Between Shopify vs Square, Shopify has better ecommerce features, while Square offers a better mobile POS. Both are included in our top picks for multichannel POS systems.
Shopify vs Square: Pricing, Features & What’s Best in 2023
This article is part of a larger series on POS Systems.
If you’re comparing Shopify vs Square, you are likely looking to sell online or need a multichannel sales tool for online and in-person sales. Shopify and Square 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. Overall:
- Shopify: Best if ecommerce is the backbone of your business or you’re serious about online sales
- Square: Best if your primary sales channel is brick-and-mortar and you need basic online store functionality
Shopify vs Square Quick Comparison
4.74 out of 5
4.34 out of 5
Ecommerce-focused businesses, large retailers, complex inventories
New or small businesses, brick-and-mortar shops, businesses on a budget, food-based businesses
Ecommerce software monthly fee
$5–$399 (monthly billing)
$0–$72 (annual billing)
Available sales channels
Shopify site, social media checkouts, Facebook and Instagram shops, Amazon, eBay, Walmart, mobile POS, in-store
Square Online store, payment links, add checkout to an existing site, Facebook, Instagram, mobile POS, in-store, local delivery
POS software monthly fee
$0–$60; custom plans available
Retail, restaurants, appointment, and general-purpose
Payment processing options
Shopify Payments or connect a third-party processor for an additional fee (online payments only)
Must use Square Payments
Ease of use
24/7 phone support, community forum, help center, and resource library
Monday–Friday phone support, 24/7 automated chat support, seller community, and resource library
In addition to best multichannel POS systems, both Shopify and Square Online are top picks for:
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Why We Recommend Shopify for Online Sales
- Scalable platform
- Print discounted postage straight from Shopify
- Access to hundreds of additional features and integrations via Shopify app store
- Shopify website themes are not that customizable
- Shipping calculator requires an annual plan
- No low-stock alerts without upgrade
Where Shopify Beats Square:
- Has more robust ecommerce features for product and order management, inventory, and shipping
- Provides a one-click checkout option using Shop Pay
- Includes stronger marketing features in its entry-level plan, such as the abandoned cart saver
- Lets you connect to other channels for selling such as social media and marketplaces
- Provides a more extensive app marketplace for third-party integrations (Shopify App store)
If ecommerce is the backbone of your business, choose Shopify because its web builder, sales tools, and inventory management functions are more robust. Shopify is our pick for the best ecommerce platform for small businesses.
While Square Online can accommodate curbside pickup orders and occasional online sales, it has limited inventory management tools and overall basic functionality that a scaling ecommerce business would quickly outgrow.
Why Square Is Best for Brick-and-Mortar Businesses
- Forever-free plan
- All-in-one ecommerce and payment processing solution
- Includes POS software for in-person sales
- Compatible with many industries
- No advanced inventory management features
- Shipping tools available only in higher plans
- Limited customization options
Where Square Beats Shopify:
- Lets you set up an online store in a matter of minutes and start selling for free
- Provides a standalone payment solution for mobile, in-store, and online
- Has a more reliable offline mode
- Gives more hardware options for mobile payments
- Offers more products and solutions for food and beverage and service-based businesses and entrepreneurs
Square is the best choice for most storefronts that don’t need robust ecommerce functions. It offers a free plan, top-rated POS apps, and solutions for industries outside of retail, including restaurants and appointment-based businesses. It is an affordable, user-friendly software with tons of add-ons, which makes it our top-recommended POS system for small businesses.
When to Use an Alternative
*If billed annually and with Lightspeed Payments.
Shopify vs Square: Pricing
4.5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Monthly POS subscription
Monthly ecommerce subscription
Card reader pricing
Terminal and register pricing
$229 (iPad not included)
Card-present transaction fees
2.5% + 10 cents–2.6% + 10 cents
Ecommerce transaction fees
2.4% + 30 cents–2.7% + 30 cents
2.9% + 30 cents
*Shopify POS Pro is included under Shopify Plus Plans. It is an additional $89 per location.
Both Shopify and Square have affordable solutions that 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
However, only Square offers an entirely free online store and POS system. In minutes, anyone can sign up for a free Square account and sell through an online store or smartphone.
Shopify has tiered software plans for ecommerce stores and two options for POS, while Square offers multiple free POS and online store options with optional upgrades. However, Square provides solutions (like payroll, loyalty programs, and team management) that you can add and remove as needed.
Since our Last Update: Shopify Rate Increase
January 24, 2023 Shopify announced a price increase for its software subscriptions.
This new pricing is effective immediately for new sellers. Current Shopify subscribers can lock in their current rates by opting for an annual subscription before the new pricing takes effect for current sellers on April 23, 2023.
Shopify’s ecommerce plans have three tiers: Basic Shopify ($39/month), Shopify ($105/month), and Advanced Shopify ($399/month). It recently offered a much lower tier at $5/month, the Shopify Starter plan, which provides a checkout link and allows you to sell through social media channels.
