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I’ve been a SpreadSimple user since April 2021. In this post I’ll share with you the pros and cons of my experience with it thus far. I hope this will help you see whether SpreadSimple is the right platform for your business or not.
Overall, SpreadSimple has everything you need to run a successful e-commerce website. Though some users may find it lacking in advanced features and design customization, SpreadSimple’s beauty lies in its simplicity, ease of use, and the ability to manage your data directly on Google Sheets.
|Budget-friendly.||No on-boarding video tutorials.|
|Feature rich.||Mandatory Google Account.|
|Simple and easy to use.||Manual inventory update.|
|Great customer service.||Images are hosted on third-party hosting services.|
|Growing add-ons library.||Limited templates and design customization.|
|Mobile-friendly.||Lacks support from third-party providers.|
|Free SSL certificate.|
|Add custom scripts and CSS.|
How Does SpreadSimple Work?
SpreadSimple is a service that lets you create websites using Google Sheets. Besides an online store, you can also use SpreadSimple to create an affiliate site, a profile page, an online menu, a real estate listing, and so on. What it does is it basically extracts data from your Google spreadsheet, and presents it on a website according to your settings. No coding knowledge required.
For a change, let’s start with the cons, shall we?
No on-boarding video tutorials
The first con I encountered when I was setting up my first SpreadSimple website is its lack of on-boarding video tutorials. Though they have provided a comprehensive guide in their help center, it took me several hours before I got the hang of it. Maybe I’m just a slow learner. Nevertheless, I’m sure many beginners like me will find it helpful to have a series of short videos that can help them set up their website initially.
To aid you from this shortcoming, I wrote a step-by-step guide on creating an online store with SpreadSimple. Sorry, it’s still not video. But the article contains all the information you need to start your own website in less time. This includes the settings, spreadsheet template, and codes that you can copy and paste. I recommend you check it out and tell me what you think.
Mandatory Google Account
I am a Google user. So this is not an actual con for me. My calendar, email, notes, documents, and other digital assets are all with them. Heck, I even use Chromebooks to run my businesses. I love Google. But I know not everyone feels the same way. Many may get turned off by the fact that SpreadSimple only allows Google users to use their platform.
Manual Inventory Update
One of the biggest quirks I have with SpreadSimple is their quantity management. They cannot automatically deduct the number of items you have in your inventory after someone buys a product from your store. You have to manually update it in your spreadsheet. This can be a problem if you are not disciplined in monitoring your sales and let customers buy an item that’s already out of stock.
But don’t fret. There’s a way to automate it based on the video below. It, however, will require some technical skills and a premium subscription to an automation service like Pabbly Connect or Zapier. I am personally not techie enough to go through this process, so I chose the manual route – which is actually not as bad as it sounds. Whenever I sell a product, I would simply access Google Sheets on my phone and update it from there. It takes no longer than 10 seconds.
Images are hosted on third-party services.
SpreadSimple does not host images, so you’d need to sign up for third-party services. The practice is you’ll upload your product photos to a host and put the links in your spreadsheet. This will let SpreadSimple embed the information on your website.
There are three concerns I encountered with this setup:
1. SpreadSimple’s customer services cannot generally help you with image-related concerns.
There was one time when all my images on the website were not showing up. I reported, but they cannot see any problem. I later learned that my image host’s server was down.
Uploading 6 to 7 images per product, getting their links one by one, and then copying and pasting them on their individual cells takes a lot of time. Compare that to uploading the photos directly to your website and arrange them through a drag-and-drop function. Not to mention, you have to use another program/services like Canva to resize your photos.
3. Compatibility issues.
Thus far, I have observed not all image hosting services are compatible with SpreadSimple. Here are the ones working:
But good news for Pro plan users: you can use the SpreadSimple Image Uploader Extension on Google Chrome to help you with these concerns.
Limited templates and design customization.
