6 Best Free Ecommerce Platforms 2023 | Save and Sell Today

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The idea of selling online is captivating but, in our experience, what holds many people back is the capital required to start. You have to spend money to make money, right? Here at Website Builder Expert we’ll highlight the best ecommerce website builders that will let you sell online for free, effectively striking this expense from your budget. We’ve researched and tested over 50 website builders over the years, so trust us when we say we’ve already done the work for you.

So, what is the best ecommerce platform? Well, Wix has a free plan that only lets you sell when you’ve chosen a paid plan, and our top ecommerce builder overall is Shopify, which has a free trial and a generous discount price of $1 per month for the first three months. Square Online is our only totally free ecommerce platform, allowing you to sell products and earn money without spending a cent.

The 6 Best Free Ecommerce Website Builders

  1. Square Online (free plan) – Best for food-related online stores
  2. Shopify (free trial) – Best for fast-growing stores
  3. Wix (free to build, not sell) – Best for smaller stores
  4. Squarespace (free trial) – Best for selling art
  5. WooCommerce (free to install) – Best for large online businesses
  6. Magento (free to install) – Best for enterprise-level businesses

We’ve used our independent research process to create this list. All of our opinions and ratings are backed up by hours of analysis and testing, so you can be sure that our recommendations are accurate, reliable, and fair. For example, while Shopify is our best ecommerce website builder with an overall score of 4.8 out of 5, for this list we’ve placed Square Online first as it’s the only true free ecommerce website builder, meaning you can sell for free. Our mission is to provide our readers with honest and transparent information because our primary aim is to find the perfect ecommerce platform for your needs! You can read more about our testing methodology below.

With our thorough research and in-depth testing, we’ve narrowed down the list from a wide range of platforms to the best six. We’ve paid close attention to what each platform offers and where they fall short. By the end of this article, you’ll be fully equipped to make an informed decision.

You’ve Got Three Options

We’ll keep this short and sweet: there are three different ways to start an online store for free. In this post, we’ll cover:

Option 1: The best free ecommerce platforms

These builders let you sell with absolutely no costs, but will come with strict limits and/or charge commission fees. From our own experience, we’d only really recommend these for people selling “on the side” because you miss out on a lot of important sales features. The best builder in this category is Square Online.

Option 2: The best ecommerce platforms with free trials

These builders offer powerful paid plans that you can try out for free. Free trials usually last for about two weeks, so you have enough time to test a plan on these platforms before you decide if it’s worth paying for. Our recommended free trial builder is Shopify.

Option 3: The best free ecommerce software

Software tools are different from website builders because they’re powerful and complex platforms that are free to install, but do require additional costs to get up and running. Our number one best free ecommerce software is WooCommerce.

Compare the Best Free Ecommerce Website Builders

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What type of online store do you want to create?

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#1. Square Online

Best for food-related online stores 

Square Online

Best for food-related online stores

Very Good


out of 5
  • Quick setup
  • Easy to use
  • Not very scalable

Free plan available

Paid Plans: $12 - $79 / month


  • Easy to track sales and abandoned carts
  • Responsive help and support
  • Seamless payments system


  • Limited design freedom
  • Few payment processing options
  • Not great for large volume selling
Square Online Review

Overview of Square Online

From our experience, Square Online is the best ecommerce platform for letting you sell for free, with an overall score of 4 out of 5. For those starting their first online business or who want a fresh start, the luxury of not having to pay to sell is a huge advantage because you can utilize the money to cover something else.  

As Square Online is the only truly free ecommerce platform on this list, it places above Shopify and Wix, which are both stronger platforms overall. Square Online’s sales features score is 3.6 out of 5 compared with Shopify’s 4.7 out of 5, which highlights the point that you really do get what you pay for. 

However, Square Online did make updates to its app store since our previous round of testing, increasing by 6.9% in our website features category  since last year. This saw its score rise from a 3.5 to a 3.7 out of 5. Square Online also has its own POS system, which vendors can sync across businesses for both offline and online payments. What’s more, Square Online has many plans and systems in place specifically for the restaurant and food industry. 

While selling for free is Square Online’s biggest strength, it certainly isn’t its only one, and we’d recommend Square Online to users who want to grow their business as much as possible before they start paying for a website. 

Square Online Sales Features

What’s fantastic about Square Online is you can start selling right away for free! It also comes with some great sales features, including Square Online Payments, selling unlimited products, and an easy-to-use inventory management system. 

Square Online Free Plan Limitations

Some downsides to the free plan are there’s no PayPal payment option, no product reviews, and there’s no abandoned cart recovery. On the actual website-building side, you can’t implement professional branding, advanced site layouts, or connect a custom domain. You’ll need to upgrade to the Plus plan to access these features, with prices starting at $29 per month (billed annually).

There are also the commission fees, with free plan users still being expected to pay 2.9% + $0.30 on each card payment, meaning that even though the plan is advertised as free, there’s always some cost.

Setting up a Square Online store is quick and easy. Square Online uses Artificial Design Intelligence, or (ADI), which is an AI technology that can automatically create a site for you. When you boot it up, it’ll make a site for you and you can choose the style you prefer.

Other website builders, like Wix, also offer ADI as an option but it’s the main route with Square Online. From our first-hand experience, it tends to be a double-edged sword. While it’s certainly quick and easy to have a site ready for you, Square Online is not tailored to users who want an active role in customizing their store. Square Online also defaults the mobile layout for previews over desktop, which is a first in our experience. 

Overall, we scored Square Online 3.7 out of 5 for ease of use. This -4.6% drop (from last year’s score of 3.9) is due to the lack of customization. It’s admittedly easy to set up a store and add products, but do not expect to put much of a personal stamp on it. As one of our testers said: 

“If someone already had an online business I wouldn’t recommend they switch to Square, they may find the lack of creative control frustrating.”  

Because Square Online is so easy to use, its website design process can be completely hands-off – but the tradeoff is that you won’t get a ton of design freedom, which is why we only awarded Square Online 2.6 out of 5 in this category, a -5.6% dip from last year’s score of 2.7 out of 5.  

This was due to the fact Square Online only offers two layout choices: Shop All and Order Online. The Shop All layout is for ecommerce retail brands that want to set up an online store to sell their products, whereas the Order Online layout is geared towards restaurants and food businesses. We mentioned earlier that Square Online has put a lot of time and effort into its POS system and business packages for restaurants, which makes sense for them in the long run as a company. However, this has led to its design functionalities being less developed, hence the drop in score. 

Despite the limited number of themes, you can still customize Square Online templates in all of the most important ways, like: 

  • Changing color schemes 
  • Picking fonts 
  • Repositioning page elements 
  • Importing your brand logo 
  • Uploading photos 

We just mean that if you’re really looking to get your hands dirty and create something unique, then you’re better off with Wix or Squarespace (both of which offer free trials for ecommerce). 

Square Online templates are professional, just not completely unique. 

If you already have a brick-and-mortar store, and just want to test the ecommerce waters, Square Online is a great option – especially if you’re already processing your payments through Square Online’s POS system. You can integrate it with your website, ensuring your online and in-person orders are always in sync. 

