Shopify vs Squarespace: prices and features comparison 2022

In this comprehensive guide, we compare the pros, cons, and costs of two ecommerce titans to answer the ultimate question: Shopify or Squarespace?

Our experts

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0 out of 0
BEST FOR
Overall Score
Based on our in-depth research and user testing
Pricing
Visit

Best range of apps and extensions

Best for ease of use and great design

4.6
4.6

$29 – £299 per month

(approximately £21-£220 per month)

£15-£30 per month

Use code “STARTUPS10” to receive a 10% discount on all Squarespace plans

 

Shopify and Squarespace are two of the most closely matched online store builders out there. Our own expert ecommerce research team gave both platforms the same overall score of 4.6 out of 5 in our latest round of testing, based on six key metrics including value for money and sales features.

So how do they differ?

We think Shopify is better for small retailers that are serious about selling. Its powerful feature set is built for those with large sales volumes, such as dropshipping firms.

On the other hand, Squarespace’s beautiful array of templates means it offers more attractive pages. Squarespace is a strong choice for SMEs that mostly sell offline, but still want a website for brand building and customer engagement purposes.

Because of these specialities, there are a lot of important features that might make Squarespace or Shopify the better choice for your business. For example, Shopify has a huge app marketplace, which gives users more agency over their site.

The below guide will go through the unique traits of these two ecommerce giants, so read on to see how each one can help you to build an online store and start selling (we won’t be looking at the Squarespace main website builder, only its ecommerce offering).

Or, if you’re short on time, we’ve come up with a snapshot view of the best small business ecommerce builders based on our own expert research. Why not give it a try? It’s entirely free to use, and only takes one minute to complete.

4.6 out of 5
  • Website features
    4.2
  • Sales features
    4.5
  • Design functionalities
    3.9
  • Value for money
    3.0
  • Help and support
    3.8
  • Ease of use
    3.5
4.6 out of 5
  • Website features
    4.3
  • Sales features
    3.4
  • Design flexibility
    4.0
  • Value for money
    4.2
  • Help and support
    3.5
  • Ease of use
    4.2

Shopify vs Squarespace: head to head

The main differences between Shopify and Squarespace are:

  • Shopify is more expensive than Squarespace
  • Squarespace does not offer as many sales features as Shopify
  • Squarespace is easier to use than Shopify
  • Shopify has better help and support tools

To boil it down, the main difference between these two platforms is that Shopify is more powerful than Squarespace, and therefore more scalable. However, the latter is better for branding and design.

For this reason, we recommend using Squarespace if you want to build a website that sells, and Shopify if you’re looking to build a large-scale, dedicated online store.

Shopify for small businesses

Shopify
4.6
Shopify’s superb features and extensive app market give ambitious ecommerce businesses everything they need to scale rapidly.
  • FREE TRIAL 14-day free trial
  • PRICE FROM £20 per month
  • Preempts and predicts what a merchant might need next in all aspects of creating a website
  • Best range of apps and extensions
  • Perfect for dropshipping
Summary Shopify is perfect for users looking for that all in one online store solution. Its ability to predict what a merchant will need next when creating a website is a brilliant feature, and its countless apps give you complete control over your business, enabling you to grow through diverse multi channel integration options and automated SMS and email marketing. It is definitely better suited to store owners with complex, larger inventories and because there are fewer built in features, using the platform can get expensive compared to other feature-filled competitors like Squarespace and Wix.
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Shopify began in 2006 when three Canadians were inspired by their poor experience selling snowboarding equipment online.

Since then, it has ballooned into an unstoppable giant of the online retail sector. According to research from Cloudways, almost one in five UK ecommerce websites that were live in 2021 were built using Shopify.

Our most recent round of testing found that Shopify comes in first for customer satisfaction, and gets the second-highest score for sales features. But its more expensive price point means it doesn’t get a great result for value for money.

We’d recommend Shopify over Squarespace for firms that need a website capable of carrying out high-volume sales – like dropshippers or manufacturers.

