An online store is all about selling your products or services through a website or an application. A free online store is an online store that you can build without incurring any cost.
As per a study of eMarketer, B2C worldwide e-commerce sales is about to touch 2,356 billion US dollars in the year 2018.
As can be seen in the aforesaid chart, the online sales figures have only been increasing from year to year. Needless to say, the future belongs to the online sellers.
From a seller point of view, there are various advantages of selling online:
- Unlimited potential customers
- Lesser fixed costs (like store rent & salary)
- No need to keep inventory (marketplace model)
But, all that glitters is not gold. There are disadvantages of selling online as well:
- Difficult to get website visitors
- Cut-throat competition from bigger players like Amazon
Despite the disadvantages, online stores are here to stay & flourish. After all, they are one of the most cost-effective ways for small businesses, startups & brands to reach to millions of customers.
In fact, the world’s richest entrepreneur Jeff Bezos is the founder of one of the largest e-commerce stores Amazon.com. Sure, the potential for an online store is huge.
So, should you start with a free online store or a paid online store?
For beginners, I strongly recommend a free online store because that helps you to validate your products, ideas & market without spending a penny.
How do you choose a free online store? I prefer to focus on the core requirements like:
- Built-in templates
- Drag & drop builder
- Unlimited products
- Payment integration
- Custom add-ons
But, yes, as you start getting some traffic & sales, try to upgrade to a solid e-commerce platform like Shopify. Trust me, in long run, you won’t regret paying them.
Time to start diving & explore top 3 best free online store websites that allow listing of unlimited products.
TOP 3 FREE ONLINE STORE BUILDERS
Wix is my #1 choice when it comes to building a FREE online store with unlimited products. This is, undoubtedly, the fastest way you can build an online store (you don’t even need a domain name). All you have to do is sign up, select a template, customize as per your needs & install add-ons. Done, your website is live!
Following are the benefits of using Wix to build your eCommerce store:
- Free & unlimited products. Wix comes with a generous FREE plan that allows you to create an online store with unlimited products. However, the FREE plan comes with various other limitations like no custom domain name (you can't have your own domain name like https://www.youronlinestorename.com).
- Code-free. To use Wix, you need not be a coder. Their drag-and-drop tool makes it easy for anyone to start an online store simply by dragging & dropping various web elements like text, image, videos, etc. With drag-and-drop customizer, you can mold any part of your website to suit your specific needs.
- Customizable. You can change colors, fonts, layout or literally anything you want simply by editing your template. Its as easy as customizing the look of your physical store.
- Custom domain support. With Wix, you can connect your own custom domain name (https://www.youronlinestorename.com) to your online store. By default, Wix creates an online store as a sub-domain (https://youronlinestorename.wixsite.com). Note that with the free plan, you can’t go for your own domain name. Instead, you will have to settle for a Wix domain name. For branding reason, I recommend you to go with the custom domain.
- 500+ templates to choose. The Wix templates are beautiful, free & ready to be installed. And, yes, those are based on your niche or product category. They give look, structure & front-end features to your online store. With Wix, you can install & change a template with a click of a button.
- Unlimited visitors & bandwidth. With Wix, you don't need to worry about your server getting overloaded.
- SSL certificate. Wix automatically adds SSL certificate to your custom domain. Do you see a lock icon(on the left of website address) when you visit a good website? That's SSL. It helps you to secure your website & customers' sensitive data like credit card details.
- Built-in SEO & social sharing tools. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) helps an online store to get discovered by search engines like Google & Bing. Luckily, Wix supports on-page SEO elements natively. That means you can add or modify search engine keywords, meta title, meta descriptions, alt tags, etc. right on the product page. On the other hand, social sharing buttons will your customers share your products on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
- Payment integration. To make selling easy, Wix comes with in-built support for payment processors like PayPal. That means, all you need to do is create an account on PayPal connect it with Wix. Done! You're ready to accept online payments from your customers.
- Multichannel sales support. Willing to sell on Facebook or Instagram?. No worries, Wix supports that. The best part? You can control your Facebook or Instagram product features, images, stock level directly from Wix dashboard. Cool?
