Shopify vs. Squarespace: Key Features, Pricing, App Integrations
Shopify and Squarespace are both relatively renowned platforms, but which one is going to be the best for your online store and which you should go with?
Is it a customizable theme, the price, or third-party integrations that push Shopify rankings up? Then, where do Squarespace features compare to those of Shopify?
In this article, we will go over some of the main things about both of the platforms and their features and strip them down so you won’t have to.
Both services come from a totally different background and with a different focus on business. You will have to study and understand your needs and wants to choose either one of the platforms.
We are going to present points in each round to determine whether Squarespace or Shopify wins.
An e-commerce store or a photography fansite, assuming you are about to start your first online business, you will need a website to build it and host it. Thus, It is only fair we compare this part of the business to each other since we will discuss Shopify and Squarespace,
With Squarespace, if you buy one of their monthly plans, you will potentially get a free custom domain with it which is a nice little thing that brings a lot of customers. You can register your domains with Shopify too, although it is not free. And domains start at $11 per year.
Should you buy domains from them or not is a question you need to ask yourself for there are both advantages and disadvantages of doing so.
For example, assuming you are going to use Shopify or Squarespace to host your domains. You will not have to go through the headache to set up your DNS settings and configurations it will be pre-configured for you no matter which one of the mentioned sites you buy or get your domain from 😲
You might have already decided on the type of product to sell or just now deciding. Knowing what products you can sell, and what not still is useful information.
Obviously, there are no limits to selling any product you want as long as they are not illegal. But it is the features of these sites that make one type of product more preferred than the other.
For example, with Shopify’s 5GB space to upload files, you might be better off doing digital products, especially compared to Squarespace’s 300MB size.
However, when it comes to subscriptions, Squarespace comes on top of it and lets you do it by default. To have these options you will have not only to use a third-party app but also pay for it on Shopify.
There is still a catch here with Squarespace too. The subscription service you are given is for Physical goods only. So, if you were to push for digital goods, then you will have to use their Memberspace which also has only a 14-day free trial period after which you will have to pay $25 per month
One of the most important things to consider for any business when it comes to choosing a service or a product is, in fact, the price.
These online store builder websites come from a different background and also meant for different uses, change their pricing accordingly.
For example, Squarespace’s $12 business plan is the cheapest of both while Shopify does not even have any plans for this much. With Squarespace, you will be able to build online stores and use their free themes only for $26 with an option to buy it for $40 if you need advanced planning.
Shopify’s real price starts at $29 then goes to $79 which is meant for growing businesses with the advanced option that goes up to $266.
As you can see the pricing is vastly different however, both offer free trials and periods to check out and see which one fits you the most. Shopify has a 14-day free trial but with the extension possibilities. There is also a 90-day free trial if you are to sign up with the business journey plan.
You can read more about that on their website here
Note that Shopify has a lot of extra payments and unseen costs that you may come across at a later point in your business.
On the other hand, Squarespace only charges you the monthly fees then there are no more unseen or unexpected costs you will surprise you.
Squarespace has this option to give out the months of free trials if signed up with an affiliate link. It is one of those links that YouTubers drop, or you see it on your Instagram stories and so on.
You will not lose anything if you sign up through their link if anything, you have gained two months free subscription which could be huge if you are a beginner.
Both platforms allow you to sign up without a credit card, which is very nice since you won’t have to worry to cancel your subscription.
It is usually frustrating to see this with many other builders because you do not even know yet if you are going to continue. It only means that these two platforms have risen above the regular scam-my way to pull people in.
Overall, you should decide which e-commerce builder platform fits you better in regards to pricing, then make a decision. We are going to continue this article to make this decision easier for you
Themes and Templates
Shopify has 10 free templates that are fully customizable and changeable. It also offers more than 60 paid ones. Although the paid templates could range from $140 to $180, they are of good quality and elegantly designed to fit any online store.
Because Shopify mainly gives focus to build the perfect online store, each and every one of their templates is meant to do just that. Meaning if your intention is anything but to have an online store you will either find it impossible to work or just run away from the price itself.
On the other hand, Squarespace offers 10 templates for online store builders, and all of them come free. Because Squarespace is meant to be this website builder that is a bit more general yet, a bit more for those artsy, and creative people, not all of those templates are perfect for an online store.
However, that again depends on what your product to sell is, and how you intend to use it. Squarespace’s templates are also highly customizable and changeable through the programming codes.
