When you own a small business, at some point in your growth you may want to protect your personal assets from your business finances. Without proper coverage and a solid business structure, your own assets, in addition to your business assets, might be in danger.
An LLC (limited liability company) is a business structure that protects a business owner from personal liability in the event of a lawsuit, accident, property damage, or a costly mistake.Â While the LLC business structure works to protect the business owner’s personal assets, obtaining business insurance is the next step in any business’s risk management plan.
In this post, we’ll cover which insurance policies LLCs need, where to find them, and how much they cost.
What Is LLC Insurance?
LLC Business insurance is a collection of business insurance policies designed specifically to protect your LLC from the costly effects of a lawsuit, property damage, or worker mistakes. There is not a specific LLC insurance policy a business can purchase but rather, several policies bundled together. Most LLC insurance bundles will have a foundation of general liability insurance or a business owners plan (BOP) that contains both general liability and commercial property insurance.
There is no one-perfect fit for each company; different risks equal different policies, and only you and an expert will be able to identify the best choices for your business — but this post should give you a good head start.
Why LLCs Need Insurance
According to the government, up to 53% of small businesses experience a lawsuit — and, out of the businesses that face a lawsuit, over athird of them close their business due to the unforeseen cost. Those are sad statistics, but they don’t have to translate to sad endings for businesses. Insurance exists to protect your business, so you don’t have to lose sleep at night thinking about the worst-case-scenarios for your LLC.
Accidents are bound to happen in life and in business — while there are things you can do to mitigate business risks, some things are beyond your control. Instead of worrying about the various hazards that could befall you, cover your business with insurance policies specific to your business needs. With the proper coverage, if your business is the subject of a lawsuit, these policies will work to protect your personal income and assets from being involved in a business-related accident or mistake.
How LLC Insurance Policies Work
Once you’ve decided to purchase insurance for your LLC, you should sit down with an insurance professional and itemize your business risks. Identifying the risks for your business and its industry can help ensure you get the proper coverage your business needs.
Most policies will start with a general liability policy or a business owners policy (BOP) — that bundles general liability, commercial property, and (sometimes) business interruption insurance. In addition to the foundational policies, there are business insurance policies for your specific risks as well. With an insurance expert, you’ll build upon a general liability policy to create the perfect insurance plan for your LLC.
Types of LLC Liability Insurance
Once you’ve acquired basic general liability insurance as your foundation, here are some of the most common other liability insurance policies that will help provide you with additional coverage.
Commercial Property Insurance
This insurance covers damage to your property because of fire, tornados, hurricanes, vandalism and the like. Strong winds push a tree into your building? Commercial property is the insurance for those claims. Was something stolen from your property or your vehicle? A commercial property policy is what you’d use for those claims, too.
Business Owner’s Policy
This is a policy that combines both general liability and commercial property insurance into a bundle. Sometimes this policy also includes business interruption service. Bundling multiple policies is a cost-effective way to get more coverage for less.
Errors & Omissions Liability Insurance
Many LLCs are formed by professionals in the medical field, and they should add errors and omissions (also known as malpractice insurance or professional liability) to their list of needed policies.
Directors & Officers Liability Insurance
If the directors and officers, or the main shareholders in the company, suffer a financial loss because of a lawsuit brought against them personally, this protects them and helps pay for a legal defense. (Intentional illegal acts are not covered by insurance.)
Professional Indemnity Insurance
Do you give any sort of advice as part of your business? Protect yourself from lawsuits directly related to bad advice that caused financial or personal damages to a client.
Product Liability Insurance
General liability insurance will cover some, but not all, lawsuits related to product liability. However, if your product is risky, extra product liability insurance is a must.
Cyber Risk Insurance
A data breach is a risk every business with an online presence (especially an online store) might face. If data is comprised, there are lengthy consumer rules to follow and cyber risk insurance will help pay for legal fees and facilitate the complicated process for you.
In most states, you need worker’s compensation to cover employee injuries. Texas is the lone hold-out with zero worker’s compensation guidelines, but all other 49 states have rules where you must provide worker’s compensation if you have employees.
Business Interruption Insurance
If your business has to close because of a disaster or accident, business interruption insurance will cover your lost income or the costs of temporary relocation. This policy could even protect you if a property leader suffers damage or foot traffic is limited to your establishment.
Other Insurance Policies LLCs Need
In addition to the liability policies above, you might need to add other coverage depending on the scope of your business. Here are some additional insurance policies that you may want to purchase in addition to liability insurance.
Commercial Auto Insurance
If your business has a company vehicle or uses business vehicles to transport goods and services, you might need to expand your auto insurance to include commercial activity. With commercial auto, you are covering your employees to drive an employee vehicle and also covering their car during business hours.
Home-Based Business Insurance
If you operate your business out of your home, consider specialized insurance plans to make sure your business is protected should something happen to your residence. Home owner’s or renter’s insurance may not be enough to cover business losses in the event of a fire, natural disaster, or theft.
How Much Does LLC Insurance Cost?
It’s hard for many business decisions not to come down toÂ cost.
For general liability insurance, the cost is affordable and within range for even small businesses with current low income. According to Insureon, over 53% of small businesses pay between $400-$600 a year for general liability insurance andÂ 21% paid less than $400 a year.
Some of the things that may affect that yearly premium are:
Your specific industry risks
How much liability insurance you need
What type of business you run
The size of your business
How many employees you have
The location of your business
For a small business that needs one million dollars of coverage, the price can be as low as $30 a month — a small price to pay for protection and peace of mind. Cheap liability insurance is possible and should be a convincing argument to start with a basic plan at minimum.
Once you’ve acquired the foundational insurance, everything after that is an addition. For a business owners policy (BOP), according to Coverhound, a one million dollar policy could cost you between $500-$3,500 a year. Worker’s compensation could add another couple thousand to your yearly costs depending on how many workers you employ.
The process for finding a great policy is all about research! Knowing the averages for your industry and comparing competing rates will help you make the best decision for your LLC. Start with an idea of the risks your LLC might face. Are you just online? You will have a lower premium than someone with a storefront. Will you need malpractice insurance? Do you need to insure commercial vehicles? By asking and answering these questions, you can come equipped to your first meeting with an insurance company with the knowledge of what you need.
When you meet with your insurance expert, discuss the cost-effectiveness of bundling your policies. Many sites like Coverwallet, Coverhound, and Insureon will comparison shop for you and walk you through the steps required to make an insurance purchase.
Your business needs protection. Don’t make the mistake of under-insuring your business out of optimism or denial and become one of the 33% of businesses that can’t recover from financial ruin after a costly mistake or accident. Protect yourself, your business, and your employees today.
The post The Complete Guide To LLC Insurance appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
If you have a nonprofit organization, providing a completely secure and convenient to accept donations online is probably a pretty high priority on your list. If you’re not sure what types of solutions are out there, you’re in the right place. Whether your charity needs a better online presence with an updated site, or you need to improve engagement with current and prospective donors, you certainly have a myriad of options! In this post, we’ll explore an overview of each approach, so you have a better idea of what deserves more of your attention.
In all of these options, take into consideration who your potential supporters are and how you interact with them. Think about what’s currently working for you, and what you need to develop for growth. For instance, do you need to create a site? Do you need an organized database of customer information? A better process for recurring donations? Let’s dig into the possibilities for taking online payments and much more.
Donation Management Software
In addition to payment processing, donation management software focuses on the CRM (customer relationship management) aspects of running a nonprofit organization. Data collection, tools for outreach, as well as nurturing existing donors are all components of good donation management software.
You’ll find a wide range of pricing when it comes to this type of software. We found companies offering their SaaS (subscription as a service) products as low as $10/month and as high as $15,000 + annually for mid to large organizations for managing complex donor relationships. Of course, which services come along with the core offering also varies significantly, but that means you have a lot of options, too.
Generally speaking, you’re going to pay more for the convenience of an all-in-one software platform than if you were just shopping around for a payment processor, both in terms of monthly costs and transaction rates. Some companies will allow you to choose from a handful of compatible payment processors, while others offer their own built-in processor.
When considering donation management software, consider what you may need for your size organization. In addition to online payment processing, here are a few services that may be included for nonprofit organizations:
Gift Matching Management
Donation management software can be a great tool for your charity to improve in specific areas listed above. However, if you are just looking for a way to process payments in-person and online, and need some tracking and reporting capabilities, payment service providers may be a cost-effective option for you. You’ll get lower rates in exchange for fewer extra frills, so to speak. As you’ll see in the section below, some payment service providers also offer CRM integrations. These options can be nice to have your payment processing and outreach tools working together from the same database, though you’ll pay for the two separately. Let’s take a look at some payment service providers for taking online donations and more.
Payment Service Providers
A payment service provider is first and foremost a credit card processor, but these types of companies typically have very robust offerings that support online charities and merchants as well. While the term payment service provider may not ring a bell to you quite yet, you’re likely familiar with some of the biggest in the business: Square, PayPal, and Stripe. What makes companies like these different from traditional merchant accounts is that they are actually third-party processors. While we could devote a whole post discussing the technical details of this type of arrangement, we’ll say this: Payment service providers may offer more choices in payment processing and fewer hoops to jump through to get started â but they aren’t for everyone. Be sure to follow the links and learn more about each specific option so you can make the best decision for your nonprofit business.
Square (read our review) offers a variety of options for taking payments online. The simplest and fastest way to set up your online store is to pick one of the templates that Square offers and set up a free online shop. Your customization options are limited here, but you can add donation buttons in the Site Editor. Back in the editor, you can add whatever images you like as well as sections for fundraising tickets, merchandise, buttons to accept donations â or a combination including all of the above.
If you already have a site or you are building a custom site, you can also integrate your Square account with popular eCommerce software like WooCommerce, WordPress.com, or Weebly, just to name a few. The integration option requires minimal technical expertise while giving you more freedom to make a site that feels more like your own. However, Square offers yet one more option for customizing your checkout and donation process. You’ll find free developer-friendly tools so that you can customize online and in person with their API.
No matter what solution you choose, you can also send recurring invoices. You can schedule and set donation pledges for your donors, and track all activity right from your dashboard. Of course, you’ll also have a customer directory so you can collect phone numbers and email addresses, and save a card on file for those who opt-in. Square also offers a suite of add-on services like marketing CRM so you can quickly create an email campaign to follow up and engage your contacts for fundraising, donation goals, and more!
Square offers nonprofit organizations the same rates as everyone else, but Square’s rates are some of the most transparent in the business, with no additional fees for PCI compliance (payment security), no monthly fees for processing, and no contract or cancellation fees whatsoever. Setting up an account with Square is also very easy, and is often the best way to dig in to test all of the possibilities. Check out our article, How To Accept Online Payments With Square, for an in-depth look at the company’s ecommerce tools as well.
From adding a button to the top of your website to more in-depth developer tools that integrate with your site, PayPal offers a plethora of support for the nonprofit business.Â Here are a few of the options you might want to check into when it comes to taking donations:
Donate Button: Accept credit cards, debit cards, and PayPal by adding a simple donate button to emails, web pages, and campaigns. Your donors can also select automatic monthly donations, too!
Express Checkout: If you choose to go with a different processor, you can also add a PayPal button to your site with Express Checkout, which simply adds a new option to pay during the checkout process.
PayPal Here: It’s worth it to mention that you also can process in-person payments at events with PayPal, too! PayPal Here is a card reader that allows you to process in-person payments of credit or debit cards.
If you’ve registered your nonprofit as a 501(c)(3) charity, you can also enjoy shaving a bit off of your transaction charges. PayPal’s nonprofit transaction rates are 2.2% + $0.30. For online solutions, PayPal has more than you may expect, so check out our full PayPal Review for pros, cons, and more.
Stripe (read our review) is a great option for your nonprofit if you are looking for virtually unlimited end-to-end customization and have you have access to developer expertise. While Stripe may not have the dinner-table name recognition of Square or PayPal, it’s one of the most prominent payment service providers. Stripe is the behind-the-scenes processor for some of the biggest national and global brands, including Facebook, Adidas, Lyft, and Under Armour.
What makes Stripe different than Square and PayPal is that you won’t have the processor’s payment brand on your button â Stripe is essentially a “white label” option which leaves you to create your own messaging on buttons and customize the entire checkout experience.
While Stripe doesn’t specify the types of fee discounts for nonprofit organizations, their support page instructs any business with a nonprofit status to email support for more information. For more information on basic pricing as well as billing and customer engagement tools Stripe offers, visit The Complete Guide To Stripe Pricing And Costs.
SMS Text Messaging
Engaging donors and accepting payments through text messaging is a growing trend, one that we can’t neglect to discuss. You’ll find a variety of SMS messaging services out there that offer unique levels of support and different pricing structures to boot. So how does it work? SMS text donations essentially direct the customer to an online, secure payment form hosted by the credit card processor. Some credit card processors provide support for SMS; other SMS tools are focused on the customer engagement portion and they integrate with various processors and provide detailed donor tracking and reporting.
Most SMS companies we looked at do integrate with Stripe as a payment processor, but one company, called Pagato, also integrates with Braintree and Quickbooks Payments. For more information about taking donations with SMS payments, check out What Is An SMS Payment And How Does It Work?
