One of the most common question we get from our readers is ‘How do I start an online store? and which platform should I use to promote my products and business?’
So we’ve decided to dedicate this post to those who are seeking to embark on their entrepreneurial journey or simply wants to extend their brick & mortar business online.
Shopify or Squarespace? Which one to use for an online store?
Shopify and Squarespace are both hosted solution platforms for online commerce, which means you do not have to buy your own web hosting separately to set up an online store. These platforms also let you set up an online store with minimal coding required, almost a plug-and-play solution.
Before you start developing your online store, ask yourself a few questions. How many products will you be listing? 10-20? 50-100? Are you promoting a specialised product such as a GoPro camera? or will you be showcasing a variety of products such as furniture and kitchenware? Are you promoting to a single market or would you also be shipping internationally? Are you looking to build a website to build brand presence or extensively drive sales online? We’ll address these questions along the way through this post, so read on 🙂
Note: If you intend to ‘shop around’ for an ecommerce online platform and will engage the ‘free trial version’ to test the platforms out, I suggest you use an altered domain name such as ‘www.brand-test.com‘ rather than your originally intended domain name. This is to prevent the domain from being ‘lock-down’ when you decide to use another hosting solution.
Themes & Templates – when it comes to templates, Squarespace arguably has more slick-looking, design-oriented templates than Shopify does. However Shopify has hundreds of templates to choose from, for both free and paid versions. Shopify templates also allows more room for customisation, adjustment to the HTML and CSS code for third-party plugins. Squarespace only allow changes to the CSS code. When it comes to the variety of free templates, Shopify has about 100 of free templates while Squarespace only has 25 (albeit really high quality ones). Both templates for Squarespace and Shopify are mobile responsive – a good indicator for whether or not a platform is up-to-date with ecommerce developments given that the number of people shopping on their mobile phones is growing.
Branding vs Sales – Squarespace is more suited for a business than needs more branding and web presence with less emphasis on driving sales online. Businesses such as restaurants and bars, photography portfolio and niche fashion items with seasonal launches would fair well on Squarespace. If you’re looking to drive purchase online and forsee that your inventory will expand overtime, then Shopify will be a better option.
Inventory Capacity – The starter package for Squarespace allows only one item, while the starter package for Shopify allows 25 items. The upgraded version for both platforms allows unlimited inventory listing. Thus if you are looking for have a starter package, Shopify is a better option.
Payment gateway – If your business is based in Asia, Shopify is a lot more payment friendly than Squarespace. Reason being, Shopify allows more than 70 types of payment gateway, and Squarespace supports just one (namely Stripe, which is a US based payment gateway). As much as we hope this would change soon, and Stripe would extend payment options to more countries than just in the US & EU, for now Shopify has a much better option when it comes to accepting payments from shoppers in Asia. Squarespace has yet to enable payment via Paypal, which also may be a deal breaker for some merchants as Paypal is widely used amongst online shoppers.
Blogging and SEO capabilities – If you’re starting out and have little marketing budget for paid advertising, blogging is a great way to let online audience discover your website. Be glad to note that both Shopify and Squarespace enable blog integration. The SEO tools in-build in Shopify however is more robust than in Squarespace, having said that both platform have above-than-average industry standard search optimisation tools.
Now on to Pricing
Below are the 2 comparison of current pricing for both platforms:
Good for E-Commerce: We feel that Shopify is a much better platform to drive sales online. Shopify also provides a POS system for businesses that already have a physical presence to integrate with the online store. More on the POS features can be found here.
Visit Shopify.com to get started.
Good for Portfolio: Squarespace is a good place to start if you’re looking to build a brand-presence with limited merchandise to be sold online. Squarespace also has a more niche appeal, especially for hand-crafted products, music labels, boutique cafes and restaurants.
We hope this helps in making a decision for your online store. In the next post we’ll have a more in-depth review for Squarespace, as much as it is ‘less superior’ to Shopify, it does have other powerful third-party integration option such as Etsy plugin. 🙂 Happy building..
If you find this post useful and would like to find out more about site design and development services, get in touch with us here.