Shopify vs Squarespace (2021) — Which is Best?
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Shopify vs Squarespace: which is best? In this detailed comparison, we take an in-depth look at which of these leading website building tools is right for your project. Read on to get a list of pros and cons of each platform — and do feel free to leave any thoughts or questions on both products in the comments section below.
On the face of it, Shopify and Squarespace look like similar products: they let you create a website and they let you sell products (even if you don’t have any design or coding skills).
But they have a different history and started life with different purposes.
Squarespace was initially conceived as a solution for building and maintaining content–based websites, whereas Shopify was specifically created as a solution for making an online store.
With the addition of e-commerce to Squarespace’s feature set, and an increase in the number of content-creation apps available for Shopify, the two tools have become increasingly similar and technically, you can now use either to create a content-driven website or sell products online.
But which is best for your business?
Answering this question starts, helpfully, with another question…
Are you trying to build a ‘website’ or an online store?
When deciding between Squarespace and Shopify, the first question you need to ask yourself is this: what am I trying to build, a website or an online store?
Of course, an online store is technically a website too, but in this context, by ‘website’ I’m talking about an online presence where conveying information is the priority — for example, a blog, a news site, a brochure site, a magazine, a photography portfolio etc.
By ‘online store’ I mean something where selling products is the primary goal.
Let’s dive into the website-building stuff first.
Building a content-driven website
If your focus is on building an informative website, then design and content management functionality are going to be a priority — and, this being the case, it’s fair to say that Squarespace is the more obvious choice out of the two products discussed here for that purpose.
Its templates are excellent; its content management system (CMS) is intuitive and easy to use; its photo editing and displaying tools are superb; and its blogging features are strong.
However, what you have to bear in mind with Squarespace is that it very much takes a ‘walled garden’ approach to website building.
By this I mean it’s a rather ‘closed-off’ system — integrating third-party apps is not always straightforward, and you don’t get full access to your site’s code.
Despite this, many users will find Squarespace a really good website builder for creating a content-driven site, because:
it’s extremely easy to use
the templates are well designed
basic tweaks to colours and typefaces are easy to make
the walled garden approach, despite its faults, means that the platform is reliable and there isn’t much in the way of site maintenance necessary.
The bottom line is that, used well, Squarespace can help you put a professional-looking site very quickly, and gives you a lot of nice ways to display content — especially blog posts and images — in a way that Shopify arguably doesn’t (out of the box, at least).
But what about building online stores?
Building an online store
When it comes to the e-commerce features of both products, as you might expect, Shopify’s heritage as an online store building solution generally trumps Squarespace’s.
The Shopify e-commerce feature set is considerably more extensive, with a few key features that are not yet available on Squarespace.
Unlike Squarespace it offers:
- the ability to take payments in multiple currencies
- extensive dropshipping options
- integration with a very extensive range of third party apps that extend the functionality of your store significantly (apps include integrations with Quickbooks, Zoho and Zendesk to name just a few)
- advanced reporting features
- more sophisticated inventory management options
- more advanced point-of-sale features (these allow you to sell goods in a physical location using your online store to process payments and manage inventory)
- more comprehensive tax calculation functionality
- a much wider range of payment gateway options.
I’ll go through all the above in depth later on in the comparison.
But first, let’s take a quick look at pricing, because how much e-commerce functionality you get with both Squarespace and Shopify depends very much on how much you’re prepared to pay.
Key differences between Squarespace plans
Squarespace offers four monthly pricing options:
Personal — $16 per month
Business — $26 per month
Basic Commerce — $30 per month
Advanced Commerce — $54 per month
You can also make use of a two-week free trial (with extensions available if you need more time to finish your site).
Discounts for all of the above are available if you purchase a plan on an annual basis (the above four plans, respectively, work out at $12, $18, $26 and $40 per month when you pay upfront for a year’s service).
Additionally, Squarespace recently announced a new plan, ‘Squarespace Select.’ Currently in early access, this is aimed at enterprise users and provides an account manager, priority support and SEO and design consultations. Pricing for this is negotiable and based on requirements.
In terms of the key differences between the Squarespace pricing plans, the key things to watch out for are as follows:
The ‘Personal’ plan does not let you sell anything, and prevents you customizing your site with CSS
You will pay 3% transaction fees on any sales generated using the ‘Business’ plan (in addition to any credit card processing fees).
To avail of several important e-commerce features, including abandoned cart recovery, real time carrier shipping, advanced discounts and gift cards, you will need to go for the most expensive ‘Advanced Commerce’ plan.
You get a year’s free Google Workspace account on the ‘Business’ plans and higher (one user).
You only get dedicated e-commerce reporting on the ‘Basic Commerce’ and ‘Advanced Commerce’ plans.
On the ‘Basic Commerce’ and ‘Advanced Commerce’ plans you get point-of-sale functionality
(if based in USA).
If you pay upfront for a year’s service (on any plan), you can get a free custom domain (i.e., yoursitename.com).
The business and e-commerce plans come with more sophisticated options when it comes to pop-up messages and announcement bars.
Key differences between Shopify plans
Shopify offers five monthly plans:
Shopify Lite — $9 per month
Basic Shopify — $29 per month
Shopify — $79 per month
Advanced Shopify — $299 per month
Shopify Plus — pricing varies depending on requirements (but fees are usually around $2000 per month).
Like Squarespace, a free trial is available — this lasts 14 days. You can access this via this link.
10% and 20% discounts on the above prices are available if you pay upfront for an annual or two-year plan respectively.
The key differences to watch out for between Shopify plans are as follows:
The Shopify Lite plan doesn’t let you build a standalone online store; rather, it allows you to sell on your existing website or a Facebook page (thanks to the ‘Shopify Buy’ button) or at ‘point of sale’ (a physical location; more on that below).
How many users you can have on your account varies quite a lot by plan. For example, ‘Basic Shopify’ only lets you add two users to your account; ‘Advanced’ lets you add fifteen.
As with the new Squarespace Select plan, the ‘Shopify Plus‘ plan is focused on enterprise users, and prices vary depending on needs. On this plan, you can expect advanced security, API and fulfilment features, along with dedicated account management.
Professional reporting features only become available on the $79 Shopify plans and up.
Point-of-sale (POS) functionality is included on all plans, but an $89 per month additional fee is required to avail of advanced features (which include multi-location selling, unlimited staff, buy-and-collect options and more).
Abandoned cart saving – cheaper with Shopify?
A key difference between the Shopify and Squarespace pricing structure involves abandoned cart saving — a feature that lets you automatically email people who left your store mid-way through a purchase, encouraging them to complete it. This functionality can significantly increase the sales from your store.
Abandoned cart saver functionality is available on all Shopify plans — meaning that you can avail of this feature considerably cheaper with Shopify than with Squarespace (with Shopify, you can avail of it from $9 per month, but with Squarespace, you’ll need to pay a minimum of $54 per month to access it).
