E-commerce business owners know that customers “buy with their eyes.” This concept is at the core of Square’s ethos, giving business owners new opportunities to grow and scale their stores without overwhelming shoppers.
You can easily navigate the customization process with the intuitive site editor. Many users appreciate Square’s inclusivity, which gives them an end-to-end experience via each membership tier’s inclusive tools and perks.
However, the templates, though high-quality and easy to use, are significantly limited compared to Square’s competitors. There is little room for custom iteration, as you’re limited to what you can toggle in the editing tool.
Also, if you opt for third-party payment processors, you’ll pay extra fees unless using Square’s payment processing service.
You have many options for choosing the best e-commerce platform for your business. After investigating and reviewing many of the most popular platforms, we can list Square as one of the most competitive and affordable e-commerce site builders.
|Square standout features|
|Uptime||99.99% (based on the previous month and customer reports)|
|Promotion||30-day free trial|
What Are the Pros and Cons of Square?
Square is one of the leading e-commerce tools on the market for SMBs seeking modern, minimalistic, and clean branding looks.
This Square e-commerce platform review finds it a popular choice for SMBs. I tested the platform to find it integrates seamlessly with Square POS systems, offering advanced payment protection options to give you and your customers complete peace of mind.
- Flexible payment options: I appreciated how customer-forward Square has remained throughout its refinement process, especially as more customers move to contactless preferences. With Square, you can enjoy QR code-based payment methods and flexible payment options, enhancing your customer experience.
- Centralized design: Other builders rely on several exterior tools and plug-ins to perform basic functions. Square lets you visualize exactly where you are in your business season and manage all functions from a centralized dashboard in the admin area.
- Done-for-you site builder: Square offers the benefits of style while maintaining agility and convenience, attempting to give you the best of both worlds regarding store creation and site editing.
- No-code-friendly experience: You don’t have to be a tech pro to confidently use the interface. It’s one of the most no-code-friendly options I’ve seen, built around user ease and convenience.
- Robust customer support: Square offers a variety of resource options for business owners who prefer to troubleshoot on their own. But if you’re looking for more concierge support options, you’ll appreciate the short wait times for its chat and telephone line and the knowledgeable team members.
- SEO and digital marketing support: When you choose Square, you aren’t just selecting a site builder; you can enjoy the full suite of SEO and digital marketing support tools at your fingertips.
- Limited design elements: If you’re looking for more complex and personalized design options, you might want to consider different tools. While offering easy-to-use designs, Square has limited styles available in the native editor.
- Limited customer support: While this tool’s support options are robust, they are restricted to business hours. I’m concerned it could be inconvenient for late-night breakdowns or other needs during the off hours.
- Paywalls block key features: The membership tiers are more affordable than the average prices for other e-commerce tools. But businesses looking for a comprehensive free solution may be disconcerted by the key features behind the tiered paywalls, such as custom domains, font uploads, PayPal partnerships, and product reviews.
Square may be the best e-commerce platform for: SMBs looking to quickly scale and run their operations in an agile, singular system.
|Best for||New users|
Users looking to save
Mid- to large-scale businesses
|Reporting||Standard reports||Standard reports||Advanced reports|
|Transaction fee||2.9% + $.30 per transaction||2.9% + $.30 per transaction||2.9% + $.30 per transaction|
|Tax calculations||For U.S.-based customers only||For U.S.-based customers only||For U.S.-based customers only|
The Square store design editor is meant to be straightforward, quick, and perfect for business owners with little to no technical skills. When I signed up for the Square storefront for this e-commerce platform review, I was asked a series of questions to help the AI service to come up with a baseline site template that would suit the needs of my business. It has functionality for any product or service — including memberships, subscriptions, products, and digital items.
After answering the questions, I selected my preferred template to build with, a single base design with slight variations in color scheme and font choice. While I could see the benefits of this style of editor for busy or less tech-savvy business owners, I wanted a little more customization and iteration than the site editor currently offered.
