Square made it possible for small businesses to accept credit cards via smartphone. Today the company unveiled a decidedly non-mobile solution: a payment system for brick-and-mortar stores.
The new Business in a Box for Square Register provides a complete point-of-sale system built around Apple's iPad (which, it's worth mentioning up front, you'll have to provide yourself).
Thus you get two Square Readers, a countertop-friendly (and secure) swiveling iPad stand, a cash drawer, and, if you're willing to pay extra, a receipt printer. That does indeed provide everything most retail shops would need to conduct commerce, all "in a box."
In case you're unfamiliar with Square Register, it's the iPad app companion to the Reader. With it you can build a photo-powered inventory of products to make for fast and easy checkouts.
The app also tracks repeat customers, great if you want to offer loyalty discounts or rewards. Perhaps best of all, Square Register offers analytics for tracking your best-selling items, most-profitable hours of operation, and so on. Good stuff.
The baseline Square BIAB costs $299. If you want the Star Micronics TSP143L Receipt Printer (which can also produce daily sales reports and summaries), the kit will run you another $300. For what it's worth, Newegg sells that same printer for $260.
Given that BIAB is BYO iPad, you're looking at another $500 minimum (well, maybe $400 if you get a refurbished model). But that still should be less than you'd pay for a typical touchscreen-powered cash register, which, incidentally, can't run Evernote, Documents To Go, or TableTop Translater (which could prove handy for dealing with customers who speak a different language).
Plus, you can't take a cash register home with you at night.
Ultimately, you'll have to crunch the numbers to decide if the Business in a Box makes sense for your small shop. But on the surface, it looks like an affordable turnkey solution.