Have you narrowed your online storefront choices to Shopify versus Squarespace?
I know a little something about your personality.
You value style very highly in your ecommerce platform.
And I get it… because I feel the exact same way.
But when these two battle it out, there’s definitely a clear winner.
They are both great ecommerce platforms that can help you accept sales and drive new business. But one really does outshine the other in most areas.
If you want to cut to the chase and see the winner, you can skip to the conclusion.
But I urge you to stay…
And learn why I (and so many others in the industry) choose one platform over the other. Because you may have a different opinion.
After all, every business is different. Your needs may point squarely to the other platform.
Oops… was that a slip? I’d better get this show on the road before I plant any more seeds. This needs to be your decision.
So, in this post, we’re going to cover:
- Differences Between Shopify and Squarespace
- Usability Features
- Design Features
- Pricing Comparison
- Shopify vs Squarespace: Who is the Winner for 2019?
Differences Between Shopify and Squarespace
Overall score: Shopify 9.4/10 Squarespace 9.1/10
When it comes to building your online store, it’s important to you that it’s beautiful.
How do I know this?
Because you’re choosing between two of the most design-forward ecommerce platforms in the industry. You’ve got good taste!
So, that’s one area where these platforms are similar.
But things get interesting from here.
We’re going to cover the details of these ecommerce platforms and how they differ in the next sections.
For now, I wanted to point out a major difference that drives all the other features.
Here it is..
Shopify was built to be an ecommerce platform, first and foremost. Squarespace was built with a content focus in mind.
So, when you start thinking about which is best for your business, think about where your business’s focus lies.
Do you have an ecommerce store with content to support it?
Or do you have an editorial site with an added ecommerce element?
Chew on that while we talk through the rest of the features in our Shopify vs Squarespace comparison.
Shopify 9.5/10 Squarespace 9/10
In overall features for an ecommerce store, Shopify wins. Because we’re really talking about ecommerce stores here, right?
But when you’re comparing features, you really have to think about what kind of store you want.
Here’s the truth…
Squarespace is packed with features that help you build and evaluate your content – and it does a better job at this than Shopify.
On the other hand…
Shopify does a much better job at the sales side than Squarespace.
Because Shopify has built-in sales tools that allow you to connect drop shippers, sell on social media and improve your SEO, Shopify wins at ecommerce. There’s no question.
With Squarespace, you can only sell on Instagram (versus the 10 platforms you can leverage with Shopify). And there’s no app store, so if a feature isn’t built-in, you can’t add it.
Squarespace does offer a developer’s plan with a whole lot more flexibility, but as you might have guessed, this is truly for developers. If you aren’t one (and don’t want to hire one), this plan is not for you.
That’s why I’m not going to go into detail on it here. When you want to compare apples to apples, you must compare the basic Squarespace with Shopify.
|Shopify Basic||Squarespace Basic|
|Price||$29/mo. (billed monthly)||$30/mo. (billed monthly)|
|Sell unlimited products||✓||✓|
|No transaction fees||✓ If you use Shopify Payments||✓|
|Free custom domain||✓||✓ With annual purchase|
|Sell products on social media||✓||✓ Instagram only|
Shopify 9.5 Squarespace 9.6
If you’ve been around here for a while, you’ve probably gotten used to me raving about Shopify’s design.
So, this might knock your socks off….
When you’re comparing Shopify vs Squarespace, Squarespace actually wins at design.
And that’s saying a lot.
Shopify’s design among the best, but Squarespace’s layouts are much more fashion forward. Is it because content is king at Squarespace?
Just look at the clean lines of Squarespace’s Galapagos template:
In contrast, let’s take a look at one of Shopify’s free templates.
This is the Bliss template:
As you can see, it’s still eye-catching and fashionable. But its focus lies more heavily in ecommerce when compared to the Squarespace theme. These are just two of many themes, but they serve as a good illustration of how the two platforms differ in design focus.
But if you want to see the difference for yourself, you most certainly can.
You can start a free trial of either platform, and you’ll quickly see that Squarespace offers stunning templates.
Start your Squarespace trial here.
And get 14 days of Shopify free here.
But as you look at all the pretty things, I encourage you to keep a balanced view.
Don’t let design drive your decision if Squarespace doesn’t deliver on other features you need.
Let’s dig a little deeper…
Shopify 9/10 Squarespace 8/10
Beauty doesn’t matter much in an ecommerce platform if you can’t figure out how to use its features.
Fortunately, these two platforms are relatively easy to use. But again, there’s a clear winner.
And unlike with design, the winner is not Squarespace.
And it’s not surprising…
Shopify may well be the easiest functional ecommerce platform in the industry. It’s difficult to top Shopify in the ease-of-use category.
Shopify offers a great balance between simple design and complex sales features. Things like building your online store, setting up products and selling on social media are easy and intuitive.
But when you look at Squarespace, that’s not exactly the case. It can take some time to figure out how this platform works, and even more time to figure out how to get things just right.
Ease-of-use is important, but getting customers to your store is also a crucial step towards running a successful ecommerce business.
That’s why we’re going to delve into the SEO-friendliness of each site now.
And don’t tell me this isn’t important to you…
Even if you plan to sell exclusively through ads and social media, SEO is important. As you scale your business, you’ll want to reach people through more channels.
And even still…
Let’s say you run an ad for your product. Someone clicks to buy, but does a quick Google search first to see if your company is legit. Your website is nowhere to be found. What do you think that customer will do next?
If you guessed BOUNCE, you’re absolutely right.
SEO is important for virtually every business, and I’m going to talk about which platform is best for those bots.
