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Square Register Adds Kitchen Tickets

The restaurant industry is buzzing about a new feature in Square Register; the inclusion of kitchen tickets into their increasingly popular mobile payment application. Though there are already thousands of companies in all types of business genres using Square Register because of its low cost and ease of use, the company has made some improvements and added specific features to take a bite out of the restaurant POS market. While there are other mobile POS companies out there trying to build software specifically for restaurant use, the demand for a company that doesn’t charge monthly fees or require expensive hardware and contracts has led to the expansion from the mobile payment giant.For those who are unaware, Square Register is a point-of-sale system that is based on the iPad or Android tablet platforms that allows cashiers to accept payments for goods and services. Additionally, managers can set permissions for their cashiers to control how much access they have over sales records and various functions. Though Square Register offers customer data about payments, transactions, and other vital metrics to help you run and control your business, Square recommends using third party software such as Shopventory for your Square inventory and sales management needs.

The big news with this rollout of adding kitchen tickets to the Square Register system is that it will give them the foothold needed to take over the food industry by enhancing the entire experience at the counter beyond just the customer making their payment. With these new features, cashiers can both add the customer’s name to the ticket as well as customize food orders with modifiers so that you can customize the information sent to the kitchen with notes and details about the order. For instance, if you wanted extra cheese on a burger, the cashier could make a note of this using an order modifier before it is sent to the kitchen. Then, after the customer pays for their order, you can print the receipt which is sent wirelessly to the kitchen for preparation as well as to the printer at the counter for your customer’s records.

According to Square, tens of thousands of food-related businesses have made the shift to using their iPad and tablet POS system in the last two years, but most were holding out for the functionality this new feature provides. Though the update is small and doesn’t affect other types of merchants using Square Register, the rate that food companies move to this platform is expected to increase dramatically on the heels of these additional options and features.

Adjusting Square Register for Use with iOS 7

Though all of the Square apps including Square Register are 100% compatible with the latest roll out of Apple’s signature iOS 7 platform, some major changes to the system has led user of Square to make a few adjustments to their iPhone or iPad settings in order for Square Register to work properly. Square recently made this announcement after receiving a barrage of complaints about how confusing making the award-winning app function properly on iOS 7 devices seemed to be. Though the problem is very small and literally only requires flipping one virtual “switch”, it was still a big enough hassle to require a press release.The largest problem is that after updating your Apple mobile device to iOS 7, the ability for Square Register to access your microphone is disabled. This isn’t a shortcoming of either the operating system or Square’s app, but rather a new security feature to prevent unauthorized use of your microphone jack. In order for Square Register to work properly after your update, you’ll need to use take the following steps to reactivate access to your microphone:

  1. Click on “Settings” (for your device), then “Privacy”, followed by “Microphone”
  2. Locate the slider titled “Square Register” and slide it to the “On” position.
  3. Exit the “Settings” menu and launch Square Register. The card reader’s function should be restored.

If you have not yet updated your Apple device from iOS 6 to iOS 7, there shouldn’t be any effect on your settings and your installation of the Square Register app should continue to function normally. Square is working on a solution that will prompt you to activate the microphone during installation or updating of their Square Register app, but that solution will not affect devices that already had Square Register installed at the time of updating to iOS 7. If you already have Square Register installed and plan on making the upgrade to iOS 7, you will need to follow the instructions above. Optionally, you can check for an update to Square Register immediately following your upgrade to iOS 7 to see if there is a new version available that will assist you in changing the device’s settings.

Square Wallet Discontinues Gift Cards

First launched in the spring of 2012, people using the Square Wallet application were able to send prepaid “gift cards” electronically to their friends, family, and colleagues for use at any location accepting Square as a method of payment. Recently, the company made the decision to remove the gift card option from their application, a choice that has been met with some scrutiny and criticism.Many people enjoy giving gift cards to their friends and family, especially during the holiday seasons. Gift cards are a great way to allow the person receiving the gift the freedom to choose what items they receive while still keeping up the appearance of being a gift. Many Square Wallet users saw the gift card program as a way to make the application a more viable replacement for cash and plastic cards, yet the executives at Square still decided to pull the plug on the program.

