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13 Best Free Ecommerce Website Builders For Selling Online in 2021


Discover the best free ecommerce website builders and online store builders to launch your own shop in less than 5 minutes and start selling online.

Best Free Ecommerce Website Builders For Selling Online

With ecommerce gaining prominence, many businesses are embracing the online business model. Having an online store opens your business to more potential customers, more sales and allows you to stay in business around the clock.

With an expected 2.14 billion digital buyers in 2021, now is the perfect time to build an online store. 

How many people shop online
Source : Oberlo

The good news is there are lots of online store builders today that make building an online store easy even for a complete beginner. You could start with cheap web hosting and build your store on that site or you can choose an ecommerce platform that already includes hosting.

But what if you’re on a budget or are simply not sure which ecommerce builder to choose without burning a hole in your wallet? In this review, we’ll look at the best free options for ecommerce website builders, their features and value for money.

Best Free Ecommerce Website Builders

With the rapid growth of ecommerce, more options are available in the ecommerce website builder space. Most platforms run on a Software-as-a-Service basis (SaaS) allowing you to pay a monthly subscription to keep using the service. 

However, if you’re looking for free options or are on a budget, you’ll find quite a few options. You can choose between a free plan, a free trial or a free installation especially if you decide to go with an open source option like WooCommerce or Magento.

Below we’ll look at the best options for free ecommerce website builders.

1. WooCommerce (Free to Install).

Best Online Store Builder for High Customizability and For Business Websites Run On WordPress.

WooCommerce is the Best Choice for High Customizability and for Business Websites Run On WordPress

Leading in the open source category is WooCommerce, a popular platform of choice for WordPress users. Given that WordPress powers some 30% of websites online, it’s clear why WooCommerce has dominance in the open-source ecommerce website builder space. 

WordPress users would be hard-pressed to find an alternative that works as fluidly and integrates seamlessly as WooCommerce. The platform has been around since 2001 and has been downloaded 48 million times. 

WooCommerce isn’t a standalone ecommerce site builder but works as a free plugin that can be added to your WordPress website. This by default means you’ll need web hosting. Combining WooCommerce with Bluehost’s WooCommerce hosting is your ideal choice. 

This is mostly because Bluehost is among one of the few WordPress recommended web hosting providers. Bluehost is designed to work seamlessly with WordPress and its WooCommerce hosting option is optimized to let your store run smoothly. 

You’ll not have to worry about updates, plus you’ll get customized support solutions in case you run into issues with your store or need any help with setting up your store.

If you’re looking to get the most out of your Woocommerce store with Bluehost, Bluehost’s Woocommerce hosting plan is the perfect solution.

WooCommerce does make you pay for premium add-ons and themes. But aside from that, you get unlimited product listings and product types. You can also receive payments via PayPal, credit/ debit cards and also get from a choice of mobile-friendly themes with zero transaction fees. 

If you’re looking to start an online store with little to no costs with lots of premium features like stock tracking and more, WooCommerce is a great choice. 

Benefits

  • Free to install
  • Allows multiple product types and product listings
  • Zero transaction fees
  • Multiple app integrations
  • Allows more personalized customization

2. Shopify (Free Trial).

Most Comprehensive and Beginner-Friendly Out-of-Box Ecommerce Builder.

Shopify is the Most Comprehensive and Beginner Friendly Out of Box Ecommerce Builder

Shopify has in recent times become one of the largest online ecommerce store builders. With 11% market share and powering over a million businesses, Shopify is synonymous with ecommerce today. 

What makes Shopify unique is how easy-to-use it is. Many ecommerce builders try to make their platform easy to use but Shopify has the most refined, easy-to-use and intuitive ecommerce functionality and features.

From its easy-to-use drag-and-drop builder and seamless app integration, Shopify will have your online store up and running in just under five minutes. The platform gives you access to over 200 payment gateways and integrated shipping solutions with discounts included. 

Shopify also has a large collection of beautiful, mobile-responsive themes to improve your store’s SEO. You’ll even find a selection of templates that are niche-specific to fit all kinds of stores from fashion stores to electronic accessories. 

