Mobile and digital payment platform Square has moved into a new market today. It’s a bit different than what most people might think — it’s an e-commerce play called Square Market and it enables local businesses throughout the United States to sell their products to anyone, anywhere, through the Internet.
A different kind of market
Earlier today, the company tweeted out a tease hinting that it would be expanding into a new market this week. After the recent move into Japan, its second international country, it made sense that Square could be expanding to other places — perhaps Europe? Australia? South America? We now know that to be inaccurate.
Hold on tight. We’re entering a new market tomorrow.
— Square (@Square) June 25, 2013
Europe, are you ready?
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Square Market is the company’s digital marketplace where people can go to find local businesses who want to sell their products anywhere in the US. It’s different from the Square Directory, which was set up as a means to find physical stores that accepted the Square Card Reader. The Market is Square’s way of helping businesses reach more customers. After all, wouldn’t it be great to order Blue Bottle coffee from Las Vegas or New York City?
Creating a global marketplace of local businesses
This e-commerce play is much different than simply shopping on Amazon or large retailers. Square Market is solely focused on the local businesses, which has been the company’s modus operandi from day one. There’s something to be said about local businesses and the quality and care that they put into their product.
One of the unfortunate downsides of being a local business is that the store is essentially limited to just the community around it. And it doesn’t even have to be a physical store — after all, there are many people that have tangible goods who might work out of their homes or an office and want to find ways to sell their wares. With Square Market, it looks like the company is helping to create more of a national marketplace accessible to everyone and at a rate that won’t break the bank.
No expensive set up needed
Square says that with its marketplace, sellers won’t need to spend a ton of money dealing with creating a website, fees, or even “complex inventory management.” The company lets anyone open up a store on its platform for free with items, photos, and a profile. Square only charges a 2.75 percent transaction fee for each item sold.
Merchants can also sync up items sold through their Square Register right with their online store.
But how will customers find the store? Square says that merchants and customers can easily share items that they’ve found in a store through Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Leveraging Twitter’s Cards API, the item’s description and photo will appear within the Tweet.
Naturally, Square will handle all transactions. Through its dashboard, merchants can view all order details and also choose how an item is to be shipped.
Fulfillment not included
Square Market isn’t going to do all the work for the merchant. Once the transaction has been processed, it’s up to the seller to ship the item and handle all fulfillment requests. In a sense, one could think about it as if you’re in New York City and you bought a cup of coffee from Blue Bottle in San Francisco. The barrista would need to package it and ship it to you either through FedEx, UPS, DHS, or even the US postal service.
Square’s entry into the social selling space is an interesting one, especially as it seems more companies are seeking to find ways to monetize it. It could also be advantageous if Square finds a way to effectively utilize it, especially in light of the competition it’s facing from PayPal, Intuit, Amazon, and others.
But let’s also not forget those startups that have been here for a while, including Chirpify and Ribbon. They are the ones that have made it so brands can sell their wares using a simple Tweet, Facebook post, or even a YouTube video.
Ajit Varma, Square’s Director of Discovery, says that the company is “focused on making easy-to-use tools for merchants that create an incredible experience for their customers — no matter where they are. Creating an online marketplace is our next step in making commerce easy for everyone. Square Market makes local businesses accessible to customers down the block and across the country.”
This feature is available also on mobile devices. Since the service already syncs with the Square Register app, it wouldn’t be that unbelievable that when a purchase is made, the merchant will be notified on their phone or tablet device and easily process the transaction. It could also be registered using Square’s newest device, Stand, which was revealed in May for US retailers to have for $299.
Busy year for Square
Today’s news just adds onto Square’s busy year. It is already processing $15 billion payments annually (not including the amount from Starbucks, which is a major investor in the company).
The company also has made strides to expand itself internationally, with the hiring of former Google executive Francoise Brougher and former US Deputy Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis. As mentioned earlier, Square has brought its platform to Japan, making it the second non-US country following Canada.
It also comes on the heels of company co-founder Tristan O’Tierney announcing his departure after 4.5 years.
Square Market is available starting today for US merchants to set up their shops and begin selling online.
Update: Square co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted out that Square Market was created in just three months.
— Jack Dorsey (@jack) June 26, 2013