In today’s world, everything is happening online. You can find anything you want on the internet, from trivia facts about your favourite celebrities to mathematical equations and Shakespeare writings. Ever more frequently, people are shopping online too. You can order a Playstation, buy a painting that you like, and even get fresh groceries delivered to your doorstep. Ecommerce refers to these commercial transactions, done electronically. Ecommerce is getting bigger by the day; thus more people need a website for their store or business. Thanks to the exceptional website builders currently on the market, you can have your online store up and running in no time.
Things to consider
Now, since there are many of them currently on offer, how do you decide which one of these ecommerce website builders is best for your startup? There are three main aspects that you need to consider for each of these store builders, and when you match them up with these things in mind, we’re confident that you will be able to make the right choice.
1. Ease of use
Since we’re talking about the best store builders for startups, chances are, you don’t have a tech-team to build your site for you. Aside from that, time is of the essence as you have to dedicate yourself to other aspects of your startup and not just the website. The easier a website builder is to use, the more control you have over your finished product. That being said, you need a store builder that will be easy to use so you can easily bring your vision and ideas to life.
Cost is another crucial aspect to consider when you have a huge market of website builders to pick from. Pricing plans can vary to the extent of some website builders costing less than half the price of some of their competitors. Cheaper, however, does not necessarily mean better. What you’re looking for is the best value for your money. Even if a website builder costs more than another, but has plenty of features to make up for it – you will get more value for your money, as you will be saving on purchasing some essential features separately. Another tip is to purchase yearly subscriptions as they imply a reduced monthly price.
As previously mentioned, some website builders have plenty of features that make up for their higher prices compared to others who might feel bare-boned on the other hand. Some of the must-have features of store builders include content management capabilities, promotion and discount code tools, easy-to-use checkout, integrated blog section, social media sharing and SEO tools. If you are trying to decide between two ecommerce website builders for your online store and one offers a blog feature while the other doesn’t – you should probably opt for the first option. Having a blog while trying to sell any products or services is a big plus as you can post news and increase interest in your products by providing articles about why – or how -people can benefit from what you have on offer.
Website builders to consider
In order to help you make your choice, we reviewed some of the top website builders UK startups are currently relying on. How they stand in the respective criteria that we have set up should provide useful guidance as to where to start building your online store.
If paid on an annual basis, the Squarespace basic ecommerce plan stands at around £20 per month while the advanced ecommerce option would cost you around £30. Squarespace does not have a free plan, which is not much of a big deal as free plans rarely even have ecommerce features anyway. There is, however, a 14-day trial period which you can make use of to see how this website builder works and whether it will work for you.
Setting up an online store using the Squarespace ecommerce builder is an easy affair thanks to the drag-and-drop page builder. You won’t need any coding skills whatsoever, and you can see how any changes look in real-time, right in front of you. Aside from that, there are extensive guides and comprehensive tutorials in the help centre that can help you with a variety of issues.
When it comes to features, Squarespace has all the ecommerce basics included in your subscription plan. No transaction fees are being charged, and there is no limit to the number of products you can sell. Aside from that, with each annual subscription, you get a free custom domain, SSL security, 24/7 customer support, inventory and order management system, as well as tax and discount systems. As far as integrations are concerned, Squarespace is an all-in-one deal and does not have an app store for 3rd party apps. However, there are several built-in ecommerce integrations the details of which can be found in our Squarespace review.
Wix also has two ecommerce plans – eCommerce and VIP. The first – and cheaper – option will cost you around £12 when paid annually, while the second is priced at around £18. While this platform has a free plan, aside from testing the drag-and-drop page editor, there’s nothing else you could benefit from it as the package has no ecommerce features.
Editing page templates, as well as managing and updating content is exceptionally straightforward with Wix. The builder is very intuitive, and there are plenty of help buttons around, on top of which you have the education system with a plethora of tips and guides about anything you might come across while building your online store.
The basic features that come with the aforementioned Wix Premium plans are covered in our Wix review. As far as ecommerce specific features are concerned, Wix has dozens of them on offer – from invoicing and accounting systems to even merging online stores from other platforms like Etsy and Ecwid. While most of these apps are free, some of them do have their paid premium versions; however, building an online store for a startup, you’ll probably be just fine with the free ones. Another place where Wix really shines is templates – there are nearly 60 of them for online stores only, divided into different categories depending on your niche.
The first thing that makes Weebly stand out between these three website builders is its four ecommerce pricing plans – Starter, Pro, Business, and Performance. The key differences between them relate to not only their cost but also the number of products you can sell with them, as well as the transaction fees. That being said, when paid annually, Starter and Pro cost £6 and £9 per month, respectively. The transaction fee that comes with these plans is at 3%, and you can sell up to 10 products with the first plan and up to 25 with the second. On the other hand, there is no transaction fee associated with the Business and Performance plans, and you can sell an unlimited number of products with both of them. When paid annually, the first will cost you around £18 per month while the second plan is priced at £28.5.
This website builder might just be the easiest to use out of the bunch, which is very convenient for beginners. Aside from the drag-and-drop editor, Weebly’s interface is very intuitive and easy to get a hold of. There is also the help centre which is packed full of comprehensive guides about every single aspect of the store building process – from explaining the site dashboard to how to add product variations.
When it comes to features, as this article is focused on store builders for startups, you can refer to our Weebly review for an in-depth description of the ones that highlight this website builder. As for the online store-specific features – Weebly has all the necessities built-in. Aside from that, the app centre has a total of 40 ecommerce targeted apps – some of which are built by Weebly’s in-house developers while some are 3rd party integrations. However, we should note that even though there is a decent number of apps available, none of them stands out as very special. Another important point concerning the apps is that, while there are some free apps, the majority of them need to be purchased as premium.
Based on everything that we have outlined so far, the website builders we suggested above are at the top of the industry and for a good reason. However, when it comes to choosing one over the others – things aren’t as crystally clear.
For example, Weebly might be the most appropriate option if you’re looking for the cheapest solution. Those plans, however, impose severe limitations when it comes to the number of products you can sell, which are not convenient considering a startup’s potential to grow. If on the other hand, you’re looking for a solution that is most versatile when it comes to features, then Wix will probably be the best option for you. Or you could opt for Squarespace if you’re going for a straightforward builder where you can make use of ecommerce basics to quickly set up your online store.
The question that keeps many young entrepreneurs awake at night is how to choose the best platform to create an online store. Well, with so many website builders, the first thing you need to do is consider each one’s pros and cons based on the aspects we introduced at the beginning of this article, while also keeping in mind the niche of your business as well as your vision and goals. Have fun building your online store as the first step towards web success!