August 6, 2019
The best ecommerce website builder will let you create a brilliant online store, and will work as a platform to manage all your different sales channels and orders. But, how can you tell which one is the best – particularly when all the ecommerce platforms claim to do the same thing?
Fortunately for you, we’ve tested every major ecommerce platform out there, so we can help you pick the right one for your needs. Based on our thorough tests and assessments, we've found that Shopify is the best website builder you can use for creating an ecommerce online store. That said, it's closely followed by Wix, a great website builder for smaller or more boutique online stores that you can easily create yourself – regular Wix discounts make the platform particularly appealing for smaller businesses, too.
Remember – the internet may be the biggest marketplace in the world, but unless your business has the right website, no one will be able to find your products, let alone buy them. So follow our recommendations and make the right choice before you start building an online store.
In this guide:
- Top Six Ecommerce Website Builders – Take a look at our independently assessed top six
- How We Test Ecommerce Website Builders – Take a look beneath the hood of our unique user testing
- Ecommerce Website Builder FAQs – We answer all your burning questions about ecommerce website builders
- Next Steps – Get started with the best ecommerce website builder for you
Top 6 Ecommerce Website Builders
We put each ecommerce website builder through a rigorous testing and analysis program to cut the wheat from the chaff.
Shopify is the best-rated ecommerce website builder in our tests, although it may not be perfect for everyone. If you're creating a large, complex online store, then Shopify is perfect – it can scale to match the needs of the most ambitious business.
However, if you want to create a smaller or more boutique online store, our top recommendation is Wix. This website builder makes it breathtakingly easy to design a professional-looking site from scratch and Wix now has some very sophisticated ecommerce functions and apps to help your business grow.
Based on our thorough tests, these are our favorite ecommerce website builders:
- Shopify – The best way to build an online store and manage your sales.
- Wix – A good choice for small boutique online stores
- BigCommerce – Runs Shopify very close for the top spot.
- Squarespace – Designed as a website builder, Squarespace is also a great ecommerce platform.
- Volusion – Great for sales and reporting, but a little hard to use.
- Weebly – You'll get a good website, but lacks some sales features
Want to know more about our favorite ecommerce builders and what makes them so great? Below, we've rounded up our test scores for each of the main ecommerce website builders on the market.
|Verdict||The best ecommerce platform with unmatched features, great websites and a scalable platform.||Wix makes creating an online store brilliantly easy, and it's perfect for smaller or boutique stores||Runs Shopify close with great sales features, but a small knowledge base and weaker website design let it down.||Can't match the scalability of the first two, but you'll get a great-looking, easy to use sales website.||A good alternative to BigCommerce with better web design. Can be confusing to use, though.||Has some advantages over Wix when it comes to sales features, but Weebly's overall platform isn't as compelling|
|Cheapest Ecommerce Plan (per month)||$29||$20||$29.95||$26||$26||$25|
|Priciest Ecommerce Plan (per month)||$299||$45.90||$249.95||$40||$269||$46|
|Number of extra sales channels||10||0||3||1||3||0|
|Physical Product Sales||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Digital product Sales||App required||✔||✔||✔||✗||✔|
|Service Sales||✔||App required||✔||✔||App required||✔|
|Try it Today||Visit Shopify||Visit Wix||Visit BigCommerce||Visit Squarespace*||Visit Volusion||Visit Weebly|
* Save 10% on Squarespace with code ‘TECH10'
For more detail on how each brand did in our tests, keep reading for our review summaries, below:
The best ecommerce website builder for large online stores
Shopify excelled across the board in our testing. It combines top class sales channel integration with a simple and intuitive UI, plus great reporting tools to help optimize your sales.
Shopify is nearly unmatched when it comes to integrating disparate sales channels into a single online platform. Through its Shopify Payments system, you’re able to track everything from sales on Instagram through to Google Shopping, and even real-world point of sale transactions. That’s right: If you run a bricks-and-mortar store, you can manage all your sales, inventory and accounting through one platform.
What’s more, Shopify is probably the best ecommerce platform when it comes to design (excluding Squarespace, but we’ll get to that). It offers loads of different website templates, all of which are mobile optimized and can be edited and changed to your liking with remarkable depth.
Want to know more? Read our full Shopify review
The perfect website builder for smaller online stores
Wix is brilliant for smaller online stores. It makes creating an online shop incredibly easy, even for first timers, and the results will look slick and professional thanks to some brilliant templates.
Wix doesn’t offer all of the features necessary for managing larger stores (such as supporting multiple sales channels, which Shopify can do). However, Wix has been working hard to improve its ecommerce functionality in recent months, with a host of new features and improvements, including its new Ascend all-in-one business solution and mass product imports. Ascend allows you to centrally control and automate a range of business functions, from promoting your business with marketing emails to giving customers help and support with chatbots. You can also easily create multilingual sites with Wix — ideal for users in countries with one or more major languages.
