In 2022, starting an ecommerce business and creating an online store has never been easier. There are many ecommerce systems to select from, but we’ll go through two of the best in this article: Ecwid and Square.
If you’re new to the world of ecommerce and want to open an online store for free, this article will guide you through the process.
Consider the following two points before you start deciding which of the two free ecommerce platforms you will use.
- The Name of your internet store’s domain
- SSL certificate for website security
Let’s start by going over how to sort those before going into the store builders.
Choosing a domain name is an important step.
You should have a good notion of what things you’ll be selling and what your business name will be. If not, don’t worry; here are some helpful hints for choosing the right domain name.
- Relatable – Customers should be able to grasp what you sell simply by looking at your Name.
- Originality – it may seem self-evident, but type your concept into a search engine to discover if it’s already in use.
- Availability – it’s critical that your ecommerce website domain name concept be first available. To see what’s available, use a checker like a Name.
The https://business-name.square.site / my-ecwid-store format is available with Square and Ecwid’s free plan. If you want your personalized domain, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid subscription on either platform.
Hosting a website
Selecting a dependable web hosting provider is crucial for the success of your ecommerce website. Hosting guarantees that your site does not crash, that it is safe from hackers, and loads swiftly for users.
Web hosting might cost anywhere between $2.49 and $900 per month. This depends on how busy your online store is, and you will only need the lower end of the pricing range at first.
If you choose Square Online’s free plan and agree to utilize the URL mentioned above, hosting is free. You will, however, need to purchase web hosting if you connect a custom domain. This guideline applies to Ecwid as well.
We recommend SiteGround’s VPS hosting since it gives you your dedicated server and eliminates the need to share your server with multiple other websites.
Finally, there is the question of security. This is critical in ensuring that your clients feel safe and secure when they use your website to purchase.
It’s worth double-checking whether this is already included in the pricing plan when choosing your online store. This is included in the free plan with Square but not with Ecwid.
What does this appear to be? In essence, it appears like a primary lock next to your Name. A small description appears in Google Chrome to reassure customers that their information is safe. This is critical since clients may be concerned about using their credit cards online.
There is also an SEO benefit to having a secure website. When shoppers use a search engine to find your products, Google favors sites with an SSL certificate.
In this article, we’ll look at two different ways to build a store for free:
Method 1: How to start a free Online Store using Ecwid
Method 2: How to start a free Online Store using Square Online
We’ll show you how to do it using Ecwid first and then Square Online.
Method 1: How to start a free Online Store using Ecwid
Ecwid is an excellent choice for your online store.
On the other hand, the functionality differs from that of common ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Wix, and WordPress. You’re simply adding your online store to an already existing internet presence with Ecwid. They do, however, provide a platform, which we will address later.
Their main product is a widget that you can place on your website. It’s how they got their Name: “Ec” stands for “Ecommerce,” and “Wid” is for “Widget.”
This may appear to be difficult, but it isn’t. You don’t need to know how to code, and you can start selling on your site right away. The plugin allows you to connect to social media platforms and marketplaces like Amazon.
Starting at the beginning
When you join up with Ecwid, you are automatically enrolled in their free plan for life. You may sign up using your computer or the Ecwid app, available for Apple and Android.
Before you go to the dashboard and start creating product categories, you should think about the following procedures.
Store Name – what is your store called and what currency you will be dealing in
Company address – you’ll need this to collect payments and set up your delivery.
Ecommerce experience: Ecwid wants to know how long you’ve been selling online and what type of products you’re selling. Please fill out this form and check the box to receive ecommerce suggestions from them; they’re pretty helpful.
Website – as we mentioned, Ecwid is essentially a plugin. So they want to know if you have a website already. If you don’t, you can use Ecwid’s platform instead.
After you’ve completed these steps, you’ll be directed to the dashboard to find a helpful setup guide for the next steps.
- Products or services can be added.
- Examine your regional options.
