Our rating(4/5)
Square for Retail Australia is a clever POS app for shops that also sell online.
Square for Retail is an affordable POS system for small retail shops, with complimentary payment tools to sell online. The cancellable subscription works on iOS devices and Square Register, and only with Square credit card processing.
  • Highs: Lower transaction fee on paid plan. Free plan available. Online payment tools included. User-friendly.
  • Lows: No Android compatibility. Only works with Square EFTPOS machines. Too simple for some. Limitations in iPhone app.
  • Choose if: Retailers looking for the same affordable platform for POS, ecommerce and payments.

What is Square for Retail?

Square for Retail is a cloud-based point of sale (POS) system that works on iPad and iPhone only. It is a more advanced POS system than the free Square Point of Sale app that is more general than retail-specific. With Square Retail Australia, you get features only relevant to retail, whether selling in person or online.

The only payment system that works with it is Square’s. You can use the software directly with Square Reader and standard POS equipment, and there are various online selling tools available for free in Square Dashboard (accessible in any web browser) or via the checkout app.

The software is suitable for managing multiple locations, stock, vendors, teams of staff and more. Regardless of the sales channel, transactions are always synced in the account through the cloud.

Pricing

Square for Retail pricing is simple: you subscribe to one of two plans, a Free tier (no monthly cost) or Plus tier for $109 (including GST) monthly per shop location. This can be cancelled any time, as there is no contractual commitment.

New users can get a 30-day free trial of Plus before subscribing to a plan.

Square for Retail Costs
Monthly fees Free plan: $0/mo
Plus plan: $109 (incl. GST)/mo per location
Contract No commitment
Chip, tap, swipe payments Free plan: 1.9% per transaction (Square Reader) or 1.6% (Square Terminal)
Plus plan: 1.6% per transaction (any terminal)
Keyed and online payments 2.2% per transaction
Payouts Free
Refunds Free
Chargebacks Free
Square
for Retail
Costs
Monthly fees Free plan: $0/mo
Plus plan: $109 (incl. GST)/mo per location
Contract No commitment
Chip, tap, swipe payments Free plan: 1.9% per transaction (Square Reader) or 1.6% (Square Terminal)
Plus plan: 1.6% per transaction (any terminal)
Keyed and online payments 2.2% per transaction
Payouts Free
Refunds Free
Chargebacks Free

There is also a Premium plan with custom pricing, which has the same features as the Plus plan, but with lower costs to suit businesses processing over $250k per year.

Businesses on the Free plan can accept any Visa, Mastercard, eftpos and American Express card (including Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay) for 1.9% per transaction through Square Reader or 1.6% through Square Terminal.

Apart from the extra POS features, merchants get a lower Square Reader rate for chip, tap and swipe transactions on the Plus subscription: 1.6%.

Payments through Square Online, payment links, email invoices and purchases of e-gift cards online cost 2.2%. If your customer buys an e-gift card in-store, you only pay 1.9%.

All other keyed transactions are 2.2% as well, including for cardholder-not-present transactions in the Virtual Terminal and keyed in at the POS checkout.

Standard settlement in your bank account in 1-2 working days is free. Chargebacks and refunds are free to process with Square, and there is no minimum monthly turnover requirement.

Square Reader that connects to the POS software costs just $59 (including GST). The standalone EFTPOS machine, Square Terminal, is more expensive at $439 (including GST).

Checkout and payments

Square for Retail can be used on Square Register, iPad and iPhone. It is better experienced on iPad or Square Register as the screen size makes a big difference to usability.

Square’s expertise in user experience comes across in the product: the buttons are large to minimise typing errors (surprisingly many POS systems have small buttons), the layout is intuitive and the interface isn’t cluttered with unimportant features. It is so simple that anyone can learn to use the system quickly.

Square for Retail Australia

The Square for Retail app is better on a big screen than on a small iPhone display.

While other POS systems tend to dedicate most of the POS interface with a product grid layout, Square for Retail only shows a narrow column on the left with an intuitive search function, your choice of “favourite” buttons, and quick access to categorised items, customer profiles, discounts and saved baskets.

You can save the current bill, attach a customer to the basket, create orders, sell physical or electronic gift cards (eGift Cards), redeem vouchers and add custom amounts where needed.

Photo: Square

The quick search makes it easy to add items from a large product library.

