If you are starting your business today and you want to take payments in-person, then Square is the choice for you.
But if you aspire to grow your business, your journey doesn’t end at Square.
Simpler is Better
It’s no accident that Square has become a point-of-sale giant. Square products offer elegant design, ease-of-use, and a flat rate for merchants (2.75%). Square just makes starting a business and accepting payments simple. Before Square, setting up a POS system was a lengthy process. You’d need to set your budget, research hardware systems, audit and compare services, integrate top choice into your business, and plan for upgrade and maintenance.
But today’s consumers don’t just want a delightful experience when they step through the door of your business. They want to be delighted at every level: from your Twitter feed, to your website, to your online check-out.
Forward-thinking businesses are embracing the omni-channel experience at every chance. Amazon caused a stir when they opened their first brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle. Speaking of Seattle, coffee-addicts can now skip the line at Starbucks by ordering online via their mobile devices before arrival. North of the border, Vancouver’s Indochino has also made the move from online to brick and mortar.
Expanding to Omni-Channel
Accepting payments is essential, online or offline. Revenue is the blood that keeps the heart of your business beating.
PayPal and Stripe are both good options for expanding your business online. PayPal has the name recognition and the security that comes with being an industry leader. Many payment processors have risen up the ranks in the past decade, but PayPal is still king. Stripe—founded in 2010 and now valued at $9.2 billion—has become a big contender and rightly so. They offer benefits such as direct deposit to your bank account and is developed with an API that makes life for developers much easier.
The more payment channels you have, the easier it will be for your customers to pay. And in an age when even entering your PIN number is starting to feel outdated, making payment easy at every customer touch-point is critical.
Square is a nice first step. But fully embracing the idea of making things simple for your customer, means expanding to omni-channel.
Multiple Revenue Streams
Expanding to omni-channel will ultimately mean adding multiple payment providers, which leads to managing multiple revenue streams, each with their own unique characteristics and coding language.
Even the most basic online businesses can take orders around the clock, something usually unfeasible for brick and mortar. While Square is making huge pushes to the ecommerce market, where they currently excel is as an easy to use in-person POS system. In the online payment space, PayPal and Stripe are the standard and they provide access to emerging ecommerce markets. This is especially true for PayPal, where credit cards aren’t required to make a payment online. So if you are entering a credit card wary country, like Germany, adding PayPal might be the best way to dip your toes in.
Having more than one payment solution means that if a revenue streams is unavailable, it’s no longer fatal to your business. It’s like having a brick and mortar store and only accepting in cash; if the customer wants to pay with their card, they are gone — or at least far from delighted. A savvy growth-focused business manager knows there is not a one-size-fits-all solution for payments, and this is especially true on omni-channel.
Nevertheless, integrating multiple payment sources present a new challenge: multiple sets of transaction analytics. A dollar sign might look the same from Square to Stripe to PayPal, but the way the data is interpreted in the backend is as different as Klingon and Japanese. This makes it difficult to calculate key metrics and track the growth of your business across these different platforms.
This is the problem my company, Control, have been working to solve since 2014. Our web and mobile app combines data from PayPal, Stripe, and Square into a single dashboard. We prioritized Square as our latest integration this year, because we saw an increasing number of point-of-sale businesses embracing the omni-channel experience.
Embracing omni-channel is a bold step, but one that can pay large dividends down the line. It means widening your relationship with your customers in every sense of the word.
Deciding to add an online presence or to go in the other direction and build an offline store like Indochino, essentially mean starting another business. And this can be overwhelming. Many business founders, operators, and managers today are doing double duty and that’s inspiring — and tiring, I’m sure.
The goal for us at Control is to ease the transition of adding new payments sources, by offering all your transaction analytics in one place, even when your business isn’t.
Kathryn Loewen is the founder of Control.