Square Now Lets Merchants Collect Payments Offline And In Advance For Order Pickup

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Square_news_for_tomorrow_-_leenakrao_gmail.com_-_GmailSquare has long talked about adding more features to its point of sale system to make it more attractive for large and small merchants to use, and for their customers as well. The company even bought Bookfresh to offer booking services for merchants. Today, the payments company is debuting its order ahead and pickup tool, offline mode and inventory tracking for merchants.

Pickup

We heard a few weeks ago that Square was testing an order ahead and pickup tool within the POS. Today that feature is taking flight for all merchants. The feature itself will allow merchants to link to a menu and order pickup feature on Square Market. Although this isn’t a separate app for ordering, as Priceonomics reported, this seems to be the precursor to a separate Pickup app being tested by Square.

Via the web-based pickup feature, users can pay for items and arrange to pick up items within a certain time frame at the merchant’s store or restaurant. But as mentioned, customers have to visit the restaurant’s page on Square Market (which seems a bit convoluted) to order.

The feature will come at a price–Square is charging an 8% processing fee per order, with an introductory rate of 2.75% through July 1, 2014. The pickup offering includes a free storefront on Square Market, free setup, and full integration into Register. And sellers receive payment the next business day. In terms of competing with other ordering sites in terms of fees, Square comes in-line with others, where the standard is around 10 percent or higher for food orders.

Square says that sellers in San Francisco and New York, from large, well-known establishments to local coffee shops and cafes, are already using the tool. For example, Souvla Greek restaurant in San Francisco uses Square Market to link from their homepage, to allow customers to order ahead. And it doesn’t just extend to food. Customers at Bay Area Whole Foods Market stores can pre-order sandwiches with Square’s pickup tool. In February, Uniqlo offered Square’s pickup tool to customers looking to pre-order Valentine’s Day gifts and pick them up in store.

Business_order_in_progress.jpg

Offline Mode

This is another pretty significant feature for Square, and has been a feature I’ve heard many merchants request of Square. Offline Mode allows sellers to use Square’s mobile point of sale, including accepting credit card payments, while temporarily without an Internet connection. Square simply logs payment information when the seller swipes the card and saves it until a connection is reestablished, keeping a consistent experience for the buyer and seller.

While many credit card systems offer this, Square’s differentiator is the addition of point-of-sale functionality and a free app.

Inventory Tracking

Another requested feature from merchants, inventory tracking gives sellers a tool to track their item stock when selling in person from Square Register and online from Square Market. Sellers manage inventory tracking in their web dashboard, including setting up stock alerts so they won’t be caught off guard by low inventory.

All of these features together amount to a fairly big upgrade for Square when it comes to making its POS more powerful, and gives Square the ability to potentially compete with legacy systems. While many small merchants have no problem switching to Square; medium-sized, to large merchants need features like offline payments, order pickup, and inventory management. Square knows that they are going to have to pick up merchant adoption across the board, especially if a public offering is near. There are the rumors, however, that Square was considering an acquisition but these seem to be unsubstantiated. With the fees that could come in from the success of order pickup, Square could also be creating a new revenue stream as well.

Of course, so much of this will rely on merchant adoption, and Square’ ability to sell its POS system across the country. Good thing they are ramping up hiring a sales team.

Photo credit/Flickr