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Square POS Review for 2019
4.5 (90.59%) 17 vote[s]

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Updated as of July, 2019

In this review of Square point of sale, we’re going to provide an overview of the software app with pros and cons, features, pricing and cost information.  If you own a small business, it’s easy to forget how critical your POS system is for your day-to-day operations. If you haven’t updated your POS system or cash register in years, you may be stuck with outdated features that are hampering your ability to process transactions smoothly. As the POS industry changes to more portable solutions, a range of new point of sale competitors and different types of POS have emerged in the industry.

Gone are the days where clunky, expensive POS systems dominated the market. There are some new players in town. Today, I’m going to take a look at one of the most extensively advertised payments and POS company in the United States — Square. Does the Square POS system provide all the benefits it promises to its clients?  Let’s find out.

Pros

  • Easy-to-use platform and software
  • Suitable for multiple industries
  • No upfront costs for software
  • Quick cash deposits to your account
  • Specific solutions tailored to the restaurant and retail industries
  • Mobile capabilities
  • All major credit cards accepted

Cons

  • Limited customer service hours
  • Hardware can get expensive
  • Some customer complaints about frozen funds

Overview of Square Point of Sale

Square POS is a modern register system that’s tablet-based with the primary goal of simplifying point of sale transactions for small business owners.  The company was started in 2009, and its current CEO is Jack Dorsey — the same tech titan that co-founded Twitter. At present, Square partners with retail and restaurant owners in five countries around the world.

Square’s POS platform allows you to process transactions using a range of different hardware devices.  The app is designed to run on a smartphone or tablet.  The company is famous for its small Square Reader ‘magstripe’ which plugs easily into a mobile device or tablet. You can use this magstripe to swipe credit card payments from customers.

Square is one of the new entrants to the market that has helped revolutionize the way that you process payments. Touch screen interfaces with secure payment options allow you to process payments efficiently. The mobile nature of the system also allows you to run its platform on your own hardware devices, as long as they’re compatible with Square’s software.

The Square app works for many business types including retail stores, restaurants, and service providers. Square also has a more advanced point of sale systems that are dedicated specifically for retail shops and restaurants; we have a review of Square for Restaurants here.  These software platforms are built with these specific industries in mind. Let’s take a deeper look at the different components that make Square such a unique POS solution.

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Pricing

The price of a POS system can have a serious impact on your bottom line. Is Square an affordable POS provider compared to others in the industry? Let’s take a look at the pricing structure that Square offers its clients.

How much does Square POS cost? Here is the pricing:

Square POS Costs

  • Monthly – $0
  • Extra Device – $0
  • Square Reader Charge – 2.75%
  • Square Terminal Charge – 2.6% + 10c
  • Square Register Charge – 2.5% + 10c
  • Square Stand Charge – 2.75%
  • Typed Number Charge – 3.5% + 15c
  • Employee Manager – $5 p/m p/employee
  • Next Day Deposit – Free
  • Same Day Deposit – 1%

Square For Retail

  • Monthly – $60
  • Extra Device – $20
  • Square Reader Charge – 2.5% + 10c
  • Square Terminal Charge – N/A
  • Square Register Charge – N/A
  • Square Stand Charge – 2.5% + 10c
  • Typed Number Charge – 3.5% + 15c
  • Employee Manager – $5 p/m p/employee
  • Next Day Deposit – Free
  • Same Day Deposit – 1%

Square For Restaurants

  • Monthly – $60
  • Extra Device – $40
  • Square Reader Charge – 2.6% + 10c
  • Square Terminal Charge – N/A
  • Square Register Charge – N/A
  • Square Stand Charge – 2.5% + 10c
  • Typed Number Charge – 3.5% + 15c
  • Employee Manager – $5 p/m p/employee
  • Next Day Deposit – Free
  • Same Day Deposit – 1%

*These prices may change at any time, to get the latest pricing information, visit Square POS here.

As you can see, Square POS offers a competitive pricing structure that won’t eat too much into your bottom line. While you may consider the fees high, it is purely based on your turnover. Regardless, you’ll find this type of commission structure in many of the leading POS platforms. The only downside is that hardware can be one the expensive side, but we’ll explore that later.

