The Complete Shopify VS Squarespace Comparison
|Ease Of Use||Excellent||Excellent|
|Reviews & Complaints||Excellent||Excellent|
|Best for…||Best for merchants with eCommerce sales as the main focus, especially for international sellers.||Best for creators or content-driven sites with some merchandising needs to a US audience.|
Do you want a content-heavy site with some eCommerce features or do you want a thriving eCommerce shop that’s ready to scale? Answering this question helps you make the best decision for your business, and by the end of this post, you’ll understand why.
Because of the core differences in features that we’ll go into further detail below, we think Squarespace eCommerce works best for businesses that are content-focused and need an online shop to support selling merch and other supplementary products to their audience. For more eCommerce features like shipping tools, managing lots of inventory, and being able to sell on multiple sales channels, you might want to look at Shopify eCommerce.
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Shopify VS Squarespace
While both platforms enable online selling, choosing between Squarespace eCommerce VS Shopify largely depends on what type of business you have. Shopify has more robust eCommerce shipping and inventory tools while Squarespace was built to power a content-driven site with multiple users.
Let’s take a look at what Shopify and Squarespace have to offer individually, and then we’ll dive into some specific differences you’ll need to know before making your decision.
Shopify was created to empower the eCommerce seller to sell online and in more places their customers might be found. Even at the lowest plan, Shopify offers advanced yet easy-to-use-tools at your dashboard that help you sync inventory and start selling across social channels and marketplaces (e.g., Amazon).
What that means for you is that you’ll be able to create shoppable Instagram posts, sell on a Facebook shop or through Facebook Messenger, and not have to worry about incongruent inventory listings. Omnichannel selling like this helps your implement more control over shipping and streamline your entire shop as you grow. All this makes Shopify a very attractive choice for a shop that’s ready.
You’ll find strong shipping tools with Shopify, too, including automatic, carrier-calculated shipping rates from UPS, USPS, and DHL. Shopify is a very popular choice as a fully-hosted eCommerce platform for all of these reasons, but it might not be best for all business models, especially those that don’t have a lot of inventory. For that reason, we’ll also explore Squarespace and then put these two options head-to-head for better comparison.
- Powerful shipping tools & discounts
- Robust integrations
- Multiple sales channels included in all plans
- Best for growth and scaling (e.g., international sales)
- Custom domain name not included
- Limited site contributor permissions
What Squarespace does well has a lot to do with how it began. Squarespace got its start as a web builder aimed at content like blogs and newsletters but has grown into an all-in-one platform for the eCommerce seller. Being a content-driven platform for creators from the start, Squarespace offers many different types of visually stunning web templates suited for portfolios and bloggers. However, you’ll find about a dozen free customizable templates geared for an online store, which is still a few more than Shopify offers.
With Squarespace, you’ll find more tools in the back that further reflect its core culture for creators. For instance, you won’t have to fuss with code or find a plug-in to publish your latest podcast — you’ll find what you need with Squarespace to put it right up on your site.
While you can certainly set up an eCommerce shop with Squarespace — you’ll have payment processing and site security covered — note that some features are in a higher tier that you might need sooner rather than later. You can’t sell on Instagram or get checkout on your own domain until you get the Commerce plan, but at this tier, pricing is neck-and-neck with Shopify’s Basic Plan anyway. But you simply won’t find as many features for a bustling online shop as you will with Shopify. We’ll cover more about all of that in upcoming sections.
- Best for creators needing supplemental product sales
- Many free templates
- Free custom domain
- Unlimited contributors
- Limited integrations
- No syncing of sales channels (e.g., Facebook, Amazon)
- No multicurrency display
|Free email marketing||✔|
|Templates and customization||✔||✔|
|Native inventory editor||✔|
|Robust shipping tools||✔|
|Native podcast hosting||✔|
Both Shopify and Squarespace will host your site and provide the tools you need to set up a shop online and start selling. However, you’re going to find more tools geared for the needs of eCommerce with Shopify.
From shipping discounts and native shipping tools to easier inventory management and multi-channel selling, Shopify provides these features while Squarespace falls a bit short. What you will find with Squarespace are tools for individuals and small businesses that have a more content-driven focus like blogs, news, and podcasts. These folks will find more templates and freedom in specific ways we’ll cover below. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key differences in features that may make a big difference when it comes to your online presence.
- Inventory Management: Shopify has better inventory tools when it comes to bulk editing, which could be a frustration for some Squarespace users. For instance, if you need to make edits to a category or set of items in Squarespace, you’ll need to export your inventory, edit it, and import it all back in to make the updates. In contrast, Shopify has a native bulk editor that allows you to make the changes you need from your admin panel. It also allows you to assign specific inventory to certain areas like a retail shop, web store, warehouse, or pop-up. You get four locations on the Basic Plan, five on the Shopify Plan, and eight locations with Advanced Shopify.
