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Business in a Box (squareup.com)
261 points by conorwade on Feb 20, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 129 comments

I just helped a friend install a iPad POS at his coffee shop this past December using BreadCrumb. We looked at Square Register, but it's rather lackluster feature set ruled it out. Namely, it doesn't support multiple printers or printer queuing (ex. food items get sent to kitchen printer), it doesn't have a modifier system for items (maybe this has changed), and no employee features (clock-in/out) etc..

I would say it's good for a small shop without too many needs. As soon as you have to do funky stuff like modify orders (and report on them), you're better off looking elsewhere.

I would also caution people against using the wireless printers and go with hard wired ones instead. I know, wires are not fashionable, but they are damn reliable and predictable. The restaurant next door uses wireless STARs with their POSLavu system(should win an award for worst name), and a waitress there told me they constantly had problems with them, and missed orders, etc.

Also, for anyone wondering why these thermal printers are $300+ on a good day, they're built like tanks. I bought all the Epson TM printers for my friend from a bankrupt Chinese restaurant. When I asked the owner if he'd had any problems with them (they self tested okay), he said in his broken english something like "even with roaches, they still print!"...

Well, I get them home and start pulling them apart to clean them, and they're FULL of dead roaches. Every empty space inside the printers was chock full of roach bodies. The circuit boards were caked with roach shit and all the feed mechanisms had ingested and ground up the roaches that got in their way. And ever single one of these printers still works flawlessly.

So yeah, they're worth the $400.

* Every empty space inside the printers was chock full of roach bodies. The circuit boards were caked with roach shit and all the feed mechanisms had ingested and ground up the roaches that got in their way. And ever single one of these printers still works flawlessly.*

Now that's a product I'd be proud to say I designed. Seriously, that's the kind of bulletproof performance I aspire towards.

I'm pretty sure Epson engineered these T88-TMs sometime in mid-80s and haven't changed them since. It seems that the only difference between the versions is the print speed due to upgraded processors, but nearly all the mechanicals are exactly the same!

Stuff like this reminds me that at some point people really did give damn and that you can still buy quality if you're willing to look. Like when I go to the bank and they're still using a 20 year old Okidata Microline dot matrix printer for receipts. My dad had one for his office that never skipped a beat in over 15 years of service.

> Stuff like this reminds me that at some point people really did give damn and that you can still buy quality if you're willing to look.

I agree with this, but it's getting pretty hard. I've got an HP Laserjet 4 -- It's a brute; A beautiful work of functionality which I expect to be able to hand down onto my children when I pass. Hopefully somebody is still making consumables for it then.

There are now 20x more products in the same inflation-adjusted price bracket, but most are over-featured and over-marketed garbage.

I would never buy such a buggy product


This made me laugh. I worked for a POS company in Canada and we've seen ant colonies in Epson thermal printers, and the retailers don't realize it because the printers just keep working.

I worked for a small computer company in the early 90's in southwest Louisiana. We build maybe 100 computers for the area school systems and stored them in a the warehouse until it was time to deliver and install them.

On this day, we were installing some in classrooms with children present. I opened one of the boxes and out runs maybe 5 or 10 roaches. I was mortified. The kids, being from sw Louisiana, didn't even flinch. Some just stomp squashed them from their seats when the nasty critters got too close.

Your telling this story made me realize that our warehouse was in a strip mall located next to a chinese restaurant. So maybe this is where they came from.

i wonder why that Chinese restaurant went out of business...

That is the best anecdote I've ever read on HN. Not only funny, but I'm much more likely to buy one of those if I ever should need it. Ha.

Sheesh, that roach story makes the original "bug in the code" story sound tame.

Disclosure: I work for GoPago, a direct competitor in this market. I am approaching this with a lot of built-in bias.

Square is pretty late to the game. Their software is pretty, but it has a much smaller featureset than every other tablet-based POS software out there (including our own competitors).

Additionally, their prices do not include the cost of the iPad, which is another $500 on top of this 'business in a box'. They are selling a cash box, an ipad stand, and a card reader for $300, which is not a terribly great deal.

Their software does not include modifiers, which is of paramount importance if you're dealing with any volume of customers over a trickle. Their reporting system is slick, but bare.

Square works very, very well for P2P transactions. People at farmers markets, flea markets, garage sales, or anywhere where the volume of orders is small will find great value in Square's handheld offerings. But for businesses, it is sincerely lacking.