Unlike some other ecommerce builders, Shopify is a complete out-of-box solution. That means signing up comes with web hosting and site set-up ready to go. No need to pay extra for web hosting or themes. You can however link your Shopify store to a custom domain. 

Pricing

You can get started with Shopify for free with their 14-day free trial. This is just about enough time to help you get a feel of the platform. If you decide to upgrade to a paid plan, pricing starts from $29/month to up to $299/month for enterprise plans. 

Shopify Pricing Plan

Benefits

  • Unlimited products
  • Staff accounts
  • Integrations with POS 
  • 200+ payment gateways
  • Multiple sales channels e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Amazon and more. 
  • Supports multiple dropshipping marketplaces

Get started with Shopify for free today!

3. Wix (Free Trial).

Best Free A.I-Powered Ecommerce Builder with Comprehensive Marketing Tools. 

Wix is the Best Free A.I Powered Ecommerce Builder with Comprehensive Marketing Tools

Wix came into the limelight mainly because it was a great website builder. But with time and the addition of Wix ecommerce, which is its ecommerce store builder it’s gained traction. Wix ecommerce has caught on quite fast, with a slow but progressive increase in market share. 

Between lots and lots of beautiful themes and an easy-to-use drag-and-drop builder, Wix is the perfect ecommerce builder if you’re looking to create a simple and clean online store. Much as it started out as a website builder, its ecommerce features are still competitive and cutting edge.

For starters, you get integration with over 100+ payment gateways including PayPal and Stripe. Wix doesn’t charge any additional fees apart from standard card processing fees. Other features include order tracking, inventory management and built-in abandoned cart recovery emails. 

What makes it more impressive, is its extensive use of A.I and easy-to-follow guides when you first sign up to build a website. If you have literally no idea about how to create your dream ecommerce store, then you’ll be impressed by Wix ADI. 

Wix Artificial Design Intelligence will create a website for you based on questions you answer about your business. This is their complete hands-off solution to building your dream store. Plus, their full suite of marketing tools (Wix Ascend) will streamline your marketing strategy for your store. 

Pricing

Wix has a free 14-day trial that lets you test out the platform and all its features, plus a 14-day money back guarantee if you subscribe to a paid premium plan. Paid plans start from $17/month to $35/month for their VIP Business plan all billed monthly. 

Wix Business & Ecommerce Pricing Plan

Benefits

  • Wix Artificial Design Intelligence builds your ecommerce site from scratch
  • Zero transaction fees when you use Wix payments
  • 500+ plus niche specific, professional-looking themes and templates
  • Multiple payment gateway integrations
  • Custom A.I powered marketing tools for running ads, emails and improving SEO
  • Multichannel sales and dropshipping support. 

Get started with Wix today!

4. Square Online (Free Plan).

Best Choice For Traditional Stores Looking To Build An Online Presence.

Square Online is the Best Choice for Traditional Stores Looking to Build an Online Presence

For new entrepreneurs looking to grow their business for free before subscribing to a paid ecommerce builder, Square provides the most value for money. Not many free ecommerce builders give you as many premium features as Square does. 

The platform started out in 2009 as a POS service mainly used as an add-on to other ecommerce website builders. However in 2018, Square acquired popular website builder Weebly and now uses its site building software to power its ecommerce store builder. 

This means you’ll benefit from Weebly’s ease-of-use and streamlined templates and themes once you sign up to Square. The only difference would be that you’ll mainly be using Square’s payment gateway to accept online payments. 

Square’s ecommerce builder gives you niche-specific solutions and features, like the ability to accept donations if you’re running a non-profit site or creative site. If you run a restaurant business, you’ll be able to set-up a menu and accept orders. 

Even if your business is a service or appointment-based business, Square has an appointment setting feature, so your clients can book appointments in advance and you can better plan your calendar. 

Pricing

Square offers one of the most inclusive free plans, giving you access to features which are mostly paid on other platforms. If you don’t need much storage (less than 500MB) and don’t mind using Square exclusively to process your payments, then their free plan is all you need.

