So, you want to start an online store? That’s great! The first step is to find you the perfect ecommerce website builder. Our shortlist contains the eight best options on the market – the one we most recommend is Wix, which combines creative freedom with plenty of selling tools.
Other top choices are Shopify, which wows with an incredible range of apps and inventory management, and Squarespace, which offers incredible value for money with its top-tier template designs and quality in-house features.
Here’s our full rundown of the eight best ecommerce website builders:
8 Best Ecommerce Builders of 2021
- Wix – Best for small online stores.
- Shopify – Best for larger businesses.
- Squarespace – Best value for money.
- Square Online – Best way to sell for free.
- BigCommerce – Best for a purely online business.
- Volusion – Okay all-around, but best at nothing.
- Big Cartel – Best for independent artists.
- Shift4Shop – Others do it better.
Compare the 8 Best Ecommerce Website Builders
Compare the best ecommerce platforms side by side in the comparison chart below. We designed this to help you find the best option for you – compare features, pricing, star ratings, and more. We’ve started you off with our top three ecommerce builders below – simply use the arrows at the top to compare different platforms.
Wix Shopify Squarespace Square Online BigCommerce Volusion Big Cartel Shift4Shop None 0% – 2% 0% – 3% None None None None None Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited 5 Unlimited 20GB – 50GB Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unspecified Unspecified Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unspecified Unlimited 11 including: PayPal, Wix Payments, Stripe, Square 100+ including: Shopify Payments, PayPal, Klarna 3: Stripe, PayPal, Square 4: Credit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Square 36 including: PayPal, Square, Stripe, Klarna 25 including: Authorize.net, PayPal, Stripe 5 including: Venmo, Apple Pay, Stripe 100+ including: PayPal, Square, Stripe YES YES YES YES YES YES NO YES
0% – 2%
0% – 3%
20GB – 50GB
11 including: PayPal, Wix Payments, Stripe, Square
100+ including: Shopify Payments, PayPal, Klarna
3: Stripe, PayPal, Square
4: Credit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Square
36 including: PayPal, Square, Stripe, Klarna
25 including: Authorize.net, PayPal, Stripe
5 including: Venmo, Apple Pay, Stripe
100+ including: PayPal, Square, Stripe
We’re glad you asked! We’re pretty proud of our research here at Website Builder Expert, because not many sites can say they’ve carried out such in-depth testing before making recommendations. Here’s how our in-house research team go about finding the best website builders on the market.
Every single builder goes through our thorough research process. We investigate important areas such as:
- Ease of use
- Design flexibility
- Value for money
- Feature quality
- Help and support
- Customer satisfaction
This helps us rate and compare the builders fairly, focusing on important factors that users have told us matter most.
We even get groups of everyday people to test the builders out and give us feedback, which we then analyze. This helps us:
- understand exactly how easy (or difficult) beginners find the builder
- uncover any issues within the builder
- judge customer satisfaction
We’ve applied this process to over 50 website builders so far – all so we can bring you the most accurate results and recommendations!
Still got questions? Read our report on How We Conduct Our Ecommerce Website Builder Research for a more detailed explanation.
Do you wish there was a quicker way to find out which ecommerce website builder you should use? You’re in luck! Our quick and easy quiz gives you a personalized recommendation, so you’ll know exactly which one is best for your needs. Click below to get started…
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Find out more
- Do you like our comparison chart? We’ve got an even bigger and better Online Store Comparison Chart if you want a more in-depth side-by-side look at the top builders
Best for small online stores
Wix Pros and Cons
|Wix Pros||Wix Cons|
|Easy to use – Wix’s drag-and-drop builder is super beginner-friendly||No stock management alerts – you need to manually keep track of your stock levels|
|Excellent customization – easily control your branding with Wix’s editing tools||Can’t change templates once live – rebranding can be tricky as you can’t switch templates|
|Plenty of selling tools – including abandoned cart recovery and multichannel selling||Not best for extremely large businesses – Wix’s features may struggle to support a huge store|
Wix is known for being an easy to use, drag-and-drop website builder – but it’s also a powerful ecommerce option. It offers the full package – tons of creative freedom so you can control your branding, plus plenty of selling tools to make your store a roaring success.
