How To Create An Online Store Through Square
Signing up to sell online through Square is fast, free, and easy. But is it a move you should consider making?
Square has been a game-changing player in the mobile payments arena since it was launched by Jim McKelvey and Jack Dorsey in 2009. Today, the Square application has been download more than 33 million times, making the company a POS (point of sale) giant. Since 2019, Square has been using software from online website builder Weebly to offer users an easy-to-use, all-in-one eCommerce solution called Square Online.
Whether you’re new to online sales or looking to jump from another eCommerce platform, we’ll show you how to get started with Square Online and how to make the most of your store.
What You’ll Need To Start Your Square Store Online
The one thing you won’t need when you set up a store is a credit card or any other payment method. That’s because it’s a free service, at least for starters. You can add on extras later, if you decide they’re worth paying for. To get started with Square Online, all you need is the following:
- Your Business Name
- Tax ID Number: You can enter this later, if you don’t have it ready
- Estimated Annual Revenue: Choose from a range, if you know it, or skip this step.
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How To Start An Online Store Through Square
The first thing to know about setting up an online store with Square is that it’s easy to do, even if you don’t know much about eCommerce or setting up websites. Read on to find our step-by-step instructions on how to start an online store through Square.
Sign up for Square eCommerce
When you’re ready to start, head to the Square Online signup page and press the blue button that reads Start a free online store.
You’ll be prompted to enter your name and email address, and to create a password. You’ll also be asked to check a box noting that you agree to Square’s terms, privacy policies, and e-sign consent. Be sure to click the links so you can read what you’re agreeing to. Once you enter that information, you’ll be asked to enter your business name, your tax ID number, and your estimated annual sales. All you really need to enter at this point is a business name, however; the other two items are either optional or can be entered later through your Square Dashboard.
Enter Business Information
The next page you arrive at will ask you to describe your business. The choices given are limited:
- Clothing & Accessories
- Specialty Shop: Retail
- Specialty Shop: Food & Drink
- Outdoor Markets
- Art, Photo, & Film
- Furniture/Home Goods
- Food Truck/Cart
- Outdoor Markets: Food & Drink
- Jewelry & Watches
- General Contracting
- Charitable Organization
- Independent Stylist/Barber
- Hair or Beauty Salon, or Barbershop
- Automotive Services
- Membership Organization
If your business doesn’t fall into those categories, don’t worry. At the bottom of the page is a button that says I Don’t See My Business Type. When you hit that button, you will go to a new page that offers more choices, including narrow categories like Beauty and Personal Care as well as catch-alls like Retail. Select the category that most closely meets your business type, and then choose a subcategory to narrow it down further.
For example, under Home and Repair, you can choose from a wide variety of businesses, from automotive services to watch and jewelry repair.
Explore Products & Features
Before you can go further, Square will ask you to enter a physical address for your business, to verify your identity. Check the box if this is also your home address. After you do that, you’ll be taken to your Square Online Dashboard, where there’s a setup guide you can use to help you explore. If it doesn’t pop up automatically, look for the Tour your Dashboard option under the My Business tab at the top right. Take a look at the admin panel on the left side of your screen. This is where you’ll list products, take orders, and manage inventory and payments.
Take your time while exploring, but don’t worry if you can’t take everything in at once. You can always revisit areas where you need to spend more time.
Compared to other eCommerce platforms, the Square Online setup process definitely is more focused on payment, possibly because of Square’s origins in POS. If you want to skip the financial information for now and move on to setting up your store, you can always come back to it later.
On the other hand, if you’re ready to activate the Setup Guide, just click the green button at the top of the page to move through the steps needed to get your finances up and running. This guide covers three key areas:
- Activate your account to take payments. You can verify your identity, link your bank account so you can transfer funds, and take your first payment with Square.
- Set up your account. You’ll be able to customize the way receipts look and what they say, set up taxes for individual items or at checkout, add a business location or merge multiple locations, and explore Square’s software tools. One of those tools is the Dashboard app, which lets you manage our business through a mobile device.
- Get started with Square Point of Sale. You can choose to order hardware and devices to take payments in person, or download an app for Android or iOS devices.
Set Up Your Store
Once you have the business end straight, it’s time for the fun part: setting up your store! From the Dashboard, click the Online button, and you’ll be able to choose from three general page types:
- Single Ordering Page
- Full Website Plus Ordering Page
- Checkout Links
If you’re not sure which page type you should choose, there’s a Help button that takes you through a list of questions about your business and makes a suggestion. Next, you’ll be asked how you plan to fulfill orders: by shipping, by customer pickup, or by delivery. You can choose more than one, or you can skip for now if you’re not sure.
Next, you can access several Setup Guides that will help you design your website, add products, and connect a domain. When you choose website design, you get your first look at the page Square Online suggests for you. You may or may not like what you see, but don’t worry — it’s meant to be customized. And although your choices are limited, compared to other eCommerce platforms, it’s very easy to change the look of your Square Online webpage using the Page Sections choices on the left side of your screen.