If you’re not already using Square Online products, its free plan comes with some great sales features: 

  • Sell unlimited products (rare for a free plan!) 
  • Automatic tax calculator (US only) 
  • Easily add products with different variations 
  • Simple inventory management 
  • Set free or flat rate shipping, or customize by weight, quantity, or order cost 

Still, there are a few drawbacks to the free plan. For example, although you can accept payments through Square Online’s in-house payment processing system (as well as Google and Apple Pay), customers won’t be able to use PayPal. Additionally, users won’t be able to leave product reviews, there’s no abandoned cart recovery, and your site analytics will be basic, to say the least. 

However, we do need to give credit where credit is due because Square Online actually increased its sales features in our research by 2% from 2.5 to 3.6 out of 5 since we last tested. It now has a completely customizable checkout page and Risk Manager, which is fraud detection software.  

You aren’t able to connect a custom domain to your site if you’re on the free plan, which means you’ll have to upgrade to connect either an existing or new custom domain. Until you upgrade, you’ll be stuck with a free square.site subdomain. 

Additionally, you’ll have Square branding stuck to the bottom of your site. Combined with the domain, this can make your online store look unprofessional and untrustworthy. 

Square Online banner

There are also transaction fees to contend with because Square Online charges 2.9% + $0.30 for online payments. We mentioned before how Square Online’s free plan has no limitations on product limits, but you only get 500MB of storage and bandwidth. Too many products and high-quality images will slow your site down tremendously. 

On a positive note, you can sell both physical and digital on the free plan. If you’re worried about security risks, don’t be, as Square Online’s free plan comes with an SSL certificate included. 

If you start on the free plan and find your store growing, then you’ll want to consider what the cheapest paid plan can offer including a free custom domain for your first year, and no Square Online ads clogging up your store’s branding. 

Square Online used to top our research as the best value-for-money ecommerce website builder – not only because it allowed you to sell on its free plan, but it also had the cheapest paid plan. Square Online’s Plus plan used to cost $12 per month back in 2022.

However, a changing marketplace and outside factors have caused all ecommerce website builders to raise prices, including Square Online’s cheapest paid plan which now costs $29 per month an increase of 142%.  

Selling on a free plan is still hugely valuable for entrepreneurs starting their business and, despite this massive price hike, Square Online only fell -6.7% from 4.5 to 4.2 out of 5 in our most recent testing, taking second place for value for money, just behind Wix. 

Square Online in Action: Key West Cocktail Company

Karen Moran
The Cocktail Queen of Key West, retired Chicago advertising executive Karen Moran has been featured on the Huffington Post, Martha Stewart Weddings and The Cooking Channel (twice!) for her hand-crafted, naturally sourced syrups that make her cocktails such a hit. You can shop her collection through her website, built with Square Online.
I encountered no obstacles when building. Zero. It’s seriously so easy!


Why did you choose Square Online for your website?

I have been with Weebly (which was purchased by Square) for over a decade. I actually had a business creating websites for other small business owners like myself for the Weebly platform, so I’m well-versed in it.

What do you like about Square Online?

It’s beyond easy. Literally, drag and drop. I also love the SEO capabilities. I’ve had countless folks contact me claiming to want to recreate my site better than what I have, but every one of their sites ranked much lower than mine when running them through various SEO trackers.

Did you face any obstacles when building?

I encountered no obstacles when building. Zero. It’s seriously so easy!

How long have you been using Square Online?

I’ve been using it for five years now.

Would you recommend it to others?


What do you wish you had known before you started?

I knew nothing before I started. If I did it, so can you! We got this.

Square Online lets you sell for free & accept multiple payment types

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#2. Shopify

Best for fast-growing online stores


Best for fast-growing stores



out of 5
  • Built for large stores
  • Great inventory tools
  • Recommended by real users

Free trial available

Paid Plans: $29 - $299 / month


  • Sell across many social media channels
  • Abandoned cart recovery on all plans
  • Easily track stock levels and orders


  • Some features come separately as apps
  • Transaction fees for most payment tools
  • Switching themes is a hassle
Shopify Review

Overview of Shopify 

Shopify is a builder with powerful features and a wide range of themes, perfect for small online businesses and those seeking to create an ecommerce empire. It’s why we chose it as our best overall ecommerce website builder, tied with Wix at 4.8 out of 5. 

Our readers love Shopify because of its incredible range of third-party apps and excellent inventory management support, making it a reliable option for established businesses looking to grow. Shopify has over 8,000 apps that integrate with just about anything.

A large reason behind Shopify’s jump of 4.2% in our overall ecommerce rankings is because it improved its own in-house features, pushing its score from 4.6 to 4.8 out of 5. This includes the addition of onsite testimonials, audio uploads, product comparison functionality, and suggested purchase popups.  

While you can’t sell for free on Shopify, it does have a 14-day free trial and new customers qualify for a $1 per month deal for the first three months. This is a great option for those starting an online business. 

Shopify Sales Features 

Shopify scores a solid 4.7 out of 5 for sales features, which is the highest score in our research for this category. This is a 4.2% rise from last year’s score of 4.5 out of 5. Shopify is truly tailored for ecommerce and, while many of its sales features are tied to third-party apps, Shopify has added some really fantastic built-in ones that will improve productivity for both small and large businesses.  

For instance, Shopify now supports digital sales and multichannel selling on both Snapchat and TikTok, allowing even more diversity with where you can sell. A new feature, Shopify Magic, uses generative AI to write product descriptions. From our experience, this can save you massive amounts of admin time and will allow you to focus on other aspects of your business. 

Shopify Free Plan Limitations 

The limitations include a Shopify-branded free URL and the inability to sell your items until you commit to a payment plan. This essentially means you can create your store for free but you can’t actually sell until you spend. 

Shopify is a “dedicated” ecommerce builder, meaning all of its plans are built for selling online (as opposed to just running a regular website). Many dedicated ecommerce platforms sacrifice ease of use for powerful tools, but Shopify strikes a really nice balance. In fact, Shopify saw a massive 13.4% increase in ease of use from last year’s testing.

Setting up your store’s pages and managing your inventory is made as easy as possible, which we really appreciated as, from our experience, this is often an aspect beginners struggle with. We also liked that Shopify’s dashboard is full of useful tips to help you get started. One of our testers said: 

“It’s definitely suited for those with more experience with web design, but this makes it fun to use as you can feel the potential for customization.”

Still, it’s not the easiest builder out there. Users were a little confused by the editor, and some disliked how you had to navigate back to the dashboard to add products separately. However, given the powerful tools it has to offer, we think this is a reasonable trade-off for its ecommerce capabilities. 

Shopify’s themes are well-designed and come optimized for selling products effectively. However, there are only 12 free themes. The rest cost between $170 and $380, which, even though it’s a one-time fee, can be a hefty additional cost. 

Each of Shopify’s free themes comes in multiple styles, so you still get a decent range to choose from. The main difference between a theme’s styles is the color scheme. For example, the Pursuit theme comes in three styles: Vail (blue), Aspen (orange), and Telluride (pink). 

Thanks to improvements to its omnichannel design, Shopify saw a 14.3% rise in design functionality from last year’s testing, making it number one for design functionality in our research. With improved ease of use, it’s now easier for customers to interact with your store and find what they need. We’ve seen how an unorganized site with inconsistent branding can turn away customers, so Shopify fixing this is a major plus for its merchants. 

