An ecommerce website platform is what any business needs to successfully sell goods online, and several are actually free to launch and come with no monthly fees. We looked at the most popular options and rising stars and decided to review Square, Ecwid, and Spreesy. These companies covered the range for small businesses in terms of online selling and order management features in a free ecommerce website. Read on for our comparison and review of these three options, as well as our top recommendations.
Best Free Ecommerce Website: Square
Of our three top picks, only Square provides a free ecommerce website that lets you both list unlimited products and have control over item categorization. Plus, it directly integrates with an impressive retail point-of-sale system, all for no monthly fees. Both factors, combined with price and ease-of-use, make Square our number one pick overall, and for retail stores looking to expand into online sales.
Best Free Ecommerce Website Platform 2017 Comparison Table: Square vs. Ecwid vs. Spreesy
|Best For||Sellers wanting a free online store or who want to combine online, in-store, mobile & in-person sales||Sellers adding an online store to WordPress, Wix, Weebly or other websites||Sellers wanting to sell in an online store and on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest & Twitter|
|Payment Processing Fees||2.9% + 30¢ per transaction||EcwidPay 2.75% + 30¢ per transaction|
Or other payment processors available
|Total 5.9% + 30¢ per transaction: |
Combining Spreesy’s 3% and PayPal’s 2.9% + 30¢ per sale fees
|Unlimited||10 items on Free plan||Unlimited|
|Ease of Setup & Order Management Tools|
|Simple all-in-one solution with a full suite of order management tools||Store setup and order management tools are simple to use. Includes a one-page starter store, or add your store to WordPress, Wix, Weebly or other websites||Simple all-in-one solution with easy-to-use order management tools|
|Appearance and Functionality|
|Choose from four modern designs for a tidy, multi-category one-page store layout||Unlimited design options depending on host website.|
Full-featured multi-page store
|Limited site design, items list randomly in a single Pinterest-style site|
|Social Sales Integrations|
|None||Facebook Shop||Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest & Twitter|
|ShipStation||Ordoro, ShippingEasy & ShipStation||ShipStation|
|Phone, chat, email, online form & forums|
|Phone, email, & social support|
6am-6pm PST, M-F
|Email & online form |
Best Free Ecommerce Website: Square
Simply put, every free Square account provides an amazing array of powerful sales and business management tools that soundly beats every platform we reviewed. And that includes it’s free ecommerce website. Square is a leading payments processor and the only monthly fees you ever pay are for processing credit cards for when you make a sale. See how easy it is to set up a free Square online store here.
In actual end-of-the-day fees, Square’s 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction fees comes in far cheaper than Spreesy, which charges a 3% transaction fee on top of PayPal’s payment processing fees. However, Ecwid lets you choose payment providers, so it can be cheaper than Square in this facet, but not by much.
You can easily list as many products as you wish in your Square store, and categorize them any way you like. But the storefront is quite simple and your items all appear on one page. Square’s online store doesn’t let you build out separate product category pages, store information pages, or a blog. In this, Ecwid’s full-store functionality is the best of all three options, but its free version limits you to just 10 items, which can be a drawback. Square and Spreesy both top Ecwid with unlimited items on the basic plan, but their sites aren’t as full-featured.
Where Square really shines is in tying all of your sales together, in-store, mobile, and online, in one tidy management tool. No other free ecommerce website does all this. You can manage all of your sales conveniently from one account and inventory dashboard, even for multiple physical store locations. It’s really an impressive tool all around. It even integrates with ShipStation so you can easily compare shipping rates and print shipping labels for online, in-store, and phone orders.
Where Square falls short of both Spreesy and Ecwid is in social selling integrations. Square’s online store doesn’t integrate directly to sell on social platforms. Since Spreesy is made for social selling, you can list products on Facebook, Pinterest, and more in a flash. And Ecwid’s free store includes a full Facebook Shop integration.
Best Free Ecommerce Website for Selling on WordPress, Wix, Weebly & Other Websites: Ecwid
Of our top contenders, only Ecwid offers a free, full-featured ecommerce platform that can be easily added to one or many existing websites on WordPress, Wix, Weebly, and more. Ecwid’s free store even lets you launch a free Facebook shop. Ecwid also integrates with several top shipping solutions, including ShipStation, Shipping Easy, and Ordoro for easy rate comparison and label printing for orders.
All of Ecwid’s selling features are comparable to top-rated ecommerce platforms but, unlike our other top picks, Ecwid’s free store limits you to just 10 item listings. To list more products you have to move to a paid plan with fees starting at $15/mo. However, if you are looking for a free way to sell a small selection of items on unlimited websites, blog platforms, and a Facebook Shop, Ecwid is your answer.
