Square Online: Announcing Time-Based Categories!

Howdy everyone! Tom here with another update from the Square Online team — I'm excited to announce that the option to enable time-based categories is now available to all sellers. This is especially useful for restaurants that have multiple menus. 🤩




What does this do for my business? We know that many restaurants have multiple menus. For example, you might need to display your breakfast menu from 9am-11am and your lunch menu from 11am-1pm. With time-based categories, you can set it and forget it — this feature enables you to automatically display the right menu at the right time, ensuring that unfulfillable orders do not come through.


How does it work? For complete details, be sure to take a look at the step-by-step instructions in our Support Center: Set Up Time-Based Categories in your Square Online Store.


As always, let us know how it goes and don't hesitate to reply here with any questions. We're constantly iterating based on your feedback.


Thank you! We have both Lunch and Dinner Menus - this should reduce the # of phone orders and hopefully orders via 3rd party vendors during lunch.   

Super Seller

Awesome update, thanks @Tom !

@vinesandrushes - This would be huge for you!

Beta Member

Awesome news!  We’ve had a few of these orders lately outside our service hours and it always ends in disappointed customers. Thanks Pesso!

This is great! However I'm not seeing the availability option in my category when I scroll down.

Thank you so much, Tom!! Is there a way for people to preorder an item outside of its available window, if they want to plan to pick it up later? If we put up special items that are only available Saturday, for example, is there a way for people to reserve them throughout the week for pickup Saturday?  

Also we don't seem to be able to set this up. When we click on the option to enable time-based categories, it tells us we have to "enable online sales," (which is definitely already enabled) and then it kicks us back to the main editing page -- we're not able to get any farther with the process.  Perhaps a bug? Or are we doing something wrong? Thank you! 

Square Community Moderator

Hey @KingstonBread,


What internet browser are you using?

Hi there! This is happening in both safari and in chrome. Is it because we are using the retail template, rather than the restaurant template?  It keeps taking us back to the main page and asking us to choose a template. 

We are having the same issue; when trying to edit in Online Store > Items > Categories, under the specific category it says "Enable Online Orders." When clicking that, it takes us to the Weebly editor with the retail/restaurant template. 


I have been in contact with Support via chat, and have been unable to find out an answer.


Would love an update on this soon!

Beta Member

I'm having the same issues.  When editing a category within Weebly, there is no option to edit availability.

Square Community Moderator

Hi @KingstonBread,


This definitely sounds frustrating. In this case, we recommend contacting our Weebly Team directly. They will be your best resource in getting this inquiry addressed. Also, having a specialist that can look into the specifics of your account will be highly beneficial. 


Check out ways on how to get in contact with them by visiting here.

Hi - I've been on hold for support for a while today, but in the meantime I think i figured it out: Apparently this feature is only for the "Order Online" restaurant-style template.  I switched over to that template and now I'm able to use the time function for categories.  That's a shame, because we like the "shop all" retail template better! If this feature is expanded to be used for both templates, I would love to know because I hate having to choose between the two.  Thank you! 

I was excited about this feature hoping it would solve issue I am having but didnt.  I operate a bakery & pick ups are Fri & Sat.  Certain items are only avail Sat.  So I often have trouble with customers not choosing "Schedule For Later" to pick Sat. Then I have to contact the customer to see when they want to pick up Sat.  Then with this feature I thought it would work but it wont show up & allow them to pick up Saturday only show up during that time...................

I want to echo appreciation for this feature but I still see a limitation. A customer should be able to still order the item in the time based category if they want to order ahead. We offer a Friday dinner that needs to be ordered in advance so we can plan. Limiting when the item can be picked up is great, but there should not be a limitation on when they can order. Any way to get this enhancement ASAP?


The same applies for us for Weekend Brunch - customers frequently order in advance.


Also, does the time-based category become the default time for when an order is picked up, if items from another categroy are also added to an order.



Can you confirm this will allow me to limit my orders to be picked up on a specific date? 


From my quick read, it seems to say that we can now set up menus to be displayed at a certain date and time and for multiple menus. 


