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Squarespace and Shopify are two popular eCommerce website builders offering extensive customizations, built-in eCommerce features optimized for SEO, responsive website design, affordable pricing, etc.  

Both platforms offer tools and features to build an online store, inventory management, automate shipping and tax calculations, process sales orders, and more. 

Depending on your store requirements, Squarespace vs Shopify have pros and cons; one is better for certain use cases. For example, Squarespace is better if you focus more on blogging than eCommerce, while Shopify is an e-commerce-first platform. 

Shopify or Squarespace? Which platform is right for you?

This article provides the answers you need to decide between Shopify and Squarespace. 

Squarespace vs Shopify – Overview

Shopify is an all-in-one eCommerce website builder that delivers fast-loading, beginner-friendly hosted eCommerce solutions.

Its primary purpose is to enable entrepreneurs of all sizes – small, medium, or large-scale- to build, manage, and grow an online eCommerce business without dealing with technical or server-side management. 

Founded in 2006 by Tobias Lutke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake, Shopify’s user base has expanded across 175 countries and powered approximately 6 million eCommerce stores. 

As a hosted eCommerce platform, Shopify has all the tools you need to start, manage, and grow your online stores built-in into its platform. 

Unlike Shopify, Squarespace is a versatile website builder catering to various businesses and website needs. Its intuitive user interface and design-centric approach have made it popular among bloggers, businesses, artists, and e-commerce entrepreneurs. 

Founded in 2003 by Anthony Caselena, Squarespace has approximately 2.9 million active websites across different countries and regions. However, most Squarespace users and active online stores are from the US. 

Squarespace is also a hosted platform, which means all its plans include hosting and bandwidth features. You don’t need to host your website elsewhere; your Squarespace account comes built-in with hosting features. 

Whether creating a blogging site, business portfolio, or a full-fledged e-commerce store, Squarespace has all the tools to start, manage, and grow your business. 

Quick Rundown – Which Option is Right for You and Why

Shopify is a much better option for selling online due to its superior eCommerce features and functionalities. 

It is a better eCommerce platform for dropshipping, POS (point of sale), selling globally, automating tax and shipping calculations, and processing payments in global currencies. 

Shopify is also better than Squarespace concerning third-party integration. Thanks to its 8,000+ apps and third-party developers, it’s easier to integrate your Shopify store with other marketing tools and services.  

In addition, no matter the size of your business, small, medium, or large, Shopify handles thousands of monthly store transactions and processes orders efficiently.

Squarespace has its edge over Shopify, especially if your business is content-driven, news publications, blogging, etc.

Squarespace is more suitable if you want to build a website solely to promote your business, run affiliate marketing, sell digital products, create online courses and membership sites, book appointments, or share your experience with others. 

It is a more versatile and multi-purpose content management System than Shopify and WooCommerce.

Squarespace has more free templates than Shopify, making it a suitable platform if you’re on a tight budget. Though it allows you to build your templates, there are plenty of freely accessible themes for most industries.  

In summary, Squarespace is an ideal website builder for content publishing websites, and eCommerce is an afterthought. Shopify is primarily an eCommerce focus, making the platform a better option for selling products online. 

However, Shopify has beefed up its content creation tools over the years, and Squarespace has added more eCommerce feature sets, too. So, both platforms can be used for eCommerce stores or content-driven websites. 

Now, let’s dive into reviewing Squarespace vs Shopify properly. 

Ease of Use

Shopify and Squarespace have intuitive and easy-to-use user interfaces – the interface is similar. 

When you log into your Squarespace account for the first time, the menu is on the left side of your screen, while the editor takes the center. 

mycoffee - Squarespace dashboard

Shopify also positions its menu on the left; depending on the active menu, the corresponding function is displayed on the screens accordingly.

Shopify user interface

If you need to access a function, click the menu label on the list. Now, you can access the function and take control of your store. 

Since it released its Fluid Engine drag-and-drop editor, customizing your Squarespace themes has been an amazing experience.  

With the Squarespace Fluid Engine feature, you can view your website customizations on mobile and desktop in real-time via the customizer. And drag and drop block elements onto any part of the page. 

It makes Squarespace theme customization fun and painless.

