Square Online Store vs Shopify: Which Works Better in 2021?

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Do you want to skip the read and get right to my winner? Shopify is the Winner within this Wix Squarespace comparison platform test.


Introduction:

Why should you consider either Square Online Store vs Shopify as your ecommerce builder of choice?

Certain companies definitely dove into the deep – and profitable – end of the ecommerce sector from the get-go.  Yet some players in the scene were specifically created with those seeking to do business (or move their businesses) online.

In this comparison, we are specifically looking at Square Online Store vs Shopify. Both platforms have developed a following among those who want to capitalise on the shift from brick-and-mortar establishments to a solid and functional online storefront.


Pros and Cons of Square Online Store vs Shopify:

If you want to get a more in-depth understanding of the showdown between Square Store vs Shopify, you can click on these articles:


Overview:

Before we dig into the details in this review, let’s see how our two competitors Square Online Store vs Shopify are in a nutshell.

Square Online Store:

Square Inc is best known as a leading developer of ecommerce tools, including payment solutions for physical establishments and processing gateways for the virtual marketplace. However, not many people are aware that it started rolling out its own proprietary site builder during the early 2010s. Its 2018 acquisition of basic site building platform Weebly was the shot in the arm it needed to create a platform for the creation of good-looking and well-performing online stores.

square-online-home
square-online-home

Shopify:

Looking at Shopify now, it’s hard to believe that the platform was born from its creators’ frustration that there weren’t that many options to easily build a dynamic and lucrative online store. Since 2004, Tobias Lutke and Scott Lake’s response to an obvious need has turned into a store builder which has been used to create over a million online stores throughout a 175 country-strong network as of the first quarter of this year – and industry watchers are quick to point out that the real numbers could be bigger.

shopify-home
shopify-home

Keeping all those stats in mind, what is it that has driven Square Store vs Shopify to the very top of the game?

Also, between Square vs Shopify eCOmmerce, which one gets the vote as the online commerce community’s builder of choice?


Ease of Use:

Comparing Square eCommerce vs Shopify for ease of use, who wins?

Square Online Store:

Known commercially as Squareup, there is nothing ‘square’ or iffy about the Square Online Store’s UI in general. Its parent company’s acquisition of Weebly (and, consequently, Weebly eCommerce) has resulted in the creation of a site builder that is easy-peasy to use. Indeed, it wouldn’t be going too far to say that even complete novices can just dive in and start creating a fully functional online storefront with a manageable back end. It’s easy to assume at this point that, because they’re under a single corporate umbrella, there won’t be much of a difference between Squareup and Weebly eCommerce.

Shopify:

As with the majority of today’s generation of site builders, Shopify’s development team has made their platform an easy to use drag-and-drop affair where element placement is properly laid out. On the left-hand side, you’ll find the menus for features and content management; to your right are all your options for customising your site in terms of aesthetics and functionality.

Also, did you know that you can set up a number of sales channels on Shopify? Not only can you sell your wares through your own site, but you can lay down the groundwork for channels in several social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, on top of placements in established online shopping hubs like Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba.

Winner – Draw! Between Square Website vs Shopify in the ‘Ease of Use' category battle.


Features and Flexibility:

Which between Square Store vs Shopify can you expect more features and customisation options?

Out-of-the-box:

What features can you expect from Square eCommerce vs Shopify immediately without any special installation or add-on?

Square Online Store:

Even at its most basic – and you’ll see later on in this review that Square Online Store has a free plan. Therefore, it’s definitely a platform with a lot of clout for store building. At its simplest, Squareup offers users an extensive array of tools built right into its UI. Capitalising on what Weebly brought to the table during its acquisition, Squareup’s builder is incredibly intuitive and easily enables users to create a webstore optimised for both desktop and mobile use.

Shopify:

What can you get from Shopify at its most basic and bare-bones subscription package? Maximised capabilities for your online shop. Not only will you get access to the site builder, but the ecommerce tools at your disposal are nothing to sneeze at.

Even in its most basic form, Shopify allows users to sell an unlimited range of products, the use of two staff accounts, establish numerous sales channels, assign inventory to multiple locations at any given time, as well as provisions for manual order creation, discount codes, point of sale (POS) facilities, abandoned cart recovery, and even gift cards to use for promotions.

Themes and Templates:

Which platform between Square Online Store vs Shopify gives you better and more aesthetic options?

Square Online Store:

While we aren’t quite sure how many Squareup templates are currently available, we have noted that there is an extensive range and developers keep adding to the mix over time. What we love about this wide array is the way that it plays up function over fashion: themes are organised by specific industrial purpose as opposed to mere aesthetics or the elaborate nature of the designs.

