The Ultimate Guide To Setting Up Your Shop In Squarespace
Alright party people! I’ve done my research and there simply is NOT enough information out there on how to use Squarespace commerce. AND OMG THERE’S SO MUCH TO COVER.
If you’ve been around the MBD blog before, you know I get pretty detailed with tech guides and this one is no different. So today I’ll be walking you through everything you need to know to set up your shop + start selling products and goods on Squarespace, like:
which Squarespace plan is right for you
which templates are best for online shops
the ins and outs of adding products to your store
how to set up all the tech-y commerce stuff (like taxes, shipping + payment processing)
how to manage orders and organize your inventory
what your shop customization options are
how to go through the checkout process so you know what it's like for your customers
and even what limitations you'll find with Squarespace + commerce (so you can make sure you're not signing up for something that doesn't meet your needs)
I've even got a handy checklist inside the Vault that you can download to make sure you've crossed your T's and dotted your I's ;)
1. Squarespace Plans: Personal + Business vs the Commerce plans
Squarespace offers 4 subscription plans for their users: personal, business, commerce basic + commerce advanced.
Squarespace recently made a move to eliminate commerce features on the Personal plan so today I'll be focusing on just Business and the two Commerce plans.
Here's how their features stack up:
3% fee taken out by Squarespace*
Promo pop up
Discount codes available**
You can take donations
* On top of any fees taken out by your credit card processor
** Discounts have to be entered manually during checkout
All business plan features, plus:
No extra fees are taken out by Squarespace (!)
Your customers can create Customer Accounts
You can print shipping labels with the ShipStation integration
There's integrated accounting with Xero
You'll have access to extra commerce analytics
All Commerce Basic features, plus:
You can integrate with Printful for drop shipping (this is like a fulfillment warehouse that takes care of printing, packaging + shipping physical items to your customers)
Abandoned cart recovery
The option to sell gift cards
Discounts can be applied automatically during checkout
You have the option to calculate shipping by carrier (UPS, FedEx + USPS) during checkout
Let's compare hard numbers for the Business and Commerce Basic plans.
At the time of publishing this post (December 2017), Squarespace's annual pricing for the Business plan is $216 and Commerce Basic is $312. That makes the Business plan $96 cheaper at the end of the year.
However, with the Business plan you'll also be giving Squarespace 3% of every sale you make, so that has to be built into your Squarespace costs per year, too.
What this means is in order to keep the Business plan the most economical you'll need to pay out less than $96 in transaction fees, which can be done if you expect to make less than $3,200 via Squarespace throughout the year. This also means...
If you expect to make $3,200 or more each year*, the Commerce plans definitely make the most sense.
*Keep in mind this isn't your business's total annual sales projections, just what will be processed through Squarespace.
2. Adding products to your product pages
Squarespace lets you build stores by adding a "Product" page.
Each product page can have up to 200 items, each product can have up to 100 variants, and your store can have up to 1000 products total.
If you're moving your shop from another site, Squarespace also offers import options for Big Cartel, Etsy, Shopify or csv files.
There are 4 types of products you can sell on Squarespace:
This is for anything that you'll have to ship to your customers, like art prints, apparel, jewelry, physical gift cards, home decor, etc.
With this option you'll need to add at least one shipping option to your store.
You'll need to include weight and dimensions to your product's details.
Gift cards (digital)
After a customer purchases a gift card, Squarespace will send your customer (or another recipient) an email with a unique code that they can use when they checkout on your site.
This is only available on Commerce Advanced plan.
If you want to mail a physical gift card, enter it as a physical product not as a digital gift card.
This is for goods that are available for download, such as ebooks, audio files, template files, etc.
When purchased, your customers will receive an email with a download link.
Once the link has been clicked your customers will have 24 hours to download the product before the link expires.
This type of product lets you sell things like classes, workshops, events, consultations, etc.
You can hide the quantity option in your checkout settings if you don't want customers to have the option of buying more than one type of service at a time.
How to add products to a product page:
To enable commerce functions simply create a product page by hitting the (+) icon from your pages panel, then choose the Products option. After you create your product page you can start adding in your products.
Here's a quick introduction to the "add product" box:
Some things to note about each tab:
The item tab is where you can...
Add in a title for your product
Add product images
You can set the focal point of these by hovering over an image then clicking and dragging the white circle that appears
You can also click and drag these images to rearrange their order
The first image will automatically become your product's thumbnail image (more info on product thumbnails below)
Add a product description (this will show up directly beside your product image)
Specify tags and/or categories for your product (useful if you need to organize your products in any way)
Set your product to be hidden or visible, or schedule it to go live in your store on a specific date
Depending on your product, the pricing tab lets you..
