If you plan to sell products online, the first thing you need is to create an online shopping website. A digital store opens new horizons to its owner. Apart from global outreach and the ability to sell services or products worldwide round the clock with no limitations, you also get access to an advanced bunch of marketing and promotion instruments.
Before diving into the world of eCommerce promotions, loyalty programs, and product marketing, you need to have a fully-featured online shop. Modern website building methods let users create eCommerce projects from scratch without special skills.
Best Services To Create an Online Store for Free:
Shopify – The Best Online Shopping Website Builder
Shopify – is a website building platform designed specially for eCommerce needs. The key software benefit is that it delivers everything you need to implement the features we discussed earlier. From loyalty programs and SEO settings to a handy control panel and product management system – you get all needed functions within a chosen package.
The platform is pretty easy to use. Adding new content and products is simple as well as modify titles and descriptions, create item collections, create new pages and product categories, set prices, etc. The system offers several baseline shopping templates with pre-installed widgets, which means you do not need to code at all. Shopify uses its hosting facilities and ensures smooth shop operation in addition to free SSL and other security means.
In that whole, we have a great eCommerce website building tool that requires a minimum learning curve. Now, let’s get to the website building process.
- Sign in and choose a plan. The registration process is very fast. However, you will need to choose a package right at once with a chance to switch between plans. The good news is that each plan has a 14-day free trial to test software features.
- Select a template. Although Shopify does not overwhelm you with an endless array of themes, you may still pick from a list of 10 stylish and responsive layouts. Technical geeks will appreciate HTML/CSS access to implement exclusive features, scripts, etc. Those who crave for exclusive design may choose form 60 premium templates costing $190.
- Set up your store. Editing your store might seem a bit difficult to form the start. However, the control panel is pretty intuitive. After some time, you will learn how to add products, images, edit on-page blocks, create product collections, set prices, indicate relevant goods, etc.
- Shopify App Store contains additional widgets to make your shop shine online. Here you may find from promotion and marketing tools to cart recovery instruments, product image galleries, etc.
- Connect a domain and go live. Shopify lets you connect your domain as well as register the one within the platform. Now you only need to publish all website pages and go live with your store.
The overall process is rather easy considering you have all the necessary tools depending on the chosen plan. The price depends on the package and the number of products you want to sell. It ranges between $29/month for a small shop and $299 for a growing digital marketplace.
WooCommerce – #1 eCommerce Plugin for WordPress
When we say “WooCommerce”, we mean an eCommerce plugin to be used with WordPress. When we say “WordPress”, we mean an open-source CMS used together with Bluehost (the best WP-optimized hosting provider).
The plugin itself is a good solution for any store. It comes in a free baseline version for simple projects. Growing websites may benefit from paid extensions and extra features designed to be used together with the plugin.
To build a full-scale online shop with WooCommerce, you will need to do the following:
- Register a Domain and Find a Hosting provider. Consider the problem solved thanks to Bluehost. Its WP-optimized plans include WordPress integration, access to templates and widgets, system and plugin updates, 1-year free domain, etc. Additional manipulations are not necessary.
- Choose a WP Theme. WordPress boasts thousands of eCommerce themes. Most of them are mobile-friendly. Use the preview mode to check how it looks like. Users may benefit from free templates or buy premium layouts depending on the design requirements.
- Install WooCommerce. Now you need to install and activate the plugin. Go to plugin settings to fine-tune your future store. To complete the stage, simply follow the 5 simple steps and indicate vital info to get a setup plugin working.
- Add products and edit content. Now you may add new products, set descriptions, and titles, work with product page SEO, etc.
The key downside here is that users will have to do most of the work manually. On the other hand, a solid level of technical skills will come in handy in references to website optimization. Moreover, users may integrate thousands of third-party services from payment gateways to shipping methods.
At the same time, using this method is cheaper although some extensions might cost you hundreds of dollars, as well as premium WordPress themes.
Wix – The Easiest Website Builder to Start Selling Online
Wix – is the easiest website builder to start selling online. The all-in-one system comes with a powerful eCommerce engine, which allows starting small and medium digital stores by means of Wix Stores widget integration. The platform delivers an extensive spectrum of advantages making it possible to complete the project with no programming background required.
When launching a store with Wix, you will have access to multiple niche-specific features. These include shopping cart customization, Ascend platform connection, adjustment of payment/tax parameters, integration of eCommerce ancf customer interaction widgets, forum/blog connection, creation and appealing presentation of show widows, product import/export, order/product list management and more.
To start a web store with Wix, you’ll have to complete the following steps:
- Sign Up for the Account. Before proceeding to your web store creation, you’ll need to sign up for a Wix account first. The procedure is fast and ebay. You can either enter your login and password details and then confirm the subscription via email or register via social network accounts.
