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Square Plans to Enhance its Payments Platform

PYMNTS.com spoke with Square to find out if the recent announcements about Feedback and Square Order are signs for something bigger.

Last week was a busy time for Square.  The company announced the suspension of downloads for it consumer facing mWallet in favor of supporting its new Square Order, a function allow users to both pick-up orders from, and pay at  Square merchants right from their smartphone. The merchant followed up that announcement with two other fairly significant pieces of news–it announced Square Feedback , a tool that will giver merchants direct access to user reviews attached to digital receipts and an announcement that the much speculated about payments company processed $30 billion in transactions last year.

PYMNTS caught up with Square during last week’s slew of announcements. KC Simon and Semonti Stephens are on the Square communications team, and they gave the rundown on pulling the mobile wallet, the new releases and what they mean for the company as they move into their second act that looks to be something more than a payments processing company.

Feedback: KC Simon, Square Communications Team

EG: We can’t open the newspaper without reading about Square this week.  You now have announced Feedback; can you tell us a little about that?

KS: What’s so interesting about this product is that it’s a great way for businesses to learn more about their customer’s preferences, and even gives the possibility for them to rectify a subpar experience.

I read somewhere that for every star a business receives on Yelp, that increases its business by 8 to 9 percent, so this becomes pretty powerful.  It’s completely integrated and is right there on the receipts and encourages customers to engage with the feature.

EG: It seems that not only can businesses receive feedback, but they can also respond.  Is that really a good idea if someone has just gotten a bad review?  Do you know if your merchants plan on using that feature after receiving such feedback?

KS: Absolutely.  That is definitely something our merchants (that are testing it out) find a lot of value in.  It gives them the ability to ask follow-up questions to find out how they can improve the experience for all of their customers.

 

Square Order Launch: Semonti Stephens, Square Marketing Team

EG: The launch of Order was announced in tandem with the end of the mobile wallet.  It looks like this is part of a shift of Square’s business, it’s less about the consumer facing applications and more about targeted applications and more merchant facing applications.  Is that an accurate understanding?

SS: Not entirely. We created Square Order because we knew that there was a lot more value to the customer experience that we could add.  We knew…we learned…from Square Wallet that people really loved paying with their name.  They thought that it was so cool and so easy how they don’t have to pull their physical wallet out.

So we learned that was something we wanted to figure out how to retain.  But there’s a lot more value that we can add to this process.  We can help customers order in advance, to eat or pick up at a café or dine in at a restaurant.

There’s a whole host of other things that are coming down the line in the next few months. So there are other customer experience tools that we plan on adding on.  But in order to create these new tools, we decided that we needed to build a new app.  We needed to build on a more agile, technological platform rather than building it into Wallet.  That’s why we made the tough decision to build this on a whole new app called Square Order that we’re rolling out in phases.  This is phase one; it’s only in San Francisco and New York right now.  Square Wallet is still being supported, and those who use it and enjoy using it, can still use it.  It’s still available.

EG:  This sounds like a great service, but it’s not an empty playing field.  There’s LevelUp that does a similar service, and Yelp just announced that they are getting into restaurant reservation payments service. How will you distinguish yourselves from the players that are already hanging out?

SS: As far as our competitors, we offer three features that make it easier to use.

First, for the business owner it’s really easy to set up. The owner can go ahead and download the feature.  Usually our competitor would need an account executive or some kind of in-person meeting to explain a complicated process, so we wanted to remove that for business owners because we know how busy they are.

Second, Square’s Pick-up offering is fully integrated into our Square Register through its point-of-sale system.  This is what separates us from our competitor because most require a side card app, or an iPad on the side to take any pick-up orders.  So you would no longer need to go between your register and back, and make it more complicated than it needs to be. Then all of the sales from Register and Pick-up get added into its analytics system for free, so you can see all of your orders regardless of how they came in.

Finally, we offer the service at a much lower fee.  Our competitors are around 10 to 15 percent, and we are at 8 percent. Also, competitors require a marketing fee and we don’t offer any other fees or contracts.  What we want to do is create a way for these business owners to turn customers into regulars.  We’re doing that with our tools right now, but there is a lot more that we can do by helping sellers market to their customers.  So we’re thinking of everything in order to help them make more sales.

With Squares change of focus, and predictions of profitability within the next 12 months, the rampant speculation about Square’s ultimate future is unlikely to die down any time soon.

For some better insight into Square and the many paths open to it, try Karen’s Webster’s How Much Is Square Really Worth?

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Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. Check out the February 2019 PYMNTS Digital Fraud Tracker Report

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