Best E-Commerce Website Builders for Small Businesses
Which website builder will help your e-commerce store rise to the top and sell the most products?
Best OverallPowerful e-commerce featuresAttractive store design
Best DesignExcellent value for the priceIntegrated e-commerce features
Best for Company StoresEasy product upload toolsBeautiful designs for your whole site
Best for New BusinessesEasy-to-use product managementTons of resources for new businesses
Best Store CustomizationGreat customization for online storeEasy-to-use dashboard
If you need to set up an online store for your small business, chances are your website needs differ from those of a restaurant, dental office, or PR firm. While e-commerce businesses might use a blog to drive traffic to their store, they probably don’t need a lot of fancy features or extra pages—just a home page, store page, and maybe an about page.
To that end, we wanted to evaluate the e-commerce capabilities of each website builder. We still stand by our rankings for the best overall website builders, but we also figured online stores would appreciate a closer look at the website builders that work best for their needs.
So which platform is the best e-commerce website builder for small businesses? Short answer: it depends on the type of business you’re running.
How our e-commerce solutions stack up
In analyzing all the e-commerce store builders out there, we identified a few key features that most (if not all) online shop owners will want. Here’s how our picks compare in terms of those features:
|Starting price for e-commerce plan||$29.95/mo.*||$6/mo.*|
|Credit card payments||✔||✔|
|Discounts and coupons||✔||✔|
|Transaction fees||✘||2.9% + 30￠|
|Multiple sales channels||✔||With plugin|
|Order tracking||With plugin||✘|
|View Plans||View Plans|
BigCommerce offers large-scale e-commerce solutions to help your business grow
If your online shop is the core of your business, you should definitely consider BigCommerce.
For starters, creating an online store with BigCommerce is a breeze. Simply uploading products automatically creates your e-commerce store, so you don’t have to do any extra work to make your shop functional and well-designed. Plus, you can add a ton of details about each product (like product dimensions and bin picking numbers), all of which make it easier to fulfill orders once they start coming in.
In terms of e-commerce features, we love that BigCommerce doesn’t charge transaction fees, and it’s compatible with big-name carriers (like USPS and UPS) and payment gateways (like Square, Stripe, and Apple Pay).
It’s also pretty decent in terms of search engine optimization (SEO). The platform allows you to customize your page titles and easily update the meta descriptions that show up in Google searches under each page title. All of these tools help search engines find your site when your prospective customers search for terms related to your business.
On the whole, BigCommerce makes it pretty easy to get the support your online business needs to function. But it’s not a perfect solution.
While many e-commerce features are integrated with your basic BigCommerce service, there are some that require additional apps. So it may take a bit of extra work to get every single feature you need. And if you need anything more than a basic home page and store, you may struggle—BigCommerce’s platform isn’t really set up to make additional pages (at least not ones that look professional).
- Powerful e-commerce features
- Easy-to-navigate site-building interface
- Attractive store design
- Limited free themes
- Complicated customization
- Negative customer reviews
BigCommerce usability: 3/5
We give BigCommerce an average score for usability.
On the one hand, the platform’s site-building interface was intuitive, so we could usually find what we needed, even when we didn’t remember right off the bat where everything was. And adding items to our online store was super easy.
But there were downsides too. Maybe we just prefer drag-and-drop website builders, but it seemed like BigCommerce’s WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor was particularly hard to use. That being said, we were using one of BigCommerce’s free themes. By all accounts, a lot of the design elements that we struggled to customize are baked in with most of the paid themes. You just have to be willing to pay $250 or so for one of those fully equipped themes.
All told, we felt like BigCommerce wasn’t the easiest website builder, but it was one of the easier-to-use online store builders we tested.
BigCommerce design: 3/5
When we tested BigCommerce, one of the first things we noticed was how good our online shop looked. Everything else? Not so much.
BigCommerce wasn’t the easiest website builder, but it was one of the easier online store builders we tested.