So, if abandoned cart saving is an important feature for you, it’s a win here for Shopify.
Transaction fees and credit card fees
On top of the standard pricing plans, there are transaction fees and credit card fees to consider.
Transaction fees are a percentage fee of your sales charged by your e-commerce platform (in this case Squarespace or Shopify).
Credit card fees are a percentage fee of your sales charged by the company you choose to process your credit card payments (otherwise known as a payment gateway — we’ll discuss these in more depth below).
With regard to Shopify, you have the choice of either using Shopify Payments — Shopify’s built in payment processor — or a third party payment gateway.
If you use Shopify Payments, you avoid transaction fees entirely — Shopify will not take a cut of the sale. However, you will still be charged credit card fees (these vary by country, but in the USA you’re looking at between 2.4% and 2.9% depending on your chosen Shopify plan).
If you use a third-party payment gateway to process your credit card transactions, you will pay Shopify a percentage of the transaction: 0.5% to 2% depending on plan. This is in addition to whatever transaction charges are made by that gateway.
With Squarespace, transaction fees are only applied to its ‘Business’ plan — the rate is 3%. In terms of the the credit card fees, the rate is determined by either Stripe or Paypal (the two main options provided by Squarespace for processing credit cards).
One thing to watch out for with regard to Shopify Payments is that you can only use it if you are selling from certain countries:
- Hong Kong SAR China
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- United States of America (but note that Shopify Payments is not available in any US territory except Puerto Rico.)
Shopify users who are not based in a supported territory will need to use a different payment gateway — but the good news is that 100+ external gateways integrate with Shopify.
And speaking of payment gateways…
Shopify can be used almost anywhere and in most currencies, because it allows you to use over 100 different ‘payment gateways’ (third-party processors that process credit card transactions).
By contrast, Squarespace offers just four online payment gateways — Paypal, Stripe, Afterpay and Apple Pay. Whilst these will cater for any type of credit card transaction, it is notable that there is no support for Google Pay.
US-based merchants who use Squarespace’s Point of Sale feature can also use Square to accept in-person payments (more on this shortly).
This means that overall, Shopify is the more attractive, professional option from a payment processing point of view — the flexibility when it comes to accepting payments is much greater (this will be particularly important to users who are based in countries where Stripe and Afterpay are not available to online retailers).
So which works out cheaper, Squarespace or Shopify?
If you just want to build a content-driven website — i.e., you don’t intend to sell anything — then on the surface of things, Squarespace offers a considerably cheaper way to do this, with its $16 per month ‘Personal’ plan.
However, if you’re serious about your content-driven website, you’ll quickly find that the Squarespace ‘Personal’ plan isn’t all that great — it lacks quite a lot of very important functionality.
For example, on the ‘Personal’ Plan,
you can’t hook Mailchimp up to the standard Squarespace data capture forms
promotional popups and announcement bars are not facilitated
The third restriction is possibly the most serious, because it rules out design customisations that can’t be made using the standard Squarespace controls.
It also means that it’s hard (if not impossible) to add a GDPR-compliant cookie banner to your Squarespace site (I discuss the fun issue of GDPR in more depth later on in this review!).
Accordingly, many users are probably best advised ignoring the ‘Personal’ Squarespace plan in favour of the more expensive ‘Business’ plan, which at $26 lifts all these restrictions and provides e-commerce functionality too.
This plan comes in a bit cheaper than Shopify’s cheapest ‘full e-commerce’ plan (i.e., the plans which allow you to build a complete, standalone online store) — you pay $26 per month for the Squarespace ‘Business’ plan versus $29 per month for the ‘Basic Shopify’ plan.
However, when you consider the Squarespace ‘Business’ plan involves 3% transaction fees, and offers a rather limited range of payment processing options, it’s hard not to conclude that the Basic Shopify plan represents better value as far as e-commerce is concerned — even if the monthly fee is a little bit higher.
(And, if you’re hoping to sell using either Squarespace or Shopify, this sense of ‘better value’ gets more pronounced when you compare e-commerce features — more on all these below).
Of course, of the two products under discussion, Shopify still technically offers the cheapest way into online selling, with its $9 Lite plan.
This plan is geared more towards people who want to sell on an existing website (using Shopify’s “Buy Button”) rather those wishing to build a new one, so functionality is much more limited than the entry level Squarespace offering.
But if this approach suits you, you’ll appreciate that the monthly costs and transaction fees are very low.
It’s important to remember, of course, that there is a lot more to consider than just the monthly fees.
Let’s go through the key features of Shopify and Squarespace.
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Interface / ease of use
Shopify and Squarespace’s interfaces aren’t a million miles apart in terms of layout — both present you with a menu on the left hand side of the screen that you use to get to different parts of the CMS (settings, site design, analytics etc.).
The right hand side of the screen can be used to edit content, view data, add products and so on.
On the whole I would say that Squarespace’s interface is the more elegant of the two, and is easier to use than Shopify’s, particularly where general content management is concerned.
Its approach to setting up site navigation and its superb ‘layout engine’ (which allows you to drag and drop content into pages in a very user-friendly way) make it very straightforward to use.
Its e-commerce features are also arguably slightly easier to use — but that said, this is probably because there are fewer of them available.
Whilst by no means difficult to use, Shopify’s user interface is arguably not quite as slick or intuitive, and setting up pages and products can take a little bit longer than in Squarespace.
Adding page builder apps to Shopify
The main difference between Shopify and Squarespace’s interfaces is that Shopify uses a simple ‘What You See Is What You Get’ (WYSIWYG) approach to page layout, which limits how you can present content.
Squarespace, by contrast, provides you with a drag-and-drop editor that lets you place or move content where you please.
You can however get a more ‘Squarespacey’ style experiencing using Shopify by installing a third-party page-builder app, of which many are available in Shopify’s app store.
These add a drag-and-drop interface to your Shopify store. However, using one of these page building apps can add to your monthly bill considerably.
Templates and visuals
As discussed above, Squarespace templates are gorgeous.
Although this is a subjective area, I feel they are a bit more contemporary or varied in nature than the free templates from Shopify.
As things stand, there are also more free templates to choose from in Squarespace: you can choose from around 130 bundled templates to Shopify’s 9.
There’s definitely a ‘wow’ factor with certain Squarespace templates that sets them apart from similar website builders and e-commerce platforms.
However, a lot of the Squarespace templates — and this is in keeping with the issues discussed above regarding content presentation vs selling online — are geared towards users who want to blog or showcase an art, music or photography portfolio.
Of the 130 or so individual Squarespace templates currently available, only a few are dedicated online store themes (that’s not to say, however, that you can’t sell products using the others — you might just have to play around with the design a bit more first).
Depending on your chosen Squarespace template, you’ll find lots of nice visual effects in play, with images and text that gracefully fade in and out as users scroll through a site.
