Square hopes to broaden its reach with its core micro-merchant market by offering technology to tap the $1.6 trillion e-commerce market.
The mobile point of sale provider is partnering with Bigcommerce and Weebly to help brick-and-mortar businesses make it easier for merchants to build e-commerce capabilities.
Square has established a niche with micro and small merchants with its mobile card reader and Square Register as a tabletop point of sale. A company blog says its move to partner with e-commerce providers will help its merchants in the U.S. and Canada "start selling online with Square in just a few minutes."
And some of those merchants may already have an online presence, but are in need of a more robust "out of the box" website builder solution with more features, said Square spokesperson Farly Ury.
The goal of the Bigcommerce and Weebly integrations is to better serve our omni-channel merchants," Ury said of the broader retail trend to enable shopping in one channel, and purchases in another.
Because it is a fairly new concept for a small business to sell products across two channels, a merchant's struggles with adding e-commerce are not well known, said Tim Schultz, chief product officer for Bigcommerce.
They usually encounter disconnected payment rails, customer service orders and inventory, Schultz said. "There is a lot of pain in bringing those things together."
Square handles the payment processing and transaction monitoring, while Bigcommerce and Weebly bring the e-commerce features and integration with Square payments.
"The merchant will be able to do all of his transactions in one place on the Square dashboard," Schultz added.
Bigcommerce builds the website and incorporates product ordering, inventory, pre-order and payment options, and various other features "all within 20 minutes," Schultz added.
Some Square merchants are already familiar with the pre-order and pickup functions of Square Order, designed to monitor online and in-store pickup orders.
Often, a merchant moving toward an online presence will seek a processor with a shopping cart capability available through an application interface, said Maria Arminio, president of Avenue B Consulting Inc., a Redondo Beach, Calif.-based payments management consulting firm.
"This can allow merchants to accept online payments in a very streamlined fashion, and many are heading toward a cloud infrastructure for support," Arminio said. "It gets the merchant up and running quickly and lets the cloud provider deal with the PCI [Payment Card Industry] security compliance."
Square is trying to bridge that gap with e-commerce without merchants having to work with multiple processors, Arminio added.
It also helps a merchant for one system like Square to break down card-present and card-not-present transactions so they fully understand what they are paying on interchange, Arminio added.
Square has different processing fees for manual entry, card swipe and integrated e-commerce transactions, charging 2.9% plus 30 cents for those online transactions.
Bigcommerce encourages Square merchants that operate a brick-and-mortar store that they can, on average, increase revenue 28% by adding an online channel in just six months, said Melanie Kalemba, senior vice president of sales and business development for Bigcommerce.
"Some Square merchants may be on Square Marketplace or Etsy, but that is not their own brand presence," Kalemba said. "There is an ability to sell more with your own brand."
Square is encouraging its merchants who may be leery about online fraud to trust the partners they have chosen, Kalemba said. "We have anti-fraud technology on our platform, and so does Square."
Schultz said brick-and-mortar merchants take the same risks as e-commerce merchants because they deal with shoplifting, robberies or weather or fire incidents.
"It takes a passion to conquer a passion or fear," Schultz said. "More merchants are seeing that they can make a lot of money, and they are accepting those risks."