Are you planning on starting your own online store for free? We have thoroughly reviewed and tested more than 20 of the leading free ecommerce website builders and have come up with the best free ecommerce platforms for any type and size of online store.
Our review includes our recommendations for the best free ecommerce platforms of three basic types, including:
- The best completely free ecommerce builders that do not have any setup or maintenance fees, and are suitable for small free ecommerce websites.
- The best ecommerce site builders come with a free trial so that you can test them for free and decide whether you want to commit to the paid ecommerce plans after the trial period is over.
- The best ecommerce software solutions will allow you to build and run an online store for free, but have some ongoing fees for hosting, domain name registration, and others.
Best Free Ecommerce Website Builders
- Square Online – this platform has a free plan allowing you to build your ecommerce site for selling unlimited products, use of Square Point of Sale, Instagram integration, and charges a transaction fee of 2.9% +30 cents per sale
- Weebly – the best ecommerce store solution which has a free plan with a domain with ads, 500MB storage, SSL security, SEO, and customer support
- Big Cartel – the best online store builder for crafters and artists with a free plan for selling up to 5 products, a custom domain, and shipment tracking, plus sales online and in person.
- Constant Contact – another successful online store builder with a free plan allowing for easy setup of a mobile responsive online store, free SSL security, and 24/7 customer support
- Wix – the easiest to use online store web builder, with a free plan, 500MB storage, 1GB bandwidth, and 24/7 customer support
- Shopify – one of the leading ecommerce platforms which offer a 14-day free trial so that you can set up and start running your online store for 2 weeks before deciding whether or not to commit to a premium plan
- BigCommerce – another top-rated ecommerce solution that comes with a 15-day free trial, allowing for sales of unlimited products, no transaction fees, and 5 payment gateways
- Squarespace – a popular ecommerce builder that offers a 14-day free trial, allowing for selling unlimited products and access to the professional themes and tools for setting up and running an online shop
- WooCommerce – this is an open-source ecommerce platform based on WordPress, which can be downloaded and used for free for unlimited products and zero transaction fees
- Magento – a top of the line free ecommerce page builder which is free to install and use to sell unlimited numbers of products with no transaction fees charged
- OpenCart – another free, open-source ecommerce builder, with unlimited products and no transaction fees
- PrestaShop – this online store building software is free to install and can be used for setting up a store and selling unlimited products without transaction fees
If you want to find out more about these completely free or almost free ecommerce platforms, then read on. Hopefully, we will be able to help you decide which ecommerce solution is the best option for you.
- Option 1: Best Free Ecommerce Website Builders
- Option 2: Best Ecommerce Website Builders With a Free Trial
- Option 3: Best Free Ecommerce Software
- Is It Worth Upgrading to a Paid Plan?
- Best Free Ecommerce Platforms: The Verdict
- Best Free Ecommerce Platforms: FAQs
Option 1: Best Free Ecommerce Website Builders
The first group of online retail site builders includes platforms and solutions which will allow you to build and start running an online store without monthly fees. Keep in mind that there can be certain limitations to the number of products, or storage space and bandwidth, or added transaction fees for these completely free ecommerce builders.
Here is an overview of the best 100% free ecommerce platforms.
1. Square Online
Great value for money
- Easy to set up and start an online store for free right away
- Includes the tools for running the store and managing your inventory and shipments
- Added marketing features to build your brand and promote your goods
- You can sell an unlimited number of products and use the seamless Square POS integration
- A transaction fee of 2.9% + 30c per sale
- Limited customization and payment options
- Not as scalable as other platforms, making it unsuitable for larger web store businesses
Square Online is one of the best free ecommerce site builders, suitable for beginners who are just starting their online business and are looking for an easy and inexpensive option.
Although the free plan does not require that you pay a monthly subscription fee for the online store, you will be charged a 2.9% transaction fee plus 30 cents for each sale you make.
Plus, with the free plan, you will have Square Online ads and branding on your online store.
But overall, Square Online is one of the options which offers the best value for money and is an excellent choice for non-tech savvy first-time online store owners.
Once your business starts growing, you can then choose to subscribe to a premium plan, which will provide you with access to numerous useful tools and features to grow your ecommerce business. The prices for the paid plans by Square Online start from $12 per month for a 1-year subscription and reach to $72 per month.