Despite this, I was pleasantly surprised to see how easy it was to toggle and edit different site elements, as the site featured a user-friendly, button-centered structure. You can use buttons and switches to turn elements “on” or “off,” and the native text editor is incredibly easy to navigate — allowing you to publish and save your site in just a few minutes.
Square allows business owners to upload products in two main ways: in bulk, via a CSV spreadsheet you will optimize from a light template, or a previous storefront entered manually. While the import option is more convenient for many established e-commerce business owners, it can be confusing knowing where to start to create an importable and correct CSV file for upload. Square offers a full tutorial via its resource center, explaining every element to include for the most comprehensive possible import process.
Otherwise, you’ll have to add items manually. One thing I appreciated about the manual add process is that you can set key items to save time later — such as various options or custom attributes.
You can set standard operations and procedures for your store as well, conveniently located in the Items tab. I set categories and form collections with pre-selected items, as well as set default item types and fulfillment methods to save clicks further in the process. This type of easy-toggle optimization was appreciated, and I could see how this could benefit larger shops in the e-commerce space.
Abandoned cart recovery
The Abandoned Cart Recovery features are locked behind paywalls until you purchase the Performance membership tier. You can draft your abandoned cart emails in the native editor on any of the free or more limited membership plans.
The interface is simple and shows you the total dollar amount and cart amount recovered in the past year, month, and week. You can see the total number of “opens” and the average open rate, as well as the click-through rate (CTR) and its average percentage.
From this admin view, you can determine how long a customer can abandon their cart before triggering the reminder sequence. I felt this functionality was very basic, and I was hoping to see more advanced automation support.
But Square has continued refining its processes and unlocking new benefits for its paid and free tiers over the past few months. We can hope to see more sophisticated automation options become available in the future that might address this limitation.
In my Square e-commerce platform review,I appreciated the simplicity of the email creation tool and management system, conveniently housed in the Communications tab. You can set key elements, such as your sender profile, theme, and previews — letting your customer know who the email is coming from and prompting that click. Also, you can toggle customer text message alerts for key points in the purchase process, such as when the order is placed or when it’s ready for pickup or delivery.
Square takes a more minimal approach to SEO management, focusing on the basics, such as indexability, search results preview for your site and socials, and URL redirect management. While I expected a little more as far as complexity and sophistication were concerned, I appreciated how easy it was for newer business owners or the less tech-savvy. I also valued the option to halt index processes with the simple flip of a “switch” in the interface, saving you time and a lotof clicks later on.
If you choose Square for your e-commerce site, I recommend looking into additional SEO tools that can assist you in refining your overall rank and success, specifically around on-page optimization and keyword research.
And if you’re looking for a more done-for-you option to manage, optimize, and host your site, I recommend sites such as WordPress or Wix — both have a more comprehensive suite of resources for your SEO needs.
Square has native payment functionality through in-house payment processors allowing you to save on your processing fees in comparison to other sites and tools. Its solutions aren’t just for e-stores, though.
The company offers a variety of processing options for in-person locations, remote and manual payments, and payments that you can accept through your free e-store.
This level of versatility in functional design makes Square a strong choice for larger brands, or those with a hybrid operation and fulfillment system, relying on in-store and online transactions for their total overall revenue.
Square has already solidified its spot in the payment processing space and has invested in safety measures so your customers can feel confident in how their investments are processed. The company uses multi-level encryption, authentication, and PCI-compliant protocols to protect your customers’ data at the highest possible level.
Processing fees remain the same across all membership tiers, at 2.9% and $0.30 per transaction.
A recent partnership and update with Afterpay have unlocked BNPL options for customers, giving business owners a new way to serve key clientele.
Square has recently launched a mobile app for easy in-person payments. It’s available for iOS and Android operating systems. The app is suitable for smartphones and tablets, allowing you to process payments, invoice seamlessly, and run your business from the palm of your hand.
This is a great inclusion if you have multiple locations and an e-commerce store and want additional value for your customers. You can start free and follow the prompts on-screen to set your shop up in just a few minutes.
