Both companies are worth over a billion dollars (Shopify enjoys a very generous lead in this regard) and are household names, even among the non-tech-savvy.
Shopify is unabashedly an eCommerce-first platform with features tailored for product-led businesses that sell both tangible and digital assets, online or offline.
In contrast, Squarespace is an ideal choice for companies prioritizing aesthetics (their drag-and-drop page builder is one of the best), digital content, and exclusive member experiences.
But the devil is in the details. So join us as we delve deeper into the intricacies of Shopify vs Squarespace to determine which platform aligns best with your business objectives.
Shopify and Squarespace feature comparison
In this section, we’ll be comparing the features of Shopify vs Squarespace across the following dimensions:
- eCommerce Features
- Customization and Design
- SEO and Marketing Tools
- App & Plugin Ecosystem
- Payment Options
1. eCommerce features
Undeniably one of the titans in the eCommerce world, Shopify offers an extensive range of tools designed explicitly for online sales.
Right from the get-go, store owners have access to features like inventory management, a range of payment gateways, and multi-channel selling capabilities (allowing merchants to sell not just on their website but also through platforms like Facebook and Instagram).
Additionally, Shopify’s App Store is packed with thousands of integrations and plugins that extend the eCommerce functionality of the base platform, accommodating everything from dropshipping to advanced SEO tools. Their dedicated focus on ecommerce makes them a preferred choice for many retailers.
Shopify’s robust ecommerce engine also supports a variety of international payment methods and currencies, ensuring businesses can cater to a global audience without significant hurdles.
Squarespace began its journey primarily as a website builder, catering to the needs of content creators and businesses looking for aesthetically pleasing designs. Over the years, they’ve incorporated ecommerce capabilities, making it easier for users to sell products and services directly through their Squarespace sites.
While Squarespace offers an easy-to-use interface and stunning templates, its ecommerce features, when compared to Shopify, are somewhat limited.
Merchants can add products, set up an online store, and accept payments through a few select gateways. However, when diving deep into its ecommerce functionality, including multi-channel selling, extended payment options, or a plethora of integrations, Squarespace might fall a bit short.
That said, for businesses aiming for a blend of content-rich websites with a smaller ecommerce component, Squarespace might be an ideal choice. It allows for beautiful content presentation alongside a functional online store, though perhaps not as comprehensive as Shopify’s offering.
While both platforms provide ecommerce functionality, Shopify stands out for its comprehensive online selling tools, and Squarespace emphasizes more of a blend of content and commerce.
Verdict: Shopify wins
2. Customization and design
Regarding customization and design, the Shopify website builder is no slouch. With its vast array of professionally designed themes, both free and paid, merchants can create a store that truly resonates with their brand and audience.
These themes cater to a wide range of industries, from fashion to electronics, ensuring that businesses of all types can find something suitable.
Beyond the initial theme selection, Shopify allows for deep customization. Even those without technical know-how can make significant design changes using the drag-and-drop builder.
However, for those with coding knowledge or access to developers, the Liquid template language used by Shopify can unlock even more design potential, offering nearly limitless possibilities to fine-tune and modify every aspect of the storefront.
Squarespace has earned its reputation primarily because of its gorgeous out-of-the-box design capabilities. Even novices can craft a Squarespace website that looks like it was made by professional designers.
Every template is meticulously crafted with a focus on aesthetics, making them particularly favored by photographers, artists, and other creative professionals.
This ecommerce platform provides a straightforward drag-and-drop interface, allowing users to adjust layouts, add elements, and tweak designs without ever touching a line of code. This user-friendly approach ensures that even the least tech-savvy individuals can achieve a high-quality design.
Moreover, for those who want to dive deeper, Squarespace does provide access to CSS and certain code injections, enabling a higher degree of customization.
Comparatively, while Shopify excels in ecommerce-focused designs with the flexibility to customize deeply, Squarespace stands out with its array of pristine templates designed for visual appeal.
The choice between them largely depends on the user’s priorities: a more commerce-centric design or a visually stunning presentation.
Whether you choose to build a Squarespace site with their incredible website builder or start with feature-rich Shopify templates, both website builders are awesome.
3. Pricing and costs
Shopify employs a tiered subscription model, catering to businesses of all sizes. Their pricing is subject to change, so be sure to go to their official pricing page to see the most up-to-date rates. Here’s a general breakdown:
- Basic Shopify: Ideal for new businesses or online businesses new to in-person selling. This tier covers all the essentials for a budding online store.
