Square and Shopify both offer user-friendly point-of-sale (POS) software, online store and ecommerce functionality, and integrated payment processing with industry-leading omnichannel and contactless payment tools. The biggest difference between Shopify and Square is that Square’s POS and online store products are free to use, whereas Shopify requires a monthly subscription.
We’ll evaluate Square and Shopify’s retail-specific features, including POS software and ecommerce, in detail below. However, if you need a solution for your business, here are our recommendations:
Shopify: Best if ecommerce is the backbone of your business.
Square: Best if your primary sales channel is brick and mortar or mobile sales.
Shopify vs Square Products at a Glance
When to Use Shopify
Shopify is a better fit if you are looking to start an ecommerce operation, as it has a user-friendly online selling platform that can grow with your business. Through Shopify, you can create a website, sell through Amazon and other online marketplaces, and sell in-person through a mobile POS app. Visit Shopify for a free trial.
When to Use Square
When comparing Shopify vs Square, Square offers the best low-cost POS and payment solution for new businesses. Anyone can sign up for a free Square account and start selling from a smartphone or through an online store in minutes. With no monthly fees and minimal hardware costs, you can manage sales, track products, connect with customers, and view reports. Visit Square to create a free account.
When to Use an Alternative
If you have a specialty shop requiring detailed inventory tracking, we recommend Lightspeed Retail. It has inventory management and reporting tools that are more sophisticated than Square’s, built-in purchasing orders to buy merchandise through your POS, and features to manage custom work orders. Visit Lightspeed for a free trial.
Shopify vs Square Pricing at a Glance
Monthly POS subscription
$0 - $89*
$0 - $299
Monthly ecommerce subscription
$9 - $299
$0 - $72
Card reader pricing
$0 - $49
Terminal and register pricing
$229 (iPad not included) $49
$299 - $799 (all-inclusive)
Card-present transaction fees
2.4% - 2.7%
2.5% + 10 cents - 2.6% + 10 cents
Ecommerce transaction fees
2.4% + 30 cents - 2.7% + 30 cents
2.9% + 30 cents
*Requires ecommerce subscription
Both Shopify and Square offer:
- Month-to-month billing
- Discounted processing fees for high-volume sellers
- Several pricing plans and add-ons so you can customize your solution as your business grows (we’ll cover each of the POS and ecommerce plans below).
Shopify vs Square Payments
Shopify and Square offer payment processing services that allow small businesses to accept card payments online and in-person without applying for a traditional merchant account. They both provide predictable fees with no contract, monthly minimums, or cancellation charges.
Square and Shopify offer discounts for high-volume sellers, options for customers to store payment methods, and mobile card readers.
Shopify Payment Pros
Shopify Payment Cons
Flat-rate, predictable fees
Only available to Shopify businesses
Easy to use and setup
Accept Shop Pay
Takeaway: Like Square, Shopify has built-in payment processing for online sales and in-person sales completed through the POS app. Both Square and Shopify offer flat-rate transaction fees that are similar. Shopify’s rates for in-store sales and the online transaction fees under the Shopify and Advanced Shopify plan are less than what Square charges.
Square Payment Pros
Square Payment Cons
Free and instant signup
Lack of advanced features (such as store credit)
Doesn’t require POS or ecommerce subscription
Takeaway: Similar to Shopify, Square offers online, in-store, and mobile payment processing. There’s no application process. Anyone can sign up for Square for free and use the payment processing tools. The only fees are flat-rate transaction fees, which you pay as you go. Businesses can receive funds from transactions in a few business days, or pay a 1% fee to receive them immediately.
Why Square Payments Beats Shopify Payments
Square Payments stands out from Shopify because it offers a robust, standalone payment solution that can also be incorporated into other POS and ecommerce software solutions, or used independently of any ecommerce or POS subscription. This flexibility makes Square the best option for any business looking to accept occasional payments, or businesses wanting to accept card payments yet don’t want a sophisticated inventory or online store software.
To see if Square Payments is right for your business, read our full Square Payments review.
Shopify vs Square Hardware
Shopify and Square are both app-based POS and payment systems that can be used on an iPad or iPhone. The main difference between the two is that most of Square’s POS software also runs on Android devices, plus proprietary Square hardware. The most recent version of Shopify POS is only compatible with iOS. Both systems offer contactless payment options.
Square also offers interest-free installment payment plans for qualifying hardware purchases. Shopify offers payment plans through Affirm.
Chip and Swipe Card Reader
Tap and Chip Card Reader
Shopify Retail Kit
Connects to smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth to accept card payments (not contactless) with Shopify POS.
Connects wirelessly to smartphone or tablet to accept Visa, Mastercard, AmEx, Discover, Apple Pay, and Google Pay.
