When it comes to the battle of the best website builders, Squarespace and WooCommerce are often two top contenders. Both are praised for their flexibility and design freedom. In the case of Squarespace, this is thanks to its beautiful templates and image editing capabilities. Whereas, for WordPress, it's because of its open-source nature and the sheer array of themes and plugins available.
But there's another aspect these two compete for attention: ecommerce.
Squarespace is an all-inclusive solution with eCommerce functionality and some built-in marketing features. On the other hand, WordPress integrates with its world-famous eCommerce plugin, WooCommerce.
That said, in this article, we’ll look at how the online selling capabilities of these two web giants compare and which might be the better solution for you.
Let's get started…
What is Squarespace?
In 2003, Squarespace started off as one of the most popular website builders. Fast forward to today, and it's turned its nearly two decades of experience into a refined SaaS that knocks many competitors out of the market.
Squarespace has always been favored, especially amongst creatives. It's the perfect website builder for those looking to showcase amazing visuals, with full-width images, automatic image optimization, and a powerful image editor. It also boasts a wide range of beautifully and professionally designed website templates.
But design isn’t all Squarespace is concerned with. It also allows you to create an online store without any other plugins. You can sell products services and even create member's areas.
Unlike WooCommerce, Squarespace functions as a SaaS, meaning your website is securely hosted for you, and you pay a monthly fee to keep it alive.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce has many things in common with WordPress itself. It's based on WordPress's CMS and similarly an open-source framework. As such, it's completely free to install and can be edited any way you like, so long as you have the coding knowledge.
WooCommerce enjoys complete WordPress flexibility, with thousands of themes and plugins to choose from. Its functionality can be endlessly expanded, and design freedom uncapped.
However, this comes with some downsides. For instance, you're responsible for finding web hosting that suits your needs, installing plugins that work, and maintaining your own website performance and speed. In addition, premium plugins can become costly if WooCommerce’s base functionality isn’t all you need.
That said, WooCommerce packs a punch when it comes to in-built features, including store management features. For instance, inventory, order management, product pages, payment methods, shopping carts, and much more.
Squarespace vs WooCommerce: Templates and Design
First things first, let's take a look at what Squarespace and WooCommerce have to offer in terms of templates and design features:
Squarespace offers 110 beautifully designed templates, including ones explicitly designed for stunning online stores. Each design is prepared and approved by a professional and tested for its performance.
On top of that, Squarespace comes with an intuitive visual editor that grants extensive control over your web design. For example, you can apply themes to individual layout sections rather than sticking with one theme for your whole site. Squarespace also comes with a powerful image editor that optimizes images and lets you tweak them in your browser. In addition, you can publish beautiful image galleries and full-width pictures on your website.
In contrast, WooCommerce relies on WordPress for its design capabilities. While WordPress is making strides in this department, it's still not as intuitive a full-site editor as Squarespace. As a result, you need to install plugins, rely on third-party page builders, or write your own code to access many advanced design features.
That said, if you boast the coding smarts, WooCommerce is fully customizable, and the sky's the limit. On top of that, there are thousands of themes to choose from. As such, WooCommerce wins any comparison where quantity is the focus.
Squarespace vs WooCommerce: Ecommerce Features
Both Squarespace and WooCommerce come with powerful eCommerce features. However, there's no denying that WooCommerce takes the lead where advanced features are concerned.
WooCommerce offers streamlined product management with interactive inventory lists. In addition, you can sell physical and digital products and include various product variants.
Squarespace matches that offer and provides terrific design options for product pages. However, Squarespace has an SKU limit of 100, whereas WooCommerce is unlimited.
WooCommerce also doesn’t impose any transaction fees, nor does it limit your eCommerce features. However, with Squarespace, you have to shell out more money to unlock advanced features like more merchandising tools, cart abandonment recovery, advanced discounts and shipping, and more.
POS with Squarespace is also only available in the US using Square, and they don’t integrate with dropshipping suppliers. On the other hand, WooCommerce is more flexible and comes with a broader range of integrations and payment gateways.
