While there are many great easy-to-use eCommerce website builders available, not many of them actually offer a free plan, let alone a decent one. They might offer free trial periods, but, let’s be honest, that is not of much use in the long run.
Seeing that time is money (and if you are reading this article you are most likely searching for ways that you can save money), we have taken the time to research the best free eCommerce website builders so that there is one less thing on your to-do list. Here are 12 of the top free tools that you can use to start your eCommerce venture on a budget.
12 Free eCommerce Website Builders to Use in 2021:
Where’s the Catch?
If something is free, there has to be some sort of catch, right? When it comes to these website builders, there is not really a catch so to speak, but the following are a few things that you need to consider.
Most of these free plans do not offer you the chance to connect a custom domain name. Instead, you will most likely have to use their domain which means that your URL will look less professional.
You are probably wondering how they make money, right? Well, one of the ways is by advertising. In most cases, they will only advertise their own website builder, but in some cases they can also advertise other companies. These adverts will appear on your website which can also cause your online store to look less professional.
While eCommerce platforms that offer a free plan in many instances make money via advertising, they also rely on users like you to upgrade their plan at some stage. For example, you might find that you need to add more products than what the free plan allows for, in which case you will need to opt for a paid plan instead. Or, perhaps you want to integrate with social media? So, while free website builders are great tools (to start), keep in mind that not all the features will be available free of charge.
12 Free eCommerce Website Builders
1. Big Cartel
Founded almost two decades ago in 2005 by Matt Wigham, Big Cartel is an indie business that has helped small brands, makers and artists to sell their work online. As the team behind this website builder are artists themselves, they really know what creatives need to sell their merch.
With their Free plan you can sell only five products and you are allowed only one image per product. So, if your product range is limited, you will be able to use this plan. That being said, if you have more products that you want to sell, their Platinum plan costs only $9.99 per month, which means that it is still a cost-effective eCommerce website builder.
While some have reported that the learning curve is a little bit steep, Big Cartel does have a setup wizard that offers helpful prompts when you are creating your website. All in all, it is a good choice for artists with limited budgets who want to sell only a few products.
2. Buy Now Plus
While Buy Now Plus is not a traditional eCommerce platform, we felt that it still deserved an honorable mention. In short, what it does is enable you to create a “Buy Now” button that you can then add to your existing website or social media channels. So, if you have a social media account or website already, you can simply add the button as a CTA to start selling immediately. As it is built on top of Stripe, you will need to create a free Stripe account as well, though.
One disadvantage is that unlike some of the other free website builders in our list, they charge transaction fees. While the transaction fee is only 2% per transaction, you will also need to pay Stripe’s transactional fees too. In any case, it could be a decent alternative to opting for a full eCommerce website builder.
Constant Contact offers one of the best email newsletter tools making them one of the big names in email marketing. Though, they also have a free website building tool. With the help of their website builder, you can design professional-looking, mobile-friendly websites quickly without any coding skills.
One feature that sets Constant Contact apart from many similar tools is that they also offer a free image library. Thanks to their Unsplash integration, users can access more than 550,000 free images. It also offers a free logo maker that uses artificial intelligence to create hundreds of logo options that you can then customize further. Though, a couple of things to consider are that they charge a 1.5% commission on each sale made via your online store and that you cannot connect your custom domain with their Free plan.
As their name suggests, Ecwid works a bit differently than most other eCommerce website builders. In addition to offering an eCommerce website builder, it also has a plug-in that you can add to existing stores. This means that if you already have an existing website, you do not have to start from scratch. Instead, you can simply add Ecwid practically anywhere, including social media channels.
In the 10 years that they have been in business, Ecwid has already helped 200,000 merchants in more than 170 countries. With its Free plan, you can sell up to 10 products (which is slightly more than what Big Cartel offers). What is more, its Free plan also does not have any transaction fees or annoying ads. All in all, it is easy to understand and use and an ideal choice if you want to add eCommerce to your existing site if you have a limited budget.
