’re happy to say that Payment Depot is now offering an exclusive mobile processing plan to Merchant Maverick readers, one that’s targeted at even low-volume businesses. You can check out our Payment Depot Mobile review for more information.
Payment Depot’s mobile plan includes access to the Swipe Simple app, made by a company called CardFlight. CardFlight actually licenses its solutions to several providers and so pricing and terms vary according to which company you sign up with. Payment Depot is offering its mobile plan for $10/month, with payments processing at 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction. There are no monthly minimums and no other fees involved. And again, this is a Merchant Maverick exclusive, so youÂ need to use our link in order to sign up for this plan! Also, high-volume businesses can still get access to PD’s standard pricing, which may be more cost effective for them.
The Swipe Simple app is an all-around solid offering, with the essential mobile POS app features, along with a customer database, intermediate inventory (including item counts), and a virtual terminal available for no additional cost. There’s even a free virtual terminal thrown in. While it won’t come close to replacing a full-fledged POS app, mobile businesses that need a reliable app and a stable merchant account will enjoy the flexibility that Payment Depot (and SwipeSimple) offer.
Payment Depot also offers a free chip card-enabled mobile reader, the Swift B200. If you’d like to also accept contactless NFC payments, you can upgrade to the EMV/NFC capable card reader, the Swift B250, for just $25, which is an excellent price for an all-in-one, future proof card reader.
Payline Mobile (CardPointe)
Payline Data Mobile was the first mobile processing solution I reviewed that offered the stability of a merchant account combined with pricing that’s competitive for low-volume businesses.Â Obviously, we’ve added Payment Depot to that list as well, but Payline Mobile is also a great option if you need a mobile plan and you want transparent pricing and great customer service.
Payline Mobile’s plan includes access to the CardPointe mobile app, made by CardConnect. The app is pretty solid, with all the essential features you would need to run a mobile business. You can even mark items as tax-exempt in the app, which makes it a great option if you run a wholesale business or even just occasionally sell to business owners with sales tax exemptions.Â You also get access to a virtual terminal for no additional cost.
As far as card readers, Payline offers the CardConnect Mobile Device, a magstripe reader that connects via headphone jack. It does have an EMV slot; however, chip card acceptance currently isn’t enabled for the reader, so you’re limited to magstripe only until CardConnect launches EMV support. Payline sells the reader for $49, though you can talk with your Payline sales rep about the pricing if it’s a concern.
Payline Data’s mobile offering is billed under the Payline Start plan, which means you’ll pay a $10/monthly fee and interchange plus pricing with a 0.2% + $0.10 markup. This pricing might not be the most competitive for small-ticket businesses, but if you have an average transaction of $50 or more, you should do well.
The other thing to note with Payline is that the company has a $25 monthly minimum — meaning you need to generate $25/month in processing fees, or Payline will charge you the difference between your processing fees and $25 (so if you process enough to generate $18.28 in fees, Payline will charge you another $6.72 to make up the difference). For most businesses, this works out to be about $1,000/month in credit card volume, but your exact break-even amount depends on your transaction size and average interchange.
I also need to mention that CardConnect is actually a First Data product — and if you prefer, you can get the Clover Go mobile app through Payline for the same contract terms and an additional $6/month fee (passed through by Clover). You can get Clover’s chip-card enabled Bluetooth reader for $120, but again, if you have concerns about the price, talk with your sales rep.
Didn’t find quite what you were looking for? You won’t find a shortage of mobile processing apps here at Merchant Maverick — and a list of just 4 processing options seems a bit limited. So here are the honorable mentions — the solutions that didn’t quite make the top of the list but that I still like for various reasons.
PayPal is a juggernaut of commerce, and if you want to sell online, accepting PayPal is an easy solution. If you want to accept payments in person, PayPal’s mobile POS app, PayPal Here (read our review), offers a solid range of features, including the ability to send invoices from the app or in the dashboard. PayPal Here is not as robust as Square, and PayPal generally recommends integrating with one of its POS partners if you need more advanced software features. But it’s great for pop-up events, tradeshows, conventions, and mobile businesses.
PayPal processes in-person transactions at 2.7% per swipe, dip, or tap, and invoices at 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. You can get a chip and magstripe card reader for $24.99, or upgrade to the all-in-one Chip and Tap Reader for $59.99 (a bundled charger set is available for $79.99).
Wondering how PayPal Here compares to Square? Check out our Square vs PayPal article for a direct comparison!
If you don’t process credit cards on a regular basis but you need a simple, straightforward option for mobile processing with aÂ great credit card reader, SumUp (read our review) should be at the top of your list. I’ve previously described SumUp as Square’s sophisticated, minimalist European cousinÂ because it delivers all of the essentials with a sleek, simple approach.
