How to Sell Online

Finding The Best Ecommerce Website Builder For Your Particular Use Case (Platform Comparisons + Things To Consider When Choosing)

/ 16 min read
ecommerce website builders

Finding The Best Ecommerce Website Builder For Your Particular Use Case (Platform Comparisons + Things To Consider When Choosing)

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Like any other component of your business, your website is an important part of your customers’ journey—arguably one of the most important.

Whether you have a brick and mortar shop, are thinking about opening one, or want to stay completely digital, creating a memorable online shopping experience for your customers is critical.

It’s not enough to have a nice-to-look-at website.

If you want your customers to continue to shop your site, it must have the functionality, design, and capability to create that noteworthy experience that customers have come to expect from brands.

Think about it: Of those asked, 39% of customers visited a brand’s website before they made a purchase in a physical store.

What’s more, only 9.6% of Gen Z shoppers report buying items in a physical store, compared to Millennials at 31.04%, Gen X-ers at 27.5%, and Baby Boomers at 31.9% respectively.

How your ecommerce shop is built can mean the difference between customers making a purchase or moving on to another brand.

So it’s critical to build your ecommerce store in a way that is not only cost-effective for you, but that is also easy for your customers to navigate (and leaves a great impression).

But with so many ecommerce website builders out there, how are you supposed to know which one is right for your business?

Selecting the right builder goes beyond what’s right for your business as it currently stands.

Investing in a platform that can scale with you will help reduce friction between your customers and your products, and bulk up your bottom line.

This ecommerce website builder comparison dives into the pros and cons of top platforms and provides straightforward insight to help you figure out what platform is best for your company.

We’ll discuss:

  1. What types of businesses benefit from an online store builder?
  2. How to choose the best ecommerce site builder.
  3. The top 9 ecommerce website builders.
  4. What makes the best site builder?
  5. Ecommerce site builders vs. custom build.
  6. FAQs in case you have additional questions.

Let’s jump right in.

What Types of Businesses Benefit From an Online Store Builder?

You know it’s critical to have an ecommerce store to increase sales, to improve your customer journey, and to grow your online presence.

That’s where online store builders come in handy: they make it simple to create the perfect shopping experience for your customers.

However, that’s not to say all online store builders are created equally. Different options may make more sense for your business depending on where you’re at and what you need.

Let’s take a look at a few types of businesses that would largely benefit from using an ecommerce website builder.

1. New businesses.

If you’re just starting out and are looking for ways to cut costs without compromising on function, quality, and performance, using an online store builder to help shape your website is a great option.

These platforms provide everything new businesses need to get started, from theme customization and mobile optimization to advanced product search features and SEO capabilities so your customers can find your store and use it, too.

2. Growing startups.

Startups can’t afford to waste any time or valuable resources on things that aren’t going to help them grow.

Ecommerce store builders provide both a platform to grow with and the features startups need to showcase their product.

Plus, the countless app integrations that are instantly compatible with your store make it work smarter for you.

Because of this, your online store builder is very much a part of the team and will help propel the company forward if given the opportunity to do so.

Tools like cross-channel commerce, checkout customization, and flexible merchandising can help your brand shine—all while staying within your budget.

3. Hobbyist sites.

Just because you’re running an ecommerce business on the side, it doesn’t mean it’s unworthy of a sleek, simplified shopping experience.

These builders offer convenience without skimping on quality.

You can make adjustments whenever and however you see fit so your shop works best for you and your customers.

Best of all, you can watch your store grow and optimize where necessary with analytics tracking.

Using an online store builder gives you the flexibility to create the shop you want even if you don’t necessarily have an eye for design or know how to code.

4. Dropshipping sites.

To successfully build and run a dropshipping business, you’ll need to build a store that is compatible with that business model.

Because you’re not managing your inventory and working with a wholesaler to purchase products, you need a unique solution that can help you do just that.

Apps like Inventory Source, Printful, and AliExpress Dropshipping integrate with your store make setting up and managing a dropshipping store easy.

These apps sync to your store and allow you to add and sell items with ease.