The fees you have to pay will depend on the type of hardware that you’re using. If you experience a large amount of sales volume, and you don’t want to pay these fees, you can talk to Square about a volume discount. They don’t publicly advertise the discounts that they’re willing to offer clients, so it’s worth getting in touch with their team.

It’s also important to note that if you want to purchase additional features, such as employee management, you’ll have to pay an additional monthly charge. You should consider all of the features your business needs before running a price analysis on Square’s platform.

One of Square’s best pricing features is its no commitment policy. Many POS providers in the industry make you sign up for multi-year subscriptions that have stiff penalties for contract cancellation. If you’re a small business that requires flexibility, Square doesn’t tie you into a financial commitment that you may not be able to honor.

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How Square POS Works Video

Key Features

If you’re going to purchase a new POS system, it’s always important to look at the key features on offer through its platform. Below, I’ll take a look at the key elements of the two primary POS systems that Square offers its clients.

Square POS for Restaurants

Square POS for Restaurants

Square Restaurant POS Features

  • Easy menu customization
  • Custom color coding for easier access
  • Table and ticket management
  • Live order updates straight to the kitchen
  • Build seasonal menus with a few touches of the screen
  • Tableside ordering and payment
  • Seamless mobile option for food trucks
  • Employee management (extra)
  • Easy reporting analysis
  • A large amount of data to keep track of sales and revenue
  • Email receipts to customers
Square POS for Retail Screenshot

Square POS for Retail Screenshot

Square Retail POS Features

  • Easy inventory importing and adding
  • Inventory management to stay on top of your stock
  • Scan items for quick checkout
  • Create customer profiles that log sales
  • Mobile option for retail businesses operating pop-up shops
  • Easy reporting analysis
  • Large amounts of data to keep track of sales and revenue
  • Email invoices and receipts to customers
  • Build loyalty schemes (extra)

As you can see, Square offers a pervasive feature list that is sure to impress most small business owners. While Square doesn’t have the same power as some high-powered POS systems on the market, it still offers users much better capabilities than outdated retail POS systems or restaurant management systems. Plus, it’s incredibly mobile.

Square also offers eCommerce/online ordering transaction processing, though this doesn’t fall under the ‘POS’ umbrella.

Cloud-Based or Locally Installed?

Like many new entrants to the POS industry, Square offers a hybrid platform that is both cloud-based and locally installed. You will need a connection to the internet to process credit card transactions, but there is software locally installed on your hardware. Reporting data is saved via the internet, so you don’t have to risk losing valuable data if there is a problem with your equipment (or it’s stolen).

Industries Served & Business Size

Traditionally, Square was a platform for a small to medium-sized companies. Its mobile nature makes it a perfect solution for companies that offer small storefronts or mobile business locations. But as Square expands the various hardware options it provides, it is now also a feasible solution for larger businesses that need robust, fixed terminals.

In terms of industries, it’s a perfect fit for restaurants, bars, and the retail sector.  Here’s a list of business types mentioned on the Square website.

  • Enterprise
  • Retail
  • Coffee Shops
  • Counter Service
  • Table Service
  • Bars & Lounges
  • Beauty Professionals
  • Health & Fitness
  • Home & Repair Services
  • Professional Services
  • Food Trucks

As mentioned earlier, Square offers specific software and hardware solutions for both the retail and restaurant industry. It also provides an online ordering and eCommerce platform, though this may not be relevant if you operate a traditional brick-and-mortar business.

Ease of Use

It’s safe to say that ease of use is Square’s primary advantage. You don’t need experience with a POS system to gain an understanding of Square’s platform quickly. The POS system is both easy to learn and easy to teach to employees or staff. You won’t have any problems getting your team up-to-speed with the software app.

Square Register POS Terminal

Square Register

You can easily import products and menu items, and the interface allows you to find items via categories and other techniques. Overall, it’s an extremely basic and user-friendly system — this is a primary driving factor behind the platform’s popularity.

Square also offers a ‘Get Started’ page that allows you to set up the software on your hardware quickly. This page also offers comprehensive tutorials on how to operate Square and its various features. It’s an excellent resource that can help you hit the ground running when you first purchase this new POS system.

Hardware Requirements

Square has pretty basic hardware requirements to get started.  You can access most of its features on touchscreen Apple and Android products: this includes the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. You can also access Square Reader on various Android devices. The software requirements for the Square platform update as the software updates, so it’s essential to keep an eye on their website for the latest specifications. For example, First Generation iPads are no longer supported.