Read more about what the platform can offer your small business in our expert Shopify review

Squarespace for small businesses

Squarespace began as a content publisher, which means it has only recently added ecommerce functionality. But, from these humble beginnings, Squarespace has grown to become a high-performing, all-in-one website builder that promises its users beautifully designed websites compatible with both mobile and desktop browsers.

Priced at £20 per month for its cheapest ecommerce plan, Squarespace is slightly more affordable than Shopify.

However, while our researchers gave it the best score for ease of use, the software did not perform well for sales features, which will be the deciding factor for small businesses that operate primarily online.

We recommend this platform to SMEs that want to build a professional-looking online store that prioritises branding. It offers lots of nice ways to display content – including blog posts and images – but not a lot in terms of sales features.

What does the Squarespace platform look like in 2022? Read our full Squarespace review to find out more about the pros and cons.

Best value: Squarespace

In some ways, Squarespace and Shopify are evenly matched when it comes to value for money. They both offer 14-day free trials and competitive costs at their lower tiers (Squarespace Commerce Basic is priced at £20 per month, while Shopify costs £21 per month).

But the story quickly changes when we move to the next rung of the ladder. Shopify’s costs increase by £37, while Squarespace’s go up by just £10.

In fact, if we look at the average cost across both of these software products, there is a clear winner: Squarespace’s combined plans even out to around £16 per month. In comparison, Shopify averages out to £80 per month.

Still, affordability does not necessarily equal better value for money – we wanted to see how both builders performed when we ranked their features against this cost.

Shopify scored an impressive seven out of 10 for quality of features versus average pricing plan. But it was Squarespace that emerged victorious, achieving full marks across the board.

Managing resources is particularly important for small businesses. If budget is important to you, use our specialist online comparison tool. It'll get you quotes from the top builders on the market, and match you with the ecommerce solution with the most value for your money.

Shopify pricing

0 out of 0
Ecommerce Plan
Price
Plan main features

Basic Shopify

Shopify

Advanced

$29 per month (approximately £21)

$79 per month (approximately £58)

$299 per month (approximately £220)

Unlimited products
Abandoned cart recovery
Online credit rates: 2.2% + 20p

Professional reports and analytics
5 staff accounts
Online credit rates: 1.9% + 20p

Advanced reports
Calculated shipping rates
Online credit rates: 1.6% + 20p

Basic Shopify: approx. £21 per month

It might be called ‘Basic’, but this plan doesn’t scrimp when it comes to features. Users get multiple sales channels, along with the ability to sell on online marketplaces and social media – all crucial for maximising revenue streams and driving sales.

You’ll also be able to accept in-person payments instantly at pop-ups, markets, fairs, and more using Shopify’s POS system, Shopify Lite. Just note that you’ll be charged a fee of 2.2% + 20p on any transactions.

Here’s what else is included:

  • Optional discount codes
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Gift cards

In addition to the above, you’ll get 24/7 support from Shopify's customer service team – so if anything goes wrong with your site it can be fixed at any time, reducing the risk of lost revenue.

Shopify: approx. £58 per month

If you’re thinking of upgrading to the Shopify plan from Shopify Basic, the main incentive is the former’s larger user account limits. Shopify Basic only lets you have two users attached to your account, whereas the Shopify plan permits up to 15.

Using the Shopify plan, you can also customise your product prices for different global regions. This makes the Shopify plan a great option for growing businesses that are looking to sell internationally, though it's probably not worth the added cost for those operating domestically.

Is there a free plan?

Shopify has a 14-day free trial available for those that want to test out the platform before subscribing.

See the full picture of Shopify’s costs and hidden fees in our guide to Shopify pricing.

