Squarespace vs. OpenCart

Looking for ecommerce software? Here's how Squarespace and OpenCart stack up.

Daniel Adams

Daniel Adams

Last updated 2o July 2020


Squarespace

4.5  Stackupp rating

Pricing from

$26/month

Free Plan?

No


Best for

It’s best for small and medium retailers that don’t need extensive support for different languages and access to a large integration and extension library.

OpenCart

4.0  Stackupp rating

Pricing from

$0 (the core platform is free)

Free Plan?

Yes


Best for

Opencart is ideal for small and medium-sized retailers that have web development experience.

Squarespace or OpenCart: Which is best?

Can't decide between Squarespace and OpenCart?

Find the best platform for you with our side by side comparison of Squarespace and OpenCart. See how each platform stacks up across ease of use, design, support and value for money.

Let the comparison begin. Don't worry, we'll guide you.

Is Squarespace right for you?

Squarespace Commerce is an excellent choice for retailers that want to create and manage a stylish store. The platform is easy-to-use, includes a wide selection of features, and allows for unlimited products.

Squarespace Commerce is the “cool kid” of site-builder ecommerce platforms. Users have access to a powerful set of features - including unlimited bandwidth and storage, analytics, and POS - along with a library of sleek, professional templates.

It’s a fully-hosted solution, so you won’t have to take care of any backend tasks.

But while we like Squarespace Commerce, it’s not perfect. The editor does take a little getting used to. What’s more, the number of integrations on offer is a little limited.

Advantages

  • Easy-to-use site builder and management dashboard.
  • Stylish and professional themes
  • Unlimited products

Drawbacks

  • Promotion features only available on top plan.
  • Small number of themes.
  • Number of integrations is limited.

Use Squarespace Commerce if you’re looking for a platform that combines ease-of-use with the option to take advantage of more advanced features like POS, discounts and promotions, and theme editing.

Is OpenCart right for you?

OpenCart occupies a unique space in the eCommerce platform market. It’s a free and open-source solution that’s ideal for small and medium retailers that want to exercise full development control on their own servers.

Immediately, this excludes two groups. First, small retailers that want a fully-hosted solution and don’t have coding skills will struggle with OpenCart. Secondly, larger stores, or stores expecting to scale, may find the feature-set somewhat limited. OpenCart doesn’t have the same functionality and scalability as other open-source platforms like Magento.

If you’re not in either group, however, OpenCart is well worth giving a go. As an open-source solution, it’s fully customizable. The feature set is pretty solid, and the interface is very intuitive for a self-hosted solution. You’ll also have access to a large user community and extensions library. Oh, and it’s probably worth mentioning the key selling point again: it’s free.

Advantages

  • The platform itself is free.
  • Open-source and fully editable for those with web development skills.
  • Intuitive and easy to use for a self-hosted platform.

Drawbacks

  • Costs for dedicated support and extensions can quickly add up.
  • Requires development and IT knowledge to be used effectively.
  • Few native marketing and SEO features.

Use OpenCart if you’re a small or medium-sized retailer looking for a self-hosted solution that isn’t going to break the bank. OpenCart is a streamlined platform with an intuitive dashboard, a solid feature-set, and a friendly, active community of users.

Ease of Use

Our first comparison criteria, ease of use. Why? Because it’s the most important.

Think about it. You don’t want to invest a lot of your precious time setting up an online store and tweaking the design only to find out that it’s a pain in the butt to manage day to day.

We take a look at how simple the Squarespace and OpenCart platforms are to run.

How easy is Squarespace to use?

Rated 4.5/5 for Ease of Use

While the site-builder is very easy to use, it does take a little getting used to. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the basics, however, you’ll have no trouble changing everything from your logo to your color scheme.

The management dashboard, from where users manage listings, orders, and analytics, is intuitive and easy to navigate.

What Squarespace customers are saying...

Beautiful template designs, user-friendly features, website is loading well. Very well coded and developed.
Easy to use, hugely customizable, great templates.
I love Squarespace. I have built my entire business on Squarespace, to annual revenues of over 500K.

How easy is OpenCart to use?

Rated 4/5 for Ease of Use

There are two sides to the ease of use question when it comes to OpenCart.

On the one hand, users have access to an intuitive dashboard (which is slightly unusual for an open-source, self-hosted solution) and a large library of extensions.

On the other hand, installing, maintaining, and running a store built on OpenCart requires a certain degree of development experience.

If you’re not comfortable handling backend tasks, then it’s probably not the option for you.

What OpenCart customers are saying...

Very good. Takes a while to get it setup to your own taste/needs, but worth the effort. Loads of online help for the most common stumbling blocks.
Having tried numerous e-commerce platforms opencart is by far my favourite.
I love that you can easily buy modifications from the marketplace for niche use case scenarios, and if not there are developers that are very knowledgeable of the product so custom functionality isn't a problem.

Design

Powerful features are great, but we all know first impressions count. So, do Squarespace and OpenCart templates actually look any good? See for yourself. We outline each platforms design options, plus showcase a few real life examples.

How good are Squarespace's themes?

Rated 4.5/5 for Design

Squarespace Commerce strikes a rare balance for an ecommerce website builder by combining intuitive, accessible customization tools with the option to make more advanced code changes.

