Squarespace is a site builder and hosting service launched in 2013. It’s possible to create sites of any kind powered by Squarespace, including online stores. Even though e-commerce businesses are not the major users of this platform (there are around 280,000 stores worldwide compared to several millions of websites built with Squarespace), it’s still a popular choice, especially in the US market.
With over 4.5 million online stores, Shopify possesses a significantly bigger market share. It’s a platform specifically designed for e-commerce, thus it continuously improves its functionality based on the needs of online stores. While both platforms offer a decent set of features for selling online, let’s explore them in more detail.
According to the latest statistics,
The Shopify's GMV reached more than $197B in 2022
Squarespace vs. Shopify: the basics
Squarespace offers a suite of tools needed for an online store: you can create different designs for showcasing products, manage inventory and shipping, accept different payment methods, etc. It allows you to choose a custom domain, covers hosting, and guarantees the security and speed of your website. On top of the site builder and basic e-commerce features, it offers some additional options such as customer email templates or integrated product reviews.
Shopify is an all-in-one solution for online stores that serves as a store builder and also offers its own payment system and POS, access to its fulfillment network, shipping rate discounts from chosen carriers, and a lot more. There are plenty of customizations and additional features you can have out-of-the-box or with the help of Shopify apps.
Both Shopify and Squarespace store website data on data centers distributed in different locations (although Squarespace is using a CDN with the nodes across the US only), provide sites with SSL certificates, and ensure responsive content loading adjusted to a given screen size.
While both platforms allow merchants to sell different types of products (physical and digital) and offer subscriptions, Squarespace is also targeted at those who want to sell membership-based services like training sessions, for example. It can be done on Shopify as well, but Squarespace is more suitable if you’re interested in selling subscription-based access to some content. The platform has a functionality called Member Areas where you can set the pricing type and other details. It also allows adding appointment scheduling to a website for customers to book appointments for your services.
Let’s see what are the differences between Squarespace and Shopify regarding website design and e-commerce functionality.
Shopify vs. Squarespace for e-commerce: store design
For a lot of businesses adopting Squarespace, the major reason is the platform’s ease of use. The flow of creating a website is indeed pretty straightforward. Squarespace will guide you through available ready-to-use templates, which you can filter by category, and offer you the possibility to build a website with no predefined design, choosing the sections you need.
You’ll be able to add homepage elements, choose what pages you want to have (about us, contacts, etc.), and then adjust the color scheme and fonts.
The platform also lets you customize the checkout, although it mostly relates to changing the colors of different elements like buttons and a header.
Squarespace offers 100+ themes, but most of them are not tailored to e-commerce. If you need some advanced functionalities that are not included by default, you can buy an external Squarespace theme (check out some examples here and here).
In turn, Shopify also provides you with a simple drag-and-drop editor where you can choose which sections you want to feature on which page. Most of the Shopify themes are paid (they require a one-time purchase only), but the free ones can also be a decent choice. Plus, you can use one of the external themes for Shopify, which can include a lot of nice-to-have features that you would otherwise implement with apps and plugins.
In Shopify’s theme editor, you can control the sections displayed on each page, customize colors and fonts, as well as use some additional settings—for example, include the add-to-cart button on collection pages or make the second product image shown on hover.
Apart from using the native theme editor, you can find a page-building app that will include additional styles and elements to make the store more to your liking and improve conversions.
On top of that, Shopify features thousands of apps that can help you make the store more attractive. For example, you can add countdown timers to products or sales events, control the look of your product variants with swatches, or let visitors zoom in on product pictures with image zoom apps.
By contrast, Squarespace doesn’t offer a lot of apps internally—its library consists of 31 extensions, not related to store design. The platform does offer some design features out-of-the-box: product status badges, related products block, product reviews, and low-stock alerts. But it might not be flexible enough for all the components you want to implement. For instance, with product variants, Squarespace allows you to set different configurations (color, size, material), but you won’t be able to sync product images with respective variants without an external plugin.
Finally, for extra customizations, both Squarespace and Shopify allow you to add client-side code (for instance, custom CSS).
Squarespace or Shopify: SEO and marketing
Following SEO best practices is vital for surviving in a saturated market, and it’s worth checking what e-commerce platforms have in their tool arsenal. Both Shopify and Squarespace cover the basics such as speed optimization, image compression, sitemap, automated markup, and URL structure. The platforms also give you SEO fields to fill out URL slugs and title/description tags for different pages.
Like most e-commerce site builders, Squarespace and Shopify integrate with Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Additionally, Squarespace even offers a dashboard with the site’s progress in keyword rankings (pulled out from GSC data).
Plus, Squarespace offers some additional SEO tools. It helps with local SEO tools, allowing you to manage your Google Business Profile and appearance in local results. It also features an SEO checklist integrated into a site builder and suggests you pre-vetted SEO experts to hire for more complex tasks.
Another thing covered by both platforms is some automated email templates. Squarespace offers you pre-written emails for back-in-stock notifications, product review requests, abandoned carts, as well as subscription order updates (payment declined, etc.). It has a convenient Customer Notifications editor where you can edit email templates on a visual preview.
Apart from user-friendly email layouts, Squarespace provides you with a dashboard for managing email subscribers, building their segments, and creating tailored campaigns. The platform has also an in-built functionality for creating newsletter sign-in blocks or pop-ups.
Shopify also offers some basic emails, although the templates are not gathered in one place and are presented in the form of code. While Squarespace’s native customer emails are easier to use, Shopify supports a lot more integrations with email marketing tools like Klaviyo.
