Shopify vs Squarespace

Shopping around in search of a powerful but easy-to-use site builder may finally lead you to a list of two solutions, Shopify and Squarespace. On the surface, these are very similar instruments with huge audiences and piles of positive reviews. Both rank among the top popular site builders for eCommerce and businesses. Non-coders can use both.

Yet, the platforms are different. While Squarespace may attract you with its design possibilities, Shopify is sure to offer the exact features you need. That’s why I’d recommend Shopify as the #1 universal solution for site development. In the below side-by-side comparison, I’ll explain the vital differences between both platforms to prove that Shopify is more likely to suit your project.

Quick Summary

An innovation of 2006, Shopify was created as a practical solution to an urgent problem. Its main goal was to let a small company sell goods online. At present, Shopify will let you create a website for any purpose, but its strongest points will be those necessary for eCommerce activities. The platform is focused on online store management and easy transactions.

Shopify Main

Introduced in 2003, Squarespace was aimed at building websites in general. A selling option was a later addition. Like with Shopify, you can use Squarespace for creating a whatever-purpose site, an online store included. The platform is focused on gorgeous designs for websites, no matter what they are aimed at.

Squarespace Website Builder

So, even these brief presentations of the platforms let a user make tentative conclusions. Shopify is designed to perform practical, eCommerce-oriented tasks, and it offers unique options in this niche. Squarespace is a site builder fitting for various purposes but isn’t perfect in any of them. Is this first impression correct? Let’s go to a more detailed comparison of the website builders to learn the answer.

Price

A plan variety characterizes both Shopify and Squarespace. However, you see at once that Squarespace plans are cheaper. There are four of them:

  • Personal at $23/mo.;
  • Business at $33/mo., a 3% transaction fee;
  • Commerce Basic at $36/mo.;
  • Commerce Advanced at $65/mo.

You can start with any of these packages for free thanks to a 14-day free trial. The Business plan goes with a 3% commission on all transactions. When subscribed to the most expensive Commerce plans, you’ll pay no fees for any of your transactions.

Shopify offers five plans. The platform has its own payment system. If you can arrange your transactions by dealing uniquely with it, you won’t need to pay commissions (except for the Starter plan). When third-party payment gateways are necessary for your eCommerce, the transaction fee will depend on a plan:

  • Starter at $1/mo., a %5 commission for Shopify Payments;
  • Basic at $32/mo., a 2% fee for non-Shopify payments;
  • Shopify at $92/mo., a 1% fee for non-Shopify payments;
  • Advanced at $399/mo., a 0.5% fee for non-Shopify payments;
  • Shopify Plus at $2,000+/mo.

One can automatically choose Squarespace for its less expensive packages. However, do not go the path of simply comparing figures. Even for a small business or online store, this method may not work.

Shopify enables such must-have features as unlimited products, all local and international eCommerce tools, abandoned cart recovery, Point of Sale, and 70+ payment gateways starting from the Basic plan. Some of the features may be less advanced or even absent within the most expensive plan from Squarespace!

So, Squarespace is a cheaper but not always optimal solution for your project. When you choose a Squarespace plan, be sure to check if it has all the necessary features your website requires. Shopify offers better value for money, no matter which plan is chosen.

Creating a Website

When you want to build a site, selecting a website builder with better usability and all-in-one equipment is natural. From an ease-of-use perspective, I take Shopify and Squarespace as absolutely equal platforms. Even a beginner can cope with both website editors fully based on drag & drop.

As to the comprehensiveness of the development process, I give the palm to Shopify. Of course, Squarespace and Shopify are Content Management Systems (CMS). That is, they both let you fully manage your website under construction. However, Shopify will supply more built-in features and be ready to connect your site to a broader choice of side apps.

So, building a website with Shopify is easier. It can be created in one place – completely and without searching for extra solutions.

Interface

A rare site builder can beat Shopify in consistency. Its simple and well-thought-out interface is a striking illustration. Your choice of a template, customizations, product management, and all the other manipulations can be completed one after another without racking your brains. The Shopify interface will let you connect your website with any of the 6,000+ apps available on the platform just in time you need them.

Shopify Dashboard

The interface of Squarespace is OK, too. However, the more complex site you wish to build, the more tricky the interface may seem. The difference is especially tangible when creating an online store or a business site.

Squarespace Dashboard

Although Squarespace offers great templates for online stores, their further arrangement won’t be as simple as with Shopify. In terms of integrations, Squarespace cannot compete with Shopify either.

Finally, like with any site builder designed for creating various sorts of websites, you can’t expect Shopify’s smoothness from Squarespace. It’ll be harder to get into for a total beginner, by all means. The only good thing is that Squarespace offers guides on every stage of the building process.

