12 Best E-commerce Platforms Compared and Reviewed
Before starting a new E-commerce venture, we have to consider a lot of factors. We need product photos, customer acquisition, payment gateways, social media usage, SEO, and much more.
But wait, do you think we’re missing out something? Well, perhaps we should start with the selection of an E-commerce platform!
The question is: What are the best E-commerce platforms that you can entirely count on? If you’re trying to find the right answer, this post will be for you! We’ve compiled a list of 12 best E-commerce platforms that can help you make an informed decision.
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Table of contents
- What is an E-commerce platform?
- 6 Benefits of an E-commerce platform
- 12 Best E-commerce platforms compared and reviewed
- The bottom line
What is an E-commerce platform?
An E-commerce platform is a software program that helps you build your own online store. All the features and tools you need are provided via built-in or the platform’s own app center so that you can manage your website, marketing, sales, and operations.
The way E-commerce platforms work is not complicated. You start by choosing a theme from a wide range of choices, which acts as the layout of your website. After that, you can customize the theme with your own products and content. You will manage your online store from a dashboard where you can view things such as analytics, shipping, invoices, and so on.
6 Benefits of an E-commerce platform
Many business owners ask themselves whether they should use an E-commerce platform or run their own servers. In reality, depending on their particular needs and technical involvement, they can choose an appropriate option.
In this section, we will list some of the benefits of E-commerce platforms so that they can clarify and direct their way of thinking.
Easy to start. Many platforms are quite easy to set up and provide most of the mechanisms you will need. Since the systems are common, you can expect a lot of solutions to prevalent problems or any other issues that may come up.
No hosting or server worries. Perhaps the most obvious benefit of an E-commerce platform is that you can avoid servers and hosting. The platform does this all for you.
Limited security risks. Similarly, a platform will take charge of most security concerns. This might sound insignificant. But when a single security glitch costs you millions in damages, and potentially threatens your entire business, having security taken care of is a significant benefit.
Of course, you might need to handle some security updates yourself, such as those for custom code, depending on the platform. This is a minor risk, though, versus being responsible for an entire set of servers.
Various features. Once you sign up, you can experience a wide variety of features on the platform. This is a nice contrast to completely custom systems wherein you might wait months or years to develop new features.
Extension-friendly. Most of such platforms have some sort of extensions, add-ons, or modules - mechanisms that allow users to add functionalities by simply installing a plugin. This can be something as simple as a widget in a sidebar or a feature a bit fancier, for instance, optimizing the checkout process in one page only.
Easy scalability. As the platform company runs the code, it also accommodates traffic spikes and the general scaling up of capacity if necessary. More capacity can require an upgrade to the plan, but it’s simple compared to figuring out how to add additional servers.
12 Best E-commerce platforms compared and reviewed
There are so many E-commerce platforms available nowadays, so choosing one can be a bit confusing and time-consuming. But don’t waste your time and money on a second-rate platform. We’ve conducted the research, and can now reveal the best twelve E-commerce platforms for your reference!
Shopify is arguably our top pick because it is a user-friendly, thorough, and affordable choice for beginners and growing businesses alike. With more than 1 million stores, 2 million active users, and $155B+ worth of sold goods on its platform, Shopify is a well-known platform provider that you can’t miss out on.
As an all-in-one E-commerce platform, Shopify includes a quick-learning curve for non-experienced practitioners, leading to a quick go-to-market for new brands.
- Clean, straightforward, and user-friendly interface
- Brilliant inventory system to help you control your store
- Sell across various channels, including Facebook, Instagram, eBay, and Amazon
- In-house payment platform
- Great themes with various designs
- 24/7 live chat, phone, and email support
- 14-day free trial
- Lack of a few critical built-in features (customer reviews for products, SEO features, and inventory count sheets)
- Content doesn’t automatically reformat when you switch themes
- Apps can add up and become costly
Shopify’s pricing plans: Shopify offers a number of plans, so you can choose one that best suits your specific needs and budget. First of all, Shopify provides a 14-day free trial - you are not required to enter any payment details, so there is no risk or pressure to sign up. You’ll just need an email, and then you can testify Shopify to be totally cost-free for two weeks. If you want to continue using Shopify, you can refer to these following pricing plans:
- Shopify Lite ($9/ month) - you can add your E-commerce store to a Facebook page or existing website. 2% transaction fee, if you don’t use Shopify Payments.
- Basic Shopify ($29/ month) - cheapest plan to build your own store, which provides all the essentials for a new business. 2% transaction fee, if you don’t use Shopify Payments.
- Shopify ($79/ month) - plan for growing business, which includes features such as gift card creation. 1% transaction fee if you don’t use Shopify Payments.
