So, if you're reading this article, you're probably thinking about starting an online business, and you like the idea of ecommerce. But, before you do anything, you’ll need to decide on the best online store builder for your business.
Luckily for you, there are loads to choose from.
But, to help you wade through the options, we've listed and reviewed some of our favorites below. We'll briefly explore who they are, their pros and cons, prices, and who they're best suited for.
Does that sound good to you? Fab. Let's get straight to it!
But before that, check out our comparison chart with our top rated online store builders:
In October 2019, Shopify surpassed over one million merchants across the globe! So, it's safe to say they're one of the most popular ecommerce platforms on the market, and for a good reason. Shopify's incredibly accessible and is jam-packed full of useful features. They provide pretty much everything you could possibly need to run and manage your ecommerce business.
Shopify even provides sophisticated tools, like a sales button you can use on social media sites.
- It's fully-hosted, so you don't have to worry about maintaining your web server.
- Shopify has a highly engaged community, where you can seek help and learn handy e-commerce tips and tricks.
- Shopify supports multi-channel selling (online, offline, social, etc.)
- Shopify's interface is nothing short of intuitive
- To utilize third-party payment gateways, you'll have to pay additional transaction fees.
- Shopify doesn't offer a free plan
- The extent you can customize the look of your store is limited to the theme you choose.
- Shopify doesn't offer an out-of-the-box B2B selling platform.
Who's Shopify Best for?
As Shopify‘s so easy to use, it's best for beginners making their debut into the e-commerce space.
It's perfect for anyone who doesn't have coding or graphic design experience, as Shopify offers tons of templates to help you structure your online store.
Shopify's also an excellent choice if you're selling your wares offline. Namely, because they also provide a pretty robust POS system.
Not to mention, Shopify scales really well. So, again, this is a terrific platform if you're planning on growing your business. It doesn't matter how many products you want to list, the volume of sales, or the number of customers you register, Shopify can handle it.
How Much Does Shopify Cost?
As we've already mentioned, Shopify specializes in ecommerce, which is why it's slightly more expensive than its competitors. But the good news is, Shopify offers three pricing plans that suit a variety of budgets and needs:
- The Basic plan ($29 a month)
- The Shopify plan ($79 a month)
- The Advanced Shopify package ($299 a month)
Square is probably more famous for its POS system made for physical stores and restaurants, but now they provide everything you need to create your own online store.
Square Online Store empowers you to sell both online and in-person by syncing the inventory, orders and sales you make in your brick and mortar shop with your digital store. Handy, right?
With this solution, you'll get access to:
- Integration with the rest of Square – from POS to gift cards and customer directory
- Live chat, phone, and email support
- An Instagram integration.
- Square Online Store supports multi-channel selling (online, offline, social, etc.)
Just to name a few.
Square Online Store Pros
- Unlimited hosting and storage
- Free Plan available — No monthly fee
- You can store files of any size
- It's easy for you to arrange in-store pickups with customers
- Inventory and orders automatically sync across your website and point of sale
- No coding skills necessary
Square Online Store Cons
- To enjoy Square Online Store's more advanced features, you'll have to upgrade to one of their paid-for plans.
Who's Square Online Store Best for?
The Square Online Store is perfect if you need to manage an array of products, both online and in-store. Square Online Store is also great for businesses outside of just retail – from restaurants to professional services, Square Online Store makes it easy to create a professional ecommerce website.
But, for complete control over your shipment prices or a lower-cost option for more advanced needs, Square Online Store isn't for you.
How Much Will Square Online Store Set Me Back?
There’s a free option. Yes, you heard correctly — no monthly fee. But, you do have to pay a credit card processing charge of 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.
But, to access their more sophisticated features, you'll have to upgrade. There are three paid-for plans to choose from (prices based on annual billing). The first two boast the same credit card processing fee as the free option while the third offers a discounted processing fee::
- The Professional program ($12 a month)
- The Performance plan ($26 a month)
- The Premium plan ($72 a month and 2.6% + 30¢ per transaction).