Why Was the Program Discontinued?

While ending gift cards may seem like a step backwards on the surface, a company spokesperson has attempted to shed some light on the topic. The concept of adding the “gift card” option for users of Square Wallet was mainly a marketing tool designed to recruit more Square Wallet users. The concept was that if you sent a gift card to a friend, they would need to download and install Square Wallet in order to claim and “store” their gift card; which seemed like a golden way to get exposure at the time.

However, as more people began sending gift cards to people not yet signed up for Square’s services, there was an onslaught of complaints and refunds needing to be processed as many people felt it was not as transparent as it should be. Many recipients wanted a way to claim their gift card without signing up for Square Wallet, a notion that the design of the system was simply not able to handle. Coupled with fraud and security concerns, Square made the decision to dump the gift card program from their Square Wallet application before they alienated any more potential users.

What is Square Wallet?

Since the invention of the smartphone, programmers and developers have been racing to be the newest form of electronic payment. Rather than carrying a wallet full of plastic credit cards that can be lost, stolen, or used by unauthorized parties, a simple password protected application that you carry on a device you never leave home without is a logical stepping stone in the hunt for the definitive alternative. However, with so many fingers in the pie, the devil is in the details and becoming the platform that merchants embrace is crucial to a company’s software solution coming out on the top of the heap.Square, a leader in the mobile credit card processing and mobile POS system market, has developed their own version of such a payment gateway to toss their hat in the ring. Dubbed “Square Wallet”, the need to pull out cash or plastic to pay for your items is being replaced with a simple QR code on the phone’s screen that can be scanned with a merchant’s barcode reader. The idea is to speed up the process of making a purchase for both the consumer and the merchant, with the added benefit of being more secure and needing to carry fewer items with you.

Much to Square’s credit, there are companies coming out of the woodwork to embrace this new technology such as Starbuck’s and other large-scale companies that do billions of small transactions each year. The support from massive companies such as these are fueling the notion that Square Wallet will soon be an accepted form of payment at most merchants and put an end to carrying cash and credit cards with you wherever you go.

What Exactly Is It?

In a very simple nutshell, Square Wallet links directly to your credit or debit card and manages your digital receipts. In essence, it turns your phone into your wallet for all intense and purposes. However, Square Wallet also gives you benefits that your regular wallet could never dream of offering such as coupons, specials, and recommendations to help you discover and save money at places in your neighborhood that you otherwise may have never known existed. As more companies begin to accept Square Wallet as a feasible form of payment, the flexibility and ease of its use is sure to increase exponentially.

Furthermore, using Square Wallet is one of the easiest things you can imagine. When you walk into a store that accepts Square Wallet as a form of payment, the application will automatically recognize the location and it will show up as an optional location in which to make a payment. Just tap on the store’s name, tell the clerk your name so they can send the charge request to your phone, and then click “OK” to authorize the payment. It’s that simple. No waiting, now fuss, and now paper receipts. You can even setup your phone to automatically authorize purchases at store you go to frequently when they are in range so you never have to take your phone out of your pocket.

Why You Should Be Paying Attention to Square Market Now

squaremarket

Recently, Square released a new service called Square Market. Known for its convenient card reader you simply plug into your smart device, Square is now tackling e-commerce for small and mobile businesses. Creating an online store typically takes a lot of money and time; Square hopes to make this service accessible and practical for both retailers and customers.

What is Square Market exactly?

Square Market is an online marketplace for businesses to essentially launch their own online stores with access to more customers. The high rollers you may have heard of in this department are Amazon, Ebay, and Etsy. Square Market is for anything that can be shipped, be it apparel, beauty products, crafts, household goodies, or anything without a timely expiration date.