The only thing you’ll pay is the standard card processing fee (2.9% + 30c). 

Square Online Pricing Plan

Paid plans start from $12/month (billed annually if you want massive savings) to $72/month billed annually. Paid plans are ideal for merchants who want a custom domain, no advertisements and want the option to use other payment processors apart from Square. 

Benefits

  • Unlimited products
  • Order shipping, free delivery and pickup features 
  • Integration with Instagram
  • Automatically sync with Square POS 

Get started with Square Online for free today!

5. Big Cartel (Free Plan).

Best for Creative, Arts and Design-centric Small Businesses.

Big Cartel is the Best for Creative, Arts and Design centric Small Businesses

Big Cartel stands out as one of the few free ecommerce builders that lets you add a custom domain and doesn’t have ads. Started in 2005 by someone who was looking to sell his band merchandise online, Big Cartel was made with creatives and artists in mind

It has since grown to support millions of artists and brands. Plus, Big Cartel doesn’t clutter your site with free ads and banners, allowing your brand to shine through even on its free plan. You’ll however still have its watermark embedded in a footer, which can be removed if you know code. 

Big Cartel may not have as many templates and themes as some of its competitors. Nonetheless, you can still get your store up and running in a few clicks. Other ecommerce features like managing orders, checkout and payment processing are equally seamless.

On the downside, you’ll find that Big Cartel doesn’t have features for tracking inventory like SKUs (Stock Keeping Unit numbers). You’re also limited to selling just five products with one image per product on its free plan. 

Apart from that, you can still offer discounts and promos, shipment tracking plus you also get automated tax calculations. 

Pricing 

Big Cartel gives you the benefit of a free plan complete with the possibility of adding your own custom domain. This is a rare feature especially for a free plan. You get up to five product listings free and also discount and promo coupons on check out. 

Paid plans range from $9.99/month to $19.99 per month and let you add between 50 – 500 products. You also get five images per product, editable themes and custom site coding. 

Big Cartel Pricing Plan

Benefits

  • Custom domain available even on free plan
  • No ads on your site
  • Better site customizability
  • Product group option
  • Google analytics integration

Get started with Big Cartel for free today.

6. Squarespace (Free Trial).

Best Beginner-Friendly Option for Contemporary and Minimalist Design Inspired Online Stores.

Squarespace is the Best Beginner Friendly Option for Contemporary and Minimalist Design Inspired Online Stores

Squarespace, like some of its rivals, started out as a website building platform but later included the ecommerce functionality to its site builder. If a crisp, clean and contemporary design aesthetic is what you’re looking for, then Squarespace is your go-to platform. 

The ecommerce builder offers you a large selection of niche specific templates that are great-looking out of the box. If you’re a complete beginner, you’ll find Squarespace’s drag-and-drop builder intuitive and easy-to-use. No coding knowledge necessary!

You may find you’re limited to using the drag-and-drop builder in mainly segments rather than being able to truly drag-and-drop any elements anywhere on your site. 

In addition to having a number of beautiful templates to choose from, Squarespace also has an appointment scheduling feature making it ideal for service based businesses. 

For example, if you run a salon or consulting business, you can let your clients book their appointments in advance on your site. 

Speaking of sales features, Squarespace allows you to list unlimited products and has built-in inventory management features. Thus you can easily keep track of stock levels and even use limited availability labels with products. 

You also get the accept donations feature plus integration with major payment gateways like Stripe and PayPal. However, you’ll be charged a 3% transaction fee with every transaction on lower-priced plans. 

Pricing

Squarespace offers a free 14-day trial after which you can get started on their low-end paid ecommerce plan for $18/month billed annually or $26 per month billed monthly. Other plans range from $26/month to $40 per month billed annually. 

For a more in-depth review of Squarespace pricing, check out our Squarespace pricing review

Squarespace Pricing Plan

All plans include unlimited products, SEO tools, complete CSS and Javascript customization plus multiple integrations. 