Squarespace pricing

0 out of 0
Ecommerce Plan
Price
Plan main features

Squarespace Business

Basic Commerce

Advanced Commerce

£15 per month

£20 per month

£30 per month

Fully integrated ecommerce
3% transaction fee
Sell unlimited products

No commerce transaction fees
Point of sale integration
Customer accounts

Abandoned cart recovery
Powerful ecommerce analytics
Advanced shipping

Squarespace Commerce Basic

Yearly: £20 per month
Monthly: £24 per month

Squarespace Business is the best-value deal among the Squarespace plans for SMEs. In addition to the standard website builder traits available on most plans (such as unlimited bandwidth and storage, built-in mobile responsive design, and 24/7 customer care access), you’ll also get:

  • Unlimited contributors – useful for third-party experts or consultants working on your site
  • Promotional pop-ups and banners
  • Gift cards
  • POS system
  • Ecommerce analytics
  • Merchandising tools
  • Ability to sell on Instagram

As for hidden costs, you’ll pay a 3% transaction fee on any sales made on your site. This is more expensive than Shopify’s fee.

Squarespace Commerce Advanced

Yearly: £30 per month
Monthly: £37 per month

The difference between the Squarespace Commerce Basic and Commerce Advanced plans is minimal – it largely boils down to a few added perks.

For this reason, this upgrade is better suited to larger businesses that can afford to invest in a more expensive premium plan.

You’ll get the ability to offer discounts and sell subscriptions, as well as abandoned cart recovery. It’s worth noting that all of these features are also available with the Shopify plan – although for considerably more money.

Is there a free plan?

Like Shopify, Squarespace offers a 14-day free trial to those that want to test out the platform before subscribing.

For a comprehensive overview of the platform and its pros, cons and discounts, read our full review of Squarespace pricing.

As well as being an outstanding small business ecommerce option for those looking to sell online, Squarespace is also our second-highest rated website builder. Visit the Squarespace website to find out more.

Best for website features: Squarespace

Shopify and Squarespace have similarities in their website features, although Squarespace squeezes over the line first to score 4.3 out of 5, versus Shopify’s 4.2 out of 5.

You’ll get unlimited storage across both providers’ plans, and similar performance speeds. However, Squarespace provides the better deal for your website domain as you’ll get this free for the first year of your website being live.

Marketing

In a move that’s becoming increasingly expected of ecommerce builders, both Squarespace and Shopify support all of the main social media platforms: Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.

Squarespace has three built-in marketing apps which are useful for sending out emails and generating new leads, including MailChimp, a popular email marketing tool for small businesses.

But Shopify blows this out of the water thanks to its wider array of marketing extensions (13, to be exact). Through these apps, you’ll be able to automate your marketing process and grow your user base organically.

SEO 

Squarespace’s heritage as a content publisher means it has lots of useful SEO tools already woven into the platform, so you’ll get access to every function including:

  • Custom URLs for redirects
  • Meta descriptions and titles
  • Google analytics
  • Keyword support
  • SEO best practice prompts

You'll also get most of these features with Shopify, except for keyword support. This is important because, according to HubSpot’s State of Marketing report 2021, over 50% of marketers cite keyword rankings and organic traffic as their top ways of measuring success.

We’d argue that Squarespace is also better for SEO, as it provides more blogging tools than Shopify. Squarespace lets you add an internal search bar, archive, and SEO-specific analytics, whereas you'd need third-party apps to do this with Shopify.

App marketplace 

Shopify has a much larger marketplace for third-party add-ons. The ecommerce tycoon has over 6,000 extensions to help you build a bespoke solution that fits your selling strategy – that's much larger than Squarespace's offering of 29.

Shopify gives you more options for sales, shipping, and marketing apps. Shopify also has a ton of dropshipping integrations, including Oberlo and Modalyst – two key platforms that can automate your dropshipping strategy and save you both time and money.

How can I use Shopify for dropshipping?

Shopify is one of our top-rated ecommerce platforms, and it’s also a perfectly designed dropshipping solution for small business retailers to take advantage of. Read our full guide to Shopify dropshipping to learn more.

Best for sales features: Shopify

As we’ve hinted at numerous times in this article, Shopify has much more to offer than Squarespace in terms of sales features. Its extensive list of functions means it beats not just Squarespace, but most of its other ecommerce rivals, too.

