SQUARE – A new way to pay

May 14, 2010Comment
SQUARE - The card reader plugs into your audio jack

SQUARE - The card reader plugs into your audio jack

Square is an insanely easy, low cost way to take credit card payments.

In my humble opinion, I think this will be the mobile innovation of 2010. The biggest impact will be on small and medium sized retailers. I don’t think large companies are nimble enough to switch to something that’s this new, even if they can see the benefits.

For small businesses, the attraction will be the ease of setup, mobility, and connectivity that Square provides to the customer. I think medium sized business will be attracted by those things as well as the competitive fee structure.

One of the founders of twitter, Jack Dorsey, launched this start-up last year, and this week their iPhone app went live on the iTunes App Store.

Now anyone can use their mobile device (iPhone/iPad/Android phone) to take payments anywhere. It uses a small card reader that connects to the audio jack on your phone. (!?!) Signup is simple and free.

Square can let you know if someone is a repeat customer who may be entitled to a freebie – like punch cards do now. Square will also donate one cent of each transaction to the charity of your choice.

Square’s card processing fees are:
2.75% + 15¢ for swiped transactions
3.5% + 15¢ for keyed-in transactions
There are no activation, gateway, monthly, early termination, or hidden fees.

You can track all payments online & send receipts to customers electronically. No paper.

Square will automatically send your money to your bank account when your account balance exceeds $10. It can take 1-2 business days (depending on your bank) for the electronic transfer to clear.

It’s like kind of like Paypal on the go… but cooler. And cheaper.

One concern I have is for vendors that have a large volume of transactions every day. How much physical strain will all those swipes put on the smartphone’s headphone jack? I assume that – at some point – someone will develop a standalone bluetooth reader that will make swiping cards even easier.



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SHOPIFY – A Solid E-Commerce Option

May 6, 20102 Comments

Sounds hard to believe, we know, but Shopify is a great hosted ecommerce solution that is easy to use and provides a lot of design flexibility. For us, Shopify is head and shoulders above the multitude of other hosted carts like 1shoppingcart, and a platform that offers some great features as well as a smooth check-out process without the headache and development costs of using something like the extremely powerful and complex Magento platform. FoxyCart is another great in-between solution that we’ll write about in another post.

A Few of Shopify’s Features

  • Standards-compliant, fully customizable themes are provided free to use with your account and you have complete control over HTML and CSS if you want to customize
  • Easy to add, list, edit, and organize products using their streamlined interface
  • Nice integration with third party download management services
  • Drag-and-drop ordering of product images
  • Multiple variants for each product allow options with unique inventory tracking, prices, weights
  • New order notifications via email, RSS, and SMS messaging
  • Email customers from within Shopify
  • Detailed reporting that connects seamlessly providing Google Analytics with e-com data

Check out their full feature list.

You do have to develop the store theme using Shopify’s custom ‘Liquid’ design code, and it does require some creative work-arounds to achieve a level of customization, but the community and support around the platform is good. The number of plugins for Shopify is still small but I hope to see more added this year. We have talked internally about developing a social media one and a reporting one, we’ll see…

BigCake Media has some great experience building out these stores on Shopify, and our customers have been really happy with the design and the platform. Check out these these 2 sites we did most recently:


http://store.allthingsconverge.com (under construction – see design below)

Converge Shopify Store Design

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Ping.fm – Manage your blog and social networks in one place

May 6, 20101 Comment

Ping.fm is an easy to use FREE service that makes updating your social networks really easy.

You can update your twitter, facebook, facebook pages, linkedin, myspace and many more, all from a single place. Ping was recently purchased by Seesmic who have developed a number social networking clients for various mobile, desktop and web-based platforms. I’d expect to see Ping.fm integrated pretty tightly across the Seesmic platforms in the near future.

Check it out!

Ping.fm - Social Media Management Tool

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