Ecommerce is simply booming. Amazon might grab the headlines, but even their outrageous revenues only represent a modest chunk of the $2.3 trillion in global online sales per year. That already-impressive number is forecast to explode up to $4.5 trillion by 2021, as more and more stores continue to open. If you’re looking to get a slice of that pie, the good news is that there have never been more ecommerce platforms on which to do so. The bad news… is that all those options can be pretty overwhelming. That’s exactly why we’ve put together this guide — to help you both understand your options, and pick the best possible solution for your business.
Our list hasn’t been thrown together at random, and hasn’t been copied from elsewhere either. Rather, it’s based on a strict series of ranking criteria. In this section, you’ll learn exactly what these criteria were, and how we classified the software in the first place.
In order to rank software, we first need to identify it. This serves two important purposes: helping us to get our own classifications in order, and helping you to learn what to look for in a piece of top ecommerce software. What follows is the parameters we used.
While some of these platforms are certainly scalable, many are targeted at different sizes of business. Broadly speaking, we use three categories here:
If you’re part of a large business, you might not get the functionality you need from software targeted at smaller operations. If you’re a small business owner, you don’t want to be shelling out for features targeted at enterprise-level customers.
This is another basic distinction and again, there are only three categories, each of which will cater to different needs:
When you compare ecommerce platforms, note that the open-source options will be cheaper (or free), and highly customizable. They might lack features, though, or require coding knowledge to implement those features.
SaaS systems are probably the most common type for ecommerce right now. They’re delivered over the internet, usually use cloud storage, and are paid for with a monthly or annual fee. Their main advantage is that they can be accessed from anywhere, while still granting access to the same data and features.
PaaS is similar to SaaS… but a little more complicated. It will also be delivered online, but — rather than getting a ready-made platform — you’re instead given a set of tools with which to create your own platform. While there’s plenty of room for creativity here, PaaS ecommerce options are certainly not beginner-friendly.
If you haven’t heard the term ‘headless commerce’ before, it might sound pretty darn strange. Basically, though, it just means a separation of the front and back ends of the ecommerce platforms. Each can therefore be edited separately, without affecting the other. This means you can craft a user-friendly experience, without ruining the functionality in the back end.
If that sounds like too much work to you, though, or you’re simply happy with the classic approach, you can just go with a traditional option where the frontend and backend will be combined.
So, now that you have a basic idea of how we classify ecommerce software, let’s start looking at the more exciting stuff — the features!
Below is a list of the most important capabilities to look for. While they’re not all necessarily ‘must-haves,’ the more of these a platform provides, the better.
The store builder is where you’ll spend most of your time in the early days of your online business. It therefore needs to possess an intuitive, user-friendly interface which won’t get in the way of creating and editing your store. Ecommerce platforms in 2020 will usually achieve this via either ‘click and drag’ or ‘point and click’ functionality, with the former being preferable.
Rather than forcing you to start with a blank state, most platforms will offer a range of pre-made templates, which should feature free and paid options. The more of these on offer, the better, as it gives you a higher chance of finding a look you’re happy with.
Of course, you’ll almost certainly want to tweak your template, to ensure it’s unique to your store. Look for platforms which offer you as much choice as possible in this, including the ability to change color schemes, add and customize text, rearrange the layout, and so on.
Obviously, it’s always important to have good navigation on your site, but for the top ecommerce platforms, it’s absolutely vital. If it takes too long to move through your store, or the products aren’t laid out in an intuitive manner, your chances of converting a sale plummet.
Your platform should help you as much as possible with this. It should give you the chance to edit existing menus, add different types of menus (dropdown, mega menus, etc.), and generally craft navigation tailored to your site.
This is another must-have feature for the best ecommerce software. Most of your visitors will arrive at your site with a product in mind. They expect to find a clearly-positioned search function that will help them quickly locate that product.
In addition to offering a clear and visible search box, we’d advise looking for platforms which enable predictive autocomplete when people type into said box.
Setting a limit on the number of products you can list is one of the most common ways in which many, if not most popular ecommerce platforms, separate their price plans. While we get why they do that, we don’t like it from the store-owner’s perspective.
Instead, we’d recommend prioritizing a platform that offers unlimited product listings, regardless of how many products you actually have right now. Also, if you’re offering both digital and physical products, be sure to check that a platform allows you to sell both.
