This is the ultimate list of free ecommerce platforms in 2021. It contains the 10 best free ecommerce platforms that will help you get your ecommerce idea off the ground and into the actual world.
In 2021, there are anywhere between 12 to 24 million online shops. That’s a lot of competition. Before sinking your life savings into a new e-retailer idea, it could be a good idea to use a free eccommerce platform to test the waters of your business plan first. Up to 95% of commerce transactions are expected to move online by the year 2040; not to mention that ecommerce sites are becoming the de facto product catalog solution, particularly for B2B brands.
In this article, I will share 10 free ecommerce tools to sell both physical and digital products. I will give a synopsis of their key features and what the tool is best fitted for. Business owners and ecommerce managers: Get ready to launch your ecommerce product by the end of this article!
The Best Free Ecommerce Platforms List
Here’s a shortlist of the best free ecommerce platforms:
Best Free Ecommerce Platforms: Comparison Criteria
What do I look for when I select the best free ecommerce platforms? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria:
User Interface (UI): Is it clean and attractive? Is it straightforward and without complicated options?
Usability: Is it easy to learn and master? Does the company offer good tech support, user support, tutorials, and training? Is there a community and knowledge base behind the product?
Integrations: Is it easy to connect with other tools? Any pre-built integrations to improve the ecommerce functionalities? How smoothly does the tool work with other WordPress plugins, tools, and add-ons?
Value for $: How appropriate is the price for the features, capabilities, and use case? Is pricing clear, transparent and flexible?How easily can you get results from it?
Free Ecommerce Platforms: Key Features
What key ecommerce features make the best free ecommerce platforms? I look for these key features:
Does the tool make difficult inventory management tasks more simple? Does it have features for tracking and giving real-time data on stock levels? Inventory management is the bread and butter feature of a good ecommerce platform. Executing this right shows ample proof of a good and robust free ecommerce platform.
What is the depth of customizations you can achieve with the product? As an ecommerce manager, you need to color and depict your platform according to your brand’s design aesthetics. Does the free ecommerce platform allow you to do that?
How powerful is the product’s support feature? What are the different modes of support? Is there an active community backing the product? Support is usually lackluster on free ecommerce platforms. Having good quality support within the free tools option can be a game-changer, as support isn’t often included in free plans for a lot of SaaS products.
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Overviews Of The 10 Best Free Ecommerce Platforms
Here’s a brief description of each of the free ecommerce platforms on my list showing what it does best, plus screenshots to showcase some of the features.
1. NopCommerce – Best open source ASP.NET-based shopping cart
NopCommerce is a beginner-friendly, open-source ecommerce platform that is based on ASP.NET. The product can be hosted with the user’s web hosting service or a product partner of NopCommerce. In terms of inventory management, the product has abandoned cart recovery, product catalog, and listings.
NopCommerce integrates with apps like Amazon and eBay. The checkout experience comes with tax and shipping calculators, along with a single-click checkout. In terms of support, the free plan comes with a knowledge base and a forum community. The product also has video tutorials and webinars.
NopCommerce is free to download either with or without the source code.
2. PrestaShop – Best free ecommerce platform for MVP testing
PrestaShop enables startups to test their MVP with a fully-functional online store for free. The product allows you to edit the software according to your custom needs. It covers all basics like customizing the store, processing payments, managing the store, and more. It is a great fit for small businesses looking to get into ecommerce.
PrestaShop integrates with apps like Mailchimp, Zendesk, LiveChat, LiveAgent, ActiveCampaign, and other popular apps. Customer support is a bit on the slower side but is backed by good and comprehensive documentation.
IM Creator offers highly professional and sleek-looking templates supported by a building block-based interface. It offers a seamless process of choosing a design, customizing it according to your brand aesthetics, connecting to a domain, and publishing it. It comes with automatic text resizing (look, mom, no hands!), free custom email solution, and more. The templates provide you with sleek UX which can be great for SEO.
In terms of inventory management, it has cataloging, data import/export, and order management. In terms of support, there is a knowledge base and documentation to get your queries answered. IM Creator integrates with Mailchimp, Paypal, and other common ecommerce operations software. Overall, this can be a good upgrade from your existing website if you focus on ecommerce operations.
IM Creator is free to use for students, artists, and nonprofits. Apply on their site to see if you qualify.
4. OpenCart – Best marketplace for add-ons and extensions
OpenCart is a free, open-source platform for your ecommerce business with a marketplace of 13 000+ additional extensions (some free and some paid). This tool lets you manage multiple store locations through one interface with the ability to customize each site and pricing schema. You can upload product images and tag variants, whether it’s according to size, color, or other differentiating indicators.
OpenCart can handle discounts, coupons, specials, and affiliates for purchase processing. They connect with PayPal, eBay, Amazon, MailChimp, GoogleAnalytics, Facebook, WordPress, and Microsoft Excel. For support, they have a comprehensive community forum.
