Best Ecommerce Software to Easily Build Your Online Store

Last updated on October 14, 2014

best ecommerce softwareFinding the best ecommerce software to build your online store is a daunting and confusion task – especially if you are new to the world of creating an ecommerce business.

If you are thinking of creating your own online store and looking for some ideas for the top ecommerce platform to use, this article will hopefully shed some light on this subject for you.

When we first started building online stores to kick start our side business while we were working our regular day jobs, we didn’t where to start, how to build a good website, how to upload products, or how to connect a store to payment processors.

We were just confused.

As we invested more time conducting painful research, we discovered that broadly speaking, there are two ways to build an ecommerce store:

  1. Hosted shopping carts (more user-friendly)
  2. Self-hosted open source shopping carts (more advanced)

HOSTED SHOPPING CARTS

Hosted shopping carts are much more user-friendly than self-hosted solutions (more about this in the next section).

Basically, the website builder gives you a complete ecommerce package and takes care of all the technical aspect of things, so you can quickly and easily set up your ecommerce online store and start selling.

The idea is that they “hide” all the codes, and create simple and non-technical user interface for you to create your own website (using drag and drop technology for you to insert your content such as images, galleries, etc) upload your products, connect your website to a payment processor, so you can start selling very quickly.

The main benefit of these ecommerce software is that they are very easy to use even if you are not technically savvy. The drawback is that there isn’t as much flexibility for you if you want to modify the functions provided by these ecommerce software providers.

When we started out, we found that using a hosted shopping cart is the fastest way for us to get set up, without the headaches of learning how to code or hiring expensive developers to help us get set up.

The following are a number of ecommerce platforms (hosted shopping carts) that we recommend you to check out.

Also see our e-Commerce Online Store Builders Comparison Chart for a high level / summary snapshot of different e-Commerce Software

1) Shopify (100,000+ Active Online Stores)

Shopify is probably the best ecommerce software in the market today.

  • Beautiful and professional themes so your store looks great
  • Extensive number of apps for you to add to your store to extend the functionality of your business
  • 24/7 any time support (very important if you are serious about your business)

Shopify is a one-stop-shop ecommerce website builder where they simplify the challenges of building an online store to drag and drop – making life easier for you.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that they are too simple and cannot handle larger stores, as their users include smaller businesses that are generating thousands of dollars in sales, to million dollar businesses.

Try Shopify Free for 14 Days

2) Bigcommerce (50,000+ Active Online Stores)

Bigcommerce is another reputable ecommerce website builder that allows you to build your store without getting tangled up in technology.

  • A very comprehensive set of “out of the box” e-commerce tools to help you build your store
  • Leverages on different social channels to help you grow your sales
  • You can add more advanced tools through their App store (just like Shopify)

Bigcommerce is also one of the best ecommerce software available in the market. In our opinion their biggest competitor is Shopify, and each of them has their own pros and cons.

Try Bigcommerce Free for 15 Days

3) Squarespace Commerce

Squarespace is known to help users such as yourself create very beautiful, image rich websites. Their templates are very polished and stunning, but what a lot of people fail to appreciate is that their ecommerce tools are very under-rated.

In addition to being able to create a very beautiful storefront, Squarespace also allows you to have full control over product variants, manage your inventory, upload unlimited products, sell physical or digital products, coupon generation, configure shipping options and costs, configure sales taxes, manage your customer email list, and other helpful tools for you to build a comprehensive online store.

Although Squarespace’s available ecommerce tools are not as comprehensive as Shopify or Bigcommerce, if your store is simple enough and doesn’t need all sorts of bells and whistles, Squarespace might just work for your needs, especially if you are picky about your website design.

Further, Squarespace is a much cheaper option than Shopify and Bigcommerce.

Try Squarespace Free for 14 Days

4) Weebly eCommerce (88,000+ Active Online Stores)

Weebly is one of the most user friendly, and intuitive drag and drop website builders in the market.  Further, their eCommerce features are comprehensive and allows you to quickly build a full featured online store.

Not only do you get to insert multiple products with multiple variations of the same product (such as color, size, etc), they also have a fully integrated shopping cart in which your shoppers never leave your website to ensure a fluid, consistent shopping experience, as well as easy integration with popular and trustworthy payment processors such as Stripe, Authorize.net and PayPal.

Although Weebly’s eCommerce tools are not as comprehensive as pure online store builders such as Shopify and Bigcommerce, they do have enough for you to build a very successful online store.

Again, they are very user friendly and intuitive website builder, so the learning curve to how to work their tools is relatively low.

Try Weebly for Free

SELF-HOSTED OPEN SOURCE SHOPPING CARTS

Self-hosted carts a lot more technical and confusing if you are not very computer and code savvy. If you don’t consider yourself a technie (we don’t consider ourselves technies either), a hosted shopping cart website builder might be more suitable for you (see discussion above).

Open source shopping carts are basically standalone programs that require you to install them into your own host (such as Bluehost).

This also implies that you should have self-hosted website build in order to setup the shopping cart.

Getting a self-hosted website built is not as easy as using drag and drop website builders and is more technically challenging.

The main benefit of using open source carts is that you can configure them to function the way you want them to. So flexibility is a huge benefit here. The drawback is that most of them require you to be technically savvy to install, setup and configure them.

So if you’re not a technie, or if you don’t have time to learn more advanced coding functions, this may not be for you. Some examples of open source shopping carts include:

These carts are flexible and have a lot of advanced features that you can use and configure. But bear in mind that you’ll need to be technical, or have someone who is technical to help you out here.

