Skip to Content

Square targets larger businesses with new features

When Todd Carmichael added his first computerized cash register in 1998 at his Philadelphia coffee shop, La Colombe, it took him days and multiple technicians to do the job. But a few months ago, when he switched to Square’s iPad-powered system at his now twelve cafes that employ 255 baristas, it took just an hour.

It’s this simplicity, along with a few other new features announced today, that Square is betting will attract more medium-sized businesses to its Register app. The San Francisco company is debuting a new way for business owners to manage their store locations as well as a tool that lets them track employee time cards and more.

Founded by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Square has evolved into a modern day bank for small and medium-sized businesses. Along with its point of sale product, Square offers features like payroll and cash advances. During its six-year history, the company has also had its fair share of troubles. It has notably struggled to create a consumer facing digital wallet, having to kill off some of its early products like Square Wallet and Square Order.

More recently Square has focused on new ways to make money by introducing a number of paid features for merchants. Invoicing, cash advances, appointment scheduling, marketing features, and slicing and dicing business data are just some of them.

The latest wave of paid services announced today is aimed at larger businesses that manage multiple locations and many employees. Using the register iPad app, employees are able to log-in with a unique ID and password each time they process a credit card transaction. Sellers can track how much employees sell to more easily pay them their commissions and give them their tips. Sellers can also track when employees arrive at and leave work.

Additionally, business owners can also set how much access employees get to things like analytics within the Register app. Company accountants would likely get greater access to financial details, for example.

Sellers can also filter their sales reports by employee or location so they can see which employees are ringing in the most, or which location did particularly well that day. They can also see how much in sales their business pulled in per hour of labor by employees.

The employee and location tracking features will cost owners $5 per month per employee.

Companies already using Square’s new tools include La Colombe and Blue Bottle Coffee, which has 19 locations in the U.S. and Japan.

Square says that in the first quarter of this year, 35% of the company’s gross payment volume, came from sellers that were processing over $125,000 per year.

Françoise Brougher, who joined Square in 2013 from Google and leads its business, sales, and operations, says that she has been leading a team of account managers whose sole focus is to service and sell to medium to large businesses who have more than $1 million in yearly sales. To attract more of these business, Square has started cutting customized deals for larger merchants. Traditionally, pricing is 2.75% for transactions using Register. But last year, Square let merchants apply for custom pricing based on their revenue.

Brougher added that Square is not shying away from the core business of servicing mom and pop merchants and small businesses. But she said the company is instead focusing on the full “ecosystem” of merchants.

As for the large, Whole Foods-like businesses, it’s “going to take a little more time” for Square to cater to the needs of these massive merchants, Brougher said. But the company has landed some smaller partnerships. For example, Whole Foods is using Square registers at the company’s sandwich counters, juice and coffee bars, pizzerias, and beer and wine bars — but not at its checkout lines. Square has also been used at several Lululemon pop up sales. And Square still processes payments for coffee giant Starbucks.

Brougher said the company is working on a set of APIs, as in “application programming interfaces,” which allow third-parties to integrate into the employee management data for sellers

This isn’t the first time Square has gone after regional and national chains. In 2012, it started premiering features targeted at them. Brougher acknowledged the earlier strategy, which wasn’t as successful three years ago. But she minimized the the lack of traction by saying the initiative was recognizing that medium-sized business could one day be important to the company. Now, she said, Square is “executing on that opportunity.”