Learn the differences between Shopify and Square to determine which one is best for your business.
- Shopify and Square offer competitive point-of-sale systems, complete with software, hardware and credit card processors.
- Shopify offers customers flexibility in choosing hardware, credit card processors and integrations. It is a great choice for businesses whose revenue comes from e-commerce sales.
- Square offers reasonably priced POS software, hardware and transaction fees. It can perform all the functions an entrepreneur or small business needs from a POS solution. Square is a great, affordable choice for businesses whose revenue comes from in-store sales.
A point-of-sale (POS) system is a combination of hardware and software used to complete sales transactions. But that's not all that POS systems do. They also store customer contact information, organize your sales data, and provide insightful metrics about how your business is doing.
There are hundreds of POS systems that are available. And though the best POS system for your business depends on your needs and budget, two competitive POS systems that are often compared with each other are Shopify and Square.
If you're stumped over whether you should go with Shopify or Square, we can help. We've examined both POS systems, including what each company offers, their costs (including their processing rates), features and their limitations. Here's what we found, which, hopefully, makes your decision easier.
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Shopify vs. Square POS Software: Pricing and plans
Shopify charges a flat monthly fee, plus card processing fees for each transaction. Here are the rates for each plan.
- Cost: $29 per month, plus 2.9% and 30 cents for each online credit card transaction. In-person credit card transactions are charged 2.7%. If you choose to use a payment provider other than Shopify Payments, you pay a 2% fee for each transaction
- What it includes: Unlimited devices, online store integration, two staff accounts, manual order creation, discount codes, SSL certificate, abandoned cart recovery and fraud prevention
- Best for: A brand new business
- Cost: $79 per month, plus 2.6% and 30 cents for each online credit card transaction. In-person credit card transactions are charged 2.5%. If you use a payment provider other than Shopify Payments, you pay a 1% fee
- What it includes: Everything in Basic Shopify, plus five staff accounts, gift cards and professional reports
- Best for: A small or growing business
- Cost: $299 per month, plus 2.4% and 30 cents for each online credit card transaction. Each in-person credit card transaction is charged 2.4%. If you choose to use a payment provider other than Shopify Payments, you pay a 0.5%
- What it includes: Everything in Shopify, plus 15 staff accounts, advanced report building and third-party calculated shipping rates
- Best for: A larger business needing advanced features
Shopify's fees, contracts and discounts
- Fees: Shopify does not charge setup or bandwidth fees.
- Additional plans: Shopify offers a basic plan for online transactions (Shopify Lite for $9 per month) and an enterprise-level plan for large businesses (Shopify Plus with customized pricing).
- Contracts: Shopify offers a 14-day free trial. Plans are offered on a month-to-month basis – you can cancel at any time, or upgrade or downgrade as needed.
- Discounts: Discounts are available (10% on annual plans and 20% on biennial plans) if you pay upfront.
Square does not charge a monthly fee for its basic POS software; there is, however, a monthly fee for the Square for Retail and Square for Restaurants plans.
Square's plans and pricing are as follows:
- Cost: $0 per month, plus 2.6% and 10 cents for each credit card transaction
- What it includes: Unlimited devices, inventory tracking, reporting and analytics, invoicing and fraud prevention
- Best for: Small and growing businesses
Square for Retail
- Cost: $60 per month (one POS per location), plus 2.5% and 10 cents per credit card transaction. Additional points of sale cost $20 per month
- What it includes: Online and in-store sales, scan and search capabilities, customer management, inventory tracking, employee management, third-party integration, and real-time reporting and analytics
- Best for: Businesses that need advanced retail features
Square for Restaurants
- Cost: $60 per month (one POS per location), plus 2.6% and 10 cents per credit card transaction. Additional points of sale cost $40 per month
- What it includes: Custom floor plans, menus by daypart, order entry and inventory tracking, employee management, multiple location management, discounts, real-time sales and shift reports, and third-party integrations
- Best for: Businesses needing advanced restaurant features
Square's fees and contracts
- Fees: Square does not charge setup, annual, monthly, PCI compliance or chargeback fees for its standard POS software plan. Customized rates are available for some businesses that have an average ticket size of more than $15 and process more than $250,000 in card sales.
- Contracts: Square offers a 30-day free trial. You're not required to sign a long-term contract, and you can cancel at any time without incurring early termination fees.
POS Hardware: Peripherals, custom kits and bundles
In addition to POS software, Shopify and Square sell hardware, which you can buy as individual components or as kits and bundles.
