My family and I took a trip a few weeks ago to Key Creek Lavender Farm in rural Temecula, California. The spot was off in the hills, completely remote, with acres and acres of farmland in every direction. It was pretty much as remote as Southern California can get.

The farm had a little shop on its premises and when making a few purchases at the end of the day, I was shocked to see the sales girl whip out an iPad to complete the transaction. I was impressed. My curiosity led us to have a little chat about the app and its usefulness, and I thought “I have to share this with Benchmark readers!”

As Square phrases it, “Square puts people in business” but I think they undersell themselves with that phrase. In my view, the Square transforms the way you do business.

Square does many things. It’s an absolutely beautiful app designed for the Android, iPhone, iPad and even the iPod touch. It has a quick setup and lets you take the first (safe and secure) credit card transaction within minutes of signing up. A pocket-sized credit card reader (about the size of a chip) plugs into your phone’s audio jack and lets you run a credit card through it. E-commerce is instantly mobilized…literally. There are no tricky pricing fees; it’s a flat 2.75% per swipe for all cards with no monthly fees or contracts. However, manual credit card entries are priced at 3.5% with 15 cents per transactions – albeit such transactions are rare and the price is still very competitive for such a great tool. Best of all, it has a “Next-Day Payout” with automatic daily deposits into your bank account.

Rightly boasting many enviable features, the Square also offers an easy check out that turns your iPad into a point of sale device (as I had seen demonstrated effortlessly). All items can also be customized with photos, prices and categories, and transactions can be carried out whether it’s a card or cash. Card transactions that require a signature can be signed by customers on the iPad itself, much like you do at your grocer’s checkout. Receipts can be sent via email or text messages, which cuts down on bulky paper receipts and provides for easy organization and storage (which is exceptionally useful at tax time).

Moving beyond transactions, Square lets you assess your sales as well with relevant insight into how many products were shifted and what’s popular in terms of either service or items. Use the app to also promote your business with publishing specials and updates. Regular customers can also set up a tab via their own phone and pay with just their name.

This is a far superior system to PayPal, which charges a higher interest fee and takes a minimum of a few days to get you your money. Plus PayPal doesn’t even get close to how beautifully designed the Square is.

The app can be used by just about anyone, not just commerce. Any sales or service industry can use it. And with the mobile plug-in making it easy to take a sale, it’s a brilliant device for on-the-go tradesmen, servicemen or consultants to get an instant payment on the spot. I envision just about anyone using this fantastic business asset. Square also has a great FAQ section for anyone that needs a little extra assistance.