The payments screen gives options to accept cash, card (either via Square Reader or manually keyed in), gift cards or certificates, invoice, card on file, cheque or any other payment types confirmed manually at the POS register.

After a completed transaction, you can send an email or SMS receipt, or print one off from a connected receipt printer.

Inventory management

Retailers need a robust inventory system for managing stock, and Square for Retail does that well.

The Free and Plus subscriptions can bulk-import items from an Excel spreadsheet, and categories, options, modifiers, units (e.g. grams, litres, inches, square feet) and stock counts can be added to individual items. You can also receive email reminders for low stock or out-of-stock items, and scan barcodes from the iPad camera via the Square Retail app (not possible on iPhone).

The Plus subscription includes the following extra features:

  • Bulk stock transfers across locations
  • Inventory counting tool
  • Automatic purchase orders
  • Vendor management
  • Barcode printing
  • Cost of goods sold (COGS) tracking
  • Advanced stock forecasts and inventory history

Photo: Square

You can use the in-app barcode scanner for stock counts.

Accordingly, if you want any purchase order and vendor management features, and the ability to transfer stock between different locations or generate barcodes, a Plus subscription is required.

Employee access and permissions

Every free Square account can add unlimited users with a 4-digit passcode for logging in and out of the POS app.

This allows staff to clock in and out of shifts, and the admin can track team breaks, hours worked, view overtime reports and export timecards to a payroll system. The Free tier only has a predefined permissions set.

Image: Square

The shift schedule is a free feature of Square Team Management.

On Plus, you get the Team Plus subscription (normally $35/month per location) included in the Retail package. This allows you to set detailed permissions for an unlimited number of roles, set different wage rates, add timecard notes, view break violation reports, activity logs by members and detailed staff analytics.

Customer loyalty tools

Even on the Free Retail subscription, you can create a detailed customer directory. These customer profiles can be attached to orders and transactions, making it possible to manage orders for collection or delivery smoothly. Customer profiles can be auto-created from payment cards, and segments created to distinguish defined groups of customers.

Having these profiles is an invaluable way to track their purchase history, which is useful for personalising your service to individuals. Square even gives actionable guidance based on the data. You can direct-message customers from Square, and add card details to profiles (requires permission from the cardholder) for processing repeat payments expected by the customer.

You can also subscribe to Square Loyalty starting at $45 per month. This allows you to set up a customer loyalty programme encouraging more sales.

Reports and sales analytics

The Square for Retail Free subscription has detailed sales analytics, but Retail Plus really stands out with its in-depth inventory analytics

While Free provides great sales reports and an overview of stock moved between locations, a Plus account has reports for:

  • Profit margins
  • Vendor sales
  • Cost of goods sold

Photo: Square

Vendor analytics on a Square Retail Plus plan.

You can edit historical unit costs, where updates are subsequently reflected in the reports, and filter reports in different ways.

On Plus, you also get labour vs. sales reports that help forecast labour costs so you can schedule shifts accordingly.

Hardware for the point of sale

Square for Retail works best on iPad or Square Register, as many features are missing in the iPhone app. For example, you can’t handle purchase orders, connect a cash drawer, transfer stock, or search for products by scanning a barcode since barcode scanning isn’t possible with this app.

The most professional setup is Square Register (costs $1,099 incl. GST), a purpose-built touchscreen register that only uses Square software. It has a detachable touchscreen card terminal facing the customer, ideal for socially distant payments.

With iPad, you can use it with a suitable tablet holder or Square Stand for $199 (incl. GST) that holds an iPad and has a swipe card slot. The only card machine that works with the Retail software is Square Reader.

Photo: Square

Square Register social distance

Square Register can be set up in different ways to suit your counter arrangement.

Square Terminal only has the Point of Sale app features, not Square for Retail features, but you can use it as a portable device for transactions around your premises if you can do without advanced Square for Retail features (all Square transactions are synced in the cloud).

You can connect the Square Retail app on iPad with compatible barcode scanners, receipt printers and a cash drawer. The iPhone app only works with receipt printers.

Free Square for Retail vs. Square POS

You might wonder what the difference is between the Free Square for Retail plan and Square Point of Sale app, since they are both free to use indefinitely. Firstly, they are two different apps. Secondly, Point of Sale works on iPhone, iPad and Android tablets and smartphones, whereas the Retail app only works on iPad and iPhone.