- Advanced Shopify ($299/ month) - plan for mature businesses wanting to scale up, which includes advanced reports and third-party calculated shipping rates. 0.5% transaction fee, if you don’t use Shopify Payments.
- Shopify Plus - plan for large-scale, enterprise level business with huge budgets. There is no set pricing - instead, you will request a custom quote.
For more information, you can access Shopify detailed pricing plans here.
Magento is a historically open-source and on-premise solution preferred by brands who have already heavily invested in IT or development teams. It is trusted by some global giants like Nike, HP, Canon, P&G, and Cisco.
If you have a developer team or enough budget and want something compelling and customizable, Magento is a solid choice. You can do and undo until you get the feature-rich online store you desire.
- Multiple customization options
- A large community of users (360,000 forum members, nearly 6,000 contributors, 8,000 certified developers, and 1,150 partners)
- Optimal scalability
- Require development skills
- Need for hosting
- High cost
Magento’s pricing plans:
- Magento Open Source (formerly Magento Community) - free to download and use. However, you need to pay for everything else associated with the site, such as hosting, themes, add-ons, etc.
- Magento Commerce - the enterprise-level solution. A premium version with prices starting from $22,000 each year (if you are using Magento 2). Besides, this fee rises if your business’s GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) is more than $1 million.
WooCommerce is a little bit different from the other platforms we’ve seen so far. WooCommerce works with WordPress to turn any website into a functional online store instead of being an all-in-one E-commerce platform.
With about 80 million downloads, WooCommerce is one of the world’s most popular E-commerce solutions. Nearly 30% of all online stores all around the globe are powered by WooCommerce.
WooCommerce itself entirely costs nothing to get started, but you must have website hosting and WordPress already in place. So, if you’re familiar with the WordPress platform, WooCommerce can be a breeze for you. You only need to install it, add your own items, and fix your settings.
- Free WordPress plugin
- A large number of customizable options
- Comprehensive SEO tools
- Lots of WordPress experts available
- Lots of marketing options and other integrations
- Require an intermediate learning curve (e.g., coding knowledge or developer resources)
- Virtually zero support
WooCommerce’s pricing plans: There’s no cost to installing WooCommerce into your WordPress account, and we consider it one of the best free E-commerce platforms currently. WooCommerce is preloaded with a wide range of useful tools, but the real value comes from the extensions and add-ons you can buy in its extension marketplace. Extensions range in price from $0 to $300.
Read more: Magento vs. WooCommerce
Similar to Shopify, BigCommerce is a robust all-in-one E-commerce platform giving everything you need to sell online. Actually, BigCommerce has more native features than Shopify built-in right out of the box. The critical difference between BigCommerce and Shopify is BigCommerce is best suited for larger businesses.
BigCommerce’s clients include big brand names such as Kodak, Toyota, and Ben & Jerry’s. For small and medium businesses looking to scale up, BigCommerce boasts an impressive average growth of 28% for its clients year on year.
- More built-in features than any competitor
- Most scalable E-commerce platform
- Allows multi-channel selling on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest
- Fantastic SEO tools
- Great theme designs
- Extra fees for successful stores
- A small selection of free themes
- Some complex terminology
BigCommerce’s pricing plans: When it comes to the platform’s cost, BigCommerce has both positive and negative views.
On the one hand, there are no transaction or bandwidth fees. Besides, as you move up to the more expensive plans, BigCommerce will offer discounted credit card fees.
On the other hand, you have to consider the amount of revenue that your store can have each year. Crossing the limit associated with the plan that you’re on will add additional fees to your bill.
In terms of pricing strategies, here are the four options that BigCommerce currently offers:
Standard Plan ($29.95/ month) - You get unlimited products, bandwidth, storage, and credit card and PayPal acceptance. You also get unlimited staff accounts and don’t have to pay any transaction fees. With this plan, your annual revenue cannot exceed $50,000; otherwise, additional charges are added.
Plus Plan ($79.95/ month) - You get all of the Standard Plan features, together with the abandoned cart saver and customer groups and segmentation. With this plan, your annual revenue cannot exceed $150,000.
Pro Plan ($249.95/ month) - You get all of the Standard and Plus plan features, together with Google customer reviews, product filtering, and the option to use a third-party SSL certificate. With this plan, your annual revenue cannot exceed $400,000.
Enterprise Plan - You get all of the 3 above plan features, together with unlimited API, priority support, and other account services. With this plan, you’re required to contact BigCommerce for custom pricing.
Founded in 2003, Squarespace has been an excellent website building tool that allows hobbyists and creative professionals to showcase and sell their work. The platform takes care of all the server management and gives you easy-to-use tools for building and running your store.
Squarespace offers more than 100 flexible templates that fully adapt to mobile devices. It can be complex when compared to other website builders, but taking some time to get familiar with its interface is well worth the investment.
