Square Review
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Square Review

Square is a budget-friendly and feature-rich POS system, but does it have everything your business needs? The Blueprint provides an in-depth review of Square, so you can decide if it's the right POS for your business.

Quick Hits

What We Like

  • Straightforward flat-rate pricing
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Feature-rich for a wide range of business types

Could Be Better

  • Limited customer support hours and options
  • Lacks features for bigger businesses
  • Pricing not ideal for high-volume/small ticket merchants

The Blueprint Score

Determined and ranked by our resident expert based on firsthand knowledge and unbiased research.

Ease of Use 8/10
Support 5/10
Pricing 9/10
Features 8/10
7.6 out of 10
Updated May 15, 2020

At its core, Square is a free mobile point-of-sale app designed to process card payments. In reality, Square offers a huge deal more to small and medium sized businesses looking for a payment processing solution.

Square’s popularity is in part due to its refusal to charge monthly fees, instead opting to charge a simple processing fee per transaction. This, coupled with a wide range of rich features, and the fact that it operates as a payment service provider, meaning that small business owners don’t need to open a separate merchant account, contributes to Square’s positive reputation as one of the best-value POS systems in the retail world.

The Square point-of-sale app includes features such as real-time analytics, sales reporting, inventory management, customer relationship tracking, and much more.

Overview

Who is Square for?

Square is a great option for businesses that are just starting out. The app is free, and doesn’t require any investment in hardware. In fact, they provide the first card reader for free. The solution is easily able to help businesses scale up as and when it becomes necessary.

The solution is recommended for businesses who are looking for an inexpensive way to sell anywhere and accept all types of payments. It’s a great option for sellers looking to manage everything through one centralized point-of-sale system.

Square’s point-of-sale solution supports many types of businesses, from restaurants to coffee shops, and boutiques to farmer’s market vendors. It’s also a great solution for sellers who don’t own a physical storefront — think market stalls and craft fairs — due to its mobile processing functionality.

However, it's worth noting Square does offer its own Square for Retail and Square for Restaurants solutions which offer more specialized and robust features, depending on individual business needs.

Features

Square’s features

Square is a feature-rich solution with a handful of free and powerful features and reporting options, including some features that aren’t typically offered with free POS systems, such as accepting payments in offline mode.

However, larger businesses or those with large amounts of inventory might find that Square’s most basic package doesn’t deliver everything that they need.

Square’s customizable dashboard

Square’s dashboard is undoubtedly the POS system’s best feature. The dashboard acts as the central hub where users can control everything related to their sales, customers, and teams. It’s also fully personalizable, allowing users to see exactly the data they need by easily adding and removing specific widgets via drag and drop.

This is a great feature that allows all types of businesses to customize the solution to their specific needs.

Screenshot of Square Pos' dashboard for business insights.

Square’s dashboard provides valuable business insights and can be personalized to suit each user. Source: Square Pos

You can use and access the dashboard on any device, and you can track your inventory, real-time analytics, giftcards, marketing efforts, and everything else you need to run a smooth business.

Sales analytics

You don’t need to know how to be the best salesman to close a sale, but you do need to know how well your sales and marketing strategies are working, or whether your sales process is up to scratch.

Square’s sales analytics feature helps you figure out the what, the where, the when, and the how: who’s buying your products, what products customers are buying, and when and where they’re buying them. This kind of granular detail can help you adjust your sales tactics and gain real-time insight into how business is going.

Screenshot of Square’s reports section for sales analytics.

Square’s sales analytics provides real-time analytics to help businesses gain insight into their customers and sales trends. Source: Square Pos

In short, Square can help you figure out what sales management strategies to pursue, whether your pricing strategy is up to scratch, and those areas where you might need to fine-tune your sales techniques.

Inventory management

As one of the most important parts of running a business, you’ll need a POS system that can accurately manage your inventory.

Square’s basic inventory management features allow you to import existing stock using a CSV spreadsheet, adjust stock levels, and provide reasons, sync your online and in-store inventory, set up low stock alerts, and a whole lot more for a free app.

A screenshot of Square Pos' inventory management features.

Square’s inventory management feature helps you track changes and accurately identify the stock you need. Source: Square Pos

However, if you’re running a larger business with a much larger inventory, you’ll need to consider upgrading. The basic inventory management feature doesn’t offer a search bar, so you’d need to scroll through hundreds of products to find the one you’re looking for.

Offline mode

This feature offers a huge advantage to businesses that don’t operate out of brick-and-mortar stores 100% of the time. Whether you’re at a farmers market or a craft fair, Square’s offline mode allows secure swiped card payments when you’re not connected to the internet.

Transactions are simply processed automatically once you’re reconnected. Even better, there’s no extra charge for this feature.

