The market is full of different eCommerce solutions, so picking the platform that would meet your commercial requirements may not be the easiest task. To figure out what software is right for you, it is important to consider multiple criteria including: a platform’s capabilities, its benefits, drawbacks, pricing and usability, etc. To save you the hassle of surfing the Internet for a proper site builder, we’ve collected over 15 of the most popular eCommerce platforms in a single place.
This best eCommerce platforms comparison aims to lend you a helping hand in choosing an ideal option, so without further delay, let’s get to it.
Defining the eCommerce Platform
Simply put, the eCommerce platform refers to a site builder that enables establishing a web store and doing business online. For a monthly fee, merchants pay to leverage the software. They can sell their goods, manage inventory, provide for multiple payment options and monitor shipping, etc.
Most eCommerce builders come already equipped with all the necessary tools for creating an e-store, including the drag-n-drop editor. So it’s not mandatory for users to be web developers to handle shop creation — it is enough to have basic technical knowledge. That’s all the more reason why software for eCommerce has such a wide application.
Why Use eCommerce Software?
As long as an eCommerce builder is found to be a ready-made solution, you shouldn’t spend much time on developing the site from scratch. It comes supplied with many business instruments that allow for marketing, product management, and advertising along with personalized sales and services. So, after applying minor tweaks, you can start trading on the web promptly.
Additionally, the best online eCommerce solutions boast increased safety and minimal downtime, whereas its payment and shipping integrations let you concentrate on fulfillment of customers’ needs.
The Most Widespread Platform Types on the Market
Although there’s a wide variety of eCommerce program types on the market, they highlight three major options: open-source, SaaS, and headless commerce. In terms of hosting environment, they distinguish between cloud and on-premises types.
Let’s consider these options in detail to find out which one is good for your purposes.
- Open-source solutions are available in the cloud or in an on-premises hosting environment. As long as it allows its users to change any kind of code aspect, this type of software stays popular among the brands who prefer taking charge of their eCommerce. Therefore, the brands are responsible for PCI compliance, hosting, patches release, safety issues, quality assurance of different apps and integrations, in the same way they are responsible for creation of multiple other business tools. Open-source eCommerce builders are usually a bit ‘high maintenance’ and require extensive skills and knowledge, which make them suitable for only a limited number of organizations.
- SaaS solutions are only available in a cloud hosting environment. They save you the hassle of managing software by doing that for you. SaaS providers are responsible for PCI compliance, safety, and hosting while you stay focused on marketing and team building. Compared to open-source platforms, the SaaS builder is considerably less expensive.
- Headless commerce is also available in a cloud hosting environment. This particular type is used to store, handle, and deliver content without a frontend delivery layer. Put differently, the frontend is decoupled and removed leaving the backend. To apply products, commenting systems, blog posts, and other content, one can incorporate corresponding APIs, add-ons, and technologies, like CMS, ERP, POS and marketplaces, etc. In terms of the cost of ownership, headless commerce is found to be vastly cheaper in comparison with open-source and SaaS solutions.
Factors and Features to Consider When Selecting Among Leading eCommerce Platforms
While choosing from the list of top eCommerce platforms, it is important to understand what features are important for allowing you to meet the unique needs of your web store. Here’s our criteria checklist to take into consideration when deciding on the right software:
- Cost. No matter if you just plan to launch your first shop online or move a brick and mortar business to the web, you should know what you pay for when leveraging one of the builders. Some offer fixed cost with typical eCommerce tools included, while others charge you a low flat rate for subscription and then require a fee for extended capabilities.
- Scalability. Even if you are in the early stages of store development, sooner or later you’ll expect it to grow. For that, you may want to get software that can easily scale alongside business growth.
- Usability. Put yourself in the client's shoes before choosing between top enterprise eCommerce platforms to make certain the latter has an intuitive UI and provides for seamless navigation.
- Customization opportunities. You may want to extend the functionality of the web store in the future. For that very reason, consider the platforms that allow adding new features via the plugin store, as well as adjusting the settings on your own.
- Maintenance. Security is of great importance for any kind of website, including an eCommerce one. So, to keep the site secured, one should regularly check the code for vulnerabilities, stay up to date on the latest details about online safety, and incorporate the best programming methods. This all may be quite challenging for a person who’s lacking the corresponding skills. In that case, the eCommerce software with a hosted plan is highly recommended as long as it is mostly maintained by the vendor.
- Commerce options. Check on the software with embedded basic commerce options, e.g., catalog management, promotions, analytics, discounts, drag-n-drop builder, etc. Using them will save you a lot of time and make the store work more effectively.
- Mobile capabilities. Make sure the best platform for eCommerce you’ve stopped at is mobile-ready and welcome users who browse the stores from their smartphones and tablets. According to Pew Research Center, approximately 4 out of 5 Americans shop online, whereas half of them make purchases leveraging mobile devices.
