5 Best Online Store Builder for Newbies

Online retail sales across the globe amount to $2.3 trillion in 2017 and the revenue in 2021 are projected to grow to $4.88 trillion. In 2019, eCommerce comprise more than 13% of all retail revenue worldwide.

Online retail business is mega huge. You are missing out (a lot!) if your business hasn’t expand its reach online.

eCommerce sales stat
Retail e-commerce sales worldwide from 2014 to 2021. ( Source: Statista)

With the advent of online store builders, it’s never been easier to create an online store – even that you are just a newbie with no web development experience.

Now that you know eCommerce sales are rising, it’s time to take a look at the best 5 builders that are currently available on the market.

There are a number of great eCommerce website builders that are catered to beginners who just want a simple and functioning online store. We’ve narrowed it down to the 5 best online store builder that are great for any newbie or first-time website owners.

5 Best Online Store Builders for Newbies and Small Businesses

1. Shopify

The one-stop solution for all business owners, Shopify is the solution for those who want to run an eCommerce store on their website. Shopify gives you access to its online builder which lets you build your site exactly the way you want it.

Using templates, it’s quite easy to build and create a website from scratch. You get to choose from over a hundred different templates. All the professional looking templates are mobile-friendly.

They even include a number of features such as SEO, marketing resources, social media integration, secure shopping carts, and even support over 70 payment gateways. If you need extra features to extend your store, you can choose the suitable add-on from the Shopify app store – come with both free and paid.

If your online store is based in the US or Canada, you can make use of Shopify payment and the shipping solution. Shopify payment is fully integrated with your store. You don’t have to pay any transaction fee. Or else, you will charge up to 2% transaction fees for each sale.

And with over 600,000 online stores using Shopify, it’s not hard to see why they are the #1 eCommerce website builder.

Read our in-depth review on Shopify.

Shopify eCommerce Platform
Shopify – Try Shopify free for 14 days (no credit card required), click here.

Key Features That Shopify Offers

  • 100+ professional templates for eCommerce websites (free & premium)
  • Template customization that’s easy to use
  • Great flexibility on website design
  • Easy credit card payment plugin
  • Tons of features and benefits for Shopping Cart plugin
  • Unlimited bandwidth and web hosting
  • Tons of SEO features
  • A Shopify forum for feedback and ideas
  • Shopify Apps that gives tons of great plugins
  • An all-in-one online store builder and web hosting solution

Shopify Plans 

  • Shopify Lite ($9 Monthly): For people who sell on social media networks, in person, or on existing websites
  • Basic Shopify Plan ($29 Monthly): Everything that Lite offers plus the ability to create your own online store.
  • Shopify ($79 monthly): Great for medium businesses or eCommerce stores that are starting to grow.
  • Advanced Shopify ($299 monthly): Gives you advanced features that allow for scaling. Recommended for companies that are larger with revenues within $110,000 – $1,000,000.
  • Shopify Plus (Negotiated pricing): For larger companies that are yielding more than 1 million in revenue. Pricing generally starts at about $2,000 per month.

Go to Shopify

2. BigCommerce

Whether you’re a serious business owner or just a newbie, BigCommerce offers a ton of features that are super user-friendly.

Features such as built-in marketing help you promote your site. They have included features such as discount coupon codes, popular marketplace integration, newsletter and abandoned cart saver that help to increase your sales.

Their SEO tools will help you get ranked on search engines. SEO work such as customizing title tags, meta-descriptions and URLs are made easy. Advance SEO features like 301 redirects and sitemaps are also included.

BigCommerce secure shopping is great for both customers and store owners. With over 60 payment gateway options, zero transaction fees, PayPal decreasing rate, and instant checkout, you can easily grow your eCommerce website with BigCommerce.

With a free trial, you can easily test them out and decide if they are good for your business or not.

Read our BigCommerce review here.

BigCommerce
BigCommerce – Start free trial.

Key Features That BigCommerce Offers:

  • Tons of great SEO tools
  • A lot of conversion tools ( to make people buy your product)
  • Marketing tools
  • Comprehensive analytic tools
  • Multiple payment gateways
  • Great security features
  • Multiple product configurations

BigCommerce Pricing:

  • Standard ($29.95 monthly)
  • BigCommerce Plus ($79.95 monthly)
  • Pro ($199.95 monthly)
  • Enterprise (Call BigCommerce for detailed pricing)

Go to BigCommerce

3. Volusion

For those looking to build an online store that looks smooth and clean, Volusion offers all the tools that are best suited for building a visually attractive eCommerce that’s not overly Flash-heavy.

Many aspects of Volusion’s web building tools can be tweaked to help you sell any kind of product, however, their design are geared towards selling physical goods.

An eCommerce website built with Volusion allows customers to easily navigate your store and browse through any products you sell with ease.

Volusion
Volusion – Try 14 days for free (no credit card required), click here.

