Ecommerce sales have been experiencing a steady rise for the past couple of years. It is one of the industries that grew as a direct effect of the covid19 pandemic. In 2021, over 27% of the world is shopping online; this number has doubled since 2014.
As a small business owner looking to start an eCommerce store, the premium plans from the eCommerce giants may be too expensive. As such, you’re looking for free eCommerce platforms for your business.
In this article, we will cater to small business owners by providing them with all the information needed to start an online store with a free eCommerce platform.
Before proceeding, we would be doing you a disservice if we told you there was a free eCommerce platform that had all the features you’d need. There isn’t. For most free eCommerce platforms, you’re going to need to give up one or more components for another.
Additionally, if you’re selling many products on your eCommerce store, you may need to opt-in for a premium plan.
Without further ado, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of choosing a free eCommerce platform for your business.
How to Choose a Free eCommerce Platform?
As said at the beginning of this article, there’s nothing like a 100% free eCommerce platform. This is because while an eCommerce platform may be free, you’re going to need to purchase other things that such as domains, hosting, payment gateways, extensions, etc.
Hence, when choosing a free eCommerce platform, you want a platform that doesn’t have limited features, has a suite of options and does not stifle expansion.
With these in mind, let’s take a look at some free eCommerce platforms.
NB: All of these companies have paid options, but for the sake of this article, we’re going to be focusing entirely on the free plans.
WooCommerce sits high among the top free eCommerce platform, and premium plans also make them an incredibly great option as well.
WooCommerce is a free and open-source plugin that integrates seamlessly with WordPress.
A plugin doesn’t sound like much, right? For WooCommerce, this is not the case.
WooCommerce is a full-suite plugin that has all the eCommerce features you’ll need. Also, WooCommerce has a host of add-ons that makes it an even better eCommerce platform.
The features of the WooCommerce plugin includes but is not limited to:
- Sales of all kinds of products from digital goods, physical goods, and even subscriptions.
- Ease of use. WooCommerce allows a straight and easy addition of products to your store.
- In addition to being a free eCommerce platform, WooCommerce also has a list of free themes to help you design your store to meet your design demands.
- WooCommerce also offers secure and flexible payment options.
- Allows integration with multiple shipping partners to provide more options for customers.
- Accepts multiple currencies.
WooCommerce is a great free eCommerce platform because it gives you complete control over your eCommerce store. If you’re starting and do not have the expertise to handle the entire platform, WooCommerce is also a great option that allows you to scale as you go.
The Cons Associated with WooCommerce
WooCommerce’s free plan is an excellent option for online stores that are just starting and do not need a ton of features yet.
But if you’re going to need additional payment options, integrate with some specific shipping partners, need some extensions, and would like the option of WooCommerce handling your tasks, you’re going to need to opt-in for the paid plans.
If you’re looking for a way to make turn your website into a store, Ecwid is a great option for you. If you don’t have a website, Ecwid also provides an instant starter site for free.
Ecwid has a free plan that’s incredibly useful. All you need to do is signup, and you can set up a fully functional store.
With Ecwid free eCommerce, you get:
- Google analytics integration that built into the site
- Provide real-time shopping rates from suppliers
- Allows up to 40 different payment methods in various currencies
- Has built-in support that handles all technical queries like SSL certification, hosting, security, etc
- Mobile responsive store and shopping cart
- Easy integration with WordPress
- Facebook pixel
The Cons Associated with Ecwid
Ecwid allows you to sell up to 10 products in two categories only. You won’t have access to staff accounts, promo codes, etc. These features are only available in the premium plans.
If you’re a small business owner, Ecwid’s free eCommerce platform is an excellent option for you.
Read More: WordPress Vs Magento Best Ecommerce Platform
Gumroad is a free eCommerce platform that makes selling physical, digital, and innovative products extremely easy. While Gumroad allows sales of physical products, they’re mostly focused on the sales of digital products.
Gumroad allows you to create a free eCommerce website, the catch being that they charge a commission on everything you sell.
Gumroad lets you:
- Created automated workflows
- Have an uncapped product capacity
- Send out up to four updates per month
- Customize your storefront to suit your taste
- Import emails and utilize its analytics tool
- Easy checkout and multiple payment options
The Cons Associated with Gumroad
Gumroad charges a fee of 8.5% + $0.30 per sale. This fee is reduced in the premium plans.
Big Cartel is a hosted free eCommerce platform that is uniquely built for creatives and artists. If you manufacture your handmade products and you need a free eCommerce store to sell them on, Big Cartel is a great option for you.
With Big Cartel, you can:
- Have a free shop URL, but it must have the Big Cartel subdomain, e.g., name.bigcartel.com format. This is great because other stores would assign you a URL, and you have no option but to use it. With Big Cartel, you’re allowed to customize your URL.
- It’s quick and effortless to use. Big Cartel effectively walks you through the entire process.
- Big Cartel does not charge any fees on transactions. The catch is the only payment processors they have are Stripe or PayPal.
The Cons Associated with Big Cartel
Big Cartel only allows you to have up to five products and one image per product in your free plan, compared to the free plans of other platforms, this is generous. Editing the website theme on Big Cartel can pose a problem if you’re not proficient in HTML. Editing your store theme with Big Cartel is not as easy as other websites. Like all other free eCommerce stores, there are limited functions with Big Cartel’s free plan.
Square is a popular POS system, but that’s not all it does. They also offer a free eCommerce store for small business owners. Like Big Cartel, Square also offers its subdomain. There are no hidden fees in the free plan; save the transaction fees you pay whenever a sale happens.
Square also has a drag and drop visual editor that makes creating a website relatively more straightforward. Their store is mobile-ready; hence you do not need to fuss over-optimizing it for mobile users.
It also has a dashboard that gives you an overview of everything that’s happening in your store.
There are also unique sets of features that are available in the premium plan only.
Webstart is known popularly as a website builder. But, they also offer a generous free eCommerce store option.
With over 4 million users, Webstart is a free eCommerce store that offers an extremely smooth experience. It is a drag and drop builder that’s automatically mobile responsive. While the interface is not the sleekest available, its free offer makes up for it.
With Webstart, you have:
- You’re not limited to what you can sell. You can choose to sell digital products or physical goods; it works great all the same.
- Provides 1GB of space. This allows you to upload a ton of product images.
- They support multiple payment options like Stripe, WePay, Authorize.net, PayPal, etc.
The Cons Associated with Websbtart
Webstart does not have a store-keeping unit; this means you cannot effectively track your inventory. Webstart is not the best platform if you’re looking to maximize SEO. SEO options such as header tags, title tags, descriptions, personalized URLs are inexistent.
In this article, we focused mainly on eCommerce platforms with free plans. There are tons of other eCommerce platforms with a 7-14 days trial period, such as Shopify, BigCommerce, etc.
We’ve listed the best free eCommerce platform for your business. But as we said earlier in this article, if you’re going to sell many products, you will need to look into the paid and premium options.