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Square rolls out distribution to 20,000 retailers to expand reach

June 5, 2012

Expect to see mobile payments used more in 2012

Square is aiming to make a larger splash in mobile payments by selling its products in retail locations, including Walgreens, FedEx Offices and Staples.

The expansion of Square’s distribution points to the growing trend for both merchants and consumers to be able to pay via a mobile device no matter where they are. Although Square offers three different Square products – Square Card Reader, Square Register and Pay with Square – only the reader product is involved in the deal.

“We aim to make it as easy as possible for individuals and businesses to begin accepting credit cards,” said Katie Baynes, a spokeswoman for Square, San Francisco.

“We pioneered this by offering free readers through our Web site, and with our expanded retail distribution it’s now easier than ever for businesses to get the supplies they need to grow at the stores they frequent,” she said.

Swipe on mobile
The Square retail expansion deal includes selling the products in more than 20,000 locations.

For example, 7,000 Walgreens stores in the United States will now sell Square products.

Additionally, 1,500 Staples and FedEx Office stores each will be available for consumers to buy from.

In addition to the new retailers announced, Square also distributes its products at retailers such as Walmart, Apple, Best Buy and Target.

Consumers can plug-in the Square reader into iPhone, iPad and Android devices, swipe their credit card and make a purchase on the spot.

The rebranded Pay with Square mobile app

Since launching in 2010, Square claims to have signed up more than one million consumers and businesses.

“Square is focused on providing the best experience for merchants and consumers by eliminating barriers and making it easier than ever to start and grow a business,” Ms. Baynes said.

Payment war
Square has recently been doing a lot to boost itself as more companies clamor to get in the mobile payment space for small to medium-sized merchants.

For example, the company recently revamped its Pay with Square mobile application to make it more user-friendly for consumers.

The updates were aimed at making it easier for consumers to find places to use Square and also included an Android version of the app (see story).

Companies such as PayPal and Intuit are also using similar technology to entice users to pay via their credit card and a plug-in device.

Although Square was a leader in the merchant side of the business, Paypal has a strong consumer following, which could be beneficial in helping mobile payments gain traction.

Square is selling the readers for a suggested $10 retail price, including a $10 rebate when users sign-up for the service.

Once users sign-up, Square receives back 2.75 percent per swipe on an AmEx, MasterCard, Discover or Visa credit card swipe. For manually-entered cards, Square gets a 3.5 percent cut.

“Anytime you can get more distribution of your product, the better off you are,” said Drew Sievers, CEO of mFoundry, San Francisco.

“There is a question, of course, of whether or not their target audience would buy the readers at a retail outlet. I’m assuming that they have had a lot of success with other retailers like Apple and Target and that this makes a lot of sense for them.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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