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A wall in your home needs painting, what color do you choose? The most popular one? The one with the cheapest paint? No single color is objectively better than any others; the best choice depends on your personal preference, and what the room’s used for. Brighter colors might be better for recreational areas, darker shades for utility rooms that might get dirty, etc. For ecommerce platforms it’s the same: there’s no best ecommerce platform, only the best one for you.
Below, we review the top 11 ecommerce platforms and explain what about them works, what doesn’t and what kinds of online stores they’re best for. Take a quick look to see which ones coincide with your brand personality and business model.
Let’s start with one of the most common names when discussing the best ecommerce platforms of 2019: Shopify. With its template-style site builder, Shopify lets virtually anyone design and manage an online store, even those with absolutely no experience in web design.
Because Shopify only hosts online stores, they have one of the most conscientious feature sets for ecommerce, including one-click upsells, intrinsic rating systems and apps for easily adding dropshipping products.
There’s a big downside, though. The same template-style design that makes it easy for beginners also limits the creativity of more advanced users. Shopify’s site builder is rigid, and once you’ve chosen your theme, most of your design decisions are already made. If customization and achieving certain “looks” are a top-priority, Shopify may be too limiting.
Shopify offers a range of price packages to suit all ecommerce types, from small-time weekend sellers to global retail enterprises. The different packages determine how much you’ll pay in credit card rates and 3P payment gateway fees, so being a successful store with a cheaper package may actually lose you more money.
- Shopify Lite: $9 per month
- Basic Shopify: $29 per month
- Shopify: $79 per month
- Advanced Shopify: $299 per month
- Shopify Plus: $2,000 – $40,000 per month
- User-friendly interface made for those with no design experience.
- Easy template-style design lets you get your site up and running in no time.
- Hosting included.
- Built-in ecommerce features.
- Practical app store offers extra features.
- Very limiting customization stifles creativity.
- Needs extra measures to stand out, otherwise your site will look generic.
- Depending on which plan and gateway you choose, you may be paying too much in transaction fees.
Shopify is great if you want a low-maintenance ecommerce site. It’s probably the easiest and most convenient ecommerce platform on this list. However, if branding and site design are a top priority, choose a platform with more customization. Also, do the math on how much Shopify will cost you — the value of its price tag depends on both the plan and how much you sell.
As an ecommerce platform attuned to big brands, enterprises and startups planning rapid expansion, BigCommerce lives up to its name. Although they try their best to accommodate first-time site designers, their interface is more complex than other platforms and involves a steeper learning curve. That’s not necessarily a drawback, though — the more complex interface supports more design features and customization options.
Most features are available with all pricing plans. It’s only the more advanced features like API support, custom SSL and Google customer reviews that are exclusive to the top-tier plans.
- BigCommerce Standard: $29.95 per month
- BigCommerce Plus: $79.95 per month
- BigCommerce Pro: $249.95 per month
- BigCommerce Enterprise: custom
- No transaction fees.
- Accommodates stores of all sizes.
- Hosting included.
- Great for large stores and scaling upwards.
- Steep learning curve for using the site editor.
- Intricate site-builder might intimidate first-time designers.
- No one-click selling.
BigCommerce is best for brands that think big. That encompasses not only already-established ecommerce sites, but also startups with a lot of capital or brands with a foolproof business model. If you plan on your store ballooning in the near future, consider this platform.
One of the largest ecommerce platforms of 2019 isn’t an ecommerce platform at all. WooCommerce is really just a WordPress plugin that enables ecommerce functionality like checkout and product pages. That may not sound like much, but its ramifications are huge: store owners can use the entirety of WordPress’s impressive plugin library to design their ecommerce site!
WooCommerce, through WordPress, takes the convenience and user-friendliness of template-style site builders and combines it with nearly endless options for design features from the plugin library. And because it’s WordPress, WooCommerce sites are the best for blogging, if content marketing is a significant part of your business plan.
Technically speaking, WooCommerce is free… but don’t get excited. You’ll still have to pay for hosting yourself since it’s not included in WordPress, not to mention however much you spend on custom themes and designer plugins.
- High-quality plugins tend to cost more, so you have to be careful about spending.
- Hosting not included.
If you’re already familiar with how to design with WordPress, you’ll find WooCommerce intuitive and easy. Otherwise, it may take some getting used to. Many think of WooCommerce as a cheap ecommerce platform, but all those plugin and theme purchases add up, so calculate how much the site you want would cost before making it final.
Don’t let the name full you. The 3 Ds in “3dcart” refer to the three Dimensions of ecommerce: Search Engines, Shoppers, and Store Owners (… maybe it should be “3 S Cart?”). While shoppers and store owners are a top priority for all the top ecommerce platforms, it’s that first dimension, search engines, that sets 3dcart apart from the others.
Many of the 3dcart users consider it to be the best ecommerce platform for SEO. Regardless, there’s still plenty to 3dcart besides SEO that landed it on this list, like it’s wide variety of features or how there are no transaction fees for any price plan.
