Are you wondering which ecommerce platform you should use to build your online shop? There are plenty of options to choose from but we’ll narrow it down to two of the most popular ones; Shopify and Squarespace. In this article, we’re going to highlight the pros and cons of both to help you decide!
What is Shopify?
Shopify is one of the most popular and well established platforms to date. There are only a handful of platforms that have as many benefits as Shopify does. Hundreds of thousands of stores are currently using this platform and its popularity is increasing day by day.
Shopify is a hosted solution. This means that Shopify will host your shops on their servers but you will not have access to the back-end code. This shouldn’t be a problem for most retailers as Shopify already provides loads of customization options.
Pros of Shopify:
Your own custom-built website
Every website made using Shopify shows little to no trace of the platform used. In other words, Shopify provides a diverse range of customization! It provides a wide range of themes to choose from via its theme store. You have the ability to make comprehensive changes to these themes if you have a good understanding of CSS, HTML and Liquid.
You may also completely manipulate the theme, allowing you to create a custom look and feel that is unique to your brand. If you’re not experienced in coding, you can always hire a Shopify expert to design themes for you!
The Shopify app store
Shopify has an app store full of official and third party apps that you can get to add functionality to your store. If there’s a feature that you’d like to have on your website; chances are that you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for in their app store! This is one of the most useful elements of Shopify and something that Squarespace lacks.
The app store has a wide range of apps to choose from. For example, if you need to analyze your shop’s analytics; Kissmetrics can do just that! Or if you need to send out targeted email campaigns to customers signed up to your mailing list; MailChimp is there for you!
Wide range of payment gateways
Shopify believes that each seller is unique and should therefore be given as many choices as possible. Due to this belief, Shopify not only has it’s own payment gateway, but it has also integrated over 70 payment gateways! These include Paypal, Stripe, Paymill, SagePay, Braintree, etc. This is a huge plus for Shopify because Squarespace only offers Stripe as a payment gateway.
Shopify experts are designers, marketers, programmers, web developers, etc. that have been listed in the Shopify Experts directory. They can assist you in creating a beautifully customized ecommerce store! Experts are thoroughly rated and reviewed so you can choose which expert meets for your needs.
Squarespace on the other hand, does not offer anything to compete with this. This means that you’ll have to rely on your own knowledge of the platform since it’ll be harder to seek assistance. Having a community of experts allows Shopify to be accessible to people who do not have an expertise in web creation!
Superior customer service
Shopify offers an astounding 24/7 support on phone, email and live chat to all of its users with no additional costs as it’s included in the monthly fee. Shopify’s 24/7 support is a massive benefit to any online retailer; online shops don’t have open and closing times so this constant support availability is hugely beneficial. If you’re in need of assistance, their service is always available for you!
Cons of Shopify:
Expensive monthly fees
Shopify comes with a few pricing plans to choose from. All of which can be considered expensive especially for new businesses. The pricing plans are:
- Basic – $29/month
- Shopify – $79/month
- Advanced Shopify – $299/month
To learn more, read our guide to choosing the best Shopify’s pricing plan for your business.
Poor multi-currency support
Shopify does not allow you to specify currency rates which can be a problem for online retailers who want to sell their products internationally. Another downside is that although the customer may be browsing in their own currency, the final payment must be taken in the store’s default currency. Therefore, it is advised that your warn your customers of this beforehand; otherwise your business will seem untrustworthy to customers.
Unsupported third party apps
The vast majority of apps are built and supported by third parties. As these apps are not distributed by Shopify, they will not be supported by Shopify’s excellent 24/7 service. This can lead to issues especially if you rely on third party apps to help your store function properly.
Third party apps are not guaranteed to be fully functional and therefore the app store may have inconsistent levels of quality and cost. Installing a lot of apps can also make your implementation a bit sluggish. It is recommended to avoid third party apps that aren’t properly supported.
What is Squarespace?
Initially, Squarespace was intended to create an all-in-one web publishing platform. However, it later branched out into the world of ecommerce. Since it is relatively new to the ecommerce world, it may not be able to compete with giants like Shopify yet, but it definitely has a lot of potential!
Squarespace is a hosted solution like Shopify. Squarespace will host your shops on their servers and as a result, you will not have access to the back-end code. However, Squarespace provides a powerful and dynamic styling editor which allows you to customize your store they way you want.
Pros of Squarespace:
Gorgeously designed templates
Squarespace’s unique selling point is their expertly designed templates. Their templates will instantly catch your attention as they are clean, minimalistic and highly professional. The templates are truly magnificent as they give off an air of elegance due to their sheer beauty and simplicity.
