Salon Booking Apps: STX Takes On Square Appointments — STX Software

Navigating the Salon Booking App Market: A Look at the Differences Between Square and STX

Lady At Salon Speaking To Stylist 2

If you’re shopping around for a salon booking app, you’re bound to come across Square Appointments scheduling software in your search. Square Appointments offers a free plan with an array of features that appeals to small businesses and solopreneurs. They offer two tiers of paid plans as well as additional add-on features.

As you’re doing some research, and before you make an investment into any salon management software, you’ll want to have a thorough sense of what your salon software can offer, what it doesn’t, and any advantages or disadvantages that come with the platform you decide to go with.

With that in mind, let’s take a dive into the similarities and differences between Square Appointments and STX.

Online Appointment Booking

The most important tool that every modern salon business needs is an online booking system. Salon owners know that their customers want convenient booking access anytime, anywhere.

Square Appointments and STX both offer appointment scheduling software that allows salon businesses to create a calendar of available appointment times that clients can use to book specific services. Online bookings can be made via web-based or mobile apps.

Key Similarities Of Appointment Booking on Square and STX

Square Appointments and STX share a host of the same features and capabilities for appointment bookings, including:

  • Mobile compatibility with IOS and Android devices
  • Automated appointment reminders for customer appointments that can be sent via email or SMS
  • Clients can book recurring appointments
  • A customizable online booking page
  • Client management features
  • Digital receipts for deposits or retail items pre-paid for at the time of booking

Key Differences Of Square and STX Salon Scheduling Software

STX can sync your customers’ appointments with their device, Outlook, and Google Calendar. Square Appointments will only sync to a Google Calendar, which may be a big drawback for some customers. And this feature is not available on the free plan, so for customers to access this feature the salon business needs to be on a paid plan tier to offer it. (The same goes for multiple locations support; Square only offers this at their paid tiers.) While automated reminders can help customers remember and manage their appointments, cancellation or rescheduling may be more frequent when customers can’t auto sync to their device’s calendar.

The customization of the booking page is limited with Square. Some salon businesses find that it is difficult to achieve the level of customization that they desire for brand expression and have expressed that the widgets are outdated in style.

Square Appointments does not offer some key salon scheduling features that are essential to maximizing time and efficiency for those in the beauty and wellness industry: double booking (for overlapping services), wait lists, and preferred service durations. These features help the salon owner and staff make the most of their appointment scheduling system. Wait list features are particularly effective for eliminating time-consuming phone calls to fill a suddenly empty appointment time and recovering the potential monetary loss.

Services packages, memberships, and classes (including virtual classes) are a significant source of recurring income for salons, spas, and especially fitness centers. The best salon software has the capability to sell and manage these offerings in their online booking system. STX offers these features in an easy-to-customize booking website, Square Appointments does not.

Lady At Salon Taking Payment With Machine

Salon Software Payment Processing

Square is a widely-recognized name as an early mobile payment processing platform that was convenient and easy to use for small businesses and solopreneurs. It is still one of the most widely used mobile payment platforms. Everybody from your local Girl Scouts selling cookies to mobile service providers such as car detailers, personal trainers, and, yes, independent hair stylists, can use Square to accept various forms of payment including credit cards and Apple Pay.

Square’s payment processor is a great tool for very small business operations or the solopreneur. That said, many medium- to large-sized businesses and enterprises find that it doesn’t meet their needs, transactions become too expensive, and there are some concerning limitations that can cause their payment processing to become interrupted.

Square Transaction Pricing

Here is the current payment structure for Square Appointments:

  • 2.60% + $.10 per transaction for card read by reader
  • 2.9% + $.30 per online payment (pre-payments, deposits, etc)
  • 3.5% + $.30 per transaction for manually keyed card number or card on file payment
  • Terminal is $299.00 plus tax

While the card reader payment rates are pretty reasonable, how many payments in today’s salon business are completed via card reader versus those that are processed from a card on file? That said, independent stylists (or small salons with multiple employees) might do very well with Square’s payment processing services since these businesses are more likely to take payment via card reader after each service appointment.

But medium- to large-sized salons, and salons with multiple locations, are going to find that the high transaction fees are quickly going to rule out Square as their payment processing platform. Essentially, Square has been found to be worthwhile for salons that do $10,000 in transactions per month or less. Anything beyond that and it’s just too cost-prohibitive.

Square also auto-approves new merchants, which is great, but in the sign-up process the merchant must agree that Square can freeze their accounts at any time and withhold their proceeds for 45 days or more. While the intent behind this is to prevent illegal or fraudulent transactions, many established merchants have experienced a frustrating shut down (despite no illegal or fraudulent activity) and they lost the ability to process payments until the situation was sorted. This kind of service disruption can have a massive impact on your business: it can cause a loss of customers that is hard to recover from, damage your reputation as a business, and lead to a financial mess.

