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Table of Contents
- Best online store builders: Key things to know
- Shopify: Best overall online store builder
- Square Online: Best free online store builder
- Shift4Shop: Best for B2B online stores
- Squarespace: Simplest online store builder
- BigCommerce: Best for omnichannel sellers
- Wix: Most customizable online store builder
- WooCommerce: Best for WordPress users
- How to choose an online store builder
An online store builder can help turn a website into a digital storefront. These platforms support selling and shipping goods, marketing digital content, booking prepaid appointments and more.
Some e-commerce website builders offer an out-of-the-box solution with web hosting, payment processing, integration with other sales platforms and much more. These providers can be especially valuable if you’re building an online business from scratch.
But if you’re taking your brick-and-mortar business online or adding sales functionality to an existing website, start with options that build on your current infrastructure — like your point-of-sale or content management system. These options may even be free.
The best choice for you is one that offers the features you need at a price you can afford. Here are our picks for the best online store builders.
Best online store builders: Key things to know
Online store builder
Businesses that primarily sell physical products and do most of their sales online.
Starts at $29 per month.
Brick-and-mortar retailers who want to set up online stores.
Free plan available. Paid plans start at $29 per month.
Business-to-business, or B2B, sellers.
Free for businesses that process more than $500 in monthly sales using Shift4 Payments.
Starts at $23 per month.
Starts at $29 per month.
Businesses that want to customize the look and feel of their website extensively.
Starts at $27 per month.
Businesses that already run their websites on WordPress.
Free to download, but you need a WordPress website.
Shopify: Best overall online store builder
Shopify’s drag-and-drop builder lets you build an e-commerce store without knowing how to code. You can then use the platform for inventory management, shipping and returns, email marketing, listing your products on social media and third-party marketplaces, and more.
Shopify is a good choice if you’re starting an e-commerce business for the first time because it offers an all-in-one solution for web hosting, sales, payments and more. But its business-to-business, or B2B, features are limited, so it’s best for business-to-customer, or B2C, sellers.
Who should use Shopify: Businesses that primarily sell physical goods to individual customers. Read NerdWallet's review of Shopify.
Price: Starts at $29 per month.
Payments: Built-in using Shopify Payments, or you can connect your own payment processor for an additional transaction fee.
In-person sales: Shopify POS.
Shipping: Discounted rates with the U.S. Postal Service, UPS and DHL. You can also track the status of your shipments in Shopify.
Square Online: Best free online store builder
If you’re looking to move your brick-and-mortar store online, Square Online integrates with Square POS software — NerdWallet’s pick for best POS system — to connect some or all of your inventory to your website. Square sites are easy to build; once your site is live, you can list products, offer discounts, highlight new and popular items and advertise product drops. You can also take bookings using Square Appointments.
Square Online can help you sell on Instagram, Facebook and Google, but it doesn’t offer the robust multichannel sales features you’ll get with other platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce. And while Square websites are mobile-friendly by design, you can’t customize a Square website in the variety of ways you can with Wix or WordPress.
Note that Square Online is not entirely free — Square, the payment processor, will still take a cut of all your debit and credit card transactions. But you won’t have to pay an additional monthly fee to run your store.
Who should use Square Online: Brick-and-mortar businesses that want to expand into online sales with a free or low-cost website. Square Online is easiest to use if you already use a Square point-of-sale system in your store. Read NerdWallet’s review of Square Online.
Price: Free. Paid plans start at $29 per month.
Payments: Square Payments.
In-person sales: Square POS.
Shipping: Square can facilitate free in-store pickup and local delivery by your staff or third-party courier services. For shipping over longer distances, a rate calculator is built-in.
Shift4Shop: Best for B2B online stores
Shift4Shop — formerly known as 3DCart — is owned by payment processing company Shift4 and free for users who process at least $500 per month in sales using Shift4 Payments. It’s one of our top B2B e-commerce platforms because of its wholesale- and custom-pricing options. But it also offers features that may be valuable to B2C sellers, like preorders and the option to take payments over the phone.
Shift4Shop offers more features than Square Online’s free plan, making it a strong choice for businesses that will take advantage of services like abandoned cart emails and reorders. But if your business doesn’t need those tools, you may want to choose a simpler option.
Who should use Shift4Shop: Businesses that want to start an online store with a large catalog and wholesale-pricing options. It’s a particularly good fit for B2B sellers. Read NerdWallet’s review of Shift4Shop.
Price: Free if you process more than $500 per month in sales using Shift4.
In-person sales: Use the Shift4Shop POS system or integrate with Square POS.
Shipping: Built-in label printing for UPS, the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx and Canada Post within your store manager.
Squarespace: Simplest online store builder
Squarespace is a user-friendly website builder that offers e-commerce features, too. It stands out for its online appointment booking — you can set up reminder emails, intake forms and calendar integrations — and its membership and subscription options, like the ability to create gated sections of your website for paying customers.