Benefits

  • Unlimited products
  • Beautiful design templates
  • Accept donations feature
  • Built-in appointment scheduling feature
  • Beautiful contemporary website templates

Get started with Squarespace for free today.

7. Constant Contact Website Builder (Free Plan).

Ideal for Small Projects, Side Gigs and Testing Out Store Ideas. 

Constant Contact is better known as a premium email marketing software but now boasts of its own ecommerce website builde

Constant contact is better known as a premium email marketing software but now boasts of its own ecommerce website builder. The builder is fairly new and offers an impressive yet short list of premium features, created more as an add-on for subscribers to their email marketing service,

The platform is among a few other website builders that offer artificial intelligence-based web design. Constant contact offers guided website design by first letting you fill out a questionnaire about your online business and what you intend to use your site for. 

After that, A.I kicks in and creates a beautiful, professional-looking website based on your responses. Editing the website after creation may not be as straightforward although it has a drag-and-drop editor. But even with that, it’s easy to figure out how to make the software work for you. 

What’s more, you can try out its logo maker tool for free to help create a professional and well-branded business logo. You’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan if you want to download and use the logo anywhere though. 

Accepting payments is made easy thanks to integrations with Stripe and PayPal, plus you can list unlimited products in your inventory. You can even further group these products into related categories and label them based on a criteria of your choice. 

Its mobile layouts are pretty responsive which will definitely give your SEO a boost. In terms of fees, Constant Contact charges a 1.5% transaction fee for any payments you accept on the platform. 

Pricing

Constant contact doesn’t offer standalone pricing for its ecommerce builder, but it does give you the site builder option when you subscribe to any of its email marketing plans. Both pricing plan offers range between $20/month and $45 per month billed monthly. 

Constant Contact Email Marketing Pricing Plan

You can save up to 10% if you subscribe for 6 months at a go or save 15% if you subscribe for a year.

Benefits

  • Access to a built-in email marketing tool
  • Easy drag-and drop website builder and editor.
  • A.I powered website design
  • Ability to list unlimited products 
  • Built-in logo maker

Get started on Constant Contact today!

8. Ecwid (Free Plan).

Best Free Plugin Ecommerce Builder for Omnichannel Sales.

Ecwid is the Best Free Plugin Ecommerce Builder for Omnichannel Sales

Ecwid is a simple and intuitive ecommerce site builder that can be a great supplement for established businesses. The platform supports over 1.5 million small businesses and has earned five million dollars in merchant revenue. 

Ecwid is not a standalone website builder like some other options on this list. It’s a plugin that works with other website building platforms like WordPress, Wix and even Weebly. This makes it perfect for businesses with an existing website.

The platform offers an impressive array of ecommerce features including integration with multiple payment gateways and zero transaction fees. This means all your profits remain yours without getting eaten by fees. 

The free plan gives you up to 10 product listings for free which is perfect for testing out your ecommerce store ideas and a small group of products. You also get multiple sales channels, meaning you can sell on Instagram, Facebook and even Amazon via Ecwid. 

Ecwid offers over 40 payment gateway options, including but not limited to Stripe, Paypal and Square. It also supports POS so you can accept payments in person too. Shipping features include shipping calculators and tracking plus even discount codes. 

Pricing 

Ecwid has a fully free plan meaning you’ll not have to worry about billing later on if you choose this option. However, if you’re looking for more advanced features (like unlimited product listings) it’s worth investing in their paid plan. 

Ecwid Pricing Plan

Paid plans start from $15 per month and increase up to $99 per month based on features like number of product listings and advanced ecommerce features. 

Benefits

  • Free plan without the need for a credit card
  • Omnichannel sales support
  • Over 40 payment gateways supported
  • Zero transaction fees
  • Easy to use site builder makes it beginner-friendly
  • Ideal for existing website owners

Get started with Ecwid for free today!

9. Weebly (Free Plan).

Best Option for Scaling Small to Medium Sized Online Businesses. 

Weebly is the Best Option for Scaling Small to Medium Sized Online Businesses

Weebly built its reputation as a user-friendly free website builder without ecommerce features but later got acquired by online payments giant Square. This led to Weebly incorporating most of its ecommerce features into its free plan.

