Shopify VS Square: Which All-In-One Platform Is Better For Small Business?
Shopify and Square both provide POS systems, but their full range of services encompasses much more. See which pricing and feature sets will fit your business better.
If you’re looking for a merchant services provider to facilitate your sales, whether online, in-person, or both, you’ll be sorting through hundreds of shopping carts, POS solutions, and mobile processing apps. Square and Shopify, two of the largest all-in-one merchant solutions, rise above the pack in terms of the value they promise. That’s why we thought it would be helpful to examine the similarities and differences between the two.
Shopify and Square both provide POS systems, but their full range of business services encompasses so much more. In this article, we’ll be exploring these two companies, comparing their respective features, pricing, ease of use, customer support, integrations, and more. And after you’ve finished, read our Square review and our Shopify review to get an even more detailed look at these two companies.
Table of Contents
- Comparing Shopify VS Square At A Glance
- The Key Differences Between Shopify & Square
- Which Is Best For My Business Needs: Square Or Shopify?
- Shopify VS Square: FAQ
- Shopify VS Square Pricing
- Shopify VS Square: Online Store
- Shopify VS Square: POS
- Square VS Shopify: Omnichannel Features
- Square VS Shopify Integrations
- Shopify VS Square Comparison: The Final Verdict
Comparing Shopify VS Square At A Glance
Looking at Square Online Store vs. Shopify, both offer similar feature sets for online and in-person sales. However, differences arise when you consider pricing. While Square charges no subscription fees and a universal flat processing rate, Shopify charges monthly fees, and its processing fees go down if you get a pricier subscription.
Shopify VS Square
|Ideal For||Larger retailers, online merchants||New sellers, smaller retailers, foodservice businesses|
|Monthly Fees||Starting at $29||Starting at $0|
|Payment Processing Rates||Starts at 2.9% + $0.30 (online); Starts at 2.7% (swiped/dipped/tapped)||2.9% + $0.30 (online), 2.6% + $0.10 (swiped/dipped/tapped)|
|Standout Features||Strong POS system, 2,000+ integrations, 24/7 customer service||No monthly fees for standard plans, great mPOS system, lots of integrations|
|What’s Missing||No free plan, no industry-specific POS apps||No 24/7 phone support, less built-in eCommerce functionality|
The Key Differences Between Shopify & Square
Square and Shopify have a lot in common, with both companies providing the tools needed for a brick-and-mortar shop and/or online store. However, the two companies are not identical by any means. Let’s explore the primary differences between these two merchant services giants.
Choice Of Payment Processors
One nice thing about Shopify is that while you can use Shopify’s selling tools with Shopify Payments (Shopify’s in-house processor), you can also use other payment processors in conjunction with Shopify. So if you currently have a payment processor you like, you can connect it to Shopify’s POS and/or eCommerce tools. However, the catch is that, depending on your subscription plan, you’ll pay an extra 0.5%-2% transaction fee when using a non-Shopify processor.
On the other hand, Square began its life with payment processing at the core of its services. Accordingly, you cannot use Square’s services (online and in-person) without using Square as your payment processor.
Shopify touts its ability to serve merchants in 175 countries. However, Shopify Payments is available for payment processing in a much smaller list of 17 countries. Merchants in many countries will have to use a different processor if they want to use Shopify for eCommerce and/or in-person selling.
By contrast, Square can only be used in seven countries: the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and (as of recently) France. Shopify has a clear international edge here.
Supported Business Types
Square and Shopify support a wide range of business types, and with numerous third-party integrations available with both platforms, most business types will be able to use either platform. However, Square’s POS ecosystem is particularly robust and has more industry-specific apps and features than Shopify, making Square ideal for restaurants, smaller retail establishments, and businesses that need a good appointment-scheduling system.
On the other hand, Shopify’s unmatched online store capabilities (loads of built-in features; 2,000+ feature integrations) make it ideal for eCommerce merchants. Additionally, Shopify’s pricing structure benefits growing businesses in that as your sales volume grows, you can switch to higher-tier subscription plans. The increased monthly fee will be more than offset by the corresponding drop in your per-transaction fees.
