Just shy of a decade after it first started letting users sell things on their sites, Squarespace is finally hitting full send on ecommerce. Its new brand vision of “Everything to Sell Anything” launched alongside new scheduling and passive income tools in 2021 (a direct response to a rise in side-hustling amid the COVID-19 pandemic), while a late 2022 update ushered in audience monetization features, product reviews, pay-as-you-go checkout options, shipping label purchasing and printing, an order status page, and on-demand merch for the content creator era.
These additions have positioned the drag-and-drop website builder as a unique alternative to dedicated ecommerce platforms like Shopify or Etsy: Users can quickly customize an impressive site for a new or small-to-midsize store with zero coding knowledge and a built-in library of beautiful, professional-looking templates. Additionally, Squarespace’s well-established suite of blogging and portfolio tools makes it easy to add non-commerce content alongside that shop without separate apps or third-party plugins. It’s a cohesive (and relatively cheap) all-in-oner.
Frankly, one of the biggest challenges you’ll face in getting a Squarespace store live is choosing one of those aforementioned templates: There are over 230 available between Squarespace versions 7.0 and 7.1 (the two iterations of the platform that are currently in use), and all of them support ecommerce functionality.
Not sure where to begin? Here’s a comprehensive guide to the best Squarespace templates for online stores and shops.
What is a Squarespace template?
A template is a pre-made demo website that can be customized with different color palettes, font packs, and layouts. Squarespace describes them as “a starting point to help inspire your site’s design,” noting that customization is a matter of user preference. (You can give a template a total overhaul or simply add your branding to the original design and hit “publish.”) Each template is a Squarespace exclusive, meaning you won’t find anything similar on other website builders, and all of them are mobile-optimized from the get-go — an important detail in this use case given mobile shopping’s exponential growth in the past few years.
Templates work differently depending on which version of Squarespace you decide to use:
Squarespace version 7.0 templates are built using its classic editor and categorized into different “families” based on shared structures and style options. Each family has its distinct set of rules and features, some of which haven’t migrated over to version 7.1 yet (see: parallax scrolling), but it’s trickier to switch templates without risking content loss.
Squarespace version 7.1 templates are built using its new Fluid Engine (which introduced an easier-to-use grid system) and belong to one template family, meaning they all share the same underlying structure and functionality. They have some cooler, trendier details than their counterparts from version 7.0 (like squiggly accents and funky photo crops), though their overall layouts look a bit more cookie-cutter. That being said, this makes them much easier to swap between.
Squarespace automatically defaults to version 7.1 nowadays, and unless you’re a web design guru who’s after certain features from version 7.0, we’d recommend sticking with it — it’s just more streamlined and flexible. (If you are on the fence, keep in mind that moving from version 7.0 to 7.1 often requires a complete rebuild and throws off your site’s search ranking for a while.)
How do Squarespace subscriptions work? Does Squarespace take a cut of sales?
A credit card processing fee applies to every purchase made through a Squarespace site. This is charged by the payment processor, not Squarespace, and ranges from 2.9% of the order total + $0.30 per successful card charge (with Stripe, the most common processor) to 6% of the order total + $0.30 (with the buy now, pay later service Afterpay). Whether you have to pay an additional transaction fee per sale to Squarespace itself depends on your subscription plan:
Squarespace charges a 3% transaction fee if you’re on its Business plan ($33 monthly or $23/month annually). Geared toward “those looking to grow their audience and begin taking payments,” this tier unlocks the ability to sell unlimited products on your site, a professional email from Google, advanced website analytics that tell you which areas of your site drive visitors, and promotional pop-ups and banners.
Squarespace does not charge a transaction fee on its Basic Commerce plan ($36 monthly or $27/month annually). This one’s designed “to help grow your business,” tacking on product reviews, customer accounts, limited availability labels, the ability to accept in-person payments , product linking on Facebook and Instagram, and additional ecommerce metrics about bestselling products, sales trends, and conversions.
Squarespace does not charge a transaction fee on its Advanced Commerce plan ($65 monthly or $49/month annually), which offers “[all] the tools necessary for the more advanced seller.” That includes advanced shipping and discount features like carrier calculators, abandoned cart recovery, improved promo control, and access to developer tools (application programming interface, or API), plus the ability to sell subscriptions.
Squarespace’s free 14-day trial applies to all of its plans, in case you’re not sure which one is right for you. (Note that the entry-level Personal tier does not include ecommerce features.)
For comparison’s sake, here’s how other popular ecommerce platforms bill sellers:
Etsy charges $0.20 per listing (whether or not an item sells) and a 6.5% transaction fee, with a 3% + $0.25 processing fee per order
Shopify charges $29-299 monthly (or $26-266/month annually) for its plans, plus a 2.9-2.4% + $0.30 processing fee per order
Weebly charges $0-29 monthly (or $0-26/month annually) for its plans, plus a 2.9% + $0.30 processing fee per order
Wix charges $27-59 monthly for its Business plans, plus a 2.9% + $0.30 processing fee per order
WordPress charges $18-70 monthly (or $8-45/month annually) for its ecommerce plans, plus a 2.9% + $0.30 processing fee per order
Without getting too in the weeds on the differences between each platform: Shopify is ideal for large or expanding businesses, Weebly is geared toward total beginners, Wix is a close Squarespace rival with slightly less flexibility, WordPress is for zealous customizers who are comfortable coding, and Etsy is kind of in its flop era. Overall, we’d say Squarespace offers the best value for most ecommerce users with its discounted annual plan. Check out Mashable’s guides to the best website builders for small businesses and the best web hosting providers for ecommerce to learn more.
What’s the best Squarespace template for an online store?
While all Squarespace templates support ecommerce functionality, some handle it better than others.
Squarespace has already been so kind as to curate its own collection of templates for selling (found by visiting its library and sorting the Type by “Online Store”), but we’ve narrowed down its pool even further. Below, you’ll find our absolute favorite picks for a modern, intuitive online store.
Note: Most of our recommendations are from Squarespace version 7.1, but we’ve sprinkled in a few options from version 7.0 that continue to stand out. Templates have been labeled accordingly.