Quality web design is not really a feature you get with a basic BigCommerce theme. The blog was okay, but our home page and about page looked pretty rough, if we’re being honest. And the platform’s WYSIWYG editor didn’t do us any favors when it came to making our pages look good.
Again, though, forking over $250 for one of the premium themes can save you a lot of headaches when it comes to making your BigCommerce site look good. So if you know that your about page is going to get lots of views, it may be worthwhile to get a paid theme to make your pages look more professional. But if you know your customers are going to engage primarily with your online store, we think you’ll be pretty happy with BigCommerce’s e-commerce website design.
BigCommerce customization: 3/5
We were pretty happy to find that BigCommerce lets you change the colors and fonts on pretty much everything. But the downside was that we had to change the colors and fonts on every individual item. It was time-consuming and, quite frankly, obnoxious—especially since other builders like Squarespace let you change the colors, fonts, and sizes for all text of the same type (all H2 headers, for instance).
And as we’ve already mentioned, BigCommerce’s WYSIWYG editor was hard to use, so we never felt like we got the home page and about page that we wanted.
Of course, if you do go with one of the premium themes on BigCommerce (or download one of the hundreds of apps on the platform), you’ll probably have an easier time customizing your site than we did.
|Monthly cost with annual plan||$29.95/mo.||$71.95/mo.||$224.95/mo.|
|Credit card payments||✔||✔||✔|
|Discounts and coupons||✔||✔||✔|
|Social media sales channels||✔||✔||✔|
|Abandoned cart saver||✘||✔||✔|
|Credit card storage||✘||✔||✔|
Squarespace is best for small businesses on a budget
Squarespace is hands down the best e-commerce website builder for online store owners looking for high-end site design.
Squarespace templates are sleek and modern and feature plenty of white space. The e-commerce pages are easy to navigate, so your customers can find what they need quickly and easily. And above all, Squarespace designs make your online store look polished and professional.
Even though Squarespace is primarily marketed toward blog owners and brick-and-mortar stores, we were pleasantly surprised to see that Squarespace had the e-commerce website templates and support features to keep up with the big players in the e-commerce space (BigCommerce and Shopify).
All Squarespace plans include mobile-optimized shopping carts, inventory tracking, and more. And with a Basic or Advanced plan, you can also print shipping labels, enjoy integrated accounting, and offer coupons for your loyal customers.
We also loved how easy it was to integrate our Squarespace site with our social media accounts. Every time we posted a new blog post, we could click over to a social media tab within the editor and write a custom post for each social media platform to promote our new piece. Every time we added a new product, we could again click the social tab and draft a separate social media post for each account. And Squarespace customers with a Business plan or higher can even sync their Instagram store with their Shopify store, all of which makes it easier to sell your products.
Of course, Squarespace isn’t all happiness and rainbows. Here’s our list of pros and cons for Squarespace.
- Easy-to-use platform
- Beautiful site design
- Great functionality to support your store and blog
- Bit of a learning curve
- So-so SEO
- Functionality sometimes hidden by tabs and sidebar menu
Squarespace usability: 4/5
Squarespace features a drag-and-drop editor, which works exactly the way it sounds: you just drag and drop various content blocks and other elements where you want them on the page.
It was easy to drag and drop elements on our Squarespace pages, but there was a bit of a learning curve when it came to our customization options. For instance, if you want to rearrange sections on your home page, you need to navigate to your Pages menu. But if you then want to change the background color on any of those sections, you have to backtrack through menus and find the Design section.
Still, we found Squarespace to be pretty easy to use overall. It was easy to drag and drop the elements we needed. And there were lots of pre-made content blocks to choose from, so we didn’t feel like we were wasting time trying to make our personal designs fit into the options provided by our template or site builder.
We found Squarespace to be easy to use, and we loved the way our site turned out.
That all made for a faster build time and a prettier site overall. And since all of the features we needed were built into the service, we didn’t have to worry about downloading and figuring out how to use extra apps. That already makes Squarespace a huge improvement over builders like WordPress (which requires the WooCommerce plugin just to have an online store).
