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The web was supposed to be a decentralizing force. It was supposed to give everybody and equal playing field—and in its most idealistic dreams, it'd replace banks and governments and political parties.
The internet might never do all that, but thanks to Square, it has replaced and decentralized complicated and expensive POS systems. Your phone is all you need to sell stuff and accept credit card payments. Square is perhaps the simplest POS system to start using, one that makes it possible to run a physical and digital store easily and inexpensively.
It started out as just a way to accept credit card payments on the go. Today, it's grown into a complete system for running a storefront. You can track and manage your inventory, manage your employees’ administrative abilities and clocked hours, hand out gift cards, send invoices, integrate with your website’s e-commerce system, and yes, accept physical or digital payments with credit cards.
Once you sign up to start using Square, they’ll verify your identity and get you connected to the bank account you’d like to use. It’s a little bit of busywork, but once it’s done, you’re safe and secure in the Square system.
Right away, Square will offer to send you a free card reader. This card reader accepts swipe-based credit card payments, and plugs into the headphone jack on your smartphone (or the headphone dongle on your smartphone, as it may be these days).
If your business requires something a little more complicated, you can purchase a POS system for contactless payments using NFC credit/debit cards and wireless payments from phones and smartwatches. (Price varies based on your location.)
While you’re waiting for your dongle or dingus of choice to arrive in the mail, you can set up the rest of your business in Square. With Square, you can adjust everything from the way receipts and invoices display to the way you collect information for your customer database.
If you manage a storefront with a managed inventory, the first thing you’ll want to do is set up your inventory. You can upload your entire inventory to Square with a .csv file—they’ll even give you an example file so you’re not using it in the dark.
Once your inventory is set up, it’s updated every time somebody purchases something. You can receive updates when an item is running low in stock, and set up item variants to precisely detail your inventory.
You can also add your employees, and give them different administrative levels. You can let them clock in and out once they arrive at work using Square's POS app for iPad, and control who’s allowed to manage inventory levels within the app.
If there are any serious transactions you want to process before you get your Square dongle, you can do that with the Virtual Terminal on your Square dashboard. And while you’re at it, you can also send any invoices from that same dashboard. Guess it’s time to send that catering bill you’ve forgotten about for the past couple days…
Oh! That’s the mail delivery! Your Square reader has arrived. With that in tow, you can download the Square app for iPhone or Android and get to work. Now’s the time to begin collecting payments—it’s as easy as swiping people’s cards with your phone.
Once you’ve collected several payments, you’ll see a database of customers begin to fill up. This is where Square has begun to really enhance their value over the past couple years. You can see who your most loyal customers are (and even sell them gift cards using Square as well), track their most recent purchases, and see how many of your customers are returning over time.
The Analytics tools within Square also let you track the long-term health of various physical locations and of your overall business.
With Square, setting up your POS is easy and fun. It keeps you away from the less friendly and more corporate options, and it makes it easy to collect payments wherever you are. I’ve used Square at multiple events over the past couple years, and not only has the company never failed me, but they’ve even provided top-notch support. It's one of the easiest ways to accept payments.
With Square, going from unpaid to paid is easier than any other system—and requires way less paperwork. Square is one of “the good ones,” as I call them, an app I'd easily recommend. In the process, they help make it possible for anybody with a dream to become an entrepreneur. That’s the definition of a tool worth using.