This is great news for those looking for top end ecommerce features to start with for free. You’ll have access to listing unlimited products and integration with multiple payment gateways

Another aspect where Weebly shines is its blogging feature which helps you score big points with SEO. You can quickly and easily create simple yet beautifully branded and SEO optimized blog posts to help push your content strategy.

Weebly even goes a step further to provide a useful free SEO guide under its resources to help you get your online store up in page rank on Google. On top of free SEO tips, you also get free web analytics to track how your online store is performing. 

In terms of templates, Weebly has an extensive library of niche-specific, highly customizable templates making it easy to create a professional-looking website in a matter of minutes. All Weebly’s templates are mobile-friendly

Finally, if you’re looking to scale and expand your online store, Weebly makes it easy to increase your store’s capacity. It offers unlimited storage and bandwidth, meaning your store can process as many transactions as possible at time with no hitches. 

Pricing

Weebly’s free plan gives you its basic website builder plus a free .weebly.com domain. If you’re looking to add a custom domain and skip the Weebly watermarks and ads, then you’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan. 

Paid plan prices start from $12 per month up to $26 per month billed annually. Higher tier plans also include abandoned cart recovery emails as well as shipping calculators

Weebly Pricing Plan

Benefits

  • Forever free plan
  • Large variety of themes and templates to choose from
  • Free SEO resources
  • Built-in blogging functionality
  • Multiple payment gateway options
  • Easy scalability

Get started with Weebly for free today!

10. Webstarts (Free Plan).

Ideal for Startups and Solopreneurs that Sell Both Digital and Physical Products. 

Webstarts is an Ideal for Startups and Solopreneurs that Sell Both Digital and Physical Products

Boasting of some four million users, WebStarts also began its life as website builder but later incorporated the ecommerce functionality into its platform. Its ecommerce features are now available for free and provide some pretty generous premium features. 

For starters, you get to list up to 10 products and can make up to 20 sales a day which is perfect if you’re just starting out. Also you can sell both digital and physical products which is uncommon especially on a free plan.

Webstarts also gives you up to 1GB of free storage. This should be enough if your business doesn’t have a lot of inventory to begin with. Since most of its templates and themes are mobile-friendly, you’re sure to have a fast-loading and responsive site. 

Editing your website is a breeze as Webstarts provides a beginner-friendly drag-and-drop builder. Plus, it organizes all the elements you’ll need to create your web pages into apps. So you could have apps for SEO, form builders, sliders, calendars, memberships and much more. 

The ads you’ll find on the Webstarts free plan are quite friendly and non intrusive, meaning you can ignore them for a while till your store gets traction. While the plan doesn’t offer the SKU feature, you can still track your inventory with a basic numbering system. 

Finally, Webstarts supports most popular payment gateways including PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.Net and WePay. 

Pricing

Webstarts offers paid plans starting from $14.32 per month up to $39.99 per month billed monthly. All plans are currently on a 50% off promotion so you can upgrade to a paid plan for half the price. 

Paid plans come with free Google Ads credit (between $250 – $500), custom domains, increased storage and bandwidth plus social integration across multiple platforms. 

Webstarts Pricing Plan

Benefits

  • Free Google ad credits with paid plans
  • Easy drag-and-drop builder
  • Apps for organizing different elements of your website
  • 1GB free storage

Try out Webstarts today!

11. Magento (Free to Install).

Ideal for Large Online Stores or Established Online Businesses.

Magento is an Ideal for Large Online Stores or Established Online Businesses

Magento has built its reputation as a reliable open-source ecommerce platform and is known for its robust programming and powerful suite of features. It has now been acquired by the Adobe group and is part of the Adobe ecommerce suite. 

If you’re just starting out or looking to experiment with an ecommerce builder, Magento may be overkill for you. Although it offers some easy to use basic functionality like a drag-and-drop site builder, any advanced customization will need some coding knowledge and understanding of how Magento works. 

That notwithstanding, the platform provides great customizability. Thanks to its open-source code and large community of developer support, you’ll always find solutions and workarounds for using the platform. 