- Stunning designs
- Excellent inventory system and analytical tools
- High-quality site features
- Mobile-optimized checkouts
- Unlimited products
- Free domain for the first year
- 14-day free trial
- No app store for more functionalities and features
- No marketing automation integration
- Weak support experience
Squarespace’s pricing plans: Squarespace has a total of 4 pricing plans, including:
- Personal Plan ($12/ month)
- Business Plan ($18/ month)
- Basic Commerce ($26/ month)
- Advanced Commerce ($40/ month)
The Personal plan doesn’t have E-commerce capabilities. You can sell online using the Business Plan; however, you’ll pay an additional 3% transaction fee to Squarespace. For more information, you can access their detailed pricing plans here.
You’ve probably already heard of Wix before. You might have even seen their advertisements where people set up websites easily, quickly, and without ever touching a line of code. But do you know that Wix can also help you build an online store?
Wix uses the same straightforward and intuitive drag-and-drop editor you see in those ads, allowing you to build your own E-commerce website. No need for hosting, coding, or stressing - simply pick your template, customize it by dragging and dropping elements like images and text boxes around your page, and then hit publish!
- Easy-to-use interface with a drag-and-drop editor and mobile responsive features
- 500 themes of which 72 are free
- Lots of help and support
- Good site speed
- Multilingual sites
- 14-day money-back guarantee
- No stock management alerts
- Not the most SEO-friendly platform
- Lack of marketing features and integrations
Wix’s pricing plans:8 It is free to get a basic website and storefront through Wix. However, a free account doesn’t allow you to do essential things like accepting online payments. To do business properly, you’ll need a website hosting or business account.
Wix pricing is a little different from most of the other E-commerce platforms on this list. Most E-commerce software offers various features for each pricing plan. But Wix bases its pricing plans on storage and customer support, so there isn’t a significant difference among plans in terms of features.
There are 4 pricing options for you to choose from:
- Business Basic ($23/ month) - with the storage of 20GB and standard customer support.
- Business Unlimited ($27/ month) - with the storage of 35GB and standard customer support
- Business VIP ($49/ month) - with the storage of 50GB and priority customer support
- Enterprise ($500/ month) - with custom storage and dedicated customer support
Since its initial release to the public in 2001, 3Dcart has served more than 22,000 online businesses with large clients, including PCMag. 3Dcart doesn’t offer a drag-and-drop builder, so you’ll need to have a basic understanding of coding and development to customize your templates and themes.
Despite not being as popular as other industry giants like Shopify or BigCommerce, 3Dcart is an excellent option to consider for advanced E-commerce users. If you have experience in the E-commerce industry, 3Dcart has capabilities that you can take advantage of.
- No transaction fees
- 200+ payment gateways
- 24/7 customer support
- Integrations with third-party online marketplaces
- Unlimited products
- Amazing built-in SEO tools
- Free domain for 1 year
- 15-day free trial
- The dashboard is not very visually appealing
- Templates feel outdated
- Potential upgrading issues
- Not for beginners
3Dcart’s pricing plans: 3Dcart offers 4 pricing options for you to choose from, including:
- Startup store ($19/ month) - 1 staff user, fit for a sole proprietorship or brand-new business
- Basic store ($29/ month) - 2 staff users, perfect for a business owner and assistant or another second employee
- Plus store ($79/ month) - 5 staff users, great for a growing business that needs to assign several different roles such as customer service representatives or fulfillment managers. This allows for more specialization, which is handy as the business gets busier.
- Pro store ($299/ month) - 15 staff users, great for you to cover all of the above and more.
Like BigCommerce, each plan has particular online sales restrictions before you’re automatically upgraded to the next tier. Those limits are $50K, $100K, $250K, and $1M per year respectively for each plan.
Being a pioneer in the E-commerce industry, Volusion has been powering roughly 30,000 online stores for the last 20 years. By using Volusion, you can easily create your store, sell your products, and scale your business.
Volusion is a great option for those selling physical items because, for now, it is not made to support digital downloads. An outstanding point is that there aren’t any quantity restrictions for the products offered on your site.
- No transaction fees
- 11 free themes and a large number of premium themes
- Great analytics tools
- Clear marketing and inventory system
- 24/7 support
- 14-day free trial
- Lacks of up/cross-selling features
- No built-in blogging functionality
- No website hosting included
- SSL certificates cost extra ($89.99)
Volusion’s pricing plans: Volusion offers exceptional customer support, but the level of support you get depends on your plan. For instance, the entry-level plan doesn’t come with phone support. Here’s an overview of Volusion’s pricing strategies:
- Personal ($29/ month)
- Professional ($79/ month)
- Business ($299/ month)
- Prime (custom)
Shipping rates are determined by your plan as well, and of course, higher-level plans get better discounts. Similar to other E-commerce platforms we’ve seen, your pricing plan will automatically be upgraded if you exceed a certain sales milestone in a 12-month period.
