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Updated May 21, 2024

Shopify vs. Square: Which Is Best for Your E-Commerce Business?

Square and Shopify provide popular POS systems. Learn how they work and which option is best for your e-commerce business.

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Jamie Johnson, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
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Whether you run a brick-and-mortar shop or an e-commerce business, you need a point-of-sale (POS) system. A POS system provides the hardware and software necessary to accept customer payments and track sales while helping you connect online and offline sales.

Shopify and Square are two of the best POS systems for businesses in various industries. We researched both extensively to compare their pricing, hardware, e-commerce functionality and customer support to help you decide which option is best for your e-commerce business.   

Editor’s note: Looking for the right POS system for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

Shopify vs. Square Highlights

Criteria

Shopify

Square

Best for 

Large retailers and e-commerce businesses with offline components

Small retailers and brick-and-mortar businesses that also sell online

Pricing

  • $39 to $399 monthly for full-featured plans
  • $5 monthly for Shopify Starter (for “casual” sellers)
  • Free for Square POS
  • Free to $79 monthly for Square Online (enhanced e-commerce features)

Free trial

Yes (three days)

You can use the free plan as a free trial.

Third-party integrations

Yes (over 8,000)

Yes (over 350) 

Customer service

  • 24/7 chat support
  • Online help center
  • 24/7 phone support for Square Online Premium plan only
  • Phone and chat support Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT
  • Online community

Mobile app

Yes (iOS and Android)

Yes (iOS and Android)

Who Is Shopify For?

Shopify is a solid option for e-commerce businesses of all sizes and businesses with both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores

If you’re an e-commerce business owner, you’re likely already familiar with the Shopify e-commerce platform – notable for helping business owners create an online store and customize its settings. Its drag-and-drop store builder makes setting up a professional website easy, with an insightful dashboard delivering detailed analytics about your business.

But even if you don’t have or want a Shopify store, the platform’s POS hardware and software can help you accept payments online and in person using Shopify Payments for payment processing. Our Shopify review explains the platform’s seamless checkout options and other features. 

Shopify App Store

The Shopify App Store provides over 8,000 apps that help with product design, SEO strategy, checkout and social selling. Source: Shopify

Who Is Square For?

Square is an excellent POS system for small businesses, restaurants and other retail stores. Square also supports online sales via Square Online, making it easy to add online ordering functionality to your website. This service automatically syncs orders and inventory with your POS system.

Square makes payment acceptance seamless and provides extensive customization options, allowing businesses to support numerous payment options, loyalty programs, gift cards, invoicing, online sales and more. Its POS hardware is sleek and attractive, making it ideal for mobile payment acceptance via chip cards and contactless payments like NFC mobile payments

We were impressed that Square’s POS software is free, which is incredibly helpful for startups and other businesses that would benefit from a free POS system. Our Square review details its POS software features and hardware options.

FYIDid you know
Square's POS mobile app connects to its hardware, making accepting credit card payments with your phone seamless while on the go.

Shopify vs. Square Service Comparisons

Here’s a closer look at each vendor’s pricing, hardware, customer support and e-commerce features, and how they compare.

Plans and Pricing

Shopify

We like Shopify’s transparent pricing and terms, which make it easier for businesses to evaluate the platform’s POS functionality. 

Here’s an overview of its plans and pricing, including Shopify Payments processing fees. Every tier comes with a POS Lite software subscription with in-person selling features. You’ll pay an additional $60 monthly if you upgrade to a Shopify POS Pro subscription, which includes more robust in-person features like customer loyalty insights. 

