How To Choose The Best Ecommerce Website Builder For Beginners

This post originally appeared at How To Choose The Best Ecommerce Website Builder For Beginners via ShivarWeb

How To Choose The Best Ecommerce Website Builder For Beginners

The Internet has changed dramatically in the past 10 years for anyone who wants to sell a product online. In many ways, it’s easier than ever for beginners to sell online. However, the sheer world of options makes choosing an ecommerce website builder difficult in different ways.

Even though selling online should be approachable, it can be daunting. Here’s how to choose the best ecommerce website builder for beginners so that you can get started for less money and fewer barriers, but also build with confidence.

Summary – Best Ecommerce Website Builder for Beginners

Based on my experience working with many website builders, there are a few that are a good fit for most beginners.

  • Simple Ecommerce
  • Value Pricing
  • Focus on Simplicity
  • Small Site Appeal

Weebly

Weebly
View Plans
  • Built-in Features
  • Drag + Drop Design
  • Focus on Usability
  • Broad Appeal

Wix

Wix
View Plans
  • Affordable Option
  • Future-proofing
  • Focus on Versatility
  • Budget Appeal

NameCheap

NameCheap
View Plans

Focused on a long-term project?

Shopify is the most robust ecommerce platform on the Internet. It has a learning curve, but has the most comprehensive setup for a full-featured online store (see review). View plans.

Who Needs a Website Builder?

If you have the technical know-how, the website building process might not seem so daunting. For those of us who aren’t web developers, fortunately, there’s a workable solution: a website builder. With the right website building program, you don’t have to understand complex web development principles or know coding languages.  

Most e-commerce site builders are as simple as drag-and-drop. A good website builder should be easy to use, even for a complete newbie who only knows how to check email and post pictures on Facebook. 

The very best site builders don’t require you to start from scratch. By providing you with a set of features and templates that you can customize to meet your needs, these website builders reduce the amount of work you have to do to get your website running. 

These templates and features typically already incorporate best practices for web design, giving you a head start in building a professional-grade website for your e-commerce business.

The tradeoff you should be thinking of is whether using a website builder will be better than hiring a professional web designer or developer. For most small businesses and beginners, the decision is a no-brainer. A web developer will not do much that a site builder cannot do. 

Sure, a pro developer will do the job, but you might end up spending a lot for a small return on investment. Meanwhile, a website builder gets the job done just as well for only a fraction of the price.

They are also not incompatible. Many developers have expertise to build on top of an existing platform. That’s one consideration to think about – whether you want to be able to grow your features as your revenue and experiences increases.

Getting started with many website builders is very fast and easy, and you can get your website up and running in almost no time. 

Primary Considerations: How to Choose the Best E-Commerce Website Builder

You will need to ask yourself some questions to decide which website builder for beginners is best for your needs. 

What’s Your Budget?

A budget should be the very first thing on your list of considerations. Knowing what you can afford helps you narrow down your list of options. 

The trick is to think about all the costs that you’ll incur while building your website. There are things you need to think about outside of making the website itself, such as registering the site’s domain name and arranging for hosting. Most website builders bundle domain name, hosting & software into a single bundle. But it’s still useful to compare apples to oranges.

You’ll also need to invest money in content for your website, including images and sales copy. If you’re planning to do content marketing, you’ll have to invest in developing high-quality content. All of these costs add up, and you should consider them before you pick a website builder.

Most website builders have a free tier or at least a free trial. The paid levels typically range from $5 to about $50 a month for a plan that offers the most useful features for an e-commerce site.

If you have a tight budget, you can save a lot of money by looking for subscription plans that include most of the things you’ll need for your website, such as domain registration, business email address, hosting, and SEO tools. Again, most website builders bundle all these things. But not all do. It’s important to define what you need before exploring what they offer.

Do You Need Hosting As Part Of The Plan?

Speaking of hosting, it is yet another essential consideration you should make when picking a website builder. Some of these services include hosting as part of the package, while others only include a website builder and leave you to handle the hosting arrangement yourself.

Hosting is more vital than you might think, as the right host can make your business and the wrong one can break it. 