For example, if you click the Header edit button, you can change the layout, logo, navigation options, action button, cart and search icon, and the overall section style. You will still have the same general layout, but you should put your personal touch and your own business message on it. It’s easy to use, though not as flexible as the drag-and-drop editing available on other website builders. Take your time filling in all the available fields, as this will be your main point of contact with potential customers.
Add Items For Sale
Once you have tinkered with the look of your webpage and improved its functionality to meet your needs, it’s time to add products to sell. Near the top of the dashboard, you’ll see a blue button that says Add. Click on that to access a dropdown menu that includes Item, and you can start to build your store’s inventory.
You can add a physical item, prepared food or drink, donation, event, or membership. Just pick the right item type, then add an item title and its price. You should include a description of your item, including materials, origin, special details, size, and specifications. Add images and check the right box to indicate how you’ll fulfill orders, including shipping, in-store pickup, or local delivery. That’s all it takes! Repeat as necessary until your store is ready to take live.
Take Your Store Online
You should see a blue button near the top right of your screen that says Publish. When you push that, your site will be live and ready for shoppers to visit. It’s probably a good idea to Preview your site first, though. There’s a button for that just to the left of the Publish button.
Square will assign you an automatic domain name that probably will read Your-Store-Name.square.site. Fortunately, you’re given an option immediately to improve on that no-frills URL. You can link to a domain you already own or, if you want to upgrade to a paid plan, you can build your brand with a professional web address. It’s worth noting that all Square Online plans, including the free one, include a shopping cart, inventory management, tax calculator, coupon codes, and gift cards, and allow you to accept payments through Square. If you’re interested in adding a paid plan, you’ll add features to that list.
Tips For Selling With Square
That’s all it takes to build a basic website for eCommerce using a Square Online store. Of course, if you want to make the most of your site, you have a few more items on your to-do list.
Look Into Paid Plans
There’s absolutely nothing wrong — and many things right! — with using the free option for your Square Online store. However, once you’ve gotten to know the site and perhaps solidified your eCommerce goals, there’s nothing wrong, either, with taking a look at what paying for a plan can get you. Square Online paid plans run from $12 to $72 per month when billed annually.
What do you gain for that cash outlay? The first bump-up in service means you can publish to a custom domain, use custom fonts on your page, and ditch the Square branding and ads on your store. For $26, you add the ability to accept PayPal payments, integrate shipping apps, and email to recover abandoned shopping carts. The top-tier plan lowers your transaction fees, delivers shipping rate discounts, and gives you a tool to calculate shipping rates more accurately.
The free plan gives you more than what you need to set up a basic store. As your sales and your goals increase, you may want to upgrade.
Upgrade Your Product Photos
When customers shop online, they can’t actually see or touch the items you have for sale. All they have to rely on as they make buying decisions is an image on their screen. So it’s important to have high-quality images that show off your products in the best light. Square Online offers an interesting feature called Photo Studio. Find it through your admin, and you’ll have a chance to order professional product photos at a low price. At just $9.95 for three multi-angle, high-resolution photos optimized for eCommerce, or $29.95 for an interactive 360-degree image, it could be an investment that pays you back with increased sales.
Connect With Customers
Square Marketing helps you send out a one-time or automated marketing email campaign. You can send out a discount code to first-time buyers who left without placing an order, for example, or make a special offer to previous buyers who haven’t visited in a while. You can also ask for customers’ birthdays and then send them a special offer on their special day. If you’re active on Facebook, or if you’d like to build your presence there, you can send customers a link and ask them to leave feedback on your Facebook page. You can customize Square’s campaign templates with your branding elements or product photos to help you meet your marketing goals.
Play Around With Pop-Ups
From the Marketing tab on the admin, you can build a pop-up ad that grabs customers’ attention. There are templates you can customize for collecting email addresses, offering coupons, making announcements, or verifying shoppers’ age, if you’re selling age-restricted products. It’s an easy process, with help if you need it. Don’t overdo the popups, as customers often find them annoying. However, since they’re easy and free to add, it’s worth experimenting with them to see if you can use popups to increase sales or meet marketing goals.
Confirm Payment Options
Your Square Online store comes equipped to handle Square transactions. You don’t need to add a third-party payment gateway. You’re even set up to accept Square gift cards. If you look under the Checkout tab on your admin, you’ll see two other options: Accept Apple Pay and Accept Google Pay. You can decide whether or not you want to add either or both of those options. Don’t overlook the fact that you’ll be charged fees of 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction. If you want to accept PayPal, you’ll need to upgrade to the Performance plan, at $26 per month. Again, it’s fine to stick with the free plan for now and revisit your options when sales start coming in.
Getting Your Square Online Store Up & Running
Square Online offers an all-in-one solution that allows small businesses to jump into eCommerce with no cash upfront and very little ongoing financial investment. Especially if you’re already using Square to process payments, a Square Online store will help you to quickly bring your products to the wide world of online selling. Great things await you there, so get started!