If you are a small business looking to start selling online, you need an ecommerce website that can deliver modern shopping experiences and fulfill your customers’ orders. Even if you are working on a small budget to build your online store, running a business can get expensive.
However, the good news is that it is possible to build a functioning ecommerce website for free. Well, sort of! While it is possible, you will have to accept a few compromises, such as placing display ads on your website and limiting 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 find out 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 main factors to consider when selecting a free ecommerce solution for your business.
Find out if the vendor provides assistance to help you resolve issues or issues that arise when things go wrong. The best providers offer 24-hour emergency assistance and can be contacted through a variety of channels including email, live chat, and phone.
Simple workflow and publishing controls
Looking for a free option doesn’t mean you have to build and publish your ecommerce website on a hard-to-navigate platform. Look for free versions that are both user-friendly and intuitive for your team.
Integrated SEO tools
Ecommerce platforms should include full SEO features to help your website rank very high in search engine results. Check to see if the free versions allow you to blog your website, let customers leave reviews, and use a custom domain name for your business.
No hidden costs
Free is not always free. Take a close look at 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 personalize your domain name.
When looking for a free eCommerce website, you should make sure that the security is top notch. Free or not, companies have a responsibility to protect customer information. Check that the e-commerce platform is PCI, SSL, anti-fraud, and data backup compliant.
While you’re at it, watch to see which of these features are included in the free plans.
The 5 Best Free Ecommerce Sites
There are countless CMS platforms out there today for building an online store, but doing it for free is not that easy. The free options are limited, and you have to sacrifice some features that are only available to paid users.
This article will introduce five of the best free eCommerce websites on the market so that you can find the one that best suits your needs.
Square: the most generous free plan
Square is one of the best free ecommerce sites because they include a lot of features that competitors don’t offer in their free plans.
Pros: There are a number of perks to choosing Square, but we especially like that they don’t charge additional transaction fees other than the credit card fees that are standard on most free plans.
Additionally, the Square website places the mark in your website footer and it cannot be removed, although it is not very intrusive. They also allow you to change the color of your website to match your business branding.
Cons: One downside is that you will have to use the Square payment gateway to avoid higher transaction fees. This is important if you want to reduce your costs.
Best for: Square is great for beginners because it’s almost impossible to go wrong when setting up your online store.
Rating: 5/5 stars
WooCommerce: Ideal for WordPress users
WooCommerce is the world’s most popular e-commerce platform. It’s free software that you can download and run on any web hosting provider.
Pros: We chose WooCommerce because it is designed for WordPress, which makes installation very easy.
It is also highly scalable, with no limit on the number of products or users.
It allows you to build an online store quickly, even if you are a total beginner. There are many WooCommerce themes to choose from, so you can build an online store that reflects your brand’s personality.
Cons: One downside is that as your store grows you will be responsible for its maintenance, which may require an upgrade. You will need to install extensions for key sales features, which add additional costs. However, the need for an upgrade as your website grows is not uncommon no matter which free eCommerce website you choose.
Best for: WooCommerce is best for newbies who use WordPress.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Big cartel: no transaction fees
Big Cartel has a great free plan, so we wanted to include it on our list because its name is not as well known as some other ecommerce sites.
Pros: The most important benefit is that Big Cartel includes a great subdomain. Additionally, Big Cartel does not place ads in free stores and does not charge transaction fees. It’s almost unheard of!
Cons: One of the downsides of using Big Cartel is that free users don’t have access to inventory management and 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
Surprisingly: good domain name
Strikingly is a website builder that allows the user to quickly build mobile optimized websites with little to no development experience. It has a unique section based editor which is perfect for building your website.
Pros: Strikingly offers a good subdomain name and has no transaction fees. The biggest limitation of Strikingly is that the free plan only includes one product.
Cons: Strikingly is also 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 e-commerce site for businesses with one page and one product to sell.
Pros: We’ve added Mozello to our list of the best free eCommerce websites because they have a feature that large companies don’t have, which is the way they offer multilingual websites for free. The free version lets you list up to 10 items for free and also helps you track your inventory.
Cons: The downside to Mozello is that their editor isn’t very fun or flexible. You cannot add image galleries to all pages, and you cannot upload digital items for sale.
Best For: Mozello is great for small businesses that need a free e-commerce website in different languages.
Free Ecommerce Websites are a Good Start
If you go for a free ecommerce site, remember that the seller will make up for your lack of costs by selling ad space on your website. You won’t have the most professional domain name either, and you’ll miss out on a lot of features that are only available to paying customers.
Vendors will also register the best security models and features for their paid users, so think carefully about whether or not a free plan is right for your business model and goals. The good news is that you can easily use a free eCommerce website before switching to a paid eCommerce website if you are new to eCommerce.