Squarespace design: 5/5
Quite frankly, we loved the way our Squarespace site turned out. Our home page looked beautiful. Our about page was professional and sleek. And our store, while not the fanciest around, definitely made us look like a legit business (always a plus when you’re trying to attract new customers online).
Web design is definitely a strong suit for Squarespace, which is especially impressive since the platform doesn’t offer any premium templates. All e-commerce website templates on Squarespace are free, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a quality e-commerce website design regardless of your plan.
Squarespace customization: 5/5
As we mentioned before, Squarespace’s dashboard made it a bit tricky to access the full range of customization options available on the platform. But once we mastered the learning curve and knew where everything was, we found that we could customize pretty much anything on our site—from background colors to mobile menu settings—all with minimal effort.
|Monthly cost with annual plan||$18/mo.||$26/mo.||$40/mo.|
|Credit card payments||✔||✔||✔|
|Checkout on your domain||✘||✔||✔|
|Social media sales channels||✘||✔||✔|
|Inventory and order tracking||✘||✔||✔|
|Abandoned cart autorecovery||✘||✘||✔|
What do other business owners have to say about Squarespace?
“The ecommerce functionally in Squarespace is a lot easier than WooCommerce.”
Wix is best for online shops that aren’t your business’ main attraction
We were able to create a beautiful store using Wix, but we noticed that we didn’t quite get the powerful e-commerce tools offered by dedicated e-commerce solutions like BigCommerce or Shopify.
For instance, we were able to include a lot of details about each product we uploaded, including inventory numbers, custom SKUs, and product weight. But we weren’t able to add details like dimensions or custom shipping costs—both details you can add to your products on more large-scale e-commerce options like BigCommerce and even Squarespace.
We were also a bit frustrated with the quirky SEO customization on the builder. For instance, we could customize URLs to help search engines find our site, but Wix would sometimes add random strings of text at the end of our product and blog post URLs. We have to wonder what the point of custom SEO settings are when the builder undoes a chunk of our work anyway.
Still, Wix was easily customizable, and we ended up loving our e-commerce website design—even if the back-end e-commerce features were a little lacking without extra apps to bolster them.
So in the end, we think Wix is probably the best website builder for online store owners whose businesses have multiple revenue streams (e.g., a podcast that primarily makes money from its content but sells merch on the side). If e-commerce isn’t your big moneymaker—but you do sell some merch on the side—Wix is a great solution.
- Easy drag-and-drop interface
- Limitless customization options
- Extensive app market
- Negative customer reviews
- No 24/7 customer support
Wix usability: 5/5
At first glance, Wix was a little intimidating for us. But once we actually started using the drag-and-drop editor, all our apprehensions about Wix melted away.
Wix’s user-friendly interface allowed us to drag and drop content blocks into place with greater accuracy than we experienced with other drag-and-drop website builders. It was also super easy to find the features and customization options we were looking for. We even got a professional-looking design without having to search high and low for the right apps for our needs.
On the whole, we think GoDaddy’s GoCentral website builder might have been a bit faster, but Wix felt more intuitive (if a little more time-consuming). That seems contradictory, we know. But if you walk away from your website build feeling okay with the world (instead of irrationally angry), that website builder’s got to be doing something right.
Wix design: 4/5
Wix websites are nothing if not clean. For starters, you get beautiful e-commerce website templates that make it easy to simply plug in your images and content and come out the other side with a professional-looking site that your customers can actually use.
With Wix, we got a professional-looking design without having to search high and low for the right apps.
But from there, you can actually customize your design further with content blocks (like newsletter sign-ups and galleries). These are also well-designed and professional, so you don’t have to worry about customers doubting your site’s credibility even when you make small adjustments to the pre-made templates.
The only downside? It takes a little bit of time to create a truly perfect-looking site. And if you don’t rein yourself in, you could drag and drop your way into a website that looks like it’s straight out of the early 2000s.
Wix customization: 5/5
Wix is a true drag-and-drop website builder, meaning you can drag and drop content blocks, spacers, images, and text wherever you want them. You get a truly customizable, unique site with minimal effort.
