Best eCommerce Website Builders
We’ve all noticed an exponential growth in e-stores over the past few years. If you want to set-up your store online, you need to choose the best eCommerce site builder to get started. Luckily, I’ve done the hard work for you and reviewed five of the best.
August 22, 2020
You will find plenty of in-depth reviews of site builders on Website Builder Advice, which delve deeper into the mechanics of each site builder. Below, I give you an overview of five of my favourite choices when building an e-store.
Why Should You Use a Site Builder to Create an E-Store?
You may be tempted to simply employ the services of a website designer, rather than use a site builder. I’d recommend that you take the chance to explore a site builder in full before doing this. In the past, you would need to have lots of coding and technical knowledge to build an e-store. This is no longer the case thanks to the great site builders that are available. Here are some of the reasons why I think using a website builder is the obvious choice for your e-store:
You can make your profits go further – As website builders are cost-effective, you’re not going to eat into your profits as much as you would if you hired a website designer. There are several different paid and even free plans for you to select from. This offers exceptional value for money.
Even though there are free plans available, I would recommend going for a paid plan when you are building an e-store. This is because the available free plans tend to be very restrictive in terms of the number of products you can sell. The commission rates are usually higher, meaning the paid plans can work out to be more cost-efficient overall.
Plus, most of the free plans include the site builder’s branding and do not allow you to put your stamp on things with your domain name.
You do not need to have any technical or programming skills – Setting up an e-store sounds complicated, right? Well, it does not have to be. eCommerce website builders have been designed for all skill levels, including those with little or no technical skills.
This means that anyone can set-up a website and start selling things online. Many website builders, such as Wix, provide a drag-and-drop interface that is easy to use. All you need to do is click on elements and drag them to the place you want them to be visible on your site. You don’t need to know anything about coding!
If, however, you do want to tweak the coding of your e-store, a lot of the platforms will enable you to do this as well.
You can add products to your website whenever you wish – If someone else was managing your e-store, you would need to wait for them to make changes, including adding and removing products. This can make the process segmented and cause frustration.
Let’s say one of your products is out of stock, and so you need to change the status of the item on your site. If a website designer is in charge of this, you are going to need to wait for him or her to read your message and make changes. By this point, several people may have tried to order the product, and they may be incredibly frustrated to learn that it is unavailable.
With an eCommerce site builder, you will have instant access to your website to make changes whenever you need to.
Start building your website today – Another reason why I champion site builders is because they enable you to get your store up and running right away.
Yes, you’re probably not going to have a perfect website in just a few hours, but you can keep working on it while ensuring your main products are available for sale.
The time-to-market is much greater when going down the route of hiring a web designer and developer.
Below, I am going to take you through the pros and cons of some of the best eCommerce site builders today.
Below, I am going to take you through the pros and cons of some of the best eCommerce site builders today.
Inside This Article...
Wix is one of my favourite eCommerce site builders out there. You can read my full review on the platform and all of its features to find out more.
But what is it about Wix that makes it such a good choice for those seeking an eCommerce site builder? One of the best things is that all of your online payments are going to be 100 per cent commission-free. Music to the ears, right? Most eCommerce solutions today will take a percentage of your sales, but with Wix, you’re going to keep all of your profit.
Ease Of Use
Not only is Wix good for an economic standpoint, but I think you will find that it is one of the easiest to use as well. This is because it boasts a simple drag-and-drop editor. All you need to do is click on elements and drag them to where you want them to be placed. Easy peasy, right?
I think you will enjoy using Wix. From customising your storefront to processing payments, none of these tasks should have you wanting to throw your computer out of the window!
Wix is also a WYSIWYG website builder. This means What You See Is What You Get, so when you’re editing your store, you will be able to see exactly what it is going to look like once it has gone live, which is a huge benefit.
Wix eCommerce sales tools and features
I have been impressed with the toolset that Wix brings to the table. You will get all of the tools required so that your digital and physical products start flying off the virtual shelves.
