The Circle guide to online stores — Squarespace Circle: Build your web design business

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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Circle guide to online stores

In this guide you’ll learn how to help clients grow their businesses, how to find your next Commerce client, why Circle members earn more on e-commerce sites, and how to choose a Commerce plan and template.

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Powering online stores

Squarespace Commerce plans are a powerful, simple, all-in-one way to sell products and services, and manage orders online. With mobile-friendly templates optimized specifically for online commerce, you can create eye-catching arrangements of products, promote sales, measure results, and much more. Even if your clients don’t have their business ideas fully fleshed out, you can set them up to scale their growth with the power of a Squarespace online store.

Squarespace customers are already using Commerce in creative ways:

  • Selling products like jewelry and clothing

  • Shipping food and beverage items such as baked goods and coffee beans

  • Accepting donations for nonprofits organizations and tuition

With the expertise of a Circle member like you, the potential is huge.


The perfect plans for your clients

Each Squarespace plan is built to offer exactly what you need for your client’s project. Website plans are great for individuals looking to own their online presence, while Online Store plans are full-featured plans for clients who want to optimize their online commerce strategies.

Of course, Squarespace Website plans come with unlimited pages, galleries, and blogs, unlimited storage and bandwidth, website metrics, and SSL security you’ve come to expect. But Commerce plans also include the added strength of features like mobile-optimized checkout and gift card functionality—all with no transaction fees. Here’s the breakdown of features by plan.

Website Plans

      • Unlimited Pages, Galleries, and Blogs

      • Unlimited storage and bandwidth

      • Up to 2 contributors

      • Mobile optimized website

      • Website metrics

      • Free custom domain (with annual purchase)

      • SSL security

      • 24/7 customer support

      • All the features of Personal, plus:

      • A professional email from Google

      • $100 Google Ads Credit

      • Promotional Pop-Ups feature

      • Announcement Bar feature

      • E-commerce integration

      • Sell unlimited products and accept donations

      • 3% transaction fee

      • Mobile Information Bar feature

      • Ability to customize through CSS and JavaScript

      • Premium Blocks and Integrations such as the Announcement Bar and OpenTable Block

Online Store Plans

Commerce Basic 
      • All the features of Business, plus:

      • No transaction fee

      • Checkout built into your domain

      • Mobile optimized checkout

      • Powerful commerce metrics

      • Inventory, orders, tax, and coupon management

      • Label printing via ShipStation

      • Integrated accounting via Xero

      • Customer Accounts

Commerce Advanced
      • All the features of Commerce Basic, plus:

      • Abandoned cart tools

      • Real time carrier shipping details

      • Flexible discounts

      • Gift Cards

      • Orders integrations such as Printful and TaxJar


  1. If your client expects to sell more than $3,200 worth of products or services per year, they should go for a Commerce plan rather than a Business plan. Merchants don’t pay transaction fees on Commerce Basic and Commerce Advanced plans which means your clients will save money in the long run while also gaining access to a heartier suite of tools and analytics.

  2. Paying on an annual billing cycle saves up to 31% on your plan compared to paying month to month. Your clients can always change their billing cycle settings later on.


A Variety of Ways to Sell

No matter what it is, Squarespace Commerce can help your clients sell it. Here are the various product types supported.  


Merchandise, apparel, and other physical goods you sell and ship to customers. If you sell physical products, you'll need to add at least one shipping option to your store. This allows you to add tracking numbers to email notifications so customers can track their shipments.


Service products are classes, consultations, events (without physical tickets), or other services you offer. Since service products aren't shipped to customers, they don't require customers to pay for shipping or enter a shipping address at checkout. Read on to see how Checkout Forms can help your clients collect customer data and facilitate providing services.


Squarespace Subscriptions* enables merchants to sell products on a recurring basis. Whether it’s a coffee of the month or a weekly consultation, your clients can use Subscriptions to earn reliable revenue and build customer loyalty regardless of the product or service they provide. In just a few clicks, you can give your clients a new way to sell without the hassle of third party scripts. Paired with the powerful marketing and analytics tools built into Squarespace Commerce, your clients will have everything they need to scale and grow their businesses.

