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Thinking of launching an online business? Then you probably need an online store builder. These are website platforms with features specifically geared for ecommerce sales. With them, you can sell goods that ship, digital products via download, online and offline services, and even book prepaid appointments to sell lessons online.
Online store builder websites let you quickly launch and efficiently operate any type of online business you have in mind. However, some platforms are better suited for certain types of businesses—and budgets—than others. Our guide explores the 10 best online store builders for 2019 and highlights their costs, top features, and best fit for various business needs.
Affordable, user-friendly, and feature-packed Shopify is the most popular online store builder for startups and small businesses who want to get up and running quickly. It seamlessly connects all of your sales channels, including your branded website, social channels, Amazon and eBay, and in-person sales, within one convenient system. It’s also a leading platform for dropshipping sales and every Shopify user can access its free built-in supplier platform, Oberlo.
You can launch a modern, full-featured store in just a few hours using Shopify’s ready-to-go store themes. Photo credit: Shopify.
Shopify is primarily geared toward sellers that ship physical goods to customers, or that need to tie online and in-store sales within one system. Publishing products to various channels, and tracking inventory, customer orders, and shipping is an easy affair in Shopify.
It’s also an ideal platform for dropship and print-on-demand businesses and offers plenty of plug-and-play integrations to these types of suppliers. You can even manage your entire operation on-the-go with their mobile app.
Wondering if Shopify is right for you? Learn more about this powerhouse online store builder in our ultimate Shopify guide.
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BigCommerce is a multichannel-focused online store builder that seamlessly integrates with Amazon, eBay, Google Shopping, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and other sales channels. BigCommerce is extremely user-friendly and offers plenty of ready-to-go designs, so you can easily launch a store within a few hours.
BigCommerce surpasses other all-in-one ecommerce platforms in one key area—it integrates with WordPress. This lets growth-minded brands pair WordPress’ virtually unlimited content features with BigCommerce’s powerful multichannel sales tools.
BigCommerce store themes are feature-packed, modern, and built to convert browsers into buyers. Photo credit: BigCommerce.
Startups and small businesses who want the most complete online multichannel sales platform should consider the BigCommerce online store builder. Plus, BigCommerce is the ideal solution for sellers who want to pair a content-focused WordPress website with a multichannel sales machine.
See if this option is right for you in our in-depth BigCommerce online store builder review.
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The free WooCommerce online store builder needs the WordPress platform to run. It’s not a standalone ecommerce store platform like others on our list. However, pairing the powerful WordPress blogging platform with the WooCommerce ecommerce plugin lets you create the online store of your dreams at a very economical price.
When it comes to design and functionality, you can dream big with WooCommerce for WordPress. Photo credit: Modern Themes.
WooCommerce lets you sell just about anything via a WordPress site. Physical items that ship, digital downloads, service bookings, subscription sales, online lessons, and even donations are all fair game with WooCommerce. The free version supports physical and digital goods, but the other selling scenarios might require paid extensions or add-ons.
See all that you can do when you pair WooCommerce with WordPress in our WooCommerce review.
Weebly is a website builder with a wealth of ecommerce features and seamless integration with Square. If you’re a Square user and want to combine an online store with your Square POS, Weebly is the ideal online store builder for you. If you don’t use Square for payment processing, you can still use Weebly’s powerful ecommerce platform and connect your own third-party online payment solution.
Weebly offers a variety of clean, mobile-friendly online store themes that you can customize to suit your unique brand. Photo credit: Weebly.
If you’re a Square user looking to expand into online sales, Weebly is a sure-fire solution. It seamlessly integrates with your free Square POS software and you can connect some—or all—of your Square item inventory to your online store in just a few clicks. You also get a mobile app to manage sales, marketing, and other business details from anywhere.
Weebly doesn’t offer the robust multichannel sales features that you get with Shopify or BigCommerce, nor does it match the blogging capabilities of WordPress with WooCommerce. However, Square users can certainly benefit from Weebly’s seamless integration with Square POS and all other Square services.
See all that the Weebly online store builder has to offer in our in-depth review.
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Wix is a simple-to-use online store builder that offers an array of attractive and modern website designs and online sales capabilities. Wix isn’t a multichannel online store builder—but that’s not its goal. Instead, Wix offers an array of online commerce options beyond its product sales features. You can easily sell services, event tickets and subscriptions, take online bookings, and even accept orders for pickup using Wix.
There’s no shortage of beautiful, brand-enhancing designs in the Wix online store builder theme catalog. Photo credit: Wix.
Wix is an ideal online store builder for restaurants, event promoters, and service businesses selling locally. These companies can tap into online ordering, delivery, and pickup tools, ticket sales, and booking features to easily market and sell to local audiences. Wix is also particularly good for businesses selling digital goods and subscription access to photography, music, and video products.
It’s an easy way to sell physical goods online, too. However, Wix doesn’t match the multichannel sales features of the all-in-one platforms on our list. You can’t connect Wix items to Amazon, eBay, or Etsy, or sell within Facebook and Instagram posts.
Get a closer look at its many selling features in our in-depth Wix review.
Ecwid is an economical multichannel online store builder that supports sales on a website, and Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, and more. Along with features that rival Shopify and BigCommerce, Ecwid has another claim to fame. You can integrate your Ecwid store with websites on Wix, Weebly, WordPress, Joomla, Squarespace, and many other platforms. If your platform’s built-in ecommerce features aren’t doing the trick, Ecwid just might be your answer.
Ecwid stores fit into the look and feel of your existing website to create a seamless shopping experience for your customers. Photo credit: Ecwid.