Includes iPad case with stand (iPad sold separately), chip and contactless reader with dock, mounting kit, and a dock cable.
Shopify hardware includes:
- A one-year warranty
- 24/7 support
- Free shipping and 30-day returns
Visit Shopify’s Hardware Store for more information.
Contactless and Chip Reader
Accept chip and NRC contactless payments in-store (dock available) or on-the-go. Connects wirelessly or via micro USB cable.
All-in-one POS and payments machine; accept magstripe, chip, and contactless payments; use cordlessly or hardwire.
Integrated countertop POS with built-in payments and detachable customer-facing display.
In addition to the above hardware, every Square account also comes with a free magstripe card reader, which is meant for occasional low-volume payments. Square also offers an iPad stand to turn your tablet into a countertop POS, similar to Shopify’s Retail Kit.
Visit Square’s Hardware Shop to learn more about hardware options and financing.
Shopify & Square POS Compared
Both Shopify and Square offer some of the best multichannel POS systems on the market. Features like seamless click and collect ordering, curbside pickup, smart inventory tracking, and advanced reporting can be found in each.
Shopify and Square both offer free and upgraded POS apps, all plans process unlimited transactions, track unlimited products and can create unlimited customer accounts—all of which syncs back to a centralized account. So, if you also use their ecommerce or online store platforms, the POS is connected.
The biggest difference between Shopify and Square POS apps is that a Shopify ecommerce subscription is required to use any Shopify POS. So, although there is no monthly fee for some POS software, you will still need to pay at least $9 per month for a Shopify Lite ecommerce subscription.
Square also offers several industry-specific POS software for retail, restaurants, and appointment-based businesses in addition to the generic POS. Shopify only offers retail solutions.
Why Square POS Is Best for Most Businesses
In general, Square offers the best POS systems for small businesses. The Shopify vs Square comparison is no exception. Square’s POS offers the best value because anyone can create a free account to start selling in just a few minutes. Square also has a few standout features, including a more reliable offline mode and a user-friendly digital receipt process that automatically collects customer feedback. Visit Square to create a free account
When to Use Shopify POS
If you have an ecommerce business through Shopify, using the connected Shopify POS is by far your best option. All of your data and transactions will seamlessly sync between online and in-person. Plus, you can use Shopify POS for free on your smartphone or tablet. Visit Shopify for a free trial.
Shopify POS Plans & Features
Shopify POS Lite
Shopify POS Pro
Monthly fee (in addition to ecommerce subscription)
Order and product management
Omnichannel selling features
Unlimited staff and permission levels
Smart inventory management
Reporting and analytics
Takeaway: Shopify’s primary focus is ecommerce. However, the free POS (Shopify POS Lite) is a great tool for Shopify ecommerce vendors wanting to sell at markets or pop-up shops. If you have a Shopify online store and want to open a physical storefront, Shopify POS Pro is the best choice.
Generally, Shopify POS is a good fit for new businesses that want online and in-store sales to be equally large. Otherwise, if you are a new business or ecommerce is secondary to in-person sales, Square or Square for Retail is likely a better fit.
Shopify POS features include:
- Omnichannel selling: Shopify POS includes browse in-store, buy online; product QR codes; buy online, return/exchange in-store; buy in-store, ship to customer, and detailed shipping tools.
- Checkout: Set custom payment types like store credit or IOUs, automated cash tracking, customizable smart grid and shortcuts, process exchanges, and save carts for later.
- Staff management: Unlimited staff logins, set roles and permissions, and track staff sales for reporting and commissions.
- Products: Create product collections, track variants like size and color, view real-time stock levels, make manual stock adjustments, and track products across multiple locations.
- Smart inventory management: Use a bar code scanner for fast inventory counts, manage and receive purchase orders, forecast demand for accurate purchasing, analyze inventory performance, view item sales suggestions, and set low-stock alerts.
- Customer management: Create customer profiles with tags like VIP, view order histories, track special requests, save shipping and payment information, and reward loyal customers.
- Reporting and analytics: Sales reports, cash flow management, discount information, month-end inventory updates, and daily sales reports.
Read our full Shopify POS review to learn more.
If you’re comparing Square and Shopify, you might be interested in either Square’s free standard POS, or Square for Retail, which is a closer direct competitor to Shopify POS Pro.
The most immediate difference between Square POS and Square for Retail is Square POS has a tile or icon-based interface, whereas Square for Retail has a bar code-based interface specifically designed for retail shops. Square POS is ideal for mobile sales, cafes and food vendors, or anyone needing to ring up sales quickly and easily.
Square POS features include:
- POS app: Free POS app with built-in payment processing; compatible with iOS and Android devices; includes basic inventory tracking and an offline mode.
