BigCommerce vs Squarespace: Start Selling in Style

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4.2

out of 5

4.2

out of 5

If you’re trying to decide between BigCommerce and Squarespace for your online store, then you have great taste – these two website builders are some of the best on the market today. And after spending over a decade researching and comparing the top website builders around, we’re ready to help you choose the best option for your store.

These two builders have different strengths – for example, Squarespace is better for smaller stores, while BigCommerce is better for very large inventories – but we’ll cut to the chase: Squarespace is the overall better builder in our research.

Still, BigCommerce could be the more appropriate choice for you, depending on your store size and top priorities. Before we kick off our comparison, here’s a quick look at each builder’s performance:

Design-Oriented Website Builder

4.3

out of 5
Ease Of Use

3.35 out of 5 stars

Help and Support

4 out of 5 stars

Design Flexibility

4.6 out of 5 stars

Value For Money

2.6 out of 5 stars

Most scalable ecommerce platform

4.2

out of 5
Ease Of Use

3.3 out of 5 stars

Design Flexibility

3.2 out of 5 stars

Customer Score

3.2 out of 5 stars

Help and Support

3.2 out of 5 stars

Value For Money

3.7 out of 5 stars

Website Features

4.1 out of 5 stars

Sales Features

4.5 out of 5 stars

Now, let’s get started!

Pros and Cons

BigCommerce Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
• No transaction fees: BigCommerce charges 0% transaction fees on every plan
• Excellent ecommerce features: Sell in multiple currencies and offer real-time shipping quotes
• Large-scale inventory management: BigCommerce is built to handle big catalogs
• Basic templates: Templates aren’t very well-designed or customizable
• Clunky template editor: It’ll take some time to find everything you need in the unintuitive editor
• Fewer built-in marketing tools: You’ll have to use the BigCommerce app store in order to add a lot of features

Squarespace Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
• Excellent value for money: Squarespace plans are affordable but rich in features
• Stunning template designs: Stylish but also professional
• Built-in marketing features: Create a detailed blog page, set up subscription products, and monitor performance
• Only four payment options: You don’t get many payment gateways to choose from
• Small app store: More built-in features means an app store with a lot less choice
• Less scalability: Larger stores will have more opportunity to grow with BigCommerce

Pricing

Which give you more bang for your buck?
squarespace logo
The Winner

Squarespace has better value for money

Both builders offer reasonably priced ecommerce plans, but Squarespace gives you more all-in-one convenience for the cost.
Visit Squarespace

Squarespace: Starts at $26/month

Squarespace offers four different pricing plans:

  • The Personal plan (starts at $12 per month), best for small personal and hobby websites
  • The Business plan (starts at $18 per month), best for small businesses with only a few products to sell
  • The Basic Commerce plan (starts at $26 per month), best for small to medium-sized businesses primarily selling online
  • The Advanced Commerce plan (starts at $40 per month), best for growing an existing online store

It’s important to note that only two of these plans – Basic Commerce and Advanced Commerce – are specifically designed for ecommerce! The other two options are very affordable, but you can’t sell anything on the Personal plan, and you can only sell a handful of products (at a high transaction fee!) on the Business plan.

In short, if you’re looking to start or grow an online store, then you’ll want to focus on the Basic Commerce and Advanced Commerce options, which are more comparable to BigCommerce’s plans in terms of cost and features.

BigCommerce: Starts at $29.95/month

BigCommerce also has four plans available to choose from:

  • The Standard plan (starts at $29.95 per month), best for online stores just starting out
  • The Plus plan (starts at $79.95 per month), best for online stores looking to grow
  • The Pro plan (starts at $299.95 per month), best for large online stores
  • The Enterprise plan (custom pricing), best for enterprise-level stores with annual revenue of $400,000+

BigCommerce’s price range is a lot higher than Squarespace’s, mostly because BigCommerce is built for larger stores doing a higher volume of selling. Still, when you compare the features each builder provides for its intended audience, Squarespace still offers better value.

Why is Squarespace Better Value for Money?

Squarespace scored a 4.4/5 in the “value for money” category of our research, while BigCommerce trailed behind with a 3.0.

It’s true that Squarespace is on the cheaper side of the top ecommerce builders:

Builder Squarespace BigCommerce Shopify Wix eCommerce
Cheapest Ecommerce Plan $26/month $29.95/month $29/month $23/month

Cheap prices alone don’t always mean better value, though – Squarespace is one of the rare platforms that combines affordability with plenty of built-in features, which is why it takes the cake in this category.