You can try out and start building your free online store with Square Online here.
Most generous free ecommerce plan
- The 100% Weebly free plan offers some of the most comprehensive and best free ecommerce features and tools on the market
- You can sell unlimited products (physical, digital products, and services) with the Weebly free plan
- The free plan also includes SSL, Shopping cart, Quick Shop, automatic tax and shipping calculator, SEO, inventory management, in-store pickup, Instagram feed, and more
- User-friendly interface, suitable for complete beginners
- The free online store will have a subdomain at Weebly, as well as ads
- The Weebly free plan is limited to 500MB of storage
- No multiple sales channels option for integrating your Weebly shop with social media platforms
Weebly is among the top-recommended and top-rated web store builders, preferred for its completely free plan, excellent free ecommerce instruments, and its ease of use.
Even its paid plans are among the most affordable of all web store builders in this range and start from just $6 per month when paid annually for the Personal plan and only $12 per month for the Professional plan.
By signing up for any of these reasonably priced membership plans by Weebly, you can get everything you need for your free store, including your own domain name, get rid of the Weebly ads from your store, and gain access to even more ecommerce tools and useful features such as abandoned cart recovery, shipping calculator, advanced insights, shipping label printing, PayPal payments and more.
Overall, Weebly is among the best options for entrepreneurs looking for the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to start selling online.
You can start building your free online store at Weebly or check out the paid plans here.
3. Big Cartel
Best for small businesses happy to stay small
- The best free ecommerce builder for hobby stores, creatives, and small sellers
- There is a completely free plan for selling up to 5 items
- There are no transaction fees for any of the payment methods on Big Cartel
- Customizable free themes
- Real-time stats, shipment tracking, promotions, and more free features
- The free plan is limited to only 5 products
- You will need to have some coding skills if you want to customize your online store
- Much more basic ecommerce tools compared to other ecommerce site builders
- Not suitable for large stores or those looking to grow their business rapidly
Big Cartel is an online ecommerce platform built for artists, which comes with a free plan, and is perfect for artists, creative hobbyists and crafters, and others looking for a free and easy way to sell their own work.
You can set up a store quickly and without spending a dollar with the easy-to-use Big Cartel builder, and start selling up to 5 different items for sale, with one photo per each.
The platform supports online, and in-person sales, and the free plan includes shipment tracking, promotion and discount tools, real-time statistics, sales tax autopilot, and more.
Even if you feel the need to expand your online store on Big Cartel and get your own domain name, you don’t have to worry about paying huge fees, as the ecommerce platform has some of the most reasonable prices of all, starting from $9.99 per month for selling up to 50 products, and up to $29.99 per month if you want to list and sell up to 500 products.
You can head to the Big Cartel free ecommerce site builder here.
4. Constant Contact
Best for selling on the side
- Very easy to set up a mobile-responsive online shop for free
- An AI-powered design that will help you start an online store by answering just a few questions
- There is a completely free plan
- It is a suitable platform for all kinds of online businesses
- The platform is available only for English language online stores
- There is a 3% transaction fee per sale
Constant Contact is better known for its email marketing plans and tools, but it also offers an ADI (artificial design intelligence) website builder, which you can use for free to create your own online store for free.
The Constant Contact builder will ask you some relevant questions about your website or online store and will build the most suitable one for you automatically.
This, though, makes it not so suitable for people who prefer to customize each detail and feature of their online shops.
The free plan allows for selling up to three products and charges a transaction fee for each sale.
In order to get the best of Constant Contact, it makes sense to invest in one of its premium plans and take advantage of the email marketing tools as well.
You can check out the prices and plan features offered by Constant Contact here.
Option 2: Best Ecommerce Website Builders with a Free Trial
Our next group of the best free ecommerce builder platforms includes those which don’t have a free plan but do come with a free trial. This is a superb way to get the feel of the builder and test its functionality for a couple of weeks before deciding whether to commit to its premium plans or not.
