Is This the Best eCommerce Platform for You?
With the entire world switching to online transactions, it’s no wonder e-commerce is flourishing. Selling your products online never seemed so easy, thanks to e-commerce platforms. But, since you’ll come across dozens of them, how do you decide which one is best for your business? We’re here to make your choice a bit easier by introducing you to one of the most popular platforms: Square.
In this Square review, we’ll explore the platform’s ins and outs and offer a detailed insight into how it works. After reading this guide, you’ll have no trouble deciding whether or not this is the right fit for you.
Square: The Background
Square was founded in 2009, and it’s one of the first companies worldwide to introduce mobile payments. Since they became famous for their point-of-sale (POS) system that anyone can use, it’s easy to forget their other contributions. One of the most popular allows you to build your own online store.
Whether you’re selling products, services or you’re running a restaurant, Square has all the tools you need. Square can easily integrate into your business and make your work much more straightforward, thanks to its extensive ecosystem.
By creating a single account, you can set up your entire online store, manage your employees, track invoices and payments, keep inventory, and more. If you already have a website, you can use Square’s online checkout to conduct your payments.
Square rebranded its website building feature after acquiring Weebly in 2018, and now it uses Weebly’s e-commerce system. As a result, the company is currently among the most advanced e-commerce solutions on the market, with many unique features.
Square prides itself on being very user-friendly, especially for those that don’t have previous experience in e-commerce. It’s available in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Ireland, Japan, and France.
Square: Payment Plans
Square offers several payment plans, so users can find what works best for their business.
Unlike many of its competitors, Square offers a free plan for its customers. This option includes numerous useful features:
- Unlimited number of products
- Digital and physical products and services
- Sync with Square POS
- Integrations with Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook
- Different delivery options
- Coupon codes and gift cards
- Contact forms
- Advanced SEO features
- Email, chat, community forum, and phone support
- Customization of every order
- Text alerts for each order
- 500 MB of storage
- 2.9% + $0.30 per Square transaction
Square’s professional plan costs $16 per month or $12 if billed annually. It includes everything from the free plan, with a few changes:
- No ads
- Unlimited storage
- Custom domain
- Free domain for one year
- Custom fonts
- Password protection
- 2.9% + $0.30 per Square transaction
The performance plan costs $29 per month or $26 when billed annually. You’ll get all the features from the Professional plan, plus a few extras:
- Accept payments via PayPal
- Product reviews
- Shipping calculator
- Shipping label printing
- Discounts on shipping rates
- Tracking services
- Email alerts about abandoned carts
- Gifting Options
- 2.9% + $0.30 per Square transaction
This plan is $79 a month, or $76 if you opt for annual billing. In addition to the Professional plan features, you’ll also get these:
- 2.6% + $0.30 per Square transaction
- Further discounted shipping
- Real-time shipping calculator
The Advantages of Using Square
Let’s see why millions of users have picked Square as their e-commerce platform:
Excellent Free Plan
Compared to its competition’s free plans, it’s clear why Square is becoming the leading e-commerce platform. So if you’re running a small business or just started your online store and want only the basic features, for now, Square’s free plan is excellent.
They’ll take a bit out of each payment processed, but other than that, you’ll have no expenses. The potential downsides to this plan are limited storage and annoying ads, but since it’s free, it’s hard to complain.
This plan represents the most basic way of managing your online Square store. But, since your needs depend on your line and volume of business, you may consider subscribing to one of the other three plans.
Easy to Set Up and Use
Whatever plan you opt for, you’ll see that Square is exceptionally straightforward to set up. You can sell goods, services, digital products, and even accept donations with the Square Online Store.
The first step is, of course, creating an account. This takes only a few minutes, after which you can customize the appearance of your online store. Next, you can add your products or services. Square has made this so simple that it’s almost impossible to make a mistake. Unless you’re on the free plan, you’ll then be able to set up your custom domain. After this, customize your shipping, taxes, and checkout, thus completing the set-up process.
Square’s interface is intuitive and gives you all the necessary instructions to create and manage your online store. Whatever line of business you’re in, you’ll find Square incredibly user-friendly. Even those who don’t have previous experience managing an online store will master this interface in a matter of days, if not hours.
