Square Online is a fantastic choice if you’re looking for an ecommerce platform to help bring your business to the internet.
You’ll be able to set up your site quickly and easily with Square, which is focused on providing the essential tools for an online store. You’ll also find that Square undercuts some of its main competitors, including Shopify and BigCommerce.
Square Online is a solid ecommerce platform which can help bring your business online, thanks to standout traits including great support options and unbeatable value for its cost.
Square Online is best for small businesses, since it offers a great free plan as well as all the essential features, yet doesn't overwhelm with too many fields to choose from. It's also ideal for restaurants, with built-in perks like support for delivery, pickup, and online ordering.
Our testers gave Square Online the highest score of all ecommerce platforms when it came to Value for Money in our latest round of research, scoring an impressive 4.8 out of 5 stars.
Just, whatever you do, don't confuse it with the completely different Squarespace website builder. Square Online is instead a product of the point-of-sale giant Square. Read on for our details on the pricing, features, and benefits tied to the service.
Square Online Pricing
Square Online offers three pricing plans: a free version, the $29 per month Plus plan, and the $79 per month Premium plan.
Price paid annually
The price per month you'll pay if you choose to be billed annually
Abandoned cart recovery
$29 per month
$79 per month
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2.9% + $0.30
2.9% + $0.30
2.6% + $0.30
The Plus plan costs $29 per month when billed annually, or $32 per month when paid month-to-month.
With the Plus plan, you’ll be able to accept payments through PayPal, and receive priority support in the event of an issue.
You also get access to some extra marketing features, including product reviews, abandoned cart emails, and integrated Facebook adverts.
There are also a range of upgrades to shipping and distribution functions. You get access to the shipping tax calculator, shipping labels, and shipping discounts with big suppliers such as Fedex. You also get access to advanced ecommerce statistics to help understand your store’s performance.
The Premium plan costs $79 per month when billed annually, and $88 per month when billed monthly.
The transaction rates drop to 2.6%, and you get improved shipping discounts. You also get a real-time shipping calculator, allowing customers to see exactly how much they’ll pay when they go to checkout.
Square Online does offer a free plan. That's pretty remarkable, too, since most of its ecommerce rivals offer 14-day free trials at most.
With the free plan, you’ll pay the same pricy transaction fee as with the Plus plan: 2.9% + $0.30. However, you are able to list unlimited products, then track them through the automatic inventory. What's more, all of your orders and items sync with Square's POS system.
You'll be able to sell products through Instagram and Pinterest, as well as getting a free SSL security certificate and 500MB of Storage.
It's very generously featured for a free plan, and while there is some cost with the transaction fees, the lack of overhead makes it great for small, fledgling businesses.
Square Online: Features
Square Online has all the features you need to create an online store. However, it doesn’t quite manage to pack in all the website customization and optimization features that other platforms offer.
That said, Square Online is a great option for someone looking to get set up quickly and easily with an online store, especially if they have an existing bricks-and-mortar business. According to our testers, it offers an unbeatable value-to-cost ratio. Plus, restaurant features are offered, making the platform a natural pick for an eatery that's just getting off the ground.
Let’s take a look at Square Online's feature set in more detail.
Square Online’s building tools are, if we're honest, a bit basic. However, they are more than good enough to get the job done.
Unlike a lot of ecommerce platforms, Square Online doesn’t really offer site templates. However, you will find a default site layout which is attractive, but can look a bit generic – floating product images on a white background. Users can play around with the design, but you’ll need to be prepared to put a bit of work in.
Product and inventory management
Square Online allows you to upload any amount of products onto your store, with no restrictions on how you build your inventory. You’re also able to add variations of the same product to allow for different sizing options, or even to allow different items to be shown at different physical shops (this could be handy if you’re running a restaurant business with multiple locations).
What’s more, you can get analytics reports on a product-by-product basis. For example, you can check customer engagement and drop-off rates for each product you offer to help optimize your shop.
Read more – Best Ecommerce Website Builders
As Square is a payment processing company first-and-foremost, it’s the only payment processor you can choose to work with a Square Online.
If you already use Square for a physical business, it might make sense to stick with the same processing company for your website – but then again, your needs might change, and you might find yourself stuck. Shopify and BigCommerce, in particular, give you far better payment processing options.
