Choosing an ecommerce platform is not easy considering the cascade of things required to run an online store. Essentially, you need:

  • Web hosting (24/7 server space for your site)

  • Domain name (unique URL, purchased separately)

  • Website builder

  • Online payment system

  • Features to grow sales and improve the website

So-called “all-in-one” platforms include hosting, website builder, essential website features and sometimes a built-in payment system. This is the fastest, most popular and user-friendly way for a small business to start an online store.

For this list, we include the most affordable ecommerce solutions for a small business, with an emphasis on all-in-one platforms.

Top picks for the best ecommerce platform UK:

Platform Cost* Best for Site
Shopify US$21.75 –
US$299/mo.
Steady businesses preferring flexibility over cost of add-ons
Square £0 –
£60/mo.
Merchants who need different, easy ways to sell online and offline
Wix £10.50 –
£25/mo.
Editing in an easy-to-use visual editor with plenty of features
BigCommerce US$29.95 –
US$299.95/mo.
Startups with a decent budget and plans for fast online growth
EKM £34.99 –
£209.99/mo.
Quality of UK support and breadth of features on all plans
WooCommerce Free Merchants who want full control over hosting and website functions
Platform Best for Offer
Shopify Steady businesses preferring flexibility over cost of add-ons
Square Merchants who need easy sales channels online and offline
Wix Editing in an easy-to-use visual editor with plenty of features
BigCommerce Startups with a decent budget and plans for fast online growth
EKM Quality of UK support and breadth of features on all plans
WooCommerce Merchants who want full control over hosting and website
online payment systems UK

Shopify – popular with small retailers

Best for: Shops with a consistent monthly turnover and detailed inventory library.

Pricing: $21.75 – $299 + VAT/mo.

Pros: Many add-on features available. 

Cons: Extra fee for non-Shopify payments. Can easily get expensive.

Shopify is a popular ecommerce platform in the UK, US and Canada, but is also used across the rest of the world. It is best for shops that want an all-in-one ecommerce solution with hosting, website builder, payment processing and plenty of features to customise the online store. In fact, Shopify has the widest choice of add-on integrations to use with the online store, but they do come at a cost.

Shopify store editing on laptop

The Shopify store editor is generally user-friendly, with the flexibility to add third party features.

Shopify’s main ecommerce website plans are Basic Shopify, Shopify and Advanced Shopify. The extent of features depend on the chosen plan, but there’s a steep price rise between the subscriptions. The monthly cost is highest on a pay-monthly subscription compared to paying annually, every other year or every three years upfront.

Accepting card transactions through the integrated Shopify Payments costs a percentage and fixed fee per transaction. The pricier the subscription, the lower the fee.

Alternatively, you can integrate with a wide choice of payment processors such as Skrill, Braintree, Worldpay or Klarna, but each transaction through a non-Shopify processor incurs a ‘penalty’ fee of 0.5%-2% added to the transaction fees through that processor.

Basic Shopify Shopify Advanced Shopify
Monthly cost* $21.75 – $29/mo. $79 – $59.25/mo. $219 – $299/mo.
Shopify Payments 2.2% + 20p 1.9% + 20p 1.6% + 20p
Other payments 2% + fee from payment provider 1% + fee from payment provider 0.5% + fee from payment provider

*Prices are in USD and exclude VAT. The lowest prices represent monthly billing plans and the highest represent paying three years upfront.

Basic
Shopify
Shopify Advanced
Shopify
Monthly cost*
$21.75 – $29 /mo. $79 – $59.25 /mo. $219 – $299 /mo.
Shopify Payments
2.2% + 20p 1.9% + 20p 1.6% + 20p
Other payments
2% + fee from payment provider 1% + fee from payment provider 0.5% + fee from payment provider

*Prices are in USD and exclude VAT. The lowest prices represent monthly billing plans and the highest represent paying three years upfront.

Basic Shopify has some feature limitations, for example the lack of gift cards and sales reports that are not as advanced as on higher plans. You do have a choice of about 6,000 additional apps and features to add, but many of these have separate fees. Some website templates are free, but most of Shopify’s selection cost US$140-$180 each.

Taking all these things into consideration – particularly if you’re not using Shopify Payments – the costs can easily rack up. However, if you’re in it for the long run and you have consistent sales, Shopify is a great option that can grow with you.

Payments:

  • Built-in: Shopify Payments (Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, American Express, Apple Pay, Google Pay)

  • Integration options: PayPal, Worldpay, Opayo (Sage Pay), Klarna, many others

  • POS integrations: Shopify POS, Vend, Hike POS, Zettle, others

Can you try before you subscribe? Yes, Shopify offers a 14-day free trial.

