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 good e-commerce platform with no product or turnover limits
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. Open your Wix account.
The best e-commerce platform is also quite cheap
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.
Cheaper option for small e-commerce stores
If you are confident that you won’t do lot of business through your store, you might want to consider choosing 3Dcart instead of Shopify or Wix. This is because 3Dcart has a plan called “startup” which costs just $19/month (and there is at the time of writing this also a nice promotion that gives you a limited-time discount on that regular price). However, the downside of choosing this plan is that, you can only sell $50,000 worth products in a year on it. And after that you have to upgrade to a more expensive plan. If this sounds OK to you, click here to open your 3Dcart account.
Woocommerce – is it really free?
We wanted to dedicate a small section on this page to WooCommerce, as it is a name that is sometimes mentioned when people are talking about cheap ways to launch an online store. And indeed, when you look at WooCommerce it might initially sound incredibly promising: after all it should be free.
However, the issue with WooCommerce is that in order to run a high quality online store using it you will need to buy bunch of other things, such as, hosting for your website. And when you combine all the costs of running a nice WooCommerce store together, you are likely looking at at least couple hundred dollars per year. And you don’t have to take my word for it, you can see these same numbers by looking at their own calculations – and it would make sense that they are being quite conservative with the numbers.
What other popular e-commerce solutions cost
Some of the other big e-commerce platforms include for an example Bigcommerce and Americommerce. The cheapest solution offered by Bigcommerce costs $29.95/month and the cheapest solution offered by Americommerce costs $24.95/month.
Volusion no longer appears to offer a $15 solution
Couple years ago you could still make the argument that Volusion might actually be the cheapest e-commerce platform for building a standalone store, as they had a $15/month plan called “mini”. However, it would appear that they have now removed that plan and now their cheapest plan is at $29. Although, it is obviously good to note that in the case of Volusion’s plans there is 10% annual discount, so for example that $29/month plan becomes a $26.1/month when paid for a year in advance.
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
While it is a very difficult, if not impossible, to find a high quality e-commerce builder that you could use for completely free, it is good to know that basically all the big platforms offer free trials. For an example in the case of Shopify, they actually offer a nice 90 day free trial during which you can test the platform, and only after that you have to decide if you want to build an actual store using their service, or if you would rather go with some other solution. And best of all, you don’t even need to give your credit cards to get the free trial.
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 is Shopify. They really seem to have understood how to serve people who don’t have lot of experience with selling through their own online store.
The cheapest way to do dropshipping
If you are looking to get started cheaply in running an e-commerce business, the best way to do it is probably by trying dropshipping. Dropshipping is a concept in which you are basically just the middleman between the end customer and the producer of the product, meaning that instead of having to invest a significant amount of money into inventory you just make sure that orders get filled, once someone purchases from your store.
If you plan to use the dropshipping-model for your e-commerce store, Wix and Shopify are both quite good and cheap ways to do it. This is thanks to the fact that both of their app stores feature dropshipping apps that can be used for free – at least when having a quite small number of different dropshipped products in your 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.
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.
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.