International Shipping & Payments
Shopify offers US, Canadian, and Australian merchants access to discounted rates with several different carriers, allowing you to compare their rates. And with real-time carrier shipping (available with the Advanced Shopify plan or as a paid add-on with a lower-tier plan), your customers will get an accurate rate from wherever they’re located. With Square, you have to manually add regions of the world to which you will ship. From there, you can either get real-time rates for orders based on weight and destination, offer flat-rate shipping, or choose to offer free shipping for orders meeting certain criteria.
As for international payments, Shopify allows you to accept payments in 133 currencies. Square only supports seven currencies.
Which Is Best For My Business Needs: Square Or Shopify?
Which merchant services giant should you use to take your small business to new heights? It depends on your business and what your priorities are.
Choose Shopify If…
- You want to use your POS app on multiple devices without having to pay extra
- You’re building a large, complex eCommerce site
- You want to take advantage of Shopify’s 2,000+ eCommerce integrations
- You want to connect your existing payment processor to a POS and/or eCommerce website
- You want the security of knowing you can get live help 24/7
Choose Square If…
- You already use Square for payment processing (and you like it)
- You want to sell items online and not pay a monthly fee
- You’re in the restaurant industry
- You want a POS system with a solid inventory system, team management, and impressive offline capabilities
Shopify VS Square: FAQ
Shopify VS Square Pricing
At first glance, Shopify and Square appear to have similar transaction fees. However, that doesn’t account for Shopify’s monthly fee, the fee for its retail add-on package, or the transaction fees if you choose another processor over Shopify Payments. Nor does it account for the lower processing fees you’ll pay with a higher-tier Shopify subscription, which can save high-volume sellers money.
Still, depending on which features you need, the cost of Shopify can start to add up over time, especially with add-ons. If Shopify’s tools help you run/expand your business, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. Just look closely at your budget and projected sales to see whether you can justify the expense. The same applies when using Square to integrate with another shopping cart or when using a specialized Square retail or restaurant POS.
|Online Store||Basic Shopify: $29/month, Shopify: $79/month, Advanced Shopify: $299/month||Free: $0/month, Professional: $12/month, Performance: $26/month, Premium: $72/month|
|Point Of Sale||Free option with paid eCommerce plan, Shopify POS Pro: $89/month||Free plan available, Square For Retail & Square For Restaurants: $60/month, Square Appointments: $0-$90/month|
|Mobile POS||Included with Shopify POS app||$0/month|
|Credit Card Reader||$29-$49||$0-$49|
|Online Transactions||2.9% + $0.30 per transaction (with Shopify Payments), 2.6% + $0.30 with the Shopify plan, 2.4% + $0.30 with Advanced Shopify||2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, 2.6% +$0.30 with the Premium plan|
|Swiped/Dipped/Tapped Transactions||Basic Shopify: 2.7%, Shopify: 2.6%, Advanced Shopify: 2.4%||2.6% + $0.10 per transaction|
|Chargeback Fee||$15||No chargeback fee|
|Refund Fee||Shopify keeps the transaction fee||No refund fee|
Shopify’s monthly eCommerce plans will see you paying significantly more per month than Square’s plans, and, of course, Shopify has no free plan. However, Shopify’s pricier plans will see you paying less in transaction fees (as will Square’s top-tier Premium plan). Another bright spot for Square is that, unlike Shopify, Square does not charge a fee for chargebacks, nor will Square keep the transaction fee on a refund.
Shopify VS Square: Online Store
Online is the area in which Shopify truly shines. Shopify started as an eCommerce product, and it’s stayed true to that idea with robust shopping cart software and an easy-to-use design that even online selling newbies can handle.
As for Square, the company offers a rather limited standalone store, though you can integrate other shopping cart options that support Square Payments. In those cases, you’ll still need to evaluate the eCommerce software you select.
