Best Free Ecommerce Website Builders

Considering six e-commerce website builders best in 2019

E-commerce is the notion, which describes in a word the online sales processes: everything considering e-store. Such notions are included under its umbrella: 

  • sales, a.k.a. financial transactions – of the items of goods or services that you directly sell from your site
  • taxation applicable to the sold items of merchandise – country, international or regional tax
  • taxation applicable to the seller – depending on the number of sales per year and the country of tax registration; this most often is the sum of gained money
  • payment method – in the best free e-commerce website builder, there may be tens of ways to pay for the goods (cards of the banks, PayPal, e-wallets, e-coins and other e-money, direct debit, money of demand, Skrill, and many other ways, including the inner systems of this or that free e-commerce website builder, from where the money is then withdrawn to the bank account of a seller or to a card account, depending on the applied financial jurisdiction)
  • integration with social media and huge trade platforms – to sell through them as well, as they are visited by billions of people every month, not like your individual sales site
  • promo codes and discounts – to make your merchandise much more attractive to the customers. 

The most powerful sales tools offer the aforementioned in their subscription plans and much more.

 

Introduction to the world of free e-commerce platforms

Deciding on what tool is the best for your needs, we recommend you to pay attention to the following factors. Combined, they will make your sales much more comprehensive than in some non-specialized site builder and the knowledge about the existence of these prerequisites is going to help you choose a tool – as you will pay specific attention now on this or that factor.

  1. Integration with sales platforms and social media – to offer your merchandise to a global audience, which can increase your sales just because your goods are present there. These platforms offer you much more marketing opportunities that you would have with a standalone site. Also, you can start selling on those platforms and end on your site, where the sales processes are tuned to your needs, strategy, and vision.

  2. SEO – if you want to be found online (and you do need to be found, as there will be no sales without customers), then you should have at least decent SEO (if not to say ‘excellent’) so to be found online in search engine of Google (and other engines if you are interested in them in the 21st century).

  3. Friendliness to mobile gadgets. There is no such a customer of an online store, who would not use a mobile phone or, at least, tablet, to browse for some merch online. If they find it on a non-mobile-friendly site, they are likely to go to some other place than try to deal with small letters and numbers incomprehensibly visible on a small screen.

  4. The convenience of work inside of a free e-commerce website builder specifically for you. Test it, try with a hand, see how it works, and feel if there is a connection between you. Only in this way, you can really estimate if a tool is worthy of your attention.

  5. SSL and HTTPS are must-have things for every site dealing with finances – it must be secure to make money transactions through it. Especially when it comes to cards – PCI DSS regulations strictly describe a ton of requirements that sites dealing with finances should have. And your free e-commerce store must provide you an opportunity to enable SSL and HTTPS to start sales – otherwise, abandon such a free e-commerce web builder as a hot potato from your burnt hands. You’ll be also banned by Google shortly without HTTPS & SSL.

  6. Shipping management – every customer would like to know where his or her shipment currently is. That’s even more than just a ‘nice-to-have’ tool.

  7. Online help for your customers – if you’re running a big store (or trying to make one), it would be nice to have some online or e-mail or phone manager, who would give a piece of advice to clients, helping them out.

  8. Sold product types – there are three of them: physical goods, electronic goods, and services. From one to another free e-commerce website builder, you will find differences in what they allow to sell (some may even differ from plan to plan).

  9. Items management – if you run a store with thousands or tens of thousands of items, bulk management is a must-have thing. You specifically can’t allow yourself to manage every piece of merch by hand – it would take you days just to change pricing inside of a big group of items, for instance.

Now as you know, what features to look for, let’s go observing six best free e-commerce websites makers.

 

Big Cartel free e-commerce builder

Big Cartel free e-commerce sites builder is trying to catch up with the leaders of the market – Shopify and BigCommerce. It does not excel in anything particularly but there are things where this free e-commerce websites builder lags behind: help and support of customers are not just ‘bad’, they are terrible. The templates are not too flexible and literally disallow you to demonstrate your oeuvre. If you select this free e-commerce site builder, be sure that you aren’t planning to grow in the future but firmly want to take your current position or maybe to even downgrade a little.

Pros of this free tool:

  • It’s the only tool we are showing today, which actually is free (others disallow completely free run)
  • Pricing is relatively good compared to others: from $9.99 to $29.99 a month – its costliest plan ends where the cheapest e-commerce website’s plan of Shopify starts
  • Tips in the visual interface help start a site fast, even to a complete novice
  • This free e-commerce site builder has a number of convenient payment systems.

Cons of this free tool:

  • Limitations on the number of products a user can have and sell
  • Limits to only 1 image per 1 product
  • Amazon, ApplePay or Google as payment channels are unreachable
  • Poor features compared to market leaders
  • It’s relatively hard to work in this platform
  • HTML and CSS are changeable but not because to make a template to excel – but rather to make it at least anyhow presentable, so the advantage of changing the codes turns into a necessity and a con for many.

 

Wix free builder

Wix free e-commerce website builder is not a specialized tool; it’s just the one allowing making sales and having dedicated templates of e-commerce. 

It has 8 subscription plans but only three of them are suitable to run a store online: $17, $25, and $35 a month. The price can change – depending on what territory in the world you’re opening the pricing page.

Pros of this free tool:

  • Has a lot of power to customize and adjust under your needs
  • Add many features to your merch items – like description, pictures, videos (or links to YouTube, where the hosting space limits are not harsh as it is in Wix)
  • Attach supplementary products and make connections between products – but do it all by hand
  • Backup and restore.

