The Big Reason Shopify is better than Squarespace

UPDATED: DECEMBER 12TH, 2017

Shopify | Squarespace | Ecommerce | Web Design | Shop Owners

If you were to ask me what my top favorite TV shows are, I’d tell you Game of Thrones and The Wire. I will defend these shows until my face turns blue, but loving something means that you have to realize that it isn’t for everyone. Some people can’t get passed the killings, blood and magical goodness of Game of Thrones, and other’s can’t get over how boring the second season of The Wire is (very boring but very important to the story line)

 

Same thing goes with website platforms. When someone asks me what platform they should use, I usually say Squarespace without thinking. But Squarespace is NOT for everyone. Especially if you’re running an e-commerce business.

 

That’s what this post is going to explore: Squarespace E-Commerce VS Shopify. We’ll chat price, features and the like.

 

Here’s the big reason:

With my love of Squarespace comes with my right to criticize her: She’s not built for shops with complex inventories. I’d even go so far to say: if you’re selling more than 5-10 physical products, I would stay away from Squarespace.

Squarespace isn’t a platform with a focus on ecommerce businesses while Shopify is entirely focused on that. You’ll be hard pressed to find your local dentist with on Shopify.

Squarespace wasn’t built that way and that’s fine. However, in the long run, the platform will restrict your growth and will make growing and selling harder.

The apps, SEO capabilities, impressive bulk product editor, and the tag and collection system in Shopify on all plans is just too good to pass up.

 

With that being said, let’s get deeper into each platform:

 

The Challengers

Shopify

Shopify has been in the game for about a decade (since 2006), and they have the numbers to prove that they’ll be here for a long time to come. According to their about page, they have over 500,000 active Shopify stores and over $40 Billion worth of sales!

These numbers sound big, but to be quite honest I believe it 200%. I used to think that most ecommerce platforms were run on WooCommerce or some other platform I hadn’t heard of, but the more and more I started to study e-commerce sites and their structures, I realized that the brands that even I was buying clothes from used Shopify!

 

Squarespace

Squarespace is my boo and will probably be my platform of choice for many years to come. Squarespace was founded in a dorm room in Maryland in 2003, and has been growing and booming ever since.

Squarespace rapidly became a major player in the website platform world, easily becoming a powerful rival for Wordpress.

Squarespace presents beautiful, simple, and quick to set up websites that can give anyone (designer or not) a beautiful space in this big internet world.

Squarespace does lack the ability for plugins that Shopify does, however, third-party developers are cranking out plugins for Squarespace to add more spice and even more functionality to the platform.

 

Ok, but what about e-commerce?

Both of these platforms have the capability to make an online shop, however, each platform is structured differently.

Shopify’s main focus is on building e-commerce platforms exclusively, while Squarespace started off as a website/portfolio builder that added commerce functions at a later date.

That doesn’t mean that Squarespace doesn’t provide a powerful platform in its own way.

When it comes to ecommerce, Squarespace splits it’s templates into two categories: Classic and Advanced. The only thing that really makes these categories different is the design features on the front end of your site. Meaning: both give you the same functions, but the Advanced templates come with more features.

I go more in depth on the features that Squarespace ecommerce templates come with in my post about the Brine template being the best Squarespace template for shop owners.

UPDATE: As of November 30th, 2017, Squarespace no longer offers ecommerce features on the personal plans. Ecommerce features are now for Business plan and higher plans. 


Major Key Features

(I will always find a way to use a DJ Khalid reference)

 

Apps and Plugins

Squarespace

Like I said before, the developers of Squarespace do not offer plugins, but there are some code heroes (aka developers) out there that quickly changing that. Check out my favorites here:

 

Shopify

Shopify has over 100 apps from third-party vendors in their marketplace. They range from pop-ups, email marketing integrations, wish list integrations, recovering abandoned carts, dropshipping automation, announcement and free shipping bars and more.

Here are some popular ones:

MailChimp for Shopify: Automagically add your customers to your MailChimp account and target your email campaigns based on their buying behavior. Targeted emails ALWAYS do better.

Order Printer: quickly print invoices, labels, receipts, packing slips and more. I know what it’s like to sell from one website platform and have to use Paypal or GoShippo to create my packing labels. No Bueno. Do it all in Shopify like a boss.

Product Reviews: One word: Social Proof (damn that’s two, you know what I mean!) Nothing says buy me more than seeing how many other people have bought and LOVED your products. Display those kind words right on the product's individual page.

Plugin SEO: I’m a nerdy SEO lover, so this one makes my eyes twinkle. This plugin tells you if your store has any issues with search engines and gives you some details. Stay on top of this yall.

Digital Downloads: for those creatives that also sell digital products, grab this free plugin to help you get your downloads to your customers instantly. It also updates your customers immediately if their download has been updated.

Shopify is very much so the clear winner here.

 


Pricing

Squarespace and Shopify have 3 pricing tiers and the higher you pay per month, the more features that are open to you. The price that both companies take off the off the top per transaction decreases as well.