Check out this Square Online Review for more info.
BigCommerce runs a whopping 32,977 websites in the United States alone, so it's safe to say BigCommerce is one of Shopify’s significant competitors.
- No transaction fees, even when using third-party payment gateways.
- The entry-level plan offers an impressive list of features.
- Robust reporting tools
- A built-in product review feature
- Excellent SEO features
- The ‘abandoned cart' tool is better than most.
- You can register as many staff accounts as you want.
- Access to discount/ coupon tools.
- It comes with a built-in blog.
- Access to cheaper-than-average Paypal fees (thanks to BigCommerce's partnership with Braintree).
- A free 14-day trial
- To access BigCommerce's abandoned cart functionality, you'll have to subscribe to their Plus plan (at least).
- You're limited on how many sales you can make a month. If you exceed them, you'll have to upgrade to a more expensive subscription.
- BigCommerce doesn't offer a mobile app
- Their built-in blog doesn't support RSS feeds.
Who's BigCommerce Best for?
It doesn't matter what size business you're running, BigCommerce has something to offer — this is especially true if you're hoping to expand your online business. BigCommerce is also great for web developers because you can access flexible APIs and webhooks, so if you have the know-how, the customization opportunities are near-on limitless.
How Much Does BigCommerce Cost?
BigCommerce's ‘Standard' plan is $29 a month (the same as Shopify’s Basic plan). But, unlike Shopify, BigCommerce offers more for your money with an inbuilt review and rating feature, real-time shipping quotes, gift cards, and professional reporting.
After the ‘Basic' plan, BigCommerce provides three more paid-for programs:
- The Plus plan: ($71.95 a month)
- The Pro plan: ($224.95 a month)
- The Enterprise plan: (contact BigCommerce directly for a customized quote).
Please note: the Plus and Pro plans are based on the annual billing price that entitles you to 10% off.
To find out more, check out our BigCommerce review.
Like the other options already listed, Squarespace also provides all the resources you need to create a professional-looking online store (without having to dabble in code).
Squarespace's content management system is relatively easy to use: You pick one of their pre-made templates, modify the bits you want to tweak, and voila, you're done. It pretty much is that simple.
- Squarespace has a large number of beautiful website templates and web fonts to choose from.
- Its interface is straightforward
- Squarespace provides an excellent range of import tools. So transferring content from other platforms is a breeze.
- It comes with a video background feature
- You can design and launch an ecommerce store very quickly
- It integrates nicely with lots of popular third-party integrations. For example, Google Apps, Xero, and Mailchimp.
- A Zapier integration is available (ideal if you need to integrate with even more apps)
- Access to a logo designing app
- You can sell digital products
- The ‘Personal Plan' is very restrictive.
- GDPR compliance is weak
- There's no autosave facility (which is a nightmare if your internet crashes!)
- Squarespace's online stores can only handle one level of navigation.
- Its SEO functionality leaves a lot to be desired (for instance, it's hard to add and edit rich snippets)
- Your only payment gateway options are Stripe and Paypal.
- VAT MOSS rates aren't calculated automatically.
- The extent you can edit Cover Pages are very restrictive, AND you can't use Zapier forms.
- The ‘Email Campaigns’ feature doesn’t support a single-opt in option.
Who's Squarespace Best for?
Squarespace doesn't give you tons of flexibility to modify the aesthetic of your site, so it's better for entrepreneurs who just want to get up and running fast.
Squarespace offers four paid-for packages, which we've listed below:
- The Personal plan: $12 a month (save $48 with annual billing)
- The Business plan (Squarespace's most popular option): $18 a month (save $96 with yearly billing).
- The Basic Commerce plan: $26 a month (save $48 with annual billing)
- The Advanced Commerce plan: $40 a month (save $72 with annual billing)
Check out our Squarespace review for more details.