Prices are divided into 4 different pricing plans, but most of the advantages of 3dcart are available on them all. Every plan includes unlimited products, no transaction fees, 24/7 tech support, secure hosting, unlimited bandwidth and API access. Higher-tier plans allow more staff members, though, as well as access to exclusive features like pre-orders, daily deals and email marketing integrations. (Prices below are for the monthly payment plans.)
- Startup Store: $19 per month
- Basic Store: $29 per month
- Plus Store: $79 per month
- Pro Store: $229 per month
- No transaction fees.
- Tons of features; one of the best ecommerce platforms for features
- Unlimited product listings, even with beginner plans
- Hosting included
- Design templates and options seem lackluster and old-fashioned, especially compared to the other top ecommerce platforms
- Users report customer errors every time 3dcart updates.
3dcart is best compared with Shopify. On the one hand, 3dcart’s templates and design choices are even worse than those on Shopify, for which design is also a weakness. On the other hand, 3dcart brings more additional features than Shopify. So, again, if design is your top priority, look elsewhere. If all you want are ecommerce features and Shopify falls short, 3dcart is perfect for you.
Squarespace is known as a DIY site-builder for any industry, just as attuned to a law firm website as an online store. But in recent years, the company has been investing more in their ecommerce capabilities, enough to land them on our list of the best ecommerce platforms for 2019.
Like WooCommerce, Squarespace grants online stores access to all of its (award-winning) design tools and templates. That means you can build an ecommerce site using elements from any other industry, letting you customize your site and build something wholly unique.
One of the biggest rollouts for Squarespace online stores is the addition of two payment plans exclusive to ecommerce. Neither of these plans charge a transaction fee, on top of other exclusive features. Although you can still use ecommerce functionality with the Business plan, you’ll have to pay a 3% transaction fee, plus you still can’t use most of the ecommerce features. (Prices below are for the monthly payment plans.)
- Business: $26 per month
- Basic Commerce: $30 per month
- Advanced Commerce: $46 per month
- Spectacular, top-shelf design templates.
- One of the most customizable ecommerce platforms.
- Hosting & unlimited bandwidth included.
- A lot of basic ecommerce features — like ratings and reviews — have to be added manually via 3P integrations.
- Only accepts two payment gateways, PayPal and Stripe, which could severely limit your territory and customer-base.
Squarespace is one of the best site builders for aesthetics and creativity — ecommerce site or not. If appearances and branding are top priorities, and WordPress/WooCommerce doesn’t appeal to you, Squarespace is a good bet. However, if you have elaborate pricing strategies or marketing campaigns, Squarespace’s limited add-on library might not have what you need. We expect them to release more ecommerce features in the future, as well.
In the realm of DIY site-builders, Wix is a direct competitor to Squarespace. In ecommerce, however, they don’t invest quite as much as Squarespace. So what do they offer that the other best ecommerce platforms don’t? An automatically generated site via their Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI).
Wix ADI can auto-generate a working site within minutes. You input the industry you’re in and what style you want, and the AI does the rest of the work for you. You’re still free to edit and update the site as you wish, making this one of the fastest and most convenient ecommerce platforms for beginners.
Wix offers three different plans with ecommerce functionality. The difference in the top tiers is mostly in extra perks, such as more hours of videos or a professionally designed logo thrown in.
- Business Basic: $17 per month
- Business Unlimited: $25 per month
- Business VIP $35 per month
- No transaction fees.
- AI-design for people who don’t want to design at all
- Great design options for DIY site building,
- Limited ecommerce features
- AI-generated designs lack personalization
- Doesn’t scale well; only works for small stores
For ecommerce, Wix is essentially a lesser-version of Squarespace. You get a lot of the same customization and design options, but not as many ecommerce accommodations — and Squarespace doesn’t have that many to begin with.
But for people who don’t want to bother with site design at all, Wix is the ideal choice. Their main appeal in ecommerce is their ADI automatic site-builder. If speed and convenience are your top priorities, Wix is a good choice.
7. Big Cartel
Big Cartel is a specialist ecommerce platform for artists, craftspeople, and certain food vendors. For general ecommerce, it’s not an option, but if you’re selling in this particular fields, it could be your best choice.
From site design to pricing, everything Big Cartel offers targets small artisan brands. You’re assured affordable prices and a site design the emphasizes visuals.
All of Big Cartel’s pricing packages have the same suite of features. The only difference is the amount of listings you’re given: 25 for Platinum, 100 for Diamond, and 300 for Titanium.
- Platinum: $9.99 per month
- Diamond: $19.99 per month
- Titanium: $29.99 per month
- Easy and convenient set up
- Visuals-based site design attuned for artists and craftspeople
- Comparatively cheap costs
- Only available to select markets — not an option unless you’re in those markets
Big Cartel is a no-brainer; unless you’re in the market of homemade goods, it’s not worth it. If you are an artist or craftsperson, however, this could be the best platform for you, especially considering its low maintenance cost if you have under 25 products.
