What’s The Best Online Store Builder for Your Project?
Choosing the best online store builder is a tough and often all too confusing process. It’s tough to run a simple comparison because there is no such thing as an absolute “best online store builder” – only the software that is right for your business considering all the tradeoffs.
The tradeoffs include, but are not limited to, your budget, your technical resources and knowledge and your specific feature needs.
This online store builder comparison quiz takes all the most common considerations and maps out the answers to the top online store builder choices. Take the quiz and see who is the best online store builder in 2017 for your small business (or skip to see summary of best choices).
Disclosure: I receive referral fees from companies mentioned on this site, including the ones mentioned in this quiz. My recommendations are based on my experiences as an independent paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.
Based on my experience working with many ecommerce platforms, there are a few that are a good fit for most people. Here’s a summary of the companies included in the quiz.
Best Online Store Builder Choices
|Name||Best if you want…||Plans!|
|Shopify||…versatile platform w/ good support, design, pricing & apps.||See Plans.|
|BigCommerce||…intuitive dashboard, good pricing w/ focus on online-only stores.||See Plans.|
|Weebly||…a simple way to sell products w/ drag & drop design.||See Plans.|
Considerations for Choosing the Best Online Store Builder
Online store platform options exist on a spectrum, and the platform that makes sense for you depends on what you really need out of it.
Think about when you are choosing a car. The core need is to get from point A to point B. With an online store platform, you need someone to see a product you sell, put it in a shopping cart, and send you some money. That’s it. But like car selection – there’s more to it. Here’s the most common ways to compare your “top” or “best online store builder.”
For this quiz, I’ve deliberately left out many online store options that require development or hosting knowledge. I’ve focused on builders that bundle hosting, security, speed and ecommerce into a single monthly package.
If you are choosing a car – you know that your budget decides if you are looking at a Toyota or a Lexus. Same with online store and ecommerce options. More budget will bring in more interesting platforms with more built-in features. On the more affordable side, you’ll see more straightforward, simple options.
There is a difference between something working and something being user-friendly. Some companies will prioritize features over design. That’s a tradeoff. You might prefer all the features and options in the world, and be fine with digging in the user manual. Another storeowner might appreciate better design over another obscure feature.
It’s great to be able to call someone up for help. It also costs money – and means that you are on a standardized platform. Others may be fine with having a developer on retainer – or saving money with DIY education.
Customization & Extensions
Similar to features & design – there is a tradeoff between control and convenience. The more you can customize every bit your online store means that it will also be more complex. Additionally, some builders try to include every possible feature within their platform. And some offer them as 3rd party extensions.
Some websites are pure-play ecommerce stores. But some websites see content as a big marketing opportunity. But similar to user-friendliness, there’s a tradeoff between ecommerce features and content marketing features.
Custom Web design
A huge part of choosing the best ecommerce platform is custom design. Most platforms let you choose from a selection of customizable “themes” – but some make it harder than others to build a truly custom design experience. And some builder allow you to drag and drop your design within a template.
All ecommerce platforms help you manage your orders and inventory. But some sync with your offline sales better than others. Some even will be your offline ordering system so that you have a seamless inventory/payment experience between offline and online store.