This article is part of a larger series on Retail Management.
Square Online offers a free ecommerce website for retailers, restaurants, service businesses, and nonprofits. Any seller, from a mobile business to a multistore operator, can open a Square Online store, list products for sale, process payments, and deliver orders via traditional shipping methods, curbside pickup, and local delivery.
The free store is fairly easy to set up, and we’ll walk you through the process in 10 simple steps. We’ll also show you how to set up a Square Checkout page for pickup orders and how Square Online works for restaurants. If you want to follow along, sign up for your free Square account now. It’s completely risk-free and takes just a few minutes; you can build your store as you read this guide.
Learn more about Square and why small businesses love it.
Step 1: Create a Free Square Account
The first step is to open a free Square account. Once you have an account, you can log in and get access to all of Square’s free tools via your online dashboard. Every Square account comes with a POS system, a website builder, appointment management, marketing, backend reports, inventory management, and more—all of which can be managed via your account dashboard.
The only information required to set up a Square account is your email address and password. Make sure you choose a secure password since your identity and banking information will be connected to your profile. You can choose to enter optional information, like your business name and type, or do this later in your Square Dashboard settings.
Every free Square Online store ties into the rest of the Square ecosystem and can be managed through your Square Dashboard, where you can sync products, orders, and customers across your in-person and online sales channels. During setup, you will also have the option to choose from one of Square Online’s paid plans, starting at $12. Paid subscribers will also have access to features like customer product reviews, abandoned cart recovery, and the ability to accept PayPal payments.
Learn more in our ultimate guide to Square’s fees and pricing.
Step 2: Configure Your Initial Store Settings
Once you’ve signed up for your free account, you can start building your online store. Square guides users through the process with automated prompts, so no technical skills are required. Additionally, all settings can be changed later through the Square Dashboard—nothing you choose now is permanent.
For our Square Online store demo, we created the online store, Everyday Knits, a knitting and craft supply business. Scroll through the images below for step-by-step guidance on how we did our initial configuration.
Step 3: Design Your Square Website
After you have completed the initial configuration of your website design, you will be returned to the Square Online control panel in your Square dashboard, pictured below. If it’s your first time creating a Square Online Store, a series of setup steps will automatically appear to help you configure the rest of your store. Otherwise, simply use the navigation bar on the left-hand side to select the settings you want to adjust.
Square also offers video tutorials for the different stages of building your website. You can find them linked under each section of the Square Online dashboard.
In the control panel, the first thing that Square will prompt you to do is design your website. Simply click the “Design Now” button in the Design Your Website dropdown.
The “Design Your Website” button will take you to the new and improved Square Online Website Builder, where your first selection will be to pick a style from Square’s pre-made templates. This will be the overall look of your website, but you will have the option to make changes to font and color later.
From there, you simply select a style that appeals to you and your brand. The template will expand so you can get a better view, and if you like it, select the “Customize” button to get started with adding the rest of your design.
You are now in Square Online’s site designer. Here you will have a series of initial design options including adding your logo, changing the color scheme and fonts, and alternating the shape of your site. You should update these settings to your liking first.
Easily change the view of your website from mobile to desktop by selecting the phone icon in the upper left corner of the site design screen, indicated in the picture below.
Once you have added your initial designs, click “Done” and a new series of design options will appear, including updating your header, main banner, featured items, email newsletter section, and footer. Simply click on each section and an editor will appear; you can then add your customization with no CS knowledge.
Another design option you can access from this screen is adding a new section, page, item, or category to your site. Click on the “Add Section” button at the bottom of your design menu or the “plus” icon at the top of your editing screen to view all the options. Select the item you want to add, and an editor page will appear. You will easily be able to add new pages, like an “About Us” or contact page. Additionally, you can link to your Instagram, add new product categories, create a membership program, add events, and more.
While Square makes it easy to design your site, it doesn’t have quite as many customization options as you find with other website-building platforms. You can view additional options and read our reviews with our guide to the 5 Best Ecommerce Platforms for Small Business.
