Mobile payments startup Square is introducing a heavily requested feature today with the launch of a customer loyalty punchcard program. New digital loyalty cards will be included in the updates to both the Square Register iPad app and the Pay with Square mobile application.
With the updates, Square customers will receive a digital version of the traditional paper-based punchcard for each Square merchant they frequent. Merchants, in return, will be able to better track their loyal customers and will be able to entice them to come in with special offers or discounts.
The program includes some features designed to attract new customers to the business, too, with the introduction of “first-visit” specials. These could include things like a percent off or a freebie, for example. And, as customers frequent Square merchants, they will be able to track those visits on an in-app punch card to see how far they’re progressing towards the next deal.
There are also tools that will allow merchants to see detailed analytics on their sales, even broken down by hour, day or week. That ability to drill down into sales by hour in particular will be useful for merchants who use Square at places like farmer’s markets or other fixed locations with a high volume. It will let them see which hours have the busiest traffic, allowing them to staff and schedule accordingly. Another new item with today’s update are improved inventory management features which now offer an inventory library where items can be categorized for easy access and sorting.
Square says that since its Register app launched in March, Register merchants are five times more active on a weekly basis than those who are just using the card reader app, and they see twice as much revenue. That’s not necessarily a metric that vouches for the app’s ability to produce, however, but is a reflection of the type of merchant who would need the more robust system the iPad app provides.
Of course, today’s biggest news is the introduction of the loyalty program. To be fair, there were ways to use Square for loyalty before, but the process was far more manual. With the more feature-rich and automated program, Square is now in competition with several other new digital loyalty players including Belly, Punchcard, Cardify, and more. The difference between Square and loyalty-only plays is that while Square’s feature set may be more minimal in comparison, it’s already tied to the merchant’s payments processing infrastructure, which makes tracking loyalty more frictionless as it’s not as reliant on customer actions or input at the point-of-sale (tap to pay, barcode scanning, e.g.). That alone could give Square’s program a leg up in adoption.