I know how to appreciate great website designs, but I have no idea how to make one. That’s why I rely on templates when I create my own sites. I know many of you are like me. And if we all use SpreadSimple, chances are, our websites will look almost identical. To be fair, SpreadSimple did a nice job of creating beautiful templates, and they already expanded their library recently. Yet, they still lack options for making our sites truly standout.
You can check out SpreadSimple’s template library here.
Go here to see how other users designed their websites.
No integration for third-party plug-ins.
Another big blow to SpreadSimple I found lately was the lack of support from third-party services. Our store got invited to partner with a company that offers a Buy Now Pay Later payment plan. I was excited about this opportunity as this partnership will benefit many of our customers. We started talking a month ago, yet we still haven’t implemented the new payment option up to date. The problem: their plug-in is incompatible with SpreadSimple. I am not sure what adjustments they are making, but we haven’t heard anything from them for a couple of weeks now. We hope they can do something about it. I’ll update this post as soon as we were able to make it work.
I hope the cons did dishearten you from checking out SpreadSimple as a whole. As much as I love this website builder, being truthful about its flaws is my utmost priority as a writer of this post. But more importantly, being honest with its issues gives me the freedom to be honest with the pros. That’s the reason I prefer to talk about the cons first.
There’s a lot to love about SpreadSimple and the first one is, of course, its price. As entrepreneurs, we will all agree that cost will always be part of the equation. If you already have an established business and customer base offline, I’d suggest you opt for a more advanced (and pricey) e-commerce platform like Shopify or Wix. They can help you create an online store that is more consistent with your branding.
But for budding entrepreneurs who wish to test their products and ideas, you can’t go wrong with SpreadSimple. You can virtually make unlimited websites for free. And for those sites you think have potential, you can upgrade them to Pro for $13 a month when paid annually. The pro plan unlocks the full feature of SpreadSimple such as SEO, payment gateways, and connecting your custom domain. You’ll see the full list of features in a bit.
I’m not saying SpreadSimple is only good for start-ups. There are established companies who use this platform to earn $3,000,000 in revenue. What I’m saying is you will have less financial risks using SpreadSimple compared to other e-commerce platforms. See the price comparison:
|Free Forver||Pro (per month)|
Realistically speaking, free forever websites are only good for personal use. If you intend to use them for business, you need to invest on features that will make your sites productive. My top five non-negotiable features for an online store are:
- Being able to connect a custom domain.
- They are visible to search engines and have SEO capabilities.
- No branding from the provider/host.
- Have a shopping cart.
- Can accept payments (internationally).
Fortunately, SpreadSimple has all these plus a lot more. See the difference between the free and pro account:
|Free||Pro ($13 per month annually)|
|Responsive design||All free options|
|Light/dark theme||Remove branding|
|Search||Connect custom domain|
|Sorting||Visible for search engines|
|Filters||SEO Settings: meta tags, favicon, preview image|
|Pagination||Add custom scripts and CSS|
|Content blocks||Add analytics and chat|
|Customizable cards||Shopping cart|
|Instant update with Google Sheets||PayPal checkout|
|Customizable SpreadSimple subdomain||Stripe checkout|
|Header & Navigation||Embed as widget to external website|
|Content pages (limited)||Item details page|
|Markdown Support||Cookie Popup|
|Automation (webhooks and Zapier)|
|Pro add-ons (integrations)|
Simple and easy to use.
I took on a journey of transitioning my businesses from offline to online when my wife became pregnant with our first child. My master plan was to work at home, so I can be physically present for my family while being able to provide for them. I tried many e-commerce platforms when I started, but I chose to go with SpreadSimple in the end. I was sold by its simplicity and ease of use – which is super important for stay-at-home fathers like me. I’d rather be on a platform with only the essential features yet is painless to manage than be on an advanced one with a steep learning curve.
Don’t tell this to anyone, but ever since I finished setting up my SpreadSimple website I’ve rarely visited my dashboard. Most of the management I do is within the Google Sheet app. I was even surprised they now have new features such as promo codes, featured cards, and additional themes.
Great customer service.
