9 Best eCommerce Platforms for 2022
Searching for the top ecommerce platforms to host your online business? You'll find them below.
Updated: October 10,2022
Looking to sell products or services online and need a web storefront to do so? We’ve narrowed down the 10 best ecommerce platforms so you can choose one based on:
- Ease of Use
- Customer Support
Whether you’re an artist looking to sell your creative wares or an established offline retailer that wants to make a bang online, we have something for you.
Check out our reviews and guides for the leading ecommerce platforms.
- •Easy to use
- •Vastly customizable
- •Large apps community
2. Wix eCommerce
- •Good app marketplace
- •Multilingual sites
- •Unlimited product variants
- •Good scalability
- •No additional transaction fees
- •Impressive online store builder
- •Good analytics and inventory tools
- •Powerful native integrations
- •Native video and ‘suggested products’ features
- •Superior analytics and inventory tools
- •Good mobile app
- •Affordable plans
- •User-friendly drag-and-drop editor
- •Useful logo maker
- •Free ecommerce platforms for self-hosting
- •All the power of WordPress for Ecommerce
- •Loads of free and premium customizable themes
8. Magento Open Source
- •Powerful and fully customizable
- •Thousands of extensions
- •Free for self-hosting
- •Free to download for self-hosting
- •Light but thousands of extensions
- •Easy to use editor
Best Ecommerce Platforms for 2022
- •Shopify – Overall, best ecommerce platforms for 2021
- •Wix eCommerce – Best ecommerce platform for beginners
- •BigCommerce – Best large and enterprise ecommerce platforms
- •Squarespace – Best ecommerce platforms for small business
- •Volusion – Best hosted ecommerce platforms for reporting and analytics
- •Zyro – Overall, best value for money ecommerce platforms in 2021
- •WooCommerce – Top free ecommerce platforms for WordPress users
- •Magento Open Source – Best open source ecommerce platforms for experienced users
- •OpenCart – Best open source ecommerce platforms for experienced users on a budget
Easy to use
Large apps community
One of the most well-known ecommerce platforms, Shopify has built itself into a billion-dollar publicly-traded company that serves over one million online stores in 175 countries. It is one of the top 10 ecommerce platforms in India. It caters to everyone from small individual sellers to large corporate brands like Heinz and Penguin Books.
The versatile platform is easily installed on the most modern web hosting services and they also provide their own in-house ecommerce hosting option with every plan. It’s great for Canadian ecommerce platforms since the company is based there.
With the ability to combine everything from efficient product listing to e-commerce payment systems and marketing across three straight-forward pricing plans, it’s become one of the best ecommerce platforms in the world.
Let’s look at its standout features:
As a leading platform, Shopify has an endless list of features.
Site Building and Design
Shopify works brilliantly and you can get going simply by choosing a free template you like and adding products via the admin panel. You do not need to know any coding and all templates are mobile responsive for mobile commerce. The only extra thing you might want to do is include your own logo and branding.
If you’re not a fan of their 170+ themes there are also premium options you can buy from the marketplace or a third party. You might even consider getting one custom made for you. Alternatively, you can design your own via their ‘liquid template engine’ if you do know how to code.
All other functionality that may affect how the site looks is simply handled by the settings and turning on and off options in the admin area. There are also thousands of integrations and ‘add-ons’ that can add functionality and extra design elements to your store.
Shopify is automatically scalable on their self hosted ecommerce platforms, and you can list as many products in as many categories as you desire, even from their Basic plan. Product pages are modern and customizable, allowing for image galleries, video previews, and extensive descriptions and specs. Plus, customers can leave ratings and reviews.
You can add up to 100 product options which start with choosing a parent variant (e.g. color) and then the sub-variant (blue, pink, etc).
Shopify’s reporting is advanced but you can also add your own SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) to each product to keep track. You can also link your inventory to a physical location such as a retail store, warehouse, or wherever you keep your stock to stay on top of the quantities available.
Shopify does most of the leg work for you after you’ve selected your payment methods. The cart works flawlessly and from the ‘Shopify plan’ upwards there’s an ‘abandoned cart’ reminder feature that will prompt someone to complete their order.
To help you generate buzz they have an in-built coupon code system, so you can offer discounts. Buyers have the option to checkout as guests or register – at which point the email integration helps with engaging these customers.
The cost of shipping can be fine-tuned by country and your supported carriers (i.e. FedEx, UPS etc). It’s up to you how you price this or whether you offer ‘free shipping’ and eat the cost/include it within the product price.
Taxes are set automatically for US sales, while you can manually configure these for other countries if necessary, unlike some online shopping platforms
Analytics and Reporting
All Shopify plans come with analytics and reporting, so you can track sales, performance, and finances, but the number of features increases as you move up the pricing plan ladder.
Shopify Lite offers financial reports and taxes, and individual product analytics.
The Basic plan adds a live view so you can see customer behavior in real-time, as well as acquisition, inventory, behavior, and marketing reports.
The next plan adds detailed sales reports, supports in-store direct retail sales reports, profit reports, and detailed analytics on individual customers and their journey through your store.
Shopify Plus adds the option to formulate your own custom reports based on various sets of data.
Shopify’s reporting system has everything you need to manage, track, and tweak your business for optimum results.
Shopify ecommerce platforms are extremely well integrated, and mods can be as simple as adding a buy button to an existing website that isn’t even on the Shopify platform and posting links to social media. All paid plans allow multi-sales channels on marketplaces and social media marketplaces outside of your store itself.
It also has what it calls its ‘app store’ which features thousands of plug-ins/add-ons/apps and integrations. Some of the most common include:
- Shopify Email: Allowing you to market your products to an email list and manage full campaigns and auto-mailers.
- Shopify Chat: Add live chat support so your customers can contact you or your team for help.
- Facebook Channel: Easily promote your products to Facebook and Instagram users, combining accounts, using free and paid marketing tools, and engage with your customers via these social channels.
- Google Channel: Helps you get your online store and products listed on the Google Shopping search results, easily launch and manage paid search campaigns, and track performance with Shopify’s own analytics tools.
- Oberlo Dropshipping: Easily find third party products to re-list and sell on your own Shopify store at a markup for profit or for commission.
- Messenger Channel: Sell products and offer customer support via Facebook’s Messenger platform (conversational commerce), managed at tracked all through Shopify.
- Apple Business Chat: Engage with customers via Apple’s messages app.
- Digital Downloads: Adds digital download functionality to your store instead of just physical products.
- Importify: Dropship from numerous international stores including China’s TMall, one of the popular ecommerce platforms in Asia.
You can find any integration in the Shopify app store. It’s what makes the platform so powerful.
Shopify is integrated with all the major payment options. You just have to enable the ones you accept in the admin area. It has its own ‘Shopify Payments’ system to accept card payments and over 100 Shopify payment gateways depending on the region of the world. All have their own fee structure and supported customer payment options. This can include:
- Amazon Pay
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
- Credit and Debit Cards
- E-Wallets/ electronic money
- Electronic bill payment via Invoice Cloud
Shopify even supports brick and mortar in-store purchases using Shopify point of sale (POS) tech or simply a QR code that customers can scan and pay using their preferred available method. This then syncs with your online store’s inventory if the two are related.
Ease of Use
Shopify is one of the easiest ecommerce cms platforms to get running, whether you’re self-hosting or using their in-house option. Many web hosts have a one-click install feature and if not, you only have to upload the core files via FTP and run the setup wizard.
You do not need to be particularly technically minded once it’s installed, as the dashboard is laid out well, explains every option, and works out of the box. For a basic store, all you really need to do is choose a theme, add your logo and site information, list some products, and choose your payment options. The system will do everything on the back end for you.
More advanced users can dig into their templates and add some extra coding or configure add-ons and plug-ins. But even that will become second nature to beginners once they’ve been using the platform for a few weeks and read up on some tutorials and Shopify’s knowledgebase.
All Shopify plans come with 24/7 customer support who can be reached by live web chat, support ticket within your account, direct email, or telephone. Their response is generally fast, and the initial agent will have a broad understanding of the platform before sending you to an expert in a specific department.
The only annoying factor is that you must go through a series of questions to narrow down your query before you can use the live chat. This can be a bit off-putting, though thankfully you don’t have to speak to chatbots. Furthermore, depending on demand there may be a small queue. That’s the nature of such a large company.
However, once actually connected with the support team, you’ll see they are knowledgeable and helpful.
Note: We do know that they have customer support teams across their supported regions and languages but cannot vouch for their efficiency outside of the English-speaking options.
An aggregate of reviews online suggests there are no major support issues regardless of your location, which is why it’s one of the top-rated ecommerce platforms available.
Shopify offers a 14-day free trial so you can test the platform and get accustomed to it before paying. There are 5 pricing plans to choose from:
- Shopify Lite: $9/ month, allowing you to add products to your site or blog and take card payments.
- Basic Shopify: $29/ month, allowing unlimited products, 2 staff accounts, and up to 4 inventory locations (retail stores, warehouses, pop-ups, or wherever your stock is stored).
- Standard Shopify: $79/ month, for up to 5 staff accounts, 5 inventory locations, advanced reporting, and better international selling features.
- Advanced Shopify: $299/ month, for up to 15 staff accounts, 8 locations, custom reporting, and the best card fee rates.
- Shopify Plus: $2,000/ month, the most advanced option for enterprise-level ecommerce platforms.
Additional Fees: The key downside of Shopify is that it charges an additional 2% fee if you use any other product payment gateway outside of its own, such as PayPal (which also takes its own fees). This isn’t ideal if you have tight margins and cannot pass this cost on to the consumer.
Shopify is arguably the best online store platform, providing the most features, one of the easiest to use interfaces, endless integrations, and great reporting. It has managed to seamlessly merge online and offline businesses and has affordable plans at every level. Its customer support is also top-notch, allowing you to get help 24/7.
That being said, it’s not perfect. For example, it doesn’t natively have an SEO friendly URL structure or multiple languages for one store, though these can be added by third-party plug-ins.
We’re also not fond of the transaction fee Shopify takes from you unless you use Shopify’s own payment gateway.
Regardless, unless you’re looking for free, cheaper, or more niche orientated platforms, it doesn’t get much better than Shopify.
2. Wix eCommerce
Good app marketplace
Wix is primarily marketed as a general site-building solution but it also has a powerful ecommerce feature that is worthy of our top list of ecommerce platforms.
It’s still built on the backbone of the Wix platform and you must be a registered user. You can choose from over 500 customizable online store designs, easily list products from your control panel, choose payment and shipping options, and keep track of everything with inventory management and analytics.
