Square has made it into the so-called Unicorn Club of startups with a $1 billion+ valuation, but to make sure it doesn’t get kicked out, the company continues to take its services and sales channels into new arenas. Today, it’s announcing a new retail deal with Staples to sell the Square Stand, a piece of hardware that turns a merchant’s iPad into a card-swiping register. The deal covers 1,000 Staples stores in the U.S., as well as Staples.com, and comes on the back of the device also being sold in BestBuy, Apple stores and online from Square itself.
The Square Stand was first unveiled in May 2013 and retails for $299. It’s a significant development for Square because it takes the company beyond its original product offering card-reading for smartphones, expanding the possibilities of the company controlling more merchant services going forward by way of the larger screen on the tablet.
It’s not clear how well the Stand has been selling since its launch — Square’s not putting out that number today — but the Staples deal should be a boost for Square winning over sometimes recalcitrant small business owners, who will now be able to go into Staples stores to try out the product, along with the Square Register software, before buying it. Square says that businesses that purchase a Square Stand from Staples in November will receive a $200 Staples gift card as a rebate to boot.
The physical experience and going offline to win over smaller merchants is not to be underestimated, and this is why Square has made friends with Staples — not known for being at the cutting edge of retail (although it seems to be trying to change that). Rather, it’s a bit boring and no-nonsense, and Square’s trying to position itself as a nice alternative but in that reliable vein, too:
“Business owners trust Staples when it comes to finding great products that help them run and grow their business,” said Square Hardware Lead Jesse Dorogusker. “With Square Stand in Staples, we are making it even easier for merchants to replace their old point-of-sale systems with fast, beautiful, and easy-to-use hardware from Square.” Indeed, Square is very much playing up how it’s moving into markets with later adopters. “Nearly 70% of businesses who have purchased a Square Stand are either entirely new to Square or did not previously use Square on a regular basis,” the company noted today.
Square says that the Staples agreement will see the retailer offering the device both in its physical stores — some 1,000 in all — as well as online. For now the deal will cover only the U.S. It’s interesting to wonder if, as with Square’s deal with Starbucks, this might have an international angle for Square in the future. Staples has a global footprint and this initial agreement could pave the way for how Square could offer the reader in other markets. The caveat is that the Stand is still based on a swipe of the mag stripe, and countries in regions such as Europe have adopted the other format based on the chip-and-pin.
The Square Stand deal comes on top of Square also selling its dongle-style Square Readers also in retail locations, including Apple, Best Buy, Staples, and Starbucks — 30,000 stores in the U.S. in all — as well as in over 10,000 stores in Canada and Japan, its first two markets outside the U.S.