Square Online – free plan, easy to use, many payment tools

Best for: Free payment tools to go with a simple online store.

Pricing: £0-£60 + VAT/mo.

Pros: Free plan available. Multichannel payment tools. Simple fees.

Cons: Not that many features. Card processing through Square only.

Square Online is an online store builder for small shops, food and drink and other small businesses. Square is perhaps most famous for its contract-free card readers and free (or low-cost) POS systems. The online store links up perfectly with your in-store inventory or food menu, so it suits businesses that prefer using the same platform for online and in-store selling.

Image: Square

Square online store editor

Square Online store editor.

Square Online actually includes more than an online store. Without monthly costs, you can use payment links, QR codes (for table-side ordering), a virtual terminal for phone bookings, orders for pickup or delivery, and the free Point of Sale app.

The whole infrastructure makes Square a true all-in-one platform not just for ecommerce, but for any small businesses that want the easiest, most affordable solution for multichannel sales.

Plan Cost* Transaction fee
Free Free European cards: 1.9%
Non-European cards: 2.9%
Professional £12/mo. (monthly)
£9/mo. (annual)
European cards: 1.9%
Non-European cards: 2.9%
Performance £22/mo. (monthly)
£19/mo. (annual)
European cards: 1.9%
Non-European cards: 2.9%
Premium £54/mo. (monthly)
£60/mo. (annual)
European cards: 1.75%
Non-European cards: 2.9%

*Excluding VAT.

Plan Cost* Transaction
fee
Free Free European cards: 1.9%
Non-European cards: 2.9%
Professional £12/mo. (monthly)
£9/mo. (annual)
European cards: 1.9%
Non-European cards: 2.9%
Performance £22/mo. (monthly)
£19/mo. (annual)
European cards: 1.9%
Non-European cards: 2.9%
Premium £54/mo. (monthly)
£60/mo. (annual)
European cards: 1.75%
Non-European cards: 2.9%

*Excluding VAT.

Square Online has a good mix of ecommerce features such as product options, free store templates, site search and integration with Instagram, Facebook and Messenger. That being said, the online store builder is quite basic compared with other ecommerce platforms. There are many integration options for accounting, takeaway delivery platforms and other additional functions, but the site builder itself is limited on customisation options.

Square Online requires a subscription paid monthly or annually upfront, but there is no contractual commitment. There is a free plan, but it has very limited features and doesn’t allow you to attach your own domain name, so it is better with a paid plan.

The web shop is linked to Square Payments, a built-in payment processor with simple fees: 1.9% for online transactions with a European card or 2.9% for non-European cards. On the Performance and Premium plans, you can link it with PayPal that charges 1.9%-3.4% + 20p per transaction.

Payments:

  • Built-in: Square (Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, American Express)

  • Integration: PayPal

  • POS integration: Square

Can you try before you subscribe? Yes, you can sign up for the Free plan and upgrade any time to a paid plan.

Wix – top-notch visual editor

Best for: All-round value for non-programmers on a budget.

Pricing: £10.50-£25 + VAT/mo.

Pros: Visual editor. Many additional features available. Low monthly cost.

Cons: Payouts can take up to 2 weeks. Customer service not the best.

Wix’s features are hard to beat in their price range. The most advanced plan costs £25 + VAT on a monthly billing plan. This includes comprehensive website-building features and priority customer support, unlimited videos on your site and 50 GB website storage.

Photo: Wix

Wix Business visual editor

Wix’s visual editor shows the page you’re tweaking, with plenty of intuitive editing options.

All plans have the same amount of ecommerce features with the option to add more tools and integrations from a wide range of external apps as well as Wix’s own apps. This could, however, rack up the monthly cost because many of the add-ons have separate subscriptions.

The less frequently you pay for a Wix ecommerce subscription, the higher the monthly cost. You can pay up to three years in advance for the lowest cost per month, but payments are non-refundable.

Wix subscription Business Basic Business Unlimited Business VIP
Monthly cost* £10.50-£16 £13-£19 £17-£25
Wix Payments 2.1% + 20p per transaction

*Prices exclude VAT. The highest prices represent monthly billing plans and the lowest apply if you pay for three years upfront.

Business
Basic
Business
Unlimited
Business
VIP
Subscription cost*/month
£10.50-£16 £13-£19 £17-£25
Wix Payments
2.1% + 20p per transaction

*Prices exclude VAT. The highest prices represent monthly billing plans and the lowest apply if you pay for three years upfront.

Wix has its own payment system built in: Wix Payments. You’re free to implement this in your online store incurring the above transaction fee, but also PayPal and a few others without an extra Wix fee incurred (though fees apply to the chosen payment processors).