Shopify offers some great sales features, even on its cheapest plan: 

  • Sell in 133 currencies and up to 5 languages 
  • Sell unlimited products 
  • Set up two staff accounts with access to the Shopify admin 
  • Sell on multiple channels (sync with online marketplaces and social media accounts) 

One glance at these features, and it’s clear that Shopify is equipped to handle larger stores. Plus, we were really impressed with its inventory management, which makes it super easy to track stock levels and update product listings. It’s no wonder we awarded it 4.7 out of 5 in our sales features category. 

However, it’s worth noting that you’ll have to check out some third-party apps from the Shopify App Store to really maximize your store’s potential. This is where you’ll find features like email marketing and dropshipping. In short, Shopify can offer tons of features for larger stores, you’ll just have to download some of them yourself! 

Shopify is a tad less strict with its free 14-day trial than the likes of Wix, since it actually shows no ads on your page for the trial period. You will get stuck with a myshopify.com domain to begin with, however.   

A major bonus with Shopify’s free trial is you can connect a custom domian with SSL certificates (if you have them already) to your trial site, meaning if your transferring your store customers will still be able to find you from your original domain name.  

You’ll also have to pay transaction fees unless you use Shopify’s in-house payment processor, Shopify Payments. These are split between accepting online and in-person transactions through Shopify POS: 

  • Online transaction fees: 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction 
  • In-person transaction fees:  2.7% + 0¢ per transaction 

Popular third-party tools like PayPal will cost you up to 2% of each sale –  these fees can add up and really affect your budget over time, so keep a close eye on these. 

However, Shopify does not allow any sales transactions until you choose a price plan. Your free trial store will open with a storefront password and a freeze on all checkouts. However, you can get rid of the password if you don’t plan on selling.

Shopify’s free trial lasts for three days, and you’ll only pay $1 per month for the first three months on the Basic plan. After that, you’ll have to pay, starting from $29 per month. This is more expensive than Wix and Squarespace, but pretty on par with ecommerce focused platforms – which makes sense, since Shopify is more suited to larger stores.  

If you want to use Shopify but don’t think you can afford the $29 per month after the trial period, then Shopify does offer a cheaper plan, but only for social selling. The Shopify Starter plan only costs $5 per month, giving you access to Shopify’s great inventory and sales features, but you won’t have a full online store. Instead, it will be connected to a social media account.  

Shopify in Action: Lucky Dog Design Co

Kayla Hutchinson headshot of her holding birthday cards
Kayla Hutchinson
Lucky Dog Design Co.. has been sending colorful stationery and happy mail to customers and shops across the U.S. and Canada since 2017. Founder Kayla Hutchinson has been a graphic designer for more than a decade and has been a major crafter and maker since the age of 2. Her favorite part about snail mail is finding the perfect card to match the personality of the person receiving it. When Kayla’s not making cards or stickers, you can find her hula hooping, embroidering, drinking coffee, or getting lost in a good book.
I love how it creates a seamless process for shop owners and buyers. It is easy and painless to create new products, add specific shipping, and accept many different payments.


Is there anything you'd change about it?

I would love more analytics. The analytics for Shopify users at the most common level seems to be cut off. Basic analytics you may want as a small business just does not exist.

What do you like most about Shopify?

I love how it creates a seamless process for shop owners and buyers. It is easy and painless to create new products, add specific shipping, and accept many different payments.

How long have you been using Shopify?

I’ve been a Shopify user for five years. I started with a template available on Shopify for free for three years, then migrated over to a custom website within Shopify to build my site.

Would you recommend Shopify to others?

I would recommend Shopify for product-based business owners 100% of the time. The cost per month is so worth it for what you get. There are apps available that fit almost every need, and the process of managing your shop is easy within Shopify.

What do you wish you’d known before you started?

I would not recommend Shopify for service-based business owners or those not selling anything at all. For service-based business owners, there are other website builders (such as Squarespace) that fit the bill much better than Shopify does. If you aren’t shopping, Shopify is not for you.

Try Shopify for $1/month for 3 months

Shopify is the overall best ecommerce platform on the market 

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#3. Wix

Best for smaller stores


Best for smaller stores



out of 5
  • Plenty of design freedom
  • Powerful features
  • Easy to use

Free trial available

Paid Plans: $16 - $159 / month


  • Can sell Wix products on Instagram
  • Product videos add credibility
  • Mobile editor for on-the-go changes


  • No automated low stock alerts
  • Not the best for very large stores
  • Can’t change templates once site is live
Wix Review

Overview of Wix 

Wix is joint first with Shopify in our research for ecommerce platforms and is our best-rated website builder overall. In our experience, Wix is the only website builder to offer a comprehensive package. It has just about every feature you could ask for without the need for third-party apps and is constantly adding new implementations. It recently added a Google Ads integration which, as an online business, is an indispensable tool to attract customers.  

88% of the Wix users we spoke to would recommend it to a friendand for good reason. Its templates are extremely flexible while remaining easy to use, and its ecommerce features are perfect for any small or midsize store. It’s worth noting that Wix isn’t as scalable and can’t provide the same level of support as Shopify, WooCommerce, or other ecommerce-focused platform. Instead, Wix is a platform for every type of website, ecommerce ones included, but it can’t dedicate all its resources to selling online like others on this list can.

If you can’t identify a category that means the most to you (i.e., you can’t choose between features and ease of use), we’d recommend Wix to create a well-rounded store. 

Wix Sales Features 

With the cheapest Wix plan, you can sell an unlimited number of products as well as on socials like Facebook, Instagram, and more. You will get over 800 templates to choose from, a huge media library of images, and discounted shipping rates. 

Wix’s sales features may not be as strong as Shopify’s, but they are not far off, scoring a solid 4.6 out of 5 in our overall ecommerce ranking. What Wix delivers as an ecommerce platform is personalization. From our experience, other ecommerce builders box you in for the sake of convenience, like Square Online and Shopify’s lack of customization in the editors. If you’re looking to add a personal touch to your store, Wix is the builder for you. There is very little that you won’t have a say in when building your online store with Wix, and its ease of use makes changing things simple.  

Wix Free Plan Limitations 

You’ll have a 14-day free trial, but you’ll have a Wix ad banner and branded URL on your website that could clutter your design. The biggest limitation like with Shopify  is needing to upgrade your plan to accept payments. 

Wix is an easy-to-use builder with a true drag-and-drop template editor, expertly combining a beginner friendly product with flexible design. 

In fact, there’s so much design freedom that you might feel overwhelmed at first, but you’ll get the hang of Wix’s template editor in no time. Wix also has ADI that will, after a few questions, build a site for you and fill it with text and images. 

Having coding knowledge can come in handy for added personalization, but it’s by no means required to create a unique, professional design. We awarded it 4 out of 5 for ease of use, a non-mover from last year’s testing, making it the second easiest ecommerce builder to use. 

Wix’s 800+ templates – over 118 of which are specifically designed for ecommerce – are stylish, to begin with. If this wasn’t enough, the huge amount of design flexibility you get with Wix (which requires no coding) means you can customize your template and make it a unique representation of your business. The templates on offer even cover a niche range of industries, from Clinical Mortician to Pokemon Fan Club, so it’s possible to start with a template that is similar to what you have in mind. One of our testers said:  

“Wix has so many templates that can be broken down into very niche industries.”  

