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The economic impact of COVID-19 on the British economy cannot be understated given how extensive and longstanding quarantines have affected the commercial sector, particularly the retail and foodservice industries. This unprecedented historical event has led to a serious paradigm shift: purveyors, entrepreneurs, and franchisees are now looking into (and have delved into) the possibilities offered by online commerce or eCommerce. As a result, many software development companies are ramping up the notion of offering online/cloud-hosted site builders as a Software as a Service (SaaS) to help entrepreneurs make the shift. But that begs the question: which programme is the best eCommerce UK platform?
We've tested hundreds of paid eCommerce companies in UK and free eCommerce website UK software and used them to create online stores for clients. In this article, we present our curated list of the best UK eCommerce website builders so you can narrow down your choices.
What is an eCommerce UK platform?
First of all, what is a UK eCommerce website builder?
eCommerce platforms are Software as a Services (SaaS) packages that are used to create online stores, enabling users to customise everything from the appearance of their storefronts and even their marketing campaigns. While, in principle, eCommerce platforms UK have everything standard site builders have in terms of functionality, these also have measures that are specific to ecommerce such as integration with payment portals, appointment booking calendars, and inventory management solutions.
In this article, we bring you the details, and pros and cons, of the best eCommerce platform UK users can subscribe to.
Our Handpicked Best eCommerce Platform UK List:
We made a shortlist of the five (plus one bonus) best uk eCommerce website builder, citing easy to use options to get selling online;
- Shopify (and Shopify Plus) – The Best All-In-One Ecommerce Platform
- Squarespace – The Best Ecommerce UK Platform for Creatives
- BigCommerce – The Best eCommerce Software UK-based Medium to Large Stores Will Love
- Wix eCommerce – The Best UK eCommerce Website Builder for Flexibility and Customisation
- WooCommerce – Best eCommerce Software UK WordPress Site Owners Deserve
- Bonus – Ecwid – The Best eCommerce UK Clients Can Integrate with their Existing Sites
Before we go into more detail for each of these platforms you are probably wondering how we chose our top picks for best eCommerce platform UK.
How to Choose the Best eCommerce Platform UK?
We used a pretty stringent set of guidelines in order to determine the best ecommerce platform UK based on category and ease of use. The following criteria were considered in the screening process:
Ease of Use:
Can you use it right on initial login or is there a learning curve prior to being able to use UK eCommerce website builder? Believe it or not, some eCommerce UK platforms have a steep learning curve before you can use them.
Features and Flexibility:
What bells and whistles come with the eCommerce UK package? Can you use them all or does use depend on the subscription tier you’ve chosen to pay? Also, how does it perform in terms of being able to customise the appearance and service offerings for a great customer experience?
SEO and Mobility:
Does your best eCommerce platform UK option offer tools that can help you make your site/online store more searchable via Google, Bing, or any other search engine? Also, is there a mobile app that enables you to manage your store on the fly or, at the very least, allow you to look into customer orders whilst on the go?
Added functionality is another major draw for any UK eCommerce website builder, and any measures related to running an online store are welcomed by most business owners, particularly those which take the guesswork out of taxation, delivery, international currency conversion, and marketing.
Support and Resources:
Does the platform offer 24/7 technical support? And, if it does, how do you get it: live chat, Messenger, or phone? Plus, you need to check if your platform has a working and frequently updated knowledge base in case you need some information fast.
Does your UK ecommerce website builder of choice fit your budget? Pricing is the tale of the tape where even the best ecommerce platform UK are concerned: some may offer reasonable prices on the onset, but buyers need to double-check for hidden charges or exact service inclusions in the subscription packages available.
The Best eCommerce UK Platforms in detail:
Shopify and its premium service Shopify Plus are considered the gold standard when it comes to an ecommerce UK site builder with practically everything one needs to create both a stellar storefront and an easy to manage the back-end of the shop. For the most part, Shopify appeals to smaller-scale operators, but note that many of these actually offer high-end, even bespoke products and services.
What is Shopify’s biggest draw for its users? Functionality for the most part: all the tools you need to create a smart-looking and responsive shopfront are at your fingertips and there are numerous third-party integrations and solutions to make running your online retail hub a breeze. SEO? It’s built-in. Rapid page loading? It’s practically the industry standard.
The only issue we have with this eCommerce software UK is the fact that it does charge users a 2 per cent fee per transaction once your earnings have crossed a certain threshold, but that’s a relatively minor issue in light of the benefits the platform has in the long run.
- A great choice for businesses operating on a smaller scale;
- Offers over 70 payment gateways to cater to its growing international clientele;
- Fastest page loading speed in the industry.
- Charges 2% per transaction;
- Limited options for merchandising and marketing.
Among the hardest hit by the pandemic are the members of the creative community. Visual artists have been severely hampered by the inability to hold exhibitions or put installations into public spaces. Musicians lament the lack of gigs, and cineastes are hard-pressed to find safe venues for screening their work. For these reasons, Squarespace eCommerce UK has the creative community’s vote as their ecommerce platform of choice.
Squarespace eCommerce UK has given creatives a new lease on life through an ecommerce platform that allows for the sale of non-tangible merchandise such as digital downloads and streaming media. Also, there are provisions for when live performances will once more be possible: Squarespace has a solution for scheduling services (such as gigs and commissions) built right into its UI.
- Exquisite selection of templates for gallery building
- Ecommerce functionality enables users to sell digital downloads such as music or film files;
- The service function of the platform gives performers a way to allow clients to book gigs or schedule interviews and appearances.
- Not for those on a tight budget, as it sets you back $12-40 monthly;
- Non-intuitive site builder;
- Lack of preview function keeps you from seeing your site before you go live;
- Layouts aren’t very flexible.