Shopping cart and shipping
Square Online doesn’t allow you to customize your checkout page, which is a real shame – the default checkout page could potentially put some customers off, since it breaks up your branding.
However, it does offer all the features you’d expect from an ecommerce platform when it comes to checking out. For example, it can automate emails to keep customers up-to-date with their purchases, and customers can add notes for shipping instructions.
Speaking of shipping, Square Online has a deep integration with Fedex to help streamline the shipping process, rather than offering loads of different options. It gives you all the tools you’ll need to make shipping one less thing to worry about.
Square Online offers an automatic tax calculator, meaning that Square will automatically calculate any taxes that need to be paid if you’re shipping cross-state in the US or from the US to Canada.
If you’re shipping outside the US and Canada, however, you’re sadly on your own. But this is fairly standard practice across the industry.
As we’ve mentioned above, Square Online doesn’t allow users to have too much creative control over their site.
This means that Square Online isn’t the best for SEO tools. The options to change how your site appears in search engines are hidden away, and can be easily missed. What’s more, there’s no capacity to change image alt tags (which can help search engines work out what the images on your page actually are).
This feature deficit might not be an issue for some businesses – if you receive a lot of traffic from social media or email campaigns, for example. But for others, it might be a make-or-break issue.
Square Online has great pop-up (or lightbox) tools to help you promote events, or capture information about prospective customers when they visit your site.
For example, you can collect email addresses from users to add to an email marketing database, offer sales coupons, make announcements about your site, and even verify a customer’s age if you’re selling alcohol.
Square Online allows you to create email marketing campaigns through MailChimp and its own bespoke platform. This includes abandoned cart emails, for customers who have fallen out of the sales funnel at the final hurdle.
Reports and analytics
One of Square Online’s big benefits is that all of its reporting tools are available to all customers, irrespective of the pricing plan they’re on.
This means that you’ll be able to understand which pages are most popular on your site, how people come to your site (whether from social media, search engines etc.), and which websites users might come from.
You can also access sales reporting that shows you order volume, revenue, conversion rates, and more. This means that you can have all the tools to optimize every aspect of your site to help boost sales.
Customer service & technical support
Square Online offers a good range of support options to customers, and better yet, it doesn’t restrict certain levels of support to certain payment plans.
If you have a problem with your site, the first place to check would be Square Online’s online knowledge center, which has around 180 different pages to help you fix common problems yourself.
If you can’t find the answer within the knowledge center, Square Online also offers phone, live chat, and email support. Phone support is available from 9am-9pm eastern time on weekdays and from 11am-8pm on weekends. You can also request a call back, which will help save time on non-urgent issues.
Hardware and Software Requirements
Square Online is, like all other ecommerce platforms we recommend, a cloud-based software-as-a-service solution. This means that all you need to create a brilliant ecommerce site is a decent computer, and the latest versions of your favorite web browser.
However, as your store becomes larger and more complex, it’s likely that you will need some bits of hardware to help ship and manage the stuff you’re selling. If you’re running a bricks-and-mortar store alongside your online store, you might need some payment terminals and a receipt printer. Square produces its own range of hardware, which should help keep everything nice and simple.
UI and Ease of Use
Square Online’s backend is pretty minimal. Everything is accessed from the same dashboard, and while it might seem easy to store everything in one place, it can make things confusing.
“My one critique is that the main menu isn’t organized enough,” said one user during our independent testing. “It looks simple, but once you expand one of the menu items, the long sub-menus start to blend in with the main navigation. Also, some of the links send you to a new page, while others let you stay on the main editor page.”
Still, most online stores are far trickier to manage. Square Online’s simple approach of keeping as much stuff together as possible means that you aren’t having to flit around different areas of a website to edit different things.
What’s more, as you get the hang of Square Online’s layout, everything becomes like second nature.
As we’ve previously mentioned, Square Online’s range of customization tools are pretty limited. This means that you won’t be able to go about creating completely unique websites.
However, it also means that you’re unlikely to make a hash of designing your site. Your site will be super easy for users to understand, albeit slightly generic.
