A year and a half after debuting a massive partnership with Starbucks, payments company Square is announcing its next big, in-store retail deal: Whole Foods. When Square debuted Stand last year, the assumption was that this high-powered hardware and software play would help attract large retailers. Clearly, this is a sign that this strategy is working.
The deal essentially places Square Stands and registers in all Whole Foods in-store venues (not checkout lines). These include sandwich counters, juice and coffee bars, pizzerias, and beer and wine bars in Whole Foods. In some of these spots (i.e. sandwich counters) shoppers had to go through the regular checkout line to purchase food. In other venues (ie wine bars), there was an existing register or even standalone ordering kiosks. These will all be replaced by Square Stands, the hardware device Square has developed for we understand.
For Whole Foods, having registers at various spots in the store where people are just buying one or two items on the go, helps reduce the wait time for customers who are just picking up dinner or lunch. And Square’s checkout process is seamless and also includes extra features like the ability to add things like tips, or send email receipts. Today, seven Whole Foods Market venues already use Square Stand, including stores in Austin, New York City, Florida and the San Francisco Bay Area, and will expand to other venues across the country soon.
“Together with Square, we’ll deliver options to expedite checkouts, and we look forward to developing new concepts to further simplify and improve grocery shopping,” said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market in a release. “Square’s forward-thinking vision and technology makes them an ideal partner to create a convenient, responsive experience for our customers.”
For Square, this is obviously a high-profile, highly visible deal. While the company’s technology is not yet powering the grocery checkout line, placement in the grocery giant’s juice and coffee bars and sandwich stands could be only the beginning. At select venues, Whole Foods Market will offer customers the option to use their mobile device to pay using Square Wallet, Square’s consumer payments application. And several Whole Foods Market locations will serve as “lab stores,” testing additional innovations around Square and payments.
“Whole Foods Market and Square share a focus on supporting local sellers and creating amazing shopping experiences,” said Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Square in a release. “With Square, Whole Foods Market will enable commerce in more parts of their stores with easy, accessible tools that showcase the best of what’s achievable in the service of retailers and customers.”
Last year alone, Whole Foods did $13 billion in revenue. Even if Square is powering payments for a small fraction of that pie, that’s still a win for the company, which hasn’t announced a big retail partnership of this size since Starbucks. Another thing to consider about this deal is that Whole Foods could see the ease of use of Square and want to expand this to checkout registers, which would be an enormous coup for Square. If the company is eying an IPO, more deals like this should spark investor interest.