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Shopify vs. Squarespace: Which is Best for Your Business?

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Shopify and Squarespace are popular ecommerce platforms used by business owners to host their online stores. Both also offer tools to design web pages and accept digital payments.

Shopify is a cloud-based e-commerce platform that allows merchants to sell products through a customized site, as well as manage inventory, payments and shipping. Squarespace is also cloud-based and helps business owners develop websites to sell merchandise (not to be confused with Square, which many entrepreneurs use to accept credit or debit card payments).

To decide which is right for your business, read through our Shopify vs. Squarespace comparison breaking down where each platform excels or falls short.

Shopify vs. Squarespace: How they stack up

Here’s how Shopify and Squarespace measure up in a few key areas.

Online store

Shopify. While both platforms can be used to build websites, Shopify focuses on a site’s store component. It’s used by more than 800,000 businesses. The platform provides a drag-and-drop tool that allows merchants to build an online store from several available templates. You could customize the imagery, colors and fonts to match your brand, and Shopify doesn’t restrict the number of products you can sell. Shopify templates also automatically adapt to mobile devices.

You can use your own domain name for your business website, which you can purchase from Shopify or a third-party domain name provider. If you don’t purchase a domain name, the default URL would be www.your-store-name.myshopify.com. Shopify domains start at $11 each year, though you would have full ownership of the domain if you stop using the Shopify platform.

Because Shopify is cloud-based, you wouldn’t have to manually upgrade or maintain a web server or software. You could also manage your store from any device with an internet connection.

Squarespace. Squarespace is also cloud-based with similar accessibility. Like Shopify, Squarespace offers drag-and-drop tools to customize premade business website templates. You can move text and images and customize pages to match your business’s style and branding. Squarespace also offers templates for personal websites.

Squarespace allows merchants to sell an unlimited number of products as well as services. You could set up an online calendar and booking system to let customers schedule appointments.

All Squarespace sites come with a built-in domain name that includes squarespace.com in the web address. You could pay to register a custom domain with Squarespace or a third party to remove Squarespace branding from your URL. Unlike Shopify, Squarespace provides one free custom domain for annual subscribers for the first year. If you register the domain after the first year or want to register additional domains through Squarespace, those URLs would cost between $20 to $70 each year.

Payment processing

Squarespace. To accept payments on the Squarespace platform, you would need to set up Stripe, PayPal, or both. Stripe would allow customers to make purchases with a debit or credit card without creating an account, whereas PayPal would require customers to pay with a PayPal or a Venmo account. Apple Pay is also accepted through Stripe.

Shopify. Shopify has its own processing system that accepts credit card payments. If you prefer to work with a third-party payment processor, Shopify is compatible with a number of systems, including PayPal Express Checkout and QuickBooks Payments.

Price

Shopify. Before making a commitment, you can try Shopify free for two weeks. From there, you would need to choose a monthly subscription plan. All Shopify plans include:

  • Online store, including ecommerce website and accompanying blog
  • Unlimited number of products
  • Sales channels on online marketplaces and social media
  • Manual order creation on behalf of customers
  • Discount codes
  • Free SSL certificate to protect data
  • Abandoned cart recovery capabilities
  • Shopify point-of-sale app

Here’s a closer look at each subscription plan. The subscription plan that you choose would determine your fee for using the Shopify Payments processing system.

Basic Shopify

  • Cost: $29 per month

Shopify’s entry level subscription comes with account access for two people. The basic plan also includes a shipping discount up to 64% with USPS, UPS or DHL Express. It has a fee of 2.9% plus 30 cents for each online credit card transaction, and 2.7% per in-person transaction. If you use a third-party processor, you’d have to pay an additional 2% per transaction.

Shopify

  • Cost: $79 per month

Shopify’s middle-tier subscription includes five staff accounts, as well as up to 72% in shipping discounts. Shopify Payments’ credit card rates for this plan are 2.6% plus 30 cents for online transactions and 2.5% for in-person purchases. You would only have to pay 1% for a third-party payment provider.

Shopify Advanced

  • Cost: $299 per month

Shopify’s top-tier offering comes with 15 staff accounts as well as a 74% shipping discount. Shopify Payments’ credit card rates are also lowest for this plan – 2.4% plus 30 cents for online purchases and 2.4% for in-person purchases. Using a third-party payment processor would cost you an additional 0.5%.

