8 Best Ecommerce Platforms
If you want to start selling online, fill your customers' digital shopping carts leveraging one of best e-commerce platforms on the market today. Maximize your sales potential, customer service and user experience all at once. Why wouldn't you position your e-commerce business at an advantage if there was a tool you loved to use?
For what they offer, e-commerce platforms are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. It’s just a matter of finding the platform that’s best for you and your business.
Here’s the rundown on 8 of the best e-commerce platforms on the market and the different features and options they offer:
Founded in 2004, Shopify is arguably the most well-known e-commerce platform around. They ended 2018 with a reported 1,000,000+ businesses using their platform and turning over more than $41.1 billion in gross merchandise volume.
So, they’re one of the best and most popular e-commerce platforms. But this doesn’t mean they outperform their competitors in every area.
The main advantage of Shopify is how easy the platform is to use, customize, and navigate. Both from a backend perspective and for users on the front end. You can drag and drop elements to make your Shopify store, the menus are intuitive and well designed, and it looks great.
The main drawback is the rigid URL structures and some of the restrictions when trying to lay out your site structure from an SEO perspective. If SEO is your long-term goal, as it should be for most online businesses, you’ll find some elements of laying your pages frustrating.
- Great look and UX
- Easy to customize themes and layouts
- Fast loading time
- Awesome customer support
- Good for 1-click selling and upsells
- Can be costly for those starting a new ecommerce store
- Not good for SEO and site structure
You can get start using Shopify with a 14-day free trial to learn your way around the platform before committing to a plan.
Outside of the free trial, you’re looking at three different pricing plans ranging from $29 per month to $299 per month. You can run all aspects of an e-commerce business on their basic plan, with their larger plans mainly offering savings for transactions and shipping fees.
WooCommerce has the lion’s share of the e-commerce marketplace powering a huge 22% of all online e-commerce stores as of 2019.
Its popularity is due largely to being completely free to download, as well as offering a wide range of features out of the box, being intuitive to use, and incredibly flexible. WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, so there is that restriction if you’re new to WordPress. But WordPress is also the most popular content management system.
It’s largely down to you to figure out how to use WooCommerce. But if you’re experienced using WordPress it shouldn’t be a problem, and with the free price tag makes it an attractive choice.
- Free to download and use
- Incredibly easy to use and has a wide range of customizable themes and add-ons
- Great for SEO because it’s a WordPress plugin
- Being an open-source plugin, the customer support is poor
- You’ll need to add-on various extensions which, can slow down your site
WooCommerce is free to use. There are paid themes and add-ons, but honestly, none are necessary to run a successful large-scale e-commerce business.
Squarespace is a website builder that provides hosting, website building tools, and has dedicated e-commerce themes and tools.
They’ve been around since 2003, and have established themselves as one of the best products for website and store builders with limited technical knowledge.
If you want to build a simple store quickly, Squarespace can do this for you. They have some great looking themes and images to use, and it’s a simple drag and drop process to get everything in place.
- Easy to use with limited technical knowledge
- Lots of great looking designs out of the box
- Good SEO capabilities
- Integrates with ShipBob and ShipStation
- Currently only offers support for Stripe and Paypal at checkout
- Not the most competitive pricing
They offer two pricing plans; you can start with their Basic Commerce plan for $26 per month. Or you can pay $40 per month for their Advance Commerce plan, which includes some additional features such as APIs for orders and advanced shipping and discount options.
Weebly was founded in 2006 and currently has more than 45 million customers all over the world.
It’s a good platform for beginners and experts alike. You can use their drag and drop feature to quickly assemble a store, or dig into the HTML and CSS to customize the templates if you’re comfortable doing that.
They offer competitive pricing and some cool features like marketing campaigns, shipping calculators, and phone support if you get stuck.
- Competitive pricing
- Plenty of great-looking designs to choose from
- A simple interface and smooth user-experience
- Good marketing tools to promote your business
- Not good for SEO
- Limited blogging features for content-driven sites
Weebly has two pricing plans for e-commerce businesses. You can get started with their $25 per month Business plan, or upgrade to their Business Plus plan for $38 per month for their full suite of tools.