Squarespace vs WooCommerce: Marketing
As Squarespace is an all-inclusive platform, it comes with a range of marketing features built-in. For example, you can build a blog, send out emails, offer free shipping coupons and personalized offers and create advertising popups. In addition, you can design and customize several automated emails, including thank you notes, notifications, newsletters, and more.
In contrast, WooCommerce builds on WordPress and boasts a powerful CMS and blogging engine. But when it comes to more flexible email marketing, popups and forms, you'll likely need to outsource to third-party apps. WooCommerce (on its own) doesn't offer much more than simple transactional auto-responders. These extensions might come with more features than Squarespace offers. However, depending on which plugins you opt for, they may also come at an additional monthly cost.
Squarespace also includes in-built SEO features. For example, you can fill out product specifications and add meta tags and descriptions. Squarespace's simple SEO checklist makes this easy for beginners. Again, in contrast, WooCommerce doesn’t come with SEO tools by default but can be supplemented with popular WP SEO extensions like Yoast SEO.
Squarespace vs. WooCommerce: Pricing
Now we've reached the section we've all been waiting for: pricing. So, here’s how much Squarespace and WooCommerce will set you back:
Squarespace offers several premium plans; you have the choice of paying either monthly or annually. If you opt for the latter, you'll enjoy savings of 25%. Unfortunately, there isn't a free plan, but in our opinion, the breadth of features included makes it a fair offer.
The cheapest plan starts at $12 per month and allows you to create a website. Then, at $18 per month, the Business plan unlocks more access for contributors, email marketing, and premium integrations. It also comes with better website analytics and marketing tools like popups and banners. This plan also unlocks basic eCommerce and allows you to sell unlimited products or accept donations. However, you'll have to pay a 3% transaction fee on all sales.
With the Basic Commerce plan for $26 per month, you eradicate these transaction fees. On top of that, you unlock customer accounts, eCommerce analytics, and additional merchandising tools.
Finally, the Advanced Commerce plan for $40 per month lets you sell subscriptions and comes with advanced shipping, discounts, and commerce APIs. It also unlocks abandoned cart recovery.
Further reading 📚
WooCommerce is, as we already said, completely free to install with your WordPress account. That said, if you're using WordPress.com rather than WordPress.org, you’ll need to subscribe to at least the Business plan to install plugins like WooCommerce.
In contrast, with WordPress.org, you'll need to find your own hosting that can reliably host a secure online store. This alone may easily set you back $25 per month. On top of that, you'll need to purchase a custom web domain and potentially plugins for SEO and other marketing functionalities. Many users also choose to buy a premium theme for their store, some of which cost up to $200.
To understand the total cost of WooCommerce, you, therefore, need to pre-plan what features you need and add up how much you’ll spend on plugins, themes, and hosting.
Further reading 📚
Squarespace vs WooCommerce: Payments
Both Squarespace and WooCommerce offer a range of ways for companies to receive payments from customers. So, what can you expect from each solution?
As a plugin for your WordPress site, WooCommerce is an extremely flexible ecommerce tool. You can access online and offline payment options, including bank transfer, checks, and even cash on delivery. For US merchants, you’ll also be able to accept payments through various major debit cards and credit cards, and Apple Pay.
For small businesses in a variety of locations around the world, the WooCommerce WordPress plugin can integrate with a host of regional payment providers. There are more than 100 choices, and add-ons are increasing all the time. This makes it extremely simple to design the kind of ecommerce store that makes the most sense for you.
Squarespace takes a similarly flexible approach to payment options. You can integrate a range of leading payment solutions on each of the Squarespace pricing plans, including Stripe, PayPal, and Apple Pay. Squarespace also offers access to user-friendly buy-now-pay-later options.
Depending on your ecommerce plan, Squarespace will even help with ways to customize your checkout flow and calculate things like VAT or tax payments.
Squarespace vs WooCommerce: POS Solutions
So, what about online selling?
