Square Online Review (Formerly Square Online Store)
This easy, cost-effective eCommerce solution makes payment processing easy by integrating directly with Square POS, but how does it stack up to the competition in terms of features?
- Free plan available
- Easy to use
- Ideal for low-volume merchants
- All-in-one eCommerce and payment processing solution
- No coding knowledge required
- Limited customization
- Limited features
- Limited payment options
- Not suited for high-volume merchants
Square Online Overview
Square is a massively popular and easy-to-use point of sale (POS) system that anyone can use, anywhere, to take payments on any mobile device equipped with a free Square reader. Square is so well-known for its POS that its other functions are easy to miss, but overlooking them would be a mistake. For example, did you know there’s a Square website builder? It’s true, and those looking to build a budget-friendly online store definitely should take a closer look, because a Square online store review could show you this is the eCommerce solution you need.
That’s right, you can set up a fully functional online store that works perfectly within the Square ecosystem — and lest we overlook anything, the Square system does include everything from marketing and sales to employee timekeeping as well as online selling. A single Square account will let you set up and run a complete eCommerce site, using Square Online (formerly known as Square Online Store). If you prefer, you can use Square’s new service, Square Online Checkout, to accept payments online, without even setting up an online store.
Although Square has offered an online store builder for a while, in 2019 it rebranded and upgraded after the company acquired popular website-builder Weebly. Square Online uses Weebly’s software to offer an easy-to-use website builder with eCommerce functionality. The Square website builder offers a completely free plan; you just have to pay Square’s payment processing fees, as you would with any other eCommerce platform. However, this new online store builder also offers paid plans, giving users access to a more storage and features.
There are a few distinct advantages and disadvantages to using Square Online. Most sellers (especially those already set up with other Square products) will find Square Online to be incredibly easy to use. You don’t need the slightest bit of web design, coding, or software experience to create your shop. On the other hand, higher-volume sellers or those who are not already using Square for payments may find the software to be limited compared to other eCommerce options.
Read on to see if Square Online is right for your business’s needs, or head over to our full review of all of Square’s products and services.
Table of Contents
- Square Website Builder Pricing
- Cloud-Based Or Locally Installed
- Hardware & Software Requirements
- Specific Size Of Business
- Ease Of Use
- Square Online Store Features
- Square Web Design
- Integrations & Add-Ons
- Payment Processing
- Customer Service & Technical Support
- Square Online Store Reviews
- Square FAQs
- Final Verdict
Square Website Builder Pricing
Square Online has a unique pricing structure. Many merchants can use the platform completely free of charge. If you only need 500MB of storage, and you don’t mind processing your payments exclusively through Square, you can use the Free plan. You’ll pay only the usual credit card processing fees.
All Square Online plans, including the Free plan, include free web hosting, SSL certificate, and unlimited bandwidth on your Square site. But if you need more storage, want to use a custom domain, or you want to remove the Square advertisements from your site, you’ll need a paid pricing plan. Each step up in pricing gives you access to more features. If you want to save a bit of cash, you can pay for a full year of service upfront and get discounted rates. If you choose to pay annually, however, you should be sure that Square is the right payment processor and eCommerce platform for you. It is often very difficult or downright impossible to get refunds on annual subscriptions.
Here’s a quick breakdown of pricing for Square Online.
Square Online’s Free plan costs $0/month and includes:
- 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction (via Square)
- Unlimited products
- Digital or physical goods, services, tickets, donations
- Automatic inventory, orders, and items sync with Square POS
- Instagram, Facebook, & Pinterest integrations
- Curbside, delivery, or third-party courier
- Free SSL security
- 500MB storage
- Inventory management
- Order status text alerts
- In-store or curbside pickup plus delivery
- Sync with Square POS
- Coupon codes
- Square gift cards
- Contact forms
- SEO features
- Order customization
- Support via a community forum, email, chat, and phone
Square Online’s Professional plan costs $16/month or $12/month if billed annually and includes everything in the Free plan, plus:
- Unlimited storage
- Remove Square ads
- Add a custom domain
Square Online’s Performance plan costs $29/month or $26/month if billed annually and includes everything in the Professional plan, plus:
- Accept payments through PayPal
- Product reviews
- Shipping calculator, labels, & tracking
- Discounted shipping labels with UPS
- Abandoned cart emails
Square Online’s Premium plan costs $79/month or $72/month if billed annually and includes everything in the Performance plan, plus:
- 2.6% + $0.30 per transaction (via Square)
- Best shipping discounts
- Real-time shipping calculator
Cloud-Based Or Locally Installed
Square Online is a cloud-based software. There is nothing to download or install.
