Why Square Analytics is an Essential Upgrade for Small Businesses

“You probably know who your regulars are, which items sell out fastest, and when the morning rush hits its peak. But what about the specifics? Do you know when most of your sales occur, down to the hour, weekday, and month? Or how much of your sales come from new versus repeat customers? “

[dropcap size=small]T[/dropcap]hat’s the pitch Square, Inc. is pitching now that the digital register company has launched their own analytics service. Square Analytics went live Thursday morning, signaling the introduction of an easy-to-digest full, fledged business analysis service built right into their point of sale systems. Of course, this technology is nothing new—business owners have had access to sales metrics for decades—but by integrating their service directly to the register, Square has made the metrics much easier to gather. It’s a lot like the iPod. After all, Apple didn’t invent the mp3 player, but when they introduced iPod into a streamlined music service like iTunes back in 2001, it changed the music industry forever.

Square is probably hoping to do the same for registers. But even if they don’t, Square Analytics is worth checking out.

If your store is still hanging on to a dated and complicated point of sale system, it’s past time to ditch that in favor of an upgrade from Square. And it’s worth noting that since FTR doesn’t sell merchandise, that opinion comes completely unprompted.

As a small business owner myself, my first interaction with Square came in 2010. They were the first startup to really popularize mobile business transactions, and I burned through their phone-based card reader like Willie Nelson at a backyard cookout. Square quickly became known for their very Apple-esque ease of use, and despite recent efforts from Paypal and Intuit, they still hold a reputation as an innovator in the marketplace three years later.

Square Analytics Dashboard
Square Analytics Dashboard

My first interaction with a Square Register came this Spring at a Memphis microbrewery who, presumably to keep temptation low, operates as a credit or debit only business. That keeps cash management simple, but the real message here is how simple the point of sale system was—just an iPad on a stand.

Square calls that a register. But let’s be honest, a card-only model just won’t work for most tackle stores. Our industry is still decidedly old-school (not a bad thing). That brings me to the second interaction I had with the rectangular, ivory cash register I had seen in Memphis. This time, I stumbled upon one in a most unlikely place.

Only a few weeks after the microbrewery adventure that somehow resulted in being transported to an outdoor screening of an NBA playoff game (which I still think was rigged), I ambled into a small country store that was at least a 40-minute drive from any form of city. Here, under the shady awning of a tin-roofed shack off of TN State Route 76, sat a tiny iPad on a stand.

This time, the business was using it to take cards and cash…in a place that looked like it had never heard of the word “wifi.” It was the type of shack that could easily have been anchored beside any dock or pier in North America. You knew from the weathered wood siding and dented tin roof that the burgers inside were home cooked; just like some of the best tackle stores look like they’ve risen from the ruins of some ancient pontoon boat wreckage. Vintage in this case meant quality (the burgers were, in fact, amazing), but even in a place built on the past, there sat a compact cash register, a sign of modern times.

Square Registers, it seemed, were flexible enough for any small business; but it wasn’t until this morning that they became an essential. Now that these tablet-based registers come with an all-in-one analytics program, using anything else is as backwards as going running with a cassette player strapped to your hip.