Here are some reasons why choosing the right host is paramount:

  • Customers will leave your site if it is slow. Fortunately or unfortunately, our rapidly contracting attention spans and addiction to instant gratification means a significant percentage of your visitors will likely leave your website if it doesn’t load in a few seconds. It’s not just about your customers, though. Google also uses the loading speed of your site as a factor in ranking it, meaning your ranking on search results will be adversely affected. A good host takes care of this by having the capacity to handle traffic spikes that might affect performance.
  • Your site needs proper security. Security is essential for every business, but it is especially for e-commerce. With the prospect of making payments on your website and putting their data at risk, customers will want to know that your website is secure. Many browsers will identify your site as ‘not secure’ if it doesn’t have HTTPS encryption and an SSL certificate. A good web host will include security and encryption as part of its package. You will likely lose customers if you don’t have this level of protection. 
  • A good host minimizes downtime for your site. You will lose sales if your site goes offline for even a few seconds. If your site has a reputation for frequently being down, you could lose both current and prospective customers. While scheduled maintenance is routine for every web host, the best hosts will minimize unplanned downtime, ensuring your site is up more than 99.99% of the time. Furthermore, the host will warn you about maintenance, so you can let your customers know beforehand. 

In summary, make sure to find a host that keeps up with your expected traffic, ensures security for your site, complies with PCI (Payment Card Industry) standards, and can handle your files. They should also offer backups of your website, and do all this for a reasonable price. 

Some hosting services also offer website builders, and some builders also provide hosting. You will need to decide if the convenience of an all-in-one package is worth any extra costs. 

Secondary Considerations: What Are Your Priorities and Needs?

Before you pick a website builder, you should have a good idea of what you want your website to look like and what you need it to do. You will then have a more definite sense of your priorities, and your search for the best e-commerce website builder for beginners will be more straightforward. 

Here are some significant considerations you should make when trying to figure out your needs and priorities:

  • Your level of experience when it comes to design. Most website builders have beginners in mind, and they don’t require you to have any experience with design or coding. However, some will be easier to work with than others, and some may require you to code if you want to customize your site’s look. If you’re starting from absolute scratch, look for a website builder with ready templates and drag-and-drop features.
  • The amount of flexibility you want. If you need to have options to customize your design, then you should pick a website builder with a large variety of templates. You will also want flexible editing features that allow you to customize the design according to your needs.
  • Will the website include a store? If your website will sell things directly online, which is highly likely if you’re building an e-commerce website, then the website builder should allow you to add checkout functionality and a shopping cart. The design should also encourage users to make purchases with features like browsing history, product recommendations, and SEO functions. 
  • The type of media you will include. You need to ensure that your website builder can handle different media types, including videos, images, animations, and other elements such as maps.    

Another thing that should factor into your choice is whether the website builder makes mobile-friendly websites. Websites without mobile-responsive templates should be a deal-breaker in today’s mobile-centric marketplace. 

General Tips: Other Things to Consider When Finding the Best E-Commerce Site Builder for Beginners

Here are some other things to consider when choosing a site builder. 

How Many Themes Are Offered By The Website Builder?

As you build your site with a website builder, you will most likely start with the website builder’s ready-made themes. You will select one of them and then customize it to get your site up quickly.

The last thing you want is a website builder that limits your customization options to a few themes and does not allow you to customize the look or add images or graphics. 

To avoid this issue, you can go for a website builder that not only allows you to customize themes, but also offers a large number and variety of themes. 

Is The Website Builder User Friendly?

Website builders will be much easier than building the site yourself from scratch. 

However, some of them will be easier to use than others. Website builders that offer drag-and-drop options, for example, make the web building process much more accessible than those that require element placement by other means. 

You also want an editing page with an intuitive and self-explanatory layout so that you’re not spending more time learning to use the builder than actually building a website. 

Some builders offer free trials so that you can use them to see how intuitive they are. If there is no trial, you’ll just have to do your research about a website builder’s reputation for user-friendliness from online reviews. 

However, this step is necessary because it will protect you from getting a builder with a steep learning curve that isn’t beginner-friendly. 

Does The Website Builder Have Marketing & SEO Features?

Having a good-looking website doesn’t mean much unless people can find it online. For that, you need to implement some SEO (Search Engine Optimization) best practices. 

These include giving your website a meta-description, including the right metadata for search engines to discover your site and index it. You’ll also need to adjust image sizes and include tags and optimize load times. 

A good website builder should make the task of optimizing your e-commerce site as simple as possible.

The best website builders will give you an easy way to update your site’s metadata and provide search engines with a site map. There is a lot more to effective SEO than this, and a website builder cannot do everything for you. However, a good one will give you a massive head start by handling these basic SEO tasks automatically. 

