How Does Squarespace Compare Against the Ecommerce Giant, Shopify?
You’re about to find out how Squarespace compares to Shopify in a battle between two excellent ecommerce platforms.
Shopify is for serious sellers. It’s the best platform for large or ambitious online stores requiring powerful ecommerce tools.
It’s our top rated ecommerce website builder, designed specifically for selling online. For that reason alone, it should come as no surprise Shopify is the overall winner today.
However, like anything in life, it’s not for everyone. While it is the overall best ecommerce builder, it may not suit your products, fit your budget, or simply match your style.
In the other corner, you have Squarespace. Known as an ‘all-round’ website builder, it comes with some added ecommerce features if you’re looking to sell online. These sales tools are less advanced than Shopify, but it’s more affordable.
Squarespace is also the king of design. So, if you’re looking to just sell a few products online with some lovely templates to match, then it might be the builder for you.
But how do you choose between Shopify and Squarespace? Well, you’ll be glad to hear we’ve made things easier for you. We thoroughly researched each builder, digging up each platform to see how they perform in key areas of selling online. We also asked people just like you to test them to get another point of view.
And the results are in…
Before we start, though, check out this comparison table below to quickly see how they match up.
Shopify Updates: June 2020
Shopify recently announced some exciting updates — here are just five of the highlights we thought you might want to hear about:
- New tipping feature! Merchants can enable tipping during checkout, or customize the text to ask for donations to your business or favorite charity.
- New “Express” theme – designed to help non-traditional businesses like restaurants create an online store quickly and easily.
- Shop App. This new personal shopping app lets customers view their favorite Shopify stores, get product recommendations, and track orders. It’s already being used by over 16 million users!
- Curbside Pickup and Local Delivery. Merchants can now offer more flexible and contact-free shipping options.
- Shopify Balance (coming later this year). Shopify’s new account for small businesses — pay bills, track expenses, and apply for funding from your Shopify admin. You also get a Shopify card, which comes with a rewards program tailored to merchants’ needs.
Shopify Pros and Cons
|Shopify Pros||Shopify Cons|
It’s no good having a large inventory system, or well-designed templates, if you can’t figure out how to use them – right?
Shopify is our top rated ecommerce builder. It has the most comprehensive set of features and apps, letting you sell across different platforms. But is it easy to use? The short answer is yes.
Shopify uses drag-and-drop design, which means you simply click, move, and drop media elements anywhere on the page. It also has a clear interface with visual cues, so you never feel lost when designing your online store.
In our user testing, people found Shopify’s simple language, ‘undo’ button, and keyboard shortcuts made it really easy to build an online store.
Someone even said about Shopify:
It was so good, really easy. It was just very user friendly – it guided you through the important areas, the most important being the inventory. Even just the questions at the beginning, then straight away it was add a product, subtle prompts. Everything was just very clear.
Squarespace, with all its beautiful templates, is a bit more tricky to get to grips with. In fact, our research found it was the hardest ‘non ecommerce-specific’ builder to use.
This is largely because it has more powerful creative tools than most platforms, but you’ll get to grips with it after a few trial and error clicks. Like Shopify, it uses drag-and-drop design.
One user summarized Squarespace like this:
Adding products was actually easier than writing a product description, or just adding general text on the page.
Shopify vs Squarespace – Ease of Use: The Verdict
Overall, Shopify is much easier to use than Squarespace. It offers a nice balance between simple design features and complex business tools. On the other hand, Squarespace’s editor homepage is just a bit too tricky to navigate, especially with no visual cues to help you out.
Just like in a real shop, customers need to feel enticed. After all, people are reluctant to spend time (and money) in a messy, unkempt store. The same goes for websites.
So, looking good is important for an online store. But which builder has the better design?
Shopify has a decent choice of themes. You can pick from 10 free templates, or 50+ premium templates costing $140-180. Shopify’s themes cover plenty of industries including electrical gadgets, clothing, sports, and cosmetics.
However, some themes don’t have navigation bars that scroll down with you, which is a pain to rectify.
