Despite their similar names, Square Online and Squarespace are two completely different ecommerce website builders. In this article, we’ll put our hours of testing and research into action to compare these two platforms head-to-head.
Before we get started, here’s a quick summary of each platform:
Spoiler alert: Squarespace was the overall winner in this competition. That said, it’s not for everyone. To be more specific, we recommend Squarespace for stores that are growing, and stores focused on building a unique brand. We recommend Square for existing brick-and-mortar stores looking to start selling online, or for people without a formal store who just want to sell a few products online.
Now, let’s find out how we came to this conclusion!
Square Pros and Cons
- Easy to use: Square’s dashboard is straightforward and beginner-friendly
- Affordable: You can start selling products for free, and beginner paid plans are cheap
- Great inventory management: Square makes it simple to stay organized and keep track of stock
- Limited payment processors: You’ll have to pay extra fees if you don’t use Square’s in-house payment processor
- Mediocre templates: Template designs are clean, but uninspiring
- Limited customization: Square’s templates don’t offer much design flexibility, so you can’t improve them very much
Squarespace Pros and Cons
- Stunning template designs: Squarespace’s templates are all unique, stylish, and easy to customize
- Powerful built-in features: You’ll have advanced marketing tools at your fingertips
- Great value for money: Squarespace isn’t the cheapest ecommerce builder, but you really do get what you pay for
- Small learning curve involved: You’ll need to set aside an hour to get comfortable with the Squarespace editor
- Doesn’t autosave your work: You’ll have to keep saving your work as you go
- No phone support: You can speak to the support team via live chat and email, but not over the phone
Square is cheaper than Squarespace – so it’s a better option if you’re sticking to a strict budget – but Squarespace offers better value for your money. The built-in features that come with Squarespace ecommerce plans are higher quality than what you’ll get on Square’s cheapest plans.
Squarespace’s Pricing Plans
Squarespace’s cheapest ecommerce plan is the Business plan, which costs $18 per month. We recommend the Business plan for people who are new to selling online, and only want to start out with a few products.
The Business plan charges a 3% transaction fee on each purchase, so you’ll outgrow it quickly as sales pick up. In that case, we recommend the $26 per month Basic Commerce plan, which has powerful built-in features and no transaction fees.
Square’s Pricing Plans
Square is a rare ecommerce builder in that it lets you sell on its free plan. This is a major perk, but we don’t recommend it as a long-term solution. You’ll still have ads on your site, which can make it look unprofessional. And you won’t be able to use a custom domain without upgrading to a paid plan.
If you do decide to upgrade to a paid plan, you’ll have three options ranging from $12 to $72 per month. Of these, we recommend the $26 per month Performance plan, because it’s the most on par with Squarespace in terms of features.
On the Performance plan, you’ll have the ability to send abandoned cart emails to drive conversions, and post customer reviews on your site to increase trust.
What About Additional Products?
If you’re willing to invest a little more in optional tools, then Squarespace’s Email Campaigns feature is worth looking into.
This is Squarespace’s in-house email marketing service, and prices start at $5 per month. For that price, you’ll be able to send 500 emails each month to an unlimited list of subscribers.
The main benefit of tying your email marketing to your Squarespace site is that your designs and branding will be consistent, and you’ll be able to manage everything in one place.
Both Square and Squarespace make the signup process as quick and easy as possible, and we were actually more impressed by Squarespace’s onboarding than Square’s.
Once we chose a Squarespace template, we got to click through a quick mini-guide on using the template editor.
Square also offers helpful setup guides as you go along.
Square’s setup guides are really helpful, but you’ll find them in your dashboard after the signup process is complete. We preferred how Squarespace’s guidance was available really early on in the process.
Managing Your Store
Dashboard and Products
When we tested both platforms’ ease of use ourselves, we were more impressed by Square because of its straightforward dashboard. There’s a sidebar menu on the left that you can use to view your products, product categories, and useful information like your weekly sales and page views.
On the other hand, Squarespace is by no means difficult to use – it’s just a little more advanced than Square (and that shines through in Squarespace’s stunning templates, which we’ll cover in the next section!).