You can sell all sorts of product types, from bookings and services to digital goods, and there are no transaction fees to worry about either. If you choose Wix’s cheapest ecommerce plan, you’ll get a good range of basic selling tools, including:
- Abandoned cart recovery to recapture lost customers
- Multichannel selling across social channels like Facebook and Instagram
- Online bookings so you can connect with clients through your site
- Reservation management to make your life easier
- Product zoom built into ecommerce templates
- 15+ payment options so you can choose your best fit
Wix’s features focus on convenience to help you set up your online store as easily as possible. If you upgrade, other features such as subscriptions, selling in multiple currencies, automated sales tax, and selling across other marketplaces become available too.
Wix has three ecommerce plans that let you sell online, ranging from $23 to $49 per month, plus a custom plan for enterprise-level businesses:
- Business Basic: $23/month, billed annually
- Business Unlimited: $27/month, billed annually
- Business VIP: $49/month, billed annually
- Enterprise: custom pricing
There’s also a free plan so you can build your store without paying anything – but to accept payments and launch your store you’ll need to choose one of the ecommerce plans above.
The $23 per month Business Basic plan is best for new stores, and gives you the basic selling tools you need to start your store. Business Unlimited is best for growing your business, while Business VIP is for established stores that need priority support, more generous features, and better discounts.
Find out more
- Read our Wix Ecommerce Review for a full look at Wix’s selling features, pros, and cons
- Check out our Wix Pricing Review if you want more details on Wix’s pricing plans, and to find out which plan is best for you
- If you want to start a dropshipping business, check out our guide on How to Dropship on Wix
Best for larger businesses
Shopify Pros and Cons
|Shopify Pros||Shopify Cons|
|Powerful selling tools – we were especially impressed by its awesome inventory system||Transaction fees – Shopify charges a transaction fee unless you use its own payments gateway, Shopify Pay|
|Performed well in testing – in fact, Shopify received the highest score for customer satisfaction in our research||Reliance on apps – the cost of apps can quickly add up|
|Very customizable – Shopify comes with a huge app store so you can add any features you need||Expensive for small stores – Shopify comes packed with features, but can seem pricey for new stores on tight budgets|
Shopify is a dedicated ecommerce builder, meaning its sole purpose is to help people build online stores. It’s no surprise, then, that its templates, features, and apps are all geared towards ecommerce success.
Here’s a quick look at just some of the features you get on Shopify’s cheapest plan:
- Sell an unlimited number of products
- Multichannel selling across social media and marketplaces
- Abandoned cart recovery to re-engage customers
- Print shipping labels from home
- Shipping discounts up to 64% from DHL Express, UPS, or USPS
- Gift card and discount code creation
- Assign inventory to where you store your products – up to four locations
These features are all designed to help you create a professional store and deliver the best service possible to your customers. If you upgrade to a more expensive plan, you can also unlock more advanced features such as professional reports and third-party calculated shipping rates.
Shopify has three main pricing plans, ranging from $29 to $299 per month:
- Basic Shopify: $29/month
- Shopify: $79/month
- Advanced Shopify: $299/month
The Basic Shopify plan comes with all the core features you need to run a store, so we recommend starting out on this plan and upgrading as you grow. You can start off with Shopify’s 14-day free trial to see if it’s right for you.
The main appeal of the Shopify plan is that it increases your plan limits (for example, you can have up to five staff accounts rather than two), and unlocks professional reports. The Advanced Shopify plan unlocks even more professional tools, such as third-party calculated shipping rates.
Shopify also has a $9 per month Lite plan for adding products to an existing, non-ecommerce website, and a Shopify Plus plan, which is a custom priced solution for very large businesses.