Choosing the Best Ecommerce Site Builder

There is an abundance of choices for ecommerce website builders, but not all of them will have exactly what you need.

When choosing a platform, you have to think about your business goals, your product, and what is realistic for you to manage.

To choose the best option, consider the following questions.

1. Is it within your budget?

Pricing can vary widely when it comes to ecommerce site builders, so you’ll need to consider how the platform’s monthly (or annual) pricing structure works with your budget.

It’s a good idea to look for a platform with different tiers or packages so you can scale up your business and add more functionality as your needs evolve over time.

2. Can the site be built within your time frame?

If you site will require custom build-outs or developer work, you’ll need to consider the timeline for that work, as sometimes developer work can require several weeks (or even months) for proper execution.

Make sure that your back-end work and site build-out will be wrapped up well before your launch date so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.

3. Do you like the available templates?

Explore the templates available on the ecommerce site builder you’re considering to be sure there are options there that you could see your brand using.

If you don’t like the options the site currently has available, you may need to have a custom theme developed for your online store, which can be more expensive and time-intensive.

4. Does it integrate with the applications you need?

Integrations are what help you save time and simplify the complexities around running your online business, so be sure the ecommerce site builder you’re considering ties in with the software and tools you depend on.

That means you’ll want to double-check that your tools around logistics, customer data, email marketing, etc. will integrate seamlessly with the ecommerce platform you choose.

5. Do they have support to help you build it?

As you build your store, you’ll want to be sure there are solid support options available to you that will make the process as easy as possible—there’s nothing worse than needing help and not being able to get any answers.

Explore the site builder’s support offerings and see what general resources are available around education and how-tos.

6. Can it do everything you need, without a developer?

If you’re not looking to hire a developer to help you build out custom elements of your online store, you’ll need to be sure the ecommerce site builder you select lets you do everything you need it to all on your own.

Create a checklist of your must-have features and be sure the option you select ticks all the boxes.

Spending time looking into each store builder ensures you select the one that’s optimal for your business.

Let’s take a look at a few of the top ecommerce website builders.

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Examples of Ecommerce Website Builders To Consider

Just as you would with other areas of your business, researching the solution that best fits your needs can make a big difference in how you run your business.

Now that you have an idea of what makes an ecommerce store builder great, it’s time to take a look at the pros and cons of the top builders and to put together a shortlist of the options that make the most sense for you.

Below are 11 ecommerce websites builders to consider:

BigCommerce

BigCommerce is one of the largest ecommerce platforms on the market. Over the years, the platform has helped businesses generate over $17 billion dollars and counting in sales.

BigCommerce provides business owners with the tools needed to run a successful business.

Pros:

  • SEO tools. Fully customizable URLs and metadata to fit any SEO strategy.
  • Adaptive site themes. Beautiful storefront themes with built-in HTML, CSS, and Javascript.
  • Easy UX. Build the site of your dreams with BigCommerce’s easy-to-use, customizable storefront builder.
  • Secure experience. Never worry about the safety of your store’s data again thanks to BigCommerce’s PCI 3.1 Level 1certification and multiple data centers that make backing up data second-nature.

Cons:

  • BigCommerce currently has limited mobile support for store management.

Best For:

  • Growing your business.
  • Tracking your store’s revenue.
  • Implementing cross-channel commerce.

In addition, BigCommerce offers tools like web hosting, app integration, 24/7 customer support, and more.

Business plans start at $29.95/month.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is an ecommerce store builder designed to work seamlessly with WordPress. This platform provides business owners with what they need to grow their business and strengthen their bottom line.

Pros:

  • WordPress integration. WordPress is one of the most powerful hosting platforms available today making this integration one of note.
  • Reliable customer service. Whether you have a question about payment methods or how to add something to your website, WooCommerce’s team is there to help.
  • Sales tax made simple. Never question if you’re charging the right amount for taxes again thanks to WooCommerce’s geolocation support tool and tax calculator.

Cons:

  • There’s no question that WooCommerce is an excellent ecommerce platform but business owners tend to encounter lags in the live store and high developer costs when doing so.

