It's a tool that enables you to create a platform for your online business. You can sell any type of goods on this platform: physical products, such as food and drinks, or digital ones, such as video lessons or music albums. Maybe, you'll be able to sell both types of products on the same site. Your ecommerce site will feature all the necessary functionality to manage your online business, accept payments and market your brand.
Website builders for ecommerce can be either versatile or targeted at a specific type of business. In either case, they have highly user-friendly interfaces. You don't need to complete any courses or get additional skills to start using them. Just launch them, read the instructions and start building your site!
Thanks to using a site builder, you can save a lot of money. You won't need to hire or outsource professionals to build a custom website for you. The online store that you'll create with your own hands will be just as functional and good-looking as its much more expensive tailor-made counterpart.
When entrepreneurs launch online stores, they typically pursue the following three goals:
Grow their online presence
Improve their clients' shopping experience
Four types of businesses tend to benefit the most from using ecommerce website builders.
An online store should enable your business to take off. You'll be able to boost your brand awareness, attract new clients and make sales. It's vital to build a mobile-responsive site to kickstart your business.
Startups usually have limited resources. Online stores allow them to use their time, funds and intellectual abilities with maximum efficiency. On your ecommerce platform, you can showcase your products and describe their competitive edges to their potential buyers. To differentiate yourself from competitors, you can resort to checkout customization and cross-channel commerce — and you won't need to go over budget for that.
Ecommerce doesn't need to be your primary occupation. If you like to create nice handmade objects in your free time, you can try to sell them both on marketplaces and your own site. When selling items through your own online store, you won't need to pay a fee to the marketplaces. In the first few months, you'll need to invest in your site's marketing — but when it takes off, you'll appreciate the profits. The second benefit of having your own website consists in the fact that you can customize it more flexibly than your vendor's page on a marketplace (for instance, you'll be able to experiment with designs, promotions and the layout of the shopping cart).
Dropshipping companies might work on various business models. When building your website, you should make sure its functionality matches your workflows. For instance, you might sync a third-party app with your store to facilitate setting up and managing it. Thanks to this app, you'll be able to add and sell products easily. You'll be purchasing items from a wholesaler and you won't need to manage the inventory yourself.
Dozens of website builders are available on the market. When picking the best one, you might want to stick to the following scheme.
You should ask yourself the following questions:
How good are you at web design? Do you have any technical skills? Which level of complexity, flexibility and customizability of the website builder is acceptable for you?
Which kind of media would you like to include on your ecommerce site (blogs, maps, photos, videos and audio)? Your site should be able to support all of them.
Do you expect the builder to offer you an extensive selection of templates, themes and patterns? Or will you feel more comfortable if the selection is smaller and contains only the most popular items?
Without any previous experience, it might be challenging for you to answer these questions. Keep reading this article to better understand the features of ecommerce sites and the opportunities of ecommerce website builders!
You should assess not only the cost of the website builder but the overall expenses for getting your site going. Here is a brief lowdown:
The monthly cost of using the builder might vary from $5 to $50, on average
You'll also need to pay for the domain name registration and web hosting services
Some hosting providers might offer you a free website builder (or, some website builders might offer you free hosting and/or a domain name)
The more features your website requires, the higher its cost will be
You might be able to get the essential ecommerce features for free (shopping cart, checkout, currency converter and SSL certificate)
Many website builders offer free trial periods that last around two weeks, on average. You might get access only to the basic functionality of the solution. You might or might not need to share your credit card details.
Some website builders offer promotional periods to new users — and then, their prices go up. Make sure to check this before the purchase. Plus, you might be able to get a discount if you pay for the whole year ahead instead of sticking to monthly installments.
You don't need to be tech-savvy to be able to use an ecommerce site builder. If the interface of the solution seems too complicated for you, try to look for alternatives. Popular builders usually feature drag-and-drop functionality and let you choose from a large selection of ready-made templates. It would be wise to read other people's reviews before the purchase.