ADVANCED TOOLS / PLATFORM TO GROW WITH YOUR BUSINESS (AND SAVE YOUR SANITY)

One thing to consider when selecting which ecommerce software to use to build your online business, is whether the software has a good selection of advanced tools that you can “bolt on” to your website as your business grows.

Let’s face it, as your business grows, you will need more tools to help you manage your growing operations.

For instance, you might be manually managing the shipping process of your products, or you might be manually doing your bookkeeping at the moment.  Or you could be running some marketing functions without automating too much of it.  You might be able to do this because your business is still relatively small / new, so these tasks are still manageable.

But what if your business starts to grow?  Sales volumes are up, new product creations are being demanded from our shoppers, and you now have a lot less time to deal with a lot of operational issues.  This is where picking a good ecommerce software with a strong platform will help save your sanity!

Self-hosted, open source shopping carts do have a lot of options for this.  But if you are looking for similar solutions for hosted shopping carts, Shopify and Bigcommerce both have Apps that can be bolted to your online store to “extend” their functionality.  This will automate a lot of business tasks for you, freeing up your time to address more important issues instead of doing a lot of tasks manually.

We discuss more about where to find and how to leverage a good ecommerce platform to help you grow your business here.

CONCLUSION – BEST ECOMMERCE SOFTWARE

Finding the best ecommerce software is not an easy task. The first step is to determine whether you are technically savvy or not. If you are, open source carts will give you more flexibility and you can configure the cart as you wish.

If you are not comfortable with codes (like us), or if you want to quickly and easily set up an online store and start selling, using hosted shopping carts / website builders is an excellent way to proceed without having to deal with technological headaches.

Further, with hosted website builders, they have dedicated full time support teams to answer your questions should you have any. That in itself is worth investing in. To conclude, here are our recommended hosted ecommerce software again:

Found This Review Helpful?

Leave a comment below; or Share it with your friends – Tweet, Like, Follow, Pin us below. The biggest compliment we can receive from you is a Share!

About Jeremy Wong

Maybe just like you, at first we didn't have a darn clue about how to build a website, nevermind write half a line of code if our life depended on it! We wanted to build a website to start a side business, and felt overwhelmed, confused & scared about how to actually do it, which builder to use, and making wrong decisions. After years of trials & errors using different website builders, we're here to share our experiences with you.

Subscribe

About Jeremy Wong

Maybe just like you, at first we didn't have a darn clue about how to build a website, nevermind write half a line of code if our life depended on it! We wanted to build a website to start a side business, and felt overwhelmed, confused & scared about how to actually do it, which builder to use, and making wrong decisions. After years of trials & errors using different website builders, we're here to share our experiences with you.

, , , , ,

Leave a Reply

91 Responses to Best Ecommerce Software to Easily Build Your Online Store

  1. swoopbags October 9, 2014 at 8:43 PM #

    Hello,
    We are looking into redesigning our entire site. I currently use Word Press/Cart66 and then Paypal as my merchant. From your expertise, what would be the best integration with just using Paypal between Squarespace and Weebly? We really like modern and clean design, too and want to be able to update our shopping cart easily.
    Thanks!

    • Jeremy Wong October 10, 2014 at 2:23 PM #

      Hi there – I think if your choices is between Squarespace and Weebly, Weebly will have a better intergration with PayPal.

      Squarespace only integrates with Stripe.com as the payment processor. While you can manually insert PayPal buy now buttons, that’s not an ideal solution as that won’t integrate with other ecommerce features in Squarespace.

      With Weebly, PayPal is fully integrated into their product / check out functions. So everything is seamless.

      – Jeremy

  2. erika October 7, 2014 at 1:31 PM #

    I definitely would not recommend Squarespace. I looked at least a hundred different hosts and builders. Squarespace hosting is expensive plus they charge 3% with stripe.

    Squarespace not only expensive, but they don’t even have a live chat to support. Def NO!

    Shopify is also very commercial.

    You can get much better than that, for better price.

    Erika

    • Jeremy Wong October 8, 2014 at 4:04 PM #

      Hi Erika,

      Thanks for your thoughts! Regarding the 3% transaction fee, that fee will be charge no matter what platform / software you use as that is just like a credit card fee. All merchants do have to pay that on a per transaction basis so that they can accept credit cards. But of course, some payment processors will charge less than 3% if you run a very high amount of sales volume with them. So in general, you can’t get away from paying a payment transaction fee as the likes of Visa, Mastercard, Amex etc won’t provide services for free! I wished they did!

      As for live chat, Squarespace does offer that but only from Monday through Friday, between 3am and 8pm EST. So it’s not 24/7, but does cover weekdays. For sure, bigger “pure” online store builders such as Shopify and Bigcommerce do offer 24/7 support, which is factually better than Squarespace! Hopefully one day Squarespace will offer 24/7 and phone support!

      – Jeremy

  3. Nelsen October 7, 2014 at 2:32 AM #

    Hi Jeremy,

    Thanks heaps for the article, it has helped heaps. I’m trying to market myself out there as an online personal trainer and I would like to sell specialised workout plans and other products, but I’m still feeling so lost. I registered with hostpapa but their website builder is average and does not give me what I want. Do you think I need a website designer or do you think the 4 main websites you mentioned will have good templates to do the job?

    • Jeremy Wong October 7, 2014 at 12:44 PM #

      HI Nelsen,

      All of the online store builders discussed above allows you to sell either physical or digital products. Presumably your workout plans will be delivered digitally? So that works.