- Shopify: A middle-tier for growing businesses that need more advanced features.
- Advanced Shopify: Suitable for scaling businesses, offering advanced reporting and lower transaction fees.
Each tier comes with its own set of features and transaction fees, with the more expensive plans offering greater capabilities and reduced fees.
Beyond subscription costs, users should consider potential expenses for third-party apps, which can quickly add up but are essential for advanced functionalities.
Shopify also has its own payment gateway, Shopify Payments. While it eliminates transaction fees when used, choosing another payment gateway will incur additional transaction costs.
Squarespace offers a simplified pricing structure, but some plans aren’t suitable for eCommerce sellers:
- Personal: Aimed at individuals and creatives, this plan does not support eCommerce
- Business: More geared towards eCommerce, this tier has a 3% transaction fee for all sales.
- Basic commerce: Designed for emerging online stores, offering more eCommerce tools with no transaction fees.
- Advanced commerce: Tailored for established online stores, this plan provides advanced eCommerce features.
The transparent nature of Squarespace ecommerce pricing is appealing, but there are costs to consider beyond the subscription fee.
While they don’t charge transaction fees on their commerce-focused plans, using their platform for more complex needs might necessitate investing in third-party integrations or tools, which can come at an added cost.
Both platforms have their share of hidden costs. While the app ecosystem is rich, it’s easy to collect Shopify apps, which will increase monthly fees. Moreover, if not using Shopify Payments, those transaction fees can accumulate.
For Squarespace, while the platform itself is transparent about its costs, to fully utilize its eCommerce capabilities, you’ll need to spring for the more expensive plans (starting at $23/month at the time of this writing).
Furthermore, for advanced tools or integrations not natively offered by Squarespace, external costs can arise.
While both platforms offer competitive pricing for their features, the true cost depends on your business’s specific needs and how you utilize the tools available.
On paper, the Shopify plans and fees (especially when not using Shopify Payments) are more expensive, so we’ll give this one to Squarespace.
Verdict: Squarespace wins
4. SEO and marketing tools
Shopify’s SEO & marketing features:
Shopify understands the importance of organic search for driving traffic to online stores. To that end, they provide an array of SEO tools and capabilities:
- Meta descriptions and titles: Users can customize meta descriptions and titles for products, blog posts, and pages, optimizing for target keywords.
- Clean URLs: Shopify creates SEO-friendly URLs, though customization is slightly limited compared to some platforms (it’s not possible to manually change URL slugs, which will disappoint some SEO perfectionists).
- Site speed: Recognizing the importance of load times in search rankings, Shopify’s servers are optimized for speed, especially for their premium plans.
- Integrated blogging: With an in-built blogging tool, Shopify helps stores create content, which is key for SEO, though their rich content editor leaves much to be desired.
In addition to these, Shopify offers an extensive app ecosystem where store owners can access advanced SEO tools and plugins, further optimizing their sites.
Marketing-wise, Shopify supports email campaigns, integrates easily with most major social media platforms, and has partnerships with Google and Facebook for ad campaigns.
Squarespace’s SEO & marketing features:
Squarespace, known for its design-centric approach, doesn’t fall short in the SEO and marketing arena:
- SEO checklists: The platform offers built-in SEO checklists guiding users in optimizing their sites.
- URL customization: Unlike Shopify, Squarespace offers a bit more freedom in URL customization, which can be beneficial for SEO.
- Automatic tags & categories: For blog posts and products, automatic tagging can help with site structure and SEO.
- Integrated blogging: Just like Shopify, Squarespace understands the importance of content and provides robust blogging tools.
On the marketing front, Squarespace shines with its integrated email campaigns, allowing for cohesive branding and messaging.
Their social media integrations are seamless, making sharing and promoting content across channels a breeze. Their analytics also provide valuable insights into marketing efforts, aiding in refining strategies.
Both Shopify and Squarespace support Google Analytics integration, as well.
Verdict: Squarespace wins
5. App and plugin ecosystem
Shopify’s App store:
Shopify boasts one of the most extensive ecommerce app ecosystems in the market. With thousands of apps available, it’s designed to help store owners enhance and customize their sites, catering to almost every conceivable need:
- Diverse functionality: From advanced SEO tools to product review systems, dropshipping integrations, and beyond, Shopify’s App Store offers tools for virtually every facet of ecommerce.