Here are the best online shop builders which offer a trial for free:
Best for creative freedom
- A free test plan
- An intuitive drag-and-drop editor for customizing the website features
- Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) ecommerce platform
- Superb customization and flexibility
- Wide variety of useful ecommerce tools, including abandoned cart recovery, multi-channel sales, product videos, and many more
- Once you set up and run the web-based shop, you cannot switch from one theme to another
- No integrated inventory management features
- Not suitable for businesses with large sales volumes
Wix is one of the best overall builders for websites, with an easy-to-use drag and drop editor, and over 100 professionally designed website templates, and added ecommerce functionality. Thanks to its nifty ADI technology, the builder will set up the best site for your needs with minimal effort on your side.
Thanks to its powerful web store building and management features, Wix is a widely preferred option by online entrepreneurs of all types and with all sales volumes.
You can try out the free plan to build your online shop and test the functionality of the drag and drop builder and its website features before deciding whether to pay for a premium plan.
The premium business plans start at $23 per month when paid annually, and include useful tools and features like a custom domain, multi-channel sales, with Facebook, Instagram, and others, abandoned cart recovery reminders, accept payments from 15+ gateways, zooming of the products, sales tax calculation, and access to the comprehensive App Store.
You can start using Wix for free here.
Related content: Best Drag and Drop Website Builders in 2021
Best all-around ecommerce platform
- One of the leading ecommerce platforms with the most powerful tools for boosting your sales and growing your online business
- Easy to use, set up a store and start selling within hours
- Used by millions of online retail businesses
- Hundreds of useful website feature apps in one of the biggest App Stores in the industry
- Reliable and versatile customer support
- SSL, custom domain and hosting included
- Accept payments from 100+ third party gateways and an in-house Shopify Payments option
- 14-day free testing trial
- There are transaction fees unless you use the in-house Shopify Payments gateway
- The cost of running your online shopping site can grow rapidly if you install and use too many paid apps
- It is not the cheapest option, so its membership plans may not be suitable for new businesses with limited budgets
Shopify is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms around the world and is the basis of millions of big and small online shops.
It is an online business solution with some of the best built-in ecommerce tools and features, and with access to hundreds of others in its massive App Store.
With the 14-day free trial and easy-to-use platform, you can build your online shop, customize it, and start selling immediately. Only if you are completely happy with the experience will you need to upgrade to a Shopify paid plan.
Even with the Basic plan on Shopify, you will receive a multitude of useful sales tools, including multiple channel sales, unlimited physical or digital products, efficient inventory management of up to 4 locations – online and physical, abandoned cart recovery, 133 currencies to choose from, staff accounts, gift cards and discount management, shipping discounts, access to timely and useful 24/7 customer support and more.
The prices for the paid plans offered by Shopify start from $29 per month and can reach $2,000 and more, depending on the size of your business.
Keep in mind that there are transaction fees for all credit cards and other payment methods except Shopify Payments and that the different in-house or third-party apps may bulk up your expenses over time as your business grows.
You can check out the leading ecommerce platform Shopify and give it a try for 14 days for free here.
Best for scaling businesses
- 15-day free trial
- A scalable ecommerce builder for fast-growing online stores and businesses
- You can sell unlimited numbers of products
- There are integrated multi-channel sales tools for selling across platforms and sales channels like Instagram or Facebook
- Some of the best and most powerful SEO tools and other sales features for inventory, sales, shipping, accounting, and marketing
- There are no transaction fees for the sales via the different accept payments
- The editor is not the most user-friendly one on the market
- It can be overkill for smaller online retailers
BigCommerce, as its name suggests, is for big businesses and for online merchants that plan to grow rapidly.
It is the most scalable platform, which includes all of the tools to build an ecommerce site, start selling online right away and manage and run your online business seamlessly.
BigCommerce offers a 15-day free trial, which will give you enough time to set up your shop and explore all of the amazing tools and options for boosting your sales, promoting your brand and products you sell online, and growing your business.
Its paid plans start from $29.95 per month and include unlimited accounts, products, and traffic, multi-channel sales on social media networks and on big marketplaces like Amazon or eBay, supported popular credit card and other payment gateways, professional reporting tools, multiple currency sales, real-time shipping calculators, one-page checkout, access to a helpful support team, and many more.
You can get a 10% discount if you sign up for an annual plan.
Check out the BigCommerce plans and prices, and start your free 15-day trial here.
