Shopify vs Squarespace – Who’s #1?
Chances are, if you’re reading this page then you’re thinking about building an ecommerce store—and you’re probably comparing Shopify vs Squarespace.
While both platforms are awesome and do really cool things, they also both have different strengths and weaknesses—and it’s important to understand what these are so you can make a good, informed decision about which one is right for you.
You may have seen other pages on other websites that compare Shopify and Squarespace. But honestly, most of those pages are just trying to push people into whatever tool is paying the most in commissions at that point, with is pretty sketchy if you ask us! Yes, if you buy one of the tools from a link on our page we might earn a tiny commission, but we’re upfront about that and hate biased reviews.
At Instructify, our goal is to help teach people how to build the best websites possible—not earn commissions off of shady reviews—so you can jump into our guide on Shopify vs Squarespace and feel good knowing the information here is unbiased, accurate, and honest—so let’s get started!
Comparing Shopify and Squarespace: What Are Your Needs?
This is really the first and most important question to ask when it comes to determining which sitebuilder is right for you.
So…what are your needs, really? Do you want to build an ecommerce store to sell a physical product, or are you just looking to build a personal blog? There’s a huge difference between Shopify and Squarespace when it comes to what they’re good at, although there’s a lot of overlap too.
When Squarespace was originally created, it was designed to be a website builder, but not an ecommerce store builder—this is important.
Shopify, as the name suggests, was created from the ground up to be an ecommerce platform and is therefore a bit more robust (and cheaper) when it comes to ecommerce sitebuilders. Think of it like this—sure, you can race a family sedan—in fact, there are some family sedans that are pretty fast, but they’re not going to perform the same way as a purpose-built racecar, right? Well, Shopify is that racecar.
Using the same analogy, sometimes you just want a family sedan, right? If you just want a beautiful website or blog, but don’t really care about the ecommerce side as much, you’re probably better off with Squarespace as their templates are top-quality and a little bit more geared toward personal websites.
But what if you want a personal website with a small section where you sell a few things? Honestly, you don’t need a sitebuilder for that…your best option would be WordPress with an ecommerce plugin for the pages you want to sell something on. That said, if you had to pick from Shopify or Squarespace in that situation, you’d probably want to lean toward Squarespace.
Think of it this way: Shopify is the racecar for ecommerce—it’s built to do one thing—ecommerce, and it does it very well. Squarespace is more like the fast family sedan—it’s more geared to a personal website, but it can do ecommerce. With that said, let’s look at some of the strengths and weaknesses of each one.
Squarespace vs Shopify: What Shopify Does Best
As mentioned above, Shopify really does one thing and does it well—ecommerce. They don’t really have templates that would work for a personal website and they don’t really care about that. Through and through, they’re an ecommerce website building platform and those are the people they serve. You can tell this just by looking at their feature set, which includes things like:
- A completely customizable store and website with many different templates
- Unlimited bandwidth, product inventory options, and customer data
- The ability to sell on places like Amazon and Pinterest
- The ability to accept credit cards using their payment system (Shopify Payments)
- Discounted shipping rates with their own shipping program (Shopify Shipping)
- 24/7 support with an excellent reputation
Just looking at a few bullet points with their feature sets, it’s pretty easy to see that Shopify basically has everything that you need to set up and run an ecommerce store. Yes, they do allow the option of setting up a blog on the site, but the main focus of the site is an ecommerce store. This means that if you’re not looking to host an ecommerce website—you should most likely avoid Shopify, but it you are, it’s the way to go.
As you can see from the screenshot below, Shopify is really product-focused. If you’ve got products to sell, they make it extremely easy to add them and get a store up and running:
Shopify vs Squarespace: What Squarespace Does Best
When it comes to building a beautiful website with not a lot of coding expertise, it’s pretty hard to beat Squarespace. Yes, there are things like WordPress and other self-hosted options, but these are typically for people who either:
- Have experience with technical things like running a web server or coding HTML
- Have the desire to learn
This is important because it’s good to understand what you’re getting into, and the level of technical expertise that may be required from you. With a self-hosted site (which in our opinion is usually the best way to go), you’re going to have to do a bit more, and be willing to learn more. This isn’t for everyone, and that’s why sitebuilders have become so popular; you can build a site like you’re creating a Word document, and be on your way. They’re easy for people to understand, and to use, and Squarespace represents the pinnacle of sitebuilders.
So, if you’re looking for your own site and don’t want ecommerce, and don’t want to learn much HTML, coding, or mess with hosting, then Squarespace is the way to go. Again, this is mainly because they have beautiful website templates and don’t require much technical knowledge, but because they specialize in these things, their ecommerce offerings are a bit lacking when compared to Shopify.
If you look at the screenshot below, you can see that Squarespace is less ecommerce-focused. While online store templates are some of their most popular, they aren’t the powerhouse that Shopify is when it comes to creating ready-to-go ecommerce stores. Take a look at their main landing page:
The Battle of Pricing: How Shopify Compares to Squarespace
In most decisions, pricing is a big factor for people—especially if you’re trying to get started with a small ecommerce store and can’t spend hundreds of dollars a year on top-tier ecommerce hosting. For people who are looking for an economical way to host an ecommerce store without much fuss, Shopify is probably the best way with Squarespace providing a nice alternative.