Best value for money
Squarespace Pros and Cons
|Squarespace Pros|| Squarespace Cons |
|Beautiful templates – Squarespace’s award-winning designs will make your storefront wow|| Transaction fees on cheapest plan – you’ll need to upgrade to remove the 3% transaction fee |
|High quality website features – some builders lack power in their features, but not Squarespace|| Modern editor can take some time to get used to – it’s not so easy as Wix, where you can just jump straight in |
|Strong selling suite – we were particularly impressed by Squarespace’s inventory and analytics tools||Limited app store – Squarespace's app store doesn't have as many options as Shopify's|
Like Wix, Squarespace is a website builder that comes with ecommerce functionality – unlike Shopify and BigCommerce, which are platforms fully dedicated to ecommerce. Some website builders struggle to provide powerful ecommerce tools, but not Squarespace. Its ecommerce features include:
- Beautifully designed ecommerce templates, perfect for showing off product photos
- Limited availability labels to encourage customers to click buy
- Sell digital and physical products, services, and subscriptions
- Customizable checkout on your own domain so you can keep everything on-brand
- Inventory and order management through your Squarespace dashboard
Squarespace does a great job of combining customization with a strong ecommerce focus. Features such as customizing your checkout page and customer emails allow you to create strong, consistent branding across the whole customer journey.
Squarespace has three ecommerce plans, ranging from $18 to $40 per month, billed annually:
- Business: $18/month, billed annually
- Basic Commerce: $26/month, billed annually
- Advanced Commerce: $40/month, billed annually
The Business plan is aimed at business websites that aren’t primarily online stores, but want to sell a few products on the side. This plan comes with a 3% transaction fee. If you’re setting up an actual online store, then you’ll want at least the Basic Commerce plan, which doesn’t charge any transaction fees.
Squarespace starts all users off on a 14-day free trial, so you’ll always get to try it out before choosing a plan.
Although Squarespace’s prices are much cheaper than both Wix and Shopify, it’s also less generous with its ecommerce features on its starter plans. For example, to unlock abandoned cart recovery, selling subscriptions, and advanced shipping, you’ll need the $40 per month Advanced Commerce plan.
Best way to sell for free
Square Online Pros and Cons
|Square Online Pros|| Square Online Cons |
|Best value for money – not only can you sell for free, but Square Online also provides great features at great prices|| Poor customization – it’s pretty limited compared to the other ecommerce builders we’ve covered so far |
|Helps you manage your store – you can track everything from a single dashboard|| Limited payment gateways – to reduce transaction fees you’ll need to use Square’s payment gateway |
|Makes it easy to promote your store – say hello to built-in marketing features that support your marketing efforts|| Takes a little while to get the hang of – there’s a small learning curve when you first start out |
Square Online Gallery
Square Online Features
Square Online aims to make it quick and easy for anyone to start their online store. In fact, you can sell for free and still get access to some pretty neat sales features, including:
- Ability to sell unlimited products – physical and digital goods, services, events tickets, and also to accept donations
- Automatic inventory, order, and item syncing with Square POS
- Shipping, curbside pickup, or delivery
- Instagram integration
- Send order update texts to customers
- Customer order customization
These features reflect a strong focus on customer satisfaction as well as convenience for sellers. Square Online charges a 2.9% + 30¢ transaction fee on all but its most expensive plan.
Besides reduced transaction fees, other advanced features include abandoned cart recovery, customer reviews, and a real-time shipping calculator.