By organizing your products clearly — be it by size, type, vendor, or any other category — you make your store far neater, and more navigable for users.
Being able to add variations for a particular product is also a major bonus, whether that be for size, material, color, etc. You should also be able to set different prices for these different variations.
These are obviously one of the building blocks of any online store, and, as such, your ecommerce website platform should make adding and editing product pages as easy as possible.
On a deeper level, there are a few features to look for within this, with those relating to product images being particularly important. You should be able to display your products from different angles and in different variations, by adding multiple images for each one. Product zoom is also an excellent bonus to look for, as it allows visitors to see your products up close without needing to load the image separately.
To help make your products more attractive, you’ll also want the ability to add descriptions, to highlight their qualities and add extra details. User reviews and ratings, comparisons between different products, and the opportunity to add videos, are all also common but incredibly useful features to look for in your ecommerce comparisons.
Running an online store is never easy, but you want software which helps make things as easy as possible. That’s particularly true for order management, and, specifically, you want a platform that lets you both organize and process orders. This should begin with an intuitive yet powerful dashboard, and preferably include automatic invoice numbers for each order, status updates (order placed, packed, shipped, and so on), and notifications when you receive an order.
Extra bonuses from ecommerce development companies include the ability to see a customer’s billing and shipping details, and know which payment method they used.
In general, you want as much power here as possible. After identifying the regions to which you will ship goods, you want to be able to offer particular delivery methods for those regions, get live carrier quotes, and be able to price the shipping costs at either a flat rate, or based on the value or weight of the goods.
Free shipping is a big draw for customers, so naturally, you want to be able to offer this using your online store platform. For maximum flexibility, you’ll ideally be able to decide a price at which free shipping is available. Finally, the ability to offer different delivery times for different prices can be extremely helpful.
This is commonly one of the trickiest areas for store owners, given that tax rates vary between countries and even areas within those countries. A good platform will help you out by letting you set different tax rates depending on the country, region (state, county, etc.), or even zip/postal code.
You’ll preferably be able to add or remove discounts and shipping costs within these tax considerations, and set specific rates for specific goods using product tax codes.
Inventory management is key to managing a store, and stock control is a major part of this. A contender for ‘best ecommerce platform’ should let you define your own stock control rules. Common examples include a product no longer being displayed when it’s out of stock, or a notification sent out automatically when stock levels are becoming dangerously low.
Rather than just selling through one place, the best ecommerce providers will allow you to use multiple channels. In addition to displaying and selling your products on different marketplaces, you should also be given a helping hand with product import into those channels, which — without some automation in place — can take forever.
When it comes to payment methods, this is another case of ‘the more, the better’. The more flexibility you’re given in terms of the methods you can accept — from simple credit and debit cards, through to digital wallets — the better, for both you and your customers.
Do be aware, though, that different gateways will charge different usage fees. The base fees might be a percentage of the sale, or a flat-rate paid monthly or per transaction. You’ll also likely be charged extra for accepting international payments, chargebacks, and so on.
In addition, while there are a few exceptions (which have been boosted in our rankings accordingly), your online store platform will probably charge you per transaction too. This might be an inconvenient fact of life, but you should still look for platforms which charge an industry-standard amount, with $0.30 per transaction plus 0.5-3% of the cost being acceptable.
Most of the responsibility for good SEO will have to rest with you, but a good platform can still help make your store search engine-friendly, and rise in the results for relevant searches.
A contender for the best ecommerce platform for SEO title should let you determine metadata (titles, keywords, descriptions, etc.), and set custom URLs, for both pages and products. XML sitemap generation is always welcome too, given how downright boring it can be to create one yourself. This should also update automatically when a page is created or deleted.
Your business might be a certain size when you start out with a platform, but that size may (and probably will) change over time. Look for ecommerce options which will cater for this, with plans that scale both up and down based on your changing needs, which should help to avoid the worst-case scenario of wholesale migration to a new platform.
Content is becoming increasingly fundamental to ecommerce success. Native blog integration is therefore highly desirable in a platform, with your blogs ideally helping to improve your SEO, lower your bounce rate, engage your visitors, and ultimately, market your products and services to potential buyers.
