You’ve decided to create an online business and are taking the first steps. Now it is time to pick an eCommerce website builder.
With so many choices, deciding the best platform for your online store can be overwhelming. Shopify and Squarespace are among the best. How do you pick the right one?
This article will explore the differences between Shopify and Squarespace, including pricing, eCommerce features, ease of use, design, and marketing. Ultimately, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on the best website builders for your business.
Table of Contents
Shopify vs Squarespace: The Comparison (2023)
What Is Shopify?
Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce website builders. The platform focuses on eCommerce, delivering solid payment and marketing options. It is packed with compatible apps expanding its core functionality. It is easy to use and offers many templates and modern design features.
What Is Squarespace?
Squarespace is a multi-purpose website builder with curated aesthetics and an edge on content. It offers resources for building an online store, especially for niche-targeting creatives.
The website builder follows a minimalist philosophy in every aspect – from the general design to the number of features. Squarespace keeps tight control over its integrations and resources, preferring to deliver a consistent and clean product with fewer eCommerce features.
Squarespace Refresh 2022, an update of over 100 features announced in October 2022, impacted the builder’s eCommerce suite. Still, there wasn’t a considerable increase in eCommerce functions.
Squarespace is recommended for small and middle-sized businesses focusing on consistent branding.
Shopify’s core plans costs:
- Shopify Basic – $29 per month
- Shopify – $79 per month
- Shopify Advanced – $299 per month
These plans offer a stand-alone Shopify online store, abandoned cart recovery, unlimited products, sales channels, Point of sale (POS), marketing automation, international markets, Shopify payments, and currency conversion in selected countries.
Shopify provides additional specialized solutions:
- Shopify Starter – Offers limited functions for $5 per month, including embedding products in other websites and selling on social media, but doesn’t allow creating a stand-alone shop.
- Shopify Lite – $9 per month. The Shopify Lite plan is similar to the Starter. It adds a Buy Button to another website and allows selling on other platforms or social media, but it doesn’t offer a stand-alone shop.
- Shopify Plus – A custom plan for businesses willing to escalate, starting from $2,000 per month.
For $23 per month, Squarespace Personal plan doesn’t offer eCommerce functionality.
Those interested in creating an online store using the website builder should choose one of the Squarespace eCommerce plans (all prices paid monthly):
- Business – $33 per month
- Basic Commerce – $36 per month
- Advanced Commerce – $65 per month
All plans offer a one-year free custom domain, SEO tools, basic metrics, extensions, Squarespace templates, and unlimited products. POS is available in the Basic plan, while abandoned cart recovery requires the Advanced Commerce plan.
Squarespace Business plans charge 3% transaction fees that are not charged in the more advanced plans.
Winner: Unlike Squarespace, Shopify gives advanced functions like abandoned cart recovery from the start. In terms of pricing, every Shopify plan has the edge.
Ease of Use
Shopify Ease of Use
Shopify is a feature-rich and user-friendly eCommerce platform. Still, learning how to operate it takes time.
Building a website requires using templates and not editing the pages directly. The overall complexity is within the grasp of the regular user with no coding knowledge.
Shopify makes complex tasks such as managing inventory and setting up shipment and payment gateways doable. Editing and adding products, for instance, is straightforward.
Squarespace Ease of Use
Setting up a Squarespace website is quick – pick a template, select which functions you need, and choose a name and category.
Everything looks streamlined and easy to use.
The website builder offers consolidated functions with fewer margins for error and can personalize the website extensively. Editing the content and placing and adjusting text and images is easy using blocks in a grid system, but inventory management and adding products are a bit more complicated.
Winner: Squarespace is easier to use than Shopify, but that comes with sacrificing options.
Design and Customization
Shopify Design Options
Basic Shopify customization is based on themes and templates. The drag-and-drop editor has plenty of options for editing individual elements but isn’t very intuitive. Adding features that aren’t already in the theme may take some time.
Shopify sites can switch themes without building a new site.
There are about ten free Shopify themes, but more than 80 Premium themes are available in the Shopify theme store or from third-party developers, costing from $200 to $350. The store has filters allowing users to browse by specific features like “EU translations” or “Age verifier.”
The themes are responsive and have unlimited testing; the user only pays for them when publishing the page.
Shopify integrates with Burst for stock images.
Squarespace Design Options
Squarespace’s design capabilities are top-tier. Its new drag-and-drop Fluid editor is easier to use than Shopify’s.
