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How to create a free e-commerce site? The 10 best tools

Despite global economic uncertainty, e-commerce continues to grow and expand at a steady pace. The number of people shopping online has never been higher.

Want to jump on the bandwagon? Creating an e-commerce site is not that difficult in itself: you do not need any technical knowledge or programming to get started. By continuing to read this article, you will see how to set up (and operate) your online sales site.

The 10 best solutions to create a free e-commerce site

Prospective online retailers have numerous options when it comes to selecting a free e-commerce solution. From WordPress and Shopify to Wix and osCommerce, each e-commerce platform has its own benefits and drawbacks, regardless of whether the chosen solution is free or requires payment.

As such, we have compiled a concise overview of the top 10 most commonly used e-commerce solutions, comprising both SaaS website creation software and CMS. Please note that our article includes sponsored content.

How to create a free e-commerce site
How to create a free e-commerce site

Wix eCommerce : Create Your Online Store

Wix eCommerce provides an excellent solution for individuals seeking to establish an online business through website creation and development. With a vast array of customizable templates, users can create a unique shopping experience by adjusting various aspects of their site, including the display of products, the shopping basket, and more.

Furthermore, Wix offers extensive integrations designed to connect users with necessary tools, software, and runtime services, thus enhancing the customization options even further. Additionally, users can leverage multiple sales channels like Facebook, Instagram, Google Shopping, or eBay to reach a wider customer base, and sell products globally through a user-friendly dashboard.

Overall, Wix eCommerce is an intuitive and cost-effective platform for creating a professional e-commerce website without worrying about sales commissions.

Also read: profit from the Internet

PrestaShop, the free e-commerce platform Made In USA

With over 270,000 online stores, Prestashop is easy to install and has a plethora of themes to customize your merchant site.

Many extensions also allow you to add functionality to your Prestashop store to sell better online.

However, most are paying, such as the creation of a personalized domain name, which can quickly increase the bill.

Advantages :

  • Simplicity and speed of online publication
  • The product sheets you can create are clear and detailed
  • Stock management and pricing are easy to use
  • You can categorize your products (like WooCommerce)
  • Many themes are available

The inconvenients :

  • Not open source
  • It's quite an expensive solution (many plugins are paid)
  • Some knowledge is required to use Prestashop

Magento, to create more complex online stores

Launched in 2008, this open-source tool allows you to create a completely personalized online store . It is the most powerful CMS that exists. Magento is a professional and customizable solution, which adapts very well to large projects.

The CMS has several native applications to help you manage your online sales site from A to Z: inventory management , marketing tools, natural referencing, emailing, etc.

You also have the choice among many templates, classified by theme, allowing you to get started quickly.

Benefits :

  • Wix enables users to design professional websites.
  • The platform offers complete customization options.
  • It is well-suited for large-scale projects with a significant number of items.
  • Users can configure multiple websites on Wix.
  • Wix allows for swift use of multiple currencies.
  • The platform offers marketing solutions developed to improve business visibility and growth.
  • Wix provides the possibility of achieving high rankings on Google.

Disadvantages:

  • Requires a lot of hosting power
  • Magento is not easy to set up and requires some dexterity.

OpenCart, for small online shops

Opencart is a free turnkey open source e-commerce solution. It is recommended for small traders and start-ups for its speed of installation and its very low set-up cost.

On the other hand, the number of functionalities and the customization of the e-store remain limited compared to competitors.

WordPress, the #1 CMS

WordPress is a popular CMS platform that offers numerous plugins to easily set up an online store using WooCommerce. With thousands of themes available, users can quickly customize their e-commerce website to suit their business needs.

WooCommerce is an efficient solution that can be tailored to fit any e-commerce business, regardless of its size. The platform's greatest advantage is its ease of implementation - users can choose a relevant theme, download it from WordPress, and after some basic configuration, have their store ready to launch.