Wix ecommerce sites must remain on the integrated Wix Builder/Hosting platform and cannot be migrated to a separate web host. Pricing starts at $23 per month which is competitive compared to other online store solutions.
Here’s what you can expect:
Site Building and Design
Wix is arguably the best ecommerce website builder thanks to its core web building platform. To start things off all you have to do is login in and select from one of over 500 themes with full online store functionality. You can then add your branding, extra pages, and drag and drop other Wix design elements, creating something completely unique.
Everything is customizable to a degree, from the homepage to the shopping cart, and many of the backend settings will change how things appear to the end-user.
The Wix logo maker will help you brand your storeл You’ll almost certainly want to make use of your own custom domain, rather than sitting under the Wix banner.
Product pages are automatically created when you go through the listing wizard and there are no limitations on the amount you can have, which is how some platforms price their plans.
We were particularly impressed by Wix’s multilingual store feature, allowing you to seamlessly sell your products across the world in the relevant language and currency. It is truly an international ecommerce platform.
Inventory management is basic compared to sites like Shopify, but it still works well. It is up to you to determine how much stock of each product you have and then Wix will jump in to keep track of sales and how much is left – but this obviously falls on you to keep correctly updated when you restock or add new products.
One oversight is that you do not get alerts warning you when stock is low, making it difficult to keep on top of a sharp boost in sales if you’re not logging in every hour.
There is however a powerful sourcing/dropshipping feature that essentially allows you to be a middleman store for a supplier. The latter will handle inventory and logistics and run it through the Wix system.
An increasingly popular revenue stream is for influencers, brands, and designers to use on-demand printing companies. They make their branded designs to order when someone purchases through their Wix store.
For each product, you can create up to 100 ‘options’ (e.g. the color or size of the product) and up to 300 ‘variants’ (e.g. XL, Green)
The whole cart process is automated but requires you to first choose your customer’s payment options. You can stick with Wix’s own global payments solution that offers fixed online transaction processing rates for your business based on revenue. Or you might choose a third party like Stripe or simply PayPal.
You set your own shipping rules, prices, and courier. Once set up, taxes are automated with every order. The simple dashboard lets you keep track of all orders, including payment, shipping/fulfillment, and you can even print your labels from here.
Digital Products and Bookings
As well as physical products, you can also sell digital goods and paid content, digital tickets, take online restaurant orders and accept online bookings for appointments, classes and courses.
SEO and Content
There’s only so far ecommerce selling platforms can take you in the search results. Wix Commerce allows you to create additional blog posts, pages and other relevant content in an SEO-friendly manner.
Furthermore, Wix has SEO-friendly URL structures, page titles, and tags, so you stand the best chance of appearing high in Google and co.
The store platform will even recognize ‘SEO patterns’. It lets you automatically apply elements of content across your product pages so Google will pick up on your key terms or ‘patterns’ as well.
If you’re not that creative yourself, Wix will even supply you with ready-made social posts and promotional videos if you give it your product information and pictures. Gotta admit, we’re skeptical about how effective this really is without some customization.
Analytics and Reporting
The Wix visitor analytics app usually costs $60 but it is unlocked automatically on the ecommerce plans.
You can get insights into how your business is doing via the analytics dashboard, showing:
- the relative popularity of each product
- revenue generated
- customer demographics
- page conversion rates
- the success of email and social media campaigns thanks to social data.
There is also the option to create your own custom reports based on the numerous elements that are already tracked.
Furthermore, Wix email marketing and automations, let you send out abandoned cart reminders, order confirmations and updates, special offers, and keep track of all the data to see what’s working.
The Wix ecommerce website platforms offer an endless amount of integrations off the back of the main platform. Many aimed at your online store. These can all be found from the ‘Wix App Marketplace’ which has free and premium choices. Some of the most useful for ecommerce include:
- ShipStation: An all-in-one procurement/dropshipping and shipping solution. This app allows you to import orders from more than 100 online marketplaces, automatically find the cheapest shipping option and print the label, track inventory with alerts (not native to Wix), and handle returns via a self-service portal. Wix dropshipping is ideal if you don’t want to handle inventory yourself.
- Instagram Seller: Sell your products via Instagram, opening up your products to a whole new audience, and mode of marketing.
- Ecwid: Integrates selling across your Facebook and Pinterest accounts and includes payment via credit card, bank transfer, and even Bitcoin.
- eBay & Amazon: Combine sales across the two biggest online marketplaces, eBay and Amazon, keeping track of stock under one dashboard.
- Modalyst: Reduce the need to hold your own inventory or pay for costly importation with the Modalyst dropshipping app. You can find millions of products from reputable online marketplaces and suppliers. You can list them in your own niche store, marking up for profit and leaving inventory, fulfillment, and shipping to the original supplier.
- Art Store: Sell your own art by combining stunning image gallery tools with Wix Ecommerce.
- Etsy Store: Increase sales both ways by combining your Etsy and Wix stores.
Wix would prefer you use their own ‘Wix Payments’ which is a full-blown e-commerce credit card payment system, along with bank transfer, iDEAL, and Giropay. However, it will charge various fees to do so. Nonetheless, these fees (2.9% for US cards) is comparable to other options. These third-party include complete ecommerce payment processing platforms like:
Wix Payments also supports payments from an associated brick and mortar store, i.e. in-store. This POS (point of sale) solution automatically syncs up with your inventory.
Ease of Use
Wix is known as arguably the best platform to build a website at the moment. The easy to use website builder extends to its ecommerce platform as well. All of the key online store functions will work immediately. All you really need to do is choose a template you like and add your branding.
Customizing any of the pages requires no coding and involves Wix’s proprietary drag & drop editor. It lets you drag features like text boxes, videos, and more advanced elements wherever you want them before configuring any associated settings or writing your content.
Wix also uses a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor for your online store, which means whatever page you load up you can click the elements, edit them, and whatever changes are made are there before your eyes.
Of course, a bit of coding knowledge helps but it is not necessary for building ecommerce websites that work well. Oddly, if you’re used to other perhaps more complex online ecommerce platforms, Wix does have a learning curve. Overall, though, it is very beginner-friendly. Any extra add-ons or integrations are typically one-click installs with a few options to configure.
Wix is easy to use but they still offer help if you find yourself stuck. The customer support team (including for the ecommerce platform) is available round the clock via email, live web chat, and telephone. They’ll respond to basic queries on social media and admins and other users are also very helpful on their community forums.
Furthermore, the site has a plethora of video tutorials, ‘knowledge-base’ articles and guides. The whole platform itself has small explainers when hovering over features and options.
Of course, there can always be waits and queues to reach support staff. But if you pay for the top ‘Business VIP’ plan you get priority in the online and phone systems.
All Wix E-commerce plans include 24/7 support, unlimited products, abandoned cart recovery, digital products, and online bookings and takeout food orders. Here’s how the plans differ:
- Business Basic: $23/ month, includes 1-year free domain registration, 20GB storage, 5 hours of video, and $300 in ad vouchers.
- Business Unlimited: $27/ month, increases space to 35GB and 10 hours of video, adds customer subscriptions, automates sales tax, adds USPS discounts, and includes free Modalyst integration.
- Business VIP: $49/ month, increases space to 50GB and unlimited video lengths and adds priority support.
If you’re already familiar with Wix then the ecommerce platform is a no-brainer upgrade, and if you’re brand new to the platform it is still one of the best ecommerce platforms available. Despite being based on a simple WYSIWYG drag-and-drop builder, the ecommerce features are powerful and comprehensive when you add things from the App Marketplace. It’s the best online storefront builder for beginners.
Wix also has affordable pricing plans that reward higher payers with priority support, though generally, support is excellent across the board.
Overall, it’s your best ecommerce solution if you have zero technical or coding knowledge.
Unlimited product variants
No additional transaction fees
Humbly launched in 2009 based on the Interspire shopping Cart software, BigCommerce can now officially claim the name ‘big’ thanks to an IPO in 2020. The ecommerce platform has the essentials for those that just want a cart for their ecommerce website, but it also offers a comprehensive and scalable online store solution up to the corporate enterprise level.
It can be a ‘hosted’ solution, which means they handle both the platform and the web hostingл. You can also choose the ‘self-hosted’ option, allowing you full control to take the platform and install it on your own server or web host.
Brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Skullcandy, Bliss, and some of the biggest online shops are using BigCommerce, so you know you’re in capable hands.
Regular pricing starts at a reasonable $29.95 a month. Big brands can go direct and get a custom solution and a quote.
BigCommerce easily lets you grow your business with its set of powerful selling and management tools.:
Site Building and Design
Once installed, BigCommerce ecommerce platforms are ready to go. Your first step to start online storefront functionality is to choose from professional-looking themes.
There aren’t as many as we’d hoped (12 free and 140 premium). Other platforms certainly have more.
Nonetheless, they look good and are customizable enough to make them your own. Your first step will be to name your site and choose a font logo or image to give it your branding.
BigCommerce is mostly targeted at those who cannot design or code websites. However, there are still enough options for those with the skills to add their own HTML and CSS to create an even more unique looking store.
Features like search bars and sidebars aren’t intended to be altered or removed. A lot of its functionality is ‘hard-coded’ to keep things running smoothly.
One area BigCommerce does stand out is its SEO-friendly URLs, mobile responsiveness, and AMP-support (accelerated mobile pages provided to Google users).
Listing and categorizing products is as easy as check boxing and typing the information which will create the associated pages automatically. You can have a staggering 600 versions of one item and up to 250 sub-options - more than most other platforms. Ideal if you have lots of variations and options across your product range.
The higher-priced plans also offer advanced product search filtering, for example, based on size, color, price range, certain categories, etc, much like how Amazon functions. This is called faceted search and is often locked away behind higher-priced plans.
Inventory management itself is straightforward and depends on your input. If you list 200 items, then it will keep track of sales, let you know when an order has been placed and paid for. Then it is on you to ship it based on the rules, rates, and methods you set for your products.
If you sell at a physical store and need combined stock management, BigCommerce can facilitate this via Point of Sale (POS) providers like Square.
You can sell both physical and digital goods delivered by email or download link on the completion page. Appointment booking services and restaurant food pickup or delivery can be accomplished via their third-party app marketplace or custom development.
Fortunately, regardless of what you sell, BigCommerce easily integrates with PayPal and lots of other ecommerce payment platforms and the company won’t skim a fee off the top. You can also sell in multiple currencies if you’re targeting an international market. This can be implemented automatically by the IP/location data of the user or the user’s own selection preference.
For shipping, you can provide free shipping and eat the cost (or slyly pass it on), offer flat rates, priced-based rates, weight-based, and even collection only from your physical store.
