Square has started to think beyond what it can do in the commerce space. During the company’s Q4 2015 earnings call, CEO Jack Dorsey acknowledged that his company wouldn’t be able to build everything, “so we opened up a bunch of APIs, and in that marketplace, for third-parties to actually build functionality and services that extend our ecosystem.”
While Square has built hardware and software for small businesses in the past, as it looks to the future, it’s particularly focused on helping merchants sell, regardless of whether they’re using Square’s off-the-shelf products or not. The company today introduced Build with Square, a collection of bundled-together APIs that developers can use to bring Square’s payment experience right into their own apps.
“We’ve found that as merchants grow, or you move more up market, there’s a need for customization,” explained Carl Perry, the general manager. “These companies will either work with existing developers to build apps or if they’re larger merchants, will have their own IT shop.”
At the heart of this new platform are Square’s register and ecommerce APIs.
The former provides payment processing with just two lines of code. If a seller has highly individualized point-of-sale (POS) needs, the Register API will not only manage the payments, but also provide the Square experience. Other features include being able to accept EMV payments and Apple Pay, in addition to the transparent pricing and financial services any Square seller receives.
The latter API is aimed at those who want to process online payments on their own site. The checkout form can be completely customized to suit the seller, while Square continues to handle credit card information. Perry said that credit card fields are transparent iFrames, meaning that the data is being entered on Square’s side, rather than the seller’s, making the transaction more secure.
Square has also added a new API to the mix, one that allows sellers to tie their customers to the purchases they’ve made. Eventually, Perry said, you’ll be able to associate customers by credit card (with customer permission, of course) and take steps to improve future sales. This customer API joins the handful of feeds the company offers around location, inventory management, transaction, subscription, and employee management.
What Square realizes is that although small businesses are an essential part of its survival and success, there are times when Square’s own hardware and software won’t be enough. Sellers have their individual needs and assess solutions differently, so if they want to create a customized POS system that works for them, so be it. Square will simply provide the payment processing component in the background. Building customized tools has certainly become easier and cheaper in recent years.
Build with Square compliments the company’s wide array of existing offerings. These include its App Marketplace, which showcases apps that work with the service, like Intuit QuickBooks, Xero, IFTTT, Stitch Labs, Bigcommerce, and Weebly. “Now any developer can get the advantage of our API solutions,” Perry stated. “We’re opening it up to let more and more people build solutions.”