Shopify and Squarespace are two of the largest e-commerce platforms today. The reason why the two are famous in online business is that both platforms make it easy for small business owners to create an online store or website without any coding experience needed. But how can you know if Shopify and Squarespace are the right online store platforms for your business?
The first thing to know is that Shopify and Squarespace were created for different purposes. Shopify was created to attract customers and drive sales to online merchants, while Squarespace was originally created to support the bloggers’ and influencers’ content-based websites. This has led to many differences between those two industry leaders.
Before diving into choosing one of them as the platform for your online store, you need to do a qualitative analysis of what each platform provides. Once you have done this side-by-side comparison, you can better understand which features and price points of these platforms best meet the digital needs of your enterprise.
Let’s have an overview of the two and get to know their basics before we jump into the comparison of Shopify and Squarespace.
Shopify is a cloud-based commerce platform that makes it easy for business owners to create and manage their online stores. Shopify is best known for its full-service, scalable e-commerce store solutions, but with the Shopify POS (Point of Sales) system and its range of physical POS hardware, retail businesses can also process payments themselves.
Without a doubt, Shopify is the leader in the network builder space: The Ottawa-based platform handles $100 billion in total sales through its hosting site. Currently, Shopify supports 600,000 businesses worldwide, including major companies like Kylie Cosmetics, Red Bull, and Nestle as customers.
Squarespace, another leading brand in e-commerce, has its fair share of celebrity entrepreneurs as clients: actors like John Malkovich, Keanu Reeves, and Idris Elba, for example, all use Squarespace to power or support their websites.
Squarespace is a hosted CMS solution for creating and managing websites, blogs, portfolios, and online stores. It allows businesses of all types to create professional websites through a drag-and-drop interface. While its e-commerce store isn't as comprehensive as Shopify, Squarespace is still a good choice for e-commerce businesses that need to build a simple online store from scratch.
Now that you're familiar with the basics of the two giants, let's learn more about their unique capabilities.
Shopify Features Introduction
Basic and unique features of Shopify:
Shopify has a good selection of themes. You can choose from 9 free templates and 64 advanced templates, which are quite expensive at around $140- $180. Shopify themes cover a wide range of industries, including electronics, apparel, sports, and cosmetics.
All of Shopify's themes are elegant, engaging, and mobile responsive. In addition, Shopify ensures the performance of any theme you choose, as they are all created by UI-UX (user interface and user experience) professionals. Feel free to choose a template for your storefront and then switch to a more appropriate template.
Inspired by merchant feedback, the developers showed us a number of improvements to the theme since October 2020. You may notice some changes, such as updated colors, simplified illustrations, and a sharper look. Upgrading to the Shopify theme editor is another attempt by the platform to improve theme loading times.
▪ Ease of Use
Shopify has a really user-friendly dashboard because of its hosted nature. It also uses a drag-and-drop design, which means you can add, remove, or move parts by yourself with just a few clicks. Shopify also holds a crisp interface with visual cues and shortcuts for adding products, customizing themes, and adding domains on the home page. As a result, you will never feel lost or confused when designing your online store.
Since its inception, Shopify has earned a well-deserved reputation for its simplicity in daily setup and operations. With Shopify, you can start selling in minutes without having to become an expert at building stores. If you don't know how to set up the Shopify Store, check out this tutorial video to get your business started right away.
▪ Shopping Cart
You will be able to securely accept all major credit and debit cards through Shopify Payments, but you can also choose to integrate your website with more than 100 third-party payment gateways. Shopify's in-store shopping cart comes with many features that help you customize and simplify your customer checkout process, including tax calculations, customizable shipping charges, and customer emails about discarded shopping carts.
With Shopify Shipping, Shopify works with leading carriers so you can offer your customers the lowest possible shipping rates. This in-house service provides business owners with other advantages, such as bulk order fulfillment, the ability to print labels from a phone or computer, and shipping calculation.
▪ Marketing & SEO
Shopify's search engine optimization (SEO) tools are also excellent, so you can be confident that your site will attract visitors from Google, Bing, and any other search engine that people have recently used to find content. They even provide best practice tips when you add items to your inventory, and there are many applications that can help improve your SEO and get your products in front of people who want to buy them.
With Shopify, you can take advantage of its SEO built-in features to effectively optimize your e-commerce site. First, based on what's on your site, Shopify automatically generates titles and descriptions for all products and pages, as well as specification tags and your site map.
Additionally, Shopify uses the correct names when referring to score SEO elements (specifically, page titles, meta-descriptions, and images instead of text). It's worth noting that Shopify will save you a lot of time because it automatically generates 301 redirects when you change the URL of your site.
