In July, payments startup Square will be taking an ambitious step in trying to become the go-to assistant for small businesses. The company will be launching Square Stand, which is basically a cash register with sales analytics software. The device will go for $299 and be available in stores next month.
Square, founded by Twitter chairman Jack Dorsey, already changed the way many small vendors operated by allowing them to accept credit card payments using their mobile phone or iPad. The Stand represents Square’s next step in becoming a bigger part of small business operations. It’s also a bigger-ticket item than Square’s earlier products.
About a dozen businesses have the Stand so far, including the Red Chair Salon in San Francisco. Salon owner Kristin Maddox replaced her clunky cash register, which now sits in a closet, with the Stand. Besides looking ugly, the cash register required paper that didn’t quite fit, which caused a lot of waste, says Maddox.
Now Maddox uses the Stand to process customer payments, analyze inventory and review the activity of various stylists to see how many customers they’ve had in a given day or hour. The few customers who pay with cash can still process their payment using the Stand. Maddox hopes the Stand will eventually handle appointment scheduling for customers.
Jesse Dorogusker, a former Apple employee who is vice president of hardware at Square, said there are more applications to come on the the Stand. Quartz talked to Dorogusker about the Stand launch and its competition.
Quartz: How did Square come up with the Stand?
Jesse Dorogusker: Payments are just a small piece of the customer to business relationship so you radiate out from that. Stand stiches together the story of software and hardware. It’s modern, simple, bold. But it’s also small and has a low profile so it’s unobtrusive. You are not trying to see somebody behind a big register. And you can still hook up third party peripherals to it, like a barcode scanner, cash drawer or a printer.
Q: So is this about taking the cash register into the 21st century?
JD: I want to redesign everything in the world. I think everything could be made better. That TV up there could be better [pointing to a flat screen TV]. There’s a constant tension between the vision of the future versus today’s reality. People said cash will be dead but it’s not dead. So we’re not going to drag people into the future. If they still want to use cash or have a physical receipt, Square Stand still allows for that.
Q: What do you think the market is for a product like the Stand?
JD: There are 26 million small businesses in the US and they are a really underserved community. We have 4 million using Square so there is tremendous opportunity. It’s not just for tech savvy, hip coffee shops. It’s about helping small businesses and that’s a universal application. It’s also not uniquely American.
We are not done optimizing what we need, whether it’s through our app or other apps. A bar code scanner is coming. We’re just getting started wth analytics. Many coffee shops figure out how many cappuccinos they sold by counting the dirty cups. There is so much we can do to make things easier for businesses.
Q: There are others stepping it up in the online payments space, like Paypal and Groupon. Everyone is trying to get into each other’s turf. Where do you think Square stands amid the competition?
JD: We get copied a lot. That just comes with the territory. What you have to count on is your maniacal obsession and drive. The compeititon doesn’t know the thoughts behind a decision, what it took to get you there. They don’t know what failed. We sweated over every pixel, every millimeter, every milliwatt.