From our experience, it’s hard to find a builder that offers both a wide range of templates and generous design freedom, which is why we scored Wix 4.2 out of 5 for design functionality. This puts it in second place for this category in our research, just behind Shopify. 

Wix offers a great range of sales features on its cheapest paid plan: 

  • Sell unlimited products 
  • Automatically send abandoned cart recovery emails 
  • Let customers create accounts for faster checkout 
  • Sell on Facebook and Instagram 

Wix isn’t a dedicated, ecommerce-specific website builder, so it doesn’t have the most scalable features on the market. However, thanks to some really nice sales feature improvements, Wix saw a 1.6% rise in its sales features score, increasing from 4.4 to 4.5 out of 5. 

It recently increased its big data capabilities, meaning it can hold more of your customer’s data and ensure processes like shipping and payment can still go smoothly – even with more customers. It also has an improved stock level functionality, allowing you to better manage your inventories – a vital tool to manage a medium-sized online store. 

From our experience, Wix isn’t quite on the same level as other ecommerce platforms like Shopify, but it does offer all the features needed for small to medium-sized stores.

Wix lets you start a free trial on any of its plans for 14 days, so you can really test and see for yourself if you like it. However, there are some drawbacks to this free trial. As well as the favicon and assigned Wix-branded URL, Wix takes it a step further with its free site by having a banner of Wix ads. 

Wix banner ads

This can be quite intrusive for your visitors and can make it seem like your site is advertising Wix, not your own products. This is a shame since Wix allows unlimited products and the sale of physical and digital products, SSL protected. 

The major limitation is that while you can sell products with the ecommerce plan on a free trial, you can’t accept payments until you upgrade. Wix will hold on paying you until you upgrade, effectively keeping your sales hostage until you decide to sign up for a paid plan. 

Wix also limits certain key features with the free trial, such as no access to Google Analytics and it will only provide you with up to 500MB in bandwidth. 

If you want to get the hang of Wix before committing to a paid plan, you can either: 

  • Design a site on Wix’s free plan, then upgrade to a paid plan to start selling 
  • Sign up for a paid ecommerce plan, and get all of your money back if you cancel in the first 14 days 

If you finish the 14-day trial period and like what you’ve seen, then you can stay on Wix’s cheapest ecommerce plan for $27 per month. 

Wix in Action: WasteX

headshot of a woman in a headscarf against a cream wall
Bilqis Addiningrum
Digital Marketing Specialist at WasteX
Bilqis is the digital marketing specialist at WasteX. She handles the company website built using Wix. a climate tech startup operating in the Philippines and Indonesia. They provide bio-char solutions for agricultural producers to convert their biomass waste into bio-char, and apply the bio char on their farms for operational and economic benefits.
We chose Wix for its simplicity because we don’t have an in-house web developer, and any regular user can learn it in a few days to build a basic and decent website.


Why did you choose Wix?

We needed a website to establish our brand, build an online presence, and drive leads. We chose Wix for its simplicity because we don’t have an in-house web developer, and any regular user can learn it in a few days to build a basic and decent website. The basic blog and SEO features available are also great, and the price is quite affordable for the features we get.

How long have you been using Wix?

Our company has been using Wix for almost a year now.

What is your favorite feature when using Wix?

What we like about Wix: the interface looks modern, and finding features is easy since there’s a search function. What I like the most is that the Wix community is pretty big, so there are a lot of tutorials available if I come across any issues.

Would you change anything about Wix?

Some content cannot be translated (the tables, for instance). This is quite an issue since I need to create a multilingual website.

Would you recommend Wix to others?

Yes, I would. Especially for people just starting their businesses.
wix logo

Take Advantage of Wix's 14-day free trial

Get 10% off ecommerce plans with code ‘GET10!’

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#4. Squarespace

Best for selling art


Best for selling art



out of 5
  • Great management features
  • Best designs
  • Great built-in tools

Free trial available

Paid Plans: $16 - $49 / month


  • Powerful features included with plans
  • The easiest ecommerce builder to use
  • Insightful analytics tools


  • Not many ecommerce-specific templates
  • Fewer payment methods
  • Editor doesn’t autosave your changes
Squarespace Review

Overview of Squarespace 

Squarespace isn’t as powerful as Shopify but, as a website builder, it has always offered the most stylish templates on the market. Much like Wix, Squarespace aims to appease both ecommerce and non-ecommerce users, which means its online store design is not as finely tuned as Shopify’s is, for instance. Due to these issues, when we tested it this year we could only award it a 3.8 out of 5 overall for design functionality, a 5% drop from last year’s score of 4 out of 5. 

What Squarespace does get top marks for is ease of use. If you are worried about editing and building your website, then Squarespace is the platform for you. It scored 4.3 out of 5 for ease of use overall, reaching the number one spot in our research. Squarespace’s templates and editing tools work together in harmony, so it’s actually rather difficult to make an ugly store! 

We gave Squarespace an overall score of 4.4 out of 5 as an ecommerce platform. Its sales features are great, with omnichannel support for Facebook, Instagram, Google, and YouTube, as well as being able to automate product videos you can even monetize them! If you want to sell your own artistic products online, we recommend Squarespace as the best ecommerce website builder because it works with your own creativity, not against it like WooCommerce or Magento.

Squarespace Sales Features 

Squarespace’s 14-day free trial gives you unlimited products to sell. A real selling point are the new ways Squarespace lets you showcase your products, from videos to selling on other channels and creating social media campaigns with Squarespace Unfold. You can create video templates for Instagram and Tik Tok and promote your products with trend-setting video content.  

It also comes with great customizable checkout options and the ability to sell digital products. Our research noted these handy additions, which is why we gave its sales features a score of 3.7 out of 5, an 8.6% increase from last year’s score of 3.4 out of 5. 

Squarespace Free Plan Limitations 

Like Wix, you will need to upgrade plans to accept payments for your store with Squarespace. You will have a randomized Squarespace domain, and you won’t have capabilities like cart abandonment recovery. For new online business owners, we understand this can be frustrating, especially if you are on a budget, but you do have 14 days of a free trial to decide if you want to upgrade or not.  

In recent years, Squarespace has made massive strides in its ease of use. It was considered a relatively tricky builder to get a grip on, now it’s the easiest out of the six we tested. It came out on top with an excellent 4.3 out of 5 ease of use score, which is a 1.9% increase from its previous score of 4.2. Squarespace allows you to build a beautifully designed store without the headache! A tester said:

“It was smooth as butter. Everything was where I wanted it to be.”

Squarespace’s drag-and-drop template editor is a little different from Shopify, because you can see the changes you make to each page in real time. We also like how Squarespace’s rows add more structure to the design process. This means that, unlike Wix, you can’t just drag and drop anything anywhere, but you’re guaranteed a perfectly constructed store at the end of it all, making it great for users who have never designed a website before.

