When it comes to Shopify vs Squarespace, it boils down to which platform ends up being more suitable for you, what you are looking for, and what you need in a store builder.
Shopify is an all-in-one ecommerce platform that is capable of building small to large online stores. Since it is a true store builder, it offers a comprehensive set of ecommerce tools that help you build a professional online store.
Squarespace is a little different than Shopify. It is geared more towards building general websites. While it offers ecommerce tools, they are not as advanced and comprehensive as what you could find on Shopify.
Generally, a lot of people use Squarespace to build personal blogs, non-ecommerce related business websites, information websites, and portfolio websites. Basically, any type of websites that do not require ecommerce tools to sell products. However, there are hundreds of professional online stores that are built with Squarespace.
So, how do you choose between Shopify and Squarespace? This review compares the two ecommerce platforms, giving you a chance to see what works better for you.
ARE YOU BUILDING A WEBSITE OR AN ONLINE STORE?
When deciding between Shopify and Squarespace, it is important to figure out what you are aiming to build – a website or an online store. When I say website, I am referring to an online presence where conveying information is the priority – a personal blog, a restaurant site, a photography portfolio, etc. When I say online store, I am referring to a type of site where selling products is the primary goal.
If your goal is to create an informative website where design and content management is your priority, Squarespace is the obvious choice here. Squarespace has flexible templates, offers an easy to use CMS interface, and a strong blogging platform.
Now, if you intend to sell any type of products online, things get complicated and a bit tricky. Both of the platforms are capable of helping you sell online. However, each platform comes with a set of pros and cons.
If you are looking to build an online store and sell online, here are some things to consider before making your final decision.
Since Shopify is an all-in-one ecommerce platform, their feature lineup trumps Squarespace. They offer extensive features that are not yet available on Squarespace. Some of the key features that you could find on Shopify include:
- Abandoned cart recovery that is known for increasing conversions.
- Discount code engine with advanced options.
- Point of sale (POS) that connects to your online store and enables you to sell in a physical location.
- Wide range of payment gateways that make it possible to accept payments in almost any country.
- Integrated Facebook store that is fully functional and easy to set up.
- A huge library of developed plugins to further customize the functionality of your online store.
- Multi-lingual checkout pages.
- Growing community of certified Shopify experts.
INTERFACE & EASE OF USE
Squarespace offers a drag and drop editor to assist you in setting up site navigation and adjusting your layout. If you are looking for an interface that is easy to use and pretty straightforward, Squarespace edges out Shopify.
Shopify’s interface is not difficult to use; it just does not feature a drag and drop editor that would make things a little easier.
However, responsiveness is one area where Shopify trumps Squarespace. I found Squarespace sluggish and buggy when trying to insert links. It also crashes quite frequently, which may cause you headaches that you simply can avoid with Shopify.
In terms of template options, both platforms do an amazing job of providing you with stylish, elegant and modern templates. Furthermore, both platforms offer templates that are responsive across multiple devices, which in this day and age, is a must.
However, a vast majority of Squarespace templates are geared towards websites that push content instead of selling products. That being said, they do offer several templates that were designed for online stores.
On the other hand, Shopify’s templates are designed for selling products, which is a plus for those that are looking to build an online store. If their free templates do not work for you, they offer premium templates, ranging from $140 to $180.
Also, Shopify allows you to edit and modify template files with ease. I cannot say the same about Squarespace.
Here are Shopify themes:
Here are Squarespace themes:
SEO (SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION)
Both platforms offer better-than-average search engine optimization capabilities. However, Shopify SEO features are far more superior.
Shopify is able to generate page titles and meta descriptions automatically, which can save you a lot of time, especially where products are concerned. Additionally, Shopify allows you to edit both page titles and meta descriptions for every single page, including blog posts.
Squarespace SEO options are somewhat limited and not implemented properly. For example, some of their templates visually showcase your meta descriptions on the actual content pages, which in my books, is not something I would want interfering with my page content.
Shopify offers is fully integrated with 70 payment gateways whereas Squarespace supports a single payment gateway, Stripe. Some of the gateways that are supported by Shopify include PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, 2checkout, Dwolla, etc.
If you want to accept PayPal payments on Squarespace, you would have to add PayPal buy buttons on your own, which can be a pain in the rear.
It is also important to note that while Stripe is more convenient than a lot of the gateways out there, it is only available in a few selected countries.
APPS & ADD-ONS
Shopify offers and supports hundreds of apps, add-ons and widgets – some of these are free and some require a small fee or subscription.
At the time of this comparison review, Squarespace supports only a handful of apps, mainly integrations with Google Apps.
If you find yourself looking for extra features down the road, Shopify is going to give you more options than Squarespace.
POINT OF SALE
One feature that stands out is the Shopify Point of Sale system that enables you to sell products at your physical store location. At this time, their POS system works only with an Apple iPad.
Shopify’s POS retail package includes a barcode scanner, iPad stand, card reader, cash drawer and a receipt printer. These items can be bundled together in one package or purchased individually.
A POS system is not yet available or supported on Squarespace. I would not be surprised if they launch this in the near future.
The availability of customer support is one more area where Shopify excels by offering 24/7 support via live chat, phone and email ticketing. Squarespace, on the other hand, slacks in this area by offering a 24/7 email ticketing support and live chat that is limited to business days.
However, both platforms offer support resources that are valuable and easy to follow. Shopify goes above and beyond by giving you access to their active community forum.
Since I cannot afford my business to be down for any reason, I feel at ease knowing support is available 24/7 and ready to help in case things go wrong. However, some of you may not see this as a potential deal breaker.
Setup fees – Neither Shopify nor Squarespace charge any setup fees. Both platforms offer a 14-day free trial.
Monthly fees – Shopify offers four monthly packages, ranging from $9/month to $179/month. However, the $9/month plan does not allow you to sell online (it allows you to sell in your physical store using their point of sale service).
You can start your Shopify free trial by clicking here.
Squarespace offers three monthly packages (billed annually), ranging from $8/month to $26/month. However, if you plan on paying on a month to month basis, the plans are more expensive – $12/month to $36/month.
You can start your Squarespace free trial by clicking here.
Bandwidth charges – Since both platforms offer unlimited bandwidth, there are no bandwidth fees.
Transaction fees – Squarespace does not charge any transaction fees. Neither does Shopify, if you use their payment gateway. However, if you use an external payment gateway, transaction fees range from 0.50% to 2% (depending on the plan you go with).
And, of course, each payment gateway has its own transaction fees (Stripe charges you 2.9% + $0.30 for each completed transaction).
WHICH PLATFORM IS BETTER, SHOPIFY OR SQUARESPACE?
The answer to the question is “it depends on what you are looking to create.” If you are looking to build an attractive website to showcase your content, then Squarespace is the better option.
However, if your aim is to create an online store with advanced functionality that is capable of selling a lot of products, then Shopify is the more robust platform. Especially, if you want to use PayPal, live in a country that Stripe does not support, need a point of sale solution or want control over your HTML and CSS.
Hopefully, this Shopify vs Squarespace comparison review has helped clear things up a little. However, if you are still agonizing over who to choose, I recommend signing up for a free trial to play around with both platforms and see which one works better for you: