Square is rapidly becoming the small business system of choice for pay-as-you-go credit card processing with powerful, free Point of Sale (POS) software. Shopkeep is also a well regarded POS solution that, while not free, can be more economical for larger businesses. In this guide, we’ll compare Square vs ShopKeep in depth and explain when it’s best to use each.
If you are processing less than $15,000/month in card sales, we recommend Square for their easier setup, and free POS tools that would otherwise cost $69/month from ShopKeep. However, if you process more than $15,000/month, ShopKeep is generally a better value due to their lower credit card processing fees.
|Free||$69 per month per register|
|Credit card processing costs|
|2.75% for all swiped transactions||Around 1.9 - 2.4% of transaction|
|Ease of Use / Setup|
|Very easy to use, fast setup||Very easy to use, longer setup|
|Basic POS features (barcode scanning, receipts, tipping, refunds)|
Basic Inventory Management
Customer Database w/ Email Marketing (add-on)
Add-ons for employee management, Ecommerce, Payroll, Loyalty rewards & more
|Basic POS features (barcode scanning, receipts, tipping, refunds)|
Advanced Inventory Management (including raw materials management)
Customer Database w/ Free Mailchimp integration for up to 2500 customers
Employee Management included
Add-ons for e-commerce, payroll and loyalty management
|Integration with Accounting Software|
|QuickBooks Online, Xero, Kashoo Accounting, Zoho Books, OneUp, Shogo, and TaxJar (see full list)||QuickBooks Online and AppCard (see full list)|
|World class knowledge base plus phone, email and live chat support.|
Mon-Fri, 6am-6pm EST
Sat-Sun, 6am-6pm EST
|Phone, email and live chat support.|
Mon-Fri, 8am-9pm EST
Sat-Sun, 8am-8pm EST
24/7 text support
When to use Square
We recommend Square to small businesses because it’s quick and easy to set up, includes great free POS tools and has no hidden fees: You simply pay a flat fee to process credit card transactions (2.75% per swipe).
Most retailers require point of sale (POS) software in addition to credit card processing in order to do things like scan barcodes, manage inventory and process refunds/coupons. One of the major perks to Square is that this software is provided for free, and it has the added benefit of e-commerce: You can create an online store and accept payments using your same Square account. With ShopKeep, POS software costs $69/month per register, and there’s no native e-commerce support.
Square is very easy to get up-and-running thanks to their integrated credit card processing service. Once you have your hardware, all you need to do is sign up online and you can immediately start swiping credit cards. While ShopKeep also has an integrated card processing service, you’ll need to negotiate rates before you can get started.
On the flipside, the ability to negotiate means you can get lower credit card processing fees from ShopKeep. Whereas Square charges a fixed 2.75%, ShopKeep generally ranges from 1.9% – 2.4%. This, along with the fact that ShopKeep has some more advanced POS features (like raw materials management) and phone support available can make it more suitable for larger retailers.
In general, however, Square is still going to be the simplest and most economical option for those processing less than $15,000/month in credit card sales.
When to use ShopKeep
If you are processing more than $15,000 per month in card sales we recommend ShopKeep. Because ShopKeep charges roughly 0.5% less than Square in credit card processing fees, the savings at this point begin to outweigh the $69/month cost of ShopKeep. In addition, you will now be at a scale where you can take advantage of the extra features ShopKeep provides, like raw materials management and employee management.
Unlike Square, ShopKeep includes email marketing and employee management in their base price. With employee management, you give each employee a login at the register. This allows you to track their hours/commission for payroll, and maintain a level of oversight on who’s working the register at any given time. Because Square offers this feature at a price of $5/employee/month, ShopKeep becomes more economical the larger your staff.
The main disadvantage of ShopKeep is the cost. Not only does ShopKeep cost $69/month, but every time you add a cash register you will have to pay an additional $69/month. Additionally, the ShopKeep setup process is a little more tedious, since you’ll need to negotiate rates with ShopKeep (or integrate a 3rd party merchant processor) to begin accepting credit cards.
