ecommerce

Best Free Ecommerce Platforms To Get Your Ecommerce Website Started

9 min read

It can be challenging to decide how to start your online business effectively. There are so many options for online platforms to display your products on and get you connected with customers. But all ecommerce platforms are not created equal. Some are more intuitive, or cheaper than others. Some have more hands-on features or more robust support for troubleshooting. But no matter what you’re selling, there’s no better time to start authentically cultivating your business online.

Ultimately, the best ecommerce platform may not look the same for every business. Top ecommerce platforms when you’re just starting out should offer free or low-cost options to grow your company rather than asking you to sink all your money into a single platform right away. Additionally, a great ecommerce platform will have clear payment guidelines and easy-to-use navigation features to help you get your sea legs.

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Guide For Selecting A Great Ecommerce Website

There are many things to look out for as signs of a useful ecommerce platform. First, they need to be transparent about their company’s strategies and site usage. If you feel like you’re going to expose way more information than is necessary, especially if payment is involved, it might be time to look elsewhere! A good ecommerce website will be designed professionally and have clear guidelines for selling products and costs.

Additionally, you should analyze whether the platform provides low-cost or free services. Truthfully, some ecommerce platforms may ask for some form of payment for several of their services. For example, web and host domain names, plugins, and ad control often cost money and possible transaction fees on sold products. New ecommerce sellers will also want to note how much experience the platforms require users to have before signing up. Of course, the best ecommerce platform ultimately depends on your business’ growth strategies and product distributions, but here are some great examples to get you started.

Ecwid

Ecwid is a fantastic option for both new and experienced business owners alike. Their free plan provides plugins for an existing site domain and provides new users with a completely free starter website. The ease of use for any seller has made them a popular eCommerce platform, attracting nearly 1M users worldwide. You’ll be able to sell up to 10 products in two different categories, as well as set your taxes and create discounts for specific items.

What’s great about Ecwid?

  • Easy to navigate — Ecwid has a straightforward online interface, which is excellent for novice sellers.
  • Global accessibility — Available in 50 languages, 20+ payment processing options.
  • Fantastic free features — The free plan still packs a punch, offering services for calculating taxes, content management, real-time tracking of total sales, and more.
  • No fees — Ecwid themselves does not require any transaction fees on sold items.

What’s not so great about Ecwid?

  • No Free Plan For Bigger Businesses — Staff accounts and promo codes are only available with a premium plan.
  • Lack of URL customization — Ecwid doesn’t allow for specific items to have customized links. Instead, it just adds product IDs to URLs.

Big Cartel

Big Cartel is a popular ecommerce platform that is great for anyone trying to sell artistic or handmade products. The website markets itself explicitly to creatives selling their passion projects. Their free plan features fantastic benefits, like no transaction fees, a customizable URL (sort of, you’ll still need to include “bigcartel.com” at the end), and a detailed walk-through describing how to get your shop set up.

What’s great about Big Cartel?

  • Great for beginners — BigCartel is designed with small business owners and doesn’t include any extraneous fees or complicated web formatting.
  • Effective free plan — You can have up to five products on your free plan, offer discounts and promos, and change your shop URL.
  • Niche market — Not many eCommerce platforms brand themselves specifically for “makers,” but it’s nice to know that Big Cartel has plenty of options to grow small creative businesses.

What’s not so great about Big Cartel?

  • Not Many Images — The free plan doesn’t allow you to add multiple images per product.
  • Complicated Customization Options — If you’re not familiar with HTML, you might have a bit of trouble changing the theme of your website.

Wix

Another popular eCommerce platform to sell your products is Wix. Wix features a user-friendly drag-and-drop system for customization and product management. Additionally, Wix’s website builder provides you with a free domain name (including “.wixsite.com”), images, and apps. It’s an excellent option for getting your online business up and running, regardless of what you’re selling.

What’s great about Wix?

  • Delightful Design and Marketing — Along with an easy-to-use platform, Wix makes website building fun with versatile tools and an AI designer for web building.
  • Lots of Storage — The free plan comes with up to 500 MB of bandwidth and storage consecutively.
  • Great for Mobile — Wix prioritizes quick and easy access to your site, both on your computer and on your phone.

What’s not so great about Wix?

  • Temporary Payment Bliss — You’ll eventually need to upgrade to a paid plan to accept payment for your products.
  • Limited Customization — While Wix offers you a free URL, its tagline needs to be attached to the end of it. Additionally, you can’t change your website template.

Weebly

Weebly is another excellent eCommerce platform powering over 50 million websites to date. Their free plan is great for new sellers, particularly those located within the US. Additionally, they include a blog-based component for your online store to add more information about your company. You’ll receive inventory management, tax calculations, coupons, and gift cards in the free plan but can upgrade for even more options.

What’s great about weebly?

  • Products Galore — You can add unlimited digital and physical products to your store on the free plan.
  • Ease of Use — Weebly is fantastic for beginners, providing another drag-and-drop interface and customizable designs.
  • Blog About It — Knock out two birds with one stone and start up a company blog in addition to your website.

What’s not so great about Weebly?

  • US Exclusive — Unfortunately, Weebly doesn’t offer free plans to users outside of the United States.
  • Transaction Fees — Weebly charges a 3% transaction fee in addition to whatever expenditures are required for your third-party payment platform.

The Next Steps To Start Selling

While this is not an exhaustive list of eCommerce platforms, these are all great options for starting your online business. You’ll most likely want to check out a few different platforms and make your decision based on inventory or business goals. However, many options support small sellers in getting their companies out in the world.

If you’re looking for a free, fully automated approach, we suggest Ecwid. If you’re looking for a complex website, maybe check out Wix. If you’re a new US seller, check out Weebly. If you’re an artist aspiring to make a living off their work, finally, Big Cartel sounds like the platform for you. Whichever platform you end up choosing, make sure their company values and policies line up with your own and provide you with the most functionality for your business.

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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

Ecommerce that has your back

So simple to use – even my most technophobic clients can manage. Easy to install, quick to set up. Light years ahead of other shop plugins.
I’m so impressed I’ve recommended it to my website clients and am now using it for my own store along with four others for which I webmaster. Beautiful coding, excellent top-notch support, great documentation, fantastic how-to videos. Thank you so much Ecwid, you rock!
I’ve used Ecwid and I love the platform itself. Everything is so simplified it’s insane. I love how you have different options to choose shipping carriers, to be able to put in so many different variants. It’s a pretty open e-commerce gateway.
Easy to use, affordable (and a free option if starting off). Looks professional, many templates to select from. The App is my favorite feature as I can manage my store right from my phone. Highly recommended 👌👍
I like that Ecwid was easy to start and to use. Even for a person like me, without any technical background. Very well written help articles. And the support team is the best for my opinion.
For everything it has to offer, ECWID is incredibly easy to set up. Highly recommend! I did a lot of research and tried about 3 other competitors. Just try ECWID and you'll be online in no time.

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