Shopify vs Square
Shopify and Square offer payment processing support for in-person and online sales and are two of the most popular merchant service providers on the market.
Because they're both so popular, business owners often have trouble choosing between them.
Today we're going to point out the differences between these two companies, helping you to make a well-informed purchase decision.
Continue reading to learn more.
Choose Shopify If...
We highly recommend Shopify if you are a large retailer or have high-volume online sales. Shopify is compatible with more than 2,000 third-party integrations, making it easy to customize your system based on your needs.
If your main focus is your eCommerce platform and not a brick-and-mortar store, Shopify is the more advanced choice.
Choose Square If...
Square is the better choice if you are a new seller or a smaller retailer. With a free monthly price tag and no contract, there is zero commitment to worry about when partnering with Square.
Plus, unlike Shopify, Square has several industry-specific software tools, one of which is made exclusively for restaurants.
Large retailers and high-volume online merchants
New sellers, small retailers, or restaurants
$89 per month per location
$49 to $799
$5 per month starting
$0 per month starting
2.9% + $0.30
2.9% + $0.30
2.5% to 2.7% depending on plan
24/7 customer service
Customer support from 6 AM to 6 PM PST over phone, email, and live chat. 24/7 support for Premium plan users
Free plan or industry-specific POS apps for popular businesses like restaurants or appointment-based businesses
24/7 support hours with free plan, vendor management tools in free plan, age-restricted online purchasing tools, and tiered payment processing fees
Digging Into The Details
Shopify's Best Features:
Feature 1 - Strong Third-Party Integrations
While both brands offer tons of beneficial third-party integrations for just about every process you can think of, when comparing Shopify vs. Square, Shopify has a competitive edge.
For starters, Shopify has more than 2,000 apps for eCommerce businesses, while Square Online only offers around 183 third-party integrations for eCommerce platforms.
Plus, with Shopify, there are more than 100 payment gateway integrations that you can pair with your POS system. With Square, you have to use the company's payment gateway.
Feature 2 - Advanced eCommerce
Shopify has long been known for its eCommerce capabilities, so it probably doesn't come as a surprise that Shopify is the winner here. While Square certainly isn't lacking in eCommerce features, there are a few reasons why Shopify has the competitive edge.
For starters, the advanced Shopify plan offers online transactions at only 2.4% + $0.30 per transaction. Compared to Square's premium processing fees, which are 2.6% + $0.30, you can save quite a bit of money, especially if you are an eCommerce business with a high sales volume.
Shopify also has more scalable tools for eCommerce businesses.
When it comes to the flexibility of your online store, Shopify also exceeds expectations. You'll find an entire library of online store templates and an array of site customization tools.
It is worth noting that Shopify has a higher multi-channel count, and is the only one of the two that offers support for popular channels like Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Emadri, Handshake, Wanelo, and Lyst.
Feature 3 - Customer Relationship Management
Shopify's CRM capabilities are paramount. There are so many CRM features for online stores as well as brick-and-mortar stores, which include customer profile creation, email marketing, and customer data collection.
When you create a customer profile through Shopify, you can gain clearer insight into customer demographics and shopping tendencies than you would with Square.
There are also several customer loyalty apps in Shopify's free and paid plans, allowing you to offer your regular customers extra perks.
Square's customer loyalty program starts out at $45 per month.
Feature 4 - Inventory Management
Both Shopify and Square have excellent inventory management tools, though Shopify takes the edge with its impressive inventory management system.
From accessing stock levels across multiple channels in real time to printing barcodes for the products you sell in-store, there are several ways to manage inventory with Shopify.
While Square's inventory management system is solid, it requires an upgrade to the Square for Retail plan to access the most robust features.
Feature 5 - Tax Rate Calculation
One interesting feature found in Shopify's POS is that it auto-detects taxes based on the location of your store. This feature wins out over Square, because with Square you'll have to manually enter your taxes.
Feature 6 - Team Management
All of the team management features come free with the various Shopify subscription tiers.
You can take care of scheduling, enable permission for your staff, delegate tasks, and more.
While Square has basic team management features that come with the free plan, you'll have to pay an extra $35 per month per location to utilize advanced team management tools.
Feature 7 - Reporting & Analytics
Shopify has very strong reporting capabilities when you upgrade to the $79 per month package. While Square also offers enhanced reporting and analytics for an added fee, it's not nearly as in-depth as Shopify's. Square's industry-specific reporting package provides improved reporting over their basic package, though Shopify still takes the cake.
