Square is a name commonly associated with credit card payments online, but recently, they began to tap into the ecommerce site building space. They did so, principally with the new Square Online ecommerce builder. Square Online is built using the best ecommerce aspects of Weebly with the needs of ecommerce business owners firmly in mind. While Square Online’s branding is still in development, there’s a lot to know (and appreciate) with this ecommerce solution. This guide will paint a clear picture of how this ecommerce site builder will work for you.
Square Online’s onboarding, design abilities, and features are sleek and refined, as you would expect if you use their point of sale software or hardware. While this solution is sure to be a great fit for many business owners, there are a few areas of improvement you should be aware of, especially in comparison to more established site builders on the market, including Weebly.
This guide will break down what you should know, beginning with some clear pros and cons which will be expanded upon in sections further into the review.
Pros and Cons:
Before diving in-depth into design, ecommerce, and marketing specifics, read an overview of the core pros and cons of Square Online.
|* Reasonable paid plans|
* Free plan for beginners
* Excellent marketing features
* Instagram shopping integration
* Checkout links
* Email marketing capabilities
* Intuitive store management
(Ideal for smaller inventories)
|* Limited design customization|
* No app marketplace for third-party features
* Digital products must be manually delivered
* Blogging will be difficult through the platform
* SEO features are limited
* Cannot change website theme/template
Continue on for an in-depth look at the Square Online ecommerce builder in each area which matters.
Design: A simple editor with beautiful store layouts
Square offers a simple design system meant for business owners to create websites on par with major brands within hours. While this website designer doesn’t provide the drag-and-drop freedom of a Wix or Weebly, it’s a great choice if you want a clean and robust e-commerce website. This section will cover Square Online’s templates then move onto design mechanics.
Themes: Basic templates for your needs
Square Online doesn’t use traditional templates where you can select a theme for your site with preset fonts, colors, or website looks. Instead, you select the shopping experience you want for your site and the type of business you’re operating. You’re provided with different formats for the type of site you’re creating, whether it's a single shopping page, full ecommerce site, or shoppable Instagram page.
If you’re operating a retail, restaurant, service, or nonprofit, your site will also have a different format with header options, call to actions, and website options.
The Square Online store builder has a simple signup process and users will begin designing their site within minutes of getting started. Square Online’s design process is more similar to BigCommerce than Weebly’s despite Square Online using Weebly’s website creation software. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll add a logo, alter the style of your site including your font and color, and begin making alterations to the header, banner, menu items, and more.
When adding elements to your Square Online site, you won’t drag and drop elements but select which elements you want to add to a page and they’ll populate to be moved up or down the page. From there, you can edit text, add images, or add additional descriptions.
Key Takeaway: Square Online offers an intuitive designing system, which makes up for a lack of freedom with simplicity for business owners who want to get the job done.
Apps: No marketplace but impressive built-in apps
While Square Online doesn’t offer a full app marketplace like Weebly, it does come prepacked with a number of apps you’ll find useful for scaling your business. Weebly boasts hundreds of third-party and native apps but the 5 plus offered by Square Online include marketing and additional feature apps to engage customers, track conversions, and help your business.
Square Online offers the ability to create forms for your site and generate pop-ups with call-to-actions like email collection and coupon offers. You can also enable Facebook Shop to sell through the Facebook channel, Facebook messenger to chat with customers on your site, and Shopping on Instagram to offer Instagram shopping through your Instagram app.
Square Online also makes it easy for restaurants to provide online ordering from their site and for businesses to provide an appointment booking system for clients. If you operate a charity or are offering a special collection for a cause, site visitors can also make donations with ease right through your site when you enable donation collections.
Key Takeaway: While apps aren’t a strong point for Square Online in comparison to competitors like Weebly or WooCommerce, there are still a number of native apps you can use to upgrade your site.
Pricing: Impressive free plan and well-priced premium plans
Square Online shines with its free plan which offers impressive features for nothing and is an excellent place to get started if you want to explore Square Online as an option or want to sell a few items with no overhead. Subsequent premium plans are reasonably priced and offer a host of great features to scale your business from discounting for products to transaction fee cost saving with the Premium plan.
|Features||* Sell Unlimited products|
* Auto sync inventory order, and items
* Offer pickup, delivery, or shipping
* Instagram Integration
|* Custom domain|
* No Square branding or ads
* Free custom domain for a year
|* Customers can post reviews|
* Use discounted shipping
*Abandoned Cart Revovery
|* Lowest processing rate|
* Steep discounts on shipping rates
* Real time Shipping Rate Calculator
|Transaction Fees||2.9% + 30¢||2.9% + 30¢||2.9% + 30¢||2.6% + 30¢|
Pricing above reflects costs associated with annual plans. If you pay for Square Online monthly, rather than annually, you can expect the following prices per month:
- Professional: $16
- Performance: $29
- Premium: $79
How much does a Square ecommerce website cost?
With Square Online, you can set up an ecommerce website and sell products for free with many advanced features like unlimited products and Instagram selling. If you want even more ecommerce features, you can upgrade for $26 or more a month to access customer reviews, cart abandonment recovery, and product discounting.
Ecommerce: A simple solution with essential features
Despite being an ecommerce incumbent in the point of sale space, Square Online is new on the scene as an ecommerce site builder. For smaller stores, it’s a perfect solution, providing a simple system for building and designing a store. Square Online’s free version is an excellent introduction to the platform and provides many of the features you would utilize on a regular basis including unlimited product additions.
