Square Online offers a free ecommerce website for retailers, restaurants, service businesses, and nonprofits. Any seller, from mobile businesses to multi-store operations, can open a Square Online store, list products for sale, process payments, and deliver orders via traditional shipping methods, curbside pickup, or local delivery. Online store analytics also sync with Square’s backend reporting for accurate data management between online and in-person sales.
Square Online’s free store is fairly easy to set up, and we’ll walk you through it 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, and you can build your store as you read this guide.
Learn more about Square and why small businesses love it
1. Create a Free Square Account
The first step in creating a Square Online store is opening a free Square account. This account gives you access to the Square dashboard, which is where the online store controls reside, along with other business tools like order management, marketing, and reporting.
The only information required to set up a Square account is your email address and a 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.
To accept payments, you’ll also need to provide your legal name, the last four digits of your Social Security Number or individual taxpayer identification number, and a phone number so that Square can confirm your identity. You’ll also need to link a bank account so that Square can deposit funds from your online store’s sales.
In the News
Now through November 16th, new qualified Square Online customers can receive up to $1,000 in free payment processing in your first 90 days. This offer is exclusively available to Fit Small Business readers.
2. Choose Your Initial Store Settings
Once you’ve set up your free account, you can build your online store. Square guides users through the process with automated prompts, no technical skills required. All settings can also be changed later through the Square Dashboard. So, don’t worry—nothing you choose now is permanent.
Scroll through the images below for step-by-step guidance:
3. Design Your Square Website
Next, the automated prompts will lead you to your Square Dashboard. You can watch video tutorials here first or dive right into the Setup Guide for building your store. For this example, we chose a multi-page retail store.
Scroll through the images below for the key steps in choosing your initial design:
Square Online’s store offers very little flexibility to customize your site’s appearance, especially compared to drag-and-drop builders like Wix or Weebly. But what it lacks in customization, Square Online makes up for in terms of speed.
4. Set Up the URL for Your Online Store
Next, Square will prompt you to set up a domain or URL for your website and online store. There are three options:
- Purchase a domain through Square for $12 per year: This option also requires upgrading to a paid Square Online plan.
- Connect an existing domain: You can purchase a domain from a third-party service like GoDaddy or Bluehost and 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 at 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.
Learn more in our ultimate guide of Square’s fees and pricing.
5. Fill in Homepage Details
Once you’ve chosen the basic style settings and features, you can customize your homepage. Use the navigation bar on the left-hand side to work your way through the Header, Main Banner, Featured Products, Contact, and Footer elements. You can add or change text, buttons, font, and color in each section.
Square will prompt you through most of this process, so building the main page of your website is relatively fast and easy. There are limited options in terms of customizing individual elements—you can’t choose a different template, free-range resize elements, or drag text boxes to place them in a different spot. If you’d rather let a professional handle website design, Square offers an option to hire a designer (prices starting at $199).
To build your online presence, you can connect your Instagram account and add an email signup box. Paying Square users with an Instagram Business account can create shoppable posts for customers to purchase products directly from Instagram.
You can learn more in our guide to how to sell on Instagram.
6. Add Items to Sell
You can sell both physical and digital products on Square, including food and beverages, memberships, services, and event tickets. You can also collect donations. You can use all of these options regardless of the type of store you chose at the beginning of the process.
There are a couple ways to add products to your Square site:
- Add products individually
- Upload products in bulk using an Excel or CSV file
If you have more than a handful of products, bulk upload will save a lot of time. If you already use Square POS, your items will automatically transfer over to your Online Store, though you’ll be able to select whether or not you want to offer each item for online sales.
To upload in bulk:
- Go to the main Square Dashboard
- Click on “Items” (not Online Store)
- Download Square’s Excel or CSV template
- Fill out the spreadsheet with your current inventory and save the file
- Upload the Excel or CSV file to Square to import your library
Include Item Details
Whether you upload your products in bulk or individually, you will need an item name, product description, price, and quantity. You can also add other optional information, including SKU numbers, weight, tax information, permalinks, SEO descriptions, custom modifiers, and product variants.
This is where you set pickup and delivery prep time for each item, and designate whether it’s available for shipping, pickup, and/or delivery.
Upload Product Photos
When building an online store, product photos can make or break the sale, so it’s important to add at least one photo for every product you sell. If you’re a retailer building an online store for the first time, you can take high-quality product photos with your smartphone. You can also contact your product suppliers—many wholesalers, manufacturers, and distributors will offer high-quality product photos for free.
