I’m an ecommerce junkie.
Ecommerce is a growing industry (analysts predict it to become a 1 trillion dollar industry by 2021) and you should give it a try sooner rather than later.
Nowadays, it’s easy to get started and set up a store in a matter of a few minutes. The hard part is picking the platform that will allow you to grow and that will help you keep costs down. (here’s how you can grow your sales)
The majority of the ecommerce platforms out there will give your business basic functionalities such as showcasing your products or service through online catalogs, handle customers even after-sales or receive payments online.
More advanced ones will allow using more innovative features such as marketing capabilities, APIs utilization or running specific in-store systems.
But, with so many alternatives, it becomes quite overwhelming to decide which provider to go for.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the pros and cons of the biggest and best e-commerce platforms, and provide you a recommendation at the end.
Main Factors to Consider When Choosing an E-Commerce Platform
When it comes to deciding what e-commerce platform to use for your store, the possibilities can be endless.
These sites can look profusely the same there are slight differences or certain advantages that can significantly affect your e-commerce merchandising experience.
Here’s a table that summarizes the top 8 best e-commerce platform based on price, usability, features, popularity and customization:
Here are the main points you should look in for before choosing one:
Whether you’re a big enterprise or a smaller business, you should always know what you’ll be paying.
Almost most of the e-commerce platforms will have a monthly subscription fee.
The cost will vary depending on the features that come with the package you’ll pick. You’ll also have to take a look at the processing each site entails.
Often, pricing becomes the immediate deciding factor for many people.
However, you don’t want to sacrifice the things you’ll need for your business to save a few bucks.
With all of the efforts you are investing in your web retail space, it is always vital aiming to get the best deal for your money.
Another thing you to consider are the features that the e-commerce platform can provide.
Check which has the most add-ons, plugins, extensions or other tools you can use integral in selling online and scaling your business.
Usability (Ease of Use)
If you are a newbie in the online retail space, it is great to have a platform which is easier to use.
While they have an array of functionalities, you must also consider if you could be able to utilize them.
This hassle-free navigation also goes the same way for your customers.
They use mobile phones majority of the time so you want a platform that would enable them to easily access your site on their mobile device and minimize the amount of time it would take for them to find a product and buy it.
Of course, you want a larger audience for your online store to convert more sales.
Choosing a platform that is already established and has a high search volume can be a pretty big advantage.
Also choosing a popular platform will ensure that questions you might have could already be answered in a forum or subReddit.
Consider how many themes or template are available for you to select from.
Different e-commerce sites provide professionally-designed templates that are enticing to the eye and can greatly improve your customer’s experience.
The ‘look’ of your website can easily frustrate or lure the same way how a physical store looks or is organized.
Other Aspects to Look At in Choosing an E-Commerce Platform
Those main factors significantly affect your online store. But, there are other aspects you could consider in selecting your e-commerce builder. Getting these extras can be beneficial for your business.
Payment and Shipping Options
Shipping and payment, sometimes, can make or break a customer’s decision to purchase online.
If the shipping is too costly or not via their desired carrier of if their preferred payment method is not supported, they can quickly look elsewhere. More options result in more potential customers.
Managing a physical store is smoother as you get to have more control in running your business. Online retail space is quite different and can be tricky.
Outages and downtimes may take place that would prevent your customers from accessing your site and affect your revenue.
Something you should take into consideration is the platform’s customer service. Take a look if they are available 24/7, are they easy to reach and how much support costs.
Security is a big concern for most customers. No consumer would want to put their credit card information in peril.
Check and see it to it that the e-commerce website you’ll choose supports HTTPS/SSL for a safe and secure payout for your users.
Any business owner would surely want to see their business growing in the future. It is very imperative to look for an e-commerce builder that will support the growth of your business.
You would want to choose a platform that is capable of scaling to your business size but won’t charge you expensive fees for doing so.
Here are the 8 Best E-Commerce Platforms
Now that you know what aspects to consider, it’s time to rank the best online store platform for your business needs!
Here are the top 8 e-commerce websites available in the market:
Established in 2006, Shopify has grown and become one of the more prominent platforms out there. Perhaps, it is the most popular among the e-commerce builder available in the market.