Step 4: Add Items to Sell
Once you have your store design in place, the next thing Square will prompt you to do from the control panel is to build your online catalog. To begin, simply select “Online Catalog” and then click “Add an item to sell.” This selection will take you straight to your item library where you can start adding new inventory.
Keep your inventories in sync. Check “Item Sync” settings to control how new items you create in the Item Library or in the Point of Sale app automatically get added to this site
From there, the process is simple. You can either select “Create New Item” and upload products individually, or you can select “Add Item.” This option allows you to either upload existing inventory from your POS via the “Add from Item Library” button or inventory from a delivery service via the “Add from a delivery service.” Square is integrated with nearly every major delivery service on the market, so if you have inventory on one of them, you can simply import them straight to your online store.
If you have a lot of items you want to import at once, add them in bulk via your POS inventory library and then add them to your online store via “Add from Item Library.” This will save you a lot of time and effort, as there is no bulk upload option for the online item catalog.
To add new items to your inventory catalog, follow the steps below to fill out your product pages.
Select Item Type
The first line item on a new item page is the “Item Type.” You can sell both physical and digital products on Square, including food and beverages, memberships, services, and event tickets, so you need to specify what kind of product you are adding at the start.
You can collect donations and utilize all the different product types regardless of the type of store you chose at the beginning of the process.
Note: All the fields we discuss in the following sections are for physical items.
Include Item Details
Looking for great product photos? Try contacting your product suppliers. Many wholesalers, manufacturers, and distributors will offer high-quality product photos for free.
Alternatively, Square also offers a product photography service. You can mail in your products, and Square will send you high-quality digital photos. There are options for interactive 360-degree images at $29.95 each and a photo pack of three images shown from different angles for $9.95.
At this stage, you also have the option to make an item available only in your retail store (storefront or in person). To configure this, under the Visibility setting, choose Unavailable.
Add Fulfillment Information
Once you have your product info in place, scroll down to the “Fulfillment” section of your product page. Here, you can specify how the product will get to customers as well as the product weight for shipping purposes.
Add Item Options
If the item you are adding has variants, like size or color, you will include this information in the “Options and Pricing” section of your product page.
So, say I want to add size variants to my red yarn product so that there are small, medium, and large rolls that people can choose from. I would simply click “Add Options,” input my option type (in this case, size), and then add small, medium, and large red yarn options.
These options would then appear in the “Options” section of my product page, and I could add their individual prices.
Configure SEO for Products (Recommended)
Finally, at the bottom of the product page, there is a section called “Search Engine Optimization.” Even if you know little to nothing about ecommerce SEO, it is still recommended you set this option up for your online items as it helps shoppers find your products from search engines. Simply specify your item’s permalink and a shortened product description.
Learn how to get your products listed on search engines by reading about ecommerce SEO.
Step 5: Set Up Your Domain
Once you have your website designed and your store configured, the next thing Square will prompt you to do is set up your website URL. Simply click the “Set up your domain” button and you will be given three options:
- Find a custom domain: This option allows you to create a custom domain for your site, and Square will check for its availability. This option also requires upgrading to a paid Square Online plan.
- Use a domain I own somewhere else: If you already own a domain from a third-party service like GoDaddy or Google, you can connect it to your Square Online store. This option also requires upgrading to a paid plan.
- Use a free Square subdomain: This option puts your website under Square’s subdomain. For example, if you have a pet store named after your dog Andy, you can set your domain as andythepitbull.square.site for free.
Using a Square subdomain will keep your store free, but upgrading to a paid plan so you can use a custom URL will make your website more legit in potential customers’ eyes.
Once you know the option you want to pursue, simply select it, and Square will provide you with a field where you can add your domain.
Step 6: Add Shipping Rates
With your domain set, the next thing Square will prompt you to do is set your shipping rates. Simply, select “Fulfill Orders” and click “Set Up Shipping Rates.” From there, you will come to the page below.
