Shopify vs Squarespace 2022 – An eCommerce Comparison
In the modern age, more people are ditching traditional retail shopping for online stores. According to recent statistics, 96% of Americans with internet access make online purchases. The rise of e-commerce helps businesses reach out to more customers faster.
Easy to use
Plenty of templates & apps
Great for dropshipping
14 Days free trial
Could be expensive with add ons
Variety of themes & design
Great for blogging & SEO
Offers specific themes for ecommerce
Perfect mobile friendly websites
Limited apps integration
Ecommerce functionalities are limited
Perhaps you’ve got a startup business, or maybe you’ve been running one for a while and are looking to expand. No matter your reason, taking your business online can significantly help you grow. These days, there are many e-commerce-building tools available to help you out.
Shopify and Squarespace are among two of the more popular site-building options on offer. In this Shopify vs. Squarespace review, we’ll take a closer look at the functionality of both ecommerce features and ultimately help you decide which is the best option when it comes to building your very own e-commerce site.
What Is Shopify?
Shopify is subscription-based software that allows users to start, grow, and manage an online business. The key aim of the web app is to let users build their online stores without needing to know how to use code, making it ideal for beginners. Shopify also considers more advanced users by providing access to HTML, CSS, and Liquid.
From its humble beginnings, Shopify has grown into one of the world’s leading e-commerce platforms. In 2021, statistics show that over 1.7 million merchants sell via Shopify while the company has 7,000 members of staff. According to Shopify, the first quarter of 2021 generated total revenue of $988.6 billion, making it one of the most successful e-commerce platforms.
These numbers are significant as they highlight the trust in which the company is held and the consistency of its performance. These are important qualities to look for when choosing a host for your online store.
But what about Squarespace?
What Is Squarespace?
Squarespace is an e-commerce building platform aimed at smaller businesses. It offers a “hosted” solution, meaning users won’t need to install any software to use it. Like Shopify, Squarespace lets you create a website without needing to know how to use code.
Today, Squarespace is host to 3.79 million subscribers worldwide and generates $754.2 million in annual revenue. In addition, the site offers many marketing and e-commerce features to help budding businesses get on their feet and build content-driven websites successfully.
Generally, Squarespace wasn’t created for any extensive design techniques, or as an ecommerce platform, but rather it encourages users to choose a template that they can edit to a minimal degree.
Like Shopify, Squarespace is a SaaS (software as a system) tool, meaning that no software needs to be installed. Instead, the platform requires a monthly fee.
Shopify vs Squarespace Pricing
Shopify has five pricing plans:
- Shopify Lite – $9 per month
- Basic Shopify – $29 per month
- Shopify – $79 per month
- Advanced Shopify – $299 per month
- Shopify Plus – Custom pricing based on requirements
Shopify offers new customers the chance to try out its service with a 14-day free trial.
It’s worth noting that Shopify customers who pay upfront can reap the benefits of discounts. For instance, if paying for a year’s service, a 10% discount is given. For two years, this increases to 20%.
There are some key things to keep an eye on when deciding which plan to opt for:
- Shopify Lite only lets users sell on existing sites such as Facebook or WordPress. You won’t be able to build a standalone store with this option.
- Advanced reporting features are only available from the $79 plan and up.
- Depending on which plan you choose, the number of additional users on your account varies. For instance, the “Basic Shopify” plan only lets you have two, whereas “Advanced” has the option for up to 15.
In contrast, Squarespace offers its customers only four pricing plans:
- Personal – $16 per month
- Business – $26 per month
- Basic Commerce – $35 per month
- Advanced Commerce – $54 per month
Squarespace recently announced the introduction of two extra plans, “Squarespace Select” ($4,900 annually) and “Squarespace Enterprise” (custom pricing). These plans are aimed specifically at larger corporate users.
Like Shopify, Squarespace gives new users the option to undergo a two-week free trial. Also, discounts are available for customers that purchase plans on an annual basis.