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 or a photo pack of three product images shown from different angles for $9.95.
7. Set Shipping Rates
To ship products, you’ll need to enter the address you’re shipping from, choose your destination regions, and set shipping rates.
- Shipping from: 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).
- Destination regions: Add the regions you ship to (such as the United States or the United States and Territories), and exclude areas you don’t.
- Shipping rates: To get up and running quickly, set one flat shipping rate. You can always add promotional shipping options or customized rates later. Your flat shipping rate should be competitive, but make sure they don’t cut into your profit margins.
8. Add Pickup and Delivery Options
After adding your products and setting shipping prices, you can enable curbside or in-store pickup and order delivery.
To enable order pickup, you’ll need to confirm your store’s time zone, set specific hours where customers can place online orders for pickup and delivery, and set estimated prep times. Setting an accurate prep time is important because that’s what Square uses to show customers a pickup time when they place an order. Retailers can allow customers to schedule a specific pickup time.
Want to offer curbside pickup? Read our guide on how to set up click and collect and curbside pickup.
When you turn on order delivery, Square automatically enables text message alerts, so customers can opt in to get updates via SMS. You can turn this off in Checkout advanced settings if you want to allow buyers to receive email updates.
9. Set Up Checkout Policies
Square Online store is automatically set up to accept online payments through Square, including credit cards, debit cards, Square gift cards, and mobile payment options like Apple Pay.
You can also use Square to create and send invoices for custom orders. Square’s standard transaction fee for online payments is 2.9% plus 30 cents. If you upgrade to a paid plan, you’ll get lower processing rates and the option to use PayPal payments.
Add Shipping and Return Policies
Below the payment processing settings, there are options to add store policies for shipping and returns. In these fields, indicate how long it takes to process orders, how much time customers should allow for standard shipping, and what your return policy is.
Collecting Tax for Online Orders
Like most popular ecommerce platforms and web builders, Square has an automatic US tax calculator that charges US sales tax based on your store address and customer shipping location. This removes the guesswork and manual calculations, so you know you’re charging the correct tax amount.
10. Preview and Publish Your Site
Now your Square store is ready to launch. Give everything a final check by clicking on “Preview” on the top right corner of the site editor. Be sure to toggle back and forth between the desktop and mobile versions to make sure they both look good.
Before publishing, you can also share the preview via a link. Once you’re satisfied, click “Publish” on the top right corner to take your site live.
Even after your site is published, you can adjust any element of the site, including design product pages, inventory, store policies, and shipping or delivery details. You can also add features and pages such as an About Us page, customer testimonials, or social media channels.
Other features include collecting customer emails to grow a newsletter as well as selling tickets to events or starting a membership program.
Ready to get started? Visit Square to create a free account and start selling online today.
How to 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 has a single item (physical or digital product, food or beverage, donation request, or subscription) along with payment buttons.
Square Checkout pages are ideal for:
- Product launches or preorders
- Service payments
- Books and digital products
- Adding checkout functionality to existing websites
- Contactless shopping with QR code checkout
Like Square Online’s store, Checkout requires no coding and even less designing. Creating a Checkout 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:
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 a 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).
2. Add Product or Service Details
When you’re logged in to your Square account, you can create an Online Checkout page two ways:
- Create a product library and pull that information to create a checkout page.
- Create individual pages by typing in product information and pricing.
The latter is better if you need just a few checkout pages.
3. Share the Link
Email or text the link to customers personally or as part of a campaign. 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 out the corresponding QR code and display it with the item in-store.
How to 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 full guide to Square for Restaurants for more details.
Is Square Online Right for You?
|Free||Not suited for ecommerce-only businesses|
|Easy to set up and maintain||Templated setup, not very customizable|
|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 online sales tools for small businesses of all types (retail, restaurant, cafe, service, and more) for free. Plus it syncs with Square’s POS products, which are also free to use.
As your business grows, Square has paid plans you can upgrade to. While Square Online is not as robust as other popular ecommerce platforms like Shopify (read our Shopify vs Square breakdown), it offers an unbeatable value for brick and mortar businesses that need an online presence.
Read our Square Online review to see if it’s the right fit for your business.
Creating a free Square Online account is an excellent way for small businesses 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 on additional ecommerce and marketing tools to scale your business. Open your free Square account and launch your online store today.