Set-up and Design
Great system for non-techies and eCommerce newbies. Experienced merchants will want to look elsewhere for their eCommerce solution.
The Good – SquareSpace a fun, easy-to-understand website builder with eCommerce functionality. It works great, supports many different types of products, and their templates are some of the best we’ve seen. Additionally, their knowledge base is loaded with easy-to-digest answers to tough questions.
The Bad – Though their won’t get any eCommerce tools unless you subscribe to their business ($24/mo) account. Phone support doesn’t exist. The new system seems to have a few page loading issues.
Cool Features – Their site design tools are some of the best we’ve used. And SquareSpace offers a unique entry level pricing of only $8 monthly for merchants who are only going to sell one product or take donations.
To Sum It Up – SquareSpace is a great solution for merchants with zero technical understanding. It’s simple, intuitive and allows you to start selling products quickly. It’s missing some important features but merchants just starting out will appreciate it’s simplicity and eloquent design.
Store Setup and Design
Let’s start by saying SquareSpace is a website builder with an eCommerce solution built into it. And being as eCommerce isn’t at the core of this solution, it’s better to compare it to similar website builder solutions such as WIX or Weebly. That doesn’t make it a bad solution, you just can’t expect the same feature set from them as you would a BigCommerce or Shopify. That said, every solution has a market and without a doubt, SquareSpace has nailed theirs.
For starters, the new SquareSpace 7 is slick, really slick. Like a kid in a candy store, I’m truly amazed at the progress they’ve made with this solution. The templates are very clean and responsive, control panel is easy to navigate, the features are well thought out and flawless excited. That’s not to say there isn’t a couple of dings in chrome. While the user interface is great, I did notice some issues with the user experience. For starters I instinctually depend on the browsers back button to return to the previous screen, with SquareSpace this is a big no-no. The back button puts you back on the site you visited before you loaded up the control panel, not cool. Also some of the design features took quite a while to load, something I hope they fix shortly.
While I’m not sure of the exact count, their system appears to have about 45-55 templates. As far as designing your store goes, SquareSpace nailed it. What’s great is you can see your changes are you’re making them. They’ve really taken “Point and Click” to an entirely different level. You can change the color, styles, fonts, width, padding, logo, borders and more by simply clicking the title and making the change. Make a change you don’t like? Scroll down to the bottom and click “restore default”.
Need a logo, not a problem. They have a logo builder right on the site. And guess what, it’s actually not that bad. Additionally they have some pretty unique design features I’ve never seen before including a custom announcement bar which resides at the top of your site, a checkout page style editor and a mobile information bar which allows you to create a design feature at the bottom of your mobile site with pertinent information about your business like location, hours, phone number and more.
While SquareSpace is clearly built for the non-techie, they do allow you to inject custom CSS rules. They don’t give you direct access to the code.
Adding a page is very simple but unlike most eCommerce system where you add a product and a page is dynamically created, SquareSpace requires you to add a page and then add a product to it. And while this is all great, the more products you add, the more difficult managing your store will become. Speaking of adding products, SquareSpace allows you to upload multiple product images, create variants that modify price, manage inventory and sell physical, electronic and service based product. They’ve even kicked in donations.
Honestly we weren’t expecting a lot when it came to marketing tools, but SquareSpace actually packs a pretty powerful punch. They have a full suite of social media tools, ability to create discounts (coupons) on all orders, orders over a specified amount, products by category or discount a single product. It comes with a simple blogging tool for creating unique content and has a pretty good tool for managing your SEO settings.
Additionally it has a very relevant reporting suite that can give you some great information about site usage and popular content. Not that you couldn’t get the same from Google Analytics, it’s just nice to have it all in one place.
Newsletters are sent out via a third-party, MailChimp.
SquareSpace only uses one payment system, Stripe, so security is sort of a non-issue. Everything is handled on their servers and you won’t need a security certificate to transact.
Product and Store Management
Like more website builders, SquareSpace’s product management area is adequate and gets the job done. Because of the way the solution is set up, categories don’t really exist. Not that it’s an issue, they have plenty of other ways helping customers locate products within your store.
Every solution has a market and without a doubt, SquareSpace has nailed theirs.
From the shipping perspective, it fully supports USPS real-time shipping and gives you the ability to define your own shipping costs. They’ve partnered with Ship Station for printing shipping labels. Of course you’ll need an account with them to print labels. We check it out and found their prices very reasonable.
We found the tax system to be fairly useless. When selecting USA from the country drop-down, we were told the US doesn’t have a national sales tax. And while not inaccurate, all states require you to collect tax on all items sold to someone within your state. Another gotcha I’m sure they’ll fix shortly.
All paid plans come with 24/7 email support and access to their knowledge base and community forums. We conducted a few searches and found the KB to be very useful and the forums to be very active. Additionally they provide you access to in-depth video workshops.
Contact support by phone: N/A
Live Chat: N/A
Support Ticket: 24/7, 7 days a week.
Online Manuals and Knowledge Base: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Is it worth $24 a month? We think so. It’s one of, if not the best solution out there for merchant selling 20 items or less. We had a great time creating our store and really appreciated just how easy it is to get started with SquareSpace. There’s no product upload or sales automation tools, so high volume store owners will likely want to pass on this solution in favor of a more traditional cart solution.
We took a look at what other review sites and customer are saying about SquareSpace and generally found their experiences to be quite positive also. Almost all the reviews come from non-merchants and solely discussed the website builder aspect of the platform. As with most platforms, we noticed a couple of complaints about customer service because they don’t offer live phone support. They do have four BBB complaints filed within the last three years and all but one has been resolved satisfactory. Considering the number of customers they have, this is quite acceptable.