Online Donations Through Facebook
Creating a presence on Facebook could be your primary way to reach out for donations online or just a reinforcement. The great thing about this platform is that its entirely free to set up a page, and Facebook doesn’t take a cut of your donations â you keep 100% of every donation. The other thing that may work in your favor is that many people are already on Facebook, and you can get your message (and your donate button) out to hundreds or thousands of people at a time. Reach people through social shares, live feeds, and of course, paid Facebook ads. Keep in mind that Facebook may throttle your page’s visibility to your followers, however; the ultimate goal of Facebook is that you purchase ads to boost visibility. Nothing is free, and that includes visibility to all of your followers on Facebook. That being said, Facebook has some nice tools for charities. Here’s what you can do:
Add a donate button on your page and posts
Set up donation matching
Add a donate button on live videos
To use Facebook’s online donate button, you’ll need to have a Facebook Business Page that’s categorized as a nonprofit. You don’t have any bureaucratic hoops to go through on Facebook’s end, but you’ll need to make sure you’ve got the nonprofit category selected to accept donations online for your organization. If you need to edit your page’s category to a nonprofit, all you do is head to the About section on the left side of your page and edit the category there. You can add up to three categories. Below is a screenshot from Facebook’s help section so you can see how simple it is to edit your category from your Facebook storefront.
If you are having a fundraising event at a physical location, you can also create an event through Facebook or link your Eventbrite page to Facebook, so your followers can click to buy a ticket.
At the beginning of the post, we talked about payment service providers, which are third-party processors that act as one umbrella merchant account with merchants being sub-users. Merchant accounts, on the other hand, provide a more direct solution that has some benefits. While you’ll have to go through a rigorous application process to open an account, and it’s not necessarily instantaneous like Square, you can typically expect good one-on-one customer care and communication if any issues arise.
We definitely have our favorite merchant service providers here at Merchant Maverick, but is this solution right for your nonprofit? Consider your monthly donations. Merchant accounts are best for larger organizations that process close to $10k or more in donations a month. At this volume, you’ll likely start facing significant cost savings by switching from a third party processor to a merchant account. In fact, many merchant accounts will only open an account for you if you’re processing around that range.
One of our favorite merchant accounts for nonprofits is Dharma Merchant Services. You’ll be hard pressed to find a company with more stellar reviews and who really has a heart for the nonprofit mission. In fact, they offer nicely discounted rates for nonprofits! Merchant accounts like Dharma are also typically really good at offering even more ways to take payments like ACH and automatic recurring payment solutions. As far as integrating payments online, Dharma uses Authorize.net, which is quite possibly one of the most compatible solutions to integrate on a wide variety of platforms. You’ll also have a lot of options in Clover hardware for in-person payments. For more information about the services Dharma offers, visit our full Dharma Merchant Services Review.
By now hopefully your gears are turning, and you’re feeling inspired to explore your options. Of course, your solution largely depends on your core needs. Accepting payments online is an integral part of fundraising but ongoing engagement is also a vital part as well. Choosing an option like Square that gives you flexibility in more than just payment processing can help you launch your online presence quickly and continue to engage those who give. But if you’ve already got a site you love, the ease of adding a payment button with PayPal or a fully branded checkout experience with Stripe or Dharma is also a fantastic option. Do you have any questions about accepting online payments for your charity? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
The post How To Accept Donations Online appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
When you are ready to start selling online, Square (read our review) offers a wide variety of options depending on your skill level and needs. For example, if time is of the essence or you donât want to fuss with code, build a free online store from Squareâs templates and get up and running by the end of the day.
Already have a site? Choose a plugin integration from the Square Dashboard that solves your problem â without the need for code.
But those aren’t all of your options. If you do have developer expertise, you can build your checkout flow with Square Transactions API and start accepting all major credit cards with digital wallet support, too.Â Â Square Checkout is yet another developer option that requires less coding with a pre-built payment form and digital wallet support.
In this post, we’ll explore each path so that you can get the facts and navigate to the choices right for you. Before you know it, youâll have launched your own online storeÂ and can move on to more exciting business matters.
Note: If youâre also curious about in-store payments, check out our related post, How To Use Square To Accept Credit Cards In Person.
Build Your Webstore Quickly & Easily
Integrate With Popular eCommerce Software
Developer-Friendly Tools For Customization
No coding required
Free personalized URL
Premade customizable themes
No hosting fees
Manage from your Dashboard
Integrate with your in-person store
API for custom solutions
Card reader SDK
Customer management solutions
PCI and EMV compliance
Instant Account Setup
No Monthly Fees
2.90% + $0.30 for online sales
Instant Account Setup
No Monthly Fees
2.90% + $0.30 for online sales
Instant Account Setup
No Monthly Fees
2.90% + $0.30 for online sales
How Much Does Square Charge For Online Payments?
The cost question can be a very loaded one when it comes to payment processing. The great news is that Square offers a transparent pricing model.
To process credit cards online with Square, you’ll pay 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. The significant thing to note is that this flat fee encompasses much more than is typical with traditional merchant accounts. For instance, you donât need to worry about a payment gateway (and the expenses that go with it) when you process through Square. Read on below to learn the differences between Square and a traditional merchant account â and why they matter.
Traditional Merchant Account Vs. Square
Squareâs hardware and services encompass an end-to-end processing system that captures payment information and encrypts it through the payment chain with no need for a separate payment gateway.
What this means for you is cost-savings compared to a traditional merchant account. You wonâtbe paying initial set-up fees, PCI compliance fees, monthly account fees, batch fees, or higher rates for processing cards like American Express. Square also doesn’t assess any chargeback fees and offers merchants up to $250/month in chargeback protection. All of this is a pretty big deal because Square spares business owners from the laundry list of itemized charges that can come with traditional merchant accounts.
So if Square isnât a traditional merchant account, what is it? Square is a third party processor. This means that instead of opening a merchant account directly, you are basically a sub-user on Square’s giant merchant account, along with all of Square’s other customers. Square acts as a payment processor and also assumes the financial risk associated with your business to do so. The whole premise behind Square is that it makes setting up a shop very easy for the busy entrepreneur. In fact, you can get an account set up and running to take payment the very same day. The Square sign-up process doesnât even require a credit check!
While you donât need to jump through a lot of hoops to open up an account with Square (as you would working directly with a bank), Square is more apt to terminate or put a hold on an account if certain red flags are raised. While the overwhelming majority of businesses will never have a problem with an account hold, it can be disconcerting if it happens to you. Check out our post How to Avoid Merchant Account Holds, Freezes, and Terminations to find out more. Again, most merchants will likely never have to face this issue, but it helps to cover your bases.
Now that we have covered Square Payments as a third party processor and the cost of processing, letâs dig into Squareâs offerings when it comes to going live and selling online.
Option 1: Build A Free Square Online Store
As I said in the introduction, you can get a free Square store up and running today with no technical expertise needed. This whole process is powered by Square Payments andÂ Weebly (read our review). After creating a Square account, you can go back into your dashboard and select âOnline Storeâ in the menu. Then, Square leads you through the process of selecting the categories that most closely apply to your business. You’ll get a suggested template, but you can choose a different one if you fancy another one better. You can also add your logo, choose from limited fonts, and have some color choices, but overall the design freedom here is limited to the template itself.
Again, for being free, there isnât much to complain about. A Square store is the simplest solution to get your shop up and running. All you need to do is add your products — your eCommerce shop syncs with Square POS and all of the other Square software and tools. Your inventory automatically updates when you sell an item, too.
One potential drawback to the freemium option, however, is that you are bound to the Weebly logo in your domain name and the footer of your website, and your shipping options are minimal. The screenshot below shows the shipping options available when setting up the free Square store with Weebly. Note that you must upgrade your Weebly plan to calculate real-time shipping rates:
If you want a bit more customization and dynamic shipping calculations (among other upgrades), you can purchase a domain and upgrade to a professional or premium account through Weebly.
Square Online Store Upgrade Options
The free online store option, although robust in its own way, limits you a bit. As you can see from above, for example, if your company relies heavily on shipping items with large size or weight ranges, it may be worth it to you to go to the Premium eCommerce plan for the real-time shipping rate calculator and accurate rates for UPS, FedEx, or other third party carriers.
The free store also has a 500 MB storage space limit, which could limit the number of photos on your site. The paid tiers give you a considerable upgrade with unlimited space, along with website analytics and insights.
As far as accepting payment goes, you can accept all major credit cards. Digital wallets like Apple Pay are not supported at this time, but I suspect they will be soon. For more about the pros and cons of this solution, check out our Square Online Store and eCommerce Review.
Option 2: Connect Square To An eCommerce Platform
Whether you already have your site up and running or you are building your site from the ground up (or somewhere in between), you can probably find what you need in the Square App Marketplace. Square integrates with many eCommerce platforms, including:
3dcart (read our review)
Wix (read our review)
BigCommerce (read our review)
WooCommerce (read our review)
Ecwid (read our review)
And of course — let’s not forget that Square also integrates with Weebly, as well asÂ WordPress and WP EasyCart.
On the topic of app integrations and Square, itâs worth noting that Square can easily integrate with a range of different types of apps that you can shop for right from your dashboard. You can find everything from accounting to invoicing, employee management, loyalty and rewards, and marketing, to name a few. Pricing depends entirely on the apps themselves, but the Square App Marketplace is set up to compare costs easily.
All of Squareâs basic eCommerce features integrate with these apps, so youâll be able to enjoy the same payment processing rates, security protection, and inventory updates as you sell. Of course, each app platform has specific features and benefits, so the finished product (and look) varies depending on the integrated solution you choose. Check out The Best eCommerce Integrations That Work With Square Payments for our top picks!
Option 3: Build Your Own Checkout With Square APIs
If you already have your own site and you have developer expertise, then you have two more options thanks to Square API: Square Checkout and Transactions API. The most significant difference between the two is that Square Checkout is much closer to an out-of-the-box solution. With Square Checkout, Square is actually hosting the payment form, and the UI is already done for you. If you want more freedom in the checkout and payment UI and you want to host the payment form on your site with customized branding, you can opt for Square Transactions API.
Here is a handy side-by-side comparison chart to give you an overview of what you can expect with each solution. Note: All Square APIs and SDKs are free to use. As always, you pay only the payment processing fees.
Square Transactions API
Requires Developer Support
No (You host)
Store Customer Data
Yes (With integration)
Card on File & Recurring Payments
Yes (With integration)
Yes (Customer data & itemization)
Detailed Dashboard Reports
No (Transaction amount only)
Recommended, not required
Yes, with separate integration
Eligible for Chargeback Protection
Yes (with conditions)
PCI Compliance Included
Yes, with Orders API
Dynamic Shipping Calculations
Accept Google Pay
Accept Apple Pay
Accept All Major Credit Cards
Yes, with Inventory API
The choice between Square API and Transactions API largely depends on your particular needs and what you find most important in the customer journey.
Other Ways To Accept Online Payments With Square
Though we have explored several options in Square payments, there are yet a few more to keep in mind. Before we go on, itâs worth mentioning that you canât add an embeddable âBuy Nowâ button to any site like you can with PayPal or even Shopify. However, there are still ways to take payments online — even without a website! Letâs check out the last two ways you can take payments via Square from your customer online â through invoices and in-app payments.
You donât need an online store to send and collect payment from your customers if you use invoices. Square allows you to send one-off invoices for single orders, or to set up recurring invoices for subscriptions or even installments.Â Itâs easy to track the status of invoices and follow up right from your Square Dashboard, too. Want more info on invoices? Check out How To Use Square Invoices To Ensure You Get Paid On Time so you can leverage this option for your business.
With all the cash being exchanged through in-app purchases, it was only a matter of time before Square decided to join the party. Thatâs right; now Square offers in-app payment support with a few lines of code! You can update elements to match your appâs style and have the freedom to customize the look and feel however you want. It’s all in Square’s Transaction APIs and completely free for you to use with your Square account.
Is Square Online Payments Right For You?
Square offers solutions for both the tech-savvy and those who want something ready to run out of the box. With that being said, the more appropriate question is, âWhich of Square Online Payment solutions are right for you?â And that answer comes down to your needs. From a quick-to-set up Square Store to Transaction APIs that are customizable and free to us, or plug-ins apps that add eCommerce to your existing site, there are many solutions to choose.
Keep in mind that you can add or subtract Squareâs services and other integrations to scale up or down with you as needed, so you donât have to make a final decision today. Setting up a Square account is the first step to get the ball rolling and see the options along the way. With no sign-up fees, binding contracts, or credit checks, Square is one of the least intimating companies to deal with if you are just checking things out.
The post How to Accept Online Payments With Square appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
Tax season is upon us, and if you are a small business owner, there is a good chance that you will need your Employer Identification Number (EIN) to file business taxes. For example, if you have an EIN for the first time this year, or are using a new CPA or service to file your business taxes, you will need to bring your EIN and other information to your accountant when you file your business taxes. There are also various other reasons you might need your EIN, such as to open a business bank account,Â open an online store, or apply for business financing. If you have misplaced your EIN, or aren’t sure if you even have one, you have come to the right place! Read on to learn what an EIN is, how you can find your EIN, and how you can apply for an EIN if you don’t already have one.
What Is An EIN?
An EIN (also sometimes called a “business tax ID number”) is a unique 9-digit number that identifies your company, similar to the way your social security number represents your personal identity. Specifically, your EIN identifies your business to the IRS. However, in addition to IRS-related filings such as business taxes, you might also need your EIN to apply for a business license, apply for a business loan, or open a business bank account.