A big benefit is that all BigCommerce plans come with real-time shipping rates from all the leading carriers, so you can set everything up automatically to provide the cheapest range of shipping options.
Another feature to highlight is BigCommerce’s exemplary ‘abandoned cart’ feature. It will save the purchase and automatically send up to three email reminders to the user in hope of getting them to complete the purchase. However, this is not available on their standard ecommerce web platforms.
Dropshipping is the process of selling products online without inventory, with a supplier or third-party store who will fulfill the order for you when a sale is made through your site. You don’t keep the stock yourself. This is accomplished via several apps on its app marketplace, including Ali-Express Dropshipping, Printful, Sprocket, Inventory Source, and Modalyst.
Analytics and Reporting
BigCommerce provides good reporting options, including standard website tracking about where your traffic comes from, returning and unique hits, bounce rate, popular pages/products, etc.
It also has more in-depth ecommerce related data, such as what buyers bought, how much they spent, when they last ordered, on-site search terms, and abandoned cart data.
Finance reports keep you on top of your sales and revenue and can be exported for you and/or your accountant.
‘Ecommerce Insights’ reports cost an additional fee which varies depending on what plan you’re on but gives you more detail.
These features, coupled with Google Analytics, give you an excellent understanding of how your online shopping platforms are performing.
BigCommerce’s native features are further expanded by their app store that includes premium and free apps. This includes categories for social media and marketing, accounting, shipping, drop shipping, customer relationship/retention management (CRM), and email marketing, among others.
Multi-channel sales websites are supported without additional add-ons. You can pair up your store with selling accounts on Amazon, eBay, get listed in Google Shopping, and sell on social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
The company itself recommends using:
- Backorder: Accept orders for out of stock products and manage in-stock notifications.
- Roundup: Allows customers to round up their order price to the nearest dollar and choose a charity to donate it to.
- VerifyMyAge: Helps prevent children from making purchases or gaining access to age-restricted products.
- Make an Offer: Include an online auction.
BigCommerce’s native ‘Payments as a service’ system is provided by Braintree and gives you discounted PayPal rates for card transactions depending on your BigCommerce plan.
There are over 35 main ecommerce payment platforms, varying depending on your country. These accept all the major payment options such as debit and credit cards, bank transfers, and e-wallets.
Regardless of you or your customer’s location, there will be adequate payment options. BigCommerce never takes a cut. The only fees you pay are from the gateway or payment server itself (e.g. PayPal).
Ease of Use
Anyone who has used a content management system before will get on fine with the BigCommerce dashboard. It has the same kind of vibe as WordPress and competitors like Shopify, where all of the options and settings are clearly categorized and easily set up with adequate guidance alongside.
While its page editing and customization are not as advanced as competitors like Wix, it’s more than adequate for an online store. The listing of products is straightforward and the overall management of your store is not very challenging.
The in-built blogging system is basic but also easy to use, allowing you to create text blogs via an intuitive editor and embed multimedia.
Coupled with good customer support and help pages, BigCommerce is just as easy to use and accessible as any of the other leading ecommerce platforms.
All hosted BigCommerce customers are entitled to 24/7 customer support, though Enterprise customers will receive priority in any queues. Support staff can be reached via phone, email, and live webchat.
They do the annoying help page Q&A minefield before they’ll let you enter the live chat. In some cases, this does actually pay off if there’s a simple answer to your question.
When you do speak to an agent, they’re responsive and will never leave you without an adequate solution. They also have international support covering a wide range of countries if you are not English-speaking.
BigCommerce also has an extensive knowledge base of articles and guides, video tutorials, and webinars from their experts. There is also a forum populated by staff and other users of the platform to answer your less urgent queries.
All BigCommerce plans come with:
- 24/7 support
- no transactions fees if you use their payment processing
- unlimited storage and bandwidth
- unlimited staff accounts
- eBay & Amazon integration
- in-store point of sale solutions
- social media channels
- Google Shopping listing
- multiple currencies
- all the ecommerce tools needed to run a full online store.
Here’s how individual plans differ:
- 15-day free trial: Allows you to test the platform and receive support before committing to a paid plan that suits you.
- Standard: $29.95/ month, supports up to $50k a year in sales.
- Plus: $79.99/ month or $71.95/ annually, supports up to $180k a year in sales, abandoned cart saver, customer groups and segmentation, and customer credit card saving.
- Pro: $299.95/ month or $269.96/ annually, supports up to $400k a year in sales, integrated Google customer reviews, faceted product searching, and custom SSL.
- Customers wanting Enterprise ecommerce platforms are advised to contact BigCommerce directly to get a quote and are entitled to unlimited yearly sales, exclusive custom product filtered search, priority support, and other custom solutions.
BigCommerce is one of the most feature-rich and comprehensive online store solutions available. Beginners may be put off by its vast homepage of corporate jargon and hard selling. Nonetheless, behind the curtain, their regular plans are straightforward and well-priced, and the platform is user-friendly and full of support features.
With a 15-day free trial, you have enough time to test the waters, and support staff will guide you through the process.
While BigCommerce provides a good SEO base, mobile-readiness, and AMP functionality, its template selection is a little light and its pages are less editable. However, on the technical side, it does everything imaginable and Enterprise users can essentially get the custom solutions they need.
Furthermore, it stands out with its lack of transaction fees and generous entry-level plan. However, high-volume sellers are hindered by yearly sales volume limits, forcing you up the pricing ladder.
It is one of the best ecommerce platforms for experienced beginners and enterprise users, while those in the middle will need to more closely weigh up the pros and cons.
Impressive online store builder
Good analytics and inventory tools
Powerful native integrations
Squarespace has grown to become one of the leading online website building platforms and included in that is its somewhat separate ecommerce version.
While all regular Squarespace sites can include basic selling features, Squarespace Ecommerce allows you to build a full-blown online store. The site and is great for individuals and larger established businesses alike.
Similar to Wix, Squarespace has managed to pivot its powerful web building technology into the ecommerce space that was previously dominated by dedicated solutions. In many ways it’s just as powerful and more user-friendly, allowing you to sell physical and digital products, services, provide appointment bookings, subscriptions, and in-person/collection items.
Squarespace is an all-in-one service, meaning you build your site and host it through them. While you can migrate out to your own host, this is a bit of a challenge and even more complicated for an online store. You must be sure that this is the platform for you.
Fortunately, you get a 14-day free trial period to test things out, but it’s definitely in contention to be the easiest ecommerce platform.
Squarespace is a feature-rich service, that can offer a lot:
Site Building and Design
Once you have your Squarespace Ecommerce plan the next step is to choose one of the powerful and professional online store templates. They are tailor-made for everything from jewelry sellers to tech retailers.
Nonetheless, every template can be easily customized with Squarespace’s familiar drag-and-drop and WYSIWYG site builder. You’re not necessarily locked into an ‘industry’ if you think the template looks good, go for it and add your branding and play around with the color scheme and layout.
Naturally, your store will feature some form of product page layout, so it’s worth making some test listings to see what your chosen template provides.
All Squarespace designs are artsy, heavy on imagery, and are simple and clean. You’re not necessarily going to find the traditional sidebar of categories and small thumbnail product grids of old. But, it’s 2021 so we like this direction. It’s no less functional, and you’ve still got your cart and product page links to click. Everything looks superb on all sizes of mobile devices, making it one of the best mobile ecommerce platforms and ecommerce site builders.
Squarespace has all the key sales features to allow you to run a professional online store including:
- Variants: Different versions of the same products and different options for each version (i.e. a blue, petite dress).
- Unlimited Products: From a few arts and crafts or branded mugs and merch to the next Amazon, you can list as many products in as many categories as you require, regardless of the plan you’re on.
- Digital Products: Easily list digital products to be delivered by email, download link page, or both. Perhaps you sell eBooks, software, or independent digital distribution of music. It’s all possible.
- Services and Appointments: You can sell services just as easily as physical or digital products, while there’s also a system for setting up online bookings and appointments for businesses like hotels or hair salons.
- Email Management: Basic auto-responses are already set up and can also be tweaked, letting your customers know their purchase went through, has been dispatched, etc. You can add more features by integrating MailChimp, which is a separate autoresponder and newsletter manager.
- Sales Tax: If you or your customers are required to pay tax, the rules can be set and to a degree, automated, based on countries down to zip codes.
Squarespace provides a central inventory management dashboard for your ecommerce software platforms. You can organize your product listings and categories, manually alter stock levels (otherwise it will do the basic subtracting for you after-sales), and you can also filter things down for yourself to easily see items by price, name, stock level, etc.
If you adopt the Square payment processor you can also sync up with offline sales for combined inventory management, if you run a physical store or the odd pop-up stall with the same products.
Square online store examples using this method include William Nursery, ACA Catering, and Bagel Boss.
On the customer end, you can display up to 100 variants per product, which are displayed as dropdown boxes. For example, to select a size the customer would hit the size drop-down box and select from the options you’ve provided.
SEO and Marketing
Whether you’re building a regular site or one of the largest ecommerce platforms, Squarespace gives you all of the basic SEO requirements like:
- a good URL structure
- word-based product URLs
- title and description tags
- 404-page management
- separate SEO structure for your blog
- SSL certificates
- a basic overview of your content
You can further your organic and direct marketing success with email marketing and connecting with your social media accounts.
Squarespace also encourages ecommerce customers to implement their blogging platform as a way to engage your customers.
Analytics and Reporting
Squarespace provides a full reporting section to give you insight into the performance of your online store, your top sellers and top pages, where your customers are coming from, conversion rates, etc. It’s a lot of useful data, helping you to finely tune your pages and digital marketing efforts.
You can also combine this with Google Analytics for even more data or if you prefer Google’s system altogether. You can even set up ecommerce analytics within Google and have Squarespace send Google data such as order ID, purchase totals, customer location, product name, etc.
One area Squarespace falls flat is that it does not offer its own marketplace for free and premium apps (add-ons/plugins etc). So, the functionality of your site and its integrations are mostly dependent on what Squarespace offers or what you can find out there in the wild west of plugins.
Fortunately, most of the important features are included from the get-go, such as shipping and tax calculations, but the one key feature it lacks is true multi-channel sales.
You can connect with your social media accounts, add icons and widgets to your pages encouraging people to follow you. You can also include cross-post content from your website’s blog to social media or embed social posts on the site. But you cannot directly make sales on social media marketplaces. Furthermore, you cannot sync sales with other online stores and marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy, which is a key feature on other ecommerce platforms.
One helpful integration that is supported by default is Mailchimp so you can manage your email list and send out newsletters to your customers.