Based on editable blocks, Fluid delivers consistent and sleek results with reasonable customization capabilities. The elements are positioned in a grid, avoiding misalignments.
Recent updates with Fluid allow users to edit the site’s mobile versions separately. Previously, editions made in one version of the Squarespace site were reflected automatically in other versions. Now, although it is possible to customize different mobile and desktop versions, part of the previous consistency was lost.
Every site is built from a Squarespace template. Changing templates requires creating new websites, paid separately. Squarespace lets users create unlimited 14-day free trials.
Winner: Squarespace has the edge on design options, consistently with its focus on creatives and artists.
Shopify vs Squarespace – eCommerce and Sales Features
- Selling With Shopify
Here are the main eCommerce features on Shopify:
Shopify payments work in 19 countries. Shopify also integrates with over 100 payment gateways, including Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Stripe.
Shopify payments don’t charge transaction fees. Other payment gateways may have specific costs, and Shopify charges additional transaction fees to external payment processors that vary according to plan.
Multi-currency selling is available with Shopify payments. Localization settings, including languages and currencies, are assigned to markets. Shopify supports a primary market plus 50 more. Countries may be grouped in a market.
Multi-currency doesn’t include automatic currency conversion. Local prices can be adjusted in the Shopify plan and the Shopify plus plan.
If a shop doesn’t use Shopify Payments, multi-currency selling is possible by installing a third-party app.
Shopify offers free shipping, flat or weight-based rates, local, calculated, and price-based shipping rates.
Shopify Shipping, available in all plans for customers in the US, Canada, the UK, Spain, France, Italy, or Australia, is a function providing a partnership with local postal companies. It offers discount shipping rates and provides calculated shipping rates at checkout.
Shopify lets merchants choose a carrier and calculates shipping rates automatically, but it requires paying a monthly fee or subscribing to the Advanced Shopify plan.
Shopify lets you sell online physical and digital products – up to 5Gb per file. Selling subscriptions requires paid third-party apps.
Shopify lets you create only three product options with 100 variants. More product options require a third-party app like the Infinite Options app.
Unlike Squarespace, Shopify delivers a consolidated POS system that works with proprietary or third-party hardware.
A card reader, barcode scanner, receipt printer, and cash drawers are available. The items can be bought in a kit or separately.
POS basic functions are available from the Basic plan, including offline transactions, check-out with smartphones and tablets, tax calculations, barcode labels, customer profiles, or discount codes.
Premium POS features, like staff permissions, advanced Shopify reports, and management tools, are available with an additional subscription to the Shopify POS Pro, costing $89 monthly.
- Shopify stores offer automatic tax calculations for several countries, and VAT is automatically calculated for digital products sold in the EU.
- Abandoned cart recovery is available in all Shopify plans, including the Starter plan ($5)
- Selling With Squarespace
Squarespace eCommerce stores work with Paypal and Stripe. These allow customers to pay with debit and credit cards. Squarespace doesn’t work with Google Pay.
Users can pay through Afterpay or Celarpay with the Squarespace app for iOS – which allows buy-now-pay-later.
Payments for POS work differently (see below).
Unlike Shopify, Squarespace doesn’t support multi-currency. Shopify supports selling in 26 currencies with Stripe or PayPal, but Squarespace stores trade in only one currency – localized shops require creating several sites for different currencies.
Squarespace lets store owners define free shipping, flat, weight-based, local, and calculated rates, but not price-based shipping rates.
For real-time quotes, subscribers to the Advanced Commerce plan have shipping integrated with FedEx, UPS, and USPS. This feature covers only domestic shipping and doesn’t allow pre-negotiated rates with carriers.
Additional shipping options are available with extensions, including AfterShip, Easyship, Shippo, or ShipStation. Each extension charges different fees.
Squarespace sells physical and digital products and subscriptions.
Digital products have a limit of 300MB per file.
Selling subscriptions for physical products or services is available from the Commerce Advanced plan. Subscriptions for digital products require installing the Memberspace extension or subscribing to the Squarespace members area for $9 monthly.
Squarespace gives more product options than Shopify – six options for products with 250 variants and adjusts product images easily.
POS is limited via integration with the payment processor Square. It works only in the US with Square’s card reader. Since the Squarespace Refresh from October 2022, POS has been available also for Android.
Squarespace POS accepts payment from credit cards, UnionPay, and Apple Pay. It doesn’t work with Afterpay or Clearpay.
