Shopify vs Squarespace (2021) — Which is Best?

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Shopify vs Squarespace

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 tools: 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 created as a solution for building and maintaining contentbased websites, whereas Shopify was specifically designed as a solution for making an online store.

With the addition of ecommerce 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 the priority — and, this being the case, it’s fair to say that Squarespace is the more obvious choice 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. 

Content blocks in Squarespace
Laying out content in is based on a ‘content’ block system that is very easy to use

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

  • its templates are well designed

  • basic tweaks to colours and typefaces are very 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 it gives you a lot of nice ways to display content — especially blog posts and images.

Shopify has traditionally been weaker in this area, but, thanks to its release of a new theme format and drag-and-drop editor, is catching up (more on this later in the comparison).

For now though, Squarespace still remains the better option for creating content-driven sites.

But what about building online stores?


Building an online store

When it comes to the ecommerce features of both products, as you might expect, Shopify’s heritage as an online store building solution generally trumps Squarespace’s.

The Shopify ecommerce 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
  • very extensive dropshipping options
  • integration with a very wide range of third-party apps that extend the functionality of your store significantly
  • 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.


Pricing

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).

Squarespace pricing (monthly)

There’s also a ‘Squarespace Enterprise’ plan available, which, as its name suggests, is aimed at more corporate users. This plan provides additional levels of support on design, SEO and security; the pricing for it is negotiable based on requirements.

In terms of the key differences between the main Squarespace pricing plans aimed at more ‘regular’ users, 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 code (CSS

    and javascript).
  • 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 ecommerce features, including abandoned cart recovery, real time carrier shipping, advanced discounts and the option to sell subscriptions, 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 ecommerce analytics 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

    ‘C

    ommerce

    plans come with more sophisticated tools for creating 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 — custom pricing based on requirements (but fees are usually around $2000 per month).

As with Squarespace, a free Shopify trial is available — this lasts 14 days. You can access this via this link.

Shopify pricing (for ‘Basic Shopify,’ ‘Shopify’ and ‘Advanced Shopify’ plans — two additional plans, ‘Lite’ and ‘Plus,’ are also available).
Shopify pricing (for ‘Basic Shopify,’ ‘Shopify’ and ‘Advanced Shopify’ plans — two additional plans, ‘Lite’ and ‘Plus,’ are also available).

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. Instead, it allows you to sell on an existing website or a Facebook page (thanks to the ‘Shopify Buy’ button) or at ‘point of sale’ (a physical location; more on doing 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 Squarespace Enterprise plan, the ‘Shopify Plus’ plan is focused on corporate 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 — which allows you to use Shopify to sell not just online but in physical locations too — is included on all plans, but an additional fee of $89 per month per location is required to avail of advanced features.

These include multi-location selling, the ability to work with an unlimited number of staff, buy-and-collect options and more. (I’ll discuss POS in more depth shortly.)

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 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.

With 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’ll 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 fees 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:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong SAR
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America (note: 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…

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 two main payment processing options — Paypal or Stripe. Whilst these will cater for any type of credit card transaction, and also let you accept staggered payments via AfterPay, it is notable that there is no Squarespace 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 is 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, via 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

  • there is a restriction on adding CSS or javascript to your site.

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 per month lifts all these restrictions and provides some ecommerce 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 and e-commerce features, 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 ecommerce 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.

Using Shopify’s ‘Buy Button’ to sell on an existing website.
Using Shopify’s ‘Buy Button’ to sell on an existing website.

It’s important to remember, of course, that there is a lot more to consider than just the monthly fees.

So, let’s go through the key features of Shopify and Squarespace.

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Key features

Interface / ease of use

Shopify and Squarespace’s interfaces aren’t a million miles apart in terms of layout — both give you a menu on the left hand side of the screen that you use to get to different parts of the content management system (settings, site design, analytics etc.).

The Shopify interface
The Shopify interface

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 currently the more elegant of the two, and is easier to use than Shopify’s, particularly where general content management is concerned.

Squarespace interface
The Squarespace interface

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 with it can take a little bit longer than in Squarespace.

That said, Shopify’s content management system has been improved considerably with the recent launch of its “Online Store 2.0” interface.

This new version of Shopify provides a drag-and-drop editor that lets you — in a similar way to Squarespace — use content sections and blocks to create highly customized, attractive page layouts.

The Online Store 2.0 interface
The Shopify Online Store 2.0 interface

This new interface is a big step up from Shopify’s old, text-focused, WYSIWYG editor — but you should note that it is yet to be rolled out to all themes (for now, the only free theme using it is ‘Dawn’); and even with the improvements made, my view is that Squarespace’s layout engine still remains the more flexible and intuitive tool for general presentation of content.

Now — and sticking with the topic of presentation — let’s take a look at templates.

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 available from Shopify.

And, as things stand, there are far more free templates to choose from in Squarespace — you can choose from around 140 bundled templates to Shopify’s 10.

Squarespace template (‘Paloma’)
Squarespace template (‘Paloma’)

There’s definitely a ‘wow’ factor with certain Squarespace templates that sets them apart from similar website builders and ecommerce 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.

The "Devoe" template
Many of Squarespace’s templates have a ‘portfolio’ focus.

Of the 140 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 create stunning video backgrounds on any page, either by uploading your own video or using a Youtube / Vimeo URL. A range of video playback speed options and colour filters let you further customize your video background.

(Note, however, that if you plan on using a Vimeo video as a background, you’ll need to be on a Vimeo Plus plan to do so).

However, Shopify is by no means a slouch in the template / visuals department. The free Shopify templates are aesthetically pleasing and better than a lot of the ‘out-of-the-box’ templates provided by competing platforms.

Example of a paid-for Shopify theme, ‘Capital.’
Example of a paid-for Shopify theme, ‘Capital.’

Additionally, if the 10 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 gives you 70 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 $150 and $350).

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). As with Squarespace, you can make use of a library of royalty-free stock images to further enhance them.

Additionally, the Shopify theme store is really easy 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.

Filtering Shopify themes
You can use a wide range of filters in Shopify to chose a theme that best suits your needs.

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 easily (and importantly, preview them before switching, so that you can be 100% sure that you actually want to implement a big visual change).

Let’s move on now to getting content in and out of both platforms.

Have you seen our Shopify vs Squarespace video comparison?

Shopify trial | Squarespace trial

Importing and exporting content

Squarespace

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; a limit of three variants per product (color, size, material etc.) applies; and you can only export up to 10,000 products.

This product export limit is fairly large and will be fine for many users — but if you’re planning on hosting a huge product inventory, or if you are dealing with products that come in a lot of shapes and sizes, you will probably find that Shopify is a better option for you.

Shopify

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, the Exlm app gives you a wide range of options for getting your content in and out of Shopify).

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 Optimization) in Squarespace and Shopify

Squarespace and Shopify both handle the fundamentals of SEO pretty well, giving you control over all the key ‘on-page’ SEO elements.

Both platforms make it relatively easy to access and modify:

  • page URLs — the web address for each of the pages on your site
  • page titles — the titles you see in search results
  • meta descriptions — the descriptions of pages you see in search results
  • 301 redirects — information that tells Google where to find a page after you’ve changed its URL, and lets you preserve any ‘link juice‘ associated with it
  • alt text — text that describes images to search engines (and to those using screen readers).

I’d argue that Shopify makes staying on top of SEO a little bit easier than Squarespace, however.

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. Squarespace doesn’t do this.

And I feel that Shopify handles URL redirection better than Squarespace, too. If you change a page’s URL, Shopify will immediately prompt you to create a 301 redirect to that page (if you tick a checkbox, this is done automatically for you).

Shopify handles 301 redirects automatically
Shopify handles 301 redirects automatically

In Squarespace, if you change a page URL, you will have to manually create the 301 redirect (the process for which is a bit fiddly; and creating 301 redirects is quite easy to forget to do).

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 though — static pages don’t involve these prefixes.

When it comes to the very technical aspects of SEO — Core Web Vitals (Google’s new site speed and stability requirements) and page speed — you have limited control over these with both Shopify and Squarespace. This is because both platforms use their own servers and proprietary code.

So long as you don’t overdo it with web fonts and large images however, it does seem to be possible to meet Core Web Vitals standards with both platforms. As for page speed, based on testing a variety of Squarespace and Shopify sites using Google’s Pagespeed Insights tools, I’ve found that Shopify is usually the winner here.

Overall, when it comes to SEO on Squarespace and Shopify, I’d probably say that Shopify has a slight edge, but there’s not a huge amount in it.

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 (a retail outlet, market stall, event etc.).

Not only does POS let you take payment for goods, but it lets you link your selling hardware (card readers, tablets etc.) to your online store’s back end, meaning your inventory levels remain accurate, regardless of whether you make an online or an offline sale.

Up until recently, Shopify offered this functionality but Squarespace didn’t.

However, Squarespace now offers an integration with Square, an e-commerce company that specializes in providing POS hardware.

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 directly from the Shopify Hardware Store in Canada, the US, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand. Outside these countries, supported hardware is available from authorized resellers.

Shopify's Point of Sale kit, for selling your products in a 'real' shop.
Shopify’s Point of Sale kit, for selling your products in a ‘real’ shop.

By contrast, Squarespace only allows you to integrate the Square card reader into proceedings — and only if you are based in the United States and using an iOS device.

Shopify also offers several other POS features that are not available with Squarespace yet, including staff accounts, staff PINs and multiple location options. However, you will need to invest in an $89 per month per location add-on (“Shopify POS Pro”) to avail of most of this functionality.

Ultimately, if POS is important to you — especially if you live outside the US — the better option is definitely Shopify.

You can learn more about Shopify POS here.

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 — instead, 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 or middle man for another business.

Dropshipping apps in Shopify
Shopify’s app store contains a wide range of dropshipping apps.

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 is a huge 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.

