When comparing Shopify vs Squarespace, it boils down to which platform is more suitable for you, what you’re looking for, and what you need in a store builder.
Shopify is an all-in-one ecommerce platform that’s capable of building small to large online stores. Since it’s a true store builder, it offers a comprehensive set of ecommerce tools that you’ll need to build an online store.
Squarespace is a little different than Shopify. It’s geared towards building general websites. While the platform offers ecommerce tools, they aren’t as advanced and comprehensive as what you can find on Shopify.
Generally, a lot of people use Squarespace to build personal blogs, information websites, portfolio websites, and other non-ecommerce related business websites. Basically, any type of websites that do not require ecommerce tools to sell products.
So how do I choose between Shopify and Squarespace? I’ll compare the two platforms and give 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’s important to know what you’re aiming to build, a website or an online store.
When I say website, I’m referring to an online presence where conveying information is the priority. These information websites include blogs, restaurant websites, a photography portfolio, etc.
And when I say online store, I’m referring to a type of website where selling products is the primary goal.
If your primary 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 utilizes a strong blogging platform.
If you intend to sell products online, things get complicated and a bit tricky. Both platforms are capable of helping you sell online. However, each platform comes with a set of pros and cons that you can see later in this comparison.
If you’re looking to build an online store and sell online, here are some points to consider before making your final decision.
Shopify is an all-in-one ecommerce platform, so you’ll get more flexibility here. Their platform offers features that aren’t yet available on Squarespace.
Here are some key features you’ll be able to find on Shopify:
- A complete discount engine with advanced options.
- Fully integrated point of sale system that allows you to sell at a physical store location.
- An array of payment gateways that make it possible to accept payments in almost every country across the globe.
- Integrated Facebook store that’s fully functional and easy to set up.
- A huge library of developed plugins to further customize the functionality of your store.
- Multi-lingual checkout pages.
- Growing community of certified Shopify experts.
Interface and ease of use
Squarespace offers a drag and drop editor to assist you in setting up site navigation and adjusting your layout. If you’re looking for an interface that’s easy to use and pretty straightforward, Squarespace edges out Shopify.
Shopify’s interface isn’t difficult to use; it just doesn’t 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 to be very sluggish and buggy when trying to insert links. It also crashes quite frequently which may cause headaches that you simply can avoid on other platforms.
In terms of template options, both platforms do an amazing job of providing you with stylish, elegant, and modern templates. Both platforms offer templates that are responsive across multiple devices, which in this day and age is a must.
A vast majority of Squarespace templates are geared towards websites that push content instead of selling products. Although some of their templates may be used for selling products online.
All of Shopify’s templates are geared for selling products, which is a big plus if you’re planning on building a store. If their free templates don’t work for you, they offer premium templates starting from $140.
You’ll also be able to edit and modify Shopify’s template files to your liking. I didn’t find that option on Squarespace.
Here are some free Shopify templates:
And here are Squarespace templates:
Search engine optimization
While both platforms offer above average SEO tools, Shopify’s search engine optimization tools are far superior.
Shopify allows you to generate page titles and meta descriptions automatically, which can save a lot of time, especially where products are concerned. Additionally, you’ll be able to edit individual pages and blog posts. You’ll also be able to generate a sitemap of all of your products, pages, and blog posts.
Squarespace search engine optimization tools are somewhat limited and implemented poorly. For instance, certain templates visually showcase the meta descriptions on live content pages. I wouldn’t want this interfering with my page content. Other than that, you’ll get an array of SEO options to help you index your website/store.
This is what separates the men from little boys.
If you want to accept PayPal payments on Squarespace, you’ll have to add PayPal buttons on your own which can be a big pain in the rear.
It’s also important to note that Stripe is only limited in a few countries out there.
Apps and add-ons
Shopify offers an app store with hundreds of third-party applications and widgets that can easily be installed onto your store. You’ll be able to find an app for almost anything from store analytics to inventory. Certain apps are free while others are premium.
At the time of this comparison review, Squarespace supports a handful of apps. These apps are mostly integrations with Google Apps.
If you find yourself looking for extra features down the road, Shopify is going to give you more options.
Point of sale system
One feature that easily stands out is Shopify’s point of sale system that enables you to sell products at a physical store location. However, their POS system is only compatible with an Apple iPad.
Shopify’s POS retail package includes a barcode scanner, iPad stand, credit card reader, cash drawer, and a receipt printer. These items can be bundled together or purchased individually.
A point of sale system isn’t available on Squarespace. I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t launch this in the near future.
The availability of customer support is one more area where Shopify excels by offering 24/7 support via phone, live chat, and email ticketing. You’ll also get access to their community forum.
Squarespace offers 24/7 support via email ticketing only. They also offer support via live chat, but during limited business hours.
Due to the nature of an online business, I feel at ease knowing support is always there in the event that I run into a problem.
Here’s how Shopify and Squarespace compare in the pricing department:
- Price: $9/month to $179/month
- Products: Unlimited
- Bandwidth: Unlimited
- Transaction Fees: Up to 2% or waived
- Annual Discount: None
- Price: $30/month to $80/month
- Products: Unlimited
- Bandwidth: Unlimited
- Transaction Fees: None
- Annual Discount: 15%
*The above Squarespace pricing is for ecommerce. They offer cheaper plans that pertain to creating cover pages and building general websites.
Which platform is better, Shopify or Squarespace?
Choosing the better platform is going to depend on several factors:
- Are you building a website or an online store?
- Do you want an ecommerce platform or a little bit of everything?
- Are you looking for more ecommerce features?
- Do you plan on installing apps and widgets?
Answering the questions above will give you an idea of which platform is for you.
If you’re looking to build a general website that promotes content, Squarespace is by far the better option.
If you’re aiming to create an online store with advanced functionality that’s capable of selling products, Shopify is the more robust platform. Shopify is also the better platform if you plan on using PayPal, live in a country not supported by Stripe, a point of sale system, and want control over HTML and CSS.
So which platform are you going to choose?