SpreadSimple hands-down gave me one of the best customer service I’ve experienced online. Kudos, especially to Oksana, who’s always available and patient with my queries and requests. They’ve solved all my concerns (that’s within their power) in no more than a day. Some even in a few minutes. They even listened to my suggestion about having an affiliate program to help them promote their service – because I’m really loving their platform. Furthermore, they also have a public roadmap where you can keep track, comment and recommend about their developments.
Growing add-ons library.
I mentioned previously that one con of SpreadSimple is its lack of compatibility with third-party plug-ins. To counter this shortcoming, SpreadSimple offered a wide-range of add-ons you can choose from to power up your website. This includes analytics, payment gateways, email marketing, chats, and more. Check the updated list here.
85% of consumers shop using their mobile phones. It is now imperative for our online stores to be mobile-friendly. This is something we don’t need to sweat about when using SpreadSimple. Its themes are super responsive to both mobile and desktop users.
Free SSL certificate.
Since we are accepting payments on our website, an SSL certificate is a must. It will enable encrypted connection whenever a web browser contacted our server, thus providing safer online transactions. Furthermore, on an SEO standpoint, Google seems to give priority to websites that are SSL certified.
Normally, SSL certificates cost about $8 to $60 per year when you buy a domain or subscribe to a web host. But this is not the case with SpreadSimple. They are giving it out for free! I knew about this a little too late. I already paid extra for the SSL certificate when I got my domain from Namecheap.
Add custom scripts and CSS.
Adding custom scripts and CSS to your website’s header and body can boost its look and functionality. If you are knowledgeable about coding, I’m sure there are lots of things you can do with this option. As for me, I only used it to add a Facebook Messenger button on the lower right side of my online store. This helps our customers get in touch with us easier.
SpreadSimple is a fast and easy way to build websites using Google Sheets. While it lacks some advanced features compared to popular e-commerce platforms, it has all the essential tools to help you run a successful online business – at a very budget-friendly price.
If you’re planning to start your own e-commerce website, I highly recommend you check out SpreadSimple. And if you need help in creating your online store, see this guide I wrote for you: How To Create Your Online Store With SpreadSimple.
You can check out some of the other e-commerce platforms before I decided to go with SpreadSimple below:
There’s a high chance you already know more about Shopify than SpreadSimple. Shopify is one, if not, the most popular e-commerce platform today. If you have the budget, Shopify is a solid choice.
- Reason to go for it: Ease of Use
- Reason to avoid: Expensive
This is a drag-and-drop website builder that has also expanded to the e-commerce platform territory. Wix is actually the service I’m already considering before I stumbled upon SpreadSimple. One of its strengths is designing capabilities. If you are particular with your website’s look, you should go check out Wix.
- Reason to go for it: Designing capabilities.
- Reason to avoid: Tools and options can be overwhelming.
To be transparent, I personally haven’t tried BigCommerce. But based on my research, it is also one of the top e-commerce platforms out there. Many experts rival this with Shopify. The reason I didn’t even try it is because of its steep price. Its standard package already starts at $29.95/month.
- Reason to go for it: Top tier order management system.
- Reason to avoid: If you’re starting from scratch. This is only suitable for established stores or brands.
If there’s one solution that could rival SpreadSimple, it’s Ecwid. They’re almost like twins. Both offer free forever plans and are easy to use. What separates the two for me is that Ecwid is better at multi-platform selling – meaning you can use it to sell on Instragram, Facebook Page, etc. – while SpreadSimple is better in data management. I obviously chose the system that allows me to handle all the data via Google Sheets.
- Reason to go for it: Budget-friendly multi-platform selling.
- Reason to avoid: Clunky inventory management.
I’ve read a lot of good things about WooCommerce. But when I finally got my hands on it, I stopped mid-way. There’s just too many things going on. I know many would appreciate its sandbox-y nature, but it’s not for me. I don’t have the time and patience to tinker. But for those who do, you will be rewarded with a highly customizable e-commerce platform.
- Reason to go for it: Control and customizability.
- Reason to avoid: Too much work.