Square Stand POS Hardware

Square Stand with additional hardware

But Square does a lot more than offer you access to its platform via your own devices. You can also purchase a range of different high-end hardware kits, tablets, and accessories that provides all the hardware components you need to improve your ability to process transactions in your small business effectively.

Square POS Hardware Prices

  • Square Register – $799.00
  • Square Stand (Tabled Not Included) – $199.00
  • Square Terminal – $399.00
  • Square Reader (Contactless/Chip) – $49.00
  • Square Reader (Magstripe/Lightning/Aux Cable) – $10.00
  • Square Reader (Chip) – $35.00

To see the latest hardware offerings and current prices, shop Square online here.

As you can see, some of these prices are quite high. While you’re receiving value for your money, it can be a significant investment if you’re running a small business. For this reason, many people choose to use their phone, iPad, or tablet. Though if you don’t have one suitable for Square, you may have to purchase a new one.

Integrations & Add-ons

There are a wide variety of integrations that can help you improve the functionality of your POS system. While many of Square’s integrations and add-ons are more relevant to its eCommerce platform, there are still some you can take advantage of for your POS system. These include payment add-ons, inventory management add-ons, employee management add-ons, reporting add-ons and more.

Square is also continually improving its platform, so there are sure to be more add-ons in the future.

Compatible Credit Card Companies

Square offers a range of different hardware devices for credit card processing hardware. The company allows for the acceptance of all major credit cards. Discover, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are all accepted via Square’s payment system. Contactless payment is also supported on Square – this makes it easy to accept Apple Pay, Android Pay, and chip or swipe-based payments.

Customer Service and Support

Square offers an excellent knowledge base — you can find the answers to the most common problems using this online database. But if you need to speak to someone on the phone, things can get a little more annoying. They only offer customer assistance via telephone from 6 AM to 6 PM (PST) Monday through Friday – this may leave you a little high and dry if you run into a problem after hours.

In terms of customer satisfaction, you’ll find various negative reviews about Square on consumer watchdog sites. While this is true for almost any business (especially of Square’s size), let’s take a look at what some of the typical negative reviews highlighted:

 Account Suspensions/Terminations — It appears a large chunk of the negative feedback that Square receives focuses around suspensions and terminations. It seems that Square periodically conducts due diligence on POS users to determine if any nefarious activity is occurring – this may result in an account suspension or termination, per the company’s Terms and Conditions.

Money Frozen — Some users report money being frozen from withdrawal. This seems to usually occur for large payments processed by Square terminals or the eCommerce platform. In many cases, it appears that Square freezes money that it deems as suspicious.

Multiple Charges — This is a complaint that appears to come from customers processing transactions on Square. Some customers have complained about being charged multiple times. While this glitch won’t impact your end of the transaction, it may impact customer sentiment towards your business.

While there is some negative feedback on Square’s services, this can largely be attributed to strict anti-crime measures that attempt to prevent money laundering and other financial irregularities.

Our Verdict

As you can see, there are plenty of things to like about Square point of sale. We especially like Square for restauranteurs starting a new restaurant or small to mid-sized business owners who don’t process a high amount of credit card volume or large ticket items due to the fixed processing rates.  The more advanced versions of their software are very affordable, and the hardware is reasonable if you’re starting a new business or replacing old technology.  If you already have a device that’s compatible with its platform, you can get your new POS system set up in just a few minutes and start taking payments.

There are no upfront software costs, and you won’t have to pay any money outside of your standard transaction fees. For people who want to avoid long-term commitments, this is also a solid option — there are no contracts for Square customers.

If you need a robust, powerful POS system, Square may not get the job done. It’s still not as extensive of a platform as some of the Titans in the industry. Still, Square has millions of users for a reason — this platform is easy to use, offers plenty of features, is compatible with your hardware, and accepts all primary forms of payment.

While its customer service options aren’t stellar, you’ll still find that Square has a much better reputation than some of the other major players in the industry.

Image Credits: Squareup.com

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Editor’s note:  How’d we do on our Square POS review?  Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns?  Your feedback is important to us.  Please let us know in the comments below or contact us.