- Integrate Wix Stores Widget. As soon as you are done with the registration procedure, you’ll need to integrate the Wix Stores widget that will give your website eCommerce focus.
- Select and Customize a Template. Wix currently offers 118 eCommerce themes to match various industries. Pick any of them and access design customization tools available in the dashboard to create personalized web store design.
- Set Up a Web Store. Having customized your web store theme, you are welcome to adjust the baseline settings. With this purpose, you should reach the App Store and browse the collection of widgets/add-ons available there. This is where you can find and integrate customer interactions applications, eCommerce widgets, SEO and marketing add-ons etc.
- Choose a Suitable Plan. Wix has a special group of plans for eCommerce websites that provide the required terms to help you get started with your project.
- Select a Domain Name and Publish the Project. Wix allows selecting and connecting a domain name with regard to the terms of the plan you choose. Connect the one that represents your project most and publish it.
As mentioned above, Wix has a separate group of eCommerce/Business plans. There is also a free subscription here you might need to test Wix features before upgrading to one of eCommerce subscriptions. Their cost starts from $23/mo. If this is the first time you plan to sign up for Wix, it makes sense to do that from Tuesday to Thursday – that’s when the website builder offers a 50% discount to all newbies. If there is anything you are not satisfied with, you can cancel the subscription and get your money back within 14 days after the plan purchase.
Weebly – Free eCommerce-Ready Website Builder
Weebly – is a free eCommerce-ready website builder, which can be used to cover a broad spectrum of web store-related requirements. Being initially launched as a blogging platform, Weebly was acquired by Square in 2018 and has gained strong eCommerce focus since that time.
The platform comes with a fully-integrated shopping cart, customization of which results in the development of a professional digital store, where you can sell both physical and digital products. You also get access to multiple order and product management tools, statistics analysis tools, integrable widgets, eCommerce templates, marketing, SEO and promotion solutions. Weebly Promote tool is the one that deserves special attention here as it helps you organize and complete effective email marketing campaigns with no hassle at all.
When launching a web store with Weebly, get ready to complete the following actions:
- Register for Your Weebly Account. To start working with Weebly, you should first sign up for the account. This will take less than a minute – just fill out the registration form, entering the required info.
- Choose and Edit a Template. Weebly has quite an interesting collection of eCommerce designs. Browse them thoroughly to pick the theme that complies with your requirements and needs. Right after that, access the toolset to create a unique web store design.
- Create Product List. As soon as you are done with template choice, you can proceed to product catalogue creation and management. Upload products with regard to the terms of your plan, add titles and descriptions, adjust SEO parameters etc.
- Add Widgets. The website builder lets you choose and connect some of its popular eCommerce widgets. Their amount is not that rich but all the add-ons can notably boost your web store performance.
- Select a Subscription. Weebly has several plans for business/eCommerce purposes – pick the one that comes up to your requirements and budget.
- Connect the Domain Name and Publish the Project. Finally, you can connect the domain name and go live with your web store.
Weebly pricing policy is moderate. The website builder has plans that work great for eCommerce projects. Performance plan is the best solution to go for here. Its cost constitutes $26/mo.
Ecwid – Free eCommerce Plugin to Build a Shopping Website
Ecwid – is a free eCommerce plugin to build a shopping website that makes it possible to start small and medium web stores. As opposed to the majority of standard eCommerce platforms, Ecwid is generally used as a widget, integration of which results in online shop creation. You can connect it to any existing website to give it eCommerce focus.
The plugin delivers an impressive spectrum of niche-related features that are a must for any eCommerce project. These include an opportunity of product catalogue creation/customization, order management, Point-Of-Sale (POS) software integration, web store statistics tracking, social media integration, connection of external services, multilanguage support etc.
Here are the steps to complete to launch a web store with Ecwid:
- Create an Ecwid Account. To get started with your eCommerce project, you initially have to sign up for an Ecwid account. This is free, easy and quick. You can choose from two options – either by means of providing your username/password info or via social network accounts.
- Integrate the Plugin Into Your Website. Log in to the newly registered Ecwid account, reach the dashboard and copy the integration code along with store ID to further paste it into the source code on your website backend. Save the changes you’ve made and your new online shop will appear on your website frontend.
- Customize the Web Store. Ecwid store customization is quite versatile – you can integrate some of the widgets the plugin has in stock (vertical/horizontal categories, product browser, search box, add to cart etc.), use multiple design, marketing, SEO tools.
- Add Products. As soon as you are done with your web store customization, go ahead to add products, descriptions, images, videos, payment/shipping parameters and other required features. Now you are ready to publish the project.
Ecwid has a free never-expiring plan and three paid subscriptions. Their cost starts at $15/mo and increases with regard to the terms the plans imply.