(Oddly though, the latest version of Squarespace does away with parallax scrolling).
Squarespace templates can be further enhanced, thanks to built-integrations with Unsplash and Getty images (stock photo sites that offer free and paid-for images respectively). These provide you with a very easy way to add stock images to your website — when adding a picture to a page, you can simply use a search box to find something suitable on either service.
Both integrations are great and are particularly helpful for bloggers who need to find strong images quickly to accompany their posts, or Squarespace designers who are working on sites for clients who have not supplied any photos. The Unsplash integration is particularly welcome, given that the quality of its free images is in most cases pretty high.
And if all that wasn’t enough, Squarespace makes it really easy to use video backgrounds on any page — you can now select any YouTube or Vimeo video as a background for the banners on your pages, with stunning results. You just enter the relevant URL into your page settings and Squarespace will use it as the background. You also get a few video playback speed options and colour filters to play with.
(Note, however, that if you’re a Vimeo user, you’ll need to be on a Vimeo Plus plan to avail of this feature).
However, Shopify is by no means a slouch in the template / visuals department. The free Shopify templates are aesthetically pleasing and arguably better than a lot of the ‘out-of-the-box’ templates provided by competing products such as Volusion or BigCommerce.
Additionally, if the 9 free Shopify templates don’t meet your requirements, there is a Shopify template store that you can buy a snazzier template from.
The template store contains 72 paid Shopify themes to choose from, most of which contain several variations. This means there is arguably a wider range of templates available from Shopify than Squarespace — so long as you are prepared to pay for them (prices vary but usually involve a one-off payment of between $100 and $180).
The paid-for Shopify templates are similar in quality to the Squarespace ones, offering a wide range of layouts which include contemporary design features such as full-bleed content and video backgrounds (parallax scrolling is also available as a visual effect).
Additionally, the Shopify theme store is really simple to use — you can browse all the available templates easily thanks to a range of controls which let you filter by layout style, industry type, size of store and so on.
All the Shopify and Squarespace themes are responsive, meaning that templates automatically resize themselves to suit the device they are being viewed on — mobile, tablet or desktop computer.
For me, the bottom line with templates is that both Shopify and Squarespace provide a wide range of attractive template options, with Squarespace — as you might expect having read this far! — being the more obvious choice for content-driven websites, and Shopify being the more obvious choice for those wishing to make an online store.
Switching templates in Squarespace and Shopify
One thing to watch out for in Squarespace is that in the latest version of the platform (7.1), you can’t switch template!
However, because all Squarespace templates use the same technical foundations, you should be able to recreate the look of another one by simply changing colours and fonts.
This isn’t ideal however, and it would be better if, as is the case in Shopify, you could just switch templates (and importantly, preview them before switching, so that you can be 100% sure that you want to implement a big visual change).
Let’s move on now to getting content in and out of both platforms.
Importing and exporting content
It’s easy enough to get content and products into Squarespace.
Helpful ‘wizards’ are provided to help you import pages, posts and other content from WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr; and, so long as you are on a ‘Commerce’ plan, you can import products via CSV or, using an import tool, from Shopify, Etsy or Big Cartel.
When it comes to exports, you can export pages, posts and images to WordPress format, which gives you a bit of flexibility should you ever wish to migrate your site.
There are limitations to watch out for when it comes to exporting products however. Only physical and service products can be exported, and you can only export up to 10,000 products (with each variant counting as a product).
This product export limit is fairly large, so for most users, this isn’t going to be a massive issue — but if you’re planning on hosting a huge product inventory, you might find that Shopify is a better option for you.
Shopify lets you import and export products easily enough via CSV (and, unlike Squarespace, doesn’t place any restrictions at all on exporting digital products). For more extensive importing functionality — for example, bulk upload of digital products — third-party apps like FetchApp can be used.
Importing and exporting pages and blog posts isn’t really doable out of the box in Shopify — but again, third-party apps can help here too (for example Blogfeeder or Exlm, which both give you a wide range of options for getting your content in and out of Shopify). You will have to pay to use them, however.
The key takeaway here is that if you are planning on hosting thousands of products or blog posts on your site, or envisage migrating to another platform in future, Shopify is the safer option.
SEO (Search engine optimisation) in Squarespace and Shopify
A key area that I feel is handled better by Shopify than Squarespace is search engine optimisation (SEO).
To start with, Shopify’s technical setup makes it easier to meet Google’s new Core Web Vitals requirements. Core Web Vitals are a set of targets related to the speed, responsiveness and visual stability of a website; from May 2021 sites that meet them are going to be given preferential treatment in Google search results.
As things stand, it’s possible to tweak a Shopify site so that it hits these targets; this is not yet the case with Squarespace. I’ve been in touch quite a lot with Squarespace’s support team about this and the most information I can get out of them is an acknowledgement that they’re aware of the issue, but not a commitment that it’s going to be addressed in time for the June 2021 rollout of Core Web Vitals.
Now, as Core Web Vitals is just one ranking signal amongst hundreds, I wouldn’t let this put you off using Squarespace entirely — however, if you work in an ultra-competitive e-commerce niche where technical SEO could make the difference between ranking number 1 and number 2 on Google, the better bet here is Shopify.
What about the ‘hands on’ editing of SEO elements? Well, again it’s a win for Shopify over Squarespace.
First, for all products and pages, Shopify generates a page title and meta description automatically based on the content of your page, which a lot of the time — particularly where products are concerned — often provides a very good SEO starting point.
Second, Shopify refers to the core SEO elements by their proper names; this is not always the case with Squarespace. In Shopify, you’re dealing with page titles, meta descriptions, alt text etc.— all the standard terminology you’d expect. In Squarespace however you sometimes encounter things like ‘captions’ and ‘descriptions.’
Third, Shopify handles URL redirection better than Squarespace. If you change a page’s URL, Shopify will prompt you to create a 301 redirect to that page (if you tick a checkbox, this is done automatically for you). A 301 redirect lets search engines know that the page has moved, and preserves any ‘link juice‘ associated with it.
In Squarespace, if you change a page URL, you will have to manually create the 301 redirect (the process for which is fiddly; and creating 301 redirects is quite easy to forget to do).
To be fair to Squarespace, the company has improved its SEO setup considerably recently, making it easier to enter SEO titles and meta descriptions, but further improvements are still needed, particularly when it comes to adding alt text to images.
Despite the shortcomings of Squarespace when it comes to SEO, it should be noted that it is definitely possible to optimize a Squarespace site well for search engines. It’s just that both the technical setup of Squarespace sites and the tools provided to optimize content could be better.
One area where both products could improve a bit involves URL creation. Neither allows you to create truly ‘clean’ URLs — something that Google prefers — because they stick prefixes into some URLs which can’t be removed (for example, /blog/, /products/ and so on). Squarespace is a little bit more flexible on this — static pages don’t involve these prefixes.
