Business

Local retailers take swipe at credit card innovation

Candace Reichbach, left, took a credit card from customer Micah Woodford at Fleet Street Hair Shoppe last month.
Candace Reichbach, left, took a credit card from customer Micah Woodford at Fleet Street Hair Shoppe last month. Herald-Leader

When most people see an iPad, they see a device they can use to play games or surf social media.

Local businesses see it as an opportunity to get rid of the traditional credit card terminal system.

Many Lexington businesses are starting to embrace the Square register system, which turns an iPad or smartphone into a debit or credit card reader.

Two businesses on North Limestone, Fleet Street Hair Shoppe and North Lime Coffee & Donuts, have been using the Square system since opening.

"It was really, for us, the cheapest way to do it, but also the most convenient," said Joe Ross, a co-owner of North Lime which opened in September.

Since North Lime operates in a tight space, Ross said the iPad was great for saving space.

"It's reliable, doesn't take up very much space and is extremely user friendly," Ross said.

Ross added that training employees how to use the system was simple.

"It so intuitive that everyone just kind of knew how to use it without having to do a whole lot of training," Ross said.

Ross also added that North Lime enjoys the $275 monthly fee that Square offers.

Square offers two options: a 2.75 percent fee on every swipe with no monthly fee or a $275 monthly fee with no percentage per swipe.

Right down North Limestone, Fleet Hair Shoppe is also taking advantage of the system.

"Ever since we opened, which was January of 2012, I looked at more traditional options, and I just kind of liked the convenience that the iPad would offer," said salon owner Candace Reichbach.

Reichbach was also impressed by the flat fee and differences with the traditional system. She was taken aback by the varying rates and costs of the card terminal when she was looking at traditional merchant programs.

"You pay rent on it," Reichbach said. "That's weird."

The salon also takes advantage of the portability of the system and can accept card payments when it is operating at events. Square also operates on iPhones and Android smartphones.

And there's another advantage in the office.

"For us, it means that we don't have to have a land line, like a traditional terminal would," Reichbach said." Clients are able to text us if they are able to confirm or make an appointment, which seems to be something that a lot of people like."

Reichbach also said that the environmental impact was popular among customers.

"I like that it's paperless, all of our clients like that," Reichbach said. "The environmental impact is pretty cool."

The salon also uses the iPad to show clients hairstyles, further adding on to its versatility.

Square was founded in 2009 by Jack Dorsey, the co-founder and chairman of Twitter, along with Jim McKelvey, who was frustrated when he lost out on purchasing an art piece because he couldn't pay with a credit card. Thus Square was founded so customers would never miss out on a sale.

Square spokeswoman Lindsay Wiese said the system works great for small businesses.

"Our hardware and software is free, and the only fee associated with Square is 2.75 percent per swipe, absolutely nothing else," Wiese said.

Although Square also works with smartphones, Wiese said the business is seeing the biggest growth with iPads.

"IPad customers now represent nearly 50 percent of total payments processed by Square," Wiese said.

Square is processing more than $15 billion in payments every year, and Wiese said she found "2,500 individuals and businesses signed up for Square in Lexington alone."

Local businesses owners struggled to find any disadvantages with the increasingly popular system, saying it was risk-free with "no downfalls."

"I wish there was some kind of criticism I had," Reichbach said. "It's kind of the best thing ever."



Learn more

Square readers are available at many retailers around Central Kentucky that carry electronics. Find a store locator and learn more online at Squareup.com.

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