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Blog / Ecommerce platform guide / Squarespace vs. Shopify: Choosing the Right Platform for Your Online Store

Ecommerce platform guide

Squarespace vs. Shopify: Choosing the Right Platform for Your Online Store

Squarespace vs. Shopify: Choosing the Right Platform for Your Online Store
Ilze Elizabete Strazda

By Ilze Elizabete Strazda

13 min read

If you’ve decided to open up your print-on-demand online store, one of the first questions you’ll probably have is: which ecommerce platform should I use for my best-selling print-on-demand products? Choosing the best ecommerce platform for your store is no easy feat, so it’s best to do some research beforehand.

Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll analyze two popular ecommerce platforms—Shopify and Squarespace.

Squarespace vs. Shopify at a glance

Before we compare Shopify and Squarespace, let’s take a look at the basics and the audiences each platform caters to.

What is Squarespace?

Squarespace is a popular website builder. Roughly 3–4% of all websites that use CMS (content management system) use Squarespace, making it the 4th most popular CMS in the world.

a woman's face with her hands on her faceSource: Squarespace

Who is Squarespace best for?

Since design features are Squarespace’s strong suit, it’ll work best for people who value the visual aspect of their business very highly. For example, if you’re a professional artist looking to build a website that showcases your work and has ecommerce functionality on the side, Squarespace is the right platform for you.

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What is Shopify?

Even if you’re a newbie in the ecommerce world, you’ve likely heard of Shopify before. It’s one of the major players in the global online commerce market, and it’s also the largest platform in the US—around 28% of all online stores in the US use the Shopify platform.

a globe with text on itSource: Shopify

Who is Shopify best for?

Shopify has many strong commerce and marketing tools, so it’s best for people who are dedicated to building robust, high-performing online stores. Whether you plan to sell trending products like custom t-shirts or manage a more complex operation, such as selling dropshipping products with high-profit margin, Shopify will be able to accommodate your business needs.

Squarespace vs. Shopify: an in-depth comparison

Alright, we have the basics down, let’s get into the good stuff. In this section, we’ll compare the most important ecommerce features of both Shopify and Squarespace. We’ll cover everything from how easy it is to use the platform to things like store management features, costs, and more.

Ease of use

One of the most important things about choosing a platform for your online store is making sure that it’s user-friendly. Let’s check out both Shopify and Squarespace to see which platform is more intuitive and easier to use.

Squarespace

Opening your online store on Squarespace is pretty quick and easy. First, you’ll have to answer some basic questions about the kind of site you’re planning to build. Once you’re done, Squarespace will match you with templates that best suit your needs.

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Squarespace

From there, you’re taken to your Squarespace dashboard, where you can edit your website, add your products, and manage your store in general. Squarespace uses a simple website builder that doesn’t require any coding knowledge. Adding products is also fairly simple and intuitive.

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Squarespace

A major plus is that you can easily switch between desktop and mobile views when designing your website. That ensures your website will look attractive even if your customers are browsing on their phones.

However, a minor drawback is that there’s no step-by-step checklist for getting your store up and running. After you set up your website, you’re kind of left to your own devices, which can be a little confusing for someone who’s just starting out.

Shopify

Similar to Squarespace, when you’re opening up your store, you’ll have to answer a few starting questions about what kind of online store you’re planning to run.

a screenshot of a phoneSource: Shopify

After you answer the questions, you’ll be taken to your Shopify dashboard, where you’ll find a setup guide. For a beginner, this is a huge plus—Shopify basically takes you by the hand and guides you through every single step. That might be especially helpful for beginners since it allows you to set up your online store quickly.

a screenshot of a computer

These first steps are where you can immediately see the difference between Squarespace and Shopify. Squarespace, a website builder with a heavy focus on design, pushes you to choose a website template first. Shopify, however, emphasizes adding your first product.

Shopify vs. Squarespace: who’s the winner?

Both platforms are easy to use—you can open your store and add products in a matter of minutes.

However, if you’re a new business owner, you’ll find Shopify’s approach more structured and easy to follow. While Squarespace’s templates are gorgeous, Shopify offers more step-by-step guidance, which is very valuable to someone who’s new to the ecommerce world.

That’s why, in our view, Shopify takes this round.

Costs

Starting an online store doesn’t require as much upfront investment as opening a brick-and-mortar shop. However, selling online does come with various costs and fees that can stack up.

Let’s see what kind of costs and fees you can expect when opening a Shopify or Squarespace store.

Squarespace

Squarespace offers 4 pricing plans—Personal, Business, Commerce Basic, and Commerce Advanced. If you pay annually, the Personal plan is $16 per month, Business is $23, Commerce Basic is $27, and Advanced is $49. You can also pay month-to-month, but take into account that you’ll have to pay slightly higher rates.

screens screenshot of a websiteSource: Squarespace

The Personal plan will allow you to build a stunning website but with a very basic ecommerce functionality. If you’re looking to make online sales, you should choose either the Business or Commerce Basic plans.