While Squarespace’s online store templates certainly look stylish, you won’t get quite as much design flexibility for online stores as you would with Wix or Shopify. From our hands-on experience with the platform, the omnichannel design has taken a dip since our previous scores. We found that it was harder to navigate a Squarespace store than its competitors, and the branding implementation was a bit more inconsistent, which affects how customers see you and your products. We scored Squarespace’s omnichannel design  3 out of 5, a huge -40% dip from its previous score of 5 out of 5.  

This had a knock-on effect and dropped Squarespace’s overall design score by -5% from 4 to 3.8 out of 5. While the templates are still top-notch, we’d like to see Squarespace focus more on its ecommerce design to ensure it can keep up with its competitors. 

Squarespace offers good sales features as it made a  range of improvements, including video functionality and being able to sell on nearly every major social media site. This saw Squarespace’s overall score rise by  8.6% for sales features from last year’s score, increasing from 3.4 to 3.7 out of 5.  

On the cheapest plan for selling online, which costs $23 per month, you can: 

  • Sell unlimited products 
  • Sell digital gift cards 
  • Accept donations 

Squarespace’s ecommerce plans also come with seamless inventory management. Managing products and variants is super simple, and you can even automatically display “limited availability” labels when your stock levels are low. 

Just note that this plan charges a 3% transaction fee, and you’ll have to upgrade to an advanced ecommerce plan to waive it. 

One of Squarespace’s biggest strengths is its ability to sell digital products. In fact, we think it’s the ideal platform for selling art, because, although its inventory management is good, it’s not built to support very high stock levels. As a result, digital art vendors selling prints will see more of what it offers as an ecommerce platform. 

You won’t be able to accept payments for your store with Squarespace until you choose a paid-for plan. The 14-day trial is more of a practice run to see if you like the site because, even if you hit publish, Squarespace won’t index your site for Google until you upgrade. 

Your site will be stuck with a randomized .squarespace.com subdomain during this period, though you can pre-register a domain to a parked page and then transfer once you upgrade. Squarespace recently bought Google Domains, meaning you will get much more options for connecting domains, a huge help for online businesses that are starting out and want to experiment with names. 

On the plus side, if your mind is still not made up after the 14-day trial, you are able to extend it by seven days for free. 

Squarespace trial extend guide

Squarespace’s free trial lasts for 14 days. After that, you can start selling on the Business plan for the cheap price of $23/month. This reduces to just $20.70/month if you use our exclusive Squarespace discount code. 
However, if you want to pay a 0% transaction fee and get access to Squarespace’s merchandising tools, then the Basic Commerce plan for $4 more ($27 per month) is also available as an upgrade option. The choice depends on what is best for you, but from the point of view of an online store, we personally think the included tools are worth it. 

Squarespace in Action: The A.M. Contemporary Furnishings

headshot photo of Anibal Martinez
Anibal Martinez
Anibal Martinez is the owner of a custom furniture business, The A.M. Contemporary Furnishings. They do woodworking and custom builds for home and business in Orange County, CA. He had trained and worked as a manufacturing engineer for 15 years now, working in the optics industry. When he's not running the business, he also consults in the making of aerospace seals.
I had heard about Wix and other website builders but I trusted the recommendations and decided on Squarespace. The key factor for me was the simplicity to set up the e-commerce and ability the flexibility of payment methods.


How long have you been using Squarespace?

I started using Squarespace from the beginning at the start of my business, in 2021.

What do you like most about Squarespace?

Squarespace has been constantly improving and updating features and companion apps such as unfold, video stories, and bio sites. There is also a handy Squarespace app that gives some ability to edit on the go, which I never do. The app also gives some stats that come in handy while monitoring performance.

When it comes to editing, I can save my favorite sections, which was a welcome change when it was implemented. The formatting of the sections was also recently updated to a scaled/modifiable tile format, making the scaling of pictures, buttons, and other items somewhat easier. Formatting text font as well as color schemes has always been somewhat simple with the styles’ formatting options. So, making large-scale changes is somewhat quick and painless once you get used to the tools available.

Is there anything you'd change about Squarespace?

There is a learning curve to using a website builder so when they roll out a new way to do things some may not like having to relearn using their tools. Using the old tools already took time to get comfortable with. They give you the option to keep using the old tools, but you’ll feel like you’re missing out if you don’t. Once you make the upgrade you also get a warning that you can’t go back, so there is some stress whenever they roll out the new features.

I also think the shipping options are limited. My products sometimes require special arrangements because of their size and weight. Special freight requirements or unique cases for shipping would have been a nice feature.

Would you recommend Squarespace to others?

On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say I’m at a 6 with my overall satisfaction with Squarespace. I think Squarespace is good for specific kinds of business, though in hindsight I probably would have spent a little more money and developed a website with better ecommerce options as well as shipping options.

What do you wish you had known before starting?

Customer service is non-existent. I tried once to get into contact with a help number and realized Squarespace is so cheap because there is little to no user support. Expect to spend lots of time watching youtube tutorials.

Squarespace’s design capabilities and social media integration make it perfect for artists selling online.  

More Information

#5. WooCommerce

Best for large online businesses


Best for large online businesses

Very Good


out of 5
  • Very WordPress-compatible
  • Extremely scalable
  • Helpful setup wizard

Free plan available

Paid Plans: $12.95 / month


  • Huge variety of plugins
  • Lots of payment options
  • Tools for selling internationally


  • Have to install most features yourself
  • Cost of plugins and tools can add up
  • Only works with WordPress
WooCommerce Review

Overview of WooCommerce 

WooCommerce requires more technical skill than a website builder, but it’s still easy to install. It’s an open-source ecommerce plugin for WordPress, which means you’ll need to do a bit of coding and rely on extensions for most features. However, it does mean that you also have potentially limitless freedom of design through code and access to some seriously good sales features. 

In our research, we awarded its sales features an overall score of 4.1 out of 5, coming in third on this list for this category. WordPress is by far the most popular website builder on the web because 43% of all websites are built with it. This applies to WooCommerce too, which has an ecommerce market share of 39%! 

WooCommerce can be endlessly integrated and altered via code, which means its users are able to run bigger online stores than competitors who are tied to one particular platform, like Wix or Shopify. A downside to this is that you have to work through WordPress, whose mileage is dependent on how much you know about coding. For users with no experience with coding, we recommend you sign up with a builder like Wix or Squarespace before taking on WooCommerce. 

WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress, and you can try it out for free for 14 days. However, you are going to need to find a hosting provider, a store theme, and subscriptions to whatever extensions you need. From our own experience, the monthly cost will start to add up. But if you are planning on using WordPress anyway, and want to be able to host a larger store, we recommend WooCommerce.  

WooCommerce Sales Features 

WooCommerce comes with neat features, including over 140 payment options. It also allows you to sell physical products, members-only digital products, and subscriptions. 

However, most of the other features that have become expected of ecommerce website builders need to be downloaded as an extension. WooCommerce doesn’t even have abandoned cart recovery built into the platform.  

WooCommerce Free Plan Limitations 

Not all features you can add with WooCommerce will be free, some will be paid. The average price you’ll be paying for a WooCommerce extension is around $79 per year, but that could go up to about $299 per year for the premium options.  You’ll need a hosting provider with plenty of storage to add the features you need to make your store the best it can be. We recommend Bluehost because it’s the best overall hosting provider in our research and is even recommended by WooCommerce and WordPress! 