Best For:

  • Starter stores, hobbyists, and bloggers who are expanding into ecommerce.
  • Customizing your storefront without needing to code.
  • Offering multiple payment methods for global customers.

WooCommerce is a noteworthy ecommerce builder that takes the guesswork out of building your store.

Business plans are free but are limited.

Shopify

Despite it working outside the WordPress realm, it’s worth including Shopify on this list.

Pros:

  • Quick to learn. Shopify is a stand-alone ecommerce platform that allows any business owner—tech-savvy or not—to create and grow an online store.
  • 70+ customizable store themes. Whether you want to pick and personalize a theme or if you are well-versed in HTML and CSS, Shopify lets you build your shop your way.
  • Customer re-engagement tools. Remind customers of their abandoned carts or notify them of an upcoming sale with automated email reminders.

Cons:

  • Shopify has a restricted API call volume, limited URL structure customization, and high transaction fees for merchants.

Best For:

  • New store owners, hobbyists, and brands with SKU counts of less than 100.
  • Brands that don’t want a highly technical ecommerce platform.
  • Business owners that want to make updates to their store on their own without the help of a developer or IT team.

Shopify’s cloud-based nature makes running your ecommerce store from anywhere simple

Business plans start at $29/month.

Squarespace

Squarespace is an integrated platform that’s widely used by businesses of all kinds, but mainly by creatives and artists.

This builder is great for portfolio building and blogging, but it also offers notable ecommerce tools that can help businesses grow.

Pros:

  • Stunning site themes and function. Squarespace’s fully customizable themes don’t skimp on design or utility.
  • Award-winning customer support. Never go at it alone with this platform’s streamlined customer service options and knowledgeable community.
  • Subscription-model compatibility. Squarespace makes it easy for business owners who run subscription-based services or product lines to simplify logistics and manage sales all within one platform.

Cons:

  • Squarespace offers limited shipping and payment solutions for customers, which can make things difficult for some. Also, the platform’s intricate discounting features add a layer of complexity.

Best For:

  • Engaging with customers and sustaining customer relationships.
  • Managing orders and inventory.
  • Business owners who may need extra support when it comes to building and managing their store.

Squarespace is an ecommerce shop builder that combines elegant design with functionality.

Business plans start at $26/month.

Kibo

Kibo provides advanced ecommerce tools perfect for teams who choose to spearhead the design and building of the store themselves rather than starting with a template.

Pros:

  • Easy platform upgrades. With Kibo, you can add new features to your store without enduring costly upgrades or interruptions in your customer’s shopping experience.
  • Mobile-first design. This platform allows business owners to create elegant mobile experiences for customers, so they can shop whenever and however they prefer.
  • Built-in SEO tools. Reaching your customers is easy thanks to features like URL routing customizations, editable page titles and descriptions, and more.

Cons:

  • Kibo is still in its early stages, so users may still find bugs or issues with the platform.

Best For:

  • Teams who know how to code.
  • Managing multiple stores from one place.
  • Creating personalized, memorable experiences for your customers.

Kibo is an outstanding platform for teams with coding experience and who want to integrate dynamic content into their customer experience.

Kibo prices each plan per need.

Wix

Wix is a great option for those who are looking for an entirely customizable ecommerce store solution.

This platform blends the ease of a drag-and-drop builder with powerful ecommerce features.

Pros:

  • Intuitive store builder. Wix allows you to create a mobile-responsive, eye-catching site quickly with its drag-and-drop builder function.
  • 24/7 booking capabilities. Simplify how your customers book appointments or sign up for classes with Wix Bookings.
  • Powerful blogging tools. Manage your blog better with the ability to share posts directly to social media channels, add multiple writers, and oversee your blog on the go.

Cons:

  • Because Wix is built for business owners with limited ecommerce experience, storefront designs may look less professional than other builders.

Best For:

  • Business owners who are new to ecommerce or who aren’t tech-savvy.
  • Companies who need an appointment or booking feature.

Wix provides business owners with ecommerce tools that make an impact and will help their business grow.

Business plans start at $19/month.

Volusion

Volusion is a comprehensive ecommerce store builder.

New business owners can customize their storefront to fit their brand and start selling in minutes.

