Square leverages Weebly acquisition to bridge offline and online commerce

By Paul Sawers

Square is overhauling two of its omnichannel merchant products, as the company continues to extend its reach beyond simple mobile payments.

While Square is better known for its core service that allows merchants to accept card payments in-store through a mobile device, the San Francisco-based company has branched out into numerous commerce-related verticals as it looks to gather a bigger piece of small business. One of these products is Square Online Store, launched originally as Square Market back in 2013, which is a free service that allows merchants to set up a basic ecommerce store.

For existing Square merchants, the Online Store offering served as an easy conduit to get online and selling more goods (with Square, of course, powering the payments), though in reality it could be used by anyone to launch their first online storefront. However, Square Online Store was limited in its scope, as it only offered a single page and lacked useful integrations with other ecommerce tools.

The revamped Square Online Store is a different proposition in its entirety, as it now promises access to real-time inventory; integration with Instagram sales; integrated shipping labels; in-store pickup service; support for Square gift cards; and — crucially — synchronization with Square’s in-store point-of-sale system, Square POS.

Above: Square Online Store: New user interface and features

Interestingly, Square is also now targeting restaurants with the new Square Online Store, allowing them to accept orders online as well as in-store, and should serve as a complementary offering to its other food-focused services including Caviar.

Design for life

This upgrade also helps to shine a light on one of Square’s big acquisitions from 2018: Weebly, a popular website builder and webhosting service. It was clear that Square had big plans to integrate Weebly into its products as part of its omnichannel push, and thus Square Online Store today becomes one of two products that will be fully integrated into Weebly.

The other product that will now integrate with Weebly is Square for Retail, a dedicated point-of-sale platform that Square launched for retailers back in 2017. Today, the company announced that Square for Retail has been redesigned with a bunch of new features, including the ability to create a website via Weebly and connect their retail catalog to the Square Online Store — this means merchants can now synchronize everything across their online and offline outlets, including pricing, inventory, and all related data.

Above: Square for Retail

These are notable upgrades by Square, as it not only joins the dots for merchants already selling offline and online, but it also encourages brick-and-mortar merchants to set up shop on the web through easy-to-use website-building tools. And for customers, these integrations mean that they can order and pay for items through a company’s website and collect their purchases in-store during business hours.

“It’s crucial that sellers are able to reach their buyers on any channel, whether in person, online, or in apps,” said Square’s head of ecommerce David Rusenko.

This is the latest in a line of moves by Square designed to give it a tighter grip on merchants’ activities. Earlier this year, for example, Square launched a new debit card that gives sellers instant access to their funds, in addition to discounts with other sellers within the Square ecosystem.

To use something of a cliché, Square wants to create a seamless experience for both the merchant and the customer. And, importantly, it wants to play a part in all transactions — this is how it makes its money, whether a sale takes place online or offline.