Before we go ahead and say that Shopify wins this round, it is important to mention one more thing about both of the platforms.
That is their flexibility. The themes and templates are organized in a much more logical way and customizable. Even though we have just mentioned that it is customizable we are mentioning again to have you pay more attention.
After a long time of comparing websites and tools etc you will come to understand what the user usually wants and needs. And they seem to understand that clearly as well.
That is why even though Shopify offers more options and is more focused on e-commerce. Squarespace comes very close to beating them with just the 10 free templates that can be used for a variety of purposes. And that means a lot for a website battling multimillion publicly traded company.
You can have a look at the Squarespace’s’ free templates here
Worry not, this is not an affiliate link. It is only there for your convenience in case you wanted to check it out. If you wish not to, that is no big deal.
This one is a big part of any business; you have no business if you have no payments. So, it is important how you handle it, how the builder helps you handle it.
That is why this round we will discuss what ways you can charge your customers and which platforms offer the most convenient yet the cheapest way for you.
The first, we need to know about Shopify is that it charges additional payment fees if you do not use their Shopify payment systems, oh yes, if you did not know about the Shopify payments. It is like PayPal but made by Shopify and meant for Shopify only.
It is convenient to use the inbuilt payment system, however, this application is not available yet in all countries. You do not have to worry about most of western Europe and the English-speaking countries but the rest of the world will have to check.
This makes it a bit less convenient especially in a global economy like today’s, you might be all the way in New York, or New Delhi, but where your products go, usually might not.
In order to make up for it, Shopify offers a truly infinite list of payment options from Apple/Google pay to the regular old boring Visa and MasterCard to PayPal and Stripe and everything in between.
They even have bank deposits or cash on delivery. So, they have got your covered when it comes to processing your payments.
Squarespace on the other hand only has PayPal or stripe. By the way, if you did not know what stripe is before this article you can check out this less than two-minute video that explains it.
It is a pity though that Squarespace limits you with just these two options. However, there is so much more you can do with just the two
SEO / Page Speed
Despite Shopify has this strange habit to add additional words to your URLs, the speed at which they open tends to stay the same or at least faster than Squarespace’s’. However, the good about Squarespace is that you have the option to customize your URLs.
It might not seem important but the right URLs and the fit definition for your content helps you to be discovered easier and faster. faster opening sites are also advantageous once a visitor lands.
One area that is utterly important for Google is “clean” URLs. With Shopify’s auto-refer system you might not always get the best of it.
Shopify is known to generate the page titles and meta descriptions as clear and neat as possible it is still an algorithm. As a human, you might want to steer your products’ SEO for one way or another.
However, the customization or optimization option of Squarespace sometimes serves as a disadvantage as it has too many info spots to fill, like the captions, descriptions, title, alt text.
It’s all-important to a degree, no arguing there, but to use it to the best optimal way many people skip some of the options altogether. Some might argue if it can be skipped, why is it even there in the first place
However, the more keywords and information there is on the product, the easier it gets found. Thus, all those aspects are important.
Mobile apps seem to load Shopify pages faster too when tested. The difference is not big, but to consider which platform to go for, if you happen to have many mobile visitors, this suddenly becomes an important issue.
Shopify and Squarespace allow you to buy, sometimes get free, and use apps to improve the functionality of your websites and business.
Shopify has a bit of edge over Squarespace in this department though. Its app store has more than 3,200 integration options, there are apps meant for things, from SEO enhancements multiple currency support, image editing to dropshipping functionality and so much more.
Squarespace’s additional functionalities can be achieved through what they call extensions. There are not as many possible integration options as with Shopify but you will still get the main ones like Mailchimp, Dropbox, Opentable, google apps, and all the social media platforms.
Both platforms work effectively and productively in this case even though Shopify seems to be ahead of Squarespace. Any business that needs anything else outside the Squarespace can easily access it and find it, so the problem is not whether one has this thing and the other has not. It simply is which one has more options that fit your needs.
Shipping / Taxes
Both Shopify and Squarespace help you with the shipping. On Shopify, you can define shipping zones and accordingly charge based on weight or order value. It works fundamentally the same with Squarespace on the shipping terms. They depart from each other when it comes to label printing.
As a business it might be important to have a separate or different label and have them printed by your integrated builder makes your job a whole lot easier and makes it look more professional.
With Shopify, they have just his option, where they offer label printing in house. However, you will have to use a third-party application or service with Squarespace which is “Shipstation”.