Does The Website Builder Provide Valuable Support To Users?

Even if you find a user-friendly website builder, you will still need to take some time to learn how to use it. The learning curve can be higher if you go for a website builder with lots of features. 

Ensure that the company you choose has lots of educational resources to make the learning curve easier to negotiate. These features include a knowledge base, informative tutorials, and a large and supportive community of active users who can help when you’re feeling stuck.

Does The Website Builder Have Good Customer Service And A Good Reputation?

Responsive and helpful customer service reps can make using the website builder so much easier than if you’re just left to figure everything out on your own. 

24/7 customer service will give you peace of mind from knowing that you can get instant help whenever you need it. This service is especially vital if you have a builder that also includes hosting services. 

Again, there are no shortcuts here. The best way to discover the reputation of a website builder is from online reviews from other business owners. By seeing what others think of the service, you can get a sense of whether it’s the right choice.

Next Steps

If you are selling online, you will need an e-commerce website. The benefits of having a site instead of only selling on third-party sites far outweigh the costs. 

Based on my experience working with many website builders, there are a few that are a good fit for most beginners.

  • Simple Ecommerce
  • Value Pricing
  • Focus on Simplicity
  • Small Site Appeal

Weebly

Weebly
View Plans
  • Built-in Features
  • Drag + Drop Design
  • Focus on Usability
  • Broad Appeal

Wix

Wix
View Plans
  • Affordable Option
  • Future-proofing
  • Focus on Versatility
  • Budget Appeal

NameCheap

NameCheap
View Plans

Focused on a long-term project?

Shopify is the most robust ecommerce platform on the Internet. It has a learning curve, but has the most comprehensive setup for a full-featured online store (see review). View plans.

However, choosing the right website builder to build your site can make it much more straightforward and save you both time and money. By following the tips above, you should be able to figure out how to choose the best e-commerce website builder for beginners.

“”

Best Website Builder For Selling Products

This post originally appeared at Best Website Builder For Selling Products via ShivarWeb

Best Website Builder For Selling Products

E-commerce is booming. And not just Amazon. With better fulfillment, COVID-19 changes, and more familiarity, buying online has become normal for everyone. As more people buy products online, the sites that businesses use to sell their items are becoming more critical for competition. 

Website builders can help small businesses make attractive and functional sites to sell their products. They not only make building a website accessible & convenient, they also bundle technically complex functionality like shopping carts, payments, and order management into a single subscription.

However, it can be overwhelming to wade through all the options. The truth is, there isn’t an absolute best website builder for selling products. 

All builders have tradeoffs, and you should pick the one with the right mix of features for your particular budget, resources, and expertise.

In this article, I’ll dive deep into what considerations you should be thinking about during your website builder search. The important thing is that you know how to choose the best option for your needs. Once you’ve got that down, knowing what to choose comes easily.

Summary – Best Website Builder for Selling Products

Based on my experience working with many website builders, there are a few that are a good fit for most people. They all have free plans available to try. They are each best if you want…

  • Simple Ecommerce
  • Square Payments
  • Focus on Simplicity
  • Small Site Appeal

Weebly

Weebly
View Plans
  • Built-in Features
  • Drag + Drop Design
  • Focus on Usability
  • Broad Appeal

Wix

Wix
View Plans
  • Lots of Options
  • Future-proofing
  • Focus on Ecommerce
  • Online Store Appeal

Shopify

View Plans

Focused on content + products?

WordPress.com is a website builder focused on publishing & content that has also has capability to sell products. View Plans.

What Are The Benefits Of Selling Products on Your Own Site?

We will start by taking a look at the benefits of having an e-commerce site for your products. 

More Money Gets Spent Online Every Year

In the first quarter of 2019 alone, consumers in the US spent over $99 billion on e-commerce. If you want your business to remain profitable as online shopping increases, having an online store is vital. More than that, you need an online store that can deliver a quality shopping experience. 

A Website Costs Less Than An Actual Store

Suppose you decide to run a brick-and-mortar store. In that case, there are plenty of costs to consider, including rent, staff salaries, licenses and permits, utility bills, maintenance bills, supplies, and design. 

Meanwhile, running a website provides savings on these costs. Sure, running an e-commerce website comes with its own set of fees, including hosting, marketing, plugins, and feature costs. However, in the long run, these expenses are lower than those of running a physical storefront. Lower costs, in turn, means that the return on investment could be much higher.