With Square Online, it’s a breeze to set up your store or business site, and add products with full descriptions and images, while optimizing for search engines. Inventory management is simple with Square Online, as is category management and providing additional details to product pages like item indicators of how many products are left in stock.
Square Online is ultimately ideal for smaller online stores with fewer product offerings, especially for those just getting started selling online, or for businesses that want an ecommerce presence but for whom it isn’t a top priority. This solution is also great for Instagram influencers who may want to create an Instagram store specific site. Business owners with a larger product library or more money available, should check out BigCommerce, or perhaps Shopify for dropshipping.
What is a Square Online checkout link?
The Square Online checkout link allows Square users to add an easy payment link to emails, social media, or their websites. This should improve conversions by limiting the steps. When viewers click the checkout link, the experience is simpler, as they're brought directly to a checkout page to complete a purchase, send money, or make a donation.
Is Square Online the same as Weebly?
No, Square Online is a unique ecommerce site builder from Weebly despite Square Online being powered by Weebly. Square Online and Weebly have unique systems for designing sites and different cost plans.
Key Takeaway: With its easy setup and product management, Square Online is an ideal ecommerce solution for smaller stores or influencers who want an Instagram-specific store front.
Blog: Can you blog with Square Online?
The primary purpose of Square Online is for ecommerce selling but many successful ecommerce sites rely on blogging to earn new customers or engage existing ones with great content published on their blog. Unfortunately, blogging is one area where Square Online has the most room for improvement. While you can create ‘Story Pages’ with Square Online to write content, there’s little to no organization system in place for these pages and they aren’t sufficient for much beyond a few posts about your brand or maybe one or two SEO-focused posts.
If one of your primary marketing strategies is blogging, you may want to look elsewhere than Square Online, including to WooCommerce. This may be a growth area for Square Online and more developments could be coming.
Key Takeaway: Square Online allows for basic blogging with Story Pages but leaves much to be desired if you plan to have a blog strategy.
SEO: Increasing organic traffic with Square Online
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of improving your site’s ability to rank better in search engine results and earn organic traffic. While Square Online is already at a disadvantage on the SEO front due to its lack of an advanced blogging system, there are some redeeming SEO qualities it hosts.
The Square Online store builder has a section in its dashboard and for each page which allows you to designate SEO titles, metadescriptions, and permalinks. This as well as the ability to preview how your pages will appear in search results is actually a superpower for a website builder. Some advanced website builders don’t even provide the ability to fully edit permalinks so they’re optimized for search engines.
Square Online provides a basic guide for SEO settings as well as blog posts on optimizing your ecommerce site and site in general but these latter guides could be better promoted to Square Online users. Square Online is also lacking on the app front in comparison to some website builders like WordPress which boast many SEO plugin options like YoastSEO.
Key Takeaway: While Square Online could do a better job of offering SEO advice to users and could add more plugins to supercharge SEO, for example with an SEO score for each page, it does offer the basics to get the job done.
Additional Features: Checkout link, Pop-ups, and more
Square Online comes packed with impressive bonus features which are sure to entice potential customers or just make your life as a business owner easier.
One of the coolest features Square Online has heavily marketed is the checkout link feature. With this feature, you can share a simple link by email, social media, or directly to interested parties and through it, customers can send you money directly for a product, view a product page and convert, or send you a donation if you’re a charity or are supporting a cause.
Square Online’s robust pop-up system is another great feature. With it, you can create pop-ups with ease to collect emails, offer coupons, announce important news to customers, or request viewers verify their age. This feature is so easily provided without need for an extra plugin that it’s well worth the shoutout and definitely should be utilized if you go with this website builder.
All of these campaigns and samples are provided from the jump and help save you the effort of creating a new email marketing account with Mailchimp or going off site to send great emails to customers.
Can you tag products on Instagram?
Yes, with shoppable posts through Instagram, you can tag products you sell in your Instagram posts. In your post, you can show a product in action or on display, tag the product, include the price and display photo, and set a product page so viewers can convert and purchase an advertised product with ease.
Key Takeaway: Square Online nearly makes up for the lack of an app marketplace with their great built-in features like pop-ups and email marketing which will help you upgrade your store or business site and earn more customers and sales.
Final Takeaway: A simple, intuitive store builder, ideal for smaller storefronts
Square Online is an impressive addition to the ecommerce store builder space with an intuitive onboarding and design process, excellent additional features for business management and marketing, and reasonable pricing plans which won’t break the bank. While business owners with larger inventories would be better inclined to use BigCommerce for more reliable product management or Shopify if they plan to use dropshipping, Square Online is the perfect choice for a new ecommerce business or online influencer.
The areas where Square Online shines is in marketing and life cycle management of customers. If you operate a smaller store and want to continually reengage customers with emails, pop-ups, social media engagement, and more, Square Online has you covered. Square Online’s integration with Instagram is also a strong point especially as Instagram is ripe for ecommerce selling and with a Square Online storefront, you can easily engage and convert customers.
With Square Online’s impressive offerings, they’re sure to be a formidable addition to the ecommerce space and are sure to expand their presence in coming years. It would be no surprise if this competitor further asserts its dominance in ecommerce, as it did in the point of sale hardware space, with better inventory management, an app marketplace, and more.