WASHINGTON, January 29, 2013 - For Max Brown, founding partner and owner of Washington’s Chinatown Coffee Company, small business owners need to embrace the benefits that technology brings. In the two years that Chinatown Coffee has used the app called “Square,” Brown has seen his credit card charge costs drop by about 50 percent. That has increased the ability of his business to grow.
Square, first introduced in 2010 by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, allows Apple iPad or iPhone users to forego large and expensive Point of Sale systems and bypass their costly fees. The product also simplifies daily transactions.
Brown believes that as more businesses embrace Square, POS systems could become a thing of the past. “It's the internet that is really making POS systems obsolete,” says Brown. "With broadband as a backbone, transactions are becoming faster and cheaper to process, moving all of this into the cloud.”
The Square app is “fast, easy, paperless, and accurate. It's easy to program new items, price items, and has an up rate of 99.9 percent,” he said, meaning that the network is rarely unavailable for transactions. Chinatown Coffee has “been able to track payments by hour of day, so we can see where we need to improve sales and augment staff, as necessary. We track sales by items, so we can see what is selling more than something else.”
Brown says that his company is among the first “brick and mortar” businesses to use the app in Washington. “First, I was able to move to a paperless system. Second, it was an easier interface for our baristas and easily modified, versus a traditional cash register. Third, I am able to track sales remotely over the internet, on a real time basis.” The company’s employees have also seen their tips rise, because suggested tips are presented on the iPhone or iPad’s purchasing screen.
Though Square has put him ahead of the curve with respect to embracing small-business technologies, Brown knows that he can never stop looking for the next improvement. “The next generation customers and their younger siblings are demanding faster, cheaper, more innovative and interesting technology to make their purchasing experience just that – an experience.”
Small businesses always need to be thinking about how technology can help them “move higher up the value chain.” As customer-business relationships evolve in the mobile world, Brown sees ordering a coffee through the cloud. “We will know when Bob is on his way to the shop, and we will make his drink. It will be ready for him and already paid for. As a business owner we have to anticipate these needs, and if possible, meet them.”