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Shopify vs Squarespace vs BigCommerce – Which Is Better?

It’s no secret that e-commerce has grown tremendously over the years.

Thanks to all the off-the-shelf e-commerce platforms, you no longer need to reinvent the wheel to launch your own online shop.

All you need is to have a product ready to sell, decide on an e-commerce platform like Shopify, Squarespace, or BigCommerce, and you are in business.

But, choosing an e-commerce platform to launch your store is easier said than done. There are many variables that you must consider before flipping the switch.

So in this article, we will explore the most important aspects of three of the trending e-commerce platforms on the market at the moment.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

Getting Started

Shopify

Shopify has a free trial for new users, which you can get started with. The free trial gives you access to the platform’s features for three days, and you don’t have to provide your card details.

When you initiate the Shopify sign up process, you get a prompt to choose how you’d like to sell. You can sell on an online store — which is the default option — on an existing website or blog, social media, in-person at retail stores, or on online marketplaces.

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Afterward, you have to enter a store name, select your country, and then enter your email to sign up. You can as well use your Apple, Google, or Facebook account.

Squarespace

Squarespace has a relatively simple getting-started process, which you can complete in minutes. First, you need to provide your email, or link your Apple or Google account to create an account. Next, you choose a starting theme.

Squarespace will present you with some of the best themes from its library. Even if you don’t find one that suits your business, you can always change it later.

Once you select a theme, you can publish it and your website is live. However, note that you need to pay to use Squarespace. You can only use the platform for free for 14 days on trial.

BigCommerce

Getting started with BigCommerce is notably different from Shopify and Squarespace. As a large business, you have to complete a form to contact the platform’s admins. Afterward, they’ll get in touch with you.

In the form, you’ll provide your name, email, company name, phone number, country, and annual revenue. However, you can still sign up for BigCommerce conventionally if you’re an individual or small business.

For that, you’ll provide your email, name, phone number, business name, and business size. Then, the platform will send you a confirmation email. You get access to a 15-day free trial after you confirm your account.

Ease of Use

Shopify

Image source: Shopify

Shopify has a list of high profile clients such as Tesla Motors and Google, and has been recommended by Amazon to its customers.

This is likely because of the platform’s stockpile of features that can grow a business from zero to profitable in no time. But part of why many marketers also prefer Shopify is because it is very easy to use.

Right from when you sign up to use the platform, you can’t get lost in it.

The platform allows you to sign up for a 14-day trial, with only three form fields to fill in, and they guide you through the rest.

Image source: Shopify

Even though you do not need any technical experience to find your way around the platform because of its ready-made templates and simple drag and drop features, code lovers are given more flexibility to customize their shops to their taste.

It also has a simple content editor that is easy to use by anyone who can use the basic functions of Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

Image source: Shopify

Plus, users do not have to worry about complicated stuff like payment gateways and order fulfillment, because Shopify has an array of built-in features with the option of third-party integrations.

Squarespace

Image source: Squarespace

Squarespace may not be Weebly-easy, but users can get the hang of it after playing around with it.

It is not completely a drag-and-drop website builder, but you can add elements like pages, photo galleries, audio players, etc., in the form of content blocks, by dragging them to your page, and rearranging them in the order you like.

Image source: Site Builder Report

Its editor has undergone considerable changes from what it used to be.

Before the last updates, users complained that the system prompted them to switch between preview mode and site manager, every time they made even the smallest change.

Now, the system offers more editing convenience as it has transformed into a 100% WYSIWYG editor, but it still automatically saves any change, which means that anyone on your site will see any change the moment you make it.

BigCommerce

Image source: BigCommerce

BigCommerce is one of the few website builders that can match Shopify in functionalities and otherwise and despite that, it is still one of the easiest platforms to use, even for newbies.

Since BigCommerce mainly focuses on e-commerce website design, the dashboard is characterized by industry-specific categories, sections, and menus.

Image source: E-commerce Platforms

If it’s your first time using the system, there is a tutorial that shows you how to use the platform to build your store seamlessly.

When it comes to blog services, the platform doesn’t leave you hanging. They often hold helpful webinars to foster active participation among their users.

The system is straightforward and deliberate, and if you have used any good e-commerce website builder in the past, mastering BigCommerce shouldn’t be a problem.

Designs

Shopify

Shopify designs are elegant – even the free ones.

Image source: Shopify

When you first log in to your control panel after signing up, the system sends you straight to its customization option because it has assigned you a default theme.

However, you can change the default theme if you’d rather use a different one.

You can choose themes from the theme store, where they are classified based on several categories such as popularity, price, etc.

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Shopify offers only 10 free themes, but they are of high quality.

