The Ultimate Squarespace Commerce Review 2016

squarespace commerce review

Up until now, Squarespace was only a SaaS based content management system (CMS) which offered a designer friendly website builder, blogging platform and hosting service. Now they’ve dipped into the world of ecommerce with Squarespace Commerce.

Squarespace was founded by Anthony Casalena in 2004 and has been slowly adding updates along the years. The biggest update was in July 2012 when they launched Squarespace 6 which added portfolio templates, responsive designs, and opened way more control up for developers. But this isn’t about Squarespace, this review is about Squarespace Commerce. Some might not know this, but people with Squarespace sites have always been able to sell online simply by adding something like PayPal or Ecwid. But that wasn’t ideal. In fact it was quite awful. And so now Squarespace offers its users the option of selling online. This also opens Squarespace Commerce up to the world of potential online retailers looking for a shopping cart to suit their needs. Which is why we are going to review Squarespace Commerce.

Squarespace Video Preview

My colleague Stephanie summed up my review in a short video. Check it out if you're in a hurry:

Squarespace Features

As a CMS Squarespace has plenty of features (widgets, integrations). You can integrate Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more. It is not as robust as WordPress or Blogger, but it’s not lacking in any important functionality.   As an ecommerce platform, their feature list is extremely small. But I think that’s what they’re going for. In their release they say:

“The Squarespace Commerce interface is ideally suited for use with small stores (<200 SKUs).”

With regard to features, you simply can’t put Squarespace Commerce up against Shopify or Bigcommerce. I would compare their feature list t oBigcartel. It’s very lightweight, but still offers the important stuff for a lot people looking to sell online (basic coupons, packing slips, MailChimp integration, customizable emails, and more). I think right now this solution’s feature list is for merchants looking to sell only couple products within the US, who do not need a solution that is scalable.

Squarespace Ease of Use

Building a website and online store with Squarespace Commerce is pretty straightforward. The user interface isn’t as intuitive as I expected (given their reputation) but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy. I love their drag and drop functionality. Some of the other carts we review here could learn a lot from them. Things do get complicated if you’re trying to do anything, well, complicated. Custom domains not purchased through Squarespace are tricky, and although they say “not a line of code is needed” some features simply do need some coding. Example, if you want to notify your customers that an order has processed, you need to configure your email settings which involves some complicated stuff for someone with little technological knowhow.

Squarespace Pricing

Squarespace Commerce only has one pricing plan, which is $30 per month. This comes with unlimited physical and digital products, unlimited bandwidth, storage, 24/7 support, and more. It’s important to note that the free custom domain only comes with a one year annual plan ($24 per month, but you have to pay a whole year in advance). Squarespace offers a 14 day trial with no credit card required.

Squarespace Commerce pricing plan

Squarespace has never been known as a bargain website builder. It’s a premium solution and costs more money than many other solutions. Some of their free templates are of very high quality, so I believe often it is worth the price. They are similar to Shopify’s templates, you are getting a website design that is likely worth over $10,000 for a fraction of the cost. Quite honestly however, given Bigcommerce offers a plan at $25 a month, Shopify offers at $29, and Bigcartel offers plans anywhere from free, $10, $20 – I find it difficult to believe they will keep their pricing like this. $30 per month may be good to get Squarespace blog owners to add the ecommerce functionality to their site as an upgrade, but for people shopping for an ecommerce platform and for people who are comparing the service to Bigcartel, Shopify and others I’m just not sure the value is there.

Try-Shopify

Squarespace Templates & Design

This is Squarespace Commerce’s strong suit. These guys are known for design. The templates that Squarespace offers are exceptional. I counted 23 different themes, all with hipster names like Devlin, Five, Wells, Hudson and Dovetail. They are beautiful. They can be easily customized and they are responsive so they’re all (I think) mobile friendly. But, most are created with blogging, photography, or art in mind… not ecommerce. I’m not sure how much of a difference it makes, but at first glance it seems like Shopify’s themes are clearly made to sell, where as Squarespace themes were made for other reasons. I imagine in the next few months or years, Squarespace will be releasing some ecommerce specific themes which I can’t wait to see. Selection wise, Squarespace offers a very small amount of templates. Shopify has over 150 now I believe, Bigcommerce has over 100, Volusion has 120… but some of those you need to pay extra, and especially with Volusion some are just awful quality. At least every one of Squarespace’s templates are high quality. Right now, I would say Squarespace’s design is one of the best and even with their small selection I would put them above most ecommerce platforms.

Squarespace Inventory

Squarespace Commerce supports multi-dimensional product variants (size, color, weight). They do not limit your number of SKUs but looking at their interface it’s very clear that their inventory management is built for small stores. This is a good solution for people selling a few different products, but if you have hundreds or thousands of SKUs you are going to end up pulling your hair out.

Squarespace SEO & Marketing

Squarespace Commerce’s SEO and marketing functions are pretty impressive. You can edit page titles, meta descriptions, make custom URLs, and they all include XML sitemaps, and valid XHTML code. You can even use 301 redirects easily. They have full social integration so you can connect with customers via Twitter, Facebook and other sites. You can also sell on Facebook. Some important marketing functionality is missing however, like abandoned checkout recovery. Since it is a new ecommerce platform they don’t have any ecommerce / marketing specific apps to extend the functionality of their stores, so right no their marketing platform is very lightweight. Also wrote another post if you want to learn more on which is the best ecommerce site builder for SEO.

Squarespace Payments

Squarespace Commerce only offers one payment gateway and that is Stripe.

Squarespace Commerce stripe payment gateway

Stripe is easy to set up and is very popular these days in the US & UK. You will be charged 2.9% plus 30 cents per successful charge. There are no monthly fees or anything with Stripe. It does however take 7 days for the funds to be deposited into your account. Other limitations include only being able to accept Visa, Mastercard, Amex, and Discovery.

