Block’s merchant business Square announced on Tuesday (26 September) that it would allow users to generate descriptions of their items using its own AI tools. This, alongside a host of other tools, may help the company to move past what has by all counts been a terrible month for it.
Last week CEO Alyssa Henry announced she would be stepping down on 2 October following a global service outage of the payment platform, estimated to have cost merchants up to $1.2bn. The debacle tanked its parent company, Block, dropping its share price by over 20% in the last month, as evidenced in posts identified by GlobalData’s social media analytics.
Alongside generative AI, which follows in the footsteps of Amazon and eBay, the platform has also released web templates that it’s calling themes. The templates allow users to drag and drop elements to create web pages, in a similar way to Squarespace (no relation) or WordPress. Both of these features, while valuable additions to the platform, offer little that is unique.
The perhaps more interesting though less flashy news is that the company is also providing a host of new sales and inventory management features. Barcode label printing will now be available at the point of sale (PoS) rather than requiring a login to their dashboard hub, and the platform has further integrated with shipping software company Shippo, as well as auto-calculating of taxes based on shipping destinations to simplify fulfilment.
Elsewhere, it is expanding the range of financial services it provides to merchants and their clients, most notably through the introduction of house accounts. While Square could be accused of misusing financial terminology through the name, which usually refers to brokerage accounts managed by the firm itself rather than salespeople or junior account managers, the offering is still exciting.
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In Square’s case, a house account is a delayed payment account that allows regular and corporate clients to charge their purchases to it without having to settle immediately.
When the merchant is ready for settlement, they create an invoice and can receive payment via credit card, automated clearing house payment, or Card on File. This reduces the number of invoices that need to be created, thereby reducing friction for buyers and sellers.
The company has also launched Tap to Pay, a tool that turns a smartphone into a PoS machine, in Canada.
Together, the new tools certainly improve the attractiveness of Square’s offering, but it may not be enough on its own to restore confidence in the damaged brand.
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