That said, Squarespace has recently been making more ‘extensions’ available to meet needs of users hoping to start a dropshipping business. These include:

  • Spocket and Syncee — for dropshipping physical goods
  • Printful — for print-on-demand products
  • Art of Where — clothing
  • Printique — for photo-based products.

It’s great to see Squarespace start to provide more dropshipping options, but because of its much more extensive range of dropshipping apps and integrations, the winner in this area remains Shopify.

The Shopify dropshipping starter kit

If you’re interested in dropshipping, 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 available in Squarespace.

The Shopify ‘Buy Button’
The Shopify ‘Buy Button’ allows you to embed products on any online presence that permits you to add a snippet of code to it.

Mobile apps

Shopify and Squarespace both provide users with mobile apps for managing their sites or stores on the go.

There are currently three Squarespace apps available, which work on both Android and iOS:

  • Squarespace
  • Scheduling Admin
  • Scheduling Client

The ‘Squarespace’ app is the main app you’ll need to manage a Squarespace site on the go — it lets you edit content, view analytics and manage orders (and if you’re using the iOS version and US-based, you’ll get access to point-of-sale features through it too).

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.

Screenshots from the iOS version of Shopify’s mobile app.
Screenshots from the iOS version of Shopify’s mobile app.

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 (‘Shopify Inbox’), a local delivery app, an order tracking app and a logo maker.

Of these additional Shopify mobile apps, ‘Shopify Inbox’ 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 or Apple Messages. Support for Instagram messaging is coming soon.

The 'Shopify Inbox' app.
‘Shopify Inbox’, an app for managing customer enquiries

Tax calculations in Squarespace and Shopify

With Shopify, you can apply the correct tax rules automatically for the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • United States
  • the European Union
  • Switzerland
  • the United Kingdom

Shopify’s automatic tax calculation feature is particularly useful for merchants selling digital goods in the EU.

This is because 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 — and thhis is a massive time saver.

As for Squarespace, if you’re on one of its commerce plans, an 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

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 results.

Both Shopify and Squarespace provide a free SSL certificate which you can use with any domain.

Domains

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 all 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 personally think it’s 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).

While you’re here…have you seen our Shopify video review?

Shopify free trial | Shopify review

Product types

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 5 GB in size, which dwarfs Squarespace’s 300 MB limit.

As for 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.

Product images

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.

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 much 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.

Editing an image's focal point in Squarespace.
Editing an image’s focal point in Squarespace.

So when it comes to image management, it’s a win for Squarespace.

Product options

Another area where Squarespace has an edge over Shopify involves product options.

In Shopify, you can create just 3 options for your store products — for example, colour, size or material. Squarespace lets you create up to 6.

Shopify lets you create 100 variants of your products based on the options you’ve created; Squarespace is again more generous here, giving you a 250 variant limit.

That said, you can get around these limitations entirely in Shopify, so long as you are prepared to pay for a third-party app to do so (an example being the Infinite Options app).

But when it comes to ‘out-of-the box’ flexibility for product options and variants, it’s a win for Squarespace.

Squarespace video review

Squarespace free trial | Squarespace review

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 good 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).

Multi-currency selling in Shopify (using the Bold Multi-Currency app)
Multi-currency selling in Shopify (using the Bold Multi-Currency app)

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.

Shipping options

Both Squarespace and Shopify allow you to set the following rates:

  • Free shipping rates

  • Flat rates

  • Weight-based rates

  • Calculated (‘real time’) shipping rates

Shopify goes one better by allowing you to set price-based weights too, so it’s a bit of a win here for Shopify.

Zooming in: real-time shipping rates in Shopify and Squarespace

Shopify’s real-time shipping quotes

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, Australia or the UK, 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 (up to 88%, in fact).

However, if you want to use calculated rates using a carrier of your own choice, you’ll need to pay an additional monthly add-on fee, pay annually for your plan or subscribe to a monthly ‘Advanced’ plan.

Squarespace’s real-time shipping quotes

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.

Conclusion on real-time shipping quotes

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.

Reporting

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 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:

  • finance reports

  • sales reports

  • customers reports

  • acquisition reports

  • behavior reports

And what’s more, you can use Shopify to create your own custom reports too.

Reporting in Shopify is significantly more comprehensive than in Squarespace.
Reporting in Shopify is significantly more comprehensive than in Squarespace.

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 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 ecommerce 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 data 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 to drive up traffic, and by extension, sales. 

The good news is that both Squarespace and Shopify provide built-in 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’.

Shopify’s new “Online Store 2.0” content management system does let you drop blog content into other pages easily enough, but Squarespace gives you much more control over how you display it (you can show featured posts, ones written by a particular author or containing a certain tag etc. — Shopify doesn’t give you these sorts of presentation options).

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 6,000 apps. These include both integrations with other tools, and 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).

The Shopify app store
The Shopify app store

Squarespace’s apps come in the form of ‘extensions.’ These represent a relatively new development for the company, so at time of writing there is only a limited number available — around 30 — but you can expect this number to grow over time.

The Squarespace extensions store
The Squarespace extensions store

Additionally, there are a few ‘official integrations’ available out of the box with Squarespace (available on the ‘Business’ plan or higher) — these include Mailchimp, Amazon, ChowNow, OpenTable 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.’).

Ways to save on Shopify and Squarespace

If you’re interested in saving money on either Shopify or Squarespace, there are a couple of ways to do this.

With Shopify, there’s a limited-edition trial currently available that gives you 14 days free access and then your first month for just $1 — this can amount to a big saving if you’re on a higher tier plan. You can access this trial here.

With Squarespace, you can get 10% off your plan by following this link and then using the PARTNER10 code when purchasing it.

Further discounts can be availed of on both platforms if you pay on a one-year or two-year basis.

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

  • renaming or deleting users

  • 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 very 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.

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 however 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 — 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).

Email address capture options in Squarespace
Email address capture options in Squarespace

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.

Squarespace’s new Email Campaigns feature
Squarespace’s new Email Campaigns feature

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 some autoresponder functionality being included with Email Campaigns, it’s 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 available.

Shopify Email

Perhaps hoping not to be outdone by Squarespace, Shopify has also 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.

Shopify’s new email marketing tool, ‘Shopify Email.’
Shopify’s new email marketing tool, ‘Shopify Email.’

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 a few 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 available from 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 either 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 up to 20 different language versions of your website on all paid-for plans except ‘Lite.’

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.

(If you’re on a ‘Shopify’ plan or higher, you can use an international domain — myshop.fr, myshop.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.


Customer support

Shopify has the edge over Squarespace when it comes to customer support.

Shopify provides you with live chat, email and, importantly, 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.

Shopify support options
Shopify customer support options are more extensive

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 may not be able to support you as fully.

I’ve had more personal 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.

Squarespace free trial

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 easy (although you will have a bit of work 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 when using Facebook Ads or Google Analytics — 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). 

Cookie consent banners are a key part of GDPR
Cookie consent banners are a key part of GDPR compliance

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.

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.

The 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: conclusion

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 calculation, 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.

  • 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.
  • Shopify’s automatic tax calculation features work in many countries — Squarespace only facilitates automatic tax calculations for US users.
  • The dropshipping options are considerably more extensive in Shopify.

  • Abandoned cart saver functionality is available at a much lower price point from Shopify.

  • It’s easier to meet GDPR requirements with Shopify than it is with Squarespace.

  • Thanks to the fact that EU VAT is automatically calculated on digital goods, Shopify makes selling downloads to EU customers a lot more straightforward.

  • 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’s SEO functionality is a bit stronger than Squarespace’s.
  • You can switch templates easily with Shopify; this is not the case with Squarespace.
  • 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 website or 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 gives you 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 free templates — around 130 to Shopify’s 10.

  • The quality of bundled templates is arguably a little bit higher in Squarespace than in Shopify — they have more ‘wow’ factor.

  • The product option and variant limits are higher in Squarespace.
  • Product images are handled better by Squarespace

    — you don’t have to worry so much about picture ratios.
  • Squarespace allows you to create fully functional online stores at a slightly lower price point than Shopify.

  • A free domain is included with annual plans.
  • You can 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 sophisticated 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 low budget and looking to build a simple website, then Wix is worthing investigating. Check out our Wix review, our Shopify vs Wix comparison, 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 online marketplaces like Etsy or Amazon are good options for building an online store — our Shopify vs Etsy and Shopify vs Amazon articles will give you some insights on this.

You may also find some of our other e-commerce platform reviews helpful.


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.

Also, if you’ve found this post useful, it’d be wonderful if you could consider sharing it on social media or creating a link to it on your blog / website. Thanks for reading!

Shopify vs Squarespace FAQs

Can I use Shopify and Squarespace for free?

Neither platform offers an entirely free plan, but both let you try before you buy. You can read about the Shopify free trial here, or learn more about Squarespace pricing here.

Which is better for SEO, Shopify or Squarespace?

Whilst it’s possible to create sites that rank highly in search results using either Shopify or Squarespace, Shopify arguably has a slight edge, because it automatically fills key SEO fields in for you and prompts you to create a 301 redirect every time you change a URL on your site.

What’s the main advantage of using Shopify instead of Squarespace?

The main advantage of using Shopify instead of Squarespace is that its key e-commerce features are much stronger. With Shopify, you can use more payment gateways and access a much wider range of e-commerce apps; you can also access features that don’t exist at all in Squarespace, like multi-currency and multilingual selling.

What’s the main advantage of using Squarespace instead of Shopify?

The main advantage of using Squarespace instead of Shopify is that it is much better for building content-driven sites — if you want to create a blog, brochure or portfolio site that also lets you sell on the side, you’ll find that Squarespace’s template offering is much better suited to this. Laying out and editing text and images in Squarespace is also easier than in Shopify.

Comments (189)

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Does Shopify allow us to store our sales proceeds in our Shopify account vs. sending them to our bank bank account?