WooCommerce is an open-source shopping cart designed explicitly for WordPress users. WooCommerce has been up and running since 2001 and boasts 48 million downloads. At the time of writing, WooCommerce powers, around 30% of online stores. Impressive, right?
- You can list an infinite number of products on your online store.
- You can take payments via PayPal or credit/debit cards
- Access to four mobile-friendly templates
- Stock tracking
- Online customer support
- It's an open-source solution, so it’s highly customizable (if you have the know-how).
- Tons of integrations available.
- There’s an active community of web developers, entrepreneurs, and WooCommerce pros.
- Yes, the plugin’s free, but you'll still have to pay for maintenance and hosting costs (as it's a self-hosted tool).
- WooCommerce requires a steep learning curve.
- You need a bit of WordPress knowledge to get going, which can be a downside if you're not already familiar with the platform.
Who's WooCommerce Best for?
If you’re already an avid WordPress user, this is the ecommerce store builder for you. It's also excellent for anyone with programming experience who wants to expand and scale their site.
As we've already mentioned, WooCommerce is free to download. Plus, there are zero transaction fees (yay!). However, if you haven't already, you'll have to shell out for web hosting because WooCommerce is just a plugin and not a standalone platform. Plus, if you want to access any of WooCommerce's add ons, you'll have to pay an additional fee.
Check out our WooCommerce review for more information.
Volusion is another great e-commerce store builder, with over 180,000 entrepreneurs using it around the world.
However, it imposes sales and product limits between 100 and 5000. But on the plus side, Volusion doesn't charge transaction fees — so it's swings and roundabouts.
- Built-in education (access to how-to blogs, video tutorials, and informative articles).
- It's easy to use
- There are tons of templates on offer (over 300)
- A simple-to-use reporting tool
- Impressive customer support. You can access help 24/7 with a real-life person via the phone, email, or live webchat. You also get a dedicated account manager.
- Loads of built-in integrations (80 third-party apps).
- No transaction fees
- There's no in-built blog
- The sales limits can be a real hindrance to growing and scaling your business.
- Some Volusion users found the platform challenging to begin with.
- Minor glitches in the software
Who's Volusion Best for?
If you're just starting out on your e-commerce venture, Volusion could be the perfect software.
But if you plan on growing your business into something more serious, you'll need the budget to upgrade to Volusions more expensive plans. Only then can you handle more substantial quantities of products, orders, and access their more advanced features.
There are four paid-for plans to choose from (all billed quarterly):
- The Personal program: ($26 a month)
- The Professional plan: ($71 a month)
- The Startup plan: ($161 a month)
- The Business package: ($269 a month)
For more info on Volusion, check out our review.
Weebly is a fantastic online store builder for small businesses.
Its drag-and-drop editor is pretty intuitive, so virtually anyone can design an online store with them.
- Weebly's straightforward to use
- There's a free plan
- You can connect your own web domain
- Access to analytics that track your website traffic.
- There are lots of themes on offer.
- Content categorization is limited. So, if you're planning on publishing and organizing vast quantities of content, Weebly isn't the solution for you.
- You can't re-name images for better SEO optimization. While renaming images isn't currently an option, using the ALT text feature on images is recommended. This is located under the “Advanced” option on each image.
- There isn't an undo function when you're designing your site.
Who's Weebly Best for?
Weebly is best for any entrepreneur wanting to launch a simple online store with a blog.
How Much Will Weebly Set Me Back?
The below packages as based on annual billing:
- The ‘Free' plan: $0
- The ‘Personal' plan: $6 a month (this permits you to connect a custom domain)
- The ‘Professional' program: $12 a month (better suite for a professionally branded website)
- The ‘Performance' plan: $26 a month (This is the package that comes with integrated eCommerce features).
Check out our Weebly review to learn more.