When you sign up for a Wix ecommerce site, you get the same excellent design options as the regular website builder, as well as great help and support options. What’s more, in our user testing, Wix scored well for ease of use — particularly for having an easy to understand interface.
Want to know more? Read our full Wix review
A close runner-up to Shopify for creating a large ecommerce store
While it can’t quite match Shopify, BigCommerce is still an excellent ecommerce platform. The main drawbacks to BigCommerce are its slightly limited customization options, and that its help and support options can’t match Shopify.
However, when it comes to its core function as a sales platform, BigCommerce can match Shopify stride-for-stride. This is thanks to its excellent reporting and sales analysis tools, excellent product inventory detail, and the wide range of sales channels it can integrate, including real-world point of sale transactions.
It also doesn’t place transaction fees on the sales you make – something that you might have to put up with if you opt for Shopify. However, BigCommerce will place a cap on the total value of sales you can make, which increases depending on the pricing plan you choose.
Want to know more? Read our full BigCommerce review
Exceptional website templates, but some drawbacks
You might be forgiven for thinking we’ve put Squarespace in by error. After all, it’s, a website builder first-and-foremost, designed to give you a great-looking website, and not designed as an ecommerce platform.
However, we found Squarespace to be a very competent ecommerce platform. For a start, it’s product and inventory management is just as advanced as any of the other platforms on this list, with a surprising amount of detail on offer. It also allows you to easily stock different types of products, from your standard physical products to digital downloads and even services.
It’s not completely without fault, though, as it limits your payment and accounting options to two third-party companies – not ideal if your business is already up-and-running. You’re also limited in your ability to internationalize due to tricky language settings and shipping choices.
Want to know more? Read our full Squarespace for ecommerce review
Powerful ecommerce features, but can be trickier to use
Volusion is a great ecommerce platform. However, it isn’t quite as intuitive and straightforward to use as BigCommerce or Shopify, which really holds it back in this context.
Like the others, it has a good range of sales features – especially its highly-detailed product and inventory management. This will pay dividends as your business grows, as managing your stock and analyzing your sales performance will be easy. It also has great, mobile-responsive website templates, which will help make your site stand out from the crowd.
But, as we mentioned above, it can be a bit confusing to navigate. Some features relating to your site’s design, for example, can be accessed from two separate menus, creating a doubled-up feeling which keeps your head spinning. Some menus are simply confusing, with pages you’d expect to be in one place being located in a seemingly unrelated menu. Still, Volusion’s proactive help and support team should be able to help.
Want to know more? Read our full Volusion review
A respectable ecommerce builder, but bettered by Wix and Shopify
Weebly, like Wix, is a website builder looking to improve its ecommerce game. However, it’s still got some way to go before it can really challenge the ecommerce giants or even Squarespace.
It doesn’t support multiple sales channels, and you’ll incur a 3% transaction fee on all but two of its pricing plans. Weebly also doesn’t give you the ability to customize your checkout, nor does it allow guest check out options. All of these factors will hold you back in your quest for online sales, particularly if you’re looking to run a larger store.
It’s not all bad, though. With a Weebly ecommerce site, you’ll still be able to use its impressive website builder functions and unlike Wix, Weebly does offer bulk product imports and stock management tools without the use of a third-party app. Weebly’s ecommerce plans are also on the cheaper side, starting from $12 per month so it’s likely to be a better option for smaller online entrepreneurs.
Want to know more? Read our full Weebly review
How Did We Choose the Best Website Builders for Ecommerce?
Our recommendations aren't based on random guesswork – we put every website builder on this page through extensive testing. As well as assessing the features and value for money of the various price plans, we put each website past a panel of testers of completely mixed abilities, from experienced web developers to novices. That way, we can ascertain real world ease-of-use for each online store platform.
How we test and rate ecommerce website builders
The scoring above is based on in-depth, independent assessments of each of the ecommerce website builders. So you can know which system is right for you, we put each brand through a series of tests and user feedback assessments.
For an ambitious online store, you'll need excellent features and access to a range of apps – all of this goes into our features assessment. But, it's no use having these options if they're too complex to use. That's why we also do real-life user testing, getting users with a range of skill levels to try out the website builders and feed back on how approachable they found them.
We rate the variety and quality of templates you can use to create an online store, plus we rate the Help & Support on offer when you need assistance.
Finally, we give an all-important value for money rating, based on the variety of plans available and what you get in return for your investment.