- Mobile friendly design. All Wix templates are responsive, that means your online store adapt itself & look good on any device including mobiles.
- Custom apps. Wix supports thousands of in-built & 3rd party apps that you can use to add custom features to your store. To take your store further up you may need some add-ons like bookings, sign up forms, live chat etc. Well, this is where their apps come into play. Install them at no extra cost. Example: If you want to accept bookings on your online store, you can install the Wix bookings app. Click here to view Wix apps.
- Custom email support. Want an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org? Then, Wix comes with personalized mailbox support. However, you need to pay extra for availing this feature.
- Order management. With Wix, you can manage all your online orders with breeze. Generating shipping labels, packing slips & invoice is all taken care off by default.
- Advanced design features. Maybe you want a hero image on your homepage? Or, maybe you want product pages with video backgrounds? Those're possible with Wix.
- Custom checkout cart. Maybe you want to add related products row on the checkout page? Or may be you want to upsell or downsell there? Come on, Wix has got you covered.
- Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence). Too lazy to create your own online store? Then, Wix ADI is for you. Using it, you can get a brand new online store ready by simply answering a few questions.
- Advanced shipping & payment rules. I'll talk about these later in this post.
- Dropshipping support. Wix integrates with one of the best dropshipping software called Modalyst. Using Modalyst, you can find best products & suppliers for dropshipping.
- Live chat support. Using Wix, you can chat with your online store visitors on real-time basis.
So, let's get started. Here's how you can create a Wix online store:
Step 1: Go to Wix.com & create an account. It's simple.
Step 2: Click on the "Create a new site" button on the top right corner.
Step 3: Let Wix know the type of website you're trying to create. Of course, you need to choose "Online Store".
Based on your choice, Wix will recommend you appropriate templates.
Step 4: Now, you need to choose if you want to use Wix ADI to build your website or you want to create your website manually. I recommend you to go with the manual process.
Click on "Choose a template" button.
Step 5: Here comes the template page. Pick a template of your choice. You can also filter the templates based on your category of business like fashion, jewellery, art, etc.
Hover over the templates to view or click on "edit" to install them.
Step 6: Welcome to the Wix editor. From here, you can manage the look & features of your store.
Step 7: Go to "Settings" link available at the top of the Wix editor & then click on "Custom domain" link. You can skip this step if you're comfortable with Wix default FREE domain (https://youronlinestorename.wixsite.com)
Click on "Save & continue" & you'll be directed to a new popup where you've to click on "Connect a domain you already own" (if you've already purchased a domain) or "Get a new domain name" (if you're yet to purchase a domain name). I would recommend you to get a domain name from a registrar like NameCheap so that your domain name doesn't get locked in Wix (in case you would like to switch from Wix to some other website builder).
Now, follow this tutorial to connect the custom domain with Wix. Don't panic. It's easy. Just follow the steps. In case of an issue, you can always get in touch with the Wix support (Pro tip: They're very active on Twitter).
Step 8: Click on "My Store" button available on the left on the Wix editor. There you'll find options to manage your store elements like products, shipping, payment etc.
Step 9. Now, click on "Add products" button. There're two ways to add products on Wix. One by adding it manually, the other way by adding a .csv file. The .csv file approach is only recommended if you a large number of products. Therefore, to keep this tutorial simple, let's focus on adding products manually.
After entering all product information, click on "Save" button.
Step 10: Now, go back to Wix editor & then click on "Store Pages" link to customize cart/checkout page or product page or thank you page. This step is optional.
Step 11: Click on "Accept Payment" link on the Wix editor to integrate your PayPal details. Note that you need to upgrade to a paid plan before you start accepting payment from customers.
Step 12: To create shipping rules, go to "My online store" (Wix Editor) > "Go to Dashboard" > "Settings" & then click on "Store shipping". There you can add a variety of shipping rules as per your needs like:
- Based on location
- Type of shipping (Free, flat rate or %)
- Delivery options (standard shipping, express shipping, etc.)
