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Shopify vs. Square

The best choice depends on whether you sell online or in person.

Updated

Fact checked
Shopify specializes in online stores, while Square offers a wider sweep of hardware options for brick-and-mortar merchants. But before you select a provider, consider software features, tech support availability, selling channel integrations and monthly fees.

How do Shopify and Square compare?

ShopifySquare
Shopify

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Square

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Which should I choose?Choose Shopify if you’re an online merchant that requires in-person processing support.Choose Square if you work in the retail, restaurant or service industry and need an industry-specific POS system.
OverviewShopify is a hosted e-commerce platform that specializes in digital stores while also offering in-person point-of-sale (POS) systems, shopping cart software and an expansive library of third-party app integrations.

Because it’s fully managed by Shopify, you don’t need a server, IT team or dev experience to get started. And while it caters to online merchants, its in-person POS systems provide processing options for brick-and-mortar businesses.

Square offers payment processing, proprietary POS systems, business debit cards and an online store builder for e-commerce merchants. Square’s all-in-one processing service is well suited to small businesses that process transactions in person and online.

Solutions
  • In-store
  • Mobile
  • E-commerce
  • In-store
  • Mobile
  • E-commerce
Products
  • Payment processing
  • Website builder
  • Inventory tracking
  • Shopping cart software
  • Shipping software
  • Payment processing
  • POS software
  • POS hardware
  • Website builder
  • Inventory tracking
  • Shopping cart software
Price starts at$29/mo2.6% + 10¢ for payment processing, POS software included
Contract required?NoNo
Pros
  • Customization. Personalize your website with 3,200+ app and plugin integrations.
  • 24/7 support. Phone, email and live chat support is available anytime.
  • Discounted shipping. Rate discounts of up to 90% are available for USPS, depending on your service tier. You can also get discounted shipping for UPS, DHL and Canada Post.
  • Free card reader. New merchants get the tech to accept credit cards.
  • Free service tier. Square’s standard POS software doesn’t have a monthly service fee — you pay a transaction fee when you make a sale.
  • Industry-specific systems. Three POS packages are designed for those in the restaurant, retail and service industries.
Cons
  • No free tier. All service tiers require a monthly service fee to access the software.
  • Limited staff accounts. Even Shopify’s robust Advanced service tier limits staff accounts to 15 users.
  • Poorly reviewed. Customer feedback on both the Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot is largely negative.
  • Limited tech support. Tech help is available weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT only.
  • Square advertising. If you plan to use Square to build an online store, you’ll need to upgrade to its Professional service tier to remove Square ads from your website.
  • Required processing. All systems require you to use Square as your processor — Shopify allows third-party processors.
Tools
  • Business name generator. Get hundreds of potential business names in seconds.
  • Marketing help. Devise an online marketing campaign through Google Smart Shopping, Facebook Ads or Kit.
  • Free stock photos. Explore high-resolution photo collections and add images to your online store.
  • Shopify Shipping. Track orders in real time with exclusive carrier rates, shipping insurance and bulk order fulfillment.
  • Gift cards and loyalty programs. Reward returning customers with incentives and the opportunity to purchase gift cards.
  • Business debit card. Sign up for the Square Card for same-day access to deposited transaction funds.
  • Square installments. Give customers the ability to pay for big-ticket items through monthly payment plans.
  • Multichannel selling. POS systems integrate in-person and online selling with synced orders and inventory levels across all selling channels.
  • Invoicing. Send automated or custom invoices from a mobile app for iOS and Android.
BBB letter ratingA+F
Trustpilot rating

★★★★★

Based on 500 reviews

★★★★★

Based on 1,523 reviews

Reputation and customer reviews
  • Reviews. Largely negative, with a TrustScore of 1.5 out of 5 and a BBB customer rating of 1 out of 5.
  • Customer praise. Easy to navigate platform and helpful tech support.
  • Customer complaints. Transaction holds and sudden account closures for high-risk businesses.
  • Reviews. Mixed, with 2,941 BBB complaints but an impressive TrustScore of 4.7 out of 5.
  • Customer praise. Swift onboarding and personable customer service reps.
Support
  • Phone. Merchants in North America can call 855-816-3857 to speak with a Shopify rep.
  • Email. Fill out a secure online form on Shopify’s website for a response within one business day.
  • Live chat. From Shopify’s website, open up a live chat window to connect with a Shopify rep.
  • Twitter. Tweet at Shopify for a direct response from the support team.
  • Phone. Call 800-474-3398 weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT.
  • Email. Complete an online form for a response from the support team within one business day.

Bottom line

Shopify and Square have much in common with payment processing, POS systems, an online store builder and no contracts.

While Shopify offers round-the-clock tech support and an extensive set of e-commerce solutions, it lacks Square’s industry-specific POS packages. Square, however, offers a free service tier and hands out free card readers to new merchants. But its tech support is limited and its hardware doesn’t integrate with third-party processors.

Before you commit to either of these providers, take a look at your options with other merchant services providers.

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