Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Square Review

As many of you know my trusted CC machine of the past (now on it's 6th year) died right before my Bay Area art show. Bummer! Fortunately for me, the lovely customers of the King's Mountain Art Fair took pity on me and still bought with that good old fashioned method of check and cash - LOVE you King's Mountain fans!

So... with another show coming up the following weekend I needed to decide what to do, and FAST. Since I had been thinking about getting the Square (and had been quizzing fellow artists about theirs all summer long) I decided that there was no time like the present.

I'm not a cell phone user. I have one. It's a PPD phone. I use it rarely. Therefore I couldn't see myself buying a new phone (with a phone/data plan running me a min. of $90 per month). All I really wanted was to be able to run my CC, check emails, and remove originals from my online shop during a show. So I put the savings from NOT getting a monthly phone plan into buying an iPad to run my Square processor and choosing a $20/mo data plan (so that I could process transactions via a cell line when Wifi isn't available).

Must say it - LOVE my new iPad.

One of the cool benefits of using the iPad with the Square is being able to load and track inventory. Not a complex system of doing so, mind you, but I can pre-load prices by product type and even photograph original work and have it listed in my available inventory with the Square. The receipt (which can be emailed/texted to your customer) then has the pic of the item(s) purchased as well. Cool.

Now - to the actual results.

1) Set-up: I bought my iPad on a Wednesday and downloaded the square app that afternoon. I could manually process CC by Friday morning after they ran a test transaction (a debit and credit of a few cents) thru my bank account. I didn't have an apple store near me where I could just pick-up the card reader so I had it mailed to me. Unfortunately it arrived on Monday so I had to manually process my CC over the weekend which comes at a higher % rate and deposit amount limits. Bummer. Oh well, at least I could take CC.

2) Funding: As noted, I manually processed CC over the weekend (meaning punched the numbers into the iPad instead of swiping them - Amex, Visa, MC, Discover - all at the same rate). The weekend transactions were then processed in bulk on Monday and arrived in my bank account on Tuesday. I was relieved to see that the $1000 threshold for manual transactions was actually treated as 2K for the weekend. The remaining funds I will receive in 30 days, per their agreement. (PLEASE NOTE - this is ONLY DUE to the fact I was MANUALLY processing. They do not hold funds for swiped cards, as I understand. I'll test that theory out at the next show, I hope!)

3) Use: Even though I had been very excited to make use of the inventory items I set up on my "shelves", I found that I only actually used the inventory items a few times, and then manually entered the $$ most the time. I think this is just a matter of getting used to using the new system, though, and having the manually enter cards instead of swiping them. I'm hoping to make better use of the inventory system next time. I also found it interesting to be offering email/texted receipts to people. Most customers didn't seem to mind, and some even delighted in the technology. I think this will just become part of the norm at craft shows in the coming years, and soon customers will just begin to expect electronic receipts instead of the paper ones. I also liked that I was emailed for each transaction with the details of the transaction and the total $$ processed accumulatively. I can also run my cash transactions thru the square for my record keeping, which is great too!

I would give this new system an A.
NO MONTHLY FEES (well, at least LOW monthly fees, as I now have a $20/mo Verizon bill instead of the $25+/month+annual fee of my old CC processor) is a big plus for a seasonal business owner, such as myself, and I like all the added benefits (like now having an iPad when I travel and tracking my sales and inventory electronically). It was easy and fast to set-up and worked exactly as advertised, if not better. I'm all in! Now if I can just keep those kids from using it to play Angry Birds!

In the market for a new CC processor? Check out their website here: SquareUp.com

(And no, they didn't give me anything for this good review!)

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