When comparing Shopify vs Square, they both offer tools for small businesses, including point-of-sale systems, payment processing solutions, and ecommerce platforms. Square is a great fit for businesses that primarily sell in-person, while Shopify is better suited for ecommerce and multichannel retailers. Square costs between $0 to $60+ per month and Shopify $29 to $299.
When to Use Shopify
Shopify is a great option for online and multichannel sellers because it has all the tools to easily and affordably build an ecommerce site, track and ship orders with discounted shipping rates, and sell in-person and over social media, all while syncing your inventory in one centralized location. Visit Shopify for a free trial.
When to Use Square
Square is a great choice for small businesses that primarily sell in-person. Square has a sophisticated point-of-sale (POS) app that is free to use, unlike Shopify POS, which starts at $29 per month. Square has tools to build ecommerce sites, but they are not as sophisticated as Shopify’s. Visit Square to create a free account.
When to Use an Alternative Option: Lightspeed
Lightspeed Retail is a POS system designed for boutique and specialty brick-and-mortar stores. If you have a retail storefront, Lightspeed is a good choice. It has inventory management and reporting tools that are more sophisticated than Square’s and built-in purchasing orders to buy merchandise through your POS. Visit Lightspeed for a free trial.
Square vs Shopify at a Glance
|Built-in Payment Processing|
|Mobile POS App|
|Mobile Reporting App|
|Shipping Labels & Discounts|
|Multichannel Order Management|
|Social Media Sales|
|Ease of Use|
How We Evaluated Shopify & Square
Shopify and Square offer similar products targeting independent retailers and online sellers, so when evaluating the two, instead of focusing on the similarities, we tried to highlight the differences. We considered price, ease of use, user reviews, and customer service. We also looked at any features one solution has that the other doesn’t, or features that one solution does significantly better than the other.
We used the following criteria to evaluate Shopify and Square:
- Price: We looked at how much each solution costs in terms of monthly, setup, and payment processing fees.
- Payment processing: We evaluated how each system accepts payments, payment security, and how many sales channels each solution offers.
- Ease of use: Both systems are designed for small businesses, so they need to be easy to set up and use to manage your business.
- POS features: We considered what features are included, like inventory management, sales reporting, and outside software integration.
- Customer engagement: We weighed whether each solution has loyalty programs, rewards or discount options, or marketing tools and their price.
- Ecommerce features: We looked at online sales tools like website builders, order management, shipping tools, and social media sales.
- Employee management: We considered features like employee scheduling and payroll processing.
- Mobile apps: We evaluated the apps each solution offers for POS and reporting.
Based on the above criteria, Shopify is the winner. While some of Square’s features are free to use, Shopify offers a better value for growing businesses with a more sophisticated website builder for ecommerce, better order tracking and management, and integrated shipping solutions with discounts. They both offer user-friendly POS systems with nearly identical payment processing solutions. But, when it comes to online sales, Shopify beats Square by a long shot.
Shopify vs Square: Pricing & Features
Shopify and Square are both affordable software solutions that offer ecommerce builders, POS solutions, and payment processing for small businesses. Square offers a free version with options to pay for more features as needed. Shopify has several different pricing tiers to choose from.
Shopify Pricing & Features
Shopify has three different primary plans, all of which include an ecommerce site, POS for in-person sales, mobile apps, and payment processing. Unlike Square, which has a free base model, Shopify starts at $29 per month. However, Shopify is still competitively priced. Many retail POS systems and ecommerce platforms start at $60 to $99 per month, and don’t include options for both online and offline sales.
Shopify Pricing & Features
|Online Credit Card Processing|
|In-store Credit Card Processing|
|Sell on Facebook|
|Advanced Report Builder|
Other Shopify Costs
If you’re selling in-person or in-store, you can also purchase hardware through Shopify. The POS app works on iOS and Android devices, which are sold separately.
Shopify hardware costs:
- Chip and swipe reader: $29
- Tap, chip, and swipe reader: $89
- Barcode scanner: $229
- Receipt printer: $349
- iPad stand: $109
Shopify features include:
Shopify Payment Processing
Similar to Square, Shopify has built-in payment processing for online sales completed through ecommerce sites and for in-person sales completed through the POS app. Both Square and Shopify offer flat-rate transaction fees that are similar. But Shopify’s rates for in-store sales and the online transaction fees under the Shopify and Advanced Shopify plan are less than what Square charges.
Shopify Inventory Management
With Shopify, businesses can track stock counts and automatically stop selling an item when it’s sold out. Similar to Square, Shopify manages inventory in one centralized location, subtracting items from in-person and online sales from the central stock count.