- Marketing. Your e-store is not only a platform you can trade from. It also allows building stronger customer relations, offering a better value proposition, increasing conversions, getting clients to return, and keeping track of revenue. For that, check on the platforms with built-in blog functionality, analytics, and tools for affiliate marketing.
- Support. The question of support is often underestimated since it’s not usually a matter of concern until someone needs it, immediately. So, make certain the vendor provides 24/7 support, be it phone assistance or at least live chat support. Besides, have a look at the platform knowledgebase: Q&A section, forums, blog posts, and guides where you can have many of your questions answered.
Other Evaluation Criteria for Picking the Best eCommerce Store Platform for Your Business
Since evaluating the eCommerce software may not be a breeze, merchants should determine consumers’ pains and gains they plan to cover by asking the right questions inside the company. Once the goal is set, it’s high time to direct queries to software providers and finally evaluate which builder is ideal for achieving that goal and helping you scale commerce projects.
Below, you may find a few more evaluation criteria for choosing an effective platform:
- Define the direction in which your business is evolving. Outline where you want to be in 3-5-7 years to understand if the platform is modern enough to let the business naturally scale. Before selecting the right software, take into consideration the cost of growth, upgrades, and adoption of new features along with the time and effort needed to handle it.
- Make sure the platform is flexible enough to serve the needs of interconnected applications other than eCommerce, and will let you keep up with consumer dynamics and quickly create new CX.
- Focus on the top priorities you have for eCommerce software evaluation, be it support for multiple business models, the total cost of ownership, an enhanced vendor-business partnership or mobile adaptiveness, etc.
- Consider software providers’ competence, industry focus, and the audience they are aimed at. Learn about whether they offer solutions for your business size and your industry sector to make sure the builder is the right fit.
Now that you know what aspects to consider when evaluating the proper software, let’s take a closer look at the best eCommerce platforms for online store.
Best eCommerce Platforms for 2020
Shopify eCommerce builder takes the leading position among other platforms. With a short learning curve that can be navigated quickly, it provides for prompt setup and hassle-free operation, which results in accelerated time to market.
BigCommerce is one of the best eCommerce platforms for small business. It belongs to the SaaS category of software and provides an extensive set of functions that enable building a fully-fledged web store quickly.
You will find Magento in the list of on-premises, open-source solutions. It is in high demand among brands who are ready to invest in the development process, so it will be the right fit for enterprise-level, large-scale businesses rather than small and mid-size projects.
WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce solution specifically developed to help users convert the WordPress site to a web store. Although it is a free site builder, it still requires a fee for shopping cart integration.
Squarespace is known for its drag-n-drop functionality which allows for establishing an online store at a fast speed. Even though the software is mostly recommended for small-size commerce projects, it still provides a bunch of functionalities that can also benefit businesses of any other size.
Wix is well-known for its beginner-friendly interface, and so it becomes ideal for starters who want to build and manage small online shops. While the Wix provider cannot boast an extensive feature list, the platform is still characterized by built-in free templates, usability and prompt setup, together with impressive customer support.
Founded in the United Kingdom, Big Cartel is especially popular among creatives who want to sell their artworks without the need to build complex software. The program is super easy to utilize and manage. However, it provides a limited number of functions and will not be a good fit for stores with a vast catalog of goods.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud (SFCC)
SFCC is a cloud-based SaaS eCommerce builder best suited for an enterprise-level business that has already incorporated other Salesforce products. The platform is offered at a relatively high cost which makes it not suitable for brands who’ve just entered the market.
Volusion, on the contrary, is aimed at small businesses that plan to scale in the future. Inside the pack, you will find a library of free and paid themes that can be customized with a drag-n-drop editor. Besides, Volusion’s help center is ready to assist anyone who is new to eCommerce and has a lot of questions to be answered.
If you have at least basic development skills and are looking for an open-source, cloud-based eCommerce builder, PrestaShop will come in handy. Basic commerce features bundled with options for international development, legal, compliance, and client loyalty make PrestaShop ideal for many e-stores.
Weebly is a great solution for those who are searching for a straightforward program with a marketing automation feature, accessible right out of the box. It has a simple interface and a set of basic tools needed for designing a functional online shop.
3dcart is another SaaS eCommerce builder best suited for experienced online retailers and people with basic technical knowledge, since its steep learning curve may become a sticking point for beginners.
SiteBuilder is one of a few website builders powered by AI. The software is popular because of its usability and quick setup that doesn’t require any coding skills. This makes it especially perfect for beginners.
Another open-source store management system is OpenCart, which is a great solution for small and mid-size businesses and freelancers. While it’s easy to use and scale, the builder also allows adding multiple products to the store with no hassle.
Like WooCommerce, Ecwid is actually more of a widget or add-on than software, and is used to implement shop functionality in an existing website. This solution has different pricing plans including ‘forever free’ with limitless bandwidth, mobile-ready shopping cart, and other options. Ecwid is especially favored by those running a small business and preferring to manage their stores from a mobile device as well.
X-Cart is an open-source, highly flexible eCommerce system that provides for lifetime licenses, full control over website customization and scalability. Lifetime licenses let you host the software on your own server, which leads to a higher safety level.
