Square for an online store?
I love Square. They single-handedly revolutionized the way small businesses handled credit-card transactions — for the better. Want proof? Read this archive post about how merchant services used to be handled before Square. Huge percentages off the top for the merchant-service provider, expensive equipment, disuse fees, multi-year commitments and monthly fees.
It was horrible.
Square came along with a free dongle, reasonable per-transaction rates, no monthly fees, no commitments and no disuse fees.
And suddenly, folks like us were swiping credit cards at conventions and seeing increased sales as a result.
So it pains me — real pain — to give one of their initiatives a negative review. But I must.
If you’re a Square user, you probably got an e-mail a few days ago announcing Square’s new push to enter the online storefront arena.
I checked it out, and for me, it’s a non-starter. Here’s why.
(I’m going to ignore the “free shipping” option because, well, let’s be serious.)
Inevitably, one of several problems arise.
Some eStores assign the flat shipping rate to each item the customer orders. So, if they order three books with a $5 surcharge, their shipping fee becomes $15. Well, it doesn’t cost fifteen bucks to ship three books. And your customers know that. So some will complain — but that’s the good news. The real problem is found in the number of customers who quietly cancel the order and leave.
The other problem is just the reverse — the ecommerce software assigns a single flat rate to the entire order. And that $5 surcharge may be just dandy for a single book, but an order for eight books automatically eats into your profits.
Worse yet, if you’re basing your shipping surcharge on Media Mail, what happens when the customer buys a book along with an item that forfeits the package’s Media Mail eligibility? (Media Mail may be used to ship only books and a few other items such as photographic prints and sound recordings.) Now, you’re bumped up to Priority Mail — and a much higher shipping cost.
And then, of course, there’s shipping overseas. Even if your ecommerce software allows you a separate flat fee for international orders, there’s a huge difference between the cost of shipping to Toronto and the cost of shipping to Australia. You’re either going to be overcharging for one, or undercharging for the other.
Take it from someone who spent years getting burned both ways on flat shipping pricing — undercharging for international orders and missing sales from overcharging — your ecommerce solution has to assign a shipping fee based on the estimated weight of the package plus the ZIP code the package is being sent to.
Square’s online store doesn’t offer this. So I can’t recommend it.