The cheapest ecommerce platform in 2020

The purpose of this page is to simply share what are the cheapest e-commerce platforms that can be comfortably recommended to those who are looking to open an online store. For an e-commerce platform to be listed on this page, it has to be priced in an open and clear way & be also otherwise a good choice for building an online store.

We are using the above-mentioned criteria, because often people who are looking for a cheap way to open an online business can be put into an especially uncomfortable situation if a company behind an e-commerce store builder starts charging some surprising fees that the store owner was not fully aware of when he or she started building their store. And naturally it wouldn’t make sense to recommend e-commerce solutions that are cheap, but also of low quality.

The cheapest e-commerce platform that is easy to use

Weebly is probably not the world’s best e-commerce platform, but it is very cheap and also quite or even very easy to use. So, if you are looking for a cheap way to to build a simple online store and don’t need lot of different features, it might be a good idea to try Weebly.

It is possible to use Weebly even for free, but in practice the free plan is so limited that it is very difficult to run a proper online store with it. Luckily though, Weebly’s cheapest e-commerce plan costs only 10€/month when paid in yearly basis and 15€/month when paid in monthly basis. In US dollars the cost for the cheapest plan appears to be $12/month when you pay in advance for a full year. It is good to note that Weebly’s cheapest plan allows you to list at most 25 different products to your store. Try Weebly.

Nice to know about Weebly: Even though Weebly’s ecommerce solution is very inexpensive and their platform quite simple, it does not mean that Weebly would not be trustworthy. That in big part thanks to the fact that Weebly is owned by a company called Square (not to be confused with Squarespace) that is listed in the New York stock exchange and at the time of writing this has a market value of over $50 billion. Open Weebly account.

High quality cheap ecommerce solution

If I had to pick which e-commerce solution has been the biggest positive surprise for me in 2020, it would certainly be Wix. I certainly would not have assumed that Wix, which is mainly known for its traditional website builder, would have such an easy-to-use e-commerce solution that can also help create really nice looking online stores.

And considering how good Wix is, it is surprisingly cheap: usually their cheapest e-commerce plan costs $23/month when paid in annual basis, but at least in my case I actually got offered a 50% discount on their two more advanced plans (“Business Unlimited” & “Business VIP”) once I had registered for Wix and played with their store builder for a few minutes.

The normal price for the “Business Unlimited” -plan is $27/month and for the “Business VIP” -plan it is $49/month. Both of those when paid for a year in advance. Now, I can’t guarantee that you will be offered the same 50% discount as me when you register for Wix, but the prospect itself might already be a pretty great reason to open a Wix account – especially when combined with the other great features of Wix.

None of Wix’s plans have a turnover limit, so Wix can be a great choice even for those dreaming of building a highly successful e-commerce business. And those who might be worried about potential product number limits, should be happy to know that with every Wix e-commerce plan you can add up to 50,000 products to your store. Wix doesn’t have a dedicated free trial, but you can use a limited version of their store builder for free for as long as you want. It is not really realistic to run a proper online store with the free version of Wix, but it can be a good way to get a feel for Wix and see if it is a good fit for you. Open your Wix account.

The best e-commerce platform is also quite inexpensive

If your goal is to try to quickly build a high-quality online store despite of wanting to do so with a small budget, it is hard to go wrong with Shopify. This is because at least in my opinion Shopify is at moment the best e-commerce platform and also quite cheap to use.

On Shopify the cheapest proper e-commerce plan costs just $29/month, but you can actually even get a really nice discount on that price if you are willing to pay for a year or two in advance. And the reasons why Shopify is such a great e-commerce solution include, for example, how easy it is to use, how good their apps are and how awesome their customer service is.

Compared to the e-commerce solution listed next on this page, Shopify’s and (Wix’s) benefit is that none of their plans have a revenue or product limit. And additionally it is good to note that Shopify has really nice looking free store themes that you can use for designing your online store.

$9/month Shopify plan. As mentioned the cheapest proper plan (for a dedicated e-commerce store) costs $29/month at Shopify. However, they also offer a plan called “Shopify lite”, with which one can, for example, sell products on their existing website – the Lite-plan is priced at just $9/month. So if you already have a website and an audience to sell products to, this might actually be an even better option than the $29 plan. Go to Shopify now and choose your plan.