Both can track stock across locations and set alerts for low or out-of-stock items. You can add tips and several different discounts, itemise refunds and save baskets (‘open orders’) for later.

While Point of Sale does work with a physical barcode scanner, the Square for Retail app has a barcode scanning function built in, allowing you to use the iPad (not iPhone) camera to scan product barcodes.

The other significant difference is the checkout layout. In Point of Sale, you can switch between viewing products in a large grid or a list view with a search field. The Retail app only shows a small list of products (‘favourites’) and a search field, but there’s also a button letting you search manually through product categories.

Square feature Free Retail app Point of Sale app
Device compatibility iPad, iPhone iPad, iPhone, Android devices
Checkout layout Wide cart, list of products w/search field Narrow cart, big grid or product list w/search field
In-app barcode scanning (iPad)
Square
Retail
(Free) app
Square
Point of
Sale app
Device compatibility
iPad, iPhone iPad, iPhone, Android devices
Checkout layout
Wide cart, list of products w/search field Narrow cart, big grid or product list w/search field
In-app barcode scanning (iPad)

Most of the customer profile features are the same in the apps, including auto-creation of customer profiles, automatic tracking of buying history and transactions of customers, segmentation of customer groups, customer analytics, saving a payment card on file, and the option to direct-message customers.

You can create user accounts for staff members in both apps, and a $35/month subscription to Team Plus is also required in both cases for unlimited user accounts with advanced permissions settings.

All in all, you’ll have to upgrade to the Square for Retail Plus plan to really notice the differences between Point of Sale and Square for Retail.

Square Online and other integrations

Not only is the software connected to Square’s own online store builder powered by Weebly – it also includes payment links you can generate for individual products, embed on an existing website or use for taking donations.

Photo: Square

Square Retail order collection

Your customers can place orders online for pickup at a physical location.

You get a free online store with the ability to sell on social media, offer eGift cards, sync inventory across sales channels and the ability to set up ordering for collection or delivery. More advanced ecommerce features require an upgrade to a paid plan.

Apart from ecommerce, there are many additional integrations with external software possible through the Square App Marketplace. For example, sync your QuickBooks accounting software with Square or use advanced inventory management software like DEAR Systems and Yellow Dog Inventory.

Customer service and reviews

Square customer service is only available on weekdays between 9 PM and 5 PM (AEST).

In contrast with Square for Restaurants that includes 24/7 support on the paid plan, there is no extension of support hours on Retail Plus.

Alternatively, you can email Square, which would yield a reply within 24-48 hours, or tweet the Square Support Australia account (@SqSupportAU) on Twitter. The online help section has many articles with step-by-step guidance, explanations of features and much more, and there’s a user forum where you can post and search for questions submitted by other merchants.

Square generally gets good reviews in Australia by its users, as does Square for Retail. We have tested the Retail Plus plan and can personally say that all the features worked well at the time of testing.

Photo: Square

Square Retail POS example

Brick-and-mortar shop using Square for Retail with Square hardware.

Our verdict

Square for Retail is an inexpensive POS system suitable for multiple locations and busy, but small, shops. The rate reduction of card reader transactions on Plus is especially attractive for merchants looking for the lowest pay-as-you-go rate for all types of cards.

The POS system itself is easy and without superfluous features for a small retail shop. But larger stores requiring specific inventory features would want to compare with other retail POS systems, as Square may not have everything needed. The app would also be a hindrance for cash-strapped shops who’d prefer a cheap Android register, since it only works on iOS or Square Register.

Nevertheless, in a world where many retailers now depend on an online presence to survive, Square for Retail has a big advantage with its online selling features.

Square for Retail is curated to include the most valuable features for selling across sales channels (i.e. online and in store). Creating and managing orders for pickup and delivery are smoothly done from the register or Dashboard, and the range of available payment methods for remote and in-person transactions is wide.

In the end, the right choice of retail POS software depends on how you prefer to handle shop operations, and details like your size of team and complexity of inventory. Integrating with other software can open up worlds of complex tools, but the POS software is what it is, so we recommend trying the trial before committing long-term.

Name of Reviewed Item: Square for Retail Australia Rating Value: 4 Image: https://www.mobiletransaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/square-for-retail-australia-review.jpg Review Author:Review Date: