6.5 min. read
One of the challenges new entrepreneurs face is deciding on a platform to build their eCommerce business. With so many options to choose from, it can seem like a Herculean task to research each platform in detail and decide which one fits your business model and needs the best.
Instead of hopping from one resource to another, we've prepared this comprehensive guide that thoroughly lists the best eCommerce platforms and reviews their most powerful features.
Let's dive in!
eCommerce is truly the holy grail of retain.
Why? Because it can benefit businesses in multiple ways. Here are a few ways how:
Once, it was impossible to imagine that a person living in New York will be ordering a product from a small business company in Tokyo. But that's what's happening today.
A Tokyo-based local business can sell its services to hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Instead of only selling to the 10 000 customers in your local area, the entire world is now your playground.
When you have an online business, you can have one or a few physical stores and still make thousands of dollars every month. There's no need to open brick-and-mortar stores in every city or country you're selling your products or services.
In fact, many online businesses don't even have physical stores. Their operations are fully online. This saves you thousands of dollars on renting spaces for offices and stores.
On the plus side, eCommerce platforms provide you with all the tools you need to run a successful online business. The automation of checkout, billing, and inventory management significantly replaces the need to hire full-time employees to help you run an eCommerce business.
Unlike a physical store that has to close at some point and open again in the morning, online businesses never 'lock their front doors.' You're doing business 24/7/365.
Being always open increases the number of orders you'll receive on a daily basis. Customers in different time zones can make a purchase at a time that's most convenient to them.
Here are the best eCommerce platforms that we think are the most powerful options. Although they are all somewhat similar, some will be better suited to your needs than others.
Read more about each option in the sections below.
Let us start with Exai – a powerful eCommerce platform that we're passionately building. Our platform is one of a kind and offers a feature that none of the other providers offer.
Other eCommerce platforms work on the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) principle. Meaning, you build your own store yourself. This can take hours and hours of your time, especially if you're not the most tech-savvy person.
Exai doesn't let you waste time and does the hard work for you. We take care of every aspect of building an online store in your stead. Our technical team of developers and designers will create a beautiful online store that attracts customers and generates revenue.
This doesn't mean that you don't get a say in how your store gets designed. Before we build your store, you will get a chance to explain your vision for the store to our designers and developers through a quick call.
Moreover, although we will do the hard work for you, we will let you have fun with customizing your store. You can customize your product pages, change colors, add images, and more.
Even if you already have an online store that's hosted on a different platform, we can easily migrate your store to our eCommerce platform in a matter of a few hours.
And if you already have a Facebook page for your business, we can easily help you convert that page to a fully functional eCommerce store, at a price you would normally pay for hosting.
Best of all, you won't need to pay extra cash for purchasing plugins or apps to enhance the online store. Exai upgrades the technology and features for free for its customers.
You'll also be interested to hear that compared to other eCommerce platforms, Exai is the easiest to rank CMS system on Google due to its pure HTML markup code.
Small businesses that need a set of powerful features.
Businesses that don't have time building their own store.
People with facebook pages that want one click conversion to a website.
Online companies that want to quickly migrate their site elsewhere and start selling online ASAP.
Enhanced inventory oversight.
Fully integrated shopping cart.
Protection from malicious attacks and hacks.
404 Error manager(Don’t lose a single customer due to incoming 404 URLs.
Product pages customization.
WYSIWYG Editor(a user-friendly drag-and-drop visual tool to move around and place text and media which will be automatically translated into code for a website or app).
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools.
Automatic technology upgrades.
Free SSL security certificate.
Phone and live chat support.
We offer three different paid plans:
Small: one-time payment of $690 for migration. For an additional $11/month billed annually, you’ll get a managed hosting service for your website with full website maintenance services included in the fee.
Medium: one-time payment of $870 for migration. Just like with the Small plan, for an extra $11/month, you'll get full website maintenance services.
WooCommerce is an open-source engine made for WordPress. It's essentially a powerful plugin that can transform your website into an online store.
This eCommerce platform is most commonly used by bloggers and hobbyists who are looking to expand into eCommerce, as well as by companies whose developers are most comfortable working with WordPress.
Although WordPress and WooCommerce are free for personal and commercial use, you have to keep in mind that you won't get features such as hosting, domain, theme, support, and more.
So, the eCommerce platform is for free, but you'll likely have additional expenses for purchasing features that are otherwise included in proprietary solutions like BigCommerce, for example.
Other than that, the platform comes with most of the essential features you’ll need to set up an eCommerce site. Some of those features include secure payments, as well as the option to choose between 140 region-specific gateways, including Stripe, PayPal, Square, and Amazon Pay.