Payments process at 2.65% per swiped, tipped, or tapped transaction, which is lower than either Square or PayPal, with no flat fee per transactions. While you’re not going to save boatloads over the alternatives, SumUp does offer the lowest rates with no monthly fee, which is worth mentioning. But what I really like about SumUp is the card reader — which, even two years later, still one of the best designed and packaged card readers I’ve ever had the pleasure to encounter. At $69, it’s not cheap, but I still think it’s better than the Square Contactless + Chip Reader, and the similarly priced PayPal Chip and Tap reader.
Check out my Square vs SumUp comparison for a better look at how SumUp stacks up in terms of features and execution.
I’ve already mentioned Clover Go — it’s the mobile app linked to the Clover suite of POS products, owned by First Data, just like CardConnect. Clover is First Data’s flagship software, and has been for a few years now. If you’re already a Clover user and you want to go mobile with your POS, the Go app is the obvious answer because it’s built to be an extension of the full POS app. However, you can get Clover Go as a standalone product from First Data and many of its resellers. Check out our review of Clover Go for a better look at its features.
Pricing for the Clover Go app, payment processing, and hardware will vary by the reseller you choose. Payline Data is one option — you’ll pay $16/month in fees plus interchange plus 0.2% + $0.10 per transaction, and $120 for the card reader. We generally recommend Dharma Merchant Services for merchants processing more than $10,000/month in cards, and National Processing for businesses of all sizes. In both cases, you’ll pay a $10 monthly fee and interchange plus 0.2% + $0.10 markup per transaction.
Curious how Clover Go stacks up? Check out our Square vs Clover Go comparison!
Which Android Mobile Processing App Is Right For You?
If you need a mobile POS app that’s compatible with your Android device, or you’re debating between an Android or iOS device, there’s no need to worry. There are plenty of great Android-based credit card reader apps to choose from, with great pricing and great hardware. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which service is right for you — consider the features you get as well as the pricing.Â Not sure how to do that? Check out my article, Is Square the Cheapest Processor For Your Business? to learn how to figure out for yourself whether a rate quote is actually a good deal.
Still can’t decide? Square offers the best value in terms of features, and the flat-rate pricing works for all businesses, even low-volume and small ticket ones. Plus, there’s no monthly fee!
The post The Best Credit Card Reader Apps For Android appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
Many business owners know and love Square for its free mobile point of sale app and free credit card readers, but some don’t realize that Square automatically provides some pretty powerful reporting and analytics features with their processing service.
Even if you’re primarily using Square to accept payments. Square dashboard feature is worth a closer look. Now more than ever, understanding data is critical to making smart business decisions every day, no matter what industry you’re in.
Read on for a look at some of the most notable features and benefits of the Square dashboard.
Free App & Reader
Square for Retail
Square for Restaurants
Free, general-purpose POS software and reader for iOS and Android
Easy integration with popular platforms plus API for customization
Specialized software for more complex retail stores
Specialized software for full-service restaurants
Squareâs Online Dashboard Features
The Square Dashboard makes it easy to understand both simple and complex aspects of your business. Best of all, itâs completely free with all Square accounts, and you can check it out from your favorite browser with no issues. (Note: Square’s Dashboard appÂ is currently only available for iPhones; an Android version is coming soon. We’ll take a more in-depth look into the mobile app’s capabilities later in this post.)
The Square Dashboard boasts a simple, easy-to-use interface, and its intuitive design allows you to find what you want quickly. You can play around with your Home screen until it displays the sections in the order you think makes the most sense.Â This dashboard is so user-friendly that data geeks and amateurs alike can find something to love. Let’s dig in a little deeper.
The Settings area acts as a control center where you can manage all kinds of permissions and security settings, including setting up 2-step verification for sign-in for you and your employees. Here, you can also edit your business name as it appears on your receipts and statements and change your bank account if needed.
Settings is also the place to manage multiple business locations (if applicable) and get device codes set up for each of your devices rather than simply relying on your email and password.
Get Paid From Your DashboardÂ
One of the most important functions of the dashboard is getting paid!
If you are using your Virtual Terminal, you can access it directly from your dashboard to accept payment. Payments here are 3.5% +Â 15Â¢ per keyed-in transaction — or, if you have your Square Reader for magstripe, you’ll pay 2.75% per transaction. (A quick note, you need to have a Chromebook or Mac computer to take advantage of this.)