Because Square Market is free to use, charging nothing to set up, the service alleviates the stress on your time--and wallet. You’re able to list items, add photos, and create a distinctive profile for your business. Rather than spending a fortune for web development and maintenance for your own shop, you only pay 2.75% for each item sold.

Additionally, founder of Square and creator of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, has implemented Twitter into Square Market, allowing you to tweet your products directly. Having a huge following on Twitter can pay off for your online store if purchasing something is only 140 characters away. And even if you do not have a following the size of Ashton Kutcher’s, the Square Market is one way to gain a larger customer base just by the sheer convenience of online ordering.

Square Market released in late June, so there may be some tweaks to be made to the overall interface, but it could be a solid solution for businesses tight on funds that also want to expand to an online market. It’s free, aside from the 2.75% processing fee per item sold, and integrates with Twitter, which may open up possibilities to integrate with other social media bases. Either way, it’s a viable e-commerce option small businesses should explore now if they are seeking growth and, maybe more importantly, relevance.

Share any thoughts below on this new Square service or the online store you use, or tweet us (@Shopventory)!

How to Sell your Own Gift Cards with Square

 

UPDATE NOV 2014: Square has just announced gift cards are available directly from Square. Visit this link to find out more: https://squareup.com/gift-cards

 

Square has proven itself to be the proverbial double-edged sword.

The entire purchasing experience is curated through the Square Wallet mobile app, which gives customers the ability to buy store gift cards from anywhere and saves store owners the hassle of having to buy custom designed gift cards. Theoretically, it’s a great system.

But it’s a huge drawback if customers don’t have Square Wallet installed on their smartphones. The Square register doesn't currently have a gift card “option” either. So are store owners hopeless with selling their own gift cards with Square?

There is an alternative.

You can bypass Square Wallet by simply inputting gift cards as part of your inventory.

Inputting Gift Cards into Square

When you do this, be cognizant of how you price the gift card. It’s complicated for two reasons:

1) Sales tax is automatically tacked onto all inventory in Square.

2) Discounts are accounted for before tax is applied to the purchase.

We’ve made a super simple guide to the two ways you can deal with gift cards in your inventory:

Option #1: {Preferred}

Simply add the sales tax upfront. To do this, price the gift card for its face value (a $25 gift card costs $25) and have the buyer of the gift card pay sales on it. When the gift card is redeemed, you can add the full face value to the discount.

Option #2:

Price the gift card at less than face value so that when sales tax is added, the final cost of the gift card is equal to its face value. When the gift card is redeemed, reimburse for the pre-sales tax price of the gift card. This effectively taxes all the items which were purchased by the gift card rather than the gift card itself.

Confused? Here’s an excel spreadsheet that takes care of it for you.

Some math is required, but hopefully this explains how to sell your own certificates and gift cards with Square. Let us know in the comments if you've found other ways of selling your gift cards!

Linking Square to Inventory Software

If you are using Square Register to power your small business, you may be wondering how to link your sales data to an inventory software for better tracking and control of your information. Shopventory was founded for this very purpose, and we do all the heavy lifting to make sure this process is as easy as possible for you.With Shopventory, it really couldn't be simpler to link your Square account to inventory software. Square already provides you with a full CSV file of all your sales data, so all we need to do is convert that data into robust and useable formats to make it clear and easy to utilize. Rather than sifting through line after line of complex and hard to read data, our online tools give you three dimensional perspectives on your latest sales trends, hottest selling items, inventory levels, and anything else you need to know.

Our inventory software is being perfected by utilizing the feedback of business owners just like you, which means it's completely tailored to the needs of everyday businesses. If there is a feature or functionality you would like to see added or made better, you can simply send us a note and we will get our developers on it to make it a better tool for all of our users. At Shopventory, we understand that building a great inventory software starts with listening to our users, because they are business owners who know best what they want out our service.

As small business owners ourselves, you can count on us always being there to make improvements to the software as time goes by. We know that mobile payment solutions are a relatively new market, so we are fully prepared to stay fluid and agile as the technology changes and improves in the future.