      You don’t really need a website designer if you have a good sense of design (or you can research other websites and get some inspiration there). But hiring a designer is never a bad thing I suppose, if you find yourself struggling with creating a site that represents your vision.

      Of all the ecommerce software discussed above, I’d say that Shopify and Squarespace probably have the best template designs for you to get started.

      – Jeremy

  4. erika September 25, 2014 at 10:12 AM #

    hello i would like to know what could you advise instead of ipage? they have a horrible customer service and i would not like to go from bad to work. i am looking for a company that actually helps should you have a problem. i was looking at squarespace but it looks like they have NO customer service and chat is not working, you cannot even send an email. on their FB page you can’t even message them. i am really surprised how can these companies exist??

    • Jeremy Wong September 25, 2014 at 1:59 PM #

      Hi Erika,

      If you are building an online store (I’m assuming so as you’re commenting on this page here?), give Shopify or Bigcommerce a try. They both have 24/7 phone support if you prefer to speak with someone. Of course, they also have email support as well.

      For Squarespace, their live chat is only from Monday through Friday, 3am – 8pm EST. But they do answer all their emails very quickly.

      You can submit a support ticket (which they correspond with you through email) on this page here. Just click on “Open a Ticket”, choose the most relevant category of support, and if you can’t find your answer, click on the “Submit a Ticket” button at the bottom.

      – Jeremy

  5. Emil September 22, 2014 at 6:22 AM #

    Hi Jeremy
    Thank you for a comprehensive article.
    I wonder what are the “migration” alternatives, meaning export options between all packages. Nevertheless, from which packages i can import/export to WordPress?
    Thnx
    Emil

    • Jeremy Wong September 23, 2014 at 12:58 PM #

      Hey Emil,

      There isn’t an easy way to export content from sites into WordPress, since all website building platforms are different from one another. Consider moving a car engine from a Honda to a Ford – it’s achievable, but numerous adjustments will have to be made, and sometimes it’s best to hire a professional to help with migration.

      Very generally speaking, it’s much easier to import / export blog posts across platforms, but when it comes to products, you will have to export them into a CSV file (basically Excel), and import them into another ecommerce builder.

      You can visit the support pages for Shopify, Bigcommerc etc and you can quickly search for solutions for migrations, to see if they do or do not have.

      Hope this points you in the right direction.

      – Jeremy

  6. Jennie September 12, 2014 at 9:01 AM #

    Hi Jeremy,

    omg this is so daunting, I have spent all week looking into setting up my own retail website, sat through many vids on YouTube and alike and my head is now spinning with that much information, I cannot decide who to register with, and I still haven’t chosen a domain name yet lol. Can you help me decide please.

    I am currently a 14yr seller on ebay and have decided to create my own website as business is so bad on ebay now. I sell a huge variety of new and used goods, china, pottery, games, vintage glass etc.

    I am not that technically minded as regards all the computer lingo lol. I need somewhere that is obviously reliable, whereby I can possibly up to about 300 items unlimited bandwidth etc. I obviously need something with a checkout built in and also my site to be visible on search engines like Google. I also want to place a link within my site to my current auctions on ebay. When I feel I can go it alone without ebay I want to be rid of them lol.

    So as I am a website virgin I need somewhere that offers me site security, 24/7 live chat help (as I can work well into the evenings), easy to follow set up instructions and alike.

    I was looking at obtaining a domain from GoDaddy and using HostGator as the host but to be honest I don’t want to go with too bigger company name as the more people that latch onto these companies, the more I feel can go wrong with servers and alike.

    Can you help me pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

    Jennie

    • Jeremy Wong September 13, 2014 at 9:56 AM #

      Hey Jenny,

      I’d suggest checking out Shopify or Bigcommerce, as both have the ability to handle a lot of products, and both do offer 24/7 support.

      THey both provide you with hosting so you don’t have to worry about getting that separately from your website / online store.

      For Bigcommerce, you can also synchronize your eBay store items with a Bigcommerce store, so makes it much easier for you to manage!

      – Jeremy

      • Jennie September 13, 2014 at 12:57 PM #

        Thanks Jeremy, am I right in thinking that both these companies allow you to set up a store as I really want a stand-a-lone website

        • Jeremy Wong September 14, 2014 at 10:54 AM #

          Hi Jennie,

          Yes that’s right. You can set up an entirely separate online store (separate from eBay). People won’t even know that you are using Shopify or Bigcommerce to build your ecommerce store as the website can be entirely branded as your own!

          – Jeremy

  7. Dee September 8, 2014 at 1:32 AM #

    Hi Jeremy,
    Thanks for this post, I found it very informative! I’ve checked out the 2 first ones and indeed, I see your points.
    My business is a little different as I have an au pair agency, together with a translating/proofreading company, so I’m only selling online services. This means I have to issue login details to members.
    Also, I would also love to have a forum / discussion page for members.
    Could you advise me on a website builder that would allow me to do just that please?

    Thanks a lot,
    Dee

    • Jeremy Wong September 10, 2014 at 11:18 AM #

      Hi Dee,

      It sounds like you are trying to set up a membership type of website, where you invite only paying members to exclusive content / pages.

      I know that WordPress with this membership plugin called WishList is quite good for this, as I don’t think any of the ecommerce website builders mentioned above are optimized or have built dedicated services targeting what you need.

      Hope this points you in the right direction!

      – Jeremy

  8. Michael August 27, 2014 at 12:36 PM #

    Content Ownership? One concern I had was in reading terms and conditions it seems that a couple of these platforms actually own control of the content created on their platform. Is this the case ?