Square Online Pricing
The first thing to say about Square Online’s pricing is that it has a free plan. Yep, you can actually sell for free with this ecommerce website builder, which is pretty rare! Its paid plans range from $12 to $72 per month, billed annually:
- Free: $0/month – 2.9% + 30¢ transaction fee
- Professional: $12/month, billed annually – 2.9% + 30¢ transaction fee
- Performance: $26/month, billed annually – 2.9% + 30¢ transaction fee
- Premium: $72/month, billed annually – 2.6% + 30¢ transaction fee
To remove adverts from your site and use your own custom domain, go for the $12 per month Professional plan. To unlock abandoned cart emails you’ll need the $26 per month Performance plan. To reduce transaction fees and make use of the real-time shipping calculator, among other advanced features, opt for the $72 per month Premium plan.
Although it’s perhaps not as generous with its features as other ecommerce builders, Square Online offers incredible value for money, and its super affordable starting prices make it a top choice for new sellers on a tight budget.
Find out more
- You can sell with Square Online for free! But what else does it have to offer? Get the full lowdown in our Square Online Review
Best for a purely online business
Sign up for BigCommerce’s 15-day free trial today, and get one month free on BigCommerce when you choose your premium plan! Hurry if you want to enjoy this limited-time offer.
BigCommerce Pros and Cons
|BigCommerce Pros|| BigCommerce Cons |
|Super scalable – BigCommerce is one of the best ecommerce website builders for growing businesses|| Not the most beginner-friendly option – some complex terminology can make BigCommerce a little tricky to navigate |
|Feature-rich – BigCommerce has more built-in features than any other ecommerce builder|| Can be a bit clunky – because BigCommerce is so powerful, it can be “heavier” to use; like driving a truck instead of a car |
|Strong SEO – you’ll find great tools for helping your store rank with Google|| Not a top choice for small startups – if you’re selling less than 10 products BigCommerce might have more than you need |
BigCommerce is one of the most powerful and scalable ecommerce website builders on the market, thanks to its impressive range of built-in sales tools. It’s a great choice in a world where an estimated 60% of our interactions with companies are now online! It’s got a strong focus on fuelling growth for businesses, so if you’re ambitious and looking to power up your store, BigCommerce has the features to support you.
Some of BigCommerce’s best features include:
- 0% transaction fees – unlike Shopify, BigCommerce doesn’t take a cut of your sales
- Generous allowances, such as unlimited products, storage, and bandwidth
- Unlimited staff accounts
- Professional reporting tools
- Real-time shipping quotes
- Multi-channel selling across platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, and eBay
- BigCommerce mobile app
- Product ratings and reviews
All of these features (and more) are included on BigCommerce’s cheapest plan – that’s a fair few features that aren’t on Wix or Shopify’s cheapest plans. That said, it’s worth noting BigCommerce doesn’t include abandoned cart recovery on its cheapest plan.
The full list of BigCommerce’s features is frankly staggering – there are far too many to list here. It’s clear, even from the small selection we’ve mentioned above, that BigCommerce has a strong focus on supercharging the stores using its platform.
If you’re a small startup or entrepreneur, BigCommerce might actually have too much to offer – make sure you have use for plenty of its features in order to get value for your money.
BigCommerce has three main ecommerce plans, ranging from $29.95 to $299.95 per month, plus a custom-priced Enterprise plan for big businesses:
- Standard: $29.95/month
- Plus: $79.95/month
- Pro: $299.95/month
- Enterprise: custom pricing
BigCommerce has a 15-day free trial so you can try it out before committing to a paid plan. As we’ve already mentioned, the cheapest Standard plan comes with a huge range of features – perfect for a new but ambitious store.
As your sales grow, BigCommerce will automatically inform and upgrade you based on your yearly revenue. So, if you were on the Standard plan but started getting over $50,000 in online sales per year, then BigCommerce would automatically move you up to the Plus plan.
Although this model removes a lot of choice, it does mean your store always has enough features to sustain its level of performance and growth. You can see how many online sales each plan is designed for below:
|Standard||Plus||Pro|| Enterprise |
|Online sales per year||Up to $50k||Up to $180k||Up to $400k|| Custom |
It’s worth noting that BigCommerce will never move you down a plan, though, as that would mean you lose features. Downgrading your plan is totally in your own control.
