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Square Point of Sale review UK: free, but worthwhile?

By Emily Sorensen|2018-09-18T16:07:03+00:00March 3rd, 2018|Tags: , |
Our rating(4/5)
The most comprehensive free POS app for iOS and Android in the UK, with the caveat that you can only take cards with the Square Reader.
Square Point of Sale is a highly user-friendly system with all the standard POS functions small businesses need, regardless of whether you sell face-to-face or remotely. The only costs are related to taking payments with Square Reader.

Pros:

  • Easy-to-use interface with intuitive checkout
  • Can be set up in a day

Cons:

  • Can only be used with Square payments

Point of Sale in the cloud

As a Square customer, you can use their Point of Sale app on Apple or Android devices as your main sales hub. Since everything is stored in the cloud, you can log in and use the app from anywhere, although certain things are only available from a browser.

As opposed to other ePOS systems, there are no monthly price plans to choose from – it really is a one-size system presenting itself as being all free. The only fees you pay are Square Reader’s 1.75% card transaction fee for contactless and chip-and-PIN payments and the 2.5% transaction fee for keyed-in, swipe and remote payments.

The system also allows you to integrate with a wide range of paid partner apps, should you need more advanced tools.

Let’s look closer at the POS package.

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Suitable business types

Square Point of Sale is intended for any kind of business, meaning their features encompass a wide range of needs. We found that it is especially useful for food-and-drink businesses like restaurants, bars and cafés, given its inclusion of functions specific to this.

For example, it gives you advanced tipping options, an open ticket system that allows customers to run a tab and split the bill, and the ability to add whether the transaction is for eat-in, takeaway, delivery or pick-up.

Any kind of hospitality and service industries would also find the system adaptable to their needs, be it a yoga studio, barber or bed and breakfast. Professionals with more complex services (e.g. consultants, therapists) can use the tailored invoicing and virtual terminal features to take payments remotely.

Because of its basic inventory functions, the system is also good for small retailers and independent shops who could benefit from keeping track of their products and bestsellers, for example. The product library facilitates a quick checkout experience, so anyone selling physical goods or clearly defined services would benefit from this.

Ease of checkout

The Point of Sale app gives you plenty of options to choose the right kind of checkout process for your situation. Physical products can be added to the product library, so you can just tap to add them to the shopping cart. If you don’t have the appropriate item in the product menu or sell a custom service, you can just add the amount to the bill.

After you tap “Charge”, you pick your payment method (invoice included in options). You’ll need to be connected with the Square Reader already via Bluetooth to take contactless and chip payments at this stage. You’ll also need to be prepared to pass your smartphone or tablet to the customer for PIN entry if using a chip card, since the keypad will be on its screen.

You can split the tender too, allowing customer to pay e.g. some of the amount in cash and the rest with card. This should avoid some awkward situations where the customer may not have enough cash or card balance for the bill.

Adding products to the bill is easy via the list menu. If a product is of different sizes or types, it will show the appropriate options to pick from. Payment options can be split between payment methods in the “Split” menu, and the payment menu gives you plenty of ways for your customer to pay. Photos: Mobile Transaction

After the payment is processed, it gives you the option to send the receipt via email or text, or you can print it with a connected printer. Receipts can be customised in the backend of your account so it pretty much includes all the details you want.

The beauty of this system is that even the first time you’re using it, the checkout process is straightforward enough to get on the spot. Although, we highly recommend adding all the possible discounts, VAT info, products and prices in advance so your receipts contain all the payment information your customer will want on record.

Features

Square Point of Sale’s features are more than just basic, with its little extras here and there that help you run your overall business more smoothly. For example, stock level alerts elevate the standard inventory functions, and employee timesheets are useful for tracking shifts and organising staff. Analytics and customer profiles enable you to identify trends that’ll help develop your business and retain customers.

Let’s have a closer look at some of the most useful features.