Squarespace offers an integration with the Square service for payments. This means you can connect your backend to the Square system for inventory management and point of sale selling. Square has a range of hardware options to choose from if you need to sell in an offline store, and the software automatically syncs with your Squarespace site.
Fortunately, WordPress users aren’t left out. If you use WordPress and WooCommerce together, you can also access various integrations for offline transactions, including access to Square. You’ll need to make sure you add the right integrations to your content management system when getting started with WooCommerce to access both online and offline selling, of course.
There are various user-friendly tutorials available online to help you with connecting your ecommerce platform to your offline selling options.
Squarespace vs WooCommerce: SEO
Whenever you’re building an online store, one of the most important things you can look for, is the ability to “optimize” the online experience. Aside from ease-of-use and drag-and-drop builder functionality, Squarespace and WooCommerce both come with access to tools to help you improve your position in the online rankings.
Squarespace comes with a variety of built-in SEO tools, including access to customizable descriptions and meta titles, so you’re more likely to capture the attention of Google. There’s also access to custom URLs, which means you can make the URL more readable to the search engine bots.
Another way to boost your rankings with Squarespace SEO is via Image alt text, which describes what’s showing in an image. While alt text might not seem very important at first, it’s actually an important tool for making your website more accessible. Anyone using a screen reader tool will be able to learn what your images show. Alt text also helps with letting the search engines know what the contents of your page looks like.
Squarespace also features:
- Page redirects: This allows you to automatically send customers to the right page when an old version of a page is removed.
- Automatic sitemaps: A list of pages on your site intended to help search engines figure out the connections between your content.
- Hide a page: The option to hide various pages from Google and adjust your search engine presence accordingly.
- Control social image: You can decide which images are visible alongside your content when shared on social media.
To improve your rankings with various website customization options, WooCommerce depends mainly on the features of WordPress. When you use WooCommerce, you can still adjust your ecommerce site using the features from WordPress, which makes things extremely flexible.
If you’ve got a lot of coding knowledge, you can learn how to customize free themes or build your own websites using CSS and HTML to embed SEO elements into the back-end. You’ll also have access to a range of free plugins alongside your WordPress website.
The plugins and add-ons can allow you to make changes to your SEO strategy. For instance, the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress is one of the most popular on the market, and it’s ideal for guiding you through all kinds of useful SEO practices, including adding meta descriptions and keywords to your content.
While Squarespace comes with all of the tools you need for SEO built-in, WooCommerce relies on your ability to access a range of add-ons and extra plugins to get the best results.
Squarespace vs WooCommerce: Security
When you’re choosing the ideal website builder for your business, from Shopify or Wix, to WordPress or Squarespace, you’ll need to think carefully about security. It’s not enough to simply rely on WooCommerce because you’ll have access to affordable WordPress hosting or use Squarespace for a free domain name.
Security ensures you can continue to attract the attention of your target audience for the right reasons, protect your website, and keep transactions above board.
Like with most things on Squarespace, you can expect your Squarespace site to tackle security on your behalf. The solution will check for malware, protect against DDoS attacks, and deliver a range of additional methods to keep you safe.
Squarespace also provides access to an SSL certificate. This means all of the website traffic moving through your website is encrypted via SSL, so both your visitors and you stay protected. SSL certificates prevent hackers from impersonating your website and stealing customer details.
Squarespace also allows you to use secure cookies to help your site run more efficiently and safely, and it supports GDPR regulation. You can check how your customer data is stored, and access built-in editing tools to manage the privacy policies on your site.
With WordPress and WooCommerce, you’ll have to handle security on your own. This means making sure everything from the WordPress themes you download to the backups you save are safe. There’s a chance your hosting service will provide you with some extra security, like automatic backups, updates, and SSL certificates. However, you’ll need to do your research to ensure you’re getting the right support.
With WordPress, security is your responsibility. This includes sorting out your own SSL certificate, carrying out regular backups, and periodically updating your WordPress site. There are plugins to help with some aspects of running your site, but ultimately it’s down to you.
