So many entrepreneurs and businesspersons do not have access to online stores because of funds. Due to this, many e-commerce platforms have created a free plan for those finding it difficult to take their businesses online.
In this article, you will get to know various free e-commerce platforms, and how to navigate your way around then. You will also know their cons and pros. However, every free e-commerce platform requires some expertise level of expertise and continuous management. Also, you need to have web hosting and a domain name previously in place. You can then set up these platforms through your web hosting panel.
Free e-commerce websites include:
This free e-commerce platform is an open-source plugin for WordPress based websites. If your normal website is hosted on WordPress, you can opt in for this e-commerce site. It is entirely free to get started, but you must have website hosting and WordPress already in place. Also, you can enhance your online store with paid extensions, integrations, and themes for your storefront. Just like WordPress, WooCommerce has several free themes that you can use for building your online store. You can also purchase premium themes to set your store if you don’t want to use the free themes.
In addition, you can set up various payment options from different credit cards to integrate with PayPal, Stripe, etc. This platform requires no setup charges monthly fee. With this, you can accept credit or debit cards with a charge of 2.9% + 30¢ for each transaction with the US-issued cards. An additional 1% fee applies for any other cards issues outside the US.
Furthermore, all inventory management, tax calculation, and shipping rates management takes place in the WordPress interface. You can also integrate your store with Google Analytics to keep track of data.
There is an extension support forum for WooCommerce that can be your first go-to source for information. Since the platform is free, everything about management will be done by you not the website (as it is for paid e-commerce websites). You can either hire a programmer or stick to do it yourself. However, it is advisable you hire an expert if you know little or nothing about it.
Even as it is a free website, you still have a bonus of 30-day money-back guarantee with every purchase from the WooCommerce app store.
Magento Open Source
Magento’s free open-source platform is designed for small businesses and developers. If you are looking for a platform with absolute freedom, then this is a great online store for you. It is a full mobile-optimized open-source platform. You are responsible for setting up the store and payment gateways by yourself or you can hire someone to do the job for you. Also, there is a guarantee for freedom for rich content for products and other features. Through Magento marketplace, you can get additional e-commerce extensions. The platform is integrated with PCI Complaint.
Managing this Open Source also requires some extensive expertise. The platform has integrated checkout, payment, and shipping modules. There are no fancy drag-and-drop tools, default dashboards, or simple input modules.
Also, there is no direct technical support with the open-source Magento version. However, there are guides, walkthroughs, and help forums dedicated to help you provide answers to your questions.
This free platform is also available in a paid version, but the cost can rack up to thousands of dollars.
This is one of the free open-source e-commerce platforms with a strong community. Any online store on this platform has lots of advantages like getting regular updates, and free upgrade of the version. This free platform is available in 75 languages, which is quite impressive. Also, PrestaShop offers a mobile-optimized platform, which offers you a choice ok various themes. In their official marketplace, the themes start at $69.999. But you can get community-developed free themes from the forum too. Although these free themes do not appear in the official marketplace.
However, you can install more than one payment gateway through different integrations. There are also free integrations such as PayPal, or Blockonomics. This platform also comes with in-house developed fraud detection, which you can add without paying any fee.
In addition, in PrestaShop’s dashboard, you can add modules to build your online store and customize it to your taste. From their marketplace you can also get free modules for live chat plugins, shipping options, marketing tools, and many more. There are 50+ free modules you can choose from and add to your online shop. Their technical support is community-based where there is a strong public forum to help support you.
This is another easy-to-use, open-source e-commerce platform, which currently supports over 342,000 e-commerce stores. It is a mobile-responsive platform with built-in features and an extensive free library. You can either get the free or paid themes from their marketplace as your base. They also have over 13,000 modules and themes. However, the marketplace looks a bit messy, so it is advisable that you check out the ratings and comments before signing up. You can also add unlimited physical or digital products with both one-time and subscription selling methods. OpenCart provides an options between guest and registered user checkout by default.
In addition, OpenCart has over 36 integrated payment methods where you can choose anyone of your choice. Such payment gateways include: Amazon payments, First Data, PayPal, SagePay, and many more. They also have integrated shipping methods with Australia Post, Citylink, FedEx, Royal Mail, etc.
With this free platform, your online store’s management is also straightforward for managing products, orders, customers, tax rules, and promo codes. The admin dashboard comes with an overview of online store’s performance. You will also get a default sales report, all viewed products, and purchased already built-in products.
Also, OpenCart offers free community support with forums and useful guides for setting up and running your online store. They also offer a paid dedicated commercial support option with a price starting at $99/month per site.
E-commerce option is recently available on free plan.
You can add unlimited products.
