You are missing out (a lot!) if your business hasn't expand its reach online.
With the advent of online store builders, it’s never been easier to create an online store – even that you are just a newbie with no web development experience.
There are a number of great eCommerce website builders that are catered to beginners who just want a simple and functioning online store. We’ve narrowed it down to the best five that are great for any newbie or small business owners with limited budget.
In a Glance: Compare Best Online Store Builders
Compare features and review online store builder pricing in the following table.
The one-stop solution for all business owners, Shopify is the solution for those who want to run an eCommerce store on their website. Shopify gives you access to its online store builder which lets you build your site exactly the way you want it.
Using pre-built Shopify templates, it’s quite easy to create an eCommerce store. You get to choose from over a hundred different templates. All the professional looking templates are mobile-friendly.
They even include a number of features such as SEO, marketing resources, social media integration, secure shopping carts, and even support over 100 payment gateways. If you need extra features to extend your store, you can choose the suitable add-on from the Shopify app store – come with both free and paid.
If your online store is based in the US or Canada, you can make use of Shopify payment and the shipping solution. Shopify payment is fully integrated with your store. You don't have to pay any transaction fee. Or else, you will charge up to 2% transaction fees for each sale.
Whether you’re a serious business owner or just a newbie, BigCommerce offers a ton of features that are super user-friendly. The important thing to note though is that their website can be a bit confusing for new visitors.
Because of the depth in features that BigCommerce has, it can cater to a massive range of users. They split their product lines into two major segments – Enterprise and Essentials. Unless you’re running a multi-billion dollar company then chances are higher that you’ll want to be looking at the Essentials section.
BigCommerce Essentials offers users an all-in-one platform that helps you at every stage from sign-up to operations of your site. From starter free templates to help you with design to other extensive features like multi-channel sales, marketing tools, and more – BigCommerce Essentials has it all.
They also have very extensive support, and this can be leveraged on in more ways than one. Aside from the usual help channels you can also benefit from their on-demand courses that help teach you the essentials of how to grow your site.
You can give them a try with a 15-day free trial, no credit card required.
Zyro’s aim is to make website building easily available to the masses and this includes online stores. Their dual capability means that new users have a progression path even when starting on their free plans – and can, later on, upgrade to commercialize their websites.
It should be noted though that this very simplicity can be a two-edged sword. For users who are seasoned veterans of eCommerce, you might find what’s available here a tad restrictive. If you’re new however, you’ll likely adapt with ease.
Being a new service, there are teething issues, but the Zyro team has worked hard to resolve problems. All you need is to get in touch with them and their support will handle the rest.
In any case, with a forever trial account, what can go wrong?
Weebly offers a powerful platform for building a website but still remains affordable for businesses who are just starting out. Next to Wix, Weebly is quite similar in terms of the features they offer.
Some of the great features they offer is the ability to let your customer to search and filter for products they want on your website.
But of course, Weebly’s biggest advantage is their pricing. And at $12 for their lowest eCommerce plan, it’s definitely easier, and less painful on your wallet, to have an eCommerce website.
Wix has over 154 million registered users in 190 countries and they are continuing to grow at a fast rate. For businesses who are looking to start small in the eCommerce world, Wix is a great web building solution as you can have a site ready in a few minutes.
One of the great things about Wix is that they cater to those who have zero knowledge on starting a website. From providing templates to choosing fonts, they spoon feed you all the help you’ll need to have a website.
Like all good things in life, online store builders do have their fair share of downsides. Let's have a look at the pros and cons of using an online store builder:
Pros of Online Store Builder
No coding required – Create and edit your online store easily using a drag-and-drop editor. In comparison you need advanced web development skills to build an online store from scratch using open-source solution (ie. PrestaShop or Magento website)
After-sales technical support – Platforms like BigCommerce and Shopify comes with extensive after-sales support, help is (usually) just one email away.
Ready-made, beautifully designed storefront
Get protected with built-in security features and shared SSL certificates
Grow your business on multiple channels and platforms easily (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Amazon, etc)
Easily get paid in various currencies via multiple payment gateways
Some store builders allow you to manage both online and offline sales at one place (ie. Shopify Pos)
On-going website support (including security and software upgrades) at no additional costs
Cons of Online Store Builder
Lowering your business margin – Many online store builders charge transaction fee per sale (ie. Shopify charge 0.5 – 2.0%)
Some online store builders come with SEO issues (URL structure, .htaccess access, etc) that you can't fix
The life and death of your store depending on the platform. If the platform goes out of business, so does your store
How to Choose the right Online Store Builder for Your Business?