Templates

A single domain in which Squarespace gains an advantage over Shopify (and most of the other competitors) is design. The site builder has 110 templates available without extra charges within any plan. Each template is of high quality, responsive, and visually appealing. The template menu is well-arranged, and you can sort them out by groups (portfolio, blog, online store, art & design, food, etc).

Squarespace Templates

Shopify offers an even more convenient template section. Here, you can pick a suitable theme for your project by indicating an industry, catalog size, or feature. These are also professionally built, responsive templates for attracting customers and selling goods. However, Shopify has as many as 120 themes, and only 11 are free.

Shopify Templates

Website Design

Shopify’s approach to site-building is more about functionality. It’s reasonable to select one of its free themes, customize them according to your wish, and concentrate on supplying it with all the necessary tools for easy eCommerce. If your website’s design is the key point, you can opt for one of the Shopify premium themes.

Shopify customization freedom will be within the limits of drag & drop for a non-coder. When ready to modify code, Shopify will let you do this through your Admin panel. Here, you or a hired expert can edit HTML and CSS so that your website looks unique or just the way you want.

Shopify Editor

Squarespace deals with the design matter differently. Website appearances are in the spotlight here. Squarespace templates are the best in every respect. The site builder is not focused on eCommerce and offers great design solutions for all areas.

Squarespace Editor

For instance, you can pick beautiful, fully responsive templates designed for blogging. Shopify has built-in blog functionality, too. But again, Shopify offers instruments to carry out tasks – it’s not so keen on design. Squarespace is all about design, and you’ll be able to build a good-looking blog.

Recently, Shopify has improved its themes and extended the options you can customize. So, in terms of customization freedom, both site builders are practically the same now. Without code manipulations, your Squarespace customization freedom won’t differ much from the one offered by Shopify. For coding experts, Squarespace also offers a CSS Editor and the Code Block option to add HTML blocks.

Thus, Shopify and Squarespace offer quick and sophisticated ways to create a website’s appearance. Shopify’s themes are excellent for online stores. Squarespace’s templates are great for all purposes. Squarespace designs are more diverse and more affordable.

SEO

Both Shopify and Squarespace go with built-in SEO features and are good site builders from this perspective. However, Shopify is several steps ahead of Squarespace.

Many SEO settings will work automatically on your Shopify website. It’ll generate SEO-friendly names for metatags, product titles, images, and so on. When you change your site’s URL, Shopify will also create the corresponding 301 redirects automatically. And there are many other SEO basics that will keep your Shopify site visible without your concern.

With Squarespace, you’ll need to tune up many of your SEO settings manually. Shopify is more convenient in this respect. Moreover, Shopify is much better if you wish to connect advanced SEO apps to your website. Both site builders allow Google Analytics integration, but Squarespace offers a smaller number of SEO plugins than Shopify.

Squarespace SEO

One more big plus from Shopify is that it offers prompts while you are dealing with your SEO settings. It suggests improvements for your metadata. Squarespace doesn’t do that!

Publishing a Website

Both site builders offer smooth processes for publishing websites. In general, such a process will look like this:

  1. You sign up on the platform.
  2. You pick a template and customize it.
  3. You plug in extra apps and tune up the functions of your website.
  4. You test your website under construction.
  5. You launch your website online.

Since Shopify is an online store builder, it’ll let you check if your website is ready to carry out all the eCommerce activities in a proper way. Shopify offers a specialty – Test Mode. With its help, you can simulate payment transactions, successful and failed.

You can protect your site with a password so that only you or assigned users can access it during the checkout process. After the test drive is complete, you can remove the password and reset the access settings before running your website online.

Squarespace does not offer anything like Shopify Test Mode. But this is an easy-to-use site builder that will let you publish your ready website. Is it actually ready? You’ll need to check it yourself. You can also protect it with a password and test the site before making it public.

So, although the platforms are equally easy in terms of publishing websites, I take Shopify as a little bit more convenient and more advanced option. At the final stage of website building, a beginner will feel more comfortable with Shopify.

Online Store

Whether you are an individual entrepreneur, have a small company, or run a large eCommerce, choose Shopify if you plan to sell goods professionally. Shopify offers perfectly arranged plans, each going with a reasonable functionality/price ratio. No matter which plan you choose, you won’t waste a dollar. The key advantages of Shopify here include the following:

  1. a clear, handy interface to manage products;
  2. more advanced Inventory Management tools;
  3. an extended payment system;
  4. Shopify Payments with zero transaction fees;
  5. basic POS options in all plans; a Pro POS version available within more expensive plans;
  6. excellent features for international commerce;
  7. 6,000+ apps ready to be easily integrated.