Because the site-builder has a lot of options, it does require a little familiarization. But once users have overcome that initial hurdle, an array of customization opportunities open up.

The only downside is that, while the templates are beautifully-designed and mobile-optimized, only ten are offered. If you’re thinking about opting for Squarespace, check that one of the themes meets your needs before signing up to a paid plan. There’s a free trial, so you can take the platform for a test-drive first.

Squarespace Examples

  • 2 HR SET
    2 HR SET
Item 1 of 3

How good are OpenCart's themes?

Rated 4/5 for Design

OpenCart comes with a straightforward, minimal theme that’s already installed. Users that want to change the design have two options: buy a theme from the marketplace or edit the source code directly.

The themes in the marketplace are relatively well-priced - most cost around $20 - and this is a definite plus. There are lots of options on offer, tailored for a variety of online sectors, so you’re certain to find one that fits your needs.

OpenCart doesn’t provide a site-builder for users. If you’re not comfortable editing code directly, then you’ll struggle to make small design changes. Again, development experience is a must.

OpenCart Examples

  • Schtinky Dog
    Schtinky Dog
Item 1 of 3

How much do they cost?

Everyone’s favourite topic - pricing. Let's dive in to see if Squarespace or OpenCart offers better value for money.

How much does Squarespace cost?

Rated 4.5/5 for Pricing

All in all, Squarespace offers excellent value for money. The feature-set is extremely robust and includes unlimited products, multi-channel management (through the “Shopping Feed” integration), POS, abandoned cart emails, customer accounts, and more. It’s also possible to sell digital products and subscription services.

The only area where Squarespace falls is the limited add-on library. Compared to a solution like Shopify, Squarespace doesn’t offer smaller, less obvious features like countdown timers or personalized promotions.

To take advantage of all the features, you’ll need to sign up for the “Advanced” plan, but smaller retailers will get by happily on the “Basic” plan. The “Business” plan offers a limited feature-set and is designed for webmasters that want to sell a small number of products.

How much does OpenCart cost?

Rated 4/5 for Pricing

It’s difficult to fault a free platform. So why only eight out of ten?

First, let’s take a look at the positive side of things. The OpenCart feature-set is superb for a free, open-source platform. Users can take advantage of unlimited products and categories, multilingual and multi-currency support, product reviews, a shipping calculator, analytics reports, and more.

Where OpenCart starts to flounder a little is in regards to extensions and support. Dedicated support is $99/month. And extensions which provide extra functionality, such as integrations with third-party platforms, regularly run into the hundreds of dollars. Finally, retailers will have to take care of all hosting and maintenance costs themselves.

Help and Support

If things go wrong (and they often do) you need to know someone’s there to help get you back on track. So, how does Squarespace's and OpenCart's support measure up?

How good is Squarespace support?

Rated 4.5/5 for Help and Support

The support package offered by Squarespace is excellent and users generally report high levels of customer satisfaction.

Customer support is available 24/7 via email and on Twitter. Live chat is available between 4 AM and 8 PM on weekdays.

Because Squarespace is a well-known and popular site-builder, a large community of users are active on the forums, which is another bonus.

How good is OpenCart support?

Rated 4/5 for Help and Support

OpenCart support comes in three forms. Reviews of the quality of support are generally positive.

First, users have access to a free community forum. The forum is active and has over 110,000 members.

Second, a one-off paid option is available. For $99 you get a one-time technical fix with a 30-day bug-free guarantee.

Finally, a subscription option for $99/month provides you with a monthly maximum of five extension installations and three bug fixes.

The Bottom Line

The final say. Let's wrap up our thoughts on each platform.

Squarespace: Our Verdict

Squarespace is a popular ecommerce platform and site-builder with a loyal band of users. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use solution with a comprehensive and powerful set of features, then take advantage of the free trial and give it a test-drive.

One of the best aspects of Squarespace is its applicability to retailers with a range of coding abilities. Non-developers can take advantage of the feature-rich site-builder (which is easy to navigate one you’re familiar with all the options) and build a highly-customized site. Developers, on the other hand, can customize and alter a site’s code extensively using the “Developer Mode”.

So what about the downsides? While we’re big fans of Squarespace, it’s not all sunshine and roses. Although the feature-set is excellent - covering omnichannel listings, customer accounts, POS, promotion features, and email marketing - the integration library is a little sparse. Without coding experience, retailers will find it difficult to add smaller features, like countdown timers or personalization, without advanced coding abilities. If you want access to a large add-on library, a solution like Shopify might be preferable. Furthermore, while the themes on offer are superb, there’s only ten of them.

OpenCart: Our Verdict

We liked OpenCart. It’s a great free solution for retailers that want to manage backend tasks themselves. If you have a small or medium store, and don’t want to deal with the complexities of a platform like Magento or PrestaShop, then it’s well worth giving a go.

Where OpenCart stumbles a little is in regards to paid extensions and support. Add-ons often run into hundreds of dollars. And for the amount you pay for monthly support, you might as well opt for a fully-hosted plan like Shopify or BigCommerce that comes with support included.

Just remember, if you don’t have development and IT skills, you’ll likely struggle with OpenCart. If, on the other hand, you’re more of the DIY orientation, you’ll certainly value the intuitive dashboard and extensive, easy-to-use features.

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