Karisa Marra is a business expert at Square. She works with businesses of all sizes and types across Canada: from coffee shops to landscapers to restaurants. In her role, Karisa partners with business owners to help them overcome their challenges in running and growing their business.
What is Square and what does it do?
Marra: Square made it possible for anyone to accept card payments using the smartphone in their pocket. We’ve since introduced the Square Reader for contactless and chip, and our newest, Square Terminal, that makes it faster and easier for buyers to pay their favourite businesses. With Square, there are no long-term contracts or weird fees and you always get your money fast. Businesses can sign up online in minutes, start taking card payments straight away with a flat rate per transaction and get money deposited into your account the next business day.
Running and growing a business takes so much more than just payments, though, so we’ve added many more tools over the years like point-of-sale software with analytics that can show your hourly sales, invoices you can send right from your phone, a customizable loyalty program to keep customers coming back and eCommerce tools to help you sell online.
Who is your target market?
Marra: The picture of the Canadian sellers we serve has changed a lot since Square launched in Canada seven years ago. In the beginning, we saw specialty retailers and professional services joining us because they didn’t want to be locked into a long-term contract with monthly fees, wait to pass a lengthy application process, or open a merchant account.
Over the years, we’ve built an ecosystem of tools so the types of sellers we work with has expanded across different industries, from quick-service restaurants to breweries to hair salons to healthcare practitioners. More multi-location businesses are coming to us as they like that our tools are built to work together so they can now track sales, employee performance, inventory levels and customer visits from one dashboard, in real time. We’ve stayed true to our roots, though, in providing accessible tools for businesses of all sizes because we believe everyone should be able to participate and thrive in the Canadian economy.
What were the key findings from your recent survey?
Marra: Our survey found that business owners across the country spend over 14 hours every work week counting cash or making trips to the bank to make deposits or withdrawals. So that means businesses accepting cash, on average, lose around 100 working days per year to low-value, cash-related tasks. That’s a lot of time! And because money is a precious commodity, cash-related tasks are often handled by the most senior person at a business and often times it’s actually the business owner. It turns out the hidden cost of cash is a ton of time that could be better spent doing what a business owner is best at. Business owners are often so consumed by day-to-day tasks that they don’t have time to step back and consider other ways of doing business that could modernize their operations and save them their time and money.
What is the trend in Canada for the amount of cash consumers carry in their wallets?
Marra: It seems to be common knowledge that Canadians are carrying less cash these days but we wanted to find out exactly how much money Canadians are carrying. This year, Square found that, on average, Canadians are carrying $44.70 in their wallet, which dropped by $1.80 from a year ago when we surveyed Canadians. That’s almost a toonie less being carried in every wallet this year! It’s clear Canadians are increasingly, yet slowly, living a cashless life.
We also found who has the heaviest and lightest wallets in the country. Albertans are on the lighter end, carrying $41.80, which is below the national average, while Quebecers tend to carry the most with $48.80. A starker contrast emerges when you look at what people carry by age group. Canadians aged 35 to 44 carry the least cash with only $27.70 on them, whereas Canadians aged 65 and over have the most cash with $67.30.
What are the consequences of Canadian businesses not providing credit card payment options for consumers?
Marra: Knowing the amount of cash Canadians are carrying becomes important as a business owner when your customer can’t buy something and you’ve missed out on a sale. Or perhaps you can’t donate to get a poppy from a Royal Canadian Legion cadet because you don’t have change in your pocket. It’s very much a gamble to be a cash-only fundraiser or business owner these days. It pays to know that 80 per cent of Canadians want to pay by card. Too often, businesses or organizations make the mistake of focusing on how they want to be paid, and not how their customers want to pay them, which leads to them not getting paid at all. That is a huge challenge as no business, large or small, can afford to miss out on a sale.
Karisa Marra by Mario Toneguzzi, a business reporter in Calgary.
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