When a potential customer visits your online store for the first time, the design of the site should immediately tune them into a proper mood. Your Internet shop should look visually appealing. Its theme and color palette should be relevant to the goods or services that you're selling. All the templates should be mobile-responsive because a large part of traffic will come to your site from mobile devices. Besides, the site should be able to integrate with the apps that you normally use for your business.
The shorter and simpler the checkout process, the better. Consumers should be able to add products to their carts in one click. When they open the cart, they should be able to see the list of the items they have added there and their prices. Some customers might feel uncomfortable if they need to share their credit or debit card numbers with you. That's why your online store should accept ApplePay, PayPal and other similar services that are available in your area.
No matter which type of goods you specialize in, the competition in the ecommerce sector is fierce. You shouldn't expect your online store to start generating profit from day one. Instead, you should put some funds and effort into its marketing. Probably, your website builder will offer you some in-built marketing tools. The scope of your efforts might include the following types of activity:
Mobile responsiveness to content marketing (blogs, videos, and infographics)
Email marketing (welcome email, an abandoned cart email and newsletters)
Social media marketing
Search engines advertising (pay-per-click, Google shopping and banner ads)
Public relations (PR)
Building brand awareness
Of course, you don't need to master all of them at once. Find out which of these activities deliver the best results for your type of product and focus on them. It would be wise to start with the first six items from this list because they should help you to kickstart your business.
Here are the most common types of threats that you should protect your ecommerce website from:
DoS and DDoS attacks
Brute force attacks
Your clients should know you encrypt their private data and store it 100% confidentially. Reputable web hosting providers should offer you an SSL certificate — and if not, you should add it to your site yourself. Plus, you need to make sure your site builder is PCI compliant, which means it follows a set of requirements for the safety of financial transactions.
One day, your business might start to grow. The site that you create with the help of the website builder should be able to expand its functionality. You should be able to add any necessary numbers of plugins and extensions to it and it shouldn't tell on the site's loading speed and performance. Plus, you'll need to either upgrade your hosting plan to be able to cope with higher traffic or switch from one type of hosting to another (for instance, from shared hosting to its cloud or VPS counterpart).
The more features the website builder offers, the more time it will take you to get used to it. The support team of an ideal builder should be ready to attend to clients 24/7 through various communication channels, such as live chat, phone and email. Besides, there should be self-help options, such as the FAQ section and a Help Center with text step-by-step guides and video tutorials. The most affordable website building options often cut down costs on customer support (for instance, you might fail to get a consultation at night or on a weekend).
You should also provide customer support to the clients of your online store. You should be ready to consult them about your products and services, payment, shipping, refunds and other aspects. It would be reasonable to provide your customers with the same level of service that you would expect to receive from your website builder.
This is a powerful and versatile system that allows businesses to manage products and projects, set KPIs for their staff and track their teams' efficiency, do email marketing and so on. When you build an ecommerce website with its help, you'll get hosting and unlimited bandwidth for free. Your online store will be able to feature as many pages as you find necessary and you won't need to pay extra for that. You'll appreciate that if you'll need to create hundreds of pages for pay-per-click campaigns or SEO purposes.
Bitrix24 has a stunning selection of templates. No matter which products you sell, you'll be able to create a perfect design for your online store. All the pages of your site will be fully responsive and SEO-ready. You'll be able to find high-quality photos for them from a free image bank.
To better manage your business, you'll be able to rely on the following functionality of the system:
Quotes and invoices
Free live chat widget to provide customer support in real-time
CRM marketing module that enables you to run ads on social networks
Judging by this description, you might think that Bitrix24 is a very complex system. It is indeed — but its interface is extremely user-friendly. It has a handy manual and excellent video tutorials. You'll quickly figure out how this software works and will get used to it.
You can try the basic functionality of Bitrix24 for free. Here are the functions that you can use at no cost:
API and integrations
Whenever you need access to more extensive functionality, you can upgrade to one of the paid plans. The cheapest one costs $39 per month and accommodates 5 users. The priciest one costs $159 per month and accommodates an unlimited number of users.
