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The best ecommerce platforms are a gateway to selling goods in the current digital world.
These tools don’t just give you the technology you need to design an effective website, they also make it possible for you to market or promote your offerings, manage transactions, and drive sales. The question for any would-be entrepreneur looking at ecommerce tools, is “which platform should I use?” After all, they all claim to be the best.
Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that question. The right platform for you depends on a variety of things. Some ecommerce tools are perfectly suited to small businesses and freelancers, others seem to work well when you want to sell services, rather than physical products.
Whatever your goal might be with your ecommerce store, you’ll find a platform on the following list to suit your needs.
Let’s get to it!
What to Look for in Ecommerce Platforms
Because there are so many ecommerce platforms out there, you’ll also discover a lot of varied features and capabilities created to make each service stand out. For our reviews of the best ecommerce platforms, we tried to keep things simple, looking at the kind of tools that generate the best results for businesses of all sizes. If you’re in the initial stages of your platform research, here are some of the factors you’ll need to consider:
Ease of use: An ecommerce platform needs to be intuitive, so you can leverage all of the features effectively. Some platforms are more simplistic than others. For instance, you can usually expect a higher learning curve from an open-source platform where you need to do your own coding, than you’d get from a hosted service.
Feature set: This is probably the most important thing to consider when looking for your ideal ecommerce platform. Basic sales features are a must-have, like a checkout page, multiple payment options, and even the option to sell different products, like services or physical items. You might also need to look into additional features like inventory management, or employee management too.
Marketing: Most ecommerce platforms come with additional tools for marketing and promotion. The best tools will often integrate with your existing email marketing service, as well as various social media tools. Looking at things like SEO functionality can also be useful, as the higher you rank in the search engines, the more likely you are to attract new customers, and generate brand awareness.
Design: Design refers to the way you can customize and enhance your store to reflect your brand. The best tools often come with a range of themes and templates to choose from to get you started. You might want a drag-and-drop builder, which means you can customize your pages more easily. Some companies also like having access to HTML and CSS customization.
Pricing: Although the price of an ecommerce software solution shouldn’t be the only thing you consider, it is something that’s going to make a difference to your choice. Make sure you find a price structure that makes sense for your budget. It’s also helpful to see if there are multiple pricing choices to access as your business grows.
What are the Best Ecommerce Platforms?
Now you know the basics of what to look for in the ideal ecommerce platform, you can begin considering your options. For the purpose of this list, we’ve considered all the factors above, as well as additional “extras” which we believe makes the platform particularly appealing.
BigCommerce is a powerful sales tool, and a fantastic choice for anyone just getting started with ecommerce. One of the best things about BigCommerce is its ability to support fantastic scalability. You can start off with a small store and gradually scale up, or even add an ecommerce store to your existing brick-and-mortar retail strategy.
BigCommerce has a stunning selection of themes to choose from, with both buyer-centric and advanced options to choose from. You can also find a host of multichannel integrations built into the functionality, so you don’t have to commit to selling from just one platform. BigCommerce has the most built-in features of any ecommerce platform, which means you don’t have to worry as much about adding extra features, like you would with Shopify.
BigCommerce ensures you’re equipped with a wide selection of tools from day one, so you can begin building your store and making money as quickly as possible. It’s also great for reporting and business insights.
Sell on multiple platforms, like Amazon, Instagram, eBay and Facebook
Flexible and scalable design, perfect for growing businesses
Lots of multivariate testing and reporting options
Nice templates and customization options
Advanced features like abandoned cart recovery are available
Can have a higher learning curve than some alternatives
Becomes increasingly expensive for high-volume selling.
Pricing starts at around $29.95 per month, giving you access to things like checkout codes, unlimited bandwidth, and gift cards. However, you will need to upgrade if you want to unlock advanced features like abandoned cart recovery and SSL certification. There’s also a 15-day free trial to get you started.
If you’re looking for a versatile ecommerce platform capable of adapting to suit your business, it’s hard to go wrong with Shopify. Known around the world for a simple and effective selling experience, Shopify makes it quick and easy to sell however you like. You can even access things like dropshipping and social media sales tools.
One of the features making Shopify more attractive to today’s business owners is its accessibility. It’s very easy to get your store up and running, and there are tons of ways to customize your site’s appearance too. You can even visit the Shopify app store to add further functions to your store as your business begins to grow.