    • Jeremy Wong August 27, 2014 at 1:52 PM #

      Hi Michael,

      I’m not a legal expert by any means, but I believe that you fully own the content that you upload into the site. The platforms only help you host the content on line, but you are solely responsible and have full ownership of your own content.

      Put it this way, if you uploaded some illegal content (just for instance), and if the platforms owned such content, that could post a lot of legal issues for them especially if people know these platforms are larger targets with money to go after, and not the individual person creating the website.

      Further, per all the terms and conditions that I’ve read, all users of website builders are solely responsible for all their own content, and will hold the website builder harmless for any legal issues (basically meaning that if the user gets sued, the users can’t blame the website builder).

      Hope this helps, and again I’m not a lawyer by any means. You should seek your own legal counsel if this is really important to you!

      – Jeremy

      • Michael August 28, 2014 at 9:52 AM #

        Thanks !

  9. Robert August 20, 2014 at 7:07 AM #

    Hello Jeremy,

    Great Article! I have been checking out different e-commerce providers for a while. I do custom work on stock items, i.e. personalized name badges with names, city, organization etc. Who do you think has the best least expensive solution? I used Earthstores previously but they went out of business.

    • Jeremy Wong August 20, 2014 at 2:05 PM #

      Hi Robert,

      It depends on how many advanced ecommerce features you need. Some website builders, such as Squarespace and Weebly has good features, but are not as advanced as the likes of Shopify or Bigcommerce.

      The advanced builders such as Shopify and Bigcommerce charge a bit more than Squarespace and Weebly. Their lowest plan on a per month fee basis, is similar to the price for the highest plans for Squarespace and Weebly.

      So if you are price sensitive, you can check out Squarespace and Weebly. Again both have decent ecommerce tools to get a lot of the work done, if you don’t need really advanced tools.

      – Jeremy

  10. Joelle August 19, 2014 at 8:39 PM #

    Hi Jeremy,

    I just had a quick question:
    I want to start a small vintage boutique and i’d like your opinion on the best small business, and preferably cheapest, platform. I’m a college student so I don’t have much to put forth on a website and want to make sure whatever I go with will be the best and most profitable.

    It also has to be able to link to my already popular blog.

    Thank you so much for your time,

    Joelle

    • Jeremy Wong August 21, 2014 at 9:42 AM #

      Hi Joelle,

      Check out my comment to Robert on August 20 2014. The same suggestions applies to your situation!

      – Jeremy

  11. Hasan August 9, 2014 at 10:48 AM #

    Thanks Jeremy for the great article ..

    i want to make a website that is specialized is selling a single item as a starter .. this item does not have a physical existence .. it is like game codes that players use on online games ..

    am i looking in the right direction or should I look for another approach .?

    Thanks Again

    • Jeremy Wong August 9, 2014 at 3:28 PM #

      Hi Hasan,

      You can do that with either Squarespace or Weebly, as they both allow you to sell digital products (such as game codes in a way that you can email them the codes, or email them an attachment with the codes).

      You probably don’t need to use advanced ecommerce builders such as Shopify or Bigcommerce for this (but they both can sell digital products, if you like using them).

      – Jeremy

  12. Ash July 23, 2014 at 8:09 AM #

    How about WIX for the boutique ecommerce (for a small website where we do not carry too many goods)?

    • Jeremy Wong July 23, 2014 at 3:33 PM #

      Hi Ash,

      Wix has really improved their ecommerce features over the past year and so I think it’s worth a try if you don’t have a big list of products to sell. Weebly is also a good choice (mentioned above), but given Wix’s latest tools, I wouldn’t say Wix is too far behind Weebly in terms of ecommerce tools.

      – Jeremy

      • Ash July 23, 2014 at 4:50 PM #

        Thanks Jeremy

        Since another post of yours rave about shopify as one of the best ecommerce building platform: I looked at shopify – but their templates are so expensive… like $180.
        Having said that, if I do not need to re-create a website later on transiting from WIX to shopify , it might be worth doing everything now with Shopify.

        My only concern with Wix is it seems still very fiddly to make it responsive to mobile or mini interface.

        What do you think?

        • Jeremy Wong July 24, 2014 at 12:42 PM #

          Ash,

          Shopify is probably the best hosted ecommerce website builder at the moment.

          Consider the amount of ecommerce flexibility they give their users to power their online stores, if you are building a business that requires a lot of dedicated / focused ecommerce tools, then Shopify is much more impressive than Wix from that perspective.

          While Wix is very easy to use, their ecommerce tools are good enough to work for some basic online store needs.

          As for templates, the reason why Shopify’s paid templates are pricier is because they are built by Shopify design experts and give you a lot of flexibility in integrating the really broad range of Shopify tools.

          So simplistically – Shopify is very comprehensive and flexible with it comes ecommerce. Wix is easy to use, but not so strong in ecommerce.

          – Jeremy

      • Ash July 23, 2014 at 4:53 PM #

        Thanks Jeremy

        My only concern with Wix is it seems still very fiddly to make it responsive to mobile or mini interface.

        What do you think?

        • Jeremy Wong July 24, 2014 at 12:36 PM #

          Hey Ash,

          Wix’s design templates are actually not responsive. However, they do have a pretty good mobile editor in that they compress your content into smaller screens quite effectively, and that you have the option of hiding certain content on your mobile interface (while leaving them visible on the desktop version of your site). So there is some good flexibility there.

          You can see our mobile discussion amongst website builders here.