Hi Barbara, where you ‘keep’ your sales income will depend on the payment gateway you use. For example, if you connect Shopify to Paypal, you can store your revenue in there and transfer whenever you like. Other payment gateways behave in different ways however. It’s best to check with the individual payment gateway provider or Shopify’s support team. Hope this helps a little?

I wish I had done more research and saw this article before I paid someone to create my e-commerce site on Squarespace. We are in the beginning phase of the project and I am really thinking about changing to Shopify. I did find a dropshipping company that does have an integration with Squarespace but I’m not sure that it will meet my needs. Do you think its worth changing or just sticking with the site I have with Squarespace? Thanks so much for taking the time to write this article!

Thanks for your query, Nancy. Generally speaking Shopify is the more powerful tool for e-commerce, but without knowing exactly what you’re trying to sell / achieve, it’s a bit hard to say whether a switch from Squarespace to Shopify would make sense for you.

I usually recommend Shopify for merchants who have particular needs around multicurrency or multilingual functionality if that helps? And yes, it is better for dropshipping, although there are various extensions for Squarespace now which do facilitate dropshipping – see https://www.squarespace.com/extensions/home for more details.

great article loaded with helpful info! thank you for that! here’s my plight: our business is brand new. right now we are seasonal (Christmas) and only have 1 product to sell. (it’s a brand new product, invented by my husband and patent pending). would shopify still be my best bet even though we only have 1 product?

Hi Carrie

To be honest, if the main aim of your site is e-commerce then yes — I would generally recommend it over Squarespace (mainly because it facilitates multi-currency selling, which is useful for selling your products abroad, and because it gives you abandoned cart saving cheaper). Where Squarespace comes out ahead is in content management – if your site is going to have a lot of galleries, blog posts and other visual content you may find it a better solution. But as a selling tool, Shopify is currently the stronger of the two. Hope this helps?

This is a very helpful article and I am still totally torn! Since I already have a site built on Squarespace, I think I will stick with it through the end of this subscription year and transition to Shopify when it is over.

Great article. Also very informative. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain the difference between the two.

I’m still undecided which route to take. Maybe you can help me a bit further? I’m in the process of creating a website for my new business selling 20th Century design furniture. I was previously set on using Squarespace purely because of the user experience and the design aesthetic of the templates but after reading your article I am not sure which one of the two is more suited to my needs. What would you recommend for a start-up? Any further help will be much appreciated. Thank you.

Thanks for swinging by Sofia! Appreciate the kind words about the comparison.

I guess it depends on your e-commerce needs. If you only need to sell in one country, and you don’t have lots of tax rates to worry about, then Squarespace should work fine for you.

However, there’s no denying that Shopify is better for merchants with advanced e-commerce needs. You get multi-currency functionality, automatic tax calculations and abandoned cart saving on their Basic plan. And to be honest the templates are pretty strong too.

Squarespace is a better bet I find for portfolio sites, brochure sites, blogs, music sites etc. And the e-commerce features are pretty good. But Shopify is definitely the more ‘pro’ option (for now) if selling products is the main goal of your site.

Great article, thanks Chris!I’m in the process of creating a new website for my art and interior design business and have started building on both Shopify and Squarespace to see what each can do for me.I need the portfolio aspects of Squarespace, but the shop abilities of Shopify sound like they will be much more helpful down the track when I wish to sell digital products.I’ve used the Shopify Lite on a Squarespace site I built for another business because Squarespace was very limited on the discounting and shipping they offer. But again, Shopify Lite is very limiting as well – there doesn’t seem to be a way to categorize or search for products, it’s just one big gallery of items on the page you embed it in.Squarespace page builder seems to be so much more fluid and free than Shopify (for someone like me who doesn’t code). And there doesn’t seem to be a way to create portfolio’s on Shopify.I’m thinking of going down the route of Shopify Lite with different collections on sub-pages of my website but would love your opinion!I hope my input helps out other people that read your fantastic article.

Hi Kerry! Thanks for your kind words about the article and I’m glad you found it useful. I agree that Squarespace does tend to make it easier for users that need portfolio functionality. One thing I’d suggest you might do is take a look at the various Shopify gallery plugins that are available in the Shopify app store (https://apps.shopify.com/) — you might find something that meets your needs there, although there will probably be an extra monthly cost to consider. Hope this helps a little?

Hi, Thanks for the great article. I’m considering engaging a freelancer website builder to use SquareSpace, Wix, or Shopify to construct a not-for-profit (NFP) website for me. I want an e-commerce store on my NFP website which would sell a few products which would be dropshipped to my customers. I don’t want to use Oberlo, Ali Express or any other drop shipping ‘supermarket’ to source products. Instead, I wish to make drop shipping arrangements with each supplier I know in order to offer quality products on my online store that I like and would be a good fit for NFP. How do you suggest I proceed ?

Thanks for the comment Peter. Since you are making your own dropshipping arrangements, you could technically use any of the three products you mention in your comment and just pass the orders along to your suppliers (or give them access to the back end).

Of the three products you mention, Shopify is the most fully-featured for e-commerce. BigCommerce is also worth a look, particularly if you want to sell in multiple currencies or have a lot of product options / customisable products. Our review here might help on that front: https://www.stylefactoryproductions.com/blog/bigcommerce-review

What a well researched and perfectly explained blog. THANK YOU for taking the time to be this thorough. I’ve been contemplating Squarespace vs Shopify for weeks now and once I finally decided to do research, you were the first post that popped up and this is definitely worthy of that top spot.

Well, I’m not sure who to thank for this article, but it was extremely helpful to me. Very well written and answered so many of my questions. So, my sincere gratitude for the author and for your site for sharing this. Thank you.

This is a great article, thank you for taking the time!

I have just starting using Shopify Lite’s ‘Buy Button’ in conjunction with my SS site. I only have approx. 40 products to sell so it seems the ideal solution. However, there is a known issue with image quality, which might be worth noting.

Images of the embedded product collection are fine. They have an image size of 550 x 550 px and are good resolution. However, when selecting a particular product, by clicking on the ‘VIEW PRODUCT’ button, the product images of the selected product become blurry. This is because Shopify have reduced them to – 280 x 280 px. I guess Shopify are aiming for maximum optimisation. But on a mobile device, this reduction renders the images useless, creating a negative user experience.

All my uploaded product images are as per Shopify’s recommendations of 2048px sq, 72dpi, JPG etc etc

I was 2.5 hours on a live chat with Shopify yesterday, but they’re stumped as well.

This article from a community Shopify forum was started in Feb 2019, believe it or not. So other users are experiencing this fault and Shopify have been aware for a while and still there’s no solution – https://community.shopify.com/c/Shopify-APIs-SDKs/Product-image-issue-when-embedding-Shopify-Buy-Button-on-3rd/td-p/484386

With no imminent resolution from Shopfiy, and short of opting for a full-on Shopify plan, I’m now looking to going back to using SS commerce.

Thank you for taking the time to be so thorough! I am looking at setting up a very small website to sell a handful of variants (20-30 max at first). I run a business on Discogs, but want the option to sell some of my swag for fundraising towards some of my regular donations. I don’t know what sort level of sales I will make, but I assume it won’t be very much, especially after recouping the cost to make/sell/ship the items. That said, I would eventually like to start listing items from my Discogs store for sale on the website depending on how time-intensive it ends up being. Would it make sense to go with Shopify from the very beginning if I plan to scale up, or is it wise to stick with SS since it seems easier and less expensive for low volume sales?

Hi there – thanks for your comment! Here’s my take…

I think if you plan to get serious about e-commerce down the line, Shopify is probably the better bet – its selling features are, as things stand, a good bit better than Squarespace’s and some nice features, like abandoned cart recovery and (basic) multi-currency selling are available on most plans.

If your aim is to just to link to products on your Discogs store (i.e., not actually sell anything from your site but point people to another location where they can purchase goods), then Squarespace is the better bet.

Hope that makes sense?

This is such a great article – thank you!I do have a question re: shopify lite. I am interested in using Shopify lite on a Squarespace ecommerce website, but I don’t know how it would work. I am worried I could be stung by two transaction fees and wanting to double check, I contacted both providers. Shopfiy couldn’t answer my question, and Squarespace told me that I couldn’t use Shopify lite on their site.

Hi Megan, you can use Shopify Lite on a Squarespace site (we do – to sell our SEO book). You just need to add it as a code block – see https://www.shopify.co.uk/buy-button/squarespace

In terms of transaction fees, you’ll only have to worry about the Shopify Lite ones, but you will have to pay $9 per month to Shopify on top of your Squarespace plan.

The question is whether or not you need to use Squarespace AND Shopify Lite. In most cases the Squarespace commerce functionality is adequate – it’s only worth using Shopify Lite in conjunction with Squarespace if there are particular Shopify apps you want to integrate into proceedings (for example dropshipping ones).

I hope this helps? Best wishes Chris

Just thought you should know that there is a built-in integration with Printful and ShipBob for Squarespace (and not at all fiddly).

Awesome article. Thanks for keeping it balanced with real pro/cons. What I didn’t see was a comparison of Schema and the ease of adding the metadata for the different types of pages.

This is a fantastic, thorough review! Wish I had seen it before I committed to SquareSpace. The one part that I didn’t see addressed and is a HUGE problem is that SquareSpace does NOT calculate sales tax for ANYWHERE – not just the EU/VAT. You have to manually enter in THOUSANDS of rates and maintain them manually. I have been in contact with their support teams and they do not seem to care in the slightest to fix it any time soon. I promised I would shout the problem from the rooftops. It apparently "takes resources" to do that, but they think a small business has the ability to do it. Unfortunately I can’t move my site over to Shopify at the moment, so I am going to use the Lite plan and buy buttons in the interim.

Thank you for this amazing, comprehensive, well-researched, unbiased article!