Key Features That Volusion Offers:

  • Comprehensive and straightforward SEO features
  • A One Page Checkout Plugin
  • Site Map that’s auto-generated
  • Tons of marketing tools
  • Easy and simple payment processing
  • Website backup that’s conducted daily

Volusion Pricing:

  • Mini ($15 monthly)
  • Plus ($35 monthly)
  • Pro ($75 monthly)
  • Premium ($135 monthly)

Go to Volusion

4. Wix

Wix has over 77 million users in 190 countries and they are continuing to grow at a fast rate. For businesses who are looking to start small in the eCommerce world, Wix is a great web building solution as you can have a site ready in a few minutes.

One of the great things about Wix is that they cater to those who have zero knowledge on starting a website. From providing templates to choosing fonts, they spoon feed you all the help you’ll need to have a website.

While Wix is more known for a general website, they also have a robust eCommerce website building tool which is fairly powerful.

Read our in-depth Wix review here.

Wixstore
Wix Stores – Click here to try for free.

Key Features That Wix Offers:

  • Create and set up a website fast
  • Great drag and drop web building
  • 24/7 dedicated help and customer support
  • All website are optimized for mobile users
  • Add blog features to your eCommerce site easily
  • A variety of templates available that you can choose based on your needs

Wix Stores Pricing:

  • eCommerce ($17 monthly)
  • VIP ($25 monthly)

Go to Wix

5. Weebly

Weebly offers a powerful platform for building a website but still remains affordable for businesses who are just starting out. Next to Wix, Weebly is quite similar in terms of the features they offer.

Some of the great features they offer is the ability to let your customer to search and filter for products they want on your website.

But of course, Weebly’s biggest advantage is their pricing. And at $8 for their paid plans, it’s definitely easier, and less painful on your wallet, to have an eCommerce website on Weebly.

Read our in-depth Weebly review here.

Weebly online store
Weebly Online Store – Click here to try for free.

Key Features That Weebly Offers:

  • Ability to set up tax rates for your customer’s locations
  • An integrated blog
  • SEO tools to improve your site and product visibility
  • Features and tools to search for products

Weebly Pricing:

  • Free
  • Starter ($8 monthly)
  • Pro ($12 monthly)
  • Business ($25 monthly)
  • Performance ($38 monthly)

Go to Weebly

 


Is Online Store Builder Right for You?

More than 40% of websites on a hosted solution in BuiltWith’s Top 1,000,000 sites are using online store builder: Shopify, Shopify Plus, and BigCommerce (source: BuiltWith).

An eCommerce website builder is a software that designed to offer a complete solution for you to sell online. The software does the heavy lifting for you such as inventory calculation, payment gateway integration, storefront design, etc, so that you can focus on running your business.

An online store builder is usually suitable for non-techies and the experts. All you need is to learn how to use those pre-programmed features – just like using MS Words or a WYSIWYG web editor. However, like all good things in life, online store builders do have their fair share of downsides.

Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of using an online store builder:

Pros: Common advantages of using an online store builder:

  • No coding required – Create and edit your online store easily using a drag-and-drop editor. In comparison you need advanced web development skills to build an online store from scratch using open-source solution (ie. PrestaShop or Magento).
  • Ready-made, beautifully designed storefront (see best 30+ eCommerce website templates here)
  • Get protected with built-in security features and shared SSL certificates
  • Grow your business on multiple channels and platforms easily (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Amazon, etc)
  • Easily get paid in various currencies via multiple payment gateways
  • Some store builders allow you to manage both online and offline sales at one place (ie. Shopify Pos)
  • On-going website support (including security and software upgrades) at no additional costs

Cons: Common disadvantages of using an online store builder:

  • Expensive – The cheapest eCommerce platforms (with basic features) cost $25/mo
  • Lowering your business margin – Some online store builders charge transaction fee per sale (ie. Shopify charge 0.5%)
  • Some online store builders come with SEO issues (URL structure, .htaccess access, etc) that you can’t fix
  • The life and death of your store depending on the platform. If the platform goes out of business, so does your store

How to Choose: Which eCommerce Website Builder is Best for You?

There are a variety of online store builders available on the internet and choosing the right platform for you depends on what you and your business really need out of it.

It’s kind of like shopping for a car. The main purpose of it is to get you from point A to B, but there’s more to it when you’re trying to pick one. With an online store platform, the main purpose is to show the product you’re selling, put it in a shopping cart, and give you money. But just like buying a car, there’s more to it.

When it comes to choosing the best eCommerce website builder for your business, the following factors should be considered beforehand:

1. What’s your budget?

Your budget will decide what you can afford to get. If you have a bigger budget, you can get a bigger car. The same applies to online stores and eCommerce options. A bigger budget will definitely get you more interesting platforms that offer more built-in features. The affordable ones, on the other hand, will be more simple and straightforward.

2. User-friendliness?

When looking for an online store builder, you need to understand the difference between something working and something being user-friendly. Certain builders will focus on design over features or vice versa. If you don’t mind going through walkthroughs and user manuals, you might prefer having more features and options. Some might want a simple and straightforward design over obscure features.

