What is Square Online?
Square is one of the most popular pay as you go payment processors in the world for both online and face-to-face payments for small businesses.
But following Square’s acquisition of Weebly in 2018, they can now offer a full website builder along with the payment gateway. This can be used as a standalone website or to add an online sale channel for customers using their POS system.
For this review, we are just going to be looking at their ecommerce offerings to see whether or not they are any good?
Total out of 5
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Square offers 4 packages for their ecommerce options and are aimed at businesses of all sizes.
What will be appealing for many small businesses is their free plan, which is pretty good for a free offering as it includes:
- Unlimited Products
- Sell on Facebook & Instagram
- Multiple Delivery Options
- SEO Tools
There are two small caveats with the free plan and they are that you can’t use your own domain name and Square ads will be placed around your site but you can’t have everything for nothing!
When it comes to paid options, they offer three plans:
$12/m if billed annually
$26/m if billed annually
$72/m if billed annually
Professional Plan: £12/m (£9/m if billed annually)
Performance Plan: £22/m (£19/m if billed annually)
Premium Plan: £60/m (£54/m if billed annually)
The plans available from Square are very reasonably priced but they aren’t completely upfront about how much they charge if you want to pay monthly, which is something that would be nice to see changed and is also why we listed the true monthly costs above.
If you are interested in seeing how Square’s pricing compares to other ecommerce platforms, then check out my How Much Does an Ecommerce Website Cost post.
Before I get full on into my review, I thought I would take a look at what some of Square’s existing customers thought of the platform. For this I look on Trustpilot, Facebook and Google.
4.0 out of 5
The reviews on trustpilot are a bit mixed as they aren’t all for the online store builder, lots are just for the POS offerings but have a 4 out of 5 score is still pretty good.
Square Ecommerce Features
For a platform to be considered for building an ecommerce website, they have to offer a decent set of features and below is a summary of what Square offers:
- Unlimited Items – list as many items you want on any plan
- Multiple Items Types – choose from physical, digital or service based products
- Age Confirmation – for if you sell age restricted products
- Password Protected Pages – if you don’t want all of your sites info available to the public, then you can hide it behind a password protected page
- Item Quick View – adds a quick view to let your customers view product info without going to the product page
- Item Badges – add badges to your products to help increase conversion rates
- Product Reviews (Performance & Premium plans only) – let customers leave reviews on your products
- Abandoned Cart Recovery (Performance & Premium plans only) – send automated emails to encourage customers to complete their purchase
Square Marketing & SEO Tools
To generate sales on your ecommerce website, you are going to need a selection of tools to not only get customers to your site but also encourage them to buy, so what does Square offer?
- Sell on Facebook & Instagram – capture sales via your Facebook page or Instagram account
- SEO Tools – create search engine friendly URL’s and set custom meta information
- Facebook & Google Ads – create and manage ads for your store
- Facebook Messenger – add live chat to your storefront with Facebook Messenger
- Blog – add a blog to your store
- Vouchers – create custom voucher codes for promotions
Square Payment Gateways
As Square was originally a payment gateway, the main payment gateway that is available is Square Pay but there a couple of other options available:
- PayPal – only available on Performance and Premium plans
- Apple Pay & Google Pay
So payment options are quite limited but this is understandable when you look at the history of Square but as Square Pay is the main option, what are the fees that they charge?
- Free, Professional & Performance Plans – 2.9% + 30¢transaction fee
- Premium Plan – 2.6% + 30¢ transaction fee
Free, Professional & Performance Plans – 1.9% for UK & EEA Cards, 2.9% for non EEA Cards
Premium Plan – 1.75% for UK & EEA Cards, 2.9% for non EEA Cards
This puts the Sqaure transaction fees on a par with the likes of PayPal.
Square Shipping Options
- Set Custom Shipping Rates – create your own shipping profiles including Flat Rate and Condition based (order weight & value)
- Offer Free Shipping – if you don’t want to charge your customers, then you can offer free shipping on all orders
- Offer Local Delivery – if you offer local delivery, you can set custom rates
- Local Pickup – offer a click and collect service for local customers
Square Reporting & Analytics
Site statistics are only available on Square’s paid plans and Ecommerce Analytics are only available on the Performance and Premium plans.
Square App Marketplace
Along with their standard features, Square also offers additional features and functionality with their own App Marketplace.
While many of the apps in here can be used with the Online Store builder, some are just for use with the POS system. There is a good selection of apps across a variety of different categories, some of these apps add functionality to the Square system but a large proportion are integrations with other platforms or service providers and it depends on the app as to whether it is a paid of free option.
Square Theme Selection & Customisation
Square doesn’t offer a selection of themes, there is just a default template that can be customized to fit your online store.
Before you can access the theme customizer, you first need to answer some design related questions about your store, which helps Square set up the basic design elements.
Once you have answered these questions, you will be taken through to the customizer and it not only offers quite a few options but is also very easy to use.
Within the customizer, you can edit pretty much every page on your site, including:
- Home Page
- Standard Pages (info, about etc)
- Product Page
- Category Page
- Stories (blog) Pages
And within each page, you can choose to add, remove or customize sections and there are quite a few options available, there are also universal settings for your header and footer.