Service plan

Monthly fee

Rate

Features

Basic 

$39

  • Online transactions: 2.9 percent + $0.30
  • In-person transactions: 2.6 percent + $0.10
  • Online store
  • Unlimited products
  • Multiple sales channels
  • Standard analytics
  • Shopify Lite POS software with in-person selling features
  • Gift card support
  • QR code product details

Shopify

$105

  • Online transactions: 2.7 percent + $0.30
  • In-person transactions: 2.5 percent + $0.10

All Basic features, plus:

  • Additional staff accounts
  • Shipping discounts
  • Additional shipping features
  • Lower processing rates

Advanced

$399

  • Online transactions: 2.5 percent + $0.30
  • In-person transactions: 2.4 percent + $0.10

All Shopify features, plus: 

  • 15 staff accounts
  • 8 inventory locations
  • Advanced reporting tools
  • Third-party calculated shipping rates

Outside of its primary offerings, as noted above, Shopify has several more niche offerings, including the following: 

  • Starter: $5 monthly. This plan is aimed at casual sellers who want to start taking secure in-person payments. 
  • Retail: $89 monthly. This plan is for primarily in-store retailers, although a limited online store is included.   

Square

Square Point of Sale is a free-to-use app, with no monthly fees or startup costs. You can download the app and you won’t be charged anything until you accept a customer payment. (Hardware costs will be discussed in the next section.) Features include the following: 

  • Multiple payment types accepted, including digital payments
  • Gift cards supported
  • Customized menus for restaurants
  • Customer management tools
  • Customized receipts
  • Online ordering
  • Social media integrations
  • POS reports
  • Customer insights

You’ll pay payment process rates as follows: 

  • Card-present transactions: 2.6 percent plus $0.10
  • Card-not-present transactions: 2.9 percent plus $0.30
  • Manually keyed in: 3.5 percent plus $0.15

However, if you’re an e-commerce business, you may opt for Square Online and its more robust options for selling, taking orders and scheduling services online. Prices range from free to $79 monthly and include website-building tools, social selling features and personalized online ordering. Our Square review details more about this option and its processing costs.

Square POS app

The Square POS app for iOS (also available for Android) lets you accept contactless payments via your smartphone and the Square Reader. Source: Apple App Store

Winner

Square wins when it comes to pricing, and it’s the best option for new and growing businesses. You can download the app and get started for free, and you won’t pay anything unless you make a sale. Additionally, Square Online is an excellent option for more robust online sales. 

Did You Know?Did you know
The cost of a new POS system has several components, including software, hardware and transaction fees. Be sure to take all of those into consideration when comparing POS systems.

Hardware

Square

Square’s magstripe reader is free and can be used to accept credit card payments on a phone or tablet. 

Additional Square hardware offerings include the following: 

  • Terminal: Square’s all-in-one payment terminal costs $299.
  • Contactless and chip reader: This Square reader accepts chip cards and contactless payments and costs $49.
  • Register: The POS register comes with two user-friendly displays, software options and built-in payments. It costs $799.
  • Stand: With the Square stand, you can use your iPad as a POS system. The stand is $149.  

Square register

The Square Register is an all-in-one POS system with two user-friendly displays, intuitive software and built-in payments. Source: Square

Shopify

In addition to its free tap-to-pay iPhone functionality, Shopify offers the following POS hardware:

  • Tap & Chip card reader: This $49 device connects wirelessly to mobile devices to accept chip and contactless payments. 
  • POS Go: This compact all-in-one $299 device acts as a POS terminal.
  • Countertop Kit: For $459, you get a POS terminal with a tablet stand, power adapter and POS Go dock. 

Shopify POS Go

The Shopify POS Go enables efficient, user-friendly in-store transactions and facilitates effortless payment processing. Source: Shopify

Winner

The two companies are fairly evenly matched when it comes to hardware. Both Square and Shopify provide high-quality, affordable hardware. However, Square provides a free magstripe, which is ideal for startups. 

Customer Support

Shopify

Shopify provides 24/7 chat support on all service plans and offers online resources, including video tutorials and webinars, to help you get started. You can request a callback via the Help Center, but there’s no direct line for phone support. You also have access to the Shopify Community, where you can get your questions answered by other Shopify users. 

Square

Square provides 24/7 chat support and phone support Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT. If you’re a Square Online customer on the Premium plan, you get 24/7 phone support. Square also offers video tutorials and a seller community, where you can talk to other business owners.