Set a price for your product and/or give it a sale price
Set a quantity/stock level (physical + service products)
Customize the SKU number (physical, service + gift card products)
Add product weight + dimensions (physical products)
Add variants (physical + service products)
Hit the (+) icon from this tab to add more variants
You can customize your variant header (check out the two pics below for an example)
(click an image to make it larger)
Deets on the additional info tab...
Since you probably wanna make sure your product's price and the add to cart button stay easy to find, I suggest only including the most important info in the main description then using the Additional Info tab to go into more detail about your product.
In addition to having more space to work with, you're also able to add any content block to this section (!!), just like you would on a regular page.
Some ideas for what to add:
In-depth instructions or product details
The form tab is great way to...
Collect details from your customers when they add an item to their cart.
I’ve used this for clients who want to collect details from attendees for retreats and workshops.
And I’ve personally used customized product forms with all of the products I've offered through the MBD website:
For my semi-custom logo shop I use a form to collect important brand styling details.
For my design kits I simply use a form just to make sure my customers have all the important info they need to know before making their purchase.
And when I offered website audits I used a form to collect details to get to know my customers and their website goals before performing the audits.
Creating forms is not an option for gift cards.
The options tab lets you...
Customize your product thumbnail, which is used for a few different things:
This is what shows up on the main product grid
In some cases your thumbnail photo is what shows up on social media shares
It's also used for the product block and summary block
Customize your product's URL
Customize your "add to cart" button (which is a great way to add a little personality to your shop)
Social tab deets..
This tab simply lets you push information about your product to your social media accounts.
If you toggle any of the tabs to "on", Squarespace will automatically push the product to your accounts once the product goes live.
Create tax rules based on your country, state, province, locale and/or zip code (Settings > Taxes).
You can apply your tax rate on shipping + service products and include tax in the product price if you want.
Tax will be based on the shipping address for physical purchases, and billing address for digital or service products.
If a discount is used during checkout, tax will be based on the discounted price.
*The info above does not substitute legal or professional tax advice. Please read through the MBD website legal terms to understand your responsibility with any and all information presented to you by the studio.
You can create automatic shipping options for physical products that include a flat rate, rates by weight, carrier calculated* or free shipping (Settings > Shipping).
If you have multiple options, all will show up during checkout with the least expensive option selected by default.
Squarespace has a ShipStation integration that makes printing shipping labels super easy.
You can include a tracking number in your shipping notifications.
Product-specific shipping rules are not available (just general site-wide rules).
*Carrier calculated rates are only available on Commerce Advanced Plans (you can calculate for FedEx, UPS or USPS). You'll need to add accurate dimensions + weights to all physical products.
5. Payment processing
With Squarespace you can take payments via Apple Pay, Paypal and/or Stripe (Settings > Payments).
Things to note about Apple Pay:
Apple Pay is only available for physical products and to customers using Safari (either iOS or a computer running Sierra OS or higher).
You can enable/disable this feature by going to Settings > Payment > Stripe.
During checkout, Apple Pay automatically enters your customer's billing and shipping info, asks them to select a shipping method then asks them to confirm payment.
Apple Pay payments are processed through Stripe.
If you set up both Paypal and Stripe, both will show up as payment options for all products (you cannot assign Paypal to one item and Stripe to another).
For instance, you would not be able to process event tickets through Stripe and digital products through PayPal. Stripe and Paypal would be given as options in both situations then your customer would choose the payment method he/she prefers.
Squarespace offers an integration with Xero accounting software (get there by going to Settings > Accounting).
Squarespace supports the following currencies (this is what your store's currency will appear as). Note that not all currencies supported by Paypal + Stripe are on this list:
US dollars (USD)
Australian dollars (AUD)
Canadian dollars (CAD)
Swiss franc (CHF)
Czech Republic koruna (CZK)
Danish krone (DKK)
British pound (GBP)
Hong Kong dollar (HKD)
Israeli shekel (ILS)
Malaysian ringgit (MYR)
Mexican peso (MXN)
Norwegian krone (NOK)
New Zealand dollar (NZD)
Philippine peso (PHP)
Polish zloty (PLN)
Russian ruble (RUB)
Swedish krona (SEK)
Singapore dollar (SGD)
Thai baht (THB)
Some things to note:
You cannot list multiple currencies on your site.
Your international shoppers may be charged additional fees from their bank.
All payments are made immediately during purchase (aka there's no way to set a delay). For instance, you cannot wait until an item has shipped to process the payment.