- Options for payment
It’s vital to note that whether or not you acknowledged having a website previously will affect whether or not you complete step 2. If you don’t have a website, you can skip the following section and go straight to the product section.
Adding Ecwid to an already existing store
“Add your store to a website or social network” is the second step. If you have your online store, you can choose to interface with Google, Amazon, eBay, and various other services.
Simply click “learn more” to be directed to the appropriate marketplace where you may add your Ecwid. This step is quite simple to complete.
Consider the following example of connecting your Wix account to Ecwid. Click “Main” from the dashboard, and you’ll see an option to “Connect an Account.”
You will be prompted to grant the app access to work with Wix; simply select “Accept,” and the image below will appear, indicating that it is now linked.
You can now start adding products to your website, regardless of whether you already had one. This will be done through product pages if you’ve decided to use Ecwid’s platform.
You can add products individually, import through CSV, or start altering Ecwid’s example data from the product’s dashboard. Pick “Bulk update” and then “Delete Selected” to remove everything if you want to start over.
Ecwid provides the cleanest UI of any ecommerce platform when it comes to adding products. You can include the product name, price, SKU, description, and weight, just like Square.
Throughout the book, Ecwid provides helpful hints. Highlighting all of the different angles you should take of your photograph to ensure your product gets purchased, especially when it comes to product imagery.
If you want to sell digital products, you can uncheck the option below, which prevents the item from being shipped.
A few more tabs at the top are optional but should be filled out to provide as much information as possible.
Attributes – you can insert a universal product code or a brand name here if you have one.
Options – you may use this to create a dropdown menu for different sizes.
Files: To access this feature, you must upgrade to the VENTURE plan, which allows you to upload e-books, videos, and music. If you’re selling digital goods, this is especially useful.
Enter the weight and dimensions of your purchase for tax and shipping. Set up the product’s shipping option and how your purchases are taxed.
Unfortunately, the free plan does not provide the ability to change meta descriptions and titles.
Related Products: If your item has related products, you may highlight them on the page to make it easier for the consumer to click on them.
“Buy Now” Button – you can integrate this product whether you’re selling by email, social media, or various marketplaces.
With Ecwid’s free plan, you can only display a maximum of ten products.
Ecwid gives you an estimate of how long each step will take to set up your store. This is the quickest step, taking only one minute.
Most of your regional settings would have been completed during the initial rapid setup.
You can change the currency you deal in and add any new languages to your site from this menu, which will cost extra. It’s worth mentioning that the date and time will be set to New York time by default. So, if that isn’t the case for you, change it.
Shipping / Delivery
Ecwid’s free price plan offers excellent shipping alternatives. You can choose to include all or any of the options listed below.
Choose between domestic and international shipping. Enable automated shipping costs with couriers or make adjustments based on whether your products require special shipping.
Local Delivery: Are you able to deliver items locally yourself? If this is the case, you provide free delivery to customers in your postcode region.
Add a pickup location and hours of operation. Customers can also be asked to specify when they will pick up the merchandise.
When you choose “Shipping,” you’ll see the most popular alternatives for your nation, but you can also manually add other carriers.
When you put up a courier option in Ecwid and use the option to calculate rates automatically, all of the different delivery options offered from that courier will be pulled through.
Royal Mail provides 18 distinct possibilities in this situation. You can choose which ones you wish to be enabled because they may not all be relevant to your business.
You’ll need the VENTURE plan if you wish to charge a handling fee on top of your product to cover order fulfillment or any additional packing charges. If you decide to do this, be warned that it may be undesired and result in cart abandonment.
Ecwid features a lot of great payment choices, and unlike Square, they also have Paypal on their free plan. If “pay by cash” is selected by default, you may want to change it if it isn’t applicable.
Ecwid integrates with Stripe, a payment processor that takes a variety of major credit and debit cards and Apple Pay. On the other hand, Google Pay isn’t available through their Stripe and Square interfaces.
