Ecommerce

The 10 Best Free Ecommerce Website Builders in 2023

Josep GarciaRobert Brandl

By Josep & Robert

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best free ecommerce website builder

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There is no shortage of options to create an online store these days. But doing it for free? Not actually that simple. The choice in platforms is limited, and on top of that, you have to do without some of the features reserved for paying users.

So we thought we’d investigate the best free ecommerce builders out there. In each paragraph below, you’ll read about their pros and cons, and our general experience with the platform.

Ready to start selling online without paying? Here we go:

Square Online

You probably know Square as a payment processing company – we’re sure you’ve seen its nifty mobile card readers at market stalls, or even at your local coffee shop. However, its acquisition of Weebly (#2 on our list) in 2018 also helped it gain a strong foothold in the world of website builders.

Using Weebly’s technology, it launched Square Online, an ecommerce website builder that’s designed to complement Square’s point-of-sale (POS) offerings – and also happens to provide a feature-packed free plan.

square online

What we like:

  • Easy to use: The backend is well-organized and easy to navigate. The simple editor is also intuitive to use.
  • Manage physical locations and online channels: If you have a brick-and-mortar store or market stall, features like POS integrations, centralized inventory management, and in-store pickup options can help you streamline the management of all your selling channels.
  • Sell anything: Apart from physical products, you can also sell digital files, services, event tickets, memberships, and even food and beverages (handy for restaurant orders!). Also, there’s no product limit with Square Online’s free plan – sell as much as you like!
  • Social integrations: You can connect your Square Online store with Instagram, Facebook, and Google to sell across multiple platforms.
  • Flexible payment options: Aside from Square’s own options (Square Pay and Cash App Pay), customers can pay using all major credit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and even Afterpay.

What we don’t like:

  • Limited customization: The website editor is very simplistic, with just a few options for customizing styles and layouts. With only a handful of themes available, it can be challenging to give your site a unique, memorable design that reflects your brand.
  • Transaction fees: You’ll be charged a 2.9% + 30¢ transaction fee on all online sales. Although this is standard for most payment processors, it’s surprising that you get charged the same rate even if you upgrade to the paid Plus plan. Transaction fees are also charged on in-person payments and on-demand deliveries, as well as in-house deliveries (deliveries carried out by your own staff).
  • Customer accounts: Sadly, the option of letting customers create logins is not available on the free plan.
  • Square branding displayed: You can only remove the Square branding (visible in the footer) on the paid plan. Your URL will also take the following format: yoursite.square.site

Try Square Online for free here: squareup.com

Weebly

This US-based website builder is one of the most popular free website builders as they power over 50 million websites. Weebly’s ecommerce features are excellent, for example, you get taxes automatically calculated, a powerful inventory management system and coupon codes.

Weebly Online Store Review

A few years ago Weebly was acquired by Square, the online payment giant, and they decided to offer (most of) Weebly’s slick ecommerce features in their free plans too – very generous.

What we like:

  • Unlimited products: With the free plan, you can list as many products as you wish.
  • SSL included: Accept payments safely.
  • Easy to use: Weebly is one of the easiest to use store builders out there. Its drag and drop editor makes it simple and intuitive.
  • Superb blog: If you’d like to create a blog to complement your online store, Weebly offers one of the best ones out there.
  • Scalability: Weebly’s ecommerce capabilities are top-notch, so if your online store grows, they’ll be able to accommodate it.

What we don’t like:

  • No offline payments: Unfortunately you won’t be able to offer any offline payment methods such as cash on delivery.
  • Not free outside of the US: We’ve heard reports from users outside of the US, who didn’t see the free ecommerce option.

Sign up free here: www.weebly.com

Webstarts

Known primarily for their website builder, Webstarts also lets you add an online store for free. It is, in general, a very generous free plan. This is probably why 4M users rely on it for their online presence.

webstarts create free online store

Now, creating the store is also a pretty smooth experience. If you’ve ever used Wix, the feeling is very similar, as you can move items easily on the page. You can also adapt them for mobile screens, as templates aren’t automatically responsive. The interface is a bit dated, but it’s not bad for a free offer.

What we like:

  • 1Gb of space: enough for a decent selection of items.
  • Sell everything: you can sell digital items and physical goods.
  • Generous free plan: sell 10 products and make up to 20 sales a day. More than most small stores will need.
  • Unintrusive advert: it’s in the footer and doesn’t look obnoxious.
  • Good payment options: Stripe, WePay, Authorize.Net and PayPal are supported.

What we don’t like:

  • No SKU numbers: but you can track your inventory.
  • No SEO options: title tags, descriptions & personalized URLs for products and categories are missing.

Sign up free here: www.webstarts.com

Mozello

Not to be mistaken with Mozilla, this small Latvian company isn’t a household name, but they have one feature that big companies don’t: multilingual websites for free.

mozello online store

The same applies with their online store offer. Free deal, multilingual options. You can sell up to 5 products, which isn’t too bad, but other providers offer more.

Unfortunately, working with their editor isn’t as fun or flexible as we’d like. For instance, you can’t add image galleries to all the pages.