Shopify supports a range of payment processing options, as well as offering Shopify POS if you have a brick-and-mortar store. You’ll even be able to unlock powerful features as your company begins to grow. However, there are some limitations to Shopify too, such as a lack of URL structure editing.
Lots of customization options with the app store
Multi-channel sales support for social media
Various template options and attractive customization elements
Affordable pricing structure for beginners
Hosted ecommerce makes it easy to get started
Lots of certified partners to offer support
Not the best SEO performance
Minimal checkout customization options
Pricing starts at around $29 per month for a basic package if you want to build a full store. If you’re just looking to add store functionality to an existing website, you can use the “Lite” service to add a payment button to your website or social media.
Simplicity is crucial when building a digital store for the first time. You need a flexible environment that’s suitable for growth, but you’ll also be looking for a store with a smaller learning curve. Wix has you covered in both regards. The Wix website builder has transformed drastically in recent years. Wix now offers things like multi-channel integration, as well as Wix ADI for AI-supported branding.
You can build a beautiful website with Wix, thanks to a wide selection of themes and customization options. Additionally, while Wix isn’t the best tool for SEO, it does have some functionality built in to help you thrive online. Compared to some of the other best ecommerce platforms, Wix is a little basic, but new features are emerging all the time.
Wix offers some access to plugins and add-ons if you want to extend the functionality of your store. The more you want to do with your website, the more you’ll need to pay for things like storage. However, beginner-friendly usability stays the same on every package.
Lots of great themes with customization options built-in
AI enhanced functionality to help with building your store
On-page support to help you make the most of the service
Lots of apps and plugins for extra functionality
Various secure payment options and SSL certificate
Not the best at SEO
Lacking some advanced automation and upselling features
There are transaction fees to consider when you’re building your site with Wix, but the monthly subscription is pretty affordable, so this might work out if you only have a small store. You’ll need at least the Business Basic plan for around $23 per month if you want to unlock transaction features. Plans also come with a free SSL certificate for peace of mind.
3DCart, better known as Shift4Shop, has transformed its position in the ecommerce market over the years, serving thousands of businesses worldwide. The Shift4Shop experience is designed to be as intuitive as possible, getting store owners up and running fast, so they can make a profit and watch their organization grow. There are various practical features to include, including unlimited storage, access to a POS and multi-channel selling.
Shift4Shop has a slightly higher learning curve than some of the other ecommerce builders in this list, but it also comes with a few features you won’t find elsewhere, like content marketing and SEO tools. You’ll also have various payment providers to choose from when it comes to handling transactions from your customers. The templates are robust and well-designed, but a little outdated in places.
Shift4Shop will be a good choice if you’re looking for something you can really get involved with from an editing perspective. CSS and HTML customizations are available.
Decent SEO and content marketing options
Available for CSS and HTML customizations
Various payment providers to attract more customers
Affordable pricing structure, with a free option
Lots of cross-selling opportunities
May require some coding knowledge
Missing some crucial features like abandoned cart saver
Shift4Shop pricing is based on the number of sales you manage each month. The lowest-cost plan starts at around $19 per month, with support for up to 50k of sales per year. The value is pretty good here, although you will miss out on advanced features like abandoned cart saver.
WooCommerce is the most obvious sales choice for companies looking to add ecommerce functionality to an existing WordPress website. WooCommerce isn’t a standalone site builder, but it does work with the WordPress environment, which makes it very simple for beginners. If you already know how to use WordPress, you should have no trouble with WooCommerce.
As a part of the WordPress ecosystem, WooCommerce will work with a wide selection of add-ons and integrations. You can find tools for email marketing, social media selling, one-click upsells, and even shipping calculations. However, you may need a little help from a professional to get everything set up if you’re unfamiliar with coding.
Much of WooCommerce needs additional developer insight to be scaled as your business grows. The more you want to accomplish, the more help you’re likely to need. On the plus side, most people find that after learning how to use WooCommerce, management becomes simple.
Excellent for SEO and content marketing (like WordPress)
Extensible with lots of apps and widgets
Tons of customizations and themes available
Lots of support available from WordPress experts
Highly effective for marketing and promotion
Will require some developer support
Requires extra investment in a WordPress site
From a cost perspective, WooCommerce is one of the most appealing ecommerce tools out there, because the application is free to use. There are a few extensions you might need to pay for if you want to expand your store, but that’s it. You’ll also have to pay the cost for hosting and managing your WordPress website.
