In this article, I will compare BigCommerce vs Squarespace, their eCommerce functionality, ease of use, and performance to find out which platform is better for your online store.
BigCommerce and Squarespace are two extremely popular platforms for creating and hosting online shops. However, both of them take a different approach to building an attractive eCommerce store and managing it afterward.
In order to find out which platform is better suited for different types of businesses, I set out to compare BigCommerce vs Squarespace head-to-head. Believe me, it’s not an easy task.
BigCommerce being a dedicated eCommerce platform that focuses on selling only – while Squarespace presents itself as an all-in-one website building solution with only additional eCommerce features… This observation ends up feeling like a comparison between apples and oranges.
Both providers offer straightforward platforms for building an online business, managing customers, and selling goods. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the two of them are really different.
The biggest difference between Bigcommerce vs Squarespace is how they approach the website creation process.
With BigCommerce, you can choose from nearly 150 themes, although the vast majority of these are premium ones and require you to pay extra. That wouldn’t be essential, however, your theme choice has a lot of influence on how the site will look and feel – as you can’t change your content layout, add or remove elements to or from the template.
While in Squarespace, you can choose from nearly 90 themes that are included in your plan. These themes are stunning, to say the least, and you have a lot more customization freedom. Squarespace provides a drag-and-drop site editor, so you can add and move content around as you wish. The site-wide style controls are also much more fleshed out compared to BigCommerce.
However, website editing isn’t the only feature to dictate the current of this comparison. While Squarespace allows more customization, BigCommerce is a powerhouse for eCommerce features.
You get great value for money with BigCommerce’s relatively inexpensive ‘Standard’ plan, including an advanced shipping management tool, discounted PayPal processing, gift cards, and a built-in product review system. However, getting access to abandoned cart recovery and filtered product searches can be expensive.
Squarespace requires you to upgrade your eCommerce plan to get most of these features in the first place. However, Squarespace’s most expensive plan costs roughly half of what BigCommerce charges for its second-tier plan. So, Squarespace is cheaper if you need selling tools like abandoned cart recovery and segmentation tools for managing email marketing lists.
Overall, both Squarespace and BigCommerce have a lot to offer for creating online stores. Squarespace gives you access to a drag-and-drop website builder, while BigCommerce focuses on helping you launch a custom eCommerce shop quickly and easily. The two platforms offer many similar selling tools, but they come at different price points.
In the end, it all comes down to different online store goals requiring different features. So, let’s take a closer look at these providers and see what features they can offer to suit your next online project.
BigCommerce offers a terrific deal for its low-priced ‘Standard’ package. However, if you need advanced tools like abandoned cart recovery or customer segmentation, then Squarespace becomes the more attractive option based on pricing alone. BigCommerce higher-tier plans offer a lot, but they get expensive very quickly.
BigCommerce plans start at $29.95 per month for the ‘Standard’ option, while Squarespace offers a comparable ‘Basic Commerce’ plan for $26 per month. However, you get a lot more eCommerce flexibility with BigCommerce at this price point.
For example, BigCommerce’s Standard plan includes gift cards and discounts, advanced shipping management with carrier discounts, and customer reviews on products. Squarespace’s Basic Commerce offering doesn’t allow advanced discounts (basic coupon codes only) and the options for shipping are pretty limited.
Keep in mind, though, that you’ll probably end up paying between $150 and $250 upfront for a premium BigCommerce theme. BigCommerce only offers a few free themes with any plan, whereas all of Squarespace’s templates are included with all of the platform’s plan offerings.
BigCommerce’s upgrade plan, ‘Plus’, costs $79.95 per month while Squarespace’s ‘Advanced Commerce’ plan costs $40 per month. Here, the tables start to turn in favor of Squarespace.
Both plans give you abandoned cart recovery, and you get advanced discounts, shipping management, and subscription sales in Squarespace at this price point. Add in the cost of a BigCommerce template, and Squarespace becomes way cheaper.
For small stores, Squarespace also has a cheaper ‘Business’ plan for $18 per month. This plan is pretty limited on eCommerce features and comes with a 3% commission on sales. So, it’s really only worthwhile if you only sell products on occasion.
