With so many ecommerce platforms on offer, it can be overwhelming trying to decide which is best for your small business.
With that in mind, before you can start creating your ecommerce shop, you need to know what an ecommerce platform is.
Ecommerce platforms were developed to help businesses create and manage a shop online.
These ecommerce platforms have all the tools needed for an online business to run smoothly including solutions to manage customers, products, catalogs, sales, and payment.
This all-in-one solution makes it easy for business owners who don’t have a lot of capital to spend on developing a website to create an ecommerce shop with only a small investment.
It’s important when looking at ecommerce platforms that they have everything you need before spending your hard-earned money on it. Especially if it means spending more down the line just to get the shop working.
One of the most essential features, especially for smaller businesses, is cost.
You need to decide beforehand what your budget for creating an ecommerce shop is. This is important for new ecommerce shops or brick-and-mortar shops looking to expand.
That doesn’t mean the cheapest option is the best. Instead, find a fine balance between what you need, what the platform offers, and how much it costs.
Speaking of what the platforms offer…
Integration with popular ecommerce plug-ins is crucial. Plugins like Elementor, which is a page builder, are important if you want to build a great-looking and functioning website.
Another important feature is mobile support. 80% of the US population shop online using their mobile devices. That’s why the ecommerce platform you choose must be mobile friendly.
Lastly, the platform should support a variety of payment options. This is important, especially if you want to sell internationally.
Selling internationally means the platform should not only have a wide array of payment options like Paypal, Apple Pay, and Stripe, but it should also support different currencies.
It is easier to choose an ecommerce platform that offers all of the essential features in an affordable plan. But I’d still recommend that you do some research before you decide on an ecommerce platform for your small business.
You should consider the following factors while picking the best ecommerce platform for your online store:
- Budget: Decide on your budget for your ecommerce site design and development, maintenance, and security.
- Target audience: Identify where your target audience is. See if any of the popular ecommerce platforms make it easy for you to market your products on those channels. For example, BigCommerce offers built-in integrations with Facebook and Instagram to make it easier to sell online.
- The number of products you want to sell: Most ecommerce platforms have a limit on the number of products you can add to your online store. If your ecommerce store has a large catalog of products with multiple variations, you should choose an ecommerce platform with functionality for unlimited products.
- Payment processing: You should choose an ecommerce platform that offers multiple payment options to increase the likelihood that shoppers will complete their purchases.
- Customer support: When choosing an ecommerce solution, you should check if their customer support is up to the mark. Some platforms outsource their customer support, which makes it troublesome for users to resolve issues quickly.
Now that we have a brief overview of what ecommerce platforms are and why you need them, let’s take a look at the best ecommerce software for small businesses.
Let’s take a look at the best ecommerce platform for your small business. I’ll walk you through the key features, pros and cons, and pricing details of some of the best ecommerce platforms.
BigCommerce is an open SaaS ecommerce platform that allows startups and small businesses to build, grow, and scale their online stores efficiently. It helps you deliver content-rich headless commerce experiences while minimizing operational costs.
- Drag-and-drop page builder
- Fully customizable ecommerce website design themes
- Many storefront conversion features such as coupons and custom product recommendations (without any additional code)
- Cross-channel marketing features
- SEO features
- Ability to switch between storefronts
- Scalable product catalog
- WordPress integration
- Options to customize the entire checkout experience for your shoppers
- Fast site loading with a powerful CDN (content delivery network)
- It takes users some time to get a hang of the platform
- Control panel design could have been better
- A 15-day free trial
- Standard plan: $29.95 per month
- Plus plan: $79.95 per month
- Pro plan: $299.95 per month
- Enterprise plan: Contact their sales team or call 1-866-991-0872 for custom pricing.
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WooCommerce is one of the best ecommerce platforms for those who want to start selling on their WordPress site. Built with a REST API, this open-source ecommerce platform is very scalable and can help you design a complex online store from scratch.
- Ability to add endless product variations, subscription options, single items, or bundles
- Configurable shipping options
- WooCommerce mobile app for easy inventory management
- Hundreds of free and paid extensions for marketing and multi-channel sales purposes
- Multilingual content and prices in multiple currencies
- Many WooCommerce plugins available to add ecommerce functionality
- Multiple payment gateways integrations for smooth payment processing
- Need to pay for most essential plugins
- It’s free to use the basic WooCommerce plugin and also offers many free WordPress plugins for added ecommerce functionality.
- Pay for the online storefront themes and WooCommerce plugins you want to use. Price will vary from plugin to plugin.
