Long gone are the days when it used to cost arm and leg to launch your own ecommerce store. These days you can find plenty of very affordable (or even free) online store builders. However, there are obviously big differences in the quality between the cheapest ecommerce store builders.
On this page we list what we consider for most companies/people to be the best free or cheap ecommerce website builders. In addition to being extremely affordable, the top options are also easy-to-use and make it possible to quickly build a nice-looking online store.
Best free ecommerce platforms – please see the descriptions
|Platform||Free for||Other information|
|Shift4Shop||US-based store owners||Good & easy-to-use platform|
|Square||Australia, Canada, Japan, UK and US||Can’t use your own domain name with the free plan|
|Ecwid||Selling up to 10 products||The free plan is quite limited|
Best cheap ecommerce platforms and their pricing – no big limitations on these platforms
Zyro promo code: The prices listed for Zyro above are available without any type of a promo code. However, if you use the promo code SAVENOW you can get even cheaper prices for annual and longer subscriptions.
About WooCom (WooCommerce): This ecommerce website builder works with WordPress, which is a free and good online publishing platform. The prices listed above represent the cost of WooCommerce hosting at our number one recommended WooCommerce hosting service, Hostinger. It is good to note that using WooCommerce will demand more effort from the one building a store than using, let’s say, Zyro. As such most new store owners might be better off choosing, for example, Zyro.
More information about the best free (only US) ecommerce platform
Shift4Shop uses a pricing structure that makes it difficult to add it to a comparison table: they at least currently price their ecommerce software differently for those who are from the USA and for those who are from some other country.
They are not using the differing pricing to discriminate against people who are from outside the US. And instead the reason for the unique pricing is that the platform (known previously as 3dcart) was recently bought by a US-based payments technology company (Shift4 Payments) that wants to become big in the US ecommerce market. Below is a short summary of Shift4Shop’s cheapest plans.
End-to-End ecommere aka the free plan
This is the plan that is available only for US-customers. The so called catch with the fact that this plan is free, is that you have to use Shift4 Payments as the payment solution for your store. However, that should not really be a big issue as Shift4 Payments is a big and relatively well known payments company.
The free Shift4Shop plan comes with a lot of great features and based on my experience Shift4Shop’s ecommerce platform is quite good. So, this free plan can be a great choice for those US-merchants who are looking to do ecommerce on a budget. According to Shift4Shop, the free plan is worth $229/month. Go to Shift4Shop.
Dropshipping plan from $5.5/month
Shift4Shop also has a cheap plan with which you can only do dropshipping ecommerce. The regular monthly price for this plan is $9.99, but if you buy a long-term subscription the price per month can go down to $5.5/month. It is good to note that the dropshipping plan is still called “3dcart dropshipping”, after the previous name of Shift4Shop. Buy the dropshipping plan.
Startup-plan from $19/month
This relatively inexpensive plan allows one to do traditional ecommerce, but is quite limited. Additionally, it is good to note that at least at the time of writing this the Startup-plan is not listed on Shift4Shop’s plans & pricing -page. However, you can still choose it when you go to the checkout. Go to Shift4Shop and pick your plan.
Looking for more information about Shift4Shop? See our Shift4Shop review.
Now let’s take a bit closer look at the top cheap ecommerce platforms that use the same pricing for store owners from anywhere.
#1 Best cheap ecommerce platform in 2021 – from $8.91/m or $9.90/month
Launching and running an online store should be seen as a long-term commitment: it just usually takes time to start generating a lot of revenue and nice profit margins. Thus, it can be a good idea to pick an ecommerce platform that gives very good discounts for those who are willing to purchase a long subscription. And out of those companies giving discounts, Zyro gives the best discount: it is available for a per month price of $9.90. Open a Zyro account.
Update: You can now get a further discount on a long-term Zyro subscription by using the promo code SAVENOW – with that code the cheapest price drops to just $8.91/month.
If you are new to ecommerce a 4-year subscription can understandably seem a bit intimidating. Luckily though Zyro gives good discounts also for 2 and 1-year subscriptions. For a 2-year subscription the discounted per month price is $11.90 and for a 1-year subscription it is $12.90. The regular monthly price is $19.90.
