Whether you’re starting the next great American coffee chain or yet another online dating site, the web host and site-building tools you choose make all the difference. I have a friend who recently decided she wanted to create a site to promote and sell her custom-painted canvases. Her art had made a name for itself in our small, college town community, and everyone was encouraging her to get online (not just social media).
My friend is insanely talented with acrylics, but she’ll be the first to tell you she knows nothing about web design or development. She frustratingly fumbled with a few online web builders that promised her the world and proved to be remarkably underwhelming before asking for help.
Hers is just one of many stories I’ve heard of folks who want to build an online store but immediately become overwhelmed by the abundance of unhelpful options out there. I decided to cut through the gimmicks and marketing mumbo jumbo and compile a list of the eCommerce website builders I trust and would recommend to a friend.
Best Free eCommerce Website Builder
Who doesn’t love free stuff? No matter the product or service you’re searching, it’s human nature to turn to Google for the free option first before ponying up to the paid route. The problem with free when it comes to website creation: It’s typically too good to be true. Either the quality is about as low as the price tag, or it’s not free forever, or all of the above.
Then there are services like Wix — defying the odds by delivering a free site-building platform that protects both your aesthetic goals for your site and your budget. You only need an email or Facebook account to get started, and with that, you get access to thousands of templates, conveniently categorized by industry. You can extend your site’s functionality with add-ons available in the App Market, too. It’s one of our favorite starter hosting plans and an esteemed site builder choice industry-wide.
- FREE signup with email or Facebook
- Drag-and-drop designing is super easy
- 1-year domain free with most plans
- Up to $300-worth of ad credits
- Access to 1,000s of templates and additional tools in the App Market
- Get started on Wix now.
Best eCommerce Website Builder for Beginners
User-friendliness — specifically, beginner-friendliness — is a key indicator of a quality website builder. Period. They didn’t invent the concepts of what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) or drag-and-drop simplicity for the seasoned developer extraordinaire. The idea of these platforms is to make site-building accessible to the non-coder. Still, some platforms do this better than others.
My take on this: The best beginner builders are those that keep the setup short and clear the path to customizing the content. If you can jump right in and start playing around in a super intuitive interface, familiarizing yourself with the concept of setting up a website while becoming attached to your soon-to-be end result, you’ve found the ideal beginner-friendly platform.
The best companies for the job give you all the tools to create a high-functioning website without bogging you down with technical jargon or administrative tasks — a complimentary domain name with signup is a great example of this. Typically, ready-to-go options, such as a wealth of industry-specific themes and premade site templates, are preferred; however, there’s a fine line between beginner-friendly and overwhelming. Our favorite hosts for novices offer free website builders, free domains, and tons of beginner-friendly tools to launch and grow an online store:
- No coding skills needed with drag-and-drop website builder
- 100s of templates with industry-specific designs
- Add features via the App Market
- Build an eCommerce store easily
- Build small sites on a budget
- Get started on Wix now.
- FREE drag-and-drop site builder
- FREE, personalized domain name and unlimited domains
- Includes cPanel
- Gain exposure with $200 in advertising credits
- 24/7 customer support and step-by-step tutorials available
- Get started on eHost now.
- Integration with Fotolia and Flickr image databases
- Pre-built and customizable content with GridBlocks
- Responsive themes with tablet and mobile editing views
- Generates clean, efficient, and compliant HTML
- SEO, gallery, and forms plugins
- Get started on BoldGrid now.
Best eCommerce Website Builder for Small Business
Now, let’s say you’re launching an online store — maybe turning your trade or hobby into a secondary income stream, or perhaps developing an online presence for your brick-and-mortar shop that offers vintage tees and trendy collectibles. Online store owners are like beginner website owners in that they typically don’t want to fuss with the details of domains, SEO, or custom CSS. They want to focus on their craft, their inventory, and of course, their profits!
The best eCommerce website builder services are up to the challenge of streamlining the development process for small business owners:
Best eCommerce Website Builder and Hosting for Enterprise
For those in the enterprise arena, the site-building needs increase across the board. You need more storage, more pages, possibly more product inventory options and eCommerce tools, and definitely more bandwidth and support. Typically, the WYSIWYG builders loved by beginners are not quite up to snuff, but CMS platforms like Magento are more than up to the task.
Enterprise website owners may look to dedicated servers or VPS providers to meet their site-building needs, and in either case, chances are your host will make it easy to download and install your choice of eCommerce platform (e.g., Magento, PrestaShop, or WordPress/Woocommerce).
We feature some of the most popular and reliable hosts for enterprise clients below, specifically highlighting the top dedicated plans; however, keep in mind most of these dedicated hosts offer VPS services as well.
- FREE incoming bandwidth and choice of operating system
- Custom configurations with SSDs and instant provisioning
- Auto-migrations, backups, and 24/7 Sonar Monitoring™
- Storm® Block/Object Storage and Load Balancer Add-Ons
- Our visitors pay $96.75/month! (usually $129/month)
- Get started on Liquid Web now.
- Rebootless kernel updates
- 1-click installs and FREE SSDs
- WHM and cPanel included
- Tier 1 network with redundancy
- 99.999% net uptime via Smart Routing™ technology
- Get started on InMotion now.
- RAID 1 mirrored storage
- Minimum 3 IP addresses per plan
- Modern hardware, spec'd and maintained in house
- 24/7 expedited support from the dedicated team
- Sign up today for 50% off first month
- Get started on Bluehost now.
Honorable Mentions: 2 Other Noteworthy Site Builders for eCommerce
And now, for the runners up! The eCommerce hosting niche is competitive, and it’s hard to argue with the low price points and rich feature sets of the popular hosts we’ve discussed here today. Nevertheless, we’d be remiss if we didn’t give a nod to a few widely recognized names.
Shopify and Volusion are not for everyone. Their pricing alone is enough to make store owners think long and hard before signing up. Performance is not their specialty. One doesn’t choose to partner with either of these providers for the hardware specs. It’s the eCommerce-specific features that have built the brand reputations.
While Shopify’s claim to fame is certainly the easy integration with social media platforms and the iconic BUY NOW button, Volusion is a leading platform when it comes to merchant services like payment processing and inventory tracking. Check out our experts’ reviews of each below.
- Sell via social media or fully hosted commerce platform
- FREE website builder and hundreds of elegant themes
- Showcase unlimited products
- Integrate PayPal or Shopify POS
- Advanced reporting and real-time shipping available
- Try Shopify FREE for 14 days.
- Design a beautiful online store with their Easy Editor tool
- 300+ fully-responsive templates available to choose from
- Promote 100+ products with options for payment, returns, sizes/colors, etc.
- FREE email addresses, with an email marketing suite available
- Integrate with social media and apps
- Get started on Volusion now.
Well, I think we’ve made a case for every friend in the market for an eCommerce website builder — from my incredibly talented artist buddy to the next wannabe-Amazon. My final piece of advice: Treat your web host as your friend and partner in building your business. Find a team you can trust, with servers you can count on. Best of luck!