Shopify and Squarespace are one of the most popular platforms on the internet. Shopify is oriented towards eCommerce and serves more than 1 million online stores in 175 countries. On the other hand, Squarespace is one of the most popular blogging platforms and serves more than 2 million websites, most of them being blogs.

Both platforms are easy to use and have beautiful themes. Shopify vs Squarespace – which one is better for eCommerce? Let’s find out in this brief, but detailed review!

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Pricing

Shopify plans start from 29$ to 299$ per month. The main difference in Shopify plans is that the more expensive plans give you better rates for accepting payments through online payment systems, credit cards, and debit cards. Other benefits include:

  • Better shipping rates from fulfillment centers such as DHL, TNT, and USPS.
  • More staff accounts for managing your online shop.
  • Premium plans allow you up to 15 administrative staff accounts, with unlimited accounts for enterprise packages.
  • More detailed reports and abandoned cart recovery functionality for all plans.

On matters of price, Squarespace has two plans for eCommerce 30$ and 46$ per month. The more expensive plan offers you advanced shipping rates and discounts, abandoned cart recovery, and the ability to sell a subscription to your clients.

Accepting payments

Shopify offers its system for accepting payments, which is called Shopify Payments. You just have to input your business info and you are good to go – all major payment methods are included. The pricing of Shopify Payments starts from 2.4$ + 0,30$ to 2.9$ +0,30 – depending on your Shopify plan.

Sadly, not all countries* can use these features. If it happens that you are located in a country that is not listed for Shopify payments, you can use Paypal or other credit card services like Stripe, 2checkout, or Authorize.net. However, these are more expensive because Shopify takes a fee if you are using these payment providers – from 0.5% to 2%. The rates also depend on the Shopify plan you are on.

*Countries that can use Shopify payments: Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong SAR China, Ireland, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States.

Squarespace doesn’t have its own payment system but does offer 0% fees with basic and advance Commerce plans. You can use Stripe, Paypal, or Apple Pay.

Both platforms offer secure payment on your online shop checkout. However, Shopify goes one step further and adds additional Fraud Analysis, which is very useful for security purposes.

Shipping options

Shopify lets you connect your online shop with fulfillment centers in the USA (USPS, UPS, DHL), Canada (Canada Post), and Australia (Sendle). With these couriers, you will receive shipping discounts from 64 to 74% depending on your Shopify plan. You will also be able to print labels directly from your Shopify admin, show calculated shipping rates for your buyers. In other countries, as well as create shipping options manually or check if your courier has a Shopify app.

Squarespace offers automatic real-time rates calculation with USPS, FedEx, and UPS only with an Advanced Commerce plan. It offers advanced shipping options only with an Advanced Commerce plan in which you can automatically calculate real-time rates for USPS, FedEx, and UPS. And if you want to use the fulfillment center, you can connect it to ShipStation which manages shipping logistics for your business. However, this is a skill for the more advanced Squarespace users. With the Basic Squarespace plan, you can create shipping options manually and charge them by product weight, flat rate, and compare against the free shipping option.

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Themes

Shopify offers 9 free themes and an additional 64 premium themes for a one-off price of between $160 and $180. Themes come with features such as mobile-friendly design, drop-down navigation, free stock photos by Burst, social media icons, and free lifetime updates. You can also choose professionally designed themes on OutOfTheSandbox ($180-$450) and Pixel Union ($100-$280). Read more about Shopify themes.
Squarespace templates are easier to customize and you have more freedom, but it has only 8 free themes ready for eCommerce. You can use other +60 beautiful Squarespace templates and adapt it to commerce, but it’s for more advanced users. All templates are mobile-friendly, have lifetime support, and have integrated Unsplash and Getty images. Other professional template creators, which costs from 29$ to 299$: Big Cat Creative, GhostPlugins, GoLiveHQ, SquareMuse, SquareStylist, SquareStudio, and Station Seven.

Design Philosophy

Squarespace is more concerned about how your website looks and responds than Shopify, at least at face value. For example, the text editor from Squarespace allows you to move content blocks around and edit them at will, allowing you to create incredibly intuitive pages. This makes it great for static pages such as blogs, product description pages, others like this.

Shopify is more of a back-office, operations kind of platform. It handles product inventory, shipping, taxation, invoicing, customer management, and other similar processes extremely well. However, it is a pain to use it for the UX/UI part of the page. For instance, using it to add an About Us page is a long frustrating process with misbehaving text blocks, unfriendly text editors, and many other challenges.

The other way in which this difference s design philosophy comes to light is in how Squarespace handles product images. It lets you select an aspect ratio that is applied to all images, using which the system crops all the images you upload. You can also specify a point of emphasis for each image that you want emphasizing, whereas the rest of it becomes a background to give it more focus.

Shopify has none such advanced features unless you use inferior third-party solutions. You will need to manually edit, crop, and resize all images singly. Otherwise, the size looks disorganized, cramped, or plain unprofessional.

SEO Optimization

Off-page SEO depends much upon platforms such as Shopify and Squarespace. Looking into them both, there seem to be significant issues with both when it comes to SEO.

