Square Online vs Shopify: Which Is Better For Your Sales?

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4.6

out of 5

Square Online and Shopify are two popular, dedicated ecommerce platforms that you can use to create an online store, sell online, manage inventory, ship products, and market your business.

Choosing between Square Online and Shopify can be tricky – the right platform for you will depend on your business, and in this article we’ll help you discover which one suits your needs. We carried out in-depth research into each one, examining pricing, sales tools, website and marketing features, design, and ease of use.

That means if you want a quick answer to whether Square Online or Shopify is better overall, we can tell you based on which performed better in our research categories. Spoiler alert, it’s Shopify: 

Best for larger businesses

4.6

out of 5
Top Choice
Value For Money

3 out of 5 stars

Ease Of Use

3.5 out of 5 stars

Design Flexibility

3.9 out of 5 stars

Website Features

4.2 out of 5 stars

Sales Features

4.5 out of 5 stars

Help and Support

3.8 out of 5 stars

Customer Score

4.7 out of 5 stars

Sell for free

4.2

out of 5
Value For Money

4.5 out of 5 stars

Ease Of Use

3.9 out of 5 stars

Design Flexibility

2.7 out of 5 stars

Website Features

3.5 out of 5 stars

Sales Features

3.5 out of 5 stars

Help and Support

4 out of 5 stars

Customer Score

3.6 out of 5 stars

Shopify is the more powerful platform, blowing Square Online’s sales and website features out the water. It’s also better for design, and was more popular with our users who gave it a higher customer score. However, it’s not perfect. Square Online still beat it for value for money, support, and ease of use. So let’s find out which is better for you!

Square Online vs Shopify: Pros and Cons

Square Online Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Affordable price plans provide great value for money – with a free plan and a $12 per month starting plan, it’s super budget-friendly Lack of creative freedom – in our research, Square Online only scored 2.7 stars out of 5 for design functionality
In-house Square integrations – perfect for in-person sellers building an online store who need POS Limited payment options – you can accept Square Pay, PayPal, Stripe, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and credit cards
Easy to use – Square Online is nice and easy to use, so beginners can build a store quickly and without tech experience Lack of power in its sales features – if you have a large store or ambitious plans, it may not have the tools to supercharge your growth

Shopify Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Best platform for customer satisfaction – our users awarded Shopify a 4.6 star customer score, the best of any platform we tested Lots of reliability on apps – one of Shopify’s biggest assets is its huge app store, but this reliance can quickly add app or weigh your site down
Powerful sales features – Shopify has plenty of tools and apps to help you grow your store, with multi-channel integrations, dropshipping, and more Transaction fee unless you use Shopify Payments – you’ll be charged 2.0% per transaction unless you use Shopify’s in-house payment provider
Optimized ecommerce themes – not only are Shopify’s themes visually pleasing, they also come packed with features, and are totally customizable $29 per month starting price can be too expensive for new businesses

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Pricing and Value for Money

Which Gives You Better Value?
square online logo
The Winner

Square Online provides better value for money than Shopify

Shopify doesn’t offer bad value, but Square Online’s free plan and cheap starting price of $12 per month is difficult to beat. Square Online is perfect for sellers on a budget – it’s more affordable, if less scalable, than Shopify’s price plans.
Visit Square Online

Square Online vs Shopify: Price Plan Breakdown

Both Square Online and Shopify have three paid plans, although Square Online also has a free plan:

Free Cheapest Mid-level Most expensive
Square Online $0 $12 $26 $72
Shopify N/A $29 $79 $299

Shopify comes with a 14-day free trial so that you can try it out risk-free.

Square Online is cheaper than Shopify, but still packs a punch with its features, even on its free plan. For example, you can sell an unlimited number of products, sync with Square POS, create coupons, and more, no matter which plan you choose.

What does this mean? Well, it means that Square Online offers awesome value for money! It packs some pretty cool features into its cheap plans, although some key tools, such as abandoned cart recovery and reviews, are reserved for its more expensive plans.

