Shopify and Squarespace are both feature-rich website builders in the market. Spectacularly, you can easily create and manage websites with them without any technical skills. If you are looking for a comprehensive Shopify vs Squarespace comparison, don’t look any further because you’re in the right place.
In this article, we will be providing you with the differences between these two giants in multiple aspects:
- Detailed comparison (features, price, usability..)
- Pros and Cons of Shopify vs Squarespace
- Suggestion on how to choose the best suit for your store
Shopify is a hosted eCommerce platform founded in 2004. Basically, Shopify is the most favorable option for beginners who know nothing about programming, coding, and web development to start and manage their own online store. Shopify is currently used by 1,389,995 live websites in the world.
Squarespace is a hosted CMS solution to create and manage websites, blogs, portfolios, and online stores. It lets businesses of all types create professional websites with the drag-and-drop interface. Currently, Squarespace hosts 2,608,015 live websites worldwide.
However, Shopify and Squarespace are born for different purposes. While Shopify is created mainly to drive sales for online merchants, Squarespace was initially created to support content-based websites. This resulted in a lot of dissimilarities between these two giants.
In the next paragraphs, let’s dive deeper into our analysis of the key features and differences between Shopify and Squarespace Stay tuned!
The first section of Shopify vs Squarespace comparison is Pricing. On the one hand, Squarespace offers 4 monthly pricing options: Personal, Business, Basic Commerce and Advanced Commerce. The price ranges from $16 to $54, the higher you pay, the more function-rich your store will be.
If you pay an upfront fee for a year’s service you can save 30% annually for the Business plan, and 25% for three remaining Squarespace packages as follows:
You can also make use of a 14-day free trial to try out Squarespace yourself before deciding whether this satisfies your business demands or not.
Please note that the Personal plan does not include eCommerce as well as Marketing features. Therefore, if you want to open a store using Squarespace, you have to purchase one out of the other three options. However, keep in mind that the Business plan charges you 3% additional transaction fee while the other two don’t. Therefore, the cost can go up very high.
On the other hand, Shopify has only 3 pricing plans: Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify with a monthly fee as shown below.
Just like Squarespace, you can also try using Shopify for 2 weeks free just by registering with your email address.
Besides three basic packages above, Shopify offers the Shopify Lite plan at $9 per month for those who want to sell in-person or integrate some selling features with their existing website. Otherwise, have a try at the Shopify Plus option in case you want to upgrade your business to enterprise level with the cost starting from $2000 per month. You can take a look at our comparison between Shopify and Shopify Plus in case you’re planning to expand your business.
Other than third-party payment processors, Shopify offers a separate payment gateway called Shopify Payments. In terms of the transaction fee, you are supposed to pay online credit card rates and/or in-person credit card rates. However, you don’t have to pay an additional transaction fee ranging from 0.5% to 2% depending on the plan you choose if you are a user of Shopify Payments.
Besides, you may need to spend on other factors to complete your Shopify store such as domain name, theme design, addons and integrations, etc. as well. Therefore, we suggest you take a closer look at the estimation of Shopify pricing before opening a store on this platform.
The verdict: As you can see, Squarespace is a much more affordable option. With only $54/ month you already have the most advanced features on Squarespace. Meanwhile, you have to pay at least $299 to get the best functionalities out of the box with Shopify, plus other apps and add-ons for scaling your business.
2. Ease of use
Due to the hosted nature, Shopify has a very user-friendly dashboard. Shopify uses a drag-and-drop design, which means you can simply add, remove or move sections by yourself with just a few clicks click. It also has a clear interface with visual cues and shortcuts to add products, customize themes and add a domain on the main page. Therefore, you never feel lost when designing your online store.
With Shopify, you can start selling in just a few minutes and don’t have to be an expert at building stores. If you have no idea how to set up a Shopify store, check out this tutorial video to kick start your business now.
Although Squarespace is also a hosted cart, it is a bit more tricky to get to grips with compared to its competitor. Squarespace applies the drag-and-drop sections with some content blocks which makes it easy for beginners. However, the editor’s homepage is just a bit hard to navigate and there are no visual cues.
For individuals who are brand-new to building eCommerce websites, it will take them some extra time to comprehend the system of Squarespace.
The Verdict: Overall, Both Shopify and Squarespace are user-friendly but the latter is a bit easier to use than the former. It offers a nice balance between simple design features and complex business tools.
3. Design and customizability
Another crucial part of Shopify vs Squarespace comparison is Design and Customizability. Shopify has a decent choice of themes. You can choose from 9 free templates and 64 premium ones costing around $140-180, which is quite expensive. Shopify themes cover plenty of industries including electrical gadgets, clothing, sports, and cosmetics, etc.