Also, the Squarespace eCommerce features are easier to access and use. However, this could be because fewer features make it easy to access on one page. 

Squarespace ecommerce features page

While you can preview your Shopify store live mobile and desktop views from the theme customizer, editing with the theme editors is not as slick and intuitive as Squarespace.  

Shopify, with more extensive eCommerce features, also makes it easier to access its e-commerce features. Editing your store theme is also not difficult, though not as slick and intuitive as Squarespace. 

But you won’t require support or a steep learning curve managing your store in the admin backend. 

That said, Shopify drag and drop editor also lets you customize your theme store, add content, edit header, footer, add product collections, etc., without much effort. 

However, Squarespace Fluid Engine seems to be the better option and user-friendly editor. It’s more flexible, sleeky, and provides a better user experience.

Templates/Themes

Both platforms offer free, gorgeous templates, allowing entrepreneurs to grow an online presence while saving design costs. 

As it is, Squarespace has an extensive library of free themes compared to Shopify. There is a big gap comparing Squarespace’s 157 free stunning templates to Shopify’s 12. 

Squarespace theme gallery.

Squarespace free templates gallery

Shopify free themes gallery.

Shopify templates gallery

Between, Squarespace themes are created to accommodate diverse blog needs and businesses. The themes serve users who want to blog, showcase work portfolios, creative artists, recipe blogs, gyms, salons, make appointment bookings, etc. 

On the other hand, Shopify themes are created with eCommerce selling in mind. They are geared towards making online selling more appealing, attractive store designs, and making processing orders straightforward. 

Shopify has made searching for your store themes easier, as you can filter by industry, product catalog, and eCommerce features. While it is not difficult to search for suitable themes on Squarespace, you can only search by industry or niche. 

One notable Squarespace theme feature is the integration with Unsplash and Getty Images. This integration lets you use beautiful royalty-free stock images directly with your design.  

Use the built-in image search function to find suitable stock images from Unsplash or premium Getty Image and add them to your design. 

Squarespace royalty free images dialog box

This feature can be helpful for bloggers or businesses that heavily rely on images. You can quickly find stock or premium images to add to your post, providing a better user experience. 

Though briefly mentioned above, Squarespace allows you to create or build your templates. 

The feature lets you design the homepage, choose your color palette, and pick your preferred font families. It is a guided process with step-by-step recommendations for sections and layout styles. 

Building your templates in Squarespace

Well, Squarespace is no clear winner in the sections of the template; this is because Shopify packs some bunch in its premium themes. 

Assuming you can’t find suitable free themes, Shopify premium themes provide many options, features, and store functions. 

As things stand today, Shopify has 146 premium themes you can buy. Buying a theme gives you more control, advanced features, and customization capabilities, and it can mean having a more unique design. 

Paid templates filter in Shopify

One drawback I have with Squarespace regarding themes is that it is impossible to change or switch templates in version 7.1. You can only switch templates for Squarespace site 7.0. 

This can be a thing if you prefer another theme to the current one. However, since Squarespace themes are built on the same technology, most can be designed manually to look the same. 

So, the inability to change themes isn’t a big issue, but it could be better if Squarespace allows switching templates. 

Payment Processors

Regarding payment processors or gateways, Shopify’s extensive partnerships with payment providers allow merchants access to over 100 payment gateways.  

Aside from Shopify Pay, which allows customers to make payments in their currency, Shopify offers payment providers from most continents. 

Shopify Payments Processor

In contrast, Squarespace offers two payment gateways – Stripe and PayPal. In addition, it also offers Square POS for US merchants only. 

Square POS allows customers to pay in person using cash and credit cards. 

Squarespace Payments Processor

Though Squarespace Stripe and PayPal payments allow merchants to process payments from various credit card providers, it does not support Google Pay. 

Shopify offers more payment options and flexible transaction fees, allowing customers to choose from different currencies. The disparity in payment gateways is significant and should be one of the factors to consider. 

Transaction and Credit Card Fees

One of the core factors you should consider when choosing between Squarespace and Shopify is the associated processing fees. When customers complete orders in your store, you’re charged two transactions: credit card and transaction fees. 

A transaction fee is the sales percentage or fee you pay your eCommerce platforms for completed orders. Credit card fees are the payment processing charges or sales percentage fees you pay your payment methods processing provider.