Hardware & Software Requirements
Since Square Online is a cloud-based solution, you won’t need to meet any software or hardware requirements in order to use the Square website builder. You should, however, make sure that you’re using the most recent version of the following compatible internet browsers: Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.
Specific Size Of Business
I think many people have an idea that, in general, Square is suited only for specific groups of merchants: coffee shops and take-out restaurants or artists and crafters, for starters. But that’s not really true, at least not any more. Square’s numerous products are so expansive, with so many integrations available, that you can easily manage a restaurant, a coffee shop, an artist booth, a pop-up retail store, even a full-fledged brick-and-mortar retail operation — plus a fully functional Square Online store.
That said, there are some people for whom Square Online works best. For starters, Square Online is also best for low-volume merchants who plan on using Square to build a modest online presence. The fact is that while it’s more than adequate, Square Online is not the most robust eCommerce solution available. So it works best for businesses that plan on using the online store as an additional channel, not as their main selling platform. That’s most true of the free plan, which can serve as a good option for testing out Square Online’s capabilities. If you plan to operate a serious online store, you’ll want to upgrade fairly soon to one of the paid plans.
As you might guess, Square Online is designed for merchants who are already processing payments via Square. For those sellers, the online store makes perfect sense, adding an easy-to-use eCommerce function to the Square system they already have in place. However, merchants who do not use Square to process payments (or to manage POS and inventory) may not find much value in the platform. In fact, for these merchants, I do not think Square Online is the best option. There are plenty of more customizable eCommerce software options out there for about the same price. Merchants who are not already part of the Square ecosystem should instead look into Shopify, Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart), and BigCommerce. Those are a few of our favorite eCommerce software, and they work for nearly all sellers.
Finally, Square Online is not a good solution for high-risk merchants. To use the software, you must use Square to process payments, and Square will boot you from your account if your services are included in its list of prohibited items and businesses. Make sure you check out that list before you sign up for any Square product.
A quick note: Square Online supports only online transactions that are made within the same country as the merchant. If you make a lot of international sales, you should look elsewhere for your eCommerce solution. Take a look at our recommended shopping cart software for some ideas.
Ease Of Use
Like Square’s other products, Square Online is designed with the user in mind. It is easy to create a store, import products, and adjust your site to fit your brand.
When you first sign up for a trial of the platform, you are immediately directed to begin creating your site. You can choose a general layout for your site as well as your preferred colors and fonts. You can also import a logo. Don’t be afraid to try out something at this stage. You can adjust everything later.
Once I had a rough design in place, I decided to add an item. You can add items from your storefront view or your admin panel. You can also import products from your Square POS to make the setup process just a little bit easier. Here’s what the “add a product” page looks like:
It was easy to fill out the product details. I added an item type (physical, digital, donation, membership, event, or service), a name, one or more photos, and a description. This is also where you can add variants, such as multiple colors or sizes, and select a category for your product. Scroll down a bit further, and you’ll see some more of Square’s advanced options, such as modifiers and SEO settings. You can also disable or enable an individual item’s visibility in the store if you’re not quite ready to launch a particular item.
In general, my experience using Square Online was easy-going. For me, there was just one sticking point. When I tried logging in again after I initially began building my site, I had some trouble finding my online store. From my main Square admin panel, I would select “Online Store,” and I’d arrive at the page you see below. However, when I clicked the “Preview Your New Store” button, I would arrive at one of two pages. Sometimes I’d land in my new page’s dashboard, and sometimes I’d end up in the design tool. As far as I can tell, it is not possible to navigate to the dashboard from the design tool. This made it difficult (and occasionally impossible) to access my dashboard, which was pretty frustrating.
However, once I arrived at the correct pages, I found Square Online to be intuitive and easy to use. Square Online still has a few bugs to work out, but once those problems are resolved, I think it will be highly usable.