If your business is scaling up, BigCommerce may just be the e-commerce software UK platform for you. The Texas-based SaaS provider offers an easily scalable site-building solution for those who aim to grow their businesses over time.
Pairing an easy to use drag-and-drop builder with a curated selection of third-party ecommerce solutions, entrepreneurs making the shift to online sales will find themselves armed to the teeth with tools for productivity, activity scheduling, inventory management, marketing, accounting and taxation, as well as shipping and delivery.
BigCommerce also boasts of the most reliable hosting solution in the eCommerce software UK industry and beyond: 99% uptime thanks to secure cloud-based hosting compounded by unlimited bandwidth and file storage.
- Offers several native migration apps;
- Automatically optimises site titles and URLs for easier online searches;
- Offers maximum functionality for growing businesses.
- Expensive: top-tier plans will set you back by $299 a month;
- If you’re on the Pro subscription and making between $400,000 and $1 million a month in online sales, expect to be charged an additional $150 monthly per $200,000 in sales;
- Takes a while to learn how to use.
Need a spiffy looking site in a flash? That’s where Wix, one of the best eCommerce platform UK entrepreneurs love, has your back. It's one of the oldest site-building SaaS programs. This platform has since evolved to become a gold standard in the web development industry – thanks to a no-coding framework.
For the booming ecommerce industry, it recently rolled out Wix eCommerce. This was definitely a step up from the time it relied on the Ecwid plug-in to transform regular sites into online stores. Wix takes out a lot of the guesswork when it comes to store building, tutoring new users with a reliable seven-step guide for building a smart, stylish online store that can easily draw in and retain customers. This eCommerce software UK beginners will love because its AI-driven CMS also speeds up the creation and editing processes, as it is flexible enough to allow quick changes.
- Offers 500 themes and templates to choose from;
- AI-driven site builder;
- Free domain name for the first year;
- Intuitive site builder;
- Top of the line when it comes to “freemium” ware.
- No mobile app;
- You can’t swap your template once you’ve saved your site.
If you’re a longtime WordPress blogger who wants to monetise your site, better download the WooCommerce plug-in.
Unlike the other UK eCommerce website builders featured in this review, WooCommerce is not a stand-alone eCommerce software UK option. It is, in essence, an eCommerce widget specifically created for WordPress.com and WordPress.org sites. As an eCommerce widget, it transforms any blog, site, or media gallery into a working virtual storefront – making it one of the best eCommerce platform UK users should consider.
Once installed, this eCommerce software UK choice pretty much offers similar functionality to any stand-alone ecommerce platform, but we take issue with the fact that it does have a steep learning curve which makes it challenging to use at the onset. But when you do get it up and running, you have a wide array of tools from this ecommerce software UK. With it, you can turn your creative endeavour into a lucrative money-spinner.
- Transforms any WordPress blog into a working ecommerce site;
- Extensive choice of storefront templates;
- Numerous extensions and 3rd party integrations help enhance the customer experience • Limited functionality.
- Slow page loading speed;
- Not very easy to use.
*Bonus – Ecwid:
With over 900,000 users across the globe, Ecwid is one of the most popular ecommerce UK solutions currently available. This comes as a surprise as Ecwid, like WooCommerce, is not a standalone platform. Its name ought to be a dead giveaway: it’s actually a contracted form of “ecommerce widget.”
Up until recently, it served as Wix’s primary ecommerce plug-in/ extension until it rolled out Wix eCommerce. Despite this, however, Ecwid does have quite a following among SMEs who appreciate how it transforms websites into working stores. Due to the challenges posed by Covid-19, Ecwid's developers have made it more functional in order to cope with current circumstances: adding provisions for curbside pickup for retailers, pharmacies, and restaurants; marketing solutions such as coupons and gift cards, measures for drop-shipping, as well as point of sale features. Here are the pros and cons of one of the best eCommerce platform UK choices.
- Not platform-specific, as you can use it with different site builders;
- Allows extensive eCommerce functionality.
- Not a standalone programme;
- Can be considered expensive for a plugin.
Conclusion and Recommendation:
As thorough as we have been in our review of the best ecommerce software UK choices, this is just the tip of the iceberg where the best UK ecommerce platforms are concerned. Still, if you're ever in need of an eCommerce solution, our top-vetted choices are Shopify (and Shopify Plus) and Squarespace.
However, we encourage entrepreneurs and business owners to read up and shop around for an ecommerce solution that would work best for their specific requirements and the nature of their respective businesses.
I’m an artist who wants to sell existing artwork and commissions. Which UK ecommerce website builder would you recommend?
This is a job for Squarespace eCommerce. The creative-friendly platform has provisions for gallery view shopfronts that will feature your work beautifully. It also has a scheduling and booking function should you choose to offer commissions to patrons.
I can’t exactly afford a standalone UK ecommerce website builder at the moment, what would you recommend?
If you’re on WordPress, getting the WooCommerce plug-in will enable you to transform your blog into an online store. For preference, however, we would recommend Ecwid as it works with most websites and has optimal functionality.
That's all for now:
We appreciate you taking the time to read our article on the best UK eCommerce website builders. Be sure to check out more of our articles on eCommerce UK software, website builders, web hosting providers, and more such as;
Not only the best tea/coffee maker on the team Sophie keeps the many marketing projects flowing ensuring completion on time. Skilled across multiple marketing skill areas Sophie is our all rounder and a great asset to the team. Sophie is a website building trainer and tech writer who takes pride in helping small businesses and startups build their websites and launch their eCommerce platforms. Sophie is also the practical joker of the team and always wears a smile on her face. In her spare time she likes to spend her time with family. She loves going on holidays and spending time with friends.