The only real way we found to extend integrations was to use Zapier, a third-party marketplace tool. However, there is not necessarily anything ecommerce related in their library.
Squarespace is a bit more restrictive when it comes to payment options than other platforms. However, there’s not necessarily any need to have a million payment gateways when each accomplishes the same thing. You get:
- Apple Pay
All the above provide secure card payments, while PayPal and Stripe can accommodate bank transfer options for their registered users.
If you have an offline store, Squarespace now also offers Square as a payment processor. It can sync with your online store’s inventory. Or perhaps you want to test a pop-up stand at the mall?
Whatever you choose, Squarespace does not charge a fee per transaction, though Stripe, PayPal, and Square have their own fee structures.
Ease of Use
Squarespace provides powerful hosted ecommerce platforms, but not quite ‘pick up and go’ for beginners as Wix.. However, once you’ve spent an afternoon getting to grips with everything, you’ll soon be digging into the design section to create a unique looking store.
The platform stands out because it has so many options. It’s just that newcomers may find it overwhelming if they don’t dedicate the time and read the tutorials.
Once you get into the flow, customizing pages, saving the design, and copying it over to your next page (and further customizing) is an easy process. Outside of the settings dashboard, it mainly uses a drag-and-drop and WYSIWYG system, requiring no coding knowledge. So, it’s still more beginner-friendly than Shopify and BigCommerce.
Drag a text box here and type what you want, place, and image there, and both will look exactly how they will when live. This isn’t done from the backend, like WordPress for example.
While it’s a bit more restrictive than Wix this system works well in the sense that it keeps you from making silly design decisions that harm the functionality of your store.
Furthermore, for the ecommerce side of things, there’s a huge range of great modern looking templates that target different industries and are customizable.
Squarespace has a responsive and knowledgeable customer support team that is ‘available 24/7’ by email and Twitter. However, you are not necessarily guaranteed a response outside of their 4 am to 8 pm Eastern Time work hours, which apply to the live webchat function. In other words, it’s best to contact them during the day.
Furthermore, they do not offer a phone number, which knocks off half a star when we’re in the business of sales.
Nonetheless, when you do reach someone, you’ll always be talking to a real human who understands the issue or can pass you on to someone that does.
Squarespace also has an extensive set of help guides, webinars, and other information on their site that can solve many common queries.
Their forum is also bustling with users and admins ready to answer your questions.
So, while their customer support options aren’t perfect, it is still an overall positive experience. We don’t think you’ll be at any significant disadvantage compared to the other popular ecommerce platforms we’ve reviewed.
Squarespace is provided via two simple pricing plans that are comparable to other similar ecommerce payment processing platforms like Wix. You get:
- Basic Commerce: $30/ month or $26 if paid annually upfront.
- Advanced Commerce: $46/ month or $40 if paid annually upfront.
Both plans provide:
- 14-day free trial to test things out
- Unlimited products and sales
- Services and appointment bookings
- Access to all the templates
- Customers can register accounts
- Xero label printing
- Label printing via ShipStation
- Automatically calculate carrier shipping fees.
- Provide coupon codes and gift cards.
- Abandoned cart recovery (automatically sends an email 24 hours after an incomplete order)
- Sell subscription-based products (monthly boxes, magazines, services, etc.)
- Limited Availability Flags to warn customers stock is low or to artificially prompt a purchase
Squarespace is a competent and comprehensive ecommerce solution that gets the job done, even if it does lack its own marketplace and a couple of key features. If you don’t want to sell directly on social media through your store or sync with other online stores/markets, then it more than delivers in every other area.
Its templates are modern and professional, offer easy customization and lots of settings, without giving you so much freedom that you can completely screw things up.
It’s not quite as powerful as Shopify and BigCommerce and doesn’t have huge enterprise options. However, in many ways, it's easier to use and comes across as more modern in its approach. The 14-day free trial will help you compare it with other platforms yourself, to see which best suits your needs.
Squarespace lacks phone customer service and tends to stick to working hours, but the support they do provide is top-notch. There are more than enough tutorial materials and help from the online community to not make this a dealbreaker.
If you’re familiar with website builders or have actually used Squarespace, then using it for your online store is a no brainer. It’s arguably the best platform for ecommerce store owners running small businesses who need a beginner-friendly option.
Native video and ‘suggested products’ features
Superior analytics and inventory tools
Good mobile app
Although not the most well-known, Volusion is actually one of the oldest ecommerce platforms on the web, having launched in 1999. With such a head start it has built a loyal following and a rich base to continue its development.
The current incarnation - V2, has improved its inventory management system, provides more detailed analytics and reporting, modern themes, and extended its supported customer payment options.
Unlike, say, Wix and Squarespace, Volusion prefers a backend editor and settings to create and manage your site. This is more akin to WordPress than the drag-and-drop WYSIWYG approach offered by others. Some certainly prefer it that way, but it does also mean there’s a steeper learning curve for absolute website beginners.
It stands out thanks to its superior analytics and reporting features.
From accepting orders over the phone to displaying pricing in multiple currencies, Volusion has all the features you need to run a powerful online store:
Site Building and Design
Volusion is not as advanced or easy to use on the design front as some of the biggest ecommerce platforms. It does still work almost as soon as you’ve installed it. Just enter your basic store information and choose a theme.
In this case, there are only 11 free ones to choose from and the 30+ premium themes will set you back $180. Each can be edited to some degree from the admin area and those with more experience can get inside and change the CSS and other coding.
Themes aren’t just a coat of paint - with the V2 update they look better. Many come with their own features and functions, some of which are aimed at specific industries. The downside is you might find one that looks nice but, for example, insists on a flashy size selection feature, when your products don’t come in sizes. Fortunately, you can test themes without losing any content.
Then you just have to change the stock imagery or industry graphics and add your own logos and branding. A fashion theme can easily be tailored for the electronics industry.
All themes are mobile responsive, there’s a built-in search function for customers, and you can include a homepage slideshow of your latest products or offers.
Adding product pages, categories, and subcategories are as simple as a few clicks and filling in some fields.
One standout feature is product videos, which are rarely implemented as a standard feature on other platforms. There is also a handy ‘suggested/related’ products box that requires no extra configuration, engaging your customers, and keeping them browsing.
From the product page to checkout, Volusion seamlessly handles your sales. It even allows you to accept orders over the phone - if you can provide the phone line and have staff readily available to do the processing. This is a feature not found in almost any other of the best ecommerce platforms.
However, one major feature lacking from the platform is the ability to sell digital products. Nonetheless, you can set up subscription services for physical products that take recurring payments from customers who have given their permission.
If you’re willing to sell overseas you can also easily set this up with multiple currencies and the ability for the customer to choose the appropriate one.
Your entire online store will be secured by an SSL certificate, while checkout is further PCI-certified. Your customers’ personal data and financial information is protected.
From the ‘Professional plan’ onwards, once your client has received their product they are also prompted to come back to rate and review it.
Other features, depending on your plan, include:
- Discount codes and promotion
- Selling store gift cards
- Abandoned cart reminders
- Deal of the day and other newsletters.
As with all good ecommerce platforms, your inventory isn’t limited to single products. You can list variants of the same product.
Managing your inventory is also easy. The dashboard will show you the status of any product and informs you when stock levels are low with an alert, suggesting the re-ordering volume and remembering if new stock is on the way.
On the Business plan tier, your stock will sync with Facebook, Amazon, and eBay sales, and if you’ve integrated with Square, you can sync with your in-store sales as well.
Furthermore, you can monitor all this on the go with their mobile app. It will also let you update prices and upload new product photos on the fly.
If you’re hands-on and warehousing, you can create your own custom barcodes, as well as codes for your suppliers. You can also input your warehouse locations and calculate shipping rates accordingly.
Meanwhile, dropshipping integration means you can leave all of this to a third party and make money from marking up the price.
Shipping rates are set by you and can include some automation based on the current real-world situation. You can include everything from free shipping to ‘signature required’.
Other features include:
- Tax rate calculators
- Returns manager
- Import and Export inventory via CVS
Blogging and SEO
In 2021, it’s no good populating an ecommerce store with goods and hoping for the best. You need to be optimized for the search engines and have additional content to rank well and promote on social media like the top ecommerce platforms.
Volusion is optimized for search engines with little input required. You can either fill out your desired title tags, descriptions, URL/slugs, yourself or have these populated automatically.
You can add as much information to product pages as you like, which is good for SEO. You’re also encouraged to start a blog to allow further related content to be posted and shared.
Furthermore, you can also set up your own knowledge base giving customers information about your industry, the products you sell, how to navigate your site, etc.
Analytics and Reporting
Analytics is one of Volusion’s strong points providing you standard reporting and:
- Custom Reports: Covering abandoned carts, real-time customer intelligence, purchases, product and category views, top-sellers, etc.
Note: Emailing abandoned cart customers is only available on the higher-priced plans
- ROI: Return on Investment tracking, showing how your affiliate program, ad campaigns, or email marketing efforts are making you money.
- Add your Google Analytics account to double up on the types of data you can gather and explore.
Volusion supports several powerful integrations including social media and multi-channel selling. You can link your store’s Facebook and Twitter accounts and post to them from the Volusion admin area. This is one of the best ecommerce platforms for social integration.
Furthermore, if you pay for the Business plan your store will natively support syncing with your eBay and Amazon stores. This allows for cross-branding and cross-inventory management. If you sell something on one of the other platforms (including online auctions), Volusion will know and deduct it from your stock count.
Also, you can manage your Facebook store from the Volusion admin area.
Dropshipping is also available, allowing you to sell products on your store that are actually fulfilled by third-party sellers and wholesalers. Other integrations support a whole list of online marketplaces for dropshipping.
Volusion does not have its own dedicated app store for integrations and other addons. However, it does heavily promote its presence on Zapier, where you can find over 1,000 compatible apps.
One of the most powerful of these is the Square payment processor. It supports an in-store point of sale (POS) purchases if you have a physical location. These sales will then sync with your online store inventory if required.
Volusion supports a wide variety of ecommerce payment platforms like Stripe, which support all the possible methods your buyers would want to make their purchases. These include:
- Credit and Debit/Bank Cards
- Bank Transfer
- Electronic Checks
- Money Orders
- Amazon Pay
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay/Wallet
Additional options can be used if you integrate with third-party app store Zapier, including the Square payment processor. This further allows you to accept in-store/POS purchases that sync with your online inventory.
Volusion does not take any added fees on top of whatever payment gateways and methods you choose to accept at your store.
