Shopify vs Squarespace: which is better for small businesses selling online?

We compare ecommerce-first platform Shopify with the more affordable but less advanced Squarespace to help you decide which is better for your online store

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Based on our in-depth research and user testing
Pricing
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Best range of apps and extensions

Best for ease of use and great design

4.6
4.6

£20-£211 per month

£15-£30 per month

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

 

Shopify and Sqaurespace both offer a quick and easy way for you to start selling online, but which is better for small businesses?

With its great value plans, Squarespace is the best option for smaller small businesses, while Shopify’s advanced ecommerce capabilities and higher price point make it a great choice for businesses that plan to grow rapidly, and expect to make thousands of pounds in monthly sales.

Both have strengths that make them suitable for different types of small business. In order to help you decide which platform is most appropriate for your needs, we’re going to compare their features, design capabilities, help and support, and how much value they offer users.

Squarespace is a website builder first and foremost, but we’re going to be focusing exclusively on its ecommerce offering.

Shopify vs Squarespace: Head-to-Head

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

Put simply, Shopify’s advanced ecommerce features make it a great choice for larger, scaling online stores, while smaller businesses will benefit more from Squarespace’s great value pricing and simplicity.

Design-led businesses will also prefer Squarespace for its beautiful templates and top-notch editing tools, whereas Shopify places more emphasis on providing support for things like SEO and marketing, which is great for growing businesses.

Shopify for small businesses

Shopify’s plans are at the pricier end of the ecommerce platform scale, ranging from £21 to £215 per month.

As an ecommerce platform first and foremost, Shopify has been built from the ground up with the needs of online sellers in mind. This is why our researchers ranked it as the top ecommerce platform for sales features.

However, when you compare it to Squarespace, these advanced features do come at a premium – making Shopify most suitable for businesses requiring advanced features to help manage a ton of products.

Read our full Shopify review.

Squarespace for small businesses

Squarespace is much more affordable than Shopify, with ecommerce plans ranging from just £15 to £30. And although it’s much cheaper, it still offers all the sales features a small online store could need. It’s also renowned for its design flexibility and template quality, making it easy to create an affordable but professional-looking online store.

However, if your ecommerce business starts to experience considerable growth, you might find you quickly outgrow Squarespace’s plans and need something a little more sophisticated – like Shopify.

Read our full Squarespace review.

Best value for money: Squarespace

It’s no contest: of the two platforms, Squarespace undoubtedly offers the best value for money.

Its plans are considerably cheaper than Shopify’s, and although it can’t compete with the latter’s more advanced features, Squarespace still offers a decent range of sales features that will satisfy the needs of most small businesses. That’s impressive for a website builder that’s not specifically focused on ecommerce!

That said, the higher your sales, the more value you’re going to get out of Shopify – and it’s no more expensive than BigCommerce, its nearest rival as an ecommerce platform.

Shopify pricing and plans

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Price
Plan main features

Basic Shopify

Shopify

Advanced

£20 per month

£53 per month

£199 per month

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 report
Calculated shipping rates
Online credit rates: 1.6% + 20p

Shopify offers three plans for businesses, Basic Shopify (£20 per month), Shopify (£56 per month), and Advanced Shopify (£211 per month). It also offers a 14-day free trial, though you can’t start selling until you start paying.

The advertised price of Shopify’s plans applies to the monthly billing cycle, but you can significantly reduce the cost of your plan if you choose an annual, two year, or even three year subscription. For example, with a three year billing cycle, your Advanced Shopify plan would be reduced in price from £211 to just £155 per month.

Basic Shopify £20 per month

For those just starting out in ecommerce, you can create an online store with 20 themes to choose from, manage orders, and access reports on finances, customer behaviour, and marketing performance.

Shopify £56 per month

You get much more powerful reporting tools with the Shopify plan, as well as lower transaction fees and international selling support, making it a good option for scaling businesses that want to go global.

Advanced Shopify £211 per month

For larger businesses making loads of sales, the Advanced plan gives the lowest rates – so you’re getting more value for your money with every sale. It also gives you access to Shopify’s most advanced reporting and international selling tools.

Read more about Shopify’s pricing here.

Squarespace pricing and plans

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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 offers three plans with ecommerce capabilities: Business (£15 per month), Basic Commerce (£20 per month), and Advanced Commerce (£30 per month).

It has a 14-day free trial that you can use to build and launch your store, though again, you can’t take payments until you start paying for a plan.

Business £15 per month

Great for small sellers, the Business plan allows you to sell unlimited products but with simplified features. It also offers analytics, custom coding, and Mailchimp integration. However, there’s a 3% transaction fee on all sales – so if you make £2,320 or more, you’d be better off on the Basic Commerce plan, which doesn’t impose transaction fees.

Basic Commerce £20 per month

Designed for smaller businesses that don’t need advanced marketing support, the Basic Commerce plan also gives you advanced analytics, a checkout on your domain, local and regional shipping, and customer accounts – and it removes transaction fees.