Tip: for a rundown of how to optimize a Shopify or Squarespace site for search engines, you might want to check out our Shopify SEO and Squarespace SEO guides.
Point of sale (POS) in Shopify vs Squarespace
Point-of-sale functionality allows you to use card readers — and other selling hardware — in conjunction with your online store, to sell in a physical location.
This could be for example in a pop-up shop, from a market stall, at an event or even in a permanently located retail outlet. And, because your POS hardware is linked to your store, your inventory and stock count remain automatically synced.
Up until recently, Shopify offered this functionality but Squarespace didn’t.
However, Squarespace has recently introduced POS features and now offers an integration with Square, another e-commerce company that specializes in providing POS hardware. (It’s important to note that you have to be based in the USA to use it.)
The main difference between the Shopify and Squarespace offerings in this area boils down to what selling hardware you can use.
The Shopify point of sale kit comprises a barcode scanner, card reader, cash drawer and receipt printer — you can buy any of these items individually or as a package — or alternatively, use compatible third party hardware.
You can purchase this hardware from the Shopify Hardware Store in the United States, Canada, the UK, and Ireland. (Outside these countries, supported hardware is available from authorized resellers).
By contrast, Squarespace only allows you to integrate the Square card reader into proceedings.
Shopify also offers a several other POS features that are not available with Squarespace yet, including staff accounts, pins and multiple location options. However, you will need to invest in an $89 per month add-on to avail of most of this functionality.
Ultimately however, if POS is important to you — esepcially if you live outside the US — the better option is definitely Shopify.
Dropshipping in Squarespace and Shopify
Many people who dip their toes into the waters of online retailing do so because they want to start dropshipping products.
Dropshipping is a method of online retailing where you don’t keep what you’re selling in stock — rather, you take the order, send it to a supplier, and they send the goods to the client. Your online store, in effect, becomes a front end / middle man for another business.
The plus side of this model is that it doesn’t involve much investment to start your business; the down side is that margins tend to be quite low due to high levels of competition, and it’s hard to be sure of the quality of dropshipped goods, or whether they were produced ethically.
If you’re interested in starting a dropshipping business, Shopify is better than Squarespace. With Shopify there are a wide range of dropshipping apps available to help you source and sell inventory — a popular choice being Oberlo — but your options are fairly limited by comparison in Squarespace.
In Squarespace, you can basically use three dropshipping services:
- Spocket — for dropshipping physical goods
- Printful — for print-on-demand products
- Printique — for photo-based products.
It’s great to see Squarespace start to provide more dropshipping options, but because of its extensive range of dropshipping apps and integrations, the winner in this area is currently Shopify.
The Shopify dropshipping starter kit
If you’re interested in dropshipping with Shopify, I’d recommend that you take a look at Shopify’s dropshipping starter kit — with this, you get 14 days of free access to Shopify plus lots of bundled resources and tools that show you how to launch a successful dropshipping Shopify store.
You can access the starter kit here.
Selling on other sites with Shopify and Squarespace
Both Squarespace and Shopify make it easy for you to sell on other platforms — you can use either website builder (sometimes in conjunction with an app or extension) to sell on Facebook, Instagram and Amazon.
What’s nice about Shopify is that you can use its ‘Buy Button’ feature to embed products on any sort of online presence that permits you to add a snippet of code to it.
So, for example, if you’re reaching out to bloggers about a product, you can give them the option to add a ‘product card’ (pictured below) to their posts which allows their readers to purchase it immediately. Currently, there’s not really an equivalent feature on Squarespace.
Shopify and Squarespace both provide users with mobile apps for managing their sites or stores on the go. There are four Squarespace apps available, which work on both Android and iOS:
- Scheduling Admin
- Scheduling Client
The ‘Squarespace’ app is a relatively new addition to the range of mobile apps provided by Squarespace. At the moment it facilitates basic content and order management.
For more sophisticated e-commerce functionality on the go, the ‘Commerce’ app is a better option, because it lets you perform a wider range of e-commerce tasks (including contacting customers; organising refunds; scanning shipping labels and more).
Finally, the ‘Scheduling’ apps are designed to let you manage appointments with your clients (‘Scheduling Admin’) or let your clients book and manage ones with you (‘Scheduling Client’).
Shopify provides quite a few apps too, but there are 2 main ones which will be of relevance to the majority of users — first there’s the main ‘Shopify’ app, which allows you to edit certain aspects of your Shopify site, view basic stats and check in on orders.
There’s also a Shopify app dedicated to its POS (point of sale) functionality — this allows you to take orders and accept payment for goods in a physical location.
The above two apps are all you need really to run a Shopify store on your mobile, but if you want more, you can pick up some other Shopify apps — these include a customer chat app (‘Ping’), a business card maker and a logo maker.
Of the other Shopify mobile apps, ‘Ping’ is probably the most useful. This app makes it easier to manage queries and share your product details with customers when chatting with them over Facebook Messenger, Shopify’s own chat service (‘Shopify Chat’), Heyday or Apple Business Chat.
Tax calculations in Squarespace and Shopify
With Shopify, you can apply the correct tax rules for the US, the EU, the UK and Canada automatically.
Shopify’s automatic tax calculation feature is particularly useful for merchants selling digital goods in the EU. When your business sells a digital product to consumers in EU member states, VAT MOSS (‘VAT Mini One Stop Shop’) requires you to charge value added tax at the rate due in the consumer’s country. Shopify will calculate these automatically for you (when you use its free ‘Digital Downloads’ app). This is a massive time saver.
As for Squarespace, its tax calculation features are currently in development — a BETA integration with TaxJar is available which provides automatic tax calculations, but only for US merchants. This means that many users will end up having to set up their sales taxes manually in Squarespace.
So, when it comes to sales taxes, it’s another win for Shopify.
SSL — secure socket layer — is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between web servers and browser, and using it ensures that all data passed between a web server and browser remains private.
(You can spot a site using SSL when you see a URL beginning with “https://” rather than “http://”).
There’s also another benefit to having SSL installed on your site: Google treats it as a ‘positive signal’ when ranking your site in search.
Both Shopify and Squarespace provide a free SSL certificate which you can use with any domain.
Once potentially tempting feature of Squarespace is that when you purchase one of their annual plans you get a free custom domain with it; although you can use Shopify to register a custom domain too, there is a cost associated with this (domain names start at $11 per year).
You can also buy domain names separately through Squarespace too, if you like.
The advantage of sourcing a domain from either Squarespace or Shopify is that if you end up using either service to host your store, you won’t have to worry too much about the technical side of configuring DNS settings — connecting your domain to your Squarespace / Shopify site will be a pretty straightforward affair, with the settings pre-configured for you.
The disadvantage is that you are placing all your eggs in one basket — if you lost access to your Shopify or Squarespace account, and you had bought a domain from these companies, you would be losing access not just to your CMS but your domain too.