Read more: Magento 2 vs. Volusion: Which One is Better?
Founded in 2006 and with more than 40 million customers, Weebly is a brilliant option for anyone looking for a simple store with built-in marketing automation. Unlike many competitors, Weebly has always focused on improving its platform’s technology, rather than running expensive marketing campaigns.
The very first thing we noticed when trying Weebly is that it is so easy to use. It’s like stepping into someone else’s kitchen and immediately finding everything you need to cook. Their tools, like drag-and-drop editor, are super friendly and intuitive to beginners.
- Intuitive interface
- Attractive design themes
- Responsive themes
- Weebly App Centre gives you add-on options to increase the capabilities of your website
- Solid site speeds
- Limited check-out options
- Lack of big data tools (i.e. inventory management)
- No selling on multiple channels like Facebook and Instagram
Weebly’s pricing plans: The platform has 3 pricing options as below:
- Professional ($12/ month) for groups and organizations
- Business ($25/ month) for small businesses and stores
- Business Plus ($38/ month) for power sellers
According to its Terms of Services, all of its paid plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. So, if you are not satisfied, you can always cancel and request a refund. This effectively takes all the financial risks away from you.
Launched in 2007, PrestaShop is a freemium open-source and cloud-hosted E-commerce platform that gives the best overall value. PrestaShop is now available in 75 languages, which is really an impressive number.
PrestaShop has recently introduced PrestaShop Ready - a hosted version of its software. You can access the 16-day trial or pay straight away. It also comes with the SSL certificate, and there are 10 free themes in the admin panel. You might need little knowledge of CSS and HTML as the theme customizer doesn’t have a drag-and-drop function.
- Free to download
- Highly customizable
- Tons of apps/ integrations available
- Excellent support materials
- Strong and ready-to-help community
- Developer skills required
- Limited third-party marketing integrations
- No multichannel functionalities on the hosted version
PrestaShop’s pricing plans: PrestaShop is a free and open-source E-commerce solution, so interested users can visit their website to download and install the software. However, if you want to purchase add-ons, it will cost you on average between $50 to $150 per module. Some modules include Abandoned Cart Reminder, SEO Expert, Loyalty Coupons, and many more.
Zyro has been founded recently, and it rapidly becomes an ideal destination for anyone looking for a simplistic E-commerce platform. Their plans are quite cheap and have some state-of-the-art AI integrations to help you build an online store.
Besides, Zyro provides 11 free mobile-optimized storefront themes, which can be modified in a handy grid setup with drag and drop functionality. You can add both physical and digital products, but they don’t support subscription selling at this point.
- Easy-to-navigate interface
- No transaction fees
- 70+ payment gateways
- Free domain for the first year
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Limited customizability
- Weak support experience
- No free trial
Zyro’s pricing plans:
- Basic ($1.99/ month)
- Unleashed ($3.49/ month)
- E-commerce ($14.99/ month)
- E-commerce + ($21.99/ month)
The prices above are based on an annual subscription. If you sign up for longer periods of time, you will get more discounts. For example, for a 3-year plan, you’ll only need to pay $1.30 per month on the Basic plan.
OpenCart is another easy-to-use and open-source E-commerce platform, which currently supports more than 342,000 online stores worldwide. In reality, OpenCart isn’t a website builder; it’s an open-source software that you can install to add various functionalities to your existing website.
- Extensive library of free extensions
- A large number of modules and themes (over 13,000)
- 36 integrated payment gateways
- Free community support with forums
- Dedicated technical support
- Slow checkout experience
- You need to uninstall various plugins and add-ons
- Messy marketplace
OpenCart’s pricing plans: It’s easy to get tricked into thinking that an open-source software is totally free because there are always some extra fees you need to consider. In terms of OpenCart, it does a good job of cutting out any download or upgrade fees.
Since you are self-hosting your online store, you have to find hosting, an SSL certificate, and a domain name yourself. Additionally, some of the OpenCart extensions are listed for free, but many of them have price tags. For example, the Stripe Payment Gateway extension is currently listed at about $60.
Related topic: Why & How to Migrate from OpenCart to Magento 2
The bottom line
Choosing an appropriate E-commerce platform can be challenging simply because there are so many choices at your disposal. However, thanks to the list of 12 Best E-commerce Platforms, you don’t need to waste any time on inferior platforms anymore. Instead, you are now ready to pick a first-class platform to build your online business and start selling!
But before that, remember to examine your needs thoroughly, and don’t be afraid to run a few trials to see which solution you like best. Then, you will have an application that lifts your business to new heights!