The Plus plan provides a better customer experience – it adds abandoned cart recovery, customer groups, stored credit cards, and persistent cart (where a customer’s cart gets saved to their account so they can shop across multiple devices). The $299.95 Pro plan is aimed at scaling up an already growing store with tools such as product filtering and Google customer reviews.
Okay all-around, but best at nothing
Volusion Pros and Cons
|Volusion Pros|| Volusion Cons |
|Fantastic analytics tools – Volusion is really a builder for lovers of data rather than design|| Little design control – Volusion struggles when it comes to design and customization; its power is in the backend instead |
|Plenty of payment methods – if Weebly’s limited choice of patent options bugged you, Volusion is a better choice|| No blogging tools – Volusion doesn’t provide any blogging features |
|Strong backend management – Volusion does well with its inventory, mobile app, and shipping|| Pricey for what it is – with pricing identical to Shopify, it’s hard not to compare Volusion’s performance against its competitor |
Volusion is an ecommerce builder with definite strengths and weaknesses. It made our best list, so it certainly has some standout features, but overall it came out in our research as okay, scoring 3.3 stars out of 5.
Its key strengths lie in its backend features – its best score in our testing was for its sales features, which include:
- Great stock inventory with low stock alerts, product status and more
- Recommended product feature
- Store management mobile app
- Barcode generator so you can create custom barcodes for your products
That said, Volusion’s features aren’t as generous as Shopify’s. On its cheapest $29 per month plan, Volusion only gives you one staff account, and lets you sell up to 100 products. You don’t get abandoned cart recovery or Amazon and eBay integrations unless you upgrade to a more expensive plan.
Volusion has three ecommerce plans ranging from $29 to $299 per month, plus a custom priced plan that’s based on GMV (gross merchandise value):
- Personal: $29/month
- Professional: $79/month
- Business: $299/month
- Prime: custom pricing
Although Volusion has the same pricing points as Shopify, it doesn’t offer the same value.
Find out more
- Check out our Volusion Review for more information on this data-driven ecommerce builder
Best for independent artists
Big Cartel Pros and Cons
|Big Cartel Pros|| Big Cartel Cons |
|Sell for free – like Square Online and Weebly, you can sell for free with Big Cartel|| Designs fail to impress – especially when compared to Wix, Shopify, or Squarespace! |
|Ideal for artists and hobby sellers – Big Cartel is best for selling individual products rather than bulk inventories|| Not truly beginner-friendly – Big Cartel seems easy at first, but you’ll need coding to get the most out of it |
|Good onboarding – with clean navigation and helpful prompts|| Lack of depth – its features are simple but not powerful, and customization is very limited |
Big Cartel Gallery
Big Cartel Features
Big Cartel has a decent range of features, but none of them really knocked our socks off. On the free plan you get basic sales tools such as:
- Shipment tracking
- Discounts and promotions
- Product option groups
- Real-time stats
- Sales tax autopilot
There are some nice perks thrown in, such as the sales tax autopilot, but on the whole it’s fairly standard stuff. For this reason, we recommend Big Cartel for hobby sellers who just want to enjoy selling a small number of items.
Big Cartel Pricing
Big Cartel has a free plan, and three paid plans ranging from $9.99 to $29.99 per month:
- Gold: $0 – sell up to five products
- Platinum: $9.99/month – sell up to 50 products
- Diamond: $19.99/month – sell up to 250 products
- Titanium: $29.99/month – sell up to 500 products
The main reason for upgrading your Big Cartel plan is to increase your product limits. You unlock a few more features as you move up through the plans, but the main difference is the number of products you can sell on each one.
