13 Platforms For Creating Customizable Online Stores
If you have a product to sell and an ounce of sticktuitiveness, the barrier for entry into the world of online sales is less daunting than ever. Just pick a platform, select and tweak a template, take some product shots and you're up and running.
But with such a bounty of offerings, choosing which platform to start with can be a job in itself. Do you go with a full-featured site platform? Something targeted towards e-commerce? A niche field?
Here are a few of our favorites to help you get started.
Big Cartel is one of the biggest ecommerce platforms on the web, primarily focusing on designers, artists, bands and other creative folks. Most notably, Big Cartel has some great templates you can tweak (no code needed, but you can use your own CSS/HTML if you want), and a host of analytics tools to track your activity and growth.
Plans run from free for five products (one image per) to $29.99/mo for 300 products (five images per) and a number of extra benefits including inventory tracking and the use of custom domain names. And best of all "Big Cartel does not charge any listing or per transaction fees. The normal PayPal fees still apply."
Extra credit: Here's the cool story of the 100,000th Big Cartel store.
As far as customizability goes, Squarespace is one of the most intuitive platforms on the web. With its simple "Layout Engine" editing interface, you can make your sites, blogs and stores look just how you want them to, and with an impressive list of third-party integrations, your shops can be more flexible than ever.
Setting up shop for business is a premium Squarespace offering, and costs $24.99/mo billed annually or $30 month-to-month. But with that, you get no transaction fees (normal Stripe fees still apply), unlimited products, pages and storage, inventory tracking, page analytics and tax, shipping and coupon control.
While Tictail may not have the full site capabilities of a platform like Squarespace (although it isn't that far off), it may just be the easiest platform for setting up a store. It's so easy in fact, that you can sign up with your Facebook and Twitter account, pick a template (CSS and HTML customization is available), set some basic information up in the dashboard and launch.
From a pricing standpoint, Tictail is rather interesting. For many users, starting up a store and getting started with Paypal is free. From Tictail, "That means no monthly fees, zero percentage cut on transactions, no product caps like limited number of products or bandwidth and no additional checkout fees (normal PayPal and Klarna fees still apply)." Where money does come into play is with the advanced features available in their "app store." Prices vary per item, and include features like the use of custom domains, Zopim live chat, discount services and a nice list builder for community building.
Like the storefronts of yesteryear, the best way to catch a customers eye is to look clean and fresh. And with more than 100 themes in the Theme Store (including plenty of great responsive options), you should be covered with Shopify. Tack on a full-featured CMS, tons of third-party integrations and advanced marketing tools and you have yourself quite a platform.
Starter plans start at $14/mo, and give you the ability to use custom domains, 25 products and 1 GB file storage. Advanced plans go all the way to $179/mo, and give you unlimited everything, preferred transaction fees, professional reports and basically anything anyone would ever need to run a professional business.
There's something refreshingly honest about SupaDupa's mission statement, "We didn't set out to build something for everyone, our job is not to appeal to the most people, it's to create a place for the people who care about the things we care about, like beauty, truth and making things to love, with love."
Geared primarily towards clothing designers, SupaDupa offers more than 45 professionally designed themes, and all the stability and security you'd want with a professional store. Plans start at free for 10 products (one image per), then incrementally rise to the unlimited plan for $49/mo, which give you custom domain capabilities, full design control and preferred processing fees.
Templates are wonderful tools for users with no design background to create online stores, but wouldn't it just be easier to have someone do it for you? Well, for $660, Airsquare will do just that--or you could choose from a wide selection of responsive templates with customizable layouts, fonts and colors.
Online shops cost $39/mo, and include a 1% transaction fee, custom domain usage, free email marketing tools and $5 upgrades for custom email addresses and Xero, MailChimp and Vend integration.
Back in 2011, a great company called Sofa was acquired by Facebook, leaving Checkout and Enstore to be split off from Versions and Kaleidoscope to go to Acclivity, a big player in the ecommerce world. My history may be a bit fuzzy there, but today, Enstore is now as viable as ever—and is totally free.
Yes. Free. The way it works is that Enstore gives you all the basics you'd need to run an ecommerce site. Fully customizable design, Google hosting, an integrated shopping cart and payments through most major merchants. But when your store gets serious, you can plug in Checkout and AccountEdge (two paid Acclivity products) to really go pro.
Like Big Cartel and a few of the other platforms on the list, Goodsie is a platform designed for small-to-medium sized stores. But unlike some of the others, Goodsie makes design customizations incredibly easy with a visual CSS interface. And with a number of polished themes to make your own, it's a great platform for beginners.
Goodsie plans start at $30/mo and have no transaction fees, unlimited products and hosting space and access to just about any payment system out there via Braintree, Paypal, Stripe, Google and Authorize.net. Premium sites with advanced shipping logistics and email marketing are $75/mo.
10 million sites created. Easy store creation. A well-made iOS app for mobile access. There's a lot to like about Jimdo, the Hamburg-based platform created for simple site building in 2007, but perhaps the nicest feature is the ability to create and launch a bare-bones store for free.
Many of the features you'll want for your store start at $90/yr then jump to $240/yr for a business account. Paid features include custom domain names, payment options including checks (paper ones!) and advanced site design customizations.
Getting into the ecommerce ecosystem is easy these days, but using a platform owned by eBay—possibly the largest ecommerce site ever—isn't a bad way to go. And with some huge companies like Nike, Toms and Breville using the Enterprise Edition, you know you'll be in good company.
For the purposes of running a small business store, we recommend using Magento Go, with customizable designs, infinite product options and a handful of customer engagement tools to get your store going. Prices run from $15/mo to $125/mo, all with no transaction fees, access to all the Magento tools and ample space for stores of all sizes.
While many of the other platforms on the list feature infinite individuality, Storenvy thrives in providing a large Etsy-like storefront for all its sites to feature their wares (including this lovely shirt).
But don't fret, Storenvy also lets you setup your own site, complete with custom CSS/HTML (or templates), easy inventory tracking and up to 500 products for free. And for just $5/mo, you can use your own custom domain—the most important step for any savvy business owner.
Big stores, small stores—Flying Cart can handle them all with workmanlike efficiency. Take control of your code or use a template, then use a mass of backend tools and services, like social integration, inventory tracking and custom domain usage to get the job done.
Plans run from $9.99/mo for 25 products to $349.99/mo for 20,000 products, email hosting, phone support and advanced product management tools.
Instead of giving you the built-in tools needed to set up your own store, Virb teamed up with Big Cartel and Etsy to allow for easy store/product imports. And given Virb's track record of cool updates and add-ons, we'd recommend giving them a look.
Note: All costs are in USD and are subject to change. Please check the respective websites for updated costs and features.