Ease of Use
If you have had any website experience in the past, Volusion is relatively easy to use but we wouldn’t say it's for beginners. It’s also not aimed at creative or web-design types, preferring to use a back-end control panel for the majority of settings and template editing.
Templates themselves are functional out of the box, and unlike Shopify or Zyro, you can seamlessly switch between them. And, while there’s not necessarily any coding required, those with experience can customize the CSS and dig in if they desire to build unique ecommerce website platforms.
When we compare ecommerce platforms, customer support is important. Volusion is good if you like to use the telephone. Those accustomed to web chat or email are out of luck unless you’re on the basic plan. It’s a bit of an odd setup and knocks off half a star. It’s now the norm to offer email, live chat, and phone options across plans, so there’s no reason for Volusion to prioritize the phone, even if it is ‘more direct’.
Furthermore, the phone line is only open between 7 am-10 pm CST, and Business and Prime customers get priority.
Nonetheless, the help you do get when in contact with support staff is polite and thorough and they will closely guide you through any problem. The agent we talked to was knowledgeable enough and quickly passed us to a different department that was ultimately able to answer our query.
You can also benefit from their large set of tutorials and articles that can answer common questions and guide you through most of the main features of the platform.
Volusion allows you to test their platform for 14 days before committing. All 4 plans come with unlimited bandwidth, secure SSL checkout, SEO tools, social media integrations, and analytics. Here’s how each plan differs in pricing and key features:
- Personal: $29/ month, for $50k annual sales, one staff account, 100 products, and online-only support.
- Professional: $79/ month, for $100k annual sales, 5 staff accounts, 5,000 products, direct phone support, customer review feature, newsletter manager, abandoned cart saver, phone orders.
- Business: $299/ month, for $150k annual sales, 15 staff accounts, unlimited products, priority support, Amazon & eBay integrations, customer loyalty plan, advanced reporting, automated shipping rates, additional third-party payment gateways.
- Prime: By Quote, unlimited sales per year, unlimited staff accounts, unlimited products, VIP support.
Volusion is a powerful and trusted ecommerce solution that has been serving sellers since the late 90s. Today it lacks some of the beginner-friendly approaches to design as the modern alternatives. However, under the hood, it is just as, if not more feature-rich and functional. It’s not hard to pick-up if you’re used to controlling things from a backend editor.
Pricing is a bit steep for high-volume sellers, limiting the number of products you can list and sell until you reach the expensive Business or Prime plans. For large brands, it is also scalable and they will create a personalized quote to suit your requirements.
There are some stand out features like its great mobile app, native video, and recommended product module. It also has superior reporting and good SEO implementation. Yet it lacks the ability to sell digital products, there isn’t an abundance of themes, and customer support options could be better.
Ultimately, Volusion is well worth the 14-day trial to see if it meets your needs. It is one of the top ecommerce platforms for those that love to tweak things based on the data from their reports.
User-friendly drag-and-drop editor
Useful logo maker
Zyro is a newcomer to the market, launching in 2019, but has already become one of the best options out there. It offers both a standard drag-and-drop website builder to rival the likes of Squarespace and Wix and a powerful Online Store solution which we have reviewed for you today.
It runs on a software as a service model, meaning you pay a fee for the platform and for them to host it for you. You’ll have to skip the cheaper plans and jump straight into the $22.99 a month ecommerce plan to launch an online store.
It offers a slightly different model compared to most other platforms, requiring you to pay right away without a trial, yet offering a 30-day money-back guarantee.
With a modern design suite and ample features to manage your inventory and track your success, Zyro has all you need to build a feature-rich online store. Let’s look at its key offerings:
Site Building and Design
Once you are on an ecommerce plan, setting up your store is as easy as going to the ‘sections’ dashboard and choosing ‘online store’. You’ll then get to choose a modern base layout and drag the features you want into place with no need to code. You can easily add your existing branding or use Zyro’s own logo maker.
You have full control over the color scheme, how your homepage, categories, and product pages look, and how your products are displayed. You can add text, images, video, and embeddable content anywhere you desire.
Of course, the core online shopping features are hardcoded and limit you to moving them around on the page or making aesthetic changes. All stores need product pages that display the information, categories, a cart, checkout, etc. The platform won’t let you mess these functions up, which is a good thing if you’re looking for the easiest ecommerce platform.
The main visual change between the two ecommerce plans is that the ‘Ecommerce +’ plan adds faceted filtering to product searching and the ability to display text in multiple languages. This is done seamlessly, and you only have to check a few boxes in the dashboard to set it up.
From product listing to finding and managing orders, everything to do with sales is straightforward. The platform can accommodate both physical and digital economy, including eBooks, courses, podcasts, etc. However, it is let down by its lack of support for a subscription model or appointment booking.
On the design end, you have the freedom to choose how each individual product’s name, description, images, and buy buttons are displayed. On the back end, it’s as simple as entering the name, price, and product options. One useful feature is to sell gift cards for the store itself.
You can also run promotions and coupon codes, displaying this info on the site and via an email campaign.
Shipping is also versatile, allowing you to offer free shipping, enter a flat rate across the board, or use real-time automatic rate calculators for your chosen carriers.
Zyro provides you with a safe and secure store, giving you a free SSL certificate and making sure checkout is PCI DSS validated, which is the industry standard.
As is often the case with ecommerce platforms, the ‘abandoned cart’ feature is reserved for the more expensive plan, as is the ability to sync sales with your Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon shops.
However, basic social media functionality allows you to export links to Facebook and Instagram.
Everything including inventory management is controlled by an intuitive dashboard, with the majority of these features extended to Android and iOS mobile apps.
When listing your product, you can add different options, such as size or color, and then the available variations beneath these options, such as small and orange. The exact variant is tracked by the inventory system, so you’ll easily know if you run out of green pens.
Furthermore, you can set up numerous alerts so you can keep track of sales and stock levels.
The regular ecommerce plan limits you to 100 products (not variants), while the plus plan allows for unlimited products to be listed.
For multi-channel sellers, you can automatically export your products to Facebook and your Amazon stores. This means when a sale is made outside of your website it is still tracked within the dashboard and accounted for in your inventory.
SEO and Content
Zyro does well when it comes to SEO. It allows you to add your own custom titles and meta descriptions to your product pages and other content, as well as generally have a good URL structure and page slugs.
Since it is first and foremost a website builder, you are not limited to just an online store. You can add as many other pages as you want, including a blog. This allows you to provide lots of information and guidance to your customers while being better ranked by Google and surpassing the top ecommerce platforms.
Zyro also supports detailed tracking via Google analytics and integrates ad campaigns taken out on social media to allow for ‘remarketing’ – targeting past visitors and customers to keep them coming back.
Analytics and Reporting
On the ecommerce plan, you get built-in Google Analytics support to help you track your pages, products, and customers. Its own back-end dashboard allows you to track sales performance and generate up to the minute reports.
You can also use several integrations to get more out of your data, such as Kliniken for conversion tracking and real-time monitoring of customers, and MoneyData for detailed revenue reports and useful graphical displays.
There’s a lot to track the performance of your business and make the necessary tweaks to improve sales and grow into one the best platform to sell online.
Zyro is well integrated out of the box and allows for multi-channel sales, social media selling and conversion tracking, over 50 payment gateways, automatic shipping rates, and Google analytics.
One noteworthy integration is with Facebook messenger, allowing you to answer customer questions directly.
Another one encouraged by Zyro is Hotjar, which creates heatmaps of your pages to let you know where customers engage with your site and therefore how you can improve its design.
As a newer platform, Zyro does not have a large community of developers or its own app marketplace yet, but we don’t believe it is seriously lacking in any features.
Zyro supports more than 50 different payment gateways including Stripe and 2Checkout, some catering to different regions of the world. So, whether you need UK ecommerce platforms or payment options in India, you can have it. Depending on which gateway you choose, you will be able to offer payment by:
- Credit and Debit Card
- Bank Transfer
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
- Bitcoin and Crypto
Zyro does not take a transaction fee, though many of the payment gateways will charge their own fees, so it’s worth researching.
Ease of Use
Zyro is designed to be beginner-friendly while not sacrificing features and functionality. It uses a drag-and-drop WYSIWYG interface, where you can manipulate your pages from the front-end rather than via a back-end dashboard.
Here it stands out with a good logo maker and artificial intelligence writer, though they’ve been a bit ambitious with this feature. All it really does is give you some inspiration and a starting point rather than truly writing content for you.
Our key issue with Zyro does not dispute its ease of use, but you cannot change themes without losing most of your content and essentially starting from scratch. So, you have to do a lot of testing and make sure you’re truly happy with how things look before committing, especially for an ecommerce store full of products.
Overall, it rivals Wix but isn’t quite one of the best ecommerce platforms.
Zyro’s customer support is a modern live chat interface though it makes you enter and choose some key topics to see if their knowledge base can answer your question. If it can’t, you can talk to an agent. Alternatively, you can email for a bit more or a delayed response.
Once connected with support staff will talk you through any issue or point you to an adequate tutorial already on the site. It is up to you when you close the chat, so you can ask multiple questions and continue the chat if you don’t feel you’ve solved the issue yet.
There isn’t currently a direct phone number, but the webchat is available 24/7 with a queuing system during busy times.
- Ecommerce: $22.99/ month
- Ecommerce +: $29.99/ month
There are two ecommerce plans available that surpass the ‘Basic’ and ‘Unleashed’ plans aimed at regular websites. Both come with unlimited storage space and bandwidth, SSL security, SEO implementation, the blogging platform, a free year of domain registration, and a live chat to connect with your visitors.
- Ecommerce-specific features include:
- the ability to offer coupon codes and sell gift cards
- no added transaction fees
- all supported payment options
- the necessary order tracking and inventory management systems.
If you pay for the Ecommerce Plus plan you also get the abandoned cart saver feature, the ability to list unlimited products (as opposed to 100 on the regular plan), multi-language support, and advanced product filtering.
You’ll also need this plan to access multi-channel sales. Some of the best ecommerce platforms give you this out of the box.
Zyro has developed a beginner-friendly website builder in the vein of Wix and a powerful ecommerce solution that has most of the features its competitors offer. Meanwhile, it’s taken a chance at some new ones like AI-powered content creation, though this doesn’t quite hit the mark.
It’s secure, has good SEO features, and 24/7 customer support. However, it’s still a relatively new platform and that shows with its lack of a dedicated app market, inability to seamlessly swap themes, and no option to sell subscription services or make bookings.
It’s certainly a good option right now for physical and digital sellers, but we think its best days are still ahead.