In addition to its simplicity, WordPress offers many other features that can enhance your e-commerce site and increase your revenue, often available for free. However, to fully utilize all of WordPress's capabilities, it is beneficial to have a solid understanding of HTML and CSS.

E-commerce for budding developers

This free and open source solution can be installed on any dedicated server, provided you have mastered the procedure.

To this end, osCommerce is more intended for entrepreneurs who know how to code or who have a minimum mastery of the basics. Even if it is always possible to call on a service provider for help!

ZenCart, an open-source and free e-commerce solution

ZenCart is a free and open-source e-commerce solution that comes with a range of built-in features. With ZenCart, users can create a comprehensive online store that includes everything they need to promote their business, such as newsletters, gift vouchers, referral systems, multiple payment options, and shipping preferences.

ePro Shopping: your free eCommerce site

Created 100% in France, ePro Shopping has nothing to envy to other e-commerce solutions. This “all-in-one” solution stands out for its many features, its ease of use and the quality of its technical support.

With ePro Shopping you have everything you need to easily create your professional looking online store for free.

Drupal Commerce, ideal for online Social Commerce for free

Drupal Commerce is another open-source solution to create your e-commerce. Very versatile, Drupal Commerce will certainly seduce you thanks to the many extensions and themes it offers.

VirtueMart, the free Joomla e-commerce extension!

VirtueMart is the open-source e-commerce extension of the free Joomla! CMS. Complete and easy to install, VirtueMart will allow you to propel your products internationally thanks to its integrated SEO optimizations.

7 paid platforms to create an e-commerce site

platforms to create an e-commerce site
platforms to create an e-commerce site

WiziShoP

Wizishop is an online sales solution that stands out for its simplicity of installation, which does not require any special knowledge.

This platform offers all the basic functionalities necessary for your e-commerce: order management, sending of newsletters, SEO optimization , mobile version, etc.

In terms of cost, registration is free, but you will have to pay a percentage of your turnover.

Shopify

Shopify is a SaaS platform that allows you to create an e-commerce in 48 hours, from an already existing theme or by building your 100% personalized design with your own graphic charter.

Regarding the price, you will have to pay a monthly subscription which starts at $29/month for small businesses. You will also have to pay commissions on sales.

Oxatis

Created in 2001, Oxatis is a complete e-commerce solution since the hosting of your store can be included.

Accessible for any type of business, more than 400 features are also offered.

Clicboutic

ClicBoutic is an e-commerce site creation software based on Prestashop.

Easy to use, this solution offers many features with a clean interface: enough to create a powerful sales site that will ensure the loyalty of your new customers.

Its monthly subscription starts at 19€/month (in limited version) and goes up to 129€/month for the most powerful online businesses.

Bigcommerce

This e-commerce platform works thanks to the Cloud and allows you to create an online store quickly for any type of business.

BigCommerce offers many features allowing you to manage the back-office as well as the front-office and to follow the conversion of visitors.

Weezbe

Another well-known tool for creating an online store, Weezbe offers a long list of features for a high-performance and secure site. For example, you can create and send emailings.

Weezbe's pricing varies according to your turnover excluding VAT. It will be necessary to count at least 19€ HT per month.

e-monsite

Created in 2004, e-monsite is a “Made in France” solution which was first seen as a complex tool to master. However, the features offered are interesting and sometimes up to the standard of large CMSs, not to mention that there are many possibilities for optimizing SEO and creating a successful e-commerce site .

E-monsite will therefore certainly appeal to people with slightly more advanced skills in the creation of e-commerce sites.

The steps to create an e-commerce site

The steps to create an e-commerce site
The steps to create an e-commerce site

1. Competitive analysis

You have of course already defined your sector of activity, now you need to carry out a market study of it.

  • Identify competitors,
  • their marketing positioning,
  • their way of communicating,
  • determine their market share.

After evaluating the competition, you can determine your unique selling points in order to differentiate yourself from them. Do you possess any competitive advantages, such as offering products that they do not?