Integrations and Add-Ons
Square integrates with over 200 valuable add-ons and apps from these categories:
- Social networks
- Team management
Some of the most popular integrations are with Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. The Instagram integration is especially exciting because when customers click on an image of your product or service, they get automatically redirected to your online store.
Since Square offers an impressive ecosystem, you can use it to your advantage. For example, the Square POS app enables you to connect your point-of-sale system to your online store. In addition, it’s completely free and offers plenty of useful options such as easier inventory management, Square Reader for contactless and chip, and tracking invoices.
If you need a bit of extra help, Square’s got you covered. It provides apps designed explicitly for managing appointments, retail, and restaurants.
Since the company has been widely known for its POS systems, leaving them out wouldn’t be fair. Before we dive in, let’s first define what a point-of-sale system is. A POS is what customers use to pay for your products or services in person. Of course, this is important for business owners that sell both online and in-person. A POS system is where inventory, sales, and customer management meet.
POS systems make running your business less complicated by creating a unique hub that can provide valuable data about your products or services at every moment.
Square’s POS system is simple to use and offers plenty of advanced features such as:
- Processing cash and checks
- Setting up gift cards
- Swiping cards with no internet connection
- Choosing between printed or digital receipts
- Sending invoices
- Tracking progress online
- Managing refunds
- Accessing tax information
- Saving customer’s card information safely
Square’s Point of Sale app is entirely free to download and use, unlike the POS apps of some of its competitors.
Square has an excellent customer support network you can reach via phone, email, community forum, live chat, the app, social media, etc.
In most cases, you’ll be able to solve your problem by going through the community forum that contains plenty of information regarding virtually any Square-related topic. It’s also a great place to get in touch with other merchants and learn something valuable from them you can implement in your business.
Although customer support is top-notch, one of its drawbacks is that it’s not 24/7. Phone support is available from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT and only during weekdays. Of course, you can email them anytime, but it typically takes at least 24 hours to get a response. If you have an emergency, you might solve it faster by going through the Square “Help” section or the community forum.
Great Sales Tools and Features
As we’ve mentioned, setting up your Square online store is easy. But what happens after you’ve set it up? A high-quality e-commerce platform needs to have tools and features you’ll use to improve your business constantly. Fortunately, Square offers many such options.
Let’s look at a few:
Initially, you add products when you’re setting up the store. After launching it, you’ll need to update or completely change the inventory frequently. Square enables you to add variations to your products in only a few clicks. This is especially useful if you have multiple colors of the same products.
Plus, you can add modifiers to every product or service you list and let customers personalize them. This can be a perfect feature if you’re selling gifts.
Is there anything worse than selling a product and realizing that was the last one? Proper inventory management prevents these problems and gives you control over what products you have in stock.
If you have a brick-and-mortar store, this is where the combination of the Square Online Store and Square POS comes in handy. You can update all your inventory from one place in numerous ways:
- Stock received – The number you enter gets added to the existing stock.
- Inventory recount – Replace the old quantity with a new one you enter.
- Restock return – Adds the number you enter to existing stock.
- Damage, theft, loss – Subtracts the amount by the number you enter.
By categorizing inventory changes like this, you’ll get a clearer picture of how your company performed in the past and what you need to focus on moving forward.
Square Online Store enables you to choose from a wide range of shipping options:
- Flat rate – Standard shipping rate, no matter the size and weight
- Free shipping – You can customize whether you want it always to be free or only under certain conditions
- Order weight – The shipping rate depends on how heavy the item is
- Order total – The shipping rate depends on the value of the whole order
- Item quantity – The cost depends on how many items were ordered
- Real-time rates – The fee depends on the destination, weight, etc. This option is available only with Premium plans.
Tax calculations can be tricky even when you’re managing a business in just one state. In addition, once you go online, you’ll (hopefully) get customers from various regions, which means calculating taxes becomes much more complicated.
