Let’s Be Real: Top 4 Website Builders for Entrepreneurs Launching a Retail Site
Getting ready to sell your products online? Launching your site through the best eCommerce website builder will let you create an excellent online store, and will work as a platform to manage all your different sales, inventory and orders. But, how can you tell which one is the best? Where do you start?
I get these questions often. Based on research and actual experience building websites for previous clients, I have put together my top 4 recommended eCommerce website builders.
Rated 3.5 Stars
With a Weebly eCommerce site, you’ll be able to use its striking website builder functions. Weebly also offers bulk product imports and stock management tools without the use of a third-party app. Choosing a template is often one of the biggest choices you have to make when building your website, fortunately, with Weebly, you’re not indebted to one template forever. It uses a grid-based design system, which you can use to drag-and-drop different elements and tools onto your website. The way your website looks in the editor, is the way that it will look to visitors once you’ve published your site. This means you can freely design then publish.
Unfortunately, with Weebly, there’s no way to edit how your site looks on mobile devices. The templates Weebly provides do scale and adapt to mobile devices, but this doesn’t mean that the design decisions you take for your desktop site will carry over onto your mobile site. While the templates are appealing, there aren’t as many to choose from. This will delay the speed with which some people are able to get online, mainly if you want to do as little editing as possible. You can import custom templates, but at an additional cost.
Weebly’s eCommerce plans are also on the cheaper side, with free plans as well as upgraded plans starting as low as $12. So, it’s likely to be a better option for smaller online entrepreneurs. It doesn’t support multiple sales channels, and you’ll incur a 3% transaction fee. Weebly also doesn’t give you the ability to customize your checkout, nor does it allow guest check out options. All of these factors will hold you back in your quest for online sales. To sum it up, this platform is professional and easy to understand. Weebly is a very good website builder but it doesn’t meet the requirements necessary to run a larger retail site.
Rated 4 Stars
Squarespace is known to give you an appealing website, but was not created as an eCommerce platform. However, business owners have found Squarespace to be a very proficient eCommerce site builder. With advanced product and inventory management features, this platform allows you to easily stock, manage and sell physical and digital products. This makes Squarespace a great choice for any business looking to sell a variety of products. It has no shortage of neat features to make your online store look great. With features like a password-protected member’s area, guest login and blogging, Squarespace provides you with the services necessary for running an online eCommerce business.
Squarespace doesn’t have the best sales analytic tools on the market, but if that isn’t a requirement for you, there are outside analytics sites that can be utilized. The platform does limit your payment and accounting options to only two third-party companies, which is not best if your business if you’re already up-and-running. If you are looking for the ability to take your retail site internationally, Squarespace may not be the best choice for you, due to tricky language settings and shipping choices. Squarespace offers four pricing plans, split into two categories: Websites and Online Stores. If you’re looking at Squarespace as an eCommerce platform, you should ignore the cheaper Website plans and focus on the Online Stores plans.
Squarespace is good for eCommerce sites. You get access to built-in accounting tools, a wide range of payment processing options, and some of the best online store templates. Squarespace won’t be the best option for big online stores but if you need a high-quality online store, Squarespace just might be perfect for your business.
Rated 4 Stars
Shopify can easily be listed as the best eCommerce website builder for large online stores. The platform has excelled in all the areas required for online retail stores. It combines top class sales channel integration with a simple and intuitive UI, and it offers great reporting tools to help optimize your sales. If you run a bricks-and-mortar store, you can manage all your sales, inventory and accounting through one platform as well. Shopify offers many different website templates, all of which are mobile optimized and can be edited and changed to your liking with remarkable depth. Shopify stands out for its eCommerce functionality. It's a simple platform that lets you create a great looking online store from scratch. Online stores need a lot of features and Shopify offers storefront features, a range of product pages, a shopping cart, digital transactions and more.
With three pricing plans, Shopify Basic, Shopify, and Shopify Advanced, the platform caters to all business levels, from the start-up to the multi-million-dollar revenues. The basic plan is great for a small store operated by just one or two people. It only offers two staff accounts, and it doesn't support some of the more advanced features including gift cards and hardware support. The main plan supports five account holders and offers a full set of features, making it particularly suitable for a large website. Finally, the advanced plan supports 15 accounts and includes a few additional features, though perhaps not enough to make its significantly higher price tag appealing to anyone but the biggest stores.
Shopify is probably the best eCommerce platform when it comes to functionality, design, features and store management. With a large amount of different website templates, all of which are mobile optimized Shopify is definitely one of the top website builders.
Rated 4.5 Stars
Wix is the perfect website builder for online stores. Wix makes creating an online shop incredibly easy, even for first timers, and the results will look slick and professional. Wix is constantly working hard to improve its eCommerce functionality and I personally love all the improvements they have made. Adding a host of new features, including its new Ascend all-in-one business solution and mass product imports. Ascend allows you to centrally control and automate a range of business functions, from promoting your business with marketing emails to giving customers help and support with chatbots. You can also easily create multilingual sites with Wix, ideal for users in countries with one or more major languages. Which makes Wix a perfect option for international businesses.
When you sign up for an eCommerce site, you get the same excellent design options as the other website builders, as well as great help and support options. Wix offers over 86 eCommerce-specific templates. All of this gives online entrepreneurs like yourself the reporting and analysis tools necessary to grow your business. Wix also allows users to play with the website code. It also offers abandoned cart recovery, which has been useful for when customers don’t finish their orders. You can rely on its easy drag-and-drop template system, or its ADI system, which creates a template tailored to your needs. You’ll also be able to maintain and edit the website easily through the builder’s platform after you’ve published it.
Once you’ve created the website, Wix offers broad knowledge base to help you navigate around any issues you encounter. Wix offers three eCommerce-specific pricing plans: Business Basic, Business Unlimited, and Business VIP. There is no free eCommerce plan but Wix doesn’t charge any commission for sales that you make on its platform. Not many eCommerce platforms offer commission-free sales, so this is a big plus. If you really want to make a success of your online dealings, avoid the free plan.
Although Shopify is a premier eCommerce platform that works just as well for small eCommerce websites as it does with enormous eCommerce empires, Shopify is pricey. Wix is one of the markets most leading and affordable website builders. Wix has a built-in eCommerce platform, allowing you to list products and start selling quickly.
So these are the best programs for creating an eCommerce site, but what’s next after making this decision? Check out my very detailed 30-Day Guide: Online Retail Entrepreneurship guaranteed to help you launch your business in 30 days!
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