With Shopify reporting and analytics, you can get real-time information regarding sales from the moment you open up your account.
Square's Best Features:
Feature 1 - Specialized POS Apps
Square has a number of industry-specific apps which you can opt for based on the type of business you run.
For example, you might choose to integrate with Square for Restaurants if you work in food service or Square Appointments if you own an appointment-based business, such as a salon. And the Square for Retail software plan is excellent for small retailers.
Shopify does not provide industry-specific plans, as they only offer a single POS system.
Feature 2 - Free Online Store
Square Online generates a free online store when you sign up for an account. The beauty of this online store is that it is very easy to design. Square automatically builds the online store based on your style and color choices.
While Shopify's online store capabilities are certainly more robust, you cannot get a Shopify store for free. You must purchase a domain for your Shopify store for $11 per year.
Feature 3 - Flexible Hardware
Both Square and Shopify offer full-fledged retail POS kits, fitting for just about any business. However, Square's has Shopify beat in terms of hardware flexibility.
For example, Square is the only one of the two that offers a free credit card reader, which is exclusively for magstripe. You can use this card reader with your tablet or smartphone. Best of all, the card reader comes free with the free Square plan!
Square also offers a register-style setup that you can use to connect with other hardware peripherals, including barcode scanners, receipt printers, cash drawers, and more. Shopify does have a similar register-style setup, though they are less widely available.
Where Square truly tops Shopify is with its Square Terminal. You won't find an all-in-one device like this from Shopify. The all-in-one Square Terminal costs $299 and comes with a front-facing touchscreen display, a receipt printer, and a card reader.
Feature 4 - Offline Mode
Square is the only one of these two companies to provide full offline capabilities. With offline mode, you can process payments even when the internet goes out. Shopify's offline mode is far more limited.
Feature 5 - Gift Cards
Square allows users to sell gift cards no matter which subscription level they've chosen. Having gift card accessibility makes promoting customer loyalty much easier.
Unfortunately, with Shopify, you'll need to upgrade to the higher-tier subscription plan, which is around $79 per month, if you want gift card selling capabilities.
Feature 6 - Customer Support
We love the fact that Square Online provides customers with an entire range of customer support features under their free account. With most other POS system providers, an upgrade to a paid plan is the only way to access this level of customer support.
Shopify's main drawback is that opting for multiple advanced features can get fairly expensive, and may be too pricey for those running small businesses. Plus, to make Shopify as optimal as it can be, you'll need to install and run several plugins purchased through its app store.
Another complaint is that Shopify uses a programming language called Liquid, which not many web developers are familiar with. While it is not challenging to use, it can create a bit of a learning curve for those who are just hopping on the system.
Lastly, Shopify POS users pair their accounts with Shopify Payments. Some have experienced account holds and terminations with Shopify Payments, which you'll find is a major problem with Square POS as well.
There are two chief complaints from those using Square POS and Square online store solutions.
These two drawbacks tend to overlap. Many Square customers complain that it can take a long time to get in touch with Square employees in order to resolve issues. While Square offers free customer service plans, it's clear that they don't always respond in a timely manner.
And because Square acts as a payment processor, there is a chance of instability when it comes to accessing your funds. Many customers have complained of random account holds and terminations.
Square Online Store vs. Shopify Online Store
With a Square Online Store, there are plenty of affordable price plans that offer much better value than Shopify. You can start selling with the free plan or upgrade to the feature-rich and budget-friendly $12 per month plan to boost your online sales.
Square has a number of intuitive in-house integrations, and you should be able to connect your POS system without hassle. It's a great online store choice for new business owners, and low-volume retailers.
With that said, it lacks design features and won't provide the creative freedom you find with Shopify's online store capabilities. It's also not the most scalable. If you're planning on growing your business in the coming years, you'd be better off going with a provider like Shopify.
Shopify POS has plenty of powerful sales features to help with online store growth, as well as dropshipping and multi-channel integrations. The themes for eCommerce platforms are optimized with tons of unique design features and colors.
The one downside to its flexibility is that it heavily relies on third-party integrations from the Shopify app store, which can bog down your site when too many are used. Shopify also charges 2.0% per online store transaction if you don't use the company's in-house payment processing services.
While it's great for businesses looking to scale, the $29 per month fees can be a bit much for small business owners.
Which is A Better Value?
Square provides better value overall. Of course, that's not to say that Shopify offers bad value by any means. It's just that the free Square Online plans and low $12 per month starting price to sell online isn't easy to beat.
If you're looking to utilize eCommerce features on a budget, there is no better provider than Square Online.