*Subscriptions is only available on Commerce Advanced plans.

Learn more about Subscription products.


You can sell ebooks, audio files, and other digital downloads by creating digital products. When a customer purchases a digital product, they're sent a download link. Once a customer clicks the link, they have 24 hours to download the product before the link expires.


You can use the Donation Block to allow visitors to donate to your client’s cause or organization. You can also use it to set up a customized cash gift registry on a wedding website.

Gift cards*

Your clients can also sell gift cards. Every gift card has a unique code. When a customer purchases a gift card, they can email the code to their recipient or themselves.

*Gift cards are only available on Commerce Advanced plans

Pro tip:

With Squarespace Commerce you can set up product variants—variations of a product with different attributes such as color or size. A single product can have up to 100 variants.

Learn more about adding products.


Powerful product marketing

With Squarespace Commerce, it’s easy to help your clients attract visitors and shoppers. Check out these built-in marketing features made to help your clients attract, convert, and retain business.



Squarespace’s built-in SEO tools help customers find your clients’ stores. Make sure to customize product page and site titles, add keywords, add a physical business location, add a search engine description, and optimize product descriptions to start. Learn more about SEO.


Merchants can connect with a wider audience by linking their social media accounts with their Squarespace store, allowing them to share content and products with their networks. Squarespace also offers features like Facebook Pixel and Shopping on Instagram which let your clients retarget shoppers and tag products on their Instagram accounts. Find out more about using Facebook Pixel with Squarespace and tagging products on Instagram so you can add these to your service offering.


Set up a sale

A Squarespace online store lets clients easily plan and execute discounts and sales. Merchants can offer a percent discount, a flat dollar amount, or free shipping as ways of enticing new and repeat customers to make a purchase. These can be automatically applied or require the customer to enter a code at checkout. Once your client has a new product or a sale, they can draw attention to these in a number of ways.

Announcement Bar

An Announcement Bar can be used to display a custom message above your client’s site. They can use this space to promote a new product, highlight a sale, or feature press mentions.

Promotional Pop-up

Similar to the Announcement Bar, a Promotional Pop-up gives you a space to message visitors to a website. You can customize when the pop-up appears, which pages the pop-up will appear, and the call to action. For example, a pop-up can be used to get visitors to sign up for a newsletter or a button linking to another page of the site.

Facebook Pixel and dynamic ads

Facebook Pixel is a line of code embedded on your clients site that allows you to track visitor activity across different pages. Paired with Dynamic Ads, a way to automatically create and place advertisements using your Facebook Product Catalog, you can help your clients better understand their audience and market smarter.


Once your client has made their first few sales, you can offer consultative services to help them re-engage and retain their customer base.

Email Campaigns

With our integrated Email Campaigns feature, your clients can easily create and send announcement and promotional emails that are as beautiful as their website. You can introduce Email Campaigns to these merchants as a way for them to leverage the email addresses collected from the Newsletter Form at checkout to send targeted communications, encourage repeat business, and maintain loyal customer relationships.


A seamless path to purchase

Checking out on a Squarespace Commerce store is secure and integrated into the domain. For example, your clients’ customers will see a URL with the primary domain that looks like this:

Express checkout

Express Checkout takes customers directly to the checkout process after clicking a product rather than just adding it to their cart. This built-in feature helps your clients reduce cart abandonment and expedite conversion, especially in cases where your client sells one type of product.

Customized store policies

Squarespace Commerce supports whatever policies your clients need. They can fully customize their return policy, terms of service, and privacy policies which will then become clickable links on the checkout page.

Product, Checkout, and Newsletter Forms

You and your clients can create custom product forms for customers to complete when they purchase specific products. These are great for collecting personalized information for an item, like custom engraving or special instructions for a product.

If your client needs customers to provide extra information to complete an order such as delivery instructions, gift messaging, or service agreement, you can create a custom checkout form to help them collect what they need.