No surprise as it handily provides everything you need to build your online store – you can have it up-and-running in a few minutes!
Starting at an affordable $13 per month for their basic account, you’ll get help listing on eBay and Amazon, tools for branding, Facebook store solutions and a POS feature.
That’s all in one dashboard which also has an easy setup where you can swiftly add your products or services, combined with fields for titles, information, prices, and other kinks.
You can experience the same ease when handling your customers and their contact information, orders details, and your store statistics. You can effortlessly navigate through the menus and options.
If you are looking for the most professional and modern-looking themes, Shopify also has it for you. The platform offers more than 100 themes, both free and paid. Moreover, you can customize it until you get the overall look you want for your store.
The platform itself is also completely responsive which means that your store will be optimized for customers whether they access it from their desktop computer or their mobile device.
Shopify accepts a wide range of credit cards, has 256-bit SSL encryption and Level 1 PCI compliance for ensured security. Should you experience any trouble or has some concerns to raise, their support team is available 24/7 via email, instant messaging or phone.
Here’s a free trial for Shopify.
- Easy to set up (you can publish your site within minutes
- Drag-and-drop functionality
- Offers over 100 high-quality themes you can choose from
- Cheap pricing for startup business
- Has a free trial for 14 days
- Ability to use own domain name
- Search engine optimized
- Drag-and-drop functionality
- Allow majority of payment options
- Offers several features such as unlimited number of products, orders, bandwidth and file storage, plus site stats, blog modules and product reports
- 24/7 access to customer care
- Only around 20 of their templates are free, and other themes can be quite expensive up to $180
- If you opt not to use their Shopify Payment, you can get charged for a transaction fee on each sale
- The platform uses a liquid markup language, customizations can be possible but for additional costs
Volusion is a fully-cloud based e-commerce website builder. It offers all the necessary functionalities you’ll need to set up your online retail space plus, some added features which gives them a little extra kick from other platforms on the bunch.
Starting at $29 per month, the platform has a nicely designed-dashboard, with all the main sections pointed out at the top.
You can easily navigate to the essential menus and access your customers’ information, inventory, orders, marketing efforts, templates, and statistics.
Adding is products is relatively easy but can be done faster on other platforms. If you are a newbie, don’t worry as there is an excellent step-by-step wizard that would guide you with the setup.
Volusion only has around 40+ themes where you can choose from, 10 of them are free to use. While there are not that many options, all of them are responsive.
But, when it comes to customizing the look, you may only alter the fonts and colors. Should you have advanced skills, you can verge into raw HTML and CSS editing, which the platform allows.
The main reason why this platform is popular is that it offers features already built-in the dashboard.
This means that you no longer need to pay for extra add-ons via a different app store.
For instance, Volusion has an integrated SEO which is pretty easy to comprehend, and its incorporation to eBay or Amazon are relatively much intuitive than other e-commerce platforms.
Other nice built-in features include:
- A rewards program
- Gift certificates
- Advanced shipping
- Has a free trial for 14 days
- Nicely-designed dashboard
- Responsive design
- Great on-boarding and customer support
- Intuitive interface
- Selling can be integrated into Amazon and eBay
- Provides other social media options so you may sell and share online
- Built-in subscription and recurring payments
- Not much of variety when it comes templates
- You need to have coding language or hire a developer to customize the design or layout of your pages
- Limited add-ons
- Lacks up and cross-selling functions
- No built-in blogging capability
- Restricted bandwidth and number of products depending on the plan
BigCommerce is the next best alternative to Shopify as it offers almost the same range of features.
The platform has one of the tidiest dashboards among the bunch and looks quite similar to Shopify’s.
The navigation is neatly arranged on the sidebar menu which has been divided into sections purposely related.
You can easily access your customers’ information, orders, and inventory. You can also make good use of the platform’s marketing analytics, modules and settings to further optimize your store.
Adding your products is relatively easy. The platform uses tabs where you can swiftly get to edit the product information rather than putting it on a single screen.
The platform has a good number of theme for you to choose under different categories. All of them are fully responsive and customizable aimed to provide a modern and streamlined experience for your customers.