If you want to manually add cash on delivery, phone orders, invoices, or purchase orders, you can do so.
Publishing your site
Any modifications you make to your store after the initial setup will update in real-time, unlike Square Online. This implies you must double-check everything you’ve entered.
It’s worth looking over the various website options before sharing your site. You may change the layout, company information, and any client testimonials you have here.
Ecwid’s collection of free themes is unrivaled by any other platform. They’re organized into several categories based on your industry, and all of the themes can be customized.
Dropshipping in Ecwid
Before we go any further, it’s worth mentioning the Ecwid dropshipping features. If you want to build an internet store for free, dropshipping is a terrific way to cut costs.
Dropshipping, in a nutshell, allows you to sell your products without having to have them in stock. The order is placed with you, and then a supplier handles the fulfillment.
Printful, Syncee, and Wholesale2B are just a few of the Dropshipping apps that Ecwid can interact with.
Method 2: How to start a free Online Store using Square Online
Square Online is a fantastic way to get started with your ecommerce website.
The beauty of Square Online is that it’s so simple to set up that even a non-techie can do it. The free version of Square lets you sell an unlimited number of products for pickup or delivery and includes a point-of-sale system. It has some fantastic social network integrations, such as Pinterest and Instagram, featuring an online purchasing cart.
So, how does Square generate revenue? Each credit card transaction is essentially charged to you.
You can use Square Online Checkout links if you don’t think you’re ready for an online store yet and just want to sell specific things via links to test the waters.
You’ll be able to sell your new products via social media or email due to this.
Starting at the beginning
Go to Square’s price page and sign up for a free account to get started.
After that, you’ll be asked whether you want a rapid setup or a complete one. This is entirely up to you; however, keep in mind that you may always add more features and personalize your configuration later.
If you’re an individual seller or a business, Square Online has numerous choices. You can enter your company name and personal information here.
You can get money the same day whether you accept credit card payments, PayPal payments, or both. The option is free if you are ready to wait up to two working days. Your first setup is complete once you’ve entered your bank account information.
Choose a design template.
Square Online provides four website builder options to assist you in creating your perfect store; for this example, we’ve chosen “Retail.” Next, it will ask you further questions about the goods and how you plan to fulfill your orders.
Square’s initial setup is fantastic because it gives you four alternatives to pick from. You can start small with a single shopping page, an Instagram page, or the entire online experience with the ones listed below. The checkout links we mentioned before, which you can share on social media, are the fourth choice.
If you’re undecided, they have an instrumental Q&A section that can help you figure out what you should do. This will then set up your store, which takes a few minutes, in my experience.
Before publishing your website, you must complete the following six stages.
- Making your website look good
- Getting your domain set up
- Adding new items
- Choosing shipping costs
- Returns and shipping policies
- Checkout procedures
Let’s go over them one by one.
Make your website unique.
This is where Square demonstrates its usability as a website builder. It will start your site for you by simply selecting or deselecting features on the left-hand side.
However, you won’t have much control over how your website looks, and there are no themes to select from. Only the font and color of your calls to action are allowed to be changed. Website builders like Wix, Woocommerce, and Shopify allow you to customize your storefront much more.
Getting your domain set up
After that, you’ll be requested to create a domain for your website. You have three possibilities from here.
Custom domain: A domain can be purchased straight from Square for $12 per year.
I already own a domain — If you already own a domain with GoDaddy, you may link it here. You should be aware that this will enroll you in a premium plan.
Square subdomain – this is a free option that includes Square branding in the URL, for example, https://richardsproducts.square.site.
Now it’s time to have some fun! You’re going to add some products to your website.
You can upload products individually or in bulk through Square, which is convenient. The products will immediately sync if you have a physical store and already use Square’s point of sale (POS).
There are several mandatory fields to fill out while uploading your products, including the type of item, title, price, and description. SKU numbers, product variations, SEO titles, and descriptions are just a few of the optional fields you should include.