Winner

Both companies provide excellent customer service. However, Shopify does not offer phone support; you can at least reach someone by phone during regular business hours with Square, so we’re giving Square the win here. 

E-commerce

Shopify

Shopify is an excellent option for e-commerce businesses that want to use its e-commerce features in addition to its POS functionality. The company provides:

  • Excellent shopping cart software
  • Easy setup for custom websites
  • A custom domain
  • Website hosting
  • Order management
  • Third-party integrations

Square

Square is also a multifaceted solution with payment processing, e-commerce and POS functionality. E-commerce businesses will appreciate the following features:

  • Web hosting 
  • Numerous e-commerce integrations
  • Inventory and order tracking
  • Inventory and order management
  • Reporting dashboard with insights into your business

Winner

Shopify wins this category. It offers a broader spectrum of e-commerce features than you’ll get with Square. 

FYIDid you know
One of the unique things about Square is its industry-specific cloud-based POS software. Square has three industry-specific offerings: Square for Retail, Square for Restaurants and Square Appointments. While Shopify doesn't offer industry-specific apps, it does offer some industry-specific features in its POS app.

Shopify vs. Square Summary

  • Shopify is ideal for e-commerce businesses and anyone who wants to set up an online store. The drag-and-drop web builder makes it easy for beginners, and the service works well for businesses of all sizes.
  • Shopify is a good choice for businesses that want to try social selling along with in-store and online sales.
  • Shopify will appeal to businesses that want an all-in-one solution to handle e-commerce functions, in-store sales, payment processing and POS functionality.
  • Square is an excellent option for brick-and-mortar retailers that want a straightforward way to accept payments.
  • Square can be a good fit for startups with a limited budget that want free POS software and businesses that rely on mobile payments.
  • Square suits the needs of businesses that want industry-specific software for retailers, restaurants and appointment-based operations.

FAQ

Shopify and Square both offer POS systems for online and brick-and-mortar businesses. Square's POS software is free, while Shopify charges a monthly fee. Shopify is the better option for e-commerce businesses, while Square is better for brick-and-mortar businesses.
Hardware and software costs vary, so it's hard to say which option is cheaper. Some of Square's hardware is more expensive than what Shopify offers, but Square doesn't charge a monthly fee. Also, when you sign up with Square, you'll receive a free magstripe reader.
If you sign up for Shopify's Basic plan, you'll pay 2.9 percent plus $0.30 per transaction and 2.6 percent + $0.10 for in-person transactions. The transaction fee gets cheaper if you upgrade your plan, but you'll pay more in monthly fees. With Square, you'll pay a transaction fee of 2.6 percent plus $0.10 per transaction for card-present transitions and 2.9 percent plus $0.30 for card-not-present transactions. Custom pricing is available for businesses that process over $250,000 in credit card transactions.
If you're not sold on Shopify or Square, many excellent POS systems are available. If you're looking for a restaurant-focused POS system, consider TouchBistro. Read our TouchBistro review for specifics on pricing and features. Additionally, Clover is a top-notch all-in-one POS system with durable hardware and a robust mobile app. Our Clover review takes a deep dive into its features and options.
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Jamie Johnson, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
Jamie Johnson has spent more than five years providing invaluable financial guidance to business owners, leading them through the financial intricacies of entrepreneurship. From offering investment lessons to recommending funding options, business loans and insurance, Johnson distills complex financial matters into easily understandable and actionable advice, empowering entrepreneurs to make informed decisions for their companies. As a business owner herself, she continually tests and refines her business strategies and services. Johnson's expertise is evident in her contributions to various finance publications, including Rocket Mortgage, InvestorPlace, Insurify and Credit Karma. Moreover, she has showcased her command of other B2B topics, ranging from sales and payroll to marketing and social media, with insights featured in esteemed outlets such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, CNN, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report and Business Insider.
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Looking for more options?

Check out The Best POS Systems of 2024 business.com recommends.

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Looking for more options?

Check out The Best POS Systems for Coffee Shops business.com recommends.

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