Shopify vs Squarespace: Which Should You Choose?

 

Starting an online business is a ton of work. There are millions of other websites out there and you somehow need to find a way to stand out and hang with the big guys.

This is why your website design is oh so important.

And before you even get to the point of designing your website, you need to figure out which platform to host your website on. Which is almost as important because you want a platform you feel comfortable using and maybe even enjoy.

Because if the platform is too confusing, you’re probably not going to want to spend too much time using it and how do you plan to grow your business when you don’t even want to use the platform it’s on?

Online businesses are a lot of work and your website platform shouldn’t add more unnecessary work. Which is why choosing the right platform to host your website on is a big decision. Do you go with Shopify or Squarespace? Basically, it comes down to: do you have a blog or an e-commerce store? In this ultimate guide I breakdown the differences in features, pricing plans, and pros and cons of both Squarespace and Shopify! #blogger #squarespace #shopify #onlinebusiness #website #webdesign #ecommerce

*This post may contain affiliate links which means if you decide to use my link, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Please read my disclosure for more information.

There are so many platforms to choose from, how do you know which one you should use?

Personally, I have tried Etsy, Squarespace, Shopify, and a little tiny bit of WordPress (back in school). Today I am going to focus on telling you all about Shopify and Squarespace.

I use Squarespace for this blog and website.

I used Shopify for about 1 year with one of my other businesses that I started out on Etsy. The reason I don’t use Shopify anymore is because I closed that business.

Why not Etsy? Well, Etsy is great and all, especially for just getting started with your e-commerce biz but there’s only so much you can do on Etsy. You can’t really customize your shop, therefore very minimal branding. And you can’t collect emails, blog, etc.

Plus, Etsy is constantly changing their algorithm. Talk about exhausting trying to keep up with it. Trust me, I know. I have a shop on Etsy and have for 3 years now and it makes my head spin. (The reason I still have it on Etsy is because it’s just my side biz and I don’t plan to grow it anymore).

Why not WordPress? A lot of bloggers do recommend using WordPress for you blog and/or e-commerce biz and that’s perfectly fine if that’s what you want to use.

I just don’t recommend it because it has a very steep learning curve. And there’s like endless customization so a lot of people get lost in the customizing their website and never get anywhere with actually growing their business.

So what do I recommend? Well, it depends on your business. But I recommend either Shopify or Squarespace. Below I will breakdown each of these platforms - the pros and cons, cost, features, what they’re used for, and which one I recommend for each business type (blogging or e-commerce).

This is a long post because I am providing so much information so make sure you have enough time to read it all. If not, Pin it for later! (There’s a handy dandy pinit button to the left if you’re on desktop, or below if you’re on mobile).

I do have a lot of subheadings throughout this article so you can easily skim and find the information you are most interested in if that’s the way you prefer to use this.

First I should start off by saying, Shopify was built for e-commerce and Squarespace was built more for blogging.

Yes, Squarespace offers the ability to setup an online store, but it was originally created for bloggers and basic websites. They recently added in the online store feature so it’s still not quite perfected.

And yes, Shopify has blogging capabilities, but it was created for e-commerce so the blogging features are limited.

So, here’s what you need to know:


Cost

I’m starting with the cost, not because it’s the most important but because it’s usually everyone’s first question.

Squarespace

Squarespace offers four different pricing plans. Each, of course, offering different features, which we will get to in a minute. But basically they are broken up into two groups. These first two are more for bloggers and the second two are for online stores.

Squarespace website pricing plans
Squarespace online store pricing plans

Notice that the large numbers are the prices per month when you pay for the full year in advanced. If you pay monthly, you can see the prices a little smaller on the right side.


Already know you want to use Squarespace for your website? Get the exact steps you need to take to go from idea to design to launch your website with ease and attract the right people so you can grow your online biz >>>



shopify

Shopify has three different pricing plans and are a bit more expensive. But it’s all about what features you are looking for. Again, we will get to the features in a minute, right now I just want to focus on the pricing.

When starting out, you most likely can stick with the Basic Shopify plan until you make enough sales and money to upgrade to the Shopify plan. But it’s of course up to you and the features you are most interested in. The Advanced Shopify plan is more for large businesses.

Shopify pricing plans


Features

Now that you know about the different pricing plan options, let’s get into the details about what features are offered for each platform and for each plan.

Squarespace Personal Plan ($12/month)

Starting with the lowest plan and working our way up, here are the features listed, taken right from the pricing page:

  • Unlimited bandwidth and storage

  • Mobile-optimized website

  • Website metrics

  • Free custom domain (with annual purchase)

  • SSL security included

  • 24/7 customer support

  • Limited to 2 contributors

This all basically means you can grow your business without worrying about how many pages you have on your website. Your website will look beautiful on desktop and mobile.