One of the world’s favorite ecommerce tools, particularly for creative sellers, Volusion is a great option for those who want to sell physical products online. This ecommerce builder is a flexible option for today’s entrepreneurs, with a wide range of payment options to choose from, strong reporting and analytics features, a powerful mobile app, and an easy-to-use interface.
The website building functionality is straightforward for beginners, with a drag-and-drop performance and in-page editing options. Although there aren’t a lot of free themes to choose from, you can edit various parts of your design. You’ll also have to buy an SSL certificate alongside your store subscription, so factor that in when budgeting.
Volusion is great for reporting and analytics, with tons of insights to help you make better decisions on how to scale your store. If you’re in the early stages of growth, this could be the perfect tool for you. You can even share reports with shareholders.
Excellent range of analytics and insights
Convenient and easy to use interface
Built-in range of subscription and recurring payment options
Clear marketing and inventory system
Good for onboarding and support
Limited cross-selling features
Not a lot of free themes to choose from
Prices for Volusion are based on the number of products you sell. The first two plans costing $29 and $79 per month will only allow you to sell either 100 or 5000 products. There’s also the option to upgrade if you have even more demands, to a Premium package for unlimited products.
PrestaShop is an ecommerce platform designed for anyone who wants absolute control over their store. This open-source and cloud-hosted solution makes it easy to customize various elements of your selling experience. The product is easy to use, with a convenient dashboard that’s wonderfully straightforward, even if you don’t have a lot of coding background.
Although PrestaShop’s open-source structure might be daunting to some store owners, it also makes the service extremely flexible. If you don’t have heavy technical skills, you can pay a developer, and ask them to integrate things like payment gateways, ERP, and CRM technology while they’re building you the perfect store. Your site will come with an SSL certificate too.
Although there are only around 10 themes to choose from with PrestaShop, you can edit them however you choose. You may need a little basic CSS and HTML knowledge for this though, as there’s no drag-and-drop builder.
Extremely flexible open-source environment
Good for SEO and site scaling
Tons of apps and integrations to work with
Good community full of available developers
SSL certificate included as standard
Can be difficult to use without developer skill
Expensive with add-ons to consider
Pricing can be difficult to calculate with an open-source store builder like this one. Downloading the software is totally free, but you will need to pay for things like security, development, hosting, and other factors. Plus, there’s the fees of your payment gateway to consider too.
Ecwid stands out as one of the most adaptable and easy-to-use ecommerce builders in the current market. Unlike some of the other products on this list, Ecwid isn’t a standalone site builder. Instead, the open-source plugin attaches to your existing website to add selling functionality. Ecwid is similar to WooCommerce, but it works with a range of platforms beyond WordPress.
Ecwid makes it quick and simple to start selling products and services online, with a flexible and adaptable digital environment. You can customize your checkout, create one-click checkout pages, and even integrate additional apps if you want to expand your site. Ecwid is also great for managing your store on the move, thanks to a mobile app which gives you insights to your latest transactions.
The Ecwid experience is simple and straightforward, with a tiny learning curve since it plugs into the channel you’re already using. The plugin is also surprisingly affordable, making it a good choice for smaller business owners.
Simple enough to plug into your existing websites
Lots of customization options
Great for adding extra integrations and features
Manage your store on the move with a mobile app
Various payment processing options
Not a standalone site builder
Limitations to the free plan
There’s a free version of Ecwid available, but it’s intended to only allow for selling a handful of products. As your business scales, you’ll definitely need to upgrade to a premium package. Paid packages start at around $15 per month.
Squarespace is another of the best ecommerce platforms designed to make your life easier as a business owner. The drag-and-drop site building tool comes with a host of stunning templates to choose from, as well as various customization options. Although this service isn’t quite as advanced as some of the other major market options, it’s great for beginners.
If you’re selling print-on-demand products, Squarespace will work well, as it’s suited to websites looking to showcase a range of visual items. The prices for launching your store are low, so you can start as early as you like. What’s more, Squarespace is pretty good from a promotional perspective too, with access to SEO functionality.
Squarespace integrates with tools like Shipstation and Printful for POD selling, and there’s tons of bonus tools to explore too, such as real-time calculation of shipping rates. You do have some limitations when it comes to payment processing, however.
