Squarespace vs. Shopify for ecommerce: Unveiling the pros and cons of each platform

Squarespace vs. Shopify: Pick the right place to sell your products

Trying to decide whether to sell your products on a Squarespace vs Shopify site?


If you’re trying to decide between Squarespace and Shopify, the first thing to think about is:

1. What kinds of products do you plan to sell?

Squarespace was originally created for people who wanted to do blogs, portfolios, more design heavy work. So if you’re a graphic designer and you’re hoping to showcase a bunch of the websites you’ve designed, or some of the print materials or packaging you’ve created, and you want to be able to send customers to a website where they can pick and choose from different packages, Squarespace can be a great fit.

They’re a really good fit for anybody with a more limited assortment where you’re a lot more hands-on with your customers as opposed to a true e-commerce store like Target.com where you’re going to have a broad product assortment and lots of options to choose from.

If that’s you, if you’re looking to start a business that’s going to have a couple of different product lines and you’re planning to sell physical goods like planners or coffee mugs or wall art or maybe you’re going to sell a mix of things that you make and things that other people make, too. That is going to be a much better fit for a Shopify website.

Shopify was created with product-based businesses in mind.

They’ve already got all the features and functionalities to be able to make really beautiful product listings and they make it super simple to organize your products into different collections, or organize them by vendor or by product type so that you can create a user experience for your shoppers to very easily navigate through your shop.

Ultimately you want them to be able to find the exact right product for them and being able to easily create collections to help with navigation is critical.

2. What are your marketing needs for your business?

So I know if haven’t launched yet, that probably isn’t something you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, but before you decide on Squarespace or Shopify, it’s super-important to take a second and think about what you’re going to need because that’s going to make a huge difference when it comes to deciding between Squarespace and Shopify.

For ecample, if what you’re looking for is just the ability to collect email addresses, send out a basic newsletter every week to let your customers know what’s going on in your shop or with your design studio, if you’re not looking to send cart abandon emails and product abandon emails, you don’t need to get fancy, you just want the basics – then Squarespace can be a perfectly fine fit.

Squarespace integrates naturally into MailChimp and they can offer you email collection, a basic email welcome series, basic email functionality. You have that right there. Squarespace has some of its own email functionality, too, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

MailChimp personally isn’t my favorite either, but it’s the easiest and the only thing that integrates directly with Squarespace so if you’re going to go that route, it can just make the communication a little bit easier if you have that direct integration.

(In case you’re not familiar, integration just means the two platforms connect to each other directly so you don’t have to worry about having a third party in the middle to send information from one to the other.)

Shopify, on the other hand has a ton of different options when it comes to email marketing.

You can connect directly into MailChimp, MailerLite, Omnisend, Klaviyo, they have a whole host of different email programs they can connect to directly.

I know just thinking about that can be a little bit overwhelming but it’s really important, if you’re building a business where you want to be able to regularly engage with your customers and you’ve got a broad assortment of products you want to be able to talk about over email, and you think you’re going to have a lot of customers adding things to their cart and potentially not buying right away (something that happens to even the best ecomm stores) – Shopify is going to be a much better fit.

They just have way more options, they’re much more sophisticated when it comes to connecting with different marketing platforms and they’re going to make it so much easier for you to really connect and engage with your customers on a regular basis.

3. Before you make a decision, take a second to really think about – are you considering Squarespace because it’s a stepping stone in your mind before you get to Shopify?

Maybe you’ve been wooed by the slightly lower prices and you’re thinking, “he,y I’ll just build my store on Squarespace to start and down the road I can move over to Shopify.” Before you do that, I caution you to think about the longer-term impacts.

I know it feels like it’s far away but here’s what’s probably going to happen if you let yourself get wooed by that lower price point:

  • You jump onto Squarespace
  • You build your store
  • Your goal is to build this big ecommerce website to be able to scale and get all the sales and have excited customers and create this really beautiful, really easy experience
  • You learn pretty fast that Squarespace has a ton of limitations for someone who’s serious about being a product based seller

…and you’re going to hit a point where all of a sudden Squarespace just isn’t going to cut it and you’re going to need to move over to Shopify.

At that point, if you’ve done the work to build out your Squarespace store, it’s going to feel like an insurmountable task to move from one to the other so you’re going to be left in this kind of limbo where you know you need to make the move, but you really don’t want to make the move and you don’t want to hire somebody to make the move for you.

So I urge you, if you are thinking about Squarespace as a stepping stone, if you’re trying to just put your toe in the water, see what happens and you’re thinking “oh I’m not going to worry about it, I’m going to move to Shopify down the road,” the cost savings between Squarespace’s lowest plan and Shopify’s lowest plan isn’t enough in my mind to warrant having to make a huge move down the road.

Having to bring all of your Squarespace products over to a Shopify store, reconnect everything and set everything up from scratch – you would be so much better off just starting with that base plan in Shopify. Starting where you want to be to begin with and building your store from there.

That way as you’re ready to scale and grow, all the tools Shopify offers are right there at your fingertips for you to just be able to add and test and tinker and adjust as you need to without having to make any crazy moves in the middle of a booming business, a busy life, all the other things that kind of prevent us from wanting to make those kinds of big adjustments.

So, now that we’ve talked through the three key questions to ask yourself to decide if Squarespace or Shopify is the right place for you – I’d love to hear in the comments below: have you made the decision about whether you’re going to start on SquareSpace or Shopify?

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