These blogs don’t necessarily need WordPress-levels of features, but — at the very least — the best online store platforms should let you write, publish and categorize posts, enable and moderate comments, and embellish your posts with visual media such as photos and videos.
The check-out process should be as straightforward as possible for the customer. Complicated check-outs are a surefire way to lose out on sales, after all. Visitors should easily understand how many stages are involved, and what they’ll need to provide to complete the sale.
If your platform allows a user to register an account and log in, it should also allow them to save their payment and shipping information. This can enable one-click checkout, which is by far the quickest way to make a purchase.
Even the most powerful ecommerce website platforms will have a cap on the features they can provide themselves. Most of the top options will boost this feature set via integrations with third-party apps and extensions, which you can pick and choose for your particular store. These should be easy to install, and organized in a helpful manner, with different categories relating to different aspects of store management: design, marketing, shipping, order management, and so on.
The best ecommerce solutions remove a lot of the guesswork from running an online store. You’re no longer left wondering why a particular product is or isn’t selling, or why the site isn’t getting the right kinds of traffic, and this is all thanks to analytics and reporting.
The most helpful analytics will let you gather and analyze a range of important data, covering customer behavior and demographics, keywords, external referrals, clickstreams, and plenty more besides. You can use this data to see what’s working well and where you might improve, which should ideally lead to upticks in traffic, sales, and profits.
At an absolute base level, all of the top ecommerce platforms should offer an SSL certificate. These little data files are essential when running an online store, as they enable the secure processing of payments. If for some reason you end up going with a platform which doesn’t offer SSL make sure you buy a certificate yourself elsewhere.
Another basic requirement for any platform is PCI compliance. This means it abides by PCI Security Standards, which apply to all sites that receive and store payment information.
There is a whole array of additional security perks which might be included or offered by ecommerce development companies. The most desirable include defenses against DDoS attacks, and fraud protection.
Recommending cheap software would be easy. In fact, you wouldn’t even need a recommendation, because you could simply go out and find it yourself. It’s much more important, in our eyes, to get value for money, and that’s our focus when it comes to pricing.
On a wider level, we’ve done research into industry pricing standard amongst ecommerce solutions. Any platforms priced significantly higher or lower than these standards haven’t made our list.
Finally, we believe that there’s nothing better than being able to try out a platform for yourself before making a financial commitment. Accordingly, we’ve given a hike in our rankings to providers who offer either a free trial or a money-back guarantee.
If any brand has become synonymous with DIY ecommerce products, it’s Shopify. Its enormous user base hasn’t happened by accident, though; it’s a result of incredible ease-of-use mixed with an enormous feature set.
This combination ensures that there’s something on Shopify for everyone, whether you’re building your first store or your fiftieth. Every tool you could hope for is here to let you create, market and manage an ecommerce operation of any shape or size, and there are even offline features for brick-and-mortar stores too. This staggering functionality helps explain why Shopify sits atop of our ecommerce platforms list.
Shopify provides essentially every feature you could need to set up and start running an online store. Things kick off with the 100+ themes (though only a handful of them are free), which are nicely divided into catalog size, layout style, industry, and so on. You’re free to customize these as much as you like with the excellent online store builder, and can use HTML and CSS to help do so.
The actual selling can be done directly through the online store platform, or using the point of sale features, which can be managed on a mobile device and used offline. You can also add a ‘Buy’ button externally online — including on Facebook, Amazon or eBay — which links back to your online store.
The range of features to help you actually sell is exhaustive. Briefly, they include over 100 different payment gateways, a free SSL certificate, flexible shipping rates, abandoned cart recovery, location-based taxes, dropshipping, various stock management aids, and much more besides. There are also plenty of tools to market your store, including email templates, numerous SEO features, and social media integration.
You can try what is arguably the best platform for ecommerce website setup for free for 14 days, with no credit card required. If you decide to commit to it, you can choose between three main price plans. All can be paid monthly, annually or biannually, with the latter two working out 10% and 20% cheaper respectively.
The first — ‘Basic’ — costs $29/month. That might sound a lot for the cheapest plan, but you get plenty of bang-for-your-buck. Most notably, you get unlimited products, 24/7 customer support, discount codes, SSL, abandoned cart recovery, and the POS app. Selling fees are 2.9% + $0.30 online, and 2.7% + $0 offline.