Free startup from Square stands out from Shopify’s competing POS app, which costs $89/month just for basic use and functionality. I was pleased to see a more accessible option for smaller brands looking to grow and manage out of a single system.
One Square’s strongest interface element is its sleek and easy-to-use system for inventory management — offering you insights, data, and the ability to toggle with the press of just a few buttons and switches.
You can manage your inventory from any computer or smart device if you log in to your admin account. Any-device access gives you the flexibility to run your shop and live your life, striking that balance that so many business owners are looking for.
You can enjoy the fast download and upload speeds, daily stock alert emails, and bulk edit functions that save time on your administrative processes, allowing you to spend more time with your customers.
When I experimented with my shop’s launch, I was amazed at how quickly the import process was. While optimizing the CSV file was a bit of a learning curve, the ease of access and accuracy of the import shocked me — and had well-surpassed my experiences with other similar tools.
Investing in the Square for Retail Plus tool, you can take advantage of advanced functionality and bonuses, including multi-location management, cost of goods sold, purchase order creation (POs), and projected profit reporting.
Square for Retail Plus costs $60 per month, per location. If you’re looking to save but still want additional functionality, you can opt for Square for Retail Free and use it at a single location.
Square offers enterprise pricing and support for businesses making $250,000 per year to help maximize your investment and benefit from its suite of tools. If that is relevant, you can connect with a Square representative to learn more about your options.
Square, while simple, does have basic text and email marketing functionality that gives business owners just enough to stay relevant and on top of customer communications. Many businesses may opt for a separate service that enables customized templated emails or more advanced analytics and reporting. But I found my experience to be well-rounded. I built branded, aesthetically pleasing, and effective campaigns with the site’s native email editor.
Normally, e-commerce tools charge extra for newsletter creation add-ons or functionality, so it was nice to see this thoughtful inclusion already woven into Square’s free business tier.
You can fully customize business assets in your email and text campaigns with dynamic blocks, adding an extra touch of personalization to your email marketing efforts. Templates are separated by the business goal, instantly connecting you to tools and resources to reach your target audience more effectively.
The site offers light customer resource management (CRM) and automation tools within the free tier. These tools are great resources for SMBs looking to start scaling and dialing in their marketing, but aren’t quite ready for full-price, separate services for each element of their marketing experience.
Reporting and analytics
Square has a competitive variety of different reporting and analytics tools you can use to see how you’re progressing on those business goals. All accounts come with the free set of reports unless you purchase the Professional tier, which costs $26 per month.
Reports in the free tier center around complete sales summaries. These include different elements to track, including discounts used, item sales, comps and voids, and custom report functionality. You can see stats for specific site items and variations, as well as a generalized traffic summary to visualize where your customers are going and staying once they hit your storefront.
If you’re looking for a more total site and business wellness insights and analytics, opt for the Professional tier which will give you that advanced functionality, and includes all reports found in the free tier. A sample list of reports in the Professional tier include:
- (More advanced) traffic summary: This widget tracks page views, unique visits, and how many pages are consumed in a given visit during any given date range.
- Abandoned carts: This helps you to understand how many sales you’ve recovered with the native Abandoned Cart tool in Square online.
- Coupons: This report covers sales and usage data by coupon in any given timeframe.
While the variety of reports is good for a centralized e-commerce store, more data is always better. If you’re looking for more dense reports, I recommend using a third-party tool or looking at the available analytics options with Shopify or Shift4Shop.
Beyond the compliance noted above, Square also has built-in and continuous fraud detection services in place to preventatively address any risk for fraud or cost loss.
Suspicious transactions are flagged in the system, using advanced and sophisticated AI and ML-based tools for support and assistance. A separate human team of fraud experts addresses any risks associated with your shop.
Something else I appreciated is the done-for-you fraud dispute support. Things can go wrong in SMBs, and malicious refunds happen. The Square dispute team handles any sort of dispute at no cost.
Square has a variety of self-service resources available to help you troubleshoot at any hour or day of the week. The community forum, videos, and self-assistance tutorials were especially helpful as I set up my shop in the off hours, getting me far enough along to follow up with support in the morning.