Comparatively, GoPago (my employer) sells GoPago Live, a tablet-based POS system that costs $99 a month, and comes with literally everything you need: stand, swiper, cash drawer, plus the tablet, printer, optional scanner/upc support, wireless chit printer, and a built-in 4G connection. And it comes with the GoPago Mobile storefront -- which allows your customers to send orders (with modifiers, instructions, etc) directly to your POS terminal.

I am obviously biased, so take all this with as much salt as you'd like -- but Square has a lackluster offering polished behind a veneer of masterful marketing. Their 'business in a box' is a misnomer, as it does not include the core component: the tablet. GoPago truly offers the complete system.

Square is the long-run winner in this category. Look at why Starbucks adopted them instead of competitors like GoPago.

1. They invested in getting the pay-by-phone experience perfect from the start. That's why Starbucks adopted them. Their wallet app makes GoPago's look amateurish.

2. They invested in getting their processing fee simple and low for their initial targets, P2P and cafes/boutiques. It's lower than GoPago, and that's the biggest cost to the business in the long run. Starbucks noted actually saving money with Square. Starbucks!

3. They don't ship crap. It's true their register feature set is not yet sophisticated enough for more complex businesses like restaurants. But rather than overreaching, they're starting from the simplest businesses and working their way up.

Square would rather start with simpler cases and make a perfect end-to-end system, including the consumer's wallet app. It's really smart. I'm already paying with Square's app at my favorite cafes and local boutiques. I can't overemphasize the importance of their early focus on a wallet app to their long-term success.

BTW, the "it's just slick marketing" jab is one that was often used against Apple. Square is following the Apple playbook.

Starbucks is a billion dollar company with a HUGE business inertia. They have exceptional busines intelligence in their supply chain, services, etc...

Their adoption of square speaks nothing of the competition in the not-starbucks market.

Just because starbucks is using square does not mean that it is the right fit for an organization that is miniscule by comparison. Where the company is so small they need to rely on the services of someone like this to augment their capability where they do not have the staff/resource/savvy....

Nobody is saying squares app is crap. We are saying that "business in a box" is pure marketing fluff and is meaningless.

I am saying that your starbucks example is exceptionally weak to say that "square won" this category.

Square has the most traction with "miniscule" businesses, too.

Square has raised more money then any other "startup" I can think of. Will they ever be profitable?

I think you had a point on pricing until you explained GoPago's fees. Assuming a company uses the same system for 3 years, you're looking at $3,600 spent on a rental. Square and the separate iPad Retina purchase add up to a $1,100 one time fee. I can't debate you on features, but I would argue they're extremely competitive with pricing.

Except you also need some kind of wireless connection for that iPad, which is apparently included in the price of the GoPago package. So you'll have to either pay the $30/month for the iPad data plan or get some other form of high-speed internet for about the same price plus a router. This would bring the price up to $2180 over that same three year period. So it's still cheaper, but not as much as you suggested. If you're dealing with apparently inferior software (I don't know anything about this POS stuff) is that $1320 savings really worth it?

Assuming you have a stationary unit, which you would in this case, the odds of you not having a broadband connection with wireless are incredibly slim. Every business needs internet, for simple things from Spotify to traditional needs (Google docs, email, etc). In a situation like this, you would never rely on a Verizon dataplan alone to run your business. Speed and reliability would be a serious concern.

Even assuming you don't have wifi, it's highly likely that paying for your own dataplan is smarter than going through a third party. GoPago uses Verizon wireless, but does not indicate how much of your monthly fee goes towards it. Small businesses get by on the skin of their teeth, so $1,420 in savings is $1,420 you can spend on something far more important.

You're assuming they don't already pay for connectivity for an existing system, which all existing stores with POS must. Which means the additional cost over what they're paying is probably $0 to switch, vs possibly having to cancel and sign up with something new. And many of the people who will use this probably already use regular Square.

connectivity for an existing system makes sense at a retailer with a physically persistent location.. but if you are looking at being mobile, you need data connectivity.

I think this breaks down easily: 1) You DO have existing device and data plan, and need to be mobile: Square (or similar service) makes sense. 2) You DONT have existing device or data plan, and need to be mobile: GoPago

I think the evolution of phones tends towards people already carrying a smartphone with data plans, making square (or other service only -- no hardware solutions) somewhat more attractive with its rates.

You can get an iPad with a data plan. $15-30/mo is still a lot less then $99.