A Website Enables You To Provide Convenience To Your Customers

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. When they’re feeling a little lazy, tired, or sick, they’ll appreciate the convenience of doing their shopping without having to walk or drive to a store. 

By allowing people to find what they want faster and more easily online, you encourage them to spend more. The selling proposition is higher, and the friction is lower.

You Benefit From Online Search Traffic

Did you know that about 33 percent of people start the search for products they want on Google?

By having an e-commerce website, you put your products in front of all those eyeballs, making it easier for them to discover your merchandise. 

Assuming you have some solid SEO, which is easy with the right website builder, all the products you list on your site get indexed by Google and other search engines. This indexing drastically increases your chances of making sales, simply because you have more reach.

Primary Considerations When Choosing Selling Your Products on a Website Builder

There is a broad spectrum of online e-commerce platforms out there, and you need to choose one that fits your particular needs. Choosing a website builder is a lot like buying a car. No matter which car you buy, they will all get you from one point to another. 

However, you might want other features depending on your specific needs, such as your budget, the type of products you sell, how many shoppers you expect to have, the maintenance costs, and the number of changes you have to make during operations. 

With an e-commerce website builder, you’re getting the same core functionality across the board. You get the ability to build a platform on which you can list your products, have a shopping cart that people can add products to, and a payment processor. 

However, there may also be other considerations you might have that would ultimately influence your decision. Below are some of the most important of these:

How User-friendly Is The Website Builder? 

Some website builders are more interested in offering as many features as possible, rather than making their platform user friendly for consumers. 

A feature-packed builder isn’t necessarily wrong; it is just a trade-off that you should understand. You might not mind looking through the platform’s knowledge base or asking questions on how to solve particular problems in the forum. 

On the other hand, you might instead prefer something easy to use that lacks advanced features. It depends on how much time you want to spend building and managing your website.

This consideration is also important for selling products. Are you looking to build a full ecommerce operation with hundreds of SKUs or are you looking to selling a dozen pieces of merchandise?

For example, Shopify is far and away the most versatile ecommerce website builder. But it has a lot of ecommerce features that some website owners don’t need (like inventory management) in addition to missing some website publishing features that some website owners might need (like blog comments).

Other website builders like Wix might provide a super-simple setup with easy product integration while limiting growth into a large ecommerce operation with strong organic traffic.

How Is The Customer Service? 

A related issue is customer support. In case you’re stuck, it’s a great convenience to ask someone for help. Whether you have the technical knowledge, you should see what customer service options the website builder offers. 

Shopify-Support

Having the opportunity to ask for help via phone, email, or chat application can be valuable during the website design process, and if you have any questions during regular business operations.

Additionally, think about how you prefer to solve issues. Some platforms like Shopify and WordPress have huge numbers of freelancers available to help with any task in addition to internal support.

What Is Your Budget? 

Just like your budget helps you narrow down your list of options at a car dealership, so does it thin down your choices for website builders. 

The more money you spend, the more feature-rich your platform. Fortunately, however, most of the essential features for a simple e-commerce website are quite affordable for most business owners.

You want to get the most that you can for your budget without wasting money on extras features that you will never use. 

Does The Platform Allow For Custom Designs?

A significant consideration you will need to make when choosing an e-commerce website building platform is whether it allows custom design. 

Wix Designs
Wix Designs

Most platforms have a range of “themes” from which you can choose. However, some of them make it especially hard to build a custom design or change existing themes. 

A simple drag-and-drop interface with lots of themes is easy to use, but you run the risk of having an e-commerce website that looks like other e-commerce websites (or struggling to make it *just right*). This is the track that Wix & Weebly take.

On the other hand, a platform that allows for custom designs might be a little harder to use, but it gives you endless options for how your website will look. This is the track that Shopify takes. They have a drag & drop builder, but really push you to buy or build your own custom design.

Shopify Theme Selection

A compromise could be a builder that allows you to alter existing themes to make them look different from competitors.

Secondary Considerations: What Else Do You Need to Think About When Choosing a Website Builder

When choosing the best website builder for selling items online, you need to consider more than the basics. Here is what else you should be thinking. 

Can You Add Extensions or Apps?

If you want to add plugins and extensions to your website, you should probably go for a platform that allows you to make such additions. 

Shopify-Apps

Note, however, that the more leeway a platform gives you to customize your site with plugins and extensions, the more complicated things will be.