6. The checkout process
Checkout is secure no matter the plan! This means the information your customers input during checkout is encrypted and cannot be accessed by hackers or identity thieves.
Websites created after October 2016 have this feature automatically enabled, but if you started your site before then you'll have to manually enable it.
If you don't have the little green padlock or "secure" message in your URL window while you're viewing your website, head to Settings > Security & SSL then click the "Secure" button + save. BAM.
This will also change your URL format from http:// to https:// (the "s" stands for "secure").
Google prefers sites that are secure so I recommend enabling this feature even if you don't sell products ;)
If you have to manually enter this feature, make sure you manually submit your site to Google afterwards too, since your URL change (http:// → https://) is looked at by Google as a new URL (the switch can temporarily cause a dip in organic traffic if you don't do this).
Squarespace has a handy little feature called express checkout which takes your customers straight to the checkout page once they add a product to their shopping cart.
Enabling express checkout (Settings > Checkout) on your site can sometimes help with cart abandonment (you're giving your customers less opportunity to change their minds before making the purchase).
However, this is not a good feature to enable if you offer more than one product in your shop.
If you'd like to give your customers the option to get on your email list during the checkout process, you can set that up by going to Settings > Checkout > clicking the button that says "MailChimp" and following the prompts for your MailChimp login. Then you'll need to select which list your customers will be put on.
This feature is available on all templates with commerce capabilities (including the business plan) but is limited to Mailchimp as far as newsletter platforms go.
Squarespace defaults your settings so that customers are automatically put on your list during checkout, but I personally think this is SO ANNOYING and actually kind of rude (and also unlawful in some areas). Do me and your customers a huge favor and disable the crap outta that. Simply uncheck the option underneath the big MailChimp button and you're good to go. Be the change you want to see in this world 💪🏽
You can read more about checkout opt-ins here.
For stores selling physical goods, your customers will be prompted to enter a billing + shipping address during checkout. You can have these addresses default as the same (to save a little time during the checkout process) and your customers can always customize the shipping address if it will be different than the billing. To enable this go to Settings > Commerce > Checkout > then check the button that says "Use shipping address as the billing address by default".
If you're on the Commerce Advanced plan you have the option to turn on Abandoned Cart Recovery which lets you set up an automated email to customers who started the checkout process but didn't finish.
You can enable this by going to Settings > Checkout > and checking "enable abandoned checkout emails".
You can customize this email by going to Settings > Notifications > Abandoned Checkout.
The email is sent 24 hours after the checkout is abandoned.
This feature only kicks in for customers who have entered their email address during the checkout phase (which is the first thing they'll be asked to do).
If a customer abandons their cart and one of the items goes out of stock, they will not be sent an email about that item (but if there are more items that are in stock they will be sent an email about those).
Squarespace also gives you Abandoned Cart Analytics which you can read about here.
Before going live with your shop, make sure you run through a test order for each type of product you have so you can better understand the experience your customers will go through. I like to do this by giving myself a 100% discount code that I can use at checkout (Main dashboard > Discounts > hit the (+) sign).
7. What to do with orders in Squarespace
You'll get a notification from Squarespace each time:
Someone makes a purchase from your store...
Or when an item's stock gets low or sells out.
You can customize when you get a notification on stock levels by going to Settings > Notifications > then adjusting the slider underneath "Automatic Stock Level Alert Email".
From Squarespace you can view your orders by going to the orders panel (found on the main panel for some templates or you may have to go to Commerce > Orders).
You're given info on the order's invoice #, purchase date, customer, amount + fulfillment status.
You can double click an order to open up its order summary with more details and order management options. From here you can:
View your customers billing/shipping addresses and form submission details.
Add customer notes (only visible to you, not your customers).
Resend email notifications.
Mark an order as fulfilled (when you do this you'll be given an option to email your customer a shipping notification and tracking number).
If you need to undo an order fulfillment:
Simply go back into the order summary then click "Mark Pending".
The shipping notification you sent your customer unfortunately can't be undone, but you can copy and paste their email from the order summary box then send them an email from your email platform (not Squarespace).
There isn't really an easy way to view purchases organized by product inside of Squarespace, but you are able to generate and download reports then view them inside of a spreadsheet program (download a free program here). Here's how:
From the orders page, click "export CSV" in the top right corner.
Work through the first 2 pages of the pop up window to set the filters you want, then on the 3rd page click the dropdown and select "specific product".
Search for your product, click "save" then open up the download in your spreadsheet app.
From there your orders should be organized by product (though there's gonna be a lot of other info you'll have to sift through, too).
Order cancellations + refunds:
If you need to cancel or refund a full order just open up the order summary, click "cancel" then follow the prompts. Squarespace will then:
Issue the full refund.