Pros:

  • Inventory management. Volusion’s inventory management feature allows you to track, monitor, and better understand the ebbs and flows of your inventory.
  • Customer relationship tools. Volusion’s customer information tool allows you to make more meaningful connections and engagements with your most valuable audience every time.
  • Third-party software integration. With Volusion, you can expand your arsenal of ecommerce tools and make them work smarter together.

Cons:

  • There is a heavy tax on engineering resources as they are maintaining (and building) two separate platforms.

Best For:

  • Business owners or hobbyists who are new to the world of ecommerce.
  • Easily making site updates and changes without having to know how to code.
  • Integrating apps and software you currently use with your store.

With Volusion, creating an ecommerce store that works with you and that can help you grow is easy.

Business plans start at $299.

BigCartel

BigCartel is a unique ecommerce platform designed for smaller merchants or artists who do not need a sophisticated platform. But don’t mistake simplicity for a lack of features.

Pros:

  • Simple store builder. BigCartel’s store builder is easy to use and fast to learn, so you can start selling quicker.
  • Manage logistics and inventory. BigCartel has streamlined how shop owners oversee inventory, monitor store data, and fulfill orders.
  • Built for artists. This platform was designed with makers, creatives, and independent merchants in mind.

Cons:

  • This platform is limited when it comes to reporting, it doesn’t have a blog feature, and the customer support component could be improved.

Best For:

  • Smaller merchants who don’t need a complicated ecommerce platform.
  • Business owners who want to create an impressive, on-brand store quickly.

BigCartel is ideal for business owners who don’t need all the bells and whistles that other platforms offer.

Platinum plans start at $9.99/month.

Magento

Has your company already invested heavily in IT or development? If so, Magento might be the platform for you.

Pros:

  • 100% control over your store. With Magento, brands have complete control over their own ecommerce store.
  • Create better brand interactions. Magento lets you unite your content with your customer demands, making their experience richer.
  • Powerful insights. Push your data further with insights that help you see how business is going so you can plan and optimize.

Cons:

  • Due to manual patch and bug updates, which require site and integration QA, this platform still has a few issues to work through.

Best For:

  • Brands who are heavily invested in IT or development.
  • Businesses that require a more intricate ecommerce system.

Magento is great for brands that are ready to integrate ecommerce solutions like omni-channel and global expansion into their strategy.

Enterprise plans are priced per project by Magento.

3dcart

3dcart’s all-inclusive ecommerce store software can help business owners elevate their presence.

This platform is excellent for businesses that use several tools to power their ecommerce store.

Pros:

  • Advanced shopping solutions. Category navigation, wish lists and registries, customer reviews, and more make shopping more comprehensive for customers.
  • Multilingual support. 3dcart’s team of specialists is there to provide guidance and answer questions.
  • Scalable. Whether you’re a small business looking to accelerate your growth or you’re a large enterprise store, 3dcart can grow with you.

Cons:

  • 3dcart’s limited CDN makes for a poor site uptime during heavy traffic periods for stores. As a result, this makes it challenging to reach customers.

Best For:

  • Customizing your storefront.
  • Integrating with third-party apps and software.
  • New businesses with smaller startup budgets.

3dcart is an ecommerce store builder that not only gives you the flexibility to build the store you want but its ability to integrate with the tools you already use makes it great.

Startup store plans start at $6.34/month.

PrestaShop

PrestaShop is an ecommerce store builder that caters to business owners who are interested in implementing a cloud-based solution (plus, it’s free to start!).

It gives you the option to customize your shop in the exact way you’d like—whether that’s with an editable theme or with the help of a specialist to build your store for you.

Pros:

  • Multilingual store capabilities. PrestaShop stores can be used in 60 different languages, making it extremely popular outside of English-speaking countries.
  • Reliable shopping features. Customizable shopping features like product display configuration, order validation at checkout, and search filters help make for memorable customer experiences.
  • Marketing tools. This platform gives you the tools needed—like coupons and discount codes, email list building, product promotion, and more—to market your business to the right people.

Cons:

  • Although PrestaShop allows for storefront theme customization, the platform lacks the appropriate support for the design and functionality issues that business owners may encounter.