What we like: 

  • 500MB of storage: good for small stores.
  • Multilingual option: you can sell in numerous languages.
  • Inventory tracking: good for replenishing stocks.
  • Product variant and options available: for example, shoes in different colors, sizes, materials, etc…
  • SSL: is included.

What we don’t like:

  • Basic system: your ecommerce will be pretty unsophisticated.
  • Physical goods only: you can’t sell digital products.
  • No credit card payments: Stripe only comes with premium plans.
  • Number of products: Unfortunately you can only sell up to 5 products for free.

Sign up free here: www.mozello.com

Freewebstore

Freewebstore displays the number of store owners who chose their product on their landing page. At the time of writing, it’s around half a million users. Their motto “eCommerce for everyone” seems to make sense for a lot of people.

freewebstore ecommerce free website builder

It’s certainly not a bad deal as you can sell an unlimited number of products for free, and SSL is included. The designs are ok, if a bit dated, but they are responsive for mobile phones and tablets.

What we like:

  • Free SSL.
  • Numerous online payment processors: Stripe, PayPal, Skrill, 2Checkout and more are included.
  • No transaction fees.
  • Unlimited number of products
  • Advanced features: import / export products via CSV and abandoned cart, amongst others – some of these may be available with paid plans only.

What we don’t like:

  • Dated and complex backend: it’s not exactly intuitive or fun to create an online store.
  • Physical goods only: can’t sell digital products online.

Sign up free here: www.freewebstore.com

Strikingly

Strikingly’s mission is to let you “build your brand” and “conquer the world”. Apart from that, there’s not much information about them online, except that their product is free and includes a web store.

Strikingly free ecommerce website builder

The main catch is that you can only sell one product for free. Also, they only let you create single-page layouts. This isn’t bad if you want a minimalist website, but not great for SEO. Let’s see more of their pros and cons below.

What we like:

  • Good designs: they are modern and responsive.
  • Numerous online payment processors: PayPal, Stripe, and offline payments are accepted.

What we don’t like:

  • Only sell one product: you have to pay to sell more.
  • Limited template choice: limited for the websites, and there are even fewer for ecommerces.
  • SEO-limitations: mostly due to the one-page template.

Sign up for a free account here: www.strikingly.com

Find out more in our Strikingly Review.

MyOnlineStore

A young Dutch provider in the ecommerce scene, MyOnlineStore has a small staff of 24 and around 40 000 stores to their name.

myonlinestore create a free ecommerce

We published our test store without problem, but the backend did mention that it was in the Beta stage at this point. Aside from that, the pros and cons are as follows:

What we like:

  • Good designs: modern and responsive.
  • Payment options: online and offline are supported. Even Bitcoins!
  • Multilingual system: to create your site in your preferred language.

What we don’t like:

  • No SSL included.
  • Limited template choice.
  • Expensive premium plans.
  • Still in Beta stage: maybe MyOnlineStore needs a bit of time to grow.

Ecwid

Something a little different here, as the strangely named Ecwid is actually an ecommerce plugin you can add to any existing site. It’s a very interesting proposition that has won nearly 1M people over.

Ecwid Review - The Best Way to Start Selling On Your Site?

The free option lets you sell 10 items, and the plugin is available in 50 languages. As you can read in our complete review, it’s a perfect mix between a dedicated ecommerce solution and a budget online store. Indeed, the premium prices are reasonable if you choose to upgrade from the free option.

What we like:

  • Powerful features: even the free option lets you set taxes, manage articles and create coupons, amongst others.
  • 20+ payment processors: PayPal, 2Checkout, Authorize.net and many more.
  • Intuitive and easy to use: the interface and user experience are top-notch.
  • SSL integration.
  • Sleek product presentation: carousels, galleries, you get tons of options to display your wares.

What we don’t like:

  • You need an existing website: you need to take that into account for your costs and ease of use.
  • SEO could be cleaner: for example, Ecwid adds product IDs to the URLs.

Sign up free here: www.ecwid.com

WooCommerce + WordPress with free hosting

You might already know that you can use WordPress for free, and the good news is that their most popular plugin for online stores is also gratis. WooCommerce is a fantastic tool that lets you do everything that big online stores can.

WooCommerce Review: Best eCommerce plugin for WordPress?

One thing to mention is that WordPress doesn’t come with free hosting, so you might still have to pay a bit. It is possible to find free hosting providers (like 000webhost), but don’t expect the best uptime and speeds from them.

You can read our complete review of WooCommerce here, but the main takeaways are that it’s incredibly powerful, but not exactly a cinch for beginners.

What we like:

  • Powerful features: there isn’t much you can’t do with WooCommerce.
  • Great for SEO: all the options you could want here too.
  • Works well for large stores.
  • SSL integration (if your web host allows it).
  • Sleek product presentation: carousels, galleries, you get tons of options to display your wares.

