By: Andy Santamaria, Small Business Research Lead at Square
A few decades ago, there were only a handful of computers in the entire world. Today, many of us carry a computer in our pocket with more computing power than those earlier machines. Through imagination and innovation, technology that was once only available for a select few is now at the fingertips of all consumers. At Square, we’re building on that revolution with a goal of making tools traditionally only available to large businesses accessible to anyone.
In my work at Square as Small Business Research Lead, I get to spend my days talking to our customers about how they run their businesses and how Square’s technology can better help them. Here are a few areas where technology that is available on everyday devices can help small retailers run their business smarter:
Credit card acceptance
180 million Americans and counting carry credit cards, and many won’t always have cash on them. Historically, the software and hardware required to accept credit cards was expensive and cumbersome (not to mention the contracts and processing fees). Gone are the days when small business owners have to miss out on sales because they don’t take credit cards. These days, all you need is a free app and card reader.
For many merchants, being able to take payments and manage their business on-the-go is essential. Fortunately, this is no problem in the age of the smartphone, where you can do everything from answer customer emails to make a sale from anywhere. A New York restaurant owner I know told me he recently started ringing up catering orders by item on his iPhone and taking the payment right on the job site — a huge improvement over dealing with paper invoices and checks.
The more data about their business a merchant has access to, the more strategic they can be in decisions about things like what to sell, when to open, and how much staff they need. Cloud-based point of sale systems, like Square Register, let business owners view in-depth analytics and sales data from wherever they are – in the store, in their back office or while on the road.
Mobile apps are not only easy to get, they are easy to update. While a traditional point of sale might require a technician to come out and install the latest firmware or a new feature, apps can up updated anytime with the tap of a finger on a touchscreen. With the rapid speed of software development, it’s key to be able to get the latest updates quickly and easily.
If the last few years are any indication, we can all look forward to rapid innovation in the world of small business optimization in the near future. Here’s to more big business tools available to small businesses!