The only catch is that Square Online charges 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, whereas Shopify charges between 0.5% and 2% depending on your plan. You can remove Shopify’s fees if you use its in-house payment gateway – we’ll explore transaction fees in more detail later!

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Ease of Use

Which is More Beginner Friendly?
square online logo
The Winner

Square Online is easier to use than Shopify

Although Shopify is straightforward and user friendly, it doesn’t quite stand up to Square Online’s smooth and easy to use editor – you really can get an online store up and selling in no time with Square Online. For sellers wanting to get their products in front of customers as soon as possible, Square Online is a breeze!
Visit Square Online

Onboarding

One of the main reasons our users found Square Online easier to use than Shopify is that Square Online is much faster and easier to set up. While Shopify takes a little more time to build, customize, and configure your settings, Square Online does a lot of the work for you.

First, Square Online asks you for the name and address of your business. It then shows you a demo store, taking you through steps where you pick the features you want for your store:

shopify vs square online onboarding site setup features
Square Online gives you a demo store using the name you’ve provided, and lets you pick the features you want during setup.

The next step is to add your logo if you have one, and then choose the style and color scheme you like best:

shopify vs square online onboarding site setup style
Square Online creates a store with you, rather than leaving everything to you like Shopify does.

After these three simple steps, Square Online creates your store based on your input during this setup process. And hey presto, you have a customized store from the moment your page loads! All you have to do is add your own text and products, and you can publish your store.

In contrast, Shopify leaves everything to you. It asks you a few questions at the start – which is a nice touch – and provides you with a checklist to help you build your store.

square online vs shopify dashbaord
Shopify’s dashboard is helpful when you first start out – there’s even a Get Started checklist with tasks to complete.

You pick a theme, customize it, and so on, meaning that while it’s easy to create a store, it takes longer – there’s not the same sense of instant gratification that you get with Square Online.

It’s worth noting that Square Online also includes a free domain for one year if you choose one of its annual paid plans. This makes your life easier, as you don’t have to worry about finding, registering, and paying for a domain name separately. Shopify doesn’t throw in a domain, so this is one more thing to sort out yourself.

Managing Your Store

If you have a large or complex inventory, with multiple product variants, you’ll likely find Shopify easier to use in the long-run than Square Online. This is due to its heavy-weight inventory system, which is optimized to handle bigger stores’ catalogs.

For a small or local business, however, Square Online makes life nice and easy, with helpful features such as text alerts for customers, curbside delivery, and POS integrations.

Website Design

Which Has Better Templates?
shopify
The Winner

Shopify has better design functionality than Square Online

While Square Online’s design process makes it very easy to use, it failed to impress in our tests when it came to scoring design. Shopify’s feature-rich, fully customizable templates, however, look good – and give you tons of control over your branding and product displays.
Visit Shopify

Template Choice

As we’ve already seen, Square Online creates a site for you, based on the design choices you make during setup. This means you don’t get to view a template library, unlike Shopify. During setup, Square Online gives you 15 color palette options, and five style options:

  • Modern
  • Classic
  • Elegant
  • Strong
  • Playful

While this keeps things quick and easy, it also limits your creative control. In contrast, Shopify has a whole theme library where you can browse and preview different store themes – there are 81 in total, nine of which are free!

square online vs shopify theme library
Shopify has a theme library where you can find the design that best matches your brand vision.

While Shopify covers most of the main industries – the only one we found missing was DIY – Square Online is much less diverse, offering only retail and restaurant templates.

In short, there’s no contest here – with only five styles to choose from, Square Online’s template choice is super limited compared to Shopify’s. If you want lots of creative control over the finer details of your design, Shopify is the better choice.

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Customization

Both Square Online and Shopify let you switch templates, which is great for rebrands later down the line, but Square Online also lets you create and edit your store on your mobile, which is a feature Shopify doesn’t support. Perfect for busy sellers on the go!