Send your customer a notification about the cancellation and refund.
Then restock the item in your store.
Note that a cancelled order cannot be reprocessed (the customer would have to go through the checkout process again if they wanted to repurchase it later).
You can also issue a full refund without cancelling the order. Just hit "refund" instead of "cancel order" then enter the full purchase amount.
Your item will not be restocked if you do it this way.
If you want to offer a partial refund, click "refund" from the order summary page then enter the partial amount.
If you need to refund shipping or tax costs, be sure to include that in this amount.
8. How to customize your shop
There are 4 major ways you can customize your shop - and when I say customize I don't just mean how it looks.
In addition to designing the look and feel, you also have a few ways to customize how you interact and communicate with your customers (!!!). Lemme tell you about them below:
The Design Customizations
Using the style editor (Design > Site Styles)
This is where you'll do the bulk of your shop's styling. Here's a handy lil list of elements you can reference when you're doing your site's style tweaks:
Shopping cart (icon + color styling)
Customer account icon
Main product page (aka the grid you see before clicking an individual product):
How many items are on each row
Product image dimensions (Squarespace calls this "image aspect ratio")
Title + price styling
Status badges ("sold out", "sale")
Product thumbnail effects:
Alternate image on hover
Fade on hover
Galapagos gives you 3 layout options
Supply allows you to change the page's background color
Individual product page tweaks:
Placement + size of product imagery
Add to cart button styling
Positioning of price, details excerpt + add to cart button
Extra shop customizations for mobile:
Cart position + styling
Customer account position + styling
Font + button styling
Check the bottom of the post for a list of templates that support advanced product styling, as not all Squarespace templates support the entire list of customizations above.
Your checkout page (Design > Checkout Page Style Editor)
Your checkout page gets its own special design tweak editor. From here you can customize the:
Checkout page background color
Font styling (if you disable your logo)
Client "Touch Point" Customizations
Customized forms for customers to fill out when adding an item to their cart:
This is a great option for service-based products, especially if you need any sort of information from your customers to fulfill their order.
I've used these in quite a few ways for myself and my clients:
When I sold website audits I used the form to collect information from my customers about their business's brand vibes, website goals, etc. This eliminated the need to schedule a phone call and made the audit process much more efficient.
I also used a form when I had a semi-custom logo shop that collected information that helped me customize the logos (like my customer’s business name, brand style words, etc).
A lot of my clients have been hair stylists who travel to teach educational workshops. When we sell tickets for these workshops we sometimes collect information from the students (such as their Instagram handle, how long they've been in the industry, where they're from, etc). This helps my clients connect with their community and makes the experience feel much more personal.
Email notifications sent to your customers:
There are a ton of email notifications you can set up in Squarespace, and I recommend you work through all of them and send test emails so you can better understand what your customers will experience if they make a purchase in your shop.
Here's the complete list:
Order confirmation - you can customize this by type of product (physical, service, digital + gift card)
Order fulfilled - only needed for physical products and sometimes service
New customer account welcome
Customer account / reset password
Customer account / password updated
You can find all of these by going to Settings > Notifications. Send a test email to yourself by clicking whichever email you want to test, scrolling to the bottom of that panel then clicking "send test email".
9. Customer accounts
Customer Accounts is a relatively new feature offered by Squarespace (launched in early October 2017). What it does is allow your site visitors to create an account on your site that they can log into to access their past purchases and quickly work through the checkout process for future purchases (since payment and shipping info will be saved in their account).
Here are some quick deets:
This feature is only offered on the two commerce plans and you have to have a secure site for it to be enabled (reference the checkout section above for how to make your site secure - it only takes 2 seconds).
Customer Accounts can be used on any template, but there are particular templates that Squarespace recommends. Check the bottom of this post for those recommendations.
This feature is totally optional and is not automatically enabled.
If you want to enable it and you have one of Squarespace's recommend templates (a list of these are at the bottom of this post), go to Settings > Customer accounts > and switch the toggle to on.
If you aren't using one of Squarespace's recommended templates, no worries! You can manually add this into your navigation by:
Creating a link navigation page.
Name it something your customers will easily recognize, like "sign in" or "create account".
In the URL box, enter "/account".
When a customer clicks this link it will take them to the home page with a pop up box that allows them to create an account or sign into their account.
You can also use this link anywhere on your site via text or an image (if you wanted to create a sign up/log-in option anywhere else on your site).
Special details to be aware of:
You cannot require customers to create a Customer Account. They will always have the option to checkout as a guest.