30-day money-back guarantee: As getting to enjoy the cheapest Zyro prices requires buying a long-term subscription, it is nice to know that Zyro is at the time of writing this offering a generous money-back guarantee. The 30-day money-back guarantee is available for all subscriptions.
Free hosting and a domain name: All of Zyro’s plans come with free hosting and if you choose at least 1-year subscription you also get a domain name for free for a year. Those things can obviously mean nice additional savings when compared to some other ecommerce platforms. Pick your Zyro subscription.
More reasons other than the very affordable price for choosing Zyro as your ecommerce website builder
Zyro is a rather new website builder, but after recently trying it myself I can clearly see why it has already become quite popular. The platform just makes it very easy to build an ecommerce website that looks professional and modern.
A big help for those things is the fact that Zyro has really nice free ecommerce templates/themes that you can use for your own store and customize. Additionally, Zyro should also be an extremely safe and trustworthy platform as it is owned by a huge web hosting company. For more about Zyro you can see our review or you can just launch your Zyro store.
This is how good and simple a cheap ecommerce website builder can be
In the picture above you can see an example from Zyro. To get started with Zyro’s ecommerce builder you simply pick a free ecommerce template you like and then use their simple “drag and drop” -builder to do the modifications you want to do. In addition to having a lot of nice features the builder also, for example, makes it so that your store will be automatically optimized also for those who are using a mobile phone to shop in your ecommerce store. Start building your store.
#2 Shopify – $21.75/month – the best ecommerce platform of 2021 is also quite inexpensive
If you are looking to quickly build a high-quality online store on a small budget, you should strongly consider picking Shopify as your ecommerce platform. That is because at least in my opinion Shopify is at moment the best e-commerce platform and also quite cheap to use.
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. Additionally, 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.
On Shopify, the cheapest proper e-commerce plan costs just $29/month when paid on a monthly basis and you can actually get a really nice discount even on that price if you are willing to pay for at least a year in advance. With that discount the price per month can go to as low as $21.75/month.
$9/month Lite-plan: Above we have discussed the price of Shopify’s cheapest “regular” ecommerce plan. However, there is actually an even cheaper Shopify plan. That plan is called Lite-plan and using it costs $9/month when paid month-to-month.
And just like with the $29/month-plan, you can also get a discount on the Lite-plan if you choose an annual or longer subscription. However, it is important to be aware of the fact that, unlike the $29/month-plan, the Lite-plan doesn’t make it possible to build a new ecommerce website and instead it is really just a sort of a plugin that allows you to add ecommerce to an existing website.
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.
More about Shopify: Shopify review.
#3 Wix – $23/month – extremely fast way to build a nice looking online store
If you want to create a nice-looking online store as quickly as possible, Wix might very well be your best choice. That is because with this relatively cheap ecommerce solution you can literally have a store design done in less than 5 minutes. After that, you just need to do some easy customization to make sure that the store is as good as it can be for your needs.
Bonus: WooCommerce – free or $1.39/month or $3.99/m
If you are willing to trade putting in some hours of work for low cost, then WooCommerce can be a really good choice for launching an ecommerce store. That is as WooCommerce itself is completely free. However, the downside of picking WooCommerce is that building a nice online store with it might require much more effort from the one using the platform than the other free and cheap ecommerce solutions do.
Additionally, it is good to be aware of the fact that while WooCommerce is free, you do need to have a domain name and web hosting for your WooCommerce store. Both of those things will cost you money if you don’t already have an existing website. Luckily though there are these days some ecommerce hosting services that are very good and cheap.
And we in particular recommend using Hostinger for launching a WooCommerce store. That is as their web hosting plans appear to offer excellent value for money and additionally my personal experiences of using Hostinger have been very good. When using Hostinger, the per month cost of running a WooCommerce store can be just $1.39/month.
Steps needed to use WooCommerce for $1.39/month (if you already have a WordPress website you can use it even for free)
- Go to Hostinger (opens in a new window) and pick a long-term hosting plan. Hostinger is the cheapest ecommerce hosting service and despite of that very good.
