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If you want to blog, all you really need is a simple content management system where you can manage your posts and publish them for the world to read. If you want to let people know about your local services, then you don’t need anything more than a basic website with the right pages.
If you’re going to sell products online though, you need a special setup that can handle secure payments, manage inventory, manage customer profiles, calculate shipping costs, offer coupons and a host of other things. You need an online store solution in most cases.
From dropshipping to selling your art, music downloads to running a membership site offering courses, online ecommerce solutions can help you create a store with many features to handle payments and customers. Which is best for you though?
In this article, I’ve rounded up 9 of the best and most popular solutions that everyone is using nowadays to create their own online stores to sell their products.
You may have heard of some of them, especially if you’ve researched the topic before and some of them may be completely new to you. One of them may be the perfect solution that you’re looking for.
Here are the 9 best online store builders for creating and running your own store.
Possibly the best known solution for creating an online store, Shopify is without a doubt one of the best options you’ll come by during your search.
Shopify currently powers over 800,000 stores worldwide and is used by big brands and persons working from home like you and I. Whether its a store selling just a few products or a big store with tens of thousands of products, Shopify can handle the job.
The great thing about Shopify is that they not only provide a store creation solution but also provides education and guidance for store owners. They also have resources for store owners to power up their store with apps and templates for beautiful design.
Shopify has everything you’ll need to run your store as you will see from their features list. Here are just a few of the benefits of using Shopify to build a store.
If you want an easy solution for getting your online store going, whether you just want to start a store or you want to get your current offline store onto the internet, Shopify provides flexible plans for every need.
You can create your store with a 14-day free trial (no credit card necessary) to see exactly how it works and then you can upgrade to a monthly plan that fits your needs.
Basic Shopify is the cheapest plan at $29 per month. You get most of the features with this plan but there are some that you probably won’t need that are available with the next plan which costs $79 per month. More advanced features are available for businesses that are scaling with the Advanced Shopify plan which costs $299 per month. If you’re just starting out, then you probably would start with the basic plan and upgrade as your store requires more resources.
34% of all websites on the internet are built with WordPress. It is the most popular content management system accounting for 60% of CMS usage online. Woocommerce is an ecommerce plugin designed to turn any WordPress site into an online store.
If you currently own a WordPress website or blog, you can seamlessly add a store by getting the Woocommerce plugin for free and start selling with all the features you’d expect from any ecommerce solution.
But while the Woocommerce plugin might be free, there are still costs to running an online shop using this setup. You’ll still need web hosting preferably WordPress optimized web hosting, domain names, probably a premium theme or a Woocommerce storefront theme and other extensions that will add functionality to your store.
A solution like Shopify has fixed pricing but Woocommerce can be cheaper or more expensive depending on the costs you put into it. Consider though that if you purchase an annual plan for your WordPress web hosting, a domain and a theme then you won’t have these costs to deal with next month. A Shopify user, for example, will still have their monthly subscription to pay.
Woocommerce is used by big brands and small website owners alike to power their online stores. Some big brands include Ripley’s Believe it Or Not Bookstore and All Blacks (New Zealand’s national rugby team).
Woocommerce may be a plugin but with all the other resources developed in an open source environment for users to add to their store, its just as powerful as other hosted ecommerce solutions like Shopify and others you’ll learn about below.
Some features include:
There are many more core features than these that I’ve highlighted and you can use extensions and plugins to add even more to your online store.
If you’d like to try Woocommerce, all you need to do is to install WordPress and add the free plugin. Then you’re ready to build your store and start selling.
3. 3D Cart
3dCart says that they’re the leading e-commerce solution if you want to take advantage of SEO to build and rank your online store.
They provide SEO-ready online stores that are fully mobile-responsive and have customizable fields to fill in SEO meta-tags, headers, title tags, URL structures, image alt tags, and much more. You can also easily add a blog so that you can build traffic and authority through content marketing.
Besides SEO, they have all the necessary features for running an online store including secure payment processing, order and inventory management.