I have taken Shopify to task for fobbing-off GDPR-compliant cookie consent to 3rd party developers, see here:https://community.shopify.com/c/Shopify-Apps/Why-is-cookie-consent-per-GDPR-not-core-Shopify-functionality/m-p/526310

Most of the current 3rd party GDPR Shopify Apps are just decoration at best, dangerous at worst.

Hi, thank you for this awesome comparison it was just what I needed to read. I am about to launch a range of handmade fair trade handbags from Thailand and looking to create an e-commerce site to sell them. I am based in Australia but I’m planning to sell them internationally as well and so have decided to go with Shopify. It was mentioned in your review that it is best to purchase a domain name from a dedicated domain provider rather than Shopify. Do you have any recommendations for a domain provider that I should buy from. I am wanting to go with a .com domain as I think it’s better for selling outside Australia, is this correct? I am a complete novice in this regard so any advice would be appreciatedAmanda

Hi Amanda, thanks for your feedback on our comparison! I would go with a domain name provider that provides a fast DNS lookup time, as this can provide an SEO benefit. You can take a look at some options here: https://www.dnsperf.com/

We generally recommend Cloudflare for domain registration and management, due its fast DNS lookup times. However, you should use Cloudflare with Shopify in a particular way – see https://support.cloudflare.com/hc/en-us/articles/203464660-Using-Cloudflare-with-Shopify

Best to contact Shopify’s support team if you need any further help with this, but hope this helps a little 🙂

Here are a few things I tried and found1. Importing blog posts from Wordpress to Squarespace is easy and free whereas in Shopify it is not a built-in feature and apps that do this are paid ones.2. Adding a product into a blog post is an inbuilt feature in Squarespace but needs an app (paid) in Shopify.3. I could export physical products from SS easily. Maybe they added this feature after this post was published.I’m continuing my comparison to migrate my site from Wordpress. Currently, I have no e-commerce facility on my website (www.mandarmarathefineart.com) but want to have it on my new site.Thx,Mandar

Thank you! This is very helpful! I am a bit stuck still though. I have had my Squarespace website and blog for a few years now – annual business plan. I am looking to add some products to my offerings and have signed up for the Shopify basic plan. This seems redundant and disjointed. How would you suggest I streamline this? Thank you.

Hi Beth, if you have an existing Squarespace site, and are happy with it, you might be better off using the Squarespace e-commerce functionality (unless you need dropshipping, in which case Shopify is probably a better bet).

This is amazing, literally answers every question I’ve spend months on trying to figure out, thanks for all the time and effort you put into this!

This review is so robust – it was exactly what I was looking for. Thank you! I notice it says you can’t drop-ship with SquareSpace, but it seems like you might be able to do that with Printful? I’m not affiliated with them or anything, but I came across it in my own search: https://www.printful.com/landing/squarespace-print-products-fulfillment

Wow…this is the most insanely helpful article on this I’ve ever read. I know this must’ve taken weeks to put together. I am so grateful! Thank you!

Thank you so much for the wonderful article! I have a situation here, I currently have e-commerce site through yahoo and shopify, but my main business is from Etsy, I want to change the current shopify e-commerce site to the same domain name that matches my Etsy shop and start working on marketing strategies to drive traffic to the site but I also love SS because I heard is user friendly, I am thinking about switching the yahoo site to SS, what is your take on that? My yahoo site has good organic search result (I did not do much marketing there, I think I just have been doing google adwords for a long time and may be that is the result of that. Do you think if I switch to SS, will it change the search result? I am a small online business, selling about 100 to 150 items, do you think SS is still good for that, I just keep hearing SS is good for content driven marketing. Any thoughts on this is greatly appreciated.

Hi Alice, apols for the delayed response, due to vacation! Hard to advise given the detail, but in general my preference is Shopify for e-commerce, Squarespace for content. My view is that the Shopify SEO features are stronger than the Squarespace equivalents. I hope this helps (a little!).

After reading this I am still on the fence. I have had squarespace for quite some time, I sell physical products, offer services and blog. After reading the comments I was thinking of keeping my squarespace page and getting a shopify button. Sqaurespace is so easy, clean and familiar. I’ve never used shopify.

Any insight would be lovely lol.

Love the article, hope to learn more. Maybe we could work something out with our site https://goo.gl/GB8qmW we would like to learn on how to make it just like yours too

Wow – I have to say this is one of the best ‘comparison’ breakdowns I think I’ve ever read. It digs in at exactly the right level, and focuses on basically every pro/con someone could reasonably consider in making this decision – and the ‘if/then’ tree at the end is similarly helpful. I wish every ‘versus’ article on the web was as well done. And lest anyone think I’m a shill, I created a log-in just to leave this comment, that’s how much I liked it.

Thanks a million for reading Michael and for the very kind words 🙂 Hope it helped with your Shopify vs Squarespace decision!

Great article! I use both platforms frequently and your analysis of both tools helped solidify my decision making on one platform versus the other for some of my clients. +1

I build website for small businesses and generally use Squarespace. Most clients I’ve had do not have a need for eCommerce.I’ve looked into integrating Shopify into Squarespace as a compromise. The particular client I’m referring to will also be using a 3rd party for a different type of product & I’ll embed it into the site as well. Other than paying twice, would you say this is a "best of both worlds" or should I choose one over the other? Thanks!

Hi Jodi, if you are selling physical products, then Squarespace’s e-commerce functionality is probably fine (so long as you don’t have a huge number of products that you will one day need to export – you can’t currently export product data with Squarespace). For digital products, I’d definitely go with Shopify as it calculates VAT MOSS automatically.

But there’s nothing to stop you using Shopify and Squarespace together (or indeed other third party e-commerce apps with Squarespace), if that works out easiest for you.

Cheers! Chris

Wow! I am so glad this was updated and from reading the comments-I found my own comment from a year ago! So here is a follow up since I have used both platforms extensively. I actually DO NOT like the aspect ratio feature on SS templates. On some you can turn this off but other you cannot and the only way to figure out what template works for you is to preview the template and upload sample products to "see" if the ecommerce offering on the template is what you need. I can see where the tax thing is a HUGE deal-(we are a global economy, people) For now I am just sucking up the taxes and shipping because I can’t seem to figure it out per piece of artwork and I think my account will be quite unhappy with this. I don’t make alot of sales but when I do, they are high priced ($1,000+) so that is why I went with SS but I am frustrated by the blogging and ecommerce walls within the templates! So it boils down to "business model" I simply wish Shopify had better content page options.

What a comprehensive comparison!! Thank you for posting this. I’ve actually run an online store with shopify a few years ago. Was considering Squarespace because I wanted to try something new and found a premium template I like, but your article changed my mind. Thanks!!

I so wish I’d read this before I created a site using SquareSpace! I chose them because they offer tools to make a really beautiful site, but it isn’t worth it. I’m based in California and the sales tax rules are so complex and as you said, there’s no way to have them automatically calculated in SquareSpace. I have to enter them manually, which is time consuming and easily done incorrectly. They offer Stripe as a payment option, but the version they offer doesn’t allow for integration with companies like TaxJar who can automatically calculate the sales tax for each purchase. I would strongly discourage anyone in California from creating an online store using SquareSpace…go with Shopify. It will save you loads of time and potential tax issues/fines.

Chris, thank you for this excellent and comprehensive comparison article. I’ve spent far too many hours looking at which is best (up ’til now still being unable to decide), rather than getting my store off the ground! As a creative, I absolutely love Squarespace and the beauty of some of the templates … but I’m building a POD / dropshipping business so clearly Shopify wins by default. My only real concern was about the image quality, so I’m really pleased that you’ve covered it in the comments below (to Lyndsay). I’m guessing so long as I create quality images and make them the right size to begin with (if I want them all the same size on mobile for example), then there shouldn’t be any real problem doing that. Would appreciate if you could confirm this. Thanks again for such a superbly written thorough piece. Now I’m 99% there instead of 50%!

Thanks for the kind words about our Shopify – Squarespace comparison Ava! Basically, as long as your images are all high quality and the same aspect ratio, they should work fine in Shopify. I’d suggest just opening a trial account, and creating a couple of test products to put your mind at ease. Good luck with your project!

This is an amazing comparison article. Exactly what I’ve been looking for. I currently have Squarespace for portfolio work only. Since I’m publishing a magazine, so many people have been telling me to go to Shopify. Given your information, I see that Squarespace is better for me. I’m going to have pages focused more on images and other content as opposed to primarily selling lots of items.

Hi Chris,

Great article, very comprehensive. Which then also makes me still sit on the fence. Straight up, I am starting a gift basket business that focuses on locally made, quality products. I plan on running primarily a local business, not shipping. I love beautiful SS imagery and that is important to make my products stand out from the online gift basket businesses that ship but only offer low quality items. I would only be offering 10 products at a time but at the same time wish to highlight current baskets on my site, such as valentines day. Shopify makes sense for running a small business. But the images and templates do not come close to SS. Which site would you recommend for ease of building and sales for a small business selling only about 10 products? I would choose Shopify instantly if it were not the fact that the imagery is not so great. So do I choose imagery over ecommerce tools?Would SS be enough? And price of the site/fees do play a factor for sure since I will be a small business. Thanks for your feedback, greatly appreciated.

Hi Lindsay, many thanks for your kind words on our Squarespace-Shopify comparison! I’m glad you found it useful.

The main thing I would say in response to your query is that the quality of the imagery is ultimately down to you and not the templates.

Whichever solution you end up using, it’s going to look good if you are using professional, attractive shots of your products. Although I marginally prefer the Squarespace templates, I think they work better for blogger and portfolio sites. Shopify templates – particularly the paid-for ones – can look great on e-commerce sites. And the e-commerce functionality is definitely stronger on Shopify than Squarespace.

My suggestion would be perhaps to focus on getting your product shots done first, start free trials of Shopify and Squarespace, and then see how you get on with both platforms.

I hope this helps a little, and thanks again for reading this post. Good luck with your new business!