Website builders are the easiest way to start an online store, so when it comes to ease of use, WooCommerce can’t be compared with Wix or Shopify.

However, if you need the advanced capabilities of a WordPress site, then WooCommerce is the simplest of those choices. WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress, meaning you can add it as an additional feature to any WordPress site. It comes with a helpful setup wizard, so you won’t have to worry about learning the ropes on your own. 

If you are worried about how to operate WooCommerce from WordPress, there is a package version of the platform: Woo Express. For $25 per month, you get access to a code-free website builder, themes, and customer support via live chat and email. You will still need to use extensions for most of the features, but this package is an option for those worried about having to use code. 

There are only three free themes in the WooCommerce marketplace but, from our experience, they’re extremely customizable. You might find customization a bit easier if you have some knowledge of HTML and CSS code, but it’s not completely necessary. The themes also cover a lot of industries, from artist shops to big electronic and affiliate stores. 

If you’re willing to go for a paid theme, you can expect to pay between $39 and $79 for one as one time purchase.

WooCommerce comes with a decent amount of built-in features, like the ability to add unlimited products and users. The real benefit of this software is that you can add numerous additional functions through its app store like shipping, inventory management and selling subscriptions.

The problem is that many of these features are not free. You may end up paying an average of $79-$299 per year for each one. The WooCommerce Extensions Store covers everything, so the sky’s the limit in terms of features. There are over 55,000 plugins available, so it’s best to shop around. If you want a little help, here’s a list of essential sales features that no online store worth its salt should be without: 

  • Payment options – integrate your store with Amazon Pay, Stripe, Square, PayPal, Apple Pay, and many more. 
  • Promotions – apply discounts to products or the overall cart cost, and offer free shipping .
  • Abandoned cart recovery – this enables you to send emails to customers who have left a shopping cart without finalizing the purchase, helping to regain those sales. 
  • Customizable checkout – customize everything, from editing the ‘place order’ text on the buttons to setting a preferred contact method for customers. 
  • Analytics – built-in reports on site views, recorded clicks, files downloaded, and customers’ regions, plus you can install Google Analytics at no cost for added insights. 
  • Multi-channel selling – sell your products through Amazon, eBay, and Instagram for just $79, and sell on Facebook for free, through extensions. 

Since WooCommerce is a free plugin for WordPress, you can customize it with additional functionalities to really make it your own. Therefore, WooCommerce is slightly bare of features typical to other ecommerce website builders on this list. 

You still get unlimited products to sell both physically and digitally, but whether your hosting provider can handle it – with enough storage and bandwidth, for example – is up to what plan you have. Bluehost is our recommended hosting provider for WooCommerce because it comes first in our best research. However, there are plenty of other web hosting providers. 

WooCommerce guide

You will also have to purchase an SSL certificate because WooCommerce doesn’t include it as standard. 

Once your store is set up, be wary of transaction fees, too.  While WooCommerce Payments has no setup or monthly fees, it will charge 2.9% + $0.30 on all transactions made with a US credit or debit card. For cards outside the US, an additional 1% is charged. 

If you’re running a WordPress site, then you’ll need to pay for your own web hosting (a web host is a company that manages the server where your website’s content is stored). No website can go live on the internet without a host, so even with free software, like WooCommerce, you’ll have to pay a separate hosting fee (this is already included in the cost of a website builder). 

We recommend using Bluehost with WooCommerce because it’s an officially recommended provider. Bluehost has plenty of WooCommerce-specific plans that start at $9.95 per month. 

If this all seems complicated and you want less to manage at the cost of freedom, the Woo Express plan comes with hosting and a code-less website builder from $25 per month. We recommend this plan for users who want a website builder experience and don’t mind paying more for the convenience. After all, building a website can be time-consuming and, if your time is needed elsewhere, WooCommerce gives its customers the option. 

WooCommerce in Action: Grill Party BBQ

Ankur K. Garg headshot with blue jacket and a blue background
Ankur K. Garg
Ankur K. Garg is digital marketing wiz. He's created countless WooCommerce sites for brands over the years, but Grill Party BBQ is his own invention. Their unique BBQ since blends which you can purchase through their website promise to add excitement to any BBQ, cookout or summer sesh!
I choose WooCommerce when it’s a personal project because there are no monthly costs if you know how to code a bit. There are some one-off plugins, but you’re up and running quickly and you can customize everything.


Why did you decide to use WooCommerce?

I choose WooCommerce when it’s a personal project, like my website, because there are no monthly costs if you know how to code a bit. There are some one-off plugins, but you’re up and running quickly and you can customize everything.

What do you like the most about WooCommerce?

I love the fact that I can customize anything I want without having to pay a premium, like Shopify. Additionally, I love that because it’s built on WordPress I can work with almost any freelancer I want at any given time because 90% of the creator community knows how to use WordPress.

Did you come across any obstacles when building?

The biggest obstacle with WooCommerce is that you have to spend the extra time needed to customize everyone if you’re obsessed with branding like I am. That means everything from the product pages to the 20 automated emails that go out throughout the shopping process all require custom UI/UX.

How long have you been using WooCommerce?

I’ve been using WordPress since 2003 and WooCommerce since 2008 when it was called WooThemes.

Would you recommend WooCommerce to others?

100% if you know HTML/CSS, as it’s the only way to go.

Was there anything you wish you had known beforehand?

I wish I had known about my hosting provider WPEngine earlier. I only discovered them two years ago and it changed everything for me.

WooCommerce and Bluehost are a powerful combination for an online store, and they’re surprisingly easy to use.

More Information

#6. Magento

Best for enterprise-level businesses

Adobe Commerce (Magento)

Best for enterprise-level businesses

Very Good


out of 5
  • Very customizable
  • Very scalable
  • Not very easy to use

Free plan available

Paid Plans: $6.99 / month


  • Powerful features to support huge stores
  • Can manage thousands of products
  • Trusted by brands like Nike and Samsung


  • Difficult setup and installation process
  • Beginners will need to hire a developer
  • No help and support
Magento Review

Overview of Magento 

Magento is not for small stores or beginners because it’s pretty difficult to use if you don’t have some level of tech skill going in. However, the payoff is that Magento is the most powerful ecommerce platform on this list.  

Like WooComerce, Magento is an open-source ecommerce platform that can be integrated with other website-building software, like WordPress. After it was purchased by Adobe in 2018, it was retooled and revamped for enterprise-level businesses. Nestlé, Coca-Cola, and Land Rover all run on Magento, but it still operates a free-to-install open-source option for businesses that are starting out. However, its enterprise-focused selling can cost up to $10,000 per year, so we’d only recommend Magento for very large stores with a strong and loyal customer base. 

Magento Sales Features 

Magento does have some built-in features, but you’ll still need to add extensions that aren’t cheap. Some features included are free shipping options, bundle products, and access to GA4 (formerly Google Universal Analytics), which are all essential for having a successful online business. These features are designed to handle some of the biggest brands and corporations around the world, so you can expect them to be top quality.

In our research, Magento scored 4 out of 5 for its sales features, but remember the need for extensions, as some of the plugins like Amasty to add a blog to your site can cost $405 per year.

Magento Free Plan Limitations 

While Magento’s open-source version is free to install, you’ll need to incorporate plenty of plugins to get the features you need, which can really increase the overall cost.  

