If you bought something from the bookstore at the NTC, you may have already met the credit card app, Square. We’ve received a lot of questions in person and over email about how Square works, so we thought we’d share our experience.
Honestly, I’m not sure how the actual mechanics work. You plug a tiny reader, the approximate height and length of a donut hole and width of your finger, into the headphone jack of an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch and swipe a credit card through it. Voila! You're able to charge the credit card for a purchase.
I haven’t figured out how credit card information goes in where sound usually comes out – get an explanation here – but then again, I don’t generally take apart my computer to figure out how the DVD drive works.
Once you’ve accepted the concept of the magic credit card reader, the app is both simple and delightful to use. You set up items in your store ahead of time, determining description and price. A photo can be added to each item, so you don’t have to search through item descriptions when ringing up a purchase.
Let’s say someone wants to buy a t-shirt and a copy of Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission.
Having already programmed both items into the app, you simply scroll through the photos displayed under the sales slip on the main Square screen. You tap on the photos of the t-shirt and the book to add them to the sales slip. Then, you swipe the customer’s card, have them sign the next screen with their finger, and input their email to send a receipt. Alternately, you can also ring a cash purchase or input the number of a card that refuses to swipe.
On the emailed receipt (and in the sales record in your online Square account) there is an itemized list of what was purchased. No cardholder information is stored, not even the full email or phone number. Money is transferred to your Square account, and then deposited directly to your bank account at the end of the day.
Reconciling the transactions could be easier, but you can download the data from your online Square sales record into an Excel doc. Then you face the challenge of working to making the totals in your spreadsheet match the daily totals reported in your online Square account.
In the end, we have a couple of suggestions for improvements. I’d like to see the next version be able to track inventory, apply discounts, and run more complex reports that manifest as really cool, colored charts. And make me a cup of coffee. (It is magic, right?)
Oh, and it's not too late to purchase the books we had for sale at the NTC:
2011 NTC Bookstore Merchanise List
- Open Community
- Open Leadership
- Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission
- Internet Management for Nonprofits
- Nonprofit Marketing Guide
- The Networked Nonprofit
- Social Media Nonprofit #Tweet
- The Dragonfly Effect
- Technology at the Margins
- The Idealware Field Guide to Software for Nonprofits
You can also buy lots of NTEN swag and gear here!