Shopify and Squarespace are two of the biggest ecommerce platforms on the market today since both make it easy for small business owners to create their online stores or websites without needing any coding experience. But how do you know whether Shopify vs. Squarespace is the right online store platform for your business?
Before you can make a quantitative evaluation of the Shopify vs. Squarespace debate, you’ll need to make a qualitative side-by-side comparison. We’ll tell you what you need to know about Shopify vs. Squarespace, including their features and pricing.
Shopify vs. Squarespace: Overview
Three standard plans, plus Shopify Lite and Shopify Plus
Four standard plans
-In-house payment processing
-Free integration with Shopify POS
-Tons of third-party integration
-100+ built-in design templates
-Blogging platform with SEO and marketing tools
-Unlimited product uploads
Starts at $29 per month for Basic Shopify
$18 per month for Business plan
Card Processing Rates
2.9% + 30¢ for online payments and 2.7% in-person payments (Basic Shopify)
3% on sales in Business plan, Also see Stripe and PayPal payment processing rates
Ease of use
Intuitive and user-friendly store editor with easy theme installation
Easy-to-use website builder even for those without tech skills
Businesses seeking all-in-one store solution with third-party integration options
Image-driven brands, influencers, and online retailers
Shopify vs. Squarespace: Features
As your online store’s web host, Shopify ensures that your website stays active 24/7. It provides unlimited bandwidth and a custom email address (if you buy a domain name through Shopify) and automatically syncs your account to Shopify’s service updates. Shopify also guarantees that your customers’ credit card and contact information is transmitted and stored securely.
Through Shopify, you can securely accept all major credit and debit cards through Shopify Payments, but you can also choose to integrate your site with over 100 third-party payment gateways. Shopify’s built-in shopping cart carries many features that can help you customize and streamline your customer’s checkout process, including tax calculations, customizable shipping rates, and customer emails about abandoned shopping carts. And with Shopify Shipping, you can partner with leading carriers at competitive rates, do bulk order fulfillment and print labels from your phone or computer.
Shopify’s toolkit lets you streamline, optimize, and automate managing your online store and customer information: Think one-click order fulfillment, stored customer billing information and shopping history, refunds, automatic inventory updates, and email templates. Shopify also integrates with major dropshipping apps.
If you sell products, either physical or digital, Shopify can help you track, manage, and organize your inventory from a single dashboard. The platform allows for unlimited product listings, too.
Marketing and SEO
Boost your website’s listing on search engine results pages by leveraging Shopify’s built-in SEO tactics when creating all content that lives on your site. Shopify also enables selling on Facebook, offers a Google Adwords credit, and integrates with your social media channels so your audience can easily navigate onto your site. Once you’ve attracted your customers, offer them discounts, gift cards, and encourage them to leave positive reviews so you can attract more customers.
Point of Sale
Shopify POS is a full-service point of sale system that accepts credit and debit payments online and in person.
Beyond these features, you can download thousands of other business-related apps on the Shopify App Store that can integrate with your site. And if you run into any problems with your Shopify site, you can contact Shopify’s 24/7 customer service team, community discussion forums, or poke around Shopify University, the platform’s digital library of literature, webinars, and other informational material that covers almost everything you need to know about setting up and running your store.
Building your online store through Squarespace is simple. Organize and tag your products how you want, use multiple product variants, and embed images, videos, and related products so your customers can get a full picture of what you’re selling. Checkout is limited to a single page and optimized for mobile (as is the rest of your online store). Depending on the service plan you choose, you can also offer your customers incentives like subscription services, discounts, free shipping, and gift cards.
Squarespace’s online stores can accept all major credit and debit cards, PayPal, and Apple Pay, using Stripe as its payment processor.
You can also use Squarespace’s customer relationship management tools—like stored customer information, shopping history, and fields to add your own notes—to gain insights into your customers’ behaviors. More back-end tools include order and inventory management, real-time shipping rate calculation, batch shipping label printing through Squarespace’s ShipStation integration, and advanced commerce analytics.
View and analyze your store’s performance and through Squarespace’s analytics dashboard and product and traffic reports.
Like Shopify, Squarespace offers its users a suite of online marketing tools to encourage customer engagement and make it easy for business owners to collect customer information and behaviors.
Squarespace’s content creation fields are pre-loaded with SEO best practices, and your website also syncs with your social media channels so that everything will be updated at once. Other customer engagement tools include an analytics dashboard, MailChimp integration, Google Maps embedding, a mobile information bar, full-featured blogging, and a customizable calendar that you can load with your events and share across your social media channels.
Squarespace also has a dedicated email marketing tool that enables you to import content from your website into an email draft to ensure consistency in voice and material across your brand channels. Their email marketing tool also allows for customizable layouts, content, colors, and fonts. Their analytics tools let you track engagement so you can tailor your email marketing strategy for optimal results. Do note that you’ll need to pay an added monthly fee for one of five Squarespace Email Campaigns plans, which range from $5 per month to $48 per month.
And if you’re a brand-new business—or you’re brand-new to the branding game—you can use Squarespace’s simple design tools to create your own logo.
Shopify vs. Squarespace: Pricing
Shopify has three service tiers that increase in monthly fees and capabilities:
Shopify’s simplest plan provides new businesses with the fundamentals they need to launch their online stores, as well as limited capabilities with Shopify Shipping, Shopify Payments, and Shopify POS.
At $29 per month, this plan carries the lowest monthly fee of all three plans, though, at this service level, Shopify Payments’ transaction fees are the highest of the bunch: You’ll pay:
- 2.9% + $0.30 per online transaction
- 2.7% per in-person transaction
- 2% additional fee per transaction if you use a payment processor other than Shopify Payments (on top of your payment provider’s transaction rates).