We ranked Shopify as our second-best online store builder for sales features overall, beating big industry names like Wix and WooCommerce to the crown with a 4.5 out of 5. Squarespace trails behind in comparison with a 4.3 out of 5, mostly due to its limited number of supported gateways.

Sales types and payment options 

While Squarespace gives users four main payment options (PayPal, Amazon, Square, and Stripe), Shopify offers a much wider range. You can use Google Pay, the bespoke Shopify payments channel, or even cryptocurrency.

You can also offer users a Buy Now, Pay Later option, which has become enormously popular in recent years.

Other benefits offered by Shopify but not Squarespace are: more sophisticated inventory management tools, a more advanced POS system, and a broader range of payment gateways (over 100, in fact).

This package of handy tools will be hugely beneficial as you try to grow your shop and attract wider online audiences.

Security

Neither Squarespace or Shopify is lacking in backend safety. Stores built with either platform will have an SSL certificate and a customer login area, so the core security measures are in place.

However, Shopify does a more thorough security job when it comes to fraud detection. While Squarespace requires users to rely on third-party payment gateways for this, Shopify has it built into both its Basic and Shopify plans.

Multi-channel integration

Omnichannel sales approaches are being constantly discussed by ecommerce experts. This strategy involves using multiple platforms to sell your products in order to create a diverse, and therefore stronger, consumer base.

Unfortunately, Squarespace is limited in this area. Users are only able to sell on Instagram, whereas Shopify sellers can flog their products and services on Facebook (and Facebook Messenger), Instagram, Pinterest, and even BuzzFeed.

Accounting options

Both builders offer invoices, which are an important way for customers to receive both information on their purchase and communication from your business. With Shopify, these can be customised to your brand, but not with Squarespace.

Other than that, neither of these builders really excel when it comes to accounting tools. Revenue analytics are available, but that’s about it.

The good news is that both builders do have third-party accountancy apps available, so whatever functions you need performed – such as cash flow management or inventory taking – can still be done, just not within the builders themselves.

Best for design functionality: Squarespace

Templates

Squarespace offers around 110 templates. In comparison, Shopify offers 10 free templates, with an additional 50 that you can buy for a one-off cost of between £100 and £130.

In terms of industry specialisms, Squarespace and Shopify offer near-identical template ranges. Shopify only performs poorly for DIY-based templates. Meanwhile, Squarespace’s achilles heel is electrical and gadget themes – a potential turn-off for tech companies.

Both brands also demonstrate impressive flexibility should you decide you want to change your templates around. You’ll be able to swap templates out fairly easily with both, although it might require some reformatting/edits to the layout.

UX, brand and design

Squarespace is the easy champion here. We ranked its interface for clarity, consistency, and ‘freshness’ (whether or not its websites look modern and up to date). Similarly, we looked at both builders’ capabilities across mobile as well as desktop devices.

In all of the above categories, Squarespace scored an unrivalled 100%. In comparison, Shopify scored 69%.

Squarespace is clearly the better online store builder for small ecommerce businesses that want to focus on high-quality branding and design to wow users. Shopify, meanwhile, has similar functionality and performs well, but doesn’t stand out aesthetically.

Mobile editor

There’s not much to shout about here for either of these builders. Both Squarespace and Shopify let you adapt the desktop version of your site to a mobile or tablet screen.

However, any changes you make will also be automatically configured to the desktop site, which means you can’t design a device-specific interface.

Best for help and support: Shopify

Knowledge centre

Both the Shopify and Squarespace knowledge bases are laid out simply, with each potential issue categorised into various goals. Shopify, for example, files its guides under ‘Sell’, ‘Manage’, ‘Expand’, ‘Market’ or ‘Start’.

Squarespace has a wider range of categories, but they aren't organised as intuitively. For example, it has both ‘Design’ and ‘Image’ options, which can be confusing if your issue is about something concerning both.