BigCommerce also has plenty of scalable features, but you’ll have to use outside apps and integrations if you really want to make the most of them. Squarespace is less reliant on apps, with more functionality built directly into the platform.

Squarespace also offers a free domain name for the first year of your plan – so you won’t have to budget for this additional cost immediately. With BigCommerce, you’ll have to pay for your own domain name immediately, which will cost between $10 and $20 per year.

Want to learn more about domain names?

Both builders come with free trial periods – Squarespace for 14 days, and BigCommerce for 15 – so you can test them out yourself risk-free.

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Ease of Use

Which is more beginner-friendly?
squarespace logo
The Winner

Squarespace is easier to use

Both offer great inventory management. But when it comes to actually designing your online store, Squarespace is much more beginner-friendly.
Visit Squarespace

Customizing Your Store

You can create your Squarespace account in just a few clicks, and the first thing you’ll be asked to do is choose a template. Next, you’ll be able to customize it in the website editor.

Squarespace walks you through its website editor the first time you use it, so you won’t have to figure it out on your own.

pages
Squarespace offers a lot of guidance for anyone just starting out.

Squarespace gets bonus points for this helpful walkthrough, but it really doesn’t need them – the website editor is clean, simple, and easy to get familiar with.

sections
It’s easy to customize each page of your Squarespace site by adding and removing sections.

One user put it best in our independent testing:

“I really liked it. Everything was laid out logically, and it didn’t take me long to work out where to go to complete different tasks.”

BigCommerce, on the other hand, is less straightforward.

drag and drop
BigCommerce’s website editor is not as clean and simple as Squarespace’s.

While both editors are section-based, meaning you can add and reorder different blocks of content and media within a page layout, BigCommerce gives you less control over the formatting within each block.

BigCommerce’s website editor is also less organized than Squarespace’s, with an overwhelming amount of toolbars for simple tasks like changing fonts and color schemes.

editor
BigCommerce’s website editor is not as clean and simple as Squarespace’s.

Most of the users who tested BigCommerce during our research process agreed that while it’s great for managing inventory and running a business, BigCommerce falls behind when it comes to customizing templates.

 

“It’s a platform in two halves. Adding products is really easy and really detailed. But when I got to the customization of my storefront, I really hit a wall.”

Managing Your Store

Of course, creating a stunning storefront is just one part of running a successful ecommerce business – you’ll also want to choose a platform that can help you manage your store’s inventory and finances.

We were really impressed with Squarespace’s inventory management tools. Squarespace is more suited to small and medium-sized stores, but it’s extremely easy to add organizational tags, different colors and sizes, and the amount in stock for each product.

product photos
Squarespace makes it easy to add product photos, info, and prices – all without leaving the page editor.

BigCommerce also really excels in website management. You can sell physical, digital, and service-based products, and BigCommerce is also better-equipped than Squarespace to handle large inventories.

If you’re selling variations of the same product – like different sizes and colors – then BigCommerce will automatically generate “stock-keeping units” (SKUs) to help you identify and organize each variant.

products
The BigCommerce dashboard is built to help you manage a lot of products.

Inventory management was BigCommerce’s standout feature in our user testing:

“Adding products is very easy and very in-depth. With all of the options (like SKUs, tax settings, and weights) it could take a little longer, but these are useful to have!”

Website Design

Which has better templates?
squarespace logo
The Winner

Squarespace Has Better Template Designs

BigCommerce’s templates cover the basics, but Squarespace has the most stylish, professional designs that we’ve seen.
Browse Squarespace Templates

Squarespace: Sleek and Modern

Squarespace offers 113 templates in total, including some specifically created for online stores. Every Squarespace template is included in your plan for free.

templates
Squarespace offers a range of stunning ecommerce templates.

Squarespace ranks number one for design in our research because its templates are stylish, professional, and come with plenty of useful features built-in. You can also preview every Squarespace template before choosing one.

preview
The icons in the upper left corner let you see what each Squarespace template looks like on different devices.

It’s virtually impossible to end up with a Squarespace website that doesn’t look sleek and modern. Plus, you can add handy features like contact forms, promotional pop-ups, and interactive maps to your site with just a few clicks.

BigCommerce: Practical, but Not the Prettiest

BigCommerce offers 100+ themes, and they were all designed with ecommerce best practices in mind. For example, the Fortune template comes optimized for sales and discounts.

template
The Fortune template is clean and professional.