The second plan — ‘Shopify’ — costs $79/month. This raises the staff accounts from two to five, and enables the gift cards and professional reporting on this ecommerce solution. It also boosts the POS functionality, covering up to five different locations, and lowers the selling fee percentages to 2.6% and $2.5%.
Thirdly, we have ‘Advanced Shopify’, priced at $299/month. As well as supporting up to 15 staff accounts and eight POS locations, this also unlocks advanced reporting and third-party shipping rates, and lowers the selling charges to 2.4% for both online and offline sales.
In addition to those plans, Shopify also offers ‘Shopify Plus’ and ‘Shopify Lite’. The former is intended for the biggest stores only, with the pricing and features tailored to your needs. The latter costs only $9/month and allows you to sell through Facebook, or through your own blog or website.
If anything can challenge Shopify for the title of Best Ecommerce Platform 2020, it’s BigCommerce. It might not be as explicit in trying to market itself as ‘all things to all people’, in fact, describing itself as targeted specifically at enterprise brands. But make no mistake — whatever your ecommerce needs, you’ll almost certainly find them met here. BigCommerce is an extremely powerful SaaS solution, which matches up well with Shopify in terms of features, ease of use and pricing.
This customization extends to the actual selling too. You can offer over 70 different discounts and promotions, arrange the layout of particular pages using drag-and-drop, and choose from dozens of supported payment methods. You can also provide product recommendations for your customers, and it’s easy to gauge how everything is performing thanks to some excellent reporting features.
Finally, while most ecommerce solution providers focus on B2C, BigCommerce’s excellent B2B provisions are worth noting. These include custom pricing or bulk pricing, managing quotes, and customer group segmentation.
The pricing on BigCommerce is very similar indeed to Shopify, almost suspiciously so, given that it’s very slightly cheaper in a couple of ways. They also offer a free trial for 15 days, instead of 14. They also have three main plans, two of which are priced almost identically to Shopify’s, and they also have a 10% annual discount.
‘Standard’ is the cheapest plan on this top ecommerce software. For $29.95/month, you get unlimited products and staff accounts, all the major integrations (including social media, Google Shopping, and Apple Pay), coupons and discounts, real-time shipping quotes, product ratings and reviews, SSL and HTTPS, and 24/7 support. Crucially, you’re not charged any transaction fees when using leading payment gateways either, though you’re capped at $50k in annual sales.
‘Plus’ costs $79.95/month. It doesn’t offer a huge amount of extra features, but those it does are extremely valuable. Most notably, these include abandoned cart recovery, stored credit cards, and customer segmentation (including a loyalty program). Your maximum yearly sales are also increased to $150k.
The last main plan is called ‘Pro’ and costs $249.95/month. Again, it doesn’t offer a major upgrade in actual features, only really unlocking filtered searches, custom SSL, and Google customer reviews. Your maximum sales are increased to a hefty $400k, though.
Finally, there is also an ‘Enterprise’ plan, which has bespoke pricing. This allows you to create your own filters for faceted searches and price lists (useful for B2B sales), grants unlimited API calls and priority support and has a customized cap on total sales.
Volusion might not be as famous as the ecommerce solutions above it, but this is still a tremendously popular cloud-based, SaaS platform. It’s not the easiest to pick up and start using, meaning it’s not an ideal option for absolute beginners, but those willing to invest a little time will find an extremely well-rounded and powerful toolset. A lot of its functionality is native, meaning you don’t have to worry about finding and installing extensions, and stores look great with minimal effort.
All the themes on this ecommerce solution are mobile responsive, and 11 of the 45 on offer are free, with the others costing $180. Subsequent adjustments are handled via the site builder, which proves pleasingly powerful once you’ve got the hang of it, for both the main site and product pages. You can also customize the entire navigation, categorize products, edit metadata, and plenty more besides.
When it comes to actually selling products, Volusion offers everything you could reasonably hope for. Product pages look great, with the opportunity to add multiple photos and videos along with a description, and you can make product recommendations for customers too. Inventory management, user reviews, vendor codes, calculating taxes and listing product variants are also easy, with the mobile app able to accomplish most of these tasks.
