Shopify and Squarespace are website builders that are considered to be two of the best nowadays. Although they appear evenly matched at first, each has its pros and cons to consider. This comparison review will help you discover their key differences and enable you to pick the website builder that best fits your small business needs.
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Written by Martin Nikolaev: Point of Sale Expert
Whether you’re planning on creating an online blog or a full-fledged e-commerce store, you’ll likely end up having to choose between two of the best website builders in existence: Shopify vs Squarespace. This can be quite a dilemma without proper comparison.
Some online small business owners still recognize Shopify only as an e-commerce platform. Others associate the brand with high-quality POS systems. But it’s so much more than that: today, Shopify is one of the best website builders you can opt for.
Squarespace, on the other hand, was created with the intention of becoming a top-ranked website builder from the get-go. What started as a project developed in a dorm room is now a brand recognized worldwide for its quality services and tools. The fact that it’s a worthy competitor of Shopify speaks for itself.
But how close does this comparison bring the two website builders? Is it a tie, or is there a clear winner? In this comprehensive guide, I’ll compare the two platforms based on several factors, including the flexibility and customization options of the two website builders, alongside ease of use, e-commerce toolsets, payment features, templates, POS integrations, inventory and shipping options, marketing and SEO tools, and customer support.
Summary and Key Takeaways
Either of the two website builders is the right solution, and it all comes down to your needs and expectations. If I should narrow down this extensive comparison to just a few lines, here’s what they’d be:
- Shopify is the best solution for both small and exceptionally big e-commerce stores. After all, it’s also the best e-commerce platform we’ve seen so far.
- Squarespace is a great fit for most small online stores. It is easy to board and use.
- Shopify and Squarespace have become close competitors by following opposite routes. Shopify introduced its website-building tools and services later, while Squarespace was designed to help businesses create their website (and enjoy online sales), for which purpose it added e-commerce tools and features.
What’s in This Guide?
- Defining Your Purpose for Building a Website: Why It Matters
- Content-based Websites vs Online Stores
- Shopify vs Squarespace: Overview of Features and Perks
- How to Compare Shopify and Squarespace
- Shopify vs Squarespace: Key Features Compared
- Shopify and Squarespace: Pros & Cons
- Shopify vs Squarespace: Pricing Plans
What Type of Website Do You Need?
According to a statistical report published by Statista.com, Retail e-Commerce Sales Worldwide From 2014 to 2026, global e-commerce sales volume will surpass the $6 trillion mark this year, which is a whopping figure. This industry is on the rise: the 2022 growth of 9.7%* was not as impressive as 2021’s 17.1% spike, but it’s still a notable development. You probably won’t need more convincing that diving into the world of e-commerce is well worth it.
Having this in mind, you can’t help but realize that a quality website or an online store would be pivotal for your development in the sector. This is where Shopify and Squarespace (among others) come in. The latest website-building technology the two incorporate has the power to create a custom, fully functional online store that would fit like a glove to every last need, demand, or preference you might have. Plus, it will do it faster and cheaper than most freelance web developers would.
Knowing how to take advantage of this technology is the key to success. I’m sure of that, which is why you must decide exactly what you need. While considering all the important bits (intuitive interface, clever menu, simple and catchy design, SEO and marketing tools, and so forth) is a must, you also need to understand which structure and scale would suit your business idea to the fullest.
*Source: Cramer-Flood, Ethan. Worldwide ecommerce growth drops to single digits, while overall retail muddles through. Insider Intelligence, 2 Aug. 2022, www.insiderintelligence.com/content/worldwide-ecommerce-growth-drops-single-digits-while-overall-retail-muddles-through/. Accessed January 29, 2023.
Website vs Online Store: Which Option to Choose?
Technically speaking, any online store is a website, but the difference here is derived from the details. There are websites that are far from the typical e-commerce format, but they can also generate sales/revenue through the content posted on them.
Understanding which of the two types of websites you need is essential for your further development and success. If you need nothing more than an informative blog that showcases your products or niche, then Squarespace would be your first choice because of its brilliant content management system (with a focus on blogging features, flexible themes, and content block-styled builder.