Squarespace Security

Given this is a brand new ecommerce platform I can’t really say what their security and uptime is like. Squarespace has a pretty good reputation for uptime, but I have no idea how they might handle large volumes of sales. My guess is that they cannot handle extremely high volumes of requests without going down yet. I am surprised that they don’t mention security in their announcement of Squarespace Commerce. But since Squarespace Commerce only offers one payment gateway, Stripe, your checkout and payment pages will be served over SSL. It’s all PCI-certified and quite secure.

Squarespace Customer Support

Squarespace has a comprehensive knowledge base for building websites, but their documentation on ecommerce is still thin, which is fair enough because they just launched. They offer 24/7 support free with every plan, live chat support, and an active forum for peer-to-peer help but nobody is talking ecommerce yet. Telephoning into their 24/7 support can sometimes take a while to speak to someone, but their support personnel are very good. They do not outsource support to India like some companies do.

Conclusion

 Squarespace Commerce review

I really enjoyed building my site and online store using Squarespace. The company has always had a very good reputation as a blogging / portfolio site builder and moving into ecommerce was a natural choice. Squarespace Commerce could be a good ecommerce platform for those who wish to create a stylish online store with few products and functionality in the US. I do not think it’s ready to compete with platforms like Bigcommerce, Shopify,Corecommerce or the likes because they simply don’t have the features. Their ‘app’ just isn’t very robust, so I can’t see anybody migrating from a full-fledged ecommerce platform to Squarespace. But, I do think it stands up nicely next to Bigcartel as a lean and stylish solution for artistic people. I also think it could be a very strong platform for people currently selling on Etsy or eBay who are looking to upgrade. We look forward to seeing Squarespace Commerce grow. Although we have currently ranked them in the middle of the pack, you should note that it’s above some platforms that have been around for quite some time, like 3dcart and Magento. That’s impressive for a new cart. Lots of potential with this shopping cart and we think in the next year or two it will become strong contendor against some of the top ecommerce platforms.

What do you think of Squarespace Commerce? Let me know what's your opinion in the comments. 

Squarespace Rating: 4.2 - Review by

Catalin Zorzini

I'm a web design blogger and started this project after spending a few weeks struggling to find out which is the best ecommerce platform for myself. Check out my current top 10 ecommerce site builders.

13 Responses

  1. I started using Squarespace in 2014 right around when their commerce functionality became available…and I have to say I am not entirely impressed. You cannot integrate Paypal with your site at the shopping cart level or track inventory with it through your Squarespace site. There is no app for integration with MailChimp for the purposes of remarketing or tracking sales from your email campaigns. There is also no Gift Card functionality, which for a fashion brand around the holidays is crucial. I have created work arounds for most of these things, but as a small business owner, I shouldn’t have to spend my time hacking their functionality to make it work for my business. Am I missing something? Did Squarespace add any of these features that I just cannot locate? I am praying they did, because a full site swap to another vendor sounds less than appealing.

  2. I recently built an e-commerce site using squarespace and now that we are growing I was hoping to set up a product feed but I am not finding any support for this. Do you know if there is a way to setup a product feed in squarespace?

  3. Great and detailed writeup about Squarespace. I ended up here while searching for a suitable platform to launch a boutique tea e-commerce shop. As we only have a few selected product SKUs (around 10 max) we intend to have the site more design and information focused with option to shop. However, we are based in Asia (Singapore/China) and what would be a good platform to consider in your opinion. Square space’s templates are stunning but seems like is more supported for the US Market.

  4. I came here looking for an ecommerce platform after squarespace wasn’t able to give me the ability to create a form that modifies the price of a product. I’m selling a custom made product, and the price needs to change based on 5 or 6 dropdowns the customer will fill out before clicking “add to cart”. To do that on squarespace requires maintaining one SKU per dropdown per option, or over 50 SKU’s by the time I got done listing out all the options. Shopify has a similar limitation, although I can work around it with a plugin but that seemed complex.

    What platform would you recommend for that use case?

      1. That does look like it’ll meet my needs, but seems pretty complex. In the meantime I had signed up for volusion (based on your review) and it looks like what I want to do is a simple text field. Thanks for the recommendation and the reviews you’ve put up!

  5. Hi!

    Great write-up about Squarespace. I love how it looks but I’m not sure if it is a good fit for my business which features around 15 different brands and product categories.

    I’m looking for a platform where we can just get the website up and going. When that’s settled, we’ll look into adding a shop link where our visitors can purchase a selected list of products.

    With these requirements (and my limited IT skills), do you think it’s possible to get the job done with an internet based website builder?

  6. I’m a fashion designer looking to start an online shop for my luxury apparel (prices in the $950-$5000 range). Design is obviously important to me but I would love to have the option to ship overseas though since I intend to have a global luxury audience. I only intend to have around 50 skus available for sale at any given time. What is your recommendation? THANK YOU SO MUCH! I really enjoyed reading this review!

  7. Great post. I’m trying to sell a SaaS product and the stock Stripe integration is only for goods, not subscriptions. Do you know of any resources where I could get help using the Stripe resources on my SS site?

  8. The one payment gateway is a bit annoying. I’m not really familiar with Stripe. How would you say it stacks up? Is it as trusted by online customers as say… paypal?

    1. Hi Marty,

      Stripe and PayPal are very different. Stripe is a payment processor and PayPal is a payment gateway, which mainly means that with Stripe you can allow your customers to pay with their credit cards whiteout leaving your site (Awesome!), while PayPal mainly allows users to pay with their PayPal account if they have one and redirects them to a PayPal page (Not awesome!).

      So yeah I would totally recommend using Stripe if you live in one of these countries: https://stripe.com/global

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