The good news about Squarespace’s party member, the price for this is included with your monthly e-commerce plan.
On the other hand, to use the Shopify’s label printing, you will have to be on the $266 plan.
With shipping matters handled, let us talk about the tax issues.
Shopify is convenient and straightforward in tax matters, for they calculate and apply all the correct taxes for the US, and Canada and the EU automatically.
However, you will have to set them all up yourself manually especially if you happen to be in Europe. There is the VAT MOST which is a VAT for mini one-stop-shops, which will apply, if you are one of those mini one-stop-shops and expect to make more than 10,000 euros per year then you will have to adhere to these taxing rules.
Adhering to it might not be the hardest part but it is the setting up your prices correctly part that is difficult on Squarespace.
The email marketing aspect of any online store is one of importance. The ability to generate leads and communicate effectively comes as a result of a good email marketing campaign.
What about these two applications, will they allow you to have this incredibly important aspect of your business easily handled or will they leave you out to dry. Let us discuss
Both of the platforms allow the usage of third-party apps to capture and report email addresses. For example, if you are a MailChimp user, you will have the option to directly integrate your accounts together with Squarespace.
However, due to some of the complications in the past regarding data protections between Shopify and Mailchimp, integration is no longer possible. It is only possible if you embed your Mailchimp form on your site.
Still, setting up your email marketing business or thinking? you can check out this article to put a dot on it.
Let us remind you again that both of these platforms have high codability, or use additional apps, or extensions to do that. It only goes to show how much these platforms understand their customers and their needs.
They, in fact, understand so much that both offer built-in email marketing features themselves.
Squarespace has this feature email campaigns. For which you will have to pay extra but the price is still cheaper than if you would pay for an entire third-party app.
In order to use the Email Campaigns, not only will you benefit from keeping the websites and mailing list in one place but also numerous other features like they have strong e-newsletter templates, easy to edit with drag and drop options and the interface is lovely and similar to its blog editors.
You can drop content from other blog posts or product information. The functionality is also tremendously good for an email campaign that is an extension, because it has the autoresponder, automation, and is set to have more options in the near future.
Although the conversion rates are rumored to be low with either of the apps, email campaigns for a subscriber have to click on the confirmation link after signing up.
Shopify has only recently introduced this option to its clients and the progress rate is much lower even when compared to Squarespace. They have basic email campaigns, which are called Shopify email. And this Shopify email is so basic that it does not allow you to either schedule or automate the email. Everything has to be done manually. The good news is though it is free so far.
What happens if your online store took off and now you have a huge business to run, would you still be able to keep using one of these two and function just as well. or what happens if you run into a problem?
Let us answer these questions and more in these sections.
When it comes to scaling a business there are so many things required and so many things should be done right. Assuming you have checked all those points which honestly even we do not know. Now you need to scale up like crazy.
Shopify wants to be this new back office for any or all online businesses, their missions and goals align with anyone else’s who dares to go big. For this reason, they have been prepared for those clients and making sure they appear faster through them.
It is easy and fair to say that you would be better off with Shopify has your business gone viral. It is still possible to go big with Squarespace but that is going to require a lot of hard work trying to figure out virtual space or to add this or that to your site, and a bunch more other problems that are going to rise.
Support for their clients must have been one of their main values from the beginning. Both platforms have excellent support and live chats available 24/7 for any of the users who purchased their monthly plans. Shopify even goes one step further to assure its customer’s happiness and has a hotline.
It is rare to hear a company have this option available but they just want to make everyone happy. So, in case, if you had an issue that you would like to discuss with the chat’s members manager, you can take it up on the hotline now 😉
Even though Squarespace does not have the calling options, it still does look after its clientele through live chats and emails.
To Sum It Up
Let us sum up the major points that Shopify and Squarespace have scored in this review.
|Meant for online e-commerce||Cheaper and get a free domain with a monthly plan|
|More templates to offer in general, not all are free though||Better customizable templates and ones that are more fit for photography|
|Payment methods are definitely better handled||URLs are customizable and easier changeable to one’s needs|
|Way more third-party integration options||Good customer support|
|Taxes are calculated automatically|
These are just some of the points we went through in this article. And saying one is better than the other is easier if one is to know the main purpose of the business. For example, if you are going to build an online store then Shopify will work better for you.
However, if you are an artist or a musician and need a website builder for those purposes, not only will Squarespace be a better fit, but also a cheaper option.
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