The way our store works, we're getting absolutely wrecked with the turnaround issue — we try to sell pies for pickup on a later date and only on that specific day. For example, If you order a blueberry pie, it will only be available for pickup on Friday. If you order a pumpkin pie, it would only be available next week saturday. 


The current setup (until this announcment), the pies are all available in 2 hour turnaround and i use modifiers to force customers to pick a date, for example "July 28th". Their email notificaitons will say "avilable in 2 hours from now". I put in the email template that "do not trust this email! the actual pickup date/time/location is below next ot the photo of your order", which does show the modifiers i set and the customers selected. 


Are we still also not able to change orders after they're placed to sync them with the app? Can we correct an order after it's been placed to reflect the correct date and time of pickup? Am I still stuck with a long complicated paper trail of updated actual pickup dates and time and work on them separately from the "Orders" section of the app which is 100% useless since it shows incorrect times and pickups?


So far this sounds like a perfect solution for people who have turnaround within the same day. We run a bakery and offer multiple items that are availalbe to order ahead and Square is very unfriendly to this business model. As far as i can tell, the turnaround time is linear to when the customer orders, not when the product is avialable for pickup. 

@LordPies @Tom 

I think @LordPies & I are one the same page having the same issue for the same reason. I really thought this was the answer to my problems but yet again its not.  1 step in the right direction is the ability to eliminate the ASAP option.  Everything is preorder so its a constant battle getting people to pay attention (which they dont). Then with this option it would fix my problem of the items I only offer on Sat but wont allow an order ahead option.  Seems suggestions we make fall on deaf ears.  We are struggling everyday & getting a more streamlined process would certainly helped.

I agree with @LordPies and @Tom. Please consider adding this enhancement As this timed based categories doesn't really help us improve the customer experience in the way that it is currently set up.

@KingstonBread , @droidbaker , @ZDeli ,


This update is such a disappointment for me. @Tom  and @Alex_ has unfortunately, confirmed that selling things for pickup on a later day is still in need of improving. 


- You can't change order's date and time, to align it up correctly. This breaks the "Orders" section which only ever shows orders in incorrect time, confusing staff. After a certain amount of orders, you cannot even scroll down to see all the orders becuase the "older" orders seem to choke it out. This isn't CC info, this isn't mailing address — this is us trying to fulfil orders and update the customer with hopefully another automatic email reminding them that their order was updated. We can change customer's names and their profile detail but unfortunately, a customer's order cannot be updated. We use multiple clipboards with dates on them, and a laptop to review the orders which dont seem to get hidden when we get a lot of orders; then copy the order by hand so we can ignore this whole part of the system and carefully notify each customer when its ready on the right day.


- You can't force the automated email /turnaroud system to tell customers that a product is available on a specific day only. I use a modifier with a required selection to force customers to pick a day they will come and get it. The system still shows your turnaround setting (i set mine to 2 hours becuase I don't have time to change the turnaround to match the pickup date, every day. It doesn't help that the Weebly website has a 1-2 second lag each time we click something to change, including typing in words in some text fields). This confuses some customers becuase before they purchase, they will get a "your order will be ready for pickup at (2 hours later)" even tho they picked the requried modifier.  


- It's not possible to change the template of your emails to at least remove the "your order will be ready in (2 hours)". I notice that the purchase email does show the modifiers the customers selected so that would have fixed the confusion right there if i could just remove that cursed "turnaround time" setting. Instead, we do have some freedom by adding new fields in the template so i put in giant red words "The date and time of your pickup may be incorrect! This is a Setting that we cannot change. Your actual pickup date and time is lower in the email next to the photo of your order". This fixed most confusion but looks so unprofessional, in my opinion. I'm just gonna have to accept this is how its done for now because ultimately, customers don't really judge us for our appearances. They just want their food. 

