Developer Spotlight: AuctionZoom

Getting charity auction events running smoothly with AuctionZoom

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We're back, with another round of our Developer Spotlight series, where we highlight developers building with Square. In this installment we spoke with John Foster, CEO of AuctionZoom. We asked him about his company’s experience building with Square, what kinds of problems they’re solving for merchants, and what led them to choose Square.

What is the main Seller that you are solving for with AuctionZoom, what are some of the key problems they face when trying to run an auction?

We’re solving for Sellers when they are running a silent auction fundraising event and want to use their Square account. So typically, these are non-profits, charities, foundations, schools, etc.

The biggest problem they’ll be looking to solve is long lines at both the start and end of the auction event. Many have tried using Square for payment at the end but find that lines are still a problem as there are often hundreds of people who need to pay at the same time before they leave. Winning bids also need to be tracked in real time.

Bidstation is a point of sale system for charity auction events that is simple to use. As a database software, Bidstation also provides a host of solutions that streamline the complex processes before, during and after the auction. This includes generating bid sheets and documents, registering bidders with a card on file, efficiently recording winning bids, purchases and donations, generating invoices for checkout and taking payment from attendees who did not save a credit card.

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What technologies are you using to build your app? Also, which parts of Square is AuctionZoom integrated with?

Bidstation is built on an Access database and syncs with our native Android and iOS apps. Document creation is achieved through MS Mail Merge in Word, making it easy to customize documents to suit each Seller’s needs. Crystal Reports generates invoices and reports.

We are using the Square Reader SDK with the apps to securely capture cards on file and link payment tokens to each bidder record for future card on file batch processing from the software using the Square API.

What is the onboarding process like for someone that signs up for AuctionZoom, and what were the things you focused on for streamlining that process?

Our clients sign up on our website to purchase a license key for Bidstation. If they have a Square account already, they simply connect via OAuth. If not, we provide information and the account sign up link with Square so they can open a new account and then connect with Bidstation via OAuth.

Cutting down on onboarding steps and processes is important to any business but perhaps even more so for ours. Clients are not typically experienced with merchant accounts and point of sale technology and can quickly become overwhelmed during onboarding if the steps are complicated and have long instructions. We worked closely with Square’s team to find efficiencies and ultimately have brought onboarding down to a few basic steps that our clients find easy to follow.

What made you choose Square?

Initially we knew that our clients would appreciate the ease of access to the Square account and to the Square card readers. Before integrating with Square, we shipped card readers ourselves at an added expense to the client. We recognized that a Square integration would require a significant development effort, but also that it would make the software accessible and convenient for many more non-profits. In our meetings with Square, we both saw a very good fit with mutual interest in meeting non-profit Sellers’ needs for an auction event solution.

What are your plans going forward into the next year and beyond?

Our Bidstation integration with Square started out on solid footing with a software solution that provides an excellent solution for event line-ups and for streamlining many of the processes involved in a silent auction. We are planning for rapid growth over the next year. We also see a number of opportunities for Bidstation enhancements and for new projects that will lift Square’s value for non-profit Sellers and we’re excited to be working with Square to make these available in the near future.

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We want to give a big thanks to John Foster of AuctionZoom for taking the time to talk with us about his company and experience working with Square.

Also, if you’re working on a project and looking to implement Square, and you’d like to talk to us about it, please reach out to us on Twitter or in our developer community. We love hearing your stories, and you never know, we just might feature you in a future developer spotlight!