          – Jeremy

  13. Richard July 22, 2014 at 10:10 AM #

    excellent article, thanks for sharing.

  14. Shawn Barghout July 15, 2014 at 8:53 AM #

    Thank you for the informative article. I have benefited from a few of yours now. Your article on eCommerce builders does not mention Volusion. Did you explore that platform? If yes, what are your thoughts on it.

    Thanks!
    Shawn

    • Jeremy Wong July 15, 2014 at 5:35 PM #

      Hey Shawn,

      We haven’t had a chance to use them yet, so we don’t have an opinion (yet).

      – Jeremy

      • Shawn Barghout July 22, 2014 at 11:17 AM #

        Thanks Jeremy! I appreciate the response.

  15. sarah June 25, 2014 at 4:34 AM #

    Great article, thank you. I am looking at moving from Volusion as they create havoc when they release updates to their software. I have had repeated losses of data and odd code changes that cause disruption so a word of waring to anyone thinking of using them! Shopify and eccomerce are on my list to try.

    Do you have any information on how good their SEO is?

    • Jeremy Wong June 26, 2014 at 3:28 PM #

      Hey Sarah,

      I would say that Shopify’s SEO is most likely “standard”, meaning they give you the standard tools to control your products’ title, meta tags, good URL structure.

      The key to getting more discoverable on search engines lies in promoting your products to more channels, and also creating good content / discussions on your blog so people can find your discussions online!

      – Jeremy

  16. Erika June 19, 2014 at 3:55 AM #

    hi, great, thank you for this. i also have a webpage, i should try this.
    i don’t have a physical product but downloadable. would you be able to suggest for this?
    many thanks E.

    • Jeremy Wong June 19, 2014 at 3:59 AM #

      Hi Erika,

      Which ecommerce software are you referring to? You can check out our online store builder comparison chart and it will show you which one allows you to sell digital products.

      If you are referring to Ecwid (the answer to Geoff below this comment), then the answer is yes – Ecwid allows you to sell digital products!

      – Jeremy

  17. geoff June 18, 2014 at 9:51 PM #

    Hi Jeremy
    i was wondering what your advice is for people who maybe looking to add ecommerce to an existing website or blog rather than creating a new online store? Something that enables them to embed a buy button or cart easily.

    • Jeremy Wong June 19, 2014 at 3:48 AM #

      Hey Geoff,

      Checkout Ecwid, which is an ecommerce widget that can be added to most non-ecommerce stores. They give you a very broad range of online store tools and currently has over 500,000 users around the world using their services.

      Let me know how that goes!

      – Jeremy

  18. Erika June 12, 2014 at 11:27 AM #

    Thank you for the information. I have a nice webpage at the moment hosted on ipage (which i don’t like) built by weekly and is ok for that website. I have only 3 products, which are expensive, however for me would be important to have online payment. I would like to find the least expensive solution. Could you suggest? Many thanks E.

    • Jeremy Wong June 12, 2014 at 1:01 PM #

      Hi Erika,

      Do you mean you don’t like iPage, or you don’t like Weebly (which is an option within iPage)? Weebly has some great basic ecommerce tools for you to use, and you can see our discussion about that here.

      Other economical website builders include Wix, which has improved their ecommerce tools recently. Jimdo is also another choice to check out.

      Squarespace also has some good ecommerce tools, and their template designs are great. But they’re not the cheapest amongst website builders, but their platform is solid.

      – Jeremy

      • Erika June 12, 2014 at 1:16 PM #

        Jeremy,

        many thanks for your reply. I don’t like IPage, Im quite ok with Weebly, Squarespace looks nice. I had used Wix before, and I wasn’t happy with it.

        I am concerned about the charges on transactions. obviously in business we want to have less charges possible. I see that many providers are for US users. I am in Spain right now, and not sure whether these work with Spanish banks, even though my customer are from all over the world.

        kind rgs E

        • Jeremy Wong June 12, 2014 at 3:07 PM #

          Hey Erika,

          Squarespace uses Stripe to power their merchant payment processor, and although they are not formally in Spain yet, they have a Beta program running Spain. So this might work out for you.

          Weebly is integrated with Stripe, PayPal and Authorize.net. So you can definitely use PayPal with your store if you choose to use Weebly.

          Jimdo is actually based out of Europe, so there is a good chance that they might work with your bank. Worth checking them out!

          – Jeremy

          • Erika June 12, 2014 at 11:14 PM #

            Great, many thanks

  19. Linda June 9, 2014 at 2:03 PM #

    Thank you for your good reviews. I am a real newbie at ecommerce. I make one of a kind handbags. I want my own domain name (it is available), and want to set up a store with easy options for payment (paypal, credit cards). So far I am in the midst of setting up a site on WIX. It seems intuitive, but I have heard other really bad reviews of it, including tht I won’t be able to use my own domain name. Do I need to buy my domain name from a different site or can I get it through WIX? I am also considerig weebly. I will have less than 100 products, all one of a kind. It is very hard to sort through the hype and find the right site! Also, I need it to be very economical. Thanks for your help. Linda

    • Jeremy Wong June 10, 2014 at 3:28 AM #

      Hi Linda,

      I think it’s almost impossible to find the “perfect” online store builder unless you custom build one that suits all your needs! But you can definitely find one that you can get comfortable with – that’s the good news!

      For Wix, you can definitely connect the site with your own domain name if you use one of their premium plans. You can purchase your own domain name either through registrars such as GoDaddy, or if you sign up to Wix’s Combo Plan or higher, they give you a free domain name.