You can filter your theme search by factors like your chosen industry and the size of your catalog. Just note that only 14 of these templates are free, and the rest range from $145 – 235. 

BigCommerce’s templates come with plenty of helpful sales features, from product slideshows to customizable checkout pages. But from a design perspective, they lack personality – and you’ll need to know some code if you want to add that personality yourself, because they’re also not as easy to customize as Squarespace templates.

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Ecommerce Features

Which will help you sell more?
bigcommerce square logo
The Winner

BigCommerce Has Better Ecommerce Features

BigCommerce is built for large-volume sellers, so it has all of the powerful sales features you could want.
Check Out BigCommerce

Earlier, we talked about how Squarespace offers great value for money, partly because of its impressive marketing features – and we’re going to cover those in the next section! But because BigCommerce is geared towards larger stores, it has more to offer than Squarespace in terms of ecommerce features. Below, we’ll explain why BigCommerce is so impressive in this area.

Squarespace: Has What You Need

Squarespace’s ecommerce features aren’t bad by any means – in fact, this website builder comes with a ton of great sales features built into its two ecommerce plans, including:

  • Customer accounts: Let customers create accounts to speed up the checkout process
  • Checkout on your domain: Don’t send customers to a third-party website to process payments
  • Selling on Instagram: Tag products in your Instagram posts to reach a wider audience

Still, Squarespace only scored a 3.4/5 in the “sales features” section of our research because it doesn’t really go the extra mile. For example, you’ll have to rely on whatever payment processor you’re using to protect against fraud, whereas BigCommerce offers integrations with apps to help you detect suspicious activity yourself.

BigCommerce: Goes Above and Beyond

At $29.95 per month, BigCommerce’s Standard plan brings more features to the table than Squarespace’s $26 per month Basic Commerce plan. Here’s what you’ll get with the most basic package available from BigCommerce:

  • Product ratings and reviews: Make life easy for the 93% of customers who read online reviews before buying a product
  • Multi-currency selling: Accept payments in over 100 different currencies
  • Real-time shipping quotes: Give shoppers accurate rates from popular providers like FedEx and UPS

Unlike Squarespace, BigCommerce was created specifically with online stores in mind. So if you’re running a large store and want to upgrade to the Pro plan ($299.95 per month), you’ll get:

  • Google customer reviews: Let customers leave reviews that appear in the Google search results for your store
  • Product filtering: Let shoppers filter products by color, size, or even custom details of your choosing
  • Abandoned cart saver tool: Automatically send shoppers a customized series of emails encouraging them to complete their purchase

With powerful features like the above, it’s no secret why BigCommerce earned an impressive 4.6/5 in the “sales features” section of our research.

Payment Options & Transaction Fees

Which is better for making sales?
bigcommerce square logo
The Winner

BigCommerce Has Better Payment Options

BigCommerce has more options available than Squarespace, and it doesn’t charge you transaction fees on any of its plans.
Visit BigCommerce

Quick Comparison

Squarespace BigCommerce
Available payment gateways Stripe, PayPal, Apple Pay, and Afterpay 65+ including PayPal and Apple Pay
Supported currencies 26 100+
Transaction fees 0 - 3% 0%

As you can see, Squarespace has the most popular payment gateways covered, like Stripe and PayPal. But it can’t compete with the number of options BigCommerce offers – and the same goes for currencies!

As for transaction fees, Squarespace only charges that hefty 3% on its Business plan, which isn’t made specifically for ecommerce – we only recommend the Business plan for those who only have a handful of products to sell.

Squarespace’s two ecommerce-specific plans – the Basic Commerce and Advanced Commerce plans – are more on par with BigCommerce’s plans in terms of prices and features. Like BigCommerce, both of these plans don’t charge any transaction fees.

Transaction fees are fees that some website builders will charge merchants, in order to take a small percentage of each sale. As we’ve seen in the table above, neither Squarespace nor BigCommerce charges transaction fees on their ecommerce-specific plans.

Payment gateway fees, on the other hand, are fees you’ll have to pay regardless of the website builder you choose. They’re charged by the payment processor handling your payments, whether that’s PayPal, Stripe, or another platform.

These fees technically vary depending on the payment processor, but they’re usually somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.9% + 30¢ for each sale you make.

7

Website and Marketing Features

Which offers more?
squarespace logo
The Winner

Squarespace Has Better Marketing Features

Squarespace comes with tons of useful marketing tools built-in when you sign up, while BigCommerce often requires the use of third-party apps.
Visit Squarespace

Quick Comparison

To give you an idea of how both builders stack up in terms of marketing features, we’re going to compare Squarespace’s Basic Commerce plan with BigCommerce’s Standard plan. These plans are the most similar in cost and features, and they’re also the plans we recommend for most online stores.

