One of the most common elements of small businesses is the point of sale system. Many businesses use the traditional setup of a cash register, cash drawer, printer and inventory management system. These systems have historically been the last to be upgraded. There’s a new app for the iPad however that’s out the change this.

The system is called Square and is a series of apps that turn your iPad into a point of sale system, similar to standard touch screen point of sale systems already in use by many small businesses.

How Square works

There are essentially three different aspects to the Square system. The central aspect is the iPad app called Square Register. You, the shop owner, install the app and begin by adding your inventory. You set the price, sales tax and the category the item belongs in. When a customer wants to buy something, your employee selects the item and starts the transaction. As you can connect both a printer and cash drawer to the system, it works just like any other point of sale system.

The second aspect of the Square system is the card reader. The vast majority of customers prefer to use debit, credit or ATM cards instead of cash. For these situations, Square provides a card reader that plugs into the iPad’s headphone jack. Simply swipe the card through the reader, as you would with normal systems. What’s cool about this is the card reader also works on Android and iPhones, which makes the system portable.

The third aspect is rewards. Using Square Register you can set up a rewards program for return customers, while providing them with yet another way to pay. The client downloads the Pay with Square app, links their credit card to the app and is able to open a tab with you. When they buy something, you can bill their account directly. When they use the app to pay for something, the reward program is updated and they receive a receipt by email or SMS.

What’s the catch?

While Square sounds like a viable system, and is a theoretically great idea, there are some things you should be aware of. First, merchants pay a flat transaction fee of 2.75% each time a card is swiped. If you manually enter a payment, or if a customer uses cash, the fee is slightly higher. While this may seem a bit steep, the upside to it is there’s no monthly fee or commitment. you just pay the flat fee.

The other thing to be aware of is Square does put holds on transactions of over USD $1,000 if the credit card information is keyed in, this is a weekly limit. In other words, if an employee manually enters a credit card number for a purchase of $1,500, $500 will be held by Square for 30 days. This isn’t ideal for businesses that manually enter credit card numbers.

This system is a good option for the small business owner looking to replace their current point of sale system, while at the same time integrating the iPad into their business environment. This is also a good option for a company looking to mobilize their business. If you have any more questions about Square or other similar options for the iPad please contact us.