Moonfruit Review 2021
Ecommerce On A Veteran Platform
The longstanding responsive website builder is still going strong. But has the old dog learned any new tricks? Read on to find out what we think of Moonfruit in this comprehensive platform review.
Having been around since early 2000, Moonfruit is one of the oldest website builders on the market, though it’s been through numerous major changes in its two decades of existence. When it launched, it was supported solely through advertisements, but that was in the days of the dot-com bubble (and was never going to last).
After it moved to a subscription service, it went through steady iteration before being bought in 2012 by Yell (the same company responsible for the British Yellow Pages) in a £23m deal. Further alterations have followed, keeping Moonfruit viable in a time of heated competition by moving it to the HTML5 standard and adding support for ecommerce.
The core selling point of Moonfruit is that you can create your site quickly and easily, and that can have a lot of appeal — particularly if you’re running a small business and just want to get online with minimal hassle and effort. But before you decide to add to the millions of Moonfruit sites already out there, you need to put the claims and marketing into context.
There are plenty of alternatives out there, after all, and there’s no sense in choosing anything but the best option for you. Moonfruit is simple, which is great, but it’s also dated and lacking some key features. Read on to discover if Moonfruit can compete with the best ecommerce platforms and decide if it’s something you should be considering.
Image credit: Moonfruit
Moonfruit’s claim that its platform offers the quickest and easiest way to build a beautiful website is certainly bold — but is it accurate? Well, in a word, no. Put up against industry powerhouses like Shopify, WooCommerce, and Wix, it simply can’t compete. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have things going for it, though, or that it isn’t right for anyone.
For its key benefits, Moonfruit points to the following:
- Oven-ready template blocks you can assemble to make a unique site
- High-quality stock imagery that can immediately liven up your store
- Friendly support staff ready and willing to help you when you need them
The focus on simplicity certainly shows, because you don’t need any technical expertise to get somewhere with Moonfruit. But that simplicity is also strongly limiting. The development world has changed massively since the turn of the millennium, and other website builders have managed to work in powerful functionality without sacrificing accessibility. Moonfruit, on the other hand, owes much of its simplicity to its sparse design and set of features.
Moonfruit’s simplicity extends to its payment plans, as there are two options: free and premium. The free plan is bare-bones, which is to be expected. Here’s what it has to offer:
- 5 pages
- 500mb of storage
- Moonfruit advertisements
- Help guides
The page limit might not be a problem if you’re trying to sell just one or two main products, but it makes it all but impossible to do anything more with your free site. What’s more, the Moonfruit advertisements everywhere are likely to get extremely annoying.
The premium plan steps things up in logical ways, opening the platform up and making it at least possible to create a fully-fledged ecommerce site. Here’s what you can get:
- Unlimited pages
- More storage
- Zero Moonfruit ads
- Chat support
- Domain vouchers
- AsWords vouchers
You’re still not getting a competitive set of features relative to services like Shopify, but if you happen to like the Moonfruit interface then this plan will give you a shot at making a modern storefront. There’s a huge problem, though: at the time of writing, the Moonfruit site is going through some maintenance, and it doesn’t actually say how much the premium plan costs.
Image credit: Moonfruit
It doesn’t even provide an indication of when further details will be provided — and the lack of care put into the page is quite astonishing. Add the clear absence of professionalism to the major platform limitations and it’s difficult to fathom how anyone happening upon the Moonfruit site would seriously consider investigating further.
Ecommerce Comparison Features
Free to Install
Free to Install
Ease Of Use
Moonfruit Features Summary
Image credit: Moonfruit
Moonfruit offers two design options: you can select from a library of responsive site templates (previewing them as
needed), or start from scratch to create something unique.
Providing templates at the outset is great for simplifying the store-building process for newcomers and technophobes. It’s great to see a wide selection of themes here because it means that store creators can find aesthetics that really suit them and end up with layouts that look professional despite taking no effort.