Nice to see another option, but the early termination fee of, "$2376, less $99.00 for each full month of Service completed," is brutal.

Source: http://www.gopago.com/merchant-terms-conditions/

It is very likely that if their service uses a data connection, their MVNO requires a fixed-year subscription fee upfront - $2376/$99per month = 24 months. Yes, it's steep, but that's probably why. (Note: I don't work for GoPago)

No way that the data connection is 100% of their cost.

I am not affiliated with either company and my only experience with operating a physical storefront are restaurants.

That being said, after taking a quick look at the front-facing material on both sites, I have a question for you/GoPago: While the point you make about the initial cost being higher (about 1k with iPad) is valid, Square seems to run a pricing scheme where they charge a flat $275 per month and get rid of any extra cut they take.

Just based off some rough math, assuming the business processes $200k worth of transactions per year (about $550 per day, very reasonable) merchants will save about 2.5k per year if they use Square. For more slightly more successful businesses who process upwards of $500k-1m per year the delta grows even larger (upwards of $26k).

If the merchant runs a 1-man business which processes maybe $50k worth of transactions per year and uses Square's charge of 2.75% per swipe, he'll still be saving approx $300. And he'll own the hardware which inherently has resell value.

What specifically does GoPago offer over Square which is worth at least $300?

Square's $275 plan is only for the first 250k; after that they charge a normal credit-card rate.

What's the value of GoPago over Square for that 50k merchant? Mobile Storefront -- which has been a fantastic discovery tool to connect consumers with merchants on GoPago. It allows people to place orders on their phone to the POS terminal itself, no phone-calls necessary. We also have a much more robust reporting suite, support for scanners, support for wireless chit printers (so merchants don't have to ferry order receipts to the kitchen), a modifier system (this is huge if you do any sort of volume -- on Square's software, you need to manually input modifiers and their prices every time you ring up an item with modifiers like condiments/toppings).

Also, the cost difference in Square's favor is not realized until the end of the first year. If you're starting a business, the outlay needed for Square is precious money that could go elsewhere in your organization.

Square's Wallet app also allows customers to send orders right to Square Register. Square wallet stores your credit card info so you don't have to swipe. The customer's picture pops up on the register and the seller taps the photo.

Square Wallet also does business discovery via location and promotions/loyalty programs (i.e. virtual "buy 10 get 1 free" deals, etc) and gift cards.

Can you elaborate on what "modifiers" are? Just curious.

Are they just addons? For instance, "add cheese" for $1 to an existing menu item? Or are modifiers something else entirely?

Basically used for food service. You want a system that supports multiple modifier groups per item, of which some may be required for the order. So for instance, if you order a steak, the required modifier group would be "doneness: rare, medium rare, ...", but you could also have optional additional modifier groups available such as "allergies", "togo/for here", etc.

It's actually a quite interesting mapping exercise. I spent a couple of days watching how my friend handled his customers, and what they ordered. This was important because it comes down to decisions like do I make the menu item "Large Coffee" or "Coffee" with a size modifier group. The latter may make most sense to the developer parts of our brains, but it was completely the wrong thing for my friend, with the former, he could just stab "large coffee" and move on... Workflow trumps "correctness" in some sense.

I'm only familiar with the modifier system in BreadCrumb, which works okay, but would really benefit from conditionals, since modifier groups may have the same label, but have different pricing schemes. For instance, lattes had different price differentials between sizes than chai lattes, so two size modifier groups had to be created with those different price differences. It's not so bad until you go to create a new group, and try to find the right modifier for "Large" since you've now got 5 of them to account for all your menu differences.

But at this point I might bet on the company with masterful marketing. If there is going to be a de facto standard for SMB POS Square might be able to get there. If Clayton Christensen (Innovator Dilemma) taught me anything it's that feature gaps can be closed quickly. Marketing/Mindshare gaps, not so much.

I learned this lesson the hard way.

Imagine two competitors. Mine got to market first, it had a better feature set, and was more similar to what the consumer was used to (based on similar products on other platforms).

But a competitor shows up. Their product had less features and was "different" to the established things. But their product was easier to use, it had better marketing, and people just flocked to it.

It literally took six months for the competitor to match my offering in terms of features but ultimately none of that matters because if the marketing is good and the UI is easy to use people will just work around everything else/put up with it.

By the time they matched my feature set the writing was already on the wall. Even if I had released an update matching their UI it wouldn't have made a damn bit of difference since they already had the reputation/user-base.

