As someone who is in the process of setting up an online store, you are probably researching and evaluating your options for an ecommerce platform that is suitable for your requirements.
While you have many choices for this today (as listed and evaluated in my article on top ecommerce platforms, Shopify is a leading player in this arena and SquareSpace is a (rapidly) rising star and I'm going to compare these two platforms in this article below.
Before I go into the actual blow-by-blow account of how the two platforms stack-up against each other, I'll mention some important facts and observations that will help keep things in the proper perspective.
Even though SquareSpace is not exactly a new player in the site creation platform industry, it was originally offered as a blogging/portfolio site creation platform and ecommerce store creation capabilities have been added only recently. As such, the ecommerce features presently offered by SquareSpace are quite limited, so if what you have on hand is a large ecommerce operation, you will probably want to give SquareSpace a skip. Those who are particularly interested in SquareSpace for some reason/s can read my full platform review here.
Having clarified this, let us now move on to the comparison:
Basic online store functionality – while both the platforms offer adequate basic features and functionalities in terms of creating a good store, Shopify has at least a slight edge over SquareSpace
Inventory management – while the SquareSpace starter plan ($8/mo.) is lower than Shopify's ($9/mo.), SquareSpace allows you to sell just one (you read that right, just one) product with this plan as compared to Shopify's allowance of 25 products. All higher Shopify plans allow you to sell an unlimited number of products and so does SquareSpace's top plan ($24/mo.).
Calculation of shipping charges – this is one of the basic features of an ecommerce platform and as would be expected, both Shopify and SqaureSpace handle this quite efficiently.
Provision for coupons and discount codes – Shopify is at a slight disadvantage here, as it does not allow this on the starter plan but only on the higher ones. SquareSpace allows creation and calculation of discount/promo codes on all the plans.
Payment gateway options – Shopify offers 70 payment gateway options, and while strange as it may sound, SqaureSpace supports one (yes, just one) gateway, namely Stripe. It should also be noted that while Stripe is more convenient than many other payment methods, it allows payments from only a very small number of countries.
Themes and Templates – Shopify wins big-time here, with close to 100 free themes as compared to about 25 offered by SquareSpace. Still, one thing that can be said in favour of SquareSpace here is that all its 25 themes look quite stylish, elegant and modern.
One more point that should be noted here is that of ‘responsive' themes (those themes that work well across all sorts of access devices). Both the platforms enjoy a good standing in this area.
Apps and Add-ons – Shopify, with well over a 100 own as well as third-party apps, add-ons, plugins, widgets etc. (some free, some paid), is again at an advantage over SquareSpace, with support for only a handful of apps, mainly via Google Apps integration.
Multi-lingual capabilities – while no fully-featured multi-lingual capability is available at either of the platforms, Shopify is again at some what of an advanced here, with multi-lingual capability offered on the checkout pages. One more advantage with Shopify is the availability of third-party tools with which you can implement site-wide multi-lingual capabilities.
SEO capabilities – both platforms offer better-than-average levels of SEO capabilities. However, the Shopify SEO features are not only superior to those of SqaureSpace but also the highest amongst all major ecommerce platforms, as described in my article here.
Customization capabilities – both platforms offer a user-friendly, easy mode with which you can customize the basic elements (like colours, fonts etc.) of your online store
with a GUI (Graphical User Interface) and via drag-and-drop operations. Shopify also offers an advanced level interface with capabilities that allow you to fully customize the look and feel of your store via HTML/CSS code, while with SquareSpace, you're allowed to edit only the CSS, and not the HTML code.
Blogging functionality – both Shopify and SquareSpace offer integrated blogging functionality that happens to be a very useful and beneficial feature for ecommerce stores in the present times. As knowledgeable web marketers, SEOs and ecommerce store owners have always known, publishing a blog on your online store is one highly valuable marketing method that allows you to attract, engage and retain customers.
Ease of use
As I mentioned earlier in the article, while Shopify and SquareSpace are both quite easy to use ecommerce platforms, Shopify packs a lot more features and power as compared to SquareSpace that presently offers a fairly limited set of ecommerce features.
Setup fees – neither Shopify not SquareSpace charge any setup fees. Actually, both offer 14-day free trials.
Monthly fees – Shopify offers four different plans with monthly fees ranging from $9 to $299 as follows:
|Lite Plan||$ 9 /mo.|
|Basic Plan||$ 29 /mo.|
|Professional Plan||$ 79 /mo.|
|Advanced Plan||$ 299 /mo.|
You can start a free Shopify trial by clicking here.
SquareSpace offers three plans, with monthly fees ranging from $8 to $24, as listed below:
|Personal Plan||$ 8 /mo.|
|Professional Plan||$ 16 /mo.|
|Business Plan||$ 24 /mo.|
You should note that these prices are for 1-year pre-payment plans and if you choose to pay month-by-month, they will increase to $10, $20 and $30 respectively.
Start a free SquareSpace trial by clicking here.
Bandwidth charges – none of the platforms charges any bandwidth usage fees on any of their plans.
Transaction fees – SquareSpace charges no transaction fees on any of their plans (the standard transaction fees of 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction charged by Stripe would apply, though.). Nor does Shopify, if you use their own payment gateway. If you use any of the third-party gateways, Shopify's transaction fee structure is as follows:
|Lite Plan ($9/mo.)||2%|
|Basic Plan ($29/mo.)||2%|
|Professional Plan ($79/mo.)||1%|
|Advanced Plan ($ 299 /mo.)||0.5%|
As I mentioned near the beginning of the article, Shopify and SquareSpace are in different leagues as ecommerce platforms and as it is, it would not really be fair to SquareSpace if we compare it to Shopify.
Having said that, if the requirements of the store you're setting up are very basic, with a small number of products, SquareSpace just might be worth a try. For anything more substantial, Shopify would be the way to go.
To get started with a free Shopify trial, click here.
For starting a free SquareSpace trial, click here.