Cons of this free tool:

  • Manual managing of everything, as there is no bulk management of data. That is bad because you can’t delete a product, for instance, and to be sure that all links to this product will also be deleted automatically from all other pages. You just can’t see the existing connections and there is no other way but to manually run all information. This makes the free e-commerce website builder bad for anything over 20-30 products, which is not of power for a big store.
  • Poor adjustability of templates beyond the approved point – only work within some frames and physical limits of the pages
  • Not every theme is friendly for mobile screens
  • Can’t change themes when the website goes live
  • Can’t use more than 1 theme for 1 website.

 

Shopify free top builder

Shopify free e-commerce website builder is known as a leader of the market, no matter what other people say. It has excellence in everything: SEO, sales, taxation, discounts, special offers, bulk management, shipment tracking, and shipment discounts, sales channels, mobile-friendliness, POS, and PIN functions, as well as many other smaller things.

Pros of this free tool:

  • Number 1 in power of free e-commerce websites making due to its supers powers – considering the just mentioned list of ‘dos’
  • No artificial limitations that are set by other free e-commerce website builders to drain more money out of your pockets
  • Devastatingly excellent support of customers
  • High integration abilities.

Cons of this free tool:

  • It charges commissions for financial transactions: around 2.5% + $0.30 for every. They vary depending on the subscription package and may be lower or bigger
  • Some offered apps in its app store are paid (on a monthly basis or as a one-time charge)
  • Switching themes is impossible after getting launched.

 

BigCommerce free builder of e-commerce sites

This free e-commerce website builder is a chaser of Shopify – and is practically its clone. It differs insignificantly with its pro: almost the total absence of commissions for transactions. Its con is limit in annual sales.

Pros of this free tool:

  • Same as Shopify
  • Does not charge financial commissions (almost never).

Cons of this free tool:

  • No mobile app
  • Unsuitable for large online stores, as it has thresholds of annual max sales through a store
  • Can’t have more than 1 store in 1 subscription account.

 

Squarespace free e-commerce builder

It is not directly a free e-commerce website builder but it is equipped with somewhat powerful e-commerce. If you like its relatively low pricing compared to BigCommerce or Shopify and can live with its significantly lower sales power, then it shall be a good choice for you.

Pros of this free tool:

  • Paying for a year, you economize up to 25% and get a free custom domain name for 12 months, in absolutely every package
  • Process your goods in a bulk mode – great, isn’t it?
  • The business design is based on powerful themes, which can be extensively optimized to own needs
  • Easy to use – after you master its peculiar interface
  • Transaction fees are absent after you go for two high-cost subscription plans
  • Sell just any number of products on absolutely any annual volume in total.

Cons of this free tool:

  • A relatively small amount of payment channels allowed through the Xero payment gateway.
  • In a month-to-month payment basis, you aren’t having a free custom domain and has to buy one additionally.

 

Volusion free e-commerce builder

Here, in this free e-commerce website builder, you are going to receive less beauty than in Squarespace and gain more functionality, like in Wix. If you are a lover of widened stats, tables, and information – then Volusion is the right e-commerce website builder.

However, it is an openly poor choice due to high pricing combined with annual sales limitations, not great designs, and a small number of products that are allowed to be sold at a time.

Pros of this free tool:

  • Payment methods are diverse and suitable for most countries of the world
  • Great analytics in many angles of views
  • Mobile app’s existence.

 

Cons of this free tool:

  • Limits the most essential things: a number of products on sales at a time & the annual sales volume
  • High cost, even for a specialized e-commerce website builder
  • Support of customers is mediocre
  • Selling digital products? Forget about it with Volusion
  • SSL is paid, which is the worst practice on the market.

 

Best platforms for online sales: the verdict 

  1. Starting from the best, lowering to the worst – Shopify is a leader and things are unlikely to change in the nearest future. It is powerful in every aspect of sales (comprehensively submitted at the beginning of an article).
  2. BigCommerce is trying to catch up – luring clients with a significant advantage of the absence of sales commissions (in most cases). Volusion has given up catching up. Big Cartel is not even trying to catch up, being a so-so e-commerce maker, leaving much more space to the market leaders to share the marker nearly in halves.
  3. Squarespace and Wix are non-specialized tools, which, however, offer nice options for e-commerce website building. You can use a lot of their templates and do the setup of a not bad sales process.
  4. Going for an unpaid plan, be prepared that you will be able to sell one or two pieces of merchandise and that’s it. If your aim is a big functional store with powerful statistical reporting and tens of functions surrounding sales, then always go for a paid subscription – and you won’t be disappointed if you are going to have one in Shopify or BigCommerce.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I build an e-commerce web website for no money?

It is possible to build for free but it’s not always possible to run it for free. Even running for free, you are limited in functions, sales, reporting, nice name of a website, and other essentials.

 

What’s the best platform for building an online store?

Shopify – for the fullest power of e-commerce. BigCommerce is an option number two. Squarespace – for a great view of pages and the nice bulk management of goods. Wix is for the number of sophisticated templates for websites, and others on our list are the worst choices. 

 

How long does it take to build an online store?

It depends on your merchandise’s number. Tens of units are uploaded into the catalog within an hour. Hundreds will take days. Thousands – from days to months. Tens of thousands are recommended to upload automatically based on some additionally written procedure (a piece of software) as manual loading will take months. 

 

Is my SEO going to be OK with a free e-commerce builder?

No, a free run is not developed for good SEO.

 

What will I miss with a free online store?

A lot of things. Basically, everything – from the nice volume of storage and nice domain name (which isn’t going to be nice unpaid) to the number of pieces of merchandise you can sell at a time or for a month, stats of visitors and sales. It is impossible to have options of discounts and promo codes, as well as users won’t be able to pay, selecting some preferred channel they want (an unpaid usage regularly limits users to only 1-2 payment channels, like PayPal with an increased commission or akin). So, a free run of free e-commerce website builders is NOT the choice if you want to expand and grow or to say loudly about self from the start.

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