An additional problem is that Magento doesn’t support hosting from as many hosting providers, unlike WooCommerce. Our recommendation is A2 Hosting, a solid host that is better suited for large websites – something you’ll want to get the full use out of Magento.

Honestly, Magento is not for beginners. While it’s a hugely powerful platform, it’s equally as complex. The amount of effort required to use Magento wouldn’t be worth it for a small store that doesn’t need numerous heavy-duty features. 

If you can’t code, we don’t recommend Magento. It’s aimed at developers and enterprise-level businesses, and it shows. 

If you can code, Magento offers scalability and customization that’s unrivaled by any other ecommerce solution, open source or otherwise – but don’t expect the setup to be easy. In fact, unless you have web development experience, you won’t be able to set it up at all, let alone customize it to your liking. 

If you do choose to go ahead with Magento, you’ll have access to really excellent community support via the Magento Forum. It’s built and upheld by other Magento customers, and you can expect to find user-generated answers and discussions for any Magento issue. This sense of community is so useful when starting out because you’ll find tips and tricks, but it would be better suited for a platform that supports mostly smaller online stores. 

Only one of the themes in the Magento Marketplace is free, and the average cost for a ready-made theme is $100. The custom themes can cost anywhere from $600 to $25,000. Once you’ve chosen a theme, you can customize it yourself – if you’re comfortable with CSS. 

If you’re not super tech-savvy, then the best way to get the most out of your Magento design is to hire a web developer to tweak the theme for you. Just note, you can expect to pay a few hundred dollars for this option! 

Magento comes with some built-in features – more than WooCommerce. For real power and customization, you’ll need to add extensions from the Magento Marketplace. These can be pretty pricey (its multichannel integrations alone can cost up to $499 each), but there are 1,970 free ones to choose from, so there are plenty of other options. 

The pride of Magento is its inventory system. It supports bulk product imports, revenue reports, multiple product variables, and stock management. If you think that Magento is good enough for Coca-Cola, imagine what it could do for your store!

After its acquisition by Adobe, it has also been given full integration with all Adobe’s Creative Suite. From Photoshop, Premier Pro, After-Effects, Illustrator, and Adobe Stock, you have some of the best creative tools at your disposal to use for your website. Admittedly, they all take some time to learn, but there’s a reason they are used by professionals. 

Magento is designed for large, enterprise stores, and while the open-source version is free to install, supporting the platform certainly won’t be. 

Magento claims it can hold over a million items comfortably and enables the selling of both physical and digital products. However, like WooCommerce, you will still need to supplement it with plugins, which you can download from the Magento Marketplace. 

You’ll also need to make provision for your own domain name and SSL certificate once your site is live. In addition to your other expenses with the provider, Magento also has transaction fees, charging the usual 2.9% + $0.30. 

Just like with WooCommerce, you’ll need to pay for your own web hosting to get your Magento site up and running. 

There aren’t many hosts that cater for Magento, which is why installation can be so difficult. We recommend A2 Hosting’s Magento hosting plans for easy installation – it’s one of the few hosts with Magento-specific plans.  

These plans range from $59.99 per month (billed annually) for unmanaged VPS at the cheapest and $529.99 per month for managed hosting at the most expensive. We only recommend upgrading Magento if you know you have the funds to support it. 

Magento has a powerful inventory and can handle many transactions perfect for enterprise-level stores. 

More Information

WooCommerce and Magento are not the only ecommerce software options available. So if you’d like to broaden your horizons before making a decision, here are a few software options that are decent, but didn’t make our list:


If your store is too large for WooCommerce, but too small for Magento, then OpenCart is worth a look. It’s a powerful platform with a ton of scope for customization and additional features. In fact, there are over 13,000 OpenCart integrations available. 

Just keep in mind that OpenCart itself is very light on built-in features, so you’ll need to make use of these add-ons. There’s a fairly steep learning curve though and, unlike WooCommerce, you probably won’t be able to ‘muddle through’ without any developer experience. 


PrestaShop is an open-source software that pitches itself as more of a website builder. As you’ve seen with the platforms above, ease of use can be a real sticking point when it comes to using open-source software, so combining open-source power and potential with website builder simplicity sounds like a winning recipe. 

Unfortunately, while a good platform, PrestaShop kind of misses the mark on both fronts. If you’re set on open-source software, pick from one of the platforms above (depending on your business size). If you’re after something that’s as easy to use as a website builder, we’d recommend a website builder! The ones we featured at the very top of this article are a safe bet. 

Is It Worth Upgrading to a Paid Plan?

Unlocking extra features is key for a successful online store. And, with the website builders around today, it’s cheaper than ever to do so. Remember, Shopify’s paid plans start from a mere $5 per month (with the Starter plan). So if you’re wondering whether it’s worth upgrading to a paid plan, the answer is almost definitely “yes!” 

In short, upgrading to a paid plan will upgrade your business. How is that so? Like any subscription, if you pay more, you get more. Below, we’ve listed five of the best features you can get on a paid plan: 

  1. No ads

You may have a really small or totally new business, but nobody will actually know that unless you’re using a free plan on an ecommerce builder as your site will be plastered with ads. There’s an element of ‘fake it till you make it’ as a new business, and an unprofessional website isn’t going to give off the right signals. 

Lucy's Cupcakes demo website featuring big font on yellow background with Wix banner ad
Free website builder ads can really take away from your site’s professional credibility.

It can feel daunting to pay for an ecommerce platform before you’ve got any guaranteed customers and income, but think of this as a small but necessary investment. Remember, all these platforms will allow you to pay month by month, so there’s no pressure to commit to something long-term if you’re not sure it’s going to work out. 

  1. Better sales tools

A paid plan won’t just make you a website that looks more professional – it will make you a website that acts more professional, too. Ecommerce platforms withhold premium features, like the ability to send abandoned cart recovery emails, for paying members – and with good reason. In fact, 70% of online carts are abandoned (i.e. the customer leaves the site without paying for the items they have collected in their cart). Emails sent to these customers can have an impressive open rate of 45%, and are hugely effective in re-engaging these customers. 

Squarespace email marketing dark background page with woman holding leather purse next to email example of the purse's product page
Squarespace has its own in-house email marketing package that we were really impressed with.

Even upgrading to the cheapest ecommerce plan will get you a ton of better features. For example, Wix’s Core Plan piles on features like five hours worth of video and a free domain name for the first year. 

  1. Sell more products

Most free ecommerce plans put a cap on the number of items you can sell. By opting for a paid plan, you’re giving yourself more freedom, and offering your customers more choice. 

  1. Get better support

Paying customers tend to be able to access support in more ways, such as over the phone. Even if you get the same help and support options as premium customers, you better believe you’re not going to be on top of the priority queue when you need help. Don’t wait until your site is down, or until you can’t get an answer to something that’s driving you nuts before you upgrade – do it now, and your future self (and site) will thank you! 

  1. Increase payment methods

Paid plans typically allow you to connect more payment methods. This, in turn, makes for an easier shopping experience for your customers, increasing the likelihood that they’ll come back. 

  1. Don’t forget your hosting

If you choose to build your ecommerce store using one of the open-source software platforms we have listed here, you’ll know that you need to arrange hosting separately. We recommend Bluehost across the board for this, although A2 Hosting also has brilliant Magento-specific plans. 