- Customer management: Create profiles, save payment and contact information, send digital receipts, collect customer feedback.
- Square Dashboard: View sales, inventory, and customer reports on any browser, view orders, and manage your products.
- Add-ons: One of Square’s best features is the ability to add on any of the other products in the Square ecosystem including payroll, team management, email marketing, loyalty programs, and more.
- Omnichannel selling: Square POS comes with a free online store or checkout for click and collect or curbside pickup orders. You can also connect your Square account to Facebook and Instagram to post updates and products.
To learn more about why Square POS is the best POS for small businesses, read our full Square POS review.
Square for Retail Pricing Plans
Retailers Processing over $250,000 annually
Returns and exchanges
Advanced + Payroll
Takeaway: Like Square POS, Square for Retail offers a free software for new and small businesses. The main difference between the two software is the interface of Square for Retail is built around bar code scanning and item searching, instead of a catalog grid view.
Square for Retail also offers features to create and print bar codes, receive stock shipments, accept exchanges, automatically adjust stock levels, create and send purchase orders, project profits, and manage orders from all online and in-person sales.
Square for Retail Plus is very similar to Shopify Retail Pro. They both have smart inventory management and omnichannel selling tools. The main differences are that Square offers a native loyalty program, payroll, team management, and appointment booking. Shopify does not offer these features directly; however, Shopify has a much more robust ecommerce platform.
Shopify Ecommerce vs Square Online Store
When comparing Shopify vs Square just on ecommerce, Shopify offers by far the best ecommerce solution. If you are looking to start or scale an online retail business, Shopify is the best choice.
Square offers a user-friendly and economical solution for storefronts that want to add online ordering for shipping or pickup.
Shopify Ecommerce vs Square Online Store at a Glance
Takeaway: Shopify offers the best ecommerce solution for internet-based retailers. However, if you need a quick online ordering solution for your brick and mortar business, Square Online Store offers a great value for retailers plus food and beverage businesses. Although Square Online Store has evolved rapidly over the past few years, serious ecommerce business may outgrow the platform.
Shopify is the industry-standard ecommerce solution for small businesses. Hardly any other platform is as affordable, feature-rich, and easy to use as Shopify. In addition to templates and tools to build your ecommerce site and checkout, Shopify also has tools to help you manage the rest of the sales process, such as connections to fulfillment centers, drop-ship integrations, automated emails, flexible integrated shipping rates, abandoned cart recovery, and more.
Square does not have as many of these back-end features.
Shopify Ecommerce Pricing Plans
Most small businesses
Growing online stores
Up to 64%
Up to 64%
Up to 72% plus USPS Priority Mail Cubic Pricing
Up to 74% plus USPS Priority Mail Cubic Pricing and third-party calculated rates
Takeaway: All Shopify plans include unlimited products and transactions. Shopify Lite is the only plan that doesn’t include an online store. Instead, it offers Buy buttons that can integrate into other websites or blogs on platforms like Weebly, Wix, WordPress, and Squarespace. But, it still comes with access to the free Shopify POS Lite and connected social sales. Shopify Lite is a good option if you already have a website or a significant social media presence that you want to monetize with product sales.
If you’re looking to start an ecommerce business, choose one of the standard Shopify plans. You can upgrade, cancel, or downgrade your plan at any time. If your business grows, Shopify has an enterprise-grade solution called Shopify Plus.
Square Online Store
Square offers a basic ecommerce site for free, which includes an unlimited amount of products, a shopping cart, and tools to sell on Instagram. The best part of Square Online Store is that it makes it easy for brick and mortar businesses to offer buy online, pickup in-store, and local delivery options. Square Online Store also syncs with Square Appointments to schedule services or book time slots right from your website.
Square Online Store Pricing Plans
Low-cost buy online, pickup in-store
Creating a branded store
Syncs with Square POS Systems
Custom domain free of Square branding
Abandoned cart emails
Discounted shipping labels
Discounted processing fees
Takeaway: Square’s paid ecommerce plans include the ability to connect a custom domain, remove Square ads, add third-party integrations, product reviews, and shipping calculators. Square’s ecommerce tools are a good value and competitive for the industry, but the order management and fulfillment features are not as detailed as Shopify’s.
Square Online Store is a best-fit for storefronts that want to create a professional site for supplemental sales or buy online, pick up in-store sales.
To learn more about Square for Retail features, read our full Square for Retail review.
Square and Shopify both offer user-friendly POS, ecommerce, and payment processing solutions. Shopify has more sophisticated ecommerce tools, making it a better fit for online and multichannel businesses. Square offers a free POS and mobile app that are great for businesses that primarily sell in-person.