To save on transaction fees, Shopify has its built-in payment system – Shopify Payment. 

Shopify - Activate Shopify payments button image

Using the Shopify payments system frees you of transaction fees on all Shopify plans, except for the Starter plan. 

In the Starter plan, you’ll pay a 5% transaction fee on all third-party payment providers you use. 

Whichever payment system you select, you’ll still pay for credit card processing fees. This charge is between 2.9% and 2.4% transaction fees for all third-party payment providers.

However, using third-party credit card payment providers means Shopify will take additional transaction fees from your sales. Depending on your Shopify subscription plan, this fee ranges from 0.5% to 2%. 

One important thing to note is that Shopify’s built-in Payments method is unavailable to all countries. So, you must check with your country’s eligibility before switching. You can only choose from third-party payment providers if your country is not listed. 

Squarespace only applied 3% transaction fees for its Business Plan. If you don’t want to pay this fee, upgrade your plan to the Squarespace eCommerce plan (Basic or Advanced) and enjoy 0% transaction fees. 

However, credit card fees still apply for every completed card transaction in your store. Credit Card fees are compulsory from your payment processing services providers. 

If you want to sell offline, Squarespace offers Square POS, which enables in-person sales and allows customers to pay in cash or using POS payment methods. 

In addition, you can enable AfterPay or ClearPay payment methods, allowing customers to make installments or buy now, pay later systems with zero interest fees. Both payment methods charge 6% of the total order, plus $0.30 for US merchants and $0.30 for UK merchants.

Shopify also offers installment payments with the Shop Pay payment option. It allows customers to make payments of up to 24 months of interest-free installment payments. 

You can activate the features on your online store and in POS payment. 

Apps and Plugin Ecosystem

To further extend your store functionalities, both Shopify and Squarespace have apps or extensions bringing more features and functions. 

Shopify’s app store is significantly bigger than that of Squarespace. It contains over 8,000 apps offering different features and functions. 

For example, there are SEO optimization apps, dropshipping, image optimization, design, selling, print-on-demand, etc. 

Shopify app store

And some apps connect your Shopify store to other third-party services, like newsletter services, chatbot, bookkeeping, customer care, social media, invoices, etc. 

Shopify is a popular eCommerce platform; it is little wonder how big the app store is. Many eCommerce solution providers partnered with Shopify to reach more audiences and create brand awareness. 

By contrast, Squarespace has 36 extensions as of writing this line. Third-party service providers create these extensions to enhance your Squarespace sites to bring more features. 

Squarespace extensions store

Beyond this, if you need features without extension, you can code directly using code snippets or other supported Squarespace methods. 

However, Squarespace has access limitations and supporting codes based on active subscription plans. You must check the documentation page to learn more about code restrictions and access control. 

For example, Squarespace does not support adding server-side scripts, including Ruby, PHP, Rails, and SQL. And you can only inject HTML and JavaScript codes in the Business and Commerce plans. 

In summary, Shopify is way ahead of Squarespace regarding third-party applications and service integrations. Hardly will you find a service that does not seamlessly integrate with your Shopify store, but doing the same for Squarespace might require a bit of workaround or restrictions.

This is partly because Squarespace is more like a closed or guided platform; it does not allow straightforward integration with third-party services and tools. 

Unlike full open-source platforms, Sauqrespace does not give you full access to your site codes. There are limitations to what you can do as a developer using Squarespace. 

Shopify vs Squarespace SEO 

How your choosing eCommerce or blogging platform helps with SEO can lay the foundation for solid search engine visibility. If the platform makes adding basic things like meta descriptions, titles, and friendly URL structure easier, your SEO effort is bound to improve. 

Thankfully, in our Squarespace vs Shopify comparison posts, both platforms handle the SEO optimization of their platform well and help their users achieve better SEO visibility. 

Both platforms add meta descriptions, a user-friendly permalink structure, write titles, add image alt, 301 redirects, and robots.tx files easier to handle.  

Also, you don’t have to submit an XML sitemap to Google manually; both platforms automatically generate a sitemap anytime you update your site pages.

While using both platforms, Shopify is one step ahead and better for SEO than Squarespace. 

For instance, Shopify automatically adds page titles, URL slug, and meta descriptions for you. The content of the page is used to generate them. 