Shopify Employee Management
Employee management is one area where Square has the better features. Shopify lets businesses create employee logins, but there are no features for time tracking or payroll. Square has a payroll and time tracking solution available for an additional monthly fee.
Shopify Customer Engagement
Shopify and Square both have customer directory features that let businesses track sales and contact information for each customer. Shopify also has features to segment and export customer data by purchases, location, and more. Shopify does not have a specific loyalty program, but it does have lots of tools to boost customer engagement.
With Shopify, businesses can build a blogging community on their ecommerce site with tools to publish and sort articles, create lookbooks, and encourage and moderate comments. Shopify also has features for customers to leave reviews on your site. Plus, there are tools to sell directly on social media platforms. Square does not have any of these features, though Square does have a customer feedback tool, and a loyalty program available for an additional fee.
Shopify is the industry standard ecommerce solution for small businesses. Hardly any other platform is as affordable, feature-rich, and easy to use as Shopify. In addition to templates and tools to build your ecommerce site and checkout, Shopify also has tools to help you manage the rest of the sales process, such as connections to fulfillment centers, drop-ship integrations, automated emails, flexible integrated shipping rates, abandoned cart recovery, and more. Square does not have as many of these back-end features.
Shopify Mobile Apps
Shopify and Square both have mobile POS apps for processing sales and viewing reports. Their sales and reporting apps are similar. However, Shopify also has apps for managing online orders on the go, and an app for managing customer conversations and marketing efforts.
Shopify has dozens of third-party integrations available via the Shopify App Store. Categories include drop-shipping, print on demand suppliers, SEO tools, marketing solutions, fulfillment tools, customer support solutions like live website chat, accounting software, and more.
Each of Shopify’s plans offer a different level of reporting. Basic Shopify offers standard reports such as sales, sales by product category, customer engagement insights, and so on. Shopify offers more detailed reporting, and Advanced Shopify includes a custom report builder to create whatever reports you like. Square does not have a custom reporting option. Overall, Shopify’s reporting tools are detailed and easy to digest. Shopify also has a mobile reporting app for viewing stats on the go.
Square Pricing & Features
Square’s basic POS and payment processing solution is free to use. Square also offers a free basic ecommerce site. Unlike Shopify, which has set plans, Square lets users add on paid features such as retail POS software for loyalty programs ad hoc. Square is one of the most affordable solutions for startup businesses, and offers great tools for in-person or in-store sales.
Square pricing and features include:
It’s free to create a Square account, which includes a basic POS system for tablets and mobile, payment processing with simple transaction fees, and a basic ecommerce site. There’s also a reporting dashboard to view sales totals, customer engagements, and more. Businesses can add on additional features like loyalty programs, marketing, and more sophisticated POS solutions for an additional monthly fee.
Square Processing Fees
- In-person and mobile card payments: 2.75%*
- Online payments: 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction
- Keyed-in and invoice payments: 3.5% plus 15 cents per transaction
*Note: Square offers a lower processing rate for businesses that purchase Square Register or Square Terminal hardware, or Square Retail or Square Restaurant software.
Square Software Fees
- Square POS: $0 to free to download and use
- Square Retail: $60
- Square Restaurants: $60
- Square Loyalty: From $45 per month
- Square Marketing: From $15 per month
- Ecommerce: $0 to $72 per month
Square Hardware Fees
- Magstripe card reader: First reader free, additional $10
- Chip card reader: $49
- iPad stand: $199
- Square Register: $999 or $49 per month for 24 months
- Square Terminal: $399 or $37 per month for 12 months
Square Payment Processing
Very similar to Shopify, Square offers online, in-store, and mobile payment processing. There’s no application process; anyone can sign up for Square for free and use the payment processing tools. The only fees are flat-rate transaction fees, which you pay as you go. Businesses can receive funds from transactions in a few business days, or pay a 1% fee to receive them immediately. Overall, Square and Shopify’s payment processing tools are almost identical. Square’s rates are a hair higher, but Square offers a free card reader.
Square Inventory Management
With the basic Square POS, businesses can manually enter products, quantities, and pricing. Then Square can track stock counts across online and in-person sales. These features are very simple, and not ideal for retailers with large or complex inventories because there are no automated features for uploading large quantities of products or creating purchase orders.
However, Square Retail and Square Restaurant software programs offer slightly more sophisticated inventory tools specific to the restaurant and retail industries. Overall, the inventory management features included with even Basic Shopify are more advanced then Square’s and better suited for retail businesses.
Square Employee Management
Employee management is one area where Square, without a doubt, has better solutions than Shopify. With Shopify, you can create separate employee logins and run reports by employee, but that is the extent of Shopify’s employee management features. Square also has employee login features, but Square also has a payroll feature available for an additional fee. Square Payroll has features to track hours, manage time off, and set up direct deposit for employees.