BigCommerce also has one more plan, ‘Pro’, for $249.95 per month. This adds reviews of your products to Google, gives your customers the ability to make faceted product searches, and dramatically reduces your transaction fees when using PayPal as your payment processor.
However, you may not always get to choose which plan you want with BigCommerce. The platform puts sales limits on each plan. So, if you sell more than $50,000 worth of products in a one-year period, you’ll automatically be upgraded to the ‘Plus’ plan. For ‘Plus’ users, the limit is $150,000 in sales per year. Meanwhile, Squarespace doesn’t have any such sales limits.
Both BigCommerce and Squarespace are relatively easy to use. But, setting up your site and store takes significantly longer in Squarespace because of all the customization options.
Is that a bad thing? It depends. If you want to get online fast, make as few steps as possible to get your store online – I recommend BigCommerce. After all, the extra time spent designing the storefront with Squarespace will hold you back.
However, if you don’t want to sacrifice your website’s customization and are willing to invest some time into site editing – Squarespace is a great pick.
On the other hand, from a business management perspective, BigCommerce does a better job organizing the tools you need to make sales. Let’s not forget that BigCommerce’s sole purpose is eCommerce building so it’s a fact that it will do better on the product managing related features.
So, as you can notice, both platforms have their strengths and weaknesses. Let’s exploit those while I tell you about my experience of comparing Squarespace vs BigCommerce.
One of the best things about BigCommerce is that from the moment you launch your website, it takes only about 10 minutes or so to completely customize your template.
Sounds fancy, right? Not for long though.
There simply aren’t that many options. Instead, your theme leaves you with a ready-to-go online store that you can go ahead and populate with your products.
The flip side of this is that you also can’t really make your website stand out from the template all that much. This isn’t a huge issue since there are so many themes to choose from (as long as you’re willing to pay for a premium theme).
Nevertheless, it can be frustrating if you want to add static pages to your site or change something small about how your website looks.
Ultimately, your only options for making real changes in BigCommerce are to edit your template’s code or to swap themes. One is time-consuming and difficult, while the other may end up expensive (remember that each premium template can cost up to $200).
In contrast, customization is at the very heart of Squarespace. All of the templates are designed to be fully editable using the platform’s drag-and-drop editor.
I really like Squarespace’s content elements, which include a variety of image galleries and elements that combine text and images. Better yet, you have a ton of control over customizing details about every element, such as even the padding around images within galleries.
The level of control felt impressive without overwhelming me. However, I will say that I spent a few hours adding content to my Squarespace online store and tweaking the look of my site. I loved the control that the platform gave me, but it definitely took far longer to get ready to launch with Squarespace than with BigCommerce.
That said, I’d highly recommend Squarespace if you want to add static pages around your online store. Using this platform, you can easily build a page from scratch by dragging and dropping content elements and arranging them however you want.
In BigCommerce, all you get is a rich text editor that looks and feels outdated. And when I say outdated, I mean Windows XP start bar outdated.
I got the impression that BigCommerce would rather not let users design their own static pages at all, but caved to pressure from users.
One difference that’s worth noting between Squarespace vs BigCommerce is how easy or difficult it is to change your theme. Because of BigCommerce’s minimal customization approach, you can change themes more or less at will and not lose anything from your online store. This is a major advantage for refreshing the look of your business every few years.
In Squarespace, however, you’ll lose most of your style customizations and potentially a lot of content if you want to change themes. You are free to change your template anytime, but I would recommend being careful with this option as there is a chance of content loss.
BigCommerce is easily my preference out of the two for designing products. The platform has a dedicated products page on the backend where you can manage everything you’re selling in your store. There’s a bulk editor, which is a huge plus for efficiency, as well as filters to see what items are almost out of stock or are being featured as a part of a sale.
I also liked that BigCommerce puts an entire product’s design specification on a single page. You can easily navigate options with a menu bar on the left side of your screen, or simply scroll down to see everything that’s available.
In Squarespace, you have to navigate through multiple tabs to add all of your product details. It’s not a major inconvenience, but when setting up a store with hundreds of products something as simple as clicking through tabs can dramatically slow down the process.
This type of product description input also increases a margin of error since it’s human to make mistakes and I believe that users (especially the ones in a rush or doing multitask) could easily forget a tab or two to fill in.
