Shopify vs Squarespace – making your best fitting e-commerce choice in 2020

Shopify vs Squarespace are two known online platforms that offer e-solution boost to your business. However, before picking up the best fit, there are important questions you should answer. What’s your business model? Are you going for an online store solution, or you’re in need of a content-driven website too? Separately, Shopify and Squarespace shall offer you specific solutions, and making the right choice depends solely on your business needs. 

E-commerce solutions with different backgrounds

Overall, Shopify and Squarespace cut down to one main goal: to help you sell your products. They are both hosted platforms, sparing you from the need to worry about updates, hosting or technical support. Each of the platforms offers you the scope to improve your SEO potential and drive customer engagement.

Historically, Shopify vs Squarespace landed on the e-market for different purposes. Shopify was aiming at helping the client sell their products on a solid marketplace from the start. Its impressive growth over the last few years resulted in the presence of a huge app store trending high nowadays in Google. 

Squarespace kicked off as a visual, content-based website, that took a variety of forms, like blogs, portfolios, business cards etc. It was only later that Squarespace’s owners caught up with trends and added an e-commerce feature to their product. That made the two platforms competitors on the same market, meanwhile keeping the content-target formula with Squarespace along with the new e-commerce feature. 

Shopify or Squarespace: key features 

Here is a thing to remember: whether you choose Shopify or Squarespace, you start with assessing your business type. Both platforms provide you with an online store, give you marketing capabilities and let you sell your products. Nevertheless, each platform has something specific to offer. And here is what we have discovered. 

Shopify’s strongest points:

  • Innate e-commerce features and solutions
  • A wider range of payment gateway choices
  • A variety of customizable themes 
  • POS – Physical ‘point of sale’ system

Disadvantages:

  • Installing & customizing premium themes requires some coding knowledge
  • Transaction fees on payment methods

Shopify was introduced and developed as an e-commerce store. It comes as a huge app store with a wide variety of sales features, currently unbeatable on the market after WooCommerce. You would surely take advantage of product management solutions like multi-currency payments, automatic VAT calculator, space dropshipping and Shopify PayPal. Shopify adds flexibility with third-party integrations like Zoho, Zendesk, QuickBooks, SEO apps. The store offers a choice of both free and paid customizable themes, depending on the type of store you plan to promote. Other features, like gift cards, professional reports, and ‘point of sale’ (POS) feature for physically located stores are highly trending in online business. Also, the ability to use a free trial of Shopify before getting involved with the platform sounds like a bonus.

Among the disadvantages that strike with Shopify, you may find it challenging to install or customize a premium  theme yourself, unless you’re good with coding. Usually this is solved by getting a developer help you with it. Another issue often reported by users are high fees applied on transactions, unless using the innate gateway Shopify Payments

Squarespace’s strongest points:

  • Focus on design: professional unlimited templates
  • Content oriented website
  •  Analytics and integrations
  •  No need for site maintenance

Disadvantages:

  • E-commerce features are not the main focus
  • Limited access to codes of the store

Squarespace e-commerce, on the other hand, has started as a website & hosting platform, thus it naturally offers an intuitive CMS and successful templates. Blogging feature makes Squarespace winner among websites that focus on content and visuals. Its importable templates are well designed and make any website look professional. Its platform is reliable and content friendly. The later can be used in successful marketing practices while engaging with clients using blogs. It offers Analytics and integrates easily GA and an external shopping cart. 

However, it has its drawbacks. The Squarespace online store features have been integrated into the platform, not innate, thus making it difficult to get full codes’ access. Squarespace shall interfere with third party integrations and won’t let you import and export your content. The payment system limits to Stripe and credit and debit card processing. For email marketing, there is a separate paid service.

While making your mind based on the key features of Shopify vs Squarespace, each with a strong set of e-solutions to your commercial request, let’s also discuss the pricing side. 

Let’s talk about price

Squarespace store offers monthly plans from 15 to 42 USD, adding discounts for purchased annual plans, making it as low as 11 USD for ‘Personal’. Obviously, the ‘Personal’ Squarespace e-commerce pricing plan won’t contain many features, like adding CSS or Javascript to the site and shall limit the number of contributors. Among Squarespace fees, there shall be a charge of 3% on sales done through the ‘Business’ plan. Besides, some features like abandoned cart recovery, GSuite, personalized reporting or Squarespace gift cards shall only be available on ‘Advanced’ or ‘Business’ plans. If you plan to integrate accounting programs like Xero, or label printing app Shipstation you’ll have to go for ‘Basic Commerce’. 

Nice bonuses come if you pay for a year’s service ahead – you get a custom domain. Any plan above ‘Business’ adds to your cart 100 USD Google Ads (the last is unfortunately limited to US and Canada).

Shopify’s pricing plans range from 29 to 299 USD, a Lite and Plus extras, and is offering different discounts on upfront pay for annual or 2-year plans. Interesting to note that the ‘Lite’ version for 9 USD shall only sell on an existing site, Facebook page or ‘point of sale’ through it’s ‘Shopify button’. Abandoned cart recovery is present on all plans, while gift cards and professional reporting will only be available on expensive plans. 

The ‘Plus’ option for special clients would offer customized e-commerce solutions and prices. It would mainly target big companies. Overall, by offering more e-commerce solutions and tools, Shopify’s e-commerce pricing turns out to be higher. 

Customer Support

The importance of customer support shall never be underappreciated when dealing with online products. Shopify has an edge cutting solution offering 24/7 assistance and availability through a number of channels (phone, email and live chat). Meanwhile, Squarespace can only be reached Mon to Fri between 3 am to 8 pm EST. No phone is provided for the latter. The quality of support for each of the platforms depends on the issue, e.g. third-party integration’s issues or customized templates may not be assisted with. 

LATEST STATS

Let’s see also the number implications that speak for both platforms. One thing is for sure – both Shopify and Squarespace are extremely popular among users and e-commerce website owners. However, Shopify gets treandier by the year. Latest stats show that, as of Nov 2019, Shopify is used on more than 1M active websites, making it  2.76% among the top websites. Meanwhile, Jan 2020 brings ahead fresh info on Squarespace, stating that the latter is used on 1.5% of all websites. 

Squarespace vs Shopify

When choosing the best fit solution to your e-shop, Squarespace vs Shopify e-shop, first you should aim to define the type of your business. Being content-oriented and having strong content marketing in your mind, using powerful pre-built templates should orient you towards Squarespace. Squarespace offers a variety of tools and solutions for any small business that is interested to make your brand esthetic.

A growing online story or a large variety of products would need a more solid online marketplace. That can be definitely offered by Shopify. Shopify would offer a wide variety of tools to handle a store and create a quick and successful experience for the customers. Besides useful tools, you will be also given powerful analytics and payment gateway options that could help you develop your business scalable. After all, in terms of specific niche, Shopify stands second after giant commerce solutions like WooCommerce, due to its innate sale features.


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