Beyond the self-serve resource library, you can contact the support team from your dashboard via live chat or telephone between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. PDT. If you reach out outside those hours, the support assistant will prompt you to visit the resource section, try back later, or ask the community, as connecting you with hundreds of other sellers can help you launch and scale.
Both of my experiences with customer support agents were overwhelmingly positive. They were kind, attentive, and extremely knowledgeable in both Square and the e-commerce space.
The support system with Square is more helpful than with other services such as Wix or WooCommerce, which are more restrictive or result in less desirable experiences and outcomes.
Stores can now accept Afterpay (in-person and online)
Thanks to a recent partnership with Afterpay, customers can enjoy flexible BNPL options and pay in installments. Flexible payments can boost your overall conversion rates and help you quickly build and scale a loyal brand following.
The best part? Businesses with Square aren’t paid in installments, despite the accessibility of that option for the customer. You’ll be paid in full and will likely get 40% more with every transaction using flexible payment options.
New launch: Square Photo Studio app
Square recently launched the Square Photo Studio app: the one-stop shop for professional shots for your e-store and product listings. You can toggle advanced lighting features and access virtual camera stabilization tools, AI stylization assistance, and more. The app is free, helping business owners at every level take advantage of the effects of professional photos on their site’s page.
One of the app’s best features is the ability to sync seamlessly with the Square item catalog, saving you time lost on the download/upload process.
New launch: Square Invoices Plus
The first version of Square Invoices launched in 2014, featuring free basic payment assistance and processing services. With Invoices Plus, business owners can enjoy a fully comprehensive management plan for all credit card payments via a sleek and easy-to-reference PCI-compliant merchant-of-record model. There is a flat monthly fee of $20, plus transaction fees for payment processing.
Introducing: Contactless QR code ordering (for hybrid businesses)
Square has recently rolled out QR code ordering, a perfect addition for businesses that have storefronts both in the physical and e-commerce space. QR code ordering is ideal for SMBs looking for an in-person, autonomous approach that’s intuitive and empowering for both consumers and team members.
You can execute your essential management tasks in a single streamlined system for maximum efficiency. The QR codes connect with an ordering page, which your customers can quickly scan, access, and purchase from.
It can sync to a POS and printer system, communicating any service or item needs to your team members in seconds.
Features coming soon to Square
There is currently no public-facing information regarding releases coming soon to Square. Yet given the amount of attention and service that Square has given clients with past updates, we’re confident that there will be more exciting developments ahead.
Compare Square Alternatives
Square is a well-rounded option for an easy-launch e-commerce storefront. But if you’re looking for more customization options for in-depth analytics and reporting functionality, other contenders may be a better fit.
We looked closely at every company in this analysis and identified a few main points that make them stand out in the e-commerce space. Our research is designed to provide you with key information about their services to determine which would be the best fit for you.
Let’s take a look at how Square compares with other top competitors in the e-commerce space:
Frequently Asked Questions About Square
Can Square be used for e-commerce?
Does Square have a good website builder?
Can I Use Square online with other Square products?
Can I use Square Online if I’m not selling?
Can I set up multiple locations with Square Online?
Can I view orders from other Square apps?
How I Rated Square
Our rating process for these e-commerce services was thorough, comparing the company with the most direct competitors and evaluating quality through direct, hands-on testing.
I created a dummy e-commerce storefront to experience the apps and services as our readers would — and gave my account of the key elements of function, showcasing what users could expect to gain from each service.
We reviewed parameters we felt would directly impact the success of your e-store. These include security, accessibility, quality of customer support, scalability, price, inclusivity, presence, and versatility.
Square was a competitive service in all these areas, allowing business owners at every level to scale effectively. I appreciated the density of the free price tier, and how affordable the other tiers were for future business growth.
The customer service and smart help options solidified my opinion of the service, making it stand out as a top choice for business owners looking for more concierge assistance options.
Square is much more than a payment processing entity or basic storefront creator. It is a full suite of services designed to help you grow your business in a sleek, easy-to-use, and centralized way.