Beta Member

This is a great start to another great feature.  Obviously, it's not 100% what everyone will want right out of the gate but this is going to continue the evolution of stronger time-based sales.  I'd rather have features released in an iterative manner where we can be involved in the incremental improvement of the product over time.  The product has continued to improve dramatically over time and especially since COVID hit.  There's plenty more to do and lots of areas of improvement but overall this is a fantastic starting point to iterate from.


Hey @ZDeli, @droidbaker, and @LordPies:


Thank you very much for taking the time to lay out your experience with this. Really sorry for the frustration with managing orders that aren't fulfilled on the same day. I wanted to reach out and let you know that I shared your posts with our Square Online team and, while I don't have a workaround for you right now, I can confirm that they're iterating as quickly as they can—this is a starting point.


I'll circle back to this thread as soon as any headway is made on this new feature. In the meantime, if any other sellers in similar positions have other suggested solutions, feel free to weigh in.

Beta Member

When is this going to be available for my Weebly store?  I don't see this option available.  

@vinesandrushes , Yes, it is very nice that some progress is being made in this particular department. I apologize that I do not feel the same. This turnaround issue has plagued my online store long before COVID, 2 years to be exact. We started selling online in November 2018, mostly during holiday rushes. Back then before Weebly, it was mildly easier to sell because there wasn't (to my knowledge) email confirmations, and there wasn't any turnaround time settings. We had made shop items titled "pumpkin pie, for november 21st pickup only" and it did okay enough with little confusion. 


As the years went by and the weebly integration happened, it had mixed results. I liked that I could finally edit my website template a bit better and while i do appreciate that, it came with the baggage of figuring out how to work the turnaround situation. If you were paying attention, the issue here is that you cannot sell things to be picked up at your shop at a later date. The turnaround settings do not work like that. It's basically linear to the moment a customer buys something. This would be fine... if we were selling the same menu items every day. As a small bakery, our menu changes weekly and during holidays, we like to promote 2-3 weeks in advance. We change our pie flavorings becuase we sell products in which the ingredients do change with the seasons and market availablity. It also does not help that we get as much sales with preorders as we do with walk-ins and sometimes there's more preorders. Preordering geninuely helps us plan and bake a ton of product with very little waste. 


There was a time when i would log in every morning and night and change every single item to properly line up with the turnaround time. This wasted a ton of time and also the turnaround settings did not have options for increments beyond weeks. For example, if christmas pickups were in 9 days, all you have was "1 week, 2 weeks". 


At least weebly allowed us to make modifiers which can be set to "require at least 1 answer" which helped a ton. It does, however, operate separately of the turnaround feature which is more prominent. No matter what we do, every single customer is getting turnaround based results while trying to order into the future. Most customers do not want to make their preorders over invoice becuase that requires back and forth communication. We try not to let customers call-in to order without paying because that lets them ghost us and we end up wasting time and product. We could enter transaction details over the phone but most customers do prefer to pay over online store. Plus the online store has a much broader access when promoting — simply promote the link and we get quite a ton of orders over email blasts and in the after hours. 


The crazy thing is, the "Schedule for later" feature that already exists and shows up at the end of the ordering process? This actually fixes everything. Once in a rare while, some users actually enter their date and times correctly and it all lines up — problems solved. It could be useful for the "Schedule for later" feature can be put in the front with the modifiers rather than on the end of the checkout process.


Now lets focus also on the "Orders" section of the app which the Point Of Sale uses; this is a powerful and useful feature that is rendered useless becuase it would only show the oldest orders, often choking out newer orders at a certain point. I would say 1 out of 4 people who order from us, often change their pickup date and time. You can't change anyone's order. This seems like such a very small fix to just let us be able to at least correct orders to the right date and times and they get an email notification letting them know of such thing. I dont mind doing this kind of extra work correcting everything until the dev team comes up with a more elegant solution for the turnaround situation. 


So you can see why I keep chewing this bone: How do you sell product to be picked up at a later date? How do you sell for example, holiday specials to be picked up a day or two before the actual holiday date? What if you have only inventory and space enough for certain flavors once a month or whenever the local farm or supplier has a limited sale? Preorders is an incredible vehicle for sales.