Best For:

  • Building a cloud-based ecommerce store.
  • Tracking store growth.
  • Selling internationally.

PrestaShop makes it easy to build and sell on an integrated ecommerce store on a global level.

This ecommerce platform is free to start with multiple plan options to select from.

Weebly.

With more than 50 million websites built, Weebly is a drag-and-drop website builder with 40+ mobile-friendly themes. In 2018, Weebly was acquired by Square.

Pros:

  • Simple pricing: There is a free plan (with a Weebly ad in the footer), plus four additional paid tiers of service.
  • Easy to use: Intuitive drag-and-drop builder is great for beginners who don’t want to touch a piece of code.
  • App center: It’s simple to add additional functionality into your Weebly site with a library of in-house and third-party apps.

Cons:

  • Lack of flexibility: The designs do not enable freedom for developers and designers to create custom layouts.
  • No restore option: If your website crashes, there’s no way to restore it yourself. You need to contact the support team.
  • Not good for large SKU counts: There’s no way to add any custom content types, and filtering and sorting content is a cumbersome process.

Best For:

  • New store owners, hobbyists, and brands with SKU counts of less than 100.
  • Brands that don’t want a highly technical ecommerce platform.
  • Brands that are experimenting with an online website and want to explore different options.

Website BuilderWho’s it for?Price
BigCommerceBusiness owners and new shop builders.Business plans starting at $29.95/month
3dcartAn existing business that needs great integrations.Startup store starts at $6.34/ month
PrestashopCustomers looking for free cloud-based platforms.Free to start
SquarespacePortfolio builders and artists.Business plans starting at $26/month
KiboSite builder who can code and test.Quoted
WixSite owners with little/no prior experience.Business plans starting at $19/month
VolusionStarter stores and hobbyists.Business plans starting at $299
WooCommerceStarter stores and hobbyists, bloggers expanding into ecommerce.Business plans are free (but limited)
Big CartelDesigned for smaller merchants who do not need a sophisticated platform.Start selling for free, but only up to 5 products
Magento Brands who have already heavily invested in IT or development teams.Need to be quoted for enterprise versions
ShopifyStarter stores, hobbyists and brands with SKU counts of less than 100.Business plans starting at $29/Month
WeeblyStarter stores, hobbyists, smaller businesses.Free, Pro: $12/month, Business: $25/month

What Makes the Best Site Builder

As you can see there are quite a few reputable ecommerce store builders to choose from.

Some require no knowledge of website development or coding and others require a broad understanding of the technical elements that make up a website—not to mention a functioning ecommerce store.

Regardless of what you choose to start building, a site builder will need to have these basic features to be considered a great option.

1. Ease of use.

There’s something to be said about being able to make changes to your store on your own time and as you see fit.

Development teams are a luxury that not all business can afford to have, which is why selecting a store builder that you can use is equally important as it is necessary.

2. An abundance of useful features.

You want a platform that will help you achieve your goals. Picking a builder that has the right tools you need to grow your business will make a significant impact.

3. Beautiful templates.

Just because you aren’t familiar with HTML and CSS or don’t have a development team at the ready to create a brilliant website doesn’t mean you don’t deserve one.

Most ecommerce store builders have a plethora of stunning themes to choose from and are categorized by function or industry.

4. A reasonable price point.

You want to make an investment but you also want to be cognizant of your budget and the additional monthly costs an ecommerce store has.

Choosing a builder that has everything you need without breaking the bank is the goal.

5. Secure systems for payments.

Your customers want to feel like their information—whether it be their credit card number or their mailing address—is secure while making a purchase.

Be sure to select a builder that not only offers safe payment systems but offers customers multiple ways to pay.

Ecommerce Site Builders vs. Custom Build

Many small businesses have neither the time nor resources to get an on-staff developer to build their website from the ground up.

For that reason, a site builder may be your best option.

Store builders are great for many reasons, but possibly one of the best things about them is that you yourself have control over how your store looks, and therefore what your customer’s shopping experience is like.

