When you have your product ready to go, you don’t have time to play with one website builder after another. That’s why we’ve selected what we think are the top website builders for businesses launching into the world of selling online. There is so much more to consider when launching an eStore. Not only are ease of use and design important, but you need all the functionality to make your eStore and your products easy to find, your site easy to use, and your updating and recordkeeping easy to manage.
As www.EasyEcommerceHK.com points out, you may even want to open up your customer base to the world, in which case, not only are multi language options crucial, but the ability to deal with various currencies and international shipping are key as well. Out of the over 300 platforms available, we would like you to look at these: Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, Wix, and SquareSpace.
- Safe and Secure
- 24/7 Support
- Themes and Ease of Customization
- Language Options
- Ready to GROW with you
- Some shipping discounts available
- Up to 20% discount on multiple year plan
- Offers lots of Languages, Even Chinese, here is a great resource: https://easyecommercehk.com/網店平台/shopify-香港/
- Shopify transaction fees
- Cost of apps can add up
- Can only accept other currencies using Shopify Payment
Let’s start with Shopify, a dedicated ecommerce website builder that is self-hosted and powers over 1,000,000 businesses. Shopify knows how to do stores because selling online is their main focus. Best for small to medium stores and beginners who need an easy to use editor and great support–24/7 live chat and phone support. They have a huge variety of apps to increase functionality, though the cost of these can add up! For example, they allow only three product selection options (like small, medium, large) unless you change coding or purchase an app.
Best of all, you can rest assured that Shopify takes care of all the security issues. All stores powered by Shopify are PCI compliant to the highest level by default, so payment information and business data are safe. Shopify also allows you to sell directly from your website, across multiple marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, and on social media.
Shopify’s Design and Customization
For basic functions, you will be able to set up a Shopify store yourself, without a lot of tech knowledge. For many customizations, however, like adding languages, you will need to learn their coding language, Liquid, or hire some help. Shopify does offer a drag and drop app at a cost of $19 USD/month (a free 14-day trial is available) that greatly simplifies the initial process.
As far as design goes, Shopify has over 70 very professional, clean designs, all of which are responsive (able to be fully viewed and used on all devices). Ten are free; others range from $140-$180. Standard features packed into themes include access to free stock photos by Burst, SEO optimization, and drop-down navigation support.
Themes also have a variety of features from which you can choose. For example, one feature available is the story-focused product page.
Shopify and Languages
Shopify is based in Canada and advertises that it is available in 20 languages, including [enter language here]. Depending on the plan, you can create separate URLs for translations of your ecommerce store. Though this is not available in the Shopify Basic plan, you can have two languages in the Shopify Plan, five in Shopify Advanced, or twenty in the Shopify Plus plan.
Unfortunately, search works only in the primary language. The good thing is that Shopify considers updating language features as a priority.
But there are other issues with going international with Shopify. One is that adding languages is difficult and requires coding skill and a translation widget (a monthly charge is common).
Shopify encourages use of their own “Shopify Payment” gateway, on which 17 countries’ currencies are accepted, including [Hong Kong SAR China]. They also provide multiple other payment gateways.
Collecting payment with Shopify will be secure and easy; they provide a number of gateways for payment, but the drawback is that all have transaction fees unless you use their payment gateway, Shopify Payment. But only Shopify Payments can be used for multiple currencies. Shopify also has a country specific tax calculator available.
You can also get Shopify POS which is a payment gateway accessible on your phone, either android or iOS. It allows you to accept payment at in-person marketing settings or in-store.
Support is top notch, even with the cheapest Shopify plan, meaning you can get 24/7 support via phone and live chat.
Shopify Plus—ready when your business is booming!—is based on custom pricing, but will be about $2000 USD/month. Shopify offers discounts for paying for two years or three years and even provides ShopifyLite to add products to any website or blog and accept credit card payments for only $9 USD per month. Find the full details of features included with each plan at https://www.shopify.com/pricing.
