Thursday, August 9, 2012

App Review: Square

Okay, getting back into the swing of writing this blog (how do you like the new theme?). Sorry I didn't post much for a while, between moving, getting used to living with another person again, selling events and life in general made this blog not a high priority. However now it's holiday preparation time so I'm going to be writing more. This includes this new App Review feature.

As I use new apps in my business I'll write reviews here about my experience. First up is one you may have already heard of: Square.

Square is a payment processing app that can be used on iphone, ipads, and most android devices as well. A little card reader plugs into the headphone jack that you can then swipe a credit or debit card with. The Square app lets you enter the amount of the payment (including sales tax if you have it set up for that) and processes the cardin seconds.

I've had the Square reader for a few months but I didn't have a chance to really give it a good run until late June when I had a booth at PortCon. It was a very busy event with a lot of people, many of them using cellphones and other devices that could affect reception (and did for phone calls). I was able to process payments for customers very quickly and I think the app must not use much bandwidth because I never had a problem with the reduced reception due to the number of people on the local cell network. At one point at the event the ATM in the hotel ran out of money so being able to take credit and debit cards made me sales when otherwise customers didn't have access to cash.

Pros:
  • Card reader is mailed to you free after signing up.
  • Fees are low, just 2.75%
  • The app is compatible with most smart phones
  • The app is pretty simple and straightforward to use
  • Works in areas of low cellular reception (though obviously you need some reception or wifi available)
  • Deposits are made very quickly
  • Good stats available
  • Business directory you can add your business to, though this is most useful if you have a B&M location that customers can visit.

Cons:
  • You have to own a compatible smart phone or tablet which can be pricey.
  • The card reader takes some practice. You'll want to use your own credit or debit card to practice swiping at home until you have it down (don't worry, you can swipe without charging the card). Don't go to your first selling event without practicing first.
  • Some customers are wary of doing payment processing via your phone but as it becomes more common that seems to be fewer and fewer.
  • The app can drain your battery so it's best to be in a place that has electricity available to recharge or invest in a portable power source for your phone and make sure it's fully charged.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5. I honestly wouldn't consider doing a craft fair or other event now without one. If you prefer to keep all your payments with one service Paypal now has a similar service called Paypal Here which I have not used.
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