Your article is incorrect in stating that Personal plans on Squarespace do not allow for e-commerce. You can have unlimited items for sale on their most inexpensive Personal plan; you just pay a higher transaction fee than the more expensive Business plan. I thought maybe I had just been grandfathered in to a different plan setup because I’ve had my account for 4 years, but I went to their current pricing page, and in fact, it is still the case that you can sell items if you only have the personal plan. (https://www.squarespace.com/pricing#websites)

Hi Lauren, thanks for feeding back on our Shopify vs Squarespace comparsion.

Unless we are seeing different versions of the pricing page (perhaps due to some geo-redirection or some A/B testing going on), I’m pretty sure that the pricing info referred to above is accurate.

On the version of that page that we can view, only the Business plan provides e-commerce functionality.

Cheers!Chris

Hi Chris, this is really useful and informative as I’m looking to build an ecommerce website for selling travel+food photography, as part of my existing Squarespace travel+food blog.

By the looks of what you’re saying the answer is pretty clear and I should be sticking to Squarespace for this new website too. However, I would be keen to find out how Shopify Lite would work as it would conveniently link existing photos from my blog to the respective photos on the ecommerce website, through a Shopify Lite button.

Any thoughts?

Thanks for the positive feedback on the comparison Dimtiris.

If you already have a Squarespace site and it is generating good traffic for you then I think you are probably worth staying put. To add a Shopify Lite button to a Squarespace site, it’s just a case of adding a ‘code block’ beside the relevant content and inserting some Shopify code to embed your button. There are some instructions on how to do so here:

https://help.shopify.com/manual/sell-online/buy-button/add-embed-code#squarespace

Hope this helps? Thanks! Chris

Chris, Thank you for this article! Really helpful and well written. A turning point in my on-line research whilst setting up a new store.Keep ’em comin’! Best of luck!

Really helpful article – but as with many people who have commented, still can’t make my mind up. I’m currently selling limited edition art prints via Big Cartel and was going to go for SS. Then wondered if I go the whole way and use Shopify. The layout / visual is very important and my sales aren’t huge, so wonder if SS is the best solution for now..?

Thank you for this Article. For Service based businesses, which one would you recommend? Do any of them have appointment calendar? Time based invoicing?

Chris,Great article – I just found it while doing some research for a shopping cart for our website. We’re using Squarespace for the website BUT we’ve got a rather unique setup requirements for the shopping cart – we want to show the product, put it in a cart and send a confirmation email with a list of what was selected BUT no pricing, inventory or shipping cost, basically a glorified PO. We’re working wholesale direct with stores but can’t afford a login set up. Even if we did that, the pricing, inventory and shipping wouldn’t be shown. What would you suggest for this type of cart? Thanks!

Hi Elizabeth, thanks for the kind words about our comparison! I’m not sure you’d be able to achieve this with Squarespace, but suggest dropping Shopify’s support team a line to see if there is a workaround for this maybe?

I’m in the middle of this decision — and while I was leaning towards Squarespace, I found something very disturbing. I was playing with the Discounts feature and saw that it doesn’t allow the option to make a coupon one-time-use only. Now, how important that feature is will vary – but here’s what should concern everyone. On their message boards people have been complaining about this since 2013. It’s a simple feature to implement, most other have it, but SS has been blowing it off for 4 years while people having pleading with them to implement it.

The same thing with price variants. Let’s say you’re selling numerous products with the same variants and prices — every item has to have its prices/variants added individually. An initial workaround is to duplicate the item – but what if you have one hundred items and then want to adjust a variant price across the board? You have to change each one individually. I checked the message boards for that – people have been complaining about that for at least two years now. SS has beautiful templates – I prefer them visually – but it seems their basic backend for businesses are not a big concern for them, and they have no interest in improving.

Really great article — but wanted to get clarification on the pricing. How come Shopify’s prices stated on the website (https://www.shopify.com.ph/pricing) are different from the ones you mentioned in the post? Are there additional fees that Shopify failed to disclose in the page that I’m just not seeing?

Also, just a question: Considering that I plan to sell on both eBay and a website (either Squarespace or Shopify obviously)… Which would be a better option, Squarespace or Shopify? Would like to go for a website that can seamlessly integrate the inventory/sales/etc of both eBay and the eCommerce website.

This article is awesome! It compared everything so well and really gave me a thorough understanding of what each platform has to offer. Thank you!

Thanks so much for writing this – it was exactly what I was looking for today – a direct comparison of these two! Very helpful!

Thank you, hugely helpful article!I’m currently using Shopify and while it needs a style overhaul, I also need to add some functionality and I’m wondering if you have any advice? I need to add an enrolment form (we sell workshop tickets) that customers fill in before purchase. Do you know the easiest way? I also need to collect email addresses easily to Mailchimp. Apologies if these have obvious answers – I’m probably the least techy person here!

Hi there, for the enrolment form you’d probably need to use line item properties in Shopify: https://help.shopify.com/themes/customization/products/get-customization-information-for-products

For mailchimp data capturing: https://help.shopify.com/manual/using-themes/change-the-layout/theme-newsletter

Thanks a mill for reading our Squarespace vs Shopify comparison 🙂

Hi there… thank you for a very useful article for the early stages of my research.

Could you let me know if each is equal in terms of ability to embed into Facebook? I know Shopify Lite essentially is only that, but does Shopify full, and Squarespace make it easy to create a linked shop within a Facebook tab?

Thanks again

S

Hi Stig, Shopify fully integrates with Facebook. See https://www.shopify.com/facebookI’m not sure about Squarespace. Shopify also has excellent integration with Facebook retargeting apps.If your primary focus is selling things, I recommend Shopify over Squarespace.

-Nikkihttp://runningwithfish.com/

I’m still torn with which to go with..If I go with Shopify but at some point decide to have a break from selling my products, yet keep the website content and more importantly the blog pages running, it’s not possible. You either have to put the shop in vacation mode so nobody can view your site, or pause your site where people can still see your products but not purchase.If I go with Squarespace (trying to forget the Paypal issue) and sometime down the line wish to transfer to Shopify, you can’t export your blog posts and products over…Am I right?Many thanks!

Hi Ruth,

The best thing to do in this situation would be to use the Shopify Buy Button on your Squarespace website. As Chris, was saying, you can create a website on Squarespace but use Shopify to power all your eCommerce needs.

You can learn more at: https://www.shopify.ca/buy-button

It’s easy to use and allows you to embed products, shopping cart, and checkout all with one easy to use embed code.

Daanish MaanShopify Buy Button team.

Hi Ruth. In Shopify you can make products invisible, and hide product & catalog pages from your navigation so users won’t find them. A developer will also be able to redirect your product and catalog pages to your homepage (or somewhere else) if they are found via search; and/or edit the pages to say "coming soon" or whatever. The rest of your site will remain.If your primary consideration is blogging and you don’t have many products, I would suggest checking out Wordpress. it’s far and away the best for blogging, and you can add free eCommerce features.

[email protected]

I tried all those platforms, after all the hard comparisons, I chose supadupa. So far so good. Good price and good look, enough functionalities.If anyone interested, may have a try. use this link for 20% off: http://mbsy.co/ghBR7

oleka.co.uk

I have been using SS for my online store for a few months now and like Jenna, wish I had read this a year ago! Thank you so much, Chris, for sharing this. It is the best analysis of the two platforms I have found. I feel like I didn’t do much research before jumping on board with SS, and now I’m torn if I should switch to Shopify. It personally took me a very long time to understand how to work the SS site close to what I wanted. Now I’m satisfied with the "look" of the site but as the # of store items grows, I don’t think SS is going to cut it. So I’m still very torn as the thought of relearning a platform is intimidating to me.

Here are my major complaints with SS. There are many other small quirks but these are the main ones that were applicable as I built my site over the past few months:

Shipping weights is only in lbs. I have many light items in my store and this makes entering weights for them annoying. No phone or chat support – only email. In the beginning, there was a live chat but that feature disappeared the last time I checked. The responses are good when I get them, but there is that lag time between. No integrated Point of Sales. We do many pop up shops and afterwards I have to manually update the inventory. No integrated zip codes and tax rates, which is absolutely ridiculous. My physical location is in a large county with a tax rate that applies to over 400 zip codes. There are many gaps in the range of zip code numbers so I had to enter them mostly individually. It took hours. Inability to export inventory into a CSV. I only ship in the US, but I eventually want to expand, and I find the way SS has it set up to be very confusing…

I have sent a request to the SS developers about most of these issues and see them mentioned in the help forums but have yet to see any changes.

One question I have is, if I switch from SS to Shopify, how does that affect my existing SEO results? I am also considering a move before my year paid is completed.

I wish I would have read this a year ago! Thanks for sharing this!! We launched our e-commerce site with Squarespace, but I have had to learn the hard way on features that we need that Squarespace just doesn’t offer. Here are a few:–They don’t have ANY sales tax solutions that integrate (no avalara, tax jar, ect. Even though Squarespace as a company apparently uses Avalara). This means sales tax reporting is totally manual, and there’s no option to create a solution because their API isn’t public.–You can’t do pop-up’s (e.g. no email sign up or sale advertisement when customers enter the site).–No option to run a referral campaign (they don’t sync with options on the market).–While I’m in love with Xero, the advertised integration Squarespace totes is actually pretty poor. If you need to keep track of inventory in Xero (which I would think everyone would for more in depth reporting and business pulse), you have to manually manage inventory in Xero and manipulate each sales invoice imported from Squarespace. Squarespace communicates the sale of each item to Xero but not what the actual item is. So this has to be edited in order for Xero to deduct inventory.–No option to do individual item banners – e.g. to let customers know an item is ‘just in’ or ‘preorder now.’ The only individual item banners Squarespace offers is "sold out."Needless to say, I’ll be seriously considering Shopify once our 1 year (pre-paid) is completed…or possibly before if they have solutions on these issues. Squarespace is beautiful and fairly easy to build. But there are definitely a few weird bugs and kinks. I have had pretty good luck with customer service, but it would be awesome to actually get someone on the phone.