In the table below, you can see how Shopify pricing stacks up:
|Features||Basic Shopify||Shopify||Advanced Shopify|
|Manual Order Creation|
|Free SSL Certificate|
|Advanced Report Builder||-||-|
|Third-Party Calculated Shipping Rates||-||-|
|Shipping Discount||Up to 64%||Up to 72%||Up to 74%|
|Online Credit Card Rates||2.9% + $0.30||2.6% + $0.30||2.4% + $0.30|
|In-Person Credit Card Rates||2.7%||2.5%||2.4%|
Essentially, Shopify has three plans:
- Basic – $29/mo
- Shopify – $79/mo
- Advanced – $299/mo
When it comes to the difference between packages, it really comes down to do gift cards and third-party shipping discounts, as well as reporting. Also, the better plan also has lower transaction fees for credit card processing, both online and in person.
If you’re just getting started, you’re probably ok with the Basic Shopify plan or the Shopify (middle) plan. Those are more than enough to get your feet wet and get started. However, if you’re an established ecommerce business and you’re looking to move platforms, then you may benefit more from the Advanced Shopify plan where you can get reports and other features that you may need from doing that kind of volume.
Similar to Shopify, Squarespace has pricing tiers for each plan, which are as follows:
- Personal – $12/mo
- Business – $18/mo
- Basic – $26/mo
- Advanced – $40/mo
You can see the pricing table for Squarespace along with their features here:
|Features||Personal Website||Business Website||Basic Store||Advanced Store|
|Unlimited Bandwidth and Storage|
|Free Domain with Annual Purchase|
|$100 AdWords Credit||-|
|Sell Unlimited Products + Donations||-|
|Announcement Bars + Premium Blocks||-|
|No Transaction Fee||-||3%|
|Inventory, Orders, Tax, Coupons||-||-|
|Checkout on Your Domain||-||-|
|Products on Instagram||-||-|
|Abandoned Cart Autorecovery||-||-||-|
|Gift Cards ||-||-||-|
The big takeaway here in terms of Shopify vs Squarespace pricing is that while Squarespace seems cheaper at first glance, Shopify gives you a lot more when it comes to building an ecommerce store. Again, if you’re really serious about ecommerce then Shopify is the way to go. If it’s just something that you want as an addon to a website where maybe you sell the occasional Etsy-style craft piece every now and then, you may want to consider Squarespace.
The great thing about both Squarespace and Shopify is that they come with a 14 day free trial, which means that you can test each one out for a considerable amount of time (half a month) and see if it makes sense for you and what you’re trying to accomplish.
Free trials are excellent because they not only allow you to test a system for free, but they also allow you to get a feel for the backend and the interface. When the comes to building a site, there’s a lot more to consider than just features and pricing—you need to see how it actually feels to use the interface. This is important because if you’re going to be spending a lot of time on a sitebuilder and working with it frequently, you want it to be something that’s easy to use and something where the user interface makes sense to you—and a free trial is a great way to test this out.
Alternatives to Shopify
Clearly, when looking at alternatives to Shopify, Squarespace is one of the top alternatives, and obviously the focus of this comparison. Pricing on the lower tiers is similar, and the feature set is similar, although Shopify is truly a more dedicate ecommerce solution. Common alternatives to Shopify are
- WooCommerce (WordPress)
BigCommerce and Squarespace are sitebuilders just like Shopify, but again, Shopify is still more or less the king of the hill here. BigCommerce pricing is very similar to Shopify, but at a slight discount and their network isn’t as robust in terms of offering some of the features, and Squarespace has obviously been covered in this comparison quite a bit.
WooCommerce is a little different because it requires you to host your own website and run WordPress as a CMS, however, when you run your own website you have complete control over everything and it can also be cheaper than Shopify or any of the site builders with just as many features. The downside is that there is more management and work that needs to be done—whether or not it’s worth it is up to you.
Alternatives to Squarespace
The biggest alternative to Squarespace in terms of an ecommerce solution is Shopify, and that’s really the best choice if you’re looking for an ecommerce sitebuilder. In this situation, BigCommerce and WordPress are also alternatives to Squarespace. If you’re looking for a pure sitebuilder and don’t care about the ecommerce aspect of it, then you may want to consider WordPress as a first choice, and then possibly Wix as an alternative sitebuilder just for building websites that aren’t focused on ecommerce.
Shopify and Squarespace Comparison Conclusion – Recommendations
When it comes to Shopify vs Squarespace, there are really two things to consider here: do you want an ecommerce-dedicated website, or do you want a normal website with a little bit of ecommerce?
If you want a website that is dedicated to ecommerce and full-on, online store—then you most likely want Shopify. As mentioned above, Shopify is a purpose-built machine and amazing at what it was created to do—allow people to build ecommerce stores fast and easily! In addition to that, Shopify gives you a variety of merchant tools that get better and better with their higher plan tiers, with their top plan allowing you to be able to run a complete ecommerce website with gift cards and other types of bells and whistles that even allow you to accept credit cards in person. So…
Best Option for People Who Want an E-Commerce Store: Shopify
It’s really not even close with Squarespace in this category. If you want the best of the best for ecommerce—Shopify is the way to go. Just looking at the objective facts, features, and their reputation—it’s hard to find a way to deny that Shopify is the #1 service in this category.
Best Option for People Who Want a Website with a Little Ecommerce Section, or No Ecommerce at All: Squarespace
When you want a website with a small ecommerce section of just a website, Squarespace is the way to go because they are a little bit cheaper and have templates that are designed to be regular websites without the ecommerce side of things.