10 Essential Online Shopping Website Features
Regardless of what platform or software you use to build your future digital store, you need to make sure it will have all of the following features:
1. Product Management System
While blogs require a powerful content editor to manage numerous articles, blog posts, and categories, with an online shop you will have to manage each of your products. Make sure a chosen platform lets you add new items, edit descriptions and titles, set prices, sort products by categories, models, sizes, etc.
The feature is vital for not only website owners, but also customers. They will have a chance to find the good they need faster, which results in a higher conversion rate. The idea is to make it easy for them to identify the product that meets their expectations.
2. Payment Options
As the eCommerce niche considers transaction processing, you need to think of the most popular payment gateways for your visitors. The more alternatives your shop has the better. Do not limit your future buyers with one or two payment methods. Use flexible platforms that provide third-party integration capabilities.
3. High-Quality Images
High-quality product photos result in strong product representation. Use high-resolution images and showcase your items from different angles. The idea is to ensure real-life product experience for people who shop online.
Let them benefit from the sense of presence right here right now. A good way to encourage them to complete the purchase. This is where video product overviews and promos might also come in handy.
4. Good Performance and Responsiveness
Building and maintaining a digital store requires much of assets especially if you plan to add hundreds of new products followed by photos, videos or descriptions. Make sure your building platform has a powerful engine while hosting will handle traffic spikes and leaps during seasoned offers, discounts, etc.
Make sure the site speed is fast enough, as it appears to be a crucial rate that reflects customers’ satisfaction and conversions. Moreover, your digital store must be mobile-friendly. Almost half of all users do online shopping via their tablets and smartphones. It would be wrong for you to lose that target audience.
5. Website Security
Buyers are looking for a safe way to purchase products online. To meet their expectations, you may implement something more than just an SSL certificate. A good idea is to use a Firewall and protect your site from malicious traffic while two-factor authentication will appear to be an additional security layer.
6. Customer Support
With the aim of establishing a flawless online shopping experience, you will need to resolve different issues from time to time. Some customers might not be satisfied with the product quality, others may request a money back or change. Make sure you provide enough tools to get in touch and ensure instant customer assistance.
7. Contact Info
Apart from customer support, an online store requires a clear contact section. It should contain all possible ways to get in touch. It opens new opportunities for not only your target audience but also potential business partners, investors, etc.
Increase your digital store trustworthiness with real customer reviews and testimonials. Ask previous buyers to share their opinion on the product they have bought. It will make your website look more trusted and reliable.
9. SEO, Analytics, and Promotion Tools
As you need to promote your shop, make sure you have enough marketing tools. They may include loyalty programs, coupons, promo codes, and other instruments to boost sales.
With the traffic growth, you will also need some measurement services as well as to track your buyers, their demographics, and other crucial metrics. SEO settings will let you optimize product pages as well as make your digital store more SEO-friendly. Promote separate items, categories, and pages using keywords, meta tags, etc.
10. Extra Features to Look for In an Online Shopping Website
The following extras may be implemented demanding on the product type you sell. Whether you have a small store or a huge online marketplace, you may also want to have:
- Shipping methods and terms explained.
- Social Media buttons to let users share opinions or product pages on Facebook or Instagram.
- Related Product options to offer more items that refer to a particular product category.
Now you need to find the ultimate platform that offers enough tools to implement all of the above-mentioned. eCommerce projects appear to be the toughest ones in terms of implementation and customization.
They require advanced technical skills unless you opt for ready-to-use solutions like Shopify. Another way is to use WordPress CMS paired with the WooCommerce plugin and eCommerce functionality it delivers. Let’s have a look at both options and how they may help.
The Bottom Line
The choice between Shopify, WooCommerce, Wix, Weebly and Ecwid depends on the digital store size, the number of products you want to sell, and the additional features you look for.
Shopify is an all-in-one eCommerce solution with everything you need in its plans. Although the editing process is not as easy as some may expect, the system lets you build a fully-functional online shopping website in hours without extra costs or manipulations.
WooCommerce is more like a plugin rather than an automated eCommerce solution. It means you will need other means to bring your project to life. Additional technical skills may also be useful. However, things get much easier when using WooCommerce paired with WordPress and Bluehost. It is you to decide, which way to choose.
Wix is the best all-in-one website builder, which comes with an integrated eCommerce engine. Web store creation becomes possible here by means of Wix Stores widget connection and its further customization. Additional features that can add to your project performance are available here as well. This lets you run feature-rich small and medium digital stores with no coding proficiency required.
Weebly is a high end cloud website builder, which has acquired eCommerce focus, being purchased by Square. The system includes a rich toolset of niche-related features that allow starting a quality online shop. It also has separate plans geared towards eCommerce website development.
Ecwid is a specialized eCommerce plugin, which delivers an impressive variety of features that are a must for a web store. The plugin can be integrated into any website to enable its owner to start selling online.
With such an extensive variety of eCommerce options, it may not be quite easy to make the right choice from the start. Browse the available options, considering your current web store requirements to make it a success!