Squarespace or Shopify... What should I go with?
The answer? It depends! Just like when you ask your friend hosting a dinner party if its going to be formal cause you want to bring your favourite six pack and relive your college days; you’re going to want to know the particulars before you commit to one thing.
E-commerce platforms are handy tools, especially if your business is an online store. But, it can be tricky to know the real distinctions between some of the popular sites available out there so, let’s dig in and find out!
SHOPIFY, WHEN SHOULD I USE IT?
Honestly, it really depends on what you need your website to function as. Is your business mainly an online retail store? Then Shopify is great eCommerce software for large and small shops alike. It’s easy to use and the backend is very straightforward to learn and understand; Shopify lets you add your products and information and then it will do the rest of the work, laying it out in your shop where each item should go. Once your site is set up, they’ll do the work making sure it’s mobile friendly so anyone can purchase your stuff wherever they are! Plus, many of Shopify’s templates have the ability to add a blog.
One bonus of Shopify is the ease in which you can add additional plugins to enhance your online store. Want to allow product reviews in your site to boost SEO and push sales? That’s a simple downloadable plugin! What about selling across multiple channels like Amazon, Facebook or even Instagram? Just download that plugin and you’re good to go. Plus, Shopify lets you handle all your payments, customer profiles, order management and shipping all in one place. Everything you need to manage your business will be within the software.
The one drawback is the limitations of the themes Shopify has. We found that we wanted to really brand the site, but due to that particular theme, we were very limited on what we were able to do in terms of brand colours and placement of items. Once you purchase a theme, you might be stuck with the layout of it meaning you cannot move certain content blocks around (like moving your site navigation to the very right vs in the centre). So if you want a very distinct look for your shop, make sure you do a thorough search of their templates before you commit. They have a few free templates and many more paid ones. They’re not not cheap, but they are also just a one time fee.
SQUARESPACE, WHAT ABOUT YOU?
If you’re only selling a handful of products, and your store is really just an extension of your website, then Squarespace might be better for you. For instance, say you’re a yoga instructor and you already have a Squarespace website, but you want to start selling two or three branded tote bags. You could build it on Shopify and link it to Squarespace, but know that you’ll be paying for the cost of two platforms. It seems like the better option would be to update your plan on Squarespace to allow for an eCommerce store.
The one feature of Squarespace we really enjoy is that it’s called a “WYSIWYG” program, meaning “what you see is what you get”. This means that you can see, in real time, changes that are being made to your Squarespace website. It is not necessary to switch between the back end and the interface to gauge whether the changes you’ve made look decent. Squarespace offers tons of unique templates, and most of them are incredibly customizable. The reason why we, as designers, prefer Squarespace is that if you can imagine it, it’s most likely possible to recreate it on the platform.
The one thing to be aware of is that Squarespace is not as flexible when it comes to payment processing as Shopify. While Shopify has over 100 payment gateway integrations, Squarespace has Paypal and Stripe.
If you’re looking to build a website and an online presence, Squarespace may be the better option. But if you’re looking to build a foolproof online store, Shopify is your eCommerce platform!
Check out our last blog post comparing Squarespace and Wordpress!