Everything You Need to Know About Square Reader, Square Register App and More

By: on February 25, 2016

The Square Register app revolutionized the way merchants and restaurants complete the payment process. With the app and accompanying Square Reader, typical consumer smartphones and tablets are transformed into fully functional POS systems.

This mobility enables users to complete transactions from anywhere: at their store, in their food truck or at a showcase or market.

But is that all Square has to offer? Read on for our comprehensive report and watch the video below to get up to speed in under three minutes:

To find out if the Square Register app can really compete with the many affordable iPad POS systems on the market today, we analyzed the business value of each Square product.

Click below to jump to a specific Square offering:

Square Register App and Card Reader

Square Dashboard

Square Customer Management

Square Employee Management and Payroll

Square Appointments

Square Reader and Square Register App

Square’s namesake product is its easy-to-use Reader and accompanying Register app. While Square still offers their traditional free magstripe reader, the new Square Reader enables both NFC and EMV payment options (and it comes with the magstripe reader.)

Square’s payment screen and new NFC and EMV card Reader

All you need to do is set up an account for your business with Square. You can then order the new Square Reader and start accepting transactions.

Rather than pay a monthly subscription fee, you pay a 2.75 percent transaction fee for each transaction. The transaction fee can be a deterrent for higher-revenue businesses—however, it’s a reasonable way to pay for smaller businesses adopting their first POS system.

As it turns out, an analysis of the many free consultations we have with software buyers every day reveals a shocking statistic: 64 percent of single-store retailers and 63 percent of single-location restaurants don’t even have a POS system in place.

The affordability of the Square Register and Reader make it a great option for these first-time buyers.




The mobility enabled by these systems can be hugely impactful, especially for restaurants. Square checks all of the boxes in our mPOS Checklist. Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the things it can do.

Square Dashboard

Due to the success of the Register app and Reader, Square has built additional capabilities to support them. The first of these tools we’ll highlight is the Square Dashboard: a reporting and analytics application that offers business owners valuable insight and transparency into their sales.

Square Dashboard being accessed via laptop

Square Dashboard is included with your Square account. It articulates vast quantities of data about your business into customizable, user-friendly and easily digestible charts and graphs. These data points can show you how your store is performing, from day over day to year over year.

The Dashboard also allows you to manage and compare sales for multiple locations.

We know from our research that your peers in the retail and restaurant space put a lot of value on these types of capabilities. Over two-thirds (76 percent) of single-store retailers we speak with want sales reporting and analytics in their new POS.



There’s tremendous value in the transparency analytics tools offer. What’s more, our research shows 61 percent of retailers use them to manage pricing strategies, which are crucial to the success of any business.



In all, the Square Dashboard is your back-office mothership. It helps you learn more about your business and grow that bottom line.

Square Customer Management

Square Dashboard provides after-the-fact insights and actions. But Square Customer Management gives you the necessary tools to proactively engage current, past and potential customers.

These capabilities include:

  • Directory management
  • Insights
  • Targeted marketing
  • Customer feedback channels


Information found on a Square customer profile, provided by Square

The directory feature enables you to track customer purchases—by either entering the customer’s contact information at the register during checkout, or by recording it automatically from their card swipe.

You can use this information to help identify valuable customers who tend to spend more than average at your business.


An example of a breakdown of insights available with Square Customer Management, provided by Square

With detailed customer profiles in place, Square Customer Management can provide high-level insights into your operations.

Key points, such as the percentage of new versus returning customers patronizing your business, can help you monitor brand loyalty and your ability to generate new customers.


Square allows you to differentiate and target various types of customers, provided by Square

Once you have a detailed breakdown of your customers, you can use Square’s marketing capabilities to send targeted emails to different segments.

For example, you can send lapsed customers a coupon encouraging them to come back to the store. Square’s marketing tools even provide insight into how many customers are viewing and redeeming the coupons and offers in your emails.


Example of a conversation with a customer via Square’s feedback functionality, provided by Square

The final core capability of Square Customer Management is the ability to get firsthand feedback from customers: They can send comments on their experience directly to your business from their digital receipts.

You can then engage with these customers and provide offers to make up for poor experiences—or simply reward them for the feedback.

With these tools in hand, Square Customer Management enables you to build customer loyalty and generate repeat business.

Software Advice research on restaurant loyalty programs for millennials showcases the importance of successfully building a customer following, and applies equally to retail businesses.

Square includes basic customer management capabilities with your account. You can upgrade to get all the functionality listed here for an additional monthly price.

Square Employee Management and Payroll

Along with all of these customer-oriented tools, Square offers employee management and payroll capabilities.

The Employee Management application helps you manage your workforce through timekeeping, performance tracking and automatic tip and commission payout. It’s priced on a monthly subscription based on the number of employees.

The Payroll component helps automate tedious payment processes; it has a monthly subscription price, plus an additional cost for each employee being paid that month.

Key capabilities of Square Employee Management include:

    • A clock-in and -out feature that automatically manages employees hours for payroll.
    • Employee passcodes that identify which employee is responsible for each transaction, in order to track performance and pay commissions and tips.
    • The ability to assign different levels of access to employees, depending on their needs and job level (e.g., you might only give your manager the ability to give refunds or comp orders).

As for Square Payroll, it can:

    • Sync automatically with employee time cards, so you don’t have to export or move any data into or out of the system.
    • Automatically factor in overtime to employee paychecks.
    • Automatically manage tax withholdings, payments and filings for businesses in participating states.

Square Appointments

Formal appointment management tools are less common in POS systems, and Square Appointments is especially noteworthy for its shift-scheduling capabilities.

Our report on schedule optimization for hourly employees found that businesses without scheduling software fall short in this department. Sixty-four percent of shift workers at companies without software learn their schedule less than two weeks before it starts.



In other words: Without scheduling software in place, nearly two-thirds of hourly employees can’t plan more than two weeks in advance because they don’t know when they’re working.

Given this, you can see the importance of Square Appointment’s shift scheduling tools. These allow your staff to log in online and view their hours, upcoming shifts and any scheduled vacation days, so they’re always in the loop.

Along with shift scheduling, Square Appointments enables appointment-based businesses such as salons, spas and golf courses to accept customer bookings 24/7. Customers simply go to a business’ website and reserve their own times on with Square’s embedded calendar widget.

Alternatively, you can embed a booking and reservation button in your email communications. You receive notifications for each booking, and can adjust times and confirm appointments.

Square Appointment is priced per month, based on the number of user calendars needed.

Next Steps

With all these capabilities, Square can satisfy the needs of most small retail business or restaurant owners. However, we believe it’s worth exploring additional POS options to learn if any other systems are a better fit for you. Whether or not you are sold on Square, consider these next steps:

  • Speak to one of our Software Advice POS experts at (855) 998-8505. At no cost to you, our retail advisors can help you whittle down your list to only those systems that truly meet your individual business needs.
  • Take our online retail questionnaire. The POS software market can be intimidating, especially if you are a first-time buyer. These questions help us narrow down the best POS systems for you.

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