If you are a small business that wants to start selling online, you need an ecommerce website that can provide modern shopping experiences and fulfill orders for your customers. Even though you might be working with a small budget to build your online store, running a business can be expensive.
However, the good news is that it is possible to build a functional ecommerce website for free. Well, sort of! While it is possible, you will have to accept a few tradeoffs, such as putting up with display ads on your website and limitations on the number of products you can sell at a time.
That being said, getting started with a free ecommerce website is the perfect way to experience what it takes to build, publish, sell and promote your business online.
What Factors Make a Good Free Ecommerce Site?
Now, let’s talk about the top factors to consider when selecting a free ecommerce solution for your company.
Find out if the vendor provides support to help you resolve problems or issues that arise when things go wrong. The best vendors offer 24-hour emergency support and they can be contacted through different channels, including email, webchat, and phone.
Simple Workflow And Publishing controls
Seeking a free option does not mean that you have to build and publish your ecommerce website on a platform that is challenging to navigate. Look for free versions that are both user-friendly and intuitive for your team.
Built-in SEO Tools
Ecommerce platforms should include comprehensive SEO features to help your website rank highly in search engine results. Check to see if the free versions allow you to add a blog to your website, let customers leave reviews, and use a custom domain name for your business.
No Hidden Costs
Free isn’t always free. Carefully consider the features included in the free plans and determine which plans actually give you the most features for free. Also, look for hidden transaction fees, fees to remove ads, or fees to customize your domain name.
When searching for a free ecommerce website, you’ll want to ensure that the security is top-notch. Free or not, companies have a responsibility to protect customer information. Check that the ecommerce platform has PCI compliance, SSL, fraud prevention, and data backups.
While you’re at it, look to see which of these features are included in the free plans.
The 5 Best Free Ecommerce Websites
There are countless CMS platforms for creating an online store these days, but doing it for free is not as simple. The free options are limited, and you have to sacrifice some of the features reserved for paying users.
This article will outline five of the best free ecommerce websites on the market so that you can find the perfect fit for your needs.
Square: The Most Generous Free Plan
Square is one of the best free ecommerce websites because they include many features that competitors don’t offer in their free plans.
Pros: There are many pros to choosing Square, but we especially love that they do not charge extra transaction fees other than a credit card fee which is standard on most free plans.
Also, the Square website places branding in the footer of your website and it cannot be removed, though it’s not very intrusive. They also allow you to change the color of your website so that it matches your company’s branding.
Cons: One drawback is that you’ll have to use the Square payment gateway to avoid more considerable transaction fees. This is important if you want to keep your costs down.
Best For: Square is best for beginners as it’s almost impossible to mess up when creating your online store.
Rating: 5/5 Stars
WooCommerce: Best for WordPress Users
WooCommerce is the world’s most popular ecommerce platform. It’s free software that you can download and run on any web hosting provider.
Pros: We chose WooCommerce because it is built for WordPress, making installation super simple.
It is also highly scalable, with no limits on the number of products or users.
It allows you to create an online store quickly, even if you’re a total beginner. There are numerous WooCommerce themes to choose from, so you can make an online store that reflects your brand’s personality.
Cons: One drawback is that as your store grows, you will be responsible for maintaining it, which might require that you upgrade. You will need to install extensions for key sales features, which add additional costs. However, the need to upgrade as your website grows is not uncommon no matter which free ecommerce website you choose.
Best For: WooCommerce is best for beginners who use WordPress.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Big Cartel: No Transaction Fees
Big Cartel offers an excellent free plan, so we wanted to include it on our list as its name is not as well-known as some other ecommerce websites.
Pros: The most significant benefit is that Big Cartel includes a great subdomain. Also, Big Cartel doesn’t place ads on free stores or charge transaction fees. That’s almost unheard of!
Cons: A con of using Big Cartel is that free users are not given access to inventory management and they can only upload one image per product.
Best For: Big Cartel is best for small businesses with only a few products to sell.
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Strikingly: Good Domain Name
Strikingly is a website builder that allows the user to create mobile-optimized websites quickly with little to no development experience. It has a unique sections-based editor that’s perfect for building your website.
Pros: Strikingly offers a good subdomain name, and it does not have any transaction fees. The most significant limitation of Strikingly is that the free plan only includes a single product.
Cons: Strikingly also consists of an ad that appears on free websites once a visitor starts scrolling. It can be a nuisance, but they still offer a solid free ecommerce plan.
Best For: Strikingly is the best free ecommerce website for businesses with only one page and only one product to sell.
Pros: We added Mozello to our list of best free ecommerce websites because they have one feature that big companies do not, which is the way that they offer multilingual websites for free. The free version allows you to list up to 10 items for free and it also helps you track your inventory.
Cons: The drawback of Mozello is that their editor isn’t very fun or flexible. You can’t add image galleries to all the pages, and you cannot upload digital items to sell.
Best For: Mozello is best for small businesses that need a free ecommerce website in different languages.
Free Ecommerce Websites Are a Great Start
If you opt for a free ecommerce website, remember that the vendor will make up for your lack of costs by selling advertising space on your website. You also won’t have the most professional-looking domain name, and you will miss out on many of the features reserved for paying customers.
Providers will also save the best templates and security features for their paid users, so deeply consider whether or not a free plan suits your business model and goals. The good news is that you can easily use a free ecommerce website before you transition into a paid ecommerce website if you are just starting out in ecommerce.