Inventory management: The inventory library allows you to keep track of stock levels, and you can differentiate between product types and add detailed descriptions and options around these. Using this also allows you to analyse your sales in relation to what you sell and who is selling what. When your items are low in stock, you can receive stock level alerts to remind you of this.

Square inventory screen and SKU tracking

Square allows you to track inventory by SKU and name and set individual stock alerts for each item. Photo: Square

Employee management: Businesses with several employees will benefit from Point of Sale’s option to create individual employee accounts with restricted access. At the start and end of each shift, staff members can clock in and out, storing their hours in the backend, or you can manually create timesheets for your staff.

Offline mode: It’s possible to operate the checkout flow and take cash payments when the app is not connected to the internet. The system will sync when you are back online.

Refunds: Refunding is free and flexible through the app. Choose between refunding individual items you pick from the transaction, or set a custom amount.

Analytics: Because sales are recorded in real time, you can access the backend of your Square account to analyse sales figures any time from your browser. It’s possible to run custom reports of sales, analysing various aspects like discounts, payment methods, sales trends and voids.

Accounting: At the end of each day, you receive a daily sales report in your email inbox. Should you need to send or store your sales reports, you can export these to Excel or Xero.

Customer loyalty: Create customer profiles that collect their sales history, save their card details for next time, and let you text or email them directly with follow-up messages. Special discounts and vouchers can be applied to transactions, and you can get customer feedback through the digital receipts your customers receive.

Invoicing: Send or schedule detailed invoices directly from the app, track the payments and see which ones are overdue. Invoices can include file attachments, and you can either send them by email or share a URL for them manually. Customers who haven’t paid can receive payment reminders.

Multiple location management: Businesses who operate in more than one location (e.g. if you have more than one shop) can add multiple locations to their Square account. This enables you to analyse sales per location or transfer transactions to separate bank accounts according to preference.

Hardware and accessories

Square can be integrated with a range of shop-floor hardware, effectively allowing the system to operate as an alternative to a traditional POS system.

It’s important to note that the Square Point of Sale app only works with a tablet or mobile device. You cannot use a computer, whether Mac or PC, as your checkout screen, although the backend functions can be accessed from any browser.

The compatible hardware includes cash drawers, receipt printers, heat-resistant kitchen printers and barcode scanners – see below table for details.

iOSAndroid
Bluetooth printers (mobile)Star Micronics
SM-S220i
SM-T300i
TSP650II
iPhone only:
Star Micronics
SM-230i
iPad only:
Epson
TM-T20II
mPop
PoS Solution (w/ cash drawer)
Ethernet printers (stationary)Star Micronics
TSP143IIILAN
TSP654IIE3
TSP654SK
iPhone only:
Star Micronics
TSP143LAN
iPad only:
Epson
TM-T20II
TM-U220
TM-m10 (USB, ethernet)
Star Micronics
TSP143LAN
TSP654IIE3
TSP143IIILAN
USB printers (stationary)iPad only:
Epson
TM-T20II
TM-m10 (USB, ethernet)
Star Micronics
TSP113
TSP113GT
TSP143
TSP143GT
TSP651
TSP654
TSP654IIU
Ethernet kitchen printerStar Micronics
SP742ML
Star Micronics
SP742ML
Cash drawersiPad only:
Star Cash Drawer
Heckler Design Windfall Automatic
Tysso Flip-Top
APG
Vasario 1416
Vasario 1616
Series 100
mPop
Cash Drawer and Printer
Star CB-2002
Tysso Flip-Top
Heckler Design Windfall Automatic
Star Micronics
SMD2-1617
SMD2-1317
APG
Vasario 1416
Barcode scannersiPad only:
Socket Mobile 7Ci
Honeywell
1300G
1900G
1200G
Honeywell
Voyager
1900
1300G
Symbol
LS2208
DS6707
Star Micronics TSP143 receipt printer and cash drawer

Till setup: USB Receipt Printer Star Micronics TSP143IIIU with the Star Cash Drawer. The cash drawer must be connected to the printer to open. Photo: Square

Payments

You have to use Square Point of Sale with a Square Reader to take contactless and chip and PIN payments. When ordering the Square Reader, you get a complimentary swipe reader too, which is only for international cards that use swipe and signature. If you are planning on using a POS system with another card machine, you will need to use a different POS system that is compatible with your card machine.

