Square and Vend offer user-friendly point-of-sale (POS) software for retailers. Both can process sales, manage customers, and view reports. However, Vend offers stronger and more detailed features for established stores with large inventories and works with multiple payment processors. Square is a free POS with simpler features that are best for smaller sellers and charges its own processing fees.
Vend: Best for managing large databases of product and customer information. Vend is a good fit for fashion boutiques, gift shops, sports retailers, health and beauty stores, and other retailers with complex inventories.
Square: Best for smaller businesses with more straightforward inventories or craftspeople who do fewer sales. We also recommend it for startups, mobile vendors, coffee shops, food trucks, and solo service providers that need an easy and reliable way to accept payments, manage customers, and view basic reports.
Both Vend and Square are two of our top picks for:
- Best POS systems for inventory management
- Best retail POS systems
- Best cloud POS systems
- Best POS systems for small businesses
Vend vs Square At-a-Glance
Businesses with a large inventory and customer base
New or small businesses, brick and mortar shops, businesses on a budget
POS basic software monthly fee
$119–$159, monthly billing, custom plans available
$0–$60, monthly billing, custom plans available
Ecommerce software monthly fee
Third-party app needed
$0–$72, annual billing
Payment processing fees
2.6% + 10 cents to 3.5% + 15 cents per transaction
Available sales channels
Integrates with Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, and BigCommerce
Square Online store, payment links, add checkout to an existing site, Facebook, Instagram, mobile POS, in-store, local delivery
Basic included; advanced available
Basic to Advanced
Ease of use
24/7 email or live chat, online support center, courses, and ask-an-expert
Monday–Friday phone support, 24/7 automated chat support, seller community, and resource library
Most Affordable: Square
Square is by far the most affordable, with an entirely free online store and point-of-sale (POS) system. Anyone can sign up for a free Square account and start selling through an online store, smartphone, or iPad in minutes. It has premium plans with more features that start at $60 per month, and add-ons like payroll, which can increase the price. Learn more in our full breakdown of Square’s pricing and fees.
Vend’s basic plan, Lite, is $119 per month for one location and one register, while its Pro plan costs $159 monthly per location, per register. Prices increase as you add registers and locations. There’s also a custom enterprise pricing option. Learn more about individual plans and features in our review of Vend.
Vend vs Square Pricing
Monthly POS subscription
$0–$299, with add-on programs
Monthly Ecommerce subscription
Card reader pricing
Varies depending on processor
Terminal and register pricing
Card-present transaction fees
Varies depending on processor
2.5% + 10 cents–2.6% + 10 cents
Ecommerce transaction fees
Varies depending on processor
2.9% + 30 cents
Vend vs Square: Payment Processing
While Square’s free plan makes it attractive for the budget-conscious entrepreneur, if you do steady sales, you should consider the costs for payment processing when doing a price comparison. Square requires you to use it as the payment processor, and it charges simple rates with no extras and no surprises. This makes the provider very attractive to the new business person or the casual solopreneur. It also offers discounted rates for high-volume sales.
However, you can find better rates if you shop around for a payment processor. Depending on your sales volume and the kind of sales you do, you may find a better deal. It might even make up for the cost of the Vend system. Check out our article on the best merchant services for small businesses to see whether Square or an alternative payment processor would be best for you.
Best for Retail Sales: Tie
Established on-location businesses, businesses with large or complex inventories
Startups, small shops, solopreneurs, hobbyists, mobile sales
Menu with photo and quick keys, customer search, sales notes, discounts, custom receipts, refunds and store credit, split tender, layaway
Menu with photos; digital receipts, offline mode, split tender, discounts
Customer Relationship Management
Personalized marketing, loyalty program
Personalized marketing, loyalty program, card-on-file
Through third-party apps only
Free. Syncs with POS, can upgrade to paid plans, sell through Facebook and Instagram
Role-based access and permissioning, track sales per employee
Timecard reporting, permissioning
Stock transfer, central customer database and loyalty program, trend assessment across stores
Cross-location returns and exchanges
20 sales and inventory reports, custom reporting
19 sales and transaction reports, inventory reports custom reporting
In our evaluation of the best retail POS systems, Square’s retail POS, Square for Retail, scored the highest (4.58 out of 5). However, price was a big deciding factor in its high score. Vend, on the other hand, is one of the pricier retail POS systems on the market, so it lost lots of points for its steep price tag, earning a 3.84 out of 5 in total.
However, Vend outscores Square when it comes to register and checkout features and ease of use. It has better order and return management, inventory tracking, and customization options.