Let’s take a look at the eCommerce features offered by both companies.
|Pricing||Starts at $29/month||Starts at $0/month|
|Free Domain For 1 Year||No — Domains must be purchased (from $11/year) unless you use a free myshopify.com subdomain||Yes, with a Professional plan or above — after a year, domains start at $12/year (or you can use a free Square subdomain)|
|Bring Your Own Domain||Yes — no additional charge||Yes, with a Professional plan or higher|
|Includes Web Hosting||Yes — no additional charge||Yes — no additional charge|
|Abandoned Cart Reminders||Yes, with the standard Shopify plan and above||Yes, with the Performance plan and above|
|Pre-Made Store Templates||Yes||Yes|
|Order Management||Yes, in the app and your dashboard||Only in your dashboard, not the app|
Shopify offers the following shipping features:
- USPS, UPS, DHL Express, and FedEx are available
- Shipping discounts with DHL Express, UPS, and USPS (discount percentage depends on your subscription level)
- Real-time shipping carrier rates (outside of Shopify Shipping) with the Advanced Shopify plan
- You can create flat shipping rates for any order
As for Square:
- USPS, UPS, DHL Express, and FedEx are available
- Shipping discounts that increase with your subscription level
- Real-time shipping rates with FedEx, UPS, and USPS on the Premium plan
- You can create flat shipping rates for any order
Both Shopify and Square support multichannel sales. Here are the channels supported by each:
|Rakuten Ichiba (Japan)||✔||X|
Shopify VS Square: POS
Shopify’s POS is available for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Square also supports your choice of Android and iOS devices with its free Square Point of Sale app. However, to make the best use of either Shopify POS vs. Square POS, you’ll need an iPad, as many of the best features are only available there. Let’s now go through what Square and Shopify give you in terms of POS features, focusing on the areas where the two providers differ.
|Industry-Specific POS Apps||No||Yes|
|Receipts||Print & email||Print, email & text|
|Tax Rate Calculation||Auto-detected based on your store’s location||Must enter tax rates manually|
|Team Management||Included at all levels||Basic team management at all levels, advanced team management costs $35/month/location|
|Gift Cards||Available with Standard Shopify ($79/month) and above||Available at all levels|
|Accept All Forms Of Payments||Yes||Limited|
Credit Card Terminals & Hardware
Both Square and Shopify offer a range of hardware options, from free credit card readers to full-fledged retail kits with everything you need for a conventional register setup.
At the very least, you’re going to need a card reader to use with your smartphone or tablet. If you decide to go that route, these will be your options. Let’s start with Shopify’s card readers:
- Chip & Swipe Reader: $29
- Chipper 2X BT Reader (Available Late October 2021): $49
- Shopify Tap & Chip Card Reader: $49
Let’s now take a look at your card reader options with Square:
- Reader For Magstripe: Free
- Reader For Contactless & Chip: $49 (includes free magstripe reader)
If you’re interested in a register-like setup, both provide ready-to-go retail bundles that you can use to set up your system, from receipt printers to cash drawers and more. We’ll start with Shopify’s retail kits.
Shopify offers a basic retail kit called the Retail Bundle that displays on your iPad, keeps your devices charged, and accepts chip and swipe payments. It currently goes for $159. For a more robust setup that allows you to accept cash and cards, print receipts for your customers, and scan barcodes, there’s the Start-Up Bundle, which sells for $789. Financing is available for retail kits.
Shopify has lots of other hardware options available, including card readers, shipping label printers, receipt printers, cash drawers, and stands (though, unfortunately, some items are currently on backorder). See our article on Shopify hardware for more info.
By contrast, Square currently offers seven different iPad-based retail kits. In order from cheapest to most expensive:
- The @Rest Stand for iPad mini Kit ($526) accepts tapped/dipped/swiped payments and includes a receipt printer and paper.
- The Infinite Peripherals® Mobile Kit for Square Reader ($625) includes the tap & chip reader and an iPad mini.
- The @Rest Stand for iPad mini 2 Kit ($629) includes everything from the first @Rest Stand, plus a cash drawer.
- The Square Stand Kit ($639) includes a Square Stand, the tap & chip reader, the dock for the reader, a cash drawer, and a receipt printer and paper.
- The Square Stand Restaurant Station ($1,039) includes the Square Stand, a cash drawer, an Ethernet Kitchen Printer with paper, and a USB receipt printer with paper.