You’ll still enjoy all its premium ecommerce features including support for multiple payment platforms like PayPal, Stripe, Square, Amazon payments and many more. You still get shipping calculators and tracking plus advanced inventory management

What’s more, Magento provides in-depth analysis of your store’s performance as well as integration with popular third party apps/ plugins. It has a vibrant plugin marketplace where you can find plugins for shipping (like DHL), stock tracking and offering discounts or promos. 

Pricing

Magento is currently available as a free demo and only offers custom pricing plans after consulting with the Adobe ecommerce sales team. 

Benefits

  • Offers high customizability
  • Well stocked plugin marketplace
  • Supports popular payment gateways
  • In-depth store performance analytics
  • Large developer community support.

Take Magento by Adobe ecommerce for a test run today!

12. Mozello (Free Plan).

Ideal Creating Small Multilingual Online Stores for Free.

Mozello is an Ideal Creating Small Multilingual Online Stores for Free

Mozello doesn’t have as much clout as its competitors but that doesn’t make its features any less powerful. The platform allows you to create either a free website or online store in just a few clicks. 

That said, if you’re used to some of the more flashy and sleek features from other ecommerce builders, you may find Mozello pretty plain and uninteresting. But if you’re all about function over form, Mozello will help you get the job done. 

The platform does however give you basic ecommerce functionality like accepting online payments via Stripe, PayPal and Braintree although these options are only available on its paid plans. You however have the option to program your own payment gateway onto the platform using its API. 

Mozello charges zero transaction fees meaning your customers only pay card fees. In terms of shipping, you have access to customizable delivery options, including in-store pickup and door-to-door delivery. 

Other impressive features include mobile responsive themes, product variations and options, inventory tracking and 500MB storage. This should be enough for the product limit with product variations (up to five each) that are allowed on the free plan. 

Pricing

Mozello’s free plan gives you a free .mozello.com domain plus the option to create multilingual websites which is rare on a free plan. If you’re looking to customize your domain and need more storage then it’s worth upgrading your plan to a paid plan. 

Paid plans start from $7 per month to $14 per month billed annually. You can also choose quarterly billing $9/month and $17/month respectively. 

Mozello Pricing Plan

Benefits

  • Multilingual site support 
  • Mobile responsive sites
  • Free subdomain
  • Allows up to five product variations on free plan

Get started with Mozello for free today!

13. Strikingly (Free Plan).

Best for Soloprenuers, Freelancers and Service-Based Small Businesses. 

Strikingly is the Best for Soloprenuers, Freelancers and Service Based Small Businesses

Strikingly doesn’t have a strong reputation like some of its competitors, but it still packs an above standard set of features in its free plan, making it a worthy mention. The Chinese firm has been in existence since 2012 when it graduated from the Y combinator seed program. 

The platform is designed with solopreneurs, bloggers and startups in mind as it aims to help you create a pretty mobile-friendly website in minutes. No coding experience or knowledge needed. Its collection of simple, modern and responsive themes make the entire process easy. 

What makes the platform different is how it bakes a simple storefront into your website from the get-go. No need to choose between a basic website builder and an ecommerce builder here. Strikingly gives you a simple storefront plus a cart and checkout page with any website you create.

Strikingly’s free plan allows you to sell only one product, which is extremely limited, but if you’re selling a service or appointment slots, that one product may be enough to get your business up and running. You also get a free .strikingly.com domain on their free plan. 

While you may be limited because of its single page layout especially for SEO, it would still work perfectly as a digital portfolio site, personal branding site and even startup project sites. Any other advanced feature like social media integration, forms and analytics would require a paid plan. 

Pricing

Strikingly offers two paid plans in addition to its free plan. You can choose month-to-month, annual or even biennial billing options. Monthly plans range between $12 – $20 per month. Choosing annual billing could save you anywhere between $48 – $150+

Yearly billing also gives you an additional paid plan option that’s a small but significant upgrade to the free plan, billed at $8/month annually. 

