How To Revolutionize Your Business With Square

Whether you like it or not, the familiar ring of the cash register may be going the way of the dodo. Today, people use debit cards more than ever, and having cash on hand is definitely more of a rarity.

On top of that, buying a cash register for your business can be pricey, and integrating a register into your system with a separate credit card machine gets expensive – don’t forget about the high price per swipe charges the credit card processing companies charge. It’s quite the racket, and it puts significant strain on any small business owner.

But what if we told you there was a way to accept credit cards for your business, pay low fees, and replace your cash register, without even having to sign a contract? You’d tell me I was a crazy man with a funny hat, and you’d only be half right.

There’s an easy way to turn your iPad into a point of sale (POS) terminal, and we’re going to show you how to do it right now!

Start With Square

Before you can start swiping cards on the go, you need to sign up with Square. What’s Square you ask? It’s this:

That's a Square.

That's a Square.

The guy who started Square is Jack Dorsey, who you may know as one of the people who founded twitter. Square is a personal credit card reader that plugs into your iPad or iPhone’s headphone jack. Download the app to your iOS device, plug in the Square reader and you’re ready to process credit cards.

The intro screen for Square.

The intro screen for Square.

OK, you’re not totally ready yet. You need to sign up for Square’s service, which involves a few different processes. You’ll have to register a bank account, enter your personal info, and then agree to the terms.

Right now, Square takes 2.75% for every swiped card, and 3.5% + 15 cents for a manually entered number, which is cheaper than many other traditional credit card processing companies.

Once you’ve filled out the important paperwork, it’s time to wait for the reader to show up in the mail. In the meantime, as soon as you’re approved you can process credit cards on the spot by entering them manually, and it takes just a few days for the payment to show up in your account. Not too shabby.

Setting Up Your Terminal

Once you’ve got your Square reader and your iPad has the app loaded up, it’s time to personalize the app to work for your business.

View your payment history and change tax and tip settings in the app.

View your payment history and change tax and tip settings in the app.

First up is establishing your tax rate, which is going to vary from city to city. If you run a coffee shop or other business where you accept tips, plug in that option as well – that way, people can pay and tip you with one transaction.

Now, it’s time to enter your items.

Send Square to your friends and add in all of your items.

Send Square to your friends and add in all of your items.

This is the tedious part of the process, depending on the size of your product line. Going back to the coffee shop analogy, let’s suppose that you sell chai tea, hot chocolate, and four different blends of coffee. Hit the plus sign to add each item and put down the specific requirements.

If you have images, or you want to use some taken by your iPad 2, just plug those in – it’s just like you’re adding a new person to your address book. The images become the buttons, making it easier to see items at a glance while you’re taking an order. And, if you don’t have a picture, choose a label color and the button is created with the first two letters of the item in the center, pleasantly similar to the Photoshop dock icon.

Put It in Use

Now it’s time to setup the iPad in your shop. We could spend hours talking about different types of iPad stands, but all you really to do is find one that works for you – and is secure enough that the iPad won’t get stolen. Plug in the Square and you’re ready to take some orders!

Enter your order and swipe the card.

Enter your order and swipe the card.

Here’s how you use it: Customer walks in, orders two coffees and a donut. On the bottom of the app is a dollar sign and a circle. Swipe to the side to get to the circle, then push the icon for coffee. Hit the plus sign next to the price, and the quantity and price total up at the top of the screen.

Touch the donut icon and when everything is good to go, touch the charge button. You can choose cash or credit, so touch credit, then swipe the card in the Square reader. Hit authorize and the process starts.

So how does the customer get a receipt? Email, that’s how. Just ask them for their email address and it gets sent off right away, including a Google map of where the purchase was made. Oh and the signature? They sign with their finger. Pretty cool, right?

How It Adds Up

There are other options for your iPad POS terminal needs, but for my money, Square is the way to go. Not only is it portable between iPads, but also between iPhones as well. This opens up a whole world of different business options.

For example, I’m a writer and photographer and I often find myself making sales in a place other than my office. All I need is my iPhone or iPad and my Square reader and I’m good to go.

Maybe I’m out to lunch with my buddies and everyone wants to pay the waitress with a credit card. No worries, I pay the waitress with my card and then my friends pay me with their credit cards using the Square reader. It doesn’t get much more convenient.

You could make the argument that the cost of the iPad overrides the savings from the cash register and credit card machine lease, and you would be right – to a point. At some time in the future, your lease will still be going and you’ll still have to pay every month. The iPad will have paid itself off by then, and now it’s all profit.

If you need a POS terminal for your business, give the iPad and Square a shot. It’s worked well for me, and you might find it’s the perfect fit!


Summary

Square is a personal credit card reader that plugs into your iPad or iPhone's headphone jack. Download the app to your iOS device, plug in the Square reader and you're ready to process credit cards!

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  • Ivan Leung

    Sounds great, but how reliable is the Square service? Do they keep the customer’s credit card number on their database?

    Some customers might have a problem with this, as this is not a normal way of processing transactions.

  • Franko

    *waves* – hi, Square user here :)
    Ivan, i can speak from experience that their service is VERY reliable. to be fair, they had a horrendously bumpy launch (for instance, i waited about 6 months for my little plug-in dongle), but they seem to be rocking along now. as for security, this will answer your questions: https://squareup.com/security

    in short, they do NOT keep client information in their databases, and they are fully PCI compliant.

    really, they are awesome, and are changing the way transactions are done. once you receive a payment, the receipt is emailed to the client immediately, and you get record as well. i could go on and on, but it’s free, so just give it a shot!

  • http://www.hammyhavoc.com Hammy Havoc

    Fantastic review. I hope Square comes to the UK soon as this looks like it could actually replace PayPal!

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  • http://SpiderSavvy.com SpiderSavvy

    I saw this in the Apple store and began thinking of all the ways it could be used. I’m sure I’ll ‘justify’ getting it soon enough. :)

  • Fahad Ahmed

    Hi

    Square is currently only available in the US :-(

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  • Kelly

    In order for the square to work, does the ipad need to be connected to the internet?

  • http://www.televicious.com/ Sho

    This looks pretty awesome! I wish they added an API so users can purchase items through our online store.

  • mark Brazo

    I wouldn’t trust square with my life, horrible service check out the link article i found on them and a review, they are horrible

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-27080_3-20088441-245/researchers-find-avenues-for-fraud-in-square/

    http://www.cardpaymentoptions.com/credit-card-processors/square-review/

  • Keiko Mizuno

    I have a cash register which we currently take credit card payments, however, it is so slow printing a receipt. I need something fast. Is this something I need?

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