5. CubeCart – Best for checkout cart customizations
CubeCart is a free ecommerce script with a full list of features to sell online with ease. Its open-source software license comes with unlimited orders, products, and categories. The ecommerce script also has features like coupons, gift certificates, gift cards, quick shipping, and quotes.
CubeCart comes with bulk product price updates, bulk product category management, catalog search with advanced search, stock control on product options with SKUs, and other nuanced features needed for efficient product management. Cube Cart works out of the box with PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, LiveChat, Smarttarget, and other similar apps.
CubeCart is free to use and open source. Professional technical support costs money but you can get around this using their community forums and knowledge base.
Magento is an open-source ecommerce platform from Adobe. It comes with features like catalog management, integrated checkout, shipping, payment, site search, and other important features needed to take your ecommerce business off the ground. Magento also gives you the ability to create multilingual sites.
The Magento open source edition can handle all of your ecommerce basics and you can level up to their (paid) commercial plan if you ever find yourself needing to scale quickly. One downside of the app is that the more customizations/add-ons you implement, the slower your site tends to run. For a free ecommerce platform, that’s not a dealbreaker—just keep your extensions lean!
Magento open source is free to use with some feature limitations compared to their commercial plan.
7. WooCommerce – Best free ecommerce platform for WordPress
WooCommerce is a fully customizable ecommerce platform that’s built-in WordPress. It offers product listing, catalog management, and configurable shipping options. Since it’s completely open-source, there are no limits to your bandwidth. You can add unlimited products and take unlimited users. The catch is that it does not provide hosting on its own—you will have to choose from a free or paid WordPress plan.
WooCommerce works out of the box with different payment gateways and payment methods like Stripe, PayPal, and ShipStation. This gives customers the option to buy from you using their debit or credit card. Support is available via extensive step guide documentation.
WooCommerce is completely free to use with a WordPress.com domain name. A non-WP URL will cost you extra (through WordPress, not WooCommerce).
Zendrop connects online merchants and drop shippers with reliable suppliers. Use this to filter out unreliable suppliers in platforms like AliExpress that burden merchants with long shipping times and nonexistent customer support. Zendrop promises fast and trackable shipping as well as custom branding on packages based on your brand aesthetics.
The product enables auto-fulfillment of orders. The US fulfillment allows ordering in bulk and fulfillment of physical products via US warehouses. This cuts down shipping time by 2-5 days. Ecommerce analytics can be studied via a real-time reporting dashboard. Support is available via live chat and email.
Zendrop is free forever. Certain advanced functionality is limited to their paid plan.
Square Online is the product of the payment processing giant Square, which also offers a (paid!) mobile-ready POS service. The product’s free version lets you do a lot of things you need to get your feet off the ground as an ecommerce business. It lets you sync inventory from all other channels and accept payment using the Square POS solution (for a cost) or other payment processing methods. The product dashboard is clear and precise with no unnecessary clutter. It lets you track product sales, customer journeys, and abandoned cart recovery.
In terms of customization, the product feels limited. Square Online integrates with WooCommerce, Magento, WordPress, BigCommerce, and Shopify. Support is available via phone, email, and live chat. The knowledge base also covers a vast aspect of problems with over 180 articles.
Square Online’s free forever plan lets you start your project with an option to upgrade to the paid plan at $16/month for additional features. Square POS will charge you per transaction but you are not obligated to use their system for payment processing.
10. Ecwid: Best ecommerce platform for user friendliness
Ecwid is a super easy to use, free ecommerce platform with instant site-building boasting over 70 different website templates to choose from. On the free plan, you have the ability to add a store to any website as well as to sell simultaneously on multiple sites. You can connect directly to popular social media advertising suites for promotions and marketing; although actual selling through Instagram and Facebook is limited to paid plan subscribers only.
For website hosting options, Ecwid works on WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, Joomla, Blogger, and Tumblr. You can also connect it to Facebook Pixel and/or Apple Pay (via Stripe) for additional functionality. Additional integrations unlock with a paid plan. It comes with a mobile responsive shopping cart so customers can shop from their phones.
Ecwid is free to use for 10 products and a website store (no social media).
To make this free ecommerce tools list even more impactful, I surfed the web for some FAQs related to free ecommerce platforms.
How do I create a free ecommerce website?
You can create a free ecommerce website by using tools and platforms like Square Online, Prestashop, or Ecwid. Use any of the tools listed in the article and choose from the free-to-use ecommerce website templates to give your ecommerce site a professional look. These tools also allow different levels of customization that you can implement to make the site suit your brand aesthetics. Finally, you can connect the site to reliable suppliers using an above-listed service like Zendrop.
What Do You Think About These Free Ecommerce Platforms?
These were my top picks for free ecommerce platforms. Now tell me your opinion. What do you think of this list? Any free ecommerce software I missed that you think has great potential? Let me know about it in the comments section.
Also, if you liked the article, I would really appreciate it if you can give it a share on social media. I assure you, your network will see you as the new ecommerce superman (talk about patting myself on the back!)