In this post I look at two of the world’s biggest and one of the UK’s most popular website builders that all offer ecommerce functionality, but are they any good for building an online store?
Before I get into the comparison, I thought I would just take a quick look at the history of all three platforms. Wix are one of the biggest website platforms in the world and reportedly power nearly 4 million websites according to builtwith.com, so it is fair to say that the Israeli company has done pretty well for itself!
The second platform I am looking at is Wix’s big rival Squarespace who according to builtwith.com power over 1.9 million website.
Create.net are definitely smaller than the two other platforms in this comparison, but they have still helped over 30,000 people start a website.
To compare these three platforms, I am going to look at the pricing, features and ease of use. If you want more information on either platform, then I will leave a link to my full reviews on all platforms.
Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase a product from one of these links, I receive a small commission that helps keep this site up and running.
No Turnover Limit
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20gb Data Storage
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No Turnover Limit
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Up to 50 Products
No Turnover Limit
4% Transaction Fee on first £750 of Sales
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UK Based Email Support
Choosing which Squarespace package to use for this comparison was a bit difficult, as they do have a business package for £15 but it isn’t great in terms of ecommerce features. So I opted for the basic commerce package instead, which makes it the most expensive out of the three.
Create updated their pricing structure in 2020 and reduced the price of their basic package from £14.99 to £9.99 but introduced tiered pricing and a transaction
All three of these platforms offer you a free 14 day trial, so that you can really test out the platform before committing to a paid plan. If you want to start a free trial with any of these platforms, simply click the buttons above.
For all of these platforms, ecommerce is a feature in itself as they are all primarily website builders that allow you to sell products online. So what features does each platform offer?
When it comes to features, the Wix platform is very rich and it allows you to build a site that is much more than just an ecommerce site.
Wix use an app based system for all of their features, this means that the core Wix simply allows you to create a website with fixed pages. The app selection is very good and allows you to build an online store, add a blog, events, bookings and even a forum.
When it comes to specific ecommerce features, there aren’t a massive amount to choose from and many of them are focused around promoting your products, such as:
- Creating discount codes
- Sharing via social media
- Email sharing
- Creating a promo video
You can also sell your products via a Facebook shop and Instagram. Wix does have an app market, where they offer a range of apps that integrate with the likes of printful, google and quickbooks. When it comes to the amount of features available, Wix does offer a lot.
Squarespace definitely isn’t as feature rich as Wix, whether it is ecommerce features of just general features for the platform. Some of the features that stood out to me were:
- Abandoned Cart Recovery
- Gift Cards
- G Suite free for 1 year
Unlike Wix, you cannot pick and choose what features you have on your site as they all come pre-installed. While the selection isn’t bad, there just isn’t anything on there that really makes Squarespace stand out from the rest.
Create have a nice selection of features on their platform and just like Squarespace, they all come pre-installed. For me, the features they offer really show the kind of business that they are aiming for, which is smaller, boutique style ecommerce businesses. Some of the features that stood out to me are:
- Social share widgets
- Discount tools, including create and schedule sales
- Personalisation options for products
- Events calendar
- Custom forms
There is no option to offer a subscription service with Create, instead their focus is on the product side, whether it is a digital or physical product.
Wix – there are 86 templates available for online stores in their template library but there is no indication that any of their other themes will work with the Wix Stores app.
Squarespace have a large selection of themes but finding them all can be quite frustrating! This is because they only show 10 themes for every search result, this makes it really easy to miss the perfect theme.
Create has the smallest amount of themes available with 35. The variety is quite wide as their selection covers a large number of industries. If you want a custom theme, you can always ask the Create team to make you one or have a web designer build one using their Web Designer’s Kit.
I was quite disappointed when it came to the selection of payment gateways offered by Wix, as their website does lead you to believe that there is a large selection but in reality there is Wix payments for debit and credit cards and PayPal.
Things don’t get much better with Squarespace as you have the choice of Stripe and PayPal, yes a grand total of two payment gateways!
Fortunately, things get better when it comes to Create as they offer a total of six gateways, which are PayPal, Stripe, Sagepay, Worldpay, Barclaycard and Nochex.
None of the three offer Klarna, which is a little disappointing.
All three platforms are aimed at people with little to no experience, so how good is the support that they offer?
I was really disappointed with support offering from Wix as it felt like they were trying to hide how I could actually contact a member of their support team. To start with, like many of the larger platforms, they send to their help documentation but if this doesn’t help, you can raise a support ticket or request a call back.