That said, some of the templates available are fairly bland and generic, particularly relative to those offered by bigger ecommerce platforms. Worse still, they clearly haven’t moved with the times: while they’ll work on modern smartphones (no great feat, but even so), they aren’t optimized for mobile use, something that’s extremely hard to look past.
If you’re trying to reach mobile shoppers, then, the template approach isn’t for you. You can either work from scratch, or outsource the task to a designer — though if you’re putting in that much effort, you might as well head to a stronger platform.
Creating valuable onsite content through running a blog is a great way to make your ecommerce store stand out online. Unfortunately, Moonfruit performs rather poorly in this regard, because it doesn’t allow native blog integration.
Whispers in the wind inform us that Moonfruit did have a blogging platform back in the day, but that was a long time ago. The latest version relies on your know-how of widgets and WordPress if you want to create blog content for your store. In short, you need to create a distinct blog through WordPress, then link to it through your store.
That’s obviously a fairly weak solution. Running one site takes enough time that trying to run two — on different platforms, no less — is going to prove complicated and frustrating. If you’re determined to have a store blog, don’t use Moonfruit.
Plugins and Extensions
If you start with a good ecommerce store builder, the addition of useful plugins can serve as the cherry on top that makes it a great one — and if you start with a mediocre store builder, those plugins can plaster over a lot of the cracks in its foundation. A site that can be expanded with myriad plugins is easier to update and more valuable overall.
Now, we’ve made it clear so far that Moonfruit is a basic builder that could benefit from a few extra plugins and extensions. But what level of support does it have for add-ons, and which ones does it natively support?
Well, Moonfruit does have some apps that can improve upon its default editor — but the lineup is rather weak. Here are some plugins you can expect to find:
- Google Search
- Cookies Banner
- Google Calendar
Other store builders have vastly superior ranges of integrations, or at least concentrate on support for integration services like Zapier, so this doesn’t significantly improve things.
Moonfruit’s checkout process is basic across the board: basic for the store owners, and basic for the customers. There’s something to be said for that simplicity (who likes fiddling around with complicated configurations?), but it brings some frustrating downsides.
At the moment, the only payment gateway Moonfruit supports is PayPal. That alone may well be enough, as PayPal is one of the safest services for transferring money online, but the lack of other payment options (such as Apple Pay) is frustrating.
Moonfruit does make up some ground by supporting a variety of currencies. Here is the list:
- Australian Dollar
- Canadian Dollar
- Czech Koruna
- Danish Krone
- Hungarian Forint
- Japanese Yen
- Norweigan Krone
- New Zealand Dollar
- Polish Zloty
- Pound Sterling
- Singapore Dollar
- Swedish Krona
- Swiss Franc
- U.S. Dollar
It’s also extremely easy to change your store currency. Just go to the General Settings page, select the padlock icon, and select the currency you want. It’s not even close to enough, though. Yet again, Moonfruit just isn’t competitive in modern times.
Image credit: help.moonfruit.com
Though minimal, Moonfruit’s current shipping layout is a huge improvement upon its previous design. This is vitally important because strong (and clear) shipping options are necessary for every online retailer that wants to be taken seriously.
You can create multiple shipping methods, choose from several fee options (charging a flat rate, going by the number of items, or scaling with the cart value), and define distinct shipping regions via a simple drop-down menu to make it easier to sell nationally.
Adding a product to a Moonfruit website is extremely easy and allows you to define some key SEO elements, making it surprisingly viable for ecommerce. Once you’ve defined the name, description, and price, you can configure various other relevant things.
Here’s a list of the most notable fields:
- Product quantity: If you can meet demand indefinitely, you can define the quantity as unlimited, or you can set a cap based on what you have available (in which case each purchase will be deducted from your stock level, preventing excess orders).
- Stock keeping unit: The SKU option allows you to identify each product through a stock management service. The stock keeping unit appears as the item number when making a PayPal payment.
- Images: You can allocate a maximum of five images for each product, uploading them through the integrated file manager.