The Business plan is generally the best option for small businesses—among other features, it allows you to sell unlimited products, your customers will be able to create their accounts on your website, and you’ll also have access to marketing tools like promo pop-ups.

But keep in mind that with the Business plan, you’ll have to pay 3% transaction fees for product sales. You can avoid transaction fees if you upgrade your plan to Commerce Basic. Compare all the plans here.

Shopify

Shopify offers 3 pricing plans—Basic, Shopify, and Advanced. These plans are priced at $29, $79, and $299 per month, respectively. Beginners can also try a 3-day free trial. After the trial, your monthly fee will be $1 for the first 3 months.

a screenshot of a shopify pageSource: Shopify

Unlike Squarespace, all Shopify plans come with strong sales features—even cheaper plans allow you to sell in person or on multiple sales channels like Facebook or Instagram. If you’re new to the ecommerce game, we’d suggest going with the Basic plan. It’s best suited for small businesses and allows you to build a robust store without spending a ton of money.

When it comes to pricing, Shopify and Squarespace are pretty evenly matched in the lower-tier plans. It’s the more expensive subscriptions where you start to see a difference—the most expensive Squarespace plan is $49 per month, while Shopify’s is $299.

Shopify vs. Squarespace: who’s the winner?

Shopify offers strong ecommerce features in its plans. However, if you’re just starting out, you’ll probably be using only the basics while you learn. In this case, Squarespace’s pricing is generally more beginner-friendly.

In our opinion, Squarespace wins this round.

Site design features

Your website will be the first thing your customers see and will also play a large part in their decision to buy from your online store or not. So, it’s important that you choose a website builder with advanced features that’ll allow you to build a professional-looking and attractive site.

Let’s check out what kind of design features you’ll have access to on Shopify and Squarespace.

Squarespace

It’s no secret that Squarespace is one of the most advanced online platforms out there when it comes to website design. Squarespace offers great templates and has advanced product view features that’ll give your website a sleek, professional look.

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Squarespace

With Squarespace, you’ll have access to 168 stunning templates. The good news is that all of these are free themes—you don’t have to pay to use them. However, many of these templates aren’t ecommerce-specific but focus on website content and blogging features.

So, if you’re looking to open an online store, you’ll either have to pick one of the ecommerce themes, tinker with an existing theme, or create your own custom template. You can create a custom template using Squarespace’s AI tool called Squarespace Blueprint.

a close-up of a black screenSource: Squarespace

Another big plus is that Squarespace also allows you to edit your product layouts. You can choose between several different layouts and tailor your shop design to your liking.

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Squarespace

Shopify

Shopify isn’t quite as design-oriented as Squarespace, but it has some great design and customization features. You can see all available Shopify themes on the Shopify Theme store.

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Shopify

Unlike Squarespace, Shopify offers both free themes and premium themes. On the Shopify Theme store, you’ll find 12 free and 174 paid templates—all of these are focused on ecommerce.

While there are only a dozen free themes to choose from, they’re not a bad start. All of these themes have a modern, sophisticated look and strong standard features. If you choose a free template, you can play around with it on the Shopify website editor to make sure it’s not quite the same as other online stores.

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Shopify

But if you really want to give your ecommerce website a more individual look, go with one of the paid themes. The paid themes range in price from $140 to $400. Since it’s quite a lot of money, consider starting out with a free theme and upgrading to a paid theme once your store grows.

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Shopify

Shopify vs. Squarespace: who’s the winner?

Although Shopify has more ecommerce-specific themes available, Squarespace’s templates are more accessible and beginner-friendly. Unlike Shopify, Squarespace’s themes are all free, which is especially good for beginners with a modest budget.

That’s why we say Squarespace wins this one.

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Apps and integrations

Building a website is one thing, but you’ll need many additional tools and apps to enhance your store’s performance. Apps will allow you to build a more robust business, helping with anything from marketing features to inventory management.

Let’s see what Shopify and Squarespace have in store for us when it comes to apps and integrations.

Squarespace

Squarespace does offer third-party integrations, but the selection isn’t very large. It offers 41 extensions that cover categories like shipping, sales, marketing, inventory management, and more.

a laptop with a screen showing a websiteSource: Squarespace

If you’re planning to open a print-on-demand or dropshipping store, you can find the most popular integrations in Squarespace Extensions. You can also easily connect your ecommerce website with Printful and start selling apparel with your designs in a few clicks. Here’s how:

preview play-button

Shopify

Shopify App Store is famous for how many diverse apps and integrations it offers. The Shopify App Store has over 8000 apps, so you’ll find practically anything—apps that deal with SEO tools, shipping, product packing, email marketing, or analytics. Shopify really said: you want it? We got it.

a screenshot of a bookSource: Shopify

Keep in mind that not all Shopify apps are free, though. There are many free Shopify apps available, there are some that have several pricing plans and others that offer a free trial. But if you’re a beginner, don’t burn all your budget on apps just yet—consider which apps will really benefit your store before making a purchase.