The IRS requires most, but not all business types to have an EIN. For example, most sole proprietors and LLCs with no employees are not required to have an EIN and can instead use their social security number as their taxpayer identification number. As the name indicates, employer ID numbers are required for companies that employ people; if you have employees, then you need an EIN. Even if you are not required to have an EIN, you may opt to get one in order to establish your business as its own entity, separate from your personal identity. For example, having an EIN can help you establish your business credit profile so you won’t have to use your personal credit for your business.
How To Find Your EIN
If you have applied for and received an EIN in the past, then it shouldn’t be too difficult to find it. You’ll just have to do a little digging.
Method 1: Check Your Business Documents
Your EIN can be found on many of your important business documents, whether you have physical or virtual copies of these items. You should have the easiest time finding your EIN on your EIN confirmation letter from the IRS, and on your previous business tax returns.
Here are some documents where you can find your EIN:
Your EIN Confirmation Letter — The document the IRS issued when you originally applied for the EIN
Previously filed business tax returns — Your EIN should appear prominently at the top of your federal return
Your business credit report
Business licenses or permits
Business bank statements
Other tax filings, such as 1099 forms issued to independent contractors
Old business loan applications
Any tax notices from the IRS
Method 2:Â Run Your Business Credit Report
Okay, so let’s say you don’t have any copies of the above documents on-hand and you need your EIN, ASAP. Another option is to run your business credit report online and get your EIN that way. This is not free, but it’s a quick and easy way to get your EIN (or another company’s EIN), and it’s a good idea to check your business credit report from time to time anyway.
The three major business credit scoring agencies are Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax, and Experian. Equifax and Experian are more appropriate for smaller, less-established companies, and Experian offers the cheapest business credit report at $39.95.
Method 3: Call The IRS
You can also get your EIN by simply calling the IRS and asking them for it. Just keep in mind that they might have you on hold for a long time. From the IRS’s website:
Ask the IRS to search for your EIN by calling the Business & Specialty Tax Line atÂ 800-829-4933. The hours of operation are 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. local time, Monday through Friday. An assistor will ask you for identifying information and provide the number to you over the telephone, as long as you are a person who isÂ authorized to receive it.Â Examples of an authorized person include, but are not limited to, a sole proprietor, a partner in a partnership, a corporate officer, a trustee of a trust, or an executor of an estate.
Method 4: Ask Someone Else
IRS hold times too long? Call someone else who might know your EIN.
Here are some people who should be able to look up your EIN and give it to you over the phone:
Your account manager at the bank where you do your business banking
Your accountant (or you can consult your accounting software)
Any organization that you have a business license or permit from
Method 5: Use Other EIN Lookup Options
There are a few other places where you should be able to look up your EIN online:
Your online account with the bank where you do business
For publicly traded companies, the SEC’s online database
For nonprofits, the free Melissa database
As a last resort, you could also try a paid EIN database, but I would only recommend this if you’ve exhausted all other options. And if you’ve gone through all the other options and still can’t find your EIN, well … are you sure you even have an EIN?
Don’t Have An EIN? Here’s How To Get One
If you’ve read all the way to the end of this post without finding your EIN, odds are that you probably don’t have one. Or, you may have discovered that although you have an EIN, you need to apply for a new one. This may be the case if your ownership or business structure has changed, or you are subject to a business bankruptcy proceeding.
Fortunately, an EIN is actually pretty easy to apply for and obtain.
As long as your company is located inside the United States or a U.S.-owned territory and you have a taxpayer ID number such as your SSN or ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number), you can apply for an EIN on the IRS’s website.Â The application is short and sweet, and you will receive an EIN immediately upon successful form completion and validation of your information.
Note that while you will receive your EIN immediately online, it will take up to two weeks before your EIN becomes part of the IRS’s permanent records. You will have to wait until this happens before you can use your EIN to file an electronic tax return, make an electronic payment, or pass the IRS Taxpayer Identification Number matching program.
The IRS’s online EIN assistant is secure, but if you’re not comfortable submitting sensitive info online, you can download a PDF of Form SS-4 (also from the IRS’s website) and apply via snail mail.
For just about any business owner, an Employer Identification Number, or EIN, is a very useful thing to have. It’s useful for completing various legal tasks related to your business, such as filing taxes. You also need an EIN to build your business credit profile or apply for a business loan.
If you already have an EIN and need it in a hurry, don’t panic; it shouldn’t be too difficult to find. If you need to apply for an EIN, either for the first timeÂ or because you need a new EIN, this is also a quick and easy process. Once you have an EIN or have rediscovered it after doing some digging, please keep track of it because it will likely only be a matter of time before you need to retrieve it again.
The post How To Find Your Business EIN Number appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
WordPress is one of the most popular pieces of software in the website space. WordPress powers over 25% of the Internet and is famous for its versatility and ease of use.
Its is so well-known, that it’s common for people with some web design experience to generally say “just use WordPress” when referring DIYers and freelancers to a website solution.
But for those who are unfamiliar with the general WordPress world, there is a major point of confusion: WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org.
In this article, I’ll be reviewing WordPress.com as a website builder and general website solution for DIYers.
See WordPress.com’s Plans & Pricing here.
But before I dive into specifics, let’s talk about the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org: What’s the Difference?
WordPress is the name of a piece of software that can “power” your website on a server. So instead of uploading individual files to a server to create a website, you can use WordPress to create a “backend” where you can log in to your website to create, edit and manage web pages, blog posts, images – any sort of content.
It’s a “content management system” in web development jargon. WordPress is also “open-source” – which means that a community maintains it. A for-profit corporation does not own it. A non-profit foundation technically manages the trademark while leaving the software open under a General Public License.
The software & open-source community live & function at WordPress.org – where anyone can grab a copy of the software.
Note that I still haven’t said anything about it running a website. The other two pieces needed to run a website are hosting (ie, a server to run WordPress and render your website) and a domain name, which allows people to navigate to your website.
WordPress.org is also known as “self-hosted WordPress” because you have to provide the server for the software to live on. You pay for hosting and domain registration fees separately. You can learn how to setup a self-hosted WordPress website here.
And then there’s WordPress.com. It is a for-profit company owned by Automattic and founded by Matt Mullenweg – one of the original developers of WordPress.
WordPress.com is a service (not just the actual software & community) that offers websites / blogs powered by their install of WordPress software. They bundle hosting, support, services, and software into a single subscription. I refer it to as “hosted WordPress”, because you’re buying a hosted version of the software.
The renting vs. buying in real estate works well as an analogy.
WordPress.com = Renting a building for your living space (aka your website). You can pay for upgrades, but ultimately everything is up to your landlord (WordPress.com). That said – your landlord also has to pay to keep everything in working order.
WordPress.org = Owning a building for your living space. You own everything on your own hosting space. You do whatever you want. That said – you are responsible for everything.
If you want to get into the weeds, I wrote a whole post about the differences between WordPress.com and .org. But that analogy says it all.
The key tradeoff here is between convenience and control. WordPress.com is what we call an all-inclusive website builder. It competes directly with other hosted website builders like Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, GoDaddy GoCentral, etc. You sacrifice some control (like FTP access) to get a lot more convenience (like not installing security patches or crashing your own site).
Compared to its direct competition, WordPress.com focuses on scalability, support, and flexibility. Let’s dive further into my WordPress.com review to see how it really compares.
One other quick aside – a disclosure – I receive referral fees from all the companies mentioned in this post. My opinions & research are based on my experiences as either a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.
Pros of Using WordPress.com as a Website Builder
Here’s what I found to be the pros of using WordPress.com website builder — not just in comparison to direct competitors, but as an overall website solution.
Easy Sign Up Process
One of WordPress.com’s biggest pro is how easy it is to get started. To get your website up and running, you just follow a simple, 6-step process that includes creating an account, filling in your website information, and confirming your email address.
They also provide a ton of “onboarding” support (AKA the process of getting up and running with a website). I immediately received an email detail next steps, and was even prodded later in the day when I hadn’t finished a step in the set up.
There was really no part in the sign up process where I wondered, “What’s next?”. The steps were easy to follow, detailed, and included support once I got inside the dashboard.
If you’re looking for a simple, straightforward, and speedy way to go from having no website to having a site ready to build, then WordPress.com is a great choice.
Again, WordPress.com is an all-in-one solution, which means everything you need — from hosting to domain registration to integrations (more on that shortly) to design options is included in the platform.
That means everything just works — there’s no figuring out if this app or extension is compatible or is going to break your site. There’s no troubleshooting or support needs outside of what they already offer. Even things like analytics are built into the platform.
Spending less time on research and troubleshooting means you can spend more time on stuff that matters – like content, design, and marketing your site.
Plus, since WordPress.com uses WordPress as it’s CMS (and WordPress is the most popular CMS platform out there), the integrations are practically limitless.
Chances are, there’s been a plugin created to do whatever you need your site to do. And if it hasn’t been created yet, there’s a developer out there who could probably get it done. Just know that on WordPress.com, your advanced customization capabilities, like installing your own plugins and themes, are limited to their highest priced plan (more on that in a bit).
You also don’t have full control over the website functionality, because you don’t have access to your hosting. You still don’t have direct access to your files or your database. So if you want to do something in bulk or something super-technical, then you are out of luck.
That said, compared to other website builders (like Site123 or Jimdo), WordPress.com is inherently more open and accessible because it runs WordPress software. All of your content is in RSS and XML format, so it’s very easy to leave WordPress.com for another service or bulk export your content.
When you set up your website with WordPress.com, you have a ton of pre-made templates (“themes” in the WordPress jargon) to choose from, including premium themes that come with higher-priced plans.
WordPress.com also indicates which themes are best for beginners, which is helpful for those who don’t have extensive website experience and are looking for the easiest way to get their website designed and ready to market.
Inside these themes, you have a range of customization capabilities based on the plan you have. You also have significant customization abilities on the individual pages themselves— even with the free plan. Inside the page builder, you can change the format by adding columns, embedding elements, and even editing the page code if you know HTML / CSS.
One thing to note here — you cannot edit/customize the pages on the same screen that you edit the theme. This means that you’re basically designing the pages in a bubble. You can’t see how they play out in the context of the design until you actually go in and edit the theme. If you’re not looking to do any advanced designing, this may not matter to you, but it’s something to keep in mind if you are looking to build lots of websites for clients.
WordPress.com has a robust knowledge base and easily accessible support. In fact, their help button floats in the bottom corner of the Dashboard (and when you’re editing pages), so you can see relevant guides and articles to help you no matter where you are in your website.
You can also chat with another WordPress.com using their “Contact us” button on the floating help section, giving you an additional option if you can’t find the answers you’re looking for.
Cons of Using WordPress.com as a Website Builder
But of course, no website builder review would be complete without looking at the downsides. Every piece of software will have complaints, because there is no website solution that is right for everyone. Let’s look at a few specific cons I found.
WordPress.com is a bit pricier than its competitors when you take into account what features are available to you. WordPress.com limits the amount of storage space you get on your website (AKA the number of images, video, audio files, documents, etc. you can upload to your site).
Now, there is one caveat. WordPress.com does have a free plan. You can’t use your own domain name. You have to use yourname.wordpress.com – and serve WordPress.com ads on your site. But – it’s free. This plan is certainly my favorite way to get a free, well built website online.
However, it’s not clear that there’s a free plan available unless you go through the pricing tab. For example, if you were to click “Get Started” and just start filling in your information, you’re kind of cornered into buying a plan. There’s no option there to select a free plan. It’s confusing, especially if you don’t know that there’s a free plan available (which technically, you’re automatically signing up for when you create your account).
If you are trying to start just a basic informational website or blog and don’t want to deal with hosting, then WordPress.com’s Blogger and Personal plans are well-priced. But for a business or really any size (or website that is going to strive to make money), then it’s a bit hard to compete with running a self-hosted WordPress website or finding another solution like Website Creator (a website builder built on top of WordPress) or another drag & drop website builder.
Based on your website experience, using WordPress as a CMS does come with a learning curve — and it’s no different when it’s bundled with hosting and DNS services through WordPress.com. Yes, you have various themes to choose from that guide your site customization experience… but even those can be more complicated to tweak than WordPress.com wants to let on. Check out the instructions on customizing this theme I selected.
If you’re looking for the ease of a simple drag + drop website builder where you can literally drag elements onto the page, drop them in place, and customize your template that way, WordPress.com might not be the best choice for you.
Because here’s the thing. In many ways, WordPress is more than software. It’s like a whole platform / subculture. You know how Facebook has “Likes” and “Newsfeed” and “Groups” and all these other terms that make sense…but only once you’ve used Facebook? Ok – WordPress is like that. When you first start out, there’s all this jargon to figure out. It makes sense quickly, but that doesn’t make it any less weird.
Limited Functionality + Control
WordPress is known for how flexible and adaptable it is as a CMS. It’s a great way to build a website that you plan on keeping for the long haul, because it’s so customizable and scalable. But here’s the thing — those benefits don’t really kick in until you have a self-hosted WordPress (AKA WordPress.org), or until you pay for the premium business plan on WordPress.com, and even then you don’t have full accessibility with your website.
If you’re not looking for a website that you can customize and scale extensively, then this probably doesn’t matter to you. But if you are looking to create a website that you can scale, and you were drawn to WordPress as a CMS because of that, then going with “hosted WordPress” on WordPress.com probably isn’t your best option, because you’re giving up quite a bit of functionality and control.
WooCommerce & JetPack Addendum
At the risk of making this focused review too long, there are two remaining pieces to talk about in regard to WordPress.com and their services.