Strikingly Pricing Plan

Benefits

  • Beginner-friendly drag-and-drop page editor
  • Free strikingly domain
  • Ability to accept offline payments and also PayPal,Stripe and other payment gateways.
  • Ideal for minimalist websites.

Get started strikingly for free today!

What is an Ecommerce Website Builder?

If you’re looking to sell products and/or services online, you’ll need to have an online store or an ecommerce site. Ecommerce websites are designed to help potential buyers select what they want to buy, add their delivery details and pay for their orders all online. 

An ecommerce site builder is a platform, usually software that’s hosted online designed to help you easily create an online store

They usually come with features such as drag-and-drop page editors, built-in galleries, add-to-cart features and integrated payment methods all designed to get your store up and running in just a few clicks.

In the past, you’d have had to register a domain, get web hosting and hire a website developer just to get your ecommerce site up and running. This usually runs into tens of thousands of dollars and is often too expensive especially for start-ups. 

In recent times, ecommerce website builders like Shopify, Wix and others have simplified this entire process. They provide an out-of-box, beginner-friendly solution for anyone looking to start selling online.

What Features Should You Look For in the Best Free Ecommerce Website Builder?

With lots of impressive options all promising to help you create your dream online store, it can be confusing as to which ecommerce builder is the right fit for you. 

The first and most important things to consider are your store’s needs, niche, your own level of expertise and the kind of inventory you intend to stock before you choose a store builder. Those factors aside, let’s take a look at some of the most critical features a good free ecommerce builder should have.

1. Ease Of Use

The first and arguably most important factor when choosing any software platform is how easy it is to use for both you and your customers. Any software is only as good as how well you’re able to use it. 

Given that most folks aren’t tech-inclined, having a simple and intuitive interface makes a big difference. For your customers, your platform should make the entire payment process easy and straightforward. 

Ease of Use that having a simple and intuitive interface
Source : Webalive

Navigating the payment page should be seamless with as little steps as possible.You should also make sure your backend user panel has convenient, helpful and easy-to-use functions. A back end that is complicated only makes using any builder painful. 

For example, drag-and-drop web page editors are popular because they are intuitive and simple to use. No need to know any code.

2. Built-in Payment Processing

The point of owning an online store is to allow customers to be able to shop and pay for goods or services online. 

Payment processing is what makes this possible. A payment processor or payment gateway will allow your customers to enter their payment details securely and also help you receive the funds. 

It may seem as though it goes without saying, but you could end up choosing a website builder that needs you to separately add a payment processor, for example with a basic WordPress site. 

Thus it pays to make sure your builder of choice has options for you to easily include a payment processing feature (for example Woocommerce with WordPress).

3. Inventory Management

Another important aspect of selling online is making sure you always have inventory to cover your orders. A well-built inventory management feature solves this problem. A good ecommerce builder comes with a built-in inventory management feature to help you track your stock numbers. 

The last thing any store owner wants is to get orders only to discover later that there is no stock to fulfill them. Using the inventory management tool allows you to update stock numbers, remove old stock and put out-of-stock or running out-of-stock under any merchandise. 

Most inventory management features also come with SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) number which is helpful if you have multiple variants or product groups to track at a time.

4. Easy Shipping Options

Shipping is a huge factor when it comes to converting online sales. In fact, 65% of shoppers are likely not to complete a sale because of high shipping costs. Your ecommerce builder should have features that allow your customers to see their shipping options and any anticipated costs. 

It should help you also set shipping costs based on location plus include taxes where needed. You should also be able to include options for standard and express delivery plus even cover digital downloads as well. 

Having a shipping calculator that lets your customers also calculate their shipping costs in advance may help with closing more sales.

5. Variety Of Templates

Even with the best products in the world, your store may not gain much traction especially if your overall store design and look is poor. Most people make judgements on a brand’s credibility and reputation based on how professional-looking and intuitive their website is. 

Store website Should be Professional looking and intuitive Variety of Templates
Source : Wpsuperstars

Your ecommerce builder should offer you a large variety of clean, contemporary, visually pleasing themes or templates to choose from. The more niche-specific the designs are, the better. 