Given that a domain is hugely important to a business (particularly well-established ones), this is a risk best avoided — so I think its safer to buy a domain using a reputable third-party provider, and tweak the DNS settings (which is not a terribly complicated job anyway) to map the domain to your Squarespace or Shopify website.
In terms of what domains are available to buy direct from either Squarespace or Shopify, you’ll find that they don’t offer as many top level domain (TLD) options as you’d find with a dedicated domain name provider (for example, you might find that your country’s TLD domain is not catered for).
So what can you actually sell in Squarespace and Shopify?
Well, both products let you sell physical goods, digital goods and subscriptions.
Shopify has an edge when it comes to digital goods, because it is much more generous with regard to the size of the product you can sell — you can upload files of up to 5GB in size, which dwarfs Squarespace’s 300MB limit.
With regard to subscriptions, Squarespace lets you do this ‘out of the box’, whereas in Shopify, you’ll need to make use of a third-party app to facilitate them (which will mean an additional cost).
However, the built-in subscription feature in Squarespace is only for use with physical goods — if you want to run a subscription to provide regular access to digital goods, you’ll need to either:
- invest in a solution such as Memberspace
- pay extra for Squarespace’s new members’ area feature (this starts at $9 per month and lets you charge users to access a gated area on your site).
If you want to create a members’ area in Shopify, you’ll always need to use a third-party solution — for example, the Locksmith app.
One thing that I feel is handled considerably better by Squarespace than Shopify is product images.
With Shopify, unless all your images have a consistent aspect ratio, they will be laid out in a pretty incoherent manner: visitors to your site will see a mish-mash of differently sized image photos in the product catalogues (see video below).
There are two ways to get around this: first, you can manually edit all your images (either using a photo editing app like Photoshop, or Shopify’s built in picture editor) so that they all have the same aspect ratio…but this is a bit of a pain.
Alternatively, you can make use of a third party Shopify app such as Pixc to resize images on your store automatically after you upload them (Pixc handles 50 images for free and charges a monthly fee of $0.05 if you go over this).
Neither workaround is ideal if I’m honest, and it would be better if Shopify just allowed you to set a standard product image ratio out of the box.
Squarespace provides a better approach: you pick an aspect ratio for your product images and the system will automatically crop all your pictures to that ratio.
If you like, you can also specify a ‘focal point‘ for individual product images in Squarespace — this part of the photo will be emphasised within the cropped image.
In an era of responsive websites, this focal point feature is important because it helps ensure that the main part of your image is foregrounded whenever your image is automatically cropped for viewing on smaller screens.
Another area where Squarespace has an edge over Shopify involves product options.
In Shopify, you can create just three options for your store products — for example, colour, size or material. Squarespace lets you create a far greater number of these (I am not sure of the upper limit, but based on my own tests, it’s definitely possible to create more than 10).
That said, you can get around the product option limitation in Shopify, so long as you are prepared to pay for a third-party app to do so (an example being the Infinite Product Options app).
Both Shopify and Squarespace let you create 100 variants of your products based on the options you’ve created.
Selling in different currencies
You tend to get more online sales if you sell in the currency used by your site visitors.
So, if you’re selling in multiple countries, it’s nice to be able to let your potential customers choose their own currency (or, better yet, to present your products in your site visitors’ currency automatically).
As things stand Squarespace doesn’t let you do any multi-currency selling at all — Shopify does, however, so long as you are using Shopify Payments as your payment processor (if you live in a country where Shopify Payments is unavailable, you can use an app like Bold Multi-Currency to accept multiple currencies instead).
The built-in Shopify multi-currency functionality doesn’t include auto-conversion however; users are instead prompted to select their country from a drop-down menu (with geolocation being used to auto-suggest the most appropriate country).
So some merchants will prefer to make use of a third-party app to handle currency conversions anyway.
Tip: if multicurrency selling is a core requirement, I’d also you suggest that you check out BigCommerce — it’s a similar platform to Shopify, but features really strong multicurrency features out of the box. You can read our BigCommerce review here or avail of a free trial here.
Both Squarespace and Shopify allow you to set the following rates:
Free shipping rates
Calculated (‘real time’) shipping rates
Shopify goes one better by allowing you to set price-based weights too, so a bit of a win for Shopify when it comes to shipping options.
Zooming in: real-time shipping rates in Shopify and Squarespace
When it comes to real-time shipping rates — where carriers provide live estimates at checkout, based on distance, weight and the number of boxes needed to ship items — you have two options in Shopify.
If you’re based in the US, Canada or Australia, Shopify has teamed up with a selection of local postal companies to provide calculated shipping rates, along with preferential rates on shipping.
This service — “Shopify Shipping” — is available on all plans, and the discounts provided can be quite generous.
However, if you want to use calculated rates using a carrier of your own choice, this costs extra with Shopify — you’ll need to pay an additional monthly add-on fee, pay annually for a ‘Shopify’ plan or go for the $299 ‘Advanced’ plan to avail of this feature.
Squarespace integrates with three US carrier services — FedEx, UPS and USPS — to provide real-time carrier shipping. You can avail of this functionality on the ‘Advanced Commerce’ plan only; and it’s not possible to work with any other carriers.
Shopify has an edge when it comes to real time carrier shipping options — not only does it provide discounted real-time carrier shipping rates on all plans (depending on territory), but it also lets you offer calculated rates from a wider range of providers and in more countries.
You can find out more about Shopify shipping here.
If you’re looking for a website builder with professional reporting functionality, then Shopify is a better option than Squarespace.
Although the Squarespace reporting offering has improved quite a bit recently, the stats provided are still of a much more basic nature than those found in Shopify.
In Squarespace, you can expect to see a simple but effective overview of site visitors, traffic sources and sales — but Shopify’s analytics offering is much more extensive, giving you a set of detailed stats which include:
And what’s more, you can use Shopify to create your own custom reports too.
There is a negative aspect of Shopify’s reporting offering which is worth pointing out however: it’s only available on their more expensive plans. Standard professional reports are available on the $79 ‘Shopify’ plan and higher; and to avail of custom/advanced reporting you’ll need to purchase an ‘Advanced Shopify’ or ‘Shopify Plus’ plan.
If you don’t opt for one of these plans, you’ll just get access to a rather basic ‘dashboard’ report containing topline figures only.
You could of course use Google Analytics to get around this somewhat, but you’d need to do more manual configuration and ‘goal-setting’ to get at the sales data you need.
Similarly, Squarespace charges a premium for more advanced reporting features — if you want enhanced commerce analytics, you’ll need to be on one of the more expensive ‘commerce’ plans.
And even if you do opt for one of these, you’ll find that although you can access a couple more e-commerce reports (containing purchase funnel and abandoned cart data), you’ll find they’re pretty basic in nature, and not as informative as the kind of reports you can access in Shopify.
