Square Adds Mobile Pickup, Features To Bolster Payments Service

Aiming to convince more businesses to adopt its payments system, Square on Tuesday announced a trio of new services to enhance its offering.
 
The enhancements include the ability for retail customers to pre-order and pick up purchases from businesses that have also set up shop online via Square Market -- the company’s e-commerce service for small merchants. Square is charging businesses an 8% transaction fee for pickup orders compared to its regular rate of 2.75%.
 
Businesses can set pickup times based on how busy they are and automatically notify customers when an order is ready.
 
As an example of how the service works, Square highlighted San Francisco-based eatery Souvla, whose home page links to Square Market to let customers order pick-up from the desktop or their phone. “They can skip the line and have their order ready when they walk in the door,” said Charles Bililies from Souvla.
 
And as of February, retailer Uniqlo offered the pick-up tool allowing customers to pre-order Valentine’s Day gifts and get them in-store.
 
The new feature follows a recent trend of large retailers and quick-serve chains including Starbucks, Burger King, McDonald’s and Chipotle rolling out mobile pre-ordering. Square’s pickup service could help small businesses and restaurants compete with the local outposts of larger rivals.
 
Separately, Square added a feature called offline mode that allows merchants using its mobile point-of-sale (POS) tools to process credit card payments even when an Internet connection is temporarily lost. It also flipped the switch on inventory tracking, one of the most requested services by business owners.
 
Through their Web dashboard, merchants can manage inventory (at no extra cost), including setting up stock alerts so they don’t get caught short by low inventory.
 
Square’s rollout of new product features follows a report last week that the high-profile startup has been in talks with major tech players, like Google and Apple, about selling itself. Square has denied it is in acquisition talks, but with $340 million in venture backing to date, it’s under increasing pressure to show business results.
 
In addition to attracting more merchant clients, the pickup service in particular could benefit Square because of the higher transaction fee. But it must generate more business for store owners to make it a worthwhile option. Businesses will be responsible for promoting the service to customers online and in-store.
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