Wix shares a lot of similarities with Weebly. They have also been in business since 2006, have similar drag and drop e-commerce store building tools, and offer a similar suite of features.
The main difference between the two is that Wix is better-suited to smaller businesses. This is because it lacks some of the key features other e-commerce platforms offer, such as an automatic tax calculator and reminder emails when stocks are low.
It’s not as easy to seamlessly add new products and scale a store as it with Shopify for example. So, if you have the foresight that you intend to keep a small to medium range of products, Wix is worth a closer look.
- Plenty of themes and add-ons to choose
- Very simple to use and build a stunning storefront
- Missing a few features other e-commerce builders offer
- Dropping shipping not available
Wix has three pricing plans for e-commerce businesses ranging from $23 per month to $49 per month.
Despite being around since 2001, 3dcart hasn’t reached the size of audience some of the other e-commerce platforms have.
This is mainly due to the fact that it’s not the easiest platform to use. Beginners will struggle to really make the most of all their features, and it takes longer than most of the other platforms to put a store together.
If you can work through this, however, you can take advantage of their advanced features to build an awesome store and excellent user experience. They offer some great features, too, such as no transaction fees, even on their basic plan. Users also enjoy unlimited storage, their own POS, and 24/7 tech support if you get stuck.
- Good blog features for content-heavy sites
- Supports a wide range of integrations
- Affordable starting prices
- Not for beginners or users with limited website building experience
- Templates are not as modern as other platforms
3dcart has four pricing plans covering a wide scope of features ranging from $19.00 per month to $229.00 per month. The good news is that their startup plan offers unlimited products and bandwidth.
BigCommerce might have the most built-in features of any e-commerce platform. Combined with their easy-to-use drag and drop store builder, it’s a platform for stores of any size and users of any experience level.
Features that should be considered key for any e-commerce business, such as multi-channel selling, SSL certificates, and inventory tracking all come as standard with any of their plans.
Their Pro plan scales with your sales. It’s $249.95 per month for up to $400k in sales, then an additional $150 per month for each additional $200k in sales. Large numbers, but something to keep in mind.
- Easy to use builder with a wide range of customizable features
- Strong SEO tools
- Lots of modern, stylish, dynamic themes to choose from
- No 1-click selling feature
- Can get expensive for high volume sales
Their pricing plans range from $29.95 per month for their Standard plan to $249.95 per month for their Pro plan. BigCommerce also offers an Enterprise plan for a custom price to suit your specific requirements.
Volusion has a similar drag and drop builder that most of the e-commerce platforms offer, so no issues building a store.
The main issue is the lack of free themes, there are currently just 11 free themes at the time of publishing. Their paid themes are $180 each, so that’s a large added expense to factor in for a new business.
Their plans include all of the features you want when starting an e-commerce business. The dashboard is easy to use and makes managing your store and inventory easy. So, all positives from a user experience, the lack of blogging features might turn off the SEOs however.
- Easy-to-use drag and drop builder to build your store
- Clear and intuitive dashboard and inventory management
- Multi-channel selling capabilities built-in
- No blogging features and lacking SEO features
- Few free themes and expensive paid themes
You can try Volusion for free for 14-days. After that, they have three monthly plans ranging from $29 to $299 per month. They have sales caps per plan too. You’ll have to upgrade after $50k in sales, then $100k in sales, and finally $500k in sales.
If you’re looking for an answer as to what the best e-commerce platform is for your business, it depends on what type of business you have and what your goals are.
Shopify and BigCommerce are two of the most complete platforms and are competitively priced. So, I’d take a closer look at those two as a starting point to see how their features line up against what you want.
If you’re a WordPress user on a budget, WooCommerce can do everything you need for free. You need some technical know-how and a more hands-on approach, however.
Store builders like Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace are easy to use and great for beginners. They are limited when it comes to running huge e-commerce empires, but most aren’t going to test them to that level.