3. Do you need extra support?

Having support is always great, especially when you can call someone up for help. Unfortunately, it can also cost money. While some might be fine with having standardized help or by doing everything themselves, if you need the extra help, you might want to consider having a developer on retainer.

4. Do you need offline sales/inventory?

With eCommerce platforms, you’ll be able to manage your orders and inventory. Some platforms, however, will allow you to sync it with your offline sales as well. You can even use some as an offline ordering system so that your inventory/payment can seamlessly work between online and offline store.

5. What are the basic features of the online store?

A good online store builder should offer the basic features that you would need for an eCommerce site, such as SSL certificates, card recovery, and transaction plugins. Some will offer more features and plugins but the trade-off means having to deal with a more complicated interface.

Compare Best Online Store Builder

Compare features and review online store builder pricing in the following table.

Features Shopify BigCommerce Volusion Wix Weebly
Apps and Themes Over 1,200 apps and 100+ themes Over 470 apps and 110+ themes 70+ apps and 40+ themes Over 260 apps and 500+ themes 270+ apps and 50+ themes
Support 24/7 by email, live chat, and
phone: 1-855-816-3857
24/7 by email, and
phone: 1-888-248-9325
Live chat, and
phone: 1-800-646-3517
Online Tutorial, support ticket and request a callback Phone, live chat (Pro plan or higher), and support ticket
Transaction Fee Shopify Payment – Zero
Others – as low as 0.5%
Zero transaction fee Zero transaction fee Zero transaction fee.
You need to upgrade to a premium plan
Vary according to plan.
Zero for a higher plan
Payment Gateways 100+ Payment Gateways WorldWide 60+ Payment Gateways WorldWide Authroize.net, Digital River, FirePay, PayPal Pro, Stripe, etc Accept major credit cards Stripe, Square, PayPal Express, Authorize.net
Popular Plan Shopify – $79/mo Plus – $79.95/mo Pro – $75/mo VIP – $25/mo Business – $25/mo
What You Get Unlimited products and storage with advance eCommerce features Unlimited prodcts and bandwidth. Up to $150k online sales per year 10,000 products with 10GB bandwidth. Priority support 20GB storage and unlimited bandwidth with useful features Unlimited products with features to sell online
Suitable For Serious eCommerce business owner who looks for the best jack-of-all-trades. Online store of all sizes based on revenue. Also, looking for alternatives to Shopify. Small or individual seller who wants to simplify the selling process. Existing Wix user who wish to upgrade their website to become an online store. Users who want a simple online store on their website.
Visit Shopify.com BigCommerce.com Volusion.com Wix.com Weebly.com

Frequently Asked Questions on eCommerce Website Builders 

1. Can I use my own domain with online store builder?

Yes. You can purchase your own domain beforehand and easily connect them to platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce.

Here are the best domain name registrars you can try.

2. Do I need SSL certificates for my online store?

Absolutely. For an online store, having an SSL certificate is essential to not only your customers but also Google. Starting in 2018, Google will tag any website without an SSL certificate as unsafe and as an online store, you should always avoid being tagged as an unsafe website for customers.

Most online store builders come with a free shared SSL certificate – hence no additional cost or work is required from your end.

In case you need a private SSL certificate then you will need to buy your own SSL certificate.

3. How much do I need to pay for transaction fees?

Not all online store builders charge transaction fees. However, if they do, the fees usually range from 0.5% – 3% – depends on the plan you are using. Here are three examples:

Shopify Transaction Fees

  • Basic Shopify — Using Shopify payments – 0 – 2% for external payment gateways
  • Shopify — Using Shopify payments – 0 – 1% for external payment gateways
  • Advanced Shopify — Using Shopify payments- 0 – 0.5% for external payment gateways
  • For usage of all major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, JCB, Discover, and Diners Club debit and credit cards), you’ll need to set it up by going to the accept credit card section and selecting Shopify payments.

BigCommerce Transaction Fees

  • Standard — No transaction fees – 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction for PayPal powered credit card payments
  • BigCommerce Plus — No transaction fees – 2.5% + $0.30 per transaction
  • Pro — No transaction fees – 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction
  • Enterprise — No transaction fees – 2.2% + $0.30 or lower per transaction

Weebly Transaction Fees

Weebly adds a 2.9% service charge + $0.30 transaction fee for Stripe, Authorize.net, and PayPal. On their starter and pro plans, Weebly charges an additional 3% but you can opt for the business plan to avoid the additional fee.

6. Is free eCommerce website builder recommended?

No. We don’t recommend using a free eCommerce website builder as tend to be very basic. When it comes to building an eCommerce website, you get what you pay for, and often time, what you pay for is the ability to use tools and features that are necessary for an online store.

7. What is a drop-shipping online store?

Dropshipping is a business model where you can sell physical products without having the actual items with you.

When there’s an order from customers, the store owners just need to contact the supplier. The order will then ship by the supplier to the customers directly.

Check out our recent case study and learn how you can start a dropshipping business using Shopify.

About Jason Chow

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Jason is a fan of technology and entrepreneurship. He loves building website. You can get in touch with him via Twitter.

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