Note, you need to upgrade to a paid plan before you set up your shipping rules. Once you are ready, hit the publish button to make your store live & start earning.
That's it. You've your brand new online store ready!
Here's a video to help you better understand the Wix setup process:
Wix eCommerce pricing plans are as follows:
- FREE: Unlimited products (Cannot accept online payments)
- Business basic: $ 23 a month (annual payment)
- Business unlimited : $ 27 a month (annual payment)
- Business VIP: $ 49 a month (annual payment)
All Wix eCommerce paid plans come with the following features:
- No commission (Unlike Shopify, Wix doesn't deduct a commission on sales amount)
- Unlimited bandwidth (No limit on number of visitors)
- Custom domain (FREE for 1 year if you buy the domain from Wix)
- No Wix ads (the FREE plan comes with Wix ads)
- $ 300 ad vouchers
- Customer support
- File storage space
Additionally, the Business unlimited plan has the following additional features over Business basic plan:
- 35 GB file storage space
- Logo service
- Social media logos
The Business VIP plan, on the other hand, has the following additional features over the Business unlimited plan:
- 50 GB file storage space
- Priority & VIP support
What I Like About Wix eCommerce
- Robust solution. Wix is one of the best eCommerce softwares out there. They're really powerful & reliable.
- Flexibility. With Wix, you can mold your store the way you want.
- Generous FREE plan
- Unlimited products
- Prompt customer support
- SEO & social sharing options
- Custom shipping rules
- Good-looking templates
- FREE custom domain for 1 year if you buy a premium plan
Wix Online Store Examples
Here're some real-life examples of Wix Stores:
What Are Actual Users Saying (Social Proof)
Let's dig deeper & find out what actual Wix users say about Wix:
Wix has been rated 4.3 (out of 5) by more than 4,731 actual store owners. Not bad. If you don't know then - Capterra is one of the most trusted 3rd party review sites. To read these reviews, click here.
What I Don't Like About Wix eCommerce
However, I don't like the following about Wix eCommerce:
- Cumbersome admin UI. I find Shopify's dashboard far easier to use than Wix's.
- Yearly plans are way cheaper than monthly plans
- Some premium apps like Wix bookings cost extra
Though (overall) not as powerful as Wix, FreeWebStore does deliver what it promises – an absolutely free online store with unlimited products.
With more than half a million customers, you can rest assured that your store is in safe hands.
Like Wix, you can choose from a number of templates to get started.
What I love about FreeWebStore is that it has got an array of built-in features related to stock management like stock alerts, restock reminder, order emails, order tracking etc.
And, yes, they do seamlessly integrate with major payment gateways.
If you are looking for an online store builder with strong product & stock management features then FreeWebStore should be your choice.
Please note that with their free plan you can’t create your own custom pages. For that, you need to upgrade to their premium plan.
I checked their social profile & found it to be impressive.
Click here to start creating your online website with FreeWebStore
Basically, SquareUp is into providing financial services to its merchant clients. Nevertheless, as an add-on, it offers an absolutely free website store (gold mine!).
To get started you will need to pick up a template or theme, customize your site design & set up your products.
Unlike other builders, SquareUp doesn’t complicate things with a ton of features. If you simply need to sell your stuff online & nothing more then SquareUp should be your first choice.
However on the downside, if you would want more like apps then SquareUp may disappoint you. It is simply not built to support advanced e-commerce features like other platforms do.
Needless to say, with SquareUp online store, you will also be getting SquareUp secured payment gateway pre-integrated.
If you already have got a domain name then you can use the same to point to your SquareUp store. Learn here how.
I checked up the social profile of SquareUp & found it to be impressive.
Click here to start building an e-commerce store with SquareUp
So, the verdict is out.
If you need a beautiful free online store with overall great features then you should consider Wix.
For robust product & stock related features, FreeWebStore should be your choice.
If you need a simple e-commerce store with only basic features then SquareUp is perfect.
And, if you are serious about building your brand online then as soon as you start getting some traction, please consider using a more professional e-commerce platform like Shopify.
What do you think of the aforesaid tools? Which one would you choose for your new e-commerce venture? Comment below.