What’s more, Wix customers can edit pretty much everything on their site, from colors and fonts to alignment and character spacing.
And while we definitely prefer website builders with integrated features, Wix does have hundreds of apps in its app store to help you customize your site down to the last detail.
|Feature||Business Basic||Business Unlimited||Business VIP|
|Monthly cost with annual plan||$23/mo.||$27/mo.||$49/mo.|
|Monthly cost with two-year plan||$20/mo.||$23.50/mo.||$42/mo.|
|Monthly cost with three-year plan||$18/mo.||$22/mo.||$38.50/mo.|
|Credit card payments||✔||✔||✔|
|Discounts and coupons||✔||✔||✔|
|Social medial sales channels||✘||✘||✘|
What do other business owners have to say about Wix?
“For small business owners, Wix is my top recommendation for price, value, and ease of use. They have a lot of great templates and make it easy to build a professional-looking website. Also, they have a marketplace with loads of apps for more advanced needs such as email marketing or e-commerce.”
Shopify is best for new business owners
Shopify has a pretty solid reputation as an e-commerce website builder. It offers easy integration with your social media sales channels, user-friendly inventory tracking and product management, and even some decent SEO features.
But it’s certainly not a perfect service. We were really disappointed with the overall design quality of our Shopify store, and the website builder itself was a bit unwieldy. To really get your Shopify site to look professional, you’d have to pay for a premium theme, comb the app store for plugins to give you the features you want, or possibly both.
That’s a lot of time that business owners could be spending interacting with their customers, producing more product, or planning their next business move.
It’s not all bad news, though. We think one of Shopify’s biggest strengths is its ample resources for new business owners.
Shopify offers tools like brand name generators, logo makers, and in-depth tutorials on how to start your business, all of which helps you develop your company long before you’re ready to actually build a site. And once you are ready to build that website, Shopify has webinars, videos, and tons of customer support options to help you learn the Shopify platform and get what you need.
In our opinion, that makes Shopify quite possibly the best e-commerce website builder for small-business owners who are just starting out.
- Easy-to-use product management
- Resources for new businesses
- Inventory tracking
- Good SEO
- Confusing dashboards
- Limited options on free templates
- Extra transaction fees on credit cards
- Poor design on free templates
Shopify usability: 3/5
Shopify was not the easiest website builder to use, mostly because the editor changed with every page we built. Just as we started feeling comfortable with the editor on the home page, the platform switched to a completely different editor on the about page (which was different from the editor on the blog, which was different from the editor on the store).
It made us reminisce about Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly, where we could just drag and drop content blocks and get a professional-looking site almost like magic.
In all fairness, Shopify is apparently much easier to use if you pay for a quality theme and take advantage of the apps available on the platform. But then you have to contend with higher financial costs, and you’ll have to find and learn to use the right apps for your needs, which can be an extra drain on your time and energy.
Shopify is much easier to use if you pay for apps and a quality theme. But if you’re on a tight budget, you can get a better-designed site for less with Squarespace or Wix.
Shopify design: 3/5
We weren’t super impressed by Shopify’s design, but that was largely because we limited ourselves to using free themes for our build. According to the feedback we’ve read from other Shopify customers, premium themes go a long way toward making your Shopify site look smooth and professional.
Still, if you’re operating your business on a tight budget, you can probably get a better-designed site for less with Squarespace or Wix.
Shopify customization: 2/5
Perhaps the most frustrating part of using Shopify was trying to customize our site’s colors and fonts. It took us over two hours of active building time before we finally found the tab with the site customization options, so that should give you an idea of how (not) intuitive it is.
Once we found the right tab, we were frustrated to find that we actually couldn’t change too much on the site. And when we did change something, the platform would sometimes glitch and either not implement our changes or change some other element on the site that we hadn’t touched.