And if you want to add function to your store, the official WooCommerce marketplace offers hundreds of both free and paid extensions, from marketing integrations to management tools.
Businesses looking for a free alternative to platforms such as Wix or BigCommerce.
Bloggers and hobbyists looking to expand into eCommerce.
Configurable shipping options.
WooCommerce Marketplace for adding features and functionalities.
WooCommerce’s theme store.
Shopify is another popular eCommerce platform that helps you build your online store without possessing any tech skills.
It's the go-to eCommerce platform for small businesses, beginners, and sellers that are ambitious to grow their brand.
With powerful features like inventory tracking and shipping tools, over 1,200 apps, and three different paid plans, Shopify is a great platform for building your online store.
The eCommerce platform offers more than a few great features. One of those amazing features is Shopify Payments, the platform's own in-house payment gateway. The major benefit of using Shopify Payments is that it removes Shopify's transaction fees. If you're selling internationally, it also supports multiple currencies.
Apart from Shopify Payments, Shopify has more than 1,200 other apps in its app store. If you choose a theme that doesn't come with a specific tool you need, you will surely find it in the app store. You can even sell your product on multiple platforms using multichannel integrations.
Even if you're selling digital goods, Shopify lets you do it on the platform. The only thing you'll need to do is install an app that will enable your customers to download the digital product.
Regarding the design of your store, there are 10 free themes and 64 premium themes to choose from. The best template for your site will depend on your brand's needs and preferences.
Other powerful features include dropshipping, abandoned cart recovery, and product management.
Companies looking for an easy way to launch and manage their online store.
Businesses that need a wide range of sales tools.
Selling digital and physical goods.
Owners who want full control of the templates.
In-house payment gateway.
100 integrated payment gateways.
10 free themes and 64 premium themes.
1,200 apps in its app store.
First of all, you can test out Shopify free of charge for two weeks. There's a 14-day free trial and you don't need to leave any payment details.
If you find that the eCommerce platform is the right one for your online store, there are three paid plans to choose from, including:
Basic Shopify: the cheapest paid plan is available for $29/month and comes with all the basic features you need to start an online business.
Shopify: the second cheapest plan will cost you $79/month and includes all the features from the Basic plan, in addition to features like five staff accounts and advanced report builder. This plan is best suited for growing businesses.
According to reports, Magento powers roughly 20% of all eCommerce sites online. Many people believe that it's Magento's flexibility and expandability that's 'to blame' for the platform's major popularity.
If you decide to build your store with Magento, you'll be able to add just about any feature to your site.
Some of its features include global selling, catalog management, advanced marketing tools, visual merchandising, B2B functionality, and more.
However, we have to note that Magento is a great eCommerce platform, but for people with professional development experience. The majority of the platform's clients are medium and large companies that have the resources for hiring a web developer or agency.
Medium and large enterprises with deep enough pockets.
Companies that have complex enough technical requirements.
Quickly growing companies.
Marketing, promotions, and conversions.
Checkout, payment, and shipping.
Magento provides a few versions for you to choose from.
The open-source plan is geared towards smaller companies that only need a few features to run their business. However, if you're a larger company that will need advanced features such as catalog management or SEO, you will need to upgrade to a paid plan.
With that being said, Magento's paid plans are pricey.
The Magento Commerce Starter plan is the cheapest paid plan that costs $1,999 per month. It includes features like free website monitoring, search engine optimization, DDoS protection, and more.
For larger enterprises that require advanced tools, Magento asks that you call or email to request a quote. Meaning, the price will depend on the size of your business.
BigCommerce is an eCommerce-centric platform that comes with a plethora of functionalities that help you run a successful online business.
What's great about BigCommerce is that it's pretty simple to use. You don't have to know how to code, or how to do web design.
The platform is most popular for its range of sales tools. With the plethora of sales tools it offers, you'll rarely need third-party add-ons. In addition, you'll also be able to sell any type of products, including physical, digital, and services-based.
You can even choose between more than 65 payment gateways, including Apple Pay, Stripe, and PayPal.
The cherry on top is that you can quickly sell your products on every platform. Using multichannel integrations, you can sell on Amazon, Pinterest, Instagram, eBay, Facebook, or anywhere your customers are.
And if the eCommerce platform's features are not enough for your business, there's the BigCommerce app store where you can choose between over 600 apps to expand your store.
Companies looking for a scalable solution.
Businesses in need for a range of built-in features.
Abandoned cart recovery.
SSL Security certificate.
12 free themes and over 100 paid themes.
Store Design tool.
24/7 phone and live chat support.