As far as resources go, you can fully customize your storefront using a number of free themes that you can get through the 3dCart theme store and extend your store’s functionality with a number of apps from their app store.
3DCart is dropshipping friendly as a lot of people are using this business model these days and one of the reasons for seeking out the best online store solution is so that they can get into dropshipping.
Support comes in the form of 3dCart Experts, where you can find services to help you grow your store. Marketing experts, designers, developers, and even photographers can help you get the most out of your e-commerce business.
3dCart also has an eCommerce university where you can access guides, tutorials, and courses to help you gain knowledge on most e-commerce topics. With this knowledge, you will be able to run and grow your store smoothly.
You can try out 3dCart commitment-free using their 15-day free trial. If you decide that 3dCart is the solution that you need, you can then choose from one of their plans which carry a monthly or annual fee.
A startup plan, the most basic plan, allows only one user and is $19 monthly or ($17.10 per month if you pay yearly). The basic store carries all the essential features and allows 2 staff users. This plan will run you $29 monthly or ($26.10 per month if you pay yearly). The most popular plan is the Plus store which has all the essential features plus a complete marketing suite for $79 per month ($71.10 per month when paid annually). Power users may want a Pro store that allows for up to 15 staff users and offers complete e-commerce automation. A Pro Store is $229 monthly ($206.10 per month when paid annually).
All plans include no transaction fees, unlimited orders, a Facebook store, 100+ payment processors, 24/7 tech support, and more.
3dCart is a robust solution and a great alternative to Shopify and any of the other solutions mentioned here if you’re thinking of switching.
Ecwid is short for ‘ecommerce widget’ but as simple as the name sounds, it is actually a very powerful solution for adding an online store to any existing site.
One of the biggest pluses for this e-commerce provider is that it allows you to sell anywhere – on a website, on a social media site like Facebook or Instagram, on marketplaces like Amazon, or even in person. When they say sell anywhere, it’s hard to imagine a situation where you couldn’t use Ecwid.
Although sites like Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace have their own dedicated online store solutions, Ecwid easily integrates with sites built with these website builders. Even WordPress, where you have Woocommerce as the preferred option for building stores, has an Ecwid plugin that neatly and effectively puts a store on an existing site.
Like most store builders, Ecwid has tools to help you grow your business fast such as Google ads, Facebook ads, and a convenient mobile app to manage everything on the go.
You can extend Ecwid’s out-of-the-box functionality by using apps from their app store. For example, dropshipping can be done with Ecwid thanks to apps like Inventory Source or Wholesale2B.
While Ecwid is different from dedicated solutions like Shopify in that it’s more of a plug-and-play type solution, they do offer an online store site (called an Instant Site) where you can create a new store. On the free plan, your store will have a name on its subdomain (eg. mystore.ecwid.com) or you can use a domain name with a paid plan. This solution though is a basic affair and is not as powerful as a Shopify store.
Ecwid is perfect for persons who already have a website and want to add a store and/or want to sell directly on social media sites like Instagram and Facebook. If you’re starting from scratch and don’t already have a website, it may be more beneficial to go with one of the other solutions.
Also, if you’re not going to sell a lot of items ie. less than 10, you can save money by using Ecwid with their free forever plan which allows you to sell up to 10 items without having to pay for a plan. You can get all the basic features you’ll need to manage inventory and run your business for free.
For more professional features, and the ability to sell even more products, there are three paid plans starting at $15 for the Venture plan. To sell on Facebook and Instagram, you’ll need to be on a paid plan. The Venture plan offers up to 100 products which are enough for most people.
The other two plans, Business and Unlimited, allow you to sell even more products and unlocked even more features. There are discounts for paying for plans annually and there are no transaction fees on any of the plans.
5. Big Commerce Essentials
Another giant providing online store solutions is Big Commerce which most commonly refers to their Big Commerce Essentials offerings aimed at small businesses and individuals who want to start an online store. This is separate from their Enterprise level plan which is for big companies who need more resources, customized plans, and have high volume transactions.
