If you’re a creative entrepreneur trying to set up shop, you might wonder what website builder is right for your business. You may have custom needs to make your business and ecommerce shop run smoothly, like a quick and easy store software with simple themes to get up-and-running quickly, or robust design and customization tools.
You may want an ecommerce software that gives you a free plan or gives you a trial offer of its paid plans. You might want to compare pricing options and how many products you can list on your website.
There will be certain site builders that will fit your unique needs best, and we have compiled the top 7 top ecommerce website builders specifically for creative entrepreneurs.
The ecommerce tools in this article are recommended for you if:
- You are a creative business, solopreneur or artist
- You want a software with easy set-up, that doesn’t require any coding
- You want beautiful themes that display well on mobile devices
- You want to compare basic and robust customization tools to see what you like
- You want an affordable plan, but are also interested in learning about how to grow your business
The research below highlights information about each website builder, what kind of creative entrepreneur or artist it is best suited for, the cost of plans, what features and benefits each plan gives you, and pros and cons of each. You will find a comparison chart at the end of the article to easily compare ecommerce platforms for key features and plans.
Big Cartel – An easy-to-use platform
Artists and musicians that want a basic, affordable and easy website builder. Good for small businesses, freelancers and solopreneurs.
Big Cartel has some of the most affordable plans and is really easy to set up and get your shop up-and-running quickly. Find out more about Big Cartel’s pricing here.
Plan: Gold; $0 per month (Free!); List 5 products
Features: This plan offers quick setup, 1 image per product, SEO optimization and order management. You get a free domain with .bigcartel.com.
Plan: Platinum; $9 per month; List 25 products
Features: This plan offers quick setup, 5 images per product, SEO optimization and order management. This plan also gives you some extra benefits like inventory tracking, option to sell digital products, sell in-person or on Facebook. With the dashboard, you can review visitor stats, what search terms visitors are using to find your shop and can even integrate with Google Analytics to get deeper insights. There are themes to choose from with basic customization or you can plug in some code (if you’re tech savvy like that). You can use your existing domain for the e-commerce shop or go with a .bigcartel domain.
Plan: Diamond; $19.99 per month; List 100 products
Features: This plan is similar to the platinum plan, the upgrade lets you list more products.
Plan: Titanium; $29.99 per month; List 300 products
Features: This plan is also similar to the platinum plan, and this upgrade lets you list up to 300 products.
Let’s dive into what is awesome about Big Cartel! Nearly one million people use this platform (free and paid versions) and the simple design templates with 10 themes to choose from and tools help you set up shop quickly. If you know some basic coding, you can plug away with the paid plans. Sellers can offer digital products like, art, music, videos, fonts, photos and eBooks. With the paid plans, Big Cartel’s app allows sellers to sell in-person – pretty useful for creative entrepreneurs on-the-go.
If you want to reach more customers via social media, there is a store tab that you can add to your Facebook page. Sellers can view recent orders, sold out items and most viewed products in real-time. Big Cartel also offers guides and videos so you don’t get stuck and you can get email support, Monday through Friday, 9 am to 6 pm EST. Sellers can accept payments via PayPal and/or Stripe.
While the small selection of themes and basic customization helps you get started easily, it is fairly limited in customization options, unless you know how to code, which not all artists that specialize in something creative know how to do. If you want to customize your ecommerce website more or design with code, you have to sign up for a paid plan.
Big Cartel isn’t ideal for sellers that want to sell a lot of products, because even with its most expensive plan, you’re limited to 300 items, putting a ceiling on how much of your inventory you can list. To have a big ecommerce business, you may want to try Shopify or BigCommerce. If you want to find an ecommerce solution that is targeted towards artists and crafters but you also want to list more than 300 items, try Zibbet. Plus, your products will also get featured in Zibbet’s online marketplace.
“BigCartel has product categories, discount options, decent shipping options… all very customisable. The template language is pretty easy to understand as well, and it’s quite powerful. “ – Mike Myer, Designer, Developer, Photographer in Quora
“…The second one, Big Cartel, is easy for customers to use. You can add options, various sizes/colors/variations, in the same listing.” – Aiden Meterpark in Quora.