With freewebstore, you can get a fully hosted eCommerce website and a choice of domain names free of charge. Unlike many of the other website builders mentioned in our list, freewebstore’s Free plan does not cap the number of products that you may sell. Instead, they have restricted the annual turnover to $30,000. So, depending on your business, it might make more sense for you to go this route. Other features included in their Free plan are SSL, 24/7 support, a Facebook storefront, stock management, and product notes.
To date, more than 750,000 online store owners have used freewebstore in the 14 years that they have been in operation. On Trustpilot, they have received more than 1,000 reviews and boast a TrustScore of 4.6, which is pretty impressive.
If you have not heard of Mozello up until now, you are forgiven. While they might not be one of the better-known eCommerce website builders, they do offer one feature that many lack – the ability to create multilingual websites.
With their Free plan, you can add up five products to your online store (which includes one product option and five product variants). Though, there are a few drawbacks to their Free plan. For starters, it offers only the ability to accept online payments via PayPal or transfers to a bank account. Then, there are a few other nice-to-have features like discount codes, an individual domain name and customizable emails that are also excluded in the Free plan.
All in all, if you have a small store that sells only physical products and not any digital products and you want to target customers who speak several languages, Mozello might just impress you.
With MyOnlineStore’s Free plan, it is simple to begin a basic online store. While you cannot add your own domain name and email, it does include an SSL certificate, basic support and the ability to sell a maximum of 10 products.
Based in the Netherlands, MyOnlineStore is still relatively new to the scene and is at the time of writing this trusted by only about 40,000 online merchants. While not a lot of information is available about them yet, be sure to keep your eye on this young company.
Square Online’s Free plan offers all the features you need to begin selling online. While their Free plan offers the ability to sell unlimited products, they do charge transaction fees of 2.9% + 30 ¢ per transaction. Some of the other features included are SSL security, inventory management, and SEO features. It also offers you the ability to create coupon codes, order-status text alerts and contact forms which can come in pretty handy.
If you have a big Instagram following, this is a good option as it offers Instagram integration as part of their Free plan too. This way, your followers can conveniently shop for your products via Instagram and will just need to tap to be redirected to your website for checkout.
Like some of the other eCommerce website builders mentioned in our list, Strikingly also takes a different approach to their pricing. While they offer a Free plan, it limits you to one product per site, but offers you the ability to create unlimited free sites with the free features. So, if you do not mind a single-page layout that sells a single product, you might want to check them out.
If you are searching for a free website builder that offers a drag-and-drop editor for that true WYSIWYG experience, WebStarts is a new builder on the block that deserves to be checked out. One major drawback is that their Free plan does not include social integration. Though, if this is a dealbreaker to you, their Pro Plus plan offers for less than $15 per month.
Weebly is easy to understand and use, thanks to the intuitive drag-and-drop editor. Plus, it offers a selection of templates making them one of the most popular website builders that offer a free plan. Unlike many of the other builders, Weebly is very generous when it comes to their Free plan as they do not limit how many products users may list with this plan. Another advantage is that SSL is also included in their Free plan.
That being said, Weebly’s paid plans are also still affordable. Their cheapest paid plan is only $5 per month when billed annually, while their more comprehensive Pro plan will set you back only $12 per month when paid annually.
If you would feel more confident using a bigger eCommerce website builder, you cannot go wrong with Weebly’s offering. They have been around since 2007 and were acquired by Square in 2018. Weebly is trusted by millions of businesses and powers over 50 million websites across the globe.
12. WooCommerce (+ WordPress)
Another option that you can try is to use WordPress and then add the WooCommerce plug-in. The plug-in is available free of charge and offers the typical eCommerce features. However, you will still have to pay for hosting.
While it boasts powerful features, WooCommerce is not so easy to use, especially if you are still new to website design. It can also become expensive once you start buying things like additional themes.
Wrapping Things Up
While these website builders all offer a pretty decent free plan, in all likelihood, you will need to upgrade to a paid plan at some stage. So, it is a good idea to look at the pricing of the other plans too. Some of these eCommerce website builders’ paid plans are more affordable than others which could mean that you might not be able to afford sticking to the same website builder in the long run. As it can be a time-consuming exercise to switch to another platform, rather select a website builder that you will be able to work with on a long-term basis (even if you have to upgrade to another plan) from the start. You will only thank yourself later!