Shopify vs Squarespace: Comparing The eCommerce Leaders


Fiona O’Connell


2019 August 2nd

Shopify vs Squarespace

If you're in the process of opening an online store, one dilemma might come up a lot - Shopify vs Squarespace? These two Titans are the most popular eCommerce choices for beginners and professionals. So we decided to put both of them to the test.

And although they have their differences, it can be genuinely difficult to choose between the two. Especially when they both offer really good deals.

So let's see which one is better for your store.

What is Shopify?

Shopify is one of the biggest eCommerce platforms in the world. It offers all-in-one services, including a website builder, web hosting, storage tracking and management, and POS (point of sale). There's also a possibility to connect Shopify with any hosting provider if you wish.

Shopify vs Squarespace: Shopify homepage

Shopify has both the experience and loads of customer input to ensure that its platform is optimized for online businesses.

Users can choose from over 70 professionally-designed theme layouts that work as well on mobile devices as they do on computers.

Shopify is a safe option. It will ensure that the impression left on customers is one of professionalism, reliability, and credibility.

What is Squarespace?

Squarespace is a website builder and hosting provider. It allows you to create any type of blog, shop or business online. It focuses on easy user experience and award-winning themes, that allow you to breathe life into your website.

Lately, they jumped on an eCommerce train and introduced features for creating online stores.

Shopify vs Squarespace: Squarespace homepage

Now, Squarespace offers many eCommerce tools for payment, shipping, and tax automation, storage tracking, and marketing. Also, Squarespace does not pose any limits to the number of products you want to sell.

Still, many people see Squarespace as a platform used to create mostly blogs and business websites. Although I personally can see how these features can be used for the advantage of an online store.

Shopify vs Squarespace: Too Different to Compare?

While Shopify and Squarespace are fairly different, both can be used to create a fully functional online store. The question is, which one offers better services for your specific needs.

So, let's compare their features, pricing, fees, tools, and performance.

Shopify vs Squarespace - Price

While Squarespace looks like a cheaper option starting at $18/month, Shopify offers many more tools and discounts for $29/month. And all the advanced features in Shopify will cost $299/month and in Squarespace $40/month. Oh, and of course each provider has its own fees.

Squarespace has 2 other plans designed for online stores specifically. Basic plan costs $26/month and includes powerful commerce metrics to track your success, inventory, orders, and taxes automation and management system, possibility to add coupons, and Xero accounting app. You can always upgrade to Advanced plan if you need more features.

Shopify vs Squarespace: Squarespace pricing

Squarespace immediately gets an additional point, as with the Business Squarespace plan, you can create unlimited accounts for staff. In the meantime, the Basic Shopify plan will limit you to 2 staff accounts.

Recommended Shopify plan costs $79/month and includes 5 staff accounts, big discount for shipping, discount code integration, automation for payments, inventory tracking, and shipping. Most importantly, it includes a POS system that you can integrate with your physical location.

Shopify vs Squarespace: Shopify pricing

All in all, if you don't need a POS system, Squarespace is cheaper, but considering the fact of how pricey POS systems are, Shopify plan is a better option, as POS is already included.

But that's just what you pay upfront, what about the overall cost and fees of running a online store? Both providers deal with this issue differently.

Squarespace is straightforward with this dilemma. If you use the Business plan, you will pay 3% of every transaction your customer makes, and both Commerce plans have a nice 0%. Meaning that with a $30 plan, you can set up your store and forget about the transaction fees.

Meanwhile, Shopify is a bit of a mess. Transactions fees will be applied no matter what plan you choose, even the $299 one. The fee starts at 2% and can get as low as 0.5% with the most expensive plan. But, these transaction fees only apply to Third-party payment methods (Amazon Pay, Paysafe, etc.).

If you use its own system - Shopify Payments - you won't have to pay any fees, the same could be said about manual payments (bank, external credit, cash on delivery). But the problem is that Shopify Payments are only available in 13 countries around the world, if your store is somewhere else, though luck.

Here are the tables to compare the transaction fees of different plans from the two providers:

Shopify Fees

Basic Shopify Shopify Advanced Shopify
Credit card rates 2.9% + 30¢ 2.6% + 30¢ 2.4% + 30¢
Transaction fees 2.0% 1.0% 0.5%

Squarespace fees

Business Basic Commerce Advanced
PayPal or Stripe rates ≈ 2.9% + 30¢ ≈ 2.9% + 30¢ ≈ 2.9% + 30¢
Transaction fees 3.0% 0% 0%

So, there's one important thing to remember.

Before picking a plan, consider how much you're planning to sell - because the fees may inflate the price by quite a bit.

Shopify vs Squarespace - eCommerce Features

Though Squarespace is offering enough features to build a fully functional online store, Shopify definitely has more. Shopify has every tool that you would need in order to start selling online. While Squarespace is still lacking some important tools.

Everything Squarespace can offer - Shopify can match. And it has some more on top.

Here are all the features Shopify has - and Squarespace doesn't:

  • POS system to easily merge your online business with physical one (you can take orders, accept payments, manage storage and products).
  • 100 payment gateways including Skrill, Amazon Pay, and Paypal (Squarespace only has around 3 options).
  • Full dropshipping integration.
  • Over 1,400 top-notch apps designed to improve the functionality of your site.
Shopify vs Squarespace: POS features

No wonder why Shopify wins this one - it's designed for eCommerce and eCommerce only. At the same time, Squarespace is just getting started with online stores and has pretty great features already. And for most users, this may be just about enough.