      I personally like to purchase our domain names through registrars instead of through website builders, as it is easier to change website builders if you decide to do so later on, without having to transfer the domain name out of the website builder to another registrar. If you get your domain name from registrars such as GoDaddy, you can point the domain name to any website builders whenever you want to, which is much easier this way.

      Weebly also has good online store tools. They’re by no means perfect, but they’ve come a long way in introducing new tools over the past year, and I know they have plans to keep improving them.

      But if your website is a pure ecommerce site, you should also consider Shopify, which is a pure, focused ecommerce store builder. So all their current and future tools are all catered to helping entrepreneurs grow their stores. You can always start small (with their lowest plan) and as your business grows, upgrade to a higher plan if you want to!

      I can definitely relate to feeling a bit overwhelmed by choices, as we were once there as well! The best way forward, is to sign up to 2 (or 3) builders, and just invest some time in getting familiar with them. That’s the only way to get a good feel of whether the builder matches your needs. Studying endless list of features list will become unproductive after a while! So best to just invest time to finding out which one works for you. It’s worth the investment!

      – Jeremy

  20. José Noulez de Miguel May 24, 2014 at 5:41 AM #

    Should one sell online in his own language or should one sell online in English ?
    I want to start an online store in Belgium. My language is “dutch”. The products I will be selling are international. I am ready to sell to anybody in the world but when you start blogging on your products, or when you have to set up your online stroe : will you do this in English of in my case “dutch” ?
    Probably the first sales online will be from people I know (dutch speaking). But will a website build in “dutch” attract customers who do not speak “dutch”
    Would like to hear your thought on it.

    • Jeremy Wong May 24, 2014 at 10:57 AM #

      Hi Jose,

      I would personally build the site in English especially if you are trying to cater the online store to an international audience. It’s just a broader audience for you to try to capture.

      One of Shopify’s themes allow you to build your store in two separate languages. You can see the discussion in this thread here.

      You can also see our discussion on Shopify here.

      Hope this helps!

      – Jeremy

  21. KB May 13, 2014 at 12:56 PM #

    What about store-envy and volusion? I’m deciding between these (2), shopify and bigcommerce. Thanks!

    • Jeremy Wong May 13, 2014 at 11:57 PM #

      Hi KB,

      I haven’t used either one before, but I’m aware that Volusion is a larger ecommerce builder competing with Shopify and Bigcommerce.

      If you haven’t see one of our articles comparing Shopify and Bigcommerce, you may find that helpful as well!

      – Jeremy

  22. Mike May 5, 2014 at 1:47 AM #

    Thank You, for sharing this article. It is very helpful for me, as I’m in the boiling pot
    right now, trying to choose a website builder.

    Best,
    MIke

    • Jeremy & Connie Wong May 5, 2014 at 11:11 AM #

      You’re very welcome Mike. Glad we can be helpful! Be sure to click on the social sharing buttons at the top or left side of the articles if you found them helpful! You can also help others out by sharing our discussions with them!

      – Jeremy

  23. Michelle May 4, 2014 at 1:08 PM #

    Thanks!! That actually helped unlike so many of the other articles did not

  24. Kristi D April 25, 2014 at 5:05 AM #

    Dear Jeremy and Connie,
    Thank you for this wonderful article.
    I have a question that I did not notice was covered in your article.

    I am looking to sell curriculum (8 chapters, each sold separately). I’d like the customers to be able to log in to my website and view the chapter they are working on from this space. Would this be a membership based website? If so, do you know if there is a good company out there to help me build what I am looking for?

    Thank you for your help!
    Kristi

    • Jeremy & Connie April 25, 2014 at 9:04 AM #

      Hey Kristi,

      Thanks for your feedback! To create a membership type website, there are several options.

      If you use Shopify, you can install their free app called “Lockdown”.

      For Bigcommerce, here are some instructions on how to create a members only content area.

      If you end up Squarespace, you can use another service provider called Sentry Login to help you set up a membership area on the website.

      Hope this is helpful!

      – Jeremy

  25. Curt Gayer April 23, 2014 at 10:42 AM #

    Hello Jeremy and Connie,

    Thank you for putting forth the effort to provide those of us looking for some answers to the e-commerce questions.
    We currently have a website and we are disappointed in the shopping cart and shipping and payment functions that seem to leave us with just a “electronic business card” out there instead of a revenue generator! It appears the listing you guys have provided will make the selection very easy. We want a website that will do all the processing portions and help us sell our merchandise. Thanks again!! Good Day!
    Curt.

    • Jeremy & Connie April 23, 2014 at 11:25 AM #

      Hey Curt,

      No problem glad you find our discussions helpful! I think you make a really good point that the goal of an e-commerce site is to have a “machine” that will help you market and sell your products. That’s why picking an online store builder that comes equipped with tools to help you automate as many tasks is so critical to building your business.

      Based on the builders that we’ve used and tested, the ones with the most comprehensive set of e-commerce tools are Shopify and Bigcommerce. So these two builders are fantastic if you need very advanced tools to manage your business.

      Squarespace and Weebly also have very reliable tools, but their available features are not as advanced or diversified as Shopify or Bigcommerce.

      So at the end of the day it depends on how far you want to take your store. This will ultimately drive your decision on which builder to test, and ultimate choose to use!

      Thanks for joining this discussion!

      – Jeremy

  26. Maud Dzimiri April 19, 2014 at 4:30 PM #

    I am researching best Ecommerce websites and software and I came across your sites. I bookmarked both and you have cut my research time by a ton. I am also looking to sell to international customers. Can you advise on websites and software that cater to different languages and currencies?

