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Andrew Rosensweig
03.15.2018

Squarespace's advertising is a force to be reckoned with. Anyone consuming today's media has likely heard their pitch for entry-level websites with a professional appearance. Plus, they even have Keanu Reeves. But how does Squarespace really stack up against the competition that Shopify presents? Let's find out.

Overview

While Shopify and Squarespace both offer visually striking website themes and templates to appeal to the contemporary online consumer, making a choice between the two for your eCommerce platform is to make a choice about priorities.

User on eCommerce platform

Shopify is first and foremost an eCommerce platform. Although Shopify is well-equipped to handle any and all website content, it is designed to serve the primary focus of sales and entails extensive features driven to meet that end. Shopping-centric layouts, web traffic and sales reports, it's all there with the ease of use for the common, everyday user. On the other hand, Squarespace is a more general website platform which allows access to some general eCommerce tools for building a basic web-store. Depending on your website focus, be it driving sales or delivering content, we will compare these two platforms in some detail.


1. Pricing

Shopify comes equipped with a gamut of advanced, comprehensive tools and resources for eCommerce stores. To have all of this at your disposal, it fetches a higher price point. Apart from the native tools and resources, Shopify also comes loaded with a vast library of apps allowing you to extend the features and functionalities of a store with ease. This might incur additional costs, but the trade off is a well-oiled machine tailored to your needs. By comparison, Squarespace is much more budget friendly, however is likely to be severely restrictive in functionality for anyone serious about online sales.


Shopify monthly plans:

Basic Shopify plan starts from $29/mo.
Shopify standard plan is priced at $79/mo.
The Advanced Shopify plan costs $299/mo.



Apart from the above plans there is also Shopify Plus and Shopify Lite. Shopify Plus is an enterprise-level eCommerce software designed for large enterprises. The price of this is available through contacting a Shopify advisor. Shopify Lite is $9/mo. and permits you to sell on Facebook and Instagram as well as integrate buy buttons on any website.

All plans (with the exception of Shopify Lite) include free hosting, web security, reporting, and the ability to sell an unlimited number of products. The difference in each plan is the number of staff accounts that can be associated with each plan. Further, the more advanced plans have increased benefits in lower payment processing fees, better shipping rates, as well as access to additional features including advanced reporting, gift cards and abandoned cart recovery emailing.

Squarespace monthly plans:



The Squarespace Business Website is $18*/mo.
A Basic Store Plan is available for $26*/mo.
There is an Advanced Store Plan for $40*/mo.

Squarespace offers 4 options, however we've ignored the most basic tier as it has no eCommerce capability. The basic tier is commonly used for artist and photographer portfolio sites. The Business Website is essentially a website which integrates the selling of some product. The Basic and Advanced Store plans are for actual webstores and differ in the degree of features available. As in Shopify, both Store Plans include free hosting, web security, reporting, and the ability to sell an unlimited number of products. Also, advanced features include gift cards and abandoned cart recovery emails.

*Note that the above Squarespace pricing is based on annual billing. Month-to-month pricing is $26, $30, and $46 respectively.

2. User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX)

User exploring Shopify reporting


When it comes to User Interface (UI) layout Shopify and Squarespace share few similarities. Apart from the left hand side menu that comes with all the navigation menu buttons for different parts of the Content Management System (CMS), other aspects are considerably different. The drag and drop approach of Squarespace offers a very simplistic interface. Compared to this, setting up pages with Shopify can take a little extra time, however in no way would the Shopify UI layout be referred to as difficult.

When it comes to mobile user experience, it is important to note that Squarespace is sluggish and less responsive than Shopify. Squarespace is also seen to crash more frequently than Shopify while uploading media. When you need to ensure stability and reliability of user experience, Shopify invariably comes first.

3. Payment Gateways



Shopify allows you a lot of varieties in respect to choice of currencies. This is possible because Shopify permits more than 100 different payment gateways.
Squarespace, on the other hand, offers only a single payment gateway. The only payment gateway available with it is Stripe which has few countries and currencies that support it. For a while Squarespace did not support Paypal as a payment gateway, but that has recently been added. 

Another added bonus is ShopifyPay, which recognizes customers who have saved their information on prior purchases on any Shopify store, then allows them to skip down from 16 data entry fields to 2 in the checkout process. This brings Shopify closer to an Amazon-like experience with speedy checkouts for returning customers.

Online shopping with payment gateways

4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)


Shopify carefully integrates best practices for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It is clear that it was a careful consideration in Shopify’s platform. Squarespace, being a platform focused more on general website content and less so on eCommerce, SEO is an afterthought.

 Shopify makes SEO relatively effortless and smooth through several measures. To begin with, for all product pages, Shopify automatically generates page title and meta description, saving a lot of time for SEO efforts. Shopify also easily makes the important fields visible to help you add metadata and image alt text. In case you are using Squarespace, you need to optimize the SEO options with additional effort.

Lastly, Shopify is also well equipped to take care of URL mapping much better than Squarespace. In case you have changed the URL of a page, Shopify will automatically provide a 301 redirect to navigate users to that page. This will prevent search engines from crawling at wrong pages. In the case of Squarespace, you need to do the entire thing manually.

5. Customer Support

Customer support team member




When it comes to customer support, both Shopify and Squarespace offer best in class support. By comparison, Shopify offers more avenues to reach their customer care team than Squarespace. Shopify allows you to contact customer support 24/7 through 3 different support channels, such as phone, email and live chat.

With Squarespace, you have only email and live chat to reach customer support. A major downside is that the live chat sessions can only be accessed between 3am and 8pm EST on working days, with no support over weekends. They can be reached through emails and typically reply within 24 hours all days of the week.

There is also one major plus with Shopify concerning customer support. Shopify customers can also hire a team of qualified experts, like us at Electric Eye, for customizing their stores. With Squarespace, there is no such additional customer support ecosystem available outside of forums.

Conclusion

From the outset, the choice between Shopify and Squarespace was one of priorities. For those that are extremely budget conscious, only looking to integrate a few products on a professional looking website with a limited audience, Squarespace may be an option. Nevertheless, for the vast majority of users building a scalable eCommerce website, Shopify is more comprehensive in contrast to the limited scope offered by Squarespace, ultimately making it superior in functionality as an eCommerce platform.

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