Cheap option for running a small e-commerce store

If you are confident that you won’t do lot of business through your store but want to use a relatively high-quality ecommerce platform, you might want to consider choosing 3Dcart instead of Shopify or Wix. That is because 3Dcart has a plan called “startup” which costs just $19/month (and they often run discount promotions, during which you can get an even cheaper price). However, the downside of choosing that plan is that you can only sell $50,000 worth products in a year on it. And after that will be upgraded to a more expensive plan. If this sounds OK to you, you might want to try 3dcart.

A possibly free option for more tech-savvy founders

It is not easy to say exactly how much WooCommerce costs: for some users it can be free and for others it can cost several hundred dollars per year. Sounds weird, doesn’t it?

The reason for the ambiguity with WooCommerce’s cost is that it is actually completely free to use, but you need other things that cost money to use it. Namely, you at the very least need to have a WordPress-site with hosting. WordPress in itself is also completely free to use, but hosting usually costs at least $30/year. So unless you already have a hosted WordPress-site, using WooCommerce will set you back at least that $30/year. But to be fair, that is still very cheap compared to most “normal” e-commerce platforms. However, the issue is that paying for hosting is not usually enough.

That is because while you can have a fully functioning WooCommerce store with no plugins / extensions, you usually need to spend at least some money also on buying them to take your store where you want it to be. The most obvious extensions you should consider are ones for improved payment processing and shipping processes. And additionally, you will probably want to buy a theme for your store.

Based on WooCommerce’s own numbers it is quite possible to end up spending at least couple hundred dollars per year on a WooCommerce store. But yes, on the other hand it is also possible to run a WooCommerce store very inexpensively or even for free, which is something that the traditional e-commerce platforms are not able to offer.

With WooCommerce it is good to note that, unless you have previously used WordPress, using WooCommerce+WordPress is likely going to be a bit more challenging way to build a high-quality e-commerce store than using a proper e-commerce platform is. So, if you are thinking about WooCommerce due to how cheap it is, it is usually a good idea to weigh the possible monetary savings against how much additional time you might spend with it, compared to, let’s say, Weebly or Wix You can learn more about WooCommerce from their website (opens in a new window).

P.S. If you are looking for cheap hosting for your WooCommerce site, we recommend checking out Hostinger – they have really cheap long-term hosting deals.

What other popular e-commerce solutions cost

Some of the other popular e-commerce platforms include, for example, BigCommerce, Americommerce and Volusion. The cheapest solution offered by BigCommerce costs $29.95/month, the cheapest solution offered by Americommerce costs $24.95/month and at Volusion the cheapest price is $29/month. And then on the other hand, in addition to Weebly, Wix and WooCommerce there is also a fourth quite popular ecommerce solution that can be completely free to use. That is Ecwid.

However, at least my personal experiences with Ecwid were not great: it seemed quite or even really complicated to use and not a great fit especially for someone who might just be getting started in ecommerce and is trying to find an inexpensive way to sell things online. Thus I have decided not to list Ecwid on this page. Obviously that might change in the future and naturally there is nothing stopping you from trying it and seeing how using it feels.

Important note: Pay attention to the transaction fees

If you are new to e-commerce you might assume that the e-commerce platforms only charge you the monthly / annual fee for using the platform and/or plugins. Unfortunately that would be a mistaken assumption. Instead the platforms tend to also take a percentage cut of every purchase customers make in your store. While the percentage is usually rather small, e.g. 2% of each transaction, those small percentages can translate to huge amounts of real world money if your store becomes successful. Thus, when looking for a cheap way to run an online store it is important to also pay attention to the possible transaction fees a given platform might charge from you. For most up-to-date information about each platform’s fees it is a good idea to see the pricing-page on their website.

What would a custom-built e-commerce store cost?

If you were to go the route of having a custom built webstore the costs could easily run to thousands of dollars and in addition to that the time it would take to launch your store could be weeks if not even months – when on the other with the ready made e-commerce solutions you can start selling the same day you sign up for the service.

