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Shopify vs. Squarespace

Both can help you open an online store, but only one offers in-house payment processing.

Shopify and Squarespace are designed with the online merchant in mind, each platform equipped with web-hosting, theme collections, app integrations and more. But Shopify caters to merchants who sell in person, Squarespace is better suited to those seeking a customizable site-building experience.

Bottom line

Shopify is the clear winner for those new to web design and who need point-of-sale hardware to sell in person. It's easy to set up an online store, tech support is available 24 hours a day and the platform is equipped with integrated payment processing and shopping cart software. It's a one-stop-shop for merchants building their first online store.

Squarespace is a platform best equipped to serve those who want full control over the design of their online store. You'll need to set up your payment processing through a third-party provider, but the platform has over 100 responsive, customizable web themes to choose from with detailed analytics software and advanced blogging support.

How easy is it to set up a store?

Setting up a Shopify online store is fairly straightforward — even for beginners. It has just 12 web themes to choose from but offers the benefit of round-the-clock tech support by phone, email and live chat to provide assistance should you run into any roadblocks. It also integrates with over 3,200 apps and plugins to help you customize the user experience.

A Squarespace store is a little harder to get up and running. But that's because the platform prides itself on its extensive portfolio of fully customizable, professionally designed web themes. Users have reported a steep learning curve for Squarespace's website builder, but it offers in-depth web analytics and advanced blogging tools to help you tailor your store to your exact specifications.

Side-by-side comparison

Which should I choose?

Choose Shopify if you want to build an online store with integrated payment processing and in-person point-of-sale (POS) support.

Choose Squarespace if you don’t mind using a third-party payment processor and want more control over the design of your online store.

Overview

Shopify is a hosted e-commerce platform that offers an online store builder alongside payment processing and point-of-sale systems. It boasts a comprehensive network of third-party app and plugin integrations and works best for businesses that plan to sell both in-person and online.

Squarespace is a website builder for e-commerce that specializes in customizable themes and advanced blogging support. It offers payment processing through its partners Stripe and PayPal and works best for businesses that want to open an online store and have web design experience.

Products

  • Payment processing
  • Website builder
  • Inventory tracking
  • Shopping cart software
  • Shipping software
  • Website builder

Monthly fees start at

$29/mo

$16/mo

Hosting

Hosted

Hosted

Pros

  • Beginner-friendly. Merchants report that Shopify’s online store builder is intuitive and easy to navigate.
  • 24/7 support. Touch base with Shopify by phone, email or live chat anytime.
  • In-house payment processing. Shopify merchants don’t need to go hunting for a third-party payment processor if they opt to use Shopify’s in-house processing, Shopify Payments.
  • Online store plugins. Integrate with over 3,200 apps and plugins through the Shopify App Store.
  • Discounted shipping. Rate discounts of up to 90% are available for USPS, UPS, DHL and Canada Post.
  • Website themes. Squarespace boasts over 100 high-quality website themes that can be catered to a variety of industries.
  • E-commerce options. Sell products, digital downloads or professional services from your Squarespace store.
  • In-depth analytics. Explore valuable insights into your site traffic to extend your research and impact.
  • Full-featured blog. Squarespace themes are customizable and come equipped with advanced blogging features, including post scheduling, custom permissions and more.

Cons

  • No free tier. Shopify doesn’t offer a free tier of service and subscription rates start at $9 monthly.
  • Limited staff accounts. Even Shopify’s Advanced service tier limits staff accounts to 15 users.
  • Limited themes. Shopify only has 12 website themes to choose from.
  • No free tier. Squarespace also lacks a free service tier, with subscription rates that start at $16 monthly.
  • Steep learning curve. Squarespace is well-known for being tricky to navigate.
  • No phone support. If you have problems with your store, you’ll have to rely on email or chat support.
  • No in-house processing. Before you can accept payments through your Squarespace store, you’ll need to get set up with one of its third-party processing partners.

Tools

  • Business name generator. Generate hundreds of potential business names in seconds.
  • Marketing help. Create an online marketing campaign through Google Smart Shopping, Facebook Ads or Kit.
  • Free stock photos. Browse high-resolution photo collections and add images to your online store.
  • Shopify Shipping. Track orders in real-time with exclusive carrier rates, shipping insurance and bulk order fulfillment.
  • Customizable storefronts. Use Javascript SDKs, Unity SDKs and Storefront API to integrate e-commerce into games, mobile apps and other custom channels.
  • Build a blog. Build a blog to promote your products and services and connect your social media account.
  • SEO tools. Boost your store’s search engine visibility with SEO checklists and built-in mobile optimization.
  • App integrations. Squarespace integrates with 76 third-party apps and plugins.
  • Bulk product importing. Transfer your entire catalog using a simple bulk-import template.
  • Block or code embeds. Embed images, videos, audio clips, PayPal buttons and more.
  • Email marketing. Design and launch your own email campaign to encourage repeat business.

BBB letter rating

A+

A+

Trustpilot rating

★★★★★

1.4/5

★★★★★

1.8/5

Reputation and customer reviews

  • Reviews are: Largely negative.
  • Customers praise: Beginner-friendly platform and helpful tech support.
  • Customers complain: Transaction holds and account closures for high-risk businesses.
  • Reviews are: Mixed.
  • Customers praise: Intuitive website builder and customizable templates.
  • Customers complain: Lack of phone support.

Support

  • Phone. Merchants in North America can call 855-816-3857 to speak with a Shopify rep.
  • Email. Fill out a secure online form on Shopify’s website for a response within one business day.
  • Live chat. From Shopify’s website, open up a live chat window to connect with a Shopify rep.
  • Twitter. Tweet at Shopify for a direct response from the support team.
  • Email. Email support is available 24/7, with Redditors reporting responses within hours.
  • Live chat. Support reps are available via chat weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET.
  • Community forum. Find answers to commonly asked questions in Squarespace’s extensive support forum.

Final take

Both Shopify and Squarespace can help you set up an online business — but the ideal platform for your business depends on two factors: how much web design experience you have and whether you plan to sell in person.

Before you pick a platform, explore your options with multiplemerchant services providers.

Frequently asked questions

Can I transfer an existing website to Squarespace?

Yes, you can import content from an existing website into Squarespace with a few clicks. You can also bulk-import products from Shopify, Etsy and Big Cartel.

Does Squarespace offer web hosting?

Yes, Squarespace’s plans include web hosting.

Will I be locked into a contract when I sign up for Shopify?

No, paid Shopify plans are billed month-to-month and you can cancel without penalty at any time.

Does Shopify offer web hosting?

Yes, Shopify’s plans include web hosting. The exception is Shopify Lite, which you need to host on your own website.

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