With its intuitive and user friendly ecommerce web site builder, over 100 payment gateway options, solid security measures, highly customisable themes, a vast collection of apps and themes, robust and intelligent inventory management, and many other features – Shopify is hands down the best ecommerce web site builder.
There are many opportunities to explore in the digital world of ecommerce. If you are in the business of selling products or services, establishing an online presence is no longer a nice to have – but a critical strategic business move.
Also, the choice of an ecommerce website builder is not a mere technical decision, it is a critical strategic decision that requires due diligence.
This post is dedicated to presenting a review of the top ecommerce website builders and putting a spotlight on Shopify as a compelling and the best ecommerce web site builder overall.
Summarised Review of Ecommerce Web Site Builders
|Ecommerce Website Builder
|User-friendly for beginners and experts.
|– Transaction fees on every sale. These vary per plan
|– Versatile – Highly Customizable
|– Ongoing monthly fees (cheaper paid annually)
|– Flexible Pricing Plans (for small business and enterprises) – Scalable
|– Limited free themes
|– Multi-layered security measures including secure payment gateways and SSL certificates. – Over 100 online payment gateways
|– Additional apps come at a cost
|– SEO tools and features – Marketing Features and Apps
|– Robust inventory management – Streamlined order processing
|– Live chat, email and telephonic customer support – Vibrant support community – Comprehensive knowledge base
|– Mobile-responsive – Seamless shopping experience.
|– Core Plugin is Free
|– It’s a WordPress plugin and can’t function outside WordPress
|– Customizable – Growing plugins marketplace
|– Costs associated with Customisations and extra developments
|– Suited for both small to large businesses.
|– No ongoing/monthly fees for the base plugin.
|– Strong community support
|– Scalable – Feature-rich suited for high growth ecommerce.
|– Monthly subscription fees (cheaper paid annually)
|– Ample customization options and templates
|– Learning curve especially for beginners.
|– Powerful marketing and SEO tools
|– Limited free trial period.
|– High sales and traffic volume features – Security features.
|– Lower priced plans have limited features
|– User-friendly for beginners – Drag-and-drop editor.
|– Limited ecommerce features compared to Shopify
|– Beautiful themes/templates.
|– Not a good fit for large or complex stores
|– Suited for small businesses and individuals starting out
|– No option for self-hosting
|– Free plan available.
|– All-in-one builder for normal websites and digital stores – Stunning templates.
|– Limited ecommerce features compared to Shopify.
|– Elegant and user-friendly store builder.
|– Relatively higher pricing.
|– Suited for businesses with a strong focus on creativity and design.
|– Not ideal for businesses with large inventories.
|– Provides integrated blogging and website features.
|– Limited online payment options.
Key Features to Consider in an Ecommerce Website Builder
There are some factors that must be considered to choose the best ecommerce web site builder.
The best way to approach this important decision is to be systematic and data driven about it. Given the need of your business, the type of products/services you are selling, your budget, the preferences of your customers, features and functions you need from a ecommerce web site builder point of view.
Addressing such considerations and questions is what will lead you to the best ecommerce web site builder for your business. The section below explores these factors in detail.
User-friendliness and Ease of Use
Taking your business cyber requires leveraging the power of a web site builder that is easy to use and user friendly.
This way, you shorten your time to market and eliminate the need to invest some money in getting someone with design and coding expertise to build the digital store for you.
A user-friendly ecommerce website builder simplifies your efforts to set up and manage your online store even if you do not have design and coding technical expertise.
Design Flexibility and Customization Options
A good ecommerce web site builder offers a good range of themes/templates, as well as sufficient levels of customisations.
You need to be able to create a professional high end ecommerce website beyond the basic and default settings that an ecommerce platform gives you.
Beyond installing theme and adding products, you need a website builder that enables you to customize the store according to your brand and preferred aesthetics.
Scalability and Room for Growth
People often say in business you need to be humble enough to start small while you think big. This is even more relevant to ecommerce.
Consider an ecommerce web site builder that can accommodate your typically small start up needs and budget, and yet has features, tools as well as capacity to meet the business and technological needs of your business as it grows and scales.
You need to consider a platform like Shopify that has robust features packaged into flexible and affordable pricing plans – allowing you to start small but with the prospect of growing and scaling your ecommerce business.
You want to settle for a platform that can afford such features without getting you worried about having to switch platforms in future.
Payment Gateways and Transaction Security
The growth of the digital age comes with ever increasing cyber security threats. This is the other reason why choosing the route of an ecommerce website builder is more compelling than choosing to build your own ecommerce website from scratch.
Robust ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Ecommerce, Wix and Squarespace have more solid security mechanisms that handle the security of an online store better than having to do it by yourself on your stand-alone ecommerce website.
Consider an ecommerce website builder with strong security and security compliance mechanisms.
Coupled with that, consider an ecommerce website builder that has multiple payment options to cater to diverse needs of your business and the diverse preferences of your customers.
SEO-friendliness and Marketing Tools
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and digital marketing are critical components of ecommerce. For your online store – and particularly the product pages to be visible on search engines, your store must be search engine friendly.
Consider an ecommerce web site builder that has in-built SEO features and integrations. SEO also gives you a solid foundation to mount an omni-channel digital marketing strategy.
Inventory Management and Order Processing
Inventory management is a crucial aspect of an ecommerce business. You need to balance your stock levels with the demand and supply and for this you need intelligent inventory management features and functions to avoid over stocking and stock outs.