Blue background with woman threading to advertise Bluehost WooCommerce plans
Bluehost is a great hosting provider in general, but its WooCommerce-specific plans set it apart from the pack.

Our top tip would be to review your hosting plan on a regular basis, rather than signing up and considering the job ticked off. 

As your ecommerce business grows, this can put a strain on your hosting plan which, in turn, can lead to problems such as: 

  • A slow-loading website, or users being timed out 
  • Your site crashing when too many people are using it 

Providers like Bluehost are great because it covers websites of every size, and offer excellent customer support to walk you through the different stages. 

Our Testing Methodology

Our in-house research team carries out rigorous testing and analysis to bring you the best free ecommerce platforms out there. We don’t want to promote or recommend anything without evidence and data to back up our statements. But, what does our research involve?

When looking at the best free ecommerce platforms, we focused on what matters to users:

  • Website features
  • Sales features
  • Design functionalities
  • Value for money
  • Help and support
  • Customer score
  • Ease of use

We know that site speed, app integration, payment options, and support services, are just a handful of important factors when it comes to choosing the right free ecommerce platform. We’ve considered it all when building our list of the best six.

Additionally, we’ve tailored our focus towards the different ways you can build your online store for free: completely free ecommerce platforms, free trials, or, for the tech-savvy, free ecommerce software.

If you want more information on our processes, check out our post on how we conduct our ecommerce website builder research. Or, for more detail on our testing methodology, check out the breakdown below:

  • Website features – weighting: 15%

When testing website features, we examine the quality and quantity of features available. This includes app markets, blogging functionality, SEO, marketing tools, internationalization capabilities, domain names, email addresses, members area, storage space, and site speed.

  • Sales features – weighting: 25%

In addition to general website features, we pay close attention to sales features since these will be important for online stores. As a result, this research category has the highest weighting. We look at security, multi-channel integration, product types, payment options, transaction fees, inventory capabilities, mobile apps, abandoned cart recovery, reporting tools, checkout page, shipping options, accounting, and discount codes.

  • Design functionalities – weighting: 10%

Customers are more likely to trust and buy from a business that looks professional and stylish. This category covers the number of templates available, template variety, ADI, flexibility of design, UX, and mobile and image editors.

  • Value for money – weighting: 15%

Value for money is given extra weight since we’re looking at ecommerce builders and what they can offer for free. Our research focuses on the quality and quantity of features vs the price point, whether or not a free trial is offered, and the average pricing plan.

  • Help and support – weighting: 10%

Our help and support testing examines the customer support channels available (e.g. phone, live chat, email), restore options, and the number of help features included on the cheapest monthly plan. We also take an in-depth look at a builder’s knowledge center to see how helpful and relevant its resources are.

  • Customer satisfaction – weighting: 15%

This research category is all about how existing customers feel about the platform in question. We take a look at review sites, online comments, whether users are likely to recommend the builder to others, and the general UX. We also carry out market analysis to determine brand recognition and its weight in the market.

  • Ease of use – weighting: 10%

We want to bring you an accurate and fair representation of what’s available on the market, so every platform has been tested by us as well as by everyday people and businesses. This helps us judge user satisfaction, the usability of the platform, and it adds a unique customer perspective to our research.

Best Free Ecommerce Platforms: The Verdict

This post has walked you through the key pros and cons of the best free ecommerce platforms and software on the market.

By now, you’ll have a really clear idea of which will work for your budget and your store. Here’s a quick recap:

The 6 Best Free Ecommerce Website Builders

  1. Square Online (free plan) – Best for food-related online stores
  2. Shopify (free trial) – Best for fast-growing stores
  3. Wix (free to build, not sell) – Best for smaller stores
  4. Squarespace (free trial) – Best for selling art
  5. WooCommerce (free to install) – Best for large online businesses
  6. Magento (free to install) – Best for enterprise-level businesses

While free plans make perfect sense for money-conscious business owners, they do have their limitations. Square Online provides the best deal by letting you sell for free, but you are cut off from a lot of essential features and have to feature ads with no custom domain. This will make your site look unprofessional to consumers.  

With Wix, you can only build your store for free. To actually make money through your online store, you’ll need to spend some. The same goes for Shopify and Squarespace. Ecommerce website building is its own business after all, and these providers need to make money as well. 

Why should you think about upgrading? For just a few extra dollars per month, you’ll have access to a wide range of features. The most important among these include additional sales tools, better customer support, and the ability to actually sell more products. 

Overall, we recommend signing up for a free ecommerce plan today – or testing a free trial – to really get the most out of selling your products online. 

Still unsure about which platform to choose? We’ve done the research for you, and created this quick quiz to help! 

What type of website do you want to create?

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Best Ecommerce Platforms: FAQs

It depends on the platform. Creating a Shopify store takes a couple of hours, thanks to the visual cues and simple language. On the other hand, Square Online uses artificial design intelligence (ADI) to build your store in minutes.
Wix has a 14-day free trial, which allows you enough time to set up a store. The drawback with the free trial is that you can’t accept payments until you upgrade your plan.
No, Shopify requires you to have a paid plan subscription to accept payments. The entry cost is $29 per month. However, it does have a three-day trial and a discount for new customers, which means it will only cost you $1 per month for the first three months. 
WooCommerce technically has the lowest upgrade cost. As it is open-source software, it only costs $9.95 per month to host an online store. However, you will need integrations to actually run a successful store, plus the monthly hosting costs. In the end, your monthly bill will be higher than just the $9.95 per month.
In terms of a complete ecommerce package, Squarespace has the cheapest upgrade cost: its basic ecommerce plan, Business plan, costs $23 per month to sell online, allowing users to create and design their own stores with unlimited products.
Written by:
Being a Writer for Website Builder Expert isn’t just typing words on a laptop. Each day, I’m finding new and innovative ways to help you get online in a mode you feel comfortable with. And it’s a task I do with enthusiasm and gusto. Not only do I have experience building with all the providers we talk about - creating websites such as this Strikingly demo - but we also have our wonderful, constantly updated research fielded by our researchers, so you can be reassured that what we say is an honest reflection of our professional opinions. I’ve written articles and featured guest posts for apps like UXPin on web design in the modern age, as well as answered over 100 user comments on the site and delved into the world of choosing a domain name and adding Bitcoin payments to your site in my own pitched articles. All of this is to say that when I want to get you online - I mean it! Outside the office, I have attended the eCommerce Expo and built up a ton of industry knowledge through talks, workshops, and guided learning sessions with noted experts. The internet is made for everyone, so come online and let us help you get there.
Researched by:
I love to understand human behavior and the cognitive biases that drive us to do what we do. For over nine years I have worked as a mixed method researcher – research using a mix of numerical data and personal experiences – across a range of sectors, from insurance and policy development to finally arriving at Website Builder Expert five years ago. Fascinated by consumer decision-making, I meticulously built our leading ranking methodology to explore where providers like Wix sit within a competitive industry and what value they truly bring to our audience.
As a member of the Market Research Society, I’m an advocate for high ethical, commercial, and methodological best practices. All of this combines to give you the most ethical recommendations based on real data.


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