There are some key features to consider when deciding which Squarespace pricing plan to choose:
- Users won’t be able to customize their site with code or make any sales with the “Personal” plan.
- A year’s free Google Workspace account is given to users who opt for the “Business” plan or higher.
- If you’re based in the U.S., you’ll receive point-of-sale (POS) functionality when using the “Basic Commerce” or “Advanced Commerce” plans.
- There is an additional 3% transaction fee on any sales made using the “Business” plan.
- If you pay for a year’s worth of service upfront, then you can obtain a free custom domain.
Additional Fees and Payments With Shopify and Squarespace
In addition to the pricing plans, users should also consider transaction and credit card fees when using Shopify and Squarespace.
With Shopify, users have the option of using Shopify’s built-in payment processor, “Shopify Payments.” They can also opt to use a third-party payment gateway.
The great thing about using Shopify Payments is that there are no additional transaction fees for Shopify. However, you will still need to pay credit-card fees. These vary depending on which country you’re accessing Shopify from. As it stands, depending on your plan, the U.S. credit-card fee is between 2.4% to 2.9%.
Users should be aware that Shopify Payments only works if you are selling from certain countries:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
Those who aren’t selling from any of these countries will need to use a third-party option. If you do so, then a percentage of the transaction will be paid to Shopify. Depending on your chosen pricing plan, this can be between 0.5% to 2%.
Additionally, Shopify has access to most currencies worldwide and allows users to use over 100 different payment gateways.
In contrast, Squarespace offers its users only two payment options: PayPal or Stripe. When using Squarespace, folks can avoid transaction fees on the “Basic Commerce” and “Advanced Commerce” pricing plans. However, additional transaction fees are included in the “Business” plan at the rate of 3%.
Taking this into consideration, Shopify may appear to be the more attractive of the two regarding payment processing. It is far more flexible than Squarespace when it comes to accepting payments.
Which Option Works Out Cheaper?
At first glance, Squarespace offers a reasonably cheaper way of building a content-driven website for your business with its $16 monthly plan. This option is particularly appealing to those who aren’t looking to sell but rather to advertise.
For more advanced users, the Squarespace “Personal” plan may not be enough. What’s more, designs can’t be customized using the standard Squarespace dashboard controls. For this reason, these customers should look towards the slightly more expensive “Business Plan.” For $26 per month, this option gives users access to more features and improves their overall e-commerce functionality.
Squarespace’s “Business” plan works out cheaper than Shopify’s “Basic” plan, which comes to a monthly sum of $29. However, when taking Squarespace’s 3% transaction fees plus limited payment processing options, Shopify’s “Basic” plan may be better value for money.
Additionally, for those looking to sell products on existing sites rather than build new ones, Shopify’s $9 Lite plan might be the best option.
Ease of Use
When choosing the perfect e-commerce platform, the easier to navigate, the better. In this section of our Shopify vs. Squarespace review, we’ll be comparing how easy these two platforms are to use.
Aesthetically, Shopify and Squarespace aren’t too different when it comes to their interface. Both layouts have the menu located on the left-hand side, which gives users access to various settings, including site design, analytics, and more. On the right side of the screen, users can view associated data, edit content, and add products.
Squarespace offers users a “layout engine,” which allows dragging and dropping content onto pages. Again, this is a relatively straightforward function to master.
In contrast, Shopify’s user interface may require some extra time for setting up pages. However, the recent launch of Shopify’s “Online Store 2.0” interface helps to significantly improve the overall experience. For example, the new feature allows users to use a drag-and-drop feature, like Squarespace used, to organize content on pages.
Advantages of Using Shopify:
Manage Shopify on Your Mobile
Shopify is an adaptable platform that can be accessed from any smartphone or device. This means that users have the option of managing their sites from wherever they like.