You’ll be happy to know Square features an automatic tax calculator. If you’re sending your products across the U.S. or Canada, Square will apply the necessary tax rates for you. But, if you’re shipping them outside these territories, you’ll need to add taxes yourself. Although this can be frustrating and time-consuming, it’s a standard across most e-commerce platforms.
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, helps your website to be recognized by Google. If you’re a small business owner, you know how important both customer satisfaction and word-of-mouth are. But, if you manage to rank highly on Google Search, your sales numbers will skyrocket because your products will reach more people.
Square is aware of this and enables you to customize permalinks, titles, and descriptions of your products to rank higher. In addition, you can choose to index website pages, site items, or site categories.
If you’re not sure how to use this to your advantage, Square offers a free SEO guide for every business.
Check our detailed review of the best ecommerce platforms for SEO in 2022 here.
Nowadays, most online purchases are made through smartphones, so it’s critical to consider how your store looks on these devices. Square is well aware of this and made sure all sites are mobile-friendly from the beginning.
However, keep in mind that your online store might not look good on mobile phones if you add large images or a lot of content to your site or use narrow spacing. If you need additional help, Square has a guide on how to make your online store mobile-friendly
One of the biggest concerns when deciding on the best e-commerce platform is security. After all, your business and income are at stake, and you want to ensure you’re in safe hands.
Square prides itself on being one of the most secure platforms out there. Your online store will be protected by numerous layers of defense that prevent hackers from accessing your information and payments. Moreover, Square’s teams constantly monitor security levels and will alert you if there’s suspicious activity.
The company uses machine learning to collect payment information and identify new trends in fraud. If you ever have to face payment disputes, Square will help and support you. They can communicate with your bank, submit paperwork, and inform you of the progress in the Disputes Dashboard.
Square recommends using two-step verification to protect your account, adding another security layer to your account, and preventing intruders from logging in. Moreover, don’t forget to set up permissions for all your employees and limit what they can and can’t do.
Lastly, it’s essential to mention PCI compliance. Credit card companies have lengthy security guidelines that merchants must comply with to protect customers from hackers, intruders, or identity theft. Square is PCI compliant, which means all online transactions are protected and secured, and you’ll never have to deal with additional work in that regard.
The Disadvantages of Using Square
Every e-commerce platform comes with its own set of drawbacks. This section of the Square review will cover some of them.
When setting up your online store, Square enables you to select a design. But, compared to its competition, Square has a very limited template library you can choose from. So, if you want to build a website from scratch or make it stand out from the rest, you may find the number of options frustratingly small.
While it’s always good to see innovative and bold website designs, many think e-commerce platforms aren’t the right place for experimenting. Instead, try putting yourself in your customer’s shoes; you want to create an online store that’s easy to navigate. Any bold design moves may seem attractive at first but can ultimately prevent a visitor from becoming your customer.
That is likely what Square had in mind when designing templates. They are simple, but you still have enough room to personalize them. In the end, you want your website to look clean and be easy to use.
We already know the Square ecosystem has a lot to offer. While it’s great that the online store automatically connects to the Square payment processor, it can be a disadvantage if you’re not already using Square. Your options are limited to Square, Google Pay, and Apple Pay, while many other e-commerce platforms enable you to choose from far more processors.
If you have a Performance or Premium plan, you can add PayPal, but otherwise, your only choices are Square, Google Pay, and Apple Pay.
Account stability is one of the biggest problems of e-commerce platforms, including Square. They can block your account or even remove it from the platform if you’re ever considered high-risk. Unfortunately, this can sometimes come without warning.
If you’re labeled a high-risk merchant, the customers that try to order your products or services get turned down. That can significantly affect your sales and the company’s reputation. To avoid this, you must comply with the company’s rules and not receive payments for prohibited goods and services.
Win the E-commerce Game Fair and Square
If you’re thinking about selling your products or service online, Square is an excellent choice. Typically targeted toward smaller businesses, Square is an affordable platform that offers many valuable features.
One of its most significant advantages is the ability to use it with Square POS and add-ons that make managing a business much less stressful. Although Square has its flaws, they are nothing compared to what the platform has to offer.
We hope this Square review helped you make the right choice regarding your business.