Squarespace’s support easier to contact and they offer live chat between 4am and 8pm eastern (US time), which is good as get quick responses. Outside of this, you can send them an email, that they aim to respond to as quickly as they can.
Create are definitely more open about how you can contact them. The first thing that sets them apart from the other two is that you get your own account manager and when you log into your dashboard, it tells you who they are and if they are online or not.
If you can’t contact your own account manager, you can use the live chat to speak to someone or drop them an email. Unfortunately, they don’t have a contact phone number but all of their support team is based here in the UK.
Hosting & Performance
None of the platforms have put much information about their servers or hosting on their websites, which is a bit different to the majority of ecommerce platforms.
However, this does not stop me from testing them out and I put them through my s
tandard testing method. This involves taking three of their customer example websites and running them through Pingdom’s speed test tool once a day for three days. This gives me a good range of data.
Average Load Time
1st Site: 5.88 Seconds
2nd Site: 7.48 Seconds
3rd Site: 5.52 Seconds
Average Load Time
1st Site: 2.37 Seconds
2nd Site: 1.16 Seconds
3rd Site: 1.94 Seconds
Average Load Time
1st Site: 0.72 Seconds
2nd Site: 0.73 Seconds
3rd Site: 1.01 Seconds
There is a clear winner when it comes to quality of the hosting, Create.net not only had the quickest loading sites but were also consistent with each other.
The results from Wix during testing was abysmal to be honest! When you go on a Wix site, this is noticeable as some elements take a long time to load. Squarespace was pretty good but the results are not particularly consistent, which is something I don’t like to see.
Ease of Use
So I have looked at the facts and figures and while they are all good, they don’t tell you what they are like to use. That is why I have given a quick overview of each platform to see how easy they are to use.
All three platforms make it really easy to get started and they all offer a 14 day free trail that allows you to test the platform out before signing up to a paid plan. You can also have a free Wix site after the trial if you want to. But what about once you have signed up?
I was pleasantly surprised by the Wix set up process. The first thing you can do and I would recommend it, is to go through their ADI (artificial design intelligence). By answering a few simple questions, the ADI will configure you a basic site that should allow you to easily build your site from.
When you navigate to your main sites dashboard, there is a nice set up guide that takes you through many of the different areas of your site. The amount of options here does depend on how many apps you decide to install in the set up. The whole set up, is pretty well thought out.
Unfortunately, I cannot lavish the same praise on Squarespace as there is no set up guide or process. The only way you can find a getting started guide is by going to the help documentation.
As a platform that is targeted towards people who have never built a website before, this is a massive oversight by Squarespace and honestly, I was really disappointed by this.
When I first logged into the Create dashboard, I was greeted by something that I haven’t experienced with any other platform. They have an introductory video that appears as a pop up and gives you a good introduction on how to use the platform, a great touch and definitely worth a watch.
After you have watched the video, you will then see a set up guide that not only shows you how to do different things but also has a video to accompany it. To me, this is great as sometimes, simply watching a video can make things much easier to understand, rather than reading a help document.
Navigating your Dashboard
The main issue I have with navigating Wix is that their design and main website dashboards are two completely different areas, with different layouts.
Neither of the dashboards are overly complicated to use but it still means that you need spend time learning how to use both of them. One thing that did get me was that it isn’t overly clear how to move from one dashboard to the other.
This just makes it feel a little disjointed to me. It would definitely be an improvement if they were both bought into one dashboard.
Squarespace have kept it simple on this one and their dashboard is clearly laid out and well designed. This means that the learning curve is really small and it doesn’t take long to learn where everything is.
Create have gone with the same concept as Squarespace by keeping their dashboard nice and simple. The only major difference is that they have opted for a top navigation bar, rather than a sidebar.
This allows a sidebar to appear with options when you navigate to different areas of the dashboard.
Customising your Theme
Wix have two different options when it comes to customising your theme. The easy way, which uses their ADI system that I mentioned above. I really like this and it makes is really easy to make changes to not only the layout of your site but also to change any content on your pages.
There are also different layout options, not only for the site as whole but also for individual sections. This means that there are numerous different ways in which you can customise the look of your website.
The second option is the harder option in the form of their advanced editor. This allows you to make numerous changes on your site from content and overall layout, to slightly adjusting the position of a button. While the amount of things you can do is pretty impressive, it is not overly intuitive to use and you can easily make your site look pretty rubbish!
