Free E-commerce Platforms for Startups
If you’re hoping to sell your products or services, having a good website is essential. Today, more people than ever are shopping online, meaning that fewer people are visiting actual shops. Last year, over 1.5 billion people bought things online. With this in mind, you need an e-commerce store to open your business to new customers. If you’re just starting up, there’s a good chance that your budget is limited. Thankfully, various e-commerce platforms are totally free. While some require an element of coding, others require no developer or development knowledge what so ever. In this article, we explore some of the free e-commerce platforms for startups, so you know what your options are.
If you’re looking for a free e-commerce platform, Big Cartel is one of the best options out there. While the company do have some paid plans, you can set up shop without spending a penny. This is ideal for new business owners with a limited budget. It’s worth noting that the free platform comes with fewer features than the paid ones, but that goes without saying. For instance, the free plan only allows you to list and sell 5 different products on your website. You’ll also need to install a third-party app if you want to sell digital items and you’ll have the subdomain ‘bigcartel’ after your web address. However, if you’re looking for something basic to get you started, Big Cartel’s free plan should suit you just fine. As your business grows, you can upgrade to a paid plan and enjoy the premium features.
The next pick on the list is Constant Contact. While this platform is slightly limited, you get a decent number of features for free. Like Big Cartel, Constant Contact has a range of paid plans but also a free one to get you started. The platform is a design-assisted website builder. This means that rather than choosing a template and editing your website, the platform creates the site for you. All you need to do is answer some questions about the type of website you want. While this makes the set-up process super easy, it can become frustrating if you want to edit anything. With this in mind, Constant Contact is best suited to non-designers who are happy to leave the design up to the platform.
With Constant Contact’s free plan, you can sell up to 3 physical or digital products. Unlike Big Cartel, you don’t need a third-party app to sell digital products, which is a bonus. Every product you sell comes with a 3% transaction fee, which is pretty standard for this type of platform. One area that Constant Contact excels in is email marketing. You can sync your website with the platform’s email marketing system at the click of a button. Amazingly, this is included in the free plan so can be enjoyed by everyone.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of WooCommerce. The platform powers over 37% of online stores and has been downloaded over 14,000,000 times – impressive, right?! Today, it’s the most popular open-source e-commerce platform out there. The platform can be synced with WordPress to turn your site into an e-commerce store. This makes it ideal for those that already have a WordPress website or blog.
Unsurprisingly, the more complex features of WooCommerce have a price tag attached. This is the same for support. With the platforms free plan, there’s almost nothing in terms of help and assistance. With this in mind, it’s best for users who have some understanding of how the platform works. However, the platform scales beautifully and is the first choice for many major e-commerce stores. If you’ve got experience with WordPress, it shouldn’t be too difficult to navigate your way around the free WooCommerce plan.
OpenCart is used by almost 600,000 e-commerce sites, with 4,800 of these ranking in the top 1 million sites on alexa.com. The platform boasts over 2,700 themes, giving you a wide choice in terms of appearance. Another great thing about this platform is the activate and welcoming community. While the platform was created in Hong Kong, the majority of users are based in the US and love to communicate via the site.
JigoShop is another WordPress platform and has a backend that most users will recognise. If you currently have a WordPress site, integrating JigoShop is simple. Better still, you’ll find it easy to navigate the platform with your existing WordPress knowledge. While it has a smaller selection of themes than OpenCart, there’s still a decent selection to choose from.
Unfortunately, access to community support is a paid extra with JigoShop, setting you back £40 per month. The platform also charges for its official themes, with most coming in at around £35. However, there are plenty of free options to choose from if you want to keep things free. A new version of the platform is currently in beta testing, so visit their website to stay in the loop.
So, there you have it – the best free e-commerce platforms for startups. Before choosing one, take a moment to weigh up the pros and cons of each. Think about what you want from your website and decide which of the platforms is best suited to your brand. While free plans are a great way to get started, they often lack the features needed for more established stores. Choosing a platform with paid plans can be sensible, as you can then upgrade as your business expands.