All online businesses need a way to accept and process customer payments. And brick-and-mortar businesses need POS terminals and software to accept payments and process inventory changes.
You can obtain these services and more from a payment services provider like ShopKeep or Square. But different payment service providers offer different advantages, so it can be tough to know which payment processing service is best for your particular business needs.
This article will consider ShopKeep vs. Square and compare these two POS app providers side by side.
ShopKeep vs. Square
Our review of Square POS show that these products have many similarities. Still, there are key distinctions between the two. Here is an overview of how these two services stack up.
Both offer POS hardware and software.
Square’s POS software only works with its own terminal and hardware.
Both ShopKeep and Square provide additional business tools, like inventory management and timekeeping, for employee self-service.
Both can integrate with certain third-party apps (although Square can integrate with many more than ShopKeep).
Differences between ShopKeep and Square
Square’s POS software only works with its proprietary register or on an iPad. ShopKeep’s software can work on iPads or Clover terminals.
Square offers flat payment processing rates only, whereas ShopKeep offers flat-rate and interchange-plus pricing, depending on where your customers come from.
ShopKeep offers 24/7 support, while Square provides comparatively limited customer service channels during regular business hours.
ShopKeep offers additional flexibility in terms of payment processors. Square requires you to use its proprietary payment processing service with the Square POS terminal or software.
Square offers website building as an extra feature.
ShopKeep: Who do we recommend it for?
ShopKeep offers POS software, hardware and payment processing services. The hardware must be locally installed, but all of ShopKeep’s other offerings are run from the cloud. That means you can store information on your POS device and sync that data with your cloud server to access it from any internet-connected device. This makes ShopKeep an ideal option for brick-and-mortar and online businesses.
ShopKeep Payments accepts EMV chip card, magstripe and contactless credit card payments. If you already have a payment processing service, you can use it in conjunction with ShopKeep’s other offerings. However, if you don’t already have a dedicated merchant account, ShopKeep will provide one.
ShopKeep is designed to work on iPad or iOS devices, but it also works with third-party POS hardware. Its tools let you run several stores simultaneously, market your products, and manage your employees.
ShopKeep is a comprehensive all-in-one payment service solution that offers everything you need to accept payments.
Square: Who do we recommend it for?
Square’s primary purpose is to provide payment processing for small and midsize businesses. Like ShopKeep, Square is cloud-based, so all business information is stored on remote servers and can be transferred to POS devices through the cloud.
Square is an affordable payment services provider that offers reasonably priced plans and excellent software packages for restaurants or retail businesses.
Product and service comparisons
Not sure which service to choose? Let’s compare ShopKeep to Square across several major metrics.
Ease of use
ShopKeep: ShopKeep’s free Starter plan comes with a single active register. This account can be manned by one employee in one location. The Starter plan may be ideal if you only have a single register at your brick-and-mortar business, but it’s not the best if you have multiple terminals that need to run simultaneously. ShopKeep also offers three paid plans for POS software. The Basic plan is $49 per month and includes a handful of features and tools. The Essential plan is more robust at $79 per month, with custom permission controls and online orders. Last is the Advanced plan, which is $199 per month and features e-commerce functions.
Square: Square offers four plans, each of which lets you create an online store. The first is free and a great option if you want to build a website or sell online products without too much customization. The Professional plan costs $12 per month. It includes password-protected pages and custom domains, and removes Square ads from the website. The Performance plan is $26 per month and includes PayPal purchase functionality and useful e-commerce tools, such as abandoned cart reminders. Finally, Square’s Premium plan costs $72 per month and has a lower processing rate per purchase. The Premium plan also includes discounted shipping and real-time shipping information for your customers.
Winner: Square wins this category, since it offers more paid plans to choose from and more distinguishing features than ShopKeep. Additionally, dollar to dollar, ShopKeep’s plans are more expensive than Square’s plans.
ShopKeep: ShopKeep offers reasonable flat rates for credit card processing. For most transactions, you’ll pay 2.5% plus 10 cents. However, you’ll pay 3.5% for any card-not-present transactions you accept, such as when a customer reads their card number over the phone. If you’re looking for hardware, ShopKeep offers a lightning-connected magstripe reader for $99 and a Bluetooth-enabled terminal for $329.