Yes, feature gaps can be closed quickly. Unfortunately, Square's app has been lacking such basic functionality (as modifiers) for so long, that it raises some legitimate concerns.

I just checked out GoPago vs. Square's Register page (https://squareup.com/register or https://squareup.com/register/hardware/) - GoPago is beautiful and crisp, but Square does a better job getting instant engagement (free card reader or "Shop Now" / just leave email offer on LP etc).

Since the start one of Square's major advantages is their deceptively simple user interface - their conversion rate of getting interested merchant's email / info is likely many multiples over competitor's contact rate.

Unsolicited free advice is worth what you paid for it, but feel free to drop me a line via my profile if you'd like some actionable recommendations for closing that gap . . .

I think you pasted the wrong thing! Here's GoPago: http://www.gopago.com/

This was totally obvious to me when I reviewed the product page for the "business in a box":

My first thought was, hmm... no iPad.

Then I thought: "Zero information on the system, apps, features etc that this would offer"

I see a retail cashiers pedestal in a box and nothing more. Also, that receipt printer is $200?!?!?


A long time ago I wrote here on HN that I thought Square could kill if they really did offer "A business in a box" - but I was specifically talking about all the applications and features of an app that would allow one to run a business and would tie in everything associated with that [Sales, inventory, supply chain, vendor mgmt, financials, etc..etc.. etc...]

This offering looks really weak. Further, given the formfactor of the square reader - the "custom" designed ipad stand looks severely lacking; namely: I would have included a more robust card swiping shroud over the read to make it more sturdy and last longer.

This product appears to only serve to make people feel as though they are Playing Business because they have the cashier stand. This does nothing to actually enable your business/business processes.

Do the math again :)

The receipt printer is $300. I boggled at that too, and then looked around, and that's really what it retails for (or close enough). I have difficulty understanding why it's so expensive, but do keep in mind that it's designed to work for years on end in a retail environment -- it's got to be overbuilt to last.

I don't think thermal or dot matrix printers have ever been cheap, have they? When they were surpassed by ink jets in the 90s maybe they became a specialist item.

what about support non-USA businesses? the norm for creditcard processing in Thailand is 5% for an online business, preety craptastic

Though many online businesses in Thailand let you pay via bank transfer, which can get around the fees in many cases. That's not something that'd work in the US, but it's very common over here.

Methinks someone is about to get steamrolled.

Am I missing something here?

Square Readers free [1]

Heckler Design WindFall iPad Stand $129.99 (free shipping) [2]

APG Vasario 1616 Cash Drawer $102.18 (free shipping) [3]

I don't understand why I would pay $66.83 for the convenience of having these items shipped to me in a pretty box.

[1]: https://squareup.com/reader [2]: http://hecklerdesign.com/windfall/ [3]: http://www.amazon.com/APG-Vasario-VB-1616-MultiPRO-interface...

One word: convenience. People will pay to have them give them everything they need up front, instead of researching or finding it themselves.

Not to mention support. You don't want to have your system flake out and then find out your vendor won't support you because you bought the wrong cash drawer.

It's too bad that Square gets all the press when the tech community should really be spending (at least some of) its energy trying to defeat a law that makes it a federal crime to start a payments company that actually does change things.

See http://www.aarongreenspan.com/writing/essay.html?id=86

I support your cause, so I'm going to give you some feedback. Feel free to ignore it.

I've seen a lot of posts and comments from you on HN. I've visited FaceCash a number of times. You've built some cool infrastructure, and I think many of your visions about what the future of money should look like are spot on.

That said, you come across as having a lot of anger and entitlement and that makes me want to ignore you, even though I think you're totally right that our payment laws are messed up. Complaining about competitors doesn't help you, it just makes you look like a whiner.

Square is making very crafty strategic moves to slowly maneuver around the regulatory issues that are sinking you. It's bullshit that they have to, yes. But that's what they're doing. Criticizing them or the press they're getting just looks like sour grapes to me.

If you made a strategic plan to actually route around the screwed up stuff in the system, or to chip away at the edges of the problem with concrete steps, without denigrating other people who are trying to innovate in the space, I would feel a lot better about supporting you. But as it is it seems like you're just going to complain about the state of affairs while your business gets ensnared in well documented roadblocks.

Again, feel free to ignore this. I could be totally wrong about your strategy. I just wanted to give you the feedback since you seem to be soliciting support and may be interested in why people aren't lending it.

