Wix Stores (which begins at $17.99 per month) is the e-commerce arm of Wix, a PCMag Editor’s Choice web hosting service. With Wix Stores, you’re able to build a fully functional e-commerce site that looks great, is customizable, and requires no coding whatsoever. Although it falls short of Editors’ Choice shopping cart tools, Shopify and PinnacleCart, Wix is a dynamite e-commerce platform for small businesses and entrepreneurs who don’t expect to reach Fortune 500 status.
Pricing and Plans
Wix Stores offers more affordable plans that don’t include e-commerce elements, but for the sake of this review, we’ll focus on the plans that do offer selling options. With the $17.99 eCommerce plan, you’ll get access to 20 GB of bandwidth, 20 GB of storage, a free domain, no Wix advertising on-site, $300 to spend on ads for platforms such as Bing Ads and Google Adwords, and a form builder that will let you generate leads via sign-up pages. The $25-per-month VIP plan gives you access to unlimited bandwidth, 20 GB of storage, VIP support (priority phone support from Monday through Thursday), and a one-time consultation with a site building expert.
Comparatively, Shopify offers three packages as part of its standard offering: Basic, Professional, and Ultimate. The Basic plan ($29 per month) charges 2.9 percent and 30 cents for every online credit card transaction and 2.7 percent for every in-person transaction. The Professional plan ($79 per month) charges 2.5 percent and 30 cents for every online credit card transaction and 2.4 percent for every in-person transaction. The Unlimited plan ($179 per month) charges 2.25 percent and 30 cents for every online credit card transaction and 2.15 percent for every in-person transaction. With Shopify, you never have to worry about bandwidth or storage limitations, which is helpful for companies that have deep inventory and expect heavy traffic volume.
However, Wix Stores doesn’t charge any transaction fees, which is a nice peace-of-mind offering for new or novice users. In fact, most of the services we reviewed, including 3dcart, PinnacleCart, and Volusion, don’t charge transaction fees. Rather, they offset payment charges to the gateway with which you choose to accept payments. Keep in mind: The companies that don’t charge transaction fees often charge bandwidth fees, which is true of the three previously mentioned companies as well as Wix Stores. Because of this, small companies that don’t expect to have too much traffic should opt for a seller that doesn’t charge per purchase.
Wix Stores is not only a capable and customizable site builder, it’s also damn fun to use. When you start your account, the software site creation wizard asks which kind of store you’d like to create. I created an “online store,” but I was given the option to choose other kinds of sites, such as a blog or an appointment booker. I chose to have the Wix Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) create a page for me to test how easy it would be to get started. I chose this option as opposed to starting from scratch using the customizable Wix editor, which is a drag-and-drop tool that’s best reserved for design experts rather than lowly tech journalists.
The wizard asked me what kind of “online store” I wanted to create. I typed in “fishing tackle shop.” Shockingly, this was one of the options. Because I was interested in how deep this rabbit hole might run, I asked Wix Stores how many options are available within the ADI editor. The company told me the wizard contains more than 445 store options, each of which features its own layout. If you choose to build the site on your own, then you’ll get access to more than 500 templates, a drag-and-drop editor, and the ability to adjust things such as alignments, font sizes, and image and tab locations. At any point during your site creation process, you can jump back and forth from ADI editor to custom editor.
For companies that already exist, Wix Stores asks you to enter your website name, address, and phone number. The tool searches the web for your information. It can find and incorporate your social outlets and your images, and then pull this content it into your site editor. Within the step-by-step site design wizard, Wix Stores gives you the option to adds things such as a fan gallery, a donate page, or whatever is pertinent to your kind of business.
Within the ADI editor, I was offered several design themes. Unfortunately, Wix Stores doesn’t immediately let you see how each layout will look on a full screen. Therefore, you’ll have to go with your gut, click on a template, see how it looks on a screen, and then decide if you’d like to go back for another try. Each of the templates produced gorgeous and professional-looking storefronts but I chose “Hi Rise.” You can flip back and forth from theme to theme without having to reconstruct your entire site. However, it would be nice if Wix Stores gave a better presentation of how themes will look prior to making the initial selection.
Once you’ve chosen your theme, popping in images, image galleries, and videos is as easy as picking your site theme. The ADI provides you with a seemingly endless catalog of photos and videos, even out-of-the-box media that you wouldn’t expect to find in a stock collection. I wanted to find video of fish swimming in the ocean to run as background for my store hours page. I was easily able to find and include this element without having to leave the software. Adding products is also a snap. Within five minutes, I had three products listed and I had inserted them into a collection. At any point during the editing and tweaking process, I could have made simple, ADI-based changes or I could have hopped into the customization editor (or the mobile editor) to make more precise changes.
Wix Stores offers tons of strips and banners that you can add and adjust at any time. For example, in about four clicks, you can toss a wintry theme behind your normal site during the holiday season. You can add store elements and sections to the site on any page without needing to change the template. For example, if you have a collection, then you can drag your new arrivals collection onto the home page without shifting the template. You can also add one of the four lightbox templates to promote a specific product on the home page. Lightboxes can be added to every page on the site—something you won’t find in GoDaddy GoCentral Online Store.
Features and Limitations
Once your site is up and running, you can use the Promote tab to create coupons based off of basic templates and conduct basic email marketing. The tool doesn’t offer custom coupons, so you’ll have to settle for four basic options. With Wix Shoutout, the email marketing tool, you can click on a coupon from a list and blast an email to clients within four easy clicks. You can change anything you want within the email via the WYSIWYG email editor. Wix Shoutout is free for three emails per month.
Wix Stores accepts payments via credit cards, PayPal, Square, and Stripe. Wix Stores also accepts point-of-sale (POS) transactions but only via iOS devices. Wix Stores doesn’t offer automated shipping and tax rates, which means you’ll have to set a standard price for both figures and then go back and make adjustments as necessary. If you’re trying to be specific, then US-based users would have to manually enter shipping and tax rates for every state. Wix says most of its users charge a generic tax for all products and then adjust the taxes manually after the fact. Email notifications are built into the package even if you’re not using Shoutout. You’ll be able to see when new products have been purchased. You can also send invoices and request for payment from within the tool’s invoicing system.
Unfortunately, Wix Stores doesn’t offer a free trial. You can build your e-commerce site and have it live online for free without ever spending a dime; however, you won’t be able to sell any products from the site. Wix Stores also doesn’t make its developer application programming interface (API) public, so you won’t be able to create any third-party integrations outside of Wix Stores’ tiny app market, which contains about a dozen tools.
The Bottom Line
Wix Stores isn’t a perfect e-commerce tool. It’s not great for companies with high-capacity storage needs, it’s not great for companies with large software ecosystems that need their e-commerce site to plug and play with a wide variety of tools, and you can’t sample the tool with paying for at least one month upfront.
However, if your main goal is to create a gorgeous site that’s easily edited, up and running in minutes, and doesn’t require an advanced degree from MIT, then Wix Stores is among the best on the market. Wix Stores’ ADI wizard is about as helpful as having someone standing over your shoulder telling you what to do. The software’s wide breadth of templates, themes, and stock media will never leave you in a creative lurch. Whether you’re an e-commerce wizard or a web-building newbie, you’ll love using Wix Stores to sell products.