You want to build an online store, but with so many eCommerce platforms on the market, you’re unsure which one to choose for your business?
Well, search no further.
Even before the pandemic, eCommerce has established itself as the driving force of business nowadays. For that reason, when you shop for an online shopping platform, it’s prudent to choose a solution that would serve your business as it expands.
Does Expensive mean Quality for eCommerce platforms? Not necessarily, as it all comes down to your business requirements and some important factors that we’ll discuss in this guide.
That’s why we rounded up the most reliable eCommerce platforms that meet different business and user needs – big or small, beginner or pro.
What You Need from the Best eCommerce Platforms
When hunting for the best eCommerce platform, you’re putting your business needs and your target customers as a top priority. Accordingly, you need to keep a few key factors in mind.
1. Ease of Use
Your website mirrors how successful your business is and the first visual impression given to your customers. They’ll leave if they don’t like the way it looks or find it hard to browse. It’s that simple.
That’s why it’s essential to choose a platform that you can easily use to design (e.g., intuitive drag-and-drop editor) and set up your shop. You should also pick a solution that provides you with a wide range of unique templates that can capture the feel of your brand and improve your UX design.
2. Features and Marketing Integrations
If you want to create a new revenue stream and expand your online business, it’s challenging to achieve that through one software package.
Social media has become the backbone of marketing in today’s eCommerce world, so you want a platform that can seamlessly connect you with different marketplaces, social media channels, and apps.
An eCommerce app’s type and amount of features should correspond to your business needs. Therefore, it’s best to pick a platform that provides a wide range of features (e.g., plugins, shipping, managing goods, analytics, business tools, email marketing options, POS system, etc.).
3. Device Compatibility
Mobile commerce has become a vital channel for eCommerce stores. Did you know that the global mobile shopping revenue exceeded $3 billion in 2021? Your customers have their smartphones in their hands most of the time, and they find it easier and more convenient to shop online through their phones than laptops or desktops.
Ensure that the eCommerce platform you choose is compatible with different operating systems and responsive on all screens and devices.
4. Payment Methods and Security
Before you decide on an eCommerce solution, you need to make a quick Geo-location study to discover what online payment methods are available in the countries your customers are located.
As for your customers, it’s crucial to provide them with easy, diverse, and secure payment options to ensure their personal and financial data is protected.
Therefore, look for a platform that offers multiple payment methods that are safe and convenient to your target customers.
SEO is an essential element to consider for your online business to reach a broad audience quickly and easily. You need to ensure that your chosen eCommerce platform is SEO-friendly and optimized for popular search engines like Google.
One of the most vital points of having an online store is that it’s 24/7 open for customers. But this also means that people might look for support for your products/services at any time of day.
Your eCommerce platform should provide enough tools to handle different support options at various hours – live chat software, chat-bots, contact forms, social media integrations, etc.
In addition, if you aren’t tech-savvy and need assistance building and managing your online store, you should go for a provider that comes with excellent customer support.
eCommerce platforms have different pricing systems. Some of them are very expensive, while others are cheap. Some platforms offer a monthly or an annual billing system, while others only let you charge your clients per transaction. In any case, it’s wise to go for an eCommerce software that fits your budget.
Here are our top picks of the best eCommerce platforms:
Shopify is the most popular all-in-one SaaS eCommerce platform. It offers more than 80 professional and mobile-friendly themes – some even available for free. Templates are well-organized and easy to browse through. In addition, each theme is equipped with its own set of customizable tools that you can tailor to your brand.
You won’t have trouble using Shopify’s drag-and-drop editor if you’re a beginner. You can effortlessly personalize and customize sections. There’s also an on-boarding wizard to guide you through the store-building process like adding products, payment options, connecting domains, and more.
Shopify is also a hosted platform on Google Cloud, which means that it’s fast, and you won’t have to deal with any server management or maintenance. Shopify’s slick mobile app will additionally help you control your store on the go.
Marketing-wise, you’ll get SEO and marketing tools, a blogging platform, the ability to use your own domain name, and social media integration. You can even connect your Shopify inventory with Amazon and eBay.
Other notable eCommerce features include inventory management, synchronizing your online and physical stores via POS system, discounts and coupons, automated store emails, one-click checkouts, automatic tax calculation, and Google Analytics. You can also make your store available in multiple languages, and get access to at least 5,000 third-party apps.
Fraud Analysis is another excellent feature you can use to identify any suspicious or fraudulent orders. Automatic shipping rate calculation is available for specific products, and you can easily create customer reports. Shopify has its own payment gateway and supports PayPal Checkout and 70 other payment options. Still, keep in mind some transaction fees may be applied depending on the chosen method.
Shopify is reasonably priced and comes in three tiers, but keep in mind you might incur extra charges for add-ons and premium extras. In addition, you can choose to subscribe on a monthly or annual basis.
While there’s a 14-day free trial to evaluate the service, Shopify doesn’t offer refunds once you sign up. Customer support is available 24/7 through live chat, email, ticket, and phone callbacks. There’s also a comprehensive Knowledge base, community forum, tutorials, and FAQ sections.
- Unlimited bandwidth, products, and disk space
- 14-day free trial
- Wide range of applications, extensions, and eCommerce features
- User-friendly drag-and-drop editor and polished mobile app
- 24/7 customer support via multiple channels
- No refund policy
- Charges transaction fees for using external payment gateways
- Can get expensive with higher plans and paid add-ons
Wix was initially launched in 2006 and was known as Flash Editor. Today, it serves more than 200 million users around the world. Wix is a well-known website building and hosting platform. It offers a ton of features for easily creating an impressive online store.