- Install WordPress to your web hosting (free and easy) to create a website
- Go to your new WordPress website and install the WooCommerce plugin for it (free and easy)
- Start customizing your WooCommerce store (requires some effort and might cost money if you need to buy plugins)
Using standard web hosting for WooCommerce vs. using special WooCommerce hosting
You might have noticed that we have on this page referred to WooCommerce’s cheapest cost (in addition to “free”) with both $1.39/month and $3.99/month. That is due to the fact that you can use WooCommerce either with a standard web hosting service or by buying a hosting package that is meant specifically for WooCommerce. The latter type of hosting costs more.
If you don’t expect your WooCommerce store to become huge, you should be completely fine with just using basic hosting for WooCommerce, but if you have big aspirations or plan to, for example, launch a bunch of stores it might be advisable to pick a dedicated WooCommerce hosting package. Both types of hosting should be reliable and easy-to-use when bought from Hostinger.
Other relatively cheap ecommerce platforms that you might want to consider
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 on the New York stock exchange and has, at least at the time of updating this, a market valuation of well above $150 billion, so it is not some tiny startup company run from a garage. The fact that a company is listed on a stock exchange means, for example, that you should always be able to get pretty good up-to-date information on how well the company in question 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.
The cheapest ecommerce platforms are likely to be that for people from all around the world
A big reason for why some high-quality ecommerce platforms are able to price their service so low is that they have managed to accumulate a huge number of customers. And thanks to the scale they have achieved, even something like $10/month from each customer is more than enough for the company to cover their costs.
For a company to be able to build a large customer base and thus be able to price their service low, it is useful if they offer their service (in this case an ecommerce platform) globally. The end result of which is that the ecommerce platforms that are the cheapest in general, are also likely to be the cheapest for specific markets. E.g. for Australia, India and UK.
And while I cannot credibly claim to be an expert on, for example, the Indian ecommerce platform market, based on the research I did, I believe that the platforms presented higher on this page should also be the cheapest (quality) options for, for example, India. Below are a couple of pricing examples.
Hostinger + WooCommerce for India: Starts at ₹59/m, Zyro for India: starts from about ₹660/m, Hostinger for the UK: Starts at £0.99/m. And this pattern of low prices should hold also for other countries.
Is there a difference between “ecommerce website builders” and “ecommerce platforms”?
Those two phrases are usually used without making a distinction between them. However, it could be argued that the “platforms” are a bit more complicated and advanced than the “builders”. Following that logic, it could be said that Zyro is the cheapest ecommerce website builder that we felt comfortable recommending.
Ecommerce hosting vs. ecommerce platforms – what is the difference?
These two expressions are also sometimes used interchangeably. However, technically speaking there is a difference: hosting really refers only to the online space to put your store (or website) on, while platforms offer (also) the way to build your ecommerce store. It should be nice to know that all the platforms mentioned on this page give hosting for those who use their ecommerce platform.
How is it possible that some ecommerce platforms are available for completely free?
There are two ways in which it might make sense for some companies to offer a free ecommerce platform. The first is that the company makes money through transaction fees that they charge of every sale you make using the platform and the second way is that the free plan is so limited that a significant enough percentage of users decide to upgrade to a more advanced plan – for which you will have to pay.
In terms of the platforms listed on this page that offer a free plan, it can be easily said that Shift4Shop employs the first logic for offering a free plan and Ecwid employs the second. Square on the other hand appears to employ both tactics for its free plan.
About transaction fees: Many of the popular ecommerce platforms charge transaction fees instead of or in addition to their subscription cost. The transaction fees are typically 2–3% + a small flat fee of each sale. Those fees might mean that what is initially the cheapest ecommerce platform for you, is not it once you start generating a good amount of revenue.
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 should also buy 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, many people also choose to invest in a payment gateway, but that is not mandatory as there are also good free options.
In case you are wondering about if you need to buy web hosting for your online store, it should be nice to know that almost all the leading ecommerce platforms give your store free hosting.
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.
About the prices displayed on this page: We aimed to make sure that the prices were valid at the time of writing. It is however possible that, for example, companies change their pricing. E-commercePlatforms.com is not responsible for the possible differences in pricing.
Additionally, it is good to note that the prices listed on this page or even at the pages of different companies might not include possibly applicable taxes. The taxes might depend based on your location and thus the final price is usually seen just before checkout. It is always a good idea to double-check the costs and possible terms & conditions before paying for an ecommerce platform subscription – or for really anything.