E-Commerce Website Builder Provider Comparison

It is cheaper and easier than ever for business owners to launch and manage their own e-commerce enabled website. The first step is to choose a web-hosting company that provide the features that you need at a price that meets your budget. With so many startups offering similar services at various prices, it might seem like an overwhelming task to settle on just one. The good news is that once you whittle down the choices to just the major players, the selection becomes much easier.

InstantEcom, Shopify, Squarespace, Weebly and Wix are five of the most prominent web-hosting providers that have e-commerce focused tools. Each offer the same basic services: customizable pages, shopping carts, product and inventory management, marketing tools and social network integration. Choosing the right company for you will depend on which of these aspects are more important to your business, so you’ll want to go with the host that appears to have put more effort into the features that matter to you.

One of the first things that you’ll need to consider is how much control you’ll need over the design of your store. All of the listed companies offer a wide variety of professionally designed pre-made templates to use for free on your site. These are useful if you want to get your website up and running as quickly as possible, as you can worry about making it look unique later on in the process. Each company does allow you to manually edit your website’s CSS and HTML templates-so if you need to make your online shop match the look and feel of your existing site-it is possible to do so with all of these companies.

If you do eventually plan on making your shop look unique and have no idea how to code or what CSS is, you may want to choose one of the providers that have an easy-to-use page layout editor. Shopify and InstantEcom allow you to customize your store’s design, but lack the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors that the other companies provide. With a WYSIWYG editor, you can drag-and-drop parts of your website, add sections and headings and create new pages on the fly. This method makes it much easier for non-designers to create websites that match their branding.

You will also want to consider the level of product and inventory management that is needed, and choose accordingly. Each of these companies offer these particular features, though the level of customization and the methods of reporting differ slightly, so it’s best to look into those factors individually and make sure that your product line and services are compatible with their software. For instance, if you sell highly-customizable products, you’ll want to make sure that the e-commerce builder that you are using will allow for creating complex product variations easily.

Each company does offer a unique spin or service that might make you lean more towards their offerings. For example, Wix offers an extensive blogging system for companies that want to engage their clientele with regular news and blog posts. Only Wix and Shopify offer a built-in App Market where you can acquire plugins to integrate into and extend the features of your shop. If customization and design are important, Shopify has a theme store where exclusive premium templates are available to acquire and use. Squarespace has an additional focus on digital assets and have tools that make it easier to manage large galleries of images, video and audio. If you need a lot of control over the design of the mobile version of your website, Weebly has a special editor for this purpose that is not available with the other companies. Lastly, InstantEcom offers additional utilities that you can integrate into your store, including newsletters, polls and press releases.

If you like to try before-you-buy, both InstantEcom and Shopify offer free trials that last ten and fourteen days, respectively. After the trials end, InstantEcom costs $19.95 per month and Shopify will run you $29 for the basic plan. Wix is within the same price range at $29.90 while Squarespace has a limited plan as low as $8. Weebly offers their basic service for free, though they do sell an upgraded Pro plan after you create an account. Once you’ve found a hosting provider with an e-commerce builder at a price that you like, you’ll be ready to sell in no time!