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Square’s Data Sharing a Loyalty Lever for Mom and Pops

9-7-2014 11-08-54 PMSquare, the maker of portable transaction devices, is planning to provide its small business customers a service that can translate to a triangle of loyalty.

The tech company, which produces small credit card readers that attach to iPhones or tablets, will offer its business-to-business clients access to their own detailed customer sales trends. Pieces of information can include which items sell out the fastest, the number of customers who are new or returning, average spending per customer and customer visits, according to a story in the Washington Post.

“If hot drinks are more popular during a certain hour, owners might know when to prepare them,” the story states.

To the practiced marketer, the sales insights Square can offer are typical customer value metrics that all customer relationship managers appreciate – those of recency, frequency and monetary value. But boy could these metrics help a small- or micro-business operator. Imagine how the  information on these sales trends can help a sandwich shop operator order the right amount of perishable inventory, not to mention manage staffing.

Square owner Jack Dorsey apparently recognizes this. In a 2013 interview, he told the Post: “The original focus was around running your business, specifically participating in commerce, (but) more and more it’s about growing your business, and growing your business through analytics.”

And analytics are of the greatest value when the owner of those insights links them back to the customer, which is a practice Square should easily master. By sharing its data with its small business clients, Square is using its own resources to empower them in multiple ways: to better serve their customers, to plan special events that will generate greater affinity and to tweak inventory to ensure no one leaves empty handed.

All of this aligns with the value-add model required to engage business customers in meaningful ways, as detailed in my book The Loyalty Leap for B2B. In a chapter that explains how to build relationships in the small-business channel, the book provides six steps on how to use loyalty to extend the value opportunity beyond just the service offering.

It is a model based on delivering a service or benefit that is relevant to all parties involved. In the case of Square, those parties also include business customers and end-use consumers. It brings to mind my earlier writing about the virtuous cycle of loyalty, when consumer trust leads to stronger relationships, which in turn lead to greater profitability.

What Square is offering to do, similarly, is create a virtuous triangle.

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