Unlike several of the best ecommerce platforms, Volusion doesn’t have a free plan, but you can access a 14-day free trial. Three paid plans are offered, all with a 10% discount when paid annually, and none of them incur transaction fees.
‘Personal’ is the cheapest, at $29/month. While you can use the site-building and editing tools here, accept secure payments, and use the SEO features... you can only list 100 products, and are limited to one staff account. In terms of sheer value for money, this doesn’t stack up well with similarly-priced plans in our ecommerce comparisons.
‘Professional’ costs $79/month and takes the yearly sales cap from $50k to $100k. You can list 5,000 products, and five staff accounts are supported. You also get access to key features like user reviews, newsletter distribution, and abandoned cart reports.
‘Business’ costs $299/month and covers unlimited products here, plus $500k in sales and 15 staff accounts. This also unlocks the rest of the feature set, including Amazon and eBay integration, a customer loyalty plan, advanced reporting, and third party shipping rates.
Volusion also have a ‘Custom’ plan, intended for the largest businesses, with everything entirely tailored towards specific requirements.
1ShoppingCart (often called ‘1SC’) is a highly streamlined all-in-one platform, and easily ranks as some of the best ecommerce software for beginners. It’s been available in one form or another for over two decades, and in that time over three million people have used the software, from solopreneurs up to massive companies like UPS. It offers a nice range of templates, a lengthy free trial, and some of the best membership services you’ll find.
As noted, 1ShoppingCart markets itself as an “all-in-one solution” and that’s exactly what you get. This is one of the best ecommerce service providers for taking you all the way from store creation, through to marketing and customer management.
You begin by picking from a variety of basic and ‘professional’ templates (depending on your price plan), or simply creating a design using the WYSIWYG editor or coding. Either way, all templates are mobile responsive. Product listings can feature multiple, expandable images alongside a description, and it’s easy to set up different sizes, colors, and other variations for your products.
Where 1SC truly becomes one of the best ecommerce platforms on the market, though, is with its deeper features. Automation helps with order processing and tracking, which can also be monitored on any mobile device. The marketing tools on offer are fantastic, from the option for discounts and coupons, to easily-configured upselling, exceptional email marketing capabilities, and intuitive repeat billing and membership options.
While this is certainly powerful software, it also comes at a slightly higher price than many of the other ecommerce platforms on this list. The good news, though, is that you can also get a longer free trial, with 1SC available for a mighty 30 days risk-free.
The cheapest paid plan is ‘Plus’, at $34/month, which actually is roughly in line with the competition. You get a whole lot of functionality here, including inventory tracking, bulk uploads, product options, the ability to offer free shipping, and over 50 payment gateways. On the flip-side, you’re limited to only 500 products, and one user license for accessing the ecommerce CMS.
‘Premium’ is a big step up in price, costing $119/month. This does get you unlimited products, though, along with access to the premium store templates, five user licenses, affiliate management, and a lowering of the transaction fee from 1.25% to 1%.
Finally, there’s ‘Ultimate,’ at $249/month. This nets you premium support, a 0.75% transaction fee, a free domain name and SSL certificate, and unlimited upselling but you’re still limited to five user licenses.
Our ecommerce platform reviews continue with 3dcart, which is one of the oldest options we’ve got on our list, having been around since 1997. It’s done a fantastic job of moving with the times though, still offering a modern and powerful all-in-one solution. It might not be the easiest platform to pick up and start using but it boasts a solid feature set, combined with highly competitive pricing, makes this an excellent ecommerce solution for small business owners.
3dcart is another all-in-one platform, which can take you through the entire creation and management process for an online store. There are dozens of free and premium themes available, varying nicely depending on the industry, and these can be edited fairly well using the built-in CMS. Alternatively, you can create your own unique site using the impressive Core Template Engine.
This online store platform lets you import and export products by bulk, you can list as many variants as you like, and listings can include videos or zoomable photos. Order management is handled via a nicely streamlined dashboard, which still manages to provide plenty of information, and the stock management system is equally useful. 3dcart does a nice job of helping you attract new customers with SEO tools, a built-in blog, social media integrations, and an email marketing system. Finally, you also get a 99.9% uptime guarantee, daily backups, and 256-bit SSL.
