Square has landed a new and important sales channel for Stand, its sleek new point-of-sale terminal for brick-and-mortar businesses. Starting today, Stand will be on sale at 1,000 Staples retail locations in the U.S. and in the Staples.com online store.
I say the deal is important because Staples puts Square front in center before the small businesses that routinely use its website and physical stores to buy their office supplies, equipment and technology. While its previous distribution deals with Apple and Best Buy showcase Stand’s capabilities and design to a broad audience, Staples is all business. Staples is already a distributor for Square Reader, the smartphone-mounted credit card swiper that drove Square’s initial volumetric growth.
Though Stand is still new – going on sale only this past July – Square claims it’s already proving to be a much different animal than Reader. While the smartphone-payments gadget attracted a more mobile set of small businesses, Stand is appealing to larger businesses with physical storefronts and larger transaction volumes such as grocery stores and restaurants. Though Square isn’t revealing how many Stands it has sold so far, it said today that 70 percent of the businesses purchasing the system are either entirely new to Square or have never used Reader on a regular basis.
In a recent interview, Square’s head of hardware Jesse Dorogusker told me that Square is trying to re-envision the entire retail sales counter experience, starting with Stand. Dorogusker considers the mess of point-of-sale contraptions that typically overflow a sales counter to be a tremendous eyesore that distracts both the buyer and seller from what should be a more human transaction. “I’m about to hand over my hard-earned money, and I have to peer around this enormous ugly tower,” Dorogusker said.
While Stand is the centerpiece to Square’s concept of a more human sales counter, it’s not the only component. While Square doesn’t have any immediate plans to build its own receipt printers, barcode scanners or cash drawers, Dorogusker said it is working closely with other point-of-sale device makers to integrate more subtly designed and streamlined peripherals with Stand through USB, Ethernet and Wi-Fi. It’s already done that integration with specific peripherals from APG, Symbol and Star Micronics.
“We want to build everything,” Dorogusker said. “Of course, you have to pick and choose the things you can build.”
Square is taking a similar approach to online commerce with its new Market, which gives small businesses mobile and web sales tools, just as Stand gives them more in-store sales flexibility. Square founder and CEO Jack Dorsey will have plenty more to say on how his company is trying to reshape retail commerce through design at Gigaom’s RoadMap conference on Wednesday. If you’re not attending, you can watch the free livestream on Gigaom’s website.
Square said iPad-equipped Stands will be set up at several Staples locations so customers can try out the terminal interface and the Register app that powers it. Staples and Square are also sweetening the pot for customers who buy Stand in November either online or at the store, offering a $200 rebate in the form of a Visa prepaid card or Staples gift card, effectively cutting Stand’s normal $300 price tag by two thirds.