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-around’ 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.
Do you wish someone would just tell you exactly which platform is best for you instead of reading this whole comparison? Well, the good news is, we have a quick and easy quiz for you! Simply answer a few questions to get a personalized recommendation…
What type of website do you want to create?
Shopify Pros and Cons
Squarespace Pros and Cons
Squarespace is much easier to use than Shopify
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 a top-rated ecommerce builder. It has a 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.
However, as easy as Shopify is, it can’t beat Squarespace in this section. In fact, Squarespace scored an impressive 4.2/5 for “ease of use” in our research, while Shopify scored a 3.5/5. In testing, one Squarespace user put it best:
“In terms of ease of use in the backend, Squarespace is the best on the market. I really enjoyed it, it’s very intuitive and most functionalities are where I would expect them to be.”
Squarespace has better template design and customizability
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 has better sales features
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.
Find out more:Shopify vs. WordPress – See how Shopify fares against the oldest website builder
Shopify has more marketing 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’s extension store offers high quality options (both free and paid), but there are less apps to choose from overall. This means you may outgrow Squarespace if you’re looking to scale big.
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 wins the app round
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.
Squarespace’s app store, called Squarespace Extensions, offers high quality app integrations with both free and paid options. However, there aren’t a ton of apps available, so your choices will be limited.
Shopify, on the other hand, has one of the most comprehensive app markets around. It provides a third party integration for almost anything under the ecommerce sun. Better yet, it’s super easy to integrate each app.
Shopify is better for analytics
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 (it’s called Squarespace Analytics, and you can find out how to use it with out guide). 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 has better customer support
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.
Squarespace offers better value for money
Shopify’s monthly plans are as follows:
- Basic Shopify ($29)
- Shopify ($79)
- Advanced Shopify ($299)
Looks expensive, but these prices are for annual subscription, which are 25% cheaper than monthly subscriptions.
If you sign up to an monthly plan, the monthly prices come down to just $39, $105, and $399, respectively.
Now let’s take a look at Squarespace’s monthly price plans:
- Personal ($23)
- Business ($33)
- Basic Commerce ($36)
- Advanced Commerce ($65)
Again, like Shopify, if you sign up to a yearly plan, the monthly costs come down. The prices would come to $16, $23, $27, and $49, respectively.
As you can see, Squarespace is the more affordable option.
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.
It’s true that Shopify has more powerful features than Squarespace. But Squarespace’s affordability, combined with its unmatched template designs and fantastic ease of use, still make it better value for money than Shopify.
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.
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 things like app add-ons 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 ecommerce website builder for small stores.
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.
Square is a popular payment processing company that has recently merged with Weebly to create an ecommerce website builder that’s packed with selling features and super easy to use.
Square offers great value for money and is a sound option for anyone looking to branch out and sell online. Its 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, Square 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. 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
- Multi-channel selling
Why choose Squarespace instead of Shopify?
- Suited to smaller stores selling a few products
- Best designed templates
- Easier to use
- 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
|Ease of Use
|Editor can be a little clunky at first
|Logical dashboard and beginner-friendly template editor
|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
|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
|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
|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
|Value for Money
|Three core price plans starting from $29 per month
|Four price plans starting from $16 per month
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.