Erik, great feedback

I would honestly love to have a flag saying [US only, don't bother if you're not from there] on articles (like that one)

EDIT: this is genuinely not a snarky comment, but this this company will likely go bankrupt before I could use it (for example paypal is not universally available, in SA you need to have an account with a specific bank)

I'll save the HN programmers some cycles: everything here is [US only].

That's provably not true. Everything that concerns actual software (and not service!) is international by-default. That's my personal reason to hate services, they can be (and often are) discriminatory.

And an additional one warning about Americans whining about how their Netflix/Hulu/Square/MLB/Pandora/HD TV networks/Amazon Prime perform subpar ...

Pretty sure it's the rest of the countries that are complaining the U.S. typically has a better selection in those categories.

Several local restaurants, farmers market vendors, and food trucks use the Square register, but most others use a local competitor PayDragon or another competitor (probably GoPago).

The vendors using Square tend to be low-volume, and the use is limited to paying and tipping. Paper receipts are not included with the order, in violation of California law (email is not enough! if you don't get a paper receipt you can technically demand a free meal [EDIT: not actually California law, it's part of the payment processor contract with the vendor]). The vendors don't use Square for any sort of order management because it can't handle that. Square is a good fit because these vendors don't need the advanced features and the simplicity of the interface is a plus.

The food trucks using PayDragon or other competitors are much higher volume. You also get printed receipts with your order. At least some of these Square competitors include order management features. Most of them (my primary experience is with PayDragon vendors) are not much more complicated than Square. A lot of these vendors started off on Square and graduated to various competitors when Square stopped being able to handle their needs.

The design is great. Even though I don't have a brick and mortar store, it kinda makes me want to buy one, inexplicably.

I wonder how many other things you can sell like this, an all-in-one box, that doesn't smell cheap, like a 10-in-1 games CD?

The best thing I can think of right now is 'gardening in a box'. I wonder what 'startup in a box' looks like.

This isn't exactly the same as a one time "box" but monthly subscription services for "boxes" of different items have been taking off lately.

I currently subscribe to Barkbox[0], a monthly subscription to receive dog treats, toys and accessories every month. A few months ago they had over 20,000 subscribers. They based their model off Birchbox[1], which provides a monthly subscription of hand picked beauty products.

I've been trying to think of other niches that would be a good fit for this box model.

[0] http://barkbox.com

[1] http://www.birchbox.com/

I love the idea of barkbox!

Ever since I saw this guy's project, http://www.sotmclub.com/, I've also been racking my brain for other ways to leverage this model.

A few years ago my wife gave me a subscription to barbeque sauce-of-the-month club as a birthday present. Every month I got a couple of bbq sauces/rubs in a box.


There are similar services for clothing. The first one that comes to mind is http://www.trunkclub.com/

Depends what you mean by startup. If you mean some kind of infinitely replicable business (e.g. a cleaning company with subcontractors doing the cleaning) then it contains: a specific and workable business plan, a domain name, a list of potential customers/sources of the same, a company registration, a cheap mobile phone, some web hosting with an open source/simple tool set up to run the business – fuck, I just realised I invented franchising.

If you mean a scalable software business (of the sort HN usually means when they refer to a startup) the problem is that execution >>> ideas, and so no-one would sell such a box for less than it was worth, unless they were desperate. Then they'd sell part of it to a VC ;-)

Looks like someone beat me to it:


Boxes in a box.

I own a small business and we have experimented with Square Register and other ipad-based POS systems. Register is by far the least feature rich of all of the offerings we looked at - this is not necessarily a bad thing. Specifically,


* Register is not designed for restaurant use - many of these reasons have already been discussed on this thread, the biggest being the lack of modifier support.

* Register does not support weight-based pricing (delis, produce, etc).

* Getting meaningful data out of Register is annoying

* There really isn't much tech support for Register - for a lot of businesses, being able to pay somebody to come set-up a POS and train the staff is a real feature.

* The card reader is unreliable - multiple swipes are often required. (A non-free, durable and reliable card reader would be a good thing for Square to consider offering). * No inventory management. (If there was a nice API, other people could solve this problem.)


* It provides a nicely unified experience across Register and Wallet, which makes enabling Wallet easy.

* Square is still our preferred payment processor for credit card transactions. I especially appreciate how they transfer money into our bank account within 24 hours instead of trying to justify why they should be allowed to hold on to it until the end of the month.

