Square Inc., in an effort to boost the appeal of its Register app for merchants, is offering a new perk: marketing space on its own website.
Using Register, an app Square says is capable of taking the place of a point of sale terminal, Square merchants can sign to share rewards and loyalty information with consumers through Square’s directory, which it now displays on its website.
“It gives retailers a better marketing venue and it gives consumers a way to search for specific items,” says Gil Luria, managing director of equity research, computer services and financial technology for Wedbush Securities. “Square’s retailers are often very small so they don’t necessarily have presence on the Web or in newspapers, so this is a way for Square to allow very small retailers to reach consumers and allows consumers to find merchants they would otherwise be unable to find.”
Giving merchants increased exposure through Square’s website could increase transaction volume for Square. Square makes either 2.75% of each transaction finalized by a swipe of a card using its free card reader or 3.5% plus 15 cents for each manually entered transaction. It also has a monthly flat-fee option.
Increasing transactions may not be the most important reason for the directory, says Aite Group senior analyst Rick Oglesby. Getting consumers and merchants to sign up for the Square mobile wallet is critical, and the directory furthers that drive, he says. Though Square is best known for its mobile card reader, the company also offers a mobile wallet that allows payments to be made without swiping a plastic card.
“You can’t communicate with a piece of plastic,” says Oglesby. “Marketing requires a communications channel. Mobile devices are effective and pretty low cost.”
Oglesby says Square fits into the definition of an industry ‘disruptor,’ or game-changer, bringing the Amazon.com and eBay online business model to the streets. He says Square is ahead of Intuit Inc.’s GoPayment service and PayPal’s Here, which support payments through a similar card reader that attaches to smartphones.
“If you think about e-commerce business models, who comes to mind first? Ebay and Amazon,” Oglesby says. “As a seller in either of those marketplaces, you get every tool that you possibly need to become a merchant. (Square is) the concept of being able to leverage mobile devices to do something similar in the physical retailer world. They provide everything you might need.”