Best for design
- Some of the most aesthetically pleasing online stores shopfront designs of all
- High-quality customization tools and features
- Premium website analytic tools and inventory management tools
- 14-day free trial
- It only supports three payment gateways – PayPal, Apple Pay, and Stripe for debit and credit card transfers
- There is not such a wide choice of apps and extensions as with other website building solutions
Just like Wix, Squarespace is not specifically dedicated to online stores, but it is an excellent website builder with ecommerce functionalities and with no doubt the most stunning templates of all online store builders on the market.
It is the best option for online merchants and businesses that consider design and brand imaging the most important feature of their online stores.
Thanks to its award-winning themes, you can create a unique online shop that will look like it was designed and created by the best professional developer and designer.
Apart from being beautiful, Squarespace offers some excellent ecommerce plans and tools, such as advanced shipping, gift card and donation, unlimited products, subscription sales, multi-channel sales on Instagram, labeling for limited availabilities, Google Ad credits, business email, SEO, analytics, and metrics and more.
The website builder offers a 14-day free trial, and after that, you can decide which plan to choose from. The prices for the ecommerce plans start from $18 per month when paid annually.
You can create your own beautifully designed digital store for free at Squarespace here.
Option 3: Best Free Ecommerce Software
Our last group of recommended ecommerce builders includes open-source software that is free to download and use by self-hosting users. But keep in mind that you will need to pay for hosting, security, and for a domain name with either of these best ecommerce software solutions.
Plus, the software does require some technical skills, unlike most of the online shop website builders from above, which come with intuitive interfaces and editors, suitable even for people with zero coding skills.
Read on to find out which the best free ecommerce website software is for 2021.
Best WordPress ecommerce plugin
- This is the most popular and highly rated ecommerce plugin for WordPress
- It is very customizable and scalable
- The software is open-source and free to install and use
- You can sell just about anything
- It comes with a useful setup wizard
- It only works with WordPress, so it is suitable for people who already have WordPress sites, or those familiar with using WordPress
- You will need to install and pay for additional extensions if you want to add more functionality and features to your web store
- You will have to pay for hosting, a domain, and SSL security separately
WooCommerce is the most popular and widely used ecommerce plugin for WordPress in the world.
It is an excellent option for people familiar with WordPress and for those who prefer self-hosting their online shops.
Our recommendation is to choose a hosting service that is dedicated explicitly to WooCommerce hostings, like the specialized WooCommerce hosting plans by Bluehost, which include one-click installation and other useful features for building and running an online shop.
WooCommerce is highly customizable, flexible, and scalable, but for added features such as multi-channel sales, coupon management, or abandoned cart recovery, you will need to install apps, most of which are paid.
You can try out WooCommerce for free right away here.
Best for enterprise-level businesses
- Open-source, completely free software
- Highly scalable and customizable to fit any ecommerce business and any number of customers
- Powerful ecommerce features and capacity to support thousands of payments per minute
- A preferred option by some of the leading brands in the world, like Nike and Olympus
- You will need tech and coding skills and experience to install and set up the builder
- There is no reliable help and support
- The e-commerce extensions for Magento can be quite expensive
Magento is one of the most popular open-source ecommerce software products, which was purchased by Adobe a few years ago. But unfortunately, the PHP-based ecommerce platform is the most difficult to use from all of the options on our list.
You will need to have some expert coding and tech skills or to hire a professional developer in order to set up a web-based store with Magento. This makes it the least suitable option for small stores on tight budgets and for newbies.
While it comes with excellent integrated ecommerce features, if you want to add additional tools and functionalities like multi-channel sales, you will need to pay for extensions.
On the bright side, there are thousands of free extensions available for Magento as well.
But although Magento is free, you will need to pay for hosting, a custom domain, and security separately as well. It is a suitable option for the largest retailers and businesses.
You can try out Magento here.
Best for mid-sized businesses
- Open-source and free to download, with free updates
- A less expensive option than Magento
- Thousands of ecommerce extensions and themes to choose from
- Lightweight software with high functionality
- You may require help from a developer to set up a digital store with OpenCart
- It has fewer integrated ecommerce features and tools, so you may need to pay for additional extensions
When it comes to open-source, free ecommerce website builder software, OpenCart lies somewhere in the middle between WooCommerce, which is excellent for new internet-based stores, and Magento, which is recommended for larger stores with large sales volumes and a lot of customers.
