Choosing the right ecommerce platform to set up your store is imperative for online selling success. Square Online offers solutions for businesses of all sizes, including a free plan for smaller sellers and a high-tier plan designed to lower costs for sellers with high-value transactions. With several add-ons to enhance functionality and solutions for virtually all industries, Square Online could be just the tool you need to create a winning online shopping experience for your customers. However, businesses seeking in-depth website customization might find the service limited compared to other ecommerce platforms. Based on our and other customers’ experiences using Square Online, we’ve compiled our thoughts into this review.
Comparing Square Online to The Best Ecommerce Platforms
Square Online may not have made it on our list of the best ecommerce platforms, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth mentioning. In fact, the platform’s easy-to-use interface and wide range of features make online shopping simple from both the front-end and back-end. Also, its free plan includes several must-haves, like social selling and multiple shipping options, without a monthly fee. Square Online’s major caveat is that it just doesn’t have as many web design options as similar platforms to truly make your business’s site stand out.
See all of our top picks to learn how Square Online stacks up against other ecommerce platforms. To create this list, we researched and tested more than 25 services to find the best of the best for various business types.
Square: The Good and The Bad
Free Plan: A 100% free plan from Square Online includes surprisingly numerous features fit for many small to medium-sized businesses. Without paying a monthly fee, you still access unlimited item listings, Facebook and Google ad creation, an automatic tax calculator, and multiple site management. You’ll also pay the same transaction fees as you would with a paid plan. Perhaps the downfall is that you’ll have Square ads displayed on your site, but not in a way that should interfere with the overall user experience.
Unlimited Product Sales: With any Square Online plan, business owners enjoy unlimited product listings and sales. Therefore, businesses of any size can enjoy the same opportunity to list all their products without restrictions. Item badges and categories help keep products organized for customers and for your business’s backend.
Targeted Industries: Square Online emphasizes its templates and features for specific industries, including restaurants and retail stores. Businesses in these targeted industries can be sure that Square Online has features designed to create a simple shopping experience for their customers, including online restaurant ordering and in-person and online inventory syncing. Still, there are templates that work for almost any industry, so don’t feel like your company has to fit into a mold for Square Online to meet its needs.
Numerous Integrations: The Square App Marketplace includes hundreds of integrations with the apps and services you use most. Find connections for popular form builders, scheduling apps, analytics dashboards, points of sale apps, and other tools you use daily in your business. Note that some integrations require additional fees to work.
Competitive Pricing: With plans as low as $12/month, Square Online offers a lot of value for your money. The $12 plan includes a free custom domain for one year, site statistics, and unlimited storage and bandwidth. Compared to other ecommerce platforms that typically start at $20/month, Square Online could be more affordable for smaller businesses that don’t need fancy features. Plus, all pricing is clearly stated on the site, so there’s no guessing about what you’ll pay.
Straightforward User Interface: Square Online’s website editor is simply one of the easiest and most straightforward to use. Business owners with zero website-creating experience can set up a site in minutes using a customizable template and clicking through the user-friendly interface to do what they need on their sites.
Flexible Plans: In addition to its monthly and annual plans, Square Online offers extra features for business owners to create customizable plans based on their needs. For instance, add Square Loyalty to design a customer loyalty program that rewards your most frequent customers. Or add Square Appointments for a complete suite of tools to book customers, create customer profiles, and accept online payments for bookings.
Limited Design Options: Although it has what you need to build an ecommerce site—templates, customization, pages, etc.—Square Online’s design options don’t necessarily lead to unique online shops. Businesses might feel limited with the small selection of templates and lack of ability to make websites that truly stand out in a sea of ecommerce businesses.
Lacking Commerce Integrations: Selling across multiple channels can boost your reach and sales, but Square Online isn’t as equipped as some other ecommerce platforms to do so. It omits integrations with some of the biggest online marketplaces, like Amazon and Etsy, which could be a downfall for businesses interested in expanding to those markets.
Limited Features for Large Sellers: High-volume sellers can benefit from a Premium plan that lowers per-transaction fees. However, there aren’t a lot of other incentives for them to use Square Online over competitors that may be more affordable and offer more robust features in each plan.
Square Online Pricing and Options
Square Online offers a free plan for budget-conscious small businesses and three paid plans. Here’s the pricing breakdown of paid plans:
- Professional: $16/month or $12/month when billed annually.
- Performance: $29/month or $26/month when billed annually.
- Premium: $79/month or $72/month when billed annually.
The Free plan includes the basics, like shipping, pickup, and delivery options, SEO-optimized website creation, and automatic tax calculations. Small businesses without the need for advanced analytics, custom domains, and advanced web design features could probably do just fine with this plan.
With a Professional plan, you get all free features plus an ad-free website, password-protected pages, and a free custom domain for one year. This plan also adds site statistics to give you insight into your website visitors and their behaviors across your site.
Performance introduces PayPal payments and abandoned cart triggers—must-haves for many ecommerce businesses. Also, add product reviews to your site and let customers purchase your products as gifts.
You might have noticed that Premium has a significant price increase over Performance. The only differences between the two are that Premium adds real-time shipping calculation and lowers per-transaction fees for online payments from 2.9% + 30 cents to 2.6% + 30 cents.
