Do you want to skip the read and get right to our pick? We consider Shopify as the front runner in this Shopify vs Squarespace vs WooCommerce comparison.
Introduction: Which do you choose for your eCommerce site – Shopify vs Squarespace vs WooCommerce?
Basic ecommerce site builders are a godsend for companies who shifted from brick and mortar to virtual. They not only make things easier for store owners. These builders also help them expand to markets that they would not normally be able to access.
But how do companies choose an ecommerce builder with which to set up shop online? What factors need to be taken into consideration before you settle on what platform to use?
In this review, we pit together Shopify vs Squarespace vs Woocommerce. Here, we see how each platform stacks up in terms of ease of use, functionality, pricing, and the scope of their ecommerce tools.
Pros and Cons of Shopify vs Squarespace vs WooCommerce:
If you want a more exhaustive look into Shopify vs Squarespace vs WooCommerce, you can click through these individual reviews:
Before we get into the details, here’s a short backgrounder on the players in our Shopify vs Squarespace vs WooCommerce debate:
This software originally started as a way of dealing with the dearth of builders specific to the ecommerce sector. However, it is now one of the biggest players in the industry. Its network of users now over a million strong, Shopify is the ecommerce builder of choice in over 175 countries owing to its functionality and reasonably priced user subscriptions.
While Squarespace started life as a conventional site builder, it has become a formidable ecommerce builder. It's a top choice particularly among creatives who appreciate aesthetics above all. Likewise, Squarespace has also won plus points from those working the gig economy thanks to features that allow freelancers to keep tabs on appointments and gigs.
Perhaps it's a bit unfair to include WooCommerce – essentially WordPress’s ecommerce plugin – in a review where its two other competitors are standalone store-building platforms but don’t turn your nose up at it just yet. WordPress users have used the plugin to transform regular blogs into income-generating stores where users can sell goods and services.
So, who takes the lead where Shopify vs Squarespace vs WooCommerce is concerned?
Ease of Use:
With a nicely laid-out user interface (UI) where everything is within one’s reach and line of sight, Shopify comes punching right out of its corner. The intuitive builder has the additional advantage of being drag-and-drop: pick and mix the elements you need, then lay them out as you deem fit.
Squarespace is the most challenging to use right out of the box. Designed for those with a bit more experience in running an ecommerce hub, the platform takes a while to get used to if you’re a complete novice at site creation or managing a web store. You’ll need to sit down with this for an hour or so to orient yourself, but the results are worth it when you do.
Our issue with WooCommerce is that it’s not a plug-and-play type of plugin. Like Squarespace, it takes a while to learn, though it does get easier over time. Also, unlike the others, hosting is not part of the equation where WooCommerce is concerned; you’ll need to source a third-party host for your site.
Winner – Shopify! If its an ecommerce builder that works ASAP, we’re going with Shopify in this Shopify vs Squarespace vs Woocommerce ‘Ease of use' comparison.
Features and Flexibility:
Multiple ecommerce-specific features are what sets Shopify apart from the competition. From the word “go,” the platform enables users to engage in different markets through several online sales channels including big sites like Amazon and eBay. The feature-rich platform also offers the use of multiple staff accounts (depending on your subscription), tools for point-of-sale (POS) transactions, inventory and back-of-store management, and online marketing.
Features that enable users to sell services and non-tangible goods such as digital downloads are among the key hallmarks of Squarespace. Along with a fully functional builder, users will be pleased to have access to unlimited bandwidth and more than ample file storage.
Navigating through the WooCommerce UI ought to be easy enough for those who have been working with WordPress for a while, but the steep learning curve involved with using the plugin can be seen as a serious turn-off. Also, hosting, bandwidth, and storage are all dependent on the third-party hosting service you’re using.
Themes and Templates:
Shopify has one of the most diverse and extensive theme galleries, featuring over 100 free and premium templates in its arsenal. While the diversity is appealing, the way themes are laid out and categorised for selection leaves a lot to be desired.