It is super easy to use
Suitable for small businesses
Hefty 2.9% transaction fee and 30¢ Square processing fee applied to each transaction
Unsuitable for large businesses
Doesn’t support multi-channel selling
Weebly is one of our top-rated free website builders. This is huge news for anyone looking to set up a simple store on a cheap budget. It’s one of the easiest ecommerce platforms to use. Although Weebly is a free plan, as with most free plans, you cannot add a custom domain name, and your site will display Weebly ads. It also lacks some of the features a large store would need, like multi-channel integration. So it is not completely suitable for a large scale business. It lacks good inventory management where you can keep track of stock levels and control you site.
However, it is not advisable that you do not remain on the free plan for long. Make sure you get something out of the free plan, make sales, then upgrade to one of their paid plans with just $6/month.
This free platform is not necessarily a website but a free ecommerce plugin that you can add to your website. It is a very interesting one that has over 1M people using it. Even if you don’t have a website, don’t worry as you can get an instant starter site too for free.
Ecwid has a free plan that’s very usable. Once you sign up, you can set up a fully functional store that sells up to 10 products in two categories. Here’s what you get:
- Mobile responsive customizable online store with product options
- Good mobile responsive shopping cart
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Add it easily to WordPress or any other website
- Sell simultaneously on multiple sites
- Facebook Pixel
- Built-in support for SSL certification, security, server configuration, and hosting
- 40+ payment methods in multiple currencies
- Real-time shipping rates from some carriers
- Built-in Google Analytics integration
However, there are limitations to this free plan. You won’t get access to digital goods, staff accounts, and promo codes. These features along with many more are available only when you sign up for the premium plan. In other words, Ecwid’s free plan can be a good option for small businesses that have basic selling requirements.
Some other interesting features include:
- Sell on the go with Ecwid mobile
- Store management app
- Multiple sales channels like Facebook, Instagram, or other platforms.
- Unlimited products, including digital goods
- Inventory management, automated tax calculation
- Order creation, product filters, and variations.
Price & transaction fees
Beyond the free plan, three paid plans are also available:
- Venture – $15 per month
- Business – $35 per month
- Unlimited – $99 per month
There is no direct charge by Ecwid, but your chosen payment processor is likely to change you.
Webnode was launched in 2008, but currently, over 30 million users have an account with them. A good number of entrepreneurs have created their own website’s, portfolios, personal blogs, and e-commerce store’s with this free e-commerce platform.
This free website is easy and incredibly straightforward to use, so you necessarily don’t need to be a techy person before you can use it. All you have to do is choose from one of their many stunning templates. From there, you can customize it to exude your brand in just a few minutes. Best of all? It’s free.
In addition, all their sites are mobile-friendly. So, it doesn’t matter what kind of device your visitors are using to browse the web; it will still look beautiful no matter what.
- You can get access to an intuitive website editor.
- Low prices if you want to upgrade to one of their paid plans.
- Website backup and recovery features.
- Ecommerce functionality available across all plans.
- The ecommerce option included in Webnode is quite awkward. It uses an outdated interface for its main store design.
- The free plan is limited to 10MB of storage space.
- There’s no SSL certificate included until you choose their most expensive plan.
Also, this free e-commerce builder is a good option if you want a simple-to-use and decently priced website builder. But, it is not the best choice if ecommerce is your main focus because, as we have already said, their ecommerce functions look incredibly old and outdated. But, if you’re looking to gather data or want a members area attached to your website, it requires you to purchase their most expensive plan. So, if you want extra features from Webnode, you have to pay for their premium plan.
What’s the best free ecommerce website builder?
That it is free doesn’t mean it is not productive. Note that, whether a free website builder can be described as ‘the best’ largely depends on the kind of business you’re running. So, below are the following solutions with specific types of consumers to help you decide:
- Square Online Store: This is ideal for entrepreneurs who not only need a free online store but also want a free point-of-sale solution.
- WooCommerce: This plugin is perfect if you’re already using WordPress and you want to add ecommerce features to your site.
- Ecwid: This is great if you’re looking to add ecommerce features to either a Wix or Weebly site.
When choosing the best eCommerce platform for your online store, you have multiple free and paid choices. It’s lucrative to go with the free, open-source platforms, but then everything is up to you. If you don’t have any programming experience, it’s best to go with out-of-the-box platforms.
When looking at paid platforms, not every feature is available from the start. Take into consideration the possible future costs when you want certain upgrades like abandoned cart recovery or in-depth reporting.
The same goes for the open-source platforms. Even though the platform itself is free, there are extensions and integrations that are not free i.e you need to pay for them if you want to include them. There is a possibility to build an online store without spending a single dollar (except for hosting), but the result might not be up to today’s standards. Whichever one you are opting for, make sure you make the right choice.
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