Therefore, Premium will likely pay off for large-volume or high-value transaction sellers. Let’s look at a few examples of how the per-transaction fee can affect your overall costs.
Suppose you have the Performance plan for $29/month and sell 1,000 items this month at $10 each. You’ll pay 2.9% + 30 cents, or $0.59 per transaction, or $590 in fees. In total, that’s $619 for the month.
On the Premium plan, your per-transaction fee totals $0.56, resulting in $560 worth of fees. Combined with the monthly $79 fee, you’ll pay $639 for the month. This is just slightly more than your costs on the Performance plan but with the additional benefit of real-time shipping.
Sellers with higher value transactions could benefit even more. For instance, a $100 item that sells 1,000 times leads to a $2,900 fee with Premium compared to a $3,200 fee with Performance, Professional, or Free plans.
The good news is that Square Online fees are relatively in line with those of other popular ecommerce platforms.
Square Online Website Building
Square Online includes a range of website-building tools for you to get your ecommerce website up and running as quickly as possible.
There’s no need to have any coding or designing experience, as the friendly website builder interface walks you through each step. Add a new page, display your Instagram feed, and customize the colors and fonts with a few clicks.
You can even start with a website template based on your type of business. They’re professionally designed to work seamlessly with the Square Online platform and create an engaging customer shopping experience.
Plus, Square Online uses the latest responsive technology to ensure that your site looks and works great on virtually any device.
Square Online’s web design offerings should be plenty for small businesses that don’t need all the bells and whistles of complex websites. However, large ecommerce sites that require intricate navigation and scripting could feel left in the dust.
The service has all the basic features websites need. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have as vast of a template selection as competitors, like Squarespace, and they lack some of the uniqueness you might want to set your business apart.
Square Online Item Inventory, Orders, and Fulfillment
Every Square Online plan—including the free plan—offers online cataloging for unlimited items. Shoppers can also use quick view on an item to learn more about it without leaving the page.
For shop owners, item badges and time-based categories allow more control over limited-time promotions and seasonal sales.
Businesses on any plan can also accept various forms of payment on their websites. In addition to Square Pay, Square includes support for Afterpay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Cash App Pay, and donations.
An automatic tax calculator ensures that you collect the right amount of tax on each order.
Shipping becomes simplified with Square Online, too. Give customers options for in-home delivery, on-demand delivery, curbside pickup, and other flexible shipping options to suit their needs.
Real-time shipping rate calculation is only available with a Premium account. Additionally, you’ll need to opt for Performance to get abandoned cart recovery, PayPal payments, and product reviews—features that most shop owners will probably want at some point.
Square Online Marketing
Having a platform that takes care of some marketing tasks for you is invaluable for an ecommerce business owner.
Square Online helps with marketing primarily through its connections with social media platforms. Connect to Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Facebook Ads, and Google Ads to make it easier to promote your website content to other audiences.
From your dashboard, you’ll also have access to easy-to-use tools to create coupons and lead capture forms to help you build an audience for your shop.
We love Square’s full suite of marketing tools, including email automation that sends birthday, anniversary, and welcome messages to customers without you needing to lift a finger.
Unfortunately, the suite is an additional monthly cost starting at $15, but it could replace the email marketing software you currently use.
Thankfully, the features included with Square Online, like social media integration, coupons, and SEO tools, work well for getting more eyes on your products or services.
Square Online Analytics
Square Online’s analytics for free users is extremely basic, allowing you to see your website’s traffic and where people go on your site.
For more in-depth analytics that give insight into how well your products perform and sales data, you’ll need a paid plan. For instance, learn your average order value, conversion rate, and the number of orders for a specific period.
Still, even the “advanced” analytics are relatively elementary compared to other ecommerce platforms, like Shopify, that offer reports on customer behaviors and interactions, marketing, acquisition, and the ability to make custom reports.
How Square Online Ranks
Square Online doesn’t rank with the other top ecommerce platforms on our list.
However, it’s still one to consider, especially for smaller businesses that don’t require a fancy site with lots of custom design options. With transaction fees and features comparable to our top contenders, Square Online is inches away from making our ranking.
Explore our picks of the best ecommerce platforms to find your best solution:
- Shopify – Best ecommerce platform for most
- Debutify – Best theme for Shopify stores
- Wix – Best ecommerce platform for beginners
- Bluehost – Best for automatic WooCommerce store setup
- Squarespace – Best portfolio-based ecommerce builder
- BigCommerce – Best for multichannel sales
- Shift4Shop – Best ecommerce platform for developers
- Ecwid – Best free shopping cart extension
- WooCommerce – Best ecommerce plugin for WordPress
- Easy Digital Downloads – Best WordPress plugin for digital products
- Volusion – Best ecommerce platform for large stores
- Magento – Best enterprise ecommerce platform
Small businesses should consider Square Online as a potential platform on which to start selling online. Its affordable and flexible plans—including its free option—offer a lot of value for business owners looking for a quick and easy way to set up shop. With that said, Square Online might leave you feeling disappointed if you plan to scale in the future with its limited web design options, basic reporting, and lack of ecommerce integrations.