At $79 per month, this mid-tier plan gives you access to more of Shopify’s features, a higher shipping discount through Shopify Shipping, full access to Shopify’s POS, and lower transaction fees. If you use Shopify Payments, you will pay the following card processing rates:
- 2.6% + $0.30 per online card transaction
- 2.5% per in-person payment
- 1% additional fee per transaction processed through a third-party payment provider.
As the name suggests, Advanced Shopify is best for larger or quickly growing online businesses that need Shopify’s full feature arsenal and want to benefit from the lowest available shipping rates and transaction fees. If you opt for Shopify’s premium plan, you’ll pay $299 per month for your service and pay the following card processing rates:
- 2.4% + $0.30 per online card transaction
- 2.4% per in-person transaction
- 0.5% additional fee per transaction if you don’t use Shopify Payments as your payment provider.
Shopify starts users out with a 14-day free trial, so you can build your website, get it up and running, evaluate your needs, and then pick the plan that’ll work for you and your budget.
Squarespace offers two account tiers for both their website-only service and their online store service. Like Shopify, Squarespace starts everyone out with a free trial, and they don’t begin charging until you’ve chosen the service that works for you.
Squarespace Website Pricing
- Personal: Freelancers and very small businesses that just need an online landing page can likely get away with a Personal website account. This plan offers a simple, mobile-optimized website, a custom domain, basic analytics, SSL security, and 24/7 customer support. This plan costs $12 per month billed annually, or $16 per month if you opt for a month to month service.
- Business: In addition to all the features offered through Squarespace’s Personal plan, the Business plan offers users features ideal for business owners. You can purchase a professional G Suite account and email address, advanced website metrics, the ability to sell unlimited products, fully integrated ecommerce, and complete customization, among other features. This plan costs $18 per month billed annually, or $26 per month billed month to month.
Squarespace Online Store Pricing
- Basic: For $26 per month billed annually or $40 per month billed monthly, you can build and manage a simple but fully functional online store. Some features included in this plan are stored customer information, advanced analytics, Xero integration, and a mobile-optimized store and checkout.
- Advanced: For $40 per month billed annually or $46 per month billed monthly, you can take advantage of Squarespace’s full suite of ecommerce features. In addition to all the features included in their Basic plan, Advanced online store users can offer their customers subscription services, gift cards, discounts, and abandoned cart recovery, among other features.
Shopify vs. Squarespace: Design
Your customers can easily navigate your site on both their desktops and their mobile devices. You can also use your own domain name or buy one from Shopify. In addition to your ecommerce store, Shopify-hosted sites also come with blogging platforms.
First and foremost, Squarespace is known for its award-winning website design. Choose from hundreds (if not thousands) of website templates and sort by your your industry.
Then, you can customize the layout using Squarespace’s simple drag-and-drop functionality and text and color options. Depending on your website’s intended use and needs, your website can come prefigured with a portfolio, a blog, audio collections, an online store, or pretty much any other interface you need to best showcase and/or sell your products or services.
All Squarespace websites are optimized for mobile, so your customers can easily navigate your website, regardless of which device they’re using to do so. You can also integrate your Squarespace website with tons of third-party apps, like your social media channels, OpenTable, Google Maps, SoundCloud, Flickr, and more.
Like Shopify, you can easily transfer an existing domain to your new Squarespace page, or you can buy a domain through Squarespace.
Shopify vs. Squarespace: Ease of Use
Shopify is a cloud-based commerce platform that lets business owners easily create and manage their online stores. Shopify is best known for its full-service, scalable ecommerce store solutions, but with Shopify POS, its range of physical POS hardware, retail businesses can also process payments in person.
There’s no doubt that Shopify is a leader in the web builder field: This Ottawa, Canada-based platform boasts $100 billion worth of total sales processed through their hosted sites, and currently, Shopify powers 600,000 businesses worldwide, counting major firms like Red Bull, Nestle, and Kylie Cosmetics as their clients.
“We’ve chosen to work with Shopify over Squarespace because they have some noticeable cons including lacking a functional website editor, limited payment options, no app store, and Shopify is just easier to use.”
—Keval Baxi, CEO, Codal
Squarespace is best known as an easy-to-use website builder for brick-and-mortar business owners, freelancers, and creatives across industries who need a digital landing pad, but not necessarily a fully stocked online store. And even though their ecommerce store features are not as comprehensive as Shopify’s, Squarespace can still be a good option for ecommerce businesses that need to build a simple online store from the ground up.
Squarespace has certainly secured a place in the ecommerce world. It boasts its fair share of celebrity entrepreneurs as clients: actors John Malkovich, Keanu Reeves, and Idris Elba, for instance, all use Squarespace to power their websites (and own businesses, FYI).
“I like that the site speed is generally very quick, and it’s the easiest to use website builder I’ve ever used. Anyone can make good-looking websites with Squarespace.”
—Josh Dean, SEO Specialist, Kubix Media
Shopify vs. Squarespace: Which Website Builder Should You Choose?
All told, most business owners we spoke with preferred Shopify over Squarespace. The former is more feature-rich than Squarespace (which also explains its much higher price point). But that doesn’t necessarily make Shopify better than Squarespace. Preference will vary by what your business needs.
If you’re an online-only business—especially if you’re on the bigger side or are scaling quickly—consider opting for Shopify This platform was created specifically for building and managing online stores. On the other hand, Squarespace works well for very small or new businesses with limited digital store functionality or needs a digital content manager.
Since both platforms offer free trial periods, you can try building a website using either service. See whether the platform feels intuitive to you, whether it provides you with the features you need, and whether their service plans suit your business budget, before committing to a paid plan.
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