OpenCart is a lightweight and yet powerful online commerce building software, which is highly customizable and comes with thousands of optional apps to tweak its functionality and design.
But OpenCart is not as easy to learn and use as WooCommerce, so keep in mind that you may need the help of a professional developer if you decide to use OpenCart.
If you want to find out more about OpenCart or to download and use it, you can do so here.
Simplest ecommerce software
- This is the easiest of all free, open-source e-commerce builders for newbies
- Over 300 built-in ecommerce features
- Thousands of available apps and add-ons to customize and improve your store
- Not as rich in online commerce features as the other open-source ecommerce platforms
PrestaShop started as a tech school project from France 15 years ago, and today is among the most popular open-source ecommerce platforms around the globe.
It is free to download and use and is the easiest of all open-source ecommerce platforms to use.
Still, it does lack the vast majority of built-in functions and tools of the other open-source ecommerce software web builders.
Then again, if you are a newbie and want a free ecommerce builder, PrestaShop is a great option to pick.
You can check out PrestaShop and start working on your new online shop here.
Is It Worth Upgrading to a Paid Plan?
If you have decided to stick to using an ecommerce platform with a completely free plan, then you should know that there are some advantages of upgrading to a premium plan, especially once your business starts growing.
So, you should consider choosing a reasonably priced ecommerce website builder that allows for a free test or one which has a free plan for you to try.
Here is why you should consider upgrading to a paid plan:
Even if you are starting a brand new business and web-based store, creating a professional-looking and well-designed store is key to attracting and keeping customers, and hopefully for making sales.
With most free plans, there are added ads by the ecommerce platform, which will reduce the credibility of your site.
When you upgrade to a paid plan, the ads will be gone, you will get your own domain name, and the website will look much more professional and trustworthy.
Better sales tools
Not only will your store look more professional without the ads, but with a premium plan, you will gain access to more e-commerce tools and features, which will make it act in a more professional manner too. This means that your potential customers will find the shopping process easier, more secure, and with more useful features and payment options. Also, the sales tools for your needs will be more and will help you run your online store easier and boost your sales further.
Sell more products
Most of the free plans are limited when it comes to the number of products you can list and sell. With a paid plan, you can expand your product list, get more storage space, product image options, traffic, and more.
This will allow you to provide your customers with a broader choice and increase the chances of selling your products, and increasing the conversion rate and sales made with each visit to your website.
Get better support
Most ecommerce platforms offer more reliable and timely customer support to their paid customers than to free users.
Having access to a helpful support team at all times will allow you to keep your store up and running at all times and to quickly resolve any technical problems which may harm your online business.
So, paying for a subscription plan can help you with the maintenance of your web store and with your ecommerce business immensely, thanks to the access to round-the-clock help and support.
Increase payment methods
By upgrading to a paid plan, you will usually receive a wider option of payment gateways, which you can add and use on your online shop. This will give your potential customers a bigger choice to use the payment method they prefer, and thus will make it more likely that they will buy from you and return for more.
Don’t forget your hosting
When you move to a paid plan, you won’t need to worry about paying for the hosting separately.
If you want to self-host and use one of the open-source e-commerce platforms, make sure that you pick a hosting provider and plan which will ensure that your online shop is up and working at all times and that it doesn’t start slowing down or crashing as your traffic increases.
You should opt for a hosting provider that will ensure that your web-based store is safe and works perfectly at all times. Some of the best hosting companies are Bluehost for WooCommerce, Hostgator or SiteGround for Magento, and other reputable hosting providers with dedicated plans for these e-commerce platforms.
These reputable hosting companies are perfect for scaling your business and will grow along with your sales and store to accommodate more sales, products, and traffic.
How to Save on Paid Plans
You can save money by choosing the most suitable ecommerce site builder or platform for your specific needs and for your budget.
You can also save considerable sums of money with most providers by signing up for longer-term plans such as for 1, 2, or for more years.
With Shopify alone, you can save 10% of the overall price of the service if you pay for a year rather than paying every month.
