Last Updated May 27 2019
Is it possible to build a functional ecommerce website for free? Yes, it is. Or at least, it's possible to build a basic ecommerce website. In this article, I'm gonna give an overview of the top 4 ecommerce builders with free plans.
Each ecommerce builder I've included has a free plan but each also has its own unique trade-offs. For example, some include an ad on your website, some restrict features and most put a limit on the amount of products you can create. I've put all this information to make it easier for you to make an informed decision!
Ecwid has the best free plan of any ecommerce website builder. It lets you add up to 10 products and most importantly has no transaction fees and places no ads on your website. That's amazing. No other free ecommerce builder has that.
Ecwid is often used as a tool to embed online stores within an existing website (more info here). But for the free plan I'd suggest you use Ecwid's Starter Site feature which lets you host your online store on an Ecwid subdomain (example:
yoursite.ecwid.com). You can always upgrade this to a domain name later on with a paid plan.
The main way Ecwid limits you is with sales channels (example: you can't integrate with Facebook Shop) and features (example: no discount codes) but as you'll see in the rest of this article, these limitations are pretty typical among free ecommerce builders.
Big Cartel was designed to be simple and easy to use. Though as you can see in my review, I think the paid plans are too simple.
However Big Cartel offers an excellent free plan. It includes a good subdomain
yoursite.bigcartel.com and supports up to five products. Plus, Big Cartel doesn’t place ads on free stores and doesn’t charge transaction fees— two major benefits.
Big Cartel limits free plans by not giving access to some features. For example, free users miss out on inventory management and can only upload one image per product.
Weebly does not seem to advertise this, but they include ecommerce on free plans. The big limitations with Weebly's free ecommerce plans are that they include a 3% transaction fee. This transaction fee is in addition to the credit card processor fee that you'll need to pay to a payment provider— which means you're paying up to 6% in transaction fees.
That additional transaction fee is a big reason why I recommend Ecwid over Weebly for free plans.
Like many free ecommerce builders (other than Ecwid and Big Cartel), Weebly includes an ad that scrolls alongside the page— so it's a little intrusive. You'll only want to use Weebly if you can live this:
This ad scrolls along your website.
Strikingly is the best website for a certain type of website: one page websites. It has a unique sections-based editor that's perfect for it. You can have multiple pages but you will have to upgrade to a paid plan for that.
Strikingly's section-based editor makes one-page websites easy to build.
The biggest limitation on Strikingly's free plan is that you can only have a single product.
The free plan comes with 5GB of monthly bandwidth— which is more generous than most free ecommerce builders.
Strikingly includes an ad that appears on free websites once a visitor starts scrolling. It's a bit intrusive but if you can live with it, Strikingly's free plan is solid:
Strikingly includes an ad on free plans that shows once the visitor starts scrolling.
WooCommerce is totally free— the problem is that you'll need to find a free Wordpress host too. The thing to know about WooCommerce is that it isn’t a standalone website builder. Instead, it’s a plugin that can be added to an existing WordPress website to turn it into an ecommerce store.
Wordpress needs to be installed on a web host. So you'll need to find a good free web host— and there's really not any. This is the biggest reason WooCommerce isn't ideal for a free ecommerce website.
No Experience With Wordpress? — If you're familiar with Wordpress, WooCommerce an excellent choice— though I recommend other ecommerce builders if you're not familiar with Wordpress.
Jimdo lets you build an online store on free plans but it doesn't allow you to make any sales. For example, you can create inventory but can't set it as "in stock" and you can't add a payment method unless you upgrade to the Unlimited or Ecommerce plans.
Like Jimdo, Wix lets you add an online store to your free website but you need a paid plan in order to accept payments. So you really can't do ecommerce on it.
MyOnlineStore’s free plan is called MyOnlineStore GO. It supports up to 25 products and includes limited free customer support— which no other free ecommerce builder providers (they require you to upgrade to a paid plan for support).
Here's the thing though: you must log in to your MyOnlineStore account once every two weeks or your free store will go offline. What a bizarre and frustrating limitation. For this reason, I wouldn't recommend MyOnlineStore. Imageine missing sales because you forgot to login!
I have not had a chance to give Mozello a try yet— but their free plan lets you add up to 10 products and includes a solid free subdomain (
yoursite.mozello.com). It doesn't include an ad on free websites, but it's quite small.
I did a full roundup of this question.
This is a way to add a custom domain name to your free ecommerce builder— even if it doesn't allow it. It doesn't work perfectly but it gets you some of the way there.
Let's say you built a free website on Weebly at
You can actually register
yourgiftologist.com with a domain name provider such as Namecheap and set it to redirect to
Now when visitors type in
yourgiftologist.com they are automatically forwarded to
Now yourgiftologist.com redirects to yourgiftologist.weebly.com
This isn't a perfect solution— observant visitors will notice the URL change in their browser. This is more of a halfway solution— get's you enough to put a domain name on your business cards.