Can you trust a cheap ecommerce platform?

While it obviously depends on the specific service provider in each case, it can be said that generally speaking the companies offering cheap e-commerce solutions are also very trustworthy. Shopify, for instance (see also the page: Is Shopify safe?), is currently listed in the New York stock exchange and has a market valuation of around $50 billion, so it is not some tiny startup company run from a garage. And while Wix is bit smaller than Shopify, it is also stock exchange listed and currently has a market cap of around $5 billion. The fact that a company is listed in the stock exchange means, for example, that you can always get pretty good up-to-date information on how well a specific company is doing financially.

Additionally, it is good to note that because the e-commerce software providers are selling intangible products that can be extremely easily duplicated, “producing” more of the same product costs them basically nothing and as such cheap price shouldn’t equal bad quality. I.e. the situation with e-commerce solutions is completely opposite to something like cars, where the price of a product is largely dictated by the production costs.

Free trials are common

Basically all the popular e-commerce store builders offer either a free trial or other way to test their platform for free. And in the best cases you can even launch a proper store with full functionality during the trial period.

Out of the e-commerce platforms mentioned above, Shopify might be the best option for those looking to open a fully functional store during the free trial. At the time of writing this their trial period is 14 days.

Start cheaply – upgrade later

When starting with an inexpensive solution it is nice to know that all the major e-commerce solution providers have made it very easy to upgrade to more premium options. So in other words, you can use the inexpensive plans as a way to get to know the features that the software has, and if you get a good feeling you can easily upgrade to a slightly more expensive system that provides even more features.

Why you should build an actual online store, instead of just selling through Facebook

Selling through Facebook can be a nice way to get started in selling items online or a good addition to your ecommerce website, but you really should consider having a dedicated website for your store, in case you don’t have one yet. Having a dedicated store helps with branding, makes it easier for customers to remember your store, makes it easier to customize your offering and also makes your website a more attractive acquisition target to potential buyers, which is important in case you are hoping to sell the business one day. It is also worth mentioning that it is bit weird to link to your Facebook store, for example, from Twitter or Pinterest as those are in a way competitors of Facebook. Running a store on a dedicated domain name also adds a certain type of level of security as you are not at the mercy of the social media platform and don’t have to worry about the potential changes they might make to their system, or the fact that consumers’ might start spending their time online somewhere else – as we know, for example, from the case of MySpace the popularity of platforms can change drastically.

In case you are afraid that you might not have the technical skills to build a dedicated ecommerce website, I would like to simply encourage you to try one of the more popular e-commerce solutions – the odds are that even if you have absolute no experience with building websites or coding or anything like that, you will notice in couple of hours that it is actually extremely easy to build your own online store.

FWIW, in my opinion the best ecommerce platform for beginners in 2020 is Wix, although also, for example, Shopify is a great option. The people behind those two platforms seem to really have understood how to serve people who don’t have lot of experience with selling through their own online store.

Frequently asked questions about launching an e-commerce store on a small budget:

What other costs are there than the e-commerce platform?

In addition to paying for the e-commerce platform you also need a domain name. Most domain names cost about $12/year. In case you don’t yet own a domain name, it is nice to know that all the top ecommerce platforms have made it possible to register at least .com-domains through their service. In addition to the domain name and the platform, some people also choose to invest in a payment gateway, but that is not mandatory as there are also good free options.

How can I acquire products to sell when I have a small budget?

The two most obvious methods are creating the products yourself and using dropshipping. “Dropshipping” is a practice where you list products from manufacturers to your store and the manufacturers take care of the packing, shipping any many other aspects. When doing dropshipping you are in essence mainly just a middleman that makes sure that the order placed by a customer in your store is forwarded to the manufacturer.

How much money do I need for marketing my online store?

It depends. If you, for example, have an extensive network of connections or a physical store or are great at using social media you don’t necessarily need any money at all for marketing. And even if none of those conditions matches your situation, it is nice to know that doing online marketing and advertising can be very cheap and can often be scaled up quickly if your store starts gaining traction.