Square rolls out new features


Dive Brief:

  • Block-owned Square said Wednesday it’s adding new software features for its merchant clients, with revenue generation and automation in mind. Among the dozens of tools Square is rolling out: a tool allowing merchants using its appointments-focused product set to offer waitlists for appointment windows, to maximize service bookings, according to a Square news release.
  • The new services also include an integration with the restaurant reservation app OpenTable for Square’s restaurant clients that’s geared toward increasing efficiency for business clientele, and a subscriptions tool in beta testing that enables consumers to subscribe for services or products.
  • Square also noted it’s expanding its global footprint by introducing certain services in Japan, Canada, France, Ireland, Spain and Australia.

Dive Insight:

Square, owned by San Francisco-based Block, offers point-of-sale processing for merchants. After starting with its small white card reader, Square has increased its offerings over the years, pursuing revenue growth by selling more of its services to clients. Square currently has about four million business clients and is chasing larger merchants.

The upgrade for merchants comes as Square faces intense competition from other companies also selling services to merchants. Toast, Shift4, Lightspeed Commerce and Fiserv’s Clover are among the payments companies angling to serve merchants in the restaurant, retail and services sectors. 

Toast and Clover have been growing faster than Square, Baird Equity Research Analyst David Koning has noted.

Even within Block, Square is being outpaced by a sister business. Block executives have said they expect the company’s peer-to-peer payment business Cash App to grow faster than Square this year. 

Amid that competitive backdrop, Square has been focused on delivering “tools and features that enable sellers to seamlessly add and grow new revenue streams and leverage a multitude of channels, from an online presence to invoice-based projects and services, to shore up their income and operations,” the company noted in the release.

Still, Square recently raised prices for some of its services. Those price increases, announced last month, include higher monthly prices for its online seller services plans and larger fees for instant or same-day transfers of funds to external bank accounts. 

Additionally, the company said last month it would stop refunding merchants’ processing fees for customer returns. 

Other new Square functions announced Wednesday include the ability to pause online order taking, apply discounts for in-person or online channels, a “free shipping progress bar” and personalized order screens for online shoppers. The company is also rolling out an artificial intelligence-powered tool that suggests actions for merchants when they’re communicating with their customers.

Square also said it’s debuting a new card reader for contactless and chip card purchases that touts longer battery life and enhanced security.

Block’s buy now, pay later services from its Afterpay unit have also been integrated in the payment options available to merchants using Square’s invoices, the company said. Also, Apple’s tap-to-pay function has been enabled for Square’s retail and appointments offerings.


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