Long story short, we definitely wished that we’d taken advantage of all those new business resources. A video tutorial or two on how to use the site probably would have saved us a lot of time and trouble. But with how difficult it was to customize our Shopify site, we found ourselves wishing we’d just used WordPress with a WooCommerce plugin. Using WordPress plus the WooCommerce plugin can be complicated, but at least you can customize a font color without causing glitches.
|Feature||Basic Shopify||Shopify||Advanced Shopify|
|Credit card payments||✔||✔||✔|
|Discounts and coupons||✔||✔||✔|
|Transaction fees||2.9% + 30￠||2.6% + 30￠||2.4% + 30￠|
|Transaction fees for third-party payment gateways||2.0%||1.0%||0.5%|
|Social media sales channels||✔||✔||✔|
|Abandoned cart recovery||✔||✔||✔|
What do other business owners have to say about Shopify?
“Shopify meets the needs of an online retailer selling thousands of SKUs, and there is enough room for great design to make it workable.”
Weebly offers the best customization for e-commerce stores
Here’s the thing: Weebly is not the easiest website builder to use. It doesn’t have the new business resources you get with Shopify, the powerful e-commerce features you get with BigCommerce, or the gorgeous design you get with Wix, and it doesn’t offer vital SSL security unless you sign up for a Business plan or higher. And even though Weebly technically has a lower starting price, Squarespace actually offers better value in terms of the features you get for the price.
But . . . Weebly is still the best website builder for retailers that want to trick out every aspect of their online store.
Pretty much every other website builder on our list builds your store automatically based on the products you add. If you add a product and tag it in the Clothing category, the website builder automatically builds a separate Clothing page, menu item, or whatever other features your template dictates. So realistically, you have very little control over the look of your store other than simply picking your template.
Weebly, on the other hand, lets you use the same drag-and-drop editor you use on your site pages to build out your store page. So you can drag and drop featured product carousels, images, banners, promo code boxes, and any other tool to whatever spot you want on the page.
The result? Your small-business site can look as sleek and professional as any big-name brand—just be ready to spend a lot of time getting it to that point.
- Professional-looking templates
- Easy-to-use Weebly dashboard
- Good e-commerce features
- Extra costs for most e-commerce options
- Amateur-looking blogs (without extra apps)
- Fewer customer service options
Weebly usability: 4/5
Weebly’s editor is pretty easy to use. It shows you all your pre-built content blocks in your sidebar (no scrolling through menus to find your options), and then you just drag and drop them into place.
Weebly doesn’t quite get a perfect score, though, because the drag-and-drop function got a little glitchy. Once, we dragged a content block into place only to have a nearby image change sizes and throw off all the content around it. Going back and fixing problems that shouldn’t have existed in the first place was a bit annoying but (given enough time) ultimately surmountable.
Weebly design: 3/5
The design quality we got on our Weebly site build was decent. It wasn’t anything we’d want to screengrab and post to our social media accounts out of sheer pride. But overall, it was nice enough that we wouldn’t feel ashamed sending our customers to it.
Your small-business site can look as sleek as any big-name brand—just prepare to spend a lot of time getting it to that point.
Where Weebly really lost some points, though, was with the design of the blog. It looked amateur at best, even after we tried switching templates. Now, we should note again that we didn’t drop any money on a template, and we didn’t try adding any apps or plugins to see if we could improve the look of the blog. So it’s possible that with a little more budget and time, the poorly designed blog could be worked around.
But it was bad enough that we’d warn you away from Weebly if your business has an active blog (even if you’re not making money from it). Even if a premium template and apps can create the blog of your dreams, other e-commerce builders can get you the same result with less time and effort required.
Weebly customization: 4/5
As we’ve already mentioned, we had some sporadic issues with Weebly when we tried to drag and drop content blocks onto our pages. On top of that, some of the content blocks didn’t offer as much customization as we wanted.