If not, consider devising a distinctive communication strategy that will provide you with the originality necessary to launch your e-commerce business. Additionally, identify your target audience based on factors such as gender, age range, and consumer behavior.

2. Preparation of the specifications

Once you have established your direction, it is time to solidify your plan for creating your e-commerce website.

  • What features do you need?
  • How should your site work?
  • What tree structure and number of pages do you want?

In these specifications, you can also make a summary of your market study, to give the service provider an idea of ​​the competitive environment in which your project is located and so that he can advise you.

3. Choosing the solution to create your e-commerce

Depending on the criteria established in the specifications, such as the target clientele (sale between professionals or sale to individuals), but also your budget or the time available, several solutions are available to you for the creation of your website. . For example, you can opt for:

  1. Developing a fully functional online store that is easily accessible to customers, allowing them to purchase and make payments directly on your website.
  2. Registering your products on one or more marketplaces, such as Amazon, Cdiscount, or Rakuten, in order to expand your reach and increase sales.
  3. Creating an extranet for existing customers, which is a secure website that provides access to your products and allows customers to place orders.

4. Import of the product catalog

One of the most critical aspects of creating an online sales site is the products. To ensure a smooth process, it is crucial to obtain accurate data from your suppliers, such as weight and dimensions, which can be used to calculate shipping costs on your e-commerce site. Barcodes or unique references per product are also necessary.

In addition, high-quality product photos are essential, and contextualizing them can enhance their appeal to potential buyers. If you manufacture your products, it is your responsibility to collect this data and create product sheets for your online store.

These product sheets serve a dual purpose: they are what prompts a sale and also how your online store is ranked by search engines. Blank or incomplete product sheets will not convert customers and will not be ranked well by search engines.

With a fully informed product file, importing the data into your e-commerce solution should be straightforward.

5. Selection of means of payment

The means of payment must be defined upstream in order to configure them on the site and configure them. Setting up a payment method can take time, remember to take this time into account in your schedule.

Depending on the type of clientele targeted, one method of payment will be more appropriate than another. Do not stop at just one of them: Internet users like to have a choice. You can choose at least 3 payment methods from the following list:

  • the credit card
  • the check
  • the bank transfer
  • virtual wallets like Paypal or Stripe (which accept credit card)
  • sampling

6. Choice of delivery methods

The delivery method and associated rates are critical factors to consider, as they can greatly impact customer satisfaction and purchase decisions. Inappropriate delivery options or high shipping costs can lead to shopping cart abandonment.

It is important to note that customers are highly sensitive to delivery prices and often compare offers before making a purchase. Even if your products are priced lower than your competitors, customers may opt to shop elsewhere if your delivery costs are deemed too high. As such, it is crucial to ensure that your shipping rates are competitive and reasonable in order to retain customers and drive sales.

What methods of delivery of your items will you offer?

  • Home delivery ?
  • Relay point delivery?
  • Chronopost or Colissimo?
  • Private carrier like UPS, DPD?

You must make your choice taking into account the type of product sold, the method and the delivery rate of your competitors.

7. Writing the content of the e-commerce site

The content on the pages of your online sales site is just as important as your product sheets. It informs and builds the trust of potential customers and also improves your natural search engine ranking. For example, the "Who We Are" page reassures customers about your company's ethics, practices, and experience.

The delivery methods page informs customers about shipping times and prices. If additional content pages are required, or if you want to add a blog to your online store, prepare the content in advance. Your "fixed" pages should be online on the day of the launch. For the blog, it's also a good idea to offer some articles to give visitors a sense of what to expect in terms of future content.

It's a good idea to prepare as much content as possible beforehand because once the store is launched, you may not have the time to add content regularly. If you need help with content creation, you can delegate the task to freelance writers who specialize in creating SEO-optimized content. They can provide you with quality content in a short amount of time.

Which solution to choose for the creation of your shop?