Square Online Store Features
Square Online offers enough features to get the majority of small businesses moving. While features on the free plan may be too limiting for most merchants, offerings significantly improve on the paid plans. I have to admit that, overall, I am not very impressed with Square Online’s features. Although I think they are sufficient for getting a small online store up and running, I don’t think this platform is the best for handling a large volume of online orders. Without further ado, here are the main features you’ll get with a Square site:
- Square Dashboard: As I mentioned above, I had some difficulty locating my dashboard consistently. Once found, however, I was pleased with its usability. From the dashboard, you can access your marketing tools, insights, website design tools, and your store’s back end. In the store back end, you can find important pages, such as your items, orders, coupons, store emails, and settings.
- Products: Square Online offers significant functionality when it comes to listing products. You can list not just physical and digital products but also donations, memberships, services, event tickets, and carry-out or delivery orders. Also, you can list multiple product variants, such as size and color, and allow customers to use modifiers such as the ability to add custom text to a product. Display your items with multiple product images, and get everything up and running quickly with bulk import and export features. Here’s what a product looked like on my site when I had everything set up:
- Multi-Channel Selling: Square Online syncs easily with your Square POS system to enable multi-channel selling. These two systems work together to track your inventory, even as you sell online and in-person. You can also allow customers to pick up their online orders in-store, integrate with Instagram, and utilize targeted Facebook ads. Additionally, Square Online provides tools for creating password-protected pages. That means B2B sellers can make their wholesale products visible only to approved buyers.
- Checkout: Charge accurate tax rates (within the US) with Square Online’s automatic tax calculator. Add a “buy now” function that lets customers skip the default “Add to Cart” setting and move straight to checkout with a single item. Activate Square Online Checkout to allow you to collect payments, offer subscription services, and accept donations without setting up an online store. Square Online Checkout lets you create links and buttons that redirect customers immediately to a checkout page. If you’re selling items, an image of that item is present on the checkout page and customers can complete payment immediately. You can also embed links in your marketing materials that take customers directly to checkout, and you don’t even need an online store to make it work. Read more about Square Online Checkout.
- Shipping: The shipping features that you can access depend on your subscription level. All plans include the ability to choose shipping carriers, purchase and print labels, track shipments, and send order-status text alerts. The Free plan only lets you charge shipping rates based on a few factors. You can set rates based on weight, order total, or item quantity. You can also set a flat rate for shipping or just allow free shipping. On the Premium plan, however, you get access to much more accurate real-time shipping rates with FedEx, UPS, and USPS.
- Inventory Management: Track inventory across your online store and physical locations. Inventory totals update with each sale.
- Marketing: Create and advertise basic coupon codes; you can take off a percentage or a flat rate, or you can offer free shipping. You can also allow customers to leave product reviews and you can sell and accept gift cards to encourage repeat purchases. There are also features for collecting information via contact forms.
- Dropshipping: Look for the Sprocket integration in the Square App Marketplace.
- Blog: The Stories function in Square Online is like a blog, allowing you to connect with shoppers in creative ways, such as highlighting a new product, suggesting a recipe, or offering personal updates. Your posts will appear on your site’s Stories Overview page, and visitors can share your Stories to their social media pages using built-in sharing buttons.
- SEO Tools: Square Online comes with a number of SEO tools, including an optimized HTML format and mobile-friendly design. You can also add permalinks, SEO titles, and SEO descriptions to your products.
- Reports & Analytics: Square Online insights give you a look into your unique visits, page views, average pages per unique visit, and more.
- Square Ordering & Delivery: Square offers features specifically created to help restaurants adapt despite seating limitations and closures during COVID restrictions. Other businesses can benefit from these features, too, including a free ordering page, on-demand delivery, in-house delivery, and pickup options.
Square Web Design
Unlike most other online store builders, Square Online does not have themes to choose from. Instead of selecting a premade theme, you choose a starting point for your site. You can take your pick of layout, fonts, and colors as you set up your account. All these elements can be changed over and over again as you hone your design.
From this starting point, you can add website pages to build out your site. Each webpage is essentially a collection of content blocks. To change your layout, you can add, remove, and rearrange these blocks. The blocks make it easy and fast to get started with your site. Take a look at a few options below:
While these content blocks certainly have their advantages, they aren’t the perfect tools, particularly for those who have a specific vision for their site. When you go to edit each content block, you’ll notice some limitations.
