Shopify vs. Squarespace: Which is better?
Choosing a website platform is an important decision. Whichever platform you pick will heavily affect many aspects of your project or business's marketing and operations. Plus, switching platforms in the future can cost a lot of time and money.
But deciding which platform to use isn't easy.
At first glance, Shopify and Squarespace look like similar products — both allow you to build a website and sell online without coding skills. So, what sets Shopify and Squarespace apart? And which platform is best for your needs?
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In this article, we'll compare Shopify vs. Squarespace in 9 key areas:
- General Overview
- Pricing and Value
- Payment Gateways and Transaction Fees
- Themes and Design
- Customer Support and Guidance
Let's dive in!
(Disclosure: This website is a part of Shopify inc. media properties. Although we strive to publish objective, accurate, and factual content, this article may contain biased opinions.)
Shopify vs. Squarespace: General Overview
Before we explore the details, let's get a general feel for both Shopify and Squarespace.
Shopify was made to enable businesses to set up and manage online stores. In contrast, Squarespace was built as a more general website builder for content-based websites, such as portfolios, brochure websites, and service-based business websites.
Over the years, Shopify's ability to handle content has increased dramatically — especially with the help of third-party apps. And Squarespace has added ecommerce functionality to the platform to enable users to sell online.
As a result, you can use either platform to build an online store or a content-based website.
However, although Shopify and Squarespace have extended their functionality over the years, it's fair to say their focus has remained the same.
And Squarespace still positions itself as a more general set of "simple tools for your big ideas."
You'll see this theme play out in the rest of this article.
So, it's important to ask yourself an essential question from the outset: Do you want a content-based website, or would you also like to sell through your website at some point?
Shopify vs. Squarespace: Pricing and Value
Cost is a vital consideration when weighing Shopify vs. Squarespace. So, which platform is cheaper, and which one provides more value? Let's take a look.
Shopify has 5 different pricing plans to choose from:
- Shopify Lite: $9 per month
- Basic Shopify: $29 per month
- Shopify: $79 per month
- Shopify Advanced: $299 per month
- Shopify Plus: $2,000+ per month
It's important to note that Shopify Lite doesn't come with a website. Instead, it provides access to Shopify's basic commerce features, including a point-of-sale (POS) solution and online 'Buy Now' buttons (more on this later).
Shopify Plus is the platform's enterprise solution, used by the likes of Gymshark, KKW Beauty, Wholefoods, and Fitbit.
Shopify also provides a free 14-day trial so you can check out the platform for yourself before signing up.
Squarespace offers 4 pricing plans:
- Personal: $12 per month
- Business: $18 per month
- Basic Commerce: $26 per month
- Advanced Commerce $40 per month
It's worth pointing out that Squarespace's 'Personal' plan is fairly limited. For example, you:
- Can't use MailChimp to capture website visitor's email addresses
- Don't get access to promotional popups and announcement bar features
Consequently, most users will likely want to upgrade to the 'Business' plan fairly quickly. This plan is a little cheaper than the 'Basic Shopify' plan.
However, when you consider that Squarespace charges a 3% fee on every transaction on the 'Business plan,' the 'Basic Shopify' plan seems to offer more value — especially as Shopify offers far more out-of-the-box ecommerce features.
Shopify vs. Squarespace: Ecommerce
Even if you're not interested in selling right now, there may come a point when it makes sense to start earning money online. So, it's worth considering Shopify vs. Squarespace for ecommerce.
Of course, if you plan to start a business or take an existing business online, this section is especially significant for you.
So, what's the deal?
Unsurprisingly, every single Shopify plan allows you to sell via your website and other online sales channels like Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, eBay, and Walmart.
In comparison, you'll need to upgrade to the Business, Basic Commerce, or Advanced Commerce plans to sell via Squarespace. Squarespace also enables you to sell via Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon.
Squarespace's ecommerce features are arguably a little easier to use than Shopify's at first — but this is probably because Shopify has far more ecommerce features available than Squarespace.
For example, Shopify provides a "Buy Now" button feature.
This allows you to embed products anywhere online where you can add a snippet of code, such as in blog posts. So, if you were to partner with influencers to promote your products, you could give them the option to embed products within the post itself.
Shopify also offers more advanced ecommerce features that Squarespace doesn't.
For example, cross-border ecommerce is an attractive opportunity for many online businesses. Unfortunately, Squarespace doesn't offer a multi-currency option. In contrast, Shopify provides a multi-currency tool that allows users in other countries to view prices and checkout in their local currency. With the ability to source products from all over the world, functionality like cross-border ecommerce is vital in today’s interconnected economy.
It's also worth noting that Shopify's extensive app store provides virtually limitless ecommerce potential (more on this soon).
All in all, Shopify wins the ecommerce battle, hands down.
Shopify vs. Squarespace: Payment Gateways and Transaction Fees
To sell online, you need a payment gateway to facilitate transactions.
That said, Shopify charges an additional 2% if you use any service other than Shopify Payments. But unless you have a strong attachment to another payment gateway, Shopify Payments is the way to go anyway, thanks to its seamless integration with the platform.
