Review by Digital Restaurant Solutions (

One of my clients is the owner of a coffeshop.  He runs a small unit, about 6 employees and less than $5ook in sales annually.  His biggest concerns are saving money, as he is a lower volume shop; and organizational structure, as he does not intend on managing the business full time in the long-term.
He uses an old Panasonic register with about 10 buttons to choose from to input items.  Which basically means all of his item input is done by category, not by the actual product being sold.  For instance: when they sell a tall latte, they enter “Coffee” followed by the sale price of the coffee.  This requires them to have a little 8.5x11 cheat sheet of paper by the register for the baristas that haven’t learned the prices yet.   His reporting basically comes only by way of daily category counts.  He has no idea how many lattes he sold.  Which is not the biggest concern for a small cafe like this.



Some blogs indicate that Square holds your transactions for over a month if you use it for over $1000 per week in manual transactions. I personally spoke with multiple merchants that have been using Square for their transactions for a good amount of time, consistently doing over $1k/DAY and they never had issues with deposits.   And although Square’s phone number is basically non-existent, they have one of the best online help sites I’ve ever seen, and they always respond to emails within 24 hours (literally, I've pestered them dozens of times, and consistently within 24 hours or less). 


One great thing about the way square makes deposits: unlike most merchant companies, you don’t get a huge bill at the end of the month explaining what % you paid for which card, and how much you owe them; Square takes a simple 2.75% per transaction.  No bills, no frills, just a simple 2.75 %.  We did a number of test deposits to ensure the next-day deposit was accurate and we had no issues whatsoever.
Bank Account Linking

Seamless.  The interface is simple, you enter your account info, and they send you two test transactions, and you’re done. There are no fees for signing up, no applications, no credit checks, no background checks or anything.  They do require the business FEIN as well as your social to ensure you are who you say you are. 


However, this is why they have limits on the $1000/wk of manual entry, because there are idiots out there who would try and use their service illegally.  So if you’re a normal honest person that is legitimately using the card reader, you’ll love Square.
Menu/Product Setup

This was actually the hardest part of using Square (which is a good thing).  Entering items is  easy, although you are limited to using your iPad interface. If you want to enter more than a 15-20 items, you should definitely have an external keyboard to ease the use.
There are a reasonable amount of options when inputting items as well; you can add pictures, labels, colors, and descriptions, categories, "shelves".  However, it does not allow you to copy/paste items to create lists of items that are similar.  Ultimately, they cater to low-volume clients, with less than 20 items, but the time spent inputting all of those items is worth it. The end product is easy to use and slick.


Ease of Transition

The transition from a Panasonic register to the iPad interface was entirely smooth.  I was a little hesitant to just hand over the interface to my client after I set it up, mostly because he is a self-described techno-curious, but not necessarily savvy. He used it for a day and said he was ready to pass it over to his baristas to use daily.  As an employee, he had no questions for me as it pertains to how to use it.  We did have to add a couple products I missed & so forth, but as for running transactions he was pleased.


Customer Side

The demographic for the cafe is a bit of an older crowd, but they were very receptive to a new system like this.  The hardest part was explaining to people that, yes, you can sign with your finger!   Which is such a great and fun thing to have, your customers love it, I’ve witnessed them walking away from the counter discussing it with their friend about how slick and easy it was. 


Card Reader

The card reader is iconic, a simple white square that plugs into the headphone jack of the iPad (or iPhone if you’re using the iPhone Square app).   Some competitors plug right into the charging plug, but if you are using your iPad all day as the Point of Sale, you can’t sacrifice the charging port.  So I give thumbs up to the square in the headphone jack.


There are minor problems with swiping cards since it is plugged into the headphone jack it moves around as you try and swipe your cards; sometimes this means the card doesn’t swipe properly, although this happens with any credit card reader.

Tipping is made simple with 3 pre-designated tiers.  You can choose $ or %, as well as smart tipping, which automatically calculates the % for the transaction.  And with the most recent update, they added a custom tip like so customers can enter the tip they wish.
Pay with Square App for iPhone/Android

This is a really great app, they have a minor barrier to entry because paying with your phone is an emerging market, but once people catch on, Square is one of the most seamless pay-by-phone apps that I’ve tested.
Guests can open the app on their device, choose to open a tab at your store and it pops up telling you they opened their tab, and you choose their name from the list in the payment screen, verify their picture for a secure payment, and they finalize/tip from their iPhone/Android device.  


The greatest advantage of this app is your regulars; they can walk in, and pay for their coffee, etc, without ever standing in line.   It also builds rapport with those regulars.
iPad Case

This proved to be a bit of a challenge.  We didn't want to put a big bulky iPad case in the coffee shop, mostly just because the owner (and me) thought they were a bit of an eye sore.  Not to mention their price tag in the $100's.   We went with the Pad Grip.  It was not secure like we had liked, although we decided the odds of someone just picking up the iPad and running is pretty slim.  The case also comes with a heavy duty magnetic base, so it sticks to your cash drawer seamlessly.  It pivots easily and actually stays in place when you move it.  Most pivoting iPad cases I've found are not sturdy when you push on them (you know, use the iPad); but the Pad Grip stayed true and easily adjustable at the same time, win win.  

The Square site provides some really great sales reporting, with an interface that you can expect from Square.  However, that is only for reporting how much sales you do, not what items you sell.  You can download in .csv, so if you are great with excel, you can create some pretty great reporting options to see your product sales, but there are no great ways to view trends or anything with their current site unless you build it within excel.  I’ve developed an excel spreadsheet designed to use for square reporting, which is part of the package if I implement Square for you.
In conclusion, Square is a leader.  They have created an interface that is intuitive, fast, and simple.  If they keep headed in the direction they are headed, they will be breaking some impressive ground in no time, most importantly; they’ll be saving you a good amount of money on credit card processing.


Other Great Futures

·      Multiple Devices using one account (device name shows up on reporting)

·      In-App profile and settings options

·      Fast, minimal glitches


Not currently available with Square Card Reader/Square Register

·      Inventory Management

·      Enterprise Reporting (.csv download available)

·      Online Product Management (Item Input)

·      Multiple Users (specific sign-in’s)

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Tags: iPad, of, point, restaurant, sale, square, technology


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Comment by David Stewart on July 9, 2012 at 7:12pm
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