Squarespace BigCommerce
Blog page
Archive and search tools for blog page
Mobile app
Performance analytics tools
Free domain for the first year
Password-protected members area
Help with search engine optimization (SEO)

Squarespace: Built-in Tools

Squarespace includes a powerful set of marketing tools on all of its plans, so you won’t have to shop around – or even leave the editor – in order to add new features to your site.

Take subscription billing, for example. If you want to turn any of your products (or services!) into a subscription product, you can do it in just a few clicks.

squarespace subscriptions
If you click “edit” on any product in your online store, you’ll be able to set up a subscription model for that product.

This feature is only included on the $40/month Advanced Commerce plan, but BigCommerce doesn’t offer it at all – you can only set up subscription billing with a third-party app, even on BigCommerce’s $299.95/month Pro plan.

Even other, more basic website elements that come included with Squarespace actually require a third-party app with BigCommerce. For example, you can embed an Instagram feed on any page of a Squarespace website in just a few clicks – but to do this on a BigCommerce site, you’d have to either install an app, or write the code yourself.

Squarespace also lets you tag your products on Instagram, which is a great way to expand your reach via social media. In your online store itself, you can even add “limited availability” labels to boost conversions by letting customers know when a product is nearly out of stock.

BigCommerce: Scalable Apps

BigCommerce is really well-equipped for larger stores, so it definitely has some great marketing features built-in, like the ability to let customers check out on Instagram – a huge advantage in a world where 48% of US internet users aged 18 to 34 have made a purchase through social media.

That said, BigCommerce’s most scalable features actually come from its Apps Marketplace, which is well-stocked with over 600 apps for everything from tracking popular keywords for better SEO to scheduling discounts in advance.

apps
BigCommerce’s app store covers everything from marketing tools to tax assistance.
Yes, Squarespace also has an app store! It’s called Squarespace Extensions, and it currently offers 25 high-quality apps chosen by the Squarespace team. This is a much lower number of apps than BigCommerce offers, which makes sense when you consider how many features are simply built into Squarespace from the get-go.

If you’re interested in these extra features, we’ve reviewed what we think are the best Squarespace extensions here.

Performance and Security

Which one has your back?
The Winner

It's a tie!

Both Squarespace and BigCommerce treat your website’s speed and security as a top priority.

Performance

Squarespace beat BigCommerce in our website speed analysis:

  • Squarespace had an average page load speed of 2.08 seconds on desktop, and 8.5 seconds on mobile
  • BigCommerce had an average page load speed of 2.32 seconds on desktop, and 8.709 seconds on mobile 

Speed is important, especially for ecommerce stores, because even just a one-second delay reduces customer satisfaction by 16%.

Squarespace also had a better server response time (SRT) than BigCommerce in our research. SRT is the amount of time between when a user makes a request (like clicking on a link) and when the server responds to the request (by displaying the content of the linked page).

However, BigCommerce does beat Squarespace in one important area: Google’s new algorithm update, focused on “core web vitals” related to user experience, seems to prefer BigCommerce websites. In other words, BigCommerce websites are currently more likely to rank highly in Google search results.

Security

Both Squarespace and BigCommerce include free SSL certificates on all of their plans. SSL stands for “secure sockets layer,” and it encrypts the connection between your website and a customer’s web browser in order to keep payment information and other data secure.

SSL-secured web addresses begin with “https” and display a padlock icon in the address bar, like this:

ssl certificate

Both BigCommerce and Squarespace provide this important trust signal for you, so your customers can feel confident in entering their payment information. Still, if you want to make your website even more secure, you can purchase a premium SSL certificate through BigCommerce.

ssl
BigCommerce offers a few different SSL security options.

Premium SSLs usually cost between $50 and $300 per year, depending on your needs. But because the basic SSL is very effective, we recommend trying that first before upgrading to a paid option.

Switching Process

Which is easier?
The Winner

It's a tie

Moving an existing website to either Squarespace or BigCommerce will take some time, but it isn’t too difficult!

Whether you’re thinking of switching your website to Squarespace or BigCommerce, the process is pretty similar – and unfortunately, pretty manual.

Don’t get us wrong – you don’t have to be a tech genius in order to make this move – but you might want to set aside a day or two to make sure everything transfers over smoothly.