I was quite disappointed by the theme customisation in Squarespace, mainly because it feels quite disjointed. The theme customisation options are split between two sections and it really doesn’t make for a good workflow.
To edit the layout of your pages, you need to do this in the pages section but to change fonts or colours, you need to go to the design section, It would just be easier if it was all rolled up into one!
I really like the way that you can customise your theme with create. In many ways it work in a very similar fashion to the Wix ADI as you can edit your design and page content all in on section.
Alternatively, you can edit all of your content by using the content section of the dashboard. Either way, it is really easy to do.
There are also lots of options when it comes to the layouts of your pages. There is a really good selection of sections that you can add and nearly all of them have different layout options.
Adding and Managing Stock
Being able to manage your stock efficiently and effectively is a hugely important part of running an online store and for me there are three main areas to this and they are:
- Adding products
- Organising your Products
- Managing your inventory
Adding a new product to Wix is super easy, firstly you will be asked if you want to add a digital or physical product. Once you have chosen which, you go to a nice a simple product creation page that lists all of the important sections you need to add.
The sidebar on the right will give you lots of options for promoting your product once you have created it.
Organising your inventory is equally as simple. They have opted for collections rather than categories but they operate in the same way. The only real downside is that you can’t have sub-collections, which is a bit limiting.
Managing your inventory isn’t the easiest as you need to do it on a product by product basis, this could be frustrating if you have a large inventory. One thing that did bug me was was that every time I would click off a product it would ask me if I wanted to save changes, even if I hadn’t made any. Only a small thing but makes for lots of unnecessary mouse clicks.
Adding a new product in Squarespace is not complicated. They have opted for a tabbed pop up rather than a new screen. It is easy to work your way through all of the relevant sections.
Organising your inventory with Squarespace isn’t the easiest thing to do. As you can see in the image above, it says you have categories but it doesn’t work in the way that they should. Instead to organise your stock, you need to add it to a page and moving your products around your website involves cutting from one page and pasting into another.
It really doesn’t work that well and I found it very frustrating. It also isn’t easy to figure out how to do it, I had to spend time in the help documentation to understand how to do it.
Managing your inventory is very similar to Wix in that it has to be done on a product by product basis. Which isn’t great if you have a large inventory.
There is a little quirk in the Create system when you add a new product as you don’t add your images until you have entered all the information about the product. This is a bit unusual as it is one of the first things you do on many platforms.
Aside from that, adding a new product is really easy to do, they have opted for a tabbed layout and it is easy to work your way through all the relevant sections.
To organise your products, they have gone with the tried and tested category system and it just works. You can also create sub-categories as well and this just makes organising your products so much easier.
Managing your inventory can also be done easily as there is a toggle switch to move between standard and advanced view. Advanced view makes it so much easier to manage your inventory as you can quickly update prices and stock quantity from the overview menu.
I ran into a brick wall with Wix and Squarespace as I could create test orders to test out how easy the order management was. This can only be accessed when you are on a paid plan, I don’t get why companies do this as you should be able to test everything before you commit to a paid plan!
While you can’t do everything in trial version of Create, at least you can get a good feeling for how it all works. You can print of invoices and packing slips either individually or in bulk and you can also export all of your orders in CSV format as well, which is useful if you use third party software.
For me, there is one clear winner amongst these three platforms and that is Create. While not perfect (but no platform is!), it is just better in so many areas than the other two platforms and would definitely be my recommendation if you want to have a small ecommerce/boutique style website. I will still give a brief conclusion of all three platforms below.
Undoubtedly the most feature rich of the three platforms and some of these features are really good. The ADI is also a nice tool to use and makes customising your site really easily. For me though, these don’t make up for the shocking performance of their sites and that their dashboard just feels disjointed.
I felt quite let down by Squarespace as I expected it to be better than it is. For me, it does some things ok but nothing great. I really didn’t think it was the easiest to use and this was evidenced by the fact that on more than one occasion I had to refer to the help documentation for what were pretty straightforward things to do on other platforms.
If you haven’t already guessed it, I am a fan of the Create platform. It just does so many things really well, is easy to use and has a good amount of features. I also felt they provide more in the way of guidance and support than the other two, not just from the videos and account manager but also personalised emails to see how I was getting on with the platform.
So there it is, my complete comparison between these three website builders. I hope this has given you some information and insight into the platforms. If you want to know more about any of them, I will leave links below to their full reviews and the platforms website.