Squarespace for Content-driven Websites
Websites that mostly focus on featuring various types of content need modern, customizable templates with loads of design perks, alongside a suite of content management tools. This is where Squarespace shines:
- It doesn’t require any prior experience in website design.
- It boasts dozens of outstanding templates.
- Its block editor is easy to use (and fast, too).
Shopify for e-Commerce Websites
While Shopify’s drag-and-drop editor is excellent on its own, the builder is not as agile as the one Squarespace offers. Still, Shopify’s strength is e-commerce stores. The selling and marketing tools it features are superb, which is what you need to manage, monitor, and process thousands of offers. Shopify has the advantage here because:
- It features multiple payment options.
- It has a dropshipping toolset.
- It boasts POS and inventory features.
- It allows for thousands of third-party integrations.
As you can see, it’s easier to choose the right option when you know some of the basic needs it must cover. However, this is not even close to being enough for a full comparison. Every tiny detail counts and no two cases are the same. As an individual online small business owner, you need to know all about Shopify and Squarespace before making a final decision. I’ll walk you through both website builders and show you what they offer.
Shopify vs Squarespace: Overview of Features and Perks
It’s time to check out the top features of both platforms, alongside their most distinct advantages. The individual highlights of each of the two website builders I’m reviewing today matter the most if you want to compare them head to head.
As one of the most popular e-commerce platforms ever created, Shopify needs to be an all-in-one solution for every aspiring entrepreneur, and it’s exactly that. The platform allows you to create, host, run, and grow your online small business by providing you with all the tools necessary for executing these stages, including unlimited bandwidth.
Shopify offers roughly a hundred different templates you can choose from, and they’re all customizable to a significant extent.
24/7 Support and Security
The 24/7 customer support Shopify offers is among the pivotal features you’d need to run your business. This comes alongside data protection and security perks that comply with the latest industry standards.
Flexible Shopping Cart and Shipping Features
Shopify lets its client use various payment gateways, too, which is an important part of managing online sales. The system boasts a feature-rich shopping cart option that allows you to organize everything with just a few clicks, including shipping.
Comprehensive Online Store Management
The online store management suite available will let you design a dashboard that offers complete control of all processes, such as sales, data records, updates, and so forth. You’ll be able to track your sales and create performance analyses based on sales history.
Built-in SEO and Marketing Tools
One of the biggest advantages of Shopify is the myriad of marketing tools. The built-in SEO functionalities will help you boost the performance of your website, and the marketing perks will help with all future advertising campaigns on social media.
Extensive Third-party Add-Ons
Shopify gives you a virtually endless selection of third-party add-ons to pick from. This would shape every online store in a certain way and allow for the best result, no matter the niche or scale you’re aiming for.
Squarespace might not be as recognizable as Shopify when it comes to brand awareness, but its immaculate reputation and rising popularity have already changed that. Its primary weapon is the intuitive website builder that works wonders if you need a website to promote your land-based or service-based business.
Customizable, Mobile-friendly Templates
When it comes to design options and customization tools, Squarespace takes the lead. The drag-and-drop editor offers dozens of modern templates. Every template automatically creates a mobile version of the website you’re building, which is how functionality and sleek design come together. Plus, there are hundreds of add-ons to choose from. You can even create your own logo with the built-in tools Squarespace offers.
Flexible Store Management
As for online store tools, Squarespace has some catching up to do with Shopify, but what it has to offer is often enough: easy content upload, multiple uploads, customizable checkout, subscriptions, and a lot more functionalities, including various payment processors.
Customer-focused SEO and Marketing Suite
Squarespace boasts a CRM suite. You can use it to collect, store, and process information related to all your sales and clients, which could help you identify your audience’s needs better and examine the behavior of your targeted customers.
You can connect to your potential clients using the variety of marketing and SEO tools that are built in Squarespace. There are dozens of SEO tactics to use to your advantage, including an analytics section and options for connecting with marketing automation software supplied by third-party providers, such as MailChimp.