A screenshot of Square POS' offline mode for accepting credit cards swiped payments without internet.

Square’s offline mode feature allows users to accept swiped card payments without connection to the internet. Source: Square Pos

Keep in mind that offline mode only works with magstripe cards that are swiped, and businesses are responsible for the costs of the transaction if the payment doesn’t register upon reconnection to the internet.

Customer loyalty

While customer loyalty isn’t a feature in the basic package, it does warrant exploring here. While customer acquisition is important, many studies have shown that customer retention is even more important.

Square claims that businesses whose customers have enrolled in their loyalty plans spend 37% more than they did before joining.

A screenshot of Square's customer loyalty feature for creating loyalty plans.

Square’s customer loyalty feature allows you to pick between three different loyalty schemes to earn points: by visit, by amount spent, or by item. Source: Square Pos

Square’s loyalty plans start out at $45 per month, and large customer lists can be imported via a CSV file, and visit levels/spending can be easily adjusted for customer rewards.

The feature also allows you to drill down into what certain customers are buying so that you can target them more directly with offers, and customers can sign up to receive text messages when they’ve reached their loyalty points rewards, drawing them back to your store.

Ease of Use

Square’s ease of use

Square’s dashboard is the pinnacle of the app’s simplicity. Everything you need to manage your payments are held and displayed in one sleek, centralized system. Even if you don’t have prior experience with a POS system, you’ll soon learn to navigate Square’s platform with ease.

The dashboard is uncrowded, offers a very user friendly interface, and is fully customizable. Users can switch features around according to their preferences and remove features they don’t need to avoid clutter.

Pricing

Square’s pricing

Square’s pricing model is simple. The app is free, there are no monthly fees, and no monthly minimum processing required.

Each card transaction will cost you a flat rate of 2.6% + $0.10, keyed transactions are charged at 3.5% + $0.15, and online transactions will cost you 2.9% + $0.30. They even throw in your first card reader for free.

The free app includes robust features like inventory management and sales reporting, while also making sure you’re covered with payment dispute assistance, chargeback protection, and PCI-compliant software.

However, businesses that typically run with lower ticket values and a higher transaction volume can expect to be more impacted by the 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction charge.

Support

Square’s support

Square offers multiple customer support options, from an online knowledgebase that houses a vast selection of troubleshooting articles, a community forum, email, and of course phone support. However, it does not offer a live chat option, unlike many of its competitors.

Square’s live customer service is only offered from 6a.m. to 6p.m. Pacific Time, from Monday to Friday, which puts businesses at a significant disadvantage if they run into problems at the weekend or after 6p.m.

This is especially true if the issue has the potential to halt sales, and it can’t be resolved via Square’s other support options.

Screenshot of Square Pos' support area for troubleshooting, questions and live chat.

You can search through Square POS’s troubleshooting page for solutions. Source: Square Pos

Without live chat or 24/7 phone support, Square’s customer support is lacking in comparison to most of its competitors.

Benefits

Benefits of Square

Square’s free POS system is an advanced solution without any monthly fees. It’s an incredibly intuitive system to use, and is a fantastic option for those who have little to no prior experience with payment processing.

Square is a great choice for small businesses looking for a feature-rich POS system on a budget

There’s really not a whole lot to complain about when it comes to Square’s POS solution. It’s an all rounder in terms of its features robustness and great value, and its incredibly user-friendly design.

Add in its affordable hardware options, and the fact that they don’t charge monthly fees or tie you into a contract, Square is a great choice for small to mid-size businesses who are looking for an inexpensive yet reliable POS system.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions for Square

Is Square free?

Yes, the Square point-of-sale app is completely free, with no monthly fees. You’ll only pay for payment processing whenever you make a sale. Square charges 2.6% + $0.10 per swiped, dipped, or tapped credit card payment.

What other apps integrate with Square?

Square integrates with a huge number of other apps. From accounting software like QuickBooks and Xero, to e-commerce software like Magento and e-commerce plugins like WooCommerce, Square’s extensive App Marketplace offers a wide range of business apps that sync with your Square account.

Do I need to enter into a contract with Square?

No. There is no need to enter into a locked-in contract to use Square, and they charge no early termination fees for leaving.

How Square Compares

Product Free trial Proprietary Hardware Activity Dashboard Mobile App
Square Yes Yes
Clover POS Yes Yes Yes
Lightspeed POS Yes Yes
Shopify Point of Sale Yes Yes Yes

If you’re looking for a feature-rich, budget-friendly, and versatile POS solution, try out Square POS for free.

If you’re looking for a feature-rich, budget-friendly, and versatile POS solution, try out Square POS for free.

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