- Automatic tax calculation is available through extensions for US users.
- Abandoned cart recovery is available at the Commerce Advanced plan ($65 per month)
Winner: Shopify wins in most of the items, including more payment options, currency conversion, shipping rates, POS, and additional options such as tax management and dropshipping options.
Squarespace lags behind, especially with the very limited POS. The only aspect Squarespace outdoes Shopify is product variations.
Follow key marketing features on both Squarespace and Shopify.
Shopify Marketing Features
Shopify has a variety of apps for social media advertising, integrating with more than ten platforms.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Shopify automatically creates page titles and meta descriptions from product pages based on the page content, allows modifications to HTML and CSS, and informs search engines about redirected and new URLs.
When a page is changed, Shopify reminds users to create a 301 redirect or can create it automatically if the user chooses.
A Shopify website performs slightly better than Squarespace’s on Google’s Pagespeed Insights tool.
Advanced features such as reporting require upgrading to more expensive plans.
Shopify Email is Shopify’s proprietary email marketing tool that connects with Shopify automations. It handles the mailing list from the same place where the Shopify store is managed. There are no monthly fees. Instead, it allows sending 1,000 monthly emails for free and $1 for each additional 1,000 subscribers.
Squarespace Marketing Features
Squarespace connects with up to 13 social media platforms, importing content and sharing site updates. General Social media management is done in the menu Settings, Social Links section, Connected accounts.
Squarespace also provides social media integration via free and paid extensions, including creating and scheduling social posts via templates or from scratch with the Unfold app. Additionally, Apple device owners have the option of the video creator tool.
Selling in social media is restricted to Meta products, although Squarespace promises a selling integration with Google and Youtube by the end of 2022.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Squarespace doesn’t automatically generate page titles and meta descriptions based on the page content, as Shopify does.
The SEO panel lets the user customize site and page titles and descriptions, edit URLs and page attributes, and hide them from search engines. Product and collection pages receive clean static URLs.
The Smart SEO extension optimizes product attributes, including meta tags, alt texts, and tags. Squarespace doesn’t offer SEO tips or advice when adding items to the store.
When an URL is changed, the 301 redirects need to be created manually.
Squarespace has built-in integration with Google Analytics, and its superior blogging functions give it an edge with organic traffic.
Squarespace Email Campaigns is a recent built-in feature, but requires subscriptions from $7 per month (3 newsletters plus 500 emails) to $67 (unlimited newsletters and 250,000 emails). These amounts are competitive compared to other third-party email marketing applications, and the built-in solution has the advantage of keeping brand consistency.
Newsletter’s edition and templates are similar to Squarespace’s website builder but miss some features available in dedicated email marketing tools.
Squarespace integrates with Mailchimp, but other solutions that connect with Shopify require workarounds, like using Zapier to create an integration.
Winner: Shopify has a slight edge over Squarespace, mainly regarding the number of apps. Neither Shopify or Squarespace allow complete control over SEO but provide standard tools.
Shopify’s app store offers more than 8,000 apps, fundamental to expand basic Shopify built-in capacities. Many are third-party-produced.
Many apps add specific functions exclusively to Shopify, such as additional product variants or multilingual support. In contrast, others are integrations with other services and platforms, including dropshipping apps like Printify.
Many Shopify integrations need subscriptions, increasing costs.
Squarespace has few mobile apps and no more than three dozen selected “extensions,” organized into five sections from Shipping and Fulfillment to Sales and Marketing.
These extensions are well integrated with Squarespace and reflect the platform’s philosophy of a few curated resources. Unfortunately, this means fewer options for users – expanding business may outgrow Squarespace. Internationalization and POS, for instance, are pretty limited, and only recently has Squarespace offered more choices for a dropshipping business.
It is possible to embed code from external apps or connect third-party apps via Zapier, but these workarounds are far from ideal.
Winner: While Squarespace offers dozens of quality extensions, Shopify offers thousands. Not all apps have the same quality, but Shopify is unbeatable here.
Integration With Printify
Integrating both Shopify and Squarespace with Printify is pretty straightforward. Here’s how to do it:
Connect from the Shopify or Printify side. In both cases, log in to your Printify and Shopify accounts.
To connect from Printify’s side, click on My Store in the upper-right corner. Click on Manage My Stores, then Connect.
Select Shopify and paste the URL of your Shopify store. Copy it from the Settings menu on Shopify’s page.