While Bitrix24 is the most well-known versatile website builder, Shopify is probably the most renowned brand that specializes in ecommerce.. Its interface is as simple as it could be. Entrepreneurs love Shopify for the selection of eye-catching website designs, affordable pricing as well as various helpful tools and features, like:
Abandoned cart recovery
Instruments that help you find clients, make sales and manage your day-to-day operations
Shopify allows you to sell your goods not only on your own website but also on third-party platforms, such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy.
You'll be able to integrate with over 100 payment gateways and options from around the world, including Bitcoin, PayPal and Shop Pay. To extend your store's functionality and boost your sales, you can choose from over 4,000 free Shopify apps.
Shopify offers its users the following features:
Over 100 professional themes created by world-famous designers
Built-in mobile commerce shopping cart
Full access to your store's HTML and CSS which enables you to customize every aspect of your online store
Search-engine-optimized stores to help consumers find you on the Internet
Intuitive inventory management to track stock counts and stop selling goods when inventory runs out
No restrictions on the number of products you can sell
Unlimited bandwidth, so you'll never need to pay extra for any spikes in traffic
Comprehensive reporting and analytics
POS-system integration to connect in-person and digital storefronts
App store with over 4,000 marketing, sales and customer support tools
Mobile app to manage your business on the go
Dedicated customer support team available 24/7 through email, live chat and phone
This website builder features a 14-day free trial. Then, you'll be able to choose from three plans that cost $29, $79 or $299 per month. respectively.
It's an optimal tool for businesses that have brick-and-mortar shops and want to begin selling their products online. It would be more precise to call this tool not a full-fledged website builder but a shopping cart for retailers. While its selection of features and templates might be not too extensive, entrepreneurs love it for the following reasons:
● Ease of use
● Very affordable price
● Excellent sales reporting
● Mobile-responsive themes
You can opt for it if you would like to build your online presence quickly and with minimum effort.
Here are the most notable features of 3dcart:
● More than 90 free website templates
● More than 160 payment options
● Built-in SEO functions
● Abandoned cart notifications
● Zapier integrations that let you expand your store's functionality
The free trial period for the product lasts two weeks. Then, you'll need to upgrade to one of the paid plans that cost from $9.99 to $99.99.
Square Online is a platform for building online stores. You can create a website using Square Online for free but to use your domain name or remove ads you'll need to purchase a plan. The free plan offers features like real time shipping and coupons. Advanced features require an upgrade. Additionally it seamlessly integrates with Square for payment processing. In terms of pricing there is an option while paid plans start at $10 per month.
Some of the features include:
A website builder and management platform that allows you to control inventory and orders.
inventory functions that enable editing of multiple product batches and import/export capabilities.
Mobile optimized websites to ensure your store looks great on any device.
A coupon builder (available with paid plans) that lets you create promotions within your store.
Handy drag-and-drop builder and media library guides you through the website creation process.
It's an online storefront builder with basic functionality that you can use at no cost. We'll talk about the difference between ecommerce builders and storefront builders a bit later. Now, it should be enough to say that Weebly in an excellent tool for small and medium-sized companies. You might want to opt for it if you'd like to create a small store that will require minimum maintenance.
Weebly is powered by Square, so you'll be able to use this solution for payments. You can get started with a free trial — but in this case, you won't be able to use your own domain name or get rid of the annoying ads. The good thing is that with the free plan, you'll get a lot of useful features, such as customer support by chat and email, search engine optimization, feedback forms, an SSL certificate and so on.
Here are the primary features of Weebly:
● Intuitive website builder and management platform for controlling inventory and orders
● Bulk inventory functions to edit bulk batches of products as well as import and export data
● Mobile-optimized websites
● Simple coupon builder (for paid plans) to create promotions in your online shop
● Handy drag-and-drop builder and media library to guide you through website creation
Weebly has several paid plans whose price varies from $5 to $38 per month.