Square’s Virtual Terminal
If you invoice your customers, you can send a one-off invoice or set up recurring invoices from your dashboard, too.Â Invoices are free to send out, and you will pay 2.9% + 30Â¢ per invoice when your customers pay with credit or debit online. Square has beefed up its features in this regard, with the option to let customers pay in installments as well as the ability to request a downpayment.
Transferring Funds To Your Account
The Settings area also allows you to play around with your deposit schedule. By default, your account is set to deposit funds accrued by 8:00 pm EST to your account the next business day.
Need them even sooner? If you are in need of your funds right away, you can opt to use instant deposit. Instant deposit transfers your sales balance to your linked debit card whether it’s a business day or a weekend (for an additional 1% of the balance). Check outÂ How Does Square’s Instant Deposit Work?Â for a more detailed look at this feature.
Now that we have covered the basics of some of the features under Settings, let’s discover more about the reporting features, found in the Square Reports tab (under Sales).
Within the Sales section of the Square Dashboard, you’ll discover important insights into how your business (and your employees) operate. For instance, in the Reports tab, you have multiple subsections that give you visual data about nearly every part of your business.
The Square Reports tab is broken down by sections:
Sales Summary: The summary shows all of your gross sales, net sales, discounts, and more. You can change the time period of the report to display an overview of the whole year or see what your sales are doing today, in real time.
Sales Trends: Trends gives you a visual representation of all of your sales in the form of a line graph to quickly see how your sales perform day to day, week to week, and year to year.
Payment Methods: The payment methods feature gives you a snapshot of how customers are paying, how many transactions they have with you, and the fees associated with each type. Whether your customers are paying with cash, card, or gift card âit is all right there.
Item Sales: This section breaks down sales totals by item. Get an exact count on what products and services are selling the best â and which are selling the least.
Category Sales: Not only can you see an itemized list of everything youâre selling in the item sales section, but Squareâs reporting feature also breaks things down by category.
Mobile Staff Sales: Keep track of who your best mobile sellers are with a quick view that shows you when they sell through the day. Finding out when sales peak can help you schedule and better manage your entire remote staff â and help you spot your best sellers for the day.
Employee Sales: Similar to the mobile staff sales section, the employee sales section helps you keep track of who is selling what. This section shows you sales per hour, tips, hours worked, and when sales peaked for the day. To be able to use this, you’ll have to have an Employee Management subscription, which costs $5/employee per month.
Discounts: The discount sections shows a list for the amount and frequency of your discounts that are applied to anything your customers buy.
Taxes: This section breaks the sales tax information down for you by the type of tax, how much it is, and any non-taxable sales you have.
Gift Cards: Find out what you need to know about any gift cards you sell. This section overviews any gift cards you load, how much was put on them, how many were redeemed, and how many existing gift cards you have floating around at any time.
Comps:Â Comps keep track of changes to orders that may affect your bottom line. If a change will cause a loss to your business, or if you want to place a discount on an order and eat the cost, you will utilize the comp function.
Voids: For a change to an order that doesn’t affect inventory or costs (i.e., a customer changes an order before it’s made), you will use the void function.
Worried about keeping accurate books? You can also export your data from nearly any accounting software. The best part is that because the dashboard is so easy to navigate, you donât have to wade through a lot of Excel sheets to get to your data. Keeping things in one central location can mean less hassle, as you have created a streamlined workflow from data to decisions. And that can make for smart business decisions at every level.Â
Square has some excellent — and entirely free — built-in features that can help you understand and take control of customer satisfaction. The foundation of this is theÂ Square Directory, a free tool you can use to build customer profiles, including their names, contact information, and purchase history. You can also keep notes on each customer! AÂ detailed transaction and activity history can help you understand how your customers interact with you through time.
Square offers insights that show you how often your customers visit and how often they return to you. The insights can help you track retention patterns, and if you have multiple locations, help you understand which of your locations is doing better.Â You can create segments of your “regulars” or identify customers who have lapsed in visits and (if you opt to use Square’s Marketing suite) reach out to them with promotions.
The other tool worth mentioning is Square Feedback. Here, you can encourage any customers who have negative issues to leave you private feedback where you can offer resolution directly. Your customers can send private feedback from their receipt so you can keep track of any repeated issues or isolated issues quickly. It’s possible to respond to the feedback, issue refunds, or send coupons — all through the Square dashboard.
Square’s Customer Feedback Features
While you can create items from within the Square Point of Sale app, the Square Dashboard offers much more comprehensive tools to manage your inventory. You can create items manually, one by one, or do a bulk upload with a CSV file. In the dashboard, you can also manage quantities of items and set low-stock alerts, so you know when it’s time to re-order something. Square’s inventory supports barcodes (though it can’t print labels), as well as variants and modifiers. You can even sort your inventory by category.