Shopify Store

This list can be extended with other useful extras from Shopify. The platform is also great in terms of marketing. It’ll let you run personalized campaigns, showcase new products, advertise your services, and so on. If you need more, you can choose from 1,000+ marketing apps available in the Shopify App Store.

Squarespace is more about personal websites. It will suit a small eCommerce run by an individual the most. When you need to create a simple but truly appealing website to sell a couple of your products, Squarespace can be a workable and quite affordable solution to that.

From an online store perspective, Squarespace plans do not look consistent. Sooner or later, you’ll miss these or those features and need to search for a third-party app to seal off breaches.

The problem is that Squarespace offers a much smaller number of apps. Squarespace supports fewer payment methods and cannot boast Shopify flexibility in international commerce. Moreover, you’ll need to pay for things that go within Shopify plans by default. So, if planning a serious eCommerce project with Squarespace, be ready to pay more in the long run.

Payment Methods

Shopify will let you accept payments online and offline just the way you want. First, the site builder offers its own Shopify Payments system. Its benefits include zero commissions on all transactions within all plans.

Besides Shopify Payments, you can connect 100+ credit card payment operators to your website. Other payment gateways are also available. For instance, in case you wish to conduct crypto payments or use PayPal as a main instrument, it’s OK with Shopify as well.

Squarespace is a much more moderate analog. Of course, it will let you sell goods online and accept payments. The available solutions here are mainly Stripe and PayPal. They are enough to accept payments via VISA, MasterCard, and American Express credit cards. When you employ the Squarespace POS, you can opt for Square as a payment processor.

Orders & Shipping

Wish to start a dropshipping company? It’ll be easier with Shopify. The platform has a special offer – Dropship Business Starter Kit, which you can try with a 3-day free trial. Here, everything is ready, and you won’t have to explore the matter from zero ground. In fact, you’ll have a prepared, fully-equipped system for managing orders and retailing them to your customers.

Squarespace cannot offer you anything like this. Theoretically, you can build an online store focused on dropshipping, but you’ll have to organize the whole process yourself. Pay also attention to the number of available dropshipping apps on both platforms. While Shopify supports over 400 of them, Squarespace can connect you to only a small couple of them.

Blog

Shopify allows adding blogs to your website, but your choice of features will be pretty basic on the platform. Do not expect design diversity or themes specifically created for blogging on Shopify. Here, your blog pages will look plain enough.

Shopify Blog

Of course, you can change things by opting for a professional blogging app. Shopify has plenty of them. Among 200+ blogging apps available in the Shopify store at present, you can pick such powerful and SEO-friendly tools as Bloggle, DropInBlog, or Automizely. Any of them will let you make your blogs more attractive and functionally capable.

Squarespace is a better choice for a blogging website. It offers blog-oriented templates and allows more features in this domain. When you need to add a blog page to your Squarespace online store, it’s also simple. The site builder offers enough tools to manage content, create archives, search for certain elements, analyze visitors’ activities, and so on.

So, blogging is another field in which Squarespace beats Shopify. You may not need any side apps with Squarespace. However, Shopify is not bad for blogging! The key benefit here is that Shopify will offer you any app in case you need it.

Technical Support

The customer support levels are very high at both Shopify and Squarespace. You can address a question or a request at whatever time of the day. On both platforms, at your disposal will be the following communication means:

  • online chat 24/7;
  • email;
  • community chat;
  • Help Center with step-by-step instructions.

Shopify also offers a phone number you can use around the clock. On Shopify Plus, you’ll also get a dedicated support agent.

The Winner

Squarespace can be your budget-saving solution with excellent design options. It will be ideal in case you need a simple site for personal or small business use.

Shopify is a sure winner in all the other respects. When planning to run any eCommerce, you won’t find a more equipped site builder than Shopify. The platform offers the richest set of payment instruments and online store features. It integrates with thousands of add-ons, so it’s not a problem to extend your website’s functionality in whatever direction.

The only drawback of Shopify is its higher prices. However, you’ll purchase a complete product ready to cover all the expenses and bring profits to you immediately. In the case of Squarespace, you’ll need to pay for extra plugins, too, and your bill here may be much more massive in the end.

Malcolm ThomasAuthor

For over 15 years, I've delved into the dynamic world of website builders and hosting. As a seasoned expert in web development, my passion for technology fuels my journey of exploration and analysis. Through meticulous reviews and comprehensive insights, I empower readers to navigate the digital landscape with confidence. With a commitment to staying abreast of the latest trends and innovations, I strive to offer practical advice and informed perspectives. Join me on this adventure as we uncover the best solutions and strategies for building and hosting your online presence.