Another factor that exacerbates this issue of potential payment processing disruption is that Square does not have personalized customer service. All of their customer service is done via email, online tutorial, or chat. Access to a customer service agent is difficult to achieve.

Finally, Square Appointments will only process payment using the Square POS system. So, you can not use their salon scheduling software and online booking system with a more affordable payment processor.

STX Transaction Pricing

With STX Payments, supported by Clover payment processing, there is only one tier of transaction fees, and it is competitively situated to be an attractive option for salons of all sizes. STX Payments is Level 1 PCI compliant and uses 256-bit SSL encryption to ensure card data is safe. Take a look at these competitive rates and features:

  • 2.55% + $.10 per transaction or 3.75% Cash Discount Pricing
  • Free Clover Flex with either of the above pricing models
  • Customized pricing review at request of the merchant

Note that the 2.55% processing rate is lower than even the lowest rate charged by Square (for its card reader-only transactions). The same $.10 fee per charge is the same for every type of non-cash transaction. And cash transactions processed by STX Payments offer a 3.75% discount. And, the terminal is provided at no cost to you.

When you use STX Payments, you have access to email, chat, and telephone customer service support. This includes a 24/7 customer service hotline, so you can reach a service agent at any time, regarding any service need. Additionally, there is a Direct Service request button on the Clover Flex terminal, making it as easy as pushing a button to access support.

It’s significant to note here that Clover is its own API, so development and updating is seamless between the hardware and software. Square has to keep up with Apple’s rapid development, and there have been occasions where Square hasn’t been prepared. This has put merchants in difficult situations with not being able to process payments for several days while Square’s development team plays catch-up.

For any size salon business, this can cause massive disruption in their business operations. With no ability to process payments, salon doors are closed, service providers aren’t making money, and your bills aren’t getting paid. For a new salon, this can be particularly distressing when you’re trying to establish your business and your reputation.

Finally, even if you don’t choose to use STX Payments, you can still use the Inspire by STX salon software for your online booking, scheduling software, marketing efforts, business development and more. Unlike Square Appointments, which will only use Square payment processing with its booking software, Inspire by STX will work with the payment processor of your choice.

Inspire By Stx Checkout Clover 6 14

Salon Management Software

As a salon owner, you’re probably looking for salon software that helps you get time back in your day to do what you love – rather than spending most of your time managing tedious business operations. So, you’re in need of a booking app for salon managers that goes beyond online bookings and employee scheduling to support the back end of your business as well as business development. Let’s take a look at what Square and STX offer in these areas.

Square Appointments Business Features

Square Appointments has email marketing tools, inventory management features, basic timekeeping and payroll support, staff schedule management, and the Square Dashboard for tracking some business activities.

There is also some degree of business reporting, but it is limited – as are the integrations that Square is compatible with. Basic accounting tools are offered as well.

Overall, these features will suit small businesses and single contractors perfectly well. But again, medium- to large-sized businesses are going to find that these tools are too limited for their needs.

Inspire By STX Business Features

STX salon software has all the features offered by Square, and then some. Designed for any-sized business, STX goes beyond basic features to offer a robust suite of tools that can support every aspect of business management and development. And each tool is designed for the salon, spa, or fitness gym business specifically – so every nuance of these businesses is thoughtfully considered and supported.

For example, over 50 advanced financial reports let you dig deep and gain helpful insights into where your salon business is thriving, or needs some extra attention, to help you make informed decisions. You can assign and visually track goals then monitor their real-time progress on the Billboard. So, you have up-to-the-minute data on your most important business efforts.

There is sophisticated (yet easy to use) salon staff scheduling and payroll with commission tiers. Email and SMS marketing can be deployed on any schedule, even when you’re away. Additional marketing tools help you increase sales by targeting the right clients at the time they’re most likely to purchase, making it incredibly easy to boost sales and drive profit.

Choose The Best Booking App For Your Salon Businesses

Ultimately, Square Appointments is a great option for solopreneurs, independent contractors, and small-sized businesses. The free plan supports plenty of tools to get your business off the ground, and, since all Square products work well together, it’s an easy all-in-one solution when you’re just getting started. Once your business takes off, though, you might find that you need a better solution that can grow with you and has a payment processor that offers lower transaction rates.

When you need great salon software with customizable online booking, a convenient salon scheduling app, advanced business management tools, and all the features that support the needs of the modern beauty industry, take a close look at Inspire by STX salon software. Also consider STX Payments for some of the lowest payment processing rates in the industry and seamless integration with Inspire. Every aspect of managing your salon business will be in the palm of your hands with the STX all-in-one solution!

You can give us a call at (800) 766-4778 or visit our website to book a live demo with our team. Contact us today to learn more about STX!

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