When it comes to actually customizing your template, Shopify allows more detailed design changes than Square Online. Both are easy to personalize – neither require coding or tech skills – but Shopify places more creative control in your hands.

Square Online has a very simple editor – you use the left-hand sidebar to navigate and customize your theme:

shopify vs square online editor
Square Online uses a section-based editor with a simple side menu to edit your storefront.

Shopify is a little more advanced – again, you use the left-hand sidebar to navigate and customize your theme, but, when you interact with it, you also open a right-hand sidebar for customizing specific elements:

square online vs shopify theme editor
Shopify gives you more creative control over your storefront, although it’s not as speedy to use as Square Online.

At the end of the day, Square Online is faster to use because it’s more limited, while Shopify takes a little longer to perfect because it gives you more customizations to explore.

Ecommerce Features

Which Has Better Sales Tools?
shopify
The Winner

Shopify has more powerful sales tools than Square Online

Shopify is an ecommerce powerhouse that has all the sales tools you could need to fuel growth for your store, no matter what size it is. Whether you’re a first-time seller or you’re looking to grow an already successful business, you’ll find plenty on Shopify to support your long-term selling goals.
Visit Shopify

All Square Online plans, including the free plan, include:

  • The ability to sell unlimited products
  • Automatic inventory, order, and item syncing with Square POS
  • Pickup, delivery, or shipping
  • Instagram integration
  • Facebook ads
  • Coupons
  • Gift cards
  • Order status text alerts
  • SEO features
  • The ability for customers to customize their orders

To use a custom domain, remove adverts, and claim a free domain, you’ll need the $12 per month Professional plan. For more serious features, such as abandoned cart recovery and customer reviews, you’ll need at least the $26 per month Performance plan.

All Shopify plans include:

  • The ability to sell unlimited products
  • Inventory management
  • At least four inventory locations
  • Multichannel integration
  • Shopify POS Lite (to accept in-person payments)
  • Shipping labels
  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • At least two staff accounts
  • SEO features
  • Discount code creation

To unlock reports, international pricing, and international domains, you’ll need the $79 per month Shopify plan. The $299 per month Advanced Shopify plan unlocks international variant pricing.

That’s a lot of features to take in! The short version is that Shopify provides more powerful sales features than Square Online. Here’s a closer, side-by-side look at some of the key features offered by Square Online and Shopify:

Square Online Shopify
No. of products on cheapest plan Unlimited Unlimited
Customer log in
Omnichannel sales Facebook Ads
Instagram
Facebook
Instagram
Facebook Messenger
Pinterest
Wanelo
Houzz
Buzzfeed
Kik
Amazon
eBay
Product variants
Bulk product import
Inventory management
Customizable checkout page
Guest checkout option
Abandoned cart recovery
Dropshipping
Customizable invoices

It’s clear that Shopify takes its sales features to the next level. While Square Online generates invoices, Shopify makes these invoices customizable, so that you can provide a more consistent brand experience. Similarly, Shopify lets you customize your checkout page, provides customer logins, and has many more multichannel integrations.

While Square Online has features to support small or local businesses, Shopify goes the extra mile to make your business stand out from the crowd and sustain long-term growth.

Payment Options and Transaction Fees

Are There Any Extra Costs?
shopify
The Winner

Shopify offers more payment options than Square Online

Shopify has a wider range of payment options available than Square Online, and its transaction fees are cheaper. In fact, Shopify has an option where you can remove transaction fees completely, if you choose Shopify Payments.
Visit Shopify

Payment Options

It’s perhaps unsurprising that Square Online’s main payment option is Square Pay. However, it also accepts payments via:

  • All major credit cards
  • PayPal
  • Stripe
  • Apple Pay
  • Google Pay

This is a decent range – it just looks small compared to Shopify’s huge choice of payment options!

