E-COMMERCE PLATFORMS ONLINE STORES OR BUSINESSES

So you are ready to launch your online store or business.

You are looking for the best ecommerce platform.

Perhaps you are already up and running, but want to switch to a platform that can better accommodate your needs.

Business owners typically choose between specific factors to select a platform:

  • Price and Fees
  • The user interface
  • Coding skills required
  • Inventory limits and Scalability for Growth

This article compares and reviews the top Ecommerce platforms.

1. BIGCOMMERCE SOFTWARE & SHOPPING CART PLATFORM

BigCommerce is a multifunctional e-commerce platform that includes features such as order fulfillment, project management, online payments, analytics, and coupons. It’s cloud-based and great for brands that are expected to grow quickly. The platform is equally appropriate for small and large stores, capable of organizing hundreds or even thousands of products within its database.

If you’re just getting started, you may want to choose a more straightforward platform such as Wix or Shopify. If you need tools to power your promotions, BigCommerce has them. Take advantage of Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing, abandoned cart notifications, discounts, coupon codes, and banner ads. The reporting offers you insight on your orders, customers, revenue, traffic, conversion rates, purchase funnels, and abandoned cart rates.

BigCommereice is open-source with built-in security features like 128-bit SSL certificate support and hardware firewalls. This ecommerce platform provides intrusion detection, denial of service protection, and disaster recovery support.

BigCommerce gives your site advanced search features like filtering items by price, brand, shipping availability options, and more. There are 96 website templates to choose from, giving you lots of design choices without needing a designer. However, if you happen to have some tech skills, you’ll be able to make changes to the HTML or CSS easily. The platform integrates well with MailChimp, Interspire, Constant Contact, and iContact. The platform enables you to reward the loyalty of your clients with gift vouchers or coupons.

BigCommerce is a hosted solution, so you won’t have to go out and find your own hosting company.

Pricing: Packages begin at $29.95, giving you unlimited products, bandwidth, storage, the ability to accept Paypal and credit cards.

The cost of your BigCommerce package will be contingent on how much bandwidth and storage you need for your store.

Fees: All transactions have a 1.5% transaction fee. You can eliminate the transaction fees by upgrading to the $79.95 per month package.

Overall, the platform is a great choice, but it still has features that could use improvement. For example, there is no abandoned cart feature to alert your shoppers that they haven’t completed their purchase. Abandoned cart messages are powerful and help your visitors complete their task.

logo of shopify online store platform

2. Shopify eCommerce Platform

Shopify offers web hosting for as a part of its service. You don’t have to go searching for a hosting company to keep your site live; this function is built into the platform. There’s no need to install any software on your computer.

Shopify is straightforward to use and is appropriate for beginners. You can choose from pre-made, responsive templates, saving you money on design costs. The platform makes it possible to launch your site entirely on your own.

Accepting payments online can get quite technical, but not with Shopify. The platform takes care of the technical part by providing a Point Of Sale (POS) system, modules to sell on Pinterest and Facebook, as well as a custom “Buy” button you can embed anywhere. It’s important to note that if you don’t use Shopify Payments, you’ll have to pay a fee for each transaction processed in your store.

Shopify is an excellent solution for ecommerce stores that want to integrate with white label or drop shipping companies like Inventory Source, Orodoro, and eCommHub. Individuals that are savvy with search engine optimization need to know that there are limitations with URL structures.

If you are familiar with HTML and CSS, you’ll be able to make some modifications to your template. It’s also not possible to create a customized checkout process with Shopify. However, Shopify has its unique strengths too. If you want to sell on Amazon, you can sell directly through your Shopify store. You can acquire your SSL certificate and domain name through Shopify.

Shopify is used to power 600,000 stores, generating more than $45bn in sales. Major brands like Budweiser, Red Bull, Tesla Motors, and The Economist depend on Shopify. Shopify allows you to manage your inventory, process transactions, and create sales reports.

It has an extensive list of features, some of the more advanced features include affiliate marketing tracking and discounts for customers. Shopify integrates with third-party apps such as Google Analytics. Shopify includes social media integration, allowing visitors to shop through your inventory while they’re on Facebook.

Pricing:

Shopify includes a free 30-day trial, so you can check out all of its features before committing. You can cancel the free trial at any time. The pricing tier for Shopify begins at $9 for Shopify Lite and increases to $29 for Basic Shopify.