    Very helpful information and thank you!

    • Jeremy & Connie April 20, 2014 at 1:03 PM #

      Hi Maud,

      Glad you found our information helpful! In terms of having a multi-language site, I don’t think the online store builders that we’ve used and discussed on our website have this capability. But I think what you can do is create a subdomain of your main site, and translate your entire store into a different language.

      As for different currencies, there are shopping carts out there that can detect your shoppers’ geographic location and charge in their local currency. Shopify and Bigcommerce both can integrate a lot of different transaction services providers, so perhaps one of them will have this capability.

      – Jeremy

  27. Paul April 9, 2014 at 10:48 PM #

    Really found this info helpful! Thanks for sharing.

    • Jeremy & Connie April 10, 2014 at 10:17 AM #

      Glad it helped Paul! Do click on the social sharing buttons at the top and on the left side of the article to spread the word! You never know who else may benefit from this discussion.

      Cheers,

      – Jeremy

  28. Michael March 26, 2014 at 12:43 PM #

    Great article! I’m wondering if you can advise me on the following. I’m planning on building a web store for my distribution business where every customer has to provide a set of documents before they can purchase from the online store. There is a limited list of document types, like distribution agreement, import license, etc.. Each of them can have an expiration date. So setting up the customer account will require to upload all these documents manually and update the expiration date. Only after all the documents are valid and active the customer will be able to log in and buy from the store. Would you please advise if any of the software you dealt with can be used to provide this functionality.

    • Jeremy & Connie March 26, 2014 at 3:46 PM #

      Hi Michael,

      Sounds like you need something that’s pretty customized and I don’t think any of the e-commerce builders we mentioned above have this capability out of the box.

      What you can do, is set up your page so that people can download the documents, fill them in, and just email them to you. Once you approve (which you have to anyway assuming you manually approve them), you can then reply to them via email.

      I don’t think Shopify or Bigcommerce has membership gateways, but I know that with Squarepace and Weebly, you can use Sentry Login to set up a membership area. That way, once you approve the documents, you can grant them membership access to the site, then they can purchase your products that way.

      Just something to think about!

      – Jeremy

  29. Abby March 18, 2014 at 5:31 PM #

    Great article! Any opinion about using the Amazon platform?

    • Jeremy & Connie March 18, 2014 at 7:30 PM #

      Hey Abby,

      We haven’t actually used them before as we’ve never sold anything on Amazon! Though I heard that they are pretty good as they have fulfillment centers to help you process / deliver products (for a fee, of course!)

      Would love to hear other people’s experiences here.

      – Jeremy

  30. Janet March 11, 2014 at 9:20 AM #

    Thanks for this! I’m going to be building an e-commerce site and am in the research stage. I found your article very helpful.

  31. Dennis February 22, 2014 at 8:55 PM #

    Exceptional information……will save a newby much time and confusion

    Dennis

    • Jeremy & Connie February 23, 2014 at 10:57 AM #

      Thanks Dennis! Glad you find it helpful. Do click on the social buttons to share any articles you enjoyed reading! You never know who else may benefit them!

      – Jeremy

  32. Cedric February 13, 2014 at 9:33 AM #

    Hi,

    I want to create an e-commerce in the printing industry. I would have few products only but they will be custom one. People would choose the product and size ex: 10′ x 24′ and then upload their picture.

    The one I prefer was Squarespace but will it be able to do what I want?

    Thank you for being so resourceful!

    • Jeremy & Connie February 14, 2014 at 3:23 PM #

      Hi Cedric,

      I don’t think you can do this with Squarespace or with any of the website builders that we’ve tested and reviewed.

      The only thing with Squarespace is that you can build your own custom contact form where you can ask people to submit whatever specific information you need, then you will need to contact them through email where they can then email you the picture.

      If you want something that’s automated, you might need to have a system custom built for you. But if anyone reading this comment has seen any system that provides this service, I’d love to hear about it!

      – Jeremy

  33. Thabi February 10, 2014 at 9:36 AM #

    Hi

    I just wanted to say that your website is beyond awesome…. and I’m sure you do well for disseminating such brilliant objective information.

    I wanted to enquire about the integration of payment facilities on weebly commerce and squarespace:

    do they have capabilities to accept EFT payments (or have this feature on the site) as well as 3rd parties like Paypal and paygate?

    Are they also compatible with eCommerce activities in international markets – can I set up a store in another country with multiple currencies?

    • Jeremy & Connie February 12, 2014 at 10:55 PM #

      Hi Thabi,

      I’m not entirely sure if either Weebly or Squarespace can accept EFT, but it really depends on whether their payment processors can handle it. Weebly offers you PayPal, Stripe and Authorize.net, and Squarespace offers you Stripe to handle payments. So if those services providers can handle EFT, then I suppose the answer is yes!

      For your last question, I believe you can only set your products in 1 single currency. So if you set your store in US$, then your international customers will have to pay in US$ (their credit card providers will make the currency exchange for them)

      – Jeremy

  34. Steve K February 7, 2014 at 10:36 AM #

    Very glad to see that you did NOT include Volusion in your review. I strongly caution anyone looking for an ecommerce solution to stay a very long way away from Volusion. My experience was disastrous with them – in spite of what they tell you, their software is not user-friendly, is not intuitive, and the customer support was dismal. (It was great until they started billing me, then it was all downhill from there.) I spent months trying to get their system to work with the USPS shipping system and never once got it to work correctly. The help from Volusion was basically “call the Post Office”, and we can all guess how that went, right? And, don’t be fooled by reasonable pricing claims and read the fine print for all the cancellations fees they try to screw you with when you discover what a mess their product is. Learn from my experience – run away, fast.