3dcart provides a wide range of services, so if you're looking for a platform that oozes versatility, this could be the perfect fit.
It doesn't matter whether you're brand-new and only generating a few sales a week, or if you're a larger enterprise turning over thousands of dollars — 3dcart has the infrastructure to handle any and all e-commerce needs.
Like many of the solutions in this list, 3dcart is also a fully hosted platform and is an excellent choice if you have a time budget for going live.
- There's an abundance of checkout options
- A domain name and hosting plan are included
- Unlimited storage
- Zero transaction fees
- Access to an impressive range of marketing tools
- Depending on the paid tier you've subscribed to, you'll face limitations on how many sales you can process and bandwidth usage.
- Visually, the dashboard could do with a spruce up. It's not very attractive and lacks some of the user-friendliness its competitors have to offer.
- There are few free templates to choose from.
- Some customers complain of poor customer service
Who's 3dcart Best for?
This platform is great if you're hoping to sell both physical and digital products on any scale. It's also excellent if you need a helping hand with your marketing because even the ‘Starter' package provides an impressive suite of marketing tools.
However, as we've already alluded to, it isn't the most intuitive of platforms, so if you're entirely new to the sphere of online selling, be prepared to spend time and effort getting to grips with the software.
How Much Will 3dcart Set You Back?
At the time of writing, 3dcart was hosting a special deal ending on the 31st of January 2020, with the following prices:
- The ‘Startup Store': $9.50 a month
- The ‘Basic Store': $14.50 a month
- The ‘Plus Store': $39.50 a month
- The ‘Pro Store': $114.50 a month
For more information, check out our 3dcart review.
Wix is most famous for its intuitive drag-and-drop site builder. There are hundreds of free templates available for you to use, and web hosting and a domain name (either free or paid) come included with their packages.
Wix also has a fabulous App Market, so if you want to extend the functionality of your store, there's a good chance you'll find the plugin you need.
Pro of Wix
- It boasts an excellent site speed (85% to 90%)
- Wix's template collection is very impressive (all mobile-friendly)
- The drag and drop editor is exceptionally newbie-friendly
- Access to Wix's App Market
- High-quality customer support
Con of Wix
- Once you pick a template and start working on it, you can't change it.
- The free plan has Wix's branding plastered all over it
- You have to upgrade to a paid-for plan to access tracking and analytics features.
- Wix sites aren’t transferrable
- Even Wix's premium plans are single-site only
Who's Wix Best for?
It doesn't matter what industry you're working in, Wix probably has a template designed with your niche in mind: food, art, music, photography, etc. –just to name a few.
So, if you know what you want and you're not put off by the fact that once you start using a theme, you can't change it, Wix is the way to go. Its vast array of website templates, App Market, and intuitive editor are just a few of the perks that make Wix an attractive option for newbies.
How Much Will Wix Set You Back?
Wix offers you four paid-for packages to choose from:
- The ‘Business Basic' plan: $23 a month
- The ‘Business Unlimited' program: $27 a month
- The ‘Business VIP' plan: $49 a month
- The ‘Enterprise plan': $500 a month
To find out more about Wix, check out our review.
Best Online Store Builder: FAQ's
What's the Best Online Store Builder for Small Businesses?
Shopify's an excellent option for small eCommerce businesses. It doesn’t charge a setup fee, and there are no long-term contracts, unlike some of its competitors. As we've already said, its lowest rate is $29 a month, for which you get a generous number of features.
💡 Top Tip: It’s worth checking these features against some of the free software options provided by other solutions. You may get stung with their add-ons, and suddenly your free software is no longer free…and you're paying more than Shopify's basic plan.
Shopify’s Basic plan offers:
- An online store including an eCommerce website and blog
- You can list unlimited products
- Two staff accounts
- 24/7 support
- Sales channels including marketplaces and social media
- Manual order creation
- Discount codes
- A free SSL certificate
- Abandoned cart recovery tools
- Fraud analysis
- POS Shopify App and third-party POS apps
Its payment processing rates are competitive. Current charges for online credit card payments are 2.9% + 30¢, in-person rates at 2.7% + 0¢ and 2% for any payment providers other than Shopify.