Also you don’t want a platform that has few options because it’s possible other competitors are using the same template. That may make differentiating your brand hard. Unless of course you’re willing to invest in having a web designer customize the template from scratch.

Again, having limited options will make it hard for you to switch from one template to another or adjust your site’s template in case you’re rebranding.

6. Mobile-Responsive Design

Up to 53% of ecommerce users shop from their smartphones, thus it’s imperative that your online store is mobile-responsive and friendly. Often, online store owners overlook this because at the time of setting up their site on a desktop PC, it seemed responsive. 

Why do Consumers Leave Your Online Store
Source : Sendcloud

Your ecommerce builder should provide you with templates/ themes that are mobile responsive and look good on all devices. You wouldn’t want a store that looks beautiful on PC but freezes or has hidden icons on mobile. 

Having a mobile responsive site also means you’ll score more SEO points with Google and other search engines.

7. Reliable Search Function

Your site may look good and respond well on all devices, but all that work will be pointless if it’s difficult to navigate. Your online store’s overall navigation should have as little steps as possible between selecting an item and checking out. 

A cluttered or cumbersome site could lead to lost sales and abandoned carts simply because shoppers didn’t know where to do what. A good ecommerce builder allows you to create a store that is easy to navigate with a streamlined checkout process

While clear navigation makes it easy for your shoppers to find what they want, a search bar can make that process even easier. Your builder of choice should provide an easy search bar or function that provides accurate search results so shoppers can jump to whichever part of your site they want to shop from.

8. SSL Security

Last but arguably the most important feature of all, your store’s builder needs to help you secure your shoppers’ details. While most payment processors provide their own layer of security for card details, that by itself is not enough. 

Your online store should also protect your shoppers’ personal information like emails, passwords, addresses and others. This is where having SSL security comes in handy. SSL encryption covers all aspects of your site, making sure that any information entered on your site is protected. 

A good ecommerce builder provides SSL encryption on all plans to help you protect your shoppers from malicious attacks and phishing.

Free Ecommerce Website Builder FAQs

How do I create an online store for free?

You can start an online store for free by choosing any website builder that allows you to add an online store feature for free like WordPress and Woocommerce. You could also choose an all inclusive option like Square or Wix, that provide both hosting as well as the ecommerce builder. 

In this instance, you’ll not have to worry about paying web hosting separately. 

What are the best paid alternatives to free ecommerce website builders?

If you already have a fast-growing online business, it’s worth investing in a paid plan with your ecommerce builder. Most free plans or ecommerce builders have severe limits on the number of products you can list and even the kind of features you’ll have access to. 

Thus, if you already have some cash flow or are looking to scale your online store quickly, it’s worth choosing a paid plan on your ecommerce builder of choice. 

Shopify is a great option if you want a very comprehensive out-of-box ecommerce builder that is beginner-friendly and also has a responsive customer support team. Its paid plans start from $29/month. 

BigCommerce is ideal for businesses that have large inventory, need multiple staff accounts and maximum customizability.

If you have a small business that is in the design, creative or artistic space and need a budget-friendly option with easy scalability, then Zyro is your go-to choice.

Which Online Store Builder Should I Pick?

Ultimately your choice of online store builder will be influenced by a lot of factors. Always keep in mind your business needs plus what your expected business growth looks like in the short-to-medium term. This will help you pick an option you can scale easily. 

Your decision may come down to the size of your business, the number of products you have in your inventory, the transaction volume your online store handles on a day-to-day or month-to-month basis as well as your budget. 

If you’re looking for the best option to start with for free, it may be worth investing time in building a Woocommerce-based store (run on WordPress). Better yet, you can choose Bluehost’s Woocommerce hosting which is specifically designed for stores built with Woocommerce. 

For a truly hands-free solution, Shopify offers a ready out-of box builder that needs little tweaking. 

Finally for small businesses, solopreneurs and startups looking to test the waters, Ecwid and Squarespace are both beginner-friendly and provide plans with premium features. 

Written by
Anastasia Belyh
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