I felt like some of the tabs (like SEO, Social, and Share) could have easily been combined to keep similar settings together.
Talking about having all details put in one place – BigCommerce allows you to add a lot of details that Squarespace simply doesn’t give you space for.
For example, there are options to add brand and product identifiers, which can be important details for dropshippers. There are also ‘Modifier Options’, which allow customers to choose additional details about a product below the level of variants.
I also really appreciated that in BigCommerce, you can set individual products to ‘Coming Soon’ so that you can accept pre-orders. You can also choose whether or not individual items are eligible for gift wrapping options, and, if so, which wrapping options apply.
One thing that I will say for Squarespace’s product designer, though, is that you can create descriptions using any of the content elements available in the page designer.
This is a huge plus since you can use this to add galleries, videos, or other complex product descriptions to your items. With BigCommerce, you’re stuck with just a basic rich text product description box.
Both BigCommerce and Squarespace do a good job with tools and organizational structures to help you manage your business. However, I ultimately liked BigCommerce better because of the way it organizes your options.
The problem is that settings and tools weren’t always where I expected to find them in Squarespace. There are multiple eCommerce-related menu items in the main navigation, so the important pages for shipping, payment processing, and sales accounting are somewhat hidden.
Even after I had used the platform for a while, I still felt like I spent too much time searching around for the exact setting sections I wanted.
In BigCommerce, it was immediately obvious where I would find the settings I needed. There are more menus in the top-level dashboard navigation than in Squarespace, and they also have more descriptive names.
I’ll dive into the tools in more detail later on, but on this front, I felt like Squarespace and BigCommerce were more evenly matched. Both platforms provide a lot of solutions for managing your business, and it really just comes down to how much complexity those tools can handle.
Squarespace easily wins out in the design category. I’m in love with the platform’s absolutely stunning templates and gallery elements. On top of that, Squarespace gives you so much more control over customizing your storefront than BigCommerce ever did.
Squarespace has some of the best templates of any website or eCommerce builder I’ve seen. The diversity of options is awe-inspiring, and it’s clear even from a quick glance that Squarespace put a lot of effort into designing templates that will draw in visitors.
There are a ton of options with full-screen images on the homepage, as well as other choices that effectively use negative space to help your online store stand out.
One of the things that’s interesting about Squarespace templates is that most of them aren’t your typical eCommerce templates. Only a few selections put your products on the homepage by default, although you can easily modify any template to put your shop front and center.
That’s not to say BigCommerce templates aren’t good, but they just don’t pop nearly as much. Many of them look much more like what you’d expect from eCommerce themes.
They have call-out boxes on the homepage to highlight a product or sale, as well as products or categories as soon as you scroll below the homepage image.
This design style is proven for online stores, which is why so many BigCommerce themes use it. However, it really does make your shop feel like a store, as opposed to feeling like an experience with Squarespace’s immersive themes.
The other important difference between BigCommerce vs Squarespace here is that Squarespace themes are free. You get access to all of the platform’s themes with any plan and can change between more than the 90 options at any time.
BigCommerce only has about 12 free themes, and in reality, there are only four themes with different color patterns. These themes are noticeably lighter on strong design features like banners and call-to-action buttons than the platform’s paid themes, which start at $144 each and go up to $250.
While there’s no shortage of premium themes (you’ll find more than 100 options) changing your site’s look requires you to pay each time.
There are almost no design options in BigCommerce, whereas Squarespace offers an impressive degree of customization. This is where the two platforms really diverge, and one of the aspects that I most liked about Squarespace.
The main advantage of using Squarespace is the fact that you get a drag-and-drop page editor. You can add and remove content from any of your pages. While most templates limit you to a grid layout, you’re otherwise free to completely change up the look of your site by simply rearranging content.
I also think the content elements within Squarespace are remarkably impressive. The platform is known for its image galleries, which are frequently used by photographers and designers to showcase their work. The fact that you can put those galleries to use to show off your products to customers is a big plus.
Even better, Squarespace gives you a ton of control over your site’s styles. Whereas in BigCommerce you’re basically limited to changing font colors and sizes, in Squarespace you can change everything – from image padding to call-to-action button color, from font to the background color on poster text.
I was blown away by how much freedom I had to change tiny details about my site, with the result that I could really make some of my pages pop.
