Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
The Square is a free swiper that plugs into your smart phone or ipad. It is easy and has few fees, BUT it seems too good to be true. I have serious doubts & want to hear from others about this company and machine.
Has anyone here have experience with it, or has researched it or? One downside is that they will only deposit the 1st $1000 in your account and hold anything above that for a week or more. (This is a shifting # so I'm not sure what it is currently.)
Comments, thoughts, experiences?
url to them if you want to see:
Carla, Here is some good information, something even newer and better! It offers a different more advanced device for the I phone that not only does printing and swiping but also bar code scanning and fully inventory control.
1nbcard.com/artisan for complete details
I will check it out. What I am hoping for is something to work with my iPad, as I don't have a smart phone....So I will need a plug in something.
I have to agree with Connie. This is who I went thru. They seem more true. They even have customer support 7 days a week and are friendly. You dont get that with the Square.
Carla - I have one and used it for the first time a few weeks ago at a show. It worked well.
I didn't see the deposit amount as a negative necessarily. It's currently the first $1001.00 per week that gets dropped into your account in the next day or two. They hold the rest in case of chargebacks, but the money is deposited into your account within 30 days of the transaction. If this deposit amount is too low, you can contact their support and they will ask you for some additional information and see what they can do for you. (I haven't bothered yet, because most of the purchases I run through won't amount to that much or I can wait for the additional funds.)
The part about it that I liked was that there wasn't a contract. I only do a few shows a year, and to pay monthly for a setup that I only use five or six weekends was going to chew up whatever money I actually made at a show. The rates are a little higher than with some of the other machines and services, but no additional fees (statements, PCI-compliance, monthly, etc.) and no contract did it for me.
For anyone who is curious, here are the rates:
2.75% + 15¢ for swiped transactions
3.5% + 15¢ for keyed-in transactions
The app and swiper work on the Apple iOS and Android platforms, and you can use one account on multiple devices ias long as you remember to move the swiper (or key things in).
I'm excited to use it at a bigger show at the end of January and see how it goes then - especially to see if people spend more when you can just swipe their card right then and there. Let me know if you have other questions, I'll try to help with answers.
We used it for the last 3 shows and it worked great for us. We filled out some information and got the $1000 raised without a hassle at all in less than 2 weeks. We're using it on a Droid2. Easy as pie.
Note that I am associated with the Merchant Account side of this industry, so I may be a bit biased here. With that disclaimer, here's another point of view to consider...
The square is real, the company is reputable, and the product works. Here's the rub... the easier it is to get an account to process credit cards, the more expensive it is to process. If for no other reason, the liability regarding fraud and abuse is greater and these costs get passed to you. This holds true for the square, just as it does for PayPal WebPaymets Pro at a whopping $30 per month. Compare that to a traditional merchant account w/gateway for much less.
In the end, it's about function, cost, and liability for you and your business. Many of you work seasonally and can't justify a yearly contract, so something like this tends to be more attractive, even with the higher processing fees. I get that. But also, many of you could be making money year round via offering crafts online while also accepting payments online. If you fall into this category, then going the more traditional merchant account route with a gateway would save you on your rates, and potentially increase your overall sales by offering your crafts year round.
Those of you who already accept payments on your website are likely using Authorize.Net with a traditional merchant account. If that's the case, you could download a free application now that would let you process credit cards on your iPhone, Droid, or Blackberry for no increase in fees (Mobile Merchant Pro). For those of you that already offer your products online, and who want swipe/print capabilities on your phone, you might just need to make a change to your gateway service. The link Connie provided earlier is a good example of the various solutions available. The ePay solutions, for example, can address the needs of your website, process cards and swipe from your computer, or your smartphone. Plus, that PaySaber thing is the coolest iPhone credit card processor out there. Swipe and Printer for $129 for the 3 Series iPhones.
My point is this; A merchant account is "generally" the more cost effective route providing you flexibility into the myriad of ways you can get paid. From your phone, online carts, knuckle busters (helpful when you don't have a cell signal), traditional credit card machines, and point of sale systems. The square is a cool device and service that will certaily help make it easy to get paid, but there's a cost and payment method is limited to the phone. That cost may, or may not, be appropriate for your particular business.