Most restaurants in general do not function with a business model that relies heavily on pickups on a later date the way we do. However, it is a valid method of selling. Any business would benefit from this process being much more polished. 

@LordPies  I feel we are exactly in the same boat.  I have called Square a few times & tried to explain to them & ask where I can make suggestions but they dont seem to be understanding my issue. I just recently started using  the online store with COVID but my problems are the same as yours.  I have tried to put notes, modifiers etc but you know customers dont pay a bit of attentions so having this issues addressed would save us hours in contacting customers & avoid the issues all together.  Anytime I reply on here I just get a post redirected but does not seem to be addressed :-(.  I am currently only doing Curbside & unfortunately see myself having this format for much longer than anticipated.  So in the beginning it was just to get me by hoping I could go back to "normal" but 4 mo later here we are with no signs of the right direction.  Who/how can someone from square look into these suggestions?? So between those pick up issues, the higher fees, and decrease in sales its beats me down every single week. Working for yourself as we all know comes with challenges but these past few months I have never worked so hard for so little to show for it & I am more exhausted than a holiday week!!  I will gladly partener with you anyway I can to see what we can do to somehow get squares attention  

@ZDeli Not sure if this will help you but check out my comment to DroidBaker. 


@KingstonBread Please check out my reply to Droidbaker. Maybe this will help with your online sales for pickup on a later day. I listed my workaround. 


@vinesandrushes You were asking about editing prodcut availablity. Not sure if the same but my workaround for managing available products on the online store is to make sure your inventory tracking is "on" for each product. When you're sold out, the online store will say in red words "sold out", and prevent a sale so you dont have customers buying product you dont have inventory on hand to fulfil. 

I was excited for this post and added time based categories right away. Unfortunately, we allow scheduled pickups and any items in a time based category were only allowed to be picked up at the prep time. Hopefully this can be expanded to allow for scheduled pickups within the time allotment. I look forward to future updates! 👍

@bakersrhapsody Howdy fellow baker. I too, look forward to a seamless way to sell products online for pickup at a later date.


If you need feedback on how to set up your store for getting customers used to picking up at a later date despite the turnaround limitations, check out my comment up above.

Just wanted to echo what above members have said - it would be great if your Weds only item could be pre-ordered on Tuesday, the pick-up time would just default to the next available on its specific date (just as it does now, if one orders during closed hours).   Right now we have to turn on/ turn off items for sale, this would automate some of our constants (we always sell BBQ on Thursday nights).  

Could not agree more with everyone's frustrations above. We operate a grocery plus restaurant right now and do a majority of our sales for pre-order. If there was a way to allow certain items to be scheduled for pickup at certain times (as this update led us all to believe at first glance) that would be a GAME CHANGER. Not to mention, getting rid of the ASAP option, or at the very least, taking the notice of first available time and the word "change" off the shopping cart page to stop confusing people. My team spends hours out of each day explaining how the ordering works to customers over the phone, which is costly and frustrating.


Please know that many restaurant businesses have pivoted to a pre-order model during COVID. 

This is nice for general needs,  but does not address item availability. We badly need:


1) Item-level availability

We have grill items that are in categories like "Sandwiches". Some are pre-wrapped, others are in-the-moment. When the grill shuts down at 3pm, we still sell pre-prep'd items until much later. Rather than making us create multiple versions of the same categories that turn on and off, items should have this option. This way, the same item can be in multiple categories and disable itself on a timer. Much cleaner than bulky and redundant category duplicates everywhere.

- displays availability (like on categories now or similar)

- option to be visible but faded/disabled (so people still know we have it and will come back for it)


2) Scheduled pickups with threshold limits

People want to order now and pick up later. There is currently no way to do this.

- At or before checkout, they can optionally select an available pickup time from the ones that have NOT been fully booked.

- The admin sets the threshold of how many orders can be handled in each block. By default, one quantity affects all time slots. By unchecking the "Apply to all" checkbox, the admin can tweak each time block individually for more control during busy or more heavily staffed periods—common in cafes and restos like ours.  


