Square on Broadening the Company’s Ecosystem Through its Developer Platform

Payments leader Square is known for looking at things in a new way – for being an early payment facilitator whose innovative use of technology to solve problems for users disrupted the industry and set it in a new direction where a generation of startups would follow. 

But once you’ve converted an entire industry to your way of thinking, how do you keep moving forward? According to Carl Perry, developer lead at Square, you do that by maintaining what he called a “relentless focus on customer experience.” 

Perry recently spoke with PaymentFacilitator about how the company is using its developer platform to expand its reach to a wide variety of sellers.

“We’re really trying to enable the platform to help serve not only our existing customers, but a whole host of new customers. It’s the integration of our first-party and third-party products that makes the Square ecosystem stronger and bigger for our sellers over time,” he said.

For many sellers, Square offers products that meet their needs out of the box. And while Square believes in the differentiated nature of those first-party products, Perry said, they won’t necessarily serve all of the needs of every seller.

“We’re not going to build every single solution for every single seller. So the way we want to actually enable sellers’ lives to be simplified is through our platform,” he said. 

To that end, the company’s use of APIs that allow developers to integrate different business functions with Square has evolved. The company began using APIs to enable its sellers to retrieve Square sales data for use in other enterprise systems, such as accounting and inventory management software, Perry said.

Since then, it has moved farther into the broader commerce space with APIs that enable more ways for companies to take payments, such as within a mobile app. Square is also helping sellers run more aspects of their businesses, with APIs for such functions as managing inventory, taking orders, managing employees and tracking work shifts. 

“All of our products are built on top of our platform, and when a third-party developer builds a solution for sellers, whether it’s a single seller or thousands of sellers, because it’s integrated directly on the same platform that our own products are built on, it really provides a cohesive and deeply integrated feel, so that when you make customer updates in one part of the solution, all of those updates are reflected everywhere,” he said.

Square’s developer base consists of a few different types of partners and users, Perry said. Some developers build solutions for a broad range of sellers, which are made available in its app marketplace. These partners offer apps such as accounting or team management solutions that integrate with Square and allow sellers to manage the apps from within their Square dashboard. 

Other users may develop hardware solutions as well. Perry cites the example of a food chain that worked with an outside agency to develop in-store self-serve kiosks to accept digital orders using the Square Reader SDK.

And finally, Square works with developers who are helping larger, more complex sellers to use Square in ways that suit particular business needs, such as a retailer that uses a Square point-of-sale solution on mobile devices to cut down on lines during busy times, using Square APIs to integrate those devices with its existing systems.

“We built the platform to be sure that what we’ve exposed through the APIs can be used in a variety of different solutions, so our platform enables larger and larger sellers to begin to use Square in very specific solutions,” Perry said. 

In the future, Square plans to continue its focus on enabling developers to help solve problems for new and existing sellers, Perry said.

“A big focus is going to be for us to continue to expose APIs that enable developers to deeply integrate and expand our own first party products and the broader square ecosystem,” he said. 

“I would expect you’ll continue to see a lot of investment and evolution and innovation in that space, and we’ll continue to look at adjacent opportunities to see where we can be successful and help new sellers that don’t use Square today, or existing sellers more easily run their business.”