* It is the easiest to set-up and use, and to train employees to use.

In terms of the ipad POS space, none of them are really mature POS systems yet. If your transaction set is simple, or if you're willing to modify it to fit into the POS feature-set, then one of them is probably right for you. If you need Aloha-style customizability, you should wait. My guess is that different POS solutions will generate traction in different markets, and then it will become much clearer with solution is right for your business.

Personally, I think the old-style POS's are such a rip-off that figuring out how to make your small business work with a newer technology is worth it. Running a food business, however, I would not recommend Register. If I ran a business with a simpler item set (e.g. a clothing store), then I would seriously consider it.


* Yeah, those printers are like tanks. Two thumbs up!

* You definitely want physical security. The bundled stand includes the ability to secure against grab-and-go theft (http://hecklerdesign.com/windfall/).

(edit: formatting)

Just curious, what system did you choose and for what type of business? As I mentioned above, I set up my friend with BreadCrumb which is okay for quickserve, but not great. There QS workflow needs to be extensively overhauled, and they need to support sig-less CC transactions and gift cards.

If I were to do it over again, I might actually look a bit more at a QS specific system, even if it's windows95 POS POS (ha!), because the efficiencies of workflow may make it worth it.

We actually switched from a retail focus to a wholesale focus, so we not longer need a POS. We still use Square as our credit card processor.

I have helped set-up a QS implementation on top of the Revel POS and would not recommend it at all. I've seen the Gopago POS and it's actually probably the best fit for QS.

It's like the hardware bundles that Checkout, POS for Mac OS X, has done for a long time [0]. It's a smart idea, it makes it easier for small business owners because there is actually a large variety of hardware to choose from, and buying a bundle you know is compatible is one less thing to worry about.

[0]: http://www.checkoutapp.com/features/hardware

Looks great, but seems to imply that the cash register doesn't open automatically if you don't buy a printer, which rather ruins the paperless option.

It might be a good business idea to create a simple piece of hardware that does the opening if Square doesn't release one soon – hell, the hardware could just be a broken printer by the sound of it.

But very cool ephemeralisation none-the-less.

"Open wirelessly from your iPad when paired with a receipt printer, as included in the Printing package."

It likely doesn't open the register for cash unless there is a receipt to prevent employee fraud.

It is possible they could program it to trigger the cash drawer with the printer even if going paperless, but you would still need to have the printer. Star printers have a control code to trigger the peripheral device. See this for one model: http://www.starmicronics.com/support/Mannualfolder/tsp200pm....

This seems to be an attempt to keep costs low. Most cash drawers have a simple cable connection to the printer which can send a signal down the line to open, very simple. Adding a wireless adapter to the cash drawer would certainly be more expensive.

Where does it imply that?

"Open wirelessly from your iPad when paired with a receipt printer, as included in the Printing package."

Those kinds of cash drawers tend to just have a RJ11-style port that the printer can plug into and trigger whenever something prints. They're very dumb devices otherwise and have no wireless capability.

Also the Amazon reviews of that cash drawer say you plug it into a printer.

A friend of mine and myself had this idea a while back, while Square was still in its infancy. It would allow people to find out exactly where to find the merchandise that they wanted, its price at that location, the number of items they had in stock, a way to order it if they wanted to purchase it... It would bring non big-box stores into the world of organized supply chain.

In order to do this, we posited, we'd have to create a dirt-cheap POS that was also incredibly easy to setup, use, and track inventory.

The idea was hung up on the fact that we didn't have an "in" -- the clout to get these smaller stores to invest in us. As we simmered on it, Square turned hockey stick, created a mobile app, and we already saw that they were headed in this direction.

Kudos. Even if it wasn't my implementation of the idea, I'm glad to see a step happen in that direction.

Mount your stand securely to any surface without drilling.

I wonder if "securely" just means my ipad won't fall over, or if it also somehow means customers can't run away with my ipad while my back is turned. That seems pretty important to me, and hard to achieve without drilling.

Securely indeed means "customers can't run away with my ipad while my back is turned" as can be seen in the pictures on the Heckler Design website:


(that page says the security comes with extra purchases - a Kensington ClickSafe cable lock, and/or an add-on bolt-down kit).

I think you're right - it only prevents the iPad from falling over. They probably use suction cups of some sort. If someone is determined though - they'll just rip it off and run out the door.