- Integration with major players: Shopify seamlessly integrates with major third-party services like Facebook, Instagram, Google Shopping, and more.
- Quality assurance: Apps on Shopify undergo a review process, ensuring they meet certain standards of quality and security.
- Scalability: As a business grows, apps are available to assist with larger-scale operations, like advanced inventory management or customer relationship management.
Squarespace’s plugin offerings:
While Squarespace’s native functionalities are robust, its third-party plugin ecosystem is more limited than Shopify’s. However, they still offer meaningful integrations:
- Focused selection: Instead of an overwhelming array, Squarespace offers a more curated selection of plugins tailored to enhance its platform’s capabilities.
- Seamless design integration: One notable strength is how well these plugins integrate visually with Squarespace’s templates, ensuring consistent design aesthetics.
- Essential ecommerce tools: While not as expansive as Shopify’s offerings, Squarespace does provide essential ecommerce plugins, aiding in functions like shipping rate calculations or tax computations.
- Integration with key platforms: Just like Shopify, Squarespace also offers integrations with essential third-party platforms, although the list is not as extensive.
Verdict: Shopify wins
6. Shopify and Squarespace: payment options
Shopify’s payment gateways:
Shopify provides an extensive array of payment gateways designed to cater to a diverse global audience.
- Shopify payments: Their proprietary solution, Shopify Payments, offers competitive credit card rates, no transaction fees, and facilitates seamless integration with the broader Shopify ecosystem. It is supported in several countries, although there are some exclusions.
- Third-party payment providers: For those outside the reach of Shopify Payments or who prefer other payment gateways, Shopify supports over 100 third-party payment providers, including PayPal, Stripe, and Amazon Pay.
- Currency and regional flexibility: Shopify enables multi-currency selling, allowing businesses to cater to an international audience seamlessly. They also support various local payment methods pertinent to specific regions.
Squarespace’s payment solutions:
Squarespace, while not as expansive as Shopify in this domain, offers reliable payment solutions tailored to its user base.
- Stripe and PayPal: Squarespace primarily relies on Stripe for credit card payments. This allows it to cater to customers in numerous countries. Additionally, PayPal is integrated, further broadening the payment scope.
- Apple Pay: On mobile devices, Squarespace websites can also process payments via Apple Pay, a feature appreciated by a growing number of mobile shoppers.
- Regional limitations: While Stripe and PayPal do offer a global reach, there are still countries where these services aren’t available or are limited. Squarespace merchants must know these constraints, especially if they cater to a broad international audience.
What’s the user experience Like with Shopify vs Squarespace?
Both Shopify and Squarespace offer intuitive, user-friendly experiences, but they cater to different audience needs.
Shopify is tailored for businesses focused on ecommerce, providing tools that streamline online selling.
Squarespace, with its design-centric approach, emphasizes aesthetics and is ideal for those prioritizing website presentation.
1. Ease of use
Shopify’s user experience:
- Business-centric dashboard: Once logged in, the Shopify dashboard greets users with a slew of relevant ecommerce metrics. This allows businesses to quickly get a grasp of their sales performance, order statuses, and customer engagements.
- Guided set-up: For newcomers, Shopify offers a step-by-step guide, ensuring that even those unfamiliar with e-commerce can set up a store with relative ease.
- Customization made easy: With drag-and-drop builders and clear theme customization options, businesses can align their store’s look with their brand without needing deep technical knowledge.
Squarespace’s user experience:
- Design-first interface: Squarespace’s dashboard emphasizes design elements. This makes it exceptionally user-friendly for those looking to build a visually appealing website without much hassle.
- Template exploration: Users can easily browse and switch between various Squarespace templates until they find one that perfectly matches their vision.
- Streamlined editing: The WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor ensures that users can visualize changes in real time, making the editing process intuitive and efficient.
2. Learning curve
When diving into a new ecommerce platform, the learning curve can be a significant factor in the overall adoption experience. Both Shopify and Squarespace have their own nuances, but they’re designed with the end user in mind.
Shopify’s learning curve:
Shopify is constructed primarily for ecommerce, and while it’s user-friendly, newcomers might take some time to familiarize themselves with all the commerce-centric features.
- Ecommerce specifics: From product variants, tax settings, shipping rates to SEO settings for products, the plethora of options can be initially overwhelming. However, once understood, they offer powerful control over the online store.