Shopify's titles and meta description box

This might seem minor, but it helps save time and ensure that basic SEO stuff like this is noticed. 

In Squarespace, you can use variables or plain text to write page titles automatically, saving you time writing manually. However, it gives you less control than with Shopify. 

Squarespace search appearance post format

Another advantage over Squarespace for SEO could be in Shopify’s app store. 

You can further enhance Shopify SEO with relevant apps like Yoast SEO, image optimization apps, speed and performance apps, Core Web Vitals, etc. 

As of writing, Squarespace does not have SEO extensions to enhance core platform optimization. This can put your Squarespace sites at a disadvantage against competitors, especially if the platform needs to be improved for speed and performance. 

However, there is one Squareapce SEO feature I found helpful: it built Google Search Console integrations. 

You can connect your site with Search Console and import its data, making learning about your site traffic and keyword performance from your Squarespace site easier. 

Google search console connection in Squarespace

Regarding Google Core Web Vitals improvement, there is little you can do. Squarespace and Shopify use their server, proprietary code, and templates, making it difficult to enhance their performance. 

Nevertheless, they are optimized to deliver high performance and excellent site speed straight out of the box. You won’t have much problem with site speed and overall store performance. 

Shopify and Squarespace Plan and Pricing

Both platforms offer competitive and affordable plans, catering to beginners, small businesses, and medium and large business entrepreneurs.

Aside from its 14-day free trial offer, Squarespace has four standard plans – Personal, Business, Commerce (Basic), and Commerce (Advanced). 

Subscribing to annual billing gives you a significant discount on each plan. You pay $16, $23, $27, and $49 per month, but you pay the 12-month plan upfront.

  • Personal

    • Free custom domain
    • Squarespace Templates
    • Unlimited Bandwidth
    • SEO Optimized
    • SSL Certificate
    • 2 User Account Allowed
  • Business

    • Advanced website analytics
    • Allow Customer Accounts
    • Unlimited Products
    • Checkout page
    • 3% Transaction fee
    • Unlimited User Account
    • Professional email from Google
  • Commerce Basic

    • Add Bespoke CSS and JS code
    • Sell on Facebook & Instagram
    • POS (Point of Sale)
    • Add Product Reviews
    • 0% Transaction fee
    • Fully integrated eCommerce
  • Commerce (Advanced)

    • Sell Subscritpiotn Pridcust
    • Advance Shipping Features
    • Create discount
    • Access to Commerce API
    • Abandoned cart recovery

On top of the standard Squarespace plans, there is an Enterprise plan for large business websites. You need to contact sales for negotiations and discuss your business needs. 

When choosing the right Squarespace plan for your business, you must watch out for specific differences. Each plan comes with different features, limitations, and code restrictions. 

For example, you can not sell online in the Personal plan or add CSS and JavaScript code to your site. Access to advanced Squarespace Analytics is also not possible in the Personal plan. 

Square POS is available only on the Commerce plan and to US merchants. This lets you keep inventory, sell in person, process payments via point of sale, and sync with your online store. 

Check the Squarespace pricing page for more details on the differences in pricing and features. 

Shopify, on its part, offers five standard plans; each plan gives you access to different levels of eCommerce features, transaction fees, and admin control. 

You get a 3-day free trial for the Shopify store, and if you need more time to set up your online shop and look around the eCommerce features, Shopify offers an extended $1/m for 90 days.

This means your free trial of Shopify is just $3 for a whopping 93 days.

If you consider the Shopify Plus plan, we are looking at six Shopify plans. 

  • Starter

    • Free SSL certificate
    • A single Theme
    • Sell on Social media, Messaging apps, etc
    • Shopify Checkout
    • Shopify Sales Reporting
  • Retail

    • Unlimited POS Staff
    • One POS Pro location
    • Advanced Retail Sales Reporting
    • 2 Backend Staff Account
    • 2.7% + $0.00 In Person CreditCard Rates
  • Basic

    • 2 Staff Members
    • Upto 1,000 Store locations
    • 2% 3rd Party Transaction Fee
    • 2.9% Online Credit Card Rates
    • Basic Sales Reporting
  • Shopify