This solution was tailor-made for professionals from creative industries. Users love it for its shallow learning curve and drag-and-drop builder. On the flip side, Squarespace allows only those users who have upgraded to a paid plan to start selling items on their site. The process of building a store is rather predictable. You pick a template and customize its colors, images and texts according to your corporate style.
By default, Squarespace supports payment integrations only with Stripe, PayPal, Apple Pay and Afterpay. But you can add the Shopify Buy Button to your online store for $9 per month. It will enable you to use over 100 payment solutions. By the way, this button is compatible not only with online stores but with regular sites as well. It will also grant you currency support, simple shipping integrations, sales and growth tracking.
Here are the most notable features of the product:
● Automatically responsive web designs and image scaling
● Custom WYSIWYG editing to support content types and complex layouts
● Opportunity to sell an unlimited amount of products
● Automatic post-purchase email sequences
● Extensions that facilitate sales, shipping, marketing and financial management
● Ability to sell gift cards and subscriptions after updating to the Commerce Advanced plan
To get started, you can have a 14-day trial. The most affordable paid plan costs $26 per month.
GoDaddy offers a range of mobile templates, over 100 in number that can be utilized as part of their website builder for creating online stores.
In addition to being known as a website builder, GoDaddy also provides the option to establish a store. They have integrated tools specifically designed for search engine optimization and email marketing campaigns. Retailers using GoDaddy can sell up to 1,500 products on their website. The Ecommerce plan starts at $17 per month. You can get started with a free trial — but in this case, you won't be able to use your own domain name or get rid of the annoying ads. The good thing is that with the free plan, you'll get a lot of useful features.
One notable aspect of GoDaddys ecommerce plan is its emphasis on security. Unlike ecommerce builders that often overlook this aspect, GoDaddy prioritizes it. They provide an SSL certificate like top antivirus software solutions and conduct daily malware scans to promptly detect and remove any suspicious elements. They also offer assistance in case your store gets hacked and ensure backups of your website. This ensures that even if your store faces malware attacks the damage will be minimal.
Another significant advantage of utilizing GoDaddy for your store is its shipping assistance. While most ecommerce builders do offer some form of shipping support none matches the extent provided by GoDaddy. Let's delve into the types of shipping they offer. You'll find a range of features including:
Over 100 templates designed to create e-commerce websites that're mobile-friendly.
Integration with popular social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
Streamlined sales and inventory management across all marketplaces and channels.
Various payment options such as Google Pay and Venmo.
Seamless integration with Square Point of Sale connecting your retail and online businesses.
As its name suggests, this product was designed for large companies. It's not a full-fledged website builder but a tool that allows you to create an excellent storefront for your site. You'll be able to benefit from hosting and various customization options. However, BigCommerce won't offer a domain name to you, so you'll need to purchase and connect it to your store yourself. Apart from your own website, you'll be able to sell your goods on third-party sites, marketplaces and social networks — this is known as multichannel sales capabilities. BigCommerce will provide you with SEO tools. It will allow you to sell your products abroad and integrate multi-currency and multi-language support for your foreign customers.
Here are the most important features of this software:
● Intuitive drag-and-drop editor
● Checkout customization with server-to-server checkout API and SDK
● Compatibility with digital wallets
The free trial period for this product lasts 15 days. The most affordable paid plan costs $29.95 per month.
Webador is a choice for businesses on a tight budget. It offers a plan with features, although the free plan doesn't include e-commerce support. However, their premium plans, including those designed for e-commerce are available for free during the three months through a trial period.
It should be easy for you to find the right professional because it's a very popular solution and many specialists know how to handle it. What sets Webador apart is that they don't charge any commission on your transactions. Unlike platforms, like Shopify that deduct a percentage of your sales depending on the plan you choose, Webador allows you to keep 100% of your profits from every sale.