PrestaShop is an open-source, cloud-based platform. Open-source is a big deal if you like to tinker with the code and make original, unlimited customizations — of course, you have to know what you’re doing under the hood. Because it’s open-source, that also means there’s a ready community of 3P apps for plenty of add-ons.
PrestaShop is free to download and use, as long as you know enough web development to set it up. In the future they’ll launch a paid service, PrestaShop Ready, for those of us who aren’t tech experts, but for now that’s still under development.
- Very flexible — open source lets you do more than other platforms
- Large community of 3P apps and add-ons
- Free to download and use
- Loading times are worse than other platforms
- Add-on purchases can add up
- Must have tech expertise to fully appreciate it
Do you know HTML and CSS? If yes, you may fall in love with how flexible PrestaShop is — you’ll be able to design the site the way you want, and enjoy that free-to-use pricetag.
If you don’t know code, though, you may find PrestaShop frustrating to use. Setting up your store may not be as easy or user-friendly as they’d have you believe, and there’s better DIY site-builders out there that don’t require tech skill.
Weebly may not offer anything new in terms of design or ecommerce features, but what sets it apart from the other best ecommerce platforms is its marketing options. It’s other features are adequate enough, but if your main focus is marketing, Weebly offers more innate services than the other platforms: SEO, Lead Capture/Contact Forms, and Advanced Site Statistics.
Weebly has three different pricing plans for ecommerce. Although the Pro plan still offers the basic marketing features, the Business plan really opens up a lot of features: coupon codes, inventory management, gift cards, pop-ups, Facebook ad integration, and more detailed analytics. (Prices below are for the annual payment plans.)
- Pro: $12 per month
- Business: $25 per month
- Business Plus: $38 per month
- Best for marketing integrations
- Great email tools
- While nothing special, their site design templates are more than adequate
- Transaction fees can become unviable
- Holds back SEO efforts
Weebly is a very particular ecommerce platform. It offers a few marketing features that the other platforms don’t, so if those are important to you, Weebly could be a godsend. However, most ecommerce startups don’t prioritize marketing to such a degree, or at least are not ready to invest so much in marketing, and so Weebly won’t be a good choice for them.
Like BigCommerce, Magento targets large-scale and enterprise ecommerce brands. Unlike BigCommerce, however, Magento refuses to cater to smaller online stores. The result: an advanced (and expensive) ecommerce platform capable of handling the demands of corporate Goliaths like Nike or Procter & Gamble.
Magento is considered a “heavyweight” ecommerce platform; powerful, but out-of-the-league for small stores and startups. Expect a long learning curve and have a professional developer handy, but it leads to a huge payoff in terms of customization and design options.
Technically, the Magento Community Edition is free — you can download it and start to play around with it now with no cost. The Magento Enterprise Edition, though, is much, much more. How much, exactly, depends on the support package, such as Gold or Platinum, but those prices are kept under wraps unless you contact them directly. Still, expect upwards of $10,000 yearly — and you can triple that price if you hire a professional developer.
- One of the best combinations of ecommerce features and design flexibility.
- Features fit for name brands and industry leaders.
- Tech-savvy site managers can use the impressive customization options.
- Confusing interface with no sympathy for first-time designers.
- Often requires outside development and programming, making it even more expensive.
Magento is best left to the brands who are already dominating their market. True, it offers more than other ecommerce platforms, but those extras are mostly non-essential, so only the top brands really benefit from them. For small- and medium-sized stores, as well as startups, other ecommerce platforms are more forgiving.
Somewhat of the runt of the litter, Volusion doesn’t offer as many features as the other top ecommerce platforms, nor is it as well-known. Despite that, it’s slowly improving its reputation by facilitating new users and small online stores.
With a drag-and-drop site editor and an intuitive dashboard, Volusion makes onboarding and setup as easy as possible. However, bigger ecommerce brands used to more advanced marketing strategies may find Volusion lacking.
With three fixed payment plans (and one custom plan for enterprises), Volusion is somewhat scalable to how much you expect to sell. The good news is that all plans come with no transaction fees and unlimited bandwidth. The bad news is that a lot of basic necessities, like SSL certificate, cost extra. (Prices below are for the monthly payment plans.)
- Personal: $29 per month
- Professional: $79 per month
- Business: $299 per month
- No transaction fees.
- Unlimited bandwidth.
- Built-in capabilities for subscriptions and recurring payments.
- Have to purchase your own SSL certificate.
- Can’t sell digital downloads.
- No intrinsic blogging capabilities.
Considering what Volusion offers against what it doesn’t offer, you see why it’s not more popular. However, if you’re a small ecommerce store using a subscription or recurring payment option, Volusion might be just right. It may not have the breadth of its rivals, but for subscriptions/recurring payments it’s one of the best ecommerce platforms.
If you’re considering dropshipping, some ecommerce platforms are better than others. Finding the right products from the right suppliers in the right areas can be cumbersome and time-consuming, but apps like Spocket make it a breeze. All you do is browse and click — all the research is already done for you.