BigCommerce – For big projects
The Standard and Plus plans might be better for creative entrepreneurs just starting out. In general, BigCommerce is good for medium to large enterprises.
BigCommerce offers some of the more expensive plans on this list, aimed towards businesses pulling in a lot of revenue. BigCommerce offers a comprehensive suite of tools included with the plans, so it could be valuable for sellers that are serious about taking their business to the next level. Find out more about Bigcommerce.
Plan: Standard; $29.95 per month (10% off when paid annually); Unlimited products
Features: This plan allows for up to $50k in online sales per year and has no transaction fees. You get built-in robust features, unlimited storage and bandwidth, and 24/7 live agent support. This plan gets access to hundreds of themes, a coupon and discount option for customers, real-time shipping quotes, Square POS integration, marketplace and social integrations, data analytics and reporting tools and SSL purchased via BigCommerce.
Plan: Plus; $79.95 per month (10% off when paid annually); Unlimited products
Features: This plan allows for up to $125k in online sales per year and offers everything offered in the Standard plan along with abandoned cart saver tool, advanced segmentation tools and advanced pricing rules.
Plan: Pro; $199.95 per month (10% off when paid annually); Unlimited products
Features: This plan allows for up to $1 million in online sales per year; starting at $199.95 for up to 3k orders per year. There is a 2K order cap plus $80 fee for each additional 1K orders and you’re charged after 3,000 orders are processed. This plan gets everything that the Plus plan offers and other features included fraud monitoring and sitewide HTTPS.
Plan: Enterprise; custom pricing; Unlimited products
Features: This plan offers everything that the Pro plan offers with special tools and features for enterprises.
BigCommerce has a straightforward dashboard that runs through a demo introduction to help sellers get familiar with the platform. The tools available within the platform allow for vast customization. There are free and paid themes to choose from and are all mobile optimized. Sellers can take advantage of free and paid apps, integrate their marketplace accounts like Etsy and Amazon to BigCommerce and accept payments through a wide variety of payment gateways like PayPal, Square and Stripe. Customers can get live agent support 24/7 and before you decide to become a customer, you can try a 15 day free trial.
Paid themes cost about $150 and up and further customization needs to be done with code. According to a Quora answer by ecommerce consultant, Sonia Walker, BigCommerce doesn’t support recurring payments. Beyond the free trial, customer must pay to use BigCommerce and the plans are some of the more expensive on this list – including many features that artists and creative businesspeople might not need to start up. Creatives starting out may want to try free versions with Big Cartel and Zibbet then upgrade to a paying plan when they’re ready to sell more products and customize their site further.
“I use BigCommerce, which I really like. The templates and store are easy for me to use, it’s easy for me to link to Google analytics and easy for me to add keywords to my products – and they offer real-time shipping which I need.” – Lynda Houston-Groeschen from SalvageandBloom in Etsy’s Forum.
“At their sales volumes [referring to a client], BigCommerce saves them money (no transaction fees like Shopify) and also the customer/order management is nicer. Shopify has no CRM; a customer can’t log in and see their previous orders or keep an address book.
As a customer, BC support is really good. They are very quick to respond with their ticketing system and very helpful. They also have a large community forum that uses GetSatisfaction.” – Barnabas Kendall, web developer in Quora.
Shopify – The scalable platform
Good for small businesses starting out that want to eventually scale to medium or large businesses.
Shopify is is great for scaling your business and lets you start out at an affordable plan where you can start selling without actually having an ecommerce shop. Costs are comparable to BigCommerce plans. Customers can get a 10% discount when they pay for an annual plan and a 20% discount on a biennial plans. Find out more about Shopify here.
Plan: Lite; $9 per month (10% off when paid annually); Unlimited products
Features: This plan allows sellers to do ecommerce on Facebook using Shopify’s Buy Button or POS. Sellers can list unlimited number of products, get unlimited file storage, 24/7 support, fraud analysis and no transaction fees (when using Shopify’s own payment gateway), order creation and discount codes. This plan charges 2% transaction fee with other payment gateways.