Blogging in Squarespace and Shopify
Blogging is an often-overlooked, but extremely important aspect of running an online store. This is because blogging is absolutely vital to inbound marketing — where you use quality content (blog posts) to drive up traffic, and by extension, sales.
The good news is that both Squarespace and Shopify provide blogging functionality (something which is not true of all e-commerce platforms, notably Volusion).
In terms of which is better, I’d say Squarespace’s blogging functionality has a bit of an edge over Shopify’s. This is chiefly because you can do more with the blog content — you can drop it easily into any page or sidebar of your site using attractive and flexible ‘summary blocks’.
You can also add both categories and tags to posts in Squarespace; Shopify just permits tags.
As with much else in Shopify, if you want more blogging functionality, you’ll need to resort to an app. And speaking of which…
Third party integrations and apps
Both Shopify and Squarespace allow you to buy apps — or avail of free ones — which add functionality to your site.
Shopify’s app store contains over 4,000 integrations with other platforms; additionally, it contains apps which have been developed to add specific pieces of functionality to Shopify stores (for example SEO enhancements; dropshipping functionality; multiple currency support — and much else besides).
Squarespace’s apps come in the form of ‘extensions.’ These represent a new development for the company, so at time of writing there is only a limited number available (25 or so — but you can expect this number to grow over time).
Additionally, there are a few ‘official integrations’ available out of the box with Squarespace (available on the ‘Business’ plan or higher) — these include Mailchimp, Dropbox, OpenTable, Soundcloud, Twitter and quite a few others.
For anything else, you can either embed code from other apps into your Squarespace site using a code block, or use the app-syncing service Zapier to connect Squarespace’s forms to other online tools.
For bespoke functionality, you can code something yourself, or buy some third-party code snippets (these are increasingly referred to as ‘Squarespace plugins.’).
AMP in Shopify and Squarespace
Accelerated mobile pages (AMP) is a Google-backed format for content which makes it load really fast on mobile devices. It does this by stripping out certain bits of code from your site and delivering a slimmed down version of your content to smartphone users.
AMP pages create a better mobile experience than normal responsive page — because they load more or less instantaneously, people viewing AMP pages are far more likely to stay on your site (and, by extension, buy stuff).
Google also occasionally prioritizes AMP pages in search, by featuring them in carousels above standard search results.
In Squarespace, you can enable Accelerated Mobile Pages (‘AMP’) format really easily — it’s simply a case of ticking a checkbox in your site’s settings – but at time of writing it is only available for blog posts, not products.
To use AMP on Shopify sites, you’ll need to do a bit more work — you’ll need to install a third-party, paid-for app like FireAMP.
However, relevant Shopify apps allows you to display ALL your site content (including, crucially, product pages) in AMP format. So providing you’re prepared to put in a little bit of effort — and cash — with Shopify, you’ll end up with a better AMP version of your site.
Using Shopify and Squarespace with Google Workspace
Squarespace has in the past made quite a lot of noise about the fact that it partners with Google to offer Squarespace users a Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) integration.
You can sign up for Google Workspace when you purchase your Squarespace plan — and if you’re on a ‘Business’, ‘Basic’ or ‘Advanced’ plan, you’ll get a year’s free Google Workspace plan (for one user).
When you sign up for Google Workspace through Squarespace, you can manage certain Google Workspace admin tasks without leaving your Squarespace site, including
adding users/email addresses
configuring Google Workspace MX records
accessing Google Workspace invoices
All this functionality is easily accessible through the Google Workspace admin panel, so the integration isn’t all that mind-blowing. More appealing is the year’s free account — this offers a reasonably good saving, particularly for solopreneurs who only need one email account.
Squarespace does integrate nicely with Google Workspace in one particular respect: you can connect data capture forms to a Google Sheet, meaning that you get a handy real-time overview (or indeed archive) of any form submissions made via your website. Similar functionality isn’t available out of the box with Shopify.
(One thing to note however is that if you sign up for Google Workspace via Squarespace, you won’t be able to use its Google Voice ‘smart voice calling’ services — so if that functionality is important to you, it’s better to sign up for Google Workspace separately).
In terms of using Shopify in conjunction with Google Workspace, there’s nothing to stop you doing that — you will need to edit your DNS settings manually to get the email accounts to work, but that’s a fairly simple task.
Editing HTML and CSS in Shopify and Squarespace
With Shopify you get very extensive control over the coding of your site — you get full control over the HTML and CSS of your website (on all plans except the ‘Lite’ one).
With Squarespace, you can edit the CSS and certain bits of HTML (you can insert code blocks onto pages, or inject HTML into the header of your site). Remember that you can only add CSS to your site and inject code into your page headers if you’re on a Squarespace ‘Business’ plan or higher however — the ‘Personal’ plan disables this functionality.
One thing worth being aware of is that the kind of customer support you can expect from both Shopify and Squarespace might become a bit limited depending on the custom CSS or HTML you add (more on support shortly).
Email marketing in Squarespace and Shopify
A very important feature of running a website is capturing email addresses: your ability to communicate effectively with leads via e-newsletters is vital to business growth. Let’s look at how Squarespace and Shopify stack up on this front.
Integrating an email marketing tool with Squarespace and Shopify
Both Squarespace and Shopify allow you to capture email addresses to a third-party email marketing solution of your choosing.
If you are a Mailchimp user, you’ll find Squarespace a more straightforward option than Shopify, because it allows you to link your Squarespace forms directly to Mailchimp — it’s simply a case of selecting ‘Mailchimp’ as your form storage solution and clicking an ‘authorize account’ button.
(Same goes for Google Drive too — you can send your data to a Google Sheet in a similar way).
If you want to use Mailchimp with Shopify, things get a bit trickier, as due to a dispute between the two companies over data protection, the official Mailchimp-Shopify integration has been discontinued. It’s still possible to integrate Mailchimp with a Shopify store, but you’ll have to embed a Mailchimp form on your site or use a third-party integration to do so.
Alternatively, you can use another email marketing tool such as Getresponse or Campaign Monitor to handle e-newsletter proceedings in Shopify (for which official integrations do exist).
Moving away from Mailchimp, if you’d prefer to use a different email marketing tool with Squarespace forms, you’ll usually have to use Zapier to create an integration between the app and your Squarespace site; this can result in additional costs and set up time.
Alternatively, you can use HTML code to embed forms from other email marketing providers onto Squarespace site pages.
The bottom line on capturing data is that Squarespace makes it slightly easier to do for Mailchimp and Google Drive users; but more integrations for other leading email marketing apps exist for Shopify.
The other alternative is to use Squarespace or Shopify’s new built-in email marketing features — both tools now offer a way to create and send newsletters out of the box.
Let’s take a look at the options on this front.