In terms of sheer value for money, this is arguably the best ecommerce package going. Following an optional 15-day free trial, you’ll have the choice between four packages, all of which are very competitively priced. We’ve listed monthly prices here, but annual subscriptions net you a 10%+ discount.
Even the cheapest plan, ‘Startup Store,’ delivers an impressive feature set. For $19/month, you still get unlimited products and orders, no transaction fees, two email accounts, saved carts, product reviews, and basic reporting. You are limited to one user account, though.
‘Basic’, at $29/month, gets you two user accounts and five email accounts. Crucially, you also get access to the ecommerce CMS, better user feedback options, and the abilities to set up daily deals and an affiliate program.
‘Plus’ costs $79/month, and has five user and 10 email accounts. You can also create customer groups, enable product comparison and Q&A, save abandoned carts, and send out email newsletters.
Finally, there’s ‘Pro’, at $229/month. This gets you 15 users and 30 email accounts, plus automation rules, a delivery estimate, advanced search, autoresponder campaigns, and plenty more besides.
Having launched in 2013, Selz is one of the younger companies in our ecommerce platform comparison. With just over 20 staff on the books, it’s also one of the smallest. Don’t let that fool you though, because this is a very attractive option, particularly for solopreneurs and small businesses. It’s incredibly easy to set up and start operating a visually-appealing online store. It’s affordable too, whilst still possessing enough power to get a successful ecommerce operation up and running.
Selz can’t really compete with the most powerful ecommerce platforms out there and it’s not trying to. Rather, it delivers a streamlined and user-friendly experience for small and growing businesses, while providing a solid amount of functionality. Even on the cheapest plans, you can still offer discount codes for your customers, recover abandoned carts, and tailor your site to your own tastes using the intuitive store builder.
The ease with which you can sell across multiple channels from one base is impressive. In addition to the online store, you can integrate with an existing site or blog, feature products with the likes of Google Shopping, or sell through social media platforms. As a contender for the best ecommerce platform title, Selz offers advanced native analytics, which allows you to segment customers, assess user habits, and more.
Anybody can try Selz via a 14-day free trial, with no credit card required. Then, there are three paid options: ‘Basic’, ‘Standard’ and ‘Advanced’. These cost $29, $59 and $199, respectively, paid monthly, with a 10% discount for annual subscriptions.
Compared to the other cheapest plans in this list of ecommerce platforms, ‘Basic’ is extremely feature-rich. In addition to two staff accounts, unlimited products and 24/7 support, you also get access to analytics, discount codes, and the abandoned cart tool, and can use PayPal for payments.
‘Standard’ boosts the number of staff accounts to five, and gets you priority support. You don’t get a huge amount of extra functionality, though you can customize your fields at checkout, provide custom receipts and tax invoices, and offer license keys to customers.
‘Advanced’ allows 15 staff accounts, but doesn’t get you a whole lot else. The only extra ‘features’ worth mentioning for your ecommerce platform are real-time shipping rates, and the ability to connect with third-party label providers.
Finally, it is worth explaining how the fees differ with each plan. Whilst Selz state that each plan has ‘0% transaction fees,’ this is only true if you’re using Selz Pay. If not, you’ll pay 2%, 1% or 0.5% on each order, depending on your plan. If the customer uses a card to pay, you’ll be charged 2.9%, 2.8% or 2.7% + $0.30. As you can see, while you might not unlock many more features with the higher price plans, you will pay considerably less in fees if you’re processing a lot of orders.
When one of the most popular ecommerce platforms also markets itself as having “more firepower than any other solution on the market today,” you have to sit up and take notice. That’s obviously an incredibly bold claim to make, but in the case of PinnacleCart, it’s somewhat justified. This is absolutely not an option for those on a budget; instead, it’s a premium platform for medium-sized businesses and above, looking for as many features as possible.
If you’re looking for the very best platform for ecommerce in terms of sheer functionality, it’s pretty hard to look past PinnacleCart. It’s not the easiest platform to pick up and start using, but — once you’ve got the hang of it — you’ll find pretty much everything you could reasonably ask for here.
Elsewhere, if you can name a feature you’d expect from your ideal best online store platform, it’s almost certainly here. One-click checkout; coupons, discounts and gift cards; real-time shipping quotes; customer reviews and ratings; abandoned cart recovery; predictive search… the list simply goes on.