One of Squarespace’s advantages is its email marketing tool. It helps you be consistent when you set up email marketing campaigns. Many business owners think that cold email pitching is dead, but it’s a strong tactic to land clients, so you might as well use that. More than half the world’s population uses email*, and that’s a lot of prospects.
*Source: Ceci, L. Number of e-mail users worldwide 2017-2025. Statista, 14 Nov. 2022, www.statista.com/statistics/255080/number-of-e-mail-users-worldwide/. Accessed January 29, 2023.
How to Properly Compare Shopify and Squarespace
To compare the two website builders, I had to adopt a different approach by focusing first on their main differences.
They seem to be quite similar at first, being website-building tools, but there are quite a few notable differences. Some of them are derived from the history of both website builders. As I already mentioned, Squarespace was initially designed to serve as a content-driven website builder, and Shopify’s website-building tool was intended to aid all customers who wanted to use its e-commerce platforms but didn’t have their own online stores until that point.
Let’s focus on areas where you can find the most significant differences between the two website-building solutions.
Shopify vs Squarespace: 10 Key Features Compared
The most notable difference between the two is Shopify’s focus on e-commerce websites, but there are more distinct ones to note:
1. Website Building Editor
Shopify – features a plain page editor that allows you to combine formatted text with other types of content, such as images or videos. The content you create and combine is then adapted to the layout of the chosen template.
Squarespace – has a far more sophisticated editor. It’s a drag-and-drop structure that boasts an intuitive interface that allows you to create a page structure from scratch with the help of a grid. There are far more customization options available.
2. E-commerce Tools
Shopify – is all about e-commerce, and you can tell that right away. The relevant features included in its website builder are numerous. As a leading e-commerce platform, it boasts everything needed to create a fully functional online store, complete with maintenance and marketing toolsets. This includes the abandoned cart recovery feature. Shopify allows you to avoid losing clients who left their shopping carts without completing their orders by sending them email invitations to continue shopping. You’d even be able to add coupons or discount codes to encourage them to pick up where they left off.
Squarespace – struggles to keep up in terms of e-commerce features, which are nowhere near as usable as the ones offered by Shopify. They’re playing in different leagues when it comes to creating online stores. As for the abandoned cart feature, it’s only available with the Commerce Advanced top-tier pricing plan.
Shopify – features over 100 themes you can choose from, and about a dozen of them are free to use. This is not an impressive variety, but there’s an option for using third-party templates. Customizing the themes is another story: the flexibility you’d expect from Shopify is not among its primary advantages.
Squarespace – shines when it comes to functional templates with a modern and appealing design. There are over 140 fully customizable templates to choose from, about a quarter of which are meant for sales websites.
To further compare Shopify and Squarespace, my next step was to focus on their differences in terms of specific features, such as ease of use, marketing features, and customer support, among others.
4. Ease of Use
Shopify – is a breeze to use. You don’t need any previous experience to handle it.
Squarespace – is even easier, especially for the backend part. There’s no need to go back and forth during the building process, and every tool is where it should be. Squarespace is a great option for every beginner.
5. Customization Features
Both platforms will offer you everything you need to create a good-looking website that’s also functional, but Squarespace leads when it comes to customization.
Shopify – requires you to alter the code using HTML or CSS – this is the only way to have a custom result when using Shopify.
Squarespace – takes this burden off your shoulders thanks to its so-called code blocks and its user-friendly CSS editor. Squarespace will let you create a customized solution that you’ll achieve much easier, too. Plus, there are various themes for different industries, allowing you to be more creative.
6. Payment Features
Shopify – boasts an excess of a hundred payment options available, including crypto. Having a lot of payment options available is crucial if you’re after making a lot of sales. Plus, there are no transaction fees if you use the platform’s in-house payment gateway, Shopify Payments. However, Shopify will charge you extra fees if you opt for an alternative payment method.
Squarespace – only has a few built-in payment gateways. This is one of the platform’s downsides. You can only opt for Apple Pay, Stripe, and PayPal. Therefore, all processing fees will be according to your preferred gateway’s pricing terms.
7. Inventory and Shipping Options
Both website builders offer unlimited inventory and an array of management tools, such as product data import, analytics, and more.