Of course, with the design’s freedom comes work as well. Like I said before, I spent hours designing my Squarespace site to get it just right. In contrast, launching a BigCommerce storefront took all of 10 minutes before product design.
The platform automatically adapts your theme to your store details, whereas in Squarespace, you have to work with content elements to customize your site so it matches your business’ idea.
Choosing between BigCommerce vs Squarespace for business is hard. Both platforms have a lot to offer small business owners. Although, BigCommerce ultimately offers more room to scale with advanced selling and shipping tools.
To put it simply, I would personally recommend Squarespace to users who only are starting their online career as this platform provides a good starting point with an online interface that’s easier to grasp and cheaper to maintain.
However, BigCommerce is a fantastic choice for big businesses, which have a variety of products to sell, and would cherish efficiency, while gathering big revenues yearly. It’s a great platform for managing a big online store efficiently – thanks to its practically developed business features.
The selling tools that you get with either BigCommerce or Squarespace vary a lot depending on your plan tier. BigCommerce starts out every business with a suite of tools that I would consider absolutely essential.
This includes the ability to sell gift cards and create advanced discounts, like free shipping with a certain purchase total.
In addition, BigCommerce’s shop-focused templates arguably do a better job of getting customers into your purchase funnel. Many templates offer call-to-action buttons on the homepage or banners on every page announcing a sale.
You can achieve these in Squarespace, but it takes significantly more work and creativity, depending on your template.
Notably, Squarespace makes abandoned cart recovery much more affordable than BigCommerce does. You need a $40 per month Advanced Commerce plan from Squarespace, as opposed to a $79.95 per month Plus plan from BigCommerce. This is a big deal since abandoned carts are a huge source of lost sales for many businesses.
That said, I’ve yet to find an abandoned cart recovery feature that’s better than the one BigCommerce offers. It allows you to create up to three different automated messages to customers and to include coupon codes that are specific to different abandoned cart situations.
BigCommerce also offers a persistent cart, so that your customers’ items remain no matter what device they visit your site from.
BigCommerce continues to have far more selling tools to offer than Squarespace. But, you’ll pay handsomely for a ‘Pro’ plan if you want access to the most advanced selling features.
The most important of these is having customer reviews of your products appear directly on Google.
That way, customers searching for something you sell can see reviews and access your store directly from a Google search.
BigCommerce offers a solid shipping management tool, whereas Squarespace’s is fairly decent. In addition, this feature is standard with every BigCommerce plan meanwhile it requires an Advanced Commerce subscription in Squarespace.
On top of that, I liked BigCommerce’s shipping manager better. It offers steeply discounted rates with FedEx, USPS, and DHL, which you don’t get with Squarespace. Plus, the real-time shipping quotes are a lot easier to sort through in order to find the shipping option that is best for each order.
Squarespace’s shipping quotes were a lot more clunky. They’re fine if you only handle a few orders a day, but the system isn’t good enough for high-volume businesses.
In fact, I’d recommend paying for a ShipStation integration (plans start at $9 per month) rather than using Squarespace’s built-in shipping manager as this platform offers a solid pool of extensions to cover for its shortcomings.
I really like the analytics platforms in both Squarespace and BigCommerce. Both put a lot of focus on displaying statistics about your purchasing funnel, which can give you actionable insight into where you’re losing customers and potential sales.
You can also easily track sales and site visits to see whether your store is growing in popularity over time, as well as see from where visitors are being referred to your shop.
If you want more granular detail about which of your products are getting the most traffic, Squarespace makes it easy to get that information.
With BigCommerce, though, you’ll need to shell out $49 per month for the ‘Insights’ analytics dashboard ($99 per month for Pro users). That’s unfortunate since it can more than double the cost of a Standard BigCommerce subscription and is essential information for a lot of business owners.
Squarespace handles email marketing on its own, whereas BigCommerce requires add-ons from its app marketplace. This is a big difference, and it really adds to the value of the plans that Squarespace provides for business owners.
I really liked Squarespace’s built-in email marketing platform. You get a handful of email templates to choose from. Better yet, the email builder works just like the page editor, with all of the same content elements to drag around. This makes it really easy to generate powerful, eye-catching marketing emails with Squarespace.