Customer support

Below are the different tools that you’ll get for customer support from Shopify vs Squarespace. As you can see, Shopify just pips Squarespace as it offers 24/7 phone support, unlike the latter.

 Shopify Squarespace
Phone supportYN
Social media supportYY
Live chatYY
EmailYY
Onsite editor helpYY
Community forumYY
How do I get set up online?

Before you can start selling, you’ll need to figure out what other digital infrastructure you need to set up an online store, such as web hosting. Find out more in our full guide to how to start an online shop.

Best for customer score: Shopify

To calculate the customer score for each platform, we looked at popular customer review websites like Trustpilot, as well as carrying out extensive user testing.

Squarespace achieved an overall score of 4.3 out of 5 for this category, thanks to strong feedback on its user experience (UX). 90% of users said they would recommend the platform to others. 100% of testers said they would describe it as easy to use, compared to 80% of Shopify users.

But Shopify comes out as the stronger platform overall for this category. Its status within the market means it has much better brand recognition than Squarespace, and also a higher average review score across the main online forums we looked at.

Our market analysis also shows that around 1.4 million more sites have been built using Shopify compared to Squarespace – strong evidence of its success amongst users.

Best for ease of use: Squarespace

Squarespace is much easier to use than Shopify, because its templates are more flexible and it boasts a much cleaner, more minimalist user interface. 

Stores built using Squarespace are also easier to manage, as the builder’s reduced functionality means there is a lot less to get wrong.

That’s not to say Shopify is hard to grasp, though. You don’t need any coding skills to use it, and you can make use of the huge Shopify marketplace to find apps that need to automate more complex tasks. Certainly, with time and experience, you will be able to master the platform quite easily.

That being said, if you’re looking for a product that can get you selling straight away – and something that’s low maintenance in the long term – it’s best to invest in Squarespace.

How do I start an online business?

It’s super easy to get selling online with builders like Squarespace. Find out more about how to start an ecommerce business with our full guide.

Shopify and Squarespace alternatives

0 out of 0
Overall Score
Based on our in-depth research and user testing
Pricing
Key features

Shopify

Squarespace

Wix

Square Online

GoDaddy

BigCommerce

4.6
4.6
4.8
4.3
3.9
4.2

$29 – £299 per month

(approximately £21-£220 per month)

£15-£30 per month

Use code “STARTUPS10” to receive a 10% discount on all Squarespace plans

 

£13-£22 per month
£6.50-£11 until 26th of May

£0-£54 per month

£13.99 per month (first term savings available)

£22-£216 per month

Fantastic in-built sales features

80 themes to choose from

100 payment gateways

No transaction fees with Shopify payments

  • Stunning ecommerce templates
  • Superb non commerce features
  • Great value for money