Square Reader differs from other UK card machines in that it has no keypad on the reader itself, so customers have to enter their PIN on the smartphone or tablet screen. Technologically, this is no problem and has officially been deemed secure, but some sceptical UK customers may need a little convincing to feel safe entering their PIN this way.

A way to combat this is using the Square Stand for iPad, which can be swivelled between the till assistant and customer for when they need to enter their PIN. The stand makes it look more professional, so you avoid second thoughts from the customer’s side.

Square enables you to take payments whether your customer is present or not, although transaction costs are a bit higher for remote and keyed-in payments. You can take telephone, mail order or online payments through Square’s virtual terminal by manually entering the card and transaction details. This handy feature is accessible when you log in to your Square account in a browser. Keyed-in card transactions can be done at checkout in the mobile app.

Through both the app and browser, you can send invoices via email or share it as a URL. If you plan to expand to online sales, Square can be integrated with several e-commerce tools such as WooCommerce and Weebly. Any integration comes at an extra cost, depending on the other platform’s pricing.

Square Stand on counter

With Square Stand, your tablet is protected against theft. It can swivel around to face the customer so they can enter their PIN securely on the screen, and the swipe slot at the front can take magnetic stripe transactions.

What are the upgrade and integration options?

Growing businesses can switch to a more advanced POS system (Vend or TouchBistro) and integrate with a long list of partner apps specialising in:

  • Accounting and tax (Enterpryze, Xero, Zoho Books, SHOGO)
  • eCommerce (Weebly, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Ecwid, Wix, Square for Magento, OpenCart, Zen Cart)
  • Items and inventory (Shopventury, Stitch Labs, MarketMan, DEAR Systems)
  • Invoicing and services (Táve, Zoho Invoice)
  • Restaurant management (Fresh KDS)
  • Employee management (Deputy)
  • Analytics and reporting (IFTTT)
  • Ticketing and event management (SimpleTix, Brushfire)
  • Booking and scheduling (Acuity Scheduling, Checkfront)

It means that practically whatever you sell, the free POS system can integrate with more complex tools for what you need most.

Customer service and support

Square is set up to eliminate the need to contact customer support. Their user interface is developed to be as intuitive and simple as possible, so it doesn’t require formal training to start using the system. In fact, the first time you use the individual functions, you get walk-through prompts to tell you about the page and what you can do, which really help you on your way.

The online help pages for the UK offering are at the time of writing (March 2018) comprehensive enough to cover maybe 90% of all questions users may have. When the service just launched in the UK last year, the help pages were not as good.

Through the support section on the website, you have options to email them or call Square between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday. There’s also an “Ask the Community” section where you can air your more general or unanswered questions, and other Square users can then respond in discussion threads.

Our verdict

There is no doubt that Square Point of Sale is a polished ePOS system that is fully sufficient for many small businesses. It simply has all the main features you need to run a shop, café, restaurant or any other kind of business that doesn’t need something highly specialised in addition to that. If you do eventually need more specialised tools, the available partner apps will likely meet those needs – prices of which will vary.

A thing to consider is whether you want to use Square Reader to process face-to-face payments, as this will be the only card machine you can use in conjunction with Point of Sale. The payment flow with this machine is super smooth for contactless, but needs a little getting used to for the on-screen PIN entry requirement.

Overall, we think Square Point of Sale is great for small businesses who want to get started quickly without complicated pricing or a contract to commit to.

To Square POS
Name of Reviewed Item: Square Point of Sale GB Rating Value: 4 Review Author:Review Date: