Friday, May 27, 2011

Square

Wow, Thanksgiving hit me harder than I thought it would. I've been neglecting my blog. Well, i've come back from the holiday with a doosey.
Check out http://www.squareup.com/. Quite honestly the coolest thing i can do with my iPad. Read here as to why it can't be done on the blackberry.

So square gets you a card reader. You can use that to accept credit cards anywhere your mobile device can get data. This means that when i accompany my wife to her craft shows (where she sells jewelry: cweenig.etsy.com for a great Christmas gift), I can help by taking my iPad and this nifty card reader. We can accept credit card. This has already lead to an increase in her sales numbers.
The Process:
I signed up for an account, which required my mailing address and eventually bank account information (so they can give me my money). Once i finished signing up (which was totally free), they notified me that my card reader would be arriving in a few days. Sure enough, a couple days later i got a tiny packet with a tiny device. It has a male headphone jack on it and is about the size of five or six quarters stacked on top of each other (a lot smaller than i expected). I downloaded and installed the free app on my ipad and signed in. I plugged in the card reader and swiped my card. It popped up saying it had read my card but that i hadn't put in an amount to be charged.
So i started to customize the app. With the ipad version, you can actually enter an inventory of sorts. I entered all the items and their corresponding prices. I was even able to select a photo from the pics library on my iPad to go along with each item. It was then that i had a realization, square is not a credit card app (although it does that very well). It's really a receipt app. I can ring up the items someone wants to buy from me, take the money either by credit card or by cash, and email or text a receipt to that person. The receipt is itemized, has the gps location of where the transaction took place, along with pictures and other goodies. One i started thinking of the app as a receipt app, things got even easier.
So, we had a show last weekend, the last one before Christmas. So, we expected a lot of traffic and were excited to use the card reader to accept credit cards. I was also going to use it to keep track of all the transactions both cash and credit card. This was nice since at the end of the day we would have a record of all our transactions and it adds it all together giving us our daily take.
The sales went wonderfully. People were a little surprised that we accepted credit card since we were in the middle of a baseball field. I rang people up as they decided what they wanted. When they were done, i turned the ipad over, showed them their total and asked for their card. I swiped their card and was presented with a screen where they could sign. They signed with their finger. Then they were presented with an option to put in their email or phone number. While they were doing that i explained that this was so we could send them their receipt and that we don't store their email address nor phone number. They hit ok and that was it.
There are two catches to this whole thing.
  1. Obviously you can't get something for free, there's a per transaction fee. If you use the card reader it's cheaper: 2.75%+$0.15. If you key in the number, it's more expensive.
  2. You don't get your money right away. The money from the credit card transactions is deposited in your square account. If you have more than $1000, your entire balance is transferred to your bank immediately. If you have less than $1000, your balance will be sent to you after 30 days. So, we haven't actually gotten our money from last weekend yet, since we didn't do more than $1000 of credit card transactions. But i've verified my bank with them (they do a couple small deposits then a withdrawl into/out of your bank account to verify everything is working correctly).
So, this is the coolest thing since sliced bread. Especially since we used paypal during our first show and had to enter name, phone number, credit card number, expiration date, and a slew of other information before taking a cc payment through paypal. And even more so since the whole reason i bought the ipad is because i convinced my wife that we needed it in order to take credit card at her shows. ;-)
Conclusion: Square did a great job. I paid what i expected to pay for the service (free for the account and card reader, i only pay for it when i'm actually getting some money). And the only real drawback is that i have to wait for my money, which isn't a big deal.