In 1991, the Internet became available for commercial use. And it didn't take long for people to take advantage. August 1994 marked the time when the first secure online transaction was made - a CD of Sting - Ten Summoner's Tales. Since then, we've seen the birth of eBay, Etsy, Amazon, and many other eCommerce platforms.
With the rise of online shops, website builders for building such websites also boomed. Building best eCommerce sites can take less than an hour - if you use the right tools.
Here are the best eCommerce website builders available for your next online business:
- Shopify (Great all-around platform)
- Wix (Wide selection of online store templates)
- BigCommerce (Plenty of features for large-scale stores)
- WordPress & WooCommerce (Great for a custom-built and unique store)
Recommended for: users who want a reliable and the most popular eCommerce platform available.
A good place to start is Shopify, as its well-known for its easy-to-use interface and simple navigation. Packed with an array of impressive eCommerce features and design options, this platform has everything you need. And what's more, the free trial is a great option for users who like to 'try before you buy'.
To set the tone, Shopify provides users with a number of free and premium themes - all of which are fully responsive. It has a good variety of homepage styles and menu options, and each one can be customized using Shopify's editing interface. Once your chosen theme has been downloaded, you can customize its color scheme, imagery, fonts, and header.
Shopify also has a number of great features including more than 1,200 apps which can help boost your store's performance. You can also integrate your online store with marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, as well as Facebook store and Instagram shop.
But that's only half of it, there are tonnes more features which include:
- Abandoned cart recovery;
- Payment options including PayPal, Stripe, Amazo, and Apple pay;
- 24/7 phone and live chat support;
- Shopify Mobile App;
- Full blogging platform;
- Customer profiles and customer accounts;
While all of the plans include unlimited products and 24/7 support, the significant difference is the number of staff accounts included.
- A variety of free and premium themes
- Web-based website builder
- Intuitive editing interface
- Premium themes start at $140.00
Recommended for: users who want a large selection of excellent online store templates.
Up next it's Wix, one of the most popular platforms for website building. With hundreds of templates for all sorts of businesses and online stores, Wix is the go-to place for lovers of sleek and modern theme options.
The design features are great, and Wix Stores provides you with a number of templates. Customizing your website is done using its drag-and-drop editor, which works seamlessly with its interface.
You can set product variants such as color or size, and add as many photos for each product as you want.
The Wix app market is home to hundreds of free apps to enhance your eCommerce store. You can add things like live chat, PayPal button, form builder, visitor analytics, and many more.
But that's not all, there are more impressive features including:
- Secure payments including PayPal, Stripe, Wirecard, and offline payments;
- 0% commission on all sales;
- Set shipping and tax rules based on customers location;
- Auto-emails to keep you informed of sales;
- Fully-responsive online store;
- Create, manage, and share promotional coupons;
As for the Wix pricing, the paid plans range from $11.00-$35.00 per month. For small businesses, I would recommend the Business Unlimited ($25.00), as it includes email campaigns and 35GB storage.
- Great selection of online store templates
- Simple to use drag-and-drop editor
- 0% commission
- Lower price plans
- Fewer eCommerce features than Shopify
Recommended for: users who want to grow their business and operate at a large scale.
BigCommerce is one of the most popular eCommerce providers around today. They provide users with all the tools needed to operate your online store at a large scale.
Like Shopify, BigCommerce has a large selection of free and premium themes, and almost all of the free themes have good product presentation. However, unlike Shopify, the premium themes are hardly worth their extortionate prices that range from $140.00-$235.00!
You can tweak the overall look of any theme easily, and if you're experienced you can work with HTML and CSS coding for a complete custom website.
Its full-feature CMS allows you to manage products and categories, add and edit pages, or even launch a blog. Adding products is simple, and you can add an unlimited number of photos and a detailed description of each product too.
Additional settings include applying smart product rules for sales items and tracking your inventory with Google Shopping.
After adding your products, BigCommerce provides you with a number of great marketing tools. Banners, coupon codes, discounts, abandoned cart notifications, and Google AdWords are at your disposal.
But that isn't all, there are a bunch of other features, including:
- Sync your inventory with Facebook, Amazon, Pinterest, and eBay;
- Abandoned shopping cart feature;
- Accept payments such as PayPal, Stripe, Apple pay, and Amazon;
- Real-time shipping rates from UPS, USPS, FedEx and Royal Mail;
- Fully-responsive mobile website;
As for the pricing, there are three paid plans to choose from that range from $29.95-$249.95. I'd recommend the most popular Plus plan $79.95 as it includes abandoned cart saver, unlimited accounts, and up to $150k online sales per year.
- 24/7 live agent support
- Plenty of free online store themes
- Unlimited staff accounts and products
- Expensive premium themes
Price: Free (requires hosting)
Recommended for: users who want a custom-built online WordPress eCommerce site.
Last but not least, it's WordPress, the most popular CMS in the world. For setting up an online store with WordPress you will need the WooCommerce plugin. This is eCommerce plugin provides a number of powerful features straight out of the box, and what's more, it's completely free to download.
All you'll need to do is to search for the best web hosting for your website, do a couple of downloads, and you're all set.
Once you do, you'll get to have a look at the WooCommerce storefront. It has a clean and simple design which can be customized to match your brand. You can customize anything from your stores color scheme and homepage layout to the buy button.
You can add products using shortcodes, or creating landing pages that go straight to checkout. From there you can add an unlimited amount of either digital or physical products and include any number of photos. And you can update and edit your products easily.
WooCommerce really shines when it comes to online sales. It offers built-in payment processing from leading providers such as Paypal and Stripe. There are also multiple shipping options for your customers including free shipping, local delivery, and the option to pick up a product.
You also have the option to automatically calculate major country and state tax rates, or you can show taxes based on your customer's shipping address, billing address, etc.
But that's not all, there are more features including:
- Offer an unlimited number of variations like fabric, size, color etc;
- Set a flat rate for shipping or define specific rates for different products;
- Inventory management - track stock levels, hide out-of-stock items etc;
- Assign shop managers and other store roles'
- Highlight important products throughout your store;
As for pricing, there is only one package that allows users to install plugins and that's the Business Plan. This plan is priced at $25.00 per month and includes a number of impressive features. These include - email & live chat support, Google Analytics integration, an ad-free site and many more.
- Free WooCommerce plugin
- Live chat & email support
- SEO optimization
- Built-in blogging platform
- Steeper learning curve
- No drag-and-drop editor
Which Of These Builds The Best eCommerce Sites?
Choosing the perfect match for your business comes down to which features you require, and of course, your budget. To help with your decision, though, I have made a list of who (I believe) each one of these providers suits the most.
- Shopify - Best suited for small businesses who want the most trusted provider.
- Wix - Best suited for users who want a large selection of themes and a user-friendly interface.
- BigCommerce - Best suited for businesses who want a professional website to operate at a large scale.
- WordPress (+ WooCommerce) - Best suited for experienced website builders who want a custom and unique website.
Overall, BigCommerce stood out as being the leading provider for professional online stores. On the other hand, Wix is a great choice for independant businesses who who have no website building experience but want a good-looking online store.
So, there are the providers that I think are the website builders for the best eCommerce sites. Do you agree with my choices, or have I missed out a provider that you think deserves a mention? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment box below!