Squarespace pages tend to lag on loading times, while Shopify pages load up much faster.
Squarespace has a tool that allows you to optimize URLs for products and pages, while Shopify does the same but leaves the final thing wanting.
Shopify is handy with handling redirects, giving you a 301 redirect option any time you change a URL. With Squarespace, you have to create the 301 manually, which is a bit more complicated.
Squarespace has simplified the process of adding SEO titles, descriptions, and tags although adding alt text is still challenging.
Both add prefixes like “blog” and “product” to the URL, which Google isn’t a big fan of. However, Squarespace is a little more flexible in the URL section.

Overall, Shopify trumps Squarespace in the SEO sector, albeit by a slight margin. Both platforms still have a lot of work to do to become better.

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Apps/Extension

Shopify has its own App store in which you can find more than 4000 apps for all your needs. Most of them are paid, but you will find plugins for any solution you can think of. If not, you can always hire a Shopify expert to build one for you from scratch.

Squarespace has 22 extensions in 4 categories: Shipping and Fulfilment, Finance, Inventory & Products, and Sales & Marketing. You can find some extensions developers like SF Digital and SQSPthemes but you can’t compare it to the number of Apps on Shopify.

Before starting an online store and deciding about a platform, go through the Shopify app store and explore available (and most popular) apps. You will get the view of what options are available and if you really need it.

Dropshipping

Shopify is a really perfect platform for dropshipping. Oberlo, Spocket, Printful, and a dozen other apps will synchronize your online store with product suppliers.

Squarespace is not so adaptive with dropshipping, but you can still find some extensions like Artofwork, Ordoro, or Printful.

Versatility

If you’re looking for a versatile platform that allows you to expand your sales to others such as Instagram and Facebook, Shopify is the clear winner. Thanks to the Shopify Button, buyers can simply click to buy your items no matter where they come across the Button, with full integration and compatibility with the major sites.

The way it works is that, for example, if you have bloggers promoting your products, you can give them a Product Card complete with the Shopify Button. It adds the product directly to their cart, and will potentially draw them back to your site as well. Squarespace has nothing remotely similar to now.

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Taxes

When we talk taxes, Shopify basically takes the cake. This is especially true for sites based in the US or Canada, where it offers automatic, accurate tax calculations making it super easy even for big eCommerce sites.

In the EU, however, you need to set up VAT MOSS rules manually. Shopify still makes it much easier to do this. Squarespace tax set up is manual and quite easily more complicated.

Product Types and Limits

Something else that gives Shopify a clear edge over Squarespace is the maximum size of the product you can sell. The current file limit is 5GB, compared to 300MB for Squarespace. However, both sites do let you sell physical goods, digital goods, and subscriptions.

On the other hand, Squarespace has an upper hand with its out-of-the-box subscription model. This built-in feature is for physical goods only. For software product subscriptions, you will need a third-party solution. With Shopify, third-party solutions are necessary with all kinds of subscription models.

Multilanguage

If you need a Shopify store in more than one language, you will have to use an app. The most popular apps are Weglot (free for 2000 words translated, costs $9.90 monthly for up to 10,000 words.), Langify (from $17.50/mo), and automatic Google Translate “GTranslate”, which is free, but not recommended. These apps will help you translate all the content including themes or most apps.

Squarespace offers a free solution for translating your site, but it’s very complicated because you will need some understanding and experience of coding. You will also have to compromise user experience while at it. The best solution for Squarespace translation is the Weglot extension, which works equally well on both platforms.

Summary

If you still haven’t made up your mind on both Shopify and Squarespace, perhaps a bird’s eye view will help to clarify matters.

Shopify Pros and Cons

✓ Designed specifically for eCommerce sites with plenty of business performance including taxation, inventory control, and many others.
✓ Excellent, live customer support.
✓ Shopify has a vast online community where ideas, solutions, and support can be had at any time.
✓ It allows you to integrate offline sales options with the Shopify POS. You can also set up a Shopify Button to put up on any site where customers just need to click to buy.
✓ Free and premium templates available, as well as a wide range of add-ons and extensions to handle all kinds of customization and upgrade options.
✓ It offers better site security options, thanks to a system that continuously checks for fraud.

✗ Transactions fees are quite hefty for Shopify Basic users. However, those on Premium and using Shopify Payments get very good rates.
✗ It involves a slight learning curve to get used to. It will take a lot of work to organize and set up your site.

Squarespace Pros and Cons

✓ It results in beautiful websites with intuitive responses and features.
✓ Using it, even as a complete beginner, is very easy.
✓ It comes with an analytics system to help you get performance statistics.
✓ If your business model is produce-on-demand, Squarespace is excellent.
✓ It is perfect for blogging.
✓ If you are just starting, the pricing is very affordable.

✗ It has no app store to help extend site functionality.
✗ It doesn’t have as many selling options; not very versatile.
✗ Payment options are also limited.

Conclusion

For eCommerce, Shopify is the clear winner, but you have to weigh all pros and cons. What are your goals? Where do you see your online store in two years? What additional features will you need if your business will grow? If you have a niche blog and you want to additionally sell few products in your local market – Squarespace is the platform for you.

Choose Shopify if you are thinking seriously about large-scale eCommerce. It is easier to work with a platform that is focused on one thing – making sales for you. There is a big difference in themes, apps/extensions variety. If you build your eCommerce store with the idea of selling it some time, consider that Shopify has its own Exchange marketplace, which is very popular.

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