- Support resources: Shopify has a rich repository of tutorials, guides, and videos in its help center. There’s also a vast community forum and 24/7 customer support to assist new users in navigating the platform.
Squarespace’s learning arc:
Squarespace, initially designed as a website builder, has a different set of features that can present its own learning challenges, but it’s often praised for its simplicity.
- Website building basics: Those new to website creation might need time to grasp concepts like domains, SEO basics, and site mapping. However, Squarespace’s interface is designed to be intuitive, even for those without any technical background.
- Guided assistance: Squarespace offers a series of getting started videos, webinars, and a detailed help center. Furthermore, there’s a community forum and customer support to guide users through any challenges.
Ultimately, the learning curve for either platform will depend on the user’s familiarity with online platforms and their specific needs.
Scalability and growth with Shopify and Squarespace
Scaling an online business requires a platform that not only meets the current needs but also anticipates future demands.
Both Shopify and Squarespace are competent contenders in this regard, but they shine differently based on their business size and international aspirations.
1. Small business vs. large enterprise
Shopify’s inherent design is e-commerce-centric, which makes it well-suited for businesses of all sizes.
- Shopify Basic: Ideal for startups and small businesses, this tier offers all essential e-commerce features at an affordable price.
- Shopify Plus: Tailored for high-volume merchants and large enterprises, Shopify Plus provides advanced features, dedicated support, and customizability, ensuring the platform scales with your business’s growth.
- Shopify Advanced: Built for medium to large businesses doing significant numbers and needing significant staff logins and a custom report builder (plan starts at $399/month).
Squarespace’s roots as a website builder mean it’s inherently geared towards simplicity and design.
- Commerce: Ideal for small businesses and individual creators, offering necessary tools to get an online store up and running.
- Advanced Commerce: All the features of the basic commerce plan plus advanced shipping options, discounting, and the ability to sell subscriptions or memberships.
2. International expansion
Shopify is built with international expansion in mind.
- Multi-currency support: Shopify Payments allows businesses to sell in multiple currencies, giving customers the flexibility to shop in their preferred currency.
- Geolocation apps: Shopify’s app ecosystem has solutions that redirect customers based on their location, ensuring they get a localized shopping experience.
- Challenges: While Shopify excels in supporting global operations, merchants might need to be wary of varying transaction fees based on the payment gateway used in different countries.
Squarespace, while competent for international audiences, is limited in this area.
- Multi-language support: While it’s possible to create a multi-language site, it requires manual setup, and there isn’t native support for different languages.
- Currency flexibility: Squarespace supports multiple currencies, but switching between them isn’t as seamless as on Shopify.
Support and customer service
Navigating the complexities of an e-commerce platform can sometimes be daunting, especially for newcomers.
A robust support system, timely assistance, and a plethora of resources can make this journey smoother.
Both Shopify and Squarespace recognize this necessity and have put commendable efforts into their support structures. Let’s delve into how they compare:
- 24/7 direct support: Shopify is renowned for its round-the-clock customer support, available through phone, email, and live chat. This ensures that no matter the timezone, businesses can get the assistance they need promptly.
- Extensive documentation: Shopify provides a comprehensive help center replete with tutorials, guides, and FAQs. This self-help resource is meticulously detailed, helping users troubleshoot common issues and understand platform functionalities.
- Community forums: The Shopify Community is a bustling space where merchants, developers, and experts engage in discussions, share experiences, and provide solutions. It’s not just a place for problem-solving but also for networking and learning from peers.
- Direct support: Squarespace offers customer support via email and live chat. While they don’t provide phone support, their live chat is efficient and helps address concerns in real time.
- Knowledge base: Squarespace’s knowledge center is a well-organized repository of articles, video tutorials, and step-by-step guides. It’s especially beneficial for those who prefer a visual or hands-on approach to learning.
- Community forum: The Squarespace Forum is a platform for users to ask questions, share ideas, and interact with other Squarespace enthusiasts. Additionally, regular webinars and workshops offer in-depth explorations of various features.
To sum it up, both Shopify and Squarespace take customer support seriously, offering a blend of direct support channels and self-help resources.
Shopify’s 24/7 support might be a game-changer for some, especially for businesses operating in varied time zones.
Data migration and integration
Transitioning to a new e-commerce platform can be a monumental task, especially when it involves moving vast amounts of data.