Of the three, Ecwid offers the most robust ecommerce tools. You can list products any way you wish and build a multi-page store with sections and categories. But Ecwid is different than our other two in one major way. It’s designed as add-on store, not a stand-alone. This means you need to have an existing website on WordPress, Wix, Weebly, or another platform to run a full Ecwid store. That said, Ecwid does provide a simple one-page starter store that you can quickly launch to accept orders, then attach to a full website whenever you wish.
A WordPress site starts at $4/mo. with our recommended low-cost hosting solution, BlueHost. See how to quickly set up a WordPress site here so you can start selling with Ecwid. Or, try Ecwid with a free or low-cost Weebly site, see how to set one up here.
If you’re looking to quickly launch a free standalone store with unlimited items, Square may be the better choice. But if you have, or want, a full-featured website with information pages, image galleries, a blog, and an online store, Ecwid makes it all possible. And though it supports a Facebook Shop, Ecwid doesn’t directly integrate with Pinterest and other popular social platforms. For social power-selling, you’ll want to consider Spreesy.
Best Free Ecommerce Website for Selling on Social Media Sites: Spreesy
Spreesy is a newcomer, but being so, it’s built on an impressive modern platform designed specifically for the social seller. Using Spreesy, you can choose to list your items just on social sites including Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and more, plus you get your own free Spreesy Store.
Spreesy clearly tops our other top picks in the social selling category, but its ecommerce website is limited in comparison. Like Square’s online store, Spreesy Store is a simple one-pager, but it offers even fewer organizational bells and whistles.
A Spreesy Store page mimics Pinterest-style listings, but you can’t categorize or organize your products. They’re listed in a random format. That said, if social selling is your goal, you might like Spreesy Store’s styling. Plus, products are added to your Spreesy Store automatically, so it’s a pretty low-maintenance solution. Also, like Square and Ecwid, it integrates with ShipStation so you can easily manage orders, compare shipping rates and print labels.
For payment processing, Spreezy integrates directly with PayPal for both credit card and PayPal payments. So you’ll need a PayPal account to accept payments with Spreesy. Though it doesn’t charge a monthly fee, Spreesy charges a 3% transaction fee on all sales. This means you’ll end up paying both the 3% Spreesy fee and the 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction PayPal processing fee for each sale. This totals 5.9% + 30¢ per transaction on every sale.
However, if your focus is selling across the social sphere, Spreesy’s ease of listing products on all top social media networks can be worth the cost.
How We Chose Which Free Ecommerce Website Platforms to Review
Our primary criteria should be no surprise. We looked for full-featured ecommerce platforms that are free to launch and charge no monthly fees to list items, access, and use the system. That said, selling online will always have a payment processing fee attached to each sale, so it’s never 100% free. But with no monthly platform or listing fees, our three top picks are as close to free as you can get.
After that, we looked for systems that are secure, simple to set up, offer modern design, and support selling methods beyond just a website, like in-store and social selling options. Last, we considered systems that seamlessly connect to shipping software like ShipStation, Ordoro, and Shipping Easy, for hassle-free order and shipping management.
In-Depth Review: Square vs. Ecwid vs. Spreesy
Pricing & Credit Card Processing Fees
While all three of our top picks are free to set up and have no monthly user fees, you still have to pay for credit card processing. Here’s how each works:
All fees are sales-based using Square Payments processing fees of 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction:
Ecwid has its own payment option, EcwidPay, which at 2.75% + 30¢ per transaction is a bit cheaper than Square. Or, you can select from several top payment providers, each with their own fee structure:
Spreesy charges a 3% transaction fee on every sale in addition to your payment processing fee. Currently, PayPal is the only payment option for Spreesy Stores. So, when you combine Spreesy’s fee with PayPal’s 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction fee, Spreesy is the most expensive choice of our free ecommerce websites: 5.9% + 30¢ per transaction on every sale.
PayPal’s Processing Fees for your Spreesy Store:
Both Square and Spreesy let you list unlimited products on their free ecommerce websites. Of our three top picks, only Ecwid limits your listings to 10 items in a free store, as shown below. Product listings increase with Ecwid’s paid plans, which start at $15/mo. You can see and compare all of Ecwid’s free and paid store features here.
Ease of Setup & Order Management Tools
All three of our top picks are user-friendly and require little to no web experience to build and launch. Each features intuitive product entry screens where you can easily create all types of items, even products with options like color, size, and pricing variations. All three also have complete inventory tracking and order management features built-in, plus easy-to navigate store dashboards.
Square provides very simple-to-use product entry, site building, and order management screens. Learn how to quickly set up your Square online store here.
Here’s a look at Square’s item entry screen:
Ecwid has very intuitive product entry, site building, and order management screens. Step-by-step instructions let you easily connect your Ecwid store to WordPress, Wix, and Weebly sites. Learn how to quickly set up a WordPress site here, and how to launch a Weebly site here. See a complete Ecwid demo store and management dashboard in action here.