Advanced Commerce £30 per month

The Advanced Commerce plan is for larger stores that need to process loads of orders and need advanced shipping and marketing support. You also get abandoned cart recovery, automatic discounts, and subscription products.

Check out our detailed guide to Squarespace pricing here.

Shopify vs Squarespace: Which has the best free plan?

The free plans for Shopify and Squarespace are exactly the same: they’re both 14 days long, and both allow you to build and launch an online store. Neither one allows you to start selling products until you sign up for a paid plan.

Still, the free plans are useful. You can try both builders and get a pretty good idea of how they compare on the available features before committing to one or the other.

Best for website features (non-commerce): Squarespace

Squarespace store creator 3

Squarespace’s functionality has come on leaps and bounds over the last couple of years, and it’s now our top-rated ecommerce platform for the quality of its features, narrowly beating Shopify in a few key areas.

Shopify’s website features are still excellent, though this is almost solely down to the Shopify App Store, which gives you access to near limitless functionality through thousands of third-party apps and extensions.

Marketing

Squarespace has great marketing tools, including email campaigns, promotional pop-ups and social media live feeds, the ability to schedule emails and social posts, and integrations with Mailchimp, Facebook Pixel, and Amazon.

Shopify has pretty much all the same features and functions but integrates with a wider variety of third-party apps, including Klaviyo, Emma, Campaign Monitor, and Soundtest, to name a few.

SEO

Squarespace was particularly weak on SEO until recently, but now it gives you all the support you need to fully optimise your website in order to get ranked and discovered. Highlights include keyword support, SEO best practice prompts when adding products, an SEO-specific app, Google Analytics and Google Search Console, and customisable metadata.

Shopify also has a bevvy of useful SEO features, but lets itself down by not having keyword support.

Internationalisation

While not as good as some of our other top ecommerce platforms, Shopify has standard support for international sellers, with eight available languages, international shipping zones, automated tax amendments by country, and the ability to sell products in multiple currencies, though only when using Shopify Payments.

Squarespace does offer shipping zones and tax amendments, but only supports six languages, and doesn’t allow you to sell in other currencies.

Best for sales features: Shopify

Shopify templates

Unsurprisingly, Shopify's sales features beat Squarespace's as well. It has everything an online store could ever need, from multichannel selling and analytics to international support and shipping.

However, while not as advanced as Shopify in this department, Sqaurespace deserves extra credit for offering loads of great value sales features that are actually in-built rather than third-party. It’s let down by limited payment options, limited analytics, and limited accounting support.

Payment options

Shopify offers more payment options than any of the 16 other ecommerce platforms our researchers have reviewed, including widely used options like PayPal, Stripe and Square, as well as Shopify Payments, Google Pay, and even alternative payment methods like cryptocurrency. It offers over 100 different payment gateways in total.

In comparison, Squarespace offers just four, giving it one of the lowest scores for payment options of any of our top ecommerce platforms.

Inventory

This is a rare sales area where Shopify and Sqaurespace are evenly matched. Both platforms allow you to upload and sell ‘unlimited’ products.

On Shopify this actually means that once you hit 50,000 products, you’ll be limited to 1,000 per day (still more than a small business could ever need). On Squarespace, there’s no absolute limit – each store page can feature up to 1,000 products, and each product can have up to 1,000 variants. Both platforms have intuitive back ends that make it easy to manage your products.

Accounting options

Shopify’s accounting support is one of its strongest features. It offers professional invoice generation and automatic tax calculation in-house (which you can override if you need to), but also gives you access to plenty more support with over 40 accountancy apps available through the app store.

That said, Squarespace also offers decent in-built accounting support. The main difference between the two providers is that, with Squarespace, you can’t customise your invoices to represent your brand.

Data and analytics

This is another area where Shopify shines and Squarespace just shimmers. Shopify’s analytics capabilities are wide-ranging and thorough, and can really help you to optimise your online store. You can discover anything from the search terms visitors are using to filter your products to the percentage of visitors that made a purchase over a particular period of time.

Squarespace’s analytics aren’t terrible, they’re just not as comprehensive as Shopify’s. For example, while you can still track customer behaviour, conversions, and revenue and orders, Squarespace doesn’t offer stock monitoring capabilities.

Best for design flexibility: Squarespace

If the design of your online store is your primary concern, then Squarespace is the ecommerce solution for you. As well as offering the most aesthetically pleasing templates in the business, Squarepace gives you a great deal of creative freedom, enabling you to design the online store of your dreams.

Compared to Squarespace, Shopify has a much more limited selection of templates. Just 10 are free, and you're looking at paying between £115 and £187 for any of the additional 50 – a considerable sum considering you can choose from more than 100 free templates on Squarespace. Shopify’s editing interface is a bit more intuitive for beginners than Squarespace’s, but it doesn’t offer as much flexibility.

