- author: Amrita Biswas
Square is a financial payments company founded by Jack Dorsey (Twitter founder) and Jim McKelvey on February 1, 2009. After multiple rounds of funding, they went public in 2015 and currently serve millions of merchants across the globe. The product is a suite of tools that allow businesses to collect payments, manage employees, and create loyalty programs. It is ideal for retail locations and restaurants due to their custom built solutions.
Plans & Pricing
Square offers a lot of services to small businesses and because of that, their pricing is broken down across many packages and add-ons. You can pick and choose services to meet your needs. The core product is free to use and try. All you need to do is sign up, verify with the last four digits of your SSN, and wait for your free card reader to arrive in the mail.
The payment processing fees are contingent upon what kind of Square hardware or add-ons you are using. All payment processing is based on a flat rate per transaction instead of a monthly or annual billing schedule.
|Package||Price (per transaction)|
|Square POS hardware||2.75%|
|Square Terminal||2.6% +$0.10|
|Square Retail hardware||2.5% + $0.10|
|Square Restaurants hardware||2.6% + $0.10|
|Keyed-in Card payments||3.5% + $0.15|
|Square Register||2.5% +$0.10|
|Same day deposit||1% fee|
This is ideal for low volume merchants because there are no upfront costs. You only pay if you make money. For higher volume merchants, the costs can stack up quickly. To counteract this, Square gives volume discounts for merchants that process more than $250,000 annually.
To use Square successfully, there are different pieces of hardware which work together with the web and mobile applications. The most popular is the white magnetic stripe reader that plugs into the phone jack and connects to the Square app. Apart from that Square has multiple hardware options.
|Chip Card Reader||$35|
|Contactless and Chip Reader||$49|
|Square Terminal||$399 or $37/m for 12 months|
|Square Contactless and Chip Stand||$199|
All of the hardware options are backed by a thirty day no questions asked refund policy.
The per transaction pricing is ideal for lower volume businesses but can get expensive when you have higher volume but do not meet the $250,000 minimum to qualify for discounts.
For example, $16,600/month in sales and an average transaction amount of $30 equals nearly $500 in fees. People stick around because of their rich suite of features and seamless integration across all aspects of the business from marketing to employee management.
Features and Functionality
Square has one of the biggest feature sets among POS solutions. It has the core POS functions you expect like taking payments and printing receipts. In addition, they have many mission-critical add-ons such as payroll and employee management.
Tailored solutions for different business types
If you are ready to dive in properly, you can choose between multiple solutions based on your business. They have restaurant, retail, and appointment/invoicing solutions that were built from the ground up for those specific business types. Each solution gives you deep business insights and allows you to work in a way that flows with your business rather than against it.
Not all reports and tools are relevant to every business. With Square, you can drag and drop widgets onto your main dashboard to get a snapshot of the most important information right when you log in. They also have a complimentary mobile app dashboard.
Square comes built in with inventory management software. They are not as robust as specialized tools but you can create barcodes, item categories, inventory count, and set tax rates.
Square has a number of software products and services you can purchase for a small fee as an add-on. These range from employee and floor management to marketing tools and an Ecommerce storefront. Some of these include:
Choose between premade cards or create your own custom cards.
Define roles, track point of sale data on a per employee basis, set up electronic time cards, and view employee performance/analytics.
Sync employee management tools, access benefits, manage 401K, track time, and add contractors.
Sync customer contact records, send out newsletters, set up email automation workflows, create coupons and track redemptions, and share on Facebook.
Create traditional punch card or tiered loyalty programs, access performance analytics, and send SMS messages to your members when they earn points.
This is a tailored restaurant solution that syncs the back of house and front of house. You can manage tables, menus, get staff analytics, and sales reports from a single dashboard.
This solution brings together inventory management, customer relationship management, and specialized retail analytics to help run your business.
The only hardware requirement is the initial free square reader that is compatible with an iPad, iPhone, and many android devices. Additional ones can be bought directly from Square or you can adapt your own devices.
You can also opt to get registers, terminals, stands, and other hardware as mentioned in the pricing section. The most expensive hardware comes with the ability to finance the purchase over the course of 12 – 24 months.
Integrations & Add-ons
Square has add-ons like its email marketing suite, loyalty programs, and retail/restaurant platforms which we have already touched on. These are not necessary to utilize Square but increase its usefulness.
Apart from the add-ons produced by Square itself, they have an app marketplace to connect over a hundred apps to your Square account. These apps include everything from accounting tools like Quickbooks Online and Xero to marketing tools like ActiveCampaign and IFTTT.
Ease of Use
After the simple registration process, you can start using Square immediately. It is made for small business owners, not programmers. The interface was built with that in mind.
If this is your first time using the application or any application like it, the clear navigation labels make it possible to click around and figure out the basic features. For the more advanced functionality, they have many resources available which walk you through everything step-by-step.
The retail and restaurant dashboards are a bit unique because they are built from the ground up for those business types. There may be a bit of a learning curve.
Pros & Cons
- Wide range of features that can handle all major aspects of running your business
- Predictable pricing based on volume of transactions
- Free to get started
- Financing options for more expensive hardware
- Easy to set up and customize to your needs
- Does not work with high risk industries such as firearms
- Limited phone support that does not extend to weekends
- Price can get high when you start using all of their add-ons
Square is a simple application so you will not need help getting up and running. They offer phone and email support to all of their customers between 6AM and 6PM PCT during the weekdays. They also have a detailed help center, FAQ, and support community available on demand.
Phone SupportPhone support is available from 6AM to 6PM PCT on weekdays.
Video TutorialsVideo tutorials are available on the official Square support portal and YouTube.
FAQSquare has a FAQ section and comprehensive knowledge base.
Community ForumThere is a community where you can hear from other merchants at sellercommunity.com.
BlogThe Square blog, called Town Square, is used to distribute news and publish business articles.
Overall, Square is a solid POS system for small businesses. They have over 2 million customers around the world and are still growing. There are a few negative reviews around the web but when you take a closer look, you will notice they are from the same people cross posting to different websites. When compared to the entire customer base, the amount of negativity is tiny.
Square shines with its comprehensive feature set and add-ons that allow you to manage almost every aspect of your business from the platform. The predictable pricing and lack of monthly fees makes it appealing to lower volume merchants. A comprehensive support section, customizable dashboard, and ease of use turn it into a great choice to handle your POS needs.