But a lot of those downsides were minor compared to the excellent customization options we got on our e-commerce store. Between the category-specific images, featured product galleries, banners, and other pre-built content blocks available (which you can position anywhere you want on the page), we could’ve made our site look like the small-business version of Target.com.
|Monthly cost with annual plan||$6/mo.||$12/mo.||$26/mo.|
|Discounts and coupons||✔||✔||✔|
|Transaction fees||2.9% + 30¢||2.9% + 30¢||2.9% + 30¢|
|Checkout on your domain||✔||✔||✔|
|Abandoned cart emails||✘||✘||✔|
|Social media sales channels||✘||✘||✘|
FAQs about website building for e-commerce businesses
Tell me more about SEO. What is it and why does it matter for my website?
SEO stands for search engine optimization, which is basically a fancy way of saying, “Things you do to help your site get found by Google.” You want to get on the radar of Google and other search engines because it helps customers find your business more easily and more often when they search the web. Basically, SEO is an essential tool to increase traffic to your e-commerce store and build up your brand’s online reputation.
What are SSL certificates? Do I need one?
SSL certificates are not only important—they’re essential. An SSL certificate verifies that your site follows the minimum security guidelines needed to keep your customers’ information safe.
If you don’t have an SSL certificate, customers visiting your site will be greeted with a big red-flag message, warning them that your site may not be safe. That doesn’t do much to inspire trust. What’s more, not having an SSL certificate is really bad for your SEO. Search engines don’t want to recommend sites that may not be safe.
Fortunately, all of the website builders we’ve recommended above offer SSL security certificates, so you should be okay. Just watch out for Weebly—it doesn’t include SSL security unless you have a Business plan or higher.
Do I need a website builder that supports Laravel framework or Laravel CRUD?
If you’re asking this question, we don’t know whether to applaud your excellent research skills or give you a big hug and a mug of cocoa because you’ve been sucked too deep into the rabbit hole of researching the best website builders for your business.
Here’s the deal: Laravel framework is an open-source project that can be used to deploy and maintain applications (among other things). CRUD is short for creating, reading, updating, and deleting—a vital process within most apps. Laravel CRUD is basically a function of the Laravel framework that makes the CRUD process easier.
Do you need to know any of this before building a website for your small business? No, probably not. And if you do, you’re probably a developer with a lot more experience than us at building apps and websites. So maybe you should be the one filling us in.
What about web hosting? Is that something I need in addition to a website builder?
All websites need to be hosted somewhere. Fortunately, all the website builders we’ve featured above do include e-commerce hosting as part of your service. Most even offer a free domain name for the first year of your service, so you don’t have to pay for your domain, your e-commerce hosting provider, and your website builder separately.
Of course, most web builders still let you host your website somewhere else. To find out more, you can check out our guide to the best web hosting providers.
I’ve heard that WordPress plus the WooCommerce plugin is a really good e-commerce solution. Why didn’t you include that in your rankings?
For this piece, we focused on e-commerce website builders that were as easy to use as possible. And let’s face it, WordPress with the WooCommerce plugin is not easy to use.
Sure, there’s a lot that you can do with the WooCommerce plugin. But the learning curve for WordPress is so steep that we didn’t really consider the WooCommerce plugin a viable option for most small-business owners.
But if you do have a bit more time dedicated to building your site and you want complete control over every single aspect of your e-commerce site, the WooCommerce plugin could be a great option for you.
What about GoDaddy’s GoCentral website builder?
The GoCentral website builder is another great option for building your site. We just thought there were stronger options that were more geared toward e-commerce businesses.
The right e-commerce site builder for your business will depend a lot on your budget, your business, and your timetable. Weebly offers great customization of your online store but so-so design. Shopify has tons of resources for new businesses, making it a real draw for first-time e-commerce store owners. Wix is a good all-around builder but might be best if your online store is your side hustle. And Squarespace offers great value for e-commerce owners.
But the all-around best e-commerce website builder for small businesses has got to be BigCommerce. It’s got all the back-end e-commerce support you need to run your business effectively, and it delivers a professional-looking store to boot.
Looking to build a site for a brick-and-mortar business? Want to create a professional online portfolio? Check out our guide to the best website builders for more.
At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don’t guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.