A complete list with reviews of the best website builders of 2018. Find a provider with the best uptime, features and customer support for your business/hobby.
Since being founded in 2006, the Israel-based Wix have grown to become a dominant force in the field of website builders. In fact, with an estimated 737,000 websites having been built using Wix, their market share of 22.6% makes them the number one website builder on the market.
Wix have subsequently expanded their offering, as you would expect from such a successful company. In addition to a basic website builder, they now offer an eCommerce solution, called Wix Stores.
Wix websites are known as being great-looking, but they draw some criticism when compared to the powerful features of a WordPress-powered site, for example.
Does Wix Stores follow the same pattern?
How does it compare to the big established eCommerce solutions like Shopify?
All this, and more, shall be revealed in my Wix Stores review!
(Note: this review of Wix Stores is based entirely on my own experiences)
Things get off to a great start with Wix Stores, thanks to their own fantastic store front. It outlines the features (which are plentiful – more on that later) in a clear and attractive manner, allows you to check out the templates without inputting any of your data, and even has a nice little step-by-step guide as to how to create an online store.
There’s no option to actually try out Wix Stores without signing up.
The signup process itself is simple enough, however, requiring only an email address and password. All of the pre-made themes are then laid out before you, and you can pick one and start editing it straight away.
One of the reasons Wix’s website builder has become so popular is because it’s so unbelievably easy to use. We’re pleased to report that this goes for Wix Stores too.
When you first start editing a template, you’re shown a lovely little 2:30 introductory video.
Afterwards, you’ll find a layout that looks a little busy at first, but is actually laid out very intuitively. Your main navigation bar runs along the top, elements you can add are down the left, and formatting buttons (copy and paste, rotate, resize, etc.) are to the right.
In addition to the intro video, Wix Stores has a step-by-step tutorial you can follow, which guides you through the basics of setting up a store – adding products, connecting payment methods, setting shipping rates, and so on. It really does make the nuts-and-bolts of setting up an online store feel extremely manageable.
Of course, this being a Wix product, altering the appearance of your pre-made store is an absolute cinch. The editing tools are a joy to use, and there’s genuine drag-and-drop functionality which allows you to put any element anywhere you want (as opposed to just putting elements into rigid slots).
Overall, the usability of Wix Stores is simply fantastic. I genuinely can’t fault it.
I couldn’t find the exact number of designs that are on offer for Wix Stores… but there are a lot. Trust me – whatever the specific sector you’re looking to operate in, you’ll have a wide variety of choices.
The designs are also nicely broken down into sections – Arts & Crafts, Food & Drinks, Electronics, etc. – to help you quickly find a suitable theme. Once you’ve found one, you can check out a full preview before you commit to editing it yourself.
As for the appearance of the designs… well, come on, this is Wix!
I checked out a large number of them, across a range of areas, and – to a one – they looked wonderful. These designs are sleek, modern, and beautiful. You could basically just pick one and start using it straight away – changing only the text – and you’d have an online store you’d be proud to show off.
In the unlikely event you can’t find a theme you like, or if you just want to create your own, you can choose one of the Blank Templates. These range from a completely white, single page to super-basic layouts for galleries, showcases and so on, if you’d like at least a little structure to help you get started.
All of the Wix Stores designs are included in the paid-for eCommerce package. (Wix Stores is only available as a paid-for service – more on that in the Pricing section.)
Well, my Wix Stores review is really flying so far! This, however, is where even the best-looking eCommerce solutions can fall flat.
Ultimately, the attractiveness of your website isn’t the most important thing. Sure, you’ll be able to lure in first-time customers, but if you want that repeat business that ensures true success, you need your store to be technically accomplished too.
Loading speed is a huge part of that – if it takes ages for customers to browse your store or actually buy anything, there’s no way they’re going to keep coming back.
To gauge the typical loading speed of Wix Stores shops, I found four example websites – of different sizes and in different sectors – and ran them through the GTmetrix tool. Needless to say, all four of these sites looked great.
As for their loading speeds, well… they were fine, but not amazing.
The four sites averaged a PageSpeed Score of 80% on GTmetrix’s test, with three out of the four receiving C grades. That’s not disastrous by any means, and I don’t really know how much optimization has been put into them.
This being said, such loading speed for eCommerce sites is on the quick side, because e-stores are notoriously heavy and slow due to the large number of product images alone.
Wix Stores perform more than satisfactory in terms of speed.
Quite incredibly, for a company of their experience, size and success, Wix Stores’ designs are not responsive. Do not adjust your calendars, and no, you haven’t gone back in a time machine – it is the year 2018.
Wix, for their part, say they’re working to make their sites “more responsive”.
That’s great but in the meantime, if you want to ensure your site looks good on mobile devices, then you have to separately edit it through the Wix’s mobile editor.
That editor is admittedly easy to use – like everything else on Wix Stores – but we have to say that it’s odd, in this day and age, that Wix Stores still isn’t automatically responsive.
Mobile users account for a huge amount of online business nowadays, so it’s absolutely vital that your site works well for them.
Wix don’t even mention SEO on the Wix Stores homepage, nor on their general price plan page, which may be a worrying sign for some.
Fortunately, in practice, Wix Stores actually has some pretty robust SEO features.
Firstly, you have the Wix SEO Wiz. This handy little tool guides you nicely through the SEO basics, including connecting your site to Google, adding titles and descriptions, and adding alt texts. It also includes a strategy guide to improve your rankings over the long haul.
That aside, there are the usual set of SEO features – you can customize URLs, and add/edit various other pieces of metadata.