Help your clients build out their email marketing by adding a newsletter subscribe option to checkout. This encourages customers to subscribe to a newsletter as the checkout, opting them into your client’s Email Campaigns or a MailChimp account.

Learn more about Checkout Customization and Forms.


Connect Stripe to accept:

  • Visa (credit and debit cards)

  • Mastercard (credit and debit cards)

  • American Express

  • Discover (US merchants only)

  • Diner’s Club

  • JCB

  • Apple Pay

Connect a PayPal Business account to accept:

  • PayPal

  • Venmo


Simple order fulfillment

Once they receive an order, your clients can fulfill it through the site's backend, updating customers on their order's progress. They can view the order's activity, add notes, and print the order for their records. You can walk them through a test order so they better understand how customers buy their products.


Squarespace Commerce let’s you set up various shipping options that will automatically apply to physical products at checkout. These include flat-rate shipping, rates by weight, free shipping, Carrier Calculated* shipping, and in-store pickup. You can even set up shipping zones to specify which shipping options are available in specific areas. For example, a client who owns a bakery might offer same-day shipping for local orders and overnight options for further customers.

*Carrier Calculated shipping is only available on Commerce Advanced plans.

Refunds and cancellations

Once your client sets their store policies, following through with cancellations, and full or partial refunds is easy. Full refunds include the cost of the product plus taxes, shipping, and transaction fees. If your client wants to issue a refund that excludes any of those line items, they can also issue a partial refund and specify the amount.


Measured success

Commerce websites come with an added layer of in-depth analytics on top of all the core Squarespace website analytics Circle members expect. Here are our favorites.

Abandoned cart analytics

Get insight into products that have been abandoned by shoppers in your online store, then send Abandoned Checkout Recovery emails to try to re-engage those customers. See how often customers add products to a cart and leave without completing an order, how many of those orders were recovered as a result of the email, and how changes you make to your store affect this abandonment rate over time.

Learn more about Abandoned Cart Analytics.

Form and button conversions analytics

Track how visitors engage with your forms and buttons on your site. This tool helps you and your clients track specific goals of your site. For example, you can track how effectively your contact page convinces visitors to sign up for a newsletter and decide when to revisit the website copy.

Learn more about Form & Button Conversion Analytics.

Purchase funnel analytics

Your clients get a visual report on their store’s sales funnel and how each stage converts. It includes data about how many visitors convert into purchases, where customers are dropping off, and how changes you make to your store affect this conversion rate over time.

Learn more about Purchase Funnel Analytics.

Sales by product analytics

Get key statistics per product, like revenue, order volume, and conversion. This panel helps your clients understand product performance and plan their sales strategies accordingly.

Learn more about Sales by Product Analytics.


Pro tip:

While you can build a great-looking store using any template, some templates that work particularly well for stores are:

  • Adirondack

  • Avenue

  • Brine

  • Clay

  • Fulton

  • Galapagos

  • Hyde

  • Ishimoto

  • Marta

  • Mercer

  • Montauk

  • Supply

  • Thorne


Finding Commerce clients

Now that you’re a pro with Squarespace Commerce, it’s time to land your next client.  

Previous clients, referrals, and word of mouth

Let your previous clients know that you can build online stores or upgrade their current website to facilitate online commerce. Many of them might not have been ready to to sell products or services initially, but you can help them grow their businesses.

Many Circle members cite word of mouth as one of the biggest drivers of new business. Promoting your ability to build online stores to past clients could turn up new leads. You could even launch a referral program, offering discounts or gift cards to clients who send you new business.

Business bureaus and directories

Do some spot checking on business bureau websites and directories. Sometimes the small to medium businesses who participate in these organizations don’t have a website or could use some helping updating their site and making it fresh. Cold calling or emailing relies on volume and luck but can be an effective way to garner your first few online commerce clients.


Want more?

Check out these help guides for Squarespace Commerce FAQ, help upgrading a client’s site, and guides for importing products from Big Cartel, Etsy, Shopify, or a .csv.

Written by Tony Syros

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