Shopify vs. Squarespace: E-Commerce Platform Showdown
POSTED. March 25, 2020
With brick-and-mortar retail at a standstill, more business owners than ever are looking to take their businesses online (or scale their existing ecommerce capabilities). Choosing the “right” platform for your business requires thorough research, as you will surely invest a substantial amount of time and money into getting it up and running.
While we do offer migration services for businesses looking to switch from their existing platform to Shopify, we’d rather help business owners pick the right one from the start. As Shopify Experts, it should come as no surprise that we’d recommend Shopify for pretty much any e-commerce business we could think of.
But rather than just taking our word for it, we went out and did the research on the other popular e-commerce platforms in an effort to provide as many new e-commerce businesses with the data points they need to make the decision themselves.
We’re breaking this series up into multiple parts, each one comparing a popular website building platform with Shopify. Over the course of several posts, we’ll cover Squarespace vs. Shopify, Wix vs. Shopify, Woocommerce vs. Shopify, and more.
Today’s matchup: Squarespace vs. Shopify
Of all of the website builder platforms out there, Squarespace is one of the easiest to use right out of the box. Squarespace’s primary strength lies in its beautifully designed, responsive templates. Without any web design or development chops, it is straightforward and simple to assemble a professional looking site on Squarespace.
Squarespace templates are remarkably well-designed, especially considering they are all free.
While they do look great, the templates from Squarespace that are specifically designed for e-commerce are best suited for handing a small number of products. We tend to see awesome examples of Squarespace e-commerce sites in creative industries, such as photography or ceramics.
One of the most glaring issues with Squarespace templates, especially when compared to Shopify templates, is the ease (or lack thereof) in which they can be customized. Due to the drag and drop nature of the Squarespace platform, custom code changes can be difficult to implement. Unlike Shopify, where the template code can be edited directly, Squarespace template code can not be changed. Instead, developers have to use “code blocks” to add custom code on top of the Squarespace template code.
A final point in favor of Squarespace is that all of Squarespace’s templates are free. Shopify offers several free templates, but the most popular ones cost at least $100.
In either case, we’d recommend using Google Analytics as your main source of store data and insights. That being said, the built-in analytics capabilities of Squarespace are solid for things like traffic, forms, and basic e-commerce insights (add to carts, conversion rate, etc.).
When it comes to more e-commerce specific insights, namely inventory management, Shopify is leagues beyond Squarespace in this aspect. As we mentioned earlier, Squarespace ecommerce should be totally usable if you have a small number of products, but if you’re running a big shop you’re likely going to hit the limits of what the platform can do analytics-wise.
Squarespace Blogging & SEO
There are two main things to consider when thinking about blogging and SEO on your e-commerce site. The first is the ease of use and design of the blog itself. Squarespace shines in this respect.
The Squarespace platform was clearly designed with blogging at top of mind. The native blog feature that is built into every Squarespace template is easy to use and looks great. Adding and editing posts, formatting text and images, and setting up tags/categories are all as straightforward as can be.
This is one area where we actually think Squarespace outshines Shopify. Shopify is great at almost everything, but the blog functionality of most Shopify templates is pretty bad. Every time we make a blog post on Shopify we spend way more time than we should formatting images in particular…
The second consideration is how well the built-in SEO features work. Both Squarespace and Shopify come with some level of out of the box SEO features, such as editing metadata, alt text, page titles, and URLS.
One of the most common SEO issues that we see with e-commerce sites is duplicate content as a result of product variants -- often, variants appear in “Google’s eyes” as the same content appearing multiple times on the same site, something most SEO experts agree that you should avoid doing. With this common issue in mind, Shopify has a bit more flexibility with collection and product pages compared to Squarepace.
Squarespace Shipping and Payments
Compared to Shopify, Squarespace does much less for merchants when it comes to shipping and accepting payments.
On payments, Squarespace accepts far fewer options (three to be exact) than Shopify, which accepts everything from its own payment processing (Shop Pay) to cryptocurrency, Amazon, and apparently more than 100 other options.
On shipping, Squarespace lags behind Shopify as well.Where Shopify has integrations with major names like UPS and makes printing labels, calculating shipping options/prices, and dropshipping really easy, Squarespace just can’t compete.
Squarespace vs. Shopify: Our Verdict
After comparing the two platforms side-by-side, we’re confident in our recommendation that Shopify is the better platform for most e-commerce businesses. Shopify’s range of e-commerce specific features outnumber and outshine those of Squarespace and justify Shopify’s higher price point.
If you’re a creative or artist and you need a site that you can manage completely on your own without development knowledge, Squarespace could be a great fit. Squarespace’s templates and features are well-tailored towards small product ranges and prioritize aesthetics over all else.