Shopify:

Between Square eCommerce vs Shopify, the latter's online theme gallery offers over 100 templates for subscribers. The number – current as of February 2021 – includes both free and premium templates. We like the diversity of the template designs, but feel that these could be arranged more systematically – say, by industry rather than by just aesthetic – to make selection easier for users.

Customisation Tools:

Which eCommerce site builder allows you to tweak your online store easier between Square Online Store vs Shopify?

Square Online Store:

Squareup is a joy to use because the platform is highly customisable – and customising your site is fairly easy. You can modify your online presence just by putting in the necessary information about your business, select a URL, and choosing a theme – et voila; you're done. Your options may not be as diverse as what you would find on Weebly or Shopify, but you can quickly add pages, create categories, and modify other elements to improve your site.

Shopify:

While Shopify does offer design customisation options right within its building platform, we have issues with the customisation of each storefront’s user experience or UX. This is especially daunting for stores where products have multiple variations. In the Shopify platform, products with several variations may only be customised up to 100 variants.

3rd Party Integrations:

Having access to third-party apps can elevate your store's functionality and user experience. So which offers better integrations – Square Online Store vs Shopify?

Square Online Store:

There is just something nifty about being an ecommerce solutions company with its own site builder: you can offer any number of native apps to your customers. Aside from several in-house payment processing apps and order management tools, the Squareup platform works beautifully with numerous third-party solutions offered through the in-platform marketplace.

Shopify:

Tale of the tape here: nearly 90 per cent of all Shopify subscribers have bought or downloaded at least one app from the numerous third-party integrations offered through the in-platform App Store. To date, Shopify can integrate with nearly 6,000 apps and programmes from diverse categories ranging from productivity and marketing to international taxation and currency support.

Hosting:

How does Square Store vs Shopify compare when it comes to hosting?

Square Online Store:

Need data-redundant hosting that offers 99 per cent uptime regardless of traffic spikes among your neighbours? Square is the platform for you. You don’t have to download anything or upload your site elsewhere, as your site will be hosted on the platform’s cloud servers.

Shopify:

We find it interesting that a platform with as big a customer base as Shopify still chooses to host on and deploy its sites through a content delivery network (CDN.) Uptime is assured by the way servers are located in different countries.

Backups:

Even when you have a robust online store builder, things can still go wrong. So how do Square Website vs Shopify handle backups?

Square Online Store:

Unfortunately, you’ll need to either manually save your store information or get a third-party backup app; automated backups are not part of the Squareup UI.

Shopify:

Between Square eCommerce vs Shopify, the backup features are similar. As a safety precaution, Shopify’s tech team recommends that users back up their store information using *.csv files. However, information you can back up is limited to the following:

  • Financial data;
  • Customer information;
  • Product information;
  • Discount codes; and
  • Gift card codes.

In which case you’re going to be better off with a third-party app to help you out like Rewind.

Migration:

Say you want to migrate from another provider – which between Square Website vs Shopify makes the process painless?

Square Online Store:

If you are moving your site from either Weebly or Weebly eCommerce, there is a feature for doing so already built into the Squareup UI. However, if you built your store on a different platform, migration is a tediously manual process: you need to first save your store information – inventory, customer accounts, among others – as *.csv files. Afterwards, you have to upload those files into your Square Online account.

Shopify:

Between Square eCommerce vs Shopify, the latter is more impressive with migration. Shopify has a tool called Store Importer which you can download from its App Store. It has provisions for migrating from a number of competitors, including Weebly, Squareup, and Squarespace.

Therefore, who between Square Website vs Shopify gets our nod in this round?

Winner – Shopify! is the clear winner in the ‘Features and Flexibility' category of this Square Online Store vs Shopify toss-up.


SEO and Mobility:

A visually appealing online store won't amount to much if it can't be found on the search engines. Between Square eCommerce vs Shopify, which is better for SEO?

SEO:

What SEO tools are within your grasp between Square eCommerce vs Shopify?

Square Online Store:

The platform already has a number of SEO management tools built into its UI, enabling store owners to make their sites (and individual pages) more searchable online, using relevant metadata in the back-end.

Shopify:

SEO tools are already built into the Shopify UI. Auto-generated canonical tags are added to sites and pages to prevent the occurrence of duplicate search results and sitemap.xml and robots.txt files are also generated as you create your pages.

Mobile:

With people on the go, they need to access your store from the comfort of their gadgets. How does Square Commerce vs Shopify address this need?

Square Online Store:

While sites are all optimised for viewing and interaction on mobile, Squareup currently doesn’t have its own mobile management app.

Shopify:

Between Square eCommerce vs Shopify, the latter is better with mobility. The Shopify Mobile App is available on both Android and iOS devices – however, please note that it is a condensed edition of the desktop builder and you can’t make any changes to your site from your phone. However, you can manage transactions running through your web store from any location at any time.