Easy to use drag-and-drop builder

Extensive app market

Inbuilt SEO and CRM products

  • Start selling for no monthly fee
  • Automatically sync with Square POS

Flexible payments

Flexible shipping options

Discounts and promotions

  • Top of the range sales features
  • Mulitchannel integration
  • Sell unlimited products
Square Online
4.3
The best platform to use if you want to start selling for free
  • Free plan Yes
  • Price from £0 per month
  • Start selling for free
  • Excellent analytics
  • Supports dozens of payment types
Summary Square Online is the only website builder that allows you to start selling products without upgrading to a paid plan. You’ll still have to pay a 1.9% transaction fee for every payment processed, but you won’t find a more cost-effective way of getting an online store up and running anywhere else. It’s a great way to get to grips with things before you upgrade to one of Square's premium plans, which start from £9/month.
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Wix
4.8
You can also get 50% off annual ecommerce plans until the 26th of May.
  • FREE TRIAL 14 day money back guarantee
  • PRICE FROM £13 per month
  • 50% off annual plans until 26th of May
  • Perfect solution if you want more creative freedom
  • Great additional features that support everything any up and coming merchant needs
Summary Wix is the most popular website builder in the UK. When we say Wix really does have it all, we mean it. Its largely improved sales features now support multi-channels including Facebook and other marketplaces. The business basic plan, at only £13 per month, comes equipped with 24/7 customer support, unlimited product showcasing and the option to sell on social channels. If you want further insight into your ecommerce business and control of where you can sell, the £22 per month Business VIP plan comes with customised reports, marketplace selling capabilities and priority customer care. However, despite the product priding itself on its ease of use, a rather steep learning curve is required, particularly when navigating set "ecom" functionalities.
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GoDaddy
3.9
A simple way to build an online store.
  • Free trial Yes
  • Price from £13.99
  • Easy to use
  • Simple pricing
  • Fairly good value
Summary It lacks sophisticated sales and design features, but GoDaddy is still one of the easiest ways to create an online store. It just has one ecommerce plan, for the reasonable price of £13.99 per month.
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BigCommerce
4.2
With the most comprehensive range of sales features around, BigCommerce gives you everything you need to create a fully-optimised online store
  • Free trial 15-day
  • Price from £22 per month
  • Quality in-built sales features
  • Excellent SEO support
  • Great for scaling businesses
Summary BigCommerce is the big budget option for small businesses with big ambitions. Its plans range from £21.83/month to £218.60/month. Quite pricey, but for that you’re getting access to the most extensive range of high-quality, in-built sales features on the market. The costlier the plan, the more advanced the functionality, of course – you also increase your sales allowance. This ranges from an upper limit of $50,000 on the Standard plan to a maximum of $400,000 on the Pro plan. And if your sales are likely to be higher than that, BigCommerce offers custom enterprise solutions. Just get in touch with its sales team to find out more.
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Verdict

Small businesses that sell online as their main source of revenue – as explained in our handy guide to using Shopify for dropshipping – should use Shopify as their online store builder.

It’s the ideal tool for designing an online shop that is both endlessly functional and very scalable. Yes, there is a higher price point to consider, but if you have the budget for this platform then you’ll benefit from some of the market’s most sophisticated sales tools.

We think Shopify's biggest pull factor, however, is its huge app marketplace where you can pick and choose from literally thousands of handy perks, automations, and add-ons to optimise your website’s UX. Squarespace is much more limited in this area.

Still, Squarespace is the ideal ecommerce partner if you’re looking for a website that will give your business a professional, attractive online presence quickly and easily.

Squarespace also offers much better value for money than Shopify. Its average pricing plan is around £50 per month less than the latter's, so you’ll have extra money for the other aspects of your retail business that might be more important to you.

We recommend it for small businesses that are predominantly based offline. For example, if you’re a hairdressing salon with a high street premises, and you want to market your business online as well as sell a few branded products.

But the ecommerce software market is highly competitive, and there are more options to consider. Perhaps you want a platform with Squarespace’s beautiful templates, but also Shopify’s functionality?

In that case, Startups’ expert research team has designed a simple, online comparison page that outlines the benefits and drawbacks of Squarespace and Shopify’s top competitors. 

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Is Shopify or Squarespace better for small businesses?
    If you sell products or services on the side, Squarespace is better than Shopify as it is cheaper and easier to use. If you deal with large sales volumes and need more complex sales tools, use Shopify.
  • Is Shopify good for SEO?
    Shopify provides an excellent suite of SEO tools for small businesses. It can integrate with Google Analytics, and you can input meta descriptions and tags – which are critical to ranking highly on search engines.
  • Is Squarespace free to use?
    Squarespace offers a free 14-day trial for users to test out the platform without buying. Its lowest-paid tier, Squarespace Business, costs £20 per month.

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Helena Young
Helena Young Senior Writer

Helena "Len" Young is from Yorkshire and joined Startups in 2021 from a background in B2B communications. She has also previously written for a popular fintech startup.

Included in her topics of interest and expertise are tax legislation, the levelling up agenda, and organisational software including CRM and project management systems. As well as this, she is a big fan of the films of Peter Jackson.

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