Its POS system, Shopify POS Lite, is free under all Shopify ecommerce plans. We recommend using it when running temporary stores such as pop-up shops and farmers market locations.
Note that if you want to use Shopify POS for your brick-and-mortar operations, you would need to upgrade to the POS Pro plan with a monthly fee of $89 per location. The main difference between these two Shopify POS pricing schemes is access to advanced features such as smart inventory management and in-store analytics.
To know more about Shopify’s pricing and payment fees, read our comprehensive guide to Shopify pricing. It also includes a calculator to help you determine your monthly Shopify fees.
Square’s pricing is very transparent. Its free option and lack of hidden fees make it a strong contender against Shopify when it comes to pricing. You can add or change add-ons anytime, and there are no long-term contracts.
- Point-of-sale app: Free – Pro POS plans available for $60 per month, per location
- Online ordering and ecommerce: Free – upgrades available from $12–$72 per month
- Payroll: $35 per month plus $5 per employee
- Team management: Free – upgrade to Team Plus at $35 per month, per location
- Marketing: Starts at $15 per month for up to 500 customer contacts
- Loyalty program: Starts at $45 per month, per location, for up to 500 loyal visits
Learn more in our full breakdown of Square’s pricing and fees.
Shopify vs Square: Retail POS Features
5 out of 5
3.5 out of 5
Shopify ecommerce sellers
POS, POS Pro
Square POS, Square for Retail, Square for Restaurants, Square Appointments
Industry-specific POS apps
Print and email
Print, email, and text
Tax rate calculation
Auto-detection based on store location
Accepts all forms of payments
Shopify earns perfect points in our evaluation of retail POS features—inventory management, CRM tools, contactless payments, cloud reporting, and employee management. Square also made perfect points for contactless payments and employee management but got deducted points for having basic CRM and marketing features.
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, which is ideal for Shopify ecommerce businesses that need a POS for pop-up sales or events.
Learn more about Shopify’s POS features in our detailed Shopify POS review.
While Shopify beats Square in retail POS features, Square is still considered the best POS system for small businesses. Square’s POS offers the best value because anyone can create a free account to start selling in just a few minutes. It also has a few standout features, including a more reliable offline mode and a user-friendly digital receipt process that automatically collects customer feedback.
Learn more in our full review of Square POS.
Note that we evaluated Square’s free POS system against Shopify’s in this article. However, its industry-specific POS for retail businesses, Square for Retail, tops our list of the best retail POS systems—with a score of 4.58 out of 5 compared to Shopify’s 4.48. Square for Retail’s low price point ($0–$60) and user-friendly back-office features make it the top pick.
See more in our full Square for Retail review.
Shopify vs Square: Online Sales & Multichannel Features
5 out of 5
4.75 out of 5
Most ecommerce businesses, online retailers, and growing multichannel retailers
Storefronts needing a simple online presence
ShopPay, over 100 gateway integrations, accept Apple Pay, Google Pay, and all major credit cards
Square Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, and all major credit cards
Up to 88% off DHL Express, UPS, and USPS
Up to 55% off US shipping rates
Built-in SEO, blogging tool, automated abandoned cart recovery, product reviews, email templates
Customer reviews, abandoned cart emails, email marketing, Facebook ads, customer messaging, and loyalty programs.
Unlimited products, variants, and collections; multilocation inventory with transfer options; demand forecasting and detailed reports
Unlimited products and categories; multilocation inventory with transfer options; demand forecasting
Show in-store availability on product pages; email carts for browse in-store, buy online; in-store QR codes that bring shoppers to product pages
Cross-location returns and exchanges
Buy online, pickup in-store; buy online, return in store; buy in-store, ship to customer; traditional ecommerce
Buy online, pick up in-store; buy online with local delivery
POS app pricing
Free POS app available only with ecommerce subscription
Several free mobile POS apps are available
One mobile card reader option
Multiple card reader options
iOS and Android devices
iOS, Android, and Square devices
Card-present transaction fee
2.6% + 10 cents
When comparing Square vs Shopify just on ecommerce, Shopify is the best solution by far—it is our top pick for the best ecommerce platform. Shopify offers more templates, better customization options, sophisticated order management, detailed product pages, and inventory tracking, more significant shipping discounts, and a streamlined checkout process.
On the other hand, Square’s payment processing is our leading payment processor for small businesses, earning a score of 4.43 out of 5. It also provides a more flexible solution with industry-specific features, a more stable offline mode, and more hardware options for mobile payments. While Shopify Payments is tied to its ecommerce and POS products (and requires a subscription), Square offers a standalone payment solution for mobile, in-store, and online. See more in our guide to the best mobile POS apps.