Both Squarespace and Shopify allow you to change your themes at any time.

Best for help and support: Shopify

Out of the two, Shopify is also our help and support winner, and our second best ecommerce platform for help and support overall. That’s because, according to our researchers, it ticks every box.

If you’re stuck, you can just request help within the editor to be taken straight to an extremely useful and well-designed knowledge centre. Everything is nicely presented and easy to follow, with visuals to aid understanding. Squarespace offers a very helpful knowledge centre, though unlike Shopify, it has no phone support.

Best for ease of use: Shopify

Shopify also trumps Squarespace for ease of use.

Although our researchers described Squarespace’s editing interface as clean and easy to use, they also said there was quite a steep learning curve, and not much guidance on offer. However, this has a lot to do with the flexibility it allows, so isn’t a major issue if you value your creative freedom.

In contrast, Shopify makes it pretty easy to build your online store, with consistent typography, easy-to-identify icons, and very little jargon. It’s also easier to undo your mistakes with Shopify than Squarespace.

How do Shopify and Squarespace compare to other ecommerce platforms?

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Best for
Overall Score
Based on our in-depth research and user testing
Pricing
Visit

All-round ecommerce platform for small businesses

Best range of apps and extensions

Best for ease of use and great design

Best value – start selling for free

Best sales features

Creating a simple online store

4.8
4.6
4.6
4.3
4.2
3.9

£13-£22 per month

£20-£211 per month

£15-£30 per month

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

 

£0-£54 per month

£22-£216 per month

£19.99 per month (first term savings available)

Wix

Like Squarespace, Wix – our best overall ecommerce platform for small businesses – is first and foremost a website builder. In which case, why did we pick it as the best provider for online stores?

For one thing, it’s just behind the top two ecommerce-specific platforms (Shopify and BigCommerce) for sales features. It’s also best for website features and help and support, and second best for design flexibility (behind Squarespace). And on top of that, it offers a great price as our best value website builder. The only area it’s not so good in is ease of use.

Square Online

Square Online is the only ecommerce platform in our top six that allows you to sell for free. Just note that while you can sell on its free plan, you’ll still be charged a transaction fee.

It’s a decent online store builder, with no limits on how many products you can sell, and pretty good analytics capabilities. The main downside is on the design front. There aren’t any templates to choose from, so you can just change things like fonts and colours.

BigCommerce

An ecommerce-first platform like Shopify, BigCommerce also has prices to match. Its best feature is its support for multichannel retailing, and unlike Shopify, most of its features are in-built rather than third-party.

GoDaddy

This entry-level ecommerce platform is pretty basic, but makes it very easy to build an online store. This is thanks to its nifty Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI), which you can use to get up and running in a moment but which severely limits your creative control (Wix offers a superior in-house ADI tool). GoDaddy does also offer excellent support for SEO.

Check out our full list of the 6 best ecommerce platforms for small businesses.

Verdict

Shopify beats Squarespace on a fair share of the key areas our researchers investigated, including website and sales features, help and support, and ease of use. However, you’ll get much better value if you use Squarespace, and you’ll have much more flexibility to create an online store you really love to look at.

That said, Squarespace doesn’t have the features or functionality to support rapidly scaling online stores that are making a lot of sales and processing a lot of transactions.

So, if you have no ambitions beyond creating a small-scale ecommerce operation, then Squarespace will do just fine. But if you want to ensure you have the features in place to support your business as it scales, we’d recommend using Shopify from the start. After all, it can be very difficult to migrate your online store to a different platform later down the line.

Why not try a 14-day free trial with either Shopify, Squarespace, or both today?

FAQs

Which is better: Shopify or Squarespace?

Whether Shopify or Squarespace is better depends on your aims and ambitions for your online shop. If you’re targeting tens of thousands of pounds in sales, then you’ll probably need the advanced features offered by Shopify to help you track, manage and fulfil all those orders. However, a smaller scale operation would be better off with a lower-cost plan from Squarespace.

Is Squarespace any good for ecommerce?

It might be much cheaper than Shopify, but Squarespace still has decent sales features that are all in-built rather than sourced from third parties. For example, it allows you to upload and sell unlimited products, which is very handy.

Is Shopify or Squarespace better for small businesses?

Both Shopify and Squarespace are good for small businesses. Shopify is better if you’re targeting tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of pounds in annual sales, while Squarespace is generally better if you’re expecting under £10,000.

Is Squarespace cheaper than Shopify?

Yes, Squarespace is much cheaper than Shopify. Squarespace’s ecommerce plans range from £15 – £30, Shopify’s from £21 – £215.

Henry Williams headshot
Henry Williams Content Manager

Henry has been writing for Startups.co.uk since 2015, covering everything from business finance and web builders to tax and red tape. He’s also acted as project lead on many of our industry-renowned annual indexes, including Startups 100 and Business Ideas, and created a number of the site’s popular how to guides.

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