The package titled Shopify is $79. Lastly, the cost is $299 for the Advanced Shopify package. Shopify Plus is an enterprise-level package that gives you; API support, SSL/IP address, advanced security, and server uptime that’s guaranteed. It’s important to note that Shopify Lite is not a hosted store, but a Facebook store. You’ll also get access to a Shopify Buy Button to sell goods on your blog or website

Any plan $29 and up provides abandoned cart functionality, integration with MailChimp, SEO options, and discount codes. Reporting and gift cards are only included for plans that start at $79.

The number of accounts you can have for staff members varies upon each plan.

You get two staff accounts on the Basic plan, five with the Shopify plan, and fifteen on the Advanced plan. The Advanced plan also gives you the ability to build more detailed reports and access to real-time carrier shipping.

3. Big Cartel Easy Online Store

Big Cartel does not require extensive coding knowledge.  Carefully deliberate over your product names because you won’t be able to change the product URL at a later time. Time-sensitive discounts will aid your marketing efforts.

The main advantage of Big Cartel is that you can set up your ecommerce store at no cost.

The user interface is friendly to website owners who are not website developers. Big Cartel is not the best option when it comes to design, offering you a choice between 13 themes that can be lightly customized.

Big Cartel doesn’t offer a large number of integrations. But it does work seamlessly with Facebook.

Alternatively, you can sell 300 products for $29.99 per month. The higher priced package allows you to have five images per product and add your own domain name. This advanced package also includes Google Analytics, inventory tracking, and discount codes.

Big Cartel gears itself towards artists who are looking to sell shirts, prints, clothing, jewelry, and other craft-style inventory. The ecommerce stores are mobile friendly which is a huge plus. It’s vitally important for your ecommerce store to look brilliant across all devices. Big Cartel has made it reasonably simple to set up your store and upload your items quickly.

This platform does not allow you to completely customize your store the way WordPress or Shopify will allow you to. You also can sell digital products rather than just physical products.

Payment Options: Choose from Stripe or Paypal as payment options. Big Cartel charges a fee of 2.9% for each transaction plus an additional $0.30.

Pricing:

Gold: Free, 5 products, 1 image per product

Platinum: $9.99 a month, 25 products, 5 images per product

Diamond: $19.99 a month, 50 products, 5 images per product

Titanium: $29.99 a month, 100 products, 5 images per product

4. WooCommerce Ecommerce Platform

Woocommerce integrates with WordPress and is a very powerful plugin.

This is an excellent choice for a site owner who wants to have advanced controls.

WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that’s free to use and only has a minimal learning curve.

Using Woocommerce requires you to choose your own host and purchase your domain name to get your site up and running.

Since this is one of the most popular plugins on WordPress, it is frequently updated. This is great because if you run into any problems, the chances are that they will be resolved quickly.

Woocommerce has extensions which enhance the available features. Extensions allow you to install extensions such as Google Analytics and MailChimp.

The Freshdesk extension allows you to add support tickets and Product Bundles gives you the ability to package items together for more sales. With Woocommerce, you can sell an unlimited amount of products. Approximately 400,000 sites use WooCommerce.

Woocommerce accepts payments from Stripe and Paypal. You can even add additional payment gateways such as Amazon Pay and Payfast.

5. OpenCart – Open Source eCommerce platform

OpenCart is a free and open source ecommerce platform.

It offers free software updates and lifetime support. OpenCart requires installation. You’ll need to download it and install it onto your web server.

Self-hosting allows for a far more considerable amount of control over your site than a packaged solution that includes hosting. Your web server has to meet specific installation requirements like PHP 5.2. and being Curl enabled. OpenCart is excellent for a global business that provides products and services to the world because it is multilingual and accepts multiple currencies.

OpenCart software calculates multiple tax rates, is PCI compliant and offers more than eight different methods of shipping. Website owners know how important it is to back up your site. This platform has tools for the restoration and backup of your site.

OpenCart requires a hosting plan so you’ll need to shop around for the hosting service that suits your needs best. It’s also necessary to pay for your domain name and any extensions you want to give your site extra functionality. It’s easy to add new products, and OpenCart integrates with hundreds of payment gateways.

Choose from paid or free themes to get the exact aesthetic you want for your brand. OpenCart is terrific but has a few downsides.

OpenCart runs a bit slower than the other options, causing your site to run slow. It’s also not as SEO-ready.

OpenCart may not be the best choice for a novice. It requires some level of development skills. However, if you have those skills, you can create a customizable site with a variety of useful integrations. Over 13,000 extensions are available. You can still use pre-made themes like the ones available from Themeforest. There is a cloud-based version of this software.