Pagespeed:

Users loath slow websites. How does Square eCommerce vs Shopify compare when it comes to pagespeed?

Square Online Store:

You want fast? Squareup loads faster between Square Store vs Shopify: within 2.10 to 2.15 seconds on desktop.

Shopify:

Shopify loads in 2.59 seconds and is slower when comparing Square Website vs Shopify.

To get maximum Google juice, who between Square Website vs Shopify wins?

Winner – Shopify! in this Square Store vs Shopify ‘SEO and Mobility' category. Our two contenders are running neck-and-neck here, but Shopify pulls away thanks to its mobility.


eCommerce Tools:

Square Online Store:

Square Online Store users have a variety of point of sale (POS) and payment solutions at their fingertips along with a fully-integrated shopping cart and a secure checkout facility. The platform also offers industry-specific tools for those in the restaurant sector, service providers, businesses specialising in non-tangible goods such as ebooks or digital downloads, and even options to help non-profit organisations maximise their reach online.

Shopify:

Shopify users have exceptional shopping cart management features at their fingertips. There is even a customisable search widget which makes it easier for customers to find the exact product that they want by simply typing in the right keywords. The platform also offers over 70 payment gateways to cater to its growing international clientele, and the lineup includes stalwarts like PayPal, Stripe, and PayMill.

So – who triumphs between Square Website vs Shopify in this round?

Winner – Shopify! in this ‘eCommerce Tools' category of our Square Online Store vs Shopify battle.


Support and Resources:

How does Square Store vs Shopify help customers out when they are in a bind? Which between Square eCommerce vs Shopify has more resources available to users?

Square Online Store:

24/7 support is delivered by way of email and the platform’s built-in help widget. But if you’re going to call them, note that phone and live chat support are only available during business hours – specifically, 6AM to 6PM PST on weekends and 8AM to 5PM PST on weekends. In a hurry? Squareup’s online knowledge base and support blog are always being updated, and you can watch tutorials on its YouTube channel.

Shopify:

An online customer service facility offers 24/7 assistance for store owners and customers alike. Shopify’s online help center has a regularly updated knowledge base but, for more technical matters, it also has a community forum featuring a team of professionals who are ready to answer inquiries regarding site aesthetics as well as technical issues.

All these considered, who wins between Square Website vs Shopify in this category?

Winner – Draw! in this ‘Support and Resources' round of the Square Online Store vs Shopify battle.


Pricing:

Pricing occupies a primary role in deciding which software to use – so how does Square Store vs Shopify stack up?

Square Online Store:

A free platform with practically all the features of the premium edition? Sign us up! By this free offering alone, Square appears to be the more attractive option between Square Ecommerce vs Shopify.

Squareup’s freemium platform is fully functional, allows users to build in a snap, and start selling almost immediately. All you really need to pay for are the fairly minimal transaction fees. But if you have a budget, we recommend that you pay a little extra for a premium subscription, because you get maximum storage, no in-house ads, and use a custom domain. That’s going to set you back $12 to $72 – and it’s worth it.

squareup-pricing
squareup-pricing

Shopify:

Comparing Square Store vs Shopify, the latter is pricier. Indeed, Shopify will set you back between $29.00 to $299.00 monthly, depending on your subscription. You can be sure, regardless of which subscription you sign up for, to get the builder, 24/7 support, SEO tools, and sales channels. However, only top-tier users have access to the analytics tool. Also, while you can try Shopify for two weeks, you will need to either terminate your account or sign up for a subscription.

shopify-plans
shopify-plans

Considering affordability, which between Square Website vs Shopify triumphs?

Winner – Square Online Store! in the Square Online Store vs Shopify ‘Support and Resources' round.


Comparison Winner:

Now we come to our verdict in this Square Website vs Shopify showdown;

We are giving the win to Shopify, given its features and overall value for money.

>> Try Shopify for Free <<


Conclusion and Recommendation:

To wrap up our Square Store vs Shopify comparison, here are the best takeaways:

What is Square Online Store best for?

While Squareup is a platform even newbies can use, we prefer it for businesses that are scaling up.

What is Shopify best for?

Shopify is a great choice for SMEs that are starting, growing, and scaling.

Final Word:

The report presented above is based on our carefully studied look at each of the platforms reviewed: Square Website vs Shopify. We would, however, recommend that you shop around and see which platform best suits your specific website or ecommerce hub requirements.


That’s all for now:

If you've read our Square Online Store vs Shopify comparison up to here, we are grateful. Remember always to keep abreast of the latest developments on website builders, eCommerce, and other Square Store vs Shopify alternative comparison articles, such as the ones below;

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