First is WooCommerce. WooCommerce is a software plugin for WordPress that brings a *ton* of amazing ecommerce functionality to any WordPress website. It is amazing. It has a ton of extensions and integrations only rivaled by Shopify. And it works on any existing website running WordPress. If you are using the WordPress.com, you can add it to your plan.
Since ecommerce has a lot more considerations than a publishing site, many ecommerce owners like to have a “hosted” solution. In this case, WordPress.com provides a great option for websites that are “content-first” but also want a large-ish online store.
Second is JetPack. You know how I mentioned that WordPress.com provides a lot of things like backups, security, and support that a self-hosted WordPress website does not have? Ok, so you can get most of that with JetPack. JetPack is a paid plugin software owned by Automattic that any self-hosted WordPress website can install and get automated backups, security scans, in dashboard support, remote management via the WordPress app and more.
In fact, this website uses JetPack. It costs between Free and $29/mo depending how many services / themes you want (security is free). Plus, there are some hosting companies that bundle JetPack in with your hosting fee, so that it’s super-affordable.
WordPress.com Review Conclusion
WordPress.com has many of the tradeoffs inherent with all website builders while capitalizing on the potential strengths of a website builder (ie, usability & support).
Compared to other established website builder brands, it lacks some pretty significant capabilities, like storage, pricing, and ease of use, but it does compete well on support, theme availability, design, technical aspects, and content publishing.
WordPress.com is a really good fit for anyone looking for a solid website builder that includes more advanced functionality and theme options but still takes the headache out of finding their own hosting and additional services. It’s a great option to just get started. And it’s great for content writers & publishers plus any businesses that have the budget for the Premium Plan.
Check out WordPress.com’s current plans & pricing here.
Not sure WordPress.com fits your needs? Check out my quiz to find what the best website builder is for you based on your preferences.
Are you working on a long-term project, need more freedom, or on a budget and don’t mind a learning curve? Check out my posts on trying out self-hosted WordPress and setting up self-hosted WordPress on your own server.
The post WordPress.com Review: Pros & Cons of WordPress.com as a Website Builder appeared first on ShivarWeb.
Subscription-based business models seem to be everywhere these days. Emerging wine clubs, personal care-in-a-box subscriptions, wardrobe-of-the-month sites — even supporting a favorite podcast! Clearly, these types of businesses are finding success as people jump into subscriptions to save money, time, or just for the fun of getting a box in the mail. And it’s not just cheese-of-the-month clubs anymore. Software as a Service (SaaS) subscriptions are booming in both business and personal markets. This environment is ripe for subscription business models, but you need the right tools to process recurring payments while protecting your business from security risks.
Of course, businesses that serve a local market with more traditional recurring products and services like gyms, childcare, or home improvement services also rely on recurring payments for their revenue stream â whether thatâs automatically charging a credit card or manually sending an invoice.
Choosing a payment processor for this type of business is not a light decision, so letâs take a look at what Square has to offer in terms of solutions geared for the recurring payment model.
How To Set Up Recurring Payments With Square eCommerce
If you are about to launch an eCommerce subscription-based business or you are looking for a different payment processing setup than the one you have, Square should be on your radar. While Square doesnât provide complete âout-of-the-boxâ solutions for eCommerce businesses, they offer three main options for you to get your shop live, with some flexibility under each.
Square Payment Form and Transaction API:
If you are a developer or have the in-house developer support, you can create a custom payment experience that resembles the rest of your site. That means you can save a card on file using the Square Payment Form and set up recurring billing using your own subscription logic. Square also has digital wallet support so you can add Apple Pay, Google Pay, or MasterPass for faster checkout. Hereâs more information directly from Square if you opt to embed the payment form:
Square Payment Form provides secure, hosted components for payment data like card number and CVV, while enabling you to make it your own. Itâs designed to help buyers enter their card data accurately and quickly. Card data is collected securely and tokenized, never hitting your servers, so you donât have to worry about PCI compliance.
When you integrate Square Checkout, you can save a card on file safely, and you wonât need as much developer knowledge. This solution is a pre-built workflow that includes digital wallet support, and itâs all hosted on Squareâs servers. You wonât have as much wiggle room in regards to customization, but itâs still going to give you a fast, streamlined checkout experience. Square provides a technical reference guide to assist you in building what you need, including setting up recurring billing.
Choose An Integration:
If you want a simpler solution that doesnât require coding or technical expertise, a plug-in may be just the ticket for you to get up and running quickly. Of all the options available within the Square Dashboard, Chargify jumps out because it seems to offer everything a subscription service would need. According to Chargify:
Chargify bills your customer’s credit card on whatever schedule you define. In addition to processing one-time and recurring transactions, Chargify can handle free trial periods, one-time fees, promotions, refunds, email receipts, and even dunning (reminders for failed credit card payments) management.
Chargify plans startÂ at $99 a month, but you can work your way up the scale when it comes to additional options. In general, Square plug-in selections abound, so you can shop to find the most promising solution for your business right from your Square Dashboard under Apps. Hereâs a screenshot of a few options listed:
No matter which solution you decide on, you can rest assured that the burden of PCI compliance and security with payment processing sits on Squareâs shoulders, not your own. And the free support you get from Squareâs team if there is a chargeback issue also gives some much-needed peace of mind as well.
To find out more and shop eCommerce solutions, head to Square’s website and select eCommerce under the section, Software services to grow your business. If you want to learn more before signing up, read our post, The Best eCommerce Integrations That Work With Square Payments. And if you want to find out more about Square as an eCommerce solution in general, check out our Square Online Store and eCommerce Review.
How To Set Up Square Recurring Invoices
When you’re ready to set up a recurring invoice for your customer, Square makes it easy. You can create an invoice through your Square POS app or from the Square Dashboard. You can then set up the scheduling frequency of your recurring invoice, though you will need your customer to approve their card on file.
Whether you send a one-time or recurring invoice, enable Allow Customer to Save Card on File so your customer can approve. Then you’ll be all set for repeat billing.
Note: If you need to manually save a card on file from your Virtual Terminal at your computer, youâll need to print out the approval form so your customer can sign it first.
Hereâs a screenshot of what the setup looks like for recurring invoices within the Square Dashboard.
With Square Invoices, you can also request a deposit, either due immediately or within a specific time-frame. So for you business owners that charge a sign-up or other set-up fee, you can seamlessly add in a deposit request and cover all the bases.
Getting Paid with Square Invoices
When your customer makes a payment, credit card payments update automatically in their invoice. Your customer follows the Pay Now prompt to enter their details and can also approve saving the card on file.
Did your customer send a check or pay you by cash? You can also record payment manually when you open up the invoice. If your customer wants to pay over the phone, you can process the amount on your computer through the Square Virtual Terminal located within the Square Dashboard. And finally, you can process in-person payments and apply them directly to the invoice by swiping, dipping, or tapping your customerâs card to your connected Square Reader. Just make sure you go into Invoices and apply the payment to the existing customer invoice.
Square Invoices (read our review) also makes it easy to track when your customer saw your invoice and any activity within the account. You can quickly send a message to follow up or edit the invoice any time from your Square Dashboard.
How To Use Square Installments For Invoices
Another solution that may boost sales is offering payment plans through Square Installments. Square Installments for Invoices finances the cost for your customer, so there’s no need for you to invoice repeatedly; instead, you are paid upfront and in full by Square. Square Installments is currently only available to select businesses, however. Youâll need to apply, and if you are approved, the Installments option automatically appears as a payment option on your invoices and Square POS.
When your customer chooses Installments (either via their invoice or your Square POS), theyâll apply directly with Square Capital at the time of the sale. If they are approved, the balance is reflected in your account. Also note that after the sale, Square Capital takes on the liability of the charge, so you wonât deal with collecting or processing payments. In fact, Square instructs any merchant to direct all questions or issues your customer may have with their installment payments to Square Installments directly. Find out more about it on our post, How Does Customer Financing Through Square Installment Work?
How Much Do Recurring Payments Cost With Square?
Below is a breakdown of Squareâs payment processing per transaction. When you crunch the numbers, keep in mind that you are getting an all-in-one solution as far as payment security with PCI compliance and chargeback support. Square doesnât charge monthly service fees either, so what you see is what you get as far as costs go.
Invoice paid with card by customer: 2.9% + $0.30
Invoice paid with card on file: 3.5% + $0.15
eCommerce processing: 2.9% + $0.30
Square Installments for Invoices: 2.9% of the purchase price + $0.30
Square Installments at your Point of sale: 3.5% of the purchase price + $0.15
Square online payment API and SKIs: Free for developers to use + eCommerce processing fee
Plug-in apps integrated with Square: Price varies with each software provider
Should You Use Squareâs Recurring Payments Tools?
Setting up recurring payments for your customers takes a little bit more forethought and prep than a one-off charge. However, Square makes recurring invoices accessible by offering a range of solutions for both eCommerce and brick-and-mortar shops.
As far as third-party processors and eCommerce go, Square offers similar solutions as its peers. In other words, youâll likely need the help of a developer with any option you choose, including PayPal or Stripe â unless you opt for a plug-in app. That being said, Square enables you to get eCommerce up and running safely â whether that is through a pre-built workflow, easy integration with a plug-in app, or API developer tools. (If you do have theÂ developer expertise and a bit more wiggle-room in your budget, itâs worth mentioning that Stripe affords greater freedom to customize the whole process, add advanced reporting features, and a lot more. But you canât be shy with code!)
Still curious about Square? Why not give them a try and see for yourself? There is no fee to sign up and no binding contract required, so setting up an account may be the next step for you. You can also head over to our Square Review and read how it compares to the other solutions out there.
The post How to Use Square for Recurring Payments And Invoices appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
Square has carved out quite a spot for itself in the world of payment processing. When it comes to accessibility, there are few rivals. With no credit checks, sign-up fees, monthly fees, or cancellation fees, and a very transparent pricing model, itâs no wonder why Square remains the go-to option for business owners who want a no-hassle choice.
In fact, itâs so easy to get started, that you can usually start taking payments immediately after setting up your Square account! That being said, it helps to get a bit familiar with the process before ringing up your first customer â and there is more than one way to do it. If you are interested in weighing your options, this post is for you.
We are mainly going to focus on taking payments with physical cards in this post, so if you have an eCommerce shop, you may want to check out ourÂ Square Online Store and eCommerce Review. If, however, you want to know how to ring up your sale and get some important details to help you choose the best options, keep reading.
To start us off, here is a short list of the ways you could accept payment with Square:
Your device + Square Point-of-sale (POS) app + Â Square card reader
Keying in credit card information in the Square POS app
Square POS hardware (e.g., Square Register)
Accessing the Square Virtual Terminal from your laptop
Below, we are going to start by explainingÂ how to accept payments with the Square Reader. After going through some different scenarios, weâll also explore Squareâs POS hardware for those of you with a physical storefront. By the end of this post, you should feel confident navigating your options and finding the best solution (or solutions) for your business processing needs.
But first, a note on Squareâs payment security.
Square & Payment Security
Right out of the gate, we need to take a quick minute to cover payment security. Itâs that important. Regardless of how you accept a payment â whether that is keying in a card, Â swiping with a magstripe reader, a dip or tap, etc. — Square provides secure and PCI compliant payment transactions. That is to say, Square is fully compliant with the latest Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS). And that also means you wonât have to pay additional PCI fees or hire a team to manage ongoing compliance, either.
This out-of-the-box payment security is just one reason Square is such a powerhouse for the millions of small business owner who trust it.
Let’s take a look at the Square reader options next.
How To Use A Square Reader For Mobile Payments
We’ll start with the obvious: the Square reader. Assuming you have already downloaded the Square app, itâs effortless to accept payment with your reader.
Step One: Open the app on your device. You will already be at the screen you need to make a charge. No fumbling required!
Step Two: If you have entered inventory into your Items list, find the item and click what you need. The total will automatically update.
Step Three: Tap the Charge button when youâre ready.
Step Four: Swipe or insert the card, or tap your connected reader. You can also manually enter the card number (keyed entry) if necessary.
Step Five: Your customer will sign their name and the sale is complete!
Donât have a connection? Suffering from a spotty connection? Squareâs offline mode helps you avoid losing the sale. Your customerâs data is securely saved in the app and the transaction will process when you connect your device to the internet again (WiFi or cellular connection). You must reconnect within 72 hours, though, or the transaction will cancel.
Itâs really that easy. To see how Square stacks up next to other mobile credit card processors, check out our Mobile Credit Card Processing Comparison table.
Square Transaction Fees & Mobile Reader Costs
As stated at the start of the post, Square offers very transparent pricing. If you use Square Point of Sale on a smartphone or tablet with a mobile card reader, youâll pay the standard processing fee of 2.75% per swipe, dip, or tap. And keep in mind that no matter what type of card your customer hands you, Square charges the same fee per transaction. If for some reason you need to key-in the credit number, you will pay 3.5% + 15 cents for manually-entered transactions. We will revisit the types of card-not-present transactions later in the post.
Letâs talk a little more about the Square Reader, because you do have some choices that go beyond the free magstripe device. The good news is that Square readers work with nearly all Android or iOS devices running the latest updates. If you’re in doubt, Square offers a compatibility tool so you can look up your device and see for yourself.
After signing up for a new Square account, you can choose which free Square reader you would like — and they’ll ship it directly to you for free. Depending on your device needs, you can choose between the lightning adapter for iOS or the standard 3.5mm headphone jack reader. The other option you have is to shell out $49 for the Contactless + Chip reader.
