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Shopify vs Squarespace

Website builders are appearing everywhere on today’s internet. The same could be said for e-commerce solutions. Some enterprising platforms have found a way to combine both needs into one effective service. Two such platforms that have risen to the top of this industry are Shopify and Squarespace.

In the Shopify vs Squarespace debate, the size and scope of your current business needs should be the first step in your evaluation process.

Shopify is a platform which offers users access to numerous features that improve the UX for site visitors. It is a power, all-encompassing solution that can manage an e-commerce platform of virtually any size. You can use a customized theme with liquid templating or choose from around 100 different free or premium themes to get your store up and running.

Squarespace is a site-builder that is quite versatile, but its e-commerce platform is quite limited. If you’re only offering a handful of products or services that can be purchased online, then this platform could effectively meet your needs. Users also receive access to a comprehensive set of marketing tools, making it easier for a smaller store to compete for rankings with larger organizations.

Here are some of the key points of comparison to consider when looking at these two platforms to meet your needs.

1. Cost

Shopify offers five different plans so that users have a great range of flexibility when designing their e-commerce platform. Every plan is supported by a 14-day free trial to determine if the platform can meet a user’s needs. Once the free trial expires, these are the monthly costs that are associated with the five Shopify plans.

Lite. For $9 per month, users can sell on Facebook, add products to a website or blog, and accept credit card payments.
Basic. For $29 per month, users can unlock unlimited products, file storage, and print shipping labels.
Shopify. The standard plan for this platform is $79 per month and adds abandoned cart recovery as a feature.
Advanced. For $299 per month, users gain an advanced report builder, third-party calculated shipping rates, and the lowest transaction fees.
Enterprise. Costs for this level are personally quoted.

Squarespace plans begin at $18 per month for personal websites or $26 per month for online stores. Users can sell from their personal plans, but personal websites encounter a 2-3% transaction fee if a sale occurs from the platform. Unlimited products are allowed on personal sites and users can accept donations.

The rates above are based on annual billing. Pricing is about 20% higher for month-to-month billing.

The business plans from Squarespace eliminate the transaction fees and optimize the checkout process. Users unlock label printing through Shipstation, Xero integrated accounting, and taxing features.

2. Payment Processing/Gateways

Shopify has their own payment processing system that allows users to accept online or in-person transactions. This allows merchants to accept Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, or Discover cards online or at their location. It is a service that allows for one-click responses to chargebacks, synced payment details, and tools that help to track payment schedules and balances.

Transaction fees are based on the type of Shopify plan that has been chosen. The Basic plan offers transaction fees that are 2.7-2.9% of the purchase, with a $0.30 fee for online transactions. The Shopify plan offers 2.5-2.6% transaction fees, while the Advanced plan offers a 2.4% rate. Users can change their Shopify plan at any time.

Shopify allows for external payment gateways as well, but adds a 0.5%-2.0% transaction fee.

When using Squarespace as your platform, your e-commerce site can accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, PayPal, and Apple Pay. Merchants in the United States are also allowed to accept payments from Discover. This is done by connecting a supported payment processor through Squarespace Commerce.

At the time of writing, Squarespace only accepts Stripe or PayPal as your preferred processor. You are also allowed to connect both platforms to your site if you wish. Both processors have transactions fees which must be paid, through Squarespace does not add to this cost.

3. Content Marketing

Shopify is designed to be a store first and a content platform second. The templates are somewhat basic and designed to help you upload products or services more than create a blog or authoritative series of expert content. You can create these items with the liquid templating, but this requires basic programming knowledge at minimum to make the site work for specific needs.

Squarespace is designed to be more of a drag-and-drop website builder. It’s more of a content platform first and an e-commerce platform second. The templates are easier to use and offer more variety, while photo editing and display modification is quite simple to use. The blogging features on this platform are quite strong as well.

4. Creative Use

Shopify manages the architecture of the platform using handles and link lists. It is a system that isn’t complicated, but does require a learning curve for users to take advantage of the platforms full features. You have access to multiple layers of design, making it easier to work on deep-level pages. The mobile design options of Shopify have less functionality, but provide a similar experience.

Squarespace uses a drag-and-drop method of design that makes the platform feel responsive and easy to use. For those with modern equipment, a template can be quickly designed or a blog updated with little hassle. The requirements of the platform can be difficult to use on older or entry-level equipment, however, which can cause information loss or crashing when attempting to modify a website.

5. Product Import

Both platforms offer the ability to import products or service offerings to your new site.

Shopify allows for CSV files, eBay listings, or information from Magento to be imported. This allows for bulk uploading without the need to create every listing from scratch. Shopify users can then export all their product data to an Excel spreadsheet file or a CSV.
Squarespace allows for imports to come from Big Cartel, Etsy, or even Shopify. It does not accept imports from CSV files. Squarespace does not allow for product data to be exported, but you can export blog posts, images, or pages.

In the Shopify vs Squarespace debate, size does matter. Larger stores benefit from the one-platform-for all approach that Shopify offers. You can manage large inventories, design a website, and keep payment processing localized so the e-commerce platform can be easily managed. Squarespace is designed more for SMBs and freelancers, focusing more on content expertise while allowing for sales to occur.

Both platforms have specific strengths which could make it the right platform for you. Compare the key features to your needs and you’ll be able to find the correct solution.

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