If you're passionate about starting an online store, but are worried about inventory management and order fulfillment, dropshipping is definitely the way to go. Dropshipping products allow you to reduce the stress and worry of shipping products to customers around the world.
Instead of keeping specific items in inventory, you simply accept the order and pass it on to your supplier, who will deliver the goods to your customers. This means that your online store is more of a "middleman" in the sales process. It also means you don't have to keep a large inventory on your own.
The best thing about this business model is that you don't have to invest much in the business to get started. For dropshipping, Shopify is definitely a better choice than Squarespace.
Shopify comes with its own app store with over 3,000 apps, where you can find a variety of dedicated dropshipping apps that will help you collect inventory and sell it to your customers. DSers is one of the most popular choices for dropshipping. With its Supplier Optimizer, Bulk Orders, Variant Mapping and more valuable features, the order fulfillment process will be much easier for a beginner who wants to start an online business like you.
Squarespace Features Introduction
Basic and unique features of Squarespace:
The fact is, Squarespace is essentially a blog-hosting service. Many Squarespace themes are specifically designed for users who want to blog or showcase art, photography, or music portfolios, so Squarespace may not always be as fully optimized for e-commerce as Shopify.
However, the themes on Squarespace can be previewed and edited for free according to your sales purpose, as this is included in your monthly subscription fee.
▪ Ease of Use
While Squarespace also has a shopping cart, it's a little harder to master than its competitors. Squarespace uses a drag and drops section with some content blocks, which is easy for beginners. However, the home page of the editor is a bit difficult to navigate and has no visual cues.
For individuals just starting to build an e-commerce site, it takes some extra time to understand Squarespace's system.
Shipping with Squarespace is simple, but when it comes to e-commerce fulfillment, the company can't really compete with Shopify. Of course, Squarespace is now moving ahead in terms of the number of partnerships it has with fulfillment companies like UPS. But Shopify is more advanced with its experienced online business model.
On the plus side, Squarespace does allow you to change shipping rates based on things like weight or the country you're shipping to.
Also, from an inventory management perspective, Squarespace is really good. It is better and more intuitive than competitors like Weebly and Wix in helping you manage your inventory. This may come as a surprise when you consider that Squarespace is really just a website builder with additional built-in e-commerce capabilities.
▪ Marketing & SEO
Squarespace gives its users a set of online marketing tools to encourage customer engagement and make it easier for business owners to gather customer information and behavior. The content creation field of Squarespace is pre-loaded with SEO practices, and your site will sync with your social media platforms, so everything will be updated instantly.
There are also great email marketing tools on Squarespace which let you import site content into draft emails. Its email marketing tools also allow you to customize layouts, content, colors, and fonts, and its analytics tools let you track engagement so you can customize your email marketing strategy to get the best results. Note that you'll have to pay an additional monthly fee for one of the five Squarespace email campaign plans, which can range from $5 to $48 per month.
▪ Squarespace Plugins
Squarespace launched its extension marketplace in December 2019. Currently, 24 extensions are provided entirely by third parties. However, some of them are only available in a few countries, so you need to look at the extension's detailed page before connecting it to your site.
Regardless of the limited selection, all extensions are designed to help you manage, optimize, and extend your site. You can filter by category and choose from four departments, including shipping and fulfillment, Finance, inventory and products, and sales and marketing.
▪ Exclusive built-in features. Shopify offers a powerful set of built-in features. With these features, most of your technical problems are solved, and you get most of the features that an online store would normally require.
▪ Hosting service. When you use Shopify to build your store, you can also get a hosted service with a powerful server. This also eliminates all the trouble of handling the server and troubleshooting running it.
▪ Simple user interface. Shopify provides an easy-to-use UI with excellent design features.
▪ App Store with over 3,000 apps. Shopify also offers a great App Store with lots of add-ons that allow you to extend the functionality of your site. Many of these are just free, while some require a one-time or monthly subscription.
▪ Shopify is not free. The monthly fee is required.
▪ Focusing on design means you'll get a lot of attractive templates.
▪ The analytics system helps you check your store's performance.
▪ Great blogging tool for your content marketing strategy.
▪ There is a limited number of add-on available on the app store or marketplace.
▪ The payment options with Squarespace are limited.
▪ Not as many sales options as Shopify.
In short, both Squarespace and Shopify are excellent e-commerce site builders. It’s clear that Shopify has the upper hand in terms of features, while Squarespace is better suited for blogging and demonstrating amazing pictures and graphics. So, the question is "Shopify vs Squarespace: Which is better?" It all depends on your requirements and preferences.
It's easy to see how Shopify is an ideal platform for serious sellers. Shopify may be a winner for your larger business. In general, e-commerce platforms focus less on the beauty of the site and more on the business side of things. Looking good doesn't seem to be their top priority, which is great if your website doesn't need an eye-catching design.