Square is a popular and well-known ecommerce solution, with a native site builder that has helped thousands of businesses get connected quickly and ranks among the top website builders, while being one of the top builders. of websites for e-commerce and the best website builders. for small businesses, through its ownership of Weebly.
“From side concerts to sports stadiums,” Square says, the company offers payment solutions that go far beyond just accepting credit cards online, with integrated marketing, banking services and even loans.
We caught up with Katie Miller, Head of Ecommerce Products at Square Online, to learn more about the inner workings of the payments giant, the challenges and successes the company has faced over the past few years and how. the future of online business for businesses. in the diversification of offers and payment channels.
Can you give us a quick overview of Square Online and what it does?
Square Online is an e-commerce product that helps businesses of all types and sizes start, manage and grow their business online. With Square Online, sellers can easily sell online, ship orders to customers, offer curbside pickup or local delivery, whatever type of business they have, from restaurants to retail and everywhere in between.
Businesses can also quickly and easily increase their reach by selling on Instagram, Facebook, etc. With the help of our site builder, businesses can quickly and easily create and publish an online store optimized for any device, without knowing how to code.
What has been your greatest success and why?
The e-commerce landscape is busy and can be expensive. Many businesses believe they need to invest large sums of money to create e-commerce experiences that meet their specific business needs. The landscape of tools, designers, and developers can be overwhelming for businesses when looking to start selling.
At the end of the day, when our salespeople win, so do we. Our biggest success has been to lower the barrier to entry for businesses: the product is free to sell, and you don’t need a designer or developer to set it up and operate it.
What were the biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
COVID-19 was by far the biggest challenge we have ever experienced. We had a product development plan for 2020 that was turned upside down overnight when we realized we needed to help our salespeople turn their physical activities into online activities, often for the first time.
The pressure and hyperfocus, in an effort to help businesses when they needed it most, spawned innovation we weren’t expecting and strengthened relationships with our salespeople as they joined. to us to help us prioritize feature development.
As a result, we were able to quickly ship new features that our salespeople told us they needed immediately, such as curbside pickup, local delivery, self-service ordering (QR code) and delivery on demand.
What impacts, both positive and negative, has the pandemic had on your business?
Many of our salespeople were interested in selling online, but hadn’t had time to figure out what it meant for their business. The pandemic forced all sellers overnight to figure out how they could get their businesses online and meet their buyers where they are.
It also accelerated trends among buyers that we believe would take years of education, like ordering QR codes. For example, due to necessity, shoppers across all demographics learned to use QR codes and order from their phones in ways they probably weren’t comfortable with.
After 16 months of adjusting to our “new normal”, the salespeople and the customers they serve are preparing for the next phase: rebuilding themselves for the long road ahead. While there is no quick fix for the damage caused by the pandemic, our lives and the way we do business have been drastically changed – perhaps forever – from consumers still reluctant to engage. with businesses like before, to restaurants and retailers who have had to radically change their business model to survive.
Figuring out how to get back on your feet or start a new business isn’t easy in normal times, let alone after a global pandemic. The past year and a half has taught us that technology can help solve (or at least alleviate) some of the big problems, like reaching new customers, quickly implementing new types of execution, and automating processes to save time. time and stay organized.
We have also learned that in this environment, access to technology has become even more critical for long-term success. That said, business owners aren’t technologists and they shouldn’t have to be. The technology should be simple, affordable, straightforward and easy to use. This is what we aim to deliver through Square Online and our larger product ecosystem.
What new challenges and market opportunities have you seen emerging?
Much of the change over the past year has been functional, creating and enabling payment and fulfillment options that meet customer needs.
As buyers continue to live behind their phones, the relationship between buyers and sellers continues to grow more distant. Although difficult, we see this as an opportunity for salespeople to reinvent the way they connect with their customers. For example, if a company’s “brand” before the pandemic was centered around in-store customer service, how can that come to life with technology?
We’ve seen real innovation in mobile and online selling over the past 16 months, and we’re excited to further support this direct connection between sellers and their buyers next year.
What are your goals for the future?
We are always listening to our salespeople and working to create the features they need for long term success. Square Online’s goal is to continue bringing businesses online and helping them reach their customers where they are – whether on mobile, online or on social media – and ultimately never miss a sale.
How do you see the online store industry evolving over the next five to ten years?
The lines between business types and sales channels will continue to blur, and a true omnichannel strategy will be needed for long-term success. Traditional distinctions between food, retail, service and nonprofit organizations are disappearing. We have seen new ways of doing business in industries that have not seen significant change in decades.
Take the example of a restaurant that now sells groceries and merchandise (retail), runs a live video cooking class (service), and provides food donations to frontline workers (for purpose). non-profit). E-commerce is no longer a universal retail technology. Salespeople need a platform that grows with them and across all the different ways they do business, rather than just one.
We will also continue to see salespeople favor a direct relationship with their customers rather than quick and anonymous sales. Owning these relationships will give sellers the control and insight they need to create more loyal customers and, in turn, long-term success.
Businesses will also continue to see an evolution in the value of their physical space. Many businesses will prioritize selling online, but a true omnichannel strategy will only gain in importance.
For example, while physical locations will become optional for some businesses, they will also become a differentiator for many businesses. Creating in-person experiences to increase a business’s online presence will help build engaging relationships with buyers and communities.
Staff will also be able to automate menial tasks, such as counting inventory, freeing up time to focus on satisfying customers and getting back to what they love: growing their business.