It's hip to have a Square
The other night I was working at a very prestigious fundraiser. I set up my lighting and for the entire evening I had the good fortune to photographing Canadian military personnel in full formal uniforms with their spouses as well as local politicians. Couples purchased packages of high resolution images on disk and prints.
Last year, I dispatched paypal invoices and I collected cash at the event. It was not entirely successful because some people didn't like signing up for paypal. Understandable.
This year I picked up this tiny gadget called a Square (shown above). It's a fairly new device and, according to the salesperson at Staples, they can't keep them on the shelves.
For a mere $10. (which is rebated once you sign up) you get this small device that plugs into your iPhone, iPad or mobile device's headphone jack. Once you download the FREE app,
...you can actually swipe credit cards for payments on this tiny device.
Is it easy to use? So easy… I purchased it, loaded the app in the Staples parking lot where I bought it, and within 10 minutes I successfully tested it with my own credit card. I used it that very night with total success.
It did take a couple days to connect my personal chequing account on Squareup.com, so in the meantime it held the $ collected until the connection was made and then it deposits nightly.
No need for expensive contracts, monthly fees and such with the likes of Moneris. Square takes 2.9% for every transaction or a bit more if you just want to take a credit card manually without swiping it.
My photography clients were totally fine with using my iPhone to do the transactions and they sign with their finger. A couple times, it told me we were swiping too fast or too slow, but in the end, it took all our transactions and when I got home, I had an email for every purchase made.
Did I mention that I love it?!
Since using this, I have learned that small businesses are using these more and more. A colleague prefers to use her iPhone over her iPad because the iPad case hinders the plug-in. Using the iPhone makes more sense because people are used to holding the device in their hand, much like you use at any retail store or gas station.
You can either punch in varying amounts or if you are like me, you have preset amounts which can be added to the shopping cart with the click of a button.
Type in an exact amount or preset item prices for one-touch purchases.
Gives receipt number, adds taxes and offers an option for tipping.
All those places where people may not have purchased something because they didn't have the cash, that barrier is gone. I could see this working at the door of a nightclub, in a farmer's market, buskers, small retailers, sports/running clubs who take registrants on the day of their events…. less cash handled and more convenient for purchasers.
I admit, I haven't had it for long, but those who have swear by the Square… and if it's ease of use is any indicator, it's going to turn point-of-sale purchases on its ear.
Robby Breadner is an international event photographer who can set up his gear and do on-the-spot portraiture for guests. He has satisfied many brides, event coordinators, promoters, realtors, restauranteurs and other clients From the Caribbean to Canada.