 

Squarespace:

The bottom two plans are designed for everyone(including e-commerce)

Personal: $12 per month (billed annually) - $16 month to month

  • 20 pages
  • Free custom domain with annual purchase
  • Unlimited products with fully integrated E-Commerce
  • 3% Transaction Fee

Business: $18 per month (billed annually) - $26 month to month

  • Unlimited pages
  • Free custom domain with annual purchase
  • Unlimited products with fully integrated E-Commerce
  • Free email address from Google
  • Promotional Pop-Ups
  • 2% transaction fee

 

The below two plans are specifically for those running E-Commerce centered businesses:

Basic: $26 per month (billed annually) - $30 month to month

  • All features of the Business plan
  • No transaction Fees
  • Free Custom Domain with Annual Purchase
  • Label Printing via Shipstation

 

Advanced: $40 per month (billed annually) - $46 month to month

  • All features of the Business plan
  • No transaction Fees
  • Free Custom Domain with Annual Purchase
  • Label Printing via Shipstation
  • Abandoned Cart Autorecovery
  • Real Time Carrier Shipping
  • Automatic Discounts


 

Shopify

Shopify’s pricing plans are a little simpler, they only have 3 tiers instead of 4.

Basic: $29 per month

  • Credit card rates: 2.9% + 30¢ (online) or 2.7% + 0¢ (in person)
  • No transaction fees if using Shopify Payments (2.0% otherwise)
  • Unlimited number of products and file storage
  • Website and Blog
  • Fraud analysis
  • Print shipping labels

Shopify: $79 per month

  • Credit card rates: 2.6% + 30¢ (online) or 2.3% + 0¢ (in person)
  • No transaction fees if using Shopify Payments (1.0% otherwise)
  • Unlimited number of products and file storage
  • Website and Blog
  • Fraud analysis
  • Print shipping labels
  • Gift cards
  • Abandoned Cart Recovery

 

Advanced: $229 per month

  • Credit card rates: 2.4% + 30¢ (online) or 2.4% + 0¢ (in person)
  • No transaction fees if using Shopify Payments (0.5% otherwise)
  • Unlimited number of products and file storage
  • Website and Blog
  • Fraud analysis
  • Print shipping labels
  • Advanced report builder
  • Third-party calculated shipping rates

 

P.S. these aren’t all of the features that these two platforms offer, I chose to list the ones that I believed to be more important.

 


Support

Squarespace has 24/7 chat support and they’re very helpful. I’ve been up in the middle of the night running into some problems with connecting my domain, and they were awesome.

Shopify also has 24/7 chat support, in addition to a load of help articles and documentation to help you answer some of your general questions. Squarespace also has an extensive library of help articles and documentation.

Both platforms have a dedicated customer service staff so no worries here!

 

Design

Both Shopify and Squarespace come with themes for free to help you get started on designing the aesthetics of your website.

 

Shopify

Shopify has some free templates that you can use, along with some paid ones that they feature on their Shopify Marketplace page on the main website.

Shopify is built with a coding language called Liquid, so it can be difficult at first to figure out how to make minor CSS and HTML adjustments at first if you’re not too tech savvy.

 

My favorite(and free!) Shopify template

If you’re looking for a Shopify template that’s pretty feature rich, then I would choose Debut from their free marketplace.

shopify-debut-theme

I was able to get a demo site up and designed pretty quickly using Debut. It’s the most popular free theme and I can see why. Whoever wrote it really packed it with some great features.

This theme uses sections to separate and organize the content on the page.

As you can see from the image to the right, I included a hero slider, some text with an image, a featured collection section that pulls the products I selected, a little section about the creator, a shop this look type situation, a newsletter sign up, then the footer to cap everything off.

The theme comes with a General Settings tab so you can add your colors and typography there to spruce things up. You can also add in your favicon, and customize your checkout area.

 

 

Squarespace

Squarespace, on the other hand, is a bit easier to make minor adjustments through CSS, however, you’re not able to get to the HTML of your template.

 

Squarespace is a drag and drop builder (with some minor restrictions) and it pretty simple and intuitive to use.

 

My favorite Squarespace ecommerce template: BRINE

 

Brine is my favorite template to use overall for all websites. It has advanced ecommerce features, index pages, and the ability to add content blocks on top of index pages that have banners.

hueddesignstudio-squarespace-web-designer-homepage-design

 

Index pages are my JAM and I don’t recommend using a template without one, to be honest. If you don’t plan on using them, I always would rather have the option already then having to change my template to get it later.

 

Index pages allow you to great long beautiful scrolling pages or a one-page website. Index pages are also bad ass for making sales pages! This website is created with Brine and you can checkout my homepage in longform in the image to the right: 

 

The backend of Squarespace is pretty simple and so is adding content and products. While Shopify places everything you need to edit the content, design, and organization all in one place, Squarespace splits the design settings from the actual content. You edit your site’s appearance in the Style Editor and edit your content through the Pages panel.


 

 

Blogging & SEO:

Both Squarespace and Shopify come with a blog, and if you’re serious about growing your product business blogging regularly works wonders for your SEO and for growing your community.

 

Shopify and Squarespace has above average SEO capabilities, but the winner of this category is definitely Shopify.

 

If you’re familiar with the kick ass Wordpress plugin, Yoast SEO, then you’ll be happy with Shopify. Shopify has familiar editing capabilities, AKA you can edit the EXACT description that will display in Google for every page including products. Check it out:

 

Now this doesn’t mean that your dreams of being a first page boss for certain keywords is dead with Squarespace, they still have a powerful SEO foundation so no worries.

 


Overall, If you’re running a shop with a complex inventory (multiple sizes, colors, etc) then Shopify is your best bet automatically. The price tag for it may be higher, but the opportunity to grow your business will be limitless with Shopify.

 

With Squarespace, you’ll run into walls as your inventory and shop needs expand.

 

I'd love to hear in the comments how your experience was switching from Squarespace to Shopify (or the other way around!).

Or if you've always been on the Shopify squad, why did you choose that platform?

 

“Shopify