In-Depth Review: Square Register vs ShopKeep
Now let’s take a look at the key features and other factors, like cost and ease-of-use, that you should take into consideration when comparing Square vs ShopKeep to decide which solution is best for your business.
There’s two components to pricing when comparing Square vs ShopKeep:
- Software costs
- Credit card processing costs
Credit Card Processing Costs
The other major component in pricing for Square and ShopKeep is credit card processing fees. Square charges a flat 2.75% of the transaction value, whereas ShopKeep varies depending on the type of card processed, and depending on the rates negotiated with their particular client. Generally, ShopKeep is around 1.9 – 2.4% of the transaction value, which is a bit cheaper than Square.
Total Cost: Square vs Shopkeep – Who is Better Priced?
Adding software and credit card processing fees together, we can begin to see when Square or ShopKeep becomes more economical. Below, we compare the total cost of Square vs ShopKeep at 3 different revenue points ($10K, $15K and $25K in credit card sales):
Note: Because ShopKeep does not have a standard card processing rate, we used an approximate rate of 2.2%. Your own rate from ShopKeep will vary depending on your revenue, industry, and average order value, among other factors.
|Software Fees||Total Cost: $10,000/monthin sales||Total Cost: $15,000/month in sales||Total Cost: $25,000/month in sales|
|$69/month per register||$289||$399||$619|
Below $15,000/month in credit card sales, Square is generally a better value thanks to the lack of monthly fees. Above $15,000, ShopKeep is likely cheaper because of their lower processing fees. However, it’s important to note the exact cut-off will vary depending on the rate you get from ShopKeep, and the number of cash registers in your store.
Ease of use
To assess how easy Square and ShopKeep are to use, we took a close look at how easy it is to process payments, manage inventory and use the other core features of each system. We found both were very easy to use, as both an administrator and an end-user.
Both systems give you the essential inventory management features, including the ability to upload products via spreadsheet (with their associated description, tax rates and barcode), track your inventory in real-time, and receive alerts when stock is running low.
ShopKeep, however, shines through with stronger bulk-editing tools and a unique raw goods management feature for complex inventories (like food service). Square, meanwhile, is ideal for stores that sell both online and offline thanks to their inventory sync feature.
As you start to hire employees, it’s useful to be able to set up each employee on your POS system to track their hours worked and monitor how they’re performing— both in terms of sales performance and so you can track any payment or stock discrepancies back to the employee responsible.
Customer Management and Marketing
Both Square and ShopKeep let you build a database of your customers, including their purchase history, shopping preferences, and preferred contact email. You can use this to send coupons and other marketing emails. Square offers email marketing as an add-on ($15/month) while ShopKeep integrates with Mailchimp.
Analytics and reporting
A big benefit of using POS software is the insight it can provide into how your business is performing— not only in terms of overall store or product revenue, but also customer buying patterns and what you can do to improve them. Both Square and ShopKeep offer advanced, customizable reporting:
Integrations with Accounting Software
When your cash and card transactions start go beyond $1,000 per month, it makes sense to integrate your POS system with your accounting software. This not only allows you to more-easily transfer data to your accounting system, but you can also benefit from better financial reporting, like real-time cash-flow forecasts. Both Square and ShopKeep integrate with a range of accounting programs.
Customer support and service
If your POS software is not working properly and you have no way of getting this resolved quickly, then your business will quickly grind to a halt. This is why customer service for POS systems is so important. While both Square and ShopKeep have a range of support options, only ShopKeep has a phone support line.
Square vs Shopkeep – The Bottom Line
If you are not a high risk business and you are processing less than $15,000 per month in card sales we recommend Square. This is because the higher cost of ShopKeep ($69/month) outweighs the benefits of a more competitive credit card processing rate — at least until you’re earning above this amount. In addition, until you reach this size, the free Square software has all the features you are likely to use (and more).
If you are processing more than $15,000 per month in card sales we recommend ShopKeep. At this point, the savings you’ll get from their lower credit card processing rate will likely outweigh the monthly cost. In addition, you can take advantage of extra features, like advanced inventory management, customer tracking and a mailchimp integration. However, keep in mind, ShopKeep does charge $69/month per register, so it can add up fast for larger stores.