On top of that, the platform makes it simple to gather customer information. You can create custom newsletter signup forms, or multiple forms that capture emails for different lists. Plus, that information can be stored in Squarespace, a Google Doc, or Mailchimp.
With BigCommerce, you can choose from more than a dozen different email marketing services. However, be forewarned that prices range widely, and many services can be priced steeply if you are willing to send a lot of emails. Thankfully, it’s possible to export customer email data if you want to use an external service like Mailchimp.
It’s worth pointing out that your email marketing can suffer because of the platform’s lack of design flexibility. Most BigCommerce templates don’t put newsletter signup boxes front and center, and you can’t do anything about that. Your best bet with this platform is to add a signup checkbox to your shopping cart checkout.
Squarespace and BigCommerce are pretty evenly matched on the SEO front. Both platforms allow you to add meta titles and descriptions as well as tags to all of your products, which can help customers find your shop.
Squarespace does go a bit further by enabling you to add alt text to all of the images on your website, including in galleries. This is difficult to accomplish in BigCommerce because you don’t have as much control over your site’s content.
However, BigCommerce has a number of paid apps that can help with your store’s SEO. Yeah, you read that right, paid again.
However, I particularly liked SEO Doctor and FavSEO. These add-ons won’t directly improve your site’s visibility but can diagnose your site to suggest actions that you can take to raise quality of your store’s SEO.
Neither BigCommerce nor Squarespace offers blazing-fast site loading. But, BigCommerce is otherwise relatively strong when it comes to website performance.
In a test using GTMetrix, BigCommerce received a 90% PageSpeed score and a 94% YSlow score.
By comparison, a test Squarespace website earned a dismal 55% PageSpeed rating and a 93% on the YSlow test.
The issue is that Squarespace doesn’t serve scaled images at all, whereas BigCommerce includes image optimization with every website.
However, you can notice that a website built with Squarespace loaded faster than its competitor – even when it packed more weight. So optimizing your products’ visuals should be a key to a blazing performance by this platform.
However, I was still curious about how these websites would perform under pressure and if the providers’ stabilize their servers for bigger traffic.
After all, it’s really important to have no downtime on your website as every second offline can be a sale lost.
Coming back to testing, I also looked at site stability using LoadImpact. Again, BigCommerce was slightly better, with response times consistently less than 100 milliseconds.
Squarespace was mostly fine here, but response times occasionally spiked above 250 milliseconds.
My BigCommerce vs Squarespace comparison found that both of these platforms have a lot to offer for online businesses. BigCommerce makes it simple to launch an eCommerce shop and offers tools to scale, although it can get considerably expensive along the way. Meanwhile, Squarespace offers tons of customization features and selling tools at a very reasonable price.
Overall, bigger businesses that can take advantage of BigCommerce’s “Standard” plan have the opportunity for a great value. This plan includes a huge suite of selling tools. While the templates can be costly and don’t allow much customization, they are designed to encourage conversions and customer purchases.
However, I’d recommend owners of medium stores look at Squarespace’s “Advanced Commerce” plan. It includes email marketing, comprehensive visitor analytics, and abandoned cart recovery at roughly half the price of BigCommerce’s second-tier plan.
You’ll spend some time customizing your Squarespace site, but the design process can allow you to create a beautiful storefront that will attract customers to visit the storefront again and again.
If neither BigCommerce nor Squarespace quite fits what you’re looking for, there are other eCommerce options available. Three I’d recommend checking out are Shopify, Strikingly, and WooCommerce.
Shopify is an eCommerce behemoth that shares a lot in common with BigCommerce. Basic plans start out cheaper, and the huge number of app integrations means that you can spend as much or as little as you want on your business.
Helpfully, there are far more Shopify theme options than BigCommerce template options, so it may be easier to find a layout that works for your store.
Strikingly is designed to build one-page eCommerce stores. As such, it’s perfect for small storefronts with only a handful of products. Customization is still limited, but it’s much easier to create static pages than using BigCommerce.
WooCommerce is an eCommerce solution designed for WordPress.org websites. WordPress gives you a huge degree of flexibility, going even beyond what Squarespace allows for customization.
Plus, there are thousands of extensions for WooCommerce so you can easily (but unfortunately, not affordably) scale your business.