Free ecommerce platforms for self-hosting
All the power of WordPress for Ecommerce
Loads of free and premium customizable themes
WooCommerce is one of the main ecommerce platforms for WordPress and officially recommended by the company. It extends one of the most powerful content management systems in the world into one of the most powerful online shopping platforms. Just like its big brother, the platform itself is free. If you’re already a WordPress user, you can benefit from one-click installation as it’s essentially just an advanced plugin.
The base platform is also free, though you will still need somewhere to host it – WordPress.com itself being a viable option. It’s the closest you will get to a free online store builder.
It works out of the box, allowing for easy product listing, your choice of leading payment and shipping options, inventory management, tracking sales, and everything in between.
According to the latest data, 22% of all online stores are now WordPress online stores, making WooCommerce one of the most common ecommerce platforms.
The features are endless with WooCommerce plugins, but let’s start with core functions:
Site Building and Design
All ‘site-building’ and design features are accomplished from the backend dashboard.
The first step is to choose from one of the hundreds of free and premium themes officially supported, and countless others made by third parties that work just as well.
Many of these have placeholder graphics for certain industries. But for example, if you like the overall layout of the ‘pharmacy’ theme you can easily add your images and branding to start an online clothing store.
Theme editing can be as simple or advanced as your skillset. For example, basic options let you change the logo, headings and text, certain layout arrangements, and image sliders. This can be further expanded by widgets that add features and content to your sidebar, header, or footer. Those with coding experience can dig right into the CSS and template files and add your own features from scratch.
Individual product pages can also be edited easily through the dashboard by turning certain settings on or off or choosing from the theme’s available layouts. Again you can dig into the files yourself if you have the experience.
WooCommerce supports the sale of physical and digital goods (the latter which requires the customer to register).
Customer registration itself can be turned on or off depending on your preference, but allowing it lets you carry out more effective marketing campaigns. The premium abandoned cart saver plugin lets you remind users to complete their purchase and will increase sales over time.
When the client provides their email address, they’ll also receive automated emails regarding the stage of their order. Those can be easily customized with templates and your chosen text.
Some sales features are theme dependent. However, product pages generally display images in a gallery with zoom, embedded or hosted videos, SEO-friendly titles, and descriptions, product variation options, and a user rating and reviewing system.
There are also premium plug-ins like ‘one-page checkout’ for registered customers that add even more functionality.
You have full control over the shipping options available and you can use real-time rates from the likes of FedEx and UPS via add-ons. Furthermore, you can decide to set your own tax rate, not include it openly, or use an accurate calculation that is included in the price. That’s why we put it among the 10 best ecommerce platforms.
Meanwhile, sitewide SSL encryption ensures your customers’ checkout securely and their data is kept safe.
Coupon codes and promotions can easily be implemented via the dashboard and sent by email, displayed on-site or per product.
It’s easy to see why it has quickly become one of the leading ecommerce platforms.
You can easily check and update your inventory along with monitoring various stages of orders from the dashboard. If stock levels are low, you can set up alerts to remind you to place an order with your supplier. You can also add your SKU (stock keeping number) to each product for third-party stock tracking.
Dropshipping is also an option via plugins, including AliDropship. It lets you sell items from Asian marketplaces AliExpress and Alibaba and mark up the price for Western customers.
Another addon allows you to import and export inventory in bulk via CVS and other formats if you’re migrating from another platform or have a lot of stock to add.
Other installed multi-channel sales addons will automatically sync with your WooCommerce inventory when sales are made.
SEO and Content
WordPress has always had a good grasp of SEO and this can be further expanded with plugins, making it one of the best platforms for ecommerce. You can edit your meta titles and descriptions of every product page. In the settings, you can create an SEO friendly site structure and page slugs based on your product titles or keywords.
It’s just as easy to add extra pages or blog posts to your store to inform customers, get ranked by the search engines, and share via your social media accounts. This is ideal if you’re looking for big ecommerce platforms to meet your large turnover.
Analytics and Reporting
WooCommerce offers in-depth reports about your customers, orders, stock, financials, and general web traffic. You can easily add Google Analytics for further insights. Other plugins offer reporting functions as well, so there are more than enough options for tracking your site’s performance and changing your strategy accordingly.
WordPress has the largest number of plugins and associated communities of any platform. You can install both free and premium ‘integrations’ at the click of a button from the plugins tab of the dashboard, making it one of the easy ecommerce platforms.
Many of these also extend the functionality of WooCommerce including:
- Amazon & eBay: Allowing multi-channel sales on these separate marketplaces, managed via WooCommerce and synced with your inventory.
- Facebook: Sync with your Facebook store and easily cross-promote on your Facebook channels.
- Refer a Friend: Add a customer referral program that generates leads and rewards loyal customers.
- Google Products Feeds: Streamline your Google shopping experience and cross-selling.
- BuckyDrop: Dropshipping from Asian marketplaces like Taobao.
You can also set up multi-channel sales via Etsy, Pinterest, Shopee, and even Walmart.
PayPal is the natural choice for WooCommerce, but it supports multiple payment gateways via plugins, including:
- Amazon Pay
And many more.
Depending on your region and combination of gateways, you can accept:
- Credit and Debit Cards
- Bank Transfer
- Digital Wallet
- Mobile Payments
- Bitcoin and other Crypto
Meanwhile, WooCommerce itself takes payments natively, accepting all major credit and debit cards, with a competitive fee structure.
Ease of Use
The WooCommerce dashboard is straightforward with all the options down the left-hand side like WordPress, and all settings come with small explainers. If you’ve ever been a WordPress user, It’s a walk in the park.
For others, the learning curve is a bit steeper, but it won’t take long to pick up and you can easily reserve settings if they didn’t result in the intended consequences.
While it’s not the WYSIWYG/drag-and-drop approach, it’s easily the most user-friendly of platforms that are fully controlled from a backend administrative panel.
The large support community and help pages make things ten times easier if you do get stuck.
There is a large community that surrounds WordPress and WooCommerce. Even if you’re not hosted on WordPress.com you still have access to the WooCommerce plugin support pages and forum, as well as the wider WordPress community forum.
If you are on a WordPress Ecommerce plan you get access to 24/7 customer support via live web chat and email, with priority over free WordPress users. If you go with the business plan you can also get one-to-one Zoom help, where a trained expert will guide you through the process over screen sharing, though there is no telephone support.
WooCommerce itself is a free plugin that you can easily add to an existing WordPress site or install from scratch on your own web host or server. However, there are lots of premium plugins, extensions, and themes that you can pay for.
You can also set things up easily via a WordPress.com ecommerce plan that has 3 main options that are billed yearly but advertised on their per month price. Whether you’re looking for ecommerce platforms UK users can use, or any other country, WordPress will automatically update the pricing and currency accordingly.
- Premium $8: The cheapest online store for those that just want to build a website with shopping cart functionality, allowing you to accept donations, payments for goods and services, and subscriptions, via PayPal. However, it lacks automatic WooCommerce installation and is at the bottom rung of ecommerce selling platforms.
- Business $25: Includes pre-installed WooCommerce with 200GB of space, one-on-one support, and lots of relevant plugins ready to go.
- Ecommerce Experience $45: An infinitely scalable plan with all of the most powerful premium WooCommerce integrations pre-installed. You get priority support and pretty much everything you could need for a WooCommerce installation.
If you have any experience with WordPress then you should strongly consider WooCommerce. There will be next to no learning curve and you’ll have your store up in minutes.
The platform is functional from the start, but it has an advantage over the competition by having such a large supporting community. There is a huge choice of plugins and extensions for WooCommerce since it’s based on WordPress.
It’s also a very affordable solution whether you go self-hosted or use a WordPress.com ecommerce plan. That’s why it’s one of the most used ecommerce platforms in the world.
The only downside is that if you’re looking for WYSIWYG and drag-and-drop customization, you won’t find it here. That’s never been the WordPress way and if you’re a total beginner you might find it more difficult than expected. We still consider it one of the top 5 ecommerce platforms available.
8. Magento Open Source
Powerful and fully customizable
Thousands of extensions
Free for self-hosting
Magento Open Source is, as the name suggests, an open-source version of the Magento platform which is used as an ecommerce solution. Unlike most of the web store platforms we’ve reviewed, Magento is mostly self-hosted, so you will need to purchase your own web hosting or server to install it.
However, with a powerful and secure backend, lots of features, and full control to customize the entire code, it maintains its position as one of the most popular ecommerce platforms in the world.
It’s of most use to corporations and larger businesses who can afford to hire experts to run it or pay for the enterprise ‘commerce’ packages. Or, individuals with experience in coding and using content management systems.
As one of the most customizable platforms, there’s no shortage of features with Magento. Let’s take a closer look at how you can get your first site running and what features are ready to go:
Site Building and Design
Magento can be difficult to set up initially but the backend dashboard is intuitive to people who have used CMSs in the past. Designing your site also takes some time because it doesn’t even have any premade themes to use.
You’ll have to go to the marketplace or the wild west of the web where there are a few free options and lots of premium ones. Generally, the more you pay the more features to come with your theme, but all will be mobile responsive.
Themes also vary in their ability to be customized and to what degree those customizations are user-friendly or not. For example, some will require a lot of coding, while others have predefined settings you can play with. None are drag-and-drop or beginner-friendly.
Nonetheless, the features and possibilities are endless if you have the experience or are willing to hire a developer from a Freelancer site to build you the best ecommerce solution for you.
If we put the steep learning curve aside, Magento is possibly the most feature-rich solution we’ve reviewed. Goodies include:
- Sell physical and digital products out of the box.
- Sell locally in different languages and currencies.
- Registered customers can make one-click purchases from their saved preferences.
- Guests can check out without registering
- Give customers arcuate tax and shipping estimates before checkout.
- Site search so customers can find products quickly.
- Run and track coupon code campaigns.
- Allow customers to build and share product wish lists.
- Social sharing buttons for customers.
Magento is great when it comes to managing your inventory. If you pay for the $1,500 ‘Commerce’ plan you can even have the site set up to be one of the top B2B ecommerce platforms.
Some of the key open-source features include:
- List unlimited products in unlimited categories and subcategories
- Manage multiple stores from one admin area
- Advanced product listing and unlimited variations, with the ability to add images, video and digital download information to product pages
- Use CVS files to bulk import and export inventory
- Easily fulfill and manage your orders and inventory from the admin panel, including printing invoices, packing slips, and shipping labels
- Split orders for shipping savings and efficient stock management
- Multi-channel sales via add-ons, including Amazon, eBay, and Facebook
Analytics and Reporting
Magento offers good analytics and reporting by combining its own tracking system with Google Analytics (so make sure you have an analytics account to link). This gives you insight into sales and popular content, customer habits, bounce rate and abandoned shopping carts, etc.