You have access to analytics. You can purchase (or get it free if you pay for the whole year) your domain through Squarespace so you don’t have to worry about where to buy it or how to connect it.

Squarespace provides security for your website so all information is safe. 24/7 access to support so you can always get answers to your questions about your website. Only two people can contribute to the website.

Squarespace Business Plan ($18/month)

  • Everything the last plan offers plus…

  • Unlimited contributors

  • Professional email from Google (only for new G Suite users)

  • $100 Google ads credit

  • Promotional pop-ups

  • Fully integrated e-commerce

  • Sell unlimited products and accept doantions

  • 3% transaction fee

  • Mobile information bar

  • Complete customization through CSS and Javascript

  • Premium blocks and integrations

  • Announcement bar

Now this all means you can have an unlimited number of contributors on your website. You get a free year of G Suite as long as you are a new user of G Suite and purchase your domain through Squarespace. G Suite is an email address through Google but instead of @ gmail. com it’s @ yourdomainname. com.

For US and Canada Squarespace users you get $100 Google ads credit when you spend your first $25. Promotional pop-ups so you can create your own pop-ups on your website. You can have a shop on your website but Squarespace takes 3% of every transaction on top of the payment provider’s fees.

A mobile information bar allows your number, email address, business hours, and a map to be highlighted on mobile. You are able to customize your website even further by inserting CSS and Javascript if you know how to use code.

You have the ability to extend your website with integrations. An announcement bar is the little bar at the top of some people’s websites where they announce something such as a sale.

Squarespace Basic Plan for online stores ($26/month)

  • Everything the last plan offers plus…

  • No transaction fees

  • Checkout on your domain

  • Powerful commerce metrics

  • Inventory, orders, tax, coupons

  • Label printing via ShipStation

  • Integrated accounting via Xero

  • Customer accounts

  • Products on Instagram

The last plan did offer some features for an online shop, but they aren’t exactly the best, and aren’t really worth it. This plan is the lower plan for the e-commerce website options on Squarespace. Again, Squarespace wasn’t made for e-commerce but they have added these features so you have the capability.

These features basically mean that you can actually have your customers checkout on your domain and customize your checkout (it is mobile-optimized as well). Easy access to analytics about how your shop and sales are doing. Inventory, orders, tax, and coupons are available on your website for easy access.

You can connect your Squarespace shop to your ShipStation account to sync your orders and print your labels. Squarespace will sync to your Xero account to automatically keep track of your revenue, expenses, and taxes, making accounting easy for you.

You can have the option for your customers to create accounts so they can checkout faster which means more sales for you! Sync your products with your Facebook’s shop and tag your products on your Instagram and Facebook.

Squarespace Advanced plan for Online stores ($40/month)

  • Everything the last plan offers plus…

  • Subscriptions

  • Abandoned cart autorecovery

  • Advanced shipping

  • Gift cards

This all means that you can offer subscriptions on products so you can set up recurring payments weekly or monthly. Abandoned cart autorecovery means if someone puts your product in their shopping cart and leaves without buying, they will get sent a reminder which will help increase your sales.

Advanced shipping means that you can automatically calculate real time shipping rates for USPS, UPS, and FedEx. You can also offer gift cards for your customers to purchase.

Squarespace vs Shopify features for each payment plan

Basic Shopify Plan ($29/month)

Again, starting with the lowest plan first, here is the list of features for this plan, taken right from the Shopify pricing page:
  • E-commerce website and blog

  • Unlimited products

  • 2 Staff accounts (contributors)

  • Sales channels

  • Manual order creation

  • Discount codes

  • Free SSL certificate

  • Abandoned cart recovery

  • Up to 64% shipping discount for USPS, UPS, or DHL Express

  • Print shipping labels

  • Fraud analysis

  • 2.9% + 30¢ Credit card rates

  • 2.7% + 0¢ In-person credit card rates

  • 2% Additional fees using all payment providers other than Shopify Payments

  • Ability to get a Point of Sale system (POS)

  • Shopify POS app

  • Hardware peripheral support

  • Third-party POS apps

Sales channels allows you to connect your shop to other marketplaces so you can easily sell on them as well. You can sell on places like Instagram and Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon, and more!

Shopify has it’s own payment provider and they give you lower fees than other payment gateways. They also add on extra fees if customers purchase with other payment gateways, such as PayPal and Stripe.

So for example, if a customer used PayPal to purchase something on your site, you will be charged PayPal’s fees AND Shopify’s 2% fee. You can choose which payment provider you accept. All of them accept credit cards like normal.