When we tested Shopify to build an online store, we found it has all the bells and whistles you need to develop an ecommerce website. What’s best about Shopify is that it is simple enough to be understood if you are a non-techie small business owner, yet scalable when you get serious about growing your online sales. Its third-party app marketplace, the Shopify App store, provides all the features you need to grow your ecommerce business.
Shopify offers more sophisticated features that enable retailers to provide a seamless shopping experience, eliminating the barriers between online and in-store functions—like order fulfillment and delivery, inventory, and marketing.
Chipper 2X BT Reader
Tap and Chip Card Reader
Connects via Bluetooth; accepts EMV (chip) or NFC payments (Apple Pay); iOS only
Connects via Bluetooth; accepts EMV (chip) or NFC payments (Apple Pay, Android Pay)
Learn more in our full Shopify Payments review.
Square offers a user-friendly and economical solution for storefronts that want to add online ordering for shipping or pickup. Its product management features are relatively limited, especially if you have a large inventory or many variants. Square Online is not as customizable as Shopify and does not offer as many built-in marketing features—and its ecommerce app marketplace is not as extensive.
However, Square does have seamless tools for customer communications, including messaging and automated order updates, seamless buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) features, and options for local delivery. So, Square Online is a user-friendly, low-maintenance option for storefronts wanting a simple online presence. It also has a solution specific to restaurants and is one of our recommended restaurant online ordering systems.
While Shopify offers the best solution for most multichannel retailers, Square could be a good choice for new and small businesses on a budget, especially if your focus is brick-and-mortar instead of online sales.
Square also has one key advantage over Shopify—its industry-specific products. While Shopify is designed just for retailers, Square has an all-purpose POS and specific solutions for food and beverage (such as cafes and food trucks), appointment-based (spas, salons, and other health and wellness providers), and retail businesses.
Square Reader for Magstripe
Square Reader for Contactless and Chip
First free, additional $10
$299 or $27 per month for 12 months
Available with lightning or audio jack input; accepts payments via magstripe (swiped)
Connects via Bluetooth; accepts payments via EMV (chip) or NFC (Apple Pay, Google Pay)
All-in-one credit card machine with POS, card reader, and receipt printer
Learn more in our full Square Payments review.
Shopify vs Square: Ease of Use
4.38 out of 5
3.75 out of 5
Excellent; with setup wizard
Excellent; with setup wizard
Excellent; quick and easy
Phone, live chat, and email
Weekdays: 9 a.m.–9 p.m. Eastern time
Weekends: 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Eastern time
Emails: 24 to 48 hours response time
Video tutorials, Help Center, and Advanced specialist support
Square lets you set up an online store and start selling in a few hours, and its store management function is straightforward—primarily because of its basic functions. Shopify provides robust ecommerce features, but it may require more time to set up. We still find its interface easy to use and navigate.
When it comes to support, both providers’ self-service resources are excellent. They have active and helpful community forums, comprehensive help centers, easy-to-follow video tutorials, and setup help wizards. Both provide a selection of communication channels—live chat, email, and phone. However, Shopify wins in this area because of its 24/7 customer support.
Shopify offers a similar setup to Square Online, but since it gives you all the bells and whistles to build a complete website and online store, it can take a while to find features you want to add to your site.
We made the same demo store on each platform. You can see how it looks and follow our guide on how to set up a Shopify store.
It only takes a few minutes to set up the Shopify POS app on your mobile device. You can even customize its interface to your needs. It automatically uses your location to apply appropriate sales taxes unless you manually set your settings.
What’s great about the Shopify POS is that it can sync with your online shop so that you can manage your retail business from a single dashboard. Any product or inventory updates are reflected in real time on both the store backend and the POS app.
If you have a complex inventory with multiple product variants, go with Shopify. It has one of the best POS inventory management systems, with all account levels allowing users to import items, manage returns, and view basic inventory reports.
Shopify wins over Square in this category because of its 24/7 phone, live chat, and email support. Third-party user and expert reviews also rave about its professional and competent support team. As a small business or startup, it is reassuring to know that you can ask for help if something goes wrong with your store, no matter what time of day.
We found Square Online’s website builder easier to navigate than Shopify’s. We were given options to add or remove from an existing template, with real-time changes reflecting—so you can easily change your choices if needed.
When we built our demo store, its setup guide was beneficial because it outlined the steps to launch your store with automated prompts—allowing you to create your store without any technical assistance. You can watch video tutorials (all accessible from the user dashboard) or go straight to building the website using the setup wizard. We did both and found that we could intuitively go through the setup without any challenges, even without the videos.
See how the same store setup looks by reviewing our guide on setting up a free Square Online store.
You need to use Square’s built-in payment processor when using its POS, which makes setting it up easy and hassle-free. Just connect a bank account, and you are ready to use it; no need for account approval.
