June 27, 2013, 9:20 AM

Square makes its move with online retailers

The mobile payment service launches an e-marketplace at Squareup.com.

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Square, which says millions of business clients use its Square Reader device and mobile app to accept payments on mobile devices, launched Square Market as an e-marketplace yesterday at the Squareup.com site.

The company, founded in 2009 by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, says it is charging online retailers who sell through Square Market 2.75% per sale transaction, the same fee it charges physical retailers. Square Market lets retailers post product listings with images and prices, plus profiles of their businesses. Shoppers check out on Squareup.com using a payment card attached to their Square Wallet, an online payment service. Square says there are no other fees to merchants.

Square’s move to an e-marketplace shouldn’t come as a surprise, says George Peabody, senior director of payment industry consultants Glenbrook Partners LLC. “Square's already addressed the harder problem of bringing physical point of sale payments to the huge cadre of very small merchants, most of whom realize that multichannel is important,” he says.  “Square's just made it easier for those merchants to cover both channels.”

He adds that Square Market will compete in the online payments space with PayPal for the business of smaller retailers. PayPal, a unit of eBay Inc., also focuses on larger retailers, including those who run on e-commerce technology from eBay’s Magento and GSI Commerce. “Square’s strategy is simply the reverse of PayPal—going online from offline as PayPal goes from pure e-commerce to the physical point of sale,” Peabody says. PayPal said earlier in the year that consumers could pay with PayPal at 18,000 stores operated by 23 national retail chains.

Standard & Strange, a retailer of American-made men’s apparel, starting using Square to accept payments at pop-up stores and trunk shows before it opened its first retail store last year in Oakland, CA. Now it will use Square Market to sell online, says owner Neil Berrett. “Running an online store is like having a whole other business,” he says. “Square makes it easy with a simple solution, and we are featured along with other great brands.”


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