VeriFone starts showing how Sail’s openness helps it compete

When VeriFone (s pay) launched Sail, its Square rival back in May, it touted the openness of the platform, which can evolve as developers and businesses connect the base mobile payment product to other features and services from third-party providers. Now, it’s finally showing what that looks like.

The first integration for Sail is with Stitch Labs (see disclosure below), which provides online sellers with a software-as-a-service inventory management system that also handles analytics, orders, shipping and contacts. Users of Sail will now be able to tie their mobile sales in the real world to their online sales, so the inventory counts will be organized through one system.

That’s helpful for online sellers on Etsy, Shopify and BigCommerce, many of whom currently use Stitch Labs to keep track of their inventory. Previously, when they sold products to consumers at fairs or other offline settings using some mobile payment acceptance tools, there was no easy way to merge their inventory data. They often had to subtract what they sold offline by hand.

The Stitch Labs integration is just the first of many other partnerships to come. Other developers and service providers can offer their services to Sail users using the Sail SDK. Unlike Square, which is currently trying to build out a suite of services for small business owners — everything from offers, loyalty, analytics, inventory and marketing — VeriFone is betting that it can be more useful to customers if it can be open and incorporate a range of services from other providers. Other services on the way include offers, marketing and accounting. Eventually, the services will be organized into an app store-like gallery that customers can use to plug in the necessary tools for their mobile payment system.

Brian Hamilton, vice president of SMB Commerce at VeriFone, told me that the value of Sail’s approach will continue to emerge as more companies, small businesses and developers see how easy it is to plug in Sail and get a variety of services from different providers.

“We won’t be the best at everything. Our approach is there are best of breed solutions out there. We don’t want to rebuild that,” said Hamilton said.

If VeriFone can build up its library of third-party services available through Sail, it could become a viable competitor in the mobile payment space and an alternative to Square, Braintree and Stripe. But it will need to attract a full suite of services and will have to make it easy for customers to integrate these tools into Sail.

Disclosure: Stitch Labs is backed by True Ventures, an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.