3) Better item 'conditional' labeling (vs current static "Sold Out" option)

Right now, when an item on our menu is no longer available, but we still want people to see it so they know it's there, we have to add a "Sold Out" to it so they don't try to buy it. That may seem ok at the end of the day, but when these items are showing at 7am as "Sold Out"? That confuses and frustrates people. E.g., we need them to know there's a burger coming at 11am, that they can scope out now. And we need a label that communicates just that, not that it's Sold Out.

- (Ideally) dynamic labeling, where we can type it out (with character limit to control formatting)

- alternatively, a static label that says "Unavailable". Not as clear, but way better than "Sold Out".


Hope these help. I'm sure the Square / Weebly teams are doing their best in this COVID related firestorm of feature requests.

Beta Member

So, like, where is this?  Because I don't see it anywhere in my store Categories.

Beta Member

+1 bakery hoping for some additional changes to this feature! I would love advance ordering to be made easier too - I regularly have customers ordering bread for 9:15 that isn't available until 10:30 simply because the system allows them to.  I have had to place reminders using a pop up, on the main screen, and on each item's description.  Yet people are trained to go throught the easiest motions.


We also REALLY REALLY need an "86" feature.  We are regularly having to stop our in person orders so that we can asses that we have enough product to fill the online orders coming in. I know Square allows the system to "oversell" an item, but I could use a "low stock" alert that pops up on the screen (same as a New Order alert) or maybe an auto shutoff so that pastries cant be selected when a person is ordering.  I get that my dashboard will alert me but that does me no good with a line of customers that I am trying to sell to.  I am sure many restaurants would love this option too for specials at least.  Your major competitor has this feature and it syncs across all devices including in app.


Square Community Moderator

Did you have a chance to check out the linked article that covers how to set up time-based categories yet? You will not see this new feature within your Square Dashboard, but rather by heading to your Square Online Store Dashboard (Square Dashboard > Online Store > Items > Categories).


Now, when you create a new category, or edit an existing one within the Dashboard for your Square Online Store, there will be an Availability section, where you'll select the Only certain days and times option to see the day and time spaces. I hope this helps, @snowpacktaproom!

@Valentina , I hear what you said about setting up "certain days and time" for item availability, but have you tried setting up your products to be picked up on a specific date and time? 


For example. you want to sell pies for up to 2 weeks in advance, which happens every holiday or when you have a seasonal ingredient, such as blueberries. Or you offer a pavlova that is only available for pickup on Fridays. 


How would you set up your store so that customers can get their pie on a Friday pickup only? What if you are 9 days into the future with a certain item available for pickup? Your turnaround settings only say "1 week, 2 weeks". Unfortunately, trying to update the turnaround time daily to line things up is an involved and manual process in itself. 


Pickup on a later day doesn't exist on this platform. Please see my comment above detailing how to set up your store for later pickup, using modifiers and disclaimer on your automatic emails saying the turnaround time is incorrect because we do not have the options to do that. 


Also one of the hardest thing about orders for pickup on a later day? Being unable to change their order to the correct date and time. To update the system to give us that kind of access will be a big help. 

@lisasomerville , You can set up your products to have an inventory count, then it will automatically show "sold out" on your online store, preventing customers from ordering more product than you have available. This is indispensable. 


For each product, make sure you have inventory tracking turned on. Then maintain an inventory count. It is nice that when someone walks in and buys an inventory in person, it will automatically keep a tally with the online product. 


Now, if you were to sell items online and have customers pick up on a later date, the system isn't designed for it. "schedule for later" is a solution but it is not a feature that you can put right on the order as a required modifier of its own.

Super Seller

@LordPies Antagonizing the Square Community Team, literally the people Who are here to help you and convey your feature requests to the developers, helps absolutely no one. They don’t build the product, they monitor the community and convey your thoughts to the product teams. 


Now on to the product. Square has launched sooo many new features to help businesses of all models and shapes and sizes in the last 3 months. Just because a new feature doesn’t exactly work for your business model YET doesn’t mean that they don’t care about your business or want you to change it. It just means that they had to get one feature out a time to work for a group of sellers, and then improve that feature to work for everyone else. 