Weebly Apps

It may also mean spending extra as many third-party extensions are for sale.

Will You Be Doing Content Marketing?

Is an online store all you want, or would you like to incorporate a blog or social media feed for some content marketing? Some website builders only offer pure e-commerce stores, while others provide lots of features to build marketing strategies right into your store.

WordPress.com Editor

Such content marketing tools can save time in the future because they make marketing more straightforward and cheaper. 

Does The Platform Allow For Offline Sales?

Standard e-commerce platforms allow you to manage your inventory and orders. However, some are better at managing your offline sales than others. Depending on how heavy your offline sales traffic is, you might want a platform that syncs well with this aspect of your operation.

SEO & Marketing Tools

SEO is an integral part of making your website and products easily discoverable online. Look for an e-commerce platform that employs SEO best practices and gives you as much control as you need over your website’s SEO features.

Hosting

Some e-commerce platforms will include hosting in some form while others only provide you with a website builder, leaving you to arrange the hosting. An all-in-one e-commerce platform will make your life easier, as the hosting will be taken care of as part of the package.

However, this option might be more expensive than shopping for your host on your own, and you might have less control over things like domain ownership and SEO. Some platforms like WordPress.com allow you to move to a self-hosted website easily since it runs with the same WooCommerce plugin that powers a self-hosted ecommerce store.

It is crucial to pick a platform that meets your needs in this area.

General Tips on Choosing Specific Site Builders 

What kind of options are available? There are plenty of website builders on the market, but some stand out. 

While there are plenty of options on the market, there are some examples of what you can expect from different ranges of website builders. 

Getting A Highly Customizable Builder

Some website builders offer innumerable options and plugins.

The challenge with customizable builders is that you might face a steep learning curve. Especially for beginners, navigating a website builder/content management system can be challenging. You’ll also need to explore (and possibly pay for) third-party plugins for your store.

Powerful site builders with endless options can enable you to create the ideal storefront, however. The catch could be that you have to hire someone to handle the store setup if you don’t have the time or the tech skills to do it yourself. 

Getting A Site Builder And Hosting In One Package

There are plenty of site builder plus hosting options to choose from when it comes to e-commerce.

Building a website via drag-and-drop design is simple. You get high uptime, unlimited bandwidth on many tiers, a fast content delivery network, and the ability to buy and own your domain name.

Weebly Built-in Tutorial

The flip side of bigger site builder plus hosting packages is that they are not free. There are paid plans that you need to invest in, which means you should budget to spend some money on the platform every month. You need to understand that package options are not a one-time expense and plan accordingly.

Should You Choose A Recognizable Name?

There are many recognizable names in the e-commerce industry, like BigCommerce, Shopify, GoDaddy, Squarespace, and more.

With many big-name site builders, you can expect everything to be handled for you, including shopping carts, email forwarding, and even a free domain, depending on the platform.

The great thing about bigger platforms is that they save you from the headache of trying to figure things like security and hosting all by yourself.

The flip side is that many of these site builders will cost you a monthly subscription that varies according to the features you choose to include in your store. This investment may be too significant if you are only selling a few products or focusing on marketing instead of sales. 

One other thing to note about more recognizable site builders is that it is very easy to research their services because so many people use them. Ease of research is one of the reasons to go with a recognizable name. 

Next Steps

As you can see, there are plenty of options when it comes to e-commerce website builders. You have lots of choices, but that also makes it easy to get overwhelmed. 

Based on my experience working with many website builders, there are a few that are a good fit for most people. They all have free plans available to try. They are each best if you want…

  • Simple Ecommerce
  • Simple Payments
  • Focus on Simplicity
  • Small Site Appeal

Weebly

Weebly
View Plans
  • Built-in Features
  • Drag + Drop Design
  • Focus on Usability
  • Broad Appeal

Wix

Wix
View Plans
  • Lots of Options
  • Future-proofing
  • Focus on Ecommerce
  • Online Store Appeal

Shopify

View Plans

Focused on content + products?

WordPress.com is a website builder focused on publishing & content that has also has capability to sell products. View Plans.

By taking stock of your specific needs and comparing them to what is available in the market, you can pick an e-commerce website builder that fits your needs. 

The good news is that the platforms listed above will meet the needs of most online store owners, so choosing from among them makes the work easier. Whichever option you go for, the important thing to remember is that having an online store is better than not having a store at all.

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