Wix Payments takes up to five working days to process a transaction, after which it takes 3-5 more working days for money to clear which can be a barrier if you require fast access to money.

Although Wix ecommerce is very user-friendly and visually pleasing, getting help from a real customer service person is more difficult. That said, there are plenty of pointers in Wix so you know what to do and what the different features mean.

Payments:

  • Built-in: Wix Payments (Mastercard, Maestro, Visa, American Express, Discover, Diners Club, JCB)

  • Integrations: Alipay, Braintree, Clearpay, Laybuy, PayPal, Stripe, SumUp, Worldpay, others

  • POS integrations: Square, SumUp

Can you try before you subscribe? Yes, you can create a free site and upgrade to a Business plan later. A 14-day trial of a subscription requires an upfront payment, refunded if you’re not satisfied with Wix

EKM – UK-based support and all-inclusive features

Best for: All-round value and complexity for the price.

Pricing: £34.99-£209.99 + VAT/mo.

Pros: Excellent UK support. Features cover many areas without additional apps. Free site review.

Cons: Not the cheapest subscriptions. No direct POS integration.

EKM is an all-in-one, hosted ecommerce platform with website builder, templates and a good range of features to complete your online store and marketing. The customer support is based in the UK, making this particularly attractive for British merchants preferring a good understanding of the UK market.

EKM dashboard on laptop

EKM ecommerce dashboard on a laptop.

Though not as well known as Shopify and others on this list, EKM goes the extra mile with both service and features. For example, there’s a cool banner creator, logo builder and built-in email marketing (normally, you need an external app for this).

All users can request a free Site Review from the EKM team every now and then, which is a free report about your site, highlighting omissions and things to improve. A similar service is the Evolution Mode, which the EKM team can perform free annually. This gives you specific improvement suggestions to increase your sales.

Subscription Monthly cost* Turnover limit
EKM Basic £34.99 £50k/year
EKM Standard £69.99 £150k/year
EKM Advanced £209.99 £1m/year

*Pricing excludes VAT.

EKM
plan
Monthly
cost*
Turnover
limit
Basic £34.99 £50k/yr.
Standard £69.99 £150k/yr.
Advanced £209.99 £1m/yr.

*Pricing excludes VAT.

Subscriptions are commitment-free, and plans include all essential ecommerce features. However, there’s a limit on online sales under each plan, e.g. Basic only allows you to sell up to £50,000 a year through the site. You can add 500 products on Basic and unlimited products on the higher plans. Analytics are advanced from the Standard plan, but Basic also gives you decent reports and much else that other website platforms may consider premium.

Overall, EKM is excellent value. The subscriptions are a fair price to pay for the amount of hours the support team puts into helping your business.

Payments:

  • Built-in: None

  • Integrations: Klarna, PayPal, Sage Pay, Amazon Pay, Stripe, Worldpay, more

  • POS integrations: Only via connector software

Can you try before you subscribe? Yes, there’s a 14-day free trial.

BigCommerce – very scalable online store

Best for: Tech-literate businesses with plans to grow fast online.

Pricing: $29.95-$299.95 + VAT/mo.

Pros: Big choice of payment options. Lots of customisations.

Cons: Steep price curve. Some features require knowledge of coding.

BigCommerce is an all-in-one ecommerce platform for large enterprises and small businesses alike. The latter are best served by the Essentials subscriptions, which are the most affordable plans for merchants just starting out. Each plan includes hosting, a website builder, marketing tools and room for additional integrations.

Image: BigCommerce

BigCommerce Essentials builder

BigCommerce Essentials’ website builder is easy to use, but sometimes uses technical terms.

You can pay monthly or annually for subscriptions, the monthly one being priciest except for the Essentials Standard subscription costing the same regardless. Online store payments are not handled by BigCommerce. In fact, you can choose to integrate any of 20+ payment gateways such as PayPal or Adyen. BigCommerce does not charge for online transactions, so you only pay the transaction fee applicable to the chosen payment provider.

Subscriptions have tiered features, with only standard features on the cheapest plan. For instance the cheapest (Standard) plan does not send abandoned cart emails, while product-filtered search is only available on the Pro plan (which could be deal-breaker for a cash-strapped, inventory-rich boutique).

Where BigCommerce differs from other online stores on this list is the limits imposed on online sales within each tiered plan. That is, you can max. sell for up to US$50k annually on the Standard plan, US$150k on Plus and US$400k on Pro.

Essentials plan Standard Plus Pro
Monthly cost* $29.95/mo. $71.95-$79.95/mo. $269.96-$299.95/mo.
Online sales allowed Up to $50k/yr. Up to $180k/yr. Up to $400k/yr.