The two leading apps on offer are “Shopify” and “Shopify Point of Sale.” Both are available on iOS and Android devices. The lead “Shopify” app holds a high rating on both Apple and Google Play stores.
In addition to that, Shopify offers over 1,200 different apps to assist with tasks. Many of these apps can be used to automate certain tasks to focus on more critical aspects of their e-commerce experience, such as marketing and sales records.
Shopify also creates apps that support sites with specific needs depending on which country they are operating from. Additionally, the templates on offer are easy to use and mobile-friendly.
Opportunities for Growth
Shopify is an excellent platform for businesses looking to expand. Not only is it a good startup option for budding entrepreneurs, but larger businesses can equally benefit from the available tools for growth and management on Shopify. In addition, Shopify offers simple e-commerce solutions for each step of your business expansion.
Built-In Speed and Security
For an online store to run successfully, speed and security are vital. Fortunately, Shopify offers its customers an all-in-one solution that deals with these aspects. Moreover, as a publicly-traded company, Shopify is a safe and legit platform to use.
Aside from managing your password, users don’t need to worry about the security of their site – Shopify takes care of everything. There aren’t any additional security plugins to worry about. Shopify also takes care of ensuring credit card payments are completed securely.
Having access to multiple currencies can significantly improve the overall sales of your business. Unlike Squarespace, Shopify gives its customers the option to checkout products in their local currencies. In addition, Shopify’s built-in payment gateway “Shopify Payments” lets users do just that.
To get the most out of the multi-currency feature, users will need to opt for a “Shopify” plan or higher as multi-currency payment isn’t compatible with the “Buy Button” offered in “Shopify Lite” or “Basic Shopify.” However, you will be able to manually set currency exchange rates for the products you are selling.
Additionally, for the “Shopify Plus” plan users, a customer’s countries will automatically be identified by scanning their IP address. Therefore, the currency will automatically be altered accordingly.
Shopify recently introduced an email feature as a new marketing tool. “Shopify Email” aims to help customers manage their mailing list and website in one place. However, the tool is still new, so it’s relatively basic to use for the time being.
“Shopify Email” is free to use for one month, where users can email up to 2,500 customers. After that, there is an additional $1 fee for every 1,000 new subscribers added, making it cheaper to use than Squarespace Email.
24/7 Customer Support
Shopify offers its customers 24/7 support via email, telephone, or live chat. This is significantly better than some of its competitor’s customer support options. For example, Squarespace offers no phone support for its customers at all.
However, customers should note that they will need to request a call-back to successfully access phone support. Typically, users request a call from the support team, which they will then receive later. The estimated waiting time for your call-back is provided when carrying out the request.
It’s also worth noting that the level of support you receive may vary depending on the pricing plan you opted for. Those who opt for more expensive pricing schemes can expect to be prioritized more than others.
Disadvantages of Using Shopify:
Limited Functionality Without App
Additional function use on Shopify often requires the installation of another app. However, this can sometimes make your system run a little slower than you might like.
Shopify lets its customers make minor changes. However, due to advanced coding, some additional customization can’t be unlocked. For instance, custom fields like textboxes or certain file uploads usually involve purchasing an additional app, which may not be an option for some users.
Ultimately, the issue of price can’t be avoided. While Shopify is host to many handy features, the cost adds up and maybe too much for some users. For example, along with the monthly subscription, customers must pay to use certain themes. Additionally, when selling online through a third-party payment gateway, users must pay an extra transaction fee.
The only free option is the two-week trial offered when first signing up to Shopify.
Advantages of Using Squarespace:
Many Templates Available
One feature that makes Squarespace appealing to potential customers is the sheer number of templates available (users can choose from 140 compared to Shopify’s 10). Users can even upload their own designs if they so wish. All they need to do is switch out the stock photographs available in the templates with their own. This is an excellent feature for those who want to ensure that their site looks professional and refined.
Additionally, the templates available on Squarespace may feel slightly more contemporary and varied than those on Shopify.