So please, give your feedback, let them know that it needs more work, but don’t be mean or cruel about it. We’re all in this together.  The features will come. 

@Pesso You're right. I'll go through my comments and clean house, because being openly irate will not help.


I admit to being frustrated with this issue and it has plagued my efforts to push product since I started selling online in November, 2018, when trying to enhance taking orders online for the holiday rushes. Selling for pickup at a later date has been the singular recurring issue of using Square, which does everything else perfectly. 


So, to see a solution to time based orders, despite my multiple attempts over the years and especially the last 6 months, I believe I was triggered. Every time I get an order and I also have to deal with a confused customer, I get frustrated that this issue continues to exist and it becomes a situation I must continue to try to fix and improve. I do have my workarounds so the ordering system is working; I'm able to take orders and conduct business, regardless. 


I'm glad, at least, I'm not the only one so I feel validated when for a while, I was feeling like maybe I was the only one.


I do believe I will continue find myself frustrated until this is resolved, but I'll take your advice to heart and keep it in mind. 

Super Seller

@LordPies It’s all good, I totally get the frustration and I’ve definitely been there and shared it with a lot of square features. I’m glad you have some good workarounds and definitely appreciated you sharing them here to help a lot of other folks! 

That is absolutely the spirit and help that makes this seller community great and running, so thank you!


And thank you for listening and self reflecting - it’s not easy to do, and we all tremendously appreciate that you are. 

All of us here, especially the square team really do care about helping us small business owners - otherwise they wouldn’t be here working for square. They really are tremendous advocates for us, and really do listen and implement what we think and have to say. 

I’m looking forward to hearing more constructive feedback from you, since your insights and business model can definitely help square develop great products to help a lot of sellers! 

Thanks for being cool about it, and looking forward to hearing more from ya,





I want to first off thank you for really deep and meaningful feedback around your use case. I hear your frustration more than anything and would love to offer a few options to go forward. 


Our Beta Community may be able to help you with a few of the product improvements and features for launch before they hit the market. This gives us the chance to iron out additional details before we go to release. We'd love to have you as a part of the Beta Community and join us in a few live events.


As Pesso mentioned though, we have released a ton of new updates throughout the COVID crisis. Some of these are perfect for businesses, some still need be tailored. Typically when we go to release, we do have to do so in stages to get it to where it's most beneficial for all businesses.


A good example of this is our loyalty program. We started with it working a certain way, took a ton of feedback, and had to build the platforms for the system to integrate with before we could launch the full suite of features and make it a well oiled machine. It is still working out kinks because of all the changes the COVID team has made. All to say, the product is in a state of constant evolution.

We're here to get your feedback escalated and provide a timeline if it's available. Re-prioritization is high right now because of COVID and all of the constant changes to business needs.  We're here to listen, escalate, and help the product teams prioritize. Hopefully, if you choose to join our Beta Program, you may find pre-full-launch features that are more helpful for the current situation. I'm sending you a DM about a few other options that would be open to you as well. 

Hope to see you in beta soon.

Beta Member

Square Folks,


Here is how I tried to use the new Time-Based Categories feature for our business needs, and how it didn't work the way I expected it to,


We have a Today's Specials online store category whose items are made available for order at 7 AM (manually in Weebly) everyday we are open. Our pickup hours start at Noon. Each item's Pickup & delivery prep time time is set to 10 minutes. When a customer orders one of these items online, the earliest available pickup time is 12:10 PM (our opening time plus 10 minutes). We were hoping to automate the daily Mark As Unavailable to Mark As Visible item status switch using the new Time-Based Categories feature.


First, we set the Pickup & delivery order windows for the category to Only certain days and times,

















This is what our order page looked like shortly after 7 AM, with Available items,






and with All items,








The Today's Specials items were not made available for sale with Available items, and were shown as not being available for sale until Noon with All items. We were expecting the Today's Specials items to be available for sale at 7 AM - the start time selected in the Pickup & delivery order windows setting for the category. So, for us, this feature didn't behave as expected, and as the user-interface seemed to indicate it would.