Square for Retail Is Best for New and Small Shops
Square earns high marks from our on-staff reviewers and real-world users because it’s so easy to use, handles in-store and on mobile payment processing, and works great for solopreneurs or hobbyists with just a few items and brick-and-mortar stores. Its low price point, streamlined interface, business management add-ons like payroll, and integrated online ordering make it the best option for any new shop or store with simple inventory needs.
Read our full Square for Retail review to learn more about Square’s retail features.
Vend Is Best for Established Businesses
Vend’s pricing makes it a better choice for established businesses and can be well worth the investment. The system is highly rated for ease of use, and the resource library is fantastic. You’ll find videos, training guides, even classes through Vend University. Vend has an intuitive, streamlined register with programmable quick keys (something Square lacks). You can set up and manage multiple registers with ease, connecting everything from stock levels to customer purchase records. It lacks online sales features; you’ll need a separate solution for that.
Vend beats Square in its customer loyalty programs, which cost extra with Square. In addition to the customer base and tracking, you can issue store credit instead of refunds, offer discounts, handle layaway, set up gift cards, and link to your email marketing tool for campaigns.
Unlike Square, it does not have add-on functions. You can integrate third-party apps, however, and if Vend does not already have an API, it offers you the ability to create one yourself.
Best for Inventory Management: Vend
Inventory POS score
4.4 out of 5
4.28 out of 5
With Pro plans (paid plans)
Partial and full
On register, on the backend, via Vend Scanner app on mobile
On register, on the backend, manually via mobile app.
Vend is the better choice if you need a POS system that works great with large or complex inventory. In our evaluation of the best POS systems for inventory management, Vend earned a higher score (4.4 out of 5) than Square (4.28 out of 5). While Square has a lower price point, Vend has more sophisticated features and can better handle variants, bundles, and multiple locations.
Vend Is Better Than Square for Inventory Management
Inventory is one of Vend’s core strengths. You can add products via Vend’s interface or bulk upload products. Set up modifiers for size and color and track stock levels including low stock alerts. It’s easy to create bundles such as gift baskets or sets. Use reporting to monitor sales and forecast trends. Manage inventory across multiple locations and do partial or full inventory counts when needed.
It has vendor management in the purchase order function. Naturally, it includes barcode scanning and stock adjustments. One of Vend’s standout features is the Vend Scanner mobile app that allows employees to take quick stock counts, receive orders, and look up items on their phones.
Square Is a Good Budget Solution for Managing Few SKUs
When it comes to inventory management, Square is best only if you are on a strict budget or have only a few SKUs to manage.
Square does not offer as many customization features for classifying stock. The free plan lets you create a product catalog with images, some modifiers, item count, and low stock alerts. The Pro plans include bulk transfer across locations, barcode printing, vendor management, and bulk inventory intake. It also allows barcode scanning and stock adjustments.
Read our full Square POS review for more details on inventory management and other features.
Best Hardware: Square
$440–$769 (w/ tablet)
Third-party hardware compatible
Star Micronics MPOP All-in-One in different configurations, accessory options
One terminal, but multiple accessory options
Card reader prices
iOS and Android devices
iOS, Android, and Square devices
Card-present transaction fee
Requires payment processor
2.6% + 10 cents
Keyed-in transaction fee
Requires payment processor
3.5% + 15 cents
Square and Vend both offer high-quality hardware but are also compatible with other systems. You can purchase your own tablet or use one you already own, for example. Both can work with other cash drawers, barcode scanners, and other accessories.
Square beats out Vend, however, because it offers two things Vend does not: a card scanner you can use with your phone for mobile sales and dedicated registers. This makes the system more versatile and gives you options if you prefer not to use a commercial tablet for your POS register.
Square Mobile Card Readers
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.
Commercial Tablet with Stand Kit
$799 (or $39/month)
Fully integrated POS system with a detachable customer display. Accepts chip cards and contactless payments.
Square can be run on iPads or Android tablets using the online application. Stands work with 10.2” and 10.5” tablets.
Star Micronics MPop
Vend Pro Hardware Kit
Vend Starter Kit
$600 (or $30.32/month)
$1,066.49 (or $48.93/ month)
$673 (or $32.45/month)
Choice of configurations: mPOP and stand, mPOP and scanner. Accept chip, swipe, or tap payments. Tablet sold separately.
Full POS with iPad, barcode scanner, receipt printer, and cash drawer.
Barcode scanner, receipt printer, and cash drawer.
Unless you are budget conscious, you will probably be satisfied with either Square or Vend. Vend, however, is the more powerful system and is good for busy businesses with multiple locations and high-volume retailers and businesses that prefer to use a separate payment processor. Square is better for smaller businesses that want an affordable system that will grow with them.