In the other corner, it should come as no surprise that Squarespace, an industry leader of design, had the best scores of any ecommerce builder in our testing.
Every one of Squarespace’s templates is modern and sleek (why not take a look yourself), conveying a clear message with easily identifiable key action buttons. They’re all mobile responsive, too, so they look great on any sized screen.
Unlike Shopify, Squarespace provides themes for specifically for the creative industry, while also covering almost every other industry including DIY, food and drink, and toys.
Can You Make Custom Edits?
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 page. With Squarespace, you can add HTML using a Code Block, and CSS using their CSS Editor.
Shopify vs Squarespace – Template Design and Customizability: The Verdict
Building websites on Squarespace is the closest you’ll get to professional quality, making it the clear winner. It lets your products shine, offering sleek and modern themes covering a range of industries. Shopify has 10 free and over 50 paid templates, but they aren’t as attractive.
As you’d expect, sales tools are the most important feature for, well, selling online. And at Website Builder Expert, we know these features cover more than just product prices, images, and discounts.
So we’ve investigated each website builder to find out exactly which builder performs best when it comes to selling your stock.
While both platforms let you sell physical, digital, and service products, you will need to install an app, such as Digital Downloads, to sell digital products on Shopify. On Squarespace, all the sales tools you need for selling any type of product is there already, giving it a slight edge.
When it comes to selling products online, presentation matters. The more your customer can see of your product, the better.
Squarespace is the best platform for design. It really focuses on making your products take center stage. You can add a zoom feature, and even turn your photos into videos to take your customers on a 360° visual journey.
If you have multiple variants of the same product (for example, different colours and sizes), Shopify or Squarespace will be fine, as you’ll be able to include these all within one product entry on each platform. On Shopify, there is no built-in zoom function (unlike Squarespace), but you can install an app, such as Magic Zoom Plus, for this.
Looking for some more options? Read our BigCommerce vs Shopify review.
Squarespace scored poorly in our payment options testing. It’s very limited in the gateways it supports; PayPal, Stripe, and Apple Pay are the only option.
Shopify leaves Squarespace in its payment dust. It supports all the major payment gateways like Amazon Pay, Square, and even cryptocurrency, as well as more than 100 other options.
Shopify understands that the more payment types you accept, the more money you’ll make – plain and simple. It also imposes zero transaction fees, but only if you are using its own gateway, Shopify Payments. Otherwise, you’ll pay an additional transaction fee of 2%.
Shipping with Shopify is smooth sailing. Everything you need for delivering your products, like printable shipping labels, built-in integration with NHL or UPS, and drop shipping, are provided.
Squarespace really can’t compete with Shopify on this one, although it is catching up. Squarespace now works with USP to calculate carrier shipping rates. It also lets you amend shipping costs depending on the country you’re shipping to, or by weight.
Your inventory is the very backbone of your online store. It’s where you manage stock levels, upload new items, and view revenue reports. It may sound dull, but it’s the cogs that keep your store running.
Shopify was designed specifically for selling online, so it should easily win here, right? Well, Squarespace packs a surprising punch. They both offer unlimited products, the ability to add single or bulk items, in-house revenue reports, and direct email alerts for low stock.
Even if your business is based online, it’s nice to have the option to sell face to face, too. So how do Shopify and Squarespace match up in this area?
Shopify has its own POS system, which is designed to sync seamlessly (and instantly) with a Shopify online store. You’ll need to download the Shopify app, and buy some form of hardware (the basic tap and chip card reader costs $49). For each offline sale, you’ll pay a transaction fee of 2.4% – 2.7%, depending on which plan you’re on.
It’s a similar deal with Squarespace, although this is achieved through its new partnership with payment processor, Square. To sell offline, you’ll need the Squarespace Commerce app, and a Square card reader (which, like the Shopify reader, costs $49). Transaction fees are a little higher, however, with Square charging a transaction fee of 2.6 – 3.5%, plus a processing fee of $0.10 – $0.15. These fees come from Square, rather than from Squarespace, so it’s best to check directly on the Square website for any updates.