Square Community Moderator

Hey @zder,


I'd advise reaching out to our direct CS team so they can look into your setup with you.


They can also file a ticket if need be if it's not working as expected.

Beta Member

I run a donut shop and like the idea of time based categories to be able to set certain menu items apart from those available during all business hours. However, I'm confused by the times for those items being handled differently than the times for the online business as a whole.


Our regular online business hours aren't there for informational purposes but rather dictate when someone can have our items picked up or delivered. So they can see and order our items 24 hours a day but the time they can actually get the items are controlled by our settings under Online Store>Pickup & Delivery>Hours. If we choose, they can opt for scheduled pickup or delivery at a later date and time but still within those operating hours.


Upon setting up a Time Based Category I found out that the hours I chose for that do not work the same way. Customers can't see those items or place orders for them outside of the days and times listed for that category. I guess I don't really understand why those hours would be managed differently than the regular business hours. If I set those Categories to certain days and times then why wouldn't I want my customers to see them and be able to order them all the time for pickup or delivery within those special parameters just like my regular business hours?


I realize for some they wouldn't want them to appear at certain times because maybe they want to rotate menus and don't want to manually toggle categories on and off. However, for others (like myself) I would like the option for these Time Based Categories to show all of the time and for people to be able to order them any time (just like my other items) for pickup or delivery within the special time based category settings.


So here is what I would like to request:

#1 - I would love to see the Scheduled Pickup and Delivery settings applied to the Time based Categories. Thus making the time based categories only available for pickup and delivery within a certain special window but visible all the time. I believe a separate setting is not necessary if Square can find a way to apply the Online Store>Pickup & Delivery>Order timing settings>Scheduling settings to the Time Based Categories. If a business wants to allow this feature then why wouldn't it allow it for Time Based Categories as well?

#2 - Also maybe add a Toggle switch to the Time Based Categories settings that would allow a business to show the category all the time OR hide it outside of the category hours. This would give businesses the option.


These 2 changes would achieve a lot functionality wise for businesses and how they could use time based categories to better manage their customers and ordering. For those that want to use Time Based Categories for more rigid online menu changing rotations during business hours, they could still do so. But for those that want to open things up and use Time Based Categories to manage items for pickup and delivery only during certain times but allow those items to be seen and ordered any time, they could do so as well. I believe these 2 changes would make a world of difference to a fair number of online businesses. Thanks for your time and attention!

Beta Member

This feature was working perfectly for us for weeks, but then something changed between August 4 and August 5.  We close at 10pm, and we have a 15 minute prep time, so I set all of my categories to become unavailable at 9:45pm. On August 4, customers who did order at 9:35pm would get a pickup time of 9:50pm, customers who ordered at 9:40pm would get a pickup time of 9:55pm, and customers who right before 9:45pm would get a pickup time of 10pm. Everything was working perfectly.


Beginning August 5,  customers who ordered at 9:30pm would still get a pickup of 9:45pm, but any orders after 9:30pm started getting pickup times for the next day. We no longer got any 9:50, 9:55, or 10:00 pickups.  There must have been some internal server upgrade that incorrectly factors in the prep time somehow. I think the system now looks at the prep times and decides that the prep time would push the pickup time beyond the category time limit and then sets the pickup time for when the category opens for orders again.


I also noticed that the pickup time is fine in the cart, but the pickup time gets recalculated on the checkout screen, which  causes the pickup time to move to the next day.


For example, if you make a lunch menu using a time-based category from 11am to 2pm with a 15 minute prep time, and someone orders at 1:45pm, the cart will show a 2pm pickup, but upon checkout, the pickup time will become the next day at 11am. I spoke with Weebly support for 4 hours today, and Advanced Support says that the current behavior is correct! Previously, a customer could order at 1:59pm and still get a 2:15pm pickup, which made a lot more sense.