Shopify – takes the lead in the shipping and inventory categories. It has all the dropshipping tools you would ever need, alongside integrations with large shipping companies such as UPS.
Squarespace – allows you to add shipping options depending on your preferences: free shipping, flat rates, rates by weight, or rates calculated by carriers. The last option will let you integrate it with a third-party carrier or shipping company, but it only comes with the Commerce Advanced plan.
8. POS Integrations
I mentioned the Shopify POS system earlier, and it’s one of the primary advantages of Shopify’s website builder as well. The two can sync instantly, resulting in an online store with a full-fledged POS system that can also work for offline sales. The latter will require a hardware kit starting from $49. All you need to do when you’re ready to start is download the Shopify app.
Squarespace doesn’t have a proprietary POS solution, but it partners with Square. It requires the Squarespace Commerce app, alongside a starter hardware kit ($49 as well). POS transactions through Square are more expensive than Shopify’s solution: 2.6%-3.5% compared to 2.4%-2.7% respectively.
9. Marketing and SEO Tools
Shopify – offers lots of social media platform integrations that will help you create precisely targeted advertising campaigns. Thanks to the system’s third-party integration capabilities, you could add marketing and even accounting extensions to better manage your store. As for SEO, Shopify would be the better choice to make. The available SEO apps can help you craft a precise SEO strategy and implement it.
Squarespace – offers add-ons as well, but the variety available is not as great as the one Shopify grants. Squarespace’s SEO functionalities are not as extended as the ones offered by its competitor.
10. Customer Support
When using a website builder, you need to be certain that you can rely on quality customer support. Luckily for you, both Shopify and Squarespace boast reliable customer support you can count on in the event of technical issues or when you have difficulties figuring out some of the functionalities of either of the platforms.
Shopify – has a 24/7 help desk that is available through live chat, phone, or email. This website builder also offers extended and personal customer support options, depending on your subscription plan.
Squarespace – features a user forum you could join and find most (if not all) of the answers you’re looking for.
Shopify vs Squarespace Pros & Cons
No piece of software is all sunshine and rainbows, no matter how reliable or easy to use it might be. This is why I summed up the notable pros and cons of Shopify and Squarespace. This wraps up the comparison sections listed above.
- The best e-commerce website builder
- Loads of social media integrations
- Thousands of available add-ons, including templates
- Reliable, 24/7 customer support
- Rich inventory management suite
- Various payment gateways are available
- You’d owe transaction fees if you opt for a third-party payment processor
- Not enough available themes
- Relatively high monthly expenses
- A great variety of modern and customizable templates is available
- Intuitive, user-friendly interface
- Drag-and-drop block-styled page builder
- Analytic tools
- Not the best choice for e-commerce websites
- Not enough payment options
- No autosave option
Shopify vs Squarespace Pricing Plans
None of the features and advantages of either of the two website builders would matter if the price isn’t right. When choosing a website builder, you need to look for the ultimate price/value ratio alongside all the perks you’d need to create the website you need with no compromises.
To help you make the right choice, I’ll highlight the pricing differences between the two website builders and determine which one has better value for money.
Shopify comes with 3 pricing plans, all of which are available for a 3-day free trial. There are other options as well, such as the Shopify Plus plan that’s designed for high-volume businesses, meaning it’s not fit for small online business owners.
This monthly plan gives you the basic functionalities you need to build an online store, process payments, and organize the shipping of the goods you sell.
The current promotional campaign allows you to grab the Basic plan for $1 per month for the first three months instead of paying the usual rate of $24 per month.
- Basic reporting tools
- Up to 4 inventory locations
- 2 separate employee accounts
The Shopify plan extends the reporting suite to a great length and allows you to have more than just a couple of employee accounts.
This plan costs $69 per month.
- Up to 5 inventory locations
- e-Commerce automation
- A limit of up to 5 staff account
Get the best of Shopify with custom reporting and their lowest transaction fees.
For $299 per month, you can opt for the Advanced plan.