The free magstripe card reader is great for getting started, but I recommend considering the upgraded Contactless + Chip Reader for improved payment security in processing. (It also offers your customers more ways to pay you.)
Square also sells a small charging dock so you can keep your contactless reader fully charged through the day. If you opt for the contactless reader, you can also purchase a specially designed Otterbox case from Square. You can slide the contactless reader on the back of the case if youâre on the go. Unfortunately for Android users, the case only fits an iPhone 7 or 7 plus, but I have a hunch there will be more options for this one when the demand grows.
Can You Use A Square Reader With Multiple Devices?
You may be wondering about the possibility of sharing a reader between different devices — or maybe even switching readers. Good news! You can do either of those things! If you have more than one device, decide to upgrade a device (or reader for that matter), need to swap a device, or hand your Square reader to a different team member for them to plug into their phone, you can do so without an issue.
Thatâs because your account is anchored to your Square POS app, not to a specific reader. When you or your team member signs into the Square POS app, transactions go into the system automatically. You can use the same reader across different accounts, too. So if you have two businesses, or you have more than one Square POS app (like Square Retail or Square Restaurants), the reader works interchangeably with those as well.
Keep in mind that when you choose your reader, you may limit your usage. For example, you can only use the lightning reader with iOS, but the standard 3.5mm headphone jack reader is compatible with multiple devices. Of course, you can always purchase more readers to suit your needs and keep up with a growing team. As long as they are signed into your Square account, all sales will be synced to your account.
How To Use Squareâs Countertop POS Systems
If you are considering how you can use Squareâs countertop POS systems to make business flow, here are your options:
Square Standfor Contactless and Chip:
When you use the Square Stand with the free Square Point of Sale (POS), you will need to bring along your own compatible iPad (most recent model) or purchase an iPad to go into your stand. The magstripe reader is built-in if you must swipe, but we recommend utilizing the Square Reader for contactless and chip payment for the latest payment security protections. The Square Stand also comes with a dock to keep the contactless reader charged and stable.
When it comes time to ring up an order, youâll complete the sale just as you would through your mobile device, as the free Square POS app is still the engine thatâs running the whole thing. The Square Stand for Contactless and Chip makes a great choice if you are looking for a more prominent, bonafide countertop POS option. It has a simplistic design with minimal cords and offers more screen real estate to find inventory and add to your sale. Â
With the Square Stand, you can run your Square POS app or the premium options created just for retail and restaurants. Find out why these might be a better option for you (and see the fee differences) by visiting our Square for Retail or Square for RestaurantsÂ reviews.
The Square Terminal is a great all-in-one choice if you want a little more portability than the Square Stand offers. You can swipe, dip, or tap credit and debit cards, and it even has a receipt printer built right in. Terminal runs the free Square POS app, so itâs easy when it comes to ringing up a sale. You can also access features such as your customer directory, reports, and inventory tools.
If you are running Square for Restaurants, you wonât have access to all of the bells and whistles, but Square Terminal does have limited compatibility with the Restaurants POS. For example, you can pull up an open ticket and settle payments right at the table â complete with a receipt! When all is said and done, The Square Terminal can hold its own as an excellent countertop solution, but itâs also lightweight enough to use as a mobile solution. And because Square POS has an offline mode built right in, you donât have to worry about losing connection. Transaction data is all saved safely with Square and ready to process when your device is back online.
They built the Square Register with both your and your customerâs ease of use in mind. Thereâs one 13.25-inch screen for you, and one for 7-inch display customers, complete with magstripe, chip card, and contactless payment processing built in! Square Register runs Square POS and supports Square Loyalty and other software add-ons. The Square Register also supports the back-end features of the premium Square for Retail software, such as the advanced reporting and inventory features, but can’t run the POS app itself.Â
Not sure what you need? Check out A Guide To Square Credit Card Readers And POS Bundles to compare and explore your options. Below, we’ll break down the cost of the hardware we just talked about, and discuss the transaction fees associated with each.
Square POS Hardware Costs & Transaction Fees
As always, Square pricing is very straightforward. Below weâve listed prices for the hardware and what it will cost you to process payments.
Square Standfor Contactless and Chip: Â The cost for this one is $199.00. If you want to add an iPad, you can do so for $329.00. Note that the stand is only compatible with an iPad (2017, 2018), iPad Pro 9.7â, or iPad Air (1, 2). Youâll pay a flat 2.75% per swipe, dip or tap transaction at the Square Stand so long as you are running the free Square POS. Square For Restaurants and Square for Retail process at different rates — 2.6% + $0.10 for Restaurants and 2.5% + $0.10 for Retail.
Square Terminal: To get your business a Square Terminal, youâll pay $399.00, shipping included. You can also opt to add on 20 rolls of terminal print paper for another $20.00. Your payment processing fee is 2.6% + 10Â¢ per swiped magstripe cards, swiped or inserted chip cards, and contactless payments.
Square Register: Square Register costs $999.00 to purchase it outright. Shipping is free, and it arrives in seven business days or less. Itâs ready to start processing payments right out of the box, so thereâs no fuss when it comes to launch time. Contactless payments, swiped or inserted chip cards, and swiped magstripe cards processed through cost 2.5% + 10Â¢ fee.
If you add on specialized software, such as Square for Restaurants or Square for Retail, you will have an additional monthly charge (both starting at $60/mo). Both of these premium POS systems are geared towards specialized businesses and include features such as advanced reporting (for retail), and table mapping (for restaurants). Â
How To Accept Card-Not-Present Payments with Square POS Â
There may be some situations when you need to take a payment from your customer, and you canât swipe, dip, or tap the card. Maybe you donât have your reader with you, or you want to take an order over the phone. Whether the card is physically present or not, if you manually enter in the card information, itâs considered a card-not-present transaction.
In the next section, we will lay out the payment processing costs for such transactions. But first, letâs discover the ways you can process a card with Square if you donât have your reader (or the card) in hand.
If you log into the Square Dashboard from your computer, you can key in manual payments from your Virtual Terminal (not to be confused with the Square Terminal hardware). You wonât need additional hardware to complete the transaction. You simply go into the terminal and enter the amount, credit card information, and even add a note to describe the sale. Then you hit “Charge,” completing the transaction. You can also take âCard on Fileâ payments from the Virtual Terminal (more on that below).Â If you have a Chromebook or Apple laptop, you can connect a basic magstripe reader to swipe transactions. In that case, you’ll pay the standard swipe rate instead of the keyed entry rate.
Whenever you ring up a sale, you can also opt to save your customerâs card number on file for future use. After that, you always have the option of selecting âcard on fileâ to complete the sale. However, keep in mind that whenever you ring a card-on-file transaction later and donât swipe, dip, or tap, you have entered into âcard-not-presentâ territory and slightly higher processing rates apply.Â
Security Concerns with Card On FileÂ
The Square app only reveals the last four digits of your customerâs credit card on file and does not save CVV card data to remain PCI compliant. Any time you make a transaction with Card on File, Square automatically sends a receipt to the customer so they have a record of the transaction, to help minimize the risk of unauthorized charges.
You should never save your customerâs card data unless it is stored with PCI-compliant software (such as Square). Businesses that store customers’ payment data improperly put everyone in danger of a breach, and the company can be liable for the breach, should it occur. Small businesses are targeted by fraudsters looking for unsecured data, and it is a lot more common than you may think. If you save the card on file through Square POS or Virtual Terminal, keep in mind that Square also requires you to obtain written consent to store the card on files — the site provides a form you print off and store somewhere secure.Â Also, your customer can revoke their consent to keep their card on file with you at any time.
Manually Keying-In Credit Card Information
In addition to the Virtual Terminal included with Square, you can always opt to enter credit card information manually with the Square POS app. Because there is a higher chance of fraud when you donât capture the electronic data, itâs going to cost you a bit more to process. However, sometimes it is necessary to take these types of payments. Use your discretion with these types of transactions, and swipe, dip, or tap the card if at all possible to reduce your fees (and your chargeback risk). However, if a card is particularly worn down, the card reader is just misbehaving, or you don’t have your Square reader handy, it’s good to know you have a backup option to accept payments.Â
If you are looking for yet another workaround when it comes to processing payments, donât have your reader handy, and you don’t want to key in the amount, you always have an option to send an invoice. Your customer will get the invoice via an email right away. From there, they can open their email and follow the prompts to enter in their credit card information from their own device. This is especially good for higher-value transactions where keying in the card number might send up a red flag.Â
Check out our Square Invoices review for a more in-depth look at Square’s free software, but for now, what you need to know is that you can link your inventory to invoices, allow customers to send tips, take down payments, and even enable installment payments.
Square Keyed-Entry Transaction Fees
As we covered above, there are several scenarios in which you may want or need to key in your customerâs credit card information and more than one way to do it. Hereâs how much itâs going to cost you to process these types of payments:
Is Squareâs Credit Card Processing Right For You?
Square offers several solutions for businesses at every stage. That means that if youâre a one-person shop now, you donât really have to worry about finding a new solution when you grow because Square offers so many scaleable hardware options. When it comes to taking payment at your storefront or on the go, there are many ways to go about it. And with a transparent pricing model, there are no surprises on the back end. Because Square offers an all-in-one solution with payment processing and PCI compliant security built right in, you donât need to worry about jumping through hoops to keep up with the latest global payment security regulations.
So is Square right for you? Sometimes the best way to find out is to see for yourself! ConsdierÂ setting up a Square account and playing around with the possibilities. Itâs free to set up a Square account, and there are zero commitments or contracts required.
If you are still weighing all of your options when it comes to processing, check out this Mobile Credit Card Processing Comparison table for a quick side-by-side view of some top-rated companies.
Free App & Reader
Square for Retail
Square for Restaurants
Free, general-purpose POS software and reader for iOS and Android
Easy integration with popular platforms plus API for customization
Specialized software for more complex retail stores
Specialized software for full-service restaurants
The post How To Use Square To Accept Credit Cards In Person appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
Thinking about using Square to process payments for your business? Whether you are a solopreneur or a busy boss running multiple locations, you can quickly set up an account with Square with little to no fuss. Square offers several time-saving benefits for the small business owner looking to start processing payments, including no credit checks, a free magstripe reader to get you started, and a free Square POS app which enables you to start taking credit card payments right away. Not only that, but the Square dashboard offers analytics reporting, inventory management, alerts, and (with optional add-on software) even the ability to plan email marketing campaigns!
With all of these conveniences and freebies, you can expect slightly higher transaction fees than you’d get with a traditional merchant account. However, as a third-party processor, Square offers a very transparent pricing plan that starts at 2.75% per swipe dip or tap, and 3.5% + 15 cents for keyed-in transactions. You wonât be surprised with hidden fees or contracts, and you can enjoy the same processing rate for all major credit cards. Square also offers payment dispute assistance, chargeback protection, and secure, PCI compliant software â all included.
If your interest in Square is piqued, but you need a little more information before getting started, then you’ve landed on the right post! Below, we’ll take you step-by-step through the process of signing up for a new Square account. As you will see, setting up your Square account is relatively straightforward. And the best part? Itâs completely free and requires no commitment on your part whatsoever.
What Do You Need To Get Started?
Before we get started, here is the main information youâll need to set up your Square account:
Last four digits of your Social Security number (to confirm your name)
Bank account number to set up your direct deposit schedule
You don’t need:
Proof of revenue
Your full social security number
A credit check
We are going to get pretty detailed in this tutorial, but rest assured, the application itself takes less than ten minutes. Follow along with the guide below to discover how to set up and make the most of your new Square account!
How To Create A Free Square Account
First, visit Squareâs sign-up page and hit the âSign Up With Squareâ button.
The next screen is straightforward and asks if you are an individual or represent a larger business, charity, or religious organization. Enter in your business name or another title that you would like to appear on your receipts. I’m typing in “Blue Heron Content” as my business name.
Now we are getting closer to the meat â Square wants to know where you plan on processing payments. In this example, I donât want to limit myself, so I am choosing all of the possibilities!
It’s important to mention that even if you don’t plan to use some of these options right away, you can still access them later at any time.
Next, Square asks what else they can help you manage. I am also going to select all of the options again to get a better idea of what Square may suggest right off the bat. I donât personally need employee tracking for my business, but letâs see what it can do!
Now it’s time to make decisions. Because I selected that I was interested in restaurant-related products, I am offered a free 30-day trial of Square for Restaurants, one of Square’s premium iPad POS apps. (Check out our full review of Square for Restaurants for a more detailed look at pricing and features.) If you are a restaurant owner, check out some of the perks Square lists below. For this particular tutorial, though, we are going to stick with the free POS system.
Now that I have selected Square Point of Sale as my preferred POS app, I’ve made it to the âLetâs talk about youâ page. This is the place to plug in the rest of your information. Note that Square is not going to perform a credit check on you or your business, they just need the last four digits of your social security number or ITIN, your legal name, street address, and phone number. They use this information to verify your identity.
I’ve finished filling in this form, so I am going to hit “continue” and see whatâs next on our journey.
Choose A Magstripe Reader
Great news! By the time you arrive at the next screen below (3-5 seconds, give or take), Square will have successfully verified your identity. Now it’s time to select a credit card reader to accept in-person payments. For my part, while the Contactless + Chip Reader looks very enticing at $49, I am going to accept the free reader for now.
Now there’s another choice to make. Square would like to know if I would like the 3.5mm magstripe reader that is compatible with the traditional headphone jack, or the Lightning connector version for iOS devices. Iâm choosing the reader that plugs into a conventional audio jack. You’ll obviously choose the option that works best for your business setup.