1. Far less expensive.

The cost of a custom-built ecommerce store is nothing to bat an eye at. But with a store builder, you are the one creating the site and can forego that expense.

2. Extensive support.

Most ecommerce store builders come with both a community of fellow users who share knowledge on a designated forum and a few customer service options. Having support—especially if you’re not the most tech-savvy entrepreneur—is critical.

3. Great for beginners.

Instead of investing in a custom site when you’re just beginning, using a store builder is a great way to set up a fully functioning ecommerce store.

Building a store on your own also provides you with ample learning opportunities to better understand the world of ecommerce as your business grows.

4. Tutorials, guides, and help forums.

Like the community of users and customer support options, the best ecommerce site builders will have ample resources for you to learn from.

5. Full integrations with SSL encryption, payment gateways, and more.

You want your information and your customers’ information to be safe. Selecting a reputable builder that ensures security is critical.

FAQs About Website Builders

1. Is it easy to create an online store?

For the most part, the answer is yes.

Most ecommerce store builders offer resources or guidance to help make creating a store not so intimidating.

The best store builders will be the most intuitive and provide excellent support as you start to build yours.

2. How much does it cost to build an ecommerce website?

The total cost to build an ecommerce store largely depends on several factors.

This includes the type of platform you want to build your store on, what features you want to be included in your store, as well as additional costs to supplement like email marketing, third-party plugins, and data migration.

Ultimately, building an ecommerce store is an investment, but if you’re using a store builder, you can keep costs down significantly.

3. Are there free ecommerce site builders?

Most ecommerce site builders offer a limited free trial or a free-to-build option, but most require some kind of subscription plan to continue to sell.

Prices and plans vary from platform to platform.

4. Do I need to know how to code for a website builder?

One of the benefits of using a website builder is that business owners can create beautiful stores—no extensive coding knowledge required.

Ecommerce store builders do the heavy lifting for you by simplifying the building process with drag-and-drop tools, easy uploading, and templates.

5. Is there a preferred payment gateway to use?

Many store builders are equipped with multiple payment gateway options such as PayPal, Stripe, Apple Pay, WePay, and more.

It’s best to select a builder that offers some if not all of the most common payment options, as this gives your customers the most options as they go to pay for purchases.

6. Do ecommerce website builders deal with taxes?

Many ecommerce website builders will allow you to collect sales tax from customers during the purchase process, but you’ll still be responsible for reporting said taxes when you file. Be sure to look into the fine print around this with the platform you select.

7. Do website builders help me ship my products?

A reliable store builder will help you organize and manage your inventory, shipping, and logistics.

But unless you’re running a dropship operation or are using a third-party fulfillment team, you’ll be responsible for shipping your products to customers.

8. Which website builder is best for ecommerce?

We’ve reviewed several high-performing, integrated website builders for ecommerce.

When it comes down to it, the best platform is the one that works best for your business.

9. Can I integrate my ecommerce store with eBay?

It depends on your ecommerce platform. Many platforms, including BigCommerce, have integrations available that make it simple to connect your ecommerce inventory with an eBay storefront.

10. Can I integrate my ecommerce store with Amazon?

Any integration with a marketplace is dependent on the platform that you’re using.

For some platforms like BigCommerce, linking your inventory to the Amazon marketplace is simple.

11. Can I integrate my store with social media platforms?

Social media can be an effective soundboard for educating different demographics about your brand. On BigCommerce, merchants can use our Channel Manager to link their storefront to Instagram and create shoppable posts. Integrations with Facebook Marketplace and Stores are also available.

Executive Summary

There are countless ecommerce tools available today and building a successful online business has never been more tangible.

Whether you’re selling services or products, your venture needs a website.

But with so many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to settle on the platform that works best for your business.

Do your research. Sign up for free trials. Demo a website builder.

Learn all that you can about ecommerce website builders until you find the right solution for your business.

For many small businesses, using ecommerce website builders is intuitive and way to build an online store.

There are different choices for different types of businesses, so which one works best for yours?

Want more insights like this?

We’re on a mission to provide businesses like yours marketing and sales tips, tricks and industry leading knowledge to build the next house-hold name brand. Don’t miss a post. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

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