Squarespace Email Campaigns
Squarespace’s built-in email marketing feature is called ‘Squarespace Email Campaigns’ — you have to pay extra to use it, and there are four plans available:
Starter — $7 per month to send up to 3 e-newsletters to a maximum of 500 subscribers per month
Core — $14 per month for 5 e-newsletters / 5,000 subscribers
Pro — $34 per month for 20 e-newsletters / 50,000 subscribers
Max — $68 per month for an unlimited number of newsletters / 250,000 subscribers
These plans are pretty cheap by comparison to the plans available from dedicated email marketing solutions (especially at the top end of the pricing scale) — and allow you to dip your toes into the world of online direct marketing without a significant outlay being involved.
The key benefit of using Squarespace Email Campaigns is that you can manage both your website and mailing list — arguably the two most important online assets of any business — in one place; and, to a degree, your emails will be consistent with your brand (depending on which typeface you use on your site — not all fonts are available in Squarespace-created e-newsletters).
On top of that, the e-newsletter templates — as you’d expect from Squarespace — are strong, and easy to edit, with a drag-and-drop interface that is quite similar to Squarespace’s web page editor being available. And you can drop content from your site easily into your newsletters — for example, blog posts or product information.
In terms of functionality, although it’s nice to see autoresponder functionality being included with Email Campaigns, it’s are currently very basic by comparison to that provided by dedicated email marketing tools like Mailchimp or Getresponse (we’re talking simple ‘drip’ campaigns only). And there’s no split testing or segmentation.
Perhaps in a bid not to be outdone by Squarespace, Shopify has also recently introduced an email marketing tool, ‘Shopify Email’.
As with Squarespace Email Campaigns, the main advantage of using the feature is that it allows you to manage your website and mailing list in one place.
Shopify Email is currently very basic, only allowing you to send simple e-newsletters at the moment (there’s no real automation features to speak of). That said, more functionality is promised soon.
The best thing about Shopify Email so far is its price: you can use it to email 2500 subscribers a month for free, with a $1 per month fee for every additional 1000 subscribers you add. This makes it cheaper to use than Squarespace Email Campaigns until your list exceeds 36,500 subscribers.
Overall, both Shopify Email and Squarespace Email are fairly simple email marketing tools, with Squarespace’s offering currently offering more features.
They’re a positive development, but until they become more feature-rich I suspect most users will benefit more from using a dedicated email marketing solution like Aweber or Getresponse for now.
But for users who definitely want simple email marketing bundled with their website builder, out of these two products, the more feature-rich option is currently Squarespace.
Creating multilingual sites in Squarespace and Shopify
If you’re planning on creating versions of your website in multiple languages, then arguably there are better options available to you than Shopify or Squarespace — WordPress in particular is a much better solution for multilingual projects.
That said, Shopify has made strides recently to provide functionality that enables you to present your content in multiple languages — you can create 5 different language versions of your website on the Basic, Shopify or Advanced Shopify plans; and the enterprise-level Shopify Plus plan lets you create versions of your site in up to twenty languages.
When you enable multi-language selling in Shopify, a language ‘folder’ is added to your domain. So you’ll end up with www.myshop.com/fr/, www.myshop.com/de/ etc. Alternatively, so long as you’re on a ‘Shopify’ plan or higher, you can use an international domain (.fr, .de etc.).
As for Squarespace, although you can technically use the platform to create different language versions of your website, it involves some pretty clunky workarounds that don’t really deliver a genuinely multilingual site (for example, using separate accounts and domains, or auto-translate tools like Weglot).
So, if creating a multilingual website or store is an important part of your project, out of the two options here I’d definitely recommend Shopify.
Shopify has the edge over Squarespace when it comes to customer support.
Shopify provides you with live chat, email and (crucially) phone support — Squarespace offers only live chat and email support.
The phone support provided by Shopify works using a ‘callback’ system — you request a call from the support team, and they call you back later. A waiting time estimate is provided when you request your call.
A note of caution is worth sounding regarding the customer support offered with both Shopify and Squarespace — the quality of support you’ll get often depends on what you’re doing with your template.
For example, if you’re using one of the standard free Shopify templates (i.e., the ones developed by the company itself), you can expect fairly comprehensive customer support if it’s not behaving as it should.
But if you opt for a third-party, paid-for template, you may have to deal with the designers of that template if you run into trouble. And how good that support is will depend on the designers in question.
Similarly, Squarespace’s customer support team are pretty good at assisting with template related queries…unless you customize your template by adding your own CSS or HTML to it, in which case the Squarespace support team effectively reserve the right not to support you fully.
I’ve had more experience of Squarespace’s customer support than Shopify’s, and it’s varied from being brilliant (when dealing with technical issues to do with SSL) to dreadful (when dealing with Squarespace GDPR related enquiries).
One thing that is likely to annoy both Squarespace and Shopify users is that before you get to see any contact details for their support teams, you need to search for an answer to your problem first on the Shopify and Squarespace help sites.
I can see the rationale for this, but I think that many (most?) users will have already searched for a solution to their problem before getting to the point where they want to contact a support team — and this approach feels like it’s making customers jump through unnecessary hoops.
Shopify and Squarespace GDPR compliance
I am not a lawyer, so please note that the below observations should not be interpreted as legal advice — but I’m going to do my best to spell out some of the key GDPR issues facing Squarespace and Shopify site owners in this section.
Since the introduction of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in May 2018, website owners have had to adhere to new, stricter data protection guidelines to protect the privacy of EU site users.
There are many legal steps that the GDPR requires business owners to take to ensure compliance, and fairly serious penalties for not doing so (to the point where it’s a good idea to consult a lawyer about precisely what to do!), but the key ones for prospective Shopify and Squarespace users are probably as follows:
Display adequate privacy and cookie notices on your website
Process and store data securely
Get explicit consent from people signing up to mailing lists that it is okay to send them e-newsletters
Provide a means to opt in or revoke consent to use of non-essential cookies on a website (and to log that consent).
Now, meeting the first three requirements with either Squarespace or Shopify is fairly straightforward (although you will have a bit of legwork to do in terms of creating GDPR compliant privacy policies and data capture forms).
Meeting the fourth requirement however is harder, and in my view Squarespace and Shopify should be doing more to assist their customers to meet this GDPR obligation (particularly Squarespace).
Basically, whenever you use non-essential third party cookies on a website — for example a Facebook Ads pixel or a Google Analytics tag — you are legally obliged to give EU visitors to your website the option to switch these off BEFORE they continue to browse your site (even if your site is based outside of the EU).
You are also obliged to log EU users’ consent to any non-essential cookies being used, and give them the option to revoke that consent at a later stage. Cookie banners are usually used to facilitate this, but the old ‘By using this site you are consenting to cookie usage…’ statement on a banner is not good enough any more — you need something far more sophisticated.
Sadly, out of the box there is no way to facilitate this kind of GDPR cookie consent for third party scripts on either Shopify or Squarespace, meaning that many (if not the vast majority of) Squarespace and Shopify users end up breaking the law as soon as they add a third-party cookie to their website.