At $16 a month I'd have to do an additional $2000 in processing annually to recoup the 1% difference in fees... maybe my math is wrong though.
Can't say if your math is good or not, but it's entirely feasible. I use similar comparisons trying to help people justify if the hardware required to qualify for reduced swipe rates is really worth it. We all have to do the math and make a decision that is best for our business.
We have a merchant account, Web Payments Pro, and the Square. We have to because we work on projects that touch various gateways and providers. In our business, I couldn't afford to the use the square, not even for a month, but I don't have the same business requirements that many of you have. For one thing, I accept credit cards year round. If I simply had the need to accept credit cards because I had stuff to sell on Craigslist... yeah, it might be a terrific fit.
I think the point that I was trying to make was... the square can't be leveraged to provide different payment solutions. If you want to accept payments via a website, or or MOTO (Mail Order/Telephone Order) the last thing you want is have one solution for online, and then also use the square. You'd be better off leveraging your merchant account to provide processing solutions for each of your needs. I think the folks at square would even agree with this.
The other related point is... does your business really need to be seasonal? Arts and Crafts fairs are often seasonal, but the web isn't. Can your products be offered year round, perhaps via online transactions? If the answer is yes, then justifying the monthly fee might not be hard to do at all. But again, you have to run the numbers, just like you did to see if it makes sense.
For what it's worth, I'm excited to see the square in the market and I like the fresh perspective. I also like what I'm seeing from various providers with other smartphone solutions as well. But frankly, I still prefer dedicated swipe/printer store & forward units :) Cheap, reliable, & dedicated. But call me old fashioned !
Good points, Tim. I shudder at the additional cost of a smartphone, but probably just don't get it. If I take a phone order does it work for that? if I take an online order does it work for that? I am no longer a 'mobile merchant' but have a small desktop unit where I can input credit card numbers that people call me with. In addition I love to take PayPal -- really fast and easy (not sure how those fees stack up), but suppose if one was using a smartphone one can also take PayPal for online payments.
The cost of a smartphone is nothing compared to the monthly fees. Trust me, I have a 14 year old with a Droid. The thing is, most people already have the phones, so layering on the charge component can sure beat paying another CDMA, or GPRS monthly wireless fee for a dedicated wireless unit. Well, at least until you are trying to process a charge and your phone rings :)
Once you have a merchant account, you can sort of "bolt" different services to it. One service can be your credit card machine, or the ability to call-in phone orders, while other options might be a web-enabled gateway for your shopping cart that can also be used by your smartphone for processing. In the latter case, the shopping cart interacts with a payment gateway connected to your merchant account. This is all done via the internet. Smartphones that have access to the internet can also talk to this gateway giving you the ability to process cards on your phone. It's all pretty secure too.
Regarding PayPal... I have a love/hate relationship. I love their personal and business standard services (the services we are most familiar with), but I don't care much for their other services. I think they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory :) Their Web Payments Pro and Virtual Terminal products are hard to distinguish, they are over-priced, and their PayFlow product that works with Ebay makes me shutter. They have all the components, but don't seem want to provide the level of value many of us need.
As for their fees... it's almost of no consequence as you just pay the price if you want to accept PayPal. Many use it as it relates to their Ebay accounts and is the preferred method for accepting payments. What many people don't realize is that you can use your merchant account with Ebay as well. Yep, so when people check-out you aren't tied to PayPals fees. The problem is, these solutions are often hard to navigate and you almost need your own webmaster to pull it off. Of course, they make PayPal easy to integrate since they own the Company!
But with all that said, we take cash, checks, credit cards, PayPal, but draw the line at farm animals. We try to make it as easy as possible for people to give us money :)
Tim is absolutely right that it might not make sense for people depending on what they do to make sales. You can use this unit to manually punch in a number, so you could use it for taking a phone order, but not if you're using it to sell online. And if you have to go out buy a phone and then maintain a monthly fee JUST to use the square, it makes no sense. This device is really geared to folks that already use these phones and are simply using it to leverage what they are already paying for the phone.
Thanks for the math! :)