Finally, you must include a snapshot of your product. This is an essential phase because product photography may decide whether or not an item sells.
To determine your shipping rates, you must first register the address from which you will be shipping. You should also specify where you may ship to.
After that, you must choose your shipping prices. The most obvious option is to charge a flat amount, but you can also charge based on the product’s weight.
We’d also recommend including a free shipping incentive.
If you live in the United States, Canada, or Mexico, you can get real-time delivery in advance. Real-time shipping ensures that you are not under or overcharging by providing the most accurate shipping prices.
Returns and shipping policies
You’ll find some open text fields under the Checkout option, where you can choose your shipping and return policies.
Here is a list of things to consider including in your shipping policy.
- What services and couriers do you provide?
- When an order is placed, how long does it take to be shipped?
- Is there a cut-off time for placing orders for next-day delivery?
- Are there any exceptions to the regions where you deliver?
Regarding your return policy.
- What is the time limit for a customer to return an item?
- What is the procedure for a return? Is it necessary for them to contact you?
- How long will the entire procedure take?
- Is it true that all products are refundable? You might wish to leave out any things that are on sale.
- Are there any other options except returns? Exchanges or in-store credit, for example.
This is the stage where you select your ecommerce store’s payment gateways.
Google and Apple Pay are immediately enabled, and Visa, Mastercard, and American Express are among the credit card payment possibilities.
If you wish to use Paypal on your site, you’ll need to subscribe to the Professional price plan, which costs $9 per month. Flexibility is essential, and customers appreciate having various payment options, so it may be worthwhile to make the switch.
Publishing your website
You’re almost there; now it’s time to launch your website and sell merchandise!
It’s worth testing your website before publishing to minimize the inconvenience of making continual adjustments. You can acquire a URL to share with your team to get feedback. You should also examine how the site appears on a desktop and mobile device.
In 2022, it will be easier than ever to open your internet store. Most platforms don’t require any coding knowledge, and you can be up and running in hours.
Different strokes for different persons when comparing Square with Ecwid.
Square’s checkout links or Ecwid’s plugin are reasonable solutions if you only want to sell a few products and want your ecommerce site to be a side income.
If you’re serious about starting a profitable online store from scratch, Square is a better option than Ecwid. Square’s free account includes SEO and blogging features, whereas Ecwid’s does not. Square’s free plan also allows you to provide an unlimited number of products, whereas Ecwid only allows you to offer ten.
Ecwid, on the other hand, has several advantages over Square. The free Paypal option is fantastic, and the choices for customizing your store on the free plan are even more advanced. On the other hand, Square is significantly more scalable and has far greater integrations.
Let’s take a look at a handful of those connectors and the free marketing tools available for each platform.
Marketing Resources for Free
Ecwid’s free plan, unfortunately, does not include a blog option. Square Online, on the other hand, has a story option.
You can use Stories to share business-related topics, new product announcements, or personal updates. As previously stated, blogging is an excellent technique to increase traffic to your website.
You may utilize Google’s search engine to check what terms people search for about your products. It’s very beneficial to look for questions because you can answer them with a helpful guide.
If you offer terracotta pots, simply type that phrase into Google and see what queries people have about it. Here are four excellent questions you can already address with a helpful blog.
The Internet and Social Media
Square’s free plan has several excellent social network integrations, such as Pinterest and Instagram.
You may connect your Facebook account to your Square dashboard to start selling your products on Instagram.
You can either edit an existing Instagram product or create a new one. You can tag up to 5 products per image, but we recommend going with the less is more approach here.
People adore bargains. Whether it’s fixed money, a percentage discount, or free shipping, you may give discount codes with Ecwid and Square, although Square is the only one of the two that does so on the free plan.
Square’s discount menu has some excellent automation built-in. You can, for example, create a recurring discount that runs on a predetermined schedule.
You can even enter an expiration date to create a limited-time discount. You may also reward client loyalty by giving discounts to a particular “customer group” that you create in Sqaure’s backend.