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Square Market (squareup.com)
132 points by robbiet480 on June 26, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 42 comments

What would happen to Stripe if Square cloned their API and beat their pricing? Now that they're online this seems like a distinct probability.

I think if they go down that path, at some point Square becomes PayPal and is crushed under the weight of trying to do too much.

Square has maintained a fairly narrow focus in terms of clients: small-scale retail outlets. With Square Market they don't seem to be targeting Joe's Mail-Order Bait Shop.... they're giving their existing storefronts a way to sell their stuff online.

I think both Square and Stripe are examples of what great things can come when you take on a fairly narrow slice of the payments market. And PayPal is becoming the cautionary tale of what happens when you try to be everything to all people.

I suspect Stripe will be fine.

Seeing that Square recently launched a p2p payment system, I disagree with you that Square plans to stay within their narrow slice of the market. I think it would look much more like PayPal (a "Pay with Square" button) than Stripe, but who knows.

I'm sure Stripe, Braintree, Venmo, PayPal and the others are paying very close attention to Square.

IIRC, Square already does around 10% of PayPal's transaction volume, which is impressive. Of course, Square is mostly offline and PayPal is mostly online--and here we see the beginnings of the inevitable conflict. At last, they begin the fight to enter PayPal's core market, using their offline clout in POS to enter online payments using existing brick and mortar stores for fulfillment. Google, just buy Square already.

Would Google buy Square? I doubt Google really wants to get into the offline payment market. If Google really want to fight Paypal as alternative online payment platform, it would be better for Google to buy Stripe.

Stripe is nothing--just a faster horse. PayPal and Square (and Google and Apple) ultimately aim to replace the credit card itself. That's the prize. Square is attacking from the B&M merchant POS side and consumer to consumer email payments, Apple from iTunes and mobile, Google from mobile and web properties, and PayPal from online merchants and consumer (though, in all honesty, I see so little innovation coming from PayPal I sometimes wonder if they see what's coming). I suspect the key is to win the consumer by bootstrapping with physical merchants, so I give the odds to Square, and to a lesser extent Google and Apple.

Apple and Amazon are other potential suitors for Square, but the company is kicking so much ass I doubt they'll sell. For all HN likes to spin acquisitions as victories, 95% of the time they are the final denouement of a defeated startup. When a startup is doing well, ambition takes over and selling is usually out of the question.

>I doubt Google really wants to get into the offline payment market.

NFC payments? Google Wallet?

The financial transactions business will be dramatically different in 10 years from now, Square will IPO to make their big $ back, and then let the public take the blunt hit of the market shifting towards even lower cost transactions. 2.7%+ is ridiculous.

If Jack Dorsey sells square, I'll eat my hat.

This is beautiful but part of me wonders if this is like the prototype/MVP sites we see with really great photography of good looking people. How do you keep the presentation quality high at scale? How do you keep visitors from drowning in a sea of "me too" items like Etsy?

The fact that they (unlike most etsy stores) seem to be tied mostly to brick-and-mortar businesses may help them in this regard. I might, for example, try on a t-shirt at a store in my neighborhood, then go home and order one on their square store in a different color or as a gift to have shipped to someone.

Definitely a challenge for them but Airbnb seem to have done fairly well here.

Yes, by hiring a legion of professional photographers and offering their services for free. That's a hard model to sustain/emulate

Oh my god. I was just commenting in a Stripe thread about how insane it was that Square wasn't online and that they would capture tons of revenue if they would just stop being boneheaded and expose their API.

This isn't exactly that, but in a lot of respects, it's better. Way better.

Yikes. I need to rethink how I am selling online.

Oooh. I have to check what the charge is on my current online shop solution, but it would be GREAT to have my online sales in the exact same database as my convention sales.

One of the next possible steps for Square is definitely to enter the online food ordering space. They have the perfect way to do so, iPhone/iPad app & they take care of payment processing / disbursement. The amount of work they would need to put in is negligible now that they have this ;)

This works at every Starbucks in the US. It's going to be big, if my estimation of the iPhone owners / Starbucks afficionados intersection is remotely correct (and providing Starbucks advertises it in their physical locations).

This is a brilliant move by Square. This seems like the reverse-Milo.com problem.

I'm very happy that more and more of these payment companies are embracing marketplaces!

I, for one, want to see more marketplaces.

This is an interesting move for Square, at least to me. When I think about the future of square I saw them pushing out against more established POS systems (with more deals like the Starbucks one).

This is a slightly different route, the main competitors seem to be etsy.

While in reality they're trying to landgrab as much payment related market as possible, and the two approaches are slightly related, in my mind I'm interested to see what they become known for.

Site looks good. I just bought one of these https://squareup.com/market/dodocase-2/sage-canvas-leather-w.... Everything was seamless except I couldn't figure out how to sign up for an account without having a square reader shipped to me.

The design, typography, layout and mobile-friendliness are indeed brilliant. The simple white background and lack of navigation clutter really put the focus on the items being sold. Check out this photographer's store: https://squareup.com/market/mel-ashar-photography. Great job Square!

As well-executed as this marketplace is, I believe it's more of a prototype than a major new initiative.