If a customer isn’t signed into their account and they check out as a guest, they won’t be able to view that order from their customer account dashboard. However, if they use the same email address during checkout it will show up on your end in the Customers panel.
Any order made before a customer creates their account will not show up in their order history, though you can still view it in your Customers panel.
You are never given access to edit the information inside of your customers' accounts.
As the site owner, you will be responsible for helping your customers if they forget their password. It’s super easy, though! Just instruct your customers to click the “forgot password” link, then have them follow the instructions in the email that Squarespace sends them. You can customize this email by going to Settings > Notification.
Email addresses for Customer Accounts cannot be changed once a customer creates their account. If a customer wants to change the email for their log-in, they'll have to create a totally new account and won't be able to migrate past orders to the new account.
Don't forget you can customize the welcome email that a customer gets when they create an account (go to Settings > Notifications).
Customers cannot save Paypal as a payment method, only a credit card.
Squarespace's commerce limitations
While Squarespace is actively working on building out more robust commerce features, for now there are lots of limitations and I wanna lay out as many as I can think of so you can make the best decision for your business. I've listed workarounds whenever possible.
Money + Finances:
There are no commerce functionalities for the Personal plan, and Business plans incur a 3% transaction fee taken out by Squarespace (in addition to any fees taken out by your payment processor).
You cannot create recurring payments within Squarespace.
Recurring payment workaround: you can create a MoonClerk account and lead customers there to finish their transactions (payments will be managed in MoonClerk).
While Squarespace offers Customer Accounts now (yay!), there isn't currently a built-in feature that allows you to create a membership site for your users (which could be helpful if you want to host a course or group program on your website).
There is currently no integration with Square for payment processing.
Accounting software is limited to Xero (you cannot integrate any other platform, such as Quickbooks or Freshbooks, directly with Squarespace).
There is no way to delay payment processing until an item has shipped (the payment will be made immediately).
You cannot split up payment processing options by type of product. Example: you want event ticket sales to go into one bank account via Stripe and digital good sales to go through PayPal so that they funnel into a separate bank account.
This could be an issue if you have an umbrella brand that operates multiple facets within it that all stay separate financially (with different bank accounts).
You cannot list multiple currencies on your site.
During checkout, email opt-ins are limited to MailChimp.
You cannot organize email list sign ups during checkout by category or product.
For instance, if you're a branding + web designer selling tickets for a couple different workshops (let's say one workshop is for branding and one is for web design), you can't segment your customers onto different lists based on their purchases (i.e., the branding workshop customers are put on a list for your brand design newsletters and your web design customers are put on a list all about website design).
Workaround: assuming you've already got your separate lists created inside of your email platform, you can create a general list that new customers will be put onto. Then you can set up a welcome email for the general list that asks your subscribers to click a link that would place them on the more specific lists.
So in my brand/web design example, the designer could put anyone who subscribers to her list during checkout on a general "customer" list, then set up an automated welcome email that asks the customer to click what they're interested in hearing more about: branding or web design (or maybe an option for both). There's no way to guarantee your customers will segment themselves, but it might be worth a shot.
Product-specific shipping rules are not available (just general site-wide rules).
For stores selling gift cards, your customers are not able to enter a custom amount for their purchase.
Email addresses for customer accounts cannot be changed once an account is created.
You can only customize the blanket emails your customizers receive during the purchase process (confirmation email, refund notification, shipping confirmation, etc). You cannot customize emails by product or product category.
You cannot assign photos to specific variants.
Example: if you're a jeweler and you want to show a necklace in gold or silver, you can upload photos of both but customers won't be able to click "gold" in the variant dropdown and be shown a gold necklace, or "silver" and be shown a silver version of the necklace.
Customers can still click through different thumbnails of your photos, but this might not be the most ideal set up for shops who sell physical goods with variants (this wouldn't really be a limitation if you're selling tickets for an event with a regular ticket variant + a VIP ticket variant since the customer doesn't need to reference an image to make a decision between the two).
Workaround: use this plug-in by SQSPTHEMES.com! to sync your product images to variants and even further, use this plug-in of their's to display your variants as text, colors or images (instead of the standard dropdown box).
Squarespace-recommended templates for online shops:
Templates with advanced or unique commerce styling (like quickView + product zoom)*:
Templates that work best for Customer Accounts:
**The Brine family offers extra style and placement tweaks for the Customer Account link
Go here to see if your template is in one of the template families listed above.
This post is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to commerce + Squarespace.
I've got LOTS of commerce posts planned (like deets for shops with international needs, more thorough tutorials for commerce workarounds, ways to market your online store, advanced commerce configurations + more). If there's something particular you'd like to see, let me know in the comments!