All of Shopify’s themes are elegant, attractive and mobile responsive. In addition, Shopify ensures the performance of any theme you may choose because they are all created by UI-UX professionals. You can freely pick a template for your storefront and switch to a more suitable one later.
Inspired by feedback from merchants. the developers have shown us several improvements in the themes since October 2020. You may notice some changes such as updated colors, simplified illustrations, and a clear appearance. Upgraded to the Shopify theme editor is another attempt of this platform to enhance theme loading times.
In the other corner, every Squarespace template is sleek, stylish, and modern. Most importantly, all of them are professionally created to meet the standard of great design, usability, performance, and mobile responsiveness.
As a matter of fact, Squarespace is inherently a blog-hosting service. A lot of the Squarespace themes are designed specifically for users who want to blog or showcase an art, photography, or music portfolio.
Although Squarespace might not always be fully optimized for eCommerce like Shopify, it is easier for e-merchants to customize their Squarespace stores in an artistic way.
In addition, they are free to preview and edit depending on your selling purpose as this is included in your monthly subscription fee.
If you want to personalize your online store, even more, you can use code to make custom edits. With Shopify, you can edit HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) on the Shopify Admin panel. With Squarespace, you can add HTML using a Code Block, and CSS using their CSS Editor.
The Verdict: This round is a draw. Both Shopify and Squarespace provide a wide range of attractive template options. The former is a more obvious choice for those wishing to open an online store. The latter is a better fit for content-driven websites.
4. Sales features
Both Shopify and Squarespace let you sell physical and digital products. Nonetheless, you will need to install an app to sell digital products on Shopify such as Digital downloads while you can sell any type of product on Squarespace. Both of these website builders offer unlimited products, the ability to add single or bulk items, in-house revenue reports, and direct email alerts for low stock.
Shopify supports all the major payment gateways like PayPal, Amazon Pay, Square or even cryptocurrency as well as more than 100 other options. To help store owners maximize the conversion rate, Shopify keeps offering more payment methods, especially local providers.
Users of Shopify Payments won’t be charged with any additional transaction fees, which fall in the range of 0.5% to 2% per transaction for all the other payment methods. Currently, Shopify Payments is only available in 17 countries including Austra, Belgium, etc. If you are living in those nations, make sure to take advantage of Shopify payment to avoid this extra cost.
By contrast, Squarespace limits the options it supports to only PayPal, Square and Stripe. Let’s have a glance at the table below that summarizes the features of each payment processors:
Everything you need from printable shipping labels to built-in integration with shipping services like NHL or UPS and dropshipping are available in Shopify. They ensure the shipping experience is as smooth as possible.
Squarespace really can’t compete with Shopify on this one. So far, they have been working with USP to calculate carrier shipping rates. UPS also allows you to amend shipping costs depending on the country you’re shipping to, or by weight.
Shopify designed its own POS system for on-the-go sales (Shopify POS Lite) and brick-and-mortar sales (Shopify POS Pro). It is available in every Shopify plan and will sync seamlessly with your online stores.
You’ll need to download the Shopify app and buy some form of hardware (Shopify Chip & Swipe Reader or Tap & Chip Card Reader). Additionally, you need to pay a transaction fee: 2,7% for the Basic plan, 2,5% for the Shopify plan and 2,4% for the Advanced plan for every offline sale.
In the meantime, Squarespace partnered with Square to develop Point of Sale. You first need the Squarespace Commerce app and a Square card reader which costs around $49. Remember that POS is only available with a Commerce Basic or Commerce Advanced plan. However, Squarespace doesn’t charge you any additional transaction fee.
The Verdict: Shopify wins this round easily as this platform mainly serves eCommerce store owners. Nonetheless, it is relatively expensive for Shopify store owners to integrate POS features, which is not suitable for those with limited budget.
5. Marketing features
Squarespace offers email campaigns out of the box. This feature allows you to manage both your website and mailing list in one place. However, you have to pay extra to use it. There are 4 plans available:
- Starter: $7 per month to send up to 3 e-newsletters to a maximum of 500 subscribers per month
- Core: $14 per month for 5 e-newsletters and 5,000 subscribers
- Pro: $34 per month for 20 e-newsletters and 50,000 subscribers
- Max: $68 per month for an unlimited number of newsletters and 250,000 subscribers
On top of that, the e-newsletter in Squarespace has a drag-and-drop interface that makes it very easy to edit. Besides, you can also drop your blog post or product information into your newsletters effortlessly.
With Shopify, they have also recently introduced an email marketing tool: Shopify Email which is available on all Shopify plans without monthly commitments.
Unfortunately, Shopify Email is currently very basic, only allowing you to send simple e-newsletters. The only plus point of this feature is that you can email 2500 subscribers for free. After that, you will need to pay $1 per 1000 additional emails sent.