It looks like this kit comes with the Windfall POS case for the iPad (http://hecklerdesign.com/windfall/) which includes a peel & stick disk.

This directly competes with Revel POS: http://revelsystems.com, though pricing isn't visible on their site, I would believe that Square's offering is also cheaper -- at least to get setup.

Also GoPago Live: http://www.gopago.com/

$99/month, no startup costs, competitive credit-processing. Also has a much more robust featureset than Square. It also makes your storefront work on GoPago's mobile app, which is something that no other modern POS system does out of the box.

Disclosure: I work at GoPago.

Based on the offering and pricing I'd say it is more in line to compete with http://shop.shopkeep.com/ than revel.

And NCR Silver: http://ncrsilver.com/

I love it. Unfortunately, it wouldn't work where you need smartcard chip readers. A lot of the world outside the US uses smartcard + PIN — I can't imagine America is too far behind. Hopefully they have that under development.

I believe America is indeed that far behind--a majority of businesses where I live process credit card transactions over phone networks and have no internet connection.

That said, for Square, I don't think it would be too difficult to integrate a SmartCard reader over the audio line as they have with magstripes.

I had hoped they had come up with a more robust version of their card reader. There have been several times where it has taken 5+ swipes to read my card. I have also witnessed this happen to people in front of me in line. My credit card has never had a problem anywhere else.

I've found it easier to just use the Square app on my phone, though I've yet to see someone in front of me in line use it.

We found that the prompt after a failed Square swipe is poorly worded. It says something like: try again, only faster - but it should say: try again, at a different speed since swiping the card more slowly often worked when trying faster did not work.

Dear everyone:

Might you please make use of the noscript functionality provided to you? Many people like myself do not let arbitrary websites run javascript on their machines. Without the use of noscript tags, as is the case here, I am met with an entirely blank page.

Had there been something there, something describing what I'm missing and how good it is, I very likely would have enabled js temporarily.

But there wasn't, and I didn't.

Very best regards,


Dear noscript users:

You chose to break the website. It was designed to be used the way it was written. Javascript is a basic part of the Internet. Their site won't work without HTML enabled either.

Welcome to 1994,


Ok. Lets hope those with accessibility issues (screen-readers, etc), people with constrained systems (old, corporate, etc), and whoever else might not be able or willing to use js can figure something out then.

Oh, they have! They won't visit your site. Cool!

With 98% of screen reader users having Javascript enabled [1], I'm willing to bet it's not really an issue for them. I'm then left wondering who these people are that have daily-use systems so old that they cannot run Javascript in their browser, and why they are such an important market.

[1] http://webaim.org/projects/screenreadersurvey3/#javascript

The people who are running clean systems.

They are important, because they tend to be the people who fix the things the "Look, shiny!" people bork.

>I'm then left wondering...

Stop. Your mind is made up. You don't want or care if people without javascript can see your stuff - fair enough.

Screen readers have no problem reading javascript-rendered content. A corporate environment that disables javascript may as well block port 80 as well. I agree with others who point out that js is as vital as html and css to rendering a page.

I get the accessibility point, but the html should still be screen readable with js turned off. Regardless, it depends on your target users. I'm not going to worry about js turned off for a interactive rich site OR a multitude of other use cases.

There's an awful lot of work involved in graceful degradation, which I'm sure you know. Will a noscript tag that tells you have JavaScript disabled and that you're missing out on a richer web experience really convert you?

The problem here is that "many people" is < 1.6% as of 2010; I'm guessing the number's only dropped since.

Noscript is really only useful for telling people that they need JavaScript enabled to use the site in case they don't realize they've accidentally disabled its use.

>Will a noscript tag that tells you have JavaScript disabled and that you're missing out on a richer web experience really convert you?

No. But if it tells me what the content is, or the point of, or really any decent info on what I'm missing, I usually do. In the case of HN links, I always do.

I'm not sure where you got the < 1.6% figure -- I won't argue with it -- but for a startup, that might be a huge number of people. Maybe it doesn't matter. I don't know.

How hard is it to put a static image inside a noscript tag with some candy fluff about the great product I'm missing? If anything, they will have my respect.

Sorry, you're going to lose on this one. It's basic cost/benefit ratio from the business' perspective. The cost and time of developing and maintain an alternate noscript version is almost never going to be worth it for the % of their customer base the people not running Javascript represent. Same reason ARIA loses out in most startups.