Alternatively, Squarespace integrates with just 4 online payment gateways — Stripe, Paypal, Afterpay, and Apple Pay.
So, what about transaction fees?
Shopify Payments charges 2.9%, plus $0.30 per transaction on the 'Basic Shopify' plan, and the charges decrease as you upgrade to the 'Shopify' and 'Shopify Advanced' plans to 2.6% and 2.4%, respectively.
With Squarespace, transaction fees vary depending on which payment gateway you use, although the rates will likely be similar.
Bottom line, Shopify takes the lead thanks to its streamlined process and ability to integrate with so many payment gateways worldwide.
Shopify vs. Squarespace: Themes and Design
When it comes to building a website, appearance matters — a lot. So, let's compare Shopify vs. Squarespace on design.
Shopify offers 9 free website themes and 72 paid themes that cost between $100 and $180. Each of these themes offers multiple variables, too — so there are more options available than you can see at first glance.
Still, in the very unlikely scenario that you don't find what you're looking for, you can always purchase one of the 1,200 Shopify themes available on Theme Forest from third-party developers.
On the other hand, Squarespace provides 127 templates that are free to use.
Shopify and Squarespace both offer stunning, professional responsive designs — this means they adapt automatically to different screen sizes.
However, most of Squarespace's templates seem to be geared toward users who want to showcase a portfolio or other content. And Shopify's appear to be better equipped to manage ecommerce.
Shopify vs. Squarespace: Apps
With the vast ocean of digital tools available online, no website builder or ecommerce platform can create and manage everything in-house. For this reason, both Shopify and Squarespace provide a library of apps and extensions.
You can use apps and extensions to:
- Change the appearance of your website
- Increase sales with specialized tools for things like email marketing
- Improve the shipping experience for customers
- Add widgets for media, social media, and more
- Source products
Shopify's App Store plays host to more than 6,000 apps and integrations — simply put, there's an app for basically everything you can think of.
Squarespace offers just 24 extensions — although this number is likely to grow over time.
Understandably, this is a huge win for Shopify.
Practically speaking, this means that if you sign up to Squarespace and you discover that it doesn't provide a feature you'd like, you're stuck. Whereas with Shopify, it's very likely there'll be an app to fill the gap.
Bottom line, Shopify's app store provides users with virtually unlimited customization potential without the need for coding.
Shopify vs. Squarespace: Dropshipping
Dropshipping is a popular way to start selling products online without purchasing inventory upfront, storing products, or shipping orders to customers. Instead, a third-party dropshipping supplier will handle all of those things for you!
Check out the image below to see dropshipping in action:
Thanks to Shopify's colossal app store, the platform has an abundance of dropshipping apps — including print-on-demand services that enable you to sell products with your own designs on them.
Also, Shopify has Oberlo — we empower entrepreneurs to kickstart their dream business with a streamlined Shopify dropshipping app and dedicated dropshipping resources.
In comparison, Squarespace provides one dropshipping app and 2 print-on-demand apps.
Again, Shopify's huge app store means it wins the dropshipping category.
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Shopify vs. Squarespace: Customer Support and Guidance
To get the most out of Shopify and Squarespace, you'll need to learn about the platforms' features and functions. You may also run into problems that you need help to solve. So, it's worth considering what resources and customer support are available to help you.
Shopify has an enormous amount of resources to help users get started with the platform and grow a profitable business online.
Squarespace offers support via email and live chat. And like Shopify, there's also a help center, forum, blog, and series of educational webinars.
In short, Shopify and Squarespace both offer a good amount of support and resources. However, Shopify has the edge here as it offers free phone support on every plan.
Shopify vs. Squarespace: POS
If you plan to sell in person — or think you might want to in the future — it's worth considering Shopify vs. Squarespace's point of sale (POS) solutions.
POS systems enable you to take payments via hardware that's integrated with your online store, unifying your online and offline inventory management, sales data, and customer data.
Shopify has its own POS (called Shopify POS) and a comprehensive range of POS hardware that you can purchase in bundles or individually, depending on your needs. This POS system is tightly integrated with Shopify and it's available on all plans — including Shopify Lite.
Squarespace has partnered with POS solution Square to offer users a way to take payments in person — although it's only available to users based in the United States. Also, Squarespace only allows you to integrate a card reader and doesn't offer other hardware.
Shopify is the clear winner here with a more powerful, streamlined, and flexible POS system. Plus, it offers far more hardware options.
Final Thoughts: Which Is Better, Shopify or Squarespace?
Shopify and Squarespace are both brilliant website builders with stunning themes and plenty of features.
So, which one should you use?
Here's our take: If you want to create an inexpensive and simple content-based website only, consider Squarespace's 'Personal' plan. However, if you want access to more features than Squarespace's personal plan or you want to start selling online or in person, use Shopify.
Shopify provides more features out-of-the-box than Squarespace, especially in the ecommerce department. For example, Shopify offers more payment gateway options, phone support, and a superior POS system.
Plus, Shopify's vast app store dwarfs Squarespace's collection of extensions and integrations, providing ample room for growth and customizations.
Sign up for Shopify's free 14-day trial to check it out firsthand.