ShopKeep vs. Square: Which Is Right for Your Business?

ShopKeep vs. Square: Pick Your Business’s POS

ShopKeep and Square are both providers of POS software, hardware, and payment processing. ShopKeep offers three POS software plans with strong 1:1 support and customization opportunities. Square boasts a highly capable and free POS software, with the option to pay for advanced, industry-specific solutions.

ShopKeep and Square have a lot in common. Both are merchant services providers, both offer point of sale software and hardware, both offer payment processing, and both are among the best options out there for small business owners in need of a system for running and managing transactions.

Of course, if you’ve done your research, you already know all these things. You’re here because you need to decide which of these two great products is the best for your business. Do you go with one of the most popular payment solutions in the world in Square? Or do you go with ShopKeep—a smaller business that nonetheless offers one of the best reviewed merchant services products on the web?

To help you deliberate when it comes to ShopKeep vs. Square, we’ve created this guide. In it we’ll compare and contrast both services to see which ultimately offers more value to small business owners. But first, let’s get a better understanding of exactly what ShopKeep and Square have to offer.

ShopKeep: The Basics

ShopKeep sells POS software and hardware, as well as payment processing services. The system is both locally installed and can run on the cloud. This means your information is stored on your POS device and can sync with the cloud whenever there is an internet connection (ShopKeep can also operate offline if need be).

ShopKeep is most popular in the food service industry, but its software can work for retail-based businesses as well. When you sign up for ShopKeep, you have the option of keeping your payment processor or integrating with ShopKeep’s in-house processor, ShopKeep Payments.

Payment Processing

With ShopKeep Payments you can accept magstripe, chip card, and contactless methods of payment. If you decide to use ShopKeep Payments, you receive a free credit card reader, and you can choose between flat-rate or interchange-plus pricing.

With flat-rate pricing, you’ll pay 2.5% + $0.10 per transaction for in-person, card-present payments and 3.5% per transaction for card-not-present payments. With interchange-plus pricing, on the other hand, you’ll work with the ShopKeep sales team to receive customized rates based on your individual business.

Hardware

In terms of hardware, ShopKeep software can operate on iPads or Clover terminals. ShopKeep sells a variety of hardware bundles for different business types, including a retail bundle, a restaurant bundle, and a portable kit. You can acquire most types of POS hardware via the ShopKeep store, including cash drawers, receipt printers, barcode scanners, iPad stands, and more.

ShopKeep Software

ShopKeep offers three plans for their POS software:

  • Basic: $49 per month (billed annually); $69 per month (billed monthly)
  • Essential: $79 per month (billed annually); $99 per month (billed monthly)
  • Advanced: $179 per month (billed annually); $199 per month (billed monthly)

As you might expect, each plan has an increasing number of features. The higher-level plans, for example, include features such as custom permissions, online ordering, an ecommerce store, priority customer support, and more.

That said, however, even the basic plan is versatile enough to accommodate a variety of different business types. Here is a list of all the features that come with the basic ShopKeep POS software:

Payments

  • Partial payments
  • Open tabs
  • Split payments
  • Tip recommendations
  • Perform refunds
  • Apply discounts
  • Print, text, or email receipts

Employee management

  • Time clock
  • Job-based permissions
  • Scheduling
  • Cost of labor analysis

Inventory management

  • Import unlimited SKUs
  • Unlimited product variants
  • Unlimited modifiers
  • Upload product catalogues via CSV file
  • Group products by category
  • Customize tax rates
  • Print barcodes

Customer relationship management

  • Save customer information
  • Rewards program (requires Advanced plan)
  • Gift card program (requires Essential plan)
  • Manage social media channels (requires Advanced plan)

Reporting suite

  • View sales activity in real-time
  • Shift summaries
  • Inventory value report
  • Transaction history
  • Marketing analysis
  • View data on the go with ShopKeep’s Pocket App

Multi-store management

  • Each store will require its own register license.

Integrations

Other things about ShopKeep: It integrates with a handful of third-party software products, including QuickBooks, MailChimp, and BigCommerce. There’s 24/7 customer service via phone, email, or live chat. Outside of POS solutions, ShopKeep also offers merchant cash advances.