On the screen above, simply click “Set up shipping” and Square will ask you to add your “Shipping From” address. Square will automatically populate this field with your store’s address, but you can change it if needed (for example, if you’re shipping from a warehouse). Then, hit save, and your shipping page will populate with new options, as seen below.
One of those new options is “Shipping Carriers,” where you can link your FedEx, UPS, DHL, and USPS carrier accounts. Simply click “Manage” and then follow the prompts to link your accounts.
Square offers discounts on shipping from all the major carriers, including up to 55% off UPS® Ground shipments and up to 69% for UPS 2nd Day Air® service. Simply set up accounts with carriers through your Square account and start receiving discounted rates.
Then, you will input your shipping rates in the “Shipping Profiles” section. Just click “Set Up” and you will go to a form, pictured below, where you can set up shipping rates for each region you want to ship to, or for specific items.
To get up and running quickly, you may want to set one flat shipping rate. You can always add promotional shipping options or customized rates later.
Check out this article to learn how to offer free shipping for your products.
Step 7: Set Up Taxes
The next step you will want to take is to set up procedures to collect the proper taxes on your sales. As with the previous steps, this is the next thing that Square will prompt you to do, and you simply need to select the “Set up taxes” button to get started.
Clicking this button will take you to your Sales Tax page, where you will select “Let’s get started” to begin your configuration.
Square will then walk you through a series of questions where you will have the option to delineate your fulfillment, apply different tax rates for different items, indicate your business as tax-exempt, and then add your location so that appropriate tax rates are applied. Based on the answers to your questions, Square will recommend a tax rate to apply to all purchases through your site. To activate, simply click save and your tax settings will be ready!
Step 8: Create Checkout Policies
With your taxes set, you are technically at the end of the Square-prompted setup process. However, we recommend also adding in your checkout policies before going live with your site (and additional fulfillment methods, which we will go over in the following step).
To begin setting up your checkout policies, head over to the “Settings” tab in the right-hand menu and select “Checkout.”
The first thing that you will see in the Checkout page is the Collect Payments section. You’ll see that your account, along with all Square Online accounts, is automatically configured to process online payments through Square Payments. Square Payments is set up to accept all kinds of payment methods, including credit cards, debit cards, Square gift cards, and mobile payment options like Apple Pay.
Square’s standard transaction fee for online payments is 2.9% plus 30 cents. If you upgrade to a paid plan, however, you’ll get lower processing rates, the ability to accept PayPal payments, and invoicing capabilities.
The settings that you can adjust here include:
- Whether you will be accepting Apple Pay and Google Pay
- Whether you will be offering an Afterpay option
- Whether you will be accepting PayPal payments (paid plans only)
- Whether you will be accepting Cash App payments
All you need to do here is toggle your preferences on/off and then hit Save.
Learn more about using Square Payments in our full review of Square’s built-in payment solution.
If you scroll down on the Checkout page, you will see that in addition to your payment settings, you can also adjust your checkout experience in a variety of ways. As you can see in the image below, Square gives you options to:
- Add a tipping option
- Require customer information
- Add shipping and return policies to the checkout page
To set up your checkout experience, simply click the edit buttons in each section, and Square will prompt you through the process.
Step 9: Establish Pickup & Delivery Options
As we mentioned earlier, while you do input a fulfillment method during the initial configuration of your store, if you want to add more options—for example, curbside pickup—you can do that from your Square Online control panel.
Simply head over to the menu on the left hand of your screen, select the “Fulfillment” tab, and then click “Pickup and Delivery.” This will take you to the page below, where you can start adding pickup options.
To begin adding pickup and delivery, simply click “Set up location.” Square will then prompt you through a series of forms (pictured below), where you can opt in to Pickup and Delivery methods for your store and configure settings like pickup times and order prep.
Step 10: Preview & Publish Your Site
Finally, your Square Online store is ready to launch. At this stage, you will want to give everything a final check from the customer’s point of view by previewing your site. Simply return to your website editor by selecting the “Website” tab from the left-hand menu, and click “Edit Site.”