Shopify offers over 100 different payment gateways, giving you tons of choice. Some of the main options include:

  • PayPal
  • Stripe
  • Amazon
  • Buy now, pay later
  • Google Pay
  • Shopify Payments
  • Cash on delivery

Transaction Fees

Both Shopify and Square Online charge fees per transaction – Shopify’s fees are cheaper, and you can totally remove them if you choose Shopify Payments.

Shopify charges transaction fees unless you use its in-house payment gateway Shopify Payments. The level of transaction fee depends on your plan – it becomes lower the more expensive your plan.

Square Online charges a fee per transaction too, although it’s more of a processing fee rather than a transaction fee. Either way, the outcome is still the same – you’re charged 2.9% + $0.30 for each transaction through your store. Again, the fee depends on your plan:

Free plan Cheapest plan Mid-level plan Top-tier plan
Square Online Fees 2.9% + $0.30 2.9% + $0.30 2.9% + $0.30 2.6% + $0.30
Shopify Fees N/A 2.0% 1.0% 0.5%

The key difference to note, other than the fact that Square Online’s fee is higher than Shopify’s, is that you can remove Shopify’s transaction fees by choosing Shopify Payments. This isn’t an option with Square Online.

Find Out More

  • Interested in Shopify Payments? Read our Shopify Payments Review to find out if it’s the right choice for your business

Website and Marketing Features

Which Helps You Promote Your Store Online?
shopify
The Winner

Shopify’s website features are more effective than Square Online’s

Shopify puts more into its website and marketing features than Square Online. For example, Shopify offers blogging tools, while Square Online has none. It also has plenty of email marketing tools and integrations, SEO prompts, and more.
Visit Shopify

SEO

Square Online and Shopify are evenly matched when it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which is crucial for boosting your store’s rankings in search engine results pages. In the end, Shopify just beats Square Online thanks to its SEO specific app – it also has more social media integrations.

Square Online Shopify
Custom meta titles
Meta descriptions
Custom URLs
Image alt text
Mobile friendly
301 redirects
Google Analytics
SEO prompts
SEO specific app
Keyword support

Blogging

Shopify easily wins this one, because Square Online doesn’t offer any blogging features – this is a big problem for businesses who want to use content marketing.

Sure, Shopify’s blogging tools aren’t the best we’ve ever seen – it doesn’t provide blogging specific analytics, archiving, social bookmarking, or a blog-specific search feature. But it does offer:

  • Categories
  • Comments
  • RSS feed
  • Blog-specific SEO

Considering Square Online’s glaring lack of blogging tools, this is enough for us to name Shopify the winner of this particular category!

Email Marketing

It’s hard to call it between Square Online and Shopify when it comes to email marketing. Both come with their own, built-in email marketing tools, and offer a wide range of third-party integrations. We’d recommend Shopify here, purely because it supports a larger number of third-party apps.

Square Online Shopify
Built-in email marketing tool
Third-party apps MailChimp MailChimp
Klaviyo
Emma
Campaign Monitor
Soundest
Rare.io
Kevy
Remarkety
Aweber
Constant Contact
SmartrMail
Social media integrations
Live social feeds

Performance and Security

Which Makes Your Store Run Smoothly?
The Winner

Good news: both Square Online and Shopify have great security!

Both platforms provide built-in SSL security, are PCI compliant, and have the ability to save card details for customers. Shopify comes with fraud detection, which Square Online doesn’t, but in our site speed testing Square Online performed better than Shopify overall. So, it’s a draw!

Security

You don’t need to worry about security, no matter whether you choose Square Online or Shopify. Both are fully equipped to protect your store and your customers. Both platforms:

  • Are fully PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliant
  • Provide built-in, free SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) security to encrypt sensitive data passing between your customers and your store (like login or payment details)

Shopify also provides internal fraud analysis. If you’re on the Basic Shopify plan, your fraud analysis includes indicators and support for third-party fraud apps. If you’re on the Shopify plan or above, your fraud analysis includes:

  • Indicators
  • Support for third-party fraud apps
  • Fraud recommendations

If you choose Shopify Payments, you automatically get the full set of features, no matter which plan you’re on.