- Custom reporting tools
- The lowest transaction fees possible (partially compensates for the steeper monthly payment)
Except for the custom report builder, the rest of the additional features offered with the Advanced plan include:
- Up to 8 inventory locations
- 15 employee accounts
- Allows you to calculate possible import taxes and duties as part of the checkout process you can organize for your clients
All the Shopify payment plans can become more affordable if billed annually. They feature complete access to its e-commerce website building platform and 24/7 live chat support. Additionally, you would have access to a variety of sales channels, as well as to Shopify’s very own POS solution.
Squarespace boasts 4 subscription plans to choose from, not counting the custom Enterprise plan that’s meant to serve high-volume businesses. If billed annually, you can save between 24% and 30% of the monthly fees, depending on which plan you choose. Plus, there’s a free trial period available for all of them.
The Personal subscription plan can be yours for just $16 per month.
- access to Squarespace’s modern, customizable templates
- allows you to create mobile-friendly websites and use a template that fits your niche the most
- a free option for a custom domain
For just $23 per month, you can grab the most popular of all Squarespace monthly plans: Business. It’s a great choice to make if you aim to popularize your website and attract a bigger audience. This is the plan to choose if you want to be able to take payments through your website.
- Allows for mobile-friendly websites
- A full array of customizable templates
- Plenty of website analytics features
- e-Commerce suite
- Fixed transaction fees at 3%
This plan is fixed at $27 per month.
- All Business Plan features
- No transaction fees
- A variety of selling tools
The advanced version of the Commerce subscription plan is priced at $49 per month.
- Everything the basic version has
- Shipping functionalities
- Discounting functionalities (best for experienced sellers looking to up their sales volumes)
All subscription plans come with a free custom domain for the first year, but only when you choose the annual billing option (which would make the monthly payments even cheaper for you). There could only be a single free domain, but you can opt for additional domains outside of this offer.
Pricing Comparison: The Bottom Line
It is hard to rule out either of the two website builders in question, as they could both offer similar value for the money you pay, depending on your needs and preferences. Overall, Squarespace offers more value for money. The features and functionalities it boasts come at a reasonable price, regardless of which payment plan you choose. Still, it may not be the solution you’re looking for, in case you aim for a scalable online store.
Based on the several factors I listed in this comparison review, I’d say that Shopify has the advantage. It’s not the most universal website builder you can opt for, but it’s a robust, easy-to-use platform that offers plenty of functionalities and perks, not to mention that there are literally thousands of add-ons you can take advantage of. All these aspects explain its steeper price.
Squarespace is a worthy competitor and has everything you could possibly need to create a modern-looking, functional website that looks as close to a custom-built solution as possible. However, it doesn’t offer the e-commerce array of options you get with Shopify, meaning that it’s most suitable for content-based websites that could also have a selling feature.
If you define your exact needs and realize that both website builders would suit them, you can always take advantage of the free trials they offer and see which one makes the perfect fit.
Shopify vs Squarespace: FAQs
Is Shopify better for SEO than Squarespace?
Using either of the two could result in a well-ranked website, but it seems that Shopify has an advantage when it comes to SEO tools. It’s able to create SEO settings automatically and even redirect users in case of a URL switch you make.
What’s the most significant advantage of choosing Squarespace over Shopify?
The primary advantage of choosing Squarespace over Shopify is its ability to generate better content-based websites. For example, the templates it boasts are more suitable for blogs or portfolio sites. Plus, its page builder is more intuitive.
What can Shopify do that Squarespace can‘t?
You can export products from a Shopify store easily and via the means you choose: there are no restrictions to do this, unlike using Squarespace. You can use third-party add-ons to do this if you like.
How does Squarespace compare to Shopify?
While the two have a lot in common, Squarespace is still primarily a content-driven website builder with an additional e-commerce toolset. Shopify’s website builder was created intending to help its customers sell products and services online, meaning that building e-commerce stores is its main strength.
What’s cheaper, using Squarespace or Shopify?
Squarespace is the more affordable choice between the two options featured in today’s comparison review. To enjoy the full set of functionalities and features offered by Shopify, you need to pay $299 per month (not including third-party add-ons and apps), while Squarespace offers a handful of perks for just $49 per month.