The shifting buying patterns of the global consumer base has made e-commerce a necessity for most businesses.
With more and more people shifting to online platforms to make the everyday purchases that were once the domain of brick and mortar stores, e-commerce presents an elegant solution to several problems while opening the door to revenue from across the world. So, whether you’ve been in business for years or are just looking to take your first new product to market, finding the right solution to build and manage your e-commerce website is the first step on the path to success.
To help you make the best decision for your business, we’ve compiled a list of the best free e-commerce websites according to data collected from verified user reviews on G2.com. This list does not include products that offer free trials but require payment for the full service. Everything on this list is a truly free offering to help get you started.
It is also important to note that with e-commerce software, like many things in life, the old adage does hold true; you get what you pay for. Most high-level features are relegated to premium websites with attached service fees. This isn’t to say that free e-commerce websites aren’t worth your time; in fact, they’re probably the best way to enter the digital marketplace. Just don’t go in expecting these free services to scale with your business indefinitely.
Best free e-commerce websites on the market
These products only represent a portion of the over offerings listed on our platform. The products are ranked by user satisfaction score as of September 24, 2019, and all have at least five verified user reviews. They were chosen from G2's E-commerce category and ranked based on their user satisfaction score.
WooCommerce is one of the most successful e-commerce platforms available in the market today and is an extremely widely used Wordpress plug-in. It is completely free out of the box but has some add-ons that have to be purchased.
WooCommerce features include:
Content management system
Over 400 extensions
Product ratings and reviews
Customizable checkout areas
What users like:
“The best part about WooCommerce is that it is very easy to install. It only takes a few minutes to setup and once that's done, all you need is to integrate payment options and you'll be ready to post and sell products online. The platform offers tons of features all geared towards making e-commerce as easy as possible.”
Big Cartel is listed as the premiere free e-commerce solution for artists and creatives to craft good-looking storefronts for their creations. It’s extremely easy to use and makes selling artwork easier than ever. Unfortunately, this razor focus means it might not be the right tool for you should you be planning to scale any time soon or don’t have much in the way of creative offerings. Note that Big Cartel starts free with a limited Gold plan, and requires a paid subscription for full services.
Big Cartel features include:
Functional and appealing preset themes
User-friendly onboarding framework to get you selling your work right away
No transaction fees
What users like:
“The program easily allows you to make a beautiful functional online store and customize its appearance, colors, and fonts as you want. Completely individual appearance, directly customizing HTML and CSS. You have the ability to manage your store on the road with a mobile version. The control over orders is quite simple and you can quickly confirm orders, so your customers will be satisfied.”
“I found the website templates clunky and hard to navigate relative to other systems and programs. It’s not as easy to adapt andmake changes as I've experienced in other programs. It's not fully integrated with Printful, which is unfortunate because, like Big Cartel, it appeals to small organizations and artists - it requires more hands-on management.”
Curious about how these options stack up against the open field? G2 has an entire category dedicated to E-commerce platforms that features a grid updated with live data from our real user reviews:
X-Cart is one of the highest-performing solutions on the market. It offers complete creative control and design oversight to its users, which is almost unheard of in the often restrictive free tool sector. However, this benefit comes with a cost: you need to be extremely well-versed in software design and coding to get even a fraction of the potential out of X-cart. So, if that sounds like you, this tool might just be a match made in heaven.
X-Cart has a free plan with most essential features which can be upgraded with one-time purchases.
X-Cart features include:
Ability to sell digital products and create auctions
Filters and cloud searching
One-step checkout functionality with the option for guest checkout
Mobile POS and the ability to manage your store from a mobile device
Real-time shipping quotes
What users like:
“I love how they update the platform with all the essential tools and features to keep it updated and fresh. I love the technical support aspect of the software as well. Always there when you need them. I also love how they offer different pricing options for different platforms to fit any budget.”
“Third-party developers are overseas. The time difference in hearing back from support. This can be troublesome if in the US and work a typical work week. Client must know to accommodate for this in timelines.”
This e-commerce tool has an easy to use interface and operates off of a plug-in that allows newcomers to the e-commerce space to jump into building their store right off the bat. PrestaShop is the perfect solution for a small, start-up business.