- Email Marketing: Let’s compare Shopify and Squarespace when it comes to emailing your contacts. Shopify Email lets you send up to 2500 emails free each month to your subscribers and $1 per 1,000 additional emails. You can also segment your email list to create more personalized campaigns. Templates are also customizable so you can move, add, and edit sections. After you send the campaign, you can track the open rate and clicks at the email activity report. Squarespace offers more advanced marketing tools like setting up an automated campaign, but that will cost you $10/month, which is still a pretty good deal. The basic plan is $5/month but you can only send 500 emails and you won’t get automation features. Sending free emails is a nice touch from Shopify, but I wish they included automation or transactional emails, and it doesn’t appear that they do.
- Multi-Channel Selling: While you can share your Squarespace items to social media, Shopify stores, including Shopify Lite, offer true multi-channel selling tools. You can add your Facebook Shop, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and other marketplaces to your Shopify sales channels and sync your inventory all in one place.
- Unlimited Contributors: Squarespace has developed user permissions quite a bit more than Shopify. And that makes sense to me, as the platform was originally designed for blogging and other content-oriented sites in mind. You’ll find eight types of permission levels that you can give to contributors — quite thorough! Admins and site owners can change contributor permissions at any time. In contrast, Shopify limits users to two on the Basic plan.
- Templates and Customization: You’ll get a lot more free options with Squarespace, however, you’ll find quite a bit geared for content sites, making the number of online shop template options closer to Shopify than it first appears. Shopify offers many more eCommerce templates, but they do come at a cost to support the designer.
- Podcast Hosting Tools: Highlighting some of the major differences in platforms is the complete podcast support Squarespace offers. Your site includes Audio Blocks with iTunes tagging and blog modules that support custom iTunes channel tags. With Shopify, you’ll have to find a place to host your files and syndicate on an RSS feed.
- Multi-currency: Shopify offers a multi-currency display for sellers who want to reach international shoppers and currency conversion at no additional charge.
- Shipping Tools: Shopify blows Squarespace out of the water when it comes to native shipping tools. Shopify Shipping comes free with every account and includes deeply discounted shipping rates and real-time shipping rates displayed at checkout, as well as shipping management tools at your dashboard. For more on this full suite of tools, visit our post: The Ultimate Shopify Shipping Guide For Online Sellers. Squarespace Commerce Advanced Plan allows you to use carrier calculated shipping to automatically get your shipping costs based on FedEx, UPS, and USPS rates, but features are limited in comparison to Shopify and don’t come with all plans.
Shopify was built with flexibility of growth in mind, and its features reflect this. In addition to the omnichannel selling features, over 2K integrations let you add what you need as your business expands.
If you set up an online shop with Squarespace, you might miss some key features like multi-channel selling and easier inventory management editing. However, Squarespace would be a great choice for a business that has multiple contributors to its site and lots of regular content creation, so it all comes down to your business model’s core needs.
When you compare the Shopify fees with Squarespace fees, you’ll have to decide if the features each provide make it worth your while. Platforms vary significantly with what is made available in each plan. For instance, Squarespace has unlimited contributors in all plans, but you can’t host payment on your site until higher paying plans.
Shopify plans that include a website start at $29/month. However, if you don’t need a website and only need payment buttons, social selling, and adding other sales channels, you might be able to get away with Shopify Lite for $9/mo. If you process payments with Shopify Payments, you’ll pay 2.9% plus $0.30 on your eCommerce sales. But note that processing fees decrease with higher-tier plans.
If you don’t already have a site, you can use the free domain offered by Shopify, but your web address will include myshopify.com in your domain name. Purchasing a custom domain name from Shopify costs $11/yearly.
Here is the rest of the Shopify pricing table so you can see the complete set of features and how payment processing prices adjust with your plan. For a more in-depth look into Shopify plans and pricing, check out our full Shopify Review.
Now let’s take a closer look at what Squarespace charges per month and any other differences you may need to consider.
Squarespace plans start at $12/month, however full eCommerce features don’t start until the Business plan at $18/month, so consider that your first plausible option. Also, note that the pricing below reflects savings if you pay annually versus monthly.
Here is a continuation of what features you’ll get with Squarespace:
Below is the final portion of the Squarespace feature listing. Note that your customers won’t check out on your domain until the Commerce plan, nor can you link products from Instagram. In contrast, Shopify allows you to have checkouts on your site in the Basic plan and up, and you have social selling enabled on Shopify Lite plans ($9/month) and up. We do like that Squarespace throws in professional email from Google and a free custom domain on all plans. For a deeper dive into Squarespace cost, take a look at our full Squarespace Review.
Transaction Fees To Consider With Squarespace VS Shopify
One key difference about transaction pricing is that Squarespace charges a 3% transaction fee (in addition to the base payment processing fee) if you process $3200 or above on your store. This transaction fee is mandatory and won’t get waived until the Commerce plan.
In contrast, Shopify’s transaction fee is waived if you opt for their in-house payment processor, Shopify Payments. If you choose an external payment processor, you’ll pay an additional 2% for Shopify Basic, 1% for Shopify, and .5% under the Advanced Shopify plan. If you use Shopify Payments and add a PayPal button to your checkout, you will not pay an additional transaction fee.
