Daily App: Square Register Smoothes Revenue Flow

Dozens of cash-register apps exist for Android and iOS, but this one handles credit-card payments too. Square Register for Android and for iOS builds on business solutions from Square, which encompass card readers, cash drawers, bar-code scanners, receipt printers and specialized apps for industries as diverse as food and drink, health and fitness, beauty, home repair, transportation and all manner of professional services.

The Square Register is not only for businesses already using the company's credit-card processing system. Although it does require that an account be created, it doesn't have to be linked to a bank account to get started. Of course, it does accept credit, gift cards and other forms of payment. In addition, it accepts cash and calculates change. It manages inventory in realtime, presents analytics, logs each purchase electronically and offers to send the receipt to a printer, via email, text message or not at all. For its services, Square takes 2.75 percent of each swipe.

Ringing up sales is straightforward. Simply tap the keypad button, enter the amount, and when prompted, perform an encrypted swipe of a Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express card using the Square reader. This is a free device sent to all account holders that plugs into the headset jack of an Android or iOS device. The app also permits credit-card numbers to be keyed in manually if no reader is present. Once the app validates the card, tap the Charge button. Payments also can be split across multiple credit or gift cards, or paid partly in cash through an interface that's just as simple; it displays the amount remaining until it's zero.

Best of all is the ability to create custom items. Like meal deals at a local fast-food restaurant, these buttons can contain individual items or groups of items and/or services that are often sold together. For example, an IT services company might create a custom item that includes two hours of labor for speccing, ordering and setting up a new client PC, and creating the corresponding network and email accounts. Another might charge for a manicure and pedicure, although likely to be a different establishment than the first example. The app stores dozens of custom items, each with a single price that's rung up with a single tap. The items within each can come from different categories, for example, foods and beverages. It also can handle tax and tip collection. An offline mode keeps revenue flowing regardless of connectivity.

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