- The Square Register Kit ($1,269) includes a Square Register (a contactless + chip + swipe card reader with a customer-facing screen and a cashier-facing screen that goes for $799 on its own), cash drawer, receipt printer, and paper.
- The Square Stand Restaurant Station with Square Terminal ($1,339) includes a Square Terminal (a contactless + chip + swipe card reader with a customer-facing screen that goes for $299 on its own)), a Square Stand, a cash drawer, an Ethernet Kitchen Printer with paper, and a USB receipt printer with paper.
Financing is available for all of Square’s retail kits as well as for the Square Terminal and the Square Register. Check out our article on Square POS hardware for further details.
Square VS Shopify: Omnichannel Features
So far, we’ve been comparing Square and Shopify based on their eCommerce offerings, POS, hardware, etc. Let’s now shift our focus to the business features that run through the entire platform to affect each aspect of your business.
Customer Management & Loyalty
Shopify is known for its great CRM (Customer Relationship Management) features. You can create profiles for your customers, allowing you to send them receipts via email and build an email list for marketing. With these profiles, you can group customers by such factors as location, shopping tendencies, and demographics. Shopify also offers a number of customer loyalty apps (which tend to have both free and paid versions), so you can offer rewards and personalized bonuses to your customers.
For its part, Square offers a loyalty program that starts at $45/month and offers similar customer relationship benefits. Customers can earn loyalty rewards and discounts automatically, and that information gets stored on their customer profile. However, you can provide digital gift cards under Square’s standard system without having to pay extra, and you can easily store and search customer balances and other information.
Shopify’s inventory features are pretty impressive. In addition to tracking your stock levels across every channel where you sell, you can print barcodes and more. Multilocation inventory management is only available with a Shopify Standard or Advanced plan.
Square has a solid free inventory management system. You can also upgrade to Square for Retail ($60/month/location) for more features or integrate with other inventory services, such as Shopventory.
|Exchanges||Yes, with Shopify POS Pro ($89/month/location)||Yes, with Square For Retail ($60/month/location)|
|Store Credit||Yes||No, but you can refund to a gift card|
|Vendor/Supplier Management||Yes, with Shopify POS Pro ($89/month/location)||Yes, with Square For Retail ($60/month/location)|
|Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store||Yes||Yes|
Shopify offers coupons, gift cards, and discount features with all paid plans. Users can create coupon discount codes and coupons, including BOGO, that apply to specific products or categories, and you can limit those to a specified number of users, specific groups, or a minimum order total.
Square offers some marketing tools, such as customer insights and statistics, customer profile management, and tools that let customers sign up for your mailing list. For more advanced marketing features, you’ll need a subscription to Square Marketing, which starts at $15/month for up to 500 customer contracts.
Square VS Shopify Integrations
Both Square and Shopify are awash in integrations. Both companies’ eCommerce platforms have integrations for just about any function you can think of. However, I have to give the edge to Shopify here, and the reasons are twofold.
First, Shopify integrates with over 2,000 eCommerce apps, while the Square Online Store offers 183 integrations. Second, with Shopify, you can integrate more than 100 payment gateways with your POS app. With Square, you must use Square’s in-house payment gateway.
Shopify VS Square Comparison: The Final Verdict
It’s hard to declare a definitive winner in the Square vs. Shopify battle. We recommend them both to merchants, as they have a lot of great aspects and generally are transparent, fairly-priced options. That said, Shopify does have a few more advantages than Square — a more robust POS app for retailers, more extensive eCommerce features, and round-the-clock customer service for starters. But that doesn’t mean Square isn’t a good choice for some merchants. Especially for newer, smaller-scale, and cost-conscious merchants, Square makes a lot of sense.
In the end, you need to know what your budget is and what features are most important for you to have. Shopify and Square look pretty similar at first glance, but when you scratch beneath the surface, you’ll find they both have so much to offer. You absolutely need to consider costs when making a decision, but keep in mind your long-term goals and the features you are most interested in pursuing.
If you’ve had experience with either or both of these services, please leave us a comment and let us know what you think! And as always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact us!