I will take you through some of the essential tools and elements from an eCommerce standpoint…
- Product presentation – If something doesn’t look good, you’re not going to want to buy it, right? Wix ensures that this is something you don’t have to worry about. Not only do I feel that their templates are sleek and stylish, but they make it easy for you to display your products in the most attractive way, with features such as product zoom built-in. You can add product videos as well.
- Payment fees and options – All of the traditional payment getaways are covered at Wix. This includes Square, Strope, and PayPal. There are over 15 different payment options for you to select from in total, meaning there is something for everyone. Plus, payment safety is a priority too. I was delighted to see that all sites have an SSL certificate, so make sure you activate this for your website.
- Wix Ascend – Another feature that is available for eCommerce customers of Wix is Wix Ascend. However, it is essential to point out that this does come at an added fee. Wix Ascend gives you the ability to automate your workflow, promote your brand, and connect with customers in one place. It is all about ensuring that your branding is as easy to manage as possible.
- Multichannel selling – If you are to run a successful eCommerce business today, multichannel selling is imperative. This includes selling across social channels such as Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. Amazon is another popular channel. By selling on these platforms, you will get more business exposure and appeal to a broader audience. Unfortunately, this is not something that Wix provides as part of its plan, which is disappointing. I would recommend downloading the app Ecwid to integrate all of these features. Of course, this does mean a bit of an extra expense!
- SEO tools – It is vital to master SEO if you are to get exposure for your brand and sell more online. Wix sites have many built-in SEO tools that are designed to make your life easier.
- Abandoned Cart Recovery – One of my favourite features of the Wix eCommerce offering is the abandoned cart recovery feature. This feature will automatically send emails to customers if they have left items in their shopping basket and then left your website before they have completed their purchase. A lot of people are shocked to learn that almost every seven in 10 shopping baskets are abandoned by shoppers today. This is a lot of lost revenue, right? That is why I advise using this Wix feature.
- App market – Wix has a great app market, and in my comprehensive Wix review, I have gone over some of my favourite apps. These apps help you to enhance the functionality of your store, so I recommend taking a look at these. You will find everything from analytics apps to form builders.
Wix has also created business & eCommerce plans that have been fully tailored to online store creation, ensuring you have everything you need to create the perfect e-store. In my Wix review, I cover each of the payment plans to help you get a better understanding. All plans offer unlimited bandwidth, Wix ads removed, Google Analytics, £75 Ad vouchers, and a free domain for a year.
I would recommend going for the Business Unlimited plan, as you get more storage and video hours than the basic plan. Yet, you get a Site Booster App, Professional Logo, and social media logo files too.
Some of you may be wondering whether you can build a store on Wix for free. While you can create a free website on Wix, you can’t sell any products on the free plan. You will need to upgrade to start selling. This will enable you to accept payments via your website and unlock several different in-built eCommerce features.
What size business is Wix eCommerce best for?
With three different plans to choose from, Wix gives you the ability to scale. I think it is a great eCommerce site builder if you are looking to establish your brand. It’s also suitable for those who are looking to expand their store as well. If you have a more developed business, I would recommend Shopify. Alternatively, BigCommerce is suitable for those looking for more extreme growth!
Shopify is arguably the most popular eCommerce site builder, with more than 800,000 businesses using this platform. After conducting in-depth research and building several stores using Shopify, I could easily see why this was the case. Of course, it is not for everyone, though. So, let me tell you a little bit more about it.
Ease Of Use
I found Shopify easy to use. A simple editor is combined effectively with powerful eCommerce tools, striking the perfect balance. A lot of e-store builders that I have tried in the past have struggled to master ease of use, but Shopify has nailed it. The interface is clean and straightforward, so I don’t think you will have any trouble, even if you don’t have any experience in using website builders.
There is an excellent selection of mobile responsive and professionally designed themes for you to choose from. However, there are only ten free frames, which is a shame! The rest of the themes are premium, and they aren’t exactly super cheap, so consider your options wisely if you are going to splash the cash.
Shopify sales tools and features
Shopify comes into its own with the tools and features that are available. There are more than 1,200 apps in the app store, meaning you can quickly grow your store and scale up whenever you need to.