Shopify Plan ($79/month)

  • Everything the last plan offers plus…

  • 5 Staff accounts

  • Gift cards

  • Professional reports

  • Up to 72% shipping discount for USPS, UPS, or DHL Express

  • 2.6% + 30¢ Credit card rates

  • 2.5% + 0¢ In-person credit card rates

  • 1% Additional fees using all payment providers other than Shopify Payments

  • POS register shifts

  • Unlimited Shopify POS staff PINs

advanced shopify plan ($299/month)

  • Everything the last plan offers plus…

  • 15 Staff accounts

  • Advanced report builder

  • Third-party calculated shipping rates

  • Up to 74% shipping discount for USPS, UPS, or DHL Express

  • 2.4% + 30¢ Credit card rates

  • 2.4% + 0¢ In-person credit card rates

  • 0.5% Additional fees using all payment providers other than Shopify Payments

Blogging

If you are in the blogging biz here are the pros and cons for both Shopify and Squarespace:

Shopify or Squarespace for blogging businesses


Pros

Shopify:

I guess the main pro of Shopify for bloggers is the fact that you are able to have a blog. You can customize your blog but you need to know how to use Shopify’s code Liquid in order to so. Or you can hire someone to do it for you.

You are able to have a beautiful online store with your blog. And you can schedule blog posts to be published at a specific date and time.

Squarespace:

You can easily customize blog even without using code, although code allows you to further customize it. Squarespace is an easy drag and drop setup, so you can make your blog post look how you want with minimal to no coding.

You can schedule blog posts to be published at a specific date and time.



Cons

Shopify:

It’s hard to customize your blog posts. You can access the HTML version of your blog just like you can in WordPress but it’s more complicated than Squarespace’s drag and drop. In order to create forms you need to get an app add-on or create it using HTML and Liquid.

Squarespace:

Very few Squarespace templates offer a blog sidebar and I know a lot of bloggers like having a sidebar. But you may get lucky and fall in love with a template that does have that capability! Otherwise, there are ways around it.


Already know you want to use Squarespace for your website? Get the exact steps you need to take to go from idea to design to launch your website with ease and attract the right people so you can grow your online biz >>>


E-Commerce

If you are in the e-commerce biz here are the pros and cons for both Shopify and Squarespace:

Shopify or Squarespace for e-commerce businesses


Pros

Shopify:

Shopify has an app store where you can easily add third-party apps to your website to help you grow your business. There are hundreds of thousands of apps to choose from for things such as forms, email marketing, rewards programs, connecting to a dropshipping company, connecting Facebook messenger, reviews, comments, subscriptions, affiliates, and so much more!

Shopify has it’s own payment gateway so you can get charged smaller fees.

As mentioned in the features, Shopify offers sales channels where you can easily sell your products on other marketplaces like Facebook and Instagram, Pinterest, Amazon, and more.

Related post: Step by Step: How to Open an Online Store

Squarespace:

You can easily customize your online shop to look the way you want. You are able to offer gift cards, subscriptions, and sell on Facebook and Instagram. You can have a beautiful blog to go with your online shop.


Cons

Shopify:

There might be a little bit more of a learning curve to Shopify than Squarespace but it is still very easy to use.

Squarespace:

Like I said, Squarespace wasn’t built for e-commerce so they have limited features for your to grow your online shop. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t use Squarespace for your online store. It just all depends on what type of features you are looking for and which platform you are more comfortable using.

That being said, Squarespace is always adding more features. For instance, from the last time I used Squarespace (about one year ago) they didn’t have the Instagram connection or subscription capability.


Shopify vs Squarespace - The Verdict

So now you’re probably wondering (if you haven’t already guessed) which platform do I recommend for bloggers and which platform fore-commerce.

Like I have said, it really depends on which platform you feel most comfortable with and the features you are looking for. I do recommend that you try them both before making a final decision.

But if you really want to know my opinion, I think Shopify is better for e-commerce and not so much for blogging. So if your business’s main focus is an online shop then Shopify is the way to go. You can still of course have a blog with your online shop, but I wouldn’t recommend Shopify for just bloggers.

So, that leaves Squarespace for bloggers. But again, you can still have a shop on Squarespace. But I recommend a Squarespace shop only if you have a few products and plan to focus mostly on blogging.

Again, it’s up to you and your preferences.

And if you’re business focuses on offering services you could go either way. It just depends on if you plan on adding a shop along with your services or plan to focus more on the blogging side of things.

Related: How to Build a Website With Squarepace




If you’re still unsure about which platform to choose, they both offer a free trial so you can test each of them out before making a decision.

You can read the 3 things you should explore during your Shopify trial to make sure you get the most out of the 14 day trial.

Squarespace also offers a 14 day free trial, but what they don’t tell you is that you can actually keep extending your free trial! Shh don’t tell ;)


If you have decided on Squarespace for your website platform, grab your FREE copy of the Design to Launch Roadmap to walk you through the exact steps!




 
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I am Amanda and I am the wearer of all hats at Blondepreneur. This blog is here to help creative online entrepreneurs, like you, design and grow the successful business of your dreams. You can find blogging and business tips on the blog.