Square Customer Engagement
Shopify includes email and social media marketing features. The free version of Square includes a customer directory which automatically tracks customers by their payment methods. Square’s digital receipts also include a feedback feature, where customers can say whether they’ve had a positive or negative experience and why. Businesses can also reach out to customers directly via text or email after receiving a response.
The customer directory and feedback features are the only engagement features included with the free version of Square. But there is a Square Loyalty program available for an additional monthly fee, and email marketing tools available for a fee.
Square offers a basic ecommerce site for free, which includes an unlimited amount of products, a shopping cart, and tools to sell on Instagram. Paid ecommerce plans include the ability to connect a paid domain, remove Square ads, add third-party integrations, product reviews, and shipping calculators. Square’s ecommerce tools are a good value, and competitive for the industry, but the order management and fulfillment features are not as detailed as Shopify’s.
Square Mobile Apps
Shopify and Square both have a mobile POS app. The main differences are that Square’s mobile POS is free to use. Shopify’s requires a subscription. Square can also process payments offline, and Shopify cannot. These two features make Square’s mobile POS a better option than Shopify, especially if you plan to sell at many events where internet connections may be spotty.
Square has dozens of third-party integrations for accounting, invoicing, scheduling, employee management, POS, ecommerce, marketing, event management, and more. Unlike Shopify, Square also has its own proprietary software features, like loyalty, marketing, and payroll, that you can add and remove as needed.
The free version of Square includes basic reporting on sales and customer engagement. If you pay for a more advanced ecommerce subscription or Square Retail, more reports are available. Shopify is similar, and includes basic reporting with Basic Shopify as well as more advanced reports with the more expensive subscriptions.
Shopify vs Square: Ease of Use
Shopify and Square are both designed to help you build your business from the ground up with user-friendly solutions. Overall, they are both very easy to use, offering templates for ecommerce sites and drag-and-drop marketing campaign builders. They both also offer mobile apps for managing your business on the go, though Shopify offers more apps than Square.
Shopify Ease of Use
Shopify is one of the most user-friendly ecommerce platforms on the market. It packs in a lot of features, but makes even complex tasks like order management easy to navigate. Overall, Shopify’s interface isn’t as sleek as Square’s, but mostly because there are more features built into Shopify.
Square Ease of Use
Square is designed to be minimalistic and user-friendly. Overall, Square does have a sleeker and cleaner interface than Shopify, which makes it easier to use, but this is because Square is not as feature-rich as Shopify.
Square vs Shopify: Customer Service
Both Square and Shopify offer support to customers. Square offers support via live chat on their website and phone support Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Time. Shopify offers 24/7 phone, email, and chat support. Overall, Shopify’s customer service is much more accessible than Square’s.
Shopify Customer Service
Shopify offers free 24/7 customer support. When you call the customer service number, you don’t have to press through an automated menu—a real person picks up right away. You can also email Shopify support, chat with them on the Shopify website, or send a direct message on Twitter and get prompt responses. Shopify also has a support center on their website with frequently asked questions (FAQs) and help articles.
Square Customer Service
Square offers phone support to registered Square users Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Time. Unlike Shopify, where you’re immediately connected to a person, Square asks you to enter your customer code before speaking with a representative. Your customer code can be found on your Square dashboard when you sign in on a computer. This extra step, plus limited support hours, could be problematic if you have a problem with your POS or ecommerce site and need help right away. So, Shopify is the clear winner when it comes to customer service.
Shopify vs Square: Customer Reviews
Shopify and Square both have pretty high user reviews. At the time of publication, they both have a 4.3 customer review rating on our review pages. Users like that they are easy to use and affordable for small businesses.
Shopify Customer Reviews
Overall, Shopify has very high user reviews. Customers think that Shopify is a great value and offers a lot of features. Some users say they wish Shopify had more templates for different kinds of website pages, and other reviewers reported Shopify was expensive for their budget. Visit our Shopify review page for more details.
Square Customer Reviews
Square POS has generally positive reviews. Users like that there are a lot of features available for free, including easy payment processing. Some reviewers mentioned a lack of customer support. Visit our Square POS review page for more details.
Square and Shopify both offer user-friendly POS, ecommerce, and payment processing solutions. Shopify has more sophisticated ecommerce tools, making it a better fit for online and multichannel businesses. Square offers a free POS and mobile app that is great for businesses that primarily sell in-person.
Shopify provides a great value to new and growing businesses with a sophisticated ecommerce website builder, detailed order tracking and management, and integrated shipping solutions with discounts. They both offer user-friendly POS systems with nearly identical payment processing solutions. But, when it comes to running an online business, Shopify is the best choice. Visit Shopify for a free trial.