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.
Now that's a product I'd be proud to say I designed. Seriously, that's the kind of bulletproof performance I aspire towards.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 Wallet also does business discovery via location and promotions/loyalty programs (i.e. virtual "buy 10 get 1 free" deals, etc) and gift cards.
Are they just addons? For instance, "add cheese" for $1 to an existing menu item? Or are modifiers something else entirely?
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.
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.
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 . . .
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.
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.
Heckler Design WindFall iPad Stand
$129.99 (free shipping) 
APG Vasario 1616 Cash Drawer
$102.18 (free shipping) 
I don't understand why I would pay $66.83 for the convenience of having these items shipped to me in a pretty box.
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.
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)
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.
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.
I currently subscribe to Barkbox, 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, 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.
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.
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 ;-)
Boxes in a box.
* 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/).
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.
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 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.
It likely doesn't open the register for cash unless there is a receipt to prevent employee fraud.
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.
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.
$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.
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'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.
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,
Welcome to 1994,
Oh, they have! They won't visit your site. Cool!
They are important, because they tend to be the people who fix the things the "Look, shiny!" people bork.
The problem here is that "many people" is < 1.6% as of 2010; I'm guessing the number's only dropped since.
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.
The target market for this is very squarely (heh!) high end indie shops.
Caveat: I work for one such company (GoPago).
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.
Its proprietary hardware in a sense.
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.
You cannot turn someone away who wants to pay with cash, that whole "legal tender" thing.
> 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.