Square-powered online payments is the endgame here. Today, on the Square marketplace. Tomorrow, on your own site, and in other marketplaces.

The competition is not other marketplaces and e-commerce software tools, but Stripe, PayPal, and even Visa/Mastercard.

It seems like the pitch to consumers here is that you can shop at small and local businesses with your phone. Every business owner I've ever spoken to prefers cash for in-person payments if possible, because credit card processors take around 3% of each transaction. I imagine the total fees for paying with an app are even higher.

From the Square website: "Pay just 2.75% per swipe for all major credit cards or a flat monthly $275. No other fees—so you know exactly what you pay."

But there's a $21000/mo maximum for the $275/mo, after which it is 2.75% for additional swipes. Purchases >$400 also are charged at 2.75% for all volumes.

So, it's as low as 1.3% if you do exactly $21000/mo in sales. At $10k, it's break-even. Below $10k, it's worse than 2.75%. Between $10k and $21k it gets better, and gets worse past $21k. (Since they include Amex, this would be great for someone doing $21k/mo in Amex charges, though...I think only Costco pays less for their Amex charges.)

Compared to running your own account (which is probably about 1.5% all-in for big ticket sales), which clearly makes more sense at some volume ($50k-100k/mo vs. Stripe, probably)

I read that as 2.75% below $10K, but I think hitting $10K in Square sales per month is difficult if we (generously?) assume that's 10% of your customers, so effectively it's like any other ~3% CC for a majority of small and local businesses. It's good to hear it's not generally worse though, I guess they thought about that.

Does anyone know if Square Market's shipping options have calculated shipping according to weight AND box dimensions? The calendars I ship are $5 to Chicago but $9 to California. Distance, weight, and dimensions are really important. I can't do flat shipping charges. I refuse to over charge all my customers to prevent losing money on shipping nor undercharging and eating into my profit by $4 per order.

Nearly all the marketplaces I've tried out (except for ebay) have terrible shipping options. It's 2013, everyone from USPS to FedEx to UPS have shipping apis that do down-to-the-penny shipping rate calculations, yet none (edit: not many of them) of the marketplaces and e-commerce stores take advantage of them. Apparently they think we business owners are just shipping 5 oz t-shirts.

Edit: MUST have weight + destination + box dimensions shipping calculations. (wordpress e-commerce plugin is the only one I could find that does)

You'd be way smarter to raise your price and offer free shipping. Especially when what you sell is unique - it's not like shoppers will find it elsewhere cheaper.

Online shoppers love free shipping, and shipping charges are a huge cause of cart abandonment.

So true...

I wrote a guest post about this on Hypebot: http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2012/07/free-shipping-sex-bee...

Why don't you just use USPS flat rate shipping? They offer a range of package sizes (certainly big enough for any calendar I've ever seen), they're cheap, and customers are well aware of the service's existence.

As a consumer I'm interested in predictability, I don't care if shipping charges get averaged out a little unless it's absurdly high. As someone who ships stuff fairly frequently I'm conversant with the variety of shipping options available; I want shipping charges to be in a reasonable ballpark (eg I hate competitive-seeming prices that are then brought back up with jacked-up S&H 'fees'), but I don't really care about having it calculated down to the cent. In fact, it slows down my shopping decision having to put in my zipcode - I'd far rather see a flat shipping rate. As a matter of fact if the price differential is small enough I avoid sellers that want my to put in information for them to calculate shipping - on small sums, it's not worth my time to enter that information.

I agree it'd be a good thing for Square to add that information, but in the meantime you might be better off selecting a flat rate and making your pricing as simple as possible. I honestly don't give two hoots whether a package ships from the next zipcode over or across the country, and perfectly OK with a vendor building that variance into the handling charge. Indeed, on some items I don't care at all - I buy used books from 10 cents on Amazon and pay a flat $3.99 S&H charge which I know includes the actual profit for the seller, whereas the 10 cents 'rpice' of the book reflects the amount of labor to stick it inside a jiffy bag and stick on a label. Quite OK.

Almost every e-commerce platform has integration with shipping APIs. Have you tried shopify? Open-source CMSs like Magento, Prestashop etc also have that.

The parent comment was referring to marketplaces, not platforms.

UPS Mail Innovations does not have an API.

Please someone from the internet prove me wrong, I'd love so much to be wrong on this!

You should try www.ribbon.co (shameless self promotion -- I work there). We just released dynamic shipping.

I can not express the elation I have for Square finally allowing online transactions. Great complement to Coinbase on my next project!

I had one like a year ago and now they have a flat $275 per month fee that applies to swiped and online. Definitely awesome!

EDIT: grammar

Everything about this is beautiful. The idea, the UI, the timing, etc.

Furthermore, if you click around, it seems to be a higher end market. Is this intentional or do you think these were the only businesses interested in selling online?

That's almost certainly intensional. Square is obsessive about making a high-end impression whenever possible.

Took me awhile to figure out this is U.S. only currently. I was confused for ten minutes trying to figure out where the "Add to Cart" option is, until I VPN'd in.

I can see a price, but no buy-now button without a login. And I see no reason to ever login. This seems to contravene a lot about what we have learned about ecommerce.

There is a "Check out as guest" option.

This is just brilliant.

This is HUGE

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