Customized shipping is an advantage for the most e-commerce website builder, and BigCommerce has that. Plus, it’s dropshipping features, acceptance of a wide range of credit cards and the flexible tax system will surely delight your customers.
Also, one thing BigCommerce do better than the rest is customer support. Aside from their 24/7 live chat, phone, and email support, you can go to their customer support page that features tutorials, forums, informative videos, and a knowledge base.
Their lowest plan costs 29.95 per month accompanied by extra features like gift cards, unlimited bandwidth, checkout codes, and professional statistics.
- Easy to use and navigate dashboard
- SEO friendly, strong SEO performance
- Scalable and flexible
- Awesome theme designs
- Drop shipping and warehouse integration
- Shines in with multi-channel selling
- Integration with the majority of the payment gateways
- Great customer support
- No transaction fees
- POS integration
- No mobile app
- A small selection of templates and designs
- Fewer incorporation of third-party apps
- Pricing can get expensive for larger stores
- Cart abandonment is not available on the entry plan
- Speed can be inconsistent based on some studies
Founded in 1997, 3DCart is probably one of the oldest available e-commerce platforms in the market.
The platform is designed to help e-commerce store owners to be competitive by using an array of built-in features built which makes running your online store as fast as possible.
The features include mobile selling and integration on places like Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook.
The dashboard is quite easy to navigate via the web. If you are on the go, they have a responsive version of the dashboard you can use on your mobile phone to make quick updates.
Adding your products though it may be harder to accomplish compared to other sites.
It’s not that bad, but you’ll get the hang of it pretty well. It’s a great thing that there is an onboarding video that would help you go through the setup process.
When it comes to the templates, there are more than 100 responsive templates are available on their theme store directly connected to the dashboard.
Each theme is unique and not just minor variations in colors or positioning. If you’re looking for a modern look or a more professional design, there is always one for you.
3DCart has five plans to choose from. The cheapest is the Nano Plan at $9.99.
- No transaction fees
- Facebook and SEO marketing
- Support all integration that you may need
- Offers a variety of options for checkout
- User-friendly dashboard for more experienced users
- Eliminated bandwidth limitations
- Not so enticing dashboard
- The interface can be hard to learn for beginners
- Templates seem to be outdated, though you can find good ones in the bunch
- Negative feedback on customer service
- May experience issues upgrading
5. Big Cartel
Big Cartel is a platform steering away from its larger platforms. While the latter aims to support larger online stores, the former is intended for smaller companies.
Their largest plan at $29.99 a month only allows you to input 300 products. Other sites can already allow you to place unlimited products at that price range.
But, if you are planning to maintain just a small business, then this one’s for you.
Building your online with store with this platform is easy. Navigation can swiftly be done, thanks to the large buttons available at the top of the screen.
The sections would let you see your current products, latest orders as well as the several promotion options available.
When it comes to optimizing the look of your site, using this platform may be a downfall as it only offers around 15 templates at the moment.
There is not much variety to choose from though, you can search through Google and find some pretty good templates from third-party sellers but will cost to spend extra bucks.
This platform is a minimalist one. The dashboard would only show you the most basic statistics regarding your store.
You would get the most basic features you’ll need when launching a new e-commerce store, nothing more than that. It’s a basic player so if you’re planning to set your store into greater heights; you might have to look elsewhere.
- No transactions
- Supports order management and inventory tracking
- Easy to use, can be customized using simple point-and-click actions
- No coding required
- Supports multi-channel selling
- Has a customer service team available through live chat or email
- Very fast, both frontend and backend
- Lack of reporting feature
- No blogging capabilities
- No Search Function
- Less Flexibility
- Limited Payment Options
- Doesn’t Support Multiple Languages
Wix is one of the most basic e-commerce builder sites out there. Perfect for those who are just starting up their business. (I started this way back in 2011!)
It only has enough features you can explore with if you have a small business but not for those who have fast-growing ones.
It’s user-friendly for beginners. It has a drag-and-drop functionality that would allow you to easily add elements and transform your website to the look that you want.