Plan: Basic; $29 per month (10% off when paid annually); Unlimited products
Features: This plan includes an online store (Lite version does not). The rest of the features are the same as the Lite and also include, website and blog and free SSL certificate. This plan charges 2% transaction fee with other payment gateways.
Plan: Pro; $79 per month (10% off when paid annually); Unlimited products
Features: This plan includes the same features as the Basic plan and also includes fraud analysis with all payment gateways (not just Shopify Payments), gift cards, reports and abandoned cart recovery. This plan charges 1% transaction fee with other payment gateways.
Plan: Unlimited; $179 per month (10% off when paid annually); Unlimited products
Features: This plan includes the same features as the Pro plan and also includes an advanced report builder tool and real-time carrier shipping. This plan charges 0.5% transaction fee with other payment gateways.
Shopify’s platform makes setting up your ecommerce store easy with no coding necessary. Shopify and BigCommerce are the large website builders dedicated to ecommerce, and Shopify may be better than BigCommerce for scaling your business because of its variety of affordable plan options. All sites are mobile optimized and add-on free and paid apps are available to use. Live phone, chat and email support is available 24/7 and sellers also get the benefit of being able to choose from hundreds of paid and free themes. Before locking in, you can try a 14 day free trial and you get a free my.shopify.com domain. Sellers can use Shopify Payments to manage business and financials in one place and won’t incur additional transaction fees. (This can also be a negative, see below.)
Shopify charges sellers transaction fees for external payment gateways (sellers incur no transaction fees only if they use Shopify’s payment gateway). Sellers may end up paying additional fees of 2%, 2%, 1% or 0.5% for Light, Basic, Professional, and Unlimited plans, respectively. Additional transaction fees add up to a lot on top of payment gateway fees. Paid themes cost over $100 and there aren’t any free plans after the trial, so Shopify may not be the right choice for people that don’t want to shell out monthly payments quite yet. Sellers can only get an online store if they choose a plan that is at least $29 per month (Basic plan only offers selling on social media), while Big Cartel and Zibbet offer an online store for free. With Shopify, fraud analysis is available for Lite, Basic and Pro plans only if you use Shopify’s payment gateways, otherwise if you want to use other payment gateways, you must upgrade to Pro or Unlimited plans.
“I’m quite happy with Shopify. They make it easy to connect with inventory management apps and with selling on Wanelo, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, wherever.” – Katie from fripparie in Etsy’s Forum.
“I use Shopify and love it. It is hard to drive traffic there, but I love the aspect of building your own fanbase rather than relying on Etsy’s traffic. It is very easy to use and set up.” – Lauren K from FunkyMonkeyChildren in Etsy’s Forum.
“My vote will go for Shopify. Shopify and BigCartel both are very easy to use. BigCartel is less expensive but that’s not going to make a big difference.Shopify looks like King Kong if you compare features.” – Ankit Kumar, E-commerce Consultant in Quora.
Squarespace – The solution for bloggers
Bloggers, restaurants, photographers with additional need for ecommerce.
Squarespace pricing is a bit more expensive compared to other website builders for the level of ecommerce features it offers, but it also has customized design tools to make a really sleek and beautiful website without the need for any code necessary. Find out more about Squarespace here.
Plan: Personal; $12 per month ($8 per month when paid annually); 1 Product
Features: This plan features 20 pages, galleries and blogs with unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage and 2 Contributors. The website is mobile-optimized with website metrics. A perk is that customers get a free custom domain with annual purchase of a plan and 24/7 support. You have e-commerce enabled and can sell 1 product & accept donations with a 3% transaction fee.
Plan: Business; $26 per month ($18 per month when paid annually); 25 Product
Features: This plan features unlimited pages, galleries and blogs with unlimited bandwidth, storage and contributors. Other features from Personal plan are included and you can sell up to 25 Products, with a 2% transaction fee, professional email from Google, $100 Google AdWords credit and developer platform.
Plan: Basic Commerce; $35 per month ($26 per month when paid annually); Unlimited Products
Features: This plan includes all of Business features and lets you sell unlimited Products with no transaction fees (instead of Business plan’s 2% fee on transactions), commerce metrics, inventory, orders, tax, discounts, label printing with Shipstation and integrated accounting with Xero.