Shopify POS hardware
From Shopify, you can purchase card readers ($29-$49), iPad stands ($119-$169), barcode scanners ($229-$329), label printers ($119-$149), receipt printers ($289-$359), receipt paper and mPOP receipt printer rolls ($29-$89), cash drawers ($119-$399), shipping labels and printers ($25-$279), and shipping scales ($39-$79).
Retailers can purchase the Shopify Retail Kit for $180, which includes a tap and chip card reader, card reader dock, iPad stand, mounting kit and mini dock cable. The Shopify Retail Kit is only compatible with U.S.-based stores that operate with Shopify Payments card processing. The iPad stand is compatible with (but does not include) an iPad 6th generation, iPad 5th generation, iPad Pro (9.7 inches), iPad Air 2 and iPad Air. Shopify has a 30-day return policy on its hardware.
There is also the Shopify Custom Kit. You can choose from a wide selection of Shopify hardware, and prices start at $589 per kit. Each kit comes with one iPad stand (iPad not included), a cash drawer, receipt printer and card reader. (Multiple selections are available for each item.) The Shopify Custom Kit is only compatible with U.S.-based stores that operate with Shopify Payments card processing.
Shopify offers mPOP bundles that start at $439 and go up to $549 – these bundles are recommended for merchants who need a smaller or portable POS system.
Square POS hardware
Square, too, sells peripherals and kits. You can purchase countertop hardware like the Square Register ($799 each or $39/month for 24 months), the Square Stand ($199 each or $18/month for 12 months) and the Square Terminal ($299 each or $27/month for 12 months). A Square Reader for contactless and chip transactions costs $49, and the Square Reader for magstripe transactions is $10, though Square gives you the first reader free. Square has a 30-day return policy, too, on its hardware.
Square offers custom kits for businesses in the food and beverage, beauty and wellness, and retail industries. For brick-and-mortar stores, kits start at $555 and range in price up to $1,329; for mobile businesses, prices range from $526 to $625.
Square and Shopify are similar in their payment processing capabilities – each one acts as its own credit card processor. Square customers, though, can only use Square as their credit card processor. Shopify POS software users can use Shopify Payments or partner with an external merchant (additional fees apply).
Both companies accept all major credit cards and contactless payments, and both work offline in the event of an internet outage (though Shopify can only process cash and custom payments offline, not card payments).
With Shopify and Square, you get a plethora of really useful features – mobile apps, detailed reporting and analytical tools, and third-party integration capabilities. A lot of these features are very similar, with some slight differences.
Shopify and Square both offer mobile POS applications that run on iOS and Android devices. Both have user-friendly mobile dashboards, inventory management features, customer contact access and sync your data. Square includes the mobile app in its free version, whereas you pay a subscription for Shopify.
Reporting and analytics
Shopify's user-friendly dashboard lets you view orders and sales, traffic data, even which products are the most popular all in real time. Retail reports detail the location and time of each sale, the customer, and which employees made the sale. Shopify tends to offer more detailed reporting. With Advanced Shopify, you can customize reports to get even more specific data. Square has an intuitive dashboard, too; you can view sales, customer analytics and business trends in real time. Square's free plan includes basic sales and customer engagement data, while the Retail and Restaurant plans provide more advanced reporting.
Advanced features and integrations
Shopify integrates with a number of applications to streamline your operations – more than 1,200 to be precise. You can connect with marketing, inventory management, customer support apps, and track customer engagement and employee management. Square doesn't have quite as many integrations, though you'll find many for accounting, e-commerce, team management, marketing and customer management.
Pros and cons of Shopify
Shopify offers more flexibility and customization when it comes to which hardware and credit card processor you can use with its POS software. This is especially beneficial for business owners who need a highly customized system or want to work with another payment provider or gateway. If you are an online business or most of your revenue comes from e-commerce sales, Shopify is a great choice.
The downside to using Shopify is the price. Unlike Square, the entry-level plan, Basic Shopify, charges a monthly fee, and although it has slightly lower processing fees than Square, that's only if you use Shopify's in-house credit card processor.
Pros and cons of Square
Square's hardware costs less than Shopify's hardware, plus you can purchase it with a payment plan. Also, Square does not charge monthly fees for its standard POS software. If you run a business and most of your revenue comes from in-store sales, Square is an affordable and all-around great choice.
But Square does not offer as much flexibility with some features as Shopify does – case in point, with Square, you don't have the option of using another credit card processor, you must use Square.