Performance

We carried out performance analysis on seven major ecommerce platforms, including Square Online and Shopify. We tested over 3,000 URLs in total, across mobile and desktop, to see how ecommerce platforms are performing against Google’s Core Web Vitals.

Overall, Square Online performed better than Shopify, across both mobile and desktop, for the majority of areas we tested. The areas we ran tests for include:

  • Overall performance
  • Speed Index Time
  • Time to Interactive
  • Server Response Time
  • LCP
  • FID
  • CLS

The only area where Shopify scored better than Square Online was for server response time – Shopify was actually the fastest out of all the platforms we tested, at just 396 milliseconds on desktop.

Switching Process

Which Makes It Easier to Migrate?
shopify
The Winner

Switching to Shopify is much easier and hassle-free!

You can migrate an existing online store to Shopify using its Store Importer app, and it has help guides for migrating from specific platforms to help you even further. Shopify is an extremely popular platform, so it has more support and experience migrating stores.
Visit Shopify

If you already have an online store, chances are you don’t want to rebuild from scratch on a new platform!

That’s where the ease of switching, or migrating, your store to either Square Online or Shopify comes in. Sadly, neither platform offers to carry out your migration for you, which is a shame!

However, Shopify makes it as easy as possible to move your existing store over. It has specific guides, including how to migrate to Shopify from:

  • WooCommerce
  • Squarespace
  • Etsy
  • BigCommerce
  • Big Cartel
  • PrestaShop
  • ShopKeep
  • Square

The easiest way to do this is to use Shopify’s Store Importer App, which you can find in the Shopify App Store. That said, you’ll still need to handle exporting your product, customer, and order data in CSV files, so it’s not exactly a walk in the park. The good news is that Shopify’s guides are well explained to walk you through the process.

With Square Online, you’ll need to import your items using the bulk import tool – there’s a helpful guide on how to do this, but, sadly, not much specific guidance on migrating from another platform onto Square Online.

Help and Support

Which Has Better Customer Support?
square online logo
The Winner

Square Online has better help and support than Shopify!

If you need a helping hand to build your store, Square Online is the better option. It was pretty close, though – Square Online scored 4 stars compared to Shopify’s 3.8 stars. What tipped it in Square Online’s favor was that we found more answers in its help center during testing.
Visit Square Online

Both Square Online and Shopify have a great help and support offering. Let’s take a look at exactly what they have to lend you a helping hand:

Square Online Shopify
Phone ✅ (24/7)
Live chat ✅ (24/7)
Email
Social media
Forum
Video tutorials
Onsite editor help
Advanced specialist support

We like the fact Square Online provides a full range of help support options on its free plan – some platforms limit support for more expensive plans, so this is worth a shoutout.

When we tested both platforms’ knowledge centers, our users found that Square Online was more helpful. We asked our users to search for specific queries, and use a rating system based on how quickly they found relevant answers.

The outcome of this test was that Square Online received a five star rating for its knowledge base specifically, while Shopify’s knowledge base only scored 3 out of 5. It was this result that really tipped this overall help and support category in Square Online’s favor!

Square Online vs Shopify: Summary

Who's the Overall Winner?

Square Online and Shopify have their own set of strengths and weaknesses, which we’ve explored in this comparison. By now you know that Shopify is more powerful, Square Online is easier to use, and you should have an idea of which one suits your business’ needs better!

