Square Market: A Threat to eBay

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Square, the payments company led by Jack Dorsey, is changing the way people think about mobile payments, leading the revolution. From the credit card reader to Square Stand to Square Wallet and to the incredibly popular Square Register, the company is rapidly developing an ecosystem to make small businesses more comfortable selling their products and taking credit cards. Its latest product, Square Market, has the potential to disrupt eBay's ( EBAY) PayPal and the payments business even further.

Ajit Varma, director of Square Market, said Square has been looking at ways to use the company's data to help its merchants. "We started working on Market in February," Varma said in a phone interview.

The executive, who's been at Square for about a year and a half, said the company needed to do more to help its merchants grow. "We think about how to create very simple, powerful tools to help our merchants. The merchants are already entering the information into our point-of-sale (POS) system, and using pictures for receipts. Wouldn't it be really powerful if you flipped a switch on the POS to have a Web site created for you? That's where Square Market comes in."

Square Market allows small businesses to grow by selling their products around the world, and offers them the tools big businesses have, including a way to sell online. What separates Square Market from PayPal Shopping or Etsy or any other platform designed to help small businesses is the "total solution" Square has developed, with its analytics to help merchants identify trends and upsell products to existing and new customers.

"Merchants get analytics across the board," Varma said. "Both online and offline, all your items are managed. PayPal doesn't have those features. You can create an eBay account, but we offer a comprehensive solution for managing both online and offline."

The San Francisco-based Square is able to integrate its products and services more and more, allowing merchants to upsell their products and build stronger relationships with their customers. "If you go to a merchant that has Register installed, there's an upsell opportunity," Varma said.

For example, Varma said one could go to Ritual Coffee, buy coffee there, then look at the receipt and get the company's coffee beans delivered straight to his house. "There's much more of a blending between online and offline, and we're seeing tons of engagement with that," Varma said.

Not only is Square able to take its analytics to the offline world, it's able to do so at a cheaper rate, charging merchants just the standard 2.75% processing fee compared to others who charge 10% to 15%. Varma noted that 50,000 small businesses already have signed up to start selling products, spanning a wide range of items, including traditional household goods, ticket sales, raffle tickets, t-shirts, donations and barber products.

One particular vertical that has surprised the company is charity donations. The company has already seen more than $1 million in sales in three months, highlighting the potential for Square Market.

Although that potential is there, Varma admitted that there still needs to be more awareness of the product. Around 500,000 merchants have created a Web site using Square Market, but just 50,000 have actually started listing products for sale.

Not only does Square Market allow merchants to sell their products online but businesses can also embed the photos of products to sell onto any Web site or blog. Merchants can also share the items on their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts or share the items on Pinterest as Square seeks to make commerce easier.

"Items are a core piece of commerce. If you can copy and paste the code, you can embed the item onto any site. We want to make commerce happen anywhere," Varma said.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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