Some of the platforms offer even more significant discounts to users who choose longer plans.
Best Free Ecommerce Platforms: The Verdict
Hopefully, we have helped you decide which free ecommerce website builder or solution is the best one for you.
We have done our best to provide you with objective e reviews of the main features, pros, and cons of each of these ecommerce platforms and software solutions.
As a whole, here is how each of these ecommerce platforms fares according to our thorough review:
12 best free ecommerce website builders are:
- Square Online – The best value for money, this ecommerce platform has a free plan allowing for selling unlimited products, use of Square POS, Instagram integration, and charges a transaction fee of 2.9% +30 cents per sale
- Weebly – The choice with the most sales features for its free plan, and the best solution which has a free plan with a domain with ads, 500MB storage, SSL security, SEO, and customer support
- Big Cartel – The best small web store builder for crafters and artists with a free plan for selling up to 5 products, custom domain, and shipment tracking, plus sales online and in person.
- Constant Contact – The best option for selling on the side, and excellent ecommerce builder with a free plan allowing for easy setup of a mobile responsive website, free SSL security, and 24/7 customer support
- Wix – The best option for creative freedom, Wix is the easiest to use internet store web builder, with a free plan, 500MB storage, 1GB bandwidth, and 24/7 customer support
- Shopify – The best overall ecommerce platform, one of the leading ecommerce platforms which have a 14-day free trial, so that you can set up and start running your store for 2 weeks before deciding whether or not to commit to a premium plan
- BigCommerce – The best option for a growing business and another top-rated ecommerce solution that comes with a 15-day free trial, allowing for sales of unlimited products, no transaction fees, and 5 payment gateways
- Squarespace – The best website builder for those who consider designing the number one priority. It is a popular ecommerce builder that offers a 14-day free trial, allowing for selling unlimited products and access to the professional themes and tools for setting up and running an online shop
- WooCommerce – This is the best and most popular open-source e-commerce WordPress plugin, which can be downloaded and used for free for unlimited products and zero transaction fees
- Magento – The best opens-source ecommerce software for large-size enterprises, a top of the line free ecommerce page builder which is free to install and use to sell unlimited numbers of products with no transaction fees charged
- OpenCart – The best open-source software for middle-sized internet stores, and another one of the best free, open-source e-commerce builder, with unlimited products and no transaction fees
- PrestaShop – The simplest open-source builder to use, this online shop building software is free to install and can be used for setting up a store and selling unlimited products without transaction fees
While looking for a completely free online shop builder and solution for a brand new online store is normal practice, setting up your web-based store for free can have its limitations and problems.
With some of these platforms, you can use the free plans or trials only to buy and customize your online store, but in order to run it, you will need to upgrade to a paid plan.
Some companies set limits on the number of products you can sell with their free plan. Big Cartel has a limit of up to 5 products for free users.
For larger-scale ecommerce projects and for businesses looking to grow rapidly, the best free options are Shopify and BigCommerce, which too have free trials but which are scalable and can grow with your business.
By paying for a premium plan, you will receive an ad-free digital store with its own custom domain and with multiple e-commerce tools and features to improve its functionality and help you boost your sales.
Plus, you will hopefully gain access to reliable and useful customer support, which will help keep your store running properly at all times.
So, it is best if you start with a free plan or a free trial of any of the ecommerce site builders and then pick the one which works for you best.
As for the free e-commerce software, make sure that you choose a suitable hosting company for your open-source e-commerce website if you want it to be easier to set up, manage, and maintain.
Best Free Ecommerce Platforms: FAQs
Can I build an online store for free?
Yes, you absolutely can, thanks to the numerous free website builders and to those platforms which offer free trials. You can also build a free store with open-source software, but you will need to pay for the hosting, security, and domain name.
What’s the best platform for building an online store?
Our research shows that Shopify is the most popular and highly recommended ecommerce platform on a global level.
It is the platform with the most built-in and the most available additional extensions for running any type of online business.
How long does it take to build an online store?
This depends on which website builder or platform you choose. Some of the best ecommerce building solutions on our list will literally build an online retail site for you based on Artificial Design Intelligence. Others are more complicated, and you may need to have some coding skills or hire a developer to help you, especially with Magento and most of the other open-source ecommerce software.