The cheapest ecommerce platform in 2020 & best cheap ecommerce website builders introduced

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.

3dcart – do dropshipping for less than $10/month or normal ecommerce for $19/month – cheapest full ecommerce platform

3dcart appears to currently be the cheapest proper ecommerce platform. That is as their cheapest regular ecommerce plan, called “Startup Store” costs normally just $19/month when paid in monthly-basis and additionally they run lot of discount promos during which you can get the plan for an even cheaper price.

Even the cheapest 3dcart plan includes the key features needed from an ecommerce platform and as such is a solid choice for launching an online store. However, it is good to note that the plan has a sales limit of $50,000/year and if you hit that, you will have to upgrade to a more expensive plan. Luckily though, even the second cheapest 3dcart plan costs only $29/month. Open 3dcart account.

Current 3dcart discounts: As mentioned, 3dcart runs lot of discount promos. And at the time of writing this they are giving a 50% discount for choosing an annual-plan instead of a monthly subscription. With this discount the price for the cheapest 3dcart plan drops to $9.5/month. This promo ends on 30th of September 2020. Get your discount.

A dropshipping-plan starting from less than $10/month: As seen from above, 3dcart is rather cheap option for launching an online store. However, if you are looking to do just dropshipping, it gets even cheaper. That is because 3dcart has a plan that allows you to do dropshipping for less than $10 per month.

In practice the plan is priced so that if you choose monthly-subscription the cost is $9.99/month, and if you pay for a year, two or three in advance you will for your first order get to enjoy even cheaper per month prices. That is because if you pay for a year in advance the cost for the first order is $6.58/month ($79 in total), for two years it is $6/month ($144 in total) and for three years it is $5.5/month ($198 in total). All the long-term orders will renew at the $9.99/month price. Choose your dropshipping subscription.

Good to know: It is very likely that 3dcart’s dropshipping-plan makes 3dcart the cheapest ecommerce platform for dropshipping.

Important to know before paying for a long term subscription of 3dcart’s dropshipping plan: The plan has a $10,000 in 12 months sales limit and if you exceed that you need to upgrade to one of the regular 3dcart-plans (which also allow you to do dropshipping). Thus the dropshipping-plan is best suited for generating some extra income and not ideal for those who are looking to earn lot of money with dropshipping.

Shopify – best cheap ecommerce platform in 2020, use for less than $9/month or $29/month

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. That 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 some other e-commerce solutions listed on this page, one major advantage of choosing Shopify 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. And still one more great thing about Shopify, is that all their plans include pretty much all the same important features. Open your Shopify account.

$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. It should be possible to get a discount also on the $9/month plan, if you pay for a year or two in advance.

Free trial: Even though Shopify is cheap, it is understandable that most people want to try it before paying for it. And as such it is good to know that Shopify offers new customers a 14-day free trial. Even during the free trial you have access to all the most important features of the platform and can thus easily decide if you want to pay for Shopify. Try Shopify for free.

Weebly – $12/month with an annual subscription, cheap ecommerce website builder

Weebly is probably not the world’s best platform for ecommerce, 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 that comes with ecommerce features appears to be $12/month when you pay in advance for a full year and $16/month when paid in monthly basis. It is good to note that Weebly’s cheapest plan allows you to list at most 25 different products in your store. Try Weebly.

Ecommerce website builder vs. ecommerce platform: Weebly differs from the first two options presented on this page in that, Weebly is really a website builder that makes it possible to start an online store whereas the first two were software solutions that are dedicated specifically to ecommerce. And if you are serious about ecommerce, it might be wise to pay bit more and use a proper ecommerce platform for launching your online store.

Domain and hosting included: Almost all the website builders that you can use for ecommerce include hosting in their prices. However, Weebly takes that one step further: according to their website they also give a free domain name for those who choose Pro, Business or Business Plan. “Pro” is the plan that costs $12 or 10€/month with an annual subscription. It is not entirely clear based on Weebly’s website if you get the free domain name also when choosing a monthly subscription or only with an annual subscription. Go to 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.

Wix – you might be offered a discount that makes this really cheap

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.

Zyro – cheapest ecommerce platform for a very long order

Zyro is mainly a website builder, but it also offers a simple online store builder. While this platform might not be as advanced as some others, it has couple things going for it. For one, you can create quite stylish online stores with it and secondly it can be very cheap for long subscriptions – at least when considered how much the platform costs per month. That is as you can at the time of writing this buy Zyro for 36 months for $323.64, which translates to $8.99/month. If you were to pay for Zyro in monthly-basis it would cost $19.99. You can use Zyro with Hostinger.

Bonus: A possibly free option for more tech-savvy founders

Above we have presented the cheapest proper ecommerce platforms. However, if you already have an existing WordPress site and are bit more tech-savvy you might be able to launch an online store for free. From below you can find more information about this option.

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 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 $100 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:

How can ecommerce platforms be so cheap to use?

It is because once a company has created their platform it doesn’t make a huge difference to their own costs if the platform is used by 100 or million users. And additionally the tough competition between the companies running the platforms helps to keep the prices down.

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.

Do I need to pay for hosting?

No. All the top ecommerce platforms include hosting in their plans.

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

The three most obvious methods are creating the products yourself, buying them from an online marketplace place such as AliExpress that specializes in cheap products and using dropshipping. Dropshipping means in practice that you forward the order placed in your store to the manufacturer of the product and they take care of things such as packaging and shipping.

If you use dropshipping you generate profit by pricing the products higher in your store than what the manufacturer charges you for the product and taking care of shipping etc. All the ecommerce platforms that we recommend, make it possible to do dropshipping in a store created with their software.

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.