Shopify vs. Squarespace
Both Shopify and Squarespace are point-and-click website builders, but the interfaces work quite differently. Both are relatively intuitive, but let's see how they stack up.
Ease of Use
Shopify has two dashboards, one to track all your business information and metrics, and another within the website builder for customization.
These dashboards are where you can see everything you need to know about your Shopify site, and they are well-labeled and easy to follow. You can point and click to change colors and fonts, upload photos and other media, and add and remove website sections.
Shopify also makes it easy to integrate outside sales and social media platforms and has 24/7 support available for all its paid users.
Shopify's website builder interface dashboard is intuitive, but the menus, while useful, can begin to seem a little redundant. The only other downside to the builder interface is the lack of autosave, meaning you need to frequently manually save your work to avoid losing it, especially during long building or updating sessions.
Shopify has five price points; they each have essential shopping functions, can track inventory, have order and product management, and come with Shopify's POS Lite software, which can be upgraded to the full version for $89/year. Shopify discounts its plans when you pay upfront for one, two, or three years of hosting. Shopify is also a one-stop web builder because you can purchase your domain directly from them, saving you time and money. If you have an existing domain, you can migrate to Shopify for a nominal fee. Here's how Shopify's pricing plans break down.
To learn more about what Shopify has to offer at each plan level, be sure to read our Shopify Pricing and Plans guide.
- Dedicated ecommerce platform
- Over 100 available themes for desktop and mobile-ready sites
- Detailed and customizable business tracking metrics
- Inventory management from multiple locations
- User profiles increase with pricing plans
- Tons of free and low-cost plug-in applications
- Ability to use multiple sales channels and accept global currency
- Blogging and cataloging capabilities
- Point-of-sale systems make transactions easy from anywhere
- Unlimited cloud storage space
- Recurring app fees and plan charges can become costly
- Shopify takes a percentage of all transactions, except for Shopify Pay
- No autosave feature can be problematic while building and updating
Shopify was created with ecommerce businesses in mind, and it is dedicated to helping business owners streamline their online sales. Shopify has detailed metrics that track inventory and website traffic and offers discounts on shipping with most major carriers.
Shopify also features the ability to set up customer accounts, coupons, and rewards programs, and offers discounts on shipping with most major carriers. There are no limits on how many products you can sell in your online store, and having multiple inventory locations is a nice feature for businesses with both brick-and-mortar and web-based enterprises.
Shopify stores can take most major credit cards (although transaction fees apply), as well as online payment methods like PayPal, and its proprietary payment system, Shopify Pay. All paid Shopify plans include the use of Shopify Lite point-of-sale (POS) software.
Templates and Themes
Shopify has just over 100 free and paid themes that you can use to customize your site. You can also import CSV files to create your own theme and you can modify existing themes in HTML. Shopify's templates are easy to use, and you can add and delete sections to suit your needs.
Apps and Plugins
Shopify's app store has thousands of applications and plugins to enhance your website, ranging from calendar apps to tracking widgets. If you need it, you'll likely be able to find it. Many of the apps are free in a Lite version and don't cost much for the full versions. However, some Shopify apps require a monthly subscription, and those costs can add up if you're not keeping a close eye on them.
Shopify apps and plugins work seamlessly once installed, so it definitely has a solid integration process in place.
Ease of Use
Squarespace is also a point-and-click interface, and it allows you to click-and-drag the sections of your website to complete the aesthetic you're aiming for.
Squarespace's dashboard is organized and intuitive, making it easy to build a site that conveys your business's personality and purpose. The color and text options on Squarespace are varied, clean, and modern.
Squarespace isn't as intuitive to use as other builders; there's a bit of a learning curve as you get used to the controls. It also doesn't have an autosave feature, so it's imperative to save manually as you work.
Another downside to Squarespace is that its sites are image-laden, so high-resolution photos are best; however, this content can lead to slow loading times. Squarespace has an extensive troubleshooting library and customer support options included in its paid plans if you get stuck.
Squarespace offers four pricing plans which are discounted slightly when you pay for an annual contract. You get the benefit of purchasing your domain directly, so there's no added cost. Since all plan prices are slightly higher when you pay month-to-month, you should take advantage of the 14-day trial before committing to a plan.
To learn more about the ecommerce and other features included at each Squarespace price point, be sure to read our Squarespace Pricing and Plans guide.
- Over 100 templates; theme library is updated often
- Platforms that support a variety of business models
- Ecommerce tools and analytics; no limit on storage or transactions
- Space for galleries and portfolios; great for artistic businesses
- Built-in blogging and blog management tools
- Domain transfer available
- Click-and-drag and point-and-click for easy building
- SEO tools
- Payments are seamless with Square POS integration
- Can sell products, as well as schedule services and appointments
- Limited theme customization
- No autosave feature
- 24/7 support doesn’t include phone support, only chat and email
Squarespace has plan options that include ecommerce, but that's not its only focus. The ecommerce features of Squarespace are a bit utilitarian, but they do increase in usefulness and detail with each pricing tier and most work without a third-party extension.
Squarespace has unlimited space for products and services, so you can set up shop and sell without fear of running out of room for listings. One nice feature is Squarespace's relationship with the Square POS system; it makes taking credit card payments simple and efficient.
Want to learn about other ecommerce options? Check out our Best Cheap Ecommerce Builder review and find the best service for your business.
Templates and Themes
Squarespace also has more than 100 free and paid themes for customization. They are clean and professional but almost a bit too stark. There isn't much room for additional customization, but if you're not interested in coding that's not a dealbreaker. The templates are sorted into categories by business type, which is helpful when choosing one that fits your needs.
Apps and Plugins
Squarespace doesn't have traditional apps or plugins; instead, it uses what it calls "extensions." These extensions are all third-party applications that you can purchase to integrate into your website. Buyer beware of discounts and prices that seem too good to be true— you don't want to get locked into software that is being discontinued.
It's a good idea to do a little background research on any extensions before you buy them. Once purchased, though, Squarespace users report that they have very little trouble using the extensions, so integration isn't a significant concern.
See what Squarespace can do for your online business, get started with a Squarespace free trial today.
Our Pick for Best Website Builder: Shopify
For business owners who are looking to build a brand new website for their online store, our clear choice is Shopify. It's affordable, offers valuable metrics for tracking sales, inventory, and customers, and has easy-to-customize design elements.
Shopify is a dedicated ecommerce platform, which means that it has features designed specifically to support retail businesses. You can check out Shopify’s features free for 14 days before choosing a pricing plan to continue using its services.
Get Started With Shopify
Shopify was built with ecommerce in mind. Grow your online store in just a few steps - see how easy it is to use Shopify with a free trial. Click the button below to begin building.