Easy to set up and use for beginners
Fantastic for attractive but simple stores
Lots of SEO tools to help you rank online
Suitable for different kinds of selling, including print on demand
Integration with leading shipping tools
Transaction fees add to overall costs
No app store for extra functionality
Pricing for Squarespace is pretty low, starting at around $18 per month when billed annually. You will also need to pay transaction fees however on the lowest plan. TO remove the transaction fees, you can switch to an ecommerce plan starting at $26.
Now more than 15 years old, Weebly is a fantastic ecommerce store builder for someone in search of a simple store with extra features for marketing and promotion. The Weebly solution started as a tool for building basic websites without ecommerce functionality. However, as online selling became more popular, Weebly chose to add selling into the mix.
Weebly comes with a range of templates to choose from to help you showcase your business ins tyle. There’s also access to a range of integrations, plugins and tools, for things like analytics and social selling. This easy-to-use environment is perfect for beginners, and it comes with things like Square for payment processing, so you know payments will stay secure.
Weebly isn’t the best tool for things like SEO and search engine marketing, and it does have some limitations for larger businesses. However, as a small business store solution, Weebly is definitely a top pick. The drag-and-drop editing tool with access to HTML and CSS can even help you to build a more memorable brand image
Excellent value for beginners in the ecommerce industry
Low price for marketing automation
Powerful range of email marketing tools
Convenient backend environment is easy to use
Helpful mobile app for tracking your store
Not the best at SEO
Inventory management isn’t great
Prices for ecommerce functionality with Weebly will start at around $29. Although there are cheaper packages on the website, these are intended for basic websites for things like blogging or portfolio websites. Additional themes and integrations might also ramp up the pricing for you.
Magento is one of the biggest ecommerce website builders on the market today, chosen by companies like Nike and Cisco as their software solution. The Magento environment is wonderfully scalable and diverse, but it’s not meant for anyone without coding knowledge. If you haven’t got a developer in house, you’d probably need to hire one to make your Magento site.
The good news is that the Magento community is fantastic. There are tons of people out there who can help you build an effective store without spending a fortune. Magento has tons of customization options, so you can sell whatever you want, however you want. There’s also access to additional features like trigger-based automated marketing and automatic cross-selling or upselling.
Although Magento is pretty expensive, it is ideal for businesses that intend to make anywhere in the region of hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars online. As an open-source solution, you can also choose where you want to host your service.
Excellent SEO to help you rank online
1-click selling support
Scalable and customizable environment for large companies
Excellent developer community for support
Flexible hosting for any business
Expensive for smaller companies
No real support if you don’t have your own developer
Magento is both a hosted and open-source product. Most people use the open-source download for free and pay for the extra hosting and developer insight they need. If you do prefer to take the enterprise hosted route, you can expect to pay tens of thousands of dollars each year.
As you can see, there’s a wide variety of options available to today’s business owners when it comes to ecommerce. The right option for you will depend on what you need most from your software. In general, most small businesses won’t need a lot of advanced functionality, or the option to sell in multiple environments around the globe.
If your company is still quite small, you’re more likely to be looking for cost savings, and simplicity. For the sake of ease of use, WooCommerce is one of the best choices for a lot of smaller brands, simply because it can work alongside your existing site. You could also consider Ecwid if you’re not a WordPress fan. Wix and Weebly also offer excellent ease of use, so you don’t need to worry about working with developers, or you can opt for BigCommerce, with its streamlined user interface.
Best Ecommerce Platforms for Large Businesses
The bigger your business, the more diversity you’re going to need from your ecommerce solution. Larger companies are more likely to invest in access control features and the ability to share their technology with multiple members of staff. You might also need to host your store with a dedicated server, which means SaaS solutions like Shopify aren’t ideal.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy setup, but you still want the ability to scale, BigCommerce is a good choice. This technology works for both large and small companies alike, with packages to suit everyone. If you’re an enterprise brand in need of a lot of customization, then Magento will give you far more freedom, and a range of hosting options.
If you are interested in one of the “simpler” products above, you can also look for the “Enterprise” version of these site builders. WooCommerce Enterprise, Squarespace Enterprise, and Shopify Plus all have expanded package offers for bigger brands.