Shopify or Squarespace: payment processing
The payment ecosystem is the aspect where Squarespace leaves much to be desired. You can only connect Stripe and PayPal, which are limited in the array of accepted payment methods and are not supported everywhere in the world. Squarespace has a distinct focus on US-based merchants, since they have the most payment options, including the integration with Squarespace’s POS.
In terms of currencies, Squarespace only supports 26, some of which only via Stripe. Besides, it’s not possible to run a multi-currency store—you can only choose one. There’s an external extension to show prices in geo-based currencies, but customers will still checkout only in the store’s native currency.
Compared to that, Shopify is way more friendly to international sellers and more flexible in terms of payment method variability. It supports 100+ payment solutions, including those for accelerated checkout, and offers its own system Shopify Payments with no transaction fees. The platform also has a native solution for a fast checkout, Shop Pay, that might come with the Shop Promise badge (which shows a delivery timeframe guarantee).
On top of the range of supported gateways, Shopify makes it easy for international stores to localize their offerings. Multi-currency stores can customize their prices based on each particular market.
Speaking of transaction fees, Squarespace charges 3% on sales in the Business plan and doesn’t have fees on Commerce plans (there still will be credit card processing fees based on Stripe and PayPal rates). In turn, Shopify charges a fee of 0.5-2% depending on the plan and doesn’t impose a fee on its native method, Shopify Payment.
Another aspect related to collecting payments is taxes. Tax compliance is one of the biggest challenges for businesses, and the way e-commerce platforms help you deal with taxes should definitely be your concern. In this regard, Shopify is way more powerful. You can have control over your taxes by setting different tax rate rules per product, shipping destination, or customer, which is especially helpful if you’re selling in multiple countries, including European ones. Also, the platform has recently introduced Shopify Tax, a solution for automated tax calculation for US sales.
On Squarespace, you can’t set taxes per product, which makes it not the best choice for European merchants. You still can manually set international tax rates, and for US sales, you can use the TaxJar extension that will automate the process.
Squarespace vs. Shopify: analytics
Squarespace equips you with plenty of analytical reports, including site traffic, sales, purchase funnel, and abandoned cart data. The higher your plan, the more options you’ll have: for instance, Commerce Basic includes a report on sales per product, and Commerce Advanced adds abandoned cart recovery information. All charts can be filtered by different parameters and viewed on the go via a mobile app. If you have multiple contributors working on your site, you can control their permissions to the analytical data.
In Shopify, access to analytical reports and the level of their flexibility also depend on the plan. For instance, you won’t have a sales report in the Basic plan and won’t have the possibility to create custom reports unless you’re on the Advanced plan or Shopify Plus. In general, Shopify offers more types of analytics than Squarespace: for example, multiple inventory, marketing, and customer reports. The latter, for example, can help with customer segmentation for creating personalized campaigns. Finally, Shopify allows you to export your reports (while Squarespace currently doesn’t).
Pricing plans of Squarespace and Shopify
Squarespace offers 3 pricing plans for online stores: Business ($23 per month), Commerce Basic ($27 per month), and Commerce Advanced ($49 per month). You can save 24-30% if you pay for a year upfront. Besides the differences in transaction fees, Commerce plans offer more features than Business: checkout on your domain and merchandising functionality (such as related product blocks and stock alerts). The Commerce Advanced plan also features advanced shipping (possibility to set a free shipping threshold), advanced discounting (automatically applied discounts), and subscriptions (selling them is not possible with other plans).
Shopify pricing is comparatively more expensive. There are Basic, Shopify, and Advanced plans that cost $32, $92, and $399, respectively (all of them are 25% off if paid annually). These plans differ in analytical reports, the number of staff accounts, and transaction processing fees. Shopify also has the Starter plan ($5 per month) for those who want to sell on social media, Shopify Components—modular pricing based on feature usage, and Shopify Plus—tailored for large-volume stores. Even though it’s more pricey than Squarespace (especially if we compare Squarespace Commerce Advanced and Shopify Advanced), it might be worth it owing to the plenty of helpful features (more pricing options, more localization opportunities, and higher reporting flexibility to name a few).
Starting price (per month)
$32 (varies depending on the region; costs 25% less if paid for a year ahead)
$23 (30% off if paid for a year ahead)
0.5-2% depending on the plan (no fees on Shopify Payments)
3% on the Business plan, no fees on Commerce plans
Embedded payment gateway
24/7 free support
Number of apps
Migration from other platforms
Can be done manually or with the help of apps (both free and paid)
Can be done manually
Mobile app to manage stores
(with the help of apps)
(available in Unlimited and VIP plans)
Number of staff accounts
2-15 depending on the plan
Up to 20 contributors
(only in the US)
No inventory tracking by location
Automatically calculated shipping rates
Automated sales tax
Only for the US
Only for the US (TaxJar extension)
Own fulfillment network
Number of themes
100+ (11 free themes)
110 (all free, not all designed for e-commerce)
Possibility to add custom code
Smart search with autocomplete and error tolerance
(with the Weglot extension)
Multiple inventory locations
(with the Weglot extension)
Automated domain redirection based on geolocation
Only with paid external tools
Market-specific product selection
Analytics & reporting
Google Analytics integration
Number of supported gateways
Stripe, Square, and PayPal
PCI DSS compliance
(supported by Stripe)
Cash on delivery
(including its own solution Shop Pay)
Analytics & reporting