Find out more
- Big Cartel is a great option if you want to sell a few products for free. Find out more about what makes it tick in our Big Cartel Review
Others do it better
Shift4Shop Pros and Cons
|Shift4Shop Pros||Shift4Shop Cons|
|Helpful features – such as useful SEO prompts||Unpopular in our user testing – Shift4Shop was the ecommerce builder users were least likely to recommend|
|Flexible templates – you can change your template any time you like|| No mobile app – so you can’t run your store on the go |
|Tons of payment methods – Shift4Shop has over 200 payment options to choose from|| Expensive for what it is – you can get much more for your money elsewhere |
Shift4Shop gives you plenty of useful sales tools to power your store, including:
- Over 200 fully integrated payment providers
- Customer accounts and guest checkout options for customers
- Real-time shipping rates
- Saved carts for customer convenience
However, it’s also worth noting that in testing, our users found Shift4Shop difficult to use – because of this, Shift4Shop received the unfortunate title of the ecommerce builder least likely to be recommended.
Shift4Shop has a 15-day free trial, and five price plans ranging from $19 to $229 per month:
- Startup: $19/month
- Basic: $29/month
- Plus: $79/month
- Power: $129/month
- Pro: $229/month
The cheapest Startup plan for $19 per month comes with a pretty long list of features, making it a good choice for a new store. More serious sellers should look at the $79 per month Plus plan – this is the cheapest plan to unlock abandoned cart recovery.
In truth, though, you can get more for your money from an ecommerce builder higher up this list.
Find out more
- Okay, so Shift4Shop isn’t the best builder on this list. But it’s still one of the best ecommerce builders on the market. See if it’s right for you in our Shift4Shop Review
Now you know the eight best ecommerce builders on the market today! But which one will you choose? Wix is the best builder for small stores, combining easy customization with a great set of sales tools. Shopify is best if you’re running a large store – we recommend its free trial if you’re selling more than 10 products.
Let’s have a quick recap of the top ecommerce builders and what sets them apart!
8 Best Ecommerce Website Builders: Quick Refresh
- Wix – Awesome customization combined with scalable sales tools.
- Shopify – Impressive ecommerce features, plus a huge app store.
- Squarespace – Beautiful templates, perfect for creating a stylish brand, with excellent value.
- Square Online – Great way to sell for free, and great for sellers already using Square POS.
- BigCommerce – The most built-in features of any ecommerce builder.
- Volusion – Best for sellers who prefer data over design.
- Big Cartel – Not the most powerful, but great for a small product range.
- Shift4Shop – Plenty of payment gateways and affordable pricing.
We set out to help you find the perfect ecommerce builder for you, and now you’re ready to take the next step in your journey. Every ecommerce builder in our list comes with either a free plan or a free trial, so your next step is simple: try your favorite builder for yourself for free!
Yes! On our list of the best ecommerce builders, there are three that let you sell for free: Square Online, Weebly, and Big Cartel. Out of those, we rated Square Online the best in our research – just be aware that you’ll have adverts displayed on your store if you choose a free plan.
We would recommend Wix – it’s our top rated ecommerce builder and is suitable for small stores. Its customization tools mean you can have a beautifully branded store, even if you’re just selling a few products!
Alternatively, check out Square Online – it’s another good choice for small stores because it provides great value for money, and even has a free plan to help you get started.
We highly recommend Shopify for large stores, because it has an impressive range of features to help support your store. Its app store means you can add any extra features you might need, making it easy to scale up and support your business’ growth.
BigCommerce is another top choice for large businesses – check out its free trial if you have big, ambitious plans for your online store.
An ecommerce website builder is designed to help you create your store. It gives you your own professional website, which is much better for creating a brand than simply selling through social media, for example. You can also sell across multiple channels, using your store as a “hub” to maximize your online presence.
We’re glad you asked! WordPress is an immensely powerful building tool – but it’s not a website builder, which is why it doesn’t appear on this list. You can still use it to create an online store, though – it’s best for sellers who want a powerful, flexible, and highly customized store. It can be a lot more hands-on and technical than the builders on this list. If this appeals, check out our guide on How to Make a WordPress Ecommerce Website!