Many years ago, creating an e-commerce site was expensive, keeping many small businesses from building an online store. Today, some e-commerce platforms allow users to build websites at low to no cost!
What makes a “top” e-commerce platform
A great e-commerce platform allows you to get started at minimal cost while not limiting the scope or potential of your business.
It should be user-friendly with a wide array of features and able to receive payments from your desired payment means.
You can also decide which platform to use based on its free plan capabilities and limitations, cost of the paid plans, transaction fees and more.
Wix is one of the most user-friendly platforms – you can build a website merely by dragging and dropping with your mouse. You can easily suit it to your desired style with limited coding understanding.
However, using the free plan, your website address will contain the “Wix” address bar, and advertisements will bombard each of your pages. You will be unable to make your own domain or choose your own template.
Most importantly, the free plan does not accept payments. Again, you can build a store for free, but when you’re ready to start selling, you’ll have to pay the cost.
All in all, however, among the free e-commerce platforms, Wix manages everything and is perfect for businesses that only need the functionality of a regular website.
WooCommerce is one of the most widely-used e-commerce platforms with completely free software that can be downloaded and run from any web hosting provider.
However, the drawback is that WooCommerce does not offer hosting, so you will need to purchase web hosting and a domain name to allow users worldwide to access your website. Bluehost or SiteGround are one of the largest hosting companies in the world and are officially recommended by WooCommerce. These are not expensive too, starting from less than $3 per month.
Shopify is a multi-function e-commerce platform that provides hosts. It handles everything – from marketing, payments and shipping to security checkouts. The best thing? It is incredibly easy to set up.
Like Wix, however, Shopify may allow you to create free e-commerce websites, but you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan to begin selling to your customers.
What’s interesting about Big Cartel is that it was made “for artists, by artists”. Your Big Cartel online shop will be independent, so unlike several other platforms, no memory will be stored by a third party host.
One of the biggest benefits of using Big Cartel is its extremely simple setup process, as there are only a few templates to choose from – although that may limit your creativity and customisation.
Besides, the free plan is limited in how much it can help your business grow. On the other hand, the paid version offers you the chance to customize your store in any way you want and increase your sales.
This US-based e-commerce platform powers more than 40 million e-commerce sites. Weebly’s unique characteristics include helping you calculate taxes, a state of the art product accounting system and promotion programs.
Nevertheless, like all other platforms, there are disadvantages. Real-life payment options such as paying cash on delivery are not accepted. Besides, it can only be used without cost in the US.