When it comes to the sections that are available, there is a very good selection that allow you to build custom pages with some nice design elements and for a the price of the platform, the customization options that are available are pretty impressive.
You also use the customizer to create and edit your stores pages such as about, info or contact and also the stories pages. For the stores pages, they have some pre-built templates that give you a good starting point for building your page, rather than starting from a blank slate.
Square offers a variety of support options, you just need to know how to find them within the Square Support dashboard as they don’t make it particularly easy.
The easiest way we found was the hover over resources, click contact, which brings up a live chat box and simply type contact support and it will show you all of the contact options that are available, which are:
- Email Support – which aims to get back to you with 48 hours
- Phone Support – available 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday
- Ask the Community – post a question in the support forum
- Search Help Topics
So there are a few options available but somewhat surprisingly, they aren’t any priority support options for customers on the Premium Plan.
There isn’t a great deal of information about Square’s hosting environment, even on the Weebly website but there is some information and with each plan you get:
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- Unlimited Storage on Paid Plans (500mb on free plan)
- PCI Compliant Servers
- Free SSL Certificate
There is no mention of a CDN (content delivery network) or uptime reports/guarantees on either the Square or Weebly site.
We was also not able to test the performance of Square Ecommerce due to their being no customer example sites showcased on their site.
How Easy is Square to Use?
Getting Started with Square
Getting started with Square is a bit more involved than some other platforms due to it being a combined website builder and payment processor, meaning you will need to provide more information than just an email address and password, with process being as follows:
- Enter your email address and password
- Choose your business type (individual or company)
- Choose where you will be conducting business (online, bricks and mortar, events, invoices etc)
- Sign up for optional features (catalog, gift cards, payroll, marketing campaign etc)
- Enter your personal information (name, address etc) so that they can verify that it is you
- Set up deposits (you will need to link a bank account for this)
If you are choosing any of the options for taking payments in person, then there will be more options for choosing your reader and setting that up.
The process doesn’t take too long to complete but if you are just testing the platform out, it is a lot of information to provide for something that you may not want to actually use.
Once this stage is completed, you are taken through to the Square dashboard but this isn’t the dashboard for your online store, you still need to set that up by clicking the Online option in the sidebar. This will then take you through to the process of setting up your online store.
You will be asked some questions such as what you are planning to sell in your store as this helps Square understand what your store is about and once these questions are answered, you will be taken through to your Online Stores dashboard, which is based off what was originally Weebly.
The dashboard is very well laid out and the main side bar navigation menu is clearly labelled, as are any of the sub-headings that are displayed in drop down menus. Overall, it is a very nice place to be and doesn’t take long to figure out where everything is.
It just takes a while to get here and for people who are just testing the platform out to see if it will be right for them, they may be put off by the amount of information that they need to provide.
Adding New Products
The add new product page with Square is very easy to use and also shows the range of different product types that you can sell, including:
- Accept Donations
- Event Tickets
- Prepared Food & Beverages
Each product type will have its own sections that are specific to that product type but the single page layout has a very good workflow to it and all the sections are clearly labelled, the only one that might be a little confusing is setting up inventory tracking for products as there are a few different options to add or remove stock quantity but once you understand it, it makes sense.
You can also add variations and modifiers to products along with setting the SEO for the product page.
Along with the basic such as adding the product title, description, images and price, you can set how you wish to manage your inventory, select whether it is a physical or digital products and also create variations for you product.
At the very bottom of the page, you can also edit your meta data such as title, description and URL.
Organising Your Inventory
Square have kept it very simple when it comes to organising your products and use the traditional category structure and you create both parent and child categories, allowing you to create a very good hierarchy for your products.
Managing Your Inventory
Inventory management is a little strange with Square as they offer some bulk tools in the Item List page but they don’t cover the things you would expect as you can:
- Remove from Site
- Add to Category
- Set Fulfilment
- Charge Sales Tax
- Remove Sales Tax
- Update Visibility
- Update Sale Price
So there are a few options but that basic one of being able to quickly and easily update the stock quantity isn’t available and you can’t update the base price of the product in bulk, just add a sale or offer price to it.
This is a little bit strange and if you want to update to quantity or price, you have to go back in and edit products individually.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to test the order management out as Square requires a bank account to be linked in order to process orders and as we are only testing the platform out, we didn’t really want to do this. But if we find a work around, we will update this review.
Square Online Store
Is Square’s Online Store Any Good?
Yes, especially for small businesses, as Square’s Online Store offers a good selection of features and is easy to use (although getting started takes a bit of time!), the theme customizer is also good and offers a lot of customization options but a selection of themes to build from rather than a blank canvas would be a good addition.
But it isn’t perfect though as the lack of bulk editors can make inventory management time consuming and while the feature selection if good, it is not as comprehensive as some other purpose built ecommerce platforms and that is why it might not be the best option for large online businesses.
But for small businesses that want to create a small ecommerce store or ones that are already using the Square POS and want to add an online sales channel, Square’s offer is definitely an ecommerce platform worth considering.