Update: After some more testing, I've determined that if you pay using Apple Pay, the pickup time shown in the cart is honored, but if you use regular checkout, the pickup time is recalculated to the next day.

Square Community Moderator

Hey @TeaLeafCafe,


That's odd that it changed for you like this.


I would recommend reaching out to our direct CS team to make sure this feature is behaving as intended and to make sure there doesn't need to be a ticket filed for you. 


If you prefer to call they're available Monday-Friday 6am-6pm PST.

Beta Member

Hi @ashc, thanks for the reply. I already spoke to support for 4 hours yesterday. The support rep agrees with me that it doesn’t make sense for a customer to get a next day pickup for a lunch special if the business is still open, but Advanced Support still insists that it’s behaving as expected.


On this support article: https://squareup.com/help/us/en/article/7075-set-up-time-based-categories-in-your-square-online-stor... , it even says:


To be eligible for purchase, items in a time-based category must be ordered with enough time to allow for fulfillment within the selected location’s pickup and delivery hours, including prep time and delivery estimates. Customers can purchase items in a time-based category until one minute before the scheduled end time. So if you have a category that’s available from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM, 1:59 PM is the latest that an order could be placed, assuming it can be prepared and fulfilled within your pickup and delivery hours.”

So as along as your business is still open and accepting pickups for the rest of the day, and the prep time doesn’t push the order past your last pickup time, a customer should never get a next day pickup.

Beta Member

@LordPies  We definitely rely on the inventory tracking to help control the online sales and it works really well.  Our struggle is that if we only make say, 10 apple pies, then list those 10 apple pies in the online store, a customer can either walk up and order 15 Apple pies and the system will allow the cashier to ring in an order for 15 apple pies no problem.  The online shopper will not be able to order any pie, but then I have an unhappy customer who ordered on the phone or in person and is short a bunch of pie. 

We have had multiple instances where we are in the middle of taking an order and an online order comes through and we have to either revoke the product we are selling to an in person customer or cancel the items for the online order.  We are managing by being cautious about our inventory listings at first and updating the online inventory throughout the day, but having an option to not oversell would be extremely helpful.

Looks like the time-based setting isn’t available for the “online”  store template from some previous comments?  We have a provision store that sells sandwiches, drinks, pre-order meal kits, desserts, etc...especially with meal kits and new products, we often need multiple images to better engage our customers.


Since we are not able to show multiple product images with the “restaurant” template, as well as the images get zoomed in/cropped off if using the “restaurant” template, we settled with the other template.  It would be such a disappointment if the time-based function isn’t available for all templates.  We don’t mind switching to the restaurant template if the photo issues can be resolved.


Also it looks like no where on the square support page it mentioned this function would only work for certain templates?  Instead the title made it sound like it works for all square online stores and I had to read through this community threads to find out about it, after already spent a good amount of time following the instructions multiple times just to find out it doesn’t exist, would definitely appreciate more precise info in the support page...

“Set Up Time-Based Categories in your Square Online Store“


I’d also like to mention the Pickup “as soon as possible” is very confusing for our customers as well.  Would it be more straightforward for customers to just pick the first available time during check out instead of ASAP?  Some customers actually don’t even realize there’s an option to choose a later time right below it.  It might be more clear if the two can be combined into one drop down menu and force customers to choose a time?


Also with the default setting as Asap, the receipt shows order will be available for pick up “after 11am” for example, with those orders, most customers don’t come at 11am because they don’t have an exact pickup time, and their food would just sit there and get cold.  Those customers that actually picked a later time are more on-time for some reason. Please consider getting rid of the ASAP, and force customers choose a pickup time so that they know for sure what time to arrive.

Thank you!

Beta Member

We love these time-based categories! We would really love it if customers could order from these categories "outside" of their available times for pickup/delivery "inside" of their available times.


We make different products on different days. But our customers are used to being able to make an order on Tuesday for something we're making on Friday and then come and pick it up on that day. Is there any way you guys can add that? I've noticed for non-time based categories, customers can place orders for them while we're closed, but for time-based categories they can't.

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