To analyze how WooCommerce stands amidst its competitors, check out these comparison posts on:
Shopify is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms that most small business owners trust to start selling online. You can use this ecommerce platform to sell products in person with Point of Sale and online through your ecommerce website, online marketplaces, and social media.
- Professional online storefront themes and customization options
- Web-based ecommerce website builder and content management system (CMS)
- Secure payments with 100+ payment gateways
- Flexible shipping rates and free shipping options
- End-to-end online store management features from customer profiles to dropshipping, refunds, and promotional email templates
- Unlimited products
- Marketing tools to boost ecommerce sales through multiple channels such as search engine optimization (SEO), social media, Google Ads, etc.
- Option to add and manage subscription model for recurring orders
- Web hosting with unlimited bandwidth
- Shopify charges transaction fees for selling online in addition to subscription fees
- Does not offer advanced blogging capabilities
- A 14-day free trial, no payment information is required
- Basic Shopify plan: $19 per month
- Shopify plan: $49 per month
- Advanced Shopify plan: $299 per month
Powered by Magento, Adobe Commerce is a powerful ecommerce website builder with all essential store design, order fulfillment, and online selling capabilities.
It comes with the Magento advantage, which means that it offers great flexibility and customization options.
- Modern online store templates with personalization options
- Drag-and-drop page builder
- Ability to sell products and fulfill orders from anywhere (both in-store and online)
- Robust business insights
- Live chat addition for better customer support
- Fully customizable ecommerce website builder
- Beed to hire a professional developer to create your online store
- Adobe Commerce Pro plan: Contact their sales team for custom pricing details.
Also, check out this list of some other website builders reviewed and compared for you.
Square Online is another popular ecommerce platform that helps you sell your digital and physical products online with a free ecommerce website.
This user-friendly ecommerce software solution can be integrated with all Square point-of-sale systems to manage inventory easily and efficiently.
- Build your ecommerce site with its easy-to-use online store builder (no coding required)
- Turn your Instagram feed into an online shopping site
- Create coupons and gift cards to encourage people to purchase more products
- Accept online payments via PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and other payment processors
- Built-in SEO tools
- Integrations with Facebook, Instagram, Google, and more
- Free domain available for a year with all paid plans
- Charges payment processing fees along with monthly fees
- The abandoned cart recovery feature is only available with high-value plans
- Limited customization options
- Free plan: $0 monthly fees and a processing fee of 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction
- Professional plan: $12 per month (billed annually) and a processing fee of 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction
- Performance plan: $26 per month (billed annually) and a processing fee of 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction
- Premium plan: $72 per month (billed annually) and a processing fee of 2.6% + 30¢ per transaction
Volusion is an easy-to-use online store builder for businesses across industries. Whether you run a restaurant or a retail store, you can turn it into an online business with this user-friendly ecommerce platform.
- Free themes that are mobile responsive and SEO friendly
- Powerful drag-and-drop tools
- Easy inventory management features
- Payment gateways integrations with PayPal, Stripe, and more to help you securely accept payments online
- No additional transaction fees
- Unlimited bandwidth with all plans
- Built-in CRM (customer relationship management) system
- Unlimited products are allowed only with Business and Prime plans.
- A 14-day free trial
- Personal plan: $35 per month
- Professional plan: $79 per month
- Business plan: $299 per month
- Prime plan: Request a custom quote from their sales team.
PrestaShop is an open-source ecommerce platform that makes it easier to create and launch your online store. It has all of the features you need to grow your ecommerce business, varying from professional themes to robust analytics.
- Pick a theme from hundreds of professional-looking themes
- Customize your online store with the website editor
- Manage your products, orders, and customer relationships in one place
- Segment customers, check out sales data, and track your top-performing products to optimize your ecommerce business for greater sales
- Multilingual ecommerce site option
- Accept payments online in multiple currencies
- Need to hire a developer to set up your ecommerce store because PrestaShop comes with a more technical backend structure
- Add-ons can be costly
- PrestaShop’s core functionality is free but you’ll have to pay for add-ons to add ecommerce functionality to your site
Ecwid is the best ecommerce platform that allows you to start selling online for free. Once you’ve set up an account, you can sell your products on your website, Google, Instagram, online marketplaces like Amazon, and other ecommerce platforms.
- Fully responsive ecommerce store designs
- Centralized inventory and order management
- Marketing tools for Google, Facebook, Pinterest, and Snapchat advertising
- Point-of-sale (POS) ecommerce functionality to allow you to sell products in-store as well
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Live chat support from the experts
- Ecwid mobile app to manage your store on the go
- Cheaper than other ecommerce platforms
- The Free plan doesn’t include access to SEO features
- Free plan with all essential ecommerce features
- Venture plan: $12.50 per month
- Business plan: $29.17 per month
- Unlimited plan: $82.50 per month
Squarespace is an ecommerce website builder that comes with impressive templates, fonts, color palettes, and many built-in ecommerce features.
