Squarespace vs. Shopify: Full Comparison with Pros and Cons for Each

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Squarespace vs. Shopify: Full Comparison with Pros and Cons for Each

Key Points

  • Marketing your products online can be quite lucrative with approximately 2.14 billion people using the Internet to shop for goods and services.
  • Squarespace and Shopify are industry leaders in offering user-friendly platforms to set up and maintain an online store.
  • Squarespace is the more affordable option with plans starting at $18/month, while Shopify’s Advanced Plan offers valuable benefits at $299/month.
  • Squarespace is known for its intuitive ‘drag-and-drop’ approach, while Shopify offers helpful setup tutorials.
  • Both Squarespace and Shopify come with built-in SEO tools to optimize website content for search.

Marketing your products online can be quite lucrative. Approximately 2.14 billion people use the Internet to shop for goods and services. Setting up an e-commerce store is likely even more effective than operating a brick-and-mortar space to generate revenue. Why? It all comes down to lower operating costs. 

A multi-functional digital storefront enables online sellers to improve site rankings, drive qualified web traffic, and convert online visitors into paying customers. E-commerce businesses should invest in a website builder that optimizes the customer experience. This means different things for different brands, depending on the features you need, the size of the inventory, and more. 

Both Squarespace and Shopify are industry leaders in offering user-friendly platforms to set up and maintain an online store. Here, we deliver a full comparison of Squarespace vs. Shopify with the pros and cons for each. 

Squarespace vs. Shopify: Side by Side Comparison

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While both Shopify and Squarespace are industry leaders in providing e-commerce platforms that help businesses grow, there are some differences between them.
Primary UsageWebsite builder and host with e-commerce integrationsE-commerce platform and retail point-of-sale system
PricingThe Personal plan starts at $18/month on an annual basis

The Business plan starts at $27/month on an annual basis

The Premium plan starts at $69/month on an annual basis

Month-to-month rates are available
The Basic plan starts at $29/per month

The Shopify plan starts at $79/month

The Advanced plan starts at $299/month

Month-to-month rates are available
TemplatesAll plans include a variety of templates and industries-specific design suggestionsAll plans include access to 10 free templates and over 50 premium options that come with fees
SEO ToolsBuilt-in SEO capabilities, best practices, and Google Analytics Automated SEO page titles and meta descriptions on each web page
BlogsBuilt-in blogging tools and analyticsUser-generated content and engagement management tools and bulk blog post removal
Storage and BackupUnlimited storage; Requires manual backupUnlimited storage; Requires manual backup
Customer Support24/7 support available via live chat, social media, and email; No phone option24/7 support available via live chat, phone, and email; No social media option

Squarespace vs. Shopify: What’s the Difference?

While both web builders help retailers create high-functioning, SEO-friendly online stores, their fundamental purposes yield different sets of pros and cons. For example, Tobias Lütke and Scott Lake founded Shopify as an e-commerce platform for online stores. Only after it launched was a website-building component added to its comprehensive list of features. Squarespace, on the other hand, was designed to help business owners build and host websites with an intuitive drag-and-drop approach. 

Shopify does offer more advanced e-commerce features that accommodate high-volume transactions, extending detailed inventory and order management tools. It also empowers the use of various payment processors to sellers. But, unlike Shopify, Squarespace boasts best-in-class website templates, designer fonts, and integrated social feeds. E-commerce setup is just one component of a broader website-building experience for online merchants using Squarespace.

With more specialized features comes higher pricing. When you look at Squarespace vs. Shopify, the former comes out on top as the more affordable option with plans starting at $18/month. But at $299/month, Shopify’s Advanced Plan offers valuable benefits including lower transaction fees, discount codes, gift cards, advanced report builders, and third-party calculated shipping rates. 

Pricing and Plans

While both platforms offer free 14-day trials, once users have played around, they must commit to an active, monthly plan. Shopify has three standard subscription plans and two additional options: a Lite and a Plus plan. Prices range from $9/month to custom pricing for Shopify Plus customers, clearly standing out as the more expensive e-commerce platform between the two. 

Squarespace designed four plans: Personal, Business, Basic Commerce, and Advanced Commerce. Monthly pricing ranges from $16 to $54 with each plan’s pricing correlated to the level of e-commerce support and advanced features included. As the more affordable option, it’s important to note that Squarespace is known for limited payment options which can negatively impact your business’s profitability. 

User-Friendly Setup

Squarespace’s intuitive “drag-and-drop” approach enables online sellers with varying technical expertise to create stunning user experiences. There’s no need for any HTML or CSS experience in building websites with e-commerce functionality. With built-in marketing tools, it’s easy to optimize your Squarespace site for SEO, set up email marketing campaigns, and track key performance indicators. 

When setting up a Shopify site, there are fewer free, high-quality templates to choose from; however, you can use your own custom templates. Once the initial setup is in place, Shopify’s in-store editor is known to limit page editing options because of the pre-coded template layouts. This can be daunting for store owners building countless product pages complete with images, headers, descriptions, links, FAQs, and more. However, the platform is known for helpful setup tutorials that can save business owners time and energy.