If you need an industry-specific template, Squarespace has one for you. The platform’s over 100 themes are categorised based on industry or product, making it so much easier for online shopkeepers to choose a theme in keeping with their wares.
Created by Automattic, WooCommerce has its own proprietary template called Storefront which has at least fourteen variations. We should warn you, however, that only two of these variants are free to use; the rest will set you back $39.00 – each. Other places to purchase premium themes include Template Monster.
Unfortunately, customisation is Shopify’s Achilles’ heel: the platform falls short when it comes to customising or modifying the functionality of an online storefront.
Tools for customising both the look and functionality of an online store are built right into the platform.
The plugin offers several extensions for customising one’s online store. These include product page customisations for add-ons, product variants, 360° image display, sizing charts, and promotional videos.
3rd Party Integrations:
Shopify offers over 6,000 third-party apps and programmes one can use to improve site appearance and functionality via its in-platform marketplace Shopify App Store. 90 per cent of its users have downloaded a number of apps to use in their own sites, the majority of which are ecommerce apps for store management, though there have been numerous productivity apps that have been downloaded.
The Squarespace Extensions marketplace offers half the number of Shopify’s – 3,000 at last count – but many of these are from top brands like Google, Microsoft, Stripe, and Square Inc.
As part of the WordPress network, WooCommerce users have access to numerous third-party apps, some of which work through integrator app Zapier. Also, because it's an open source programme, developers can create their own widgets and integrations to work with WooCommerce-enhanced sites.
Shopify sites are deployed and hosted through a content delivery network (CDN). In this setup, sites are hosted on several servers hosted in various parts of the world. While this is prudent, some users can’t help but feel that the platform needs to step up its hosting game: site loading lag and a recent slew of data breaches have been compromising the quality of the platform’s service.
Rapid loading time and absolutely no lag time: Squarespace delivers on both counts as their sites are hosted on data centre-redundant cloud servers. Even if your neighbours experience a spike in hits, it won’t affect your site’s loading time. Likewise, in terms of online security, cloud-hosted sites are in a safer position.
Automated backups are not built into the system and users need to save their stores’ information into *.csv files. The list of files that can be backed up is limited only to financial transaction data, customer information, and data on individual products. In which case you’re going to be better off with a third-party app to help you out like Rewind.
Squarespace has the same issue and a similar workaround. However, it goes the extra mile by teaching users how to enter or deploy their *.csv files into the backend of a new or recovered site.
Regular data backup and general backup policies will all depend on the provider hosting your WooCommerce-driven site.
Shopify’s Store Importer, an app that can be easily downloaded from the in-platform store, has provisions for migrating from a number of competitor platforms.
Basic (non-commercial) sites can be transferred to one’s Squarespace account through a function already built into the UI. Ecommerce sites, on the other hand, need to be done manually. The process is quite similar to the one for backing up files.
WooCommerce has a Cart2Cart feature built into the UI. As a result, you can transfer a site from a different host without losing data or stopping the flow of transactions.
Winner – Draw! This was a neck-and-neck battle between Shopify and Squarespace
SEO and Mobility:
Where both Shopify and Squarespace are concerned, all the tools you need for editing or enhancing metadata are built right into their respective UIs.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, poses a problem. If used in its free edition, it doesn’t have SEO capabilities. However, in the paid versions, it offers numerous SEO features, including the ability to add titles, meta descriptions, and meta keywords to all pages and posts; create custom titles for the homepage, as well as category and tag pages; and make use of tools such as Open Graph meta data, Twitter cards, sitemaps, and ping search engines to improve searchability.
As far as mobile management is concerned, all three – Shopify, Squarespace, and WooCommerce – have mobile apps that users on both Android and iOS devices can use to work on their sites from any location.
Squarespace wins this category by clocking in at 2.49 seconds; Shopify comes in at 2.59, but WooCommerce clocks in at a disappointing five seconds – not the ideal loading time for customer retention.