Pricing depends on the amount of storage required.

squarespace

6. Squarespace

Squarespace has a smooth, intuitive UX.

You might even be overwhelmed at the amount of control you have over your design. There are hundreds of beautiful templates to choose from and Squarespace offers search engine friendly customizations.

Choosing Squarespace means that your store will have a modern, sharp design which translates as a credible, trustworthy store. It includes tools so you can keep track of your sales and marketing efforts. Take advantage of marketing, reporting, and data tracking tools available to help you better target your audience.

Squarespace allows you to sell physical or digital products such as software or downloads. It does not integrate with Amazon, Facebook, and Google Shopping.

The ecommerce solution helps you protect your profits by eliminating transaction fees that are common among ecommerce platforms. Support is available for your Squarespace store via a ticket system and live chat. If you have an issue with functionality or any other problem, you won’t be able to reach anyone by phone.

Be ready to face an obstacle if you choose Squarespace as an ecommerce platform to accept Paypal. Squarespace is integrated with Stripe and does not allow customers to pay via Paypal.

Squarespace has separate pricing structures for websites and online stores.

No coding skills are needed for Squarespace. The style editor does not require you to know CSS or HTML. At least 1.3 million stores depend on Squarespace.

Brands such as Pixar, Lyft, and Tony Hawk use Squarespace.

Transaction Fees: 3%

Pricing:

Get a fully cloud-hosted website through either monthly or yearly contracts. Choose from either the $26 Basic plan or the $40 Advanced plan.

Squarespace gives you a significant advantage by offering a free custom domain with your ecommerce store. The basic plan includes SSL security, a mobile-optimized site, and the ability to sell unlimited products among other features.

Upgrade to the $40 plan for automatic recovery of abandoned carts, accounting software, advanced shipping, gift cards, discounts, and order API. Squarespace includes a free 14-day trial, so you can see if it’s a good fit for you. It’s good for someone with limited technical skills that would like to create a simple store.

7. Wix

Wix is one of the most popular platforms for first-timers. It has a very user-friendly interface that allows you to place different features wherever you like intuitively. Creating a site requires nearly no technical skills. Make sure to read my SEO Review of Wix.

Wix is best suited for beginners who may not be very familiar with web development or design. It’s an excellent solution for business owners who want to be independent and create their site themselves. If you don’t want to hire a web administrator or designer, Wix is probably for you.

Wix works within your browser without requiring you to install any software, as you would with WordPress. Using this platform hosts your site on Wix, so you don’t have to purchase additional hosting. Wix is free but has paid options if you want to add more features.

Have a particular idea or theme for your store in mind? Perhaps you’ll be selling technology gadgets or food items? Wix has a variety of templates to choose from so that you can get the most appropriate look for your offering.

If you have a clothing store, you can select “Clothing” templates and search for the design that suits you best. You can preview each design without having to get technical or add your own data. This way, you can check out what each site looks like when it’s populated with photos, video, and text.

Wix Hotels is an online booking system for hotels. Wix Bookings makes it easy to accept bookings online 24/7.

Pricing:

Another reason why Wix is suitable for beginners is that it is entirely free. Keep in mind that you can upgrade to a premium plan that allows you to publish your site to the web. This option is $18 per month. The free option allows you to build a store, but it is not live online.

If you want priority level support or the ability to add your domain name to your site, you’ll have to get a premium plan. Wix offers five premium plans.

By paying $5, you can connect your unique domain to your Wix site.

Enjoy unlimited storage space and all the features as mentioned above for $14 per month. From the Wix apps market, you can add Wix Hotels or Wix Bookings for $20 per month.

Did You Find The Best eCommerce platform For Your Needs?

Finding the best ecommerce platform to for your business is critical for your stores success.

You might want to think of real scenarios when making your selection to avoid getting additional features you don’t need. Think of the longer tasks that you need to perform that take an hour or more of your time each day. Choose a platform that has features that cater to your big, important tasks over the occasional ones.

Consider if the platform fits with your vision and if you would need to make customizations to the product. Make sure you choose a CMS that can keep up with your growth and ambitions for your store. Will you have someone to help you with development or do you need to manage the operation on your own? If SEO matters to you, you’ll want a service that accommodates this.

How you will accept payments may also be a deciding factor. Do you want to be able to take Apple Pay or would you prefer Square?

Wix, Woocommerce, and Shopify work well with Square, while Bigcommerce does not.

Most platforms are relatively inexpensive to get started. Would you rather pay a fee to have your hosting and e-commerce solution neatly wrapped in a package or pay for these items separately?