Analytics and Reporting

Most website builders offer standard analytics for traffic and trends. Important performance metrics include website visits, bounce rates, page views, and more. Boasting filters to custom your performance dashboards, Shopify offers enhanced analysis capabilities based on pre-defined reporting timeframes and data needs. Both platforms connect to Google Analytics, providing additional opportunities for conversion tracking, and specific page behavior analysis. 

Squarespace: The History

Currently based in New York City, Squarespace was founded by Anthony Casalena in 2003. Originally conceived as a bloat hosting service, Squarespace generated $1 million in revenue in its first three years. By 2013, e-commerce features were added to advance its appeal to business owners looking to set up online stores. 

Within a year, the website giant had raised nearly $80 million in venture capital — led by Index Ventures and Accel Partners. With more staff came ongoing advancements to the software and its offerings, including a mobile version of Squarespace, a logo-creating app, and integration with Google Workspace

Squarespace’s humble beginnings were in the rearview mirror in recent years having achieved $100 million in revenue backed by the contributions of 550 employees. To date, Squarespace has over four million subscriptions in competition against website builders like WordPress, Wix, Weebly, and more. As a leading website host and e-commerce solution, recent Squarespace enhancements include a new analytics dashboard and PayPal integration. 

Shopify: The Background

As a Canadian multi-national company based in Ottawa, Ontario, Shopify boasts 2 million businesses across the world. Companies Market Cap reported in July 2022 that it’s among the top 10 largest publicly traded Canadian companies based on market capitalization. In its early stages, Shopify was created out of a need to optimize the online store experience. Given that one of the co-founders was a computer programmer by trade, together they built and launched the Shopify platform in 2006. 

In keeping up with consumer demands around digital and mobile access, Shopify started offering a free mobile app via the Apple Store in 2010. Online sellers could manage their e-commerce stores from their own iOS mobile phones. Shopify Payments, in partnership with payment technology software superstar, Stripe, is a fully-integrated credit card payment processing system that debuted in 2013. This change to their business model made it easier for merchants to get paid. It also helped sync inventory with sales, revenue, and payment information. 

Between 2014 and 2019, Shopify announced several new products, acquisitions, integrations, and features. Given the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Shopify shifted to a 100% remote workforce in March 2020. Fast forward two years later when the e-commerce powerhouse launched Linkpop. This free Shopify tool creates a landing page providing access to and from your brand’s social profiles. 

Today, Shopify continues to roll out new ways to benefit online sellers, their customers, and third-party developers. 

Squarespace vs. Shopify: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • SSL Certificates come with each e-commerce platform, but Shopify also offers fraud analysis for next-level security and peace of mind. 
  • Both Squarespace and Shopify offer unlimited product limits, thereby flexible and robust enough to support the e-commerce needs of any size inventory as your business grows.
  • Squarespace’s tagline is “Everything to sell anything,” while Shopify positions itself as “the global commerce platform” on its homepage. 
  • Shopify and Squarespace both offer free trials for users to try their platforms before committing to a paid monthly plan. 
  • Both platforms enable sellers to market on Facebook and Instagram, but Shopify extends its ways to sell to Google, Pinterest, Amazon, Walmart, Snapchat, and in-person transactions via first-party POS programs.
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Online shopping continues to accelerate the growth of e-commerce businesses in 2023.

Squarespace vs. Shopify: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Use?

Squarespace and Shopify are leading e-commerce solutions because they both offer essential features to build and optimize successful online stores. However, depending on what kind of products or services your business sells, each platform offers different advantages. For example, Shopify was originally conceived as an e-commerce platform offering retail point-of-sale systems. On the other hand, Squarespace added e-commerce features after launching as a website builder and host.

Given the difference in key features offered, each platform has different pricing plans. Squarespace is the more affordable option but delivers fewer e-commerce capabilities. SEO is an important part of a broader marketing strategy, so it’s valuable that both platforms come with built-in SEO tools that help even the least savvy retailers optimize their website content for search. Both platforms are cost-effective, user-friendly online retail experiences that can help businesses grow.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Squarespace offer that Shopify does not?

Squarespace is known for its intuitive “drag-and-drop” approach to designing a website, while Shopify has limited customization options. If merchants want to create stunning, unique website experiences, Squarespace offers more templates and creative freedom.

What's e-commerce SEO?

SEO for e-commerce involves optimizing your online store to generate qualified traffic from searches. A winning e-commerce SEO strategy requires identifying top keyword opportunities for product and category pages, strategically placing them on web pages, and inputting all SEO data on the backend, including meta descriptions and image alt text.

Which platform has better customer support?

It depends on how you prefer to consult with customer service representatives. Squarespace does not offer phone support, but agents are available via live chat, social media, and email. Shopify does have a phone number to use when you have a question, but it’s known to be time-consuming to get reliable support.

What if neither Squarespace nor Shopify is the best option for my e-commerce site?

You can also look into using other top e-commerce website builders, including Magento, WooCommerce, Wix, Etsy, and Site123.

How do I choose the right plan for my online store's e-commerce site?

There are many important factors that should be considered in choosing the right plan. These include your selling volume, inventory size, and annual marketing budget.

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