Square Debuts Generative AI Menu Designer, Photo Studio, and More for Small Businesses
Payment processing platform Square has released nearly a dozen generative AI tools aimed at helping small business owners automate commerce, marketing, and clerical work. The catalog of generative AI features includes writing and designing menus, synthesizing website images, and streamlining customer service and employee onboarding.
AI Menus and Photos
Square’s rollout of generative AI tools encompasses several facets of running a business, but the company spotlighted its AI Menu Generator and Photo Studio backgrounds as stand-outs among the list. As the name suggests, the Menu Generator lets restaurant owners create full menus almost instantly, including ingredients, descriptions, and pricing. . Owners simply input menu details like cuisine type, number of sections, dish names, and ingredients. The AI then automatically generates professionally formatted menus ready for printing or display. The menu is also embedded within Square’s point-of-sale software, prepared for transactions once the restauranteur approves. You can see an example on the right. Square’s approach is pretty comprehensive, but it isn’t the first tool for enhancing menus with generative AI. Square’s approach is pretty comprehensive, but it isn’t the first tool for enhancing menus with generative AI. Food services tech startup Lunchbox started testing its AI Food Generator platform for creating synthetic images of dishes using OpenAI’s DALL-E 2 text-to-image model at the beginning of the year, aspiring to provide pictures of food for restaurants that may not be able to afford the photographic services used by larger restaurant management platforms.
The Photo Studio app’s addition of generative AI centers more on the visual side of e-commerce. The feature handles backgrounds for product images, producing AI-generated environments based on more than 50 style prompts as a way to help merchants visually enhance online stores. Since July, sellers have created over 14,000 AI-powered product images through the process seen on the left.
“Square is uniquely positioned to be the technology partner that enables the most seamless, intuitive applications of AI. Our goal is to help businesses of all sizes scale their operations and take advantage of these new innovations,” Square head of point of sale and omnichannel Saumil Mehta explained in a statement. “We’ve long been differentiated by the depth and breadth of our integrated ecosystem, and bringing generative AI into our products continues to put Square and its sellers at the forefront of technology.”
This isn’t Square’s first foray into AI. Last year, the company added conversational AI to its Square Messages service, providing merchants with suggestions on how to reply to customers. The AI analyzes the specific conversation, tailoring its ideas to fit the needs of the moment. Square Messages now handles about 450,000 AI-written messages per month. Square also inked a deal with SoundHound to link the SoundHound for Restaurants voice assistant with Square’s point-of-sale system. Some of the other new features hearken back to those services. Square users can have the AI write marketing copy, email replies to customers, staff announcements, and website copy.
Other aspects are new to Square’s AI suite. For instance, there are new AI-powered data categorization, inventory descriptions, customer library building, and service importation tools designed to help sellers accelerate critical workflows like onboarding and catalog setup. The new features seem built for maximum immediate impact and accessibility for small businesses without tech teams. Leveraging generative AI for where it provides the most tangible impact for sellers makes sense at a time when enterprises of all sizes are keen to embrace generative AI.