    • 5 Staff Accounts
    • Professional Shopify Saales Report
    • Sell Everywhere
    • 1% 3rd Party Online Transaction Fee
    • 88% Shipping Discount
  • Advanced

    • 15 Staff Member
    • Custom Sales Builder
    • Internation Pricing
    • 0.85% Duties and Import Tax Rates
    • 0.5% 3rd Party Online Transactions
  • Plus

    • Enterprise Level Support
    • Faster Checkout With Shop Pay
    • Sell Everywhere, Any Channel
    • Automate Repetitive Task
    • Access to Shopify API

Shopify Plus is ideal for enterprise-level businesses. The starting price is $2,000/month, with additional features, admin access, staff accounts, and more Shopify store locations. 

As with Squarespace, the Shopify plans have key differences you must learn before choosing. 

In the Starter Plan, you can only sell via embedding products on existing websites, at events, social media, messaging apps, etc. You can not sell using a full-fledged Shopify eCommerce store. 

In addition, you pay the high 5% transaction fee for all third-party payment gateways.

Regarding users’ seats, how many users are allowed varies by plan. For example, Shopify Advanced allows up to 15 additional users, while the starter plan allows a single-user account. 

In between, each plan has its number of additional users allowed. Check the Shopify pricing page for more details. 

The Shopify Plus plan, targeted at enterprise-level business, allows up to 10 store locations and offers advanced Shopify API calls, dedicated account managers, and order fulfillment features. 

Shopify’s Analytics report quality also varies as the plan goes higher. The higher the plan, the more stored data reports you can access. 

Shopify POS is available on all plans except for the Starter plan, which allows you to sell in physical stores, at events, and process payments while syncing with your online store. 

However, Shopify has advanced POS features, an upgraded version of the POS lite. 

To access the POS pro features, you must upgrade to the plan, which costs an additional $89 per month per store location. 

The POS Pro features include:

  • Smart inventory management
  • Omni channel selling
  • Staff management and access control
  • Advanced checkout functionality
  • Products management
  • Customer profile and order management
  • Reporting and analytics, and more. 

FAQ

Is Squarespace as good as Shopify?

Comparing eCommerce stores, management, and sales features, Shopify is a more suitable platform than Squarespace. It has more advanced tools that make selling easier, managed, and scaled. On the other hand, Squarespace is as good as or better than Shopify for blogging or more suitable for businesses that rely solely on content publishing. 

Which is Easier – Shopify or Squarespace?

It depends on your business needs, website requirements and your technical knowledge in website builder. Both platforms are easier to use if you’re familiar with content management systems like WordPress. 

Shopify and Squarespace use a similar design and theme customization approach, adding products, post formatting, themes, etc. Though some aspects are quite different, like the text editor interface, you won’t require steep learning to use the platforms. 

Can I Migrate my Sqaureasce Shop to Shopify?

You can import your Squarespace shop to Shopify without losing your store data. You can do it yourself; the steps do not require hiring a developer or paying for the services.

First, create your Shopify store, and ensure it is ready to launch. Next, select all your Squarespace data to export. Click export, and download the data to your computer. Go to the newly launched Shopify store import the data, review it, and click import.

Is Squarespace better for SEO than Shopify?

Both platforms are SEO optimized and help users with basic on-page SEO optimizations. Basic SEO requirements like XML sitemap and robots.tx, title and meta tags, image alt, 301 redirects, and more are easier to do in Shopify and Squarespace. 

Conclusion

While Squarespace vs Shopify offer eCommerce and blogging functionalities, I’d argue they serve different audience needs. 

If blogging is your main priority and selling is your side hustle, Squarespace is the better option. It provides more features and tools that make content-driven sites excel and reach more audiences. 

Squarespace is a suitable platform for creative authors, like artists, musicians, photographers, news blogs, etc. It uses images in a more creative and attractive format, making it appealing to your audience. 

However, Shopify is an undisputable platform if you plan on going full-time on eCommerce selling. The platform lets you create a professional eCommerce store, enable automatic shipping and tax calculations, staff management, more payment options, start dropshipping, and keep a large product inventory. 

In addition, Shopify’s powerful POS features make it the right platform for selling in physical stores. With its support for global currencies, Shopify is the ideal eCommerce store builder for merchants outside the US. 

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