By Ken Yeung for VentureBeat
Square has always wanted to be a part of the success of small businesses, but as a growing public company, it needs to develop products that will cater to bigger clients. Today, the commerce company announced it is launching dedicated tools for retailers to help manage inventory in multiple locations and across unlimited employees, all through the Square experience.
Square for Retail is the first industry-specific solution the company is launching — starting in the U.S. — and features an enhanced point-of-sale (POS) app with improved searching, a bar code scanner, customer directory, and employee and inventory management.
Retail merchants make up 20 percent of Square’s total processing volume, and its earlier solution — Square Point-of-Sale (formerly Square Register) — wasn’t able to scale to accommodate their growing needs, specifically in terms of large-item catalogs. “What was there was relatively limited,” admitted Matthew O’Connor, Square’s point-of-sale lead. “What we’ve heard from merchants was they wanted an experience that feels just right for them.”
When Square for Retail is implemented, merchants can authenticate as many employees as they want across multiple locations. It also offers a cart-like view, and items can be added either by keyword or barcode. When an item is selected, users can modify such things as variance, quantity, taxes (eliminating them if selling to a non-profit, for example), add discounts to individual items, and more. There’s also inventory management so you can transfer items between store locations and make modifications, something that wasn’t available within Square Point-of-Sale.
Because it also functions as a customer relationship management (CRM) system, Square for Retail allows employees to search customer records for things like contact information and previous encounters, add pertinent notes, and review activity details. This will allow merchants to offer personalized service for their shoppers.
O’Connor said that Square for Retail is targeted at small to medium-sized businesses that sell prepared goods, like bottles of wine, shirts, and other products. These are merchants who have “thousands and hundreds of thousands of [stock-keeping units].”
When Square first started, it was used by freelancers, small merchants, and independent contractors. Over time, it has gained more adoption from mom and pop shops and larger merchants. Square Capital was launched to partner with Square customers and support their growth. But when those merchants hit a certain size, they tended to outgrow Square. This is why Square has not only introduced its Builds With Square platform but is now launching Square for Retail. This gives merchants more choices in the payment and commerce space while helping Square report higher payment volumes and show investors it’s not a one-hit wonder.
“It’s about building a specific solution that really emphasizes the workflows and what retailers care about,” O’Connor said. Retailers are the first group being targeted, and there are no current plans to expand into other verticals. But it’s possible that future areas of focus could be around restaurants and professional services businesses.
Square for Retail is available to merchants in the U.S. and costs $60 per month per register.
First appeared at VB