HI! This article is super helpful. I am a a designer and artist who had a fully functioning shopify site selling handbags, t-shirts and prints. I sold most of my inventory and and concentratinfg on just the art. I currently have a portfolio site on squarescape and have a dormant shopify site which is $14 a month. So basically I am paying for 2 sites. I want to combine the sites (which I have at 2 urls) I taught myself to use shopify and think the point of sale function is REALLY good and I know I had so many previous sales via paypal that I think I need to stick with shopify. So my question is…if there is a template (and I don’t mind paying for it) on shopify that will somewhat preform to showcase art? Is it possible to show an image of a product on a shopfy site without the pricing and cart? I have yet to fiddle around but it will important for me to have an archived or "past work" section. If you can think of any off the top of your head, do let me know. Anyway, this was super extensive and informative and I appreciate it. On a side note: I went from a $29 plan to a $79 plan for only one month and then back to $29 for my end of the year sales and tax overview. Basically, you can switch plans monthly on shopify as you need to, if you are a small business this worked for me.

Great review – it’s interesting that you note the templates of SquareSpace being so much better than Shopify – I tend to agree with this and hope Shopify catches up on this front. A lot of factors here to mull over – thanks!

Great review – it’s interesting that you note the templates of SquareSpace being so much better than Shopify – I tend to agree with this and hope Shopify catches up on this front. A lot of factors here to mull over – thanks!

Very well written comparison, not like other junk out there. And a beautiful website you have set up, too. Not a big surprise since it’s on SqSpace:)

As far as the comparison goes, I basically agree with everything mentioned here. I’ve set up websites and e-com for myself as well as for my clients and love how professional and simply gorgeous SqSpace based websites look like. I also can’t agree more with that point about image editing in Shopify as well as how bad from a designers perspective Shopify’s free templates tend to be. It’s like- why, Shopify, you simply can’t make that image and website design process easier and more user friendly?! Just steel the solution from SqSpace, if you can’t reinvent the wheel yourself.

Unfortunately for SqSpace, that’s where their edge ends. The rest is all Shopify. I use it much more lately than SqSpace because nowadays there’s so many needs to sell something on websites even if that’s not the focus of the one’s web presence. Of course, to make a Shopify based site to look as beautiful and professional as SqSpace based site is a pain in the derrière, as you said, but one can get pretty close to it by diving into html and css. It takes time but for me it’s also a matter of principle. Since my country of residence is not supported by SqSpace only gateway Stripe, I better give all my and my clients money to Shopify. Just tired of that arrogance I’ve come across too many times online when something is supported or available only for residents of big countries. While I understand the reasons behind it and actually most of the time can find ways around those limitations, lately I’m just boycotting those kind of services as a protest. For Christ’s sake, just integrate other payment options on your platform! Whereas Shopify even allows me to accept Bitcoin… through more gateways than SqSpace allows me to handle my Visa transactions! That’s a huge edge on Shopify’s side.

As for the customer support- from my experience, SqSpace support is good, Shopify’s- excellent. Just one example out of many- couple of weeks ago I had a combined html and issue I just wasn’t able to solve myself. But my client put his site on that dormant plan (the lowest priced one). So it means I’m not eligible for any advice or assistance from their in-house developers. I didn’t know that before. So I reach out to Shopify’s support asking can I get advice on how to solve my problem. A girl from their support team explains me that technically I’m not eligible for that kind of support. The next thing she says: ”Anyways, I’ll just forward your request to our developers, maybe it goes through if no one notices..” And it went through haha. I offered to tip that lady a drink by just sending €10 in bitcoins to her waller. Unfortunately she basically didn’t know what bitcoin is. Yeah, but long story short- their support staff’s attitude is great 9 times out of 10!

Speaking of pricing, I agree with everything mentioned in the article. Just to add, I’ve a feeling that a gap between $29 and $79 is kinda big. I like though that Shopify shows their monthly prices whereas SqSpace primarily displays their price if one subscribes to an annual plan. It’s probably just me, but since people using e-com solutions tend to pay month to month (not talking about big time businesses or daydreamers), it just seems more fair to show that monthly not annual price first.

Anyways, great piece and you’re on my radar from now on!

Great comparison. Thank you !

However, I think that too many paragraphs were written on price. If you’re in the Ecommerce business I think that the price of both these platforms – or even more – the difference between pricing should be such a small percentage of your profit to not even be a decisive factor. Hope that makes sense.

Great post anyway-

Thanks for the comment Marius – noted! You’re right, the pricing section is a bit lengthy…will have a think about that.

hi Chris! i really am not crazy about shopify backend- i have an online jewelry store and am curious about using squarespace and shopify e-commerce. how would I mix the two?

Hi Angela – thanks for your question! You could use Shopify Lite with a Squarespace plan. However my gut feeling is that for your business type – an online store – you are probably better off with a platform that is specifically focused on online selling (like Shopify or Bigcommerce). Although Squarespace facilitates e-commerce, its main strength, as discussed in the Squarespace vs Shopify comparison above, is that it is great for showcasing content (videos, images, blog content etc.).

If you use Buy Buttons for products and embed them on a Squarespace site won’t those ecommerce products then be managed in the Shopify universe thus negating a lot of the negatives of Squarespace above?

Hi Kico! To a degree, yes, although you’re paying for two plans. Also you’d be limited regarding how you could present the products, and there might be some SEO implications.

Hi Chris! I am launching a jewelry collection with only 10-12 pieces to start. I overall love squarespace look more but like the shopify Ecommerce. What are the downsides of doing this combo? Would I still get the SEO advantage using shopify Ecommerce you mentioned? You rock for us newbies !!

Hi Angela, thanks for the kind words! If your primary aim is to build an online store, and showcasing content is not a priority, I’d probably suggest just using Shopify as you’ll find running one system easier than two, and the e-commerce options are considerably better (in my view anyway!) in Shopify. Best thing to do however is to try out both products to ensure you’re personally getting experience of Shopify and Squarespace – you may find that one tool fits your personal requirements slightly better than another.

Thanks so much for this article, Chris. There are so many reviews and reviewers out there but it’s rare to find something genuinely insightful, useful, clear yet balanced and unbiased. It’s exactly what I was looking for!I’m in the position of having a content-only Squarespace site to which I want to add e-commerce functionality, so I’m going to explore your suggestion of combining Shopify Lite with the existing Squarespace site. Longer term, a move to Shopify is on the cards – you’ve highlighted some rally important features and considerations that I’d never have though of! Many thanks.

Excellent material, Chris! Thanks so much for sharing all these super helpful and useful insights. Signing up for the newsletter. Cheers!

Great article! Like many people, I decided to go with Squarespace, but was eventually disappointed in their feature set. It’s okay for small time selling, but once you get a little bigger Shopify is so much better. The problem though is that Squarespace makes it impossible to export your products into a CSV so you can import into Shopify. What a dickmove, am I right? Anyway, with a bunch of custom code, I’ve been able to make the process fairly painless, even with huge inventories. If you’re stuck and need help exporting your Squarespace product inventory to a CSV for shopify, drop me an email at [email protected]

Overt plug for your business but a good point. I shall let you get away with it! (And will update the review accordingly). Cheers for flagging up.

Hi

great article and I am also signing up for your newsletter. I have a small business with just one product.I have squarespace and the lite version of shopify that i found not flexible at all, therefore the research.Although i like the one stop shop working with squarespace i will carry on using shopify and upgrade to a version that i can change a couple of things (multiple currencies, increase quantities, etc), since there are too many perks that shopify has like paypal and through the apps, that are too much to miss for a new business

Many thanks Agis – yes, you will find that the ‘Basic’ version of Shopify is more fully-featured than ‘Lite’. ‘Lite’ is useful for adding e-commerce functionality to an existing website (or social media presence) but you’ll be able to build a full online store with the other versions of Shopify.

Shopify services are just awesome!I really like them and I’m going to use their pos system in my coffee shop but my friend recommended me this company http://pos-ok.com/What do you know about it? I can’t find any testimonials.

Thanks for commenting on our Shopify vs Squarespace article Melissa – afraid I’m not too familiar with that company, sorry!

I am surprised that no mention of customer/purchase history is included in this history — it’s a huge problem that I’ve run across with clients and often not mentioned in reviews. Squarespace, as far as I know, still offers no way for repeat customers to come back to the shop to login — saving their account history so that they can view past purchase OR so that the store owner can do the same. This is a must-have in online stores and an expected experience from customers…

Thanks for flagging this up Amy – will investigate and update our Shopify vs Squarespace post accordingly. Thanks! Chris

Great article and breakdown! Something I have been looking for. I currently have Squarespace for online but also have a Brick and Mortar also so having to manage 2 different inventories can be problematic. Have asked SS if they plan on working with a 3rd party POS to make this happen but unable to provide me with any answers. In the retail world this is huge and most stores and online are faced with this issue. That said I will be most likely switching over to Shopify but love the user friendly and ease of Squarespace.

I was in South Africa and realized that they have something way better than shopify called http://imallsa.com

Hello,This is Really a Good Comparison between Shopify & Squarespace. But webnexs which is another competitor of them, Webnexs offers the online store @ just Rs.999/month. webnexs Provides 200+ features integration at this startup plan, this also included with 130+ awesome responsive themes.Thanks

I found this VERY helpful, thank you. I have used various platforms to build my websites in the past including Wix, Squarespace, Sitebuilder, and Wordpress. I plan to sell many items on my website, but my two top priorities are appearance and ease of use. I found it horribly difficult to get my Wordpress blog pages to look the way they should and Sitebuilder doesn’t have the functionality I need. I just recently built a site with Sitebuilder and found it blessedly easy to use, but Shopify was recommended by a friend w an online store. After reading your article, I’m going to stick to Sitebuilder. Not being able to use Paypal is a bit of a bummer, but since I live in the US, I’m fine with just using Stripe. Thanks for helping me sort things out!