A smooth migration process paired with seamless integrations can significantly reduce downtime and potential revenue loss. Let’s evaluate how Shopify vs Squarespace fare in these critical aspects.
- Data migration: Shopify understands the intricacies of data migration. The platform offers a range of tools and partners specializing in data transfer. Its “Shopify Importer” tool allows users to easily migrate products, customers, and order data from several platforms. Moreover, for more complex migrations, there are third-party apps like “Cart2Cart” and “Excelify” that assist in the process.
- Integration options: Shopify’s robust API and the extensive Shopify App Store mean that integrating third-party tools, from accounting software to CRM systems, is often a straightforward process. Popular integrations include Mailchimp, HubSpot, and QuickBooks, among others.
- Data migration: Squarespace also facilitates a transition from other platforms but tends to be more suited for simpler migrations. Its importer tools support a few platforms like WordPress, Tumblr, and a few others. It’s worth noting, however, that while product and blog content migration is relatively smooth, more nuanced data like customer reviews or specific product variants might require manual input or third-party solutions.
- Integration options: Squarespace offers a curated list of integrations with essential third-party tools and services. These integrations, called “extensions,” span categories like shipping, inventory, and marketing. Popular options include ShipStation, Printful, and Xero.
Integrating Shopify with Linnworks
Shopify’s comprehensive eCommerce platform offers countless features that empower businesses to build and grow their online presence.
However, for businesses seeking a more streamlined approach to managing their operations, integrating with a solution like Linnworks can offer transformative benefits.
Let’s look at the synergy of Shopify and Linnworks and what it means for e-commerce businesses.
Direct channel integration
Shopify seamlessly integrates with Linnworks through a direct channel integration. This means that Linnworks has been meticulously developed to support Shopify, ensuring that all features and updates are fully compatible.
Connecting your Shopify seller account to Linnworks is straightforward and made possible through their API.
Key features of the integration
1. Inventory management:
- Inventory updates: Linnworks automatically updates stock level changes on Shopify, ensuring real-time accuracy.
- Inventory mapping: Linnworks allows for channel listings on Shopify to be linked with inventory items for real-time stock and price updates.
- Price change: Linnworks automatically adjusts prices on Shopify listings, ensuring uniformity across channels or allowing for channel-specific pricing.
2. Order processing:
- Order download: Shopify orders are automatically downloaded into Linnworks, creating a centralized order management system.
- Order cancellation and refunds: Linnworks facilitates order cancellations and refunds directly on Shopify.
- Order dispatch: Once orders are processed, Linnworks marks them as shipped on Shopify and provides tracking numbers and shipping service details.
3. Streamlined operations:
- Listing management: Create, update, and extract listings on Shopify directly via Linnworks.
- Location mapping: Specific locations can be set for order downloads and inventory updates.
- Payment mapping: Payment methods on Shopify can be linked to corresponding methods in Linnworks, ensuring a consistent representation across platforms.
4. Shipping and fulfillment:
- Faster shipping: Linnworks uses predefined criteria to choose the best carrier and fulfillment partner for Shopify orders.
- Shipping mapping: Linnworks allows for rule-based assignments of shipping methods, ensuring the best possible fulfillment route for each order.
5. Insights and analytics:
- Monitor your Shopify sales alongside other channels, providing a holistic view of your business’s performance.
The integration of Shopify and Linnworks ensures that e-commerce businesses can operate more efficiently with automated systems that reduce manual intervention and minimize errors.
This collaboration empowers businesses to optimize their Shopify sales while maintaining harmony with other selling channels.
For a deep dive into the potential of this integration and to understand how it can revolutionize your e-commerce strategy, consider exploring more about Linnworks’ integrations.
Final thoughts on Shopify vs Squarespace for your eCommerce online store
Both Shopify and Squarespace offer so much for eCommerce sellers that it’s easy to feel a bit spoiled. There’s never been an easier time to break into the eCommerce space (and even compete with multi-million dollar businesses) – so long as you have an excellent product and a compelling story to tell.
If you’re an eCommerce seller looking to spin up a store quickly, building a Shopify site is probably your best bet. It’s built for eCommerce sellers and has a massive app store for extendibility. But honestly, you can’t go wrong with either.
The one thing you’ll want to get on top of ASAP is your inventory management. Don’t go in without a plan for fulfilling orders. Otherwise, you’ll have an awesome eCommerce platform with a bunch of unhappy customers (not very useful).
Thanks for reading, and good luck!