Through Wix’s sleek and user-friendly dashboard, you can manage all aspects of your online store. This includes managing and fulfilling orders, viewing your website analytics, managing payments. You can also take advantage of the Wix Owner app, which is available on iOS and Android.
The Wix site builder relies on a simple drag-and-drop procedure to easily build your online store from scratch. In addition, you can choose from more than 500 templates which are completely free with all plans. There’s even a free package with limited features but just enough if you’re starting up a new small business.
Thanks to Wix’s multiple integrated points of sale, you can sell your products through Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, and eBay. In addition, you can further promote your business with Wix’s built-in marketing tools.
Wix also helps you go global with your online store through advanced SEO optimization tools, a multilingual storefront, and a built-in currency converter. In addition, Wix supports numerous payment methods, which can also differ depending on the location of your target audience.
Wix’s support is available 24/7. If you opt-in for the VIP plan, you get to enjoy premium support without having to wait in a queue to get connected to an agent.
- Drag-and-drop website builder
- Free plan available
- 500+ templates
- A ton of built-in features
- Limited support channels
- You have to pay for premium support
Big-commerce was founded in 2009 and served companies in more than 150 countries. It is widely prevalent among large businesses, owing to its user-friendly interface and high customization options. The platform is developed to give you ultimate control over your day-to-day online store management process.
In comparison with other platforms, Big-commerce’s prices are a bit on the expensive side. However, all price plans come with unlimited products, storage, bandwidth, and staff accounts.
Big-commerce also offers a 15-day free trial, so you can test the waters before making any financial commitments. In addition, all three plans offer multiple sales channels (online storefront, POS, Amazon, eBay, Walmart, etc.) and social media integration (Facebook, Instagram, Google shopping, etc.).
They also include a mobile-responsive website plus a smartphone app.
The day-to-day operations of your online business, such as traffic analysis and stock monitoring, can be managed very easily with Big-commerce, but the behind-the-scenes work can be a little tricky. Nevertheless, Big-commerce’s support team is available 24/7 through phone, live chat, and ticket in order.
- Unlimited products, storage, bandwidth, staff accounts
- Accepts multiple payment methods and currencies
- Supports multiple sales channels and social media integrations
- 15-day free trial
- Slightly expensive
- Customization of website needs technical skills
Magento was officially launched in 2008. It was later bought by eBay and subsequently sold to Adobe. The eCommerce platform processes more than $100 billion in gross merchandise volume every year.
Downloading and installing Magento on your own server is free of charge (community or basic version). However, Magento also offers a self-hosted service (Enterprise version) which you don’t need to install. The price for this service depends on the size of your online business. The platform itself is highly user-friendly and doesn’t require advanced technical skills to manage.
If you compare Magento with Shopify, you’ll find that the former is also hosted on the cloud using AWS and Azure. This makes it highly scaleable and guarantees reliable performance for your online store. So no matter where your customers are located, they’ll experience high loading speeds, which is always good for business.
Magento comes packed with features, including inventory management, multiple payment options, built-in multilingual support, SEO tools, order processing, and many more. The platform is also optimized for all devices (desktops, laptops, mobile phones, tablets, etc.).
Getting help in Magento is relatively easy, thanks to its large community. Through it, you can get answers to your questions from developers for free or have them help you out for a fee. Magento also has its own marketplace where you can get a wide variety of themes and choose from over 5000 extensions to boost your website.
- Ability to handle substantial shops with lots of products
- Free community version
- The Enterprise version is costly
- Themes and extensions are paid for separately
Woo-commerce started in 2008 as an open-source commerce solution built on WordPress. Back then, the company was called Woo-themes. However, until 2017, the developers decided to focus exclusively on eCommerce and changed the name to Woo-Commerce.
The platform targets mostly small-to-medium businesses. If you already have a WordPress website, setting up Woo-Commerce should be pretty easy and straightforward. Woo’s interface is quite primary and doesn’t require a tech expert to launch a beautiful online store.
The Woo-Commerce plugin itself is free, but to have a full-on online store with all functionalities, you’ll need to purchase extensions from the Woo-Commerce marketplace. However, there are some free add-ons available as well, and even the paid ones are reasonably priced.
There are numerous payment methods that Woo-Commerce supports. These include credit/debit cards, bank transfers, checks, and cash on delivery, but other options as well – PayPal, Stripe, Square, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, and more.
Through Woo-Commerce’s user-friendly dashboard, you can easily update products and fulfill orders. In addition, save time using the dashboard’s automated tax calculations, get live shipping rates from leading carriers, and even print labels from home.
You can integrate multiple marketing channels with Woo-Commerce, including Google Shopping, Facebook, and several others. Woo is also compatible with all devices and has a mobile application for both iOS and Android.
- Built on WordPress
- Free if you have a WordPress site
- Lots of free and paid extensions
- Highly user-friendly interface
- Requires WordPress knowledge
- Woo-Commerce updates don’t always work with WordPress
Which E-commerce Platform is Right for You?
As you can see, no eCommerce platform is flawless, and the market is highly competitive to cater to different business needs. The prices range from a few bucks per month to chewing a hole in your wallet. However, as previously mentioned, choosing the right eCommerce platform rests on the nature of your business and its demands.
If you’re still in doubt and unsure what to choose from the listed platforms, this list will help you out.
Shopify – Beginners with little or no technical background. Also, small businesses and startups are looking for an all-purpose platform.
Wix – Individual sellers and SMBs looking for a versatile and easy-to-use eCommerce builder.
Big-Commerce – Tech-advanced users and online retailers with large product catalogs.
Magento – Medium to large stores looking for scalability and driving sales.
Woo-Commerce – Small to medium business on a budget, and users looking for building an online store using WordPress.
Image Credit: Provided by the Author; Thank you!