BigCommerce has four paid plans, including:
Standard: the cheapest paid plan will cost you $29.95/mo. With it, you'll get all features such as an unlimited number of products to sell, multiple sales channels, product ratings and reviews, 24/7 support, and more. The plan is suitable for businesses of up to $50k per year.
Plus: the Plus plan costs $79.95/mo and offers all the features from the Standard plan, plus a few additional others such as customer groups and segmentation, abandoned cart recovery, and stored credit cards. It's the ideal plan for companies that want to grow their online businesses with marketing tools.
Pro: for $299.95/mo, the Pro plan is best suited for scaling up fast-growing businesses that earn up to $400k in online sales per year. You'll get additional features such as Google customer reviews, custom SSL, and product filtering.
If you're looking for a more affordable option and don't need an extensive list of advanced features, Squarespace might be a great platform for your online store. Business owners who have a few products to sell online and need some lovely templates to match can't go wrong with Squarespace.
Although Squarespace is not a solely eCommerce platform, it comes with some added eCommerce features if you’re looking to sell online.
What this eCommerce platform is most popular for are its lovely designed templates. You can make your products look stunningly attractive using the platform's zoom feature, and even turn your photos into videos to provide a 360° visual journey.
The best part is that each template is fully customizable. You can use the templates as a base and edit it to match your brand colors and style. You can play with colors, fonts, buttons, and more.
Whether you want to sell physical, digital, or service products, all the sales tools you'll need are embedded into the eCommerce platform without the need to download additional apps.
You'll get sales tools such as inventory management, gift cards, sell an unlimited number of products, eCommerce analytics, abandoned cart recovery, and more.
Businesses whose top priority is a great design that lets products shine.
Companies looking to save money.
Sleek, visual templates.
Selling physical-digital, and service products.
Social media integration.
Squarespace has four paid plans. Two are for websites, and two are for online stores.
The two plans suited for eCommerce stores are the Basic Commerce plan and the Advanced Commerce plan.
The Basic Commerce plan costs $26 per month if paid annually, while the Advanced Commerce plan costs $40 per month. The Advanced Commerce plan includes all the features from the Basic plan, with the addition of advanced features such as advanced discounts, commerce APIs, and abandoned cart recovery.
Whether you're selling handmade bracelets or ebooks, Wix lets you sell your products in an affordable and attractive way.
Using the eCommerce platform's simple drag-and-drop editor, you can create your own eCommerce store. And if you don't possess any coding skills, don't fret! You can build a store without the need to write code. What you need to do is choose a template, customize it, and then click publish. Easy at that!
Wix offers a wide range of sales tools that will help you manage a successful online store. You'll get features such as multiple payment options, inventory management, and abandoned cart recovery.
One of Wix's major strengths is its templates. Just like with Squarespace, the templates are attractively designed to promote your brand in a sophisticated way.
You can choose a template, use it as a base, and edit it to fit your style and preferences. There's a built-in zoom feature that lets your customers get a better look at your products. You can add up to 15 product images for each product and create videos for even better customer experience.
And if you need to add a tool, you can go to The Wix Stores app, where you'll find a range of eCommerce marketing, management, and security tools.
Businesses looking to create an attractive-looking store.
Companies looking for an easy way to sell online.
Abandoned cart recovery.
Wix Stores app.
There are three Wix eCommerce plans to choose from:
Business Basic: $17 per month
Business Unlimited: $25 per month
Business VIP: $35 per month
With each paid plan, you'll get features like unlimited bandwidth, online payments, sales analytics and reports, and a free domain for 1 year.
The Business Basic plan is the cheapest option and the best pick if you're just starting your online business. The best plan for growing business is the Business Unlimited plan, while the Business VIP plan is best suited for well-developed businesses that require more advanced tools.
Smaller businesses who are just starting out their company and are on a budget should take a look at Big Cartel.
If you have no more than five products, you can even use the platform for free. With the free version, you'll get all the basic sales tools for running a store, making this a risk-free choice for beginners.
Big Cartel's basic sales features include a mobile app that lets you manage your store on-the-go. There are three types of accepted payments, including Stripe, PayPal, and Square.
It's important to note that Big Cartel is not a Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant. Meaning, you’re responsible for following PCI guidelines on processing and accepting your customers' card payment details. On the bright side, there aren't any transaction fees.
To use more advanced tools, such as advanced analytics tools or dropshipping, you'll need to get third-party plugins and apps.
However, if you're looking to scale up soon and need a powerful eCommerce platform with advanced features, you may want to look elsewhere. Especially, if you're not the tech-savvy kind, we're sorry to tell you that to push beyond the limits of the builder, you need to possess coding skills.
