Comparing Square POS & Square For Retail
It’s no secret that we like Square here at Merchant Maverick. This processing and point of sale juggernaut is a boon for small business owners thanks to the simplicity of its design and its overall affordability. But if you’ve decided to go with Square for your POS needs or have it pegged as one of your top contenders, you’ll have to consider what plan best suits your small business. Square POS is known for its free app, which comes with a free basic card reader, along with some fairly robust features for the cost. However, if your business is growing or has some more complex needs, you may find some aspect of the free app lacking. Fortunately, if you love Square’s processing structure and its interface, you have some additional options. Square has a pair of advanced platforms geared specifically to retail shops and restaurants. In this post, we’ll lay out some of the differences between Square’s free app and Square for Retail.
Obviously, the cost of the free app is… just that. It’s free and, if all you need is some basic functionality and a swipe card reader, you’re not going to be out of pocket much at all. Square for Retail costs $60 a month plus $20 a month for each additional device on location. There is also a slight difference in processing fees. For the free app, you’ll pay 2.75% across the board while Square for Retail charges 2.5% plus 10 cents.
This is one of the few areas where Square for Retail actually lags a bit behind its free counterpart. You can only use Square for Retail on iPad tablets, whereas the Square app works on mobile phones and Android devices. Square for Retail also is currently not compatible with Square Register.
Both Square and Square for Retail are cloud-based, storing all of your information on remote servers that you can access on your device. Both feature an offline mode that allows you to store encrypted card information and take payments, processing them when an internet connection is restored.
The biggest difference to the front end is that Square for Retail is actually slightly more simplistic. This is done by design, theoretically removing functions that retail-centric businesses may not need to provide a more streamlined experience for users. Most notably, Square for Retail removes the Item Grid. This makes Square for Retail a more search-based system and, unlike the free app, there is a bar code based UI. Initially, this pared-down interface came as a surprise to users who felt that they were now paying for a system that provided them with fewer features but, for a busy retailer, the features removed were largely superfluous.
Unsurprisingly, this is where Square for Retail stands out, adding a lot more functionality to an already generous feature set.
- Inventory Mangement: This is where Square for Retail put in most of its effort which is perhaps unsurprising as businesses with a high volume of inventory or the need to create and edit purchase orders will probably find the free app frustrating. As such, Square for Retail is best suited for small to mid-sized businesses with a large number of SKUs. The free app does give you the ability to track inventory across multiple locations and lets you set stock alerts but, beyond that, the inventory control is pretty bare bones. Here are a few things that come with Square for Retail that you can’t get from the free app:
- Ability to print bar codes and labels from the Square Dashboard
- Receive stock from the app
- Track stock received
- Accept exchanges that adjust stock levels automatically
- Transfer stock across locations
- Purchase Ordering: As mentioned, one of the bigger blind spots in Square’s free offering is its lack of purchase orders. Square for Retail comes with this functionality along with vendor management, which is also missing in the free app. Square for Retail includes:
- Ability to create and send purchase orders via email
- Ability to edit and annotate purchase orders
- Editing of received purchase orders
- Creation of vendor lists
- Ability to import and export vendor lists
- Item libraries of vendors
- Inventory Reporting: While the free app comes with a standard number of reports and is fairly generous, Square for Retail adds some additional reports that are inventory specific and include:
- Inventory tracking by item
- Projected profit estimates and margins
- Automated cost of goods sold
- Adjustment type filters
- Employee Management: Square for Retail’s employee management features are pretty robust and they’re included in your monthly fee. They’re also available in the regular app but at an add-on cost of $5 per employee. With Square for Retail, you also can have an unlimited number of employees.
- Customer Management: Again, you can do most of what Square for Retail offers in the free app with a few minor exceptions. Both offer you the ability to do things like create customer profiles automatically from a payment card, track customer buying history, create smart groups that update automatically, direct message customers, and provide guidance based on customer data. One of the few features that is only available in Square for Retail is tracking multiple timestamp notes from customer profiles.
If you choose to go with Square, the nice thing is that you know what you’re getting. Your processing fees are upfront and competitive, your interface is clean, simple and easy to learn, and you’re getting a standard feature set that matches up well with its competitors. The Square app fills a very broad array of small business needs and we recommend it in many instances.
While Square for Retail is an impressive offering in its own right, it fills more of a niche. Customers who like much of what Square has to offer but have a high volume of inventory or could benefit from advanced inventory reporting will probably find Square for Retail to be right up their alley, especially when compared to other similar POS systems. However, if your inventory needs aren’t overly complex, it’s difficult to justify the additional $60 a month.