PrestaShop features include:
Beautiful default interface
Over 4,500 themes to choose from
Compatiblity with over 75 languages
What users like:
“I like Prestashop because it is one of the safest and most reliable tools for my web-based business. It allows me to use it for online store and offer all my items, I can use it for free and apart from that it is quite easy to configure and maintain.”
“It has security defects and a significant number of the increases we can get are paid and costly as a rule. In spite of the fact that the fundamental alternatives needn't bother with much information, changing any segment just as we would prefer means needing propelled learning of PHP and programming.”
Drupal is one of the largest competitors to WordPress and is home to a variety of content on the internet. Its e-commerce tool has much the same ethos, allowing you to rapidly build and scale an e-commerce store on top of a pre-existing drupal website. It also has a large community built around it that provides countless articles, forum posts, and video tutorials to help you get started.
Drupal Commerce features include:
Built-in security system
Adaptable and scalable modules
Easy social media integration
What users like:
“I've done quite a bit of e-commerce site development with Drupal Commerce and my favorite thing about it is that there is literally a limitless amount of functionality that you can build into your online shops, and there are so many great add-on modules that collectively make for a very powerful system.”
“There is a bit of a learning curve to get everything set up and configured just the way you like it. If you have someone to walk you through it or follow a video it's not that tough to figure out, but it’s definitely not as simple as some of the e-commerce only platforms out there like Shopify.”
Square Online Store was one of the earliest e-commerce platforms that could accept mobile payments from vendors on the go, and has since burgeoned into one of the most widely used e-commerce solutions on the web. Its roots in facilitating physical vendor transactions have left it equipped with a myriad of ways to fuse both online and brick-and-mortar storefronts.
Square Online Store features include:
Responsive and easy-to-use web design
A free URL
Inventory management and tracking
Free unlimited hosting
Support for in-store pickup
What users like:
“It’s an easy platform for sales. I already use it as a payment resource so selling my merch with it keeps things simple.”
osCommerce is one of the oldest open source e-commerce solutions available, and as such can be customized six ways to Sunday. It can manage back-end sales, help with your inventory, and more, all with a dedicated community that continues to release helpful guides and updates as the years roll by.
osCommerce features include:
Over 8,000 free add-ons
Wide range of currency support
Easy web integration
What users like:
“osCommerce works with many payment processors and typically processes transactions without any problems. I like that there are many account, item, and order management tools for us to have control over many aspects of our store. It's pretty easy to add new items to our osCommerce account with a spreadsheet or by manually inputting the product details and images. We can add full details for most of our products along with options like color and size.”
“There aren't as many quality shopping cart themes available compared to some other open or privately developed shopping carts out today. Many of the alterations I usually perform require more in-depth programming work that can't be fully implemented with osCommerce's standard account management features.”
VirtueMart has over 500 features and possess an active developer base from all over the world. While most everything about it is free, there are numerous premium plug-ins that can have a hefty price tag attached. Regardless, its open-source nature allows for complete control and customization with a little development know-how.
VirtueMart features include:
Nested categories to help you structure your store
Easy SEO integration
Inventory and stock tracking and control
Automatic invoice handling
What users like:
“VirtueMart is easy to use, and allows for a lot of customization. Since my websites don't have a lot of traffic and I don't do a lot of sales, I was looking for an e-commerce solution that was free or inexpensive.”
“It’s not the most intuitive e-commerce extension when compared with those used by other content management systems. It can sometimes feel a little difficult to find how to manage specific features, especially when switching from other e-commerce platforms where things are more clear back to this.”
Next steps towards choosing a free e-commerce platform
When choosing the right software solution for you, make sure you’re thinking not only about what capabilities you need to solve our current problems, but what tools will work the best with your business for as long as possible. Taking an introspective look at your business will go a long way towards guiding you to the right product.
Looking to see how these platforms are performing for you? Check out our guide on e-Commerce metrics for everything you need to track your ROI.
Please note: Reviews have been edited for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and clarity.
Piper Thomson is a former Content Marketing Associate at G2. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, they graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in Sociology. Their interests include podcasts, rock climbing, and understanding how people form systems of knowledge in the digital age. (they/them/theirs)