Here’s a look at Ecwid’s item entry screen:
Spreesy has a simple but complete one-page product entry screen, plus intuitive order management tools. Items are automatically added to your Spreesy Store and to your connected social channels. Or, you have the option to include or hide products as you wish. Spreesy walks you through setting up your social channels and listing products in simple online instructions.
Here’s a look at Spreesy’s item entry screen:
Appearance and Functionality
Of our three, Ecwid provides the most full-featured online store experience, allowing you to create multi-page stores with separate category and store information pages. The other two offer one-page store solutions with varying design options.
Square lets you organize products any way you wish and display them on a one-page website with your choice of four tidy, modern design themes. See how to get started building a free Square online store here.
Here’s a look at Square’s four store theme choices:
Ecwid lets you add a full-featured, multi-page store to most any type of website or blog you wish. So, your store and content options are limited only by your imagination and web design skills. See a complete Ecwid demo store in action here.
Spreesy Store creates a Pinterest-style single-page ecommerce website for you. The only real item listing control you have is hiding items you don’t want to list. However, its modern display is attractive to the social media crowd and very mobile friendly.
Here’s a look at a Spreesy Store:
This is where Spreesy leaps ahead of the others. Want to sell on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and more? Check, check, and check. Ecwid gives you a free Facebook Shop, but Square doesn’t integrate to list items for sale on any social sites at this time.
Includes a Free Facebook Shop, learn more here.
Supports selling on all major social channels: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest & Twitter. Plus, if you already sell on Etsy or Shopify, Spreesy will download your products and make them salable on social channels. Learn more here.
Integrations with online shipping software makes your order management and shipping process a breeze. All three of our top picks integrate with at least one top shipping solution so you can compare shipping rates and quickly print shipping labels. Learn more about how shipping software saves you time and money here.
Of our three top picks, only Square and Ecwid offer phone support. Spreesy only offers support via email and online form.
All Free Ecommerce Website Options
There aren’t a huge number of free ecommerce website platforms on the market. And, as we discussed above, none are truly free when you add the payment processing fees. But not committing to monthly fee is nice, especially if you’re just testing the ecommerce waters. Here are some additional free (meaning no monthly fee) online store options you might consider along with our top picks.
|Software/Service Name||What It is Best For||Description|
|Square||Sellers who want to combine online, in-store & mobile in-person sales||Square is our number one pick, plus the top choice for retail stores looking to expand into online sales with a free ecommerce website. It ties in-store, mobile, and online sales together in one tidy management tool.|
|Ecwid||Sellers adding a store to WordPress, Wix, Weebly or other blogs or websites||Ecwid is our top free online store pick for easily selling on WordPress, Wix, Weebly, and even Facebook. The downside is that the free version is limited to 10 item listings.|
|Spreesy||Sellers focused on social media sales||Spreesy is our top free ecommerce website pick for sellers wanting to list products on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram & Twitter along with their own store.|
|WooCommerce||Sellers with WordPress sites and some setup experience||WooCommerce powers nearly half of all WordPress stores and is a free add-on if you have a WordPress site. It has many power-selling features but has a steeper learning curve than our top three picks. |
See more free WordPress Shopping Carts here.
|FreeWebStore||Sellers looking for a free basic solution||FreeWebStore is a hosted solution has pretty impressive user reviews and its free version supports 20 listings.|
|PrestaShop||Sellers with some web store setup experience||PrestaShop is an free open-source ecommerce platform that offers some advanced features but requires hosting setup and is for the seasoned web store user.|
|OpenCart||Sellers with some web store setup experience||OpenCart is an free open-source ecommerce platform that offers many features but requires hosting setup and is for the seasoned web store user.|
|Wix & Weebly with Ecwid||Sellers wanting a free Wix or Weebly Store||Wix & Weebly now charge for their hosted ecommerce website features, but if you have a Wix or Weebly site, you can use the free Ecwid store to sell up to 10 items.|
The Bottom Line
There aren’t many free hosted ecommerce website platforms available, but the few that are get the job done in a number of ways. Of our top three free ecommerce website picks, none offers a total solution, but each fills a specific selling need very well. So you’ll need to decide which features are most important to you.
If you already operate a retail store, Square provides a great all-in-one solution for online and offline sales. If you have, or want, a full-featured content site with a free online store, Ecwid works well with an impressive number of platforms. But you’re limited to 10 items unless you pay a monthly fee. If social selling is your focus, Spreesy lets you blanket social sites with your products. But it comes at a higher per-sale cost than the others, and a limited stand-alone store.
The good news is it costs nothing to create an account with each and check out your options. Once is sure to be a good fit for your unique online selling needs.