Continuing its expansion beyond mobile payments, Square this morning has rolled out Square Appointments, an online appointment booking service aimed at small businesses, like beauty and hair salons, and other individuals looking to connect with their customers online.
The program, previously available only to pilot testers, is now open to any merchant, whether or not they use Square to accept payments at their business.
Over the past few months, Square has been testing this service, which will now become a key part to the web-based Square dashboard, which is where merchants today are able to manage other aspects of their business, including orders, sales reports, staff and inventory.
While obviously the addition of an appointment-booking service will make sense for those who are already using Square, or processing their business’ payments via the iPad-based POS Square Register, for example, the company says that Square Appointments will also be offered as a standalone service, available to those who are not using Square for payments, or don’t plan to.
That decision indicates that Square is looking to expand its footprint further into the small business solution provider market, where dongle- and iPad-based payment processing alone now faces increased competition from a number of competitors, ranging from banks to POS providers and even established payment companies like PayPal.
Square Appointments out of the gate will be taking on similar solutions that today target the beauty industry like StyleSeat and Vagaro, as well as more general purpose booking platforms like Groupon Scheduler, Schedulicity, or Genbook, for example.
Like most of the current solutions, Square Appointments will allow customers to book their appointments online, plus send out reminders via SMS and email. Businesses will also be provided with a booking widget they can put up on their own website, or place into their email signature.
Square Appointments is also mobile-optimized, the company says.
The pricing for the service starts at $30/month for individuals, then goes up to $50/month for businesses with 2-5 employees. For unlimited staff, the price is $90/month. Each employee will have their own sign-in to the system, the company tells TechCrunch.
According to a Square spokesperson, the move into this space was largely to address a “pain point” for a lot of its sellers – the company heard they were worried they were missing out on appointments because so many consumers today are booking these online.
During the pilot period, 72% of 200 early testers surveyed said the new system helped them to generate additional revenue; 64% saved more than 30 minutes per day; and 54% said they now get 10% more appointments per week than before.
While the spokesperson declined to say what other new features for merchants were on the roadmap, both in Square Appointments and beyond, they would confirm that Square is working to roll out services that will allow its sellers to manage all parts of their businesses, which may include things like marketing services, more tools for promotions, CRM, and more.
Square has been ramping up its efforts outside of mobile payments in recent months, with a number of services aimed at merchants. It also acquired food delivery startup Caviar to help it with its mobile food-ordering app Square Order.