Aside from the app market, there are many other exciting and beneficial features, which I am going to give a quick overview of below:
- Abandoned cart recovery – Like Wix, Shopify has a useful abandoned cart recovery feature. This is built-in with the plan. You can send emails to customers who have left their shopping carts, as well as offering them discount codes to encourage them to come back. This is one of the most effective ways of winning back customers that you would have otherwise lost.
- POS app – Take your business with you! From your phone, you can issue refunds, create order notes, sell gift cards, offer store credit, accept credit cards, and much more.
- Dropshipping – Dropshipping has grown in popularity hugely over the past few years. With the low upfront costs, it is not hard to see why. Shopify supports dropshipping, but you need to install a dropshipping app. You have numerous options, including Oberlo, Printful, Sprocket, and AliExpress.
- Tax – Shopify has also built an automatic tax calculator, which is built-in to their plan. This helps you to automate your tax requirements, making life a lot easier.
- Shipping – Shipping can be difficult, but Shopify has worked hard to help you out in this department. You don’t even have to source your own courier, as Shopify has partnerships with Canada Post, UPS, DHL Express, and USPS.
- Product management – I found there to be a broad selection of product management tools at Shopify. The full-blown inventory management solution is impressive, enabling you to update your product listings, monitor orders, and track your stock levels with ease.
- Selling digital goods and services – Shopify has made this easy. When you add a product, all you need to do is uncheck the shipping checkbox, and this will show that you are selling a digital service or product.
Before I tell you a little more about the different prices, I must point out that there is a 14-day free trial, so I advise you to take advantage of it. You are not going to need to enter your payment details, so there is no risk. This will enable you to try out Shopify and determine whether it is the right solution for you.
Shopify offers three different plans: Shopify Basic, Shopify, and Shopify Advanced. The basic plan includes an online store, unlimited products, two staff accounts, 24/7 support, and numerous sales channels. You can add four locations to your account and benefit from gift cards, abandoned cart recovery, a free SSL certificate, discount codes, and manual order creation. You will also get Shopify POS and fraud analysis. In terms of rates, in-person credit card rates are 1.7% + 0p, online credit rates are 2.2% + 20p, and you will be charged 2.0% for using all payment providers aside from Shopify Payments.
So, how does the middle-of-the-road plan, entitled Shopify, differ? First, you can add more staff accounts (five) and more locations (five). You are also going to benefit from professional reports. Fees are better as well. In-person credit card rates are 1.6% + 0p, online credit rates are 1.9% + 20p, and you will be charged 1.0% for using all payment providers aside from Shopify Payments.
Finally, there is the most expensive plan, which is Shopify Advanced. With this, you can add as many as 15 staff accounts and eight locations. You are also going to have an advanced report builder and third-party calculated shipping rates feature. Rates are further reduced. In-person credit card rates are 1.5% + 0p, online credit rates are 1.6% + 20p, and you will be charged 0.5% for using all payment providers aside from Shopify Payments. Because of this, you need to sit down and crunch the numbers to determine which solution will be the most cost-effective for you.
I am a big fan of the Squarespace website builder, and you can read my review on it for a more in-depth study. Squarespace has a lot of good features, and it is ideal if you are looking to take your sales online for the first time. The visual, sleek templates are a real standout.
Ease Of Use
Squarespace is not the easiest eCommerce site builder out there. I appreciate that there could be a little bit of a learning curve for anyone who doesn’t have the experience, and this is their first encounter with an e-store builder.
The templates on Squarespace are sleek and stylish. Many eCommerce templates have been explicitly designed to show products in their very best light. Depending on the template you select, the Products page will be one of three different styles: Unique, Advanced, or Classic.
The Advanced page will have a few more features than the Classic version, including Quick View and Image Zoom. The Unique option supports commerce features specific to the template, such as product hover options and colour overlay.
You can customise any of the templates that you select on Squarespace, which means you can quickly adapt the template to suit your brand.
Sales features and tools
Squarespace has a number of different sales features and tools, more than enough to create and manage an effective store. One thing that is worth noting is that there is not an app store. This means that you are only going to be able to use the features that exist on Squarespace. This can be a bit frustrating and restricting, but I do feel that Squarespace covers all of the basics you need. This includes:
- Configuring sales tax – You can create tax rules for the provinces, states, countries, and even ZIP codes where your products will be shipped.