The major appeal for Big Commerce is that they offer more features on their most basic plan than most other eCommerce store solutions. For example, they offer an unlimited amount of users on any of their three plans including the Standard plan. In comparison, entry-level plans for many of their competitors would only offer 1 user unless you upgrade to a more expensive plan.
Big Commerce lets you sell on multiple platforms including social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, on marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, through Google Shopping, via your online website and they also have a point-of-sale system for selling from a physical location.
Pricing for Big Commerce is comparable to other store sites with three plans – Standard for $29.95/month, Plus for $79.95/month, and Pro for $249.95/month. Annual billing is also available on each plan and you get a 10% discount for going this way instead of monthly.
While most features are available on the Standard plan that may allow you to run your store without the need for upgrading, there is one thing that may just force you to do so and that is the imposition of a sales limit for each plan. For Standard plans, you have an annual limit of $50,000, the Plus Plan is $150,000 and the Pro plan is up to $400,000.
With the exception of the Pro plan, exceeding each limit will mean that you’ll have to upgrade to the next plan while on the Pro plan, you’re charged $150 per month for each $200,000 that you sell over the limit.
Big Commerce is big on features including one of the best abandon cart savers within the industry. The only downside is that you’d have to be on the Plus plan to be able to use it. Otherwise, you have a lot you can access on the Standard plan.
There are 12 free themes available and over 80 premium themes you can use to design your store. Blogging is built in which means you don’t have to use third-party blogging software like WordPress or add a subdomain to your site. For many additional functionality that you need, you can find an app in the app store to add to your store.
Recognizable brands that use Big Commerce include Crest, Ben & Jerry’s, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Bushnell, and Rand McNally.
Big Commerce is a great alternative to any of the other solutions mentioned on this page as it has a lot of features out-of-the-box than most of them and you can try it for a limited time with a free trial.
Another eCommerce shopping cart provider that you would normally hear mentioned alongside the likes of Shopify and Big Commerce is Volusion.
Volusion has everything you’d need in a shopping cart software and they provide you with a free 14-day trial so that you can try out their service before you make a full commitment. Their pricing isn’t too much different from its competitors either with its entry-level plan starting at just $29/month.
In terms of what is offered, you have many out-the-box features that will help you build your site and sell your goods and other addon features can be added from the Volusion app store.
For website design, you have a choice of 11 free themes and 34 premium themes to choose from. The themes look great, they’re fully responsive and easy to customize.
Volusion is drop-shipping friendly and you can manage everything on the go with their mobile app.
Like Big Commerce Essentials, Volusion has limits on how much you can sell annually on each plan. They also have limits on how many products you can list on each plan. You’ll want to upgrade as you grow your business whether in sales, staff, or product availability.
For the Personal Plan which costs $29/month, you have an annual sales limit of $50,000 and can only list 100 products. The Personal Plan only lets you have 1 staff member though.
The Professional Plan costs $79/month and limits you to $100,000 in annual sales. You can list up to 5000 products and have 5 staff members on this plan.
The plan that lets you have all the features is the Business Plan for $299/month which limits you to $500,000 in annual sales. With this plan, you can list an unlimited amount of products and have up to 15 staff members.
There is a 10% discount for paying for your plan annually instead of monthly.
Weebly started out as just another WYSIWYG website builder alternative to sites like Freewebs (now Webs) and Wix. They started allowing users to build e-commerce stores in 2016 powered by parent company Square.
Though not as full-featured as dedicated e-commerce store builders like Shopify or Big Commerce, Weebly is one of the best drag-and-drop website builders that also offer e-commerce stores. They offer an easy solution for small merchants that want to get online and sell their stuff.
They have a variety of responsive online store themes to choose from that are well-designed. You can easily add a blog and SEO is easily implemented so that customers can find your store through inbound marketing.
Store pages have lots of options for product variations such as color, product type, and sizes and visitors can easily share pages on social media with the built-in buttons from Weebly.