Plan: Advanced Commerce; $80 per month ($60 per month when paid annually); Unlimited Products
Features: This plan includes all of Basic Commerce features and also includes abandoned checkout autorecovery and real time carrier shipping.
Squarespace is a great fit for creatives running businesses like a blog, restaurant or photography services that want a beautiful website with design flexibility without the need for code. The site offers many free templates to choose from and lets sellers manage the online store and inventory, process orders, print packing slips, create coupons and customize emails to customers all from the dashboard. Squarespace also helps sellers with tax rules, SEO and analytics. Squarespace offers a blog feature and the ability to integrate with social media. Customers get a free custom domain with an annual purchase of a paid plan. If you’re using the Basic Commerce or Advanced Commerce plans at $35 per month or $80 per month, Squarespace imposes no additional transaction fees. If you want to sell a variety of products, Squarespace also lets you sell physical, digital and service products.
While Basic Commerce and Advanced Commerce plans receive no transaction fees, if you’re selling with a more affordable plan like Personal or Business, you’re still going to pay a 3% transaction fee or 2% transaction fee, respectively. BigCommerce’s starting plan is similar to the Basic Commerce plan with price and no transaction fees, however both are around $30 per month and Zibbet promises no transaction with any plan (free or paid) and Shopify offers no transaction fees for all their paid plans as long as you use their payment gateway, Shopify Payments. Beyond the trial, there aren’t any free versions of ecommerce websites with Squarespace and the first two most affordable plans with Squarespace don’t offer much ecommerce capabilities.
The Personal plan at $12 per month only allows for 1 listed product and takes a transaction fee of 3%, Business plan at $26 per month allows for up to 25 product listings with a 2% transaction fee. Ecommerce with Squarespace is only available in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands & Spain – not good for sellers in other countries that want to do business. It is more expensive to list unlimited number of products with Squarespace (minimum $35 per month) than with most other website builders, and Weebly is comparable at $34 per month (with a 6 month signup upfront, which may be even more unfavorable). Here is what the other website builders charge for unlimited number of products: Shopify ($29 per month), BigCommerce ($29.95 per month), and Zibbet ($10 per month).
Squarespace Seller Reviews:
“I love squarespace. So so easy to build yourself. You don’t have to go with their checkout system you can link to shopify or bigcartel if that’s your thing. I have to admit for now I get a lot more traffic to etsy than my website since it’s based on seo” – Carly Morrison from DreamandDrive in Etsy’s Forum.
Weebly – A quick way to build your ecommerce
Small businesses or solopreneurs that want to get a basic ecommerce shop up and running quickly and willing to lock in a more permanent plan than month-to-month.
Costs for signing up is affordable if you lock in with a 6 month, annual or 2 year plan. These plans are good for people that are ready to stick with a website builder for the long haul. Find out more about pricing here.
Plan: Starter; $9 per month when you sign up for 6 months ($8 per month when paid annually, $5 per month with 2 year signup); 10 Products
This plan includes a drag & drop builder, free hosting, unlimited pages, and storage. You can connect a domain you already own or get a free domain for a year with plan purchase. Customers can get chat & email support, use expanded stats and customizable footer, remove weebly branding and sell up to 10 products with a 3% transaction fee.
Plan: Pro; $14 per month when you sign up for 6 months ($12 per month when paid annually, $9 per month with 2 year signup); 25 Products
Features: This plan includes the same features as Starter plan and includes phone support, HD video and audio players, password protect pages and up to 100 membership to your site.
Plan: Business; $34 per month when you sign up for 6 months ($25 per month when paid annually, $21 per month with 2 year signup); Unlimited Products
Features: This plan includes the same features as Pro plan and also includes unlimited membership, membership registration, SSL security, unlimited number of products, no transaction fee, an integrated shopping cart at your own domain (without Weebly’s domain branding). With this plan you can sell digital goods, manage inventory, review shipping and tax and offer coupon codes to customers.
With Weebly, users can get a free one year domain with a paid plan and creatives can sell digital, physical or services (depending on the paid plan you get). Sellers can use drag & drop theme customization or use HTML/CSS code to build out the website more.
