Square, the San Francisco-based firm best known for enabling merchants to accept credit card payments with their smartphones, is expanding its business into the ecommerce space, it announced on Wednesday.
The company’s new Online Store service is designed to help small merchants easily move their inventory onto a pre-baked web store, which comes complete with hosting and a sub-domain on Squareup.com. It also carries a new eCommerce API for businesses that have already established online sales and want to integrate their sales pipeline into Square’s analytics dashboards.
Square also celebrated the opening of its new office Toronto on Wednesday, where the company’s head of Canada, Cathy Vigrass, spoke about the Canadian launch of its Online Store, which 31 Canadian merchants have already registered to use.
“Online store was one of the top requests of our sellers,” she said. “We’re expecting to see a big uptake.”
Using the service for Square users is simple, she said. With the click of a button, merchants can move their inventory into an online store that integrates with their analytics dashboards. The process can be accomplished in minutes, so the merchants need only think about how they’ll deliver on the sales.
“Think through the fulfillment and logistics,” Vigrass advised. “That’s the only thing you need to think through, the rest Square will take care of.”
Square user and owner of Toronto-based Hula Girl Espresso Elias Vastis hadn’t set up his online store on the day of the launch, but planned to take advantage of it.
“If it’s as easy to use as its POS system and some of the analytics they are providing me with, I think it’s going to be a really big benefit,” he said. “Being able to use ecommerce to get my beans to people’s doorsteps gets my brand out there in a whole new way.”
Watching how his online sales move with Square’s real-time analytics dashboard is something that Vastis is looking forward to as well. He already reviews the analytics to track his in-store sales, and responds to slow periods with aptly timed promotions.
Square’s not the first to combine low barrier-to-entry e-commerce sales and POS systems. Ottawa-based Shopify started its business with the online store portion first, later adding tablet-based POS to the offering. In the U.S., Stripe also offers POS and e-commerce services to small merchants.
Square’s Online Store charges merchants based on the sales made, taking a 2.9 per cent fee plus 30 cents per transaction.
Square also launched a Register API, which allows other iOS-based POS systems to be integrated to its online dashboard.