Compatibility Note: Square’s magstripe and chip card readers and the Square Point of Sale (POS app) are compatible with most Apple iOS and Android devices running the latest software updates. After this tutorial, check out our Square POS Review for more about system requirements, integrations, and a lot more details about Square POS.
After selecting the type of magstripe reader that fits your needs, Square will give you the options to find a retailer close to you and pick up the reader or have it mailed. Personally, I’m opting for Square to send me the reader in the mail. After entering my shipping details, I am one step closer to getting my own Square reader. Oh, and shipping is free, too! Just note that it could take up to 10 days for yours to arrive.Â
After entering my information and clicking continue, the setup process is officially complete!Â That was very easy. Square has already sent me an email letting me know when to expect my reader and another to confirm my email address.
It’s time to head to the new dashboard to set up the backend.Â
How To Set Up Your Square Dashboard
Right away, you can see that the dashboard has a clean layout and is pretty straightforward. Since this is the first time I am visiting this new dashboard, Square is offering up these green bubbles as a setup guide. Letâs explore the dashboard and start setting up inventory, customizing the layout, and checking out the reporting features.
Compatibility Note: Youâll be able to access the full Square dashboard from any web browser, but the Square Dashboard app is only compatible with iPhones at this time. You can still take payments on any compatible iOS and Android device with the Square POS app, however.
Add Items & Build Your Inventory
From your home screen, you will see the teal Items button (pictured in the screenshot above). The place to add inventory is under Items>Item Library. To the right on the screenshot below, note the blue button that says âCreate an Itemâ:
Here is what the “Create an Item” screen looks like in the Square Dashboard before adding a product:
I went ahead and uploaded a product image and filled out my first item below. I can add the amount of stock I have, a price, and set up low-stock alerts for myself here, too! Square will even let me color-code items if I prefer to group categories by colors.Â
It’s also possible to create variant items if you sell the same product in different colors and/or sizes. Plus, for cafes and restaurants, there’s a “modifier” option. Say, for example, that you want to offer coconut, soy, and almond milk alternatives for customers in your coffee shop. You can do that, and even set an upcharge fee for these items using the modifier feature.Â There’s also an option to specify at which locations an item is available if you have more than one shop.Â
Create & Manage Locations
You can create multiple locations from within your Square Dashboard by going to “Accounts and Settings” and then to “Business” and selecting “Locations.” Square will even let you specify a mix of physical locations with a set address and mobile locations without one.
Square’s location management features can help you manage inventory and gather data from multiple stores â and it is totally free:
Linked locations and deposit options
Per-location item libraries
Device management for security
Reporting tools to compare/contrast sales or other data
Square also offers advanced tracking and reporting tools for individual employees across your locations. More on those features and cost in the Employee Management section.
Manage Sales Tax Settings
You will find Square’s sales tax settings nestled under the Items menu in your dashboard.
When you create a tax at your Square Dashboard, the tax will automatically sync to every device in your account, and you can specify which taxes apply to which locations. You can even build the tax into the price of the item if you prefer, rather than adding the tax to the price afterward. Square also lets you modify tax settings from within the mobile POS app as well, which is useful when you need to make changes on the fly.
In addition to multiple tax rates, you can create conditional tax rules, which are preset conditions in which a tax won’t be applied â whether you need that to apply to one item or the entire order. This is especially helpful for restaurants that handle online orders.
Now, let’s head back to the home screen and customize our dashboard layout, and then check out the reporting features!
Customize Your Dashboard Layout
Customizing the layout of your Square Dashboard is super easy. First, you can get rid of anything you know you wonât need right off the bat by scrolling through and unchecking anything in the drop-down menu (pictured on the right-hand side of the screenshot below). Donât worry about making the wrong decision, because you can reset the whole thing or click to re-check one box.
The other way to easily adjust your view is by dragging and dropping the tiles to configure them exactly how you want them. For my store, I switched tiles to move the feedback tile up from the last row. This drag-and-drop feature makes it easy to get the information you prioritize first, and then scroll to other options whenever needed.
As you can see, it’s simple to move things around, and if you change your mind, just as easy to change it back.
Review Square’s Reporting Features
The extensive, user-friendly and (mostly) free reporting features are what make Square a fantastic, no-fuss choice for any small business. As you can see in the screenshot below, there is a long list of possible reports. Every business has unique needs, and Square does a good job of supporting a wide range of small businesses with various options and features.
All of the sales reports, such as Sales Summary, Sales Trends, Items Sales, and Modifier Sales, are free. Custom Reports is another handy and entirely free reporting tool that can help you combine and compare your reporting data. Custom Reports allows you to aggregate reports with multiple filtering options. This feature makes it easy work to create a report that breaks the data down for a single location, or you can pick and choose certain pieces of data and compare them across different locations.Â For instance, you could create one report that compares Gross Sales and Returns for a particular device and/or location.Â
To find out even more about what Squareâs dashboard can offer you in terms of reporting features, check out our post Why We Like Squareâs Online Dashboard and Analytics App.
If you are looking for even more robust reporting and tracking across multiple locations for your employees, it may be worth it to you to learn more about the Employee Management tools, featured below.
Manage Your EmployeesÂ
Within the Dashboard, you’ll find the Employee section, which is the foundation for Square’s Employee Management feature set. Adding a new employee into your dashboard is easy â and adding in separate email logins for Square POS is entirely free. However, if you want advanced reporting on timekeeping, individual employee sales, and sales vs. labor costs, you need to subscribe to Employee Management, which will cost you $5 per employee.Â
Here, I have chosen to select the free “Mobile Staff” option to show you that you can invite employees using the email address that they will then use to log into the Square app. You can also enable or disable permissions for accepting payments in Offline Mode and set or remove Issue Refunds permissions.
It’s important to note that employees assigned to mobile staff can only access their own sales data in the Square POS app.Â
If you want something a bit more substantial in terms of employee reporting, Square offers that, too.Â To track individual employee sales through the day, keep better performance accountability across multiple locations, and closely monitor administrative permissions, the $5/mo per employee cost for the advanced Employee Management feature seems like a pretty fair deal. You also get timekeeping, so your employees can clock into their shifts through the Square POS app.Â
If you want to get started with Employee Management, there are a few ways to do it: Head to Employee Sales or Labor vs. Sales under Reports and start adding employees. It’s free to try for 30 days!
How To Set Up Square Deposits & Funding
When itâs time to get all of that revenue into your bank account, Square has several options for getting your money, all found under Deposits.
Square will automatically deposit your funds on the next business day. You can also change your âclose of dayâ to adjust for your time zone or business hours if you would like. The close of day determines when Square cuts off payment deposits for the next business day.Â If you need your money even faster, Square offers Instant Deposits that transfer your current Sales Balance immediately â whether itâs a business day or a weekend. This faster service will cost you 1% of the transfer amount. You can even use Scheduled Deposits to get your money deposited at each day’s close of business.Â
Find out all the details about the instant deposit feature, and more about how Square’s deposit options work in general, by checking out our post, How Does Squareâs Instant Deposit Work?
To set up your deposit schedule or choose an instant transfer, youâll need to link your debit card (in addition to your bank account). However, you have yet another option for disbursement. You can request your very own Square Card, a personalized business debit card that holds your Square balance.
You can use your card anywhere MasterCard is accepted. If youâd like to order one, youâll find “Square Card” tucked right under the Deposits tab. To be clear, you can request a Square Card and also choose to have funds deposited into your bank account.
Explore More Square Software Options
Square offers a myriad of specialized software options to make business more productive. Here are some of your options:
Customer Engagement: Square’s customer engagement tools includeÂ a customer database, feedback management, and CRM software. The database and feedback tools are free, but the CRM starts at $15 month.Â The image above is a sample CRM campaign I could send to my lapsed customer list. Email campaigns are easy to customize and segment for those reachable-by-email customers.
Loyalty Program:Â This tool starts at $25/month. Read our Square Loyalty Program Review for an in-depth analysis.
Advanced Employee Management:Â As outlined in a previous section, pay $5/month per employee for advanced reporting and employee management tools.
Payroll: Square Employee and Contractor payroll starts at $29/month plus $5/employee. Contractor-Only Payroll is just $5/month per contractor.
eCommerce: Square offers free space and setup for an online store, and you can integrate with major shopping carts. Read our Square Online Store and eCommerce Review.
Invoicing:Â Invoices are always free to send, pay 2.9% + 30 cents per invoice when your customer pays with credit or debit online. For more on the pros and cons, pricing, and an in-depth look at invoicing with Square, check out our Square Invoices Review.
Choose Another Square Point of Sale App
While the free Square POS app will likely fit the bill for many small businesses, Square has developed more specialized tools for retail, restaurants, and appointment-based businesses.
Square For Retail:
This POS system works with an iPad and has a redesigned interface and usability geared for retail businesses that have substantial inventory. Instead of scrolling to an item in your inventory, an item is easily searchable by name. The barcode scanning and printing features make keeping up with inventory a bit easier, too. Check out our Square Retail Review for more on price, pros and cons, and all a lot more details.
Square for Restaurants:
If you are familiar with Square’s POS system, you may be surprised to see how different Square for Restaurants really is. And it has to be. Sit-down restaurants usually require more specialized tools to cover their everyday business needs, and this POS delivers â from table mapping, menu creation, table management, and reporting tools â there are a lot of specialized features here. Check out our full Square for Restaurants review to find out if this is the right choice for your restaurant.
If your business relies on creating and maintaining appointments for just yourself or an entire team, Square Appointments might be just what you need. Note that this POS option is an iOS exclusive. It’s free for individual users, and pricing starts at $50 a month beyond that. Check out our in-depth Square Appointments Review, including functionality, customization, and features.
Choose Hardware Options
Square has expanded to offer so much more than the free magstripe credit card reader. As I mentioned earlier, Square offers a Contactless + Chip reader that lets you accept chip card and contactless payments for $49, which is a smart move to improve payment security.Â Â
If you need something more robust in terms of hardware, however, you can probably find what you need. Square offers countertop POS systems with customer-friendly displays, and if you want to toe the line between countertop vs. mobile, Square also offers a fully portable credit card terminal with a built-in receipt printer.
Squareâs countertop POS devices include:
Square Stand: This hardware option is a tablet stand with a built-in card reader (along with contactless and chip reader) with an affordable price tag, minimal cords, and a swivel stand.
Square Terminal: A more portable option, Square Terminal accepts magstripe, chip card, and contactless transactions. Itâs sleek design, built-in receipt printer, and generous display size make it a nice, versatile option.
Square Register: Need something more robust? The Square Register offers a 13.25-inch display to run your Square Point of Sale, and on the opposite side, you have a 7-inch customer display ready for magstripe, chip card, and contactless transactions.
For an in-depth look at each of the POS options or to take a gander at all the Square POS kits and bundles, head over to A Guide To Square Credit Card Readers And POS Bundles.
Where To Go Next With Square?
When you consider that Square is a secure, PCI compliant option with a transparent pricing plan and offers lots of bells and whistles, it truly is an excellent solution for any small business. I like that itâs so easy to set up an account with Square, and that they don’t ask for much in terms of personal information. When it is time to get set up or find reports, the dashboard is intuitive and easy to navigate. I also love that Square offers affordable hardware and software when it comes time to scale the business.
Not quite ready to make a decision? Check out our Square Review or head over to Square and set up your own account to see for yourself.
Already have an account?Â Square support provides great resources to help answer your questions as you navigate your options.
Have questions, comments? Leave us your thoughts below! (Just make sure you check our comment guidelines, first!)
The post How To Set Up A Free Square Account appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
WooCommerce and Shopify are both wildly popular software systems that can help you build a thriving online store. Behind-the-scenes, however, the two platforms work quite differently from one another. Before we jump into comparing these juggernauts of the ecommerce software realm, let’s quickly get oriented on the basics of each.
At its core, Shopify (read our review) is a SaaS (software as a service) online shopping cart platform. Starting at just $9/month, you can upload products to an online catalog and sell them on Facebook, or post them on an existing website of your own via embeddable “buy” buttons. You can even sell your products in-person with the Shopify POS app. Then, beginning at $29/month, Shopify facilitates the creation and hosting of a fully-fledged ecommerce website.
By contrast, WooCommerce (read our review), is a free and open-source ecommerce shopping cart plugin that was created specifically for installation inside the WordPress dashboard. The WooCommerce plugin turns a WordPress website or blog into an ecommerce storefront. In other words, WooCommerce has no actual website-building capabilities of its own — WordPress handles that part.
To understand WooCommerce and how it works, you need a little familiarity with WordPress itself. To put it simply, WordPress is a website builder/CMS (content management system) that exists in two forms: WordPress.org and WordPress.com. WordPress.org is the self-hosted version, whereas WordPress.com uses the same basic software as WordPress.org, but provides web hosting for your site as part of its services. Either WordPress version can actually be combined with WooCommerce, but each setup has different implications for cost, site maintenance, etc.
For the purposes of our Shopify versus WooCommerce comparison, we’ll focus on combining WooCommerce with WordPress.org, the self-hosted option. Most ecommerce sellers are attracted to WooCommerce because they already use WordPress.org for their websites, and/or they like the WooCommerce plugin’s “free” price tag in conjunction with WordPress.org. While the WooCommerce plugin itself is always free, you can only add plugins to the dot-com version of WordPress if you’re on the $25/month WordPress.com subscription.