What we don’t like:

  • Very technical: WooCommerce isn’t exactly easy to set up.
  • Need to use WordPress: and be fairly proficient at it. That also means finding your own hosting provider.
  • No support: you only have the forums to trawl for information.
  • Can become costly: WordPress in general can be a money pit if you buy extra themes, plugins and developer time.

More information about WooCommerce

Overview of the best (free) store builders

ProviderAdsProduct limitSSLProduct types
Square OnlineLogo in footerUnlimitedIncludedDigital, physical & services
Weebly

(Review)

Logo in footerUnlimitedIncludedDigital & physical
MozelloLink in footer5 productsNot includedPhysical only
WebstartsLogo in footer10 productsIncludedDigital & physical
FreewebstoreOverlay bar in the headerUnlimitedIncludedPhysical only
StrikinglyOverlay in footer1 productNot includedPhysical only
MyOnlineStoreLink in the footer25 productsIncludedPhysical only
Ecwid

(Review)

No ad10 productsNot included, but you can integrate itPhysical and digital
WooCommerce

(Review)

Removable logo in footerUnlimitedNot included, but you can integrate itPhysical and digital

FAQ

What will I miss with a free online store?

Selling online can be difficult if people don’t trust your business, and the main problem here is with the domain name. Most free ecommerce platforms won’t get you a custom .com or a .net domain name. These always cost money. Instead, you’ll piggyback on the provider’s domain, so your store URL will be something like: www.yourname.freecommerceplatform.com.

Providers who offer free online stores also make up some of the cost by selling advertising space. Most of the time it’s just for their own platforms, but sometimes it’s for other services. In any case, adverts don’t look super professional.

Finally, you’re pretty likely to miss out on features. Most providers will reserve their best templates or options for paying users only. Likewise, SSL, or secure encryption is a must-have for ecommerce stores, and you won’t always get it for free.

Why are they offering free stores?

Good question. Most of the time, the platforms operate on a freemium model. Your basic site is free, but when you want to expand (add more products for example,) you have to pay. And you’re more likely to choose the easy option of paying a bit more with the same provider than moving your entire store to an entirely new host.

This is why we recommend you take into account the premium plans as well as the free ones. It might be highly beneficial in the long run. If you are serious about ecommerce, we’d suggest you check our store builder comparison tool to find the best solution for your project.

Is my SEO going to be OK with a free ecommerce builder?

In all likelihood, your SEO will suffer. Non-custom domain names are a big problem with search engines like Google.

We can’t guarantee that you won’t rank with a free solution for a very specific niche, but if you’re set on acquiring customers via Google, you’re better off paying for a custom domain at least.

There are a few places where you can get a free domain name. Freenom.com is one of them. The downside here is, though, that the available endings – tk, .ml, .ga – don’t exactly scream “trust me!” since they are relatively unusual.

> Is Shopify SEO-friendly?

Which paid online store builders are good?

If you are looking for a solid paid ecommerce platform, I would check these three:

Shopify Basic: most popular ecommerce platform worldwide, starts at $39/month (free trial). You can scale your online store almost without any limits.

Squarespace Business is a powerful ecommerce solution at a reasonable price $23/month. The downside is that Squarespace takes a cut of 2% unless you upgrade to a higher plan.

Wix Business Basic: at almost the same price as Shopify ($27/month) it’s a solid solution if you are looking for an easy to use ecommerce website builder.

Free ecommerce platforms to create online stores: conclusion

Free online stores should be considered for test runs. Maybe your sales will take off, and you’ll need to move to a better ecommerce website builder. Maybe you’ll need to add more products and expand.

In any case, they are not recommended for serious, long term online stores. The paid plans of Square Online, Weebly, Shopify and BigCommerce are much better solutions for ambitious ecommerce owners.

Why not read our Weebly ecommerce review, our Shopify review (which has some great free themes), our BigCommerce review, or our Shopify vs BigCommerce comparison next?!

Finally, also remember that just because you build it doesn’t mean they’ll come. If you are going to rely on organic search results to bring in customers, a paying online store solution with better SEO options is a must.

 

Find more information about how to start an online store with our free guide

 

If you have any questions, please leave us a message!

Josep Garcia

Content Manager

Hi there, I am Josep Garcia. Since 2014 I've been testing and writing about website builders and hosting services, and I share all my learnings at Tooltester.com. Today I am not an active staff member anymore, but I do hope you enjoyed this article. And if you have any questions, please leave me a comment below.

Robert Brandl

Founder and CEO

Hi, my name is Robert Brandl, and I am the founder of Tooltester. I used to work in a digital marketing agency where I managed website and email marketing projects. To optimize my client's campaigns, I always had to find the optimal web tools. Tooltester (founded in 2010) opens this knowledge to you, hopefully saving you endless hours of research. If you have any questions, please leave a comment. You can also find me on LinkedIn.

Learn more about us

We keep our content up to date

7 Nov 2022 - Removed Sellfy (free plan no longer available) and added Square Online
02 Nov 2021 - Added Sellfy
22 April 2021 - Mozello online store: now only up to 5 products with the free plan
07 May 2020 - Weebly doesn't seem to offer their free ecommerce package outside of the US

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