More and more businesses are expanding their sales to the online marketplace. Two incredibly popular website builders available are Shopify and Squarespace. Each can be used to build easy-to-use, customizable eCommerce sites. Which one is right for creating your company's online store?
If you want to sell products under your own domain name, you need a high quality eCommerce website builder. Both Squarespace and Shopify provide templates for you to create and build an eCommerce-capable website. There are a few significant differences between the two services. Of these two site builders:
Shopify builds websites only for eCommerce transactions. Select from high quality templates to easily post products, organize categories, and offer a variety of payment portals to customers.
Squarespace has award-winning template designs to build regular and eCommerce websites. These sites are able to sell services as well as products if part of a Squarespace Commerce plan.
While both Shopify and Squarespace templates can be used to build eCommerce websites, there are several important distinctions in how they function. Learn the difference between Shopify and Squarespace sites to select the right one for your online store.
The first step to building an eCommerce website is establishing your budget. How much are you willing to pay for a domain and hosting? Will you pay more if it means more templates are available? And do you have to pay extra to include shopping carts and payment portals?
Squarespace has 4 different pricing plans which can be paid monthly or annually:
If you want eCommerce features on your website, you'll need to pick the Basic or Advanced Commerce plan. All plans include a custom domain for free, along with unlimited bandwidth and storage.
As another a subscription based service, Shopify also has 4 main plans:
All Shopify plans include eCommerce features like unlimited product listings, staff accounts, and sales channel compatibility with popular third-party marketplaces and social media outlets. The Advanced Shopify and Enterprise plans include report builders and third-party shipping calculators.
Winner: Tie, as Squarespace plans are cheaper on average but Shopify plans include more eCommerce features
Shopify and Squarespace both have templates you can customize for your personal site. There are customization options so you can make your site look like your own. The two site builders are very different in terms of design capabilities:
Squarespace has over 60 of award-winning templates with unique designs. The provided designs are easy to customize to avoid duplication. The templates are flexible and require no coding knowledge to edit. If you do know how to code, you can personalize your site even more. Overall, Squarespace sites tend to be heavy on visuals over text.
Shopify has only 10 free templates available, though more are available at an additional cost. These sites are customizable in terms of product images, content font, and basic branding. However, they are not as visually appealing as Squarespace sites since the focus is on promoting products, not design.
An easy-to-edit shopping cart, secure payment portal, and shipping rate calculator are just some of the basic eCommerce features you'll want from your store builder.
All Shopify sites, no matter the plan, are designed with an array of the best eCommerce tools available. You can utilize multiple payment gateways so customers can pay with credit card or through a PayPal or Stripe account. You can also integrate your store with third-party market platforms like Amazon and eBay to increase your sales reach. Additionally, Shopify sites are fully scalable, letting you start out small and grow with your production capabilities according to customer demand.
Squarespace sites only include eCommerce features if you pay for the Basic or Advanced Commerce plans. There are limited payment options, which could limit your customer base to payPal, Apple Pay, and Stripe users. Also, there is not a tool to calculate shipping rates directly.
Designing a website from scratch takes time. Fortunately, both Shopify and Squarespace use templates for their website designs so there's no need to edit with HTML or CSS. The ability to code will come in handy if you want to further personalize your site content.
Even with templates, Squarespace users have reported the initial setup is not as easy as some other website builders. In contrast, Shopify Lite has an "Express" theme for getting a new website up and running as fast as possible.
When it comes to personalizing a site, Shopify websites are a little harder to edit on the backend. Squarespace templates are easy to manipulate to fit your needs, and coding can further change your site design.
In the world of online business, customer demand changes every single day. There are no weekends with online sales, so you need access to edit your digital storefront at all times wherever you go.
Squarespace Commerce plans include mobile management so you can edit products anywhere in real-time. Want to start a flash sale while you're on vacation? You can do that with Squarespace. Need to quickly change product names to take advantage of current Google search engine trends? You can do that too.
Shopify has an app to help you review your website performance. You can get analytics on SEO marketing, sales revenue, and email engagement.
Finally, both Squarespace and Shopify POS systems allow for you to make in-person sales if you're at a convention, trade show, or market event. The Squarespace POS, Square, has slightly higher transaction fees than Shopify.
Want to sell more than just physical products on your website? Squarespace lets you list services alongside your traditional stock. By offering service signups online, customers can enjoy more freedom to request service at their convenience by seeing which time slots are available. Squarespace sites even have applications for scheduling appointments and reservations for your in-person services.
Shopify, on the other hand, is more about selling physical goods. It's possible to advertise services, though it's a bit harder to get started. You'll have to be very clear about your "product" being a service to avoid confusing customers. Every appointment you offer would have to be listed as an individual product. You'll have to constantly monitor your inventory management system to prevent selling overlapping time slots.
Basic plans for Shopify and Squarespace let you sell physical and digital gift cards.
eCommerce websites often use third-party apps to add on additional features for customers or management. Both Shopify and Squarespace sites are compatible with many popular apps.
As mentioned above, Shopify has a lot of eCommerce features included without any additional cost. There's cart recovery options to draw customers back to an incomplete checkout process, email marketing to advertise sales, and social media integration built-in. Shopify's app store has much more, often available for free, to improve your eCommerce site. These cover small things like aesthetic enhancements to your site or help you find better suppliers for your raw materials.
Squarespace extras, unfortunately, often add functionality which is already included on Shopify sites. The rest of the plug-ins for Squarespace websites include many of the same features offered by Shopify add-ons.
Both Shopify and Squarespace sites are designed to make eCommerce transactions easier than ever. The one you select for your business will depend on the features you prefer. However, Shopify tends to work better for sites which sell hundreds or thousands of products on a daily basis. Squarespace sites tend to be better for small businesses which offer products and services at a much lower volume.
Need help choosing an eCommerce platform? Get free help from one our of our software advisors.