Square is certainly one of the leading providers of integrated point of sale (POS) and ecommerce solutions, but it may be in your best interest to explore Square alternatives. If you want a full-service commerce platform that will help you manage your finances, inventory, and team, Square might be your best bet. However, if you want something that’s purpose-built for ecommerce, retail management, or restaurant management, a different solution might be better suited to your business needs.
Top Square alternatives
There are a few vendors that might be a better fit for your business:
- Shopify: Best for e-commerce businesses
- Lightspeed Retail: Best for retail businesses
- Toast: Best for restaurants
Shopify: Best for e-commerce businesses
Shopify is among the top Square competitors. Recent announcements from Shopify, including partnerships with TikTok, Affirm, and Roku and an international market platform launch, have positioned the company as an e-commerce powerhouse.
Although Shopify offers solutions for selling goods and services anywhere, it’s an ideal tool for businesses that prioritize online sales. You can build a custom online store with a drag-and-drop builder that’s similar to Square, integrate your Shopify account with an existing website, and manage your product listings on social media or online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay.
Shopify’s pricing is more straightforward than Square’s pricing, but you should expect to pay more for Shopify’s POS hardware than you would pay for Square’s hardware. With Shopify, you get more international commerce tools so you can go global and wholesale tools so you can sell your products to other retailers. On the other hand, with Square, you get more inter-departmental business management tools, like payroll, marketing, and banking.
Ultimately, Shopify is a better solution if you’re looking to scale your e-commerce business quickly, and Square is a better option if you want a solution that covers more bases.
Lightspeed Retail: Best for retail businesses
Lightspeed’s Retail solution is best for businesses with brick and mortar shops. With Lightspeed, you can create a flexible and highly customizable ecommerce storefront that’s directly integrated with your offline business. One unique Lightspeed feature that Square doesn’t offer is in-store appointments. Your customers can reserve appointments online and come in for fittings, repairs, or personal shopping experiences.
Additionally, Lightspeed offers unique features for inventory and supply chain management. Lightspeed provides a centralized platform for you to manage all of your inventory across multiple retail locations and your online store, so you (and your online customers) can easily see a live count of how much product you have on hand at any given time. Especially in light of the current supply chain crisis impacting businesses around the world, Lightspeed’s Supplier Market allows you to automate your low-inventory restocks so you can minimize any disruptions to your business.
Similar to Shopify, Lightspeed Retail is more expensive than Square on the surface. With Lightspeed you don’t have to pay for marketing tools, omnichannel loyalty, or a single POS register as separate add-ons. However, this means Lightspeed is also somewhat less flexible for very small businesses who might want more control over the tools they use.
Toast: Best for restaurants
Toast is likely a better Square alternative for restaurants. Whereas Square was built to suit a wide range of businesses, Toast was built to suit a wide range of restaurants specifically. Different types of restaurants—like fine dining, food trucks, fast casual, and bars/nightclubs—have vastly different needs, and Toast offers flexible solutions to meet each type’s unique needs.
Also unlike Square, Toast offers robust table management features as well as team management tools that are designed with built-in support for restaurant industry compliance requirements. In light of the pandemic, Toast has also introduced more contactless solutions that help restaurants stay operational without risking COVID-19 exposure.
However, Toast is only compatible with Toast’s own Android-based devices. Square, on the other hand, is more flexible and can be used with a wide range of device types, including iOS and Android smartphones, tablets, and computers.
Both Square and Toast offer separate add-ons for their marketing, loyalty, and payroll/team management features. However, Toast’s more expensive pricing tiers include these features as part of the package, so Toast may be a more cost-effective option than Square in the long run.
The best POS system for small businesses
As a small business owner, the tools you use to run your business should help you accomplish that goal rather than hold you back. That’s why it’s crucial to pick a POS system that will meet your business’s unique needs. Square is a versatile tool that can meet a wide range of needs, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better match out there. To compare Square, Shopify, Lightspeed, Toast, and other solutions, check out our list of the Best POS Systems for Small Businesses 2021.