With every plan you'll also have access to a collection of over 100,000 selected stock images. These images can be used for your product listings or promotional activities without any cost. This feature is especially valuable as it saves you the trouble and expense of arranging photoshoots. Additionally, under the Pro plan you can list up to 10 products at a time.
Some positive aspects worth mentioning:
The free plan offers an array of features.
Access to stock photos is available free of charge.
Hosting services remain free for as long as your chosen plan remains active.
With the Business plan, there are no limitations on the number of products you can list.
If you use Wix, it will offer you an intuitive drag-and-drop builder, customizable templates, domain name registration and web hosting. The built-in tools allow you to:
● Accept online payments
● Create abandoned cart campaigns
● Sell on multiple channels
● Track orders
This software features a set of tools that facilitate the process of running an online store. But its inventory-tracking opportunities are limited. They should be enough only if you sell a small number of products. Plus, only the priciest and the most advanced plans will allow you to benefit from dropshipping capabilities, tax calculators and low-stock alerts.
You might want to choose Wix for its following features:
● Intuitive interface
● Large collection of templates
● Opportunity to flexibly customize every page of your online store
● SEO-optimized product pages
● Ability to import CSV files of your inventory
● Integrations that allow you to sell your products on third-party platforms
● Free SSL certificate to guarantee maximum security of your customer data
The biggest shortcoming of this product consists in the following: you can build an online store at no cost but you'll have to upgrade to a paid plan to start selling goods. The lowest price of the basic plan is $23 per month.
This one is an open-source solution that acts as a WordPress plug-in and not an independent website builder. You might consider using it if you already have a website and would like to add ecommerce features to it. The biggest drawback of WooCommerce consists in the fact that you might prefer to hire or outsource a skilled developer to work with it. It should be easy for you to find the right professional because it's a very popular solution and many specialists know how to handle it.
Entrepreneurs and developers love this product for its following features:
● 100% open source for complete control over the design and functionality of your website
● Connection to the whole WordPress ecosystem
● Opportunity to add thousands of extensions and plugins
● Worldwide community with over 350 contributors
● Mobile-friendly stores
● Full control over customer and business data
● Flexible management of your inventory and taxes, secure payments and shipping integrations
You can use WooCommerce for free. But you should be ready to pay extra for some themes, functions and integrations.
One of the standout features of Ucraft is its ability to protect pages with passwords. This means you can assign custom passwords to pages that you want to keep private.
Another way in which Ucraft helps enhance customer satisfaction is through tax exemption. While e-commerce builders like Weebly assist in calculating sales tax for each purchase. Customers don't really enjoy paying taxes. With Ucraft you have the ability to identify products where you can legally reduce or eliminate taxes for your customers.
It's worth noting that while this feature is not typically recommended for large scale orders it does offer the opportunity to tailor invoices to customer needs. Additionally, users have the ability to include or exclude handling fees and utilize the VAT system, which shifts VAT payment responsibility from the business to the customer.
Here are some key features:
You have access to over 20 shipping options.
It's a platform for creating websites in languages.
You can create password protected pages. It offers print, on demand and dropshipping capabilities.
The other features offered by Ucraft are quite straightforward. It is important to mention that similar to Wix and Squarespace Ucraft allows you to sell products. It seamlessly integrates with Printly, which provides print on demand services. Moreover, it also supports dropshipping if you prefer not to deal with inventory management. Additionally, it facilitates selling on marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon, Facebook and Instagram.
This one was launched in 1999. The primary competitive edge of Volusion that enables it to stay alive for over two decades is quick setup. It is incredibly intuitive and allows you to:
● Design a homepage and product pages
● Integrate with over 30 payment gateways
● Sell unlimited products
The drag-and-drop editor is very easy to use.
Entrepreneurs value Volusion for its analytical abilities. At any moment, you can check the statistics about your store and inventory that will enable you to improve your business.
This product might have two weak points. The first is navigation that might be challenging sometimes. The second is the lack of opportunity of selling digital products, such as music or ebooks.
