Less than a month after getting into the product-photography business, Square Inc. on Thursday said it was opening its software platform beyond payments so that outside developers can create systems for merchants to handle orders.
In a post on its developer blog, San Francisco-based Square noted that over the past couple of years it has released application programming interfaces (APIs) and software developer kits (SDKs) that enable developers to take payments in person, online, and in mobile apps.
“We’re now expanding our platform and shifting the focus from payments to orders,” Marylise Tauzia, Square’s product marketing and evangelism lead for platform and APIs, said in the post. “Orders are now a central component of our platform as they connect payments to items, price modifiers, customers, and more.”
The release, dubbed Orders API, is the first to open access for external developers to Square software products, according to Tauzia. Developers will be able to send orders from their app to Square’s Order Manager, which turns Square points of sale and the online Square Dashboard “into order-fulfillment points that are already used daily by millions of merchants,” she said.
In addition, outside developers can integrate their Square applications with such established business-management software programs as NetSuite, Salesforce, or SAP, Tauzia said.
A Square spokesperson tells Digital Transactions News by email that in going beyond pure payments “we’re always working on new tools that help sellers of all sizes make a sale. The evolution of our Developer Platform to include broad commerce functionalities beyond payments, like orders, inventory and customer management, is a natural extension of that.”
The spokesperson adds the company expects merchants of all sizes to be interested in the new service. The biggest users, however, may be larger ones with greater needs for customization. “As merchants grow and Square continues to move upmarket, enabling developers to build solutions on top of our platform will become an increasingly important part of serving the unique and varied needs of larger sellers,” the spokesperson says.
Square’s announcement is significant because “it fits with the general trend of all payment facilitators to be doing more than payments,” Richard K. Crone of San Carlos, Calif.-based Crone Consulting LLC, tells Digital Transactions News.
He calls the Orders API another step toward “fully autonomous checkout” in which consumers pay automatically at merchant locations rather than by whipping out a card or smart phone, a la Amazon.com Inc.’s Amazon Go stores. “The choke point is going to be not checkout, but check-in,” Crone says. “So Square allows a merchant to plug in all of the things a merchant needs to facilitate the customer journey.”
Outside developers working through Square could give merchants more direct connections with and data about their customers, especially such merchants as restaurants that get many orders via third-parties that such as GrubHub or DoorDash delivery services. “They’re the only one to see the data,” Crone says. (Square recently announced a deal to sell its Caviar delivery business to DoorDash for $410 million.)
The integrations with business-management programs such as Salesforce could help accomplish the same merchant goal, according to Crone. “If you can unify these, you can connect with the customer well before checkout,” he says.