*Pricing is in USD and excludes VAT.

Essentials
Standard
Essentials
Plus
Essentials
Pro
Subscription cost*
$29.95/mo. $71.95-$79.95/mo. $269.96-$299.95/mo.
Online sales allowed
Up to $50k/yr. Up to $180k/yr. Up to $400k/yr.

*Pricing is in USD and excludes VAT.

Setting up an online store with BigCommerce Essentials is fairly straightforward, given the step-by-step prompts in the dashboard. There are over 160 website themes to choose from – some free, others $150-$300 each. Some of the features, for example the gift card editor, requires coding, so it is not entirely user-friendly for someone without technical skills.

BigCommerce allows you to integrate with over 900 additional tools and platforms for e.g. accounting, online marketing and shipping management – plenty of options to make your online business as complicated as you like.

Payments:

  • Built-in: None

  • Integrations: Amazon Pay, Authorize.Net, PayPal, Stripe, Klarna, many others

  • POS integrations: Clover, Hike POS, Square, Vend, others

Can you try before you subscribe? Yes, BigCommerce offers a 15-day free trial.

WooCommerce – most customisable, requires WordPress

Best for: Merchants, with website experience, who want full control over all aspects of the online store.

Pricing: Free

Pros: Fully customisable down to choice of web host, costs, payments and website features.

Cons: Not easy to use with limited website knowledge. For WordPress only.

WooCommerce is an open-source ecommerce plugin that can only be used on WordPress websites. Before installing WooCommerce, you need to subscribe to any web host you like (e.g. DreamHost, BlueHost, SiteGround), buy a domain, set up a WordPress site and install a website theme compatible with WooCommerce. Then you can download WooCommerce and cherry-pick the features relevant to your online store.

WooCommerce product editor

WooCommerce is a plugin in WordPress that adds ecommerce functionality to your website.

The thing about WooCommerce is that everything is customisable – including costs. Domain registration, hosting and payment processing are compulsory expenses, while website themes can be free or come at a price. Email marketing, advanced SEO tools, security, sales-enhancing features and various other extensions may require paid subscriptions.

The total cost per month can end up being anywhere from £10 monthly for a super-simple online store to £1,000+ monthly for a unique, high-turnover store.

Expenses Estimated costs
Hosting (compulsory) £90-£100/year on average
Domain registration (compulsory) £10-£15/year on average
Website theme (compulsory) £0-£100+/year
Payment processing (compulsory) Depends on payment system
Security, SEO, marketing, sales tools etc. Varies hugely depending on extent of features
Expenses Estimated
costs
Hosting (compulsory) £90-£100/year on average
Domain registration (compulsory) £10-£15/year on average
Website theme (compulsory) £0-£100+/year
Payment processing (compulsory) Depends on payment system
Security, SEO, marketing, sales tools etc. Varies hugely depending on extent of features

WooCommerce features are modular and completely customisable, allowing you to add unlimited products, orders and users. If needed, you can hire a WooCommerce developer to build your online store with the exact ecommerce options you had in mind.

As for payments, you can sell physical and digital products, bookings, subscriptions, content and more. WooCommerce does not charge for transactions – only your integrated payment provider does. For example, you can link a Square account to your online store and only Square charges a transaction fee.

WooCommerce is not a simple solution, given all its customisations, open-source features and reliance on you to securely host and update the WordPress website. But it is certainly an ambitious contender for total control over your online business.

Payments:

  • Built-in: None

  • Integrations: Authorize.Net, Klarna, Opaya (Sage Pay), PayPal, Stripe, many others

  • POS integrations: Square, Zettle, others

Can you try before you subscribe? No trial required. Just install WooCommerce and relevant extensions.

Other ecommerce platforms in the UK

We recognise the “best” ecommerce platforms are not the best for everyone. These are options we didn’t include which can also be good for certain UK merchants:

  • Squarespace – All-in-one platform, stylish templates that would suit small stores

  • Weebly – All-in-one platform, easy website builder (Weebly also powers Square Online)

  • Ecwid – All-in-one platform, free plan available

  • Lightspeed eCommerce – All-in-one platform, for Lightspeed POS users

  • GoDaddy – All-in-one platform, quick to set up online store

  • Big Cartel – All-in-one platform, specifically for artists and other creatives

  • Volusion – All-in-one platform, good inventory features and analytics, but expensive

  • PrestaShop – Highly customisable, open-source, coding required

  • ShopWired – All-in-one platform, easy migration of existing site to ShopWired

  • Bluepark – All-in-one platform, UK-based

  • Magento – All-in-one, expensive but expandable, suits larger business with developers