PinnacleCart is pretty clearly targeted at bigger businesses, and this is reflected in its pricing. We’re more interested in value rather than simple cost in this ecommerce platforms comparison, though, and you get plenty for your money here.
After a 14-day free trial, you can choose between two main price plans. The first is ‘Standard’, which costs $79.95/month. This gets you five admin accounts, unlimited products, and up to $250,000 in sales per year. You also get just about every feature we’ve already mentioned, plus SSL, Google Shopping and Facebook integration. The downside is that you can only accept three payment methods: PayPal, Stripe and Autorize.net.
‘Advanced’ costs $199.95/month, and allows unlimited admin accounts and sales. You also get 30 payment options, integrated blogging, recurring billing, and priority customer support.
Finally, the biggest businesses will probably want the ‘Enterprise’ package. Everything here though — including the pricing — is bespoke depending on your needs.
If you’re looking for the best ecommerce platform for startups or small businesses, ShopSite is definitely in with a shout. Its user-friendly nature and cheap pricing make it an excellent option for solopreneurs and small businesses alike. This platform might have been around since 1996, in one form or another, but its developers have done an excellent job of sticking with the times. Even now, this represents an affordable and competitive option that is quick to set up and start using.
Perhaps ShopSite’s biggest calling card is its ease of use, regardless of previous experience, with this arguably being the very best ecommerce platform for beginners. This is courtesy of its Store Setup Wizard, which guides you through the entire process of creating a store, adding products and pages, and so on.
ShopSite can’t compete with the most powerful platforms out there, meaning it probably isn’t suited to bigger businesses. If you’re looking to set up a fairly moderate and simple store, though, you’ll certainly find enough functionality here. Depending on your price plan, you can add different options for the same product (size, color, etc.), place multiple images on product pages with zoom, import data in bulk (pre-existing catalogs, for example), support multiple currencies, and so on. ShopSite also does a decent job of boosting your SEO via metadata editing, and integrates well with Google Analytics.
ShopSite is definitely one of the more budget-friendly options on our list of ecommerce service providers. Do be aware, however, that hosting does not come included, so that’s an extra expense to factor in.
For starters, there is technically a free plan available, called ‘Express’. This is nothing more than a WordPress plugin, though, which supports a mere 10 products.
The cheapest paid plan is ‘Starter’ at $5.99/month. While you can only list 15 products across five pages, you still get access to over 50 themes and 25 payment methods (including PayPal), plus basic store statistics, unlimited product options, and flexible shipping options.
Next up is ‘Manager,’ priced at $29.99/month. This represents a big step up, giving you unlimited products and pages, store search, real-time shipping rates, bulk data import, shopping cart templates, and a series of Google integrations.
‘Pro’ is the penultimate price plan of this ecommerce website platform, and costs $59.99/month. In addition to the aforementioned features, you also get coupons, quantity-based pricing, product reviews, the ability to sell through Facebook, inventory tracking, cart abandonment emails, and a whole lot more.
Finally, there is also an ‘Enterprise’ option, costing $199.99/month. This basically unlocks the full feature set, including subscriptions, order import, product review emails, one-time coupon emails, and so on.
This is one of the most unique options in our entire ecommerce platform comparison. While you might already know Square as an easy-to-use payment method, they also offer a fully-fledged online store builder. Not only is it straightforward and extremely easy to use; it also happens to have a pretty powerful free price plan, with the only charges being transaction fees on payments. As such, it obviously represents a great option for inexperienced store builders and those on a budget.
Square is genuinely one of the easiest platforms to use in this entire ecommerce platforms comparison. Thanks to the quality of its pre-made templates, and exceptional approachability of its online store builder, you can genuinely get a fully-functioning, professional-looking store up and running within an hour or two.
Despite its budget-friendly nature, Square still has plenty of features to offer. Most notable are its POS tools, which allow you to effortlessly sync a physical store with online operations, including inventory management, and an in-store pickup option. You can also promote coupons and gift cards, set up product searches, and offer multiple product options. Elsewhere you’ll find a shipping calculator, abandoned cart emails, social media integration, and site statistics.
In short, while this isn’t the most powerful ecommerce website solution going, there’s easily enough here to run your average online store.