If you try Volusion, you'll get access to the following features:
● Zero transaction fees, regardless of which plan you have
● Recurring pricing options for subscription businesses
● CSS editor to fine-tune various elements of your store
● Responsive themes for mobile customers
Plans start at $26/month.
Users praise this product for its customer data and analytics. It features 24 professionally designed templates that allow you to build a simple website not quite from scratch but from a nice base. In around an hour, your store will be ready. Zyro offers a drag-and-drop builder and multiple ecommerce tools.
Here are the most valuable features of this product:
● Grid feature to add, edit and delete web elements
● Intuitive CRM to manage emails, discounts and coupon codes
● Integrations with Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager and Facebook ads
● Advanced reports
● Marketing and SEO tools that facilitate campaign launch
● Opportunity to perform all the actions from a user-friendly dashboard
To use Zyro, you should be ready to pay $11.49 per month. You'll need to pay this sum upfront before you start building your store. There is no free trial plan available.
IONOS is currently the most affordable ecommerce website builder. The Plus plan starts at $1 per month for a period of 12 months. Building a store on IONOS is incredibly simple. You don't need any coding knowledge to get started. All you need is a vision for your store and a bit of patience to familiarize yourself with its drag-and-drop building tool, which will allow you to maximize its potential.
In addition, IONOS has partnered with MyWebsite. With this collaboration, there's no need to interact with any site-building tools. Instead, their in house experts will provide you with a made website that meets your needs. This tool also integrates seamlessly with your IONOS e-commerce account. Keep track of your competitors' social media presence and Google activity, around the clock ensuring that you are always aware of their moves.
One of the advantages of this feature is the built-in AI text generator. In addition, you will have a built-in analytics tool for your website that provides insights into the performance of your sales.
This will help you identify the selling products and understand your customers' preferences. Moreover, the tool will provide automated suggestions on how to enhance your sales.
You might want to try this one if you're planning to sell digital products. This solution was custom-made for beginners and can boast a highly intuitive interface. To maximize your profit, you can sell your products across multiple ecommerce channels. You'll appreciate integrated shipping services and custom report builders. Selz will also take care of your web hosting, SSL certificates and payment processing.
With this solution, you don't even need to create an online store. Instead, you can add a Buy button to your already existing site. When you realize the demand for your products is high enough, it would be wise to build a store for the convenience of your customers
● Built-in blogging platform
● Drag-and-drop builder
● Handy dashboard that you can use to manage all social channels
● Selz Pay payment solution that is compatible with all major credit cards
● Built-in shopping cart
● Real-time sales analytics
The plans' prices vary from $26 to $599 per month. The free trial period lasts 14 days.
Sometimes, the terms "ecommerce website builder", "ecommerce platform builder" and "storefront builder" can be used interchangeably. Nevertheless, they are not synonymous with each other. All of them enable you to create an ecommerce website, even if you lack coding and design skills. But they differ considerably in their functionality. Before you choose one of these three options, you should ask yourself the following questions:
● How big will your store be?
● How much time are you willing to invest in its creation?
● How much money are you ready to pay?
Let's start with the term "storefront" because it seems to be the easiest one. In relation to your online store, it performs the same function as a storefront for a brick-and-mortar shop. When consumers open your site, they can assess the overall appeal of your business, the range of products and the pricing. It's a great way of producing the first impression on people who found you online and the easiest way of adding an online presence to your offline business.
You can build a storefront to a website that generally is not an online shop. Moreover, you can add a storefront to your vendor's page on a marketplace. That should enable you to differentiate yourself from competitors and boost your brand awareness.
An ecommerce website builder lets you build an online store from scratch. You can't use this solution to customize your vendor's page on a marketplace. You'll only be able to build a separate website. Once you do it, you'll need to buy a domain name for it and host it. Not all website builders allow you to create an online store, so you be careful when choosing one.