If you’re planning to sell on Shopify with Printful, we’ve got good news—you can connect your Shopify and Printful accounts for free. Here’s a quick tutorial on how you can get started:

preview play-button

Shopify vs. Squarespace: who’s the winner?

There’s not a lot of competition here. When you look at the app stores of Shopify and Squarespace, compare the number of available apps—Squarespace’s 41 apps pale compared to Shopify’s 8000.

We say Shopify apps take this round.

Payment processing

To make money, you need to choose a platform that offers a variety of different payment processing gateways. That will allow your customers to choose and pay you through the most convenient payment gateway.

Let’s have a look at what kind of payment gateways you’ll have access to on Squarespace and Shopify.

Squarespace

Since Squarespace is a platform that doesn’t focus so heavily on ecommerce, its payment gateway options aren’t as varied as those of other platforms and online marketplaces. As an online store owner, you can use Stripe or PayPal.

Both will charge transaction fees. Stripe takes 2.9% + 30 cents for every transaction, while PayPal charges 3.49% + 49 cents per transaction.

If you’re based in the US, you can use Squarespace’s new native payment processing system, Squarespace Payments. This payment processor allows you to accept credit cards, debit cards, Apple Pay, and Aftercare or Klarna. The native system also streamlines the payment process since you won’t have to connect your store to a third-party payment gateway.

a close-up of a hand typing on a keyboardSource: Squarespace

Keep in mind, however, that Squarespace Payments is a new feature and is still being rolled out in the US market. If you don’t have access to it yet, stay patient!

Shopify

As an all-in-one ecommerce solution, Shopify is leaps and bounds ahead of most other online commerce platforms. Shopify users can choose from over 100 payment gateways or use Shopify’s own payment processing system, Shopify Payments.

a screenshot of a phoneSource: Shopify

If you choose to use a third-party payment gateway instead of Shopify Payments, you’ll have to pay transaction fees. With Shopify’s Basic subscription plan, the transaction fees are 2%. If you upgrade your subscription, the fees will be lower.

Shopify vs. Squarespace: who’s the winner?

Shopify, with its many options and its native Shopify Payments system, offers more choices for its users. However, a minus for Shopify is that it does charge high fees for business owners who don’t use Shopify Payments.

Squarespace, on the other hand, offers fewer options, but the jury’s still out on its new payment gateway, Squarespace Payments, which is currently being rolled out to users in the US market.

We say Shopify takes this round—but watch out! Squarespace might just be catching up.

Support

If you’re an ecommerce business owner, you can expect to run into some problems sooner or later. In these situations, it’s crucial that you can access support quickly, so let’s have a look at what kind of support options both Squarespace and Shopify offer.

Squarespace

Squarespace offers support in 6 languages and only 2 contact channels: live chat or email. The live chat is available Monday through Friday, from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. EST., and email support is available 24/7.

You can also access help on Squarespace’s Help Center, or if you’re a visual learner, there are plenty of video tutorials and webinars. The Help Center is comprehensive and easy to navigate, and it includes screenshots and videos, which makes it easier to use.

a man using a laptopSource: Squarespace

Keep in mind that the more customized your website is, the more limited support you’ll be able to get from Squarespace. For example, if you use a third-party website theme or one you’ve customized yourself using code, Squarespace won’t be able to help you quite as much.

Shopify

Shopify users have access to a wider variety of support options than Squarespace and in more languages. You can access materials in 21 languages and contact 24/7 support through live chat, email, and phone. Shopify does encourage you, however, to search for answers in its vast library of resources—either the Help Center, Shopify Community, Shopify blog, or YouTube channel.

a screenshot of a chatSource: Shopify

Similar to Squarespace, the quality of Shopify support will depend on what you need. If you’re having trouble with Shopify’s standard features, support will be great. However, Shopify won’t be able to fully advise you on issues you have with its third-party apps.

Shopify vs. Squarespace: who’s the winner?

While Squarespace has a lot of good resources available, Shopify simply has more. Shopify resources are available in more languages and give its users more contact channels. Where Squarespace only has a live chat and email, Shopify has live chat, email, and phone support.

That’s why, in our opinion, Shopify wins this round.

Ready to start selling online?

Both Squarespace and Shopify have strong features, and your choice depends entirely on what kind of store you want to build. Shopify will allow you to create a robust online store with vast ecommerce features. Squarespace, on the other hand, will be more suited for you if you’re a writer or visual artist looking to showcase your work.

Starting your own online store is no easy task—believe us, we know. If you’re looking for tips and advice on ecommerce business, make sure to keep up with the Printful blog.

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Printful

On our blog, you’ll find business and marketing advice that will be super helpful on your ecommerce journey. Or, if you prefer learning from videos, you can also check out our YouTube channel for tutorials and step-by-step guides on all things ecommerce.

Good luck!

author

By Ilze Elizabete Strazda on May 15, 2024

Ilze Elizabete Strazda

Guest author

Ilze Elizabete is a freelance writer with a background in law and international relations. In her free time, Ilze is an avid reader and painter.

Ilze Elizabete is a freelance writer with a background in law and international relations. In her free time, Ilze is an avid reader and painter.