Winner – Draw! This was a close race to call between Shopify and Squarespace, so they’re tied in the ‘SEO and Mobility' round of this Shopify vs Squarespace vs Woocommerce comparison.
Shopping cart management and customised search tools give Shopify the leg up here. The platform also offers various tools for productivity management, distance collaboration, international transactions, and payment.
Whether you’re in retail or in a more service-oriented business, Squarespace steps up by offering options for both. Creatives and others working in a gig-centric field will appreciate its options for galleries, online auctions, and gig-scheduling.
The plugin lends a host of eCommerce features to any WordPress blog including payment gateways, customer account creation, and even provisions for email and social media marketing.
Winner – Shopify! in this Shopify vs Squarespace vs WooCommerce ‘eCommerce features' round. Given the customised search tools, we are giving this category to Shopify.
Support and Resources:
Both Shopify and Squarespace offer 24/7 technical support to customers through multiple channels (live chat, social media, email, and phone). Online resource libraries are regularly updated, and there is a wealth of information to be had from the community forums they both offer.
We can’t say the same for WooCommerce, though. Support feels a bit too ad hoc to be entirely professional and most of the information in the knowledge base tends to revolve mostly around WordPress products.
Winner – Draw! Again, this one is a tie between Shopify and Squarespace in this Shopify vs Squarespace vs Woocommerce battle.
Shopify will set you back between $29.00 to $299.00 monthly, depending on your subscription. All subscriptions offer the site builder, access to technical support, as well as tools for SEO and ecommerce. Note, however, that analytics are only available to users in the top tiers.
Squarespace’s four plans range from $12 to $40 monthly. The platform recommends that users simply wanting to create a website should avail of the two most basic plans, while ecommerce users are directed to the two top-tier subscriptions. Features available are all dependent on your subscription plan of choice.
All right: so WooCommerce (by virtue of WordPress) is essentially free. But it will cost you in the long run as you need to pay for site hosting, themes and numerous functions which are inclusive within the other builder plans.
Winner – Squarespace! in this Shopify vs Squarespace vs Woocommere ‘Pricing' comparison.
Comparison Winner: Shopify vs Squarespace vs WooCommerce
In the fight where Shopify vs Squarespace vs WooCommerce, Shopify comes away with the win.
Conclusion and Recommendation:
Therefore, to wrap up. this Shopify vs Squarespace vs WooCommerce three-way battle;
What is Shopify best for?
Shopify is ideal for retail-centric ecommerce hubs and small and medium-sized enterprises with a vision for scaling and growth.
What is Squarespace best for?
Squarespace pulls into the lead by making provisions for virtual goods and services, excellent eCommerce features, and beautiful, attention-grabbing websites.
What is WooCommerce best for?
WooCommerce, for all its virtues, is still best for those who are focused on WordPress.
While we stick by our well-considered decision for this review, we recommend that you get a better sense of each platform featured through their free trial and money-back guarantee;
Do Shopify vs Squarespace vs WooCommerce work on mobile devices?
Yes - all three are mobile responsive and are compatible with both iOS and Android systems.
Which among Shopify vs Squarespace vs WooCommerce has the best support?
Shopify and Squarespace - for their 24/7 technical support and sizable knowledge database.
That’s all for now:
If you've read our Shopify vs Squarespace vs WooCommerce comparison up to here, we are grateful. Remember always to keep abreast of the latest developments on website builders, eCommerce, and other alternative comparison articles, such as the ones below;
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Not only the best tea/coffee maker on the team Sophie is our Chief Editor. Skilled across multiple marketing skill areas Sophie is our all rounder and a great asset to the team. Sophie is a website building trainer and tech writer who takes pride in helping small businesses and startups build their websites and launch their eCommerce platforms. Sophie is also the practical joker of the team and always wears a smile on her face. In her spare time she likes to spend her time with family. She loves going on holidays and spending time with friends.