As it tries to grow its retail POS replacement business, Square has hired a former Safeway VP—who happens to have more recently worked at PayPal—to run retail partnerships for Square.
Alex Petrov left PayPal in March after some 15 months at the payment giant. He joined Square in May. Before that, he worked for Safeway in both a VP role in corporate, plus he served for almost five years as president of Safeway unit Lucerne Foods. Before that, according to Petrov's LinkedIn account, he worked at Nestlé in various brand management and marketing positions.
Although Petrov's payments background will be helpful, it's more likely that his direct retail experience at Safeway would be key to his job. Square is focused on two very different kinds of retail prospects: Those who have no—or practically no—professional POS system and those who have robust POS systems.
The first category is the far easier of the two. Square's pitch is that it brings many of the benefits of a traditional POS system, but with much lower cost, infrastructure, training and added flexibility. ("You're asking about scalability and security? Wait, I think I hear my mother calling me.") But when they move into the midsized retailers who have had full POS systems for years, the issues involve integration and preservation of existing investment.
What both PayPal and Square know is that mobile is indeed pushing traditional POS out, all the way from the local tavern to Walmart. Square's arguments against the huge number of mobile rivals may talk about ROI and compatibility and flexibility, but the arguments that will resonate with retailers—at all levels—will be hand-holding, assurances that this will turn out fine. And the more former retailers Square has in those conversations, the more credible those assurances will sound.
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