Shopify has many more features than Squarespace - but Squarespace's simplicity may be a good thing for beginner users.

Shopify vs Squarespace - Design And Customization Options

Currently, Shopify offers 73 professional templates designed for eCommerce. However, the best Squarespace templates absolutely win when it comes to design. 10 of the Squarespace designs are made specifically for online stores and can be customized. But you can use any of the other templates to build your shop on. And they actually look really good.

Shopify vs Squarespace: Squarespace themes

All of the Squarespace designs are responsive as well, meaning, they will look good on any device. They have built-in features like Image SEO, meaning a bunch of high-quality images won't slow down the website loading times.

The downside - Squarespace does not have drag-and-drop editor to easily customize themes. So if you don't wish to have a website too similar to other Squarespace users, you may need to edit CSS to make the site truly yours.

Shopify themes are also responsive and can be easily customized through the user-friendly website builder.

Shopify vs Squarespace: Shopify themes

And while both providers offer a wide variety in different themes, both allow different controls for the user when it comes to CSS and overall coding. You probably think that you won't need that, that existing themes are more than enough, but it's important to look out for the future.

After a while, when your shop has grown, it would be nice to add some uniqueness to your store and your brand.

Squarespace allows you to edit CSS and some HTML of your site. And if you want to add JavaScript code, it's only available in business and commerce plans.

Shopify vs Squarespace: Squarespace custom CSS

Shopify, in this situation, offers much more freedom, you can edit CSS, HTML and JavaScript parts of your theme.

One thing to note here is that Shopify uses its own coding language called Liquid, so in this situation knowing JavaScript will not be enough.

Shopify vs Squarespace - Support And Tools

Both of these providers have decent customer support options, video tutorials, forums, and documentation. But the clear winner here is Shopify, being an eCommerce focused provider it helps you out from the beginning to the end.

Squarespace offers a solid 24/7 Email support, 4 am to 8 pm Eastern time chat support, and support by Twitter. But Shopify has all of that and adds a 24/7 phone support in 4 countries, and don't worry if you're located outside the US - you still can make the call to selected numbers.

Setting up a store and selling something is just part of the process, what about logos, packaging, email marketing, google ads, product photography... all of this might sound scary, but Shopify has you covered. Shopify Academy is a free learning platform, where you can watch courses on how to use Shopify, Google Ads and basically everything that has to with opening and operating an online shop.

Shopify vs Squarespace: Shopify Academy

Another point that I have to give to Shopify is their free tools. If you don't want to search the internet for reliable tools, Shopify has all the tools you will need for your store. And all of these tools are free, even if you don't host a website.

Shopify vs Squarespace: Shopify tools

For example, if you don't have the skills to create a great logo or slogan for your store, you can use Shopify tools to help you out on your business journey.

Overall, both Shopify and Squarespace have plenty of tools. But Shopify does a step further, offering ways for you to improve as a professional.

Shopify vs Squarespace - Performance

Squarespace server response times are excellent. The American and British servers are reached in less than 100ms - that's lower than Google's recommended 200ms mark for online businesses.

The results in other parts of the world are very good, too.

Shopify vs Squarespace: Squarespace response times

Shopify is a bit slower. The US and UK, however, were just as good. But in Japan, Shopify simply wasn't good enough.

Shopify vs Squarespace: shopify response times

However, Shopify can be proud of its uptime. During more than 2 months of testing, they did not have any downtimes. For such a major platform with huge infrastructure, it is quite surprising.

Shopify vs Squarespace: Shopify uptime

Squarespace, on the other hand, had a few downtimes in the last 90 days.

Shopify vs Squarespace: Squarespace uptime

All in all, both Squarespace and Shopify offer reliable hosting that is better than average. But Shopify does a bit worse in the Far East, and Squarespace has more downtime issues.

Shopify vs Squarespace: Conclusion

Shopify is designed for eCommerce, and that makes it a more suitable platform than Squarespace. While Squarespace is still a great choice, powerful features, ease of use, and many payment options make Shopify best for online stores.

However, Squarespace is not far behind and might, just might overrun Shopify one day. It's a beautiful and more affordable eCommerce option, that beginners will absolutely love.

So before you dive into Shopify, I would say, consider this when choosing between the two:

  • Shopify is a pretty pricey option if you are launching a small eCommerce store. Yet, it's a perfect choice for established businesses having a physical location.
  • Squarespace is an option that will not limit you and perfect for those who are just getting started. Also, your business will definitely benefit from breathtaking designs.

I hope this was helpful. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section down below!

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User comments

Janet picture

2018 August 6th

Thanks for this helpful overview. I'm an SEO specialist and can share a few things...SquareSpace is a PITA (pain in the derriere) because it has flaws that the company is... Read more

Thanks for this helpful overview. I'm an SEO specialist and can share a few things...SquareSpace is a PITA (pain in the derriere) because it has flaws that the company is aware of but chooses not to fix, such as creating two URLs for most pages, one with and one without a trailing slash (/). Both URLs appear in the website I said, a PITA! More importantly, SquareSpace does not automatically add schema, which is code that the search engines like to use to understand the details about a product. Shopify adds schema automatically. That's worth $ you don't have to spend trying to figure out how to add it yourself (or paying a developer) to add it. Schema code isn't easy to understand so it's easy to mess up. For search engine visibility, Shopify beats SquareSpace hands down.