Square Register Overview
Last Updated: February 18, 2014
Square Register (squareup.com/sell-in-store) is a free point-of-sale (POS) application offered by Square, a rapidly growing credit card processor founded by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey. Designed as a cloud-based replacement for traditional cash registers, Square Register can be thought of as a much more robust version of the company’s mobile app. Like the free Square app, Square Register can be downloaded to an iPhone, iPad, or Android devices, although it is optimized for use with the iPad. Square Register also uses the standard Square card reader to accept swiped payments. Square Register distinguishes itself from the company’s mobile app, though, by providing the following additional features for merchants:
- Square Wallet acceptance
- Customizable item descriptions and layout
- Real-time sales tracking and reporting
- Limited hardware compatibility (for receipt printers, kitchen ticket printers, cash drawers, bar code scanners, etc.)
- Multiple users for the same account
- Customizable rewards and loyalty programs
- An optional Square Stand (shown above) that allows merchants to swipe without the Square card reader
Square Register Pros
According to multiple professional and user reviews, Square Register receives praise for its sleek design, ease of use, and low cost. For smaller merchants who are already planning on using Square, the Register provides a number of helpful services for no additional charge. The data tracking and reporting offered through the app is helpful for merchants trying to grow their businesses, and acceptance of Square Wallet may make their stores more attractive to customers who use that service. Hardware integration is also a big plus for merchants who seek a gentler transition from traditional registers to a cloud-based service like Square. To that end, the Register app enables Square merchants to offer a more traditional checkout counter setup on their iPads that is less likely to confuse or inconvenience employees and customers.
Square Register also comes with Square pricing, which is just 2.75% swiped or 3.5% plus $0.15 keyed. The transparency and simplicity of this pricing plan is attractive to many merchants, although Square payment processing is not recommended for mid-sized or large merchants due to other potential costs.
Square Register Cons
Although Square’s pricing may be attractive to a number of business owners, the company has two major drawbacks that appear to be responsible for most of its online complaints. For one thing, Square’s easy signup is made possible by omitting a thorough underwriting process. This means that Square’s primary means of protecting itself against fraud is to place sudden fund holds on large or suspicious transactions, often without providing any advance notice to merchants. This policy, which is the topic of hundreds of public complaints, is unfortunately part of the processing service that comes bundled with the Square Register.
For another thing, Square offers virtually no live customer support for merchants. This means that hardware issues, software bugs, billing disputes, and other issues may go unresolved for very long periods of time, leaving merchants without a solution of any kind during operating hours. This is the most consistent issue cited by Square merchants who have filed public complaints. For merchants lucky enough to avoid fund holds or service issues, Square is a great option. For those who encounter problems, there is hardly ever a swift and effective resolution.
There are currently numerous reviews posted to the iTunes store that claim that the app is crashing or failing to read cards since the iOS7 update for iPhone and iPad. Merchants are reporting a wide variety of bugs related to the update, but the common theme among complainants is that they have no idea how to solve the problem besides simply waiting for a fix from Square. It does seem as though phone users are struggling much more than iPad users, and we do not recommend Square Register for use outside of iPads for this reason.
Square Register is a difficult service to rate because it is so inextricably linked with Square’s payment processing service. For merchants of all sizes who are already using Square, Square Register is undeniably a helpful add-on. For no additional cost, Square merchants can add a large number of well-designed, customizable features designed to improve their iPad-based point-of-sale systems. For non-Square merchants, though, Square Register comes with the same caveats that Square does. Possible fund holds and minimal customer support should be enough to scare most merchants away from that service, and Square Register is not a strong enough point-of-sale system to override these concerns. For now, an average grade of “B-” splits the difference between the “A” that is awarded to the actual Square Register app and the “D” that has been assigned to Square’s service as a whole.
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