ShopKeep Reviews

Here is how ShopKeep ranks on major review platforms:

  • G2 Crowd: 4.2 stars out of 5
  • TrustPilot: 4 stars out of 5
  • Capterra: 4 stars out of 5
  • Better Business Bureau: A+
Get Started With ShopKeep

Square: The Basics

Square’s offering also comprises POS hardware and software, along with payment processing. However, the system is cloud-hosted, meaning your business’s information is stored on Square’s servers and transferred to your POS device via the cloud.

Payment Processing

When you sign up for Square POS, you have to use Square as your payment processor. This isn’t a terrible deal, as Square offers reasonable payment processing rates—2.6% + $0.10 for in-person transactions and 2.9% + $0.30 for digital transactions. Note that these Square fees are reduced if you use some of Square’s more advanced POS hardware (more on this in a moment).

In terms of credit card readers, you have your pick of the litter with Square. There’s the mobile magstripe reader that plugs directly into your mobile device—this comes free when you sign up for Square. Square also sells a chip card and contactless payment reader for $49.

Hardware

Like ShopKeep, Square’s software is designed to run on iPads. You can purchase your iPad through Square for a price of $329. Once you have your iPad, Square provides all the additional hardware tools to build out your POS system—including an iPad stand with a built-in magstripe reader ($199), cash drawers, receipt printers, barcode scanners, and more.

Square also offers two all-encompassing POS solutions—Square Register and Square Terminal. The Square Register is a fully functional countertop POS terminal with a credit card reader that accepts magstripe, chip card, and contactless forms of payment. It retails for $799 and comes with a payment processing rate of 2.6% + $0.10 for in-person transactions.

The Square Terminal is a handheld POS terminal with a built-in magstripe, chip card, and contactless payment reader. It retails for $299 and comes with a payment processing rate of 2.6% + $0.10.

Square Software

As for software, Square offers a free version of its POS software as well as two paid versions: Square for Retail and Square for Restaurants. The free version of the software comes with the following:

Payments

  • Quick deposits
  • Offline payments
  • Encryptions

Inventory management

  • Daily stock alerts
  • Organize inventory by category

Employee management

  • Time clock
  • Job-based permissions
  • Labor costing
  • Payroll add-on

Customer relationship management

  • Loyalty program add-on
  • Email marketing add-on

Reporting suite

Integrations

In terms of integrations and add-ons, Square works with a huge library of third-party apps. See all the products Square works with in the Square App Marketplace. Square also sells in-house integrations for payroll ($34/month), marketing ($15/month), and a loyalty program ($45/month).

Industry-Specific Software

While the free version of the software is a bit limited, it can do the job for most small businesses. The paid versions of Square’s POS software both come with industry-specific functions.

Square for Restaurants includes the ability to manage menus, floor plans, reconcile tips, and oversee deliveries.

Square for Retail allows you to print barcodes, place purchase orders, and put items on layaway. Note that both of these software products cost $0, $60, or $299+ per month depending on the plan you choose.

Square Reviews

Here is how Square customers rank Square POS:

  • G2 Crowd: 4.6 stars out of 5
  • TrustPilot: 5 stars out of 5
  • TrustRadius: 8.9 stars out of 10
  • Capterra: 4.5 stars out of 5
Sign Up for Square for Free

ShopKeep vs. Square: Similarities

Now that we understand the basics of each system, let’s start comparing them to see which system is better for your business. We’ll start by talking about where we think each system is equal in the services they offer. In the following areas, you’d be just as well off with ShopKeep as you would with Square:

Hardware

Square offers more powerful proprietary hardware, but ShopKeep offers greater hardware variety. Therefore, we feel they are about equal in how well they execute this service. The right option for you depends on your specific business situation.

ShopKeep’s hardware kits offer an affordable way for you to acquire the right POS hardware for your business. Plus, ShopKeep can work on an iPad or a Clover terminal.

Square, on the other hand, only works on an iPad, or the Square Register. We do think the Square Register is one of the top POS systems on the market, but you may decide ShopKeep’s hardware flexibility is better for your business.

Payment Processing

ShopKeep and Square are equal in payment processing because they can both do the same exact things: Process magstripe, chip card, and contactless forms of payment. Square does offer more popular credit card readers, but ShopKeep offers a bit more variety. You can choose from an assortment of Ingenico card readers or Clover card readers. Plus, ShopKeep is willing to let you keep your current payment processor.

