7 best website builders for ecommerce: DIY guide for small businesses


Compared to opening a traditional retail outlet, the startup costs for ecommerce will be practically nothing. Because most website builders for ecommerce have affordable “starter” plans, your first costs are mostly going to buying stock to sell. While there’s less of a financial commitment, there is still a great time commitment—namely in building your website and getting it how you want.

There are a lot of options among website builders for ecommerce, so we want to give you a short guide so you can pick the best one for you. These are the seven best site builders that specialize in ecommerce, which enable you to build your own online store how you want. For each, we list the pros, cons, pricing and whom they’re recommended for, so you can find your best match.

Illustration by OrangeCrush

The best website builders for ecommerce

  1. Shopify
  2. WooCommerce/WordPress
  3. Wix
  4. GoDaddy
  5. Squarespace
  6. Weebly/Square Online
  7. Volusion

1. Shopify

Best website builders for ecommerce example: Shopify

Let’s start with one of the most popular website builders for ecommerce, Shopify. In a nutshell, the main appeal of Shopify is that it’s quick and convenient—it’s designed specifically for beginners and people who prefer wading into the shallow end instead of diving into the deep end. Few website builders are easier to use than Shopify.

However, the lack of complexity is also its drawback. Shopify doesn’t have much you can customize; the site builder is more-or-less filling in form fields and choosing images. Considering that it only offers 60 templates for its 800,000 users, there’s quite a bit of overlap and without proper differentiation, a lot of them look like cookie-cutters stores of each other. If you want to personalize your site and truly stand out, you’d be better off with one of the Shopify alternatives.

Despite the limited design options, Shopify includes everything an online retailer needs, like discount functionality, marketing tools like abandoned cart recovery, analytics, and integration with social media selling. The features they don’t offer themselves can probably be found in their app store. Shopify makes up for its lack of design choices with extra choices for sales strategy.

Pros

  • very user-friendly; can have your site up and running in minutes
  • includes built-in ecommerce features like discount and gift card capabilities
  • excellent app store
  • unlimited products

Cons

  • not much room for customization
  • transaction fees for gateways except for Shopify Payments

Pricing

  • Basic Shopify: $29/month
  • Shopify: $79/month
  • Advanced Shopify: $299/month

Recommended for

  • online retailers who want to focus more on sales strategy and less on design
  • first-timers in ecommerce who want convenient setup

2. WooCommerce/WordPress

Best website builders for ecommerce example: WooCommerce/Wordpress

Do you like the WordPress site builder but want ecommerce capabilities? The WooCommerce plugin does just that—it adds checkout, product listings, payment gateway integration and everything else you need to effectively run an online retail business.

The advantages of WooCommerce are the advantages of WordPress, namely the large plugin library and an even larger community of support and fellow users. The real appeal is that you can mix and match WordPress plugins to create a unique store that looks and feels just how you want, including features never intended for ecommerce. And because WordPress is a blogging platform first and foremost, a WooCommerce store can have top-notch content marketing and SEO.

Although WooCommerce is technically free, you still have to pay for WordPress hosting. On top of that, the WordPress website builder comes with a bit of a learning curve, so it’s not nearly as user-friendly as the other website builders for ecommerce. On the other hand, you can always hire a WordPress designer and developer to build it for you.

Pros

  • large library of WordPress plugins, with features not exclusive to ecommerce
  • lots of WordPress users for community support and troubleshooting
  • blog capabilities best for content marketing and SEO
  • unlimited product listings

Cons

  • not as user-friendly as other website builders for ecommerce
  • plugins aren’t free—they can get pricey if you use a lot

Pricing

  • technically free, but you have to pay for WordPress hosting and whatever paid plugins you use

Recommended for

  • WordPress aficionados
  • retailers who have a specific vision for their site and find other site-builders limiting
  • retailers who rely heavily on content marketing

3. Wix

Best website builders for ecommerce example: Wix

Wix falls into the “middleweight” tier of website builders for ecommerce: enough customization features to create a site your way, but not so many that make it hard to learn. This best-of-both-worlds approach is what makes Wix one of the best website builders for small businesses.

The usability suits both beginner and expert site builders, with a comprehensive drag-and-drop system and enough options to build a site your way. You can also choose whether to start from scratch or fill in a pre-existing template, so you decide how much time to invest in setup.

The downside of Wix is that it’s not only for ecommerce—you can build any site there. While that seems like a good thing, for retailers that means limited options for features like product reviews and multiple currencies, which are only available at higher-paid tiers.

Pros

  • ideal mix of customization and convenience
  • unlimited product listings
  • unlimited bandwidth

Cons

  • limited features compared to other website builders for ecommerce
  • not specialized for ecommerce

Pricing

  • Business Basic: $23/month
  • Business Unlimited: $27/month
  • Business VIP: $49/month

Recommended for

  • design beginners who want to learn how to build an online store themselves
  • experienced retailers who want more flexibility in how their site looks

4. GoDaddy

Best website builders for ecommerce example: GoDaddy

The newest on our list of website builders for ecommerce, GoDaddy lets you build a website in the same style as Wix or Squarespace. You can choose a template to get started, with lots of customization options to tailor it how you want.

