Squarespace vs. Shopify

Looking for ecommerce software? Here's how Squarespace and Shopify stack up.

Daniel Adams
Matthew Taylor

Daniel Adams and Matthew Taylor

Last updated 19o August 2020


Squarespace

4.5  Stackupp rating


Pricing from

$ 16.00 / month

Free Plan?

Trial


Best for

It’s best for small and medium retailers that don’t need extensive support for different languages and access to a large integration and extension library.

Shopify

4.8  Stackupp rating


Pricing from

$ 29.00 / month

Free Plan?

Trial


Best for

Small and medium-sized retailers that need a fully-hosted solution that’s easy to customize.

Squarespace or Shopify: Which is best?

Can't decide between Squarespace and Shopify?

Find the best platform for you with our side by side comparison of Squarespace and Shopify. See how each platform stacks up across ease of use, design, support and value for money.

Let the comparison begin. Don't worry, we'll guide you.

Is Squarespace right for you?

Squarespace Commerce is an excellent choice for retailers that want to create and manage a stylish store. The platform is easy-to-use, includes a wide selection of features, and allows for unlimited products.

Squarespace Commerce is the “cool kid” of site-builder ecommerce platforms. Users have access to a powerful set of features - including unlimited bandwidth and storage, analytics, and POS - along with a library of sleek, professional templates.

It’s a fully-hosted solution, so you won’t have to take care of any backend tasks.

But while we like Squarespace Commerce, it’s not perfect. The editor does take a little getting used to. What’s more, the number of integrations on offer is a little limited.

Advantages

  • Easy-to-use site builder and management dashboard.
  • Stylish and professional themes
  • Unlimited products

Drawbacks

  • Promotion features only available on top plan.
  • Small number of themes.
  • Number of integrations is limited.

Use Squarespace Commerce if you’re looking for a platform that combines ease-of-use with the option to take advantage of more advanced features like POS, discounts and promotions, and theme editing.

Is Shopify right for you?

With over one million users, Shopify is one of the most popular hosted ecommerce platforms on the market.

Shopify has gained a reputation for being extremely beginner-friendly, allowing retailers with no coding or development experience to build and manage a professional store with unlimited products.

If you’re looking for a solution that’s ready-to-go, easy to set up, and isn’t going to cost you an arm and a leg, then Shopify could be the way to go.

Notably, Shopify offers features as part of its basic package, like multi-channel selling, that are often only available on higher-level plans on competing platforms.

Advantages

  • Fully hosted platform that’s easy to set up and manage.
  • Well-designed templates.
  • Extensive feature set on all plans.

Drawbacks

  • Difficult to make backend code changes.
  • Extra costs for using third-party payment gateways (instead of Shopify payments).
  • Reports not available on the lowest-priced plan.

Use Shopify if you’re just getting started or are transitioning your small or medium-sized store to a new ecommerce platform.

Ease of Use

Our first comparison criteria, ease of use. Why? Because it’s the most important.

Think about it. You don’t want to invest a lot of your precious time setting up an online store and tweaking the design only to find out that it’s a pain in the butt to manage day to day.

We take a look at how simple the Squarespace and Shopify platforms are to run.

How easy is Squarespace to use?

Rated 4.5/5 for Ease of Use

While the site-builder is very easy to use, it does take a little getting used to. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the basics, however, you’ll have no trouble changing everything from your logo to your color scheme.

The management dashboard, from where users manage listings, orders, and analytics, is intuitive and easy to navigate.

What Squarespace customers are saying...

Beautiful template designs, user-friendly features, website is loading well. Very well coded and developed.
Easy to use, hugely customizable, great templates.
I love Squarespace. I have built my entire business on Squarespace, to annual revenues of over 500K.

How easy is Shopify to use?

Rated 5/5 for Ease of Use

Ease of use is one of the areas where Shopify really shines. All users have access to a website builder and intuitive content management system. Adding products is a doddle. And all orders are managed from an automatable fulfillment dashboard (which connects with popular fulfillment solutions). SEO and mobile responsiveness are both taken care of.

What Shopify customers are saying...

“I have built two websites using Shopify and it was a great experience. They have someone available all the time if you run into problems. I’m not a web designer and I was able to figure it out without any lengthy tutorials.”
“I've had a great experience with this platform and I highly recommend it!”
“I honestly don't know why there are so many bad reviews about Shopify. It is an absolutely amazing platform with an even better support team. I think people need to stop being so negative as there is nothing more you can ask from them.”

Shopify is our winner for ease of use

Design

Powerful features are great, but we all know first impressions count. So, do Squarespace and Shopify templates actually look any good? See for yourself. We outline each platforms design options, plus showcase a few real life examples.

How good are Squarespace's themes?

Rated 4.5/5 for Design

Squarespace Commerce strikes a rare balance for an ecommerce website builder by combining intuitive, accessible customization tools with the option to make more advanced code changes.

Because the site-builder has a lot of options, it does require a little familiarization. But once users have overcome that initial hurdle, an array of customization opportunities open up.