An ecommerce platform builder will provide you with much more extensive functionality than an ecommerce website builder or a storefront builder. You'll be able to not only design your site and fine-tune its looks. You'll get access to source code and your customization opportunities will not be limited by a selection of pre-defined variants.
Here are the primary benefits of an ecommerce platform, compared to website builders and storefront builders:
● Higher level of flexibility
● 24/7 customer support
● In-depth analytics and reporting
● App store
● Powerful marketing tools
● Multiple payment gateways
● Stronger security system
Both a storefront builder and an ecommerce website builder can be components of an ecommerce platform but not the other way around. The latter is an end-to-end software solution that you can use to sell any sort of product online.
Now, let's compare ecommerce platforms, ecommerce website builders and storefront builders by the following parameters: pricing, functionality and ease of use, customization, payment gateways, marketing, security and customer support.
The more complex the solution, the more it costs. Predictably, an ecommerce platform is the costliest of all the three options, a storefront builder is the most affordable one and an ecommerce website builder occupies the middle position.
Some ecommerce platforms might feature free plans for a limited time period or allow you to use their basic functionality for free. However, you should be ready to pay for an opportunity to switch off ads, add a custom domain name, enable extensions and plugins and so on. If you don't like what you're offered, you might be able to cancel your subscription and get a refund. Once you find a platform that you could use at a reasonable cost, you should factor in additional expenses such as setup fees and transaction fees. Plus, you'll need to invest time and effort into installing, configuring and customizing your online store.
If your budget is limited, you might want to opt for an ecommerce website builder. It will enable you to create a basic site for a small business. The process of designing the site will be much easier and the result that you'll get will enable you to sell your products successfully and make a profit.
If the only thing you need is to set up a store and begin to sell stuff, then, you should choose between an ecommerce website builder and a storefront builder. An ecommerce platform will offer you a much more extensive functionality but you'll need to sacrifice the ease of use.
When selecting an ecommerce platform builder, you should find answers to the following questions:
● Are its target audience beginners or tech-savvy users?
● Will you need to put up with an abundance of ads when using the free plan?
● Does the platform offer hosting or will you need to host your online store yourself?
It makes sense to opt for an ecommerce platform if you're planning to scale your online store considerably and would like to customize it heavily.
If you aim to build a nice and functional website as quickly as possible and with no excessive hassle, you might want to use an ecommerce website builder. It's a much more beginner-friendly solution.
An online store consists of the following elements:
● User-friendly interface
● Product display
● Online ordering software
● Inventory management apps
● Billing and payment processing system
● Security and data protection
● Customer support
● Marketing strategies and promotions
When setting up all of them, you'll probably want to achieve two goals: maximize your sales and make your shop visually stand out from the rest.
If you use an ecommerce platform builder, you'll get access to a nearly unlimited selection of templates. If it's an open-source platform, the members of its community will be constantly adding new templates to the catalog. On the one hand, that sounds tempting. On the other hand, you might quickly get lost in such an abundance. Besides, some of the templates that seem aesthetically pleasing to you might turn out to be inefficient in driving your sales.
To avoid overkill, you'd better rely on an ecommerce website builder. All the templates in its catalog have proven their efficiency for an online store. Please mind that some builders will allow you to customize any page of your website while others might feature flexible customization opportunities for selected pages and limited opportunities for the rest. You don't need any technical knowledge to customize templates in an ecommerce website builder. But if you deal with an open-source ecommerce platform builder, it would be great if you could code at least a bit.
In addition to templates, you'll be able to customize your online store with the help of plugins, extensions and add-on apps. Some of them are free while others are not.
If you want to offer your customers several dozens of payment methods to choose from, you should build an ecommerce platform. It makes sense if you cater to several regions of the planet and have a huge audience. Consumers will be able to pay you with:
● Credit and debit cards
● Cash on delivery
● Direct bank transfers
Some payment options will require you to pay a fixed price for the initial setup while others won't Such a selection should be spot-on for, let's say, an online sports bookmaker that operates on a global level. But that might be a bit too much for a small online store.