Other powerful features are available to help with marketing such as abandoned carts and welcome emails and you can also check insights via the built-in e-commerce analytics. To add more functionality to your store you can also check out Weebly’s app store for more apps.
And speaking of apps, you can manage your store on the go with Weebly’s convenient apps for iOS and Android.
Other features that are available are:
There is no free trial offered by Weebly. If you’re serious about building a store then you’ll have to choose from Weebly’s three plans which start at $12/month when paid annually.
Some of the features that I mentioned above aren’t available on the entry-level plan and you’ll have to upgrade to either the Business ($25/month paid annually) or the Business Plus plan ($38/month paid annually). The Business Plus plan is aimed at power sellers and included everything mentioned here.
For a website builder with an online store creator, Wix has a really powerful product that can rival even dedicated e-commerce solutions. With lots of features built in Wix’s product is able to compete shoulder-to-shoulder with everyone on this list.
They offer over 500 templates for your store’s design and you have lots of creative freedom to design your store the way you want it since Wix is primarily a drag-and-drop website builder.
In terms of eCommerce store features, there are many that you would expect from an e-commerce cart provider and I’ll list some of them here.
For users interested in dropshipping Wix also provides this feature via a third-party app called Modalyst where you can source thousands of high-quality products. You’re able to make your own shipping rules and easily set your own prices.
Excluding the Enterprise Plan designed for high-volume businesses, there are three plans for Wix Stores. The entry-level plan is the Business Basic plan which starts at $23/month and gives you the most basic features. This plan was designed for businesses that just want to accept online payments for their stuff.
The most popular plan which gives you a bit more than the Basic is Business Unlimited designed for growing businesses. That plan can be easily compared to Shopify’s entry-level plan as it starts at $27/month.
Finally, there is the Business VIP plan where you get everything that is available for just $49/month. All plans allow you to remove Wix ads, use your own domain name, sell without fees, and use Google Analytics. They also give you $300 in ad vouchers to promote your business.
The final one I’m going to mention here is Squarespace, another website builder that offers an online store creation solution. Because they’re design-focused, Squarespace is the online store provider with the best-looking templates.
They’re confident about this as they’ve mentioned on their sales page that their world-class designers help “create the world’s most expressive online stores”.
Besides this, they really have a strong product as their stores have nearly everything it takes to run an online store.
You can sell physical goods as well as digital goods and also services (like bookings for a spa or dental office). They don’t offer dropshipping out the box but you can do this with an app called Art of Where.
Squarespace’s design tools help you display your products in a rich display with image zoom and even video. You can sell unlimited products no matter which plans you’re on and manage stock with their automatic inventory management. Shipping calculators automatically tally shipping costs and built-in tax tools make compliance simple.
You can easily offer discount codes and gift cards to reward loyalty and they include an abandon cart recovery tool to improve conversions.
To make store management easy and convenient, they also offer an app for iOS and Android so that you can manage your store on the go. You can also sell anywhere, in person as they also offer a point-of-sale system.
There are two plans available if you plan to build an online store. A free trial will get you started but after the trial ends it’s $30/month for the Basic Commerce plan which omits some of the features mentioned above and $46/month for the Advanced Commerce plan where you get all the bells and whistles (abandoned cart recovery, gift card feature and more). A 30% discount is applied when you pay annually instead of monthly.
Squarespace is a good option that isn’t as robust as say Shopify but may be good enough for most small business owners who want a simple solution for selling their services and goods online.
These are just 9 of the most popular online ecommerce providers and they’re popular because they’re some of the best options you have to sell online.
There are many others that I didn’t mention like Prestashop and even Big Cartel but for good reason. Prestashop has a bit of a learning curve and Big Cartel is a niche provider only catering to artists and creatives (selling t-shirts etc).
You’ll definitely find a good match for what you want to do with the 9 online store builders that I’ve mentioned above. They all have their pros and their cons but depending on your needs, you can always use a free trial to test the ones that appeal to you.