Squarespace lets you edit a lot of product information without leaving the template editor. With Square, you’re able to edit basic product info in the template editor, but you’ll have to go back to the dashboard to make most changes.
Square makes it really easy to incorporate search engine optimization (SEO) best practices into your store. SEO covers everything you can do to increase your page’s chance of ranking highly in Google search results.
Nearly a quarter of small businesses plan to invest in SEO in 2021, and Square makes it an effortless investment, with built-in guidance to help you as you go.
On the other hand, Squarespace’s SEO tools aren’t as easy to use – but they’re more powerful than Square’s. If you’re okay with learning as you go, then Squarespace’s tools can really help your store rank higher, faster.
Squarespace will even automatically convert your image descriptions into alt text, which is the information Google uses to understand images.
Both Square and Squarespace make it easy to connect a domain name if you already have one. You can do this on any of their paid plans.
If you want to purchase a new domain name, you don’t have to go through a third-party registrar – both Square and Squarespace will let you search for and register a domain through your account dashboard.
This is a major win for both platforms’ ease of use, because you can manage more of your website’s details all in one place. Domain names are included free for the first year of any paid Squarespace or Square plan. After that, domain name costs start at $20 per year with Squarespace, and $12 per year with Square.
Square: Easy but Limited
Square doesn’t offer a very big library of templates. You can filter your search to retail, restaurant, service, and nonprofit templates, but there’s not a lot of variation between them.
Square’s templates are clean and easy for visitors to navigate. They get the job done, but they’re not unique. One user put it best:
“It’s easy to customize the template, but there only seems to be one default template that you can then customize to your liking – there’s not much choice unless you’re willing to really play around with the layout.”
The upside is that Square templates are really easy to edit – you can quickly customize fonts, color schemes, and your company logo.
Tweaking colors and fonts helps you add a personal touch.
If you’re more concerned with simplicity and playing it safe design-wise, then Square’s templates will do – their limited customization and run-of-the-mill layouts still meet the standards for ecommerce best practice, so if you stick to them you’ll be fine. But if you’re really trying to build a brand, then we recommend going with Squarespace instead.
Squarespace: Stunning Designs
Squarespace’s template editor will take you a few more minutes to get used to than Square’s, but it’ll pretty much be smooth sailing after that. And template designs are one of the areas where Squarespace really shines – it came out as the best website builder for creatives in our research.
Here’s what one user had to say in testing:
“Squarespace’s templates look incredibly professional. There was enough of a range, too, with Squarespace providing a description of features that each template has embedded. It was really useful to base your decision on the features you wish to incorporate into your store.”
Every Squarespace ecommerce template comes with a Products page where you can display your items. It’s easy to customize any page on your Squarespace template, and you have more freedom than you would with Square.
Not only can you customize color schemes and font styles, you can also edit button styles and even change the margins of your website (ideal for anyone selling visual products, like photographers and artists!).
Adding and removing sections on each page can also be done in the click of a button. There are plenty of options for different sections, from cleanly designed “Contact Us” forms to maps showing your business location.
Square covers all of the basics really well, while Squarespace has more powerful features built right into its platform.
Square: All the Basics
You can sell products on Square’s cheapest plan, which is a major perk for anyone starting out. However, unprofessional ads and a domain ending in “.square.site” mean most businesses will outgrow the free plan pretty quickly.
Like with any website builder, the amount of ecommerce features you’ll get with Square depends on which pricing plan you choose.
That said, the ecommerce feature that really impressed us when we used Square was its inventory management.
Square lets you update your stock to reflect the following changes:
- Receiving new stock
- Recounting inventory
- Restocking returns
- Losing stock due to damage or theft
This isn’t the most exciting feature around, but it’s a really important tool for an ecommerce store, and a big contributor to Square’s impressive ease of use.
Squarespace: Powerful Built-in Features
Although Squarespace’s starting plans are more expensive than Square’s, you’re really getting your money’s worth in terms of features. We recommend the Basic Commerce plan for most businesses, since it’s more scalable than the Business plan and has more of what you need built-in.
- See how Square and Squarespace both rank in our review of the best ecommerce website builders on the market.