Small companies that aren't looking to scale up soon.
Beginners looking for an easy onboarding process.
Perfect for artists selling individual pieces.
Selling digital goods.
16 themes to choose from.
Big Cartel has four paid plans, including a freemium. If you have up to five products to sell, you can use the platform, free of charge. Features of the free plan include free themes, real-time stats, one image per product, and custom domain.
The cheapest paid plan costs $9.99 per month and it's suitable for stores with up to 50 products. It includes features like five images per product, theme code editing, Google Analytics, inventory tracking, and more.
The third plan supports stores with up to 250 products and costs $19.99 per month. It includes all of the features as the cheaper plan, the only difference being the number of products.
The most expensive plan will set you back $29.99 per month and supports stores with up to 500 products and offers the same features.
Prestashop is different from the other platforms on the list as it's a free, open-source, downloadable software.
You can download the software for free if you pay for web hosting before making the download. So, although it's not a completely free-of-charge solution, it's still quite affordable.
Setting up Prestashop can take some time. You'll be required to download the software, create a database, upload the software to your server using an FTP client, and then install it. In other words, if you're not tech-savvy, consider choosing a different platform or hiring a developer.
But once your store is up and running, it's fairly easy to run it. You can easily list products, write descriptions, create categories, add quantities, make your pages SEO-friendly, and so much more.
It's also critical to mention that Prestashop software only runs on Unix, Linux, or Windows systems.
The software is better suited for medium and large-sized companies that need powerful features and have the resources for hiring web developers. You will be able to list an unlimited number of products, set your site to charge extra for gift packaging, send customers emails to remind them of the products they’ve left in their carts, and more.
If you're a small business without any tech experience and only need a few features, then you want to consider another eCommerce platform like Exai or Squarespace.
Midsize to large businesses that can afford to hire web developers.
Businesses that need powerful features.
Abandoned cart notifications.
3,000 mobile-responsive web templates.
As an open-source solution, Prestashop is available free of charge. There's also a demo available that's a great way to explore the platform and decide if it's a great fit for your business needs.
OpenCart is a completely free, open-source eCommerce platform that you download with a click of a button. You can download the software without even leaving your email address, and without spending hundreds of dollars on monthly or yearly fees for upgrades and maintenance.
All you need to do is download the software, find your own hosting, and expand your store by using various extensions. The marketplace is abundant with thousands of themes and extensions for features like product feeds, reports, shipping methods, and payment gateways.
Although it may not have as many built-in features as other eCommerce platforms, it's still a great option if you're looking for something affordable and want a fully customizable product.
Keep in mind that you do need to possess some technical skills to set up your store. If you're not the tech-savvy type, consider hiring more experienced developers.
Another thing to note is that although you'll get more control over your site, you'll have to complete many tasks yourself, including finding a hosting provider and managing the site.
In addition to the downloadable, open-source software, OpenCart has recently introduced a cloud-based eCommerce solution. If you opt for the cloud-based solution, you'll pay a monthly fee and get similar features as you would with the local download.
Businesses that are looking for more control over their site.
Building a store without many limitations and that's fully customizable.
Owners who want to scale up their businesses quicker.
An unlimited number of products.
Multiple languages and currencies.
Digital product selling.
Shipping calculator and guest checkout.
Reviews and ratings for your products.
Coupons and discounts.
Search engine optimization.
Support for over 1,000 payment gateways.
The OpenCart software may be free, but there are some fees you need to keep in mind. Once you download the platform on your computer, you need to find hosting, get an SSL certificate, and buy a domain name.
Many of the OpenCart extensions are for free, but many of them have a solid price tag. For example, buying the Stripe Payment Gateway extension will cost you $60.
If you choose OpenCart's cloud-based solution, you'll have to pay a monthly fee. There are three paid plans available, including:
Bronze: this plan is perfect for smaller stores that have only a few products. The monthly fee is £25.
Silver: the Silver plan will cost you £50 per month and is best suited for medium-sized companies.
The best eCommerce platform for you will depend on the nature of your business, your preferences, budget, and the size of your store.
For example, if you're a small business that only needs a few store management features, an eCommerce platform like Prestashop and OpenCart are the ideal choice.
Wix is best suited for businesses looking to create an attractive-looking store while WooCommerce is a top choice for bloggers and hobbyists looking to expand into eCommerce.
BigCommerce, as the name suggests, is best for companies looking for a scalable solution and a range of built-in features.
And if you don't have the time to build and manage your own store, consider choosing an eCommerce platform like Exai where a team of professionals will build and manage your store for you.
Take some time to carefully go through each eCommerce solution before deciding which platform deserves your trust and money.
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