How to Switch to Squarespace

With Squarespace, you’ll first need to pick a new template for the site. Then, you’ll import your content – although you won’t be able to carry over any layouts, designs, or fonts from your old site.

There are some tools available to make this process easier:

  • You can import products using a .csv file – and Squarespace will even give you a template file that you can use to format all of the information
  • You can import blog posts directly from some popular sites, such as WordPress and Tumblr

Most other content will have to be imported manually. If you’re copy and pasting any text over to your new site, remember to remove all of the formatting first (you’ll want to use the “paste as plain text” option!), then reformat in the Squarespace editor to avoid messing with the HTML code.!

How to Switch to BigCommerce

Similar to Squarespace, BigCommerce lets you use a .csv file to transfer your product catalog. It also offers a free app called Catalog Transfer that will migrate your product data over from popular platforms like Shopify and Magento.

You can also pay for BigCommerce to conduct a managed data transfer for you, but you’ll have to contact the Data Migration Services team for a cost estimate, so we only recommend this option for merchants transferring an extremely large catalog.

As for importing website content, you’ll have to do this manually, regardless of whether or not you pay for the managed data transfer.

Help and Support

Which builder can you rely on?
The Winner

It's a tie!

BigCommerce has more support options, but Squarespace’s knowledge center is more detailed. Neither provider particularly excelled in this area.

Neither Squarespace nor BigCommerce really blew us away with their help and support. Don’t get us wrong – both platforms have decent support options – they just didn’t really stand out from the crowd in this area.

Support Channels

BigCommerce Squarespace
Phone 24/7 No
Live chat 24/7 Monday - Friday, 4am - 8pm EST
Social media No Yes
Email Yes Yes

Both builders also have knowledge bases that you can use to find answers and information whenever you like. We were particularly impressed with Squarespace’s knowledge base, which uses plenty of video tutorials to guide you through the “visual process” of building a website.

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Summary

If you’ve made it this far, you’ll know that BigCommerce and Squarespace are two excellent choices for an ecommerce store, each in their own unique ways. But which builder is better in the areas that matter most to you? Let’s recap:

BigCommerce Squarespace
Pricing Decent prices Winner! Built-in features at a lower cost
Ease of use Great inventory management, but confusing template editor Winner! Simple management and editing tools
Design Basic templates that are hard to customize Winner! Stunning but professional template designs
Ecommerce features Winner! Plenty of sales tools for large stores Covers the basics
Payment options Winner! 65+ payment gateways Only four payment gateways
Marketing features Great features, but many rely on third-party apps Winner! High-quality, built-in tools
Performance and security Tie! Reliable speed and free SSL security Tie! Reliable speed and free SSL security
Switching process Tie! Have to manually import content Tie! Have to manually import content
Help and support Tie! 24/7 phone support Tie! Detailed knowledge base
Ready? Try BigCommerce Try Squarespace

Squarespace is the overall winner – its stunning templates, powerful built-in features, and affordable plans are hard to beat. But it’s not for everyone…

bigcommerce square logo

Who Should Use BigCommerce?

  • Sellers with large inventories
  • Sellers planning on near-term growth
  • Sellers who already have some website building experience

squarespace logo

Who Should Use Squarespace?

  • Sellers wanting to build a unique brand
  • Sellers on a budget
  • Sellers with smaller catalogs

FAQs

Both Squarespace and BigCommerce allow you to sell digital products, but Squarespace is the better option for this. If you’re selling downloadable photographs or artwork, Squarespace’s image-centric templates will help emphasize the work. And whatever type of download you’re selling, you can use Squarespace’s time-sensitive download links (they expire within 24 hours!) to help boost conversions.
Nope! All of BigCommerce’s plans, and both of Squarespace’s ecommerce-specific plans, let you sell unlimited products in your store.
Squarespace and BigCommerce both made our list of the best ecommerce website builders in 2021, but they’re not the only options available. We recommend identifying the features that are most important to you, and then seeing which builder tops our rankings in that area. For example, if help and support is your top priority, then we recommend looking into Square, because it outperformed both Squarespace and BigCommerce to win the “support” category of our research.

2 comments

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  • Robyn
    Thank you! This information was very detailed and helpful...I was on the fence before reading this article. Squarespace is a winner for me and fits my business style and size. Thanks again!!!
    1 reply
    • Jordan Glover
      Hi Robyn, Thanks for commenting. I'm glad you found our article helpful! Good luck! Jordan