Most website builders offer a few ways to accept payments on their more basic ecommerce plans, with more options becoming available if you upgrade to a more advanced plan.
Square’s cheapest plan offers the following payment options:
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
Squarespace’s cheapest ecommerce plan offers:
- Apple Pay
- Afterpay (only available in the US, Australia, and New Zealand)
Because Square integrates with its own in-house payment processor, its other options are more limited than Squarespace’s. The upside is that using an in-house tool can make your life easier as the merchant – but for your customers’ sakes, you’ll want to choose a website builder that can accommodate as many different payment methods as possible.
Every payment processor charges its own fees, and you’ll have to pay the same payment processing fees regardless of which website builder you’re using. Most payment processing fees are pretty similar – for example, Square, Stripe, and PayPal all charge 2.9% + 30¢ on each purchase.
While payment processing fees are third-party costs, transaction fees are what you’re charged by your website builder for each transaction you make.
Squarespace charges a 3% transaction fee on the Business plan, and charges no transaction fees on the Basic Commerce and Advanced Commerce plans.
Square charges 2.9% + 30¢ on its Free, Professional, and Performance plans, and 2.6% + 30¢ on its Premium plan. If you’re using Square as your payment processor, then this transaction fee is the only fee you’ll have to pay – you won’t be charged for the identical payment processing fee. But if you use a third-party service like PayPal, then you’ll have to pay this transaction fee in addition to PayPal’s own payment processing fee.
Let’s take a look at the marketing features you’ll get on each platform’s cheapest ecommerce plan. For Square, that’s the $12 per month professional plan. For Squarespace, that’s the $18 per month Business plan.
Both platforms cover all of the basics for secure payments and website backups.
Both Square and Squarespace have got your ecommerce store covered when it comes to security. Part of the appeal of all-in-one website builders (like these two) is that you don’t have to worry about handling security measures yourself.
Here’s what comes included with both platforms:
- Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificates: SSL certificates keep your customers’ payment information safe by encrypting data that passes between your server and a customer’s web browser.
- PCI-DSS Compliance: The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is a security standard for organizations that handle most major credit cards. Both Square and Squarespace are PCI compliant, and by extension, so is your website.
If you’re looking to switch an existing website to either Square or Squarespace, you’ll need to move your content over manually.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to download and then import a complete website to Square or Squarespace from another platform. What you’ll have to do instead is open a new website with Square or Squarespace, and input your old content manually.
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Sign up for a plan with your new platform (either Square or Squarespace)
- Select a template and use the drag-and-drop editor to recreate or improve on the layout of your existing site
- Copy and paste text from your old site to your new site. Make sure to select “paste without formatting” so that you just input plain text, with no unwanted HTML carrying over from your old site
- Reformat your text with the bold, italics, and paragraph options in your new editor
- Upload your images onto your new template
If you’re manually switching a website to a new platform, it’s best to keep your old site live for as long as you can, even if you’ve already exported the data onto your computer. This is because you’ll want your site to remain available for customers while you’re actually moving it over. You can keep your new site on “private” mode while you get it ready to avoid having two sites live at once!
Both Square and Squarespace performed really when we tested their customer support from our own accounts.
Square’s “live chat” function is actually a “support assistant” chatbot who, while speedy and helpful, isn’t as good as speaking with a real person:
…Which is why we were really impressed that Square offers phone support. If you ever get sick of the chat function, you can speak to a representative over the phone. And while Squarespace’s live chat actually puts you in touch with a real person:
…It doesn’t offer any phone support, which could be a dealbreaker for some.
In this article, we’ve taken a look at Square vs Squarespace in all of the most important categories.
Squarespace is our overall winner. Its combination of stunning designs and powerful features make it ideal for people growing their store and/or building a unique brand. However, Squarespace won’t be for everyone.
Who Should Use Squarespace?
- Creators wanting to build a unique brand
- People who want a stunning website where they can sell their own items
- Businesses that want to grow their customer base over time
Who Should Use Square Online?
- Businesses that are new to selling online
- Brick-and-mortar businesses pivoting to online
- Beginners who need to get online quickly and easily