- Categories: This option allows you to organize products by category, making them easier for your users to sort through when they’re not sure what they want.
- SEO elements: Here you can add titles, meta descriptions, and keywords to help your product pages perform better in search engine results.
- Stock control: Here you can make it clear when a product is available, out of stock, or coming soon. There’s also an option for hiding it entirely.
Moonsuit’s inventory management was a pleasant surprise in light of the platform’s many weaknesses. Unless you have high-level requirements, you should be able to do what you need to do.
Ecommerce stores are all but dead in the water without marketing, so any store builder that doesn’t support promotion is a tough sell. Once again Moonfruit can’t stack up, offering a limited set of ordinary marketing features and getting nowhere near the high bar set by industry-leading builders like Shopify and WooCommerce.
The one positive of this is that you aren’t tasked with sorting through a huge array of tools that are questionably-useful at best, as everything included is genuinely worth using. Here’s what you’ll have access to if you use Moonfruit:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Custom SEO for individual pages
- Social media integration
- Image galleries
Can you use this meagre set of marketing utilities to make a mark? If your store is exceptionally good, then sure, it’s possible. But it’s nothing worthy of your attention.
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Search engine optimization takes a long time to return value, but it’s worthy of investment because it can become a huge revenue driver — and much of it comes down to the smart use of keywords and page tags.
A good ecommerce store builder should provide comprehensive product-level SEO features to make it easier for sellers to help people discover their wares. Thankfully, Moonfruit offers a decent experience in this area, prompting users to focus on best SEO practices.
Through Moonfruit, you can add title tags, meta descriptions, and meta keywords to each page you create, and to each product you list. You won’t find further SEO features, but there’s a good chance you won’t really need any.
When it comes to social integrations, Moonfruit ticks some basic boxes and goes no further, featuring a social media dashboard that allows you to set up various social accounts. You can then add relevant widgets to your site, allowing people to comment or share in various ways. It’s a simple system that doesn’t require any coding.
Moonfruit offers no native analytics features, but it does readily support the use of Google Analytics, and GA is the industry standard for analyzing website visits and gleaning insight about what prospective customers are looking for.
Adding Google Analytics support to your Moonfruit store is simple. There’s a 3-step process:
- Create your Analytics account
- Record your tracking ID
- Add the tracking ID to your Moonfruit site
If you have no interest in using anything other than GA, Moonfruit will suffice here.
Ecommerce Comparison Features
Free to Install
Free to Install
Ease Of Use
After going through the Moonfruit website with a fine-tooth comb, it became clear that the totality of customer support options in no way reflects the claims that the platform is beginner-friendly. Among many negatives for this platform, this is particularly notable.
It doesn’t completely abandon users, admittedly: it at least features a searchable knowledge base and a clear FAQ page. There are remarkably few topics covered, though, and turning to the live chat system will require you to deal with abysmal response times.
There’s no phone support whatsoever, and no listed email address. The only proposed alternative to using live chat is filling out a contact form and hoping that you eventually receive a reply. On the whole, the support system badly needs improvement — support truly suitable for beginners would significantly increase the viability of the platform.
Image credit: Youtube
The website claims that Moonfruit powers millions of websites around the world, but offers no compelling evidence for this — and it’s telling that we couldn’t find any active Moonfruit communities beyond its own blog and YouTube channel. Furthermore, there are very few dedicated online courses out there, making it markedly harder to learn about the platform.
There are some user-created tutorials to be found, such as this introduction to the platform, but they were produced years ago for older versions of the service (making them questionably useful), and they haven’t picked up many views in all that time.
It couldn’t be much easier to start a Moonfruit store. Once you’ve created your account with your email address and login details — or used a Facebook or Google login to speed things along — you can proceed to site configuration.
All you need to do is choose your Moonfruit subdomain and verify your email address. After that, you’ll reach the editor page where you can start designing your site. All other choices can be made later (including which type of account you’ll use).
Click here to sign up for Moonfruit and start building your ecommerce store.