Ecwid is ideal for businesses wanting to add a full-featured online store to an existing website on Wix, Weebly, WordPress, or other platforms. In most cases, Ecwid offers more multichannel sales features than these platforms’ built-in ecommerce solutions. You can also add an Ecwid store to any number of websites—you’re not limited not just one. Plus, if you sell fewer than 10 products, Ecwid is completely free.
Squarespace is a user-friendly multipurpose website platform that also offers ecommerce features. Like Wix and Weebly, Squarespace supports a variety of sales, including products that ship, subscriptions, services and appointments, and digital files like music or photos. It also offers a tidy donations feature and supports Instagram shoppable posts, which is a nice social selling perk.
Squarespace has 10 crisp and clean online store templates that display well on all types of devices. Photo credit: Squarespace.
Squarespace is an ideal online store builder for image-minded service providers, nonprofits, and influencer brands who want to sell physical or digital goods on a branded website and via Instagram. However, it isn’t right for the multichannel power-seller who wants to sell everywhere, like on a branded website, Amazon and other marketplaces, and all social media sites.
See if this is the right online store builder for you in our in-depth look at Squarespace.
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Volusion is one of the original online store builders and is still an industry leader in terms of multichannel features and store design options. This time-tested platform delivers everything you need to sell online, plus offers a unique perk called Quick Wins. This program delivers personalized setup assistance and training on key ecommerce tools and tactics. Other platforms provide useful DIY tutorials, but Volusion makes sure you’re prepped for success.
Volusion’s online store builder themes are packed with sales-driving features that are the result of years of conversion tracking research. Photo credit: Volusion.
Any startup or growth-oriented online seller looking for a multichannel solution should consider Volusion. It’s on par with Shopify, BigCommerce, and 3DCart, and its Quick Wins setup assistance and training program will jump-start your ecommerce efforts. Volusion also offers built-in dropshipping supplier and fulfillment provider integrations if these methods are on your radar.
See our Volusion online store builder review for more on this feature-packed platform.
3DCart is another industry-leading online store builder that was popular long before Shopify and BigCommerce hit the scene. It has a lot to offer startups and small businesses, plus it’s less expensive than other top options. 3DCart delivers an SEO-friendly page structure that ranks well in search, offers over 50 free store themes, and supports hundreds of payment processing options. Its dashboard is also ideal for sellers with large product catalogs.
3DCart offers a huge selection of free themes, plus a built-in content management system to easily organize large catalogs. Photo credit: 3DCart.
3DCart is an online store builder that works for any size seller, but it’s ideal for sellers with large catalogs and fast-moving inventory. 3DCart’s built-in content management system (CMS) makes creating and tracking hundreds—or thousands—of product pages a manageable task. You can also craft SEO landing pages for specific categories to boost organic search results and fine-tune your marketing efforts.
Find out more about this powerful platform in our 3DCart review.
If you’re looking for a completely free online store builder, Freewebstore might be the ideal solution. Unlike some ecommerce platforms that offer a free, but limited-feature version, Freewebstore doesn’t hold back. You can access all built-in sales features for free. The Freewebstore platform appears dated, but it boasts great reviews and many happy users. Clearly, the platform delivers as expected and the price is right.
Freewebstore’s 51 free online store themes suit an array of online branding and selling needs. Photo credit: Freewebstore.
Freewebstore is geared for the shoestring startup that wants to launch a side-gig or online business at little to no cost. Individuals can also launch a store on Freewebstore, so it’s perfect for test-driving an ecommerce idea with no costs or commitments.
The best online store builder is the one that meets your unique selling needs and business model. It’s easy to say that Shopify or WooCommerce are the top contenders due to their overwhelming popularity. However, many highly successful websites run on other platforms for various reasons.
BigCommerce, for example, is fast becoming the darling of multichannel power-sellers, while Ecwid and 3DCart offer economical all-in-one solutions. Likewise, Weebly is an easy pairing for Square users, Wix offers great localized commerce tools, and Squarespace appeals to influencers leveraging Instagram.
As you continue to explore the best online store builders, here are three tips to keep in mind.
Online store builders offer free trials that let you build a working online store. This is a great way to dig into the features of each platform and see what appeals to you. You can try out different store designs, create products, test payments, explore marketing tools, and run test orders—even real orders on some platforms—all without spending a dime.
It’s important to closely examine and compare platform features and costs to pick the best value for your specific needs. You can use each platform’s Price/Feature chart to do this. These charts are generally found under the “Pricing” link on store builder websites.
For example, in the Shopify Price/Feature chart shown below, the base $29 monthly plan clearly doesn’t include every feature. This is common with most online store builders.
Shopify, like most other paid ecommerce platforms, increases features on higher-cost plans. Image credit: Shopify.
In most cases, more features equal higher monthly fees. However, some store builders offer more features than others at lower plan levels. So it’s important to compare the features you need among different platform plans and price levels.
Changing platforms isn’t an easy task, so it’s important to select a platform that’s ready to support your future growth. For example, selling on Amazon and social media sites might not be on your radar now. However, many online sellers are successful on those channels. If that’s a possibility for your business, a multichannel store builder like Shopify or BigCommerce is probably a better starting point than Wix.
You can use the Price/Feature charts covered above to clearly define which platforms support the growth opportunities you might need. It’s far easier to add functionality by simply upgrading your plan than it is to shift an entire website onto a new platform.
This is called future-proofing in the world of ecommerce and is, in fact, crucial for small and growing sellers. If there’s one certainty in this industry, it’s change. So, picking an online store builder that can handle your needs and budget today, plus grow with you well into the future, will put you on the course to ecommerce success.
When searching for the best online store builder for your website, it all comes down to the features you need and the platform that works for you. There are plenty of options out there to suit a variety of needs, so we hope our list of the 10 best online store builders available in 2019, along with our tips for how to select one, help you get started.