WordPress isn’t as much of a target for DDoS attacks, but a lot of your security strength will depend on the hosting provider you choose. Some providers, like Bluehost, include free SSL certificates and automatic WordPress updates to help you manage your security.
Top Tip: Choose reliable plugins. We’ve already mentioned how outdated plugins can weaken your site, or even make it crash. But that’s not all – some plugins may even contain harmful code, which can leave your site vulnerable to hackers.
Squarespace vs WooCommerce: Customer Support
Squarespace offers 24/7 email support. You can also access live chat support from 3 am to 8 pm EST, Monday to Friday. On top of this, Squarespace has an extensive array of self-help resources online. There's also an active user forum. Lastly, you can also browse through a range of webinars, workshops, and videos to get a deeper insight into the platform.
As WooCommerce is open-source, it doesn’t come with customer support. However, its self-help documentation and online community are immensely active and thriving. There are hundreds of guides online and no shortage of helpful peers to guide you through an issue. Depending on your hosting provider, you might also get help with maintenance and security. However, support depends on what you pay for.
Squarespace vs WooCommerce: Pros and Cons
We've covered a lot here, so let's round off everything we've discussed by weighing up WooCommerce and Squarespace's pros and cons:
Squarespace Pros and Cons
- Squarespace's templates are beautiful for both your website and online store, removing all uncertainty about design.
- You get access to a robust suite of in-built features. This often removes the risk of installing dodgy third-party plugins. Squarespace’s features are tried and tested to perform with Squarespace websites.
- The visual editor is intuitive and allows for simple creative freedom.
- You get access to a powerful image editor.
- Squarespace comes with hosting, maintenance, and security.
- 24/7 email support is available
- There are very few integrations available, making it a less flexible option.
- The number of themes on offer doesn't match the sheer quantity available for WooCommerce.
- Overall, Squarespace’s online selling capabilities aren't as advanced as WooCommerce.
- Squarespace isn’t as suited to large, complex websites. It's better for small to medium-sized businesses.
WooCommerce Pros and Cons
- WooCommerce is immensely scalable and will meet your needs no matter the size of your business.
- Thousands of themes and plugins are available, making it an incredibly flexible platform.
- WooCommerce’s basic platform is free to download and install. You control what additional costs you opt for.
- There's an active community and thousands of self-help guides online.
- WooCommerce comes with a robust set of built-in sales features.
- WooCommerce is well-suited to more complex projects.
- You can create a staging site for development and control the versions of your site.
- There isn't any dedicated support unless you pay a professional for this
- It’s difficult to determine the actual cost. Instead, you need to carefully plan your requirements.
- WooCommerce comes with a steeper learning curve than Squarespace, often requiring more tech-savvy knowledge.
- You need to vet plugins and themes for compatibility, performance, and quality
- When it comes to web design, WooCommerce and WordPress aren't as intuitive as Squarespace
Squarespace vs WooCommerce: Our Final Verdict
Both Squarespace and WooCommerce are robust ecommerce solutions. However, the right choice for you largely hinges on how much of a focus eCommerce is for you and how scalable you need your platform to be.
Squarespace remains the more straightforward solution for anyone wanting to concentrate on creating a beautiful business website. Not to mention, you'll enjoy a wide range of features without having to do extensive research into their performance and compatibility.
However, Squarespace can’t match WooCommerce where eCommerce is concerned. With WooCommerce's many plugins and themes, Squarespace isn't as flexible and doesn’t scale as well for enterprise sites with thousands of products. In contrast, WooCommerce makes it easier to manage large stores and add any functionality you need. Not to mention, you can edit its code source, so providing you have the know-how, you're only limited by your skill and imagination.
All in all, we recommend Squarespace for small to medium stores with a limited product offering – especially if you're working in a creative niche. Whereas we think WooCommerce is better suited to those with greater ambitions to scale their operations. It's also a good option for users with more technical know-how.
We hope you found this review helpful! We want to know what you think. Squarespace vs WooCommerce – which would be your chosen online store builder for 2022? Let us know in the comments box below!