Square gives you access to reports thatÂ will break the sales data down into beautiful graphs for you to keep track of what inventory items are selling the best.Â By using the inventory tools, you can quickly see what inventory is moving the fastest and can make better decisions about what to do next. Â This real-time data reporting feature means you always have the most up-to-date, accurate information when it comes to re-ordering, managing promotions, and distribution (if you have more than one location).Â
How Square Dashboard Insights Lead To Smart Promotions
Sure, the capability to easily keep up with your inventory, sales, and customer management are all benefits, but the dashboard can also give you powerful insights when it comes to making decisions about marketing your business.
For example, you may have a great product that hasn’t quite caught on with customers yet. This app shows you who is buying that lesser-known service or item, allowing you to then run a referral campaign as an incentive for those people to tell their family and friends.
And when itâs time to run a promotion, or you have ongoing discounts to offer, you can track the success of those promotional pushes as well. Youâll find this handy feature in the reporting feature under the Discounts section.
Don’t forget: Square’s Loyalty Program (which starts at $25/month) can be managed from within the dashboard. It syncs with the Directory and allows you to customize your loyalty program perks, right down to the branding of the program. Square really does offer you a centralized way to manage your interactions with your customers and make smart decisions on how to drive sales.
The Square Dashboard App
The Square Dashboard App allows you to take some of the Dashboard’s analytic and real-time updating power with you on the go — if you have an iPhone with the latest version of iOS running. (For those of you with an Android phone, Square is working on developing a compatible app, so stay tuned.)
After you download the app, you can sign into your account. You’ll see right away that it is a bit more simplified than the full online Square Dashboard.
That said, the Square Dashboard App still gives you quite a bit of control on the go. You can view live sales data from more than one location, add customers to your directory, and take a peek at activity through the day. What you can’t do is send an invoice from your app; you will have to log in to your online Square Dashboard to update and submit invoices and send them from within Square Point of Sale.
Make Smarter Business Decisions For AÂ Low Cost & High Value
Ready to get started and dig into the reporting and analytics features? You donât have to do anything if you are already using Square. Itâs all in your Dashboard. You will find every section we highlighted above â from sales summaries and trends to employee sales activity through the day â and itâs all accessible in real time, completely free with your account.Â
For any business owner, the ability to quickly track pending invoices and handle customer feedback concerns privately can mean the difference between success and failure. And when it comes to comparing location performance, employee activities, and sales trends over the long term, the dashboard can helpÂ you make smarter, more informed decisions for your business.
With everything that Square offers in terms of free features and reporting options, the cost-to-value ratio is a no-brainer. You get a lot of benefit out of this robust product that keeps delivering real-time data to you all year.
Remember, though: While SquareÂ doesn’t cost anything to use, you will be responsible for paying credit card processing costs! But unless you opt for a monthly subscription product such as Loyalty, Marketing, or Employee Management, transaction fees will be your only consistent costs with Square.
With Square, fees for each type of transaction can vary, but you’ll pay the same for any type of card. Here is a quick break-down of the most common transaction costs:
Square Point of Sale with a mobile card reader:Â 2.75% per swiped, dipped, or tapped transaction.
Square Register:Â 2.5% + $0.10 per swiped, dipped, or tapped transaction
Square Terminal:Â 2.6% + $0.10 per swiped, dipped, or tapped transaction
For more on Square’s transaction pricing, check out How Much Does Square Charge?
If you are interested in learning more about all of Square’s hardware options, check out our Guide to Square Credit Card Readers And POS Bundles.
Try the Square Online Dashboard For Free
If you are already a Square user, the next step is simple: head over to your dashboard and start checking things out. If you havenât gotten started with Square yet, you can sign up for a free account with Square and test it out for yourself. There are no credit checks for this, and a free mag-stripe reader comes to your mailbox after you sign up.
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No contract or monthly fee
Instant account setup
Retail upgrade available
Restaurant upgrade available
For iOS and Android mobile devices
2.75% per in-person card swipe
Retail POS:Â Free trial ($60/mo value)
Restaurant POS: Free trial ($60/mo value)
Square POS: Always free
Get things set up, keep doing what you do best, and then watch Square build reports for your business in real time.
Free App & Reader
Square for Retail
Square for Restaurants
Free, general-purpose POS software and reader for iOS and Android
Easy integration with popular platforms plus API for customization
Specialized software for more complex retail stores
Specialized software for full-service restaurants
The post Why We Like Squareâs Online Dashboard and Analytics App appeared first on Merchant Maverick.