free ecommerce store builder

The Full Guide to Selecting a Free Ecommerce Store Builder

April 14, 2021

The global eCommerce industry has been witnessing a stellar period of growth in the last few years. By 2023-24, the world will experience a considerable shift in buyer behavior, with the global eCommerce market reaching $6.3 trillion in value.  That value is just a little shy of the combined GDP of France, Italy, and Canada.

Hence, every business should have an eCommerce strategy. The usual process of developing an eCommerce website from scratch can cost you $30,000 and more in recurring expenses. With the revenues still distant, this is not the most optimal way to proceed. 

Using a free eCommerce store builder can solve this problem of sub-optimal and recurring expenses from day one of operations.

Why Should You Choose a Free Ecommerce Store Builder?

Using a free eCommerce store builder can help you: 

1. Lower the Startup Cost and Mitigate the Capital Risks.

Assume that you invested $30,000 in developing an eCommerce website. And after deploying it, you notice that the design is not working. You want to drop some features. Doing any of this will mean that you have to pay extra to the development agency and the expense already billed for creating the designs and features goes down the drain. 

With a free eCommerce website platform, there is no capital at risk. You can virtually make all the changes you want at any point in time without thinking about the sunk costs.

2. Increase the Available Capital for Customer Acquisition, Offers, and Expansion.

Continue with the idea of having spent $30,000 on an eCommerce website. There is also the added expense of bundled and paid plug-ins. Some of them might have great returns but not each one of them will be equally valuable.

The other approach is to be agile. Start with a free website, and as you discover the need to add features, pay for the particular plug-ins you need. This frees the available capital that can offer discounts, reach a wider audience, and focus on hiring instead of paying for features you do not need.

3. Optimal Resource Allocation with the Freedom to Test and Pay. 

Every eCommerce business has inherently different needs. Using an agile approach means you are testing every feature and every design element and then scaling only the ones with the maximum probability of generating engagement or conversion.

By having a free eCommerce store at your disposal, you are not bounded by the obligation to pay for bundled themes, features, and services. You can test, grow, and pay for exactly what you need. 

Framework for Selecting a Free Ecommerce Store Builder

Since you do not have a price-point to compare between free eCommerce platforms, you can use this framework to make a more objective decision:

  1. Ease of Use: When you choose the free ecommerce store builder, can you intuitively navigate between the tools? You can Google a few things here and there, but you should not feel lost in the web of tools, features, and sub-optimally designed platforms. 
  2. Choice of Themes, Designs, and Features: The keyword here is ‘relevance.’ You should get all the required features like catalogue management tool, some in-built marketing features, and payment integration for free. You should be able to choose from a handful of basic but effective themes, layouts, and designs that provide a good user experience. 
  3. After Sales Support: If you are not a developer, you will face some hurdles in deploying the store. The free store builder must come with a reasonable degree of support via email, phone, or chat. As far as your queries are not going completely unheard, you can count on the platform.
  4. Customizability: The free eCommerce platform must not tie you up with just the basic features and design. Even if it is free, you should have the control of selecting what you need. Moreover, you should get access to custom options if you believe you need them. 
  5. Net Cost of Ownership: Your direct cost of development is mitigated. However, you might still have to pay for payment processing, SSL certificates, domain name registration, and other overheads. The store that offers most of these services in one free or freemium bundle would be ideal. 

The Best Free Ecommerce Store Builders in 2021

Here is a list of some of the best eCommerce store builders for 2021 to help you simplify your decision-making process:

1. Quick eSelling 

Quick eSelling is the fastest of the four for deploying your eCommerce website and app. The platform helps you in launching a functional eCommerce app in as little as 10 minutes. Moreover, you are given a free sub-domain to host a responsive and free eCommerce website loaded with features. 

You will not be incurring any setup fee and will have the option of uploading a product portfolio of up to 1000 products. When you upgrade, you will get a comprehensive set of features like custom themes, zero transaction fees, and intelligent features like email/SMS marketing, analytics, social media plug-ins, voice search, zonal tax, and a lot more. 

Good for: Quick and easy store deployment with all the essential features needed to launch an excellent store for free. The ROI will exponentially grow as you move to the premium plan.

2. WooCommerce

WooCommerce is an inherently free plug-in. But, you will need a domain name to use it. Hence, the overall cost of using even the free plug-in can come to approximately $10 per month. The store is quite easily scalable with the basic fee. You can use Stripe payment integration, Facebook integration, Google Analytics, Live Chat, and HubSpot CRM.

Good for: WooCommerce is relatively easy to use. You can get a large set of features for a nominal fee. 

3. FreeWebStore

FreeWebStore provides features like a free SSL certificate, social media integrations, stock management, product notes, Facebook Messenger Live Chat, and Google’s Shopping Feeds, Analytics, and Webmaster Tools. For an additional $37/month, you can get Instagram Gallery, FedEx & UPS Rates, Kashflow Accounting, and Google Workspace. 

Good for: The free store comes with a decent combination of features. The after-sales service is responsive and can help in deploying the store easily. 

4. Tribe (Yo-Kart)

Tribe has a relatively different business model – it does not charge for the software you use but has plans for services like integrations and support. You will need a server to host the website. Once you give their team the server details, they will install the software on your server, and then you can set up the front-end UI, payment processing, blogs, and import the product.

You will get 12 months of tech support for free and up to 10 hours of assistance from their team for marketing, migration, and other services every month.

Good for: If you have considerable experience using such tools, Tribe can help you launch a store virtually for free.

In Conclusion

A free store builder can help you lower the required investments from day one of your operations. It frees up capital that can be used in growing your store’s reach. So, using a free ecommerce store builder is a no-brainer. When you get to selecting a store-builder, make sure you evaluate it for its ease of use, availability of features & themes, customizability, support services, and net cost. If you select the right free store builder, the $30,000 saved initially can be used in acquiring more customers, which can be used to reinvest in the business and get on a virtuous cycle of growth.