A standout feature allows you to see which products were recently viewed and compared, so you can improve your pages or target the specific customer with similar items, making it one of the best open-source ecommerce platforms.
Other useful reports you can generate include average order value, the lifetime value of a single customer, and lapsed customers that have not returned in a long while. You might target these with an ad campaign, for example. You can also segment customers based on factors like location and demographics.
The open-source nature of Magento means it has a large developer base and anyone can create anything from minor tweaks to advanced add-ons. Nearly 3,000 are available in the official marketplace while many more can be found elsewhere on the web, making it one of the most powerful open source platforms for ecommerce.
Popular add ons include:
- Amazon Sales Channel
To accept payment on Magento you need to choose from a payment gateway extension and sign up for the service manually. Most of the leading gateways are supported, which in turn means you can offer:
- Credit and Debit Card
- Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)
- Other bank transfers
- Mobile Payments
- Bitcoin and Crypto
Not every gateway will offer every option, and some are better suited for chosen regions of the world. However, you can support as many gateways as you wish. Just note that all will have some underlying transaction fee structure.
Ease of Use
Simply put, if you’re in any way a beginner, Magento is not easy to use. It’s clunky, has an outdated look, and does nothing resembling the drag-and-drop or WYSIWYG features of the best ecommerce platforms.
If you have had experience with content management systems as they’ve progressed over the years, you can probably get by okay. Even then, you may need to double-check what certain settings do. That being said, it still has a straightforward navigational dashboard with tabs that take you to the main settings.
The thing is because it’s so powerful, there are a lot of these settings. It takes the best of us hours to set everything up.
Because Magento is a free open source platform it does not come with any direct support unless you pay for the enterprise package. It will come in the form of an active online community and the numerous guides, video tutorials, and official help pages on the web.
If you do pay for the $1,500 a month Magento Commerce plan, then you have a direct line to a ‘success manager’ and engineering technical support staff 24/7.
Magento Open Source is a free software to download and host yourself via a third party ecommerse web hosting plan. Just keep in mind it may not be supported by all shared hosting providers.
‘Magento’ Commerce is the premium version of the platform that includes tech support and lots of extra features.
Starting at $1,500/ month, you can run:
- business-to-business (B2B ecommerce platforms)
- advanced marketing features
- a more modern WYSIWYG page builder
- a product recommendation module
- customer loyalty tools
This is one of the few cloud ecommerce platforms.
Enterprise ecommerce platforms comparison can be difficult because they are expensive and exclusive, but Magento is certainly one of the most used.
As one of the largest ecommerce platforms in the world, its success cannot be ignored. However, it is not for beginners, and even experienced website developers will take time to realize its full potential. If your business can afford to hire experts or you have $1,500 a month to get the enterprise package, then it’s definitely worth considering this powerful option.
Free to download for self-hosting
Light but thousands of extensions
Easy to use editor
OpenCart offers highly customizable ecommerce web platforms that are free to download and require your own third-party hosting plan that supports PHP scripts. It’s aimed at those with a little more CMS and coding experience. However, it is far from difficult to use thanks to a well-designed control panel and editor.
If you’re a beginner to ecommerce but not running self-hosted websites, it’s probably the most cost-effective solution to test. The initial installation is light but can be gradually expanded with over 13,000 extensions as you get to grips with the platform and develop your business idea.
From choosing and editing your templates to adding all the required options to your sales listings, OpenCart has all the features you need to build a powerful web store.
Site Building and Design
Creating your store starts from the design tab of the dashboard where you must first choose a theme from hundreds of free or premium options. The quality can vary quite significantly, so it’s definitely worth browsing through. The good news is you can swap them seamlessly without losing any of your products or other content.
Modest customization is available from the theme options setting. You can change the layout of certain modules, add your branding and images, and change the color scheme. Those with coding experience can dive right into the raw files themselves and edit or add anything they desire. It’s actually one of the most editable PHP ecommerce platforms.
The good news is that all themes are mobile-ready by default and every product page or additional content can be easily edited to include a custom meta title, description, and set of keywords for SEO purposes. You can further enhance SEO with extensions.
- List an unlimited number of physical and digital products across unlimited categories and subcategories, to build as large a site as you require. A feature not always available out of the box from some of the best ecommerce platforms.
- Allow payment via a subscription model for recurring orders.
- USD, British Pounds, and Euros are supported by default but you can add additional languages and currencies as add-ons.
- As well as multi-channel selling across third parties via addons, you can also run completely separate storefronts from a single OpenCart installation.
- Add your own shipping options and costs or use automation from leading carriers.
- Support guest checkout and registered checkout.
- Remind customers who abandoned their cart at checkout to complete their order.
- Increase engagement and trust with customer ratings and reviews.
- Feature bestsellers, your chosen featured products, and related products on product pages.
- Sell Business-2-Business.
- Allow customers to search for products and filter the results to narrow down their search.
- Run an affiliate program where your customers can earn commission by referring you to brand-new customers.
You can monitor sales and inventory from the Sales and Catalog tabs on the dashboard, as well as via reporting to gain further insights.
Depending on the options you select you can also sync inventory across social media stores and third-party marketplaces like eBay and Amazon, so you’re never confused about stock levels.
Product options/variants are workable out of the box or can be accomplished via one of several add-ons. This lets you list a single product that comes in different variations and allows the customer to choose, for example, the size or color.
Adding a digital product can be accomplished by uploading it directly to OpenCart where it will be hosted or via a third-party link to save you bandwidth. You can have digital products made available directly after checkout or sent to the customer’s email address.
Analytics and Reporting
OpenCart uses its own in-built analytics and reporting system, allowing you insights into your customers, sales, most viewed products, and pages, and much more, displayed via useful graphs. This can be further extended with Google Analytics and a number of extensions found in the marketplace.
OpenCart is quite a light installation initially but a lot of its functionality comes from a huge range of third-party integrations available on its official marketplace. There’s over 13,000 to choose from and quite literally something for every purpose you can think of.
Some of the most popular include:
- Amazon & eBay: Provide multi-channel sales across stores and sync inventory.
- MailChimp: Extend your newsletter and autoresponder capabilities.
- Facebook OpenCart: Helps turn your store products into effective ads on Facebook, while also syncing with a Facebook shop.
- Multi-Vendor Marketplace: One of the few ecommerce marketplace platforms can be accomplished with this addon, allowing other users to list their products and engage in commerce with each other. Will you be the next eBay or Amazon?
OpenCart integrates well with lots of payment gateways that suit various regions of the world. Whether you’re searching for Indian ecommerce platforms or any other country you’ll get:
Depending on which you choose, they can help you accomplish credit and debit card payments, bank transfers, e-wallets, and mobile payments, Bitcoin and cryptocurrency payments, and even cash via Paysafe.
Some payment gateways are free to integrate, such as PayPal and Square, while others like PaySafe are a premium extension.
Ease of Use
OpenCart operates from a clean and straightforward dashboard with all the main settings, such as product catalog, design, sales management, etc along the left-hand side.
Whether adding a new product or checking your reports, you’re given small explainers about what the option does, and it functions very much like WordPress.
Even if you do make the wrong selection or mess with the settings, they are easily reversible. You can also change themes seamlessly without losing your products or content.
Most people will get along just fine using OpenCart.
Because OpenCart is open source, there is no customer support team you can contact unless you pay extra, though your web host may be able to provide limited help if your problem crosses over.
Instead, you will have to rely on its official documentation, online tutorials. The OpenCart forum has many active users and engineers, willing to answer your questions.
Alternatively, you can pay for a $99 monthly support plan that guarantees help with up to 3 bugs and 5 extensions a month. That is hardly worth it, as for much less you can use a more beginner-friendly ecommerce platform that is fully hosted and has 24/7 support.
Ultimately, OpenCart is not aimed at beginners who need lots of support. It is better suited to those that can troubleshoot themselves and learn as their business and the platform itself grows.
Free: OpenCart is open source and free to download and install on your own hosting plan or server.
You can also pay extra for a support plan, but the price does not really justify the experience when there are so many other great platforms out there.
OpenCart is a natural alternative to Magento in the niche world of open-source ecommerce system platforms.
If you have that skill, it is a cost-effective and powerful platform that ticks all of the boxes. If you don’t, then it can be difficult to learn - you’d be better off with any of the other fully hosted and/or drag-and-drop solutions on our list.
What Are Ecommerce Platforms?
Simply put, an ecommerce platform is a website builder and management system that allows you to easily create and run an online store.
This is known as non-store retailing and doesn’t require a traditional retail store or physical address.
Ecommerce systems allow you to easily design a custom web store based on pre-set templates, list physical and digital products, and services. While, in some cases, you can even take bookings and appointments.
Your orders and inventory are managed from an online dashboard. Shipping costs and carriers can be pre-defined or auto-generated based on what leading services like FedEx or the USPS are currently offering based on your product values, sizes, and weights.
Integrated secure payment gateways allow you to accept all forms of payment from your customers, including cards and PayPal. These can be implemented to accept everything from Bitcoin to cash, all while calculating the relevant tax.
Web tracking features help you gain insights into your customers’ behavior, top-selling products, most viewed pages, revenue, and an endless amount of other data. And, you can keep in contact with customers via email, to provide updates or special offers. Most of them can be automated via a built-in email system or addon autoresponder like MailChimp.
Integrations, often called plug-ins, addons, or extensions, extend your store’s functionality and can allow you to easily sync up your sales with other online stores like Amazon or social media sites like Facebook. You may even be able to take orders offline and sync with your inventory if you use a service like Square. Depending on the ecommerce platform the number of integrations can range from a few hundred to thousands.
Additional marketing tools help you build blogs, gain organic and paid search traffic, and engage with your social media followers.
Ultimately, ecommerce platforms have the ability to cater to small individual sellers right the way up to large enterprise corporations with hundreds of thousands in annual sales. Almost all of the hard work is done for you and you just have to make sure your products are shipped.
What Are the Benefits of Using an Ecommerce Platform?
There are many benefits to using an ecommerce platform like the ones in our reviews. The most obvious is that…
The hard work is done for you
All of the examples of ecommerce platforms we’ve reviewed are ready-to-go out of the box. Although customization is a big element, all of the hard work in terms of back-end coding and making the site function is already done for you. Simply choose your desired settings and theme and add your products. This saves a lot of time and hassle even if you had the skills to develop and design such a platform yourself.
It is also much cheaper to use one of these out of the box solutions than paying for a bespoke solution to be developed for you. Especially when there are enough ways to customize your themes and templates and the ability to add your own branding and content.