Shopify vs Squarespace – Sales Features: The Verdict
Shopify is one of the most comprehensive ecommerce website builders around, so it comfortably wins. Squarespace does well to keep pace due to its impressive inventory management tools, but Shopify is the clear winner here – it offers far more payment gateways and stronger shipping features.
Marketing is promoting your online store, getting more customers, and building your brand. You can already see the importance of having a good marketing
Social Media Integration
Shopify wins here with its choice of apps and social media advertising. You can easily add a huge range of marketing, accounting, and shipping apps to make your business more streamlined. And you can sell across 10 social media platforms.
By contrast, Squarespace doesn’t have an app market (so if it’s not built-in, you can’t use it), and you can only sell on Instagram. This means you may outgrow Squarespace if you’re looking to scale big, given the lack of options.
Squarespace has introduced a new add-on feature called Email Campaigns, and it pretty much does what it says on the tin. Email Campaigns offers a free trial, during this period you can send up to 50,000 campaigns per month. It’ll cost you $8 /month after that.
Squarespace may be the leader of design, but its blogs are by no means just a pretty face. It scored top marks in our blog testing, offering all the blogging features you need for a successful website, including built-in analytics, archive functionality, and a search feature.
Shopify lacks all the blogging features mentioned above. However, unlike Squarespace it does come with blog-specific SEO features, but these aren’t all that important for your website in truth.
How to Start a Blog – Back to basics blogging
Helping your site rank higher on Google brings more clicks to your online store, and usually more dollars to your pocket.
Squarespace is an SEO average Joe. It lets you edit meta titles and descriptions (the text you see on Google searches), and provides other basic SEO functions, but it doesn’t offer any SEO best practice advice when you’re uploading new items to your store.
Shopify should help your online store rank higher than Squarespace would. Why? It simply offers more features like a range of SEO apps and best practice prompts when uploading new stock.
Shopify vs Squarespace – Marketing Features: The Verdict
Shopify has more marketing tools to help grow your online store than Squarespace does. It comes with more built-in email marketing tools, and gives you access to many marketing apps. Shopify has superior SEO features to Squarespace too, making it the overall winner here.
Apps can help improve your website’s performance. They cover everything from marketing and shipping to finance and analytics, giving your site that extra boost. For example, you can find apps to allow product reviews, pre orders, and abandoned cart recovery emails.
We’ll cut to the chase. Squarespace doesn’t have an app store, so there’s not much to say here really. Shopify wins!
Shopify has one of the most comprehensive app markets around, providing a third party integration for almost anything under the ecommerce sun. Better yet, it’s super easy to integrate each app.
Shopify vs Squarespace – App Stores: The Verdict
Shopify wins the app round. Squarespace doesn’t have an app store, so it should go without saying that Shopify is the better option if you’re looking for apps. Not only that, the Shopify marketplace is comprehensive and really easy to navigate.
By monitoring your online store’s performance you can see who’s visiting your site, what aspect of your store is performing well, and the areas you could improve. Analytics will help your online store flourish.
Shopify is well equipped when it comes to analytics. You can track customer behaviour so you know exactly who is visiting your store, and you receive stock level report emails. For a more robust analytics tools, we recommend integrating your site with Google Analytics.
Squarespace also uses its own analytics software. You can track revenue, total orders, conversion, and the behaviour of your customers. It loses points by not providing stock monitoring alerts, though.
Like Shoipfy, you can integrate your store with Google Analytics to get even more detailed stats.
Shopify vs Squarespace – Analytics: The Verdict
Our analysis shows Shopify has won this round. Shopify provides all the insight you need for managing and growing a successful online store like stock monitoring and revenue reports, and you can install Google Analytics for deeper insights into your customers, and the performance of your store.
Both website builders offer good customer support in our experience. But Shopify goes the extra mile with 24/7 support via phone, email, and live chat.
Furthermore, with Shopify, you get a dedicated support agent with their Plus Level price plan. Better yet, as your business grows, you can hire a Shopify Expert to help you code or design, adding a professional touch.
