The Best Online Store Builders for Newbies & Small Business in 2020
* Updates: Updated pricing and features updated for 2020; added FAQ section.
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 (source). 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.
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.
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 best five that are great for any newbie or small business owners with limited budget.
In a Glance: Compare Best Online Store Builders
Compare features and review online store builder pricing in the following table.
|Apps and Themes||1,200+ apps & 100+ themes||470+ apps & 110+ themes||70+ apps &40+ themes||260+ apps & 500+ themes||270+ apps &50+ themes|
|Support||Email, live chat &
|Live chat &
|Email, live chat &
|Transaction Fee||0.5 – 2.0%||0%||0%||2.9%++||2.9%++|
|Payment Gateways||100+ Payment Gateways WorldWide||60+ Payment Gateways WorldWide||Authroize.net, Digital River, FirePay, PayPal Pro, Stripe||Accept major credit cards||Stripe, Square, PayPal Express, Authorize.net|
|Best Plan for Small Biz||Basic – $29/mo||Plus – $29.95/mo||Personal – $29/mo||VIP – $35/mo||Business – $25/mo|
|What You Get||Unlimited products and storage with advance eCommerce features||Unlimited products 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; best alternatives to Shopify.||Small or individual seller who wants to sell physical products||Existing Wix user who wish to upgrade their website to become an online store.||Users who want a simple and cheap online store on their website.|
Top-Rated Online Store Builders – Review Features & Pricing
Whether you’re a serious business owner or just a newbie, BigCommerce offers a ton of features that are super user-friendly. The important thing to note though is that their website can be a bit confusing for new visitors.
Because of the depth in features that BigCommerce has, it can cater to a massive range of users. They split their product lines into two major segments – Enterprise and Essentials. Unless you’re running a multi-billion dollar company then chances are higher that you’ll want to be looking at the Essentials section.
BigCommerce Essentials offers users an all-in-one platform that helps you at every stage from sign-up to operations of your site. From starter free templates to help you with design to other extensive features like multi-channel sales, marketing tools, and more – BigCommerce Essentials has it all.
They also have very extensive support, and this can be leveraged on in more ways than one. Aside from the usual help channels you can also benefit from their on-demand courses that help teach you the essentials of how to grow your site.
You can give them a try with a 15-day free trial, no credit card required.
BigCommerce Key Features
- Wide themes selection – Build a beautiful online store with easy-to-customize theme
- Sell everywhere – Integrate with eBay, Amazon, Facebook, Square, Google Shopping, and more
- Shipping and taxing support – Auto calculate shipping and tax rates
- Comprehensive analytic tools – Built-in store analytics and intergrate with Google Analytics; export sales data and product data in CSV or XML format
- Dropshipping capabilities – Different apps available for dropshipping business
- Best SEO capabilities – Solid SEO features and support
- No transaction fees in all plans – Sell and earn more with BigCommerce
- Standard – $29.95 monthly
- BigCommerce Plus – $79.95 monthly
- Pro – $299.95 monthly
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 store builder which lets you build your site exactly the way you want it.
Using pre-built Shopify templates, it’s quite easy to create an eCommerce store. 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 100 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.
Learn more – read our in-depth review on Shopify.
Shopify Key Features
- Scalability – Powerful online store builder for small and large businesses
- Sell everywhere – Integrate with Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, and more
- Built-in store-front design – 100+ professional templates for eCommerce websites (free & premium)
- Shopify Point-of-Sale – Unify offline in-store and online sales
- Shopify Payment – Accept credit card payment without third party accounts
- Shipping support – Auto calculate shipping rates and print USPS shipping labels
- Shopify Business Name Generator – Choose your original business name with the help of automated tool
- Exchange Marketplace – Buy, sell, or transfer your Shopify store easily
- Biggest apps and community support – Shopify is supported by a large community of independent developers; Shopify App Store is packed with tons of useful add-on
- Shopify Lite – $9 Monthly (limited features)
- Basic Shopify Plan – $29 Monthly
- Shopify – $79 monthly
- Advanced Shopify – $299 monthly
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 Key Features
- Payment support – Accept credit card payment via Stripe, Authorize.net, and more.
- Product page – Appealing product presentation page with zoom function and picture gallery
- Abandoned cart function – Recover more sales
- User ratings – Let your users review and rate your products
- Mobile friendly – All websites and online stores are optimized for mobile users
- Personal – $29 monthly
- Professional – $79 monthly
- Business – $299 monthly
Wix has over 154 million registered 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.
Wix Stores Key Features
- Easy-to-use editor – Build your store with drag-and-drop tool
- Wix Logo Maker – Design custom logo that matches your brand
- Business Name Generator – Choose an original and memorable name for your business
- Mobile friendly – All websites and online stores are optimized for mobile users
- Blogging available – Add blog features to your eCommerce site easily
- Online store templates – More than 500+ customizable template in Wix Stores
Wix Stores Pricing
- Business Unlimited – $17 monthly
- Business Unlimited – $25 monthly
- Business VIP – $35 monthly
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 $12 for their lowest eCommerce plan, it’s definitely easier, and less painful on your wallet, to have an eCommerce website.
Weebly Online Store Key Features
- Affordable – Cheapest online store builder in market, start at just $12/month
- Auto tax calculator – Ability to set up tax rates for your customer’s locations
- Payment support – Accept payments through Square or 3rd party providers
- Easy store management – Inventory management tool with Item Badges and Square GiftCards
- Good SEO support SEO tools to improve your site and product visibility
- Pro – $12 monthly
- Business – $25 monthly
- Business Plus – $38 monthly
Is an Online Store Builder Right for You?
An eCommerce or online store builder is a software that designed to offer a complete solution for you to build a website and sell online.
The software does the heavy lifting in setting up an online store such as website creation, store-front setup, inventory calculation, shipping fees calculation, inventory management, sales reporting, 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 of Online Store Builder
Common advantages of using an online store builder include:
- 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 website)
- After-sales technical support – Platforms like BigCommerce and Shopify comes with extensive after-sales support, help is (usually) just one email away.
- Ready-made, beautifully designed storefront (see some of the best free 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 of Online Store Builder
Common disadvantages of using an online store builder include
- Lowering your business margin – Many online store builders charge transaction fee per sale (ie. Shopify charge 0.5 – 2.0%)
- 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 Right 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.
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 walk-throughs 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.
- Store builder with best support community: Shopify
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.
- Store builder with built-in POS system: Shopify
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, cart functions, website SEO features, sales and inventory reporting, 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.
- Online store builder with best features: BigCommerce
Frequently Asked Questions on eCommerce Website Builders
Yes you can do that with most online store builders. All five platforms that we recommend in this article allow users to connect their domain name easily.
Most online store builders come with a free shared SSL certificate – hence no additional cost or work is required from your end. You can, however, purchase and install your private SSL certificate for your store. Having an SSL certificate is essential to not only your customers' online safety but also to your Google ranking. Google has stated clearly that HTTPS encryption is a ranking signal in August 2014.
Not all online store builders charge transaction fees – BigCommerce, for example, do not charge transaction fees in all their plans. However, if they do, the fees usually range from 0.5% – 3% – depends on the plan you are using.
Here are two examples:
Shopify Transaction Fees
Basic Shopify: 0 – 2% for external payment gateways
Shopify: 0 – 1% for external payment gateways
Advanced Shopify: 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.
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.
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.
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.