- Automatic emailing – Send automatic order emails and “thank you” emails to your customers.
- Sell digital products – You can sell music, eBooks, software downloads, and other digital products via Squarespace.
- Inventory management – Manage everything easily via the centralised “content manager” interface.
- Unlimited products – Enough said!
- Sell products online – You will need a Square card reader for this, as well as the Squarespace Commerce app.
There are four different payment plans for you to choose from, including two “commerce” plans: the basic and the advanced commerce plans. You can read my Squarespace review for the full lowdown on the four different payment plans.
The next eCommerce website builder that I recommend highly is BigCommerce. BigCommerce has heaps of data tools and built-in features. You won’t outgrow this platform. As a consequence, I would recommend this e-store builder for fast-growing and large businesses. It’s not the friendliest for beginners. When you’re ready to scale, though, BigCommerce really can take you to the next level.
Ease Of Use
I wouldn’t say BigCommerce is the easiest site builder to use. The design interface isn’t the friendliest. You are going to have two split areas on your screen when creating a store. There is one for editing your storefront and one for adding products and managing the “behind the scenes” parts of your store. This can make it a little bit confusing.
I would recommend doing the inventory side of things first, and then focusing on the storefront.
The terminology can also be complex, which means it’s difficult for beginners. If you’re experienced, though, you will have no trouble.
Essentially, BigCommerce has been designed for big businesses, and you get that feeling. After all, with a lot of power comes a lot of complexities, right? That’s where the delicate balancing act is. It tips more in the favour of design features than it does usability, but that’s absolutely fine if this is what you are searching for.
There are more than 100 themes to choose from at BigCommerce. There are 12 free themes, and then you have more than 100 paid themes. I would say the premium themes are pretty expensive, though.
Sales tools and features
This is where BigCommerce impresses! I would say that it has the best set of in-house features of any eCommerce website builder. You won’t rely on third-party apps as you would with the other builders mentioned, meaning you’ve got everything you need at your fingertips.
Let’s take a look at some of the different options…
- All product types are covered – BigCommerce is the only eCommerce site builder that gives you the ability to sell service-based, digital, and physical products without needing an app.
- Shipping options – There are a number of shipping options to choose from. Download the BigCommerce shipping app, and you will be able to enjoy special discounts with FedEx, DHL, and USPS, and I mean big discounts – sometimes as much as 80 percent off!
- Multichannel selling – You can sell anywhere with BigCommerce. This means Amazon, eBay, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and more. You can also use the data reporting tools included in your plan to track all of your sales. I found this to be very insightful, enlightening me to conversion rates, customer trends, and more.
- Abandoned cart recovery – Draw customers back in if they have not completed their purchase.
- Security – BigCommerce is undoubtedly the best option in terms of security features, in my opinion. It has the largest number of in-built security features of any e-store builder, including the critical SSL security certificate.
- Payment options – You can select your own payment gateway without any extra transaction fees or charges being imposed, as is the case with Shopify. This is one of my favorite things about BigCommerce. There are more than 65 integrated payment gateways for you to select from!
- Apps – As BigCommerce has so many in-built features, there is not such a massive need to rely on third-party apps. Despite this, you still have more than 600 apps to select from via the BigCommerce app store.
In terms of pricing, you are going to be able to trial BigCommerce for free, which is always a big plus! You can enjoy a 15-day trial to make sure that BigCommerce is the right option for you. If you feel it is, I would recommend paying annually if you can afford it, as you will lock in some good discounts.
There are four different plans for you to select from: Standard, Plus, Pro, and Enterprise. For the latter, you need to call up for a quote. Pricing is custom on this plan.
The Standard plan is going to give you everything you need to establish your business and find your feet. I would recommend starting on this plan and then simply scaling up when you feel it is no longer serving your needs. However, you’re not going to get Abandoned Cart Recovery on the Standard plan, which is a drawback.
What you will get, though, is 24/7 support, product reviews and ratings, real-time shipping quotes, gift cards, discounts, coupons, multiple sales channels, unlimited staff accounts, and an unlimited number of products to sell.