Now that you know the basics, we’ll break down the two platforms into their various components — usability, features, comprehensive cost, and more. It’s basically the same old compare-and-contrast essay we were all forced to write in middle school. The stakes are a bit higher with this particular essay, however. By the time we’re done, you’ll hopefully have a good sense of which ecommerce platform (if either) is best for your online business.
You might be tempted to think WooCommerce immediately takes this category without contest. After all, both the WooCommerce plugin and the WordPress.org software download are free, whereas Shopify automatically involves a monthly subscription. In reality, you need to invest in a few services (e.g., web hosting) to get a WooCommerce + WordPress.org ecommerce store off the ground. The bottom line is, WooCommerce may be a bit cheaper at the outset, but it’s not 100% free. Just wanted to clear that up first!
Before we run a more detailed cost comparison of the two platforms, here’s a quick look at why WooCommerce wins this category:
You can launch an online storefront up for well under $29/month, which is the starting price for a full online store with Shopify.
All WooCommerce features are included with the free plugin. You don’t automatically need to jump to higher subscription levels for additional features or staff accounts (you just may need some add-ons as time goes on). In other words, you pay only for exactly what you need.
Neither WordPress nor WooCommerce charge any additional transaction fees per sale, beyond those charged by your credit card processor. Shopify only waives its extra transaction fees (that start at 2%) if you use Shopify Payments as your credit card processor, and not everyone is eligible for Shopify Payments.
WooCommerce is the budget option of the two, but only if you have the skills to run your own website and don’t need to hire extra help for web development, site maintenance, security, backups, etc. If you do need lots of extra help, you could still end up paying more with WooCommerce + WordPress in the long run. Fair warning.
That’s the summary explanation. Now, here’s a more detailed pricing breakdown if you’re interested:
Monthly Subscription Fee: $9 (no standalone storefront), $29, $79 or $299/month.
Domain: Unless you want your store URLs to end in “myshopify.com” (and you probably don’t), you’ll need to purchase or connect a custom domain. Domains from Shopify start at $11/year, or there are lots of third-party options.
Web Hosting: Included
SSL/TLS Certificate: Included
Additional Transaction Fees:Â 0.5%-2.0% depending on your Shopify subscription — unless you use the in-house payment processor (Shopify Payments), in which case these extra fees are waived. Note: these transaction fees are on top of regular credit card processing fees you must pay per sale with any processor.
Additional Cost:Â Primarily add-ons from the marketplace, and perhaps a one-time purchase of a premium theme.
WooCommerce + WordPress.org Pricing
Monthly SubscriptionÂ Fee: None if you set up a free WordPress.org site. The WooCommerce plugin itself is always free.
Domain:Â Varies, but can start at less than a dollar per month from third-parties.
Web Hosting:Â Rock-bottom hosting can cost as low as around $3/month, but most people end up paying at least $10 per month, depending on the size and traffic levels of their stores.
SSL/TLS Certificate:Â Often included with your hosting or domain provider, but may need to be purchased separately. Basic certificates cost just a few dollars per month.
Additional Transaction Fees:Â None. Neither WooCommerce or WordPress charge a commission per sale.
Additional Cost: Add-ons, themes, and any web development and ongoing site maintenance if you’re not taking care of all that yourself.
Sample WooCommerce + WordPress.org hosting
Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
As we’ve mentioned, a major difference between Shopify and WooCommerce is that your Shopify subscription includes web hosting. No downloads or installations are required. To use WooCommerce, however, you first must download the WordPress.org software and install it on a web hosting server. Then, you add the WooCommerce plugin to that setup. Some web hosts do offer preloaded WordPress + WooCommerce packagesÂ or “one-click” installations.
Is the Shopify or WooCommerce method better? This one really comes down to personal preference and ability. The self-hosted setup of WooCommerce requires more hands-on involvement and skill from the user, but you may be just fine with that.
Specific Size Of Business
Both WooCommerce and Shopify are scalable, working for small to enterprise-level businesses.
Shopify has predetermined subscription brackets. While none of these put hard limits on your revenue, number of products, bandwidth, or storage, the implication is that you’ll increase your subscription as your store grows. The exception is the jump to Shopify Plus, which is required if your revenue reaches over $1 million per year. These plans cost a couple thousand a month to start, but it can be worth the investment in return for a service that’s tailored specifically for enterprise-level merchants.
You will also need to change your Shopify subscription as you add more staff accounts to your store. For example, the $29/month plan accommodates two admin seats in addition to the owner’s account, while the $299/month plan gives you 15 spots.
WooCommerce also has the potentialÂ to grow with your store, but the system is much more fluid. You have 100% flexibility to expand your operation (and perhaps employ more help with your site) in a piecemeal fashion, exactly when and how you see fit. As your site traffic increases, for example, you’ll want to adjust your hosting service accordingly to accommodate more bandwidth.
Hardware & Software Requirements
As a fully-hosted, SaaS platform, Shopify takes care of nearly all technology requirements on your behalf. All you really need is an internet connection and an up-to-date web browser.
With WooCommerce and WordPress.org, most of the hardware and software requirements are functions of your hosting environment. Your server needs to support specific versions of PHP and MYSQL, for example. You’re responsible for staying on top of the evolving requirements for both WooCommerce and WordPress.org when you set up a WooCommerce store. This includes installing updates of both the Worpress.org and WooCommerce software as they are released. Plugins are available to help automate some of these steps for you, but you’re still ultimately responsible for finding and updating those plugins!
Because dealing with hardware and software issues with WooCommerce is more nuanced and requires more vigilance from the user than Shopify’s arrangement, we award Shopify the win.
Ease Of Use
It should be noted, however, that WooCommerce actually isn’t all that bad when it comes to ease of use, especially compared with most open-source solutions. For starters, many folks are already somewhat familiar with WordPress, which gives them aÂ head start in navigating WooCommerce. (Keep in mind that the reverse will apply if you’re not already familiar with WordPress — you’ll be learning two systems at once.)Â Once you get everything installed and up and running, day-to-day operations and manipulation of features are all pretty straightforward with WooCommerce.
WooCommerce offers to install some additional free plugins (like Jetpack and WooCommerce Services) from theÂ get-go that help bring the system more in line with a fully-hosted solution like Shopify, but you still end up with a sort of cobbled-together setup that is more difficult to manage than an all-inclusive platform.
Have a look at our full Shopify and WooCommerce reviews if you’d like more information on the topic of ease-of-use, but I’ve included just a quick peek at the dashboards of each platform, as well as what it’s like to add a product.
After signing up for a free 14-day trial, you’re taken to a clean and easy-to-navigate dashboard, with all your major functions in the left menu, and a few tips to get started in the center:
Shopify — Add A Product:
Shopify has a super-simple product interface. All fields are completed simply by scrolling down the page.
Below I’ve shown a WordPress dashboard with WooCommerce already installed. If you look closely at the left menu, you’ll see that WooCommerce is just one item of many. I haven’t even expanded its own menu yet, nor the “Products” menu right below. In the center of the dashboard, I’m faced with additional suggested configurations and plugin choices. Do I need them all? Should I set them up now? Just “Dismiss?” It’s certainly all doable, but I find it bit cluttered and overwhelming to get started. Plus, this is all after I completed the setup wizard.
WooCommerce — Add A Product:
Once you scroll past the plugin suggestions, adding a product is quite straightforward with WooCommerce. If you’ve ever used WordPress, it’s a lot like creating a blog post. You’ll just need to configure ecommerce settings like price and inventory levels.
Another aspect to consider is that you won’t be able to test WooCommerce (like you can test Shopify with its free trial) unless you have a host and server already set up to install WordPress.org. Ease of use is always a bit subjective, and it’s hard to get a good feel for usability without testing the software yourself.
Although one is software-as-a-service and the other is open-source, both Shopify and WooCommerce actually take a similar approach to features. The basic components to get a store launched and managed on a day-to-day basis are included with the software, but you’re expected to add a few extensions and integrations to either platform in order to tailor your store to your exact specifications.
With Shopify, this occasionally even means bumping up your subscription level, whereas with WooCommerce, features are always expanded through separate add-ons. WooCommerce has also been known to test new features by treating them as extensions first, and then eventually incorporating the features into the core offering once all the kinks are worked out by users. It’s really a community effort with Woo.
However you slice it, a common complaint about both platforms is that extra plugins can cause extra cost and extra headaches. Each system is kept as simple (yet functional) as can be from the outset, so that new users are not immediately overwhelmed by all that’s ultimately possible with these powerful software programs.
Let’s do a couple of quick sample feature comparisons. WooCommerce lets you add unlimited product variations, sell digital products, and incorporate product reviews without separate extensions, while Shopify requires (free) add-ons for each of these functions. Meanwhile, Shopify already includes abandoned cart recovery, invoice creation, and pre-integrated shipping software (Shopify Shipping). You’ll need extensions for these features in WooCommerce.
I’m tempted to give Shopify the win because I feel it comes with a slightly more well-rounded ecommerce feature set out-of-the-box without any plugins. And yet I also don’t want to overlook the enormous capability that comes with an entire WordPress.org ecosystem at your fingertips, nor dismiss the potential to customize each feature to your liking in an open-source environment. There are just too many factors at play to declare a clear winner here. The best advice I can give is to check for the features you need, as well as how they are obtained with each platform.
I know this makes our compare-and-contrast essay less exciting, but it’s difficult to call a winner in this category as well. Each platform has advantages and disadvantages, and your own perception of what actually qualifies as anÂ advantage or disadvantage will differ depending on your situation.
Below is a quick summary of each system’s approach to the design and customization of your storefront, along with some screenshots to help illustrate.
67 total templates, most with 2-4 style variations
10 templates are free and supported by Shopify developers
Remaining third-party themes cost $140-$180
Built-in theme editor with drag-and-drop capability
Additional customization available with HTML, CSS, and Shopify’s own theme coding language (Liquid)
Shopify Theme Marketplace:
Shopify Theme Editor:
The Shopify theme editor consists of two elements: “Theme Settings” (for changing fonts, colors, etc.) and “Sections” (for dragging and dropping widget blocks up and down your pages).
Access to thousands of free and commercial/supported WordPress.org themes (over 900 show up when filtering for “ecommerce” in the marketplace)
WooCommerce recommends its free “Storefront” theme for foolproof compatibility and web ticket support
14 Storefront “child” themes available (two free, premium are $39 each)
Theme editor allows color changes and placement of widgets (but without drag-and-drop)
Storefront expansion bundle ($69) allows further customization without coding
Theme modification also possible with HTML and CSS (no proprietary coding language involved)
Add a free plugin (such as Elementor) for drag-and-drop design editing of WordPress.org pages without code
WordPress.org’s new Gutenberg editor provides additional non-coding customization for your overall WordPress site
WooCommerce Storefront Themes:
WooCommerce Theme Editor:
Below, I’ve shown the portion of the built-in theme editor where you can choose widget blocks for various spots within your pages.
So, how do WooCommerce and Shopify stack up when it comes to web design? Does Shopify win for having a drag-and-drop theme editor and font tweaking built-in, or does it lose for making you learn a proprietary coding language if you want to do further template customizations? The new Gutenberg block editor for WordPress enhances your theme editing capabilities without code, and lets you easily place WooCommerce products wherever you’d like within your larger WordPress site — so that’s another factor to consider going forward. It’s issues like these that make this category a toss-up depending on your point of view.
Integrations & Add-Ons
Even though I’ve already spoiled the winner of this category, we need to highlight the fact that Shopify also has an amazing app marketplace with around 2500 integrations at your disposal. With Shopify, you have the opportunity to connect with many of the most popular third-party software platforms associated with ecommerce (think shipping, marketing, accounting, and the like). Thousands of developers have invested in creations for the Shopify extension ecosystem. In most ecommerce software battles, Shopify easily wins this category.
All that said, open-source systems like WooCommerce + WordPress.org typically offer more integration possibilities than even the most well-connected SaaS platforms. The whole point of an open-source platform is for users at large to jump head-on into the codebase to customize and build connections. In the open-source world, WordPress has a particularly enormous and active community of developers extending the platform. As a WooCommerce user, not only do you benefit from hundreds of WooCommerce-specific extensions, but also from the over 50,000 plugins available in the WordPress.org marketplace. Even Shopify can’t fully compete.
Some argue that because many WooCommerce integrations are one-time installations, it works out cheaper in the long run, or point out that more WooCommerce plugins are free. In truth, integrations can add to your monthly cost with either Shopify or WooCommerce — especially if your integrations are to third-party software platforms with their own monthly subscription fees (and not just one-off feature installs). Be cognizant of the potential for ballooning add-on costs with either system.
The complete freedom WooCommerce offers to choose a payment processor and associated pricing model that best suits your particular store’s needs is the reason we award the open-source plugin the win in this category.
While Shopify technically offers more pre-built payment integrations than WooCommerce in its respective marketplace, you are actually penalized with an extra 0.5% to 2.0% Shopify commission on every sale if you don’t select the in-house Shopify Payments option. This percentage — 2% for most merchants starting out — is applied on top of the fees charged by your payment gateway itself. Trust me, that extra 2% adds up fast.
Shopify Payments has its own advantages and disadvantages, but for starters, some merchants don’t even qualify to use this processor in the first place. While Shopify Payments definitely works well when it works, a lot of merchants end up stuck in no-man’s land when it comes to payment processing with Shopify. Caught between an extra fee and a hard place, as it were. (Insert your own, better metaphor here.)