Reach People Fast
If you are on the product development end, are white labeling, or have sourced a relatively unknown item and want to get it to market, it is much faster to go the ecommerce route.
With the right marketing budget and strategy, you can prove your product is a winner online and later end up on the store shelves. Until then, ecommerce is a fast and efficient way to reach customers, so long as there’s demand in the market economy.
If you’ve been looking to get into some form of retail or commerce, an online store is certainly a cheaper option than opening a physical storefront.
An online store simply requires you to pay an affordable monthly fee to the platform and/or web host and to manage your stock. Many ecommerce stores are run by a single person or just a handful of people that work remotely.
Startup costs are low and if you decide to have an advertising budget, you can target people much more efficiently through Google Adwords or Facebook ads.
The nature of the internet and web tracking gives special insight into your customers’ behavior and unique marketing opportunities that are not available to traditional stores.
Even with the most basic analytics and reporting tools you can tell where a web store visitor is located, what led them to your page, what they looked at and bought, or if they never finished their order or just went for a browse. Then there’s the opportunity to email them and bring them back, provided they registered an account.
Broadly, you can also find out your best sellers and most viewed pages, and conversely the areas you need to improve. If you’re a data-driven person, you’re going to love ecommerce as it provides much more insight than you can get at a brick and mortar store. And, the best ecommerce platforms have a mind-boggling amount of data to explore.
Monetize your existing brand
If you already have a brand in some form on the web, such as a podcast or content-based site, or perhaps you’ve become famous or are already an established celebrity. Opening an online store to sell merchandise is just one of many ways to monetize your brand. Even if it is offline you can point people to your online stores using offline marketing techniques.
Sell your skills and creativity
Ecommerce is not just about selling physical or digital products, though if you make your own art or small volume products it’s the perfect place to start.
Those products could also be your skills and creativity, and many platforms let you sell services. Maybe you are a video editor, guitar lesson tutor, or can provide language classes; ecommerce can help you set up a suitable website to sell these services.
Furthermore, integrations with other marketplaces like Etsy help you double-up on exposure and increase sales.
Expand your offline business
People often view online and offline businesses as separate entities, sometimes at odds with each other. However traditional stores and businesses can grow their revenue by offering online sales or additional ecommerce services via online business platforms.
In the time of Covid, many offline businesses are now forced to provide delivery options, from food to physical products. Ecommerce is the best solution for this.
How Do I Choose an Ecommerce Platform?
Some of the main things to consider when hunting for the best platforms for ecommerce include:
Your Business and Size
The type of business you’ll be running, and the size and volume of your sales will have an impact on the platform you choose. If you’re selling a small range of physical products with a maximum of a few thousand in revenue each year, all platforms can accommodate your needs.
But, if you’re selling digital goods, need a bookings/appointments system, must list a huge variety of products and variations, and/or are expecting hundreds of thousands in sales revenue, you need to go big.
Most leading ecommerce platforms have all the required core features to start selling goods securely, but different businesses require different additional features. Different platforms implement their features in different ways. Some require you to pay for higher-priced plans to unlock certain features like ‘abandoned cart reminders’ and some – to explore an app marketplace to find the features you need, whether free or premium. Perhaps you need dropshipping integration or advanced financial reporting?
Make a list of all the needed features, cross-reference these with the platform’s pricing plans, and app marketplaces to find the best solution for you.
Of course, your initial budget is going to have an impact on the platforms and plans available to you. If you don’t have much in the way of startup costs a basic plan can help you get to grips with a platform before upgrading once sales grow. Likewise, a self-hosted ‘free’ platform like WooCommerce or OpenCart can help you get your business idea off the ground without spending more than a simple third-party hosting plan.
Room for Growth
All good ecommerce platforms need to allow room for growth. Just because you start out with $100 in monthly revenue doesn’t mean that won’t reach $100,000 in a year or two. If you think you have the potential for rapid or large growth make sure to compare tiered plans across platforms. While one might have a really cheap beginner plan, another might offer more value for money when you reach $150k in sales.
Hosted or Self-Hosted
You will need to decide whether to go for:
– a hosted solution where the platform and web hosting is included in their plans
– a self-hosted solution where you can install a platform (often for free) and use your own third-party web host or server.
The former is a set requirement of some ecommerce platforms and you may not have any other option. The latter offers great freedom but also requires greater technical know-how.
How experienced are you running websites, coding, managing hosting plans, installing scripts, and navigating content management systems and their control panels?
Complete beginners are better off with services like Wix or Squarespace that require zero coding and little backend editing. While others are arguably more powerful but require the skill to self-host, edit code, and solve technical issues yourself.
A solution like WooCommerce falls somehow in the middle. While it doesn’t let you just drag-and-drop elements where you want or edit pages via a WYSIWYG interface, its dashboard is very user-friendly. It’s one of the most used platforms in the world.
You’ll want to use a solution that runs on a modern programming language and framework like PHP. .Net ecommerce platforms can be good and even hosted from home, but open source ecommerce platforms, java based, tend to pose security risks now that java is considered outdated.
Security and Legality
When selling online it is also making sure your site has an SSL certificate, the little padlock and https in the address bar and that your checkout process is PCI compliant. This helps ensure your customer data and financial transactions are secure and encrypted.
Furthermore, different regions have different laws regarding what you can and can’t sell, and what can be shipped overseas. Even in the US, the federal trade commission has certain guidelines that may be relevant to you.
On this page we reviewed the 10 top ecommerce platforms, taking into account their sales and inventory features, data and reports, integrations, pricing, customer support, and ease of use. Whether hosted or self-hosted, most of these platforms run on PHP and other common coding.
Along with our guides, we hope you’ve been able to find one of the best ecommerce platforms for you. And, whether you have an established business you want to take online or an idea you wish to develop further, we wish you luck with your future online store.
What are the 3 types of e-commerce?
Ecommerce is simply electronic or perhaps more accurately, online commerce. This generally refers to the process of buying and selling on online stores and marketplaces. Broadly you can categorize 3 separate types of e-commerce, though there are many sub-types and retail formats.
- Consumer or Business-to-Consumer (B2C): This is the most commonly known type of ecommerce. It involves individuals or larger businesses using the web to sell regular consumer goods, i.e. the general public. For example, you launch an online store selling guitars and the public find you via Google shopping. B2C ecommerce platforms make the bulk of our list.
- Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C): Often small scale and second hand/aftermarket – individuals selling to other individuals through classifieds, social media, or marketplaces like eBay.
- Business to Business (B2B): This type of ecommerce is not aimed at the general public. It’s about businesses, often suppliers or service providers, selling to other businesses. B2B ecommerce is not targeted at the average consumer and is somewhat hidden behind jargon that those outside the industry wouldn’t understand. A common example is selling IT systems for offices or schools. Some marketplaces blur the lines of B2B, allowing the average consumer to buy wholesale goods. Magento currently offers the best b2b ecommerce platforms on our list.
Other types of e-commerce can be categorized into 3 types, including the selling of physical goods, digital goods, and services online.
And, the form of stock management and fulfillment. I.e. Warehousing or physically handling the goods yourself, dropshipping or acting as the intermediaries to a supplier who handles shipping, and on-demand/private labeling Good ecommerce technology platforms allow for all of these.
What are the best ecommerce platforms?
The best ecommerce platforms let you run a fully functioning online store that strikes a balance between customization and handling the difficult coding and backend functions. All of the platforms reviewed on this page meet this standard to varying degrees, though Shopify tops the overall list thanks to its impressive range of features, good pricing model, and ease of use.
Wix is one of the best ecommerce website platforms for beginners, while BigCommerce is one of the top ecommerce platforms for large retailers. If you’re already a WordPress user then the WooCommerce addon should be a strong consideration. And, if you’re good at the technical side of things we’d go with Magento Open Source or OpenCart.
What ecommerce platform is best for small businesses?
If you’re looking for small business platforms for ecommerce you’ll require a feature-rich experience that is still affordable and not overly complicated.
Squarespace is our current top pick for ecommerce hosted platforms for small business thanks to its user-friendly drag-and-drop interface, which requires no coding knowledge, and its good customer support. It has all the features needed without overwhelming you and has affordable and scalable plans should your business grow and needs change.
This is closely followed by Wix which is Squarespace’s direct competitor. It too is known for its beginner-friendly website building platform, with drag-and-drop functionality and WYSIWYG editor. In fact, overall, it’s better for beginners and is easily one of the top ecommerce platforms for small business.
Which ecommerce platform does Amazon use?
Amazon is the largest online retailer in the world and very much set the standard for what an ecommerce store should look like and function. It uses its own proprietary platform that it has developed over many years and has thousands of staff managing, tweaking, and developing new features each day. Unless you have significant funding, you cannot replicate it, but you can come quite close with some of the ecommerce platforms on our list.
What is the cheapest ecommerce platform?
Several ecommerce platforms are technically free but require hosting, such as WooCommerce, Magento, and OpenCart. If you can find cheap hosting that supports databases and third-party installation of scripts, then these may be the cheapest options for you. However, you may need coding, tech, and overall website management skills to make the best use of them.
The best value for money prize goes to Zyro, which costs $22.99 per month for its first plan and just $29.99 to unlock all of its features.
If you’re looking for the best beginner-friendly solution then Wix is an affordable option, starting at $23 and $27 for its second plan. A WordPress.com hosted WooCommerce store starts at $25 but lacks some premium features of its higher $45 plan and both require paying 12 months upfront.
We overlook WordPress.com’s $8 ecommerce option because it’s more of a PayPal integration than a full ecommerce platform. It does not include WooCommerce.
What is the best free ecommerce platform?
BigCommerce offers the longest free trial currently available, at 15 days. Though most others are 14 days, so the advantage is negligible. Meanwhile, Zyro will give you a 30-day money-back-guarantee, so it offers the longest testing period if you’re willing to pay upfront and go through the hassle of getting a refund at 30 days.
Free open source ecommerce platforms include WooCommerce, Magento, and OpenCart, which are all free to install with unlimited products and support for multiple payment gateways. However, these are self-hosted solutions so you will still need to find and pay for a web hosting plan or server to install the platform.
If you are only looking to sell a few products and not run a full online store, services like PayPal support simple Buy Now, donation buttons, and links that let you sell directly from your website or social accounts for free, minus PayPal’s usual transaction fee. WordPress offers a cheap $8 plan for this functionality, but it does not contain WooCommerce and is certainly not one of the best ecommerce platforms.
A qualified journalist and longtime web content writer, Keelan has a passion for exploring information and learning new things. If he's not writing or pushing his own brands, you'll find him watching pro wrestling or trying not to rant about politics online.
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