Square POS Systems

Square POS

Used by more than two million businesses globally, Square is a mobile Point of Sale and payment processing app that can be customized to suit a retailer’s needs.

Touted as POS software built for simplicity, Square not only facilitates mobile payment processing with hardware but offers an advanced point of sale app and store management system that extends from a credit card reader to a merchant's mobile device and beyond to their laptop.

Launched in 2009 by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Square has developed into one of the leading payment processing systems in the world that goes well beyond handling transactions to managing an entire store, or customer service business via an app and online dashboard.

Who can use it?

Square is suited to retailers, market stall holders, pop up shops, restaurants, cafes and sole operators, offering a solution that scales up to suit the business.

The company offers a basic free app for everyone, but also has dedicated apps that are specifically tailored to retail, hospitality and appointment-based service industries. These come with additional monthly subscription costs.

Even with the basic app, which is covered in this article, a lot of thought has gone into creating a POS to service a variety of merchant's needs. That forethought also extends to sole operators who can accept payments at their customer's premises or retailers who allow staff to accept payments from customers in the queue.

A business owner can then monitor exactly what's going on with up to the minute analytics via the online dashboard that shows staff sales, cash drawer figures, and low stock alerts.
Square POS System

How It Works

In many ways Square is first and foremost a payment processing solution that just happens to be accompanied by a very effective, highly versatile, and fully customizable Point of Sale app.

At start-up, users sign up for the account and download the free point of sale app to their mobile device. The app runs on most Apple iOS devices, including iPhones and iPads, and Android devices running Google Android 5 or higher.

Once they have an account, users are also provided access to the online dashboard, which is accessible from laptops and PCs. This is where the nuts and bolts of advanced organization and analytics takes place.

In order to take in-person payments, users will need a Square card reader or terminal, and there are a couple of different options available depending on where your store is based. In the US, there are three options to choose from, while Australia has only two. These include:
Square Reader
The cheapest and most simple is the Square Reader for magstripe. In the US, the first magstripe reader is free while additional units are available for a low cost. This reader inserts into the lightning jack or headphone jack of a mobile device and takes swipe card payments.
Contactless Chip and Card Reader
The second, slightly more expensive option is the contactless and chip card reader. This is capable of taking near-field communication payments (tap-n-go payments) from bank cards and mobile phones, along with inserted chip and pin payments.
Square Terminal
The higher-end option is the Square terminal which accommodates magnetic stripe payments, chip and pin, tap-n-go contactless payments and also issues payment receipts.

Hardware and Software Requirements

The great benefit of Square is that it can be used across devices, however the hardware is designed specifically for payments on the run due to its compatibility with smartphones and tablets.

The magstripe reader connects directly into the audio jack or lightning port of a smartphone or tablet, while the contactless reader connects to those devices using low energy Bluetooth technology.

A more comprehensive list of compatible mobile devices is available here.

Limitless card readers are available at an additional cost, enabling large numbers of staff to take payments on your behalf. Compatible hardware like receipt printers, barcode scanners and cash drawers can also be connected.

Most functions are available via the smartphone or tablet app, but advanced functions are housed within the online dashboard available on PCs or laptops.

The dashboard

The dashboard is akin to the hub of the Square app and is available as a web service which can be accessed via desktop, laptop, and tablet, or a downloadable mobile app for iOS.

The dashboard offers both quick insights and detailed transaction information about sales transactions and deposits. Multiple locations can also be managed from the same app.
The Dashboard allows you to:
• Alter and input inventory, changing item details like price, name or quantity in real time. You can also upload groups of items faster, track stock quantities and get email alerts when items run low.
• Create and edit custom discounts to offer your customers.
• Respond to private feedback from your customers directly
• Send invoices directly
• Accept payments remotely with your computer by entering your customer’s credit or debit card information, and clicking Charge.
• Manage integrations by connecting your Square account to services like QuickBooks, Xero, Stitch Labs inventory and more. You can also create custom solutions for your business with the Square APIs.
Square POS Systems

Payment Features

Square prides itself on offering an easy payment solution for business.
The available card readers allow users to be paid in person via credit cards, debit cards and contactless payments like digital wallets or smart phone payments.

Meanwhile, Square also facilitates online payments using Square invoices, card not-present capability through “virtual terminal”, and e-commerce.

To take a payment in person, retailers simply click the relevant item icons on the app and hit the charge button to tally the total. Customers can pay via debit card, credit card or digital wallet using the accompanying chip card reader.

Refunds can be issued in part or full directly from the app or via the online Square dashboard.

First Square will check to see if you have enough funds in your Square account to cover the refund amount, and if not, will deduct the amount from your linked bank account. Refunds can be processed up to 60 days after the date of purchase. If more than 60 days has passed, customers will need to be refunded in a manner outside of the Square system.

To issue a refund enter the app and click "activity", locate the transaction you would like to refund and click "issue refund". Then provide the amount you wish to reimburse and the reason for the refund. To finalize, tap "refund" again.

Gift cards
Not only does Square cater to gift cards in their software they actively encourage them by selling standard or customized gift cards for businesses to use.

To use gift cards, enter the app, tap "items", tap "gift cards > create gift cards", enter the details, then click "save". Gift cards can be created with fixed amounts or left blank so the figure can be entered at the time of sale.

Dispute management
Should a customer dispute a transaction, Square will assist, noting they will deal with the customer’s bank on a user’s behalf and they won’t pass on any fees incurred.

Checkout features

From discounts to receipts and item searches, the Square POS app provides a host of facilities to speed up the checkout process and ensure selling and service is made as simple as possible.

From discounts to receipts and item searches, the Square POS app provides a host of facilities to speed up the checkout process and ensure selling and service is made as simple as possible.

From discounts to receipts and item searches, the Square POS app provides a host of facilities to speed up the checkout process and ensure selling and service is made as simple as possible.
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