The platform also offers a robust number of themes to choose from with some are even for free.
However, be careful as you’ll be stuck with the theme you chose during the time of publishing your website unless you used their ADI function.
They are pretty new in the e-commerce building market, and there are so many features they need to add up. But, they are already an established vendor when it comes to website making.
There’s no doubt they can soon enough catch up with the more prominent platforms.
While you may use their site for free, you cannot sell anything online unless you buy a plan.
The most popular deal is priced at $12.50 per month.But, to access most features, we advise taking the VIP plan at $24.50 per month.
- Tons of free stunning templates and themes
- User-friendly, easy to set up
- No transaction fees
- Excellent support, Help Center has a comprehensive collection of tutorial videos
- Bad SEO performance, made improvements but still unreliable
- Still lacks marketing integrations and features such after-sales tools, the export of goods, personal user accounts
- Low website bandwidth
- You can be stuck with your site template
- It can’t handle large projects compared to its competitors
WooCommerce is the best platform run e-commerce and an affiliate site together. It is a WordPress plugin that would enable you to transform your WordPress sites into online stores.
If you have one a WordPress blog, then, you can do turn it into an online site in a breeze! You only have to install the plug-in, add your products and fix the settings.
This platform has its own secure payment processor and shopping cart. There are also extensions available for incorporating payment gateways, 1-click selling, email marketing, social media, and shipping.
While the plug-in is free, the extensions or expansions have prices attached to them. This cost can also be the same as the WordPress themes as some of them can be pretty expensive.
However, as your business grows, you might need to migrate to another platform as most users have reported the platform slowing down as they add more products and the number of customers increase.
- Great SEO performance through WordPress
- Highly customizable
- 1 Click selling
- There are lots WordPress experts available you can consult
- Offers several marketing options and plenty of integrations
- Good hosting can be expensive
- Virtually has zero customer support
- You need to purchase extensions even for some simple stuff
- Can be quite to set up for users with no WordPress experience
- Plug-ins comes from different channels, can be quite problematic when troubleshooting
Magento is specifically-made for enterprise-level businesses. It is an open-source platform that requires developer resources and programming which creates a significant advantage over its plug-and-play competitors. If you have a budget for a developer and wants to make your site completely powerful and customizable, this platform is a solid choice. You can do whatever you want to get your desired website.
Magento’s is most used free. But, there paid level for enterprise solutions for larger businesses is genuinely commendable. It is expensive, which can cost $20,000 annually, but it offers a wide variety of features for bigger sellers, such as the ability to support recurring payments, offer discounts, grind SEO and unlimited product listings.
Magento can be a great choice if you are a massive enterprise seller, but not recommended if you have a small or midsize business with a lower product range.
- Offers a wide range of features
- Strong SEO performance
- Highly customizable and scalable
- 1-Click selling
- Has lots of users and community
- Flexible when it comes to choosing where you want to host the software
- Expensive themes
- The platform requires development skills
- Slows down easily
- Needs ample space and memory on your device to perform well
- The platform involves development skills
The Winner…. Shopify!
The given e-commerce platforms are only a few of the other dozens in the market. It may be a mammoth task choosing where to start as it entails the future of your business.
Among the bunch, it is Shopify that stands out and is still the best e-commerce platform today. This platform is used by most types of all people, from ones who are just starting a business up to established multi-million dollar enterprises.
No wonder why, Shopify is the most feature-rich, flexible and complete one compared to its competitors. It is designed to help people create their online stores with ease, equipped with hundreds of useful features and lots of apps.
It lets you easily customize your design swiftly and add various extensions. Plus, you can sell pretty much everything you want, including digital products, physical products, downloads, services. You can even have your online store up-and-running in a breeze!
If you’re looking for a good head start in the e-commerce industry, Shopify is the excellent choice – the all-around e-commerce platform.
Get your free Shopify trial here.
Now that you’ve picked your platform, it’s time to get it set up and pick a niche.
Drop a comment below with the platform you are using and a link to your store so we can all check it out! (Also, this will give you a free backlink ?)
Do you use an e-commerce platform that I should review? Let me know in the comments or message me via Facebook.