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 mobile businesses to multistore operators, can open a Square Online store, list products for sale, process payments, and deliver orders via traditional shipping methods, curbside pickup, and local delivery. Online store analytics also sync with Square’s backend reporting for accurate data management between online and in-person sales.
The free store is fairly easy to set up, and we’ll walk you through the process in nine 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.
Step 1: Create a Free Square Account
The first step is to open a free Square account. This gives you access to the Square dashboard, which is where the online store controls reside, and 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.
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. Paid plans, starting at $12, also come with 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 set up your free account, you can build your online store. Square guides users through the process with automated prompts, so no technical skills required. All settings can be changed later through the Square Dashboard—nothing you choose now is permanent.
For this Square Online store demo, we created the online store Everyday Knits.
Scroll through the images below for step-by-step guidance.
Once you are done, you will be taken to your dashboard where you can see the control panel. If it’s your first time opening a Square Online account, you will have prompts that outline steps to set up your online business. You can choose to follow these prompts or set up features individually based on the navigation bar on the left of your screen.
Step 3: Design Your Square Website
Once inside your dashboard, you have the option to watch video tutorials or dive right in to designing your website.
Clicking the Design now button opens up the new and improved Square Online Website Builder.
It has three main sections:
- Edit Panel: Arrange your website sections however you like using the navigation links in this panel. This is also where most of your website creation will be done.
- Preview Panel: Directly make edits to your website’s text and review how your website looks. As you select or remove sections, the store mock-up will automatically reflect those changes.
- Toolbar: Switch website previews (for desktop or mobile); add sections, pages, items, and categories.
Watch how easy it is to change the main banner of your website from the Edit Panel. Notice that every change you make is automatically reflected in the preview panel.
Square Online’s store offers little flexibility to customize your site’s appearance, especially compared to drag-and-drop builders like Wix or Weebly. Below, you can see which sections you can add to your website pages. What Square Online lacks in customization, it makes up for in speed.
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 so customers can purchase products directly from Instagram. You can learn more in our guide on how to sell on Instagram.
Similar to Shopify, you can add different types of pages to your website. What we like about Square Online’s Website Builder is that you can customize the pages’ sections similar to how you can customize your homepage.
Step 4: Add Items to Sell
After you have configured your website design, it is time to add products to your store. You can achieve this by 1) adding products individually or 2) uploading 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. To bulk import items to your store, follow Square’s step-by-step guide. If you already use Square POS, your items will automatically transfer over to your store, and you can select which products you would like to offer for online sales.
To add products individually, click on Items from the control panel in your Square dashboard. Click on Site Items > Create New Item.
Select Item Type
You can sell both physical and digital products on Square, including food and beverages, memberships, services, and event tickets. You can also collect donations and use all of these options regardless of the type of store you chose at the beginning of the process.
When adding a new item, the first step is to select which item type you will be selling. This is important because the details you will fill in will depend on the item type you choose.
For our example, we chose a physical item type. All the fields we discuss in the following sections are for physical items.
Include Item Details
Whether you upload your products in bulk or individually, you will need a product description, title, price, and quantity.
You can also add optional data, including SKU numbers, weight, and tax information.
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 offer. If you’re a retailer building an online store for the first time, you can take great product photos with your smartphone. You can also contact your product suppliers as 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 and a photo pack of three images shown from different angles for $9.95.
Configure SEO for Products (Recommended)
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.
If you have many different products, entering them all into the item catalog with descriptions and photos will be the most time-consuming part of setup.
Set Up Item Variants (Optional)
If your items have options such as color and sizes, you can easily add variations in Square. Under the Item Detail, scroll down to see Variations and click on Add/Manage variations.
Set Product Categories
Additionally, you can categorize items to organize your store. You can then add the categories as a section on your website.
To set categories, go to Items from the navigation menu, then click on Item Categories.
Step 5: 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 US or the US 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.
Tip: Set up flat rates that don’t eat into your profits, but don’t undercharge or overcharge your customers. Learn how to offer free shipping for your products.
Step 6: Add Pickup & Delivery Options
After adding your products and setting shipping prices, you can enable curbside or in-store pickup and order delivery.
Set Pickup Options
Configure your pickup settings wisely. These help with logistics between your physical and online stores by adding two important aspects of pickup to the ordering and checkout experience: 1) when customers can pick up and 2) how shoppers can pick up.
To enable this option, you’ll need to confirm your store’s time zone, set specific hours where customers can place online orders for pickup and delivery, and indicate estimated prep times. Prep times are important because that’s what Square uses to show buyers a pickup time—but you can allow them to schedule a specific time.
Want to offer curbside pickup? Read our guide on how to set up click and collect and curbside pickup.
When you turn order delivery on, Square automatically enables text message alerts, so customers can opt in to get updates via SMS. You can switch this off in Checkout advanced settings if you want to allow buyers to receive email updates.
Configure Delivery Settings
In addition to shipping and pickup, you can offer delivery in your area, fulfilled by your courier or Square’s third-party on-demand delivery service providers. Set your delivery area, fees, and estimated delivery times after choosing your desired fulfillment option.
Step 7: Set Up the URL for Your Online Store
Once you have your website designed and your store configured, it is time to set up your website address. 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 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.
Step 8: Set Up Checkout Policies
Square Online is automatically configured 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.
To set up checkout policies, go to Settings in your Control Panel and click Checkout.
Configure Payment Methods
To accept payments, you’ll 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 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.
Customize Checkout Experience
You can choose options to collect additional information from customers to help you enhance their buyer experience, including a phone number, note to seller, or address for item types that aren’t physical goods.
Add Shipping & Return Policies
Below the payment processing settings, you will find 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’s shipping location. This removes the guesswork and manual calculations, so you know you’re charging the correct tax amount.
Step 9: Preview & Publish Your Site
Now your Square Online store is ready to launch. Give everything a final check by clicking on “Preview” on the top right corner of the site editor. Toggle back and forth between the desktop and mobile versions to ensure they both look good. You can even 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 (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, 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)
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 preorders
- 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, service, 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 an 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.