Although Shopify’s themes are aesthetically great for the most part; you’ll have a hard time looking through their theme store to find a theme best fit for you. With Squarespace, you’ll definitely feel more comfortable and less overwhelmed with the themes.
Extensive styling options
Albeit their customization options aren’t anything groundbreaking in terms of web design; their Style Editor makes it exponentially easier for a non-technical person to customize their store without having any knowledge of coding.
With the Style Editor, you can adjust colors, fonts, background images, opacity of images, spacing and padding, page-specific styles, etc. There is also a built-in CSS editor allowing advanced users to maximize the customization of their website.
Discounted Getty images and free Typekit fonts
Squarespace is partnered with Getty images. Getty images are one of the world’s leading creators and distributors of high quality photography. As a result of this partnership, Squarespace customers can purchase images from Getty at an exclusive rate of just $10 a photo — talk about a bargain!
Squarespace is also partnered with Typekit and luckily to our benefit; more than 65 Typekit fonts are available to Squarespace customers at no additional charge. Typography is one of the very core factors to influence a customer’s perception of a brand. This partnership with Typekit makes it simpler for you to construct a brand for your business.
Excellent marketing tools
Search engine optimization is built into all websites created with Squarespace. This makes it astoundingly easier for search engines to index your website and resultantly you will attract potential customers. Read more about SEO tactics and its benefits here!
You will also be given access to analytics that are updated in real time; this will help provide you an insight on your customers. This analytic tool provides you with a tonne of quality information; ranging from page views to your audience size. Squarespace is also dedicated to social integration making it easier than ever to connect with your customers on social media websites.
Social media integration
Squarespace provides a social integration feature allowing you to easily share store news and updates to all of your customers and social media followers in a seamless manner. You no longer have to manually post updates to your social media platforms.
Simply connect your social media accounts with Squarespace and then adjust the settings for how people can connect with you via those social networks. Having the ability to automatically post new content to all of your social media accounts; it not only helps you save time and effort, but it ensures that your followers are kept up to date!
Affordable monthly fees
Albeit it is not as feature extensive, Squarespace is definitely more affordable than Shopify. If the many features of Shopify do not interest you, then Squarespace is your best bet at creating an elegant ecommerce store. The pricing plans are:
- Personal – $12/month
- Business – $18/month
To learn more about Squarespace’s pricing plans, check out their pricing section here!
Cons of Squarespace:
It is not open source
One of the biggest downsides of Squarespace is that it isn’t open source. This means that they do not allow external designers to design for their platform; everything is designed by the Squarespace team. This leads to a lack of customization for templates.
Another downside of it not being open source is that support can only be provided by the Squarespace team. This can be a bit frustrating especially when you’re in need of urgent help and Squarespace support is unavailable at the moment.
Editing mode is inconvenient
During the process of altering your template, you are unable to see a real-time editing screen. This means that you can’t preview your website before publishing it. Instead, you will have to constantly go back and forth in order to edit your page which can be very much of a hassle.
When using the editing system to move blocks (images, text, videos, etc.) around the web page; the editor sometime gets confused and people often report that this issue hinders and slows down their customization ability. In spite of this, the editor is still very intuitive.
The Style Editor can be overwhelming
The style editor is packed with a lot of features for customization. It includes a tonne of tools, sliders, widgets, fonts, etc. The downside is that this can be overwhelming to newer users who are unaware of this environment.
If you’re a skilled web designer, this probably is not an issue for you. However, this can be an issue for the non-technical user due to the overload of options thrown at you in the style editor.
Lack of payment gateways
Squarespace only offers Stripe as a payment gateway option. It lacks the more popular online payment methods such as Paypal which is a huge downside for a majority of people. Shopify on the other hand, offers over 70 payment gateways including Stripe which is a massive advantage!
Squarespace uses Stripe to process all of your customer payments. This may potentially decrease your sales as most people do not use Stripe. If you think your customers are more likely to prefer alternative payment gateways such as Paypal, then it’d be recommended to use Shopify.
Lack of 24/7 customer support
Unlike Shopify, Squarespace does not offer the outstanding 24/7 support for its customers. Considering that Squarespace is targeted towards people who aren’t web experts, you’d expect for there to be a quality customer service. Nevertheless, when support is available, they do provide an excellent job!
Their lack of 24/7 support is slightly overshadowed by the easy to use interface. However, having instant assistance is very important and should not be neglected under any circumstance.
Final Review of Shopify & Squarespace
Both platforms have their own positive and negative traits. Although Squarespace is a great ecommerce platform, it is still not up to par to a giant platform like Shopify yet. Squarespace may be less feature extensive, but it is also notably cheaper than Shopify. Nonetheless, these platforms provide a unique and immersive experience to their customers regardless of their differences.