Shopify offers a 10% discount if you purchase a plan for a full year, and a 20% discount on biennial purchases. However, you’d have to pay the full cost of the subscription upfront.

For merchants with larger or smaller needs, Shopify also provides Shopify Plus for high-volume businesses and Shopify Lite, which is $9 per month, for businesses that sell on Facebook or blogs.

Squarespace also offers a two-week free trial before charging a monthly subscription fee. Squarespace subscription plans include:

  • Unlimited products
  • No transaction fees from Squarespace (basic and advanced plans)
  • Mobile optimization
  • SSL security certificate
  • Unlimited site contributors
  • Commerce metrics
  • Inventory, orders, tax and coupon management tools
  • Label printing
  • Accounting services via Xero
  • Checkout on your domain
  • Customer accounts
  • Instagram integration

The basic package costs $26 per month with an annual subscription, or $30 per month with a month-to-month subscription. The advanced plan costs $40 per month with an annual subscription, or $46 month-to-month. The advanced tier also comes with customer subscription capabilities, abandoned cart recovery, advanced shipping, discounts, gift cards and ordering applications.

Squarespace also offers a more affordable business option for $18 per month on an annual basis, but subscribers must pay a 3% transaction fee on sales.

Although Squarespace doesn’t charge transaction fees for its basic and advanced subscriptions, PayPal and Stripe do charge for payment processing services. PayPal charges 2.9% plus 30 cents per online transaction in the U.S., and 2.7% per in-person transaction. Stripe also charges 2.9% plus 30 cents for each card transaction.

Performance monitoring and analytics

Shopify and Squarespace both offer data analytics and reports to help you track your business’s online progress. All Shopify plans come with a dashboard of insights into your store’s activity, visitors and transactions, as well as financial reports.

The higher your subscription tier, the more financial reports you could access, such as sales reports, marketing reports and profit reports. You would also be able to export your data to a spreadsheet program like Excel or a third-party analytics app to further evaluate your findings.

Squarespace also provides tools to show you how your website is performing. Available features would depend on your subscription, but most commerce plans include sales tracking, visitor activity log, and form and button conversions. You can also view cart abandonment data so you could see how shoppers interact with your merchandise.

Unlike Shopify, Squarespace doesn’t export your analytics data. However, site owners, administrators and contributors could view your reports with permission.

Pros and cons

Here are a few benefits and drawbacks of choosing Shopify or Squarespace.

Shopify

Pros

  • Affordable Shopify Lite subscription available for minimal e-commerce needs.
  • Payment processing included through Shopify Payments.
  • Staff accounts available for various team members.

Cons

  • Analytics reports not available for basic plans.
  • Custom domain not included with a subscription.
  • Additional cost for using payment processing service other than Shopify Payments.

Squarespace

Pros

  • Free custom domain name for annual subscribers for the first year.
  • Booking system available for service-based businesses.
  • Ability to move an existing site to Squarespace.

Cons

  • Third-party payment processor required.
  • No data exporting capabilities.
  • Most affordable business option comes with a transaction fee.

Which should you choose?

If you’re looking to launch an online store, either Shopify or Squarespace could be a good starting point. The drag-and-drop builder tools allows merchants to create their own websites without prior coding or design knowledge.

The two platforms are cloud-based, allowing you to access and edit your website from any device. Shopify and Squarespace also track your site’s performance and provide analytics reports to help you improve your sales and customer experience.

Shopify caters to businesses, while Squarespace offers templates for personal website in addition to online stores. Although pricier than Squarespace, Shopify’s advanced subscriptions may offer more robust tools to help you grow and scale your business.

For merchants with simple ecommerce needs, Squarespace’s business offerings start at $18 per month for an annual subscription, while Shopify’s lowest-tier ecommerce subscription costs $29 per month, though you could receive a 10% discount if you purchase an annual plan. The Shopify Lite plan is just $9 a month, but the subscription helps you sell through Facebook or other sites rather than allowing you to create your own ecommerce store.

If you’re unsure which platform is right for your business, you could try both Shopify and Squarespace free for 14 days to test each platform’s features before making a final decision.

The rates and fees mentioned in this article are accurate as of the date of publishing.

 

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