While you may need to pay a one-time fee to integrate your favorite processor with WooCommerce (Stripe and PayPal come as free, built-in options), you can ultimately select an option that fits perfectly with your risk level, sales volume, and transaction size. You can also select for any customer support and feature requirements you may have for your payments system.
Customer Service & Technical Support
Winner: ShopifyÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Both WooCommerce and WordPress have produced a plethora of self-help resources and documentation. Moreover, both boast thriving communities of developers and merchants working with the software who readily share problem-solving advice via forums. This is all very good and helpful.
WooCommerce can’t compete with Shopify when it comes to personalized support, however. A “help desk” is offered with WooCommerce from which you can submit a web ticket for specific purchased items, but a personal response is not always guaranteed.
Meanwhile, along with great self-help resources and community forums of its own, Shopify offers 24/7 phone, email, and chat avenues for contacting live representatives in real time. This is part of the all-inclusive nature of the Shopify platform, and part of the reason you pay that monthly subscription fee.
Now, this is not to say you couldn’t potentially receive personalized assistance from your hosting provider if your site goes down, for example. The quality and availability of this sort of third-party tech support will vary widely by company, though. Not to mention, things can get complicated very quickly regarding exactly who holds responsibility for whatever’s gone horribly wrong with your online store in the middle of the night. Once again, our point is that neither WooCommerce nor WordPress.org has a team of service reps standing by waiting for your distress call. You’re largely on your own.
Shopify and WooCommerce each have devoted followings of satisfied users, and both platforms tend to score very highly on user review websites. Shopify merchants love the user-friendliness of a powerful SaaS platform where most things are taken care of for you, while WooCommerce devotees appreciate that most things are not taken care of for you — it gives these users the flexibility and control they desire.
Of course, neither ecommerce platform is perfect. Here are a few of the complaints that arise most often:
Extra transaction fees when not using Shopify Payments
I’m still calling this one a draw. One platform does not dramatically outshine the other when it comes to real user feedback.
Shopify wins this category because all Shopify stores are automatically PCI compliant out-of-the-box and come with a built-in SSL certificate. With WooCommerce, your store’s security falls more directly upon your own shoulders. You’re ultimately responsible for choosing a secure and PCI-compliant web host and payment gateway, obtaining an SSL certificate, performing Woodpress.org and WooCommerce plugin updates, and staying on top of the latest security patches. As WooCommerce reminds you in its own documentation, “a given WooCommerce site is overall exactly as secure as the WordPress installation itself.”
There’s no doubt that a WooCommerce storeÂ can be just as secure in as a Shopify store, as long as all the right pieces are in place and carefully managed. There’s just a higher chance for site security to go (horribly) awry due to mismanagement or innocent mistakes.
This was a tight race, folks. Shopify and WooCommerce have both earned their popularity in the ecommerce world, even if for different reasons and for different segments of online sellers. Based on our experience, as well as our sense of the needs of our Merchant Maverick readership overall, we’re still more likely to recommend Shopify over WooCommerce.
The majority of online sellers will have an easier time with Shopify right out-of-the-box. Shopify is much more “foolproof” and all-inclusive than WooCommerce, with technical aspects like installation, hosting, updates, and security all handled on your behalf. This allows you to expand your focus beyond just building and maintaining your store, even as an absolute web-beginner. The opportunity for 24/7 personalized customer support with Shopify is also a huge factor in our verdict.
All Shopify gushing aside, we firmly maintain that this SaaS platform is not a magic bullet solution for all online merchants, and WooCommerce may be just the alternative you seek. As an open-source software plugin combined with WordPress.org’s vast ecosystem, WooCommerce offers a degree of ownership, control, and flexibility that isn’t possible with Shopify. It’s the perfect platform for the technically-inclined among us who have the time and skill to tinker with code, updates, and integrations to customize their stores at a finely-tuned pace. The freedom to select your own web host, as well as a payment processor that works best for your specific country and risk level without financial penalty (hello, Shopify’s extra transaction fees) is also a big draw for a lot of business owners using WooCommerce. The power truly is in your hands if you go this route.
As the old adage goes, however: with great power comes great responsibility. If you choose an open-source platform like WooCommerce, you should definitely heed this nugget of graphic novel-based wisdom.
Have you worked with Shopify or WooCommerce? Let us know if the comments — particularly if you have experience with both!
The post WooCommerce VS Shopify appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
So you’re considering using Shopify as your online store builder, and you’re looking for Shopify website examples for inspiration and confirmation that you’re making the right choice.
Shopify is one of the biggest names in the ecommerce website builder space. It’s part of a group of turn-key ecommerce (aka “hosted ecommerce”) solutions that provide everything you need to set up and start selling your product(s) to the world, as opposed to you putting all the pieces together yourself.
See Shopify’s Current Plans & Pricing
It’s sort of like hiring a general contractor to build your house, over being the contractor and hiring subcontractors yourself. You’re still in control, but you let the general contractor use their expertise to make the project happen.
Shopify is known for its straightforward user experience, which is great for DIY-ers. All you need to do is pick a Shopify plan that fits your budget and feature needs, point your domain to your store, choose a design/template (you can edit a free one using their drag and drop builder or build one yourself / use a designer), add your content and products, then start selling!
Before we dive into examples of what Shopify websites look like in the wild, there are two things to keep in mind when you’re evaluating a website platform.
First, it’s not just about how the websites look. The functionality matters too.
Think of it like buying a car. You have a make / model in mind, and you’re probably looking to see them drive by on the road to see how they actually look. However, you also care about how they operate. Does it accelerate well? Does it have the hauling capabilities you need? How is the gas mileage?
Looking at a website platform should be done in the same way. We collected the following Shopify examples not just to show you how they look, but how Shopify websites can function so you can be sure you have a website that fits both the style you want and the functionality you need.
Second, it’s not just about how a platform’s website’s look by default. It’s also about how far you can extend a piece of software via plugins, extensions or apps.
Think about it like your phone. Sure, your iOS or Android is great by default. But their “killer app” is the fact that they can have 3rd party apps to do things that iOS or Android alone could never do.
Shopify is similar. They have a a theming language that allows any 3rd party to develop & sell pre-built designs. We collected a few that are purchased themes, and some that are native to Shopify.
Either way – that possibility is something to keep in mind with all these designs. Explore Shopify’s theme options here. Here’s a few Shoipify website examples including examples from general ecommerce, t-shirt stores, dropshipping, and jewelry.
Disclosure – I receive customer referral fees from companies mentioned on this website. All data & opinions are based on my professional judgement as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.
General Website Examples
Let’s start with a general round up of solid Shopify website examples. We’ve pulled these examples based on functionality, design, and usability. Again, Shopify can be fairly straightforward to use — they have everything you need to get your shop up and running, minus your products and ecommerce marketing strategy. However, be aware that with this comes trade-offs (i.e. you give up some control, functionality, customization, etc.)
Inherit Clothing’s site is a great example of how built out a “standard” Shopify website can be. Pay special attention to how organized the information on the site is — from the top bar, which for special announcements (like sales, promotions, etc), to the navigation, which is broken down by product category. It’s incredibly easy for a shopper to find exactly what they’re looking for when hitting the homepage, which is one of the hallmarks of a great ecommerce site.
Rocky Mountain Bikes
On the opposite side of the spectrum is this Shopify website example, which shows what a custom designed Shopify site looks like. Rocky Mountain Bikes isn’t using a theme for their website design, but has created an entirely custom look and feel instead. We especially liked their product page, which goes into extreme detail on bike specs, functionality, and even shows how the bike operates by including a video. If you’re looking to create something entirely unique for your store and need advanced product page functionality, this site is a great place to start for inspiration.
Explore Similar Shopify Templates!
Online t-shirt shops are all the rage, and Shopify is an incredibly popular platform for these stores. Like any apparel website, you’ll want to make sure your t-shirt site includes high quality product photos, shipping and return information, and an easy checkout process. You’ll also want to be sure your website platform fits your needs in terms of order processing functionality, payment integrations, etc. Here are a few Shopify t-shirt website examples to use for inspiration:
Bird Fur Tees
The first thing that stood out to us on this t-shirt website is the homepage. As soon as you get to the front page, you know immediately what the shop is and what their products look like. Bird Fur’s tagline (t-shirts for people) immediately tells visitors what the company is selling and the image carousel underneath is a great way to show the shirts “in the wild” vs. just standard product photos that only show the shirt.
Speaking of product photos, notice how Bird Fur uses bright, high-quality images to showcase their products. The grid pattern below the homepage are colorful, clear, and also gives visitors a way to shop directly from the homepage. Remember that an ecommerce homepage should be easy to navigate and give visitors a clear path to what they’re looking for. By featuring popular products on the homepage of your t-shirt site, you’re giving shoppers an immediate opportunity to browse and add to their cart.
Another feature to call out is this site’s “These are cool too..” section, which shows related products that visitors may like.
Showcasing additional products is a great way to keep shoppers browsing for related items they may not have considered before!
Explore Similar Shopify Templates!
Parks Project initially started as a t-shirt company and then expanded into other apparel categories. We pulled this Shopify example to show how t-shirt companies with a larger mission (i.e. to save national parks) can utilize their shop to bring awareness to their cause.
At the time of writing this article, Parks Project is using their homepage for a special announcement regarding the government shutdown and how it’s affecting national parks. The How to Help button takes you to a page that tells you more about Parks Project mission and how you can help.
Underneath this section is a “Favorites” category, where Parks Project showcases their most popular products. This is a great way to promote products across different categories, and a format to keep in mind if you’re planning on expanding your t-shirt shop one day.
Rock City Outfitters
This Shopify t-shirt website example is all about displaying the most crucial information upfront. Check out the 15% off discount functionality Rock City Outfitters use. A coupon is a great way to capture shopper’s email addresses. It also gives you a way to follow up with them with promotions (without having to spend thousands on advertising!).
The search functionality in the top right is also a great way to provide a solid user experience. Let’s say a visitor is familiar with your shirt shop and wants to find a product immediately. Having a search bar helps them get to their destination quickly, without having to navigate through product pages.
Lastly, Rocky Mountain Outfitters is a great example of a t-shirt website that uses a bold and loud design without being overwhelming. Remember that a “clean” design doesn’t have to mean boring. It just means that your visitors can easily find what they’re looking for and that your information is clear.
Explore Similar Shopify Templates!
Shopify is also a popular choice for jewelry websites and online boutiques. Just like t-shirt shops, a jewelry website should focus on strong product images and descriptions, easy navigation, and a simple checkout process. You’ll also want to be sure you include information like shipping and return policies and jewelry care. Here are a few examples of Shopify jewelry websites for inspiration:
If you’re needing to feature customization on your site, this jewelry website example from Shore Projects is a great place to start for some inspiration. Shore Projects allows for custom watch faces and bands. It has functionality on the site that shows you how the different combinations look. We especially liked the different product shot angles, which change which every band / watch face combination.
Explore Similar Shopify Templates!
If you plan on using Instagram in your marketing strategy, this Shopify jewelry website features a neat integration that could come in handy: Shop Our Instagram. It features photos from MVMT’s Instagram profile and gives users the option to shop the look from the photos. When you click on a photo, it triggers a pop-up product page for the product featured in the photo with product specs, an add to cart button, and the option to see the original post on Instagram and/or Facebook.
Not all websites needs to be design masterpieces. Biko is a great example of a clean, organized Shopify jewelry website that is well designed without being overly complicated. In fact, the minimalist design keeps the shopper focused on the product photos, simple navigation, and ultimate goal: checkout!
Explore Similar Shopify Templates!
Not only is Shopify a popular website builder option for ecommerce business, but it’s also particularly popular among dropshippers (a retailer who sells inventory they don’t own until they have the order). Shopify has an API that allows dropshippers to sync with their AliExpress account (or other 3rd party managers like Oberlo), which provide products for dropshippers. Here are a few Shopify dropshipping website examples for inspiration:
This website is a great example of a dropshipping Shopify site that doesn’t have a specific product category, but sells a variety of viral goods and niches down with platform popularity (Facebook). Notice how TrendyGoods organizes their product categories at the top of the page with icons and shows Facebook views underneath each product. It’s a unique way to organize products that are unrelated without making it messy.
Explore Similar Shopify Templates!
On the opposite side of the spectrum is Turning Gear, a dropshipper who specializes in fishing equipment. Notice how their products are organized by product category: reels, lines, lures, etc. We also liked the bottom banner underneath the header image that shows shipping information, customer service info, and their location. This Shopify website also uses product pop-ups, which show the most recent products purchased to spur urgency.
Here’s another Shopify dropshipping website example, Chakra Collective. What stood out to us about this site was the uniformity of the theme. It actually looks like a traditional fashion line, rather than a dropshipping website. If you’re looking to create a consistent brand with your dropshipping business (like a niche fashion businesses), this website is a great place to start for inspiration.
Explore Similar Shopify Templates!
At the end of the day, choosing the best ecommerce website platform goes far beyond design. Why? Because all web pages are made of HTML & CSS with a few scripts thrown in. This means that any website template can exist on any good web platform.
What YOU want to focus on is the design elements and functionality that are available on the platform you’re choosing.
If you feel like Shopify fits the design and functionality needs you have for your ecommerce website, you can explore Shopify plans here.
Not sure if Shopify is a right fit? Read my Shopify review and explore other Shopify alternatives here.
The post 11+ Great Shopify Website Examples for Inspiration appeared first on ShivarWeb.