The premium themes number up to 45 and they are priced between $140 to $180 dollars.

While the free themes are not at all bad, the paid ones are of better quality and allow for more creative freedom.

Each type has at least 2 designs and direct code access, so if you are knowledgeable about web design, you can design a theme from what it is to what you think it should be.

Squarespace

While many website builders focus on the number of templates their users have access to, Squarespace’s focus is more on the quality of their designs.

Image source: Squarespace

From portfolio designs to templates for wedding and bridal websites, Squarespace presents about 45 customizable templates with a professional look and responsiveness.

And it is easy to customize.

It allows users to quickly customize single-page cover pages by simply filling in the required blocks, adding text and images, and editing the color settings.

These types of one-page websites are ideal for preparatory web pages like “coming soon” and “website has been moved” pages.

Squarespace also gives you more control over your store design by granting users access to its HTML and CSS codes.

And you don’t have to worry about screwing the code up, since there is a reset option that takes the theme back to its original look.

BigCommerce

Image source: BigCommerce

BigCommerce has even fewer free templates than Shopify and Squarespace; it only provides 7 of them. And they are of average quality.

Its paid themes, on the other hand, are more elegant and professional looking. They are priced between the range of $145 to $235.

These templates are sorted according to category and industry, making it easy to search for a suitable design for your need.

BigCommerce also allows you to upload your own design if you can’t find the right choice from their theme store, or you can hire a qualified designer or programmer from their staff.

The platform has very good and responsive paid designs that are capable of getting the job done, and even the free ones can be customized to give your store the look it deserves.

Features

Shopify

Shopify has an extensive array of features that will satisfy any marketer’s e-commerce and marketing needs.

Let’s first talk about its e-commerce functionalities.

For starters, even though Shopify is dosed with crucial applications that can more than cater to your business, they also allow for easy synchronization of third-party apps to ensure that you get the services you require.

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For example, if you want to add a third-party software for your ledgers and tax payment, you can sync your Shopify account with a solution like QuickBooks with only a few clicks.

Image source: Shopify

Shopify also acknowledges the importance of content for sales as it comes with a powerful blogging engine.

With this feature, shop owners can easily initiate conversations with potential buyers, which is one smart way to generate leads.

Image source: Medium

Another great feature Shopify has is its multichannel support which is especially priceless for busy merchants.

For example, you can easily link your Amazon, eBay, and social media accounts with your Shopify account to effectively track your sales channels and customer database.

Shopify has also taken marketing to a whole different level with its point-of-sale software.

This means that customers can not only access your products through the web, they can also purchase from you at retail storefronts.

Image source: Shopify

It also has a customer profile option that allows you to segment your customers based on several aspects such as location, purchase activities, etc.

For example, if you want to introduce a reward program for your best customers, you can create a customer profile to determine which of your buyers have spent more than $200 in your store.

And then there’s optimizing your store for search engines.

If you think launching your store is the difficult part, try getting Google to notice you.

Promoting your store is as important as launching it; after all, if customers do not know about your store, you will not make any sales and quickly be out of business.

This is where SEO is important.

Optimizing your shop for search engines boosts your chances of reaching out to more customers, and Shopify is more than equipped to ensure it’s a seamless process.

The platform has several SEO capabilities, but the most important ones are:

  • It has an inbuilt analytics feature and also lets you integrate an external service to collect statistics
  • It allows for SEO strategy development across its promotion stages
  • It has a stockpile of other marketing applications to help you attract clients and retain customers.

Squarespace

Every detail in Squarespace is crafted and deliberate, nothing is half-baked. Typical examples of Squarespace’s attention to detail are in its features.

One of my favorite features in Squarespace is its image cropping feature.

Image source: Squarespace

For images to fit perfectly in our photo gallery, they need to be cropped in the squares.

For most website builders, this means just cropping around the center of the photo.

But Squarespace takes it a step further:

They let you set a focal point to crop around, and this makes all the difference in how your photo gallery looks.

Squarespace podcasting and music is another example of an elegant option that you will hardly find anywhere else.

Image source: Squarespace

Squarespace provides their own audio player that works for single tracks and full albums.

It is also the only website builder we know that supports syndicating a podcast, which is required to publish podcasts on iTunes.

Designing pages in Squarespace is easy.

These pages are made up of content blocks such as texts, photo galleries, and forms.

Image source: Squarespace

Once a content block is added to the page, you can rearrange it by dragging.

There’s a wide selection of content blocks for almost anything from photo galleries, to charts, to wedding card invitations.

Because there are tons of content blocks, Squarespace includes a search function which you can use to drill down quickly and find the one you are looking for.