When using Squarespace, users don’t need to worry about any additional plugins or widgets to operate their e-commerce site. Everything they need is already built into the system. During long-term use of Squarespace, there is less chance of any issues with troubleshooting as no additional software needs to be added.
As seen with Shopify, “Squarespace Email” can help users manage their mailing list and website from one place. Additionally, the e-newsletter templates offered by Squarespace are significantly stronger than any found on Shopify.
“Squarespace Email Campaigns” is Squarespace’s paid built-in marketing feature. There are four plans for customers to choose from:
- The Starter Plan – this option requires $7 per month to send up to three newsletters to clients. The maximum number of subscribers for this plan is 500.
- The Core Plan – this plan is $14 per month for five newsletters and 5,000 subscribers.
- The Pro Plan – for $34 per month, customers can send up to 20 newsletters and have a maximum of 50,000 subscribers.
- The Max Plan – this option requires a monthly payment of $68. Users can then send an unlimited number of newsletters and host up to 250,000 subscribers.
Allows Data Import and Export
Perhaps one of the best features associated with Squarespace is the ability to export your website. While not all content can be exported (that process would require a significantly more complicated system), customers can move certain features around to different sites depending on preference. For example, certain content can be exported and imported into a WordPress site.
These days, most people have access to smartphones. For this reason, your e-commerce site must be adaptable to mobile devices. In doing so, you can increase your customer outreach and increase sales. Fortunately, Squarespace is a mobile-friendly platform, and so are the templates that come with it.
If you wish to manage your Squarespace app on the go, then you may want to consider the use of the three most popular apps:
- Schedule Admin
- Scheduling Client
All three of these apps can be accessed on both iOS and Android devices. The most popular is “Squarespace.” With this app, users can manage all aspects of their Squarespace account from their mobile – including page editing, managing orders, and viewing analytics reports. Through the mobile app, users can also manage client appointments.
On the other hand, you won’t be able to make any adjustments to specifically suit the mobile site. For this, you’ll have to play around with customization on a desktop until you find a template that works well for all devices.
Disadvantages of Using Squarespace:
Limited Customer Support
Despite offering support through live chats and email tickets, there is no option for phone support.
Slightly Complicated Editing System
While the Squarespace drag-and-drop editor is a handy tool, it may not be the easiest to use, particularly for newbies. For instance, users can’t just double click on a certain component and edit from there to edit their pages. Instead, they must hover over the content and chase a box that provides a few different options.
SEO in Shopify and Squarespace
SEO (search engine optimization) can help increase the quality of traffic directed to your site. The right SEO can ultimately help to make or break an online business.
Shopify may be the more advantageous option for SEO because it’s set up directly to meet Google’s Core Web Vitals. These targets are centered around the visual stability, speed, and overall responsiveness of a website. Sites that meet these requirements are also often prioritized by Google.
Shopify works together with Google by using Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to help increase overall content delivery speed and SEO prioritization. This significantly improves the shopping experience for any potential buyers.
It’s also possible to edit a Shopify to hit more of Google’s targets, a feature not currently available with Squarespace.
Additionally, Shopify automatically generates page titles and meta descriptions based on your content. This is highly advantageous from an SEO perspective. It’s also worth noting that Shopify refers to various SEO features by their proper names (page titles, meta descriptions, etc.) This isn’t the case in Squarespace, where many SEO features are renamed.
Another SEO feature that works excellently on Shopify is the ability to redirect URLs easily. Shopify automatically prompts users to create a 301-redirect link to that specific page. A 301-redirect link allows the search engines to bookmark that the page has been moved. There is even an option to automatically do this by ticking a checkbox.
To be fair to Squarespace, the company is constantly evolving and has significantly improved its SEO since its first launching. Despite some of its shortcomings in this regard, Squarespace can still be optimized for various search engines.
One of the main issues with Squarespace’s SEO is the inability to create clean URLs – a feature that Google specifically seeks.