Wix Stores’ SEO features won’t set the world alight, but they are perfectly fine. Like everything else about this eCommerce solution, they’re also extremely user-friendly.
I mentioned earlier that Wix doesn’t enjoy the reputation of being the most feature-packed website builder around. By contrast, however, I’d say the feature set on offer with Wix Stores is very impressive. Here are just a few that I Iike particularly much:
Plenty of eCommerce solutions out there limit you to selling physical products. With Wix Stores, you’re able to sell digital goods – whether they be images, audio files (like music and audiobooks) or eBooks – right from the start.
With Wix Stores, there’s no need to utilize a third-party email marketing website like Mailchimp. Instead, this feature is integrated courtesy of Wix Shoutout, which allows you to collect email addresses, market things like coupons, and send out three free emails per month to your subscribers.
Wix Stores give you all the payment methods you could hope for. Aside from basic credit card, you can accept payments via PayPal, Stripe, and offline methods like cash and cheque. You can also take Point of Sale payments from your iPhone, which is obviously extra-convenient.
If your customers don’t want the purchased product actually sent to their home, you can arrange for it to be delivered to a pick up point. This sounds tricky logistically, but Wix Stores’ Pick Up tool makes it simple.
Shipping physical products can be an absolute pain when you’re running an online store, but with Wix it’s a cinch. They have a real-time calculator that automatically calculates shipping costs, depending on whereabouts your customer is located. There’s also an option to track orders, which is very easy to implement.
Even if you live an active, on-the-go lifestyle, you can still manage your store with the Wix Mobile App (available on iOS and Android). It allows you to carry out all the major tasks you’d hope for, including adding and managing products, and talking to website visitors. It also has an excellent reputation online, with an average rating of 4.8/5 from over 1,500 reviews on the App Store.
This is an extremely cool little feature, which should help you to build up a returning customer base. Basically, it allows people who use your store to easily set up an account, which they can then keep logging into to see their past orders, save their information, and so on. This is a relatively new addition to the Wix Stores offering, but it’s also a highly welcome one.
Finally, if you still don’t feel that Wix Stores’ default offering is getting the job done – or you simply want an increased level of customization – you can delve into Wix Code. This nifty feature is another recent addition (it came out of beta in late 2017), which allows you to open up Wix’s APIs and do… well, almost anything you like! You can create database collections, build web applications, and generally customise your website in microscopic detail. If you were worried about your creativity being limited by using a drag-and-drop builder, then worry no more.
If you want even more functionality for your online store, you can head into the Wix App Market. Alongside all the usual web builder apps (which you can still use, obviously) – like 123 Form Builder and various social media plugins – there’s also a section that’s dedicated to apps for online stores.
There are dozens of additional apps here which are specifically designed to augment your online store. These include integration to sites like Amazon, eBay and Yelp, along with lots of other stuff to add even more payment methods, currency converters, apps and much more.
I must say that I really hadn’t expected Wix Stores to be particularly feature-rich. What I found was a very pleasant surprise, indeed.
Wix Stores is available on two price plans – eCommerce and VIP. The eCommerce plan is intended for small businesses, with the VIP plan being for larger stores.
From an eCommerce perspective, the first package basically just gives you all the features we’ve looked at so far (including unlimited product listings). In addition to that, you get unlimited bandwidth, 20GB of storage, a free domain and $75 in ad vouchers.
The eCommerce plan will cost you £10.10 per month. There’s no free option on this site (although there is a 14 day money-back guarantee), so, if you want to use Wix Stores, this is the cheapest option you’ve got.
Pleasingly, it is significantly cheaper than arguably Wix Stores’ biggest competitors, Shopify. Their rates start at £21.05/month, and they also charge a 2% fee for using external payment gateways.
Wix, by contrast, don’t charge any transaction fees at all, which is fantastic.
The VIP plan is almost exactly the same as eCommerce, except you receive 10 email campaigns per month instead of three, and you get a one-off “Professional Site Review”, where an expert takes a one-on-one look at your site and evaluates it.
The VIP plan costs £15.57/month. Again, that makes it much cheaper than Shopify’s corresponding plan for large businesses, which costs a hefty £57.33/month.
Overall, Wix Stores offers absolutely outstanding value for money.
Both Wix Stores packages receive Wix’s Premium Support.
It may be “premium” in name, however, but I wouldn’t describe it as premium in nature. There are only two ways to contact Wix’s support staff – by phone and by submitting a ticket.
As for the phone calls, Wix Stores only take them at certain times – between 5am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Often, these hours leave you with the good old-fashioned ticket-based system. Even though you’re paying for Premium Support, this only means that your ticket will be placed in the premium ticket queue for a supposedly faster reply. There is no information whatsoever about how long replies are supposed to take, though.
There isn’t currently a fully-functioning forum through which Wix employees respond to issues either.
That being said, there is a forum that’s currently in beta stage, and support agents do seem to be replying swiftly and helpfully so far. Fingers crossed that this becomes a proper feature soon, because Wix Stores desperately needs another direct support method.
Whilst their direct support options may be lacking, I must say that the Wix Help Center is fantastic. There are a huge number of articles here, which are laid out in a nice, easy-to-read manner. Step-by-step guides are included where necessary and are simple enough to follow.
Within the Help Center, there is a dedicated section for Wix Stores. Again, this covers a pleasingly wide range of topics, from the basics of setting up your store all the way to PoS sales. The search feature works well too, allowing you to swiftly find information about any issues you might have.