In contrast, Squarespace’s customer support options are quite limited. However, most issues can be resolved by visiting their brilliant forum, which we think is one of the best and most trustworthy around. There’s also live chat support from Monday to Friday 4am – 8pm (EST) if you cannot find a solution in the knowledge forum.
Shopify vs Squarespace – Customer Support: The Verdict
Both Shopify and Squarespace offer a good level of customer support to help fix your issues. But Shopify wins, offering 24/7 phone, email, and live chat help, which Squarespace does not. For all your website builder aches and pains, Shopify has the best remedies.
Generally speaking, Shopify costs more than Squarespace. Why? It really comes down to what they offer. Shopify has more advanced – and comprehensive – ecommerce features, and gives you access to loads of apps. In other words, it provides you with more tools to help grow your business.
So how much does each builder actually cost? We’ll go through each one, covering their monthly costs and value for money.
Shopify’s monthly plans are as follows:
- Basic Shopify ($29)
- Shopify ($79)
- Advanced Shopify ($299)
What if we said you could save almost $100 per year on the Shopify plan? That’s right, you’ll save 20% on your subscription when you sign up for two years, and 10% when you sign up for one year.
So, if you sign up to an annual plan, the monthly prices come down to just $26.10, $71.10, and $269.10, respectively.
Now let’s take a look at Squarespace’s monthly price plans:
- Personal ($16)
- Business ($26)
- Basic Store ($30)
- Advanced Store ($46)
Again, like Shopify, if you sign up to a yearly plan, the monthly costs come down. The prices would come to $12, $18, $26, and $40, respectively.
As you can see, Squarespace is the more affordable option. But it doesn’t provide as many ecommerce tools, third party apps, or customer support options as Shopify does, preventing you from taking your online store to the next level.
Features vs Price
Looking further into the features of Shopify and Squarespace, we’ve put together a little table. This shows you what features you receive on both their Basic ecommerce plans, and their Advanced Plans.
To give a quick insight into what these features are:
- Abandoned Cart Recovery is when the platform automatically generates an email to a customer who leaves your site with items in their basket, before checking out. This gives them a friendly nudge to come back to your site and complete their purchase. Studies show abandoned cart emails can help recover up to 15% of otherwise lost sales.
- Multi-Channel Integration is the ability to sell your products across social media networks and online marketplaces. Currently, Squarespace only gives you access to Instagram, whereas with Shopify, you can sell across Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Amazon, eBay and more.
- Professional Reports are put together for you by the platform itself using your sales and marketing statistics. These can help highlight where you’re over and under-performing.
Taking this into account – and the fact there’s only a $3/month difference between Squarespace’s Basic ecommerce plan ($26), and Shopify’s ($29) – Shopify is the stronger choice. You’re getting a broader range and better quality features for only a slight increase in price.
Still can’t decide between Squarespace or Shopify? Both builders offer a 14-day free trial period, so you can test each one for yourself without paying a dollar.
Shopify vs Squarespace – Pricing: The Verdict
In terms of pricing, it really comes down to value for money. Shopify offers monthly plans from $29 to $299, but provides far more sales tools and features than Squarespace. Squarespace is a lot cheaper, costing $12 to $40 per month, but supports fewer ecommerce tools.
If neither Shopify or Squarespace take your fancy, don’t worry. There are other options out there. Below we’ll run through a few of the best alternatives on the market and tell you what’s so great about them.
BigCommerce’s main selling point is that a lot of its features are built-in, meaning you don’t have any extra costs for thinks like app addons or security certificates. The downside is the dashboard isn’t quite as user-friendly as Shopify’s, and some of the terms used can be a little technical for beginners.
Wix came top of our research as the best all-around website builder. Its ecommerce offerings aren’t too shabby either, but Wix is really for people with only a few products to sell.
Wix is one of the easiest ways to create a website thanks to its drag-and-drop editor or choice of ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence). It can be difficult to scale with Wix though, because its ecommerce features aren’t on the same level as that of Shopify or BigCommerce.
Weebly are owned by payment processors, Square, and are only going in one direction when it comes to ecommerce: up! A slick website builder first and foremost, Weebly offers great value for money and is a sound option for anyone looking to branch out and sell online.