You therefore need to consider an ecommerce platform with features for streamlining inventory management and order processing.
Customer Support and Community
You will need prompt support and guidance in your ecommerce journey. Ecommerce is exciting but it has many angles and curve balls especially technologically.
You need to consider an ecommerce web site builder that offers prompt support through live chat, email and telephone.
Also settle for an ecommerce platform with a comprehensive knowledge base where you can most likely get answers before you reach out to the support desk.
It also helps if the ecommerce web site builder has a vibrant community of peers and users who have answers for the questions you may have as you start your journey.
The past few years have seen an exponential surge in mobile commerce and social commerce. More and more online shoppers are buying stuff from their mobile devices and on social media platforms.
This means, for your ecommerce business, you need to strongly consider an ecommerce web site builder that creates mobile responsive digital stores and provides social media integrations enabling you sell your products/services in platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, etc.
A Closer Look at Top Ecommerce Website Builders
Having considered the different factors to be considered in a systematic decision making approach for choosing the best ecommerce web site builder, we will now review the top ecommerce web site builders.
Shopify is a leading ecommerce platform with over 25% market share globally. This is thanks to the platform’s user friendly, robust and secure ecommerce website builder plus many features outlined below.
Ease of Use and User-Friendly Interface: Setting up and maintaining an online store is a breeze with Shopify. The platform has an intuitive and user-friendly ecommerce website builder which makes it easy for beginners (without any coding or design skills) and experts to craft professional digital stores within minutes.
Robust Design Customization Options: Shopify has a vast collection of highly customizable and mobile friendly themes and templates. You can easily customize your Shopify store to look unique and align with your colours, brand identity and aesthetics.
Scalability for Small Businesses to Enterprises: Shopify is a scalable platform. The platform accommodates both small (micro sized) and enterprise level ecommerce businesses. The platform features and plans are built such that the platform grows with your business.
Secure Payment Gateways and SSL Certificates: Secure payment processing is non-negotiable in ecommerce. Shopify has various cyber security measures in place.
- SSL encryption
- Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) Compliance
- Fraud Protection
- Two-factor Authentication (2FA)
- DDoS Protection
- Regular Security and Audits
- Automated security patches
- Data backups
- Secure data centres
- Third party app review, etc.
SEO-Friendliness and Marketing Tools: Shopify has in-built SEO and marketing tools. The platform enables customisable product page title tags and meta descriptions which enhance the visibility of product pages in search engines.
Shopify also enables clean and keyword based URL structures, image optimisation, mobile responsiveness, 301 redirects, site maps and canonical tags, etc.
On the marketing side, Shopify has content marketing (blogging) capabilities, email marketing, social media integration, discounts and promotions, affiliate and referral programs, etc.
Effective Inventory Management and Order Processing: Inventory management is the backbone of ecommerce. Shopify has robust and comprehensive features for managing and controlling inventory so as to balance demand and supply while avoiding over stocking and stock outs. The platform enables you to set alerts and notifications when product levels reach certain thresholds. This puts you in a position to be proactive above the workflows of your ecommerce business.
Dedicated Customer Support and a Thriving Community: Should you need any help with Shopify, the platform has live chat, email and telephonic support channels.
The platform also has a vibrant support community and comprehensive knowledge base covering the platform’s documentation and answering common questions.
Shopify has a compelling suite of features that can satisfy the needs of any ecommerce venture regardless of the product type, size and location.
That said, it is crucial that in your due diligence you consider the other alternatives and satisfy yourself with whichever platform you have settled for: that you have chosen the best ecommerce web site builder for your business.
WooCommerce is a WordPress ecommerce plugin. The plugin is a preferred solution for brands and individuals that want to leverage their thriving WordPress Blogs to run a content driven ecommerce business.
However, while the WooCommerce plugin is free and open source, you will likely incur costs in web hosting, developing and maintaining customisations.
Entrepreneurs with more complex ecommerce needs and that don’t want to dabble their feet in the technical aspects of ecommerce may find Shopify a more compelling option.
BigCommerce is another solid contender in the arena of ecommerce web site builder.
It is a feature-rich online store builder and platform with emphasis on robust inventory management and scalability. The platform is suited for enterprise level ecommerce businesses that don’t mind going through a considerable learning curve.
While the platform has solid features available across its pricing plans, ecommerce and drop shipping entrepreneurs starting out may find Shopify to be more affordable and accessible.
Wix is a growing ecommerce website builder that emphasises simplicity. The platform provides a straightforward platform for building ecommerce websites.
The platform has a simple-to-use drag-and-drop builder suitable for individuals and small businesses. While the platform is remarkable for its simplicity and affordability, businesses and individuals that have complex ecommerce needs may find Shopify to be a better fit.
As you embark on this important journey of starting an ecommerce business, selecting the best ecommerce web site builder will be one of the critical and most important decisions you make. In your due diligence, you need to reflect thoroughly on the unique needs of your business. Consider the important factors such as:
- User friendliness of the platform
- Online Payment Options
- Inventory Management Options
The great way to evaluate these top ecommerce web site builders, and others, is to sign up for free trials so that you can have a hands-on evaluation of these platforms.
Shopify has a free 14 day trial in all its plans plus you will only pay $1 per month for the three months. This will give you ample time to test the features and functions of these platforms and make a well informed decision before you incur any major financial risks.