Shopify 9.5/10 Squarespace 9.4/10
In 2019, all ecommerce platforms have some SEO functionality built-in. Because they would completely flop if they didn’t.
Most business owners today understand the importance of understanding and implementing best SEO practices, and these ecommerce platforms aren’t an exception.
But there’s more to the story…
Even though Squarespace and Shopify both have the SEO basics down, one is still better. Can you guess which?
Both platforms have SEO features like:
- Customizable urls
- Image alt text
- XML sitemaps
- Customizable keywords and title tags
- Organized site structure
But Shopify takes its SEO features further with things like:
- Enhanced site speed
- Customizable meta descriptions
- Available SEO apps
Shopify runs its stores on an enterprise-level hosting platform with 99.9% uptime and a reputation for site speed.
Because Shopify has such a large network, you can take advantage and become part of an enterprise-level hosted solution (not something most small businesses can afford).
As you can see from the chart below, Shopify has experienced great growth in the past 5 years. And although its growth has slowed, this ecommerce platform is still going strong.
Squarespace has had some hiccups when it comes to speed and uptime. They don’t have the same great reputation as Shopify in this area, and maybe that’s why they haven’t seen the same growth.
Let’s take a look at Google trends on Shopify vs Squarespace:
For a short period in 2015, it looked like Squarespace might overrun Shopify. And then Shopify saw its growth skyrocket while Squarespace’s popularity remained relatively level.
And now, you’re probably almost ready to make a decision.
But I know what you’re thinking…
Price is often the final determining factor in any business decision. So, let’s talk about how Shopify and Squarespace add up.
Shopify 9.5/10 Squarespace 9.5/10
Pricing is crucial to the success of any business. After all, we’re not here to throw money away at anything – not even a platform that drives our very business.
No one wants to pay more than they have to. And I want to make sure you’re getting the most for every dollar spent on your ecommerce platform.
Of course, I have an opinion on which platform provides the best value (spoiler alert: it’s still Shopify). And, believe it or not, this IS the popular opinion. Most industry experts agree that Shopify is a better value for your money – even though you may pay more each month.
Because at a glance, Squarespace seems cheaper than Shopify.
But you really have to consider what you’re getting. And more importantly, what you’re not getting.
Let’s start with Shopify pricing.
Shopify has three basic plans ranging from $29 to $299, as you can see below:
There are two other plans, but those don’t really offer an apples-to-apples comparison with Squarespace.
The Shopify Lite plan is only $9/mo., but it doesn’t come with a website (it makes sense, I swear, and I explain it all in detail here). And then, there’s the ShopifyPlus plan that’s tailored for enterprise businesses.
Squarespace has 4 basic plans. Two are targeted towards editorial sites and blogs and two are targeted towards ecommerce sites.
Here’s a quick look at the first two plans:
And although you can technically sell products on the $18/mo. plan, you have to look closely at the features.
It offers the ability to setup unlimited products with other ecommerce-friendly features, but there’s a 3 percent transaction fee on all orders. Shopify does have transaction fees also, but they’re lower to start and completely waived when you use Shopify’s payment gateway.
So if you were to opt for the $18/mo. Squarespace plan and sell $500 worth of goods or services in a month, you’d actually end up paying Squarespace $33 ($18/mo. + $15 in transaction fees).
Suffice it to say that these plans don’t make sense for ecommerce.
Squarespace’s ecommerce plans do make more sense, and they come without transaction fees.
Let’s take a look:
Now, we can see that these plans are very similar to Shopify pricing. It’s actually a little tricky because Squarespace and Shopify list their monthly and annual pricing in different ways.
For example, you’ll pay $29/mo. for the Shopify Basic plan. Shopify offers a 10 percent discount for annual plans and 20 percent off for biennial plans. So, if you paid for a year in advance, the Basic plan would work out to $26.10/mo.
There’s a lot that goes into figuring out which plan is right for you, and if you want the skinny on Shopify pricing, check out this post where I break it down for you.
For the Squarespace Basic plan, you’ll pay $30/mo. – unless you pay for a year upfront. Then, it works out to $26/mo.
Shopify vs Squarespace: Who is the Winner for 2019?
When it comes to Shopify vs Squarespace for ecommerce, Shopify is the clear winner.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the perfect platform for you.
There’s one case where Squarespace may win out, and that’s if your business is more content based but you want to sell a few products. If that sounds like your business, you can start building your Squarespace store right away.
Or if you’d like another option, consider WordPress and WooCommerce. Just be sure to read this post first.
For everyone else, I’d recommend going with Shopify over Squarespace. If you’re ready to take the next step, start building your store with a 14-day free trial of Shopify.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use Shopify with Squarespace?
Yes. You can add a shopify store to your squarespace site. This way you can get the benefits of Shopify, but not sacrifice your Squarespace if that is what you already have set up.
Is Squarespace good for Ecommerce?
Squarespace is good for Ecommerce depending on what you are looking for. Using their Squarespace Basic you can: sell unlimited products, no transaction fees, free custom domain with annual purchase, SSL included, 24/7 support, and sell products on Instagram.
What is better than Shopify?
It really just depends on what you are looking for, but Shopify is the leader in the Ecommerce platforms to date.
Is it better to sell on Amazon or Shopify?
Depends on what you are looking for.
Shopify and Squarespace are two design-oriented ecommerce platforms.
But Squarespace was built for content – and it shows.
That’s why Shopify wins this comparison by a landslide. It may not be as beautiful, but it offers advanced SEO features, multichannel selling, abandoned cart recovery and the ability to add on to these features with apps.
Now, I want to hear your thoughts.
Do you agree with my assessment? Or do you prefer Squarespace over Shopify? If you do, be sure to tell me why in the comments.