Weebly’s ecommerce features sit somewhere in between basic and advanced and can sometimes feel stuck in the middle (not the best website builder, not the best ecommerce platform). Nevertheless, Weebly gives you a reliable and simple way of building an online store.
Choosing which ecommerce website builder to use really depends on what type of store you are trying to build.
Shopify is a lot more comprehensive when it comes to business tools and selling features (remember: it’s our top rated ecommerce builder). Essentially, its primary aim is to help your business flourish.
But if you don’t need such an advanced platform, and you’re only looking to sell a few items, Squarespace is very capable. The templates are beautiful and make your products really stand out.
Why choose Shopify instead of Squarespace?
- More suited to bigger online stores
- Comprehensive sales tools
- 24/7 customer support
- Easier to build
- Multi-channel selling
Why choose Squarespace instead of Shopify?
- Suited to smaller stores selling a few products
- Best designed templates
- Brilliant blogging features
- Ideal for creative industries
- Lower entry price plan
Read our Magento vs Shopify article here.
Or our Wix vs BigCommerce article.
|Shopify vs Squarespace||Shopify||Squarespace||Winner|
|Ease of Use||Visual cues and simple language on the editing interface so it’s very easy to use||Slightly tricky to use at first because it’s hard to locate certain items, but easy after a few trial and error clicks||Shopify|
|Design||11 free and 50+ paid themes with industry-specific features to help streamline your website’s performance||The leader of design, it has the best designed themes on the market, helping your online store really standout||Squarespace|
|Features||Offers the most comprehensive sales and inventory management tools on the market, and very strong marketing features||Has real quality in its features, particularly for blogging, and has recently introduced Email Campaigns add-on||Shopify|
|SEO||Solid SEO offerings including best practice prompts when uploading new items to your inventory||Holds its own in this category, but nothing special. No prompts when uploading new stock, and no SEO app||Shopify|
|Help and Support||24/7 live chat, email, and phone support to help fix your issues around the clock||Limited customer support but offers a really useful knowledge centre||Shopify|
|Value for Money||Three core price plans starting from $29.99 per month, offering excellent value for money with its ecommerce tools||Four price plans starting from $16 per month, but has no app store and less powerful ecommerce features than Shopify||Shopify|
Our overall thoughts? We have a clear winner. If you’re looking to build and grow an online store, Shopify is the best all-round choice.
Should I use Shopify or Squarespace?
Shopify is a ‘pure’ ecommerce website builder, offering the most comprehensive sales tools and features around – it’s suitable for almost any online business. Squarespace, however, is best if you’re looking to sell just a few items while using the most stunning templates available.
How much does Shopify cost?
Shopify offers a 14-day free trial, with no credit card information required, but you’ll have to choose a premium plan afterwards. These plans are Basic Shopify ($29 p/m), Shopify ($79 p/m), and Advanced Shopify ($299 p/m), all offering more sales features depending on the price plan you choose.
What payment methods can I use with Squarespace?
After setting up your online store with Squarespace, you can connect it with Stripe. This lets you accept these payment gateways: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover (US Merchants only), Diner’s Club, JCB, and Apple Pay. It’s worth noting t’s not as many as you can integrate with Shopify.
Is Squarespace or Shopify more scalable?
This is an easy one – Shopify. Because of its advanced sales tools and marketing capabilities, Shopify makes growing your site easy. Squarespace works for certain websites (creative industries etc.) but if you want to jump from selling 100 products a week to 1,000, to 10,000, you’ll want Shopify.
Which is easier to use, Shopify or Squarespace?
Shopify is easier to use than Squarespace because it provides plenty of visual cues when editing your store. It also uses really simple language throughout the whole process, while Squarespace requires a bit more creative thought owing to its powerful design tools.
Should I use Squarespace for my blog?
Yes. With Squarespace you’re guaranteed a beautiful blog to really impress your customers. It also provides all the blog-specific tools for managing your blog posts, such as archiving and built-in search features. Shopify does quite poorly in comparison when it comes to blogs.