Square finds its second retail partner in Whole Foods

Whole Foods customers can pay for items like juice, pizza and coffee via Square registers

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
February 11, 2014
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/34f9

(Updated with comment from Square)

Where I live right now, we just got our first Whole Foods a couple of months ago. It's died down a little bit, but you couldn't get near the place for at least a month. And back when I lived in New York, the store was so popular that you would literally get on line to pay as you entered and shopped as the line snaked around the store.

The point is, people are kind of obsessed with Whole Foods. So it makes sense that Square would choose the company as its second retail partner, following its partnership with Starbucks in August of 2012.

Square and Whole Foods are teaming up to allow customers to make purchases at food venues within select Whole Foods Market stores, including sandwich counters, juice and coffee bars, pizzerias, and beer and wine bars, it was announced on Tuesday.

The stores will will use Square Register and Square Stand, its combination reader/register stand. Square Stand is already being used in seven of Whole Foods' 370 stores, and it was no specified how many more would be getting them through this deal.

"Whole Foods will roll out Square to dozens of venues fairly quickly. The goal is hundreds of venues, but we can’t disclose the exact number or schedule," a Square spokesperson told VatorNews.

In addition, an unspecified number of stores will be able to pay via mobile with Square Wallet. This will also allow customers to browse venue items and prices, discover discounts and track purchases. And a number of Whole Foods Markets will also serve as “lab stores,” where they will be testing out additional innovations for Square and payments.

“Together with Square, we’ll deliver options to expedite checkouts, and we look forward to developing new concepts to further simplify and improve grocery shopping,” Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, said in a statement. “Square’s forward-thinking vision and technology makes them an ideal partner to create a convenient, responsive experience for our customers.”

If the new deal between Square and Whole Foods feels smaller than the one it entered into with Starbucks a couple of years ago, well, that's because it is.

That partnership put Square payments into 7,000 locations across the country. Whole Foods obviously does not have anywhere close to that number of locations, plus this deal, at least so far, does not include check-out of regular items.

Do not be mistaken, though: this is a big deal for Square, as they now have their second major, big-name partner. This will help the company gain interest from investors as it looks to go public. In recent months, Square execs have reportedly been in talks with banks, including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, about a possible 2014 public offering.

In 2013, Whole Foods saw $13 billion in total sales, so now that Square is getting a piece of that action, it should go a long way in assuring investors of the long-term viability of the company.

It took almost two years for Square to announce its second partnership, but it would not surprise me at all if we start these types of deals happen much quicker in the next year.

(Image source: http://www.interpacket.com)

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