Squarespace offers solid product sales features, too, but other platforms offer more advanced inventory management and omnichannel sales options.
Who should use Squarespace: Businesses that specialize in selling digital or in-person services. Read NerdWallet’s review of Squarespace.
Price: Plans with e-commerce features start at $23 per month.
Payments: Connect Stripe or PayPal.
In-person sales: Connect the Squarespace app to a Square reader.
Shipping: Squarespace offers shipping label printing and in-store pickup, but you’ll need third-party apps for more advanced shipping solutions.
BigCommerce: Best for omnichannel sellers
BigCommerce is a multichannel-focused online store builder that integrates directly with Amazon, eBay, Google Shopping, Facebook, Instagram and other sales channels. All BigCommerce plans include unlimited user accounts, which isn’t typically the case for entry-level plans.
However, BigCommerce plans are limited in a different way: Each has a cap on annual sales volume, starting at $50,000 in revenue on the Standard plan. If your sales exceed that limit, you’ll have to upgrade to the next plan.
Who should use BigCommerce: Businesses that want to sell products on a variety of platforms, including social media and third-party marketplaces. Read NerdWallet’s review of BigCommerce.
Price: From $29 per month.
Payments: Built-in using PayPal powered by Braintree, with a discount for higher-volume sellers. If you choose to go with a different provider, BigCommerce doesn’t charge additional transaction fees the way Shopify does.
In-person sales: Integrates with a variety of POS systems, including Square, Clover and Zettle.
Shipping: Built-in U.S. Postal Service, UPS, FedEx and DHL label printing, with discounted rates for Postal Service services.
Wix: Most customizable online store builder
Wix is an online store builder that offers hundreds of website templates, plus support for a variety of e-commerce business models — subscriptions, ticket sales, print-on-demand products and more. You’ll also have your choice of payment gateways.
However, Wix doesn’t match the multichannel sales features of the all-in-one platforms on our list. You can’t connect Wix items to Amazon, eBay or Etsy or sell within Facebook and Instagram posts. And more customization options may mean a steeper learning curve for the person who runs your website.
Who should use Wix: Businesses that have a dedicated web manager on staff so that person can understand and take advantage of Wix’s many features. Read NerdWallet’s review of Wix.
Price: From $27 per month.
Payments: Use Wix Payments or choose from a variety of other credit card processors.
In-person sales: Wix offers its own point-of-sale system.
Shipping: Discounted shipping rates with the U.S. Postal Service and potentially other carriers. You can print shipping labels from your Wix dashboard.
WooCommerce: Best for WordPress users
WooCommerce is a free open-source plug-in that can help you add an online shopping cart to your WordPress website. It’s not a standalone e-commerce store platform like others on our list — you’ll need to build your website on WordPress first. But once that’s in place, WooCommerce is a powerful plug-in that offers omnichannel selling, digital downloads, subscription sales, customizable checkout experiences and more.
WordPress isn’t easy to use, and WooCommerce has a learning curve, too. If your digital skills are limited or your store is relatively simple, you may not be able to take advantage of all WooCommerce’s customization options.
Who should use WooCommerce: Businesses that run their websites on WordPress and want to develop a robust online store. Read our comparison of WooCommerce vs. Shopify.
Payments: You can use WooCommerce’s payment processor or choose your own payment gateway.
In-person sales: Connect to various third-party POS systems using extensions.
Shipping: U.S. Postal Service and DHL label printing with discounted rates, or you can use third-party extensions to facilitate shipping with UPS, FedEx and other carriers.
How to choose an online store builder
The best online store builder is the one that meets your selling needs at a price you can afford. To figure out the right solution for your e-commerce business, follow these steps:
1. Examine price and feature charts
Most online store builders offer charts that lay out what features they offer at each price tier. Identify the features you value most and make sure they’re available at the price tier you’re targeting, and compare providers to one another to get a clearer picture of which best suits your needs.
2. Consider your built-in option
If you already use Square, Shift4 or Shopify Payments to accept credit card transactions, look at the online store builders offered by those companies. Square Online is free to start for Square users, and Shift4Shop is free for Shift4 users processing $500 or more per month in payments.
If you choose to go with a different website builder, make sure the one you pick will integrate with your existing payment processor and other software programs — or that you’re prepared to make some changes.
3. Take advantage of free trials
Most online store builders offer free trials, ranging from a few days to several weeks. This is a great way to dig into the features of each platform and see what appeals to you. You can try out different store designs, create products, test payments, explore marketing tools and run test orders before you commit to a subscription.
4. Anticipate growth
Switching to a different e-commerce platform isn’t easy, so it’s important to select an online store builder that can support your growth. For example, selling on Amazon and social media sites might not be on your radar now — but if it’s part of your business plan, it might be wise to choose a platform like Shopify or BigCommerce now so you can easily set those integrations up later.
A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.