The only downside is that, while the templates are beautifully-designed and mobile-optimized, only ten are offered. If you’re thinking about opting for Squarespace, check that one of the themes meets your needs before signing up to a paid plan. There’s a free trial, so you can take the platform for a test-drive first.

Squarespace Examples

  • 2 HR SET
    2 HR SET
Item 1 of 3

How good are Shopify's themes?

Rated 4/5 for Design

There’s no doubt that Shopify offers some of the most beautifully-designed templates on the market. There are over seventy templates to choose from. The downside, however, is that most themes cost around $180. At the time of writing, Shopify offers eight free themes.

The design features in the website builder are intuitive and suitable for people with no coding background. Making tweaks to colors, buttons, images etc. is a doddle. What’s more, it’s possible to make straightforward CSS and HTML additions.

The main difficulty arises when it comes to making “deeper” backend changes. Accessing and amending the Shopify backend requires specialized knowledge which many retailers don’t have.

Shopify Examples

  • Haus London
    Haus London
Item 1 of 3

Squarespace is our winner for design

How much do they cost?

Everyone’s favourite topic - pricing. Let's dive in to see if Squarespace or Shopify offers better value for money.

How much does Squarespace cost?

Rated 4.5/5 for Pricing

All in all, Squarespace offers excellent value for money. The feature-set is extremely robust and includes unlimited products, multi-channel management (through the “Shopping Feed” integration), POS, abandoned cart emails, customer accounts, and more. It’s also possible to sell digital products and subscription services.

The only area where Squarespace falls is the limited add-on library. Compared to a solution like Shopify, Squarespace doesn’t offer smaller, less obvious features like countdown timers or personalized promotions.

To take advantage of all the features, you’ll need to sign up for the “Advanced” plan, but smaller retailers will get by happily on the “Basic” plan. The “Business” plan offers a limited feature-set and is designed for webmasters that want to sell a small number of products.

How much does Shopify cost?

Rated 5/5 for Pricing

Shopify offers great value for money. The basic package comes with a fantastic array of features, including unlimited product listings, 24/7 support, discount codes, and abandoned cart email automation. There are no set-up fees, and you can take advantage of a 14-day free trial. You’ll also get a discount when you pay for an annual plan.

The main downside to Shopify is that you’ll be charged additional fees for using any payment gateway other than Shopify Payments. While Shopify allows for a range of gateway integrations (including popular services like Paypal), it’s important to account for these extra charges before signing up.

Shopify is our winner for cost

Help and Support

If things go wrong (and they often do) you need to know someone’s there to help get you back on track. So, how does Squarespace's and Shopify's support measure up?

How good is Squarespace support?

Rated 4.5/5 for Help and Support

The support package offered by Squarespace is excellent and users generally report high levels of customer satisfaction.

Customer support is available 24/7 via email and on Twitter. Live chat is available between 4 AM and 8 PM on weekdays.

Because Squarespace is a well-known and popular site-builder, a large community of users are active on the forums, which is another bonus.

How good is Shopify support?

Rated 5/5 for Help and Support

All Shopify plans come with 24/7 email, phone, and live chat support. Customer reviews are generally favorable when describing the quality of support. 24/7 email support is also offered in a variety of other languages. Shopify has one of the most active communities of users, and the forums are an excellent place to ask for help.

Shopify is our winner for support

The Bottom Line

The final say. Let's wrap up our thoughts on each platform.

Squarespace: Our Verdict

Squarespace is a popular ecommerce platform and site-builder with a loyal band of users. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use solution with a comprehensive and powerful set of features, then take advantage of the free trial and give it a test-drive.

One of the best aspects of Squarespace is its applicability to retailers with a range of coding abilities. Non-developers can take advantage of the feature-rich site-builder (which is easy to navigate one you’re familiar with all the options) and build a highly-customized site. Developers, on the other hand, can customize and alter a site’s code extensively using the “Developer Mode”.

So what about the downsides? While we’re big fans of Squarespace, it’s not all sunshine and roses. Although the feature-set is excellent - covering omnichannel listings, customer accounts, POS, promotion features, and email marketing - the integration library is a little sparse. Without coding experience, retailers will find it difficult to add smaller features, like countdown timers or personalization, without advanced coding abilities. If you want access to a large add-on library, a solution like Shopify might be preferable. Furthermore, while the themes on offer are superb, there’s only ten of them.

Shopify: Our Verdict

Shopify is a model ecommerce platform - a fully-hosted, feature-rich retail solution at a reasonable price. Among the standout points are the intuitive site builder and content management system, the quality of the templates, and the complete package of features included even in the basic package.

A highly active online community, along with 24/7 support, makes it an ideal option for small and medium-sized stores that don’t have the resources to manage everything themselves.

It’s also notable that Shopify includes omnichannel selling (for social media and Amazon), discount codes, and a free SSL certificate as part of its value proposition. Retailers also have access to shipping discounts when using Spotify Shipping.

Here are two points before wrapping up. If you’re thinking of giving Shopify a test-drive, be careful to check the costs of using third-party gateways. Also, ensure you’re able to make backend changes if that’s something you need to do.

Overall, we found Shopify to be the better ecommerce platform.

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