So, Which Is Better for SEO?
Both sites can be edited to rank highly in various search engines. However, Shopify is generally better in terms of SEO. SEO features are far easier to access via Shopify than Squarespace. Shopify also directly works to successfully meet Google’s Core Web Vitals SEO targets.
Point-of-Sale (POS) – Shopify vs. Squarespace
POS allows online businesses to sell in physical spaces (e.g., markets, physical stores, concerts, etc.) The use of POS also connects your selling hardware, such as a card reader, directly to your online store. This means your inventory and stock count automatically update without you needing to worry.
Recently, Squarespace has teamed up with Square, an e-commerce solution specializing in POS hardware. Shopify offers its users the option of purchasing a POS kit that includes a card reader, cash drawer, and receipt printer. This kit can be purchased at the Shopify Hardware Store, available in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Germany, New Zealand, and Australia. If you’re not in these countries, you will need to look towards a third-party seller.
Squarespace users can only use the “Square” card reader in the U.S.
Which Is Better for Creating a Content-Driven Website?
If your main goal is to create an informative site, then content management and design will be crucial when choosing an e-commerce platform. For that reason, Squarespace may be the better option for you.
With over a hundred templates to choose from, Squarespace customers can guarantee to find the design that works best for them. What’s more, they can even design their own templates to refine their site’s design even further.
In addition to having many template options, Squarespace has a great content management system (CMS). It’s easy to use and works well on all devices. The photo editing system on offer is also of high quality, as are the blog features.
However, it’s worth mentioning that Squarespace provides a relatively “closed off” system. Therefore, if users were to try integrating any third-party apps, they might stumble on some technical and speed issues.
Despite this, Squarespace is a reliable overall platform for creating a content-driven e-commerce site. The platform lets users present blog posts and content sleek and stylishly – a feature not as readily available on Shopify.
Despite being the weaker option, in this case, Shopify has recently released a drag-and-drop theme editor, which will significantly improve how content is displayed.
Which Is Better for Creating a Successful Online Store?
When creating a functioning online store, Shopify takes the prize as the more advanced option. Shopify offers a multitude of useful features that can help businesses grow online:
- Multi-currency selling is possible, bringing in customers from more countries.
- Shopify’s POS options aren’t as limited as Squarespace and can also be used around the world.
- Various drop-shipping options are available.
- High-quality tax calculation functionality is available.
- More payment gateway options are available.
- Better inventory management options than Squarespace.
Alternatives to Shopify and Squarespace
If neither of these platforms stands out to you, fear not, as other options are available. Fortunately, the e-commerce market is large, with various platforms out there to cater to your individual needs.
One popular platform worth investigating is BigCommerce. It uses many different features that can help businesses (both small and large) grow significantly. It’s beneficial for customers looking to use a multi-currency feature for their e-commerce site.
If you’re on a lower budget, you may want to consider using Wix. It provides all the tools needed to create an aesthetically pleasing site.
Additionally, if you already have a site and are on a budget, then look at Ecwid. It’s one of the only options which provides its customers with an unlimited free plan. Granted, this option restricts certain features but is a particularly great starting point for smaller businesses.
Which Will You Choose?
At face value, Shopify and Squarespace may appear to be similar tools. Both help you craft a functioning site where you can sell your products online. But some key differences may ultimately help you decide which is better suited for your individual business needs.
If your goal is to create a good-looking, content-heavy site, then Squarespace may be your best bet. It’s an excellent platform for presenting online visual portfolios. It’s worth considering Squarespace if you have a creative profession (e.g., musician, author, etc.)
However, if you’re looking to create a large online store with a host of advanced features, then Shopify is your option. It also provides significantly better SEO features than Squarespace.
When deciding between the two platforms, users must consider whether they wish to create an online presence through a website or focus on selling products through an online store.
Have you tried using Shopify or Squarespace? Which did you prefer? Let us know in the comments section below.