Square eCommerce Review 2020: Is It Right for You?

Created by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey in 2009, Square is becoming a popular and trusted platform for eCommerce transactions. You won’t need advanced coding skills, can have an online store up and running in just a few days and its built-in payment processor covers most major payment methods.

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4 /5
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$ Free /mo
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Table of Contents

    Features

    Designs and themes

    Square has some modern-looking designs and templates to get you started. They’re all free to use and all come with customization options once you’ve chosen one you like. The interface uses a simple drag-and-drop method for you to move around logos, pictures and make any tweaks you’d like. 

    Unfortunately, there isn’t a great deal of variation between themes, and you’re largely limited to updating colors, fonts, and layouts. Square also doesn’t support any third-party themes and designs, but you can integrate some existing stores from sites like 3dcart and BigCommerce. So, if you’ve already built a store using another provider, but want to take advantage of the features, you can transfer your design over.

    Apps and add-ons

    You’ll only find around 150 apps and add-ons available in the store. This is because Square is focused on providing all the features you’ll need as part of its core package. When you sign up you’ll automatically get access to features like:

    • Streamlined inventory management
    • A Discount code creator
    • Free SSL certificate
    • Multi-channel selling
    • Abandoned cart saver
    • Access to Facebook ads

    Some features from third-party apps include:

    • Automated tax options
    • Set up recurring orders
    • Customer data collection

    While the number of third-party apps on offer might be limited, most are free to use or come at a low cost.

    Language options

    The host is currently only available in English, although a French version is in development.

    Marketing

    Social integration and sales channels

    You can integrate it with just about every major social media platform and sales channel. If you have an online store built through another provider, you can also integrate that into your package.

    SEO tools

    Square doesn’t offer many in-built SEO tools, but you can find blogs and advice via its support pages on how you can best optimize your store. This platform is better for those who already have some experience working with various SEO techniques. You can tweak the basics like meta tags and titles, but won’t be able to go in-depth.

    Custom fields

    One of the biggest selling points is the wide array of customizable fields available. Creating any custom field is made a lot easier than many of its competitors. All you need to do is log into your dashboard or the mobile app, and it’s a two-step process. You can even customize fields down to the individual customer level, and you won’t need any advanced coding skills to make changes.

    Reporting tools

    You’ll have access to a respectable number of reports and analytics data from your dashboard, including:

    • Sales trend analysis
    • Individual product data
    • Sales made per employee
    • Gift card usage tracking
    • Customer complaints and disputes information
    • Full transaction history

    However, there are no reporting tools available via the app store, so you’re limited to the reporting tools you get out of the box.

    Email marketing

    Square has a built-in email marketing tool that lets you create custom campaigns, set up automated emails, and create custom messages. Customer email addresses will also be passively collected whenever they purchase an item through your store.

    You can then segment your email marketing campaigns to cover groups like new customers (e.g. those signing up in the last three months), lapsed customers, or via the geographic area. You’ll be able to monitor your campings through ongoing statistics and analytics tools via your dashboard.

    Importing and exporting products

    Square supports the use of CSV files, but strongly recommends you import and export data in Excel format. It outlines each of the 18 headings you can use for each product and outlines criteria such as character limit and numeric requirements. 

    If you’re uploading your products to the store for the first time, you’ll be able to download a template Excel spreadsheet that’ll give you all of the categories you’ll need for a successful upload.

    Pricing

    1. Free (Incurs a charge of 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction)

    While Square lists this as a ‘Free’ plan, it means you won’t be subject to a monthly charge. You will however be charged 2.9% + 30 cents on every single transaction you make via the store. This will give you only a very basic version of the store, and you’ll have to use a domain assigned to you.

    1. Professional - $12 per month (plus 2.9% + 30 cents charge per transaction)

    You’ll get all the features of the free plan, plus access to a free custom domain name for one year, and the branding will be removed from your site.

    1. Performance - $26 per month (plus 2.9% + 30 cents charge per transaction)

    This package includes everything from the first two tiers, plus a tool to allow customers to post reviews directly to your site, discounted shipping, and abandoned cart emails.

    1. Premium - $72 per month (plus 2.6% + 30 cents charge per transaction)

    The most expensive package on offer is a big step up from the previous plans, both in terms of price and features. You’ll get a lower transaction fee, discounted shipping costs, and a range of on-demand delivery options.

    Other Features

    Support

    Once logged into your account, you’ll be able to access customer support via live chat, phone, and email. Square encourages you to send any queries via social media, or visit the Knowledgebase where you may find your answers in the community forum.

    Security

    All packages provide SSL encryption and are level 1 PCI compliant. Also, Square carries out regular vulnerability testing of its servers, giving you comfort that your information is secure if you choose it as your hosting provider.

    Shipping

    If you’re on the free or professional plan, shipping can be a little frustrating. You can only choose a flat fee for all items, or no shipping fee at all. If you want to adjust shipping rates by weight, distance, and size of the item, you’ll need to sign up for one of the premium plans. 

    All plans do however offer shipping with all major carriers.

    Payment options

    The online store operates its own payment processor that accepts multiple forms of payment.

    Tax

    The store has an automatic tax calculator that has up to date sales tax information on all 50 states.

    Dropshipping

    Dropshipping options are covered.

    Abandoned cart recovery

    Abandoned cart recovery is only available on the Performance and Premium packages.

    Managing store on a mobile device

    You can manage your online store just as easily via the mobile app as you can via any desktop device.

    What is easy for users at Square

    • Square is very easy to use, and it estimates you’ll be able to get your online store up and running in just a couple of days. You won’t need any advanced coding skills
    • You don’t have to worry about integrating different payment options, as its built-in payment processor covers all major payment methods
    • If you’ve built your store using another eCommerce builder, there’s a good chance you can integrate it 

    What is difficult for users on Square

    • Some users might not like the fact that Square takes a cut of all of your sales, plus charges monthly fees. As your business grows, and sales volumes increase, you might be better off using another platform
    • Customization is a little tricky. You’ll find limited apps on offer in the app store and you won’t be able to customize the core software
    • Not being able to control your shipping costs on the lower tier membership levels will also be very inconvenient, and potentially costly, for some

    Best Square stores

    Life Spa: https://store.lifespa.com/

    Red Lodge Mountain: https://www.redlodgemountain.com/

    Zoo Med: https://zoomed.com/

    Alternatives to Square

    Wix

     Wix is another very easy to use eCommerce builder, but has a much richer app and add-on market, and more web templates. You could actually get the best of both worlds by developing your website via Wix, before integrating a Square store into it.

    Magento

    This is the polar opposite, and is designed as a tool for experienced website developers and coders. You’ll have unlimited customization options and can get your store looking exactly how you want it.

    Square FAQS

    Am I allowed to use my own web domain with Square?

    If you’re on the free plan, you’ll have to use a domain name assigned to you, and accept its branding in your store. If you’re on any of the paid plans, you’ll be able to choose or transfer over your own domain.

    Does Square have an SSL certificate?

    SSL comes as standard with all pricing plans.

    Does Square provide hosting to business?

    Yes, you can host your website with Square.

    Can I change my account any time with Square?

    You can change or cancel your plan at any time.

    Does Square take care of shipping for me?

    Yes, although you’ll have very limited control over shipping costs if you’re on one of the lower tier plans. You’ll have to sign up for a premium membership to control your shopping price.

    Is Square a good option for eCommerce activity

    Yes, it has all the basics you need to get a good quality store up and running.

    What’s the best alternative to Square

    If you want usability, but with more customization, we’d recommend Wix. You’ll even be able to combine the two platforms and enjoy the benefits of both.