Every site owner gets live chat and email support and SEO tools and can use Stripe to accept payments (can also use PayPal Square and Authorize.net if you upgrade to Business Plan). All websites are mobile-optimized and can manage shipping, tax rules and can import products from Etsy or other sites. Weebly ecommerce sellers can have a blog on their ecommerce website and offer a filtered product search to their customers.
If you’re thinking about signup up shop and want a month-to-month plan, you may want to consider the other website builders as Weebly starts with a 6 month plan, annual plan and two year plan. It isn’t as transparent upfront that the advertised amount isn’t purely month-to-month, it’s actually what your monthly plan would cost if you signed up for a year upfront. If you were to go with purely month-to-month with Weebly, savings may not end up being as affordable as advertised.
Weebly lets you use Stripe to process payments at any plan, however, won’t let you use Square, PayPal or Authorize.net unless you upgrade to the Business plan. Other website builders don’t hinder customers with payment gateway options in their plans. Weebly customers incur a 3% processing fee unless they choose the Business plan, and the processing fee is the highest among this list of website builders.
“It’s drag and drop so really easy to use, plus the hosting’s free even if you don’t upgrade to the paid version :)” – Gill Pottle from GillPottleJewellery in Etsy’s Forum.
Wix – The flexible system
Small businesses, musicians, people that want drag and drop customization without code.
Wix pricing is more affordable in general than BigCommerce, Shopify and Weebly. However, it isn’t clear how many products sellers can list (plans are broken out by how much storage a person can get). Find out more about pricing and other details.
Plan: Basic Store; $24.90 per month ($16.70 per month when paid annually); Product Listing Limit N/A
Features: This plan includes 10GB bandwidth, 20GB storage, order tracking, inventory management, and shipping by weight. Sellers get an SSL certificate, multiple payment options, no set up fees and free hosting. Google Analytics, removal of wix ads and $75 Google AdWords voucher are also perks of this plan. Sites are mobile optimized.
Plan: Unlimited Store; $38.90 per month ($24.92 per month when paid annually); Product Listing Limit N/A
Features: This plan includes Basic Store features and offers unlimited bandwidth, 35GB storage and email marketing.
Plan: VIP Store; $53.90 per month ($34.92 per month when paid annually); Product Listing Limit N/A
Features: This plan includes Unlimited Store plan features and offers offers unlimited bandwidth, 50GB storage, instant support, SEO professional review and professional store review.
Wix has over 100,000 people using its store builder, and with it comes many templates to choose from with drag and drop customization. Wix offers global tax and shipping, instant invoicing, SEO, no additional transaction fees with paid plans, coupons and discounts for customers and a free domain for a year with signup for an annual paid plan.
Unlike Zibbet and Big Cartel, users must pay for the E-Commerce plan to create an online store with Wix. The lower plans won’t allow you to build your own store. There is no free trial and users must pay for plan upfront (can get a refund within 14 days). Another downside is that order confirmation emails can’t be customized.
“I have a website on Wix – I do not accept credit cards, only Paypal. I have had my website for over a year, love Wix and work as hard or harder on SEO there than on Etsy.” – Lisa from MyStonebridgeDesigns in Etsy’s Forum.
Zibbet – Online shops for artsy people
(Dashboard to choose themes and build store)
Designers, Etsy sellers, DIY crafters and handmade artists that want an affordable option to sell unlimited physical and/or digital products and get marketplace exposure.
Zibbet has some of the more affordable plan options for creatives that want to sell unlimited number of products. Find out more about Zibbet here.
Plan: Free; $0 per month; 10 Products
Features: Zibbet’s free plan offers a free Zibbet domain, no listing fees, no transaction fees and get a website and a storefront in Zibbet’s marketplaces. Sellers can list up to 10 items and one theme with customization features.
Plan: Starter; $5 per month ($4 per month when paid annually); 50 Products
Features: This plan also has no listing fees or transaction fees, and sellers can sell up to 50 items and use 4 images per item. This plan offers basic stats and all template themes with customization features. Sellers can get a free domain for a year when they sign up with Zibbet’s partner, Hover.