    • Jeremy & Connie February 7, 2014 at 3:55 PM #

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for sharing and I’m sorry for your poor experiences with Volusion. We haven’t used them before so can’t add to any of this. But thanks for sharing. Are you using a new store builder right now?

      – Jeremy

      • Steve K February 9, 2014 at 6:42 AM #

        Yes, I’m moving to Squarespace – so far it’s like night and day – much more intuitive and friendly.

  35. Terri Ioannou February 5, 2014 at 4:07 AM #

    Hi, I am a graphic designer about to sell some soft furnishings I’ve created and I have been considering SupaDupa. Do you have any opinions about them?

    Also, do you know if squarespace allows users in Australia to have payment options through credit card AND paypal as a standard option?

    • Jeremy & Connie February 5, 2014 at 8:07 PM #

      Hi Terri,

      Unfortunately we haven’t used SupaDupa before so we don’t really have any meaningful comments on them.

      For Squarespace, I know that Stripe is currently in Beta testing phase. So hopefully they will have it up and 100% running shortly.

      Another solution if you want to use Squarespace is to pair it with Ecwid which is a powerful e-commerce solution add-on that works with Squarespace.

      You can definitely add a PayPal buy button in Squarespace by inserting the PayPal codes into the Code block in Squarespace.

      Hope this helps!

      – Jeremy

      • Terri Ioannou February 9, 2014 at 3:01 PM #

        One more thing. What does private beta actually mean? I have been on Stripes site and see it is available in Australia if you sign up for Private Beta. is it a testing phase? is it best to wait till it’s no longer in this phase?

        • Jeremy & Connie February 9, 2014 at 4:32 PM #

          Hi Terri,

          Great question! According to Stripe, this is what they say about “Beta”:

          “Our betas may not be feature complete, but they’re always ready for production use.”

          So they’re suggesting that Stripe is functional for merchants in Australia, but they may not have all the features active yet. But presumably all the basic functions are ready for you to start selling products!

          If you would like to know exactly what features are yet to be made available, perhaps you can reach out to Stripe and inquire directly to get the most up to date information? I think our readers (and I) would love know what you find out as well!

          – Jeremy

          • Terri Ioannou February 10, 2014 at 7:57 PM #

            Got this from Stripe Today FYI:

            “As of today, you can accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express transactions denominated in Australian dollars. We’re also working to allow you to transact in US dollars, Euros, British pounds and others, very soon. All of our standard docs and features apply — find out more at https://stripe.com/docs.

            Additionally, if you’re creating a marketplace, store builder, invoicing system, or anything else that helps users get paid, you can use Stripe Connect to let your users accept credit cards instantly by having them connect their Stripe account — find out more at https://stripe.com/connect.

            We’d love to hear your feedback, either on using Stripe as a whole, or on Australia-specific details, such as wording that seems off or sub-optimal behavior. We’d especially like to hear about any glitches so we can fix them as soon as possible.”

            “Our beta is fully production-ready and already in use by many thousands of users in Australia. You may note, however, that while you can accept payments from around the world, at the moment you can only charge in AUD. There’s no monthly fee or other type of commitment, and as soon as you signup you’ll be able to make test payments and check any other behavior you like. “

            • Jeremy & Connie February 12, 2014 at 1:23 AM #

              Hi Terri – this is awesome thanks for sharing this with all of us!

  36. Greg January 29, 2014 at 7:46 PM #

    Are you aware of any out of the box software for building a client customer site like ebay, ruby lane, etc?

    • Jeremy & Connie January 30, 2014 at 11:12 AM #

      Hi Greg,

      Nope – not aware of any of these as I think these platforms work (such as eBay) are very specialized solutions, and so even if there were solutions available, you will most likely need to have a pretty skilled programmer to do the set up and customizations for you.

      – Jeremy

  37. Zola Howard December 26, 2013 at 2:13 AM #

    Shopfiy, BigEcommerce and etc which you have mentioned are some widely used E-Commerce software at present scenario. If I have to pick then I will go with Shopify. So choose your ones according to your business requirement.

  38. Clay Atchison III November 23, 2013 at 7:53 AM #

    I enjoyed reading your e-commerce review, and your review on Shopify. Are any of the e-commerce platforms offering “Responsive” design for e-commerce?

    • Jeremy & Connie November 23, 2013 at 4:41 PM #

      Hi Clay,

      A lot of Shopify’s themes are responsive. Their themes is probably one of the best parts of of their platform (in addition to their tools of course). I would say amongst all the pure online store builders, Shopify has the best designs available for its users.

      – Jeremy

  39. Ian Brun October 25, 2013 at 12:00 PM #

    Very good article. I just bought CS-Cart from www. nettxpress .no, and after reading your article, I think I made a good choice. A good support deal is super important.

  40. Gregory October 17, 2013 at 7:30 AM #

    Hi.

    The idea of having an online store is great. This is something that I’d really like to pursue….but..I have no products to sell. What are my options:

    • Jeremy & Connie October 17, 2013 at 11:53 AM #

      Hi Gregory,

      I think this is also a very common problem amongst a lot of people who want to start their own businesses. There are a lot of good blogs out there exploring the idea of starting businesses, and what to start.

      Here’s one that I’ve been reading up lately and it’s quite interesting and educational. Very inspiring indeed – http://mywifequitherjob.com/

      Let me know what you think!

      – Jeremy