There are three main types of e-commerce solutions for merchants:

  • Utilizing an existing sales platform, such as a Marketplace, which enables merchants to open a professional account and sell their products.
  • Utilizing a "turnkey" e-commerce offer, also known as "SaaS" ("Software as a Service"), provided by companies like Shopify, Wizishop, etc.
  • Creating a personalized site from scratch with the help of a professional developer. This can also be done using open-source solutions such as WordPress and WooCommerce, which require the merchant to host their own site.

What mentions must appear on your site?

Let's wrap up with the essential elements that should appear on your e-commerce website:

  • The establishment's name, legal structure, and physical location, or the headquarters' address.
  • For a company, the total share capital, or if an individual entrepreneur, the full name, surname, and residential address.
  • An email address and a phone number where customers can contact you.
  • The trade and company register registration number.
  • If you are a micro-enterprise, provide your intra-community VAT number or indicate that you are exempt from it.
  • Contact information for the hosting site.
  • General conditions of sale (GTC).
  • A simplified declaration number obtained from the CNIL.
  • Any specific details that apply to your business, such as a registration number in the trades directory for a craft activity or regulated professions' rules.

Is it a good idea to create a free e-commerce site?

Having an online store can be highly advantageous for several reasons.

Firstly, it provides an opportunity to improve your search engine ranking by utilizing appropriate keywords for search engine optimization (SEO). This can be advantageous in the long-term, as you can make changes and updates to your online store as needed to maintain a competitive edge in the market.

Secondly, an online store operates 24/7, allowing for sales to be made at any time, unlike a physical store.

Additionally, in today's market, having an online presence is crucial for visibility and brand awareness. By not having an online presence, your business may lack visibility and struggle to compete in the market.

Opting for a free e-commerce platform allows you to retain ownership of your data, chosen design, store name, and even the ability to switch hosting providers if desired.

Why use a CMS dedicated to e-commerce?

A Content Management System (CMS) is a software tool that provides pre-designed templates for website creation. It enables users to build their website without requiring specific technical knowledge. Essentially, a CMS allows for the easy creation of a website by providing pre-built templates that can be customized and adapted to meet individual needs.

The advantages of this type of tool are:

  • CMS tools are often free, making website creation very affordable and quick.
  • They are easy to use and do not require significant technical expertise.
  • CMS tools are popular, which means there is a wealth of resources available to help solve any issues that may arise.
  • CMS tools are responsive and can automatically adjust to different screen sizes, saving users time and effort.
  • Natural referencing (SEO) is made simple with various plugins that are available.
  • Using pre-designed templates (themes) provided by CMS tools can save a significant amount of time during the website creation process.
  • You do not need extensive technical knowledge to manage a website using a CMS.
  • Free or paid plugins offer many features that can enhance the functionality of a website created using a CMS.

Cons of CMS:

  • It is not fully customizable, so your site will never be truly unique.
  • You can tend to get lost in the operation, because CMS offer multiple features that you will probably never need, but which complicate the use.
  • Setting up the CMS can seem complicated at first glance and sometimes requires a basic technical knowledge.

Things to remember to create your free e-commerce site

Although creating an e-commerce site may not be overly complex, it can be time-consuming, particularly when it comes to developing content or undertaking administrative tasks associated with creating a business. To achieve success in the e-commerce world, patience and effort are required.

It is important to note that the majority of work required will come after the launch of your online store. Running an e-commerce site also necessitates knowledge and expertise, which can be acquired through experience.

MITA SGTINF
By : MITA SGTINF
My name is Duc "JOSEF" Le and I work in Digital Marketing at Mageplaza and BlogAvada. Mageplaza offers a comprehensive collection of over 230 extensions that are designed to work seamlessly with the latest versions of Magento 2 (Adobe Commerce). Meanwhile, BlogAvada is a blog that serves as a platform for sharing information related to websites, mobile apps, e-commerce, digital marketing, and other related topics. I encourage you to visit our websites to learn more about what we have to offer.
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