It's easy to use: Shopify handles the frontend and admin, so you don’t have to. It’ll run software updates, security, and servers on your behalf, so you can concentrate on running your business and attracting customers.
Integrations: It integrates with Google Shopping, Instagram, and Facebook, and tons of other popular plugins.
High-quality support: You get 24/7 support via phone, live chat, and email. There’s also a well-populated ‘Learn' section, including a Help Center, Blog, Academy, Podcasts, Guides, Forums, Free Tools (invoices, logos, policies, calculators), and a Business Encyclopedia. You can also buy “Kit” a “virtual assistant” that can help you run ad campaigns, send you tips on marketing opportunities, and more.
What's the Best Online Store Builder for Larger Businesses?
It’s a leader in the online store builder market. It provides excellent scalability for online stores with more built-in sales tools than any of its competitors. It also has multi-channel integration, advanced SEO features, and offers a free 15-day trial.
As we've just said, BigCommerce offers tons of features covering all of the following:
- The building and designing of your online store
- Payment gateways
- App integrations
- Shipping and order fulfillment options
- Built-in conversion optimization tools
Other notable features include:
- Multiple payment options: PayPal, Square, Stripe, Apple Pay, and Amazon.
- Members area
- Customer log in
- Flexible design (unlike, for example, Wix)
You can sell across multiple channels, including Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, and eBay. Bigcommerce automatically syncs your inventory, so you don’t sell what you don’t have. This works wonders for merging both online and offline sales, accounting, and inventory.
Customers get 24/7 technical support, plus what it describes as “Supplemental Account Management, Solution Architecting, Technical Account Management, Implementation Project Management, and in-house Catalog Transfer Services.”
What's the Best Free Online Store Builder?
There’s no monthly fee; you get a free URL and unlimited hosting, something other online store builders often charge for or expect you to buy elsewhere. Also, there’s no coding required, making life simpler for newbies, and you can list unlimited products.
Other pros include:
- A competitive 2.9% + 30c credit card processing fee per transaction
- You can sync your online sales with your real-life store
- There’s a free package with 500MB storage
- You can process PayPal payments
- List product reviews
- Lots of support, including forums, chat rooms, phone, and email support
- Integration with Instagram
- POS solution via their WooCommerce and Ecwid integrations
But, if you want more features, you'll have to buy one of their paid plans.
How to Start an Online Store Using the Best Online Store Builder?
A: There are nine steps you need to take:
- Determine the type of store you want
- Define your customer base
- Conduct market research
- Choose an eCommerce platform
- Give your store a name
- Launch a blank online store
- Set your store's design and settings
- Add your products
- Double-check everything
For more info, check out our guide: How to Start an Online Store – A Step by Step Guide
What's the Best Online Store?
A: It stands to reason that customers are more likely to buy from stores that are easy to navigate and look good (duh). The best online stores are ones that offer this. If you’re an online store owner, or about to be, you’re going to want most or all of the aspects we’ve already outlined. Although essential, price should not be the only factor you consider when choosing the right eCommerce platform for your business.
To help you out, our favorite three ecommerce stores are:
All these have great features, are reasonably priced, and are easy to use. Shopify and BigCommerce offer a free trial, and Volusion’s prices start at just $15 a month. Shopify comes out on top because of its 24/7 support, professional-looking templates, it's well-priced, provides lots of online learning, and it’s SEO friendly. What's not to love about that?
Ready to Start Using the Best Online Store Builder?
We hope that having read this article, you now have a better idea of which online store builder is the best for your needs.
Have you ever used or considered using any of the solutions we've listed in this article? In your opinion, which is the best online store builder? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments box below. Speak soon!