Square Competitor? Cashier Live Launches POS App For iPhone

Cashier Live, a Chicago-based, bootstrapped startup providing Point of Sale (POS) systems to retailers, has just launched a new iPhone app that moves a bit into Square’s territory – at least that’s the company’s claim. Simply called Cashier, the app is a complete POS system on the iPhone, and aims to compete with Square’s own Register app for iPad.

However, unlike Square, which has a broader focus on small and medium-sized businesses and even individual merchants who could never before afford to take credit cards, Cashier Live is 100% focused on retailers, specifically small and medium-sized retailers and franchises.

The company already has over 15,400 stores using its other product, an inventory management app called Retail Inventory, Cashier Live founder Tom Greenhaw tells us, so they’re expecting “solid traction” with the new Cashier app, too. The startup also has 6,630 businesses using its online cash register, Cashier Live, which the new iPhone aims to either supplement or replace. Today, all of those business customers will receive an email alerting them to the new iPhone app’s existence, he says.

While Greenhaw admits that it’s likely that Square will eventually bring its iPad-based cash register system to the iPhone (after all, the top review for the app is “please make this iPhone compatible!”), he’s excited to have gotten there first, at least.

To process transactions, Cashier Live has partnered with credit card processor Mercury Payment Systems. The transaction fees for this service vary and are set by Mercury, which means that in some cases, it may be higher, lower, or on par with Square. In other words, it’s not as disruptive an offering as Square, with its locked-in rate of 2.75% per swipe.

However, like Square, Cashier Live’s app doesn’t require a contract to use, and it will provide next-day deposits as well, so as to compete on speed. Merchant verification and underwriting will be provided by Mercury at this time, though, unlike Square, which manages this in-house.

There’s also another major difference between Cashier Live and Square: pricing. The company sells this combo barcode scanner/credit card swiper case for the iPhone for use with the product for $550.00. Square’s dongles, meanwhile, are handed out for free. Of course, Square doesn’t do barcode scanning, but $550 is high even for commercial barcode scanners, which are often around a couple of hundred for wireless versions. Adding in the credit card swiping, when competing with Square’s free dongle, shouldn’t shoot the cost up that much more if the company really wants be competitive with Square.

Greenhaw admits the pricing may seem high. “One thing I’d definitely say is that the Cashier app is geared towards brick and mortar business,” he explains. “Something like the Linea Pro [scanner] looks expensive when compared with a free dongle, but it’s built for high volume retail stores and businesses who are more than willing to pay for something like that.”

Greenhaw also notes that this case will be an alternative in the future. (Pricing is not set, but the plan is to keep it at $100 or less. But the case doesn’t do barcode scanning – the app will use the phone’s camera instead).

In addition, where Square provides its service sans monthly fees, Cashier Live has monthly plans that start at $20/month and go up to $75/month. In other words, the company is less focused on disrupting the credit card processing industry, and simply focused on bringing traditional processing and barcoded inventory management to mobile.

That said, the Cashier app itself has a simple interface, and ties into the inventory management system and associated barcode labeling its business customers use. It also provides a customer-tracking system where businesses can include name, birthdate and email address for use in receipts, running promotions and viewing sales history. Reporting is provided too, as are integrated services from Quickbooks and local inventory marketing via Milo, with more integrations planned for the future.

You can see the app in action in a demo video here.

Cashier Live was founded in 2009 by Tom Greenhaw and son, also Tom Greenhaw. The company launched in 2010 and rolled out its inventory app in June 2011. The founders are bootstrapping the service using money from their consulting company and haven’t taken outside funding at this time.