It allows you to accept orders, online bookings, and payments online through your ecommerce site.
- Ready-to-use templates for every purpose
- Powerful ecommerce features varying from merchandising to checkout
- Third-party extensions for added ecommerce functionality
- Real-time shipping estimates for U.S. customers
- Advanced shipping solutions
- Allows running email marketing campaigns that pull your store’s style and products
- Delivers automated inventory notifications when your product stock levels are low
- Enables you to accept payments in multiple currencie
- The subscription-based selling option is only available with their Advanced Commerce plan
- Personal plan: $16 per month
- Business plan: $23 per month
- Basic Commerce plan: $27 per month
- Advanced Commerce plan: $49 per month
Shift4Shop is the best ecommerce solution that allows you to build an ecommerce site completely for free. It provides you with awesome ecommerce features such as unlimited products, users, features, and bandwidth.
It also offers SEO and marketing tools to help you promote your ecommerce store through multiple channels.
- An intuitive website builder with dozens of mobile-friendly ecommerce templates
- Product, order, and inventory management options
- Built-in AI-driven fraud protection
- The option to migrate your existing website for free
- Quick and easy setup
- Issues with customer support
- Lacks advanced reporting features
- Not as many supported add-ons and plugins as other ecommerce platforms
- It’s absolutely free to use.
Wix is one of the most popular ecommerce website builders with advanced business features. It allows small businesses to create professional online stores in less time and with minimal effort.
You can optimize your ecommerce sales using Wix’s abandoned cart recovery capabilities.
- 500+ designer-made online store templates
- Up to 50,000 products addition option
- Custom shipping rules option
- Allows payments from all major credit card providers, PayPal, and Stripe
- Detailed business analytics
- Free business tools like Wix Logo Maker and Business Name Generator
- Allows you to sell your products on multiple sales channels such as your online store, Facebook, eBay, Instagram, and Amazon shops
- Facilitates dropshipping and print-on-demand products selling
- It is difficult to add any additional code to your ecommerce site
- Wix comes with technical limitations
- Poor SEO performance
- Connect Domain plan (displays Wix ads): $4.50 per month
- Combo plan: approx. $8.50 per month
- Unlimited plan: approx. $12.50 per month
- VIP plan with first-priority support: $24.50 per month
You can also check out my detailed Wix review here.
|Platform Name||Price||Support||Integration||Varied payment options and currencies||Mobile-friendly|
|BigCommerce||Starts at $29.95/month||Average||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|WooCommerce||Free to use||Excellent||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Shopify||Starts at $19/month||Excellent||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Adobe Commerce||Contact sales team||Excellent||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Square Online||Free to use||Excellent||Yes||Yes, but not as varied as other platforms||Yes|
|Volusion||Starts at $35/month||Average||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|PrestaShop||Free to use (but limited)||Great||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Ecwid||Free to use||Great||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Squarespace||Starts at $16/month||Average||Yes||Yes, but not as varied as other platforms||Yes|
|Shift4Shop||Free to use||Good||Yes||Yes||Yes|
1. What are some of the best ecommerce platforms?
There are so many ecommerce platforms on the web that you can easily get lost in the ocean of reviews and options. To simplify things, here is my top 5 picks:
4. Adobe Commerce
5. Square Online
2. What are the top SaaS ecommerce platforms?
Saas (software as a service) ecommerce platforms are pretty much the norm in 2023, as most online sites, services, and software has moved to the SaaS business model.
Some examples are:
3. What are the pros and cons of a hosted ecommerce platform?
It might seem too good to be true that a website or software solution can help get your ecommerce business up and running for a small once-off or monthly fee, especially considering how much work it really takes to create a great website.
That said, there are still ups and downs when it comes to using an ecommerce platform to create your website.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
– Cuts down costs
– Saves time
– Comes with built-in security
– Most platforms can scale according to your business
– Limited customization
– Doesn’t fit unusual business models
– Dealing with customer support or fixing issues might take time
To choose the right ecommerce platform for your business, you should go through all of the ecommerce platforms compared above.
Make sure that the platform offers all essential ecommerce features, marketing tools, sales channels, and shipping solutions that matter the most to you.
Do you need help setting up and running an ecommerce business? You can reach out to our business consultants and marketing experts to boost your ecommerce growth. Talk soon!