Once you start progressing, or if your business is already established, I would move onto the Plus plan. You get some significant marketing features with this plan. This includes store credit cards, customer groups to reward frequent shoppers, and the all-important abandoned cart recovery.
The Pro plan is designed for big businesses that are scaling fast. You will get features such as a custom SSL, product search filtering, Google customer reviews, and more. This plan is costly, and I would say it’s only worth thinking about if you have a large business with a decent turnover. Otherwise, it will eat into your profits.
Who is BigCommerce best for?
In my opinion, BigCommerce is perfectly suited to fast-growing businesses, as well as large firms. It has an impressive selection of in-built features and tools to support the growth of your online store. I found it easy to keep track of my store’s improvements while also selling in multiple areas yet managing everything in the one place.
I would not recommend BigCommerce for beginners. It uses a lot of tech-speak and is a bit complicated. If you are not very tech-savvy, start on a different site builder, and you can always move to BigCommerce once you feel more comfortable.
Last but not least, if you are looking for an eCommerce builder that is easy to use, SITE123 will not let you down.
Ease Of Use
When it comes to ease of use, SITE123 is a winner! After all, the brand markets itself on enabling you to build a website in just three steps. While you can create a site in three steps, you’re going to need to make some amendments before your store is live.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were more than 180 different templates for you to choose from. These templates are categorised, so if you head to the “online store” section, you will see all of the suitable templates for your e-store. The templates are stylish, and you should have no trouble finding one that is suitable for you.
There are a number of tools that help you to sell your products online, as well as SEO tools to effectively market your website. Here are some of the different eCommerce features that you can benefit from if you do decide to go for SITE123:
- Sell digital products
- Payment gateway integration – There are three options here: Stripe, 2Checkout, and Braintree!
- Shipping and tax – You can set pick-up points, locations, and shipping costs.
- Conversion code – Track where your leads are coming from to improve your store.
- Sort products by categories
- Create and manage custom coupons
- Wire transfer payments
- PayPal payments
- Product options
- eCommerce currency selection – 80 different currencies to choose from.
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The five website builders that I have compared in this post are my favorites. Choosing the right solution for you depends on what you aim to achieve from your store and what matters to you most, for example, whether you are more interested in design options or ease of use. SITE123 is probably the most straightforward, yet Wix and Shopify have a greater number of features.
This depends on how you go about building your website. You can spend thousands and thousands of pounds if you use an e-store designer. This is why I highly recommend using an eCommerce website builder. All stores have different plans, but you can generally expect to spend between £15 and £30 per month for most plans. You may want to spend a little bit of extra on some apps and plug-ins to extend your store’s functionality.
In order to create a website, you will need to register your domain name, find a web hosting company, use a website builder, and prepare your content. I have created a comprehensive guide on building a website, so check this out. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch and I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.
A lot of people ask me how they can make sure that their e-store is a success. There are several things I would recommend. Firstly, don’t rush the launch. You are probably very eager to get your store out there, but you need to have a careful and considered approach. Make sure you focus on the user and test everything that you do. You need to make sure that your store works perfectly on mobile devices, and stay on top of SEO!
Yes, you can. If you have accounts with both Wix and Shopify, you can add eCommerce to your Wix website by using the Shopify Buy Button. This is aimed at those who want to add Shopify’s selling tools to a non-eCommerce Wix site. I should warn you that you’re going to need to know a bit about coding to do this. However, it is a good way of combining both of the brands. You can also use different apps to integrate platforms like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy with your Wix store.
It’s good to enquire about the failure of estores, as it helps you to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes! One of the main reasons eCommerce startups fail is because they aren’t able to get much visibility online. This is why it is important to choose an eCommerce site builder that comes with a lot of different SEO tools. Other problems include price and costing issues, running out of cash, and little to no market for their services or products.
This depends on the sort of company you run. A lot of people I talk to often find themselves stuck between these two platforms. I would say that BigCommerce is better suited to fast-growing, large stores, whereas Shopify is a better all-rounder. They are both market leaders, though, and have a lot to offer.