GoDaddy is intended for all websites, but unlike Wix and Squarespace it only offers one ecommerce plan. That’s not necessarily a bad thing considering it includes all the essentials like different gateway integrations, discount capabilities and access to GoDaddy’s marketing tools.

One special perk of GoDaddy is that it’s easy to connect your store to other marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and Walmart, while the other website builders for ecommerce usually require additional add-ons or don’t allow it at all. This makes GoDaddy a smart choice if you’re planning a multichannel strategy.

Pros

  • good mix of customization and convenience
  • unlimited product listings
  • easy integration with marketplaces like Amazon and eBay

Cons

  • only one plan allows ecommerce functionality
  • not specialized for ecommerce

Pricing

  • Ecommerce plan: $24.99/month

Recommended for

  • retailers with a multichannel sales strategy
  • people who like Wix or Squarespace usability, but not their templates

5. Squarespace

Best website builders for ecommerce example: Squarespace

Squarespace is a close rival to Wix and now GoDaddy, as all three share the same user-friendly drag-and-drop interface that appeals to beginner site-builders. Similar though they may be, Squarespace does have its unique distinctions, which may appeal to certain users over others.

Specifically, Squarespace is a little more advanced than Wix and GoDaddy, giving it more of a learning curve, but in exchange for slightly better design options. Squarespace is also known for having better templates and visuals in general, if you want a good-looking site out of the box.

The downside of Squarespace is there’s very little for add-ons or plugins. While most other website builders for ecommerce let you add extra features they don’t have, with Squarespace you’re mostly limited to what they provide.

Pros

  • good mix of customization and convenience, leaning more towards customization
  • unlimited bandwidth
  • unlimited product listings

Cons

  • slight learning curve
  • no app store

Pricing

  • Basic Commerce: $26/month
  • Advanced Commerce: $40/month

Recommended for

  • retailers who prioritize site design and site visuals, but lack the expertise to use more advanced platforms

6. Weebly/Square Online

Best website builders for ecommerce example: Weebly/Square Online

Weebly is another drag-and-drop website builder in the same style as Wix or Squarespace, with many of the same features and the same user-friendly interface for beginners. However, what sets Weebly/Square Online apart is that it’s one of the cheapest website builders for ecommerce, including a generous free plan.

Weebly/Square Online recently updated its pricing models to include ecommerce functionality in its free and lowest-cost plans. More than just the basics, the free plan allows unlimited products, coupons and gift cards, features that most other website builders charge extra for.

Don’t expect too much from the low-cost plans, though—features like item reviews and abandoned cart recovery are only available with the Performance plan. The other big drawback is that it only allows three payment gateways (Square, Stripe and PayPal Express), which may not be a big deal unless you’re targeting a customer group that overwhelmingly favors another.

Pros

  • economical—low-cost and free plans are fairly generous
  • enough features to build a successful store on the cheap
  • unlimited product listings

Cons

  • some essential features like item reviews and PayPal integration are only available on higher-tier plans
  • Square, Stripe and PayPal Express are only gateways

Pricing

  • Free plan
  • Personal: $6/month
  • Professional: $12/month
  • Performance: $26/month

Recommended for

  • retailers on a tight budget with cost as a top priority
  • first-time ecommerce builders who want to experiment without risk

7. Volusion

Best website builders for ecommerce example: Volusion

Volusion has a similar interface with Shopify, where you edit your page by filling in forms and uploading your own images. However, where it improves on Shopify is its advanced features, like the option for a single-page checkout, which Shopify lacks. All and all, it offers Shopify’s ease-of-use but with a few more advanced features.

Those extras come at a cost, though—literally. Volusion is one of the more expensive website builders for ecommerce, with a limited amount of free themes and essential features like item reviews only available and Professional and Business plans. To make matters worse, each plan has a sales limit, which can really dampen a good sales year.

Pros

  • user-friendly
  • unlimited bandwidth
  • no innate transaction fees

Cons

  • expensive
  • only 11 free themes; the rest are $180
  • only two gateways: Stripe and PayPal
  • sales limits

Pricing

  • Personal: $29/month
  • Professional: $79/month
  • Business: $299/month

Recommended for

  • ecommerce beginners with deep pockets
  • established brands who want to avoid transactions fees

Your first major business decision

One of the toughest choices you ever have to make about your ecommerce business is also one of the first. Out of the best website builders for ecommerce, whichever you pick sets the tone for your entire online store.

Pay close attention to each channel’s prices, customization options and ease-of-use before choosing the one that fits your business model and own personality. After all, you’re going to be working with the platform a lot!

Want to get the perfect ecommerce website for your business?
Work with our talented designers to make it happen.



Source link