Note that Square offers flat payment processing rates, while ShopKeep offers both flat-rate and interchange-plus pricing. To this point, not only is ShopKeep’s flat-rate fee for in-person transactions lower than Square’s, but you might also find that you can receive a better rate with ShopKeep’s interchange-plus pricing model.

ShopKeep vs. Square: Where ShopKeep Is Better

Next we’re going to show you areas where we believe ShopKeep offers more value relative to Square. If any of these criteria are among your top priorities when picking a POS system, we recommend you choose ShopKeep.

Customization

The benefit of working with a smaller merchant services provider like ShopKeep is that they will take the time to tailor a solution that fits your business’s needs. Although you simply have the option of choosing from one of the three software plans that ShopKeep offers, you also can contact ShopKeep directly to create a custom package of software, hardware, and payment processing specifically for your business.

That said, you can see this same value of customization reflected in ShopKeep’s credit card processing fees. It’s extremely unusual to see a POS provider give you the option to choose between flat-rate and interchange-plus pricing. And, not only does ShopKeep offer this choice, but they also provide a very affordable flat-rate in-person processing rate—2.5% + $0.10—lower than Square’s.

In comparison to ShopKeep, Square is more of a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of service. That’s not to say that Square’s products couldn’t also fit your business’s needs—ShopKeep simply offers a more bespoke service. This type of solution might be more approachable for business owners without much experience in the merchant services space.

Customer Service

ShopKeep offers 24/7 customer support via phone, live chat, and email. Square, on the other hand, offers support on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Any business owner who has experienced a merchant services emergency knows that it is always better to be able to get help anytime, anywhere, which is why ShopKeep is superior in this regard.

Plus, ShopKeep’s website features a Support Center with a robust level of documentation on how to use all the different ShopKeep products. Square offers a Support Center too, but we personally find ShopKeep’s to be a bit more comprehensive.

ShopKeep vs. Square: Where Square Is Better

Now it’s time to talk about areas where we feel Square is better. Again, if these criteria are your top priorities in a POS system, we suggest you go with Square:

Software

If we were comparing Square’s free software with ShopKeep’s software, we’d say ShopKeep is probably better. But we can’t ignore the fact that Square offers two industry-specific software options: Square for Restaurants and Square for Retail.

These software solutions offer more business-specific functionality than ShopKeep’s software could hope to offer. For instance, Square for Restaurants comes with more advanced floor plan management tools than ShopKeep, and Square for Retail offers more in-depth inventory management tools than ShopKeep.

Additionally, Square integrates with far more third-party applications than ShopKeep, meaning you can further extend the functionality of your system beyond what comes with your software. You do have to pay to use the restaurant and retail versions of Square’s POS software, but both exceed ShopKeep’s software in terms of capabilities.

Pricing

Although ShopKeep may offer a more robust POS software than the free version of Square, when it comes down to it, their plans are not cheap. Starting at $49 per month and reaching $179 per month, these plans may not be affordable for every business owner—especially those just starting out.

In this way, Square has a huge advantage over ShopKeep—their free POS software is extremely impressive for no monthly subscription cost.

ShopKeep vs. Square: The Verdict

Here’s what we think after comparing and contrasting ShopKeep vs. Square: You can’t really go wrong by choosing Square, but certain business owners might be more comfortable using a customer-friendly service like ShopKeep.

So in the end it really comes down to personal preference. Square’s combination of POS hardware and software is probably superior to what ShopKeep provides in terms of capability and ease of use, but the drop-off isn’t large. If you’re less experienced in the world of merchant services, ShopKeep might be more amenable to you.

The most important thing to remember is that both ShopKeep and Square are really good products—so choosing either won’t hurt your business. If you’re still fretting over which one to choose, we recommend leveraging the free trials offered by both services, and coming to your own conclusions.

Matthew Speiser
Contributor at Fundera

Matthew Speiser

Matthew Speiser is a former staff writer at Fundera.

He has written extensively about ecommerce, marketing and sales, and payroll and HR solutions, but is particularly knowledgeable about merchant services. Prior to Fundera, Matthew was an editorial lead at Google and an intern reporter at Business Insider. Matthew was also a co-author for Startup Guide—a series of guidebooks designed to assist entrepreneurs in different cities around the world.

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