Click the “Preview” button in the upper right corner. Make your final check, adjusting and editing your site as needed. You can even share the preview via a link if you want fresh eyes. Once you’re satisfied, click Publish in the top right corner to take your site live.
Be sure you are previewing and checking both the mobile and desktop views of your site.
Even after your site is published, you can adjust any element (including design product pages, inventory, store policies, and shipping or delivery details). You can also add pages such as an About Us page, customer testimonials, or social media channels. Finally, you can include more features like collecting customer emails to grow a newsletter, selling tickets to events, and starting a membership program.
Ready to get started? Create a free Square account and start selling online today.
Square Online Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Click through the questions below to get answers to some of your most common questions about Square Online.
How Do I Use Square Online Checkout?
Square Online Checkout is an easy, single-page site any business or organization can use as a simplified ordering or payment option. A Square Checkout page features a single item (physical or digital product, food or beverage, donation request, or subscription service) and payment buttons.
Square Checkout pages are ideal for:
- Product launches or pre-orders
- Service payments
- Books and digital products
- Adding checkout functionality to existing websites
- Contactless shopping with QR code checkout
Like Square Online’s store, Square Checkout requires no coding and even less designing. Creating a page is more like filling out a form. You can then share it with customers via a link, buy button, or QR code.
Here’s how to create a Square Online Checkout page in three steps:
Step 1: Create a Free Square Account
Same as if you were creating a full Square Online store, the first step is to set up a free Square account. To create an account, you’ll need an email address, password, name, last four digits of your Social Security or individual taxpayer identification number, and phone number. Square will use that information to confirm your identity if you want to receive payments (though there’s no application or approval process).
Once you have an account, it will take you to the Square Dashboard, which serves as the command center.
Step 2: Add Product or Service Details
When you’re logged in to your Square account, you can create an Online Checkout page by creating a payment link or generating a buy now button for embedding on another website.
There are four primary types of checkout links: collecting payment, selling an item, accepting a donation, or selling classes or tickets.
In this example, we set up a payment link for our demo store, Everyday Knits.
Step 3: Share the Link
You can email or text the link to customers or as part of a campaign and add the link to social posts or advertisements to promote a specific product or service. If you already have a website, make it shoppable by adding buy buttons that link to your Square Checkout pages.
Businesses can also use Square Checkout for contactless in-store shopping. Print the corresponding QR code and display it with the item in-store. Square has more tips in its Square Online Checkout guide.
How Do I Create a Restaurant Website With Square Online?
Restaurants can use Square Online to set up an ordering page. This solution works for delivery orders and pickup and as a contactless menu option. Square Online syncs with other Square products, including Square for Restaurants and the kitchen display system, so all orders are in one place.
Read our guide to Square for Restaurants for more details.
Is Square Online Right for Me?
|Free||Not suited for ecommerce-only businesses|
|Easy to set up and maintain||Limited customization for website pages|
|Built-in payment processing||Not ideal for large businesses|
|Native delivery platform|
|Syncs with Square POS|
Square Online is a unique product because it offers free online sales tools for small businesses of all types (retail, restaurant, cafe, services, and more). Plus, it syncs with Square’s POS products, which are also free.
As your business grows, you can upgrade to any of Square’s paid packages. While Square Online is not as robust as other popular ecommerce platforms like Shopify (read our Shopify vs Square comparison), it offers unbeatable value for brick-and-mortar businesses needing an online presence.
Read our Square Online review to see if it’s the right fit for your business.
A free Square Online store is an excellent platform for small businesses wanting to take their operations online quickly. Setup is swift and product entry is seamless, and it’s easy to track inventory and orders once your store takes off. Plus, as your business grows, you can take advantage of Square’s free POS app for in-person sales, and add additional ecommerce and marketing tools to scale your business.
Open your free Square account and launch your online store today.