Social Media Integration
Shopify allows you to sell on up to 10 social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, etc. By doing this way, Shopify offers its merchants an effective tool to approach more potential customers. Let’s take a look at the table below to see how you can benefit from the integration of Shopify with some prominent sales channels:
|Sales channels||How Shopify supports|
|Activate Instagram Shopping feature in the Facebook channel and start selling products on Instagram. Then, there is a shop on your Instagram profile allowing you to tag your products in posts and stories.|
On the contrary, Squarespace store owners can only sell on Instagram and push content to Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Twitter. This causes many obstacles if you want to scale your business and get closer to your customers.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. After all, the ultimate goal of online merchants is to drive traffic and sales to their stores and the best way to achieve this is by optimizing your SEO.
Let’s take a look at what SEO features Squarespace and Shopify has to offer:
The verdict: Both Shopify and Squarespace offer basic SEO features to help your online store get a higher rank in SERPs. However, Shopify seems to have superior SEO features thanks to decent site speed and stability. In addition, this platform provides a wide range of apps in terms of SEO improvement. In case you are looking for an insightful solution for SEO, let’s dig into our recommendation of the best Shopify SEO apps to increase the organic traffic of your store.
Undoubtedly, Squarespace possesses outstanding blogging features. With its built-in blog Page, you can create blog posts and excerpts, tag and categorizes posts, enable comments, push the content to prominent social media platforms, and more.
In addition, you can download the Squarespace App to update your blog instead of using a computer. However, please note that you are unable to update your blog via an XML-RPC client.
Similarly, Shopify store owners can benefit from the blogging feature without installing any apps. The bad news is. this website builder only gives you some basic functionalities to write posts as it is not the main focus of Shopify.
There is a lack of blogging analytics, social bookmarking, categories (you have to stick to tags) and some advanced blogging features. Therefore, Shopify is not a decent choice for those who pay more attention to content.
6. App store
Another criterion of Shopify s Squarespace is Apps and Extensions. Squarespace launched their extensions marketplace in December 2019. Currently, there are 24 extensions totally provided by the third parties. However, some ff them are only available in several countries, so you need to review the extension’s page before connecting it to your site.
Regardless of limited selection, all the extensions are designed to help you manage, optimize and expand your site. You can filter by categories and choose from 4 divisions including Shipping and Fulfillment, Finance, Inventory and Products, Sales and Marketing.
Shopify, on the other hand, has one of the best eCommerce app stores around with a total of 2000+ apps available. It’s like a features buffet, where you can pick and choose whatever you want from a variety of free and premium apps which starts from $15 per month. Although some paid apps are costly, they do bring significant benefits to the table.
Providing that it can be overwhelming to choose from thousands of apps, here we provide a comprehensive review of must-have Shopify apps for your store, especially ones that are newly built. Check this out now!
The verdict: Shopify wins as its app store is one of the best among all website builders.
7. Customer support
Due to the hosted nature, both Shopify and Squarespace offer outstanding customer service. Whenever trouble arises, you can reach out to them for help via email, phone, live chat or their community forum. You can also refer to their documents for help. Furthermore, with Shopify, you get a special support agent if you buy the Shopify Plus plan.
While Squarespace users can only reach out for help via live chat or email, Shopify has gone a step further to include 24/7 phone support.
The verdict: Shopify has a slight edge over Squarespace in terms of support channels.
High level of security is one common reason that online merchants opt for website builders like Shopify or Squarespace rather than building a store from scratch with self-hosted solutions.
With SSL Certificates, all data transferred between the store owners of these platforms with their clients is encrypted. This greatly helps increase trustworthiness of your online business by ensuring the protection of sensitive information such as credit details. In addition, both Shopify and Squarespace are PCI compliant, which means they commit to security standards for processing payment details.
The verdict: In this round, both Shopify and Squarespace meet a standard level of security that can adequately protect your online business data from leaking or data loss risk.
Shopify vs Squarespace: Pros and Cons
The analysis above has run you through the key similarities and differences of Shopify vs Squarespace. For a better overview of their strengths and weaknesses, let’s take a look at the table below:
Which one is ideal for your business?
Based on our in-depth analysis of Shopify vs Squarespace, we’d like to state that, it depends on many factors.
Squarespace would be the perfect option for those who are aiming to build a website with beautiful images and photography to showcase their creativity. Or if you are planning to build a content-focused website or a blog and at the same time sell a few products on your site, Squarespace is probably your best fit.
On the other hand, Shopify is hands-down the perfect match for merchants who are looking to run a store with advanced eCommerce functionality, professional reporting and a big inventory of products.
In Summary, both Squarespace and Shopify are great eCommerce website builders. While Shopify has the best sales features, Squarespace is more suitable for blogging and displaying stunning images. Therefore, the question “Shopify vs Squarespace: Which one is better?” all comes down to your demands and preferences.
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