Plan: Pro; $10 per month ($8 per month when paid annually); Unlimited Products
Features: This plan includes the features that the Starter plan offers, and sellers get to sell unlimited items, upload 8 images per item and use advanced stats. This plan includes ability to create coupons and discounts for customers.
Plan: Unlimited; $20 per month ($16 per month when paid annually); Unlimited Products
Features: This plan includes the features that Pro offers and access to premium themes, Full customization, Remove Zibbet branding
Zibbet has over 50,000 websites built on its platform. This website builder is perfect for online marketplace sellers that want to build their own brand and keep traffic that they’re driving to their store vs. losing it to other storefronts in marketplaces like Etsy, Amazon Handmade and Bonanza. Zibbet also takes no listing or commission fees from sellers. Big Cartel and Zibbet are both a great fit for creatives, however, Zibbet is totally focused on artists that make handmade designs and goods, ideal for people dedicated to DIY and handcrafted. Digital goods can be sold, so long as the design is made by the artist and no mass manufacturing is used to produce products.
Unlike Big Cartel, Zibbet also supports creatives by offering a marketplace on top of a website builder, giving sellers extra exposure. This can drive additional customers to their store than with a website alone. Zibbet offers simple and elegant themes to get a website up and running quickly and they are customizable. Sellers can sell unlimited digital products with no commission on sales. With Zibbet, site owners have access to order management, advanced stats with insights on revenue, traffic sources, top keywords and more. All sites can be SEO optimized and are optimized for mobile. Etsy sellers can import their product listings from Etsy to Zibbet in minutes, without the need for time-consuming manual re-listing.
Besides basic customization, code savvy crafters can’t add code to their site (aimed towards artists and crafters that generally don’t have design/web coding experience). There are limited theme options with Zibbet, so far they have 4 themes, even less than Big Cartel. This website is not an ideal ecommerce platform for those that want to mass produce their physical or digital artistic products because of Zibbet’s 100% handmade policy to empower DIY artists. Zibbet sellers can accept credit card payments only through PayPal. However, Stripe integration is coming very soon.
“I’ve been a seller on Zibbet since October and so far have 40 sales. I’ve always had less than 40 items for sale so I’m sure I would’ve had more sales if my inventory was built up. So far any question I asked had a response within 24 hours. Resellers are quickly removed so you’re not competing with a lot of factory products. For $79 a year and no other fees this is a good site for handmade items.” – Elaine O. on Site Jabber.
“Not all venues are for everyone but since 2009 I know Zibbet is right for me. With hard work on my part, Zibbet works. Excellent attention by owners, no commissions, various extras for premium sellers and all around professionalism. Have they made mistakes? Yes. Have they learned from those errors? Yes. With over 300 sales and trying at least 8 other venues, I am pleased.” – Barbra O. on Site Jabber.
As you can see, there are a variety of website builders that offer different plan options, plan pricing, features and benefits. A seller may need a specific kind of ecommerce software based on the size of his or her business, the industry the business is in, how easy the site builder is to use or how complex you may want a website builder to be. The best option for a blogger might be Squarespace, with its beautifully designed templates, blogging features and solid ecommerce capabilities, it is a good fit.
For businesses that want to scale up into a larger business, try Shopify. For creative entrepreneurs that aim to be a large ecommerce seller from the get go, try BigCommerce. For the creative seller selling handmade physical or digital products, try Zibbet to take advantage of its easy and affordable plans, with low fees and extra exposure to its marketplace. Big Cartel and Zibbet have the least amount of template options, unfortunately, but Zibbet is a newer ecommerce solution that is continually adding new features to its plans, so it may be one to watch out for.
Wix and Weebly may give Squarespace a run for its money, as both options have plenty of beautiful templates to choose from also, but, many aren’t free for sellers. Wix has more transparent and potentially affordable pricing than Weebly.
See this table to compare all of these ecommerce platforms.
This post was written by Nisa Chavez Taylor. She is the PR lead at Zibbet, a website builder and marketplace for artists, crafters and vintage collectors. She loves technology that makes people’s lives better, learning and sharing insights about starting up.