An Early Look at Square Market - Should eBay Be Worried?
By David A. Utter
A few years ago, Square surprised PayPal with the popularity of its credit card reader, giving it a head start with small sellers who processed credit cards in the offline world. Now it's taking a poke at eBay with a new online marketplace that offers an incredibly attractive fee structure for sellers of any size. Here's an early look at Square Market.
A seemingly crowded online marketplace has gained yet another company seeking to become a destination for sellers and their goods. Nudge over, Shopify, Etsy, and everyone else; Square is seeking a position in line as a marketplace too.
Currently best known among ecommerce pros as a provider of credit card processing and its plugin "square" card reader, the company introduced its Square Market. Its pitch looks similar to marketplaces ranging from eBay to others, as a place where buyers can "shop online from neighborhood businesses all over the country."
Square is aiming for simplicity in its approach to attracting sellers to their new marketplace. Square spokesperson Katie Baynes told EcommerceBytes sellers can simply sign up for free with Square online. "There is no charge to have a page or list items. Sellers simply pay 2.75% per sale - which is the same low fee for in-person, swiped transactions with the Square Reader," she said.
The company is also touting Square Market as an online presence for its Square merchants to get their stores online, with details like store hours and location. They also mention support for promotion options for sellers like reward programs and first-visit specials.
Additional marketplace options are always a good idea. They give sellers more choices, and ideally drive competition so existing destinations work a little harder to keep and attract more ecommerce pros to their ranks.
However, Square Market does seem to orient around its payment processor, and that could be a limitation. Customers who are increasingly using tablets and smartphones as part of the shopping experience are also showing demand for alternative payment options beyond the credit card.
Naturally, eBay holds a big advantage here, in the form of its payment processor, PayPal. If a given online seller has a need driven by choice or customer demand for more payment options, Square may find it a challenge to attract that business to its ranks.
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About the author:
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. Send your tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.
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