A series of essays about sales, startups, & general banter by Nick Persico

The Square API

Square has built one of the most beautiful, user-friendly and accessible platforms that a growing number of local merchants rely on everyday. As a consumer, it’s the best purchasing experience possible when using a credit/debit card.

Square has also managed to build one of the better point-of-sale systems available on the market in terms of user experience.

All of the product experiences Square have built thus far are compelling, but they’re still missing a key ingredient that could take the platform to the next level.

The missing ingredient is a Square Register API.

Here’s what Square has to say about their non-existent API:

“We do not currently offer an API, but if we do in the future, we’ll be sure to announce it. As a Square merchant you can sell items online from the Square Market. At this time you will not be able to use Square to accept payments online through your own website or any other third-party website, and you will not be able to integrate Square with any other systems.”

Square does not appear to be thinking (at least publicly) about the role their API could play in the POS space the way I am.

The majority of local merchants, namely restaurants, are using legacy point-of-sale systems that are unaware of the cloud and near impossible to integrate with. They’re expensive to purchase, maintain, and you can forget about upgrading them.

We need to throw them out and start over.

Granted, the space is crowded. There are startups that are building cloud and tablet based platforms that are supposed to be working on this problem. But their solutions seem to lack the massive scale and consumer adoption that Square has been able to achieve.

Side Note: Sorry guys, I’m not ordering food from a tablet. I want my waiter please.

What should the Square Register API do?

One of the main drawbacks of Square’s POS platform is exactly what makes it so great. It’s simple. It doesn’t have a lot of the back-office features legacy POS systems attempt to have.

With a Square Register API, startups can build those back-office tools. Square could create an App Store ecosystem for local merchants to pick and choose the tools they need.

The Square Register API should give developers access to the data being generated by the merchants within their accounts. What items are being purchased, average ticket size, and times of purchase are just a few examples of that data that developers could create meaningful tools to help merchants better run their business. A merchant should also have to only use their Square account to interact with these apps.

Front door vs Back door

We need to stop focusing on the local merchant’s front door. Independent local businesses are not going to make it because they pay a monthly subscription for a loyalty program, run daily deals, or some other gimmick software that is supposed to “drive in new customers”.

Independent local businesses make it with constant positive word-of-mouth and an efficiently managed back of the house.

It’s time we focus on helping local merchants effectively manage the back door. Tools that help them track inventory costs, manage employees, and boost their profit margin are what they want and will pay for.

It’s all about controlling and reducing shrink.

The reason why these tools have not worked in the past is because of the lack of good data. As a restaurant owner, I can’t use software to analyze the true profitability of my menu without the transactions made against the menu itself. Without that data, the software is merely making assumptions based on bullshit.

Square has the data. Square can use this data to become the dominant platform for local merchants, while also contributing to the greater good and advancement of an industry that’s been slow to adapt.

I beg you Square. Please make a Square Register API. It’s the right thing to do.

Profile of Nick Persico

Nick Persico

Head of Growth at Close.io. Previous: Co-Founder of Smart Host (StartupBus 2014, Techstars Austin S14), VP of Ops at Krossover, and sales at Sysco. Baltimore Orioles and Ravens fan. GIF enthusiast.