How do you compete with legacy software systems? If you're Square, you create a well-designed, cloud-based, intuitive, self-serve product and send it into dining rooms across the country.
— Kristen Hawley
While traditional sit-down restaurants are frantically launching fast casual and counter-service concepts, payments company Square is getting out from behind the quick service counter and into the dining room.
Square for Restaurants is a new point of sale (POS) system particularly well-suited for the full service restaurants the company’s previous ordering and payments products couldn’t cover.
“Sellers are wanting us to bring what square does best,” said Alyssa Henry, seller lead at Square. “Fast, self-serve, elegant, cohesive, cost-effective solutions. But we haven’t really had a purpose-built solution for this type of seller before.”
The cloud-based system, which runs on iOS devices, features customizable menus and floor plans that can be updated remotely across terminals and locations — that is, update it in one place and the update is reflected on every device in the restaurant. “I think I even updated something from my phone recently,” Bar Agricole general manager Chris Hanawalt told Skift Table.
“We spent a lot of time building smart defaults so it’s easy to get up and going,” said Henry. “One of the things that we learned and heard over and over again from the sellers we worked with in our early access program is that each of them may have a way that they run operations and businesses and they want to be able to customize their point of sale to fit their workflow, not change the workflow to meet the point of sale.”
The system is also designed for restaurants to purchase and set up on their own. “Many traditional systems aren’t particularly self serve,” said Henry. “To get started or get going you have to call someone in sales, or have someone come and set you up. It’s slow and there are hidden fees in order to pay people to come in and do it for you.”
Caviar, the delivery service Square acquired in 2014, is integrated directly into the new POS. A restaurant using Caviar can see orders placed for delivery and pickup alongside in-house orders. According to Caviar lead Gokul Rajaram, this type of integration is important to the company’s strategy. “Every restaurant is becoming an omnichannel business,” he said. “They get an increasing percentage of their business from online orders, not in-store. We can, in the Square dashboard, show what percentage of customers are coming from online to in store. Restaurants can truly leverage their business.”
There is one negative aspect to a fast and connected POS system, though. According to product manager Kevin Yien, 80 percent of Caviar order cancellations happen within the first minute of placing the order. The software accounts for this through “an intentional moment of slowing down to speed up.” That’s an eloquent way of saying that customers are given a full minute to cancel orders. “We don’t want to cause chaos for the kitchen,” he said, “so let’s hold it back, give the customer time to make up their mind.”
Square in Restaurants
Square for Restaurants is different than the company’s other restaurant product, Square Point of Sale, which plenty of counter service restaurants, bakeries, and coffee shops have used for years. But running a full-service restaurant requires complexities that Square’s previous product didn’t have — the ability to course a dinner, for example. According to a company spokesperson, “Some will want the new, restaurant-specific features that Square for Restaurants offers, and some will not. Either way, we can now serve both of those types of sellers, especially full service restaurants, which often couldn’t choose Square in the past.”
Of course, the new system also handles payments with, “the exact same speed you have come to know and love from Square,” according to Yien. Square has, over years of operation, made its checkout flow fast and simple — your email address is tied to your card should you choose to share it with Square — and this also shows up in the new restaurant product. For example, restaurants can quickly send digital copies of the receipt to the associated email address or phone number.
“That’s the best metric to measure, those guest interactions where people want to feel taken care of. They can happen much faster now,” said Hanawalt of his experience testing the product.