I'm not at all saying everyone should write a full-blown non-js version of the site. I'm saying it would be nice, and might garner more traffic if there were some content explaining the sites' mission.

I think a blank page is the new noscript.

I don't even have Javascript disabled and I still got a blank page (running Safari 5.1.7).

How do square's fees compare to paypal? I got a free square thingie at a conference, gave it to a vet friend who does a lot of house calls and needs to accept payments. He ended up not using it, preferring to manually type CC#s in paypal's UI. Explanation: cheaper

PayPal is not cheaper unless you do a lot of volume: https://www.paypal.com/webapps/mpp/paypal-fees

This is fantastic. The POS space has needed massive disruption for decades. Kill the dinosaurs!

How is this disruptive? It's still a cash register. Most cash registers for decades have been digital/electronic in terms of running/totals and counting cash, and they all have credit card readers too.

For restaurant POS systems the typical cost is typically around $15-20k plus $2k per terminal. For smaller restaurants that don't need more than this package offers it's a bargain.

Which is fine... except this system is pretty unsuitable for even small restaurants (coffee shops, OK maybe :)).

The target market for this is very squarely (heh!) high end indie shops.

It's easy. It doesn't require having a merchant account. It has an simple interface for configuring items and lets transactions be paperless. That sounds disruptive.

Merchant accounts aren't necessarily a bad thing! With a merchant account there's little to no delay on your funds - money goes straight from your customers account into your business account. There's a Canadian company Payfirma that is disrupting payments by giving merchants more payment options like the popular mobile and tablet pos to ecommerce and even traditional chip and pin terminal setups, in one solution. You get to pick and choose the products that help fix your current payment woes but also upgrade those products in the future for when your business grows.

Ha, someone works for Payfirma...

There are plenty of companies doing this already, Square is pretty slow to the table.

Caveat: I work for one such company (GoPago).

The fact that there's so much activity in the space suggests that it's undergoing disruption. For years, POS systems have been... well... POSes. They're unfriendly, overpriced, lacking in features and just all around bad. The tech has been easily 10 years behind the curve.

We've got a new generation of POS systems coming into place using commodity hardware, the internet & business model that doesn't involve paying some shady fucker thousands of dollars for plugging in some hardware & typing in your menu.

Don't forget $300/hour fees for tech support when the system inevitably crashes during dinner hour.

I'm not looking for them to include an iPad or a data connection. I'd buy it if it came with customers. The "business in a box" marketing would then be spot on.

Why is a receipt printer $300? Just curious.

It's a thermal printer with network access, an automated cutter and is rated to work reliably past 60m lines. That doesn't seem like a lot of money for a good tool.

Presumably because it needs to work, over and over and over again, and not really break down ever.

I work with one at work: these things are bulletproof.

It does have ethernet and USB, while cheaper ones only have USB. And it has a paper cutter, while cheaper ones have a tear bar like an old calculator. And this is probably a solid brand. Square doesn't want to sell a package with a cheap printer that then costs them more in support costs.

The ease of adding graphics and novelty information to the receipt inside the printer, wireless, cutting hardware, rate of printing are a few things that come to mind.

Its proprietary hardware in a sense.

One thing Square continues to do right is design. Making a POS system sexy is not an easy thing to do.

Yep - they're Apple for credit card processing. All they do is UX work and strip out features.

That's a great thing. My wife and I own a small boutique, and we've been using Square since before the public launch in the App Store. We've just about outgrown it, but have been challenged to find another solution that fits in-between the low cost, extremely easy to use Square and the traditional high-cost, complex to set up POS solutions.

As one of their employees here has said, GoPago seems to fit that nicely, but we're not decided yet whether we want to commit to a $100 / month payment. Being a hacker, there's also the fact that I have a room full of hardware in the back I've collected over the years, which includes a nice flash-based small format PC, a comparably tiny monitor, bar code readers, and a couple of retail thermal printers.

I know I'll never actually sit down and hack out a POS system, but it's nice to think about and the idea has helped in keeping me from sinking a wad of cash into a system I don't absolutely have to have yet.

One might argue that it's the main thing they do. Which is not a bad thing at all.

Why don't they just do away with the bulky cash register too.

Cash? There aren't many stores that are "credit card only". You'd be turning away customers.

Not to mention that it's illegal.

You cannot turn someone away who wants to pay with cash, that whole "legal tender" thing.

Thank you for this. From the relevant paragraph:

> This statute means that all United States money as identified above are a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise.


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