The browser will direct you to the Shopify App Store. Click on Install app.
To connect from Shopify’s Side, search for Printify in the App Store. Click Add app, and Install app.
Log in to your accounts at Printify and Squarespace.
Then, add a Store page to your Squarespace site. For that, go to Pages, click on +, then Store. After that, connect from the Printify or Squarespace side.
To connect from Printify’s side, click on My Store at the upper-right corner, Manage My Stores, and Connect. If you have other online stores, click on Add New Store.
Choose Squarespace, log in if necessary, and allow access.
Select the store in Printify you want to connect to Squarespace.
To connect from Squarespace’s side, go to Settings, then Extensions. Type “Printify” at the search bar, or look for it in Inventory and Products.
Winner: It is a draw. Both Squarespace and Shopify integrate seamlessly with Printify and can be added without workarounds or adding code.
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Shopify Customer Support
Shopify gives 24/7 support via phone, email, and live chat. Online help is available in 21 languages. Phone support works by request.
Its help center is entirely text-based, with no images or videos.
Template-related queries will depend on the developer. Shopify’s customer support handles questions well on standard Shopify templates, but third-party template issues must be solved with the template’s developers.
Squarespace Customer Support
Squarespace support works via live chat, email, and a help center with articles, pictures, and videos. Online support is available in six languages.
Since Squarespace has a strict approach concerning its templates, its customer support solves most template-related queries unless they were altered too much with custom HTML or CSS.
Squarespace support is less brilliant when dealing with non-US-related queries, particularly when General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is involved.
Winner: Another draw between Shopify and Squarespace, as each attends part of the user base well. Shopify‘s support has a broader range, both in language and resources. Sometimes it looks old-school, but many users still prefer to solve issues by phone. Squarespace’s support, in turn, fits well with its target audience – it is more interactive and user-friendly and benefits from the platform’s more restrictive approach.
Shopify vs Squarespace - The Overall Winner
In the dispute between Shopify vs Squarespace, there is no absolute winner. Both platforms have strengths and weaknesses:
- Shopify packs more eCommerce features and has an edge with internationalization. It provides more dropshipping, shipment, taxes, and payment processor options. If your business requires that level of complexity, choose Shopify. However, not every seller needs these resources, which may cost additional subscriptions and fees.
- Those focusing on creative niches, especially in the US, can significantly benefit from Squarespace’s consistent, sleek, reliable, and professional features. Squarespace has the edge on content-driven sites that also sell products and subscriptions.
Shopify and Squarespace Alternatives
Perhaps you want to check out more options. Here are other reputable eCommerce platforms competing directly with Shopify and Squarespace:
Wix is an all-in-one solution packed with website and online store building features. It is a direct competitor to Squarespace. All eCommerce plans feature abandoned cart recovery, but POS is restricted. It is recommended for regular sellers looking for a user-friendly tool. eCommerce plans are from $27 to 59 per month.
BigCommerce – The main competitor to Shopify is a hosted ecommerce platform focused on eCommerce. It offers reliable built-in eCommerce tools, a variety of payment gateways, and allows scalability. However, its visuals could be improved, and abandoned cart recovery is available only from the Plus plan. Plans cost from $29.95 to 299.95 per month.
WooCommerce – An open-source plugin that turns any WordPress page into a full-featured online store. It gives full control and ownership over the eCommerce website but requires hosting and has a steep learning curve.
PrestaShop – Like WooCommerce, PrestaShop is open source and has a steep learning curve, but offers complete control over the online business. It can be installed on a server or hosting provider via MySQL and FTP, or on a local computer (primarily for testing).
Frequently Asked Questions
Shopify is better for sellers looking for a quick and easy solution with plenty of eCommerce resources. Squarespace is the best for sellers intending to boost aesthetics and brand.
These are the Shopify’s plan costs, paid monthly:
- Starter – $5 per month
- Lite – $9 per month
- Basic – $29 per month
- Shopify – $79 per month
- Advanced – $299 per month
- Plus – from $2,000 per month.
These are the Squarespace’s plan costs, paid monthly:
- Personal (no eCommerce functionality) – $23 per month
- Business – $33 per month
- Basic Commerce – $36 per month
- Advanced Commerce – $65 per month
Both Shopify and Squarespace are user-friendly. Shopify’s numerous resources may require more time to master than the more limited number of options in Squarespace.
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