For example, although you can change the size of your text, your three options for sizing are small, medium, and large. Furthermore, you cannot adjust the size, shape, or location of text boxes. That makes it difficult to fit text into your site in the exact way you had in mind. There were also times that I wanted to bold my text, but I was not allowed to.
Keep in mind a few other limitations as you consider Square Online. To add a piece of content to your site, you have to select one of Square Online’s premade content blocks. You can’t simply add a text box to your website; you have to add an entire block. And you won’t find any tools available for editing HTML or CSS. That means you cannot use web developers or designers to adjust your site’s code. All changes have to be made in the design tool.
Again, there are advantages and disadvantages to Square Online’s web design. Although the tools are easy to use, and they do make it quick to set up your site, the tools are not very customizable, and that may be frustrating for some users. Keep in mind your own needs and priorities as you consider Square Online.
Integrations & Add-Ons
Square Online integrates with 200+ add-ons and third-party software, listed in 16 searchable categories that include tax/accounting, delivery and orders, eCommerce, POS, loyalty and rewards, and more. While the Square App Marketplace doesn’t house the largest integration collection we’ve ever seen, it’s still respectably sized. Included within these integrations is a pretty cool integration with Instagram. When you integrate with Instagram, users who click on images of your products in your Instagram account are redirected to your Square Online to complete checkout. (Learn our top tips and trick for selling on Instagram.)
Additionally, Square integrates with many other eCommerce software apps, such as BigCommerce, Shift4Shop, Magento, and WooCommerce. That means you can choose to use different eCommerce software to build your website while still processing payments through Square.
Finally, Square offers a number of developer tools and APIs, including the new Shippets API, that developers can use to build custom connections and add-ons.
Your options and rates for processing online payments through a Square Online store depend on your subscription level. Merchants on the Free and Professional plans can process payments only through Square at the typical rate of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.
Merchants on the Performance plan can also process payments through Square at 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, and they can accept payments through PayPal at 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.
Merchants on the Premium plan gain access to a discounted processing rate with Square. Premium plan rates are 2.6% + $0.30 per transaction whether through Square or PayPal.
All merchants can enable Google Pay, Apple Pay, and Square Payments to accept payments as well.
One of the big advantages of using Square to process payments is instant deposits. Many merchant accounts and payment service providers can take up to three business days to make funds available to you. With Square, you can receive funds immediately. Square also offers a chargeback protection program and does not apply chargeback fees. For more information, read our article on how to accept online payments with Square.
Customer Service & Technical Support
Customer support is available to all users, whether you’re on the Free plan or a paid plan. You can access this support primarily through phone, email, live chat, and the help center. Here’s a full list of support options:
- Phone: Phone support is available Mon-Fri 6 AM-6 PM PST. Wait times can be long, so try other options before phoning, if possible.
- Email: You can get support via email 24/7. Responses may take up to two days in coming.
- Live Chat: Live chat is available Mon-Fri 6 AM-6 PM PST and Sat-Sun 8 AM-5 PM PST.
- In-Software Help: Within the Square Online dashboard, you’ll find a link to the help center.
- Community Forum: The community forum contains answers to commonly searched questions. Like the help center, the forum is organized into categories. The forum is also a place to give feedback and vote on features.
- Videos: Square has a YouTube channel, which it uses to discuss all its products, including Square Online.
- Help Center: Square Online’s help center is organized into sections to make it easier to find answers to your questions. You can also use the search bar to search topics more specifically. Many support articles include up-to-date screenshots, which are particularly helpful.
- Blog: Square’s Town Square blog posts regular updates on payment processing and managing a business with Square.
- Social Media: Square is active on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
Square Online Store Reviews
Square Online is still relatively new, and while users do seem relatively content, there aren’t enough Square Online store reviews to make an independent judgment about how well Square sites work for online selling. For example, on G2 Crowd, Square Online has a nice 4.5/5 star ranking, but that’s based on just eight reviews total. However, that includes six 5-star reviews and just two 4-star reviews, with nothing lower. There’s a little more activity at Capterra, with 220 total reviews and an overall 4.8/5 ranking.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Square Online users raise a few negatives, including these:
- Design Limitations: Template options are limited, and editing layouts can be challenging. The scope for customizing your website will be limited, especially considering the lack of HTML and CSS editing functionality.