There are a variety of online store builders available on the internet and choosing the right platform for you depends on what you and your business really need out of it.
It’s kind of like shopping for a car. The main purpose of it is to get you from point A to B, but there’s more to it when you’re trying to pick one. With an online store platform, the main purpose is to show the product you’re selling, put it in a shopping cart, and give you money. But just like buying a car, there’s more to it.
When it comes to choosing the best eCommerce website builder for your business, the following factors should be considered beforehand:
1. What’s your budget?
Your budget will decide what you can afford to get. If you have a bigger budget, you can get a bigger car. The same applies to online stores and eCommerce options. A bigger budget will definitely get you more interesting platforms that offer more built-in features. The affordable ones, on the other hand, will be more simple and straightforward.
When looking for an online store builder, you need to understand the difference between something working and something being user-friendly. Certain builders will focus on design over features or vice versa. If you don’t mind going through walk-throughs and user manuals, you might prefer having more features and options. Some might want a simple and straightforward design over obscure features.
Having support is always great, especially when you can call someone up for help. Unfortunately, it can also cost money. While some might be fine with having standardized help or by doing everything themselves, if you need the extra help, you might want to consider having a developer on retainer.
Store builder with best support community: Shopify
4. Do you need offline sales/inventory?
With eCommerce platforms, you’ll be able to manage your orders and inventory. Some platforms, however, will allow you to sync it with your offline sales as well. You can even use some as an offline ordering system so that your inventory/payment can seamlessly work between online and offline store.
5. What are the basic features of the online store?
A good online store builder should offer the basic features that you would need for an eCommerce site, such as SSL certificates, cart functions, website SEO features, sales and inventory reporting, card recovery, and transaction plugins. Some will offer more features and plugins but the trade-off means having to deal with a more complicated interface.
When choosing one for your business – remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
That said, however, a great online store builder should take care of the heavy lifting in setting up an online store. These include website creation, store-front setup, inventory calculation, shipping fees calculation, inventory management, sales reporting, payment gateway integration, storefront design, etc; so that you can focus on growing your business.
With these in mind, you’ll be able to choose the one that hits all the right spots.
Frequently Asked Questions on eCommerce Website Builders
Can I use my own domain with online store builder?
Yes you can do that with most online store builders. All five platforms that we recommend in this article allow users to connect their domain name easily.
Do I need to purchase a special SSL certificates for my online store?
Most online store builders come with a free shared SSL certificate – hence no additional cost or work is required from your end. You can, however, purchase and install your private SSL certificate for your store. Having an SSL certificate is essential to not only your customers' online safety but also to your Google ranking. Google has stated clearly that HTTPS encryption is a ranking signal in August 2014.
How much transaction fees do I need to pay to online store builder?
Not all online store builders charge transaction fees – BigCommerce, for example, do not charge transaction fees in all their plans. However, if they do, the fees usually range from 0.5% – 3% – depends on the plan you are using.
Here are two examples:
Shopify Transaction Fees Basic Shopify: 0 – 2% for external payment gateways Shopify: 0 – 1% for external payment gateways Advanced Shopify: 0 – 0.5% for external payment gateways
For usage of all major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, JCB, Discover, and Diners Club debit and credit cards), you’ll need to set it up by going to the accept credit card section and selecting Shopify payments.
Weebly Transaction Fees Weebly adds a 2.9% service charge + $0.30 transaction fee for Stripe, Authorize.net, and PayPal. On their starter and pro plans, Weebly charges an additional 3% but you can opt for the business plan to avoid the additional fee.
Should I use a free eCommerce website builder instead?
No. We don’t recommend using a free eCommerce website builder as tend to be very basic. When it comes to building an eCommerce website, you get what you pay for, and often time, what you pay for is the ability to use tools and features that are necessary for an online store.
What is a drop-shipping online store?
Dropshipping is a business model where you can sell physical products without having the actual items with you. When there’s an order from customers, the store owners just need to contact the supplier. The order will then ship by the supplier to the customers directly. Check out our recent case study and learn how you can start a dropshipping business using Shopify.
About Jerry Low
Founder of WebHostingSecretRevealed.net (WHSR) - a hosting review trusted and used by 100,000's users. More than 15 years experience in web hosting, affiliate marketing, and SEO. Contributor to ProBlogger.net, Business.com, SocialMediaToday.com, and more.