Ease Of Use
Although we can vouch that both platforms are very easy to use in the grand scheme, our team found the navigation of Squarespace’s backend to be slightly trickier than Shopify’s. The Squarespace UI is structured so that there are more dashboard layers to dig through — and then dig back out of again. Additionally, the left control panel menu changes (or even disappears) depending on what layer you happen to be in at the moment, which can be disorienting. This is in contrast to Shopify’s menu, which remains a fixed anchor point for admin navigation.
Customer Service & Support
When it comes to customer service and support, Shopify and Squarespace offer different levels of support. Shopify has a support team available 24/7 by phone, email, and live chat support. Additionally, you’ll find organized self-help topics at the Shopify Help Center and discussion forums on the Shopify community pages.
In contrast, Squarespace doesn’t offer 24/7 phone support, but they do provide live chat support Monday-Friday 4 AM to 8 PM EDT. They also encourage Twitter messaging as well to their handle, which may give you a quicker response off hours. Squarespace does have a searchable knowledgebase including popular guides.
Reviews & Complaints
Both Shopify and Squarespace are generally well regarded among the major software review sites. With the G2 crowd, Shopify has 4.3/5 stars with over 3672 reviews and Squarespace has 4.4/5 stars with 862 reviews. At Capterra, Shopify has 4.5/5 stars with 3436 consumer reviews. Squarespace has 4.6/5 stars with 1881 consumer reviews. Merchants like how both platforms are easy to use and allow them to create a good online presence.
While the majority of users are happy with both platforms, we found a few common complaints with each. Shopify Payments and Squarespace both utilize Stripe as their backend processor, and some merchants face issues with withholding payments. Funding holds and account termination is a risk with any third-party processor. While it can be frustrating, unfortunately, it’s inherent in the industry. Understanding what may increase your risk can help prevent issues from happening in the first place. Check out How To Keep Your Payment Processor From Holding Funds Or Terminating Your Account to find out how to protect your business.
The Key Differences Between Shopify & Squarespace
Shopify and Squarespace seem like very similar platforms until you start to dig into the features and services that wait for you. Here are some of the key differences we’ve explored in this post.
- Multi-Channel Selling: Shopify beats Squarespace with its easily added sales channels. From your Shopify dashboard you can start selling from Facebook, Instagram, eBay, Amazon, and more — allowing you to fully integrate and sync your inventory across several platforms.
- Shipping Tools: Shopify Shipping comes free with every account and offers a lot more in the way of shipping discounts and real-time shipping rates for your shoppers.
- International Selling: With multi-currency display and conversion, Shopify offers more tools if you plan on expanding to international sales.
- Multiple Users: Squarespace offers more freedom and tools in terms of creating individual accounts for different contributors to your site.
- Creators & Podcast Support: Squarespace offers stronger tools for creators including native podcast support and many more free templates to choose from.
- Integrations: Shopify blows most any other platform out of the water with its thousands of app available to integrate with your site as you grow and want to organize your back office, add marketing or other eCommerce tools.
- Customer Service: Shopify offers 24/7 live phone and chat support, while Squarespace keeps regular business hours Monday-Friday for live chat support, and does not offer live phone support.
- eCommerce Features: Shopify simply offers more eCommerce features in lower-tiered pricing plans. See our pricing section above for the full breakdown.
Which Is Best For My Business Needs?
So is Shopify or Squarespace best for your business? As we looked into the key differences in features, consider the main takeaways to help you come to a confident answer.
Choose Shopify If…
Shopify is best for:
- Merchants needing robust shipping tools
- Inventory management (bulk editing)
- International sellers who want multi-currency display
- Merchants with multiple locations and different inventory needs at each
- Integrations and features to scale your business
Choose Squarespace If…
Squarespace is best for:
- Content-driven sites, including podcasters who do some merch on the side
- Businesses with simple inventory needs
- Merchants who only sell in the U.S.
- Content sites that have multiple users and need to customize permissions without limit
- More free template options
Comparing Squarespace VS Shopify: The Final Verdict
Squarespace put up a good fight in several categories, but Shopify emerges as the better of the two if you want to set up an online shop and have better options and features as you grow. Shopify’s pricing, core feature set, and vast app store can serve budding sellers on the Lite plan, all the way up to enterprise clients using Advanced Shopify. Squarespace has done an admirable job adding features for online selling, but they just can’t compete with Shopify’s dominance in the online ecosphere.
As we’ve said time and again in this comparison, Squarespace still provides a good option for sellers and creators who’d like to feature a small number of products with aesthetic appeal. Especially if you’ve already been using Squarespace to develop your company story and brand, I’d definitely recommend fully exploring Squarespace features before completely abandoning ship for Shopify or another dedicated shopping cart builder.
To discover even more about each platform individually, check out our Shopify Review and Squarespace Review. For more tools to help you grow a healthy online shop, visit Top 10 eCommerce Trends For Small Business In 2020.