- Account Stability Issues: This is one of the huge complaints about Square in general. Like many other payment service providers (PSPs), Square can revoke your account if it considers you to be high-risk. When you’re a high-risk merchant on Square Online, not only can it revoke your payment account, but it will also remove you from the online store platform.
- Features Limited On Free Plan: While offering a free plan is generally an advantage, especially because it gives potential users a chance to test the software before committing to it, Square Online’s free version is lacking some of the basic functionality you will want to run a full online store.
- Limited Features: Square Online has enough features to satisfy the needs of many lower-volume sellers; however, merchants who have a lot of sales through their online portal may encounter some difficulty. There simply aren’t as many options available as there are in other eCommerce software. For example, you are able to create only three types of coupons: a flat-rate discount, a percent discount, and free shipping. Other eCommerce options allow for more complex coupons, such as “buy one get one free” and discounts on specific products and categories. Further, shipping features are relatively limited on the lower level plans. You need to be on the Premium plan to access real-time shipping rates.
- Limited Payment Options: Square Online also has limited payment options. To use the software, you have to process payments through Square, Google Pay, or Apple Pay. On the Performance and Premium plans, you can add PayPal as an option. In contrast, most eCommerce solutions offer at least 40 payment options to choose from.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
The majority of user reviews had mostly positive things to say about Square Online. Here’s what they mention:
- Free Option: It’s pretty awesome that you can build an entire online store for no more than the cost of processing payments. This isn’t a very common offering, and it’s a valuable option with Square.
- Easy To Set Up: Though they may not offer enough flexibility for some sellers, Square Online’s design tools make it easy to get for anyone to get a store online up and running quickly, even total beginners. Syncing your store with Square POS makes importing products quick as well.
- Versatile: You can sell a variety of types of products through your online store. That includes physical and digital products and even carry-out orders and event tickets.
Square Online offers all the security features you can expect from an eCommerce or payment processing solution. Square is Level 1 PCI compliant, and it uses SSL/TLS encryption. Square Online also monitors its servers around the clock and tests its security with regular vulnerabilities testing and a public bug bounty. Square regularly releases updates and patches to strengthen security.
Is Square Online the right match for your eCommerce goals? The short answer is, it depends. We believe Square Online is a decent eCommerce tool and we’ve rated it accordingly, even including it on our list of the best eCommerce platforms available. Still, even though we like Square Online, we don’t believe it’s the right tool for everyone.
For smaller sellers, and especially for those already using Square products, the Square website builder can provide an easy entrance into online selling, with some useful options, such as delivery capability, that aren’t found in all eCommerce solutions. Overall, we think Square Online is an excellent solution for those types of merchants. A Square site will integrate seamlessly with Square’s other products, and if you only need 500MB of storage, you can get the software, plus hosting and support, completely free of charge. All you’ll pay is the normal payment processing fees.
Now for the other side of the coin. For merchants who are looking for a stand-alone eCommerce solution, we suggest looking beyond Square Online. While it’s a solid eCommerce solution, Square Online is somewhat limited in its features and design options, and even the paid plans don’t include enough functionality to justify the cost. For comparison, both Shopify and Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart) offer plans at $29/month that have much more to offer than Square Online’s similarly priced plan. Read our comparison of Shift4Shop and Shopify to see if either platform offers the tools you need to build the eCommerce site you’re hoping for.
So, while it bears repeating that Square Online store can be a good choice for certain types of merchants, if you are hoping to build your online platform into your primary sales channel, you should look elsewhere. Take a look at our top recommendations for eCommerce software to get started. Even if you’re an eCommerce newbie looking for an easy way to start selling online, you should do a little research to find the best tool for beginners.
Do you still have questions? Do you have personal experience with Square’s Online Store? Leave your comments below and let us know what you think!
The Merchant Maverick Seal of Approval 🏆
After hours of in-depth research and evaluation, we can confidently recommend this brand to our readers. Get started today and see Square Online for yourself.
The Merchant Maverick Seal of Approval 🏆
After hours of in-depth research and evaluation, we can confidently recommend this brand to our readers. Get started today and see Square Online for yourself.