Here’s a quick recap of how these platforms performed in each category:

Square Online Shopify
Pricing and Value for Money

Winner: Square Online
Square Online has a free plan, and three paid plans starting at $12 per month. It offers amazing value for money! Shopify has a 14-day free trial, and its plans range from $29 - $299 per month. Its value isn’t as good as Square Online!
Ease of Use

Winner: Square Online
Square Online is quick and easy to use – perfect if you want to start selling as soon as possible. Shopify is easy to use, it just takes longer to get to grips with than Square Online, because it gives you more control.
Website Design

Winner: Shopify
Square Online doesn’t give you much creative control, and its designs cater to a very limited number of industries. You can create consistent branding with Shopify – it has customizable invoices and checkout pages.
Ecommerce Features

Winner: Shopify
Square Online’s sales tools are best for small and local businesses, especially those with a bricks-and-mortar store as well as an online presence. Shopify has more powerful sales tools designed to support long term, ambitious growth – its features are more diverse, including dropshipping and multichannel selling.
Payment Options and Transaction Fees

Winner: Shopify
Payment options include:


•All major credit cards
•Square Pay
•PayPal
•Stripe
•Apple Pay
•Google Pay

All transactions come with a 2.9% + $0.30 fee, unless you’re on the most expensive plan, which reduces the charge to 2.6% + $0.30.
Over 100 payment options, including:


•PayPal
•Stripe
•Amazon
•Buy now, pay later
•Google Pay
•Shopify Payments
•Cash on delivery

There are no transaction fees if you use Shopify Payments – otherwise, you’ll be charged between 0.5% and 2%, depending on your plan.
Website and Marketing Features

Winner: Shopify
Although it has good email marketing and SEO tools, Square Online doesn’t have any blogging features. Shopify provides SEO, email marketing, and blogging features to help you promote your store online.
Performance and Security

Draw!
Square Online provides a free SSL certificate on every plan, is PCI DSS compliant, and performed well in our site speed tests. Shopify provides a free SSL certificate with every plan, is PCI DSS compliant, and provides fraud analysis on all plans.
Switching Process

Winner: Shopify
Square Online requires a fairly manual process of importing products and re-uploading product images. Shopify has specific guides on migrating from different ecommerce platforms, and has a Store Importer app to help you.
Help and Support

Winner: Square Online
In our user testing, our participants found Square Online’s help center easier to find answers. Shopify has 24/7 phone and live chat support, but our users found its help center a little more hit and miss with their queries.
Are you ready? Try Square Online Try Shopify
square online logo

Who Should Use Square Online?

  • Local businesses wanting an online presence
  • Small retail and restaurant businesses
  • Merchants selling in person, who want to sync with Square POS
  • Sellers wanting to set up an online store quickly and easily
  • Budget-conscious sellers needing a cheap way to get started

shopify

Who Should Use Shopify?

  • Brand-conscious sellers with clear design plans
  • Established online stores with a large or complex inventory
  • Ambitious sellers with big, long-term plans
  • Online-only stores with needs for multichannel and online marketing
  • Merchants needing a wide range of payment gateways and lower fees

Our overall winner in this Square Online vs Shopify comparison is Shopify. It’s the more well-rounded platform, and can handle a variety of store’s needs. It can easily support a new store, while also providing large businesses everything they need to continue growing.

Square Online has great features for a more niche audience. In our research, Shopify’s impressive 4.6 out of 5 star rating beat Square Online’s 4.2. They’re both good platforms, but Shopify is the more powerful and robust choice overall.

shopify

Is Shopify Your Winner?

Shopify was our users’ favorite in testing, and has impressive sales features. See what you think!

FAQs

No, sadly Square POS is not compatible with Shopify. This is because Shopify has its own POS, called Shopify POS. If you’re already using Square POS and don’t want to change, then Square Online is the better choice for building your online store.
Well, not quite. Both platforms let you sell physical, digital, and service products (Shopify requires an app to sell digital products). But both platforms have restricted product lists – for example, Shopify’s Restricted Items list includes firearms.
Shopify is much better for long-term growth than Square Online. It has more multichannel and blogging tools, thousands of apps, and more advanced analytics. All of this combines to make Shopify better designed for creating and supporting your store’s ambitions.

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