Square: Square charges 2.6% plus 10 cents per in-person transaction and 2.9% plus 30 cents per digital transaction. Square reduces some of these fees if you use its in-house POS software. This service also sells a contactless payment reader for $49, which works for chip cards. You’ll receive a magstripe credit card reader for free when you sign up.
Winner: ShopKeep wins out overall, but barely. Square’s basic card reader is cheaper and the better option if you need something affordable and accessible. But ShopKeep offers better long-term transaction costs on a purchase-by-purchase basis.
ShopKeep: ShopKeep offers excellent features, starting with a diverse array of web dashboard controls. These allow you to oversee your POS system’s functions from back-office terminals or from POS devices themselves. You can find controls for item tracking, raw goods tracking and variable pricing from ShopKeep’s control dashboard. This is more features than Square offers. However, free ShopKeep plans only allow one user to use these features at once, which can be limiting.
Square: Square offers a dedicated dashboard that allows you to control all aspects of your POS system, but it doesn’t come with as many options as ShopKeep unless you purchase a dedicated POS plan. All Square plans include dashboard controls for inventory tracking, variable pricing points and customer databases. But you won’t find controls for functions like profitability reporting, raw goods or bundling.
Winner: ShopKeep, although Square could be a better choice if you run a restaurant or retail business and want extra customization options.
Ease of use
ShopKeep: ShopKeep is easy to use, especially if you are launching your online store. However, it doesn’t auto-populate merchandise when you create a new item in your inventory, so the software takes some tweaking before it runs as smoothly as Square’s back-office and POS dashboard systems.
Square: There’s no denying that Square’s POS system is very easy to use, thanks to its streamlined interface. Square is easy to run from start to finish, whether you need to build a website or run an online store.
Winner: Square, but both merchant services are simple to use.
ShopKeep: ShopKeep only integrates with QuickBooks and Mailchimp. That’s a downside for online store owners who may rely on dozens of third-party applications to run their businesses. On the plus side, this may streamline your operations, especially if you take advantage of ShopKeep’s in-house add-ons, which include apps for loyalty programs, online ordering and e-commerce support. But to purchase these add-ons, you’ll need to select one of the paid plans.
Square: Square integrates with dozens of third-party applications and solutions, especially those designed for healthcare or restaurant management. It also frequently adds new integrations to the list.
Winner: Square is better for integration versatility and accessibility.
ShopKeep: ShopKeep does a great job with customer support. The company offers 24/7 communication channels for all subscription packages, including a self-service knowledge base, phone support, live chat and email support. Overall, reviews of ShopKeep’s customer support are positive.
Square: Square offers some customer support, but it’s limited compared to ShopKeep. All merchants have access to email and phone support, but these channels are not 24/7. They are only open during standard business hours. You’ll also need to log in to your Square account on its website to find a customer code and open a customer service ticket in the first place.
Winner: ShopKeep, since it’s easier to get in touch with a customer service agent.
Square: Square provides basic self-service employee management tools, like free timekeeping. However, if you upgrade to Team Management Plus (one of Square’s add-ons), you’ll access extra tools like unlimited permission sets. This add-on is included with Square for Retail at no extra cost.
Winner: It’s a tie, since both payment services offer employee self-service and time management controls for users.
ShopKeep: ShopKeep doesn’t offer as many extra services as Square, though it does include in-depth inventory tools and management tools for businesses with multiple locations. You can also set up a virtual terminal if you need to run POS software from afar.
Square: Square’s most notable extra feature is the ability to create an online store. You can also add checkout features, payment links and virtual terminals to existing online stores.
Winner: Square, since ShopKeep doesn’t offer any notable extra features like website building.
ShopKeep vs. Square recap
Both ShopKeep and Square offer free mobile POS apps and sell a variety of payment processing services and products. That includes retail POS hardware, payment processing, and back-office or inventory management tools.
Jamie Johnson is a Kansas City-based freelance writer who writes about finance and business. She has also written for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Fox Business and Business Insider. Jamie has written about a variety of B2B topics like finance, business funding options and accounting. She also writes about how businesses can grow through effective social media and email marketing strategies.