I wouldn’t recommend anyone to use SiteBuilder. Ever. While there are great, good and terrible builders, SiteBuilder is essentially a scam. it has really poor billing practices!

As part of your comparison it should be noted that neither Squarespace or Shopify offer multilingual features out of the box and the leaders in this field are very expensive – Bablic and Localize. I’m here to fix that with www.multilingualizer.com – works on both Shopify and Squarespace and lets you use as many languages as you like with whichever themes or templates you wish.

Great info. I’m just starting out and this is exactly the sort of thing I needed to know. In other research I found that it’s possible to build the website with Squarespace and add a Shopify widget to connect it to a Shopify store. It was a fulfillment center that steered me toward Shopify with a special arrangement they have – so I think I’ll go the "Shopify on Squarespace" route and see how well it works.

Great article! I initially need a simple information site, adding ecomm later on. Would shopify or squarespace be better?

The Visa, MasterCard, and Discover Card Associations all maintain Interchange Downgrade rates for credit and debit card transactions that do not meet the requirments for the transaction.See more at: https://www.cardnetpay.com

Thanks so much. I’m a bit on the fence as to which one I’d go with. As a very small business its super important and I don’t want to waste money so thanks again!

Thanks for the thorough comparison. I have a Squarespace site and am looking to add e-commerce. It’s mostly content focused and I have experienced the Shopify CMS which is a lot harder to navigate but I am super impressed with their e-commerce functionalities. I had considered using both and I’ll do so now thanks to this article.

Now that Shopify has a Wordpress plugin, does that change your opinion about which is better for content and selling? I’m thinking that this may be a huge deal for people who want to both showcase content AND sell. Wordpress seems to offer a bit more flexibility with regard to SEO, but Squarespace is still superior in its handling of images (FAR superior in my opinion). The challenge of formatting images in Wordpress is one of the main reasons why I started looking elsewhere for a different CMS.

Hi Tim, thanks for your comments! Wordpress vs Squarespace is another interesting debate…I’m hoping to post something on that soon, but for now I’d probably say that Squarespace is easier to get up and running with than Wordpress, and as you point out, makes working with images a lot better. Wordpress however is a lot more robust I think when it comes to managing and editing text or HTML – crucially, it provides content versioning functionality, which Squarespace does not. Using Wordpress in conjunction with the Shopify Buy Button is perhaps an interesting option for those who want to use Wordpress’ content management features alongside the Shopify commerce back end?

Hi Diego, you can hook Shopify up to your own domain, effectively hiding the ‘myshopify’ etc. bit as far as users go.

See https://docs.shopify.com/manual/domains for more details.

Great article! Any thoughts on Wordpress / Woocommerce vs Shopify / Squarespace? Would WP be a good balance of content and also ecommerce features?

Hello, Wordpress is great for content management and it’s a very flexible platform as far as plugging other apps into it goes. You could theoretically use Shopify with Wordpress actually, using a ‘Lite’ plan and their ‘Buy’ button. You could also consider adding Ecwid – read our review here: http://stylefactoryproductions.com/blog/ecwid-review

The challenge around Wordpress is that it is less of an all-in-one system – you would possibly need to spend more time / energy configuring it to meet your requirements. Or get a developer involved. Hope this helps!

I think shopify has alot to offer more than squarespace. the features are what really make shopify.

I like squarespace beacuse its more easier to use. the only thing is it doesnt really have payment options.i find myself using Payolee to accept payments on my site. http://www.payolee.com/accept-payments-online

Great read, the question for us is international decline rates. It was awful with squarespace / stripe. Would using shopify payments be any different since it uses stripe as well?

Thanks!Cyrus

Hi Cyrus – Shopify would be different insofar as you could use a third-party payment gateway; Squarespace doesn’t permit this. You’d have to investigate the various third party payment gateways available and draw the best conclusions regarding this issue, but there are more options than just Stripe open to you. Hope this helps!

Hi Chris! Great article – thorough and wonderfully readable. With apologies I have a dopey question to ask re Shopify: would I have to actually have my merch with me to make the POS kit worth my while? It’s unlikely I’ll ever sell in a market stall or other physical location, but what if I got to talking with someone and they wanted to have a look and ended up wanting to buy and have me ship the item? I’m so new at this and have been working on getting my ecommerce site off the ground for two years – there’s so much to know and it’s a bit overwhelming, but having unconventional ways to generate sales would be a bonus.Would appreciate your wisdom here! Thanks….

Hello Victoria, thanks for your message. I think you could potentially do without the POS kit so long as you had a device handy (even a smartphone could do) which the customer could use to enter their details onto and make a purchase at an event.

I currently have Squarespace and I sell about 16 items after starting my business a few month ago. I like it and I have used it before for a gallery, however I am noticing that some things just do not work right or are difficult to set up. Primarily dealing with taxes, trying to customize checkout page, and trying to figure out Shipping options, especially cheaper international charges(those suck! and are often not worth it to international customers). There are probably a couple more things that are not intuitive.

I am considering moving over to Shopify so that I can 1. Have something like the POS kit without having to manage different apps, or figure out integrations, 2. Stop the emails of ‘can i just send you a paypal request?’, 3. Have access to better templates that the Shopify developer community offers.

I am hoping that making the move of my domain that purchased with Squarespace, the gmail business email account I set up through them works, through shopify.

This post has helped me decide. I am going to try out a free account first though

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the article! I just had a chat with Shopify Support and they informed me that even when using Stripe, you cannot avoid transaction charges – Shopify will take a cut of the transaction. So I will be paying Shopify 1.5% on ‘Pro’ in addition to payment gateway transaction charges. That’s my update. Thanks!

Hi Yasmin, there’s two types of charge you need to think about: 1) charges on transactions made by the e-commerce platform and 2) charges on transactions made by the payment gateway. If you use Stripe as your payment gateway with Shopify, you don’t need to worry about the first kind when using Shopify, just the second. Hope that clears it up.

Very clear and thorough comparison in my opinion… top quality! Thank you so much! This article was exactly what I needed to be able to make my decision. What a relief it is. Now I can get on with it and build my online store. Cheers Chris! 🙂

Regards, Donna

Naturally I disagree 🙂 And, for the record, this site was built in Squarespace – precisely for the reason I outlined in the comparison review: Squarespace is better than Shopify for displaying content, particularly blog content. But when it comes to building an online store, Shopify has a lot more functionality to offer. Bottom line for me, and this isn’t to do with bias: Shopify is better solution for building an online store; Squarespace is better for presenting and managing content.

I haven’t used Shopify yet, but I will after reading your comparison to Squarespace. There are a number of other problems with Squarespace – none particularly deal breakers, but major pains, nonetheless – that I thought I’d mention. First, you cannot create a library of images to use on various pages, as you can with Wordpress. Every image you use has to be imported each time you use it. Second, there is no real undo, so it is a good idea to duplicate your page every time you make a change or you’ll have to start over from scratch if you don’t like what you’ve done. And lastly, I can attest to what you said about trying to customize the CSS on a page. First, it’s really hard to target an individual element, say a button. Then, if you ultimately succeed in customizing said element, you may discover that the rest of the page is FUBAR. That’s when you’ll be glad you saved a copy of the page before you started playing around with the CSS.

Wow! This was an awesome and very detailed comparison. I sincerely appreciate it! Thank you. It really helped clarify the main differences and helped me make some decisions. I am very glad I found this. (:

This is a great article- thank you! We have a barbershop and our guys all use Square for CC payments. We are adding new retail products and need a system in the store and online to capture these sales. I don’t want to be held to Square’s eCommerce plans just because we use them for payment systems. Wonder if the solution would be to switch over to Stripe and use Shopify in store and online?

I already designed a site in Squarespace a few weeks ago before I heard about Facebook and Shopify’s partnership. Squarespace definitely has better templates but I can’t deny the power of our customers being able to buy products right in Facebook. Got to capture those impulse buys…

This is so helpful as I’m currently designing my site on Squarespace, but having some doubts as having PayPal and a magnifier option will be key for my products. Their customer service is on point, as they get back to you quickly and are very knowledgeable and clear in explaining their answers. However, in the near future, my product offering will be more than 20 and having the ease to add the without paying extra does helps. Thanks again for this informative post. I’m definitely considering switching.

I used Shopify, but moved to a SellBeing platform. This plaform is more advanced, offers more up-to-date technogies and features. Besides, it allows me to design my store as I wish without a need of purchaing premium templates.

I am running multiple internet businesses, and as the article pointed out, I used Squarespace for informative-only site and Shopify for e-commerce purpose. As much as I love to use Squarespace for e-commerce, I can’t since my business is based in Asia, and its only payment gateway, Stripe, does not support. Even implementing Paypal is painful as you have to install Paypal button to your products one by one. It would be helpful for Squarespace to have templates that feature image magnifier. You can still add the feature, but you must be able to turn on its Developer Mode and be able to know some knowledges about SFTP and CSS/HTML. And lack of third-party Apps is also a downside for Squarespace.

Shopify plans are bit pricey compares to Wix, Moonfruit, and Jimdo, but it is user-friendly and offers more features. Using its CSS/HTML feature is also pretty simple and works very well with the most Apps, which can be found in its App section and can be tried for free before deicing to purchase them. Some Apps are developed by Shopify itself and can be installed for free.

Anyway, both are probably the best services out there.

I love Squarespace. I just wish there was more flexibility when it comes to different payment options and customizing shipping.