To get around this problem, you will need to either:
code something yourself
make use of a third party solution.
It’s probably fair to say that most Shopify and Squarespace users (people who are probably using code-free store builders for a reason!) are likely to go for the second option; and based on my research into this area so far, Shopify is the more flexible platform when it comes to integrating third party cookie banners.
For a start, there are quite a few apps in Shopify’s app store which provide GDPR-compliant banners and cookie consent functionality. Note that some seem considerably better than others — if in doubt about how robust a particular Shopify GPDR app is, consult a lawyer!
There are no dedicated Squarespace ‘extensions’ to solve the GDPR problem, however. And my own appeals to their support team for help on this issue have proved pretty fruitless!
Thankfully though, there is a solution, involving third-party products (our current favourite being CookieYes) that you can add on to Squarespace via the insertion of a few lines of code to your site. These can be configured to block cookies until a user has accepted them.
Bottom line on GDPR: you can make a Shopify or Squarespace site GDPR-compliant, but it will involve some work (and ongoing fees, if you’re using a third party cookie banner solution), with Shopify providing you with more options to solve the problem.
I would much prefer it both website builders took followed the example of BigCommerce and offered cookie consent tools as a built-in feature!
Shopify vs Squarespace: summary
If your primary aim to build an attractive website to showcase content, then out of the two products here, Squarespace is your best bet. I’d argue that this is particularly the case if you’re working with images — Squarespace is particularly good for creating online photography portfolios. It’s also a great option if work in a creative industry; musicians and authors are particularly well served by Squarespace.
If you are hoping to build a content-focused website or a blog and sell a couple of products on the site as well, then Squarespace is probably still your best bet, so long as you are happy to sell in one currency, and aren’t dealing with too many different tax rates.
However, if your aim is to create a large online store with automatic tax calculations, advanced functionality, point of sale, professional reporting and a big inventory of products, then Shopify is unquestionably the more robust solution — its feature set and payment gateway options are significantly more extensive, and its SEO features are better too.
Although both platforms could perform much better where GDPR is concerned, it’s fair to say that merchants wishing to have a high level of compliance on their website will find that this is easier to achieve with Shopify, especially in the area of cookie consent.
In summary, here are the reasons why you might pick one of these platforms over the other:
Reasons to use Shopify over Squarespace
Multi-currency selling is possible in Shopify, either using a built-in option or a third-party app; this is not the case with Squarespace.
US, EU, UK and Canadian tax rates can be automatically calculated and applied to your products’ prices.
You can run a dropshipping business much more easily via a Shopify store.
If you intend to sell products in-store or at events, you will find Shopify’s Point of Sale options extremely useful — Squarespace’s offering is currently very limited on this front.
Abandoned cart saver functionality is available at a much lower price point with Shopify.
It’s easier to meet GDPR requirements with Shopify than it is with Squarespace, mainly because more third-party apps which provide cookie consent functionality are available for Shopify.
Thanks to the fact that EU VAT is automatically calculated for you on digital goods, Shopify also makes selling downloads to EU customers a lot more straightforward.
Shopify’s SEO functionality is stronger than Squarespace’s.
Reporting is considerably better in Shopify than in Squarespace, although you’ll need to be on a more expensive plan to access this functionality.
Shopify offers more options when it comes to importing and exporting products and content.
There is a huge library of third party apps that work with Shopify and extend its functionality significantly — although some integrations are available for Squarespace, you won’t find a similar catalogue of apps to beef up your site / store.
Shopify provides you with significantly more choices when it comes to payment gateways — over 100 payment options are available.
- Shopify is better for creating multilingual websites.
Shopify permits more control over the HTML and CSS of your website.
Shopify provides more comprehensive support than Squarespace, including phone support.
You can — albeit with the use of a third-party app — create AMP versions of product pages in Shopify; this is not the case with Squarespace.
A free trial of Shopify is available here.
Reasons to use Squarespace over Shopify
It’s easier to use — certainly where laying out text and images is concerned.
If your main aim is to showcase content, particularly images, then Squarespace is definitely the more elegant, flexible solution.
Blogging features in Squarespace are better than the Shopify equivalents.
You get access to a much wider range of bundled templates — around 125 to Shopify’s 9.
The quality of bundled templates is arguably a little bit higher in Squarespace than in Shopify — they have more ‘wow’ factor.
Product images are handled considerably better by Squarespace.
You can search for and add Unsplash images directly to pages on your Squarespace site — this is a great (and free!) way to source images for your website.
You can buy Getty images very cheaply with Squarespace and integrate them easily onto your site.
Squarespace allows you to create fully functional online stores at a slightly cheaper price point than Shopify.
Depending on whether or not you have an existing Google Workspace account, you may be able to avail of a free Google Workspace plan for a year by purchasing it through Squarespace.
Mailchimp and Google Drive users will find it easier to integrate these products into a Squarespace site.
Squarespace’s email marketing tool is a bit more advanced than the Shopify equivalent.
A free trial of Squarespace is available here.
And finally, a reminder that we can help you build both Shopify and Squarespace websites! Please do contact us for more information on how you can get a Shopify or Squarespace project off the ground quickly and professionally with us.
Alternatives to Shopify and Squarespace
If you’re hoping to build an e-commerce site, you might like to investigate BigCommerce; it is feature-rich and very easy to use (it’s particularly good when it comes to providing merchants with the option to add a wide variety of product variants and taking multi-currency payments). See our BigCommerce review and our BigCommerce vs Shopify comparison for more details.
If you are on a very low budget and looking to build a simple website, then Wix is worthing investigating. Check out our Wix review, our Wix vs WordPress comparison and our Squarespace vs Wix post for more information on this platform.
If you already have a website (for example a WordPress site), Ecwid is worth a look — this allows you to add comprehensive e-commerce functionality to an existing online presence. You can check out our Ecwid review here, our Shopify vs Ecwid comparison here.
Finally, you may be wondering if Amazon is a good option for building an online store — our Shopify vs Amazon article will give you some insights on this.
You may also find some of our other e-commerce platform reviews helpful – just see the ‘related articles’ section below for a list of recent posts.
More Shopify and Squarespace resources
If you’d like to watch a video review of Shopify, we’re pleased to say we recently published one — see below.
You might also find the below articles / resources on Shopify and Squarespace useful:
our Shopify review
our Squarespace review
our article on Shopify pricing / fees
our article on Squarespace SEO
our article on Shopify SEO
our Volusion vs Shopify review
our Wix vs Shopify comparison
information about our Squarespace development services
Squarespace Email Campaigns review
general advice on how to make online stores
- Our Squarespace templates guide
- Our Youtube video review of Shopify
Any thoughts or questions?
Got any thoughts or queries on Shopify vs Squarespace? Feel free to post them in the comments section below! We’ll do our best to answer any queries you may have on either website builder.
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