Square heavily promote their ecommerce features as being ‘free’. There is indeed a free price plan, but you may well find it limiting pretty quickly, and to access most of the features you’ll need to pay. Even so, the paid plans are priced very competitively. We’ve listed the monthly prices below, but annual subscriptions net a discount of up to 33%.
The ‘Free’ plan has no monthly charges, but you will be charged 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. While you’re limited to 500MB storage, you can still technically list unlimited products. You also get SSL, product options, in-store pickup and coupons included.
The cheapest paid plan for this ecommerce solution is ‘Professional’, at $16/month. This gives you unlimited storage, and you can remove Square ads, connect your own domain, and access site statistics.
Next up is ‘Performance’, costing $29/month. The biggest difference here is that you can accept payments through PayPal, not just Square. It also enables product reviews, the shipping calculator, abandoned cart emails, and advanced ecommerce statistics.
Finally, we have ‘Premium’, at $79/month. The transaction fee is lowered here to 2.6% + $0.30, and you also get top-level shipping discounts and real-time shipping quotes.
If you’re looking for the best online store platform, whilst operating on a tight budget, X-Cart is absolutely one of your best options. This highly-regarded platform has won acclaim from critics and users alike, thanks to its ability to offer a nice set of features while remaining wholly affordable. It’s PHP-based open-source software, meaning that it’s endlessly customizable, and you also buy the software for a one-time fee, rather than making monthly payments.
Let’s make something crystal clear — X-Cart absolutely won’t be the best ecommerce platform for everyone. On the one hand, its open-source nature offers an unprecedented chance to both customize and scale an online store. On the other, if either you or a member of your team doesn’t have coding expertise, you should probably look elsewhere. You simply won’t get the most out of this software without it.
If you’re happy to press ahead with X-Cart though, you’ll find an absolutely outstanding platform waiting for you. The feature set is up there with the very best ecommerce solutions, from multiple currencies and automatic currency detection, to product comparison, filtering and suggestions, to over 120 different payment gateways, real-time tax rates, abandoned cart recovery, and plenty of integrations. It works equally well as a B2B platform too, with an entire separate warehouse operation mode, the ability to list trusted and non-trusted vendors, and bulk editing amongst a bevy of other features.
We need to make two big clarifications here. Firstly, you buy X-Cart with a one-off payment, rather than subscribing to it monthly or annually as you would with most online store platforms. Secondly, neither hosting nor SSL is included. For hosting, you must either find your own solution, or use X-Cart’s for an extra $29.95/month.
The package options begin with the ‘Free Edition’, which offers you unlimited products, orders and admin accounts, 0% transaction fees and access to the basic features.
The cheapest paid package of this ecommerce platform is ‘Business,’ costing $495. This enables most of the product customization tools, plus Facebook, PayPal and Google logins for customers, and discount coupons.
Next is ‘Multivendor’ at $1,495. As the name suggests, this enables multiple vendors to sell through one storefront. They get individual commission rates and access to their own stores, and can use the warehouse operation mode.
‘Ultimate’ weighs in at $5,995, and is targeted at the biggest ecommerce operations. The features are practically endless, but notably include paid memberships, recurring payments, saved credit card details, abandoned cart recovery, a loyalty program, and bespoke store installation by an X-Cart team member.
By now, you may well have a rough idea of which platforms you kind of like. That’s not good enough for us, though; we want to make sure you’re certain in your choice before you spend a single cent.
Read on to learn exactly how to shortlist and ultimately pick the best ecommerce solution for your business.
Begin by getting rid of any software which simply isn’t compatible with your business size. If you’re running a small operation, you don’t need to pay for features targeted at enterprise-level customers. On the flip-side, if you are working at a bigger business, you need a platform that will scale to your needs.
Next, cross off any remaining online store platforms which simply won’t abide by the rules and regulations of your particular industry.
Nobody knows your business better than you. So, go ahead and list every feature you definitely need from a platform.
Now compare that to the options which remained after the first step. Any platforms which fit the bill get to stick around.
Finally, identify how much money you can spend on a platform, and how much you’d ideally like to spend. You can work this out monthly or yearly, depending on your preference (remember that most sites offer a discount for annual subscriptions).
Now, compare the remaining ecommerce platforms on your shortlist with that budget. The best option, which is also affordable, is the one for you.