PinnacleCart is another eCommerce program that enables hosting the store on your chosen server or going with the one made available by default. PinnacleCart is feature-rich software; however, its cost is higher than the market average, which makes it not affordable for everyone.
Another UK-based software provider suggests trying Bluepark eCommerce builder, with a whole heap of features needed for the smooth performance of the e-store. This all-in-one leading solution is suitable for businesses of different sizes, no matter if it is a startup or large-scale corporation.
3 Best eCommerce Platforms for Dropshipping
Dropshipping business means a lack of control over certain things, such as product quality and yield. Besides, if you want to stay competitive within product supply, you have to ensure that the orders are sent out fast. When evaluating an eCommerce platform, we recommend that you consider the availability of dropshipping plugins and the ability to sync with the supplier’s inventory and keep track of the orders, etc.
eCommerce platforms best suited for a dropshipping business include:
3 Best eCommerce Platforms for SEO
A good SEO makes a website visible for prospective customers. So, when selecting the right software, stay focused on platform SEO performance, including page loading speed, mobile and desktop speed, as well as the average organic traffic.
These are platforms demonstrating good SEO:
3 Best eCommerce Platforms for a Large Business
Those of you running large-scale businesses may need a flexible solution that would help you avoid mistakes, connect software, integrate with additional applications for inventory management, use Google services, etc.
The best eCommerce platforms designed to meet your business needs include:
Best eCommerce Platforms for B2B
Among other things, eCommerce can now greatly benefit B2B businesses by allowing owners to build strong relationships with partners, increase brand awareness, and enhance returns.
The platforms targeted at B2B projects are as follows:
- Shopify Plus
- Magento Commerce
eCommerce Platform vs. Custom Development. What’s Your Best Option?
After deciding to go into eCommerce, many of you have voiced this question at least once. Choosing between eCommerce platforms and custom development may not be a piece of cake. However, taking into account two major factors for each option will facilitate the process of selection.
So, the #1 factor is time to market. In case you want to start selling the products or services without delay, the eCommerce platform is a better option. It comes with the key components, features, and functionalities needed for an e-store, so it significantly reduces the time spent on development and release.
If the time to market is not that critical for you and your business will not suffer from later release, consider custom development as well.
The #2 factor refers to the cost of the project. There is not much difference in cost between these two options since the end price usually depends on your plan for making a profit, prior experience, team capabilities, etc.
In the event that you've decided to go with an eCommerce website builder, there are a few tips that will help you stay on a tighter budget:
- Take full advantage of features and functionalities available with the platform by default. Any additional “must-haves” usually require additional effort.
- Make certain that the professional assigned to implement the platform has the necessary competence. Poorly made software will double the expenses.
Many factors make eCommerce platforms more advantageous for users compared to development from scratch. Yet, the major reason is that they come equipped with all the necessary features and functions that meet the needs of the commerce business. But still, selecting the right software requires a preliminary and thorough analysis of the business model and only then in-depth research on specific platforms.
How to Choose the Right eCommerce Platform?
You already know the evaluation criteria for choosing the best eCommerce website platform, but for a better outcome, it is also important to take the following steps:
- Put the platform cost into a business plan from the very beginning. Put it in with a good margin. Aside from flat rate or subscription fees, eCommerce software may require an additional quote for plugins, maintenance, server storage, etc.
- Do your independent in-depth research to identify the platform that serves the functions required for your business. You can even contact providers and ask as many questions as you need to understand if the software is the right fit. Generally, don’t fall for the hype around separate builders.
- Choose the platform that you and your team can use and manage with ease. Make certain that the interface is not confusing and will not create problems over time.
- Opt for a reliable hosting service to prevent slow loading speed and the resulting adverse effect on your search rankings. Before finally settling on one particular hosting company, make sure to learn:
- Whether they ensure 24/7 support and daily website backups;
- Whether they host the site on a shared server;
- What safety measures need to be taken in case of sharing the server with other enterprises, etc.
Alternatively, you could avoid all this investigative work by contacting the team of specialists for consulting. The industry experts who specialize in developing retail software solutions connecting physical and online channels will help you discover which eCommerce platform can significantly benefit your business and take it to a new level.
Turning a brick and mortar business into an online store or just establishing a website from scratch can become a starting point of your business success. And this is where eCommerce platforms may enter the game. As far as the builders that come already equipped with a whole lot of features needed for launching a fully-fledged retail website, they are popular with everyone who is looking to start selling online quickly.
Because the market is overwhelmed with eCommerce solutions, selecting a builder that would perfectly suit your business needs can seem like searching for a needle in a haystack. The good news is that you can still determine business goals, target audience, budget limits, product catalog volume, and preferred software type, all factors which significantly narrow your choices. As soon as you clearly understand what you expect from the software, you will no longer have so much doubt about which particular system is right for you.
Hopefully, this comparison has guided you through each platform and helped to highlight the one that perfectly fits your business requirements.