BigCommerce or BigCommerce Enterprise
Best Ecommerce Platforms for Beginners
If you’re taking the first steps into launching your online store, you need a solution that’s straightforward, intuitive, and easy to understand. This doesn’t always mean choosing the cheapest product, crucially. Instead, your focus should be on finding something that gives you freedom and scalability, without a huge learning curve.
Like small businesses, beginners will be best suited to solutions that require minimal initial education. If you don’t already have developer knowledge, this will generally mean staying away from any open-source tools you’ll need to code yourself.
BigCommerce, Shopify, and WooCommerce are all excellent for ease of use, as are Wix and Squarespace. If possible, it’s worth trying out a free version of a few different stores to see which one you feel most comfortable with. Remember, it also helps to have excellent customer support if you’re a beginner in the sales space -just in case.
Best Ecommerce Platforms for SEO
SEO isn’t the only way to improve your chances of succeeding in today’s digital world. However, it is something you need to keep in mind from the moment you start building your store. You’ll struggle to attract customers to your website if your site isn’t well-optimized from a technical standpoint.
Unfortunately, while most ecommerce tools do come with some SEO support, there are limitations to what you can expect from certain providers. For instance, Squarespace is wonderful at general SEO functionality, but it’s not ideal for blogging. Magento is also a fantastic tool for SEO customization, but you’ll need to compromise on ease-of-use to really make the most of this tool.
WooCommerce, as an add-on for the WordPress environment, is a natural choice for a lot of SEO-focused companies, because it works with leading SEO solutions like Yoast. Similarly, Shift4Shop (3DCart) as strong SEO performance thanks to faster loading speeds and better customization options for tags and meta descriptions than most builders.
Best Ecommerce Platforms for Dropshipping
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy that works best when you’re building an online store, but most experts agree that dropshipping is one of the easiest ways to start making a profit. If you don’t want to worry about storing and managing your own inventory, dropshipping is the tool for you.
Dropshipping suppliers can create or store your products for you, then ship them to your customer whenever someone makes a purchase. The great thing about dropshipping is it requires minimal initial investment. However, you do compromise on a lot of control. You still need to make sure that products get to your customers on time, which is harder than it seems. Returns and product quality can sometimes be difficult to manage, and you run the risk of not building the best brand, because you’re selling someone else’s products.
For dropshipping on most ecommerce platforms, you’re going to need an app or add-on which allows you to choose products from a supplier and sync them into your store instantly. Products like Shopify are excellent for this, because they support dropshipping tools like Oberlo. BigCommerce is another excellent product for dropshipping business owners.
If you want a very specific kind of dropshipping called “Print on Demand”, you can consider Squarespace. However, Squarespace doesn’t offer general dropshipping.
Best Free Ecommerce Platforms
If you’re on a really tight budget, then you might prefer to look for an ecommerce tool which allows you to access basic functionality for free. The first thing you need to know is that free tools are generally a lot more restricted than premium products. You might only be able to sell a handful of products, or there may be a limit on the amount of money you can earn.
It’s also important to remember that some tools might appear to be free, but actually have hidden costs. For instance, WooCommerce is free to download, like Magento, but you still need to pay for the hosting costs, and the other expenses associated with running your own website. In the case of Magento, this also means spending cash on developer skills.
Square Online has a free online store service for people who don’t have a lot of demands for selling online. This store syncs with your offline store, if you already have one, which is a nice touch. There’s also a free package for Big Cartel, but you can only sell five products.
If you just want to test the tech you’re going to use for free before you invest, many of the best ecommerce platforms have free trials.
Ecommerce Platforms – Summary
As you can probably tell from this article, there’s no perfect ecommerce platform solution for every business owner. The solution you use will depend on your individual needs. For companies looking for simplicity, tools like BigCommerce, Wix, Shopify, Squarespace, and even WooCommerce are all great choices. For businesses in search of advanced customization and sales options, it’s more likely you’ll want to consider tools like BigCommerce and Magento.
Shopify is definitely one of the best products for overall versatility, with access to a range of dropshipping tools, print on demand, and other amazing add-ons. BigCommerce, on the other hand, offers fantastic ease-of-use, and all the tools you need to start your store in one package.
Remember, if you have an option to check the technology for free with an initial demo or trial, it’s definitely worth doing this to get a sense for what you feel most comfortable with.
Good look finding the best ecommerce platforms.
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