- Tops in built-in features even at lowest plan level
- Multi-function currency options at lowest plan level
- Multi-channel selling including Amazon and eBay
- Language Switch Button
- Allows lots of product selection options at no extra charge
- Live support 24/7 as well as training available
- 10% discount for two year payment on Plus or Pro plans
- Minimal selection of free themes and fonts
- Must calculate out-of-country tax manually
- Search only available in primary language
BigCommerce is another dedicated eCommerce platform, boasting the largest number of built-in features that will power your sales, features like unlimited products, storage, and bandwidth, unlimited staff accounts, multi-currency checkout and international shipping, multi-channel selling that includes social media as well as Amazon, and eBay, a mobile app, and the ability to have your products rated and reviewed. Your control panel is available in several languages: Chinese, French, Italian, Spanish, and Ukrainian. You get all this even on the cheapest plan and BigCommerce takes no transaction fee! Plans are unique in that they have selling caps as follows:
The Standard is $29.95 USD/month, Plus is $79.95 USD/month, and Pro is $299.95 USD/month. They give a 15-day free trial and sometimes run a first month free promotion.
Customers find BigCommerce sites easy to navigate, and notice the switch language button in the upper right corner, though product search names will not be translated.
The big drawback is that Big Commerce is not particularly easy to use. While BigCommerce has put in a new drag and drop feature, it tends to be a bit “clunky” at times and bugs are being worked out. Layout options are limited. Initial set up may require developer help, especially if languages are added. There are a number of capable developers as well as help from BegCommerce.
BigCommerce also has very limited free templates, technically about one dozen but they are quite similar with only three or four font selections. Paid templates (about 150 available) have more variety, of course, and will cost between $150-$300.
We have included Magento—owned by Adobe since 2018—in this review because they are top-notch and used by approximately 20% of all ecommerce sites, most of them large. Who could ignore such a big player?
While Magento is open source, meaning you can download it and use it for free, to get needed SEO, backup, and security, you will need to pay. A plan will cost upwards of $2000 USD/month, though it is hard to estimate since plans are customized.
Magento certainly has everything you need and more, but it has required technological skill and coding to get it started, and there really isn’t any live support. Many businesses that use Magento have dedicated developers or hire out to manage their web store.
The platform can also handle multi language needs and is set up to scale internationally. If you are a large, growing company with a big budget, don’t ignore this major player!
Wix is not dedicated solely to ecommerce, so you may not be able to scale in the same way you can with platforms like Shopify.
That said, over 500,000 stores use Wix. Why? Several reasons! Here you can view some sample small business sites powered by Wix: https://www.wix.com/blog/ecommerce/2018/10/ecommerce-website-design-examples.
- Intuitive drag-and-drop design
- Hundreds of professional templates
- Multi language features without coding
- Free Trial–beyond 14 days
- Multiple ways to accept various currencies
- No commissions or transaction fees
- Shipping discounts available
- Wix Payments only available in US and European countries
- Not set up for larger inventories
If you are starting out and have a small store, Wix is the easiest to design, known for its intuitive, drag and drop editor. Wix also has good, built-in SEO and the chance to offer coupons and discounts, run email campaigns, and so on. You can sell on multiple channels as well.
Wix makes it possible to sell internationally, accept various types of payments, and ship internationally. You can also translate your store with no coding necessary. Wix suggests using Weglot for translation.
Wix package options are many, and thus, somewhat confusing. Good news: no hidden costs and fees, and upgrades are easy.
If you are looking to integrate a small store into a website with other features, like a blog, portfolio, video posts and so on, SquareSpace is worth a look. SquareSpace advertises that they will help you “showcase your products at their absolute best,” and they are right about that!
Opposite of the dedicated sites, SquareSpace is multi-dimensional, and can give you a unified, easy to navigate website that sells along with other tasks. Because of that versatility, it may not have the deep functionalities you want for larger inventories. For example, their analytics are not eCommerce focused and thus not very in depth.
- Cutting-edge design and easy navigation; fully responsive
- Easy design/edit interface
- Numerous eCommerce extensions
- Integrates well as a multi-dimensional website
- Variety of support available
- Transaction fee of 3% business plan level
- Not able to scale internationally
- Comparatively few extensions/no app store
The website platform you choose should be based on your unique needs. For someone adding several products to existing content, you may not want a dedicated eCommerce builder, but if you have visions of growing a digital or physical product line and marketing to an expanding customer base, Shopify, BigCommerce, and even Magento are worth your time to explore. Take advantage of free trial periods to explore the offerings and see how your product presents!