There are many other affordable options out there… like Weebly, Wix, Moonfruit, Shopio, Jimdo, PowerStores, (and Storenvy which I don’t understand at all because they don’t explain it, they just want you to sign up and find out later)… I cannot comment if they are any good. I’m trying out stores on Weebly and Wix, and so far have discovered they don’t offer to manage meta tags on the product pages… so I just started and am finding limitations… and Wix simply lost the store page and products I created, 3 times out of 5 so far (and it just vanishes, when the page save operation gives an error and it just hangs).

So a lot of these solutions are not ready for primetime, but things are changing fast, and I am sure they are all hard at work fixing bugs and adding capabilities.

You really need to look at more stores, and discover the little details that make it or break it for you.

PS: I see there are other comparisons… BigCommerce adds a 1.5% transaction fee which isn’t much better than Shopify, and Volusion told me they charge, get this, $7 per GB for bandwidth overages (!) and in minimum increments of 1GB (if you go over by 1MB, you are billed an extra $7). There’s also 3Dcart, a very complete platform, but alas, that also charges overages (my memory tells me $5/GB) with a measly 4GB included… and if you don’t use their payment gateway they wanted to add on another $20 to my billing (so I cancelled, of course). It took me a while to build the store, and after 30 days they refund nothing if you are not satisfied, not even the last 30, so when I was ready to go live and add my payment gateway of choice and learned about the extra $20 they wanted, I was out of pocket a few months’ fees and wasn’t getting any of it back).

While Shopify, on the surface, charges a little bit less per transaction, since you are talking about how much more payment gateways they allow, in reality, if you do not (or cannot, for any reason) use Shopify’s proposed gateway, Shopify ADDS an ADDITIONAL 2% on each sale!

This makes it unattractive, and was enough to have me close my account and search elsewhere.

oh, and since SquareSpave rolled out the new version 7, I just find things more confusing. Everyone is trying so hard to make everything look like borderless boxes and follow Windows8 style and minimalist everything… I created a store, added products, but soon found out that I cannot simply pull a product from my product database and feature it on another page: instead, you have to re-create the same product. I’ve had email exchange, and finally a conference call with their product manager on this, and it is actually that ridiculous. Presently, SquareSpace has some very serious design flaws – as if inventory management was forgotten in the process. There is absolutely no excuse for this.

Amazing article. It really helped me in making a decision for ecommerce. However, one of my clients is a small business owner with a children’s boutique so I can’t really decide on which one to go with. Thoughts? They don’t know exactly how many products they will be selling online but they know for sure that it will be under 400.

Great article! I’ve been using Squarespace now (as a complete website newbie) for about three months and find it great. I’m at the point though of being frustrated at not being able to use paypal payments. Seems you can add a buy now paypal button with code but your inventory won’t change. I may just bote the Stripe bullet but the monthly fees will add up. Remember too that you will pay 5 bucks a month to have an email account, but that does come with Google Analytics. Thats a better tool than the Squarespace Metrics. With the Stripe partnership I wouldnt hold my breath for a Paypal merge anytime soon.

My complaints with Shopify…

James : Good day, our fees are $200 a month and we just noticed Squarespace’s fees are so much lower we feel like we are getting ripped off. Does Shopify plan to lower fees soon?James : ?Tim B: Hey James, having a look at your current invoices to check to see what can be done here.James : ok thank youTim B: ok so no there isn’t any plans to lower the cost. You are on the unlimited Plan however right now, have you had a look at the professional plan at all?Tim B: Is there anything on the unlimited plan that you are in need of that you can’t get on the professional plan?James : Does it allow Shopify to take fees from sales?Tim B: it does James. It will be 1% on the professional plan. However, have you heard of or looked into Shopify Payments?James : Is that using Shopify as a gatewayTim B: That is correct.Tim B: Click this link here to have a look: Shopify PaymentsJames : Can you tell me what that would take our fees to.Tim B: The great thing about our gateway is that is is flat fees. Not variable like other gateways. It will be 2.5% + 30cents on the professional plan.Tim B: PayPal and other payment gateways have variable rates. Which means that vary depending on the card used. So what is displayed as I’m sure you know, isn’t always what is charged.Tim B: For example… when paying with AMEX. credit card rates are higher than what the base rate is within PayPal. Shopify Payments if flat across the board. 2.5 + 30 no matter what card being used.James : So in effect this will not decrease our monthly payment to Shopify correct. Keeping in mind Paypal is charging nothing for this service to us that is what is being charged to the customer basically. By the way I’m also writing a post about all of this on my blog because I began using Shopify based on a side by side comparison that I feel is really misleading at this point. We’ve really gotten no direct assistance from Shopify to promote our brand and our store just things that cost more fees. 🙁James : Squarespace is charging $25 a month for their premium plan and Shopify is charging 7 times that.James : This is the number one post about ShopifyJames : http://stylefactoryproductions.com/blog/shopify-vs-squarespaceTim B: Oh sorry to hear this James. I understand doing a comparison. I would be doing the same if I were you.Tim B: I hope you see the value in what we provide however. Have you used squarespace yet?James : No but I have purchased from people using Squarespace as their portal. Thats just the thing where is the value?James : I paid for my template, use Paypal to process my payments, so I’m basically paying $200 for hosting lolTim B: Our customer service, UI, themes, resources. App store.James : Anyway I’m not going to shoot the messenger here I’m just saying this is border line criminal, even services like getresponse send emails daily on how to maximize exposure and things like that, the only emails I get from Shopify are "hey try this, it will cost you more money"Tim B: the $200 is used for a lot more than that, it’s used to unlock all of the features that are not available on the other plans. Unlimited storage, Carrier Calculated Shipping, no transaction fees, Advanced report builder along with all the features listed.Tim B: now worries at all. I like having these chats.Tim B: it’s actually great for us to know what our merchants thinkJames : Well Squarespace just overhauled their entire platform again and Shopify is, well attracting celebrities to do ads and spending unnecessary funds doing that while they could simply extend discounts or better plans to paying customers. Once you add a few features using some of the apps your monthlies go so high you minds well hire a developer and build a site. Thats all I have to say, just had to get it out as I just got invoiced again another $195.

Honestly at $250+ dollars a month just to not have Shopify takes fees from your sales and Squarespace at $30 max a month is becoming very entertaining.

Sincerely "a Shopify Customer"

I’ve been surfing online greater than 3 hours nowadays, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty value sufficient for me. In my opinion, if all site owners and bloggers made good content material as you probably did, the web will probably be a lot more helpful than ever before.http://aviitsolutions.com/india/shopify/

Great article! Please continue writing.I’ve used squarespace for the basic feature that it would look good on any screen especially on mobile screens. They gave excellent support via a chat box – many times the helpdesk was intuitive and even fixed the feature immediately for me without me asking! I think squarespace gives great value and more than I expected, will not consider other providers. =) Meanwhile, I’ll start setting up shop on squarespace and hope I won’t run into any problems!

Great article! Please continue writing.I’ve used squarespace for the basic feature that it would look good on any screen especially on mobile screens. They gave excellent support via a chat box – many times the helpdesk was intuitive and even fixed the feature immediately for me without me asking! I think squarespace gives great value and more than I expected, will not consider other providers. =) Meanwhile, I’ll start setting up shop on squarespace and hope I won’t run into any problems!

Shopify is specifically designed to make you need to use their design guru’s. Squarespace is designed to make you more capable than a Shopify guru even if your a basic computer user. Thats why I am now in the process of leaving Shopify for Squarespace. Within 4 days of using Squarespace, I had outdone the 2 years of design work I put into my Shopify store. Shopify’s theme designer is so basic and limiting I would describe it as stone age in comparison. The worst part about Shopify is that even after 2 years as a loyal customer, when I asked for help regarding the never ending duplicate meta-tags, they said they can’t help unless I pay as I was out of "design time". Foolish move. In contrast, I’m still using the trial of squarespace and even though I haven’t given them a penny yet, they have helped me out every time and within 15 minutes!

One awesome thing about Shopify is you can export all your items straight into Squarespace, and begin designing the store of your dreams.

I am wondering how Shopify or Square Space users feel about credit card transactions at 2.9% + 30 cents. Isn’t there a better rate with similar program?

And to Rachael – yikes $500 for tweaks to your website – I thought shopify was do-it-yourself?

Every payment gateway has a transaction fee. This is something that is not avoidable really.

Shopify allows you to have the full control to build your sites to its limits. DIY means you can do it yourself especially if you are an expert in coding or hire someone which costs money to do it for you.

I’m a Shopify user and am shopping around for a new solution. As a small business, I don’t like having to shell out $500 for each round of tweaks to the website. I also pay $79 per month for Shopify, Squarespace initially seems much cheaper.

So, experts, why should or would I not switch to Squarespace? Thoughts?

Hi Rachael, do what I’m currently doing and use Squarespace’s free 14 day trial, import all your inventory from Shopify in just one click, they have an option for this. Start designing your perfect store and then you can decide for yourself. I got sold on squarespace immediately. It took a few days to really master the potential but overall its fairly easy.

Paul and Chris,I don’t mind referral links, as long as the articles appear to be objective and useful, which I find nothing to complain about so far, in terms of in depthness and objectivity.Chris’ review articles are the best of breed.Thank God for Chris’ helpful article.I was going to use SquareSpace 6 , until I read his article.

Heya Paul, please see the ‘about the blog’ section to the right – we are transparent about referral links 🙂 A more in-depth review of Squarespace vs Shopify is on the cards soon, and this will go into much more depth regarding both platforms – this post just raises a couple of reasons why you might want to consider an alternative (both very valid in my view – Squarespace is very limited when it comes to payment gateways and it falls over completely in any version of IE lower than 9). Please see http://stylefactoryproductions.com/blog/2013/1/27/squarespace-review however for a much more considered review of Squarespace, which I hope you will find fair and helpful.

I use Squarespace and happy to say Stripe are launching beta in the UK this month, so you can get in touch and set up with Squarespace for UK businesses. If they want to accept US credit cards they will need a USD routable bank account. But you can always add paypal buttons (as code blocks) to get around that!