Square Appointments, the company's latest fee-based product, is the first in its lineup that can be used by merchants who do not also use Square to accept payments.
The new service joins small-business lending, interactive receipts and other services that Square has begun piling onto its primary offering of payment acceptance. Typically, users of these services must also use Square to accept payments at 2.75% per card swipe.
"In the past we were known as a mobile payment company, but based on all of these new products it's expanding to much more than that," said Semonti Stephens, a Square spokesperson.
Square Appointments allows consumers to book appointments through a merchant's website and receive email or text-message reminders. It is the only Square-branded product that merchants can use without a payments relationship, Stephens said (Square also obtained some unrelated services through acquisition, such as the Caviar food delivery service; the company also offers a P2P service called Square Cash that is separate from its merchant offering).
The appointment-booking service is free the first month, and afterwards costs $30 per month for sole proprietors, $50 per month for businesses with two to five employees and $90 per month for unlimited staff. Each employee uses separate login credentials.
"What we hear from [business owners] is when they are on the phone taking appointments, they are losing sales," said Stephens. The product is aimed at all businesses, though Stephens mentioned hair salons as a specific category that could benefit from the appointment service.
Square used technology from BookFresh, a booking company it acquired in February, as the foundation for Square Appointments. A pilot that followed the acquisition was a success, Square said, noting 72% of users said the product helped generate added revenue, 64% said they saved more than 30 minutes each day and 54% said they got at least 10% more appointments per week than before.
"This also gives businesses the ability to run a full online scheduling system for 24 hours each day, rather than just when the store is open," Stephens said.
While Square's not deemphasizing payments, its product line has become more horizontal. Square has added services such as pickup, delivery, customer feedback, capital for businesses, invoices, a pending chip-and-signature reader, and the Square Stand point of sale hardware. Square also recently redesigned its free magstripe card reader to improve its reliability.
Square's ancillary services, which typically have their own fees, broaden Square's sales pitch to merchants while nudging Square's model more toward that of a traditional point of sale company.
"I can see appointments working on some level," said Gareth Lodge, a senior analyst at Celent, adding the service distinguishes Square among the other mobile point of sale players. "It's about moving upstream in the process. At the same time, try typing 'online appointment manager' into Google. There are thousands of hits out there."
Just like the mobile point of sale market, online appointment-booking has lots of competitorsStyleSeat and Vagaro target the salon industry, while Groupon Scheduler, Schedulicity and Genbook serve a more general audience.
Square differentiates itself from other companies through its integrated payments and other offerings, as well as the ease of navigation for users, Stephens said.
"We're building the most complete register and integrating these products into the point of sale system," Stephens said.