If you use an ecommerce website builder, you'll be able to integrate a lot of third-party payment apps with it — but not as many as on an ecommerce platform. That should be enough for a small company. All the payment options that an ecommerce website builder will offer to you will have good conditions for small businesses.
As for storefront builders, they are typically created on the base of an ecommerce platform or some other larger ecosystem. They will support those payment methods that their native ecosystem is compatible with.
Once you've created an online store, you'll need to attract customers to it. Many ecommerce website builders and ecommerce platform builders feature sets of ready-to-use SEO tools. These instruments are indispensable for granting your website a high ranking in Google search results. You'll benefit from data reporting and advanced analytics. Based on this information, you'll be able to improve your ecommerce website to maximize your profit.
Here are the marketing opportunities that you can consider using:
● Mobile optimization
● Paid ads
● Affiliate marketing
● Product reviews
● Discount codes
● Gift cards
● Email and social media marketing
Ecommerce website builders offer most of these opportunities. Standard website builders that allow you to create regular sites might also facilitate your marketing — but their functionality in this aspect is usually limited. You can expect them to grant you only SEO, mobile responsiveness and email marketing tools.
If you have just a limited budget, you might want to opt for a storefront builder and add the storefront not to your website but your page on a marketplace. Storefront builders might lack marketing tools. But since you'll be selling your goods on Amazon on another similar platform, it will substitute these tools to a certain extent. People will be able to find you through the marketplace search engine. The algorithms of the platform will recommend your products to customers, even if they have never heard about you before. A storefront on a popular marketplace can give a great start to your full-fledged ecommerce website.
Since your online store will be processing payments, you'll need to guarantee maximum security of your clients' private data. Here are a few examples of solutions that you'll need to integrate into your website:
● SSL certificate
● Fraud-prevention software
Your online store will need to comply with PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). You should systematically update both your site and its safety plugins as well as make regular backups.
You shouldn't entrust your online store to cheaper and lesser-known hosting providers that haven't established a reputation for themselves yet. When choosing a provider, make sure it offers an antivirus, SSL certificates, spam filters, data backups, firewalls, domain privacy and DDoS protection.
Storefront builders, ecommerce website builders and ecommerce platform builders all come with step-by-step guides. In addition to reading text, you'll be able to check screenshots and/or videos tutorials. You can get access to the following types of self-help services:
● Community forums
● Blog articles
● Knowledge bases
● FAQ sections
If you opt for an open-source platform, its developers and community members will be always ready to consult you. But if they fail to provide you with the information you need, you might have a pay a large fee to contact professional support. Proprietary solutions offer professional support either for free or at an affordable cost.
Typically, the more popular and the pricier the solution that you use, the better its support team works. Top website builders allow you to reach out to their support crews 24/7 through various communication channels (such as phone, email and live chat).
Our comparison of ecommerce website builders vs ecommerce platform builders vs storefront builders was rather exhaustive. Now, you should be able to make an informed choice and decide which type of solution will suit your business needs best.
An ecommerce platform with unlimited customization opportunities and complete control over its functionality might seem like a dream variant. But you'll need to invest a lot of money in it. Plus, you'll need to have the technical knowledge to manage it properly. Ecommerce platform builders are targeted at medium-sized and large businesses that either already generate income or can attract investors. You don't need your online store to be that advanced and complex to be able to sell your products efficiently and generate a handsome profit.
You can get started with a storefront builder if you already have a regular website with some traffic. By adding a storefront to it, you'll be able to check how eager people are to buy your goods or services. A storefront can serve you well if you're planning to sell just a limited number of products.
An ecommerce website builder acts as the golden middle between a storefront builder and an ecommerce platform builder. Most solutions of this type feature a handy drag-and-drop editor that allows you to place all the elements of your online store in the right spots. Ecommerce website builders are affordable. They allow you to create a functional online store with minimum effort. An online store that you'll build will enable you to generate regular profit and strengthen your brand awareness.