If you are looking to build your own e-commerce website, there are a lot of options. However, most e-commerce solutions such as Shopify, Wix, etc, require you to pay outrageous amounts per month and transactional fees. Even with them, you’re limited by the features they offer. The thing is, if you are a complete beginner with no coding knowledge, it’s worth paying for Shopify and Wix. However if you can put in a little effect and know the basics of HTML and CSS, you can create your own e-commerce site for free. In case you are wondering, here are some of the best e-commerce website builders for small businesses.
Though all the e-commerce builders listed below are free, there will be some form of indirect payment. For example, some require you to self-host your e-commerce site, some require paid plugins, etc. But still cheaper than popular e-commerce solutions.
WooCommerce is one of the biggest and most popular e-commerce platforms to create your own small business store. One of the major advantages of WooCommerce is that it is built on WordPress. So, if you already have a WordPress website, you can install WooCommerce just like any other plugin. Once installed you can choose your own themes and configure the store however you want.
- Has a built-in payment processing system
- Can sell both physical and digital goods
- Shipping options
- Ability to find customer’s geolocation
- Order management and one-click refunds
- Extension support
- SEO optimized
- Built-in detailed analytics for products and sales.
- You need WordPress
- Adding multi-currency support in WooCommerce can be hard
- Depending on what theme you are using, designing the front-end is a big task
- Considering how powerful it is, WooCommerce has as a bit of a learning curve.
If you are beginner then I would recommend you go with WooCommerce. Sure, it will take some time to get familiar with the user interface but thanks to the huge community, free themes and plugins, you can build your store pretty quickly. Some of the popular sites running WooCommerce includes Clickbank,
Jigoshop is another WordPress only plugin that lets you create a full-fledged e-commerce store with all the bells and whistles. You can use the regular WordPress interface to create product catalogs. The best thing about Jigoshop is that it is designed to load fast all the while giving you all the options and tools to manage your store.
- The setup is fast
- Designed to load fast which can increase user satisfaction and sales
- Real-time analytics
- Has one of the best stock management options
- Can easily deal with currency and tax management.
- Some common payment gateways like PayPal require you to install premium plugins
- No shipment tracking
- No time and date based orders.
If you want snappy and fast loading store and don’t mind lack of free payment gateways then I would recommend you go with Jigoshop. Keep in mind that, you need to pay for payment gateway plugins or implement your own system to receive payments.
AbanteCart is a completely free and open source e-commerce builder. AbanteCart has a lot of essential features built into it and makes it quite easy to create your own store.
- Built-in payment gateways
- Product and customer account management
- Product comparisons
- Email & SMS notifications
- Full localization support
- Ability to create multiple stores
- Guest checkout for customers with no user account
- Tax management
- Hundreds of plugins to extend the functionality
- AbanteCart requires a considerable amount of setting up
- Requires you to have some level of technical knowledge
If you are looking for a solution that is built ground up to be an e-commerce website then AbanteCart is a great choice. Since almost all the essential features are built into the core you don’t need plugins for basic functionality.
Just like AbanteCart, Magento is built to be an e-commerce application. The storefront gives you excellent customization options to make the store truly yours. The app has a huge community and support to get you started.
If you have a small store with only 100’s of products to sell, Woocomerce should work for you. However, if you have more products then Magento make sense. Unlike Woocommerce, Magento is packed with many eCommerce features. However, that also means, you will need to invest in better servers to keep it up and running.
- A big community and all most all major web hosts support Magento out of the box.
- Marketing and promotional tools
- SEO optimization
- Excellent site, product, and customer management
- Tax management
- Built-in payment gateways
- Order tracking and customer service tools
- Detailed real-time analytics and sales & tax reports
- Supports mobile platforms
- Progressive Web app support
- Magento requires you to have some level of technical skill to get started.
- The bank end-user interface is a bit clunky yet usable
- Requires a lot of upfront development
If you are looking for a fully customizable and feature-rich e-commerce platform and don’t mind the learning curve, Magento is a good choice.
X-Cart is yet another application that is built to be an e-commerce platform. Using X-Cart, you can create a beautiful e-commerce site pretty quickly. Add to that, the backend user interface is very beginner friendly.
- Full built-in payment gateways
- Tax management and real-time tax rates
- Best in the class inventory management system
- Order management system with full and partial refunds
- Built-in sales, marketing, and promotional tools
- Can provide tight integration with social sites
- Loyalty programs
- Official support for third-party integrations.
- Some features require you to upgrade to one of the paid versions with a one-time fee.
- No multivendor support
- Unless you pay, it is hard to get good support when using X-Cart
- Require technical skill to setup X-Cart.
Though X-Cart is a pretty good solution and has all the basic features you’ll need to run a successful small business e-commerce website, you need to pay for good support. This is especially true if you want to fully customize your site. If you don’t mind that or willing to dabble a bit, try X-Cart. It is pretty good.
6. Drupal Commerce
While WooCommerce is built by and for WordPress, Drupal Commerce is built by and for Drupal CMS.
- Compared to WordPress, Drupal is very handy if you want to create complex e-commerce sites.
- Drupal Commerce is built for scalability
- Has all the core components like payment gateways, cart, currency support, product cataloging, and management, etc. built into the core
- Support for mobile platforms
- Built-in tax management
- Basic to moderate analytics supports
- Support for third-party plugins and extensions
- Drupal is not that beginner friendly and requires a lot of time and technical skills to set up the shop
- Compared to other e-commerce solutions, the core feature set, though sufficient for the most part, is very limited.
If you are already a Drupal user or know how to use Drupal then go with Drupal Commerce. Sure you need to install a lot of extensions to extend the functionality but it gives you greater flexibility in creating and customizing your store.
Download Drupal Commerce
nopCommerce is an open source e-commerce site builder that has all the basic features you’d expect from an e-commerce builder. While all the above commerce sites can be built on Linux servers, nopCommerce requires you have a Windows hosting due to its ASP .Net backend.
- Simple, neat, and beginner friendly backend user interface
- Excellent and highly configurable stock and inventory management
- Supports more than 50 different payment gateways out of the box
- Lets you create multiple stores
- Multiple checkout systems
- Tax reports and management
- Built-in marketing and sale promotional tools
- Highly customizable shipping management system
- Multiple customer service options to help your customers
- nopCommerce requires Windows hosting
- The community is not that huge and you need technical skill and know a thing or two about backend to properly configure nopCommerce
- Shows “Powered by nopCommerce” in the footer. You need to pay $250 per site to remove the branded footer. There are bulk options too.
If you are specifically looking for a Windows-based e-commerce solution then nopCommerce is a good choice. Otherwise, I’d recommend you choose from the other ones on this list.
That is all for now. In a nutshell, WordPress with WooCommerce should work for most people. Another good option is to try Magento if you are looking for scalability. Shopify and Wix is also a good option for non-techy people. If you think I missed any of your favorite free e-commerce website builder for small businesses then comment below and share them with me.