Bottom line: Square, from its launch, has continued to differentiate itself from other site builders — offering a cleaner, leaner, and more agile approach to e-commerce web development before it was popular. It’s a perfect solution for those looking to simplify their processes. If you want an affordable way to launch your store and refine it through a single tool that offers SEO help and digital marketing support, Square is for you.
Who should choose Square? Small- to midsize businesses (SMBs) and larger enterprises seeking a centralized and minimalistic look for their store, and for SMBs looking to quickly scale and run their operations in an agile, singular system.
What we like about Square
- 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.
What fell flat
- 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’s Editorial Review
Square is one of the leading e-commerce tools on the market for SMBs seeking modern, minimalistic, and clean branding looks. 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.
It’s a great tool to launch your brand out of a single, centralized system — and will help you start and iterate more quickly than other tools.
Square got its start in payment processing for SMBs. We found it to be considerably safer than other alternatives in the e-commerce space, as it relies on PCI-compliant data protection practices and uses multiple levels of encryption to keep customer data and payment information secure.
Square offers many different support channels and has a five-star customer service team to address concerns. However, the team only is available during business hours.
Despite this, my concierge service and quality care prompted me to rate every support experience as a five-star experience.
Plans and Pricing
Square’s pricing is straightforward, and even the lowest plans come with some pretty cool features. Let’s look at the three major plans:
- Good for: New users, users looking for savings
Plus $29 per month
- Good for: Small businesses, midsize enterprises
Premium $79 per month
- Good for: Viral brands, mid- to large-scale businesses
All plans come with an online store, social media selling tools, Afterpay and buy now, pay later (BNPL) support, synching with Square POS, and delivery and shipping support.
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 lot of 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.
Here’s what Square does well with payment processing:
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.
- Multi-level encryption
- PCI-compliant protocols
- 2.9% and $0.30 processing fees per transaction across all membership tiers
A recent partnership and update with Afterpay has 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 per 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 elements 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
- Multi-location management
- Cost of goods sold
- Purchase order creation (POs)
- 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 disputes 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.
Square has done a great job of keeping its finger on the pulse of its e-commerce communities, keeping the site full of relevant tools and updates that help customers reach their next level of success. Below are just a few of the most recent updates that Square has rolled out:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
Pricing + Basic Plan Features
- Free online store with capacity for up to 25,000 items
- Social media selling tools
- Afterpay and BNPL support
- Syncs with Square POS
- Delivery and shipping support
Consider Square if: You’re an SMB looking to quickly scale and run your operations in an agile, singular system.
$27 per month
- Unlimited products
- Convenient app market to enhance your site
- Self-designing options with advanced AI
- Robust customer support options
Consider Wix if: You want a done-for-you setup process with advanced customer support and a robust marketplace for future updates and plug-ins.
Frequently Asked Questions About Square
Can Square be used for e-commerce?
Yes, Square can be used for e-commerce storefront purposes, and it features complimentary tools in its free membership tier. These benefits include light CRM, digital marketing support, SEO assistance, and optimization options to help e-commerce business owners quickly grow and scale.
Does Square have a good website builder?
Square does have a simple website builder, offering business owners a no-code solution for their website needs. While it isn’t as sophisticated as one that you might see with Wix, it can hold its own and help your site to compete with others in your space.
Can I Use Square online with other Square products?
You can. Square has full-suite compatibility across Square products.
Can I use Square Online if I’m not selling?
Yes, you can use Square Online if you’re not selling physical items. Square Online is best for those selling memberships or services rather than products.
Can I set up multiple locations with Square Online?
Yes, Square Online allows you to set up across multiple locations, centralizing your sales through a single, easy-to-use interface.
Can I view orders from other Square apps?
For best results, we recommend using the Square app that your account is tied to for viewing your orders. You can do this by accessing the menu on your Square terminal and tapping on “Orders.” Alternatively, you can view incoming and pending orders via the “Orders” tab on your Square admin panel.
How I Rated Square
I test e-commerce providers based on the following factors:
- Value: What do you get for each plan — and does it hit that sweet spot of cost ratio to features?
- Ease of use: Is it simple to use the platform with intuitive tools, familiar interfaces, and supportive tutorials or tours?
- Features: Does the platform offer tools that support your business, including marketing integrations, plug-ins, reporting, and management? How effective are the features?
- Security: Which measures does the platform take to protect your business? Does it offer Payment card industry (PCI) compliance and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates?
- Support and improvements: How well does the platform help when you need it? And will it continue to grow with your needs?
Learn more about our review methodology.