Squarespace pushes themselves to provide many useful features, and while these are just a few of them, Squarespace really is excellent.

BigCommerce

BigCommerce is specifically designed to allow online store owners to design a full-featured website without worrying about shopping carts, SSL certificates, and payment gateways.

Like Shopify, BigCommerce lets you sell anywhere with its Omnichannel manager that lets you connect different market places, social media accounts, and physical stores from one point.

Image source: BigCommerce

Another cool feature is its abandoned cart option that lets you send automated emails to buyers who do not complete their checkout process.

Personally, I love BigCommerce because it doesn’t lock you down with just a single payment gateway.

In fact, it has over 40 different payment channels that are recognized across over 100 countries, so you don’t have to worry about losing sales because your customers are not comfortable with a single channel.

Image source: BigCommerce

Integrations

Shopify

Shopify lets you connect with hundreds of third-party platforms. These integrations are available as apps, specifically developed to work with the Shopify infrastructure. And you can access them all from the Shopify App Store.

When you find an ideal app in the Shopify App Store, simply select “Add app” to integrate it into your store. It’s fast and easy, like downloading apps on your mobile device.

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However, you may have to pay to access the apps you need. You’ll find many free apps in the Shopify App Store, but a larger percentage of the available apps come with a price tag.

Squarespace

The number of integrations you can access with Squarespace depends on your subscription plan. Typically, you get access to more integrations with the advanced plan than the basic plan.

Squarespace integrations come in different categories. These include blogging, commerce, social media, design, email, domain, marketing, and online ordering categories, among others.

In addition to integrations, Squarespace also features extensions. These extensions are also third-party tools from various categories, including sales tax compliance, drop shipping, SEO, and social media marketing.

But the difference is that you can access all Squarespace extensions irrespective of your pricing plan. Also, you can get support from Squarespace for integrations but not for extensions.

BigCommerce

BigCommerce features an apps marketplace, where you’ll find hundreds of powerful integrations. Also known as site tools, there are both free and paid integrations in the marketplace.

The integrations range from different categories, including accounting and tax category, analytics and reporting, marketing, payment and security, and shipping and fulfillment. Other notable integration categories include CMS & Hosting, B2B, merchandising, and POS/in-store.

You can only sort BigCommerce by category. There’s no option to search for a particular third-party platform to integrate with. Also, know that there are more free than paid integrations in the BigCommerce apps marketplace.

Customer Support

Shopify

Shopify provides three main customer support channels, including the help center, community forums; and the support team.

The community forums provide a medium for you to get help from other Shopify users. It’s just like any other forum where you post topics and comments, and read that of others.

Currently, over 900,000 Shopify users use the community forums, so you most likely will find answers to any question you have.

If you don’t, then you can consult the help center, which has articles on selling, managing, designing, marketing, and expanding your Shopify store.

The third option, to contact the support team directly, is available via email or live chat. You can contact the support team whether you’re logged in or not. But it’s advisable you log in, so you get specialized help.

Squarespace

The Squarespace help center has answers and resources to address issues you may have about using the platform. It’s well organized with different sections, including getting started, account, billing, commerce, and domains.

Aside from the answers and resources, the help center also features instructional videos and webinars. Suppose you don’t get the support you need from the help center. In that case, you can contact the support team directly.

You can reach the support team directly via email or live chat. For the latter, you must log in, so you get personalized support.

Another option you have for getting help with Squarespace is the community forum. It’s a comprehensive forum with posts and topics about different aspects of using Squarespace. Without doubt, you’ll find a topic that addresses any issue you have.

BigCommerce

As a BigCommerce user, you can get help at any time with any of the platform’s support channels. The support channels in question are phone, email, and live chat.

Notably, BigCommerce has different phone lines for different regions. If you’re in the USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore, or New Zealand, you can call the phone lines toll free.

However, note that the phone lines are only open for specific hours on specific days. But you can get 24/7 support with email.

The live chat support is also dependable, and you’ll need a support PIN to initiate the chat. Therefore, you may need to be logged in to chat. Also note that you may wait a long time to get a response at late hours. You’ll

From the BigCommerce support page, you can also access helpful articles and frequently asked questions.

Pricing

Shopify

Shopify has three plans priced at $29, $79, and $299 per month.

Image Source: Shopify

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Squarespace

Squarespace plans cost $26 and $40 per month.

Image source: Squarespace

BigCommerce

BigCommerce has four plans priced at $29, $79, $249 per month, and a quote-based plan.

Image source: BigCommerce

Conclusion

All three platforms have amazing features that make it difficult to select an outright winner.

At the end of the day, it comes down to your need, but whichever one you choose, you are sure to receive stellar service.