Square Online’s inventory features are very basic. This fits the bill if you are a retailer looking to manage inventory for free (and sell in-store, online, via invoice, or through mobile). It allows you to make the following stock updates: stock received, inventory recount, restock return, and loss of stock due to damage or theft; there are no barcode, supplier, or purchasing features.
Square for Retail ($60 per month) offers advanced tools for inventory—such as kitting or bundling items, vendor and purchase management, COGS tracking, and cross-location inventory tracking.
If customer service is crucial for you, Square might not be an ideal fit for your business needs. Square’s customer service hours are limited, and most poor user reviews stem from unsatisfactory customer service.
Shopify vs Square: Expert Score
Shopify and Square are both excellent multichannel POS systems in our book, as evidenced by the tie-in scores given by the Fit Small Business experts and based on the majority of user reviews. The choice will greatly depend on the type of business you are running—Shopify is better for online stores branching out to retail sales, while Square is better suited for in-store selling with just a little need for online store functionality.
Shopify is for serious online sellers, and its POS system is a natural extension that allows them to run a storefront or the occasional pop-up shop. Note that Shopify’s POS system is pretty basic; you won’t get daily sales reports, stock adjustments, and low stock reports unless you are in the Pro plan.
However, as we have mentioned, it is the perfect option for selling online. If you are mainly selling in person, though, Square could offer a better value—specifically Square for Retail.
Shopify is among the top-rated POS software, and its ecommerce platform is the number one pick of users in the market today. Customer service and ease of use are a few of its favorable comments, with most business owners commenting how they like the seamless connection between the online store and POS mobile app.
Square is one of the most straightforward POS and online store web builders to set up and use. The free option and the variety of hardware options are hard to beat, making Square one of the best POS systems for all types of businesses, most especially for small business owners.
Square’s processing rates and limited customization options may be limiting for large or high-volume companies, but if you like Square, consider its paid POS platforms Square for Retail, Square for Restaurants, or Square Appointments, instead.
Square is a very popular and top-rated POS tool and online store platform. Most user reviews rave about its free plan, affordable hardware, intuitive software, and lack of hidden charges. The most common complaint, if there is any, is its limited customer support.
Shopify vs Square Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Which is better: Shopify vs Square?
When choosing between Shopify vs Square, the best choice greatly depends on your business needs. We recommend Shopify for growing online businesses, merchants with complex inventories, and those looking for a seamless POS and ecommerce system for multichannel selling.
On the other hand, we recommend Square for businesses on a budget looking to accept payments offline and online. Restaurants, food trucks, and coffee shops would particularly benefit from Square’s curbside delivery and click-and-collect options. At the same time, service-based businesses, such as hairstylists, makeup artists, and massage therapists, can use Square Online’s checkout function to accept prepayment for services or automatically charge for monthly services.
Which is cheaper, Square or Shopify?
Regarding pricing, Square is more affordable than Shopify because it offers a free plan and a magstripe card reader on initial sign-up. All you will be paying for are processing fees on credit and debit card payments (Square requires you to use its built-in payment processor).
Is Shopify or Square easier to use?
Both platforms are intuitive for beginners. Its POS systems and web builders are easy to set up and navigate. Managing stores is also convenient. However, Shopify provides 24/7 customer support via phone, email, and chat, while Square doesn’t. Support is a crucial need for small businesses with no in-house technical support that can troubleshoot when things go wrong.
How We Evaluated Shopify vs Square
To help you decide which multichannel POS system to use, we compared Shopify vs Square based on what’s important to small businesses, including pricing, retail POS features, multichannel tools, and ease of use. We looked for affordable, easy-to-use functionalities and considered our retail and restaurant POS expert’s evaluations of each software as well.
20% of Overall Score
Small businesses are typically looking for an affordable plan that scales as their needs change and grow, so we looked for software with flexible subscription plans, hardware, and payment processing options. We also gave points for systems that offer unlimited use and volume discounts
20% of Overall Score
Every small business needs to monitor its inventory, manage employees, and accept other payments, so we also considered these. We also placed a premium on marketing management tools, a feature crucial to expanding the customer base for multichannel businesses.
30% of Overall Score
We examined how expansive each software’s multichannel capabilities are and awarded points to systems with the most multichannel functions. This includes ecommerce, social media sales integration, and fulfillment methods for online orders and in-store sales.
20% of Overall Score
Small businesses need an open line of communication with their POS provider, so we included customer service hours in this review. We also gave points for cloud-based POS systems, providers that offer touch-screen solutions, and those that can continue to function even without an internet connection.
10% of Overall Score
Finally, we considered any other standout features of a POS system and whether the software and hardware options provide good value. We also evaluated each system’s popularity based on user reviews and awarded points based on our expert’s experience interacting with the software and the company’s support team.
Square and Shopify 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. Meanwhile, Square offers a free POS and mobile app that are best for businesses selling in-person.
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