“I would appreciate more options so the site becomes less generic,” said one user in our testing. “It felt like you have one template that everyone who creates an online store using Square would use.”
That said, when you’re trying to make shopping as painless as possible, it literally pays to keep things simple.
Integrations and Add-Ons
Square Online has a dedicated app marketplace that will let you integrate a load of third-party add-ons to your store.
These add-ons include options for accounting, point-of-sale features, invoicing, and marketing tools.
Deliverect, for example, allows you to connect third-party food delivery platforms (such as Uber Eats) to your Square Online. You’ll have to pay for some of the integrations per month, but others can be free.
Especially important, given the current COVID-19 situation, is Square Online’s selection of integrations to facilitate contactless commerce. These will help your business survive and thrive, whilst also giving customers a reminder of normalcy.
How to Set Up Your Square Online Store
Setting up a Square Online store is surprisingly easy. In fact, you can get started in just a few clicks.
- 1: Create your Square account and provide your business information – all you need is an email address, password, and business information like its name and address
- 2: Customize your online store website – you can change around the colors and fonts, or add customer review sections
- 3: Add your products – you can bulk-upload products and to have multiple product variations for different sizing and color options
- 4: Choose a domain name – every website has one (ours is Tech.co, for example) and it pays to get a memorable and professional-looking one
- 5: Set up shipping, taxes, and checkout options – you can use built-in tools for shipping and tax calculators, as well as easily editable checkout options
- 6: Launch your online store – Just don’t think that all the work is done…
- 7: Promote and manage your store – because this is where the hard work begins, as you need to manage your store effectively to keep customers happy, and to keep attracting business
Fortunately, Square Online has loads of tools that can help you do this, from automated shipping and tax calculators to email and social media marketing tools. It can integrate seamlessly with social media platforms, such as Instagram, and it syncs perfectly with Square’s POS tools.
Its website designs are easy to understand, according to our testing, and it has a large app store to help add features to your site, as well as excellent email and social media marketing tools.
It's not all great, though. The major downsides we've found to the Square Online service are the high cost of its transaction fees (plus being limited to Square or PayPal for payment processing), SEO tools that could use more functionality, and a lack of an ‘undo' button – instead, you need to remember to constantly save any changes you make.
Perhaps the most important thing to know, however, is that the US is the second-largest ecommerce market in the world. In fact, more than $340 billion worth of goods are sold online in the US every single year – there has never been a better time to start an online store.
Wix is the best ecommerce website overall, according to our testing. It beats Square Online in three categories: It has better websites, sales features, and design abilities.
That said, the ease of use for both is almost the same (though Wix is slightly easier), and Square Online narrowly beats Wix in three other categories: Square Online has better help and support options, customer scores, and overall value for what it offers.
Find out more – How Much does Wix Cost?
Shopify is one of our top favorite online store options: It is more expensive than Square Online, but it has unrivalled accounting, inventory, and analytics tools that will make the day-to-day running of your site an absolute breeze.
What’s more, you’ll find that Shopify gives you a greater level of creative control than Square Online.
Find out more – How Much does Shopify Cost?
Squarespace isn’t like Shopify or BigCommerce. It’s more like a website builder that has fantastic ecommerce abilities.
Squarespace would be a great choice if you were looking for an easy to set up and use platform with an eye for design. A Square Online store would likely help your business scale better than a Squarespace platform, however.
Final Thoughts – Is Square Online Worth it?
If you’re looking to set up an ecommerce platform with minimal fuss and instant access to excellent sales, inventory, and reporting tools, look no further than Square Online.
It’s also an excellent value for money, with a very viable free plan – something that no other serious ecommerce platform can offer. This alone makes it an attractive choice for small businesses that need to get the most out of their investment. There are downsides, though: The service's transaction fees are expensive, and its website designs can feel uninspired.
Square Online is also a great choice if you already use Square card readers and other hardware in a bricks-and-mortar store.
If you want to upgrade to a paid plan, pricing starts at $29 per month, and extends up to $79 per month for the premium plan for large operations.
But “Square Online” refers to the company's ecommerce offering, which allows a store to establish an online presence that can stand alone or work together with a brick-and-mortar store. Naturally, it works perfectly with the Square POS, for an all-in-one retail solution.
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