Shopify came out top in our tests. It's a market-leader when it comes to creating an online store, and for good reason. It has fantastic features and, crucially, it's a great brand to choose if you're building a large-scale online store.
If you're looking to make a smaller, more boutique store, then we'd recommend choosing Wix – it has some fantastic ecommerce functions and competitive price plans that will be more appealing than the Shopify top tiers for larger stores.
Building an Ecommerce Website FAQs
Now you know which ecommerce website is the best, and how we came to that conclusion, it only seems right that we answer some important questions and dispell some myths about ecommerce website builders.
In this section we'll be covering:
- Ecommerce website builder costs
- Whether or not you can create an ecommerce site for free
- Whether Wix is a good choice for an ecommerce site or not
- Which ecommerce website builder is the easiest to use
- The best ecommerce website builder for small businesses
- What makes a good ecommerce website design
- Whether ecommerce builders give you ready-made site templates or not
How much does it cost to build an ecommerce website?
Not all ecommerce website builders cost the same amount. In fact, platforms such as Shopify or BigCommerce cost significantly more than platforms such as Wix or Weebly.
This is largely due to the complexity of each platform. While Wix and Weebly will let you create a really small, basic site with only a few products, Shopify and BigCommerce are designed for much larger operations.
Broadly speaking, Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly's cheapest ecommerce plans will cost you between $20-30 per month.
Wix's ecommerce plans, for example, range from $23 per month for the Business Basic plan to $500 per month for the Enterprise plan.
Meanwhile, Shopify's cheapest plan is $29 per month and gives you access to a serious ecommerce experience. However, its other plans cost $79 per month and $299 per month. These are designed for established ecommerce stores, so there's no need to worry about the high prices if you're just starting out.
How do I create a free ecommerce website?
Well, to put it simply, you can't.
You'll have to pay actual money to sell stuff online with these ecommerce platforms. You'd be forgiven for thinking that you'd be able to get at least something for free nowadays but, when it comes to online selling, you can't.
All these website builders do offer some level of free functionality — Squarespace, Shopify, and BigCommerce, for example, have limited-time free trials. However, you'll need to pay to extend these trials into full sites.
Don't let that put you off setting up an ecommerce site, though. As you start making money, you'll quickly recoup the cost of the ecommerce platform you choose.
Is Wix good for ecommerce?
If you want to make a small store — perhaps as a side-hustle, a boutique website, or a site to sell merch associated with another project you're working on (a podcast or band, for example) — then yes.
In fact, Wix is a great choice for an ecommerce site if you're looking to make an online store part of a larger website.
However, if you're looking to create a large online store for a company that sells lots of products, we'd probably advise going with Shopify or BigCommerce.
Which is the easiest ecommerce website builder to use?
Shopify and Wix are the two easiest ecommerce website builders we've tested, and both should prove simple and approachable when you're creating your own online store. Arguably, Wix just has the edge for first timers, thanks to its top-of-class Help & Support options. Both sites have excellent setup processes, where you're guided through creating a site with some simple questions and easy-to-follow templates to get you started – this can help any beginner feel confident with their first steps.
To determine how easy each website builder is, we put each website builder we tested past a panel of users of mixed experience with creating websites. This included complete first-timers who had never made a website before, let alone an online store.
In our table below, we've included ratings for Ease of Use, Help & Support, plus a Customer Score rating, based on the feedback from our real-world user panel.
Which ecommerce platform is best for small businesses?
If you're a small business owner, and want to create an ecommerce site, we'd recommend going with either Wix or Squarespace.
Wix makes creating a website incredibly easy, and you'll have loads of design tools at hand to make it fit your existing branding. Squarespace, on the other hand, has a laser focus on design, and has loads of built-in ecommerce tools.
Wix, however, does offer a more scalable platform that Squarespace for ecommerce sites. So, while both are good for starting out, Wix will likely be a better fit in the long run.
What makes a good ecommerce website design?
The best ecommerce sites are super easy to use and look high-quality. Of course, building a site that can tick both of these boxes is easier said than done.
However, there are some good ground rules to follow:
- Make sure navigation is easy – No one likes clicking back-and-forth between different menus trying to work out how to get home
- Use high quality images and videos – Customers want to buy things that look nice, and if the stuff you're trying to sell doesn't look nice, no one will buy it
- Mobile optimization – 34.5% of online purchases happen on mobiles, so its worth making sure your site looks good on a phone
- User-generated reviews – These are a great way to build trust in an online store, so make sure your site can use them
This isn't just a matter of pretty visuals and smooth navigation for customers, either. A well designed ecommerce website can improve your revenue – research by Shopify has found a correlation between quality online store design and increased customer loyalty.
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