Best eCommerce Platforms To Build Your Store In 2021

With the recent growing popularity of digital, mobile shopping and the availability of a wide range of eCommerce platforms, do you often struggle to find the right platform for your business or shopping from the best platform? Then, this unbiased list of the best eCommerce platforms is just what you should check out!

This Advice was Last Updated 2 months ago.

Over the last decade, the retail industry has been making a definite shift towards digital, mobile shopping hubs. The rise of eCommerce platforms has become more common. The expansion of these platforms has also broadened the efficiency and availability of almost every online retail enterprise. eCommerce has been benefitting large and small enterprises every day, Starting from providing a rigid structure for the front-end and back-end stores to stimulate the growth of new and existing businesses.

However, a new platform is added to the list almost every other day, and choosing one of them can either make or break your business‘s progress. Hence, to make the best use of your capital, you need to minutely think about the factors to consider before registering and maintaining your e-commerce store.

You have the option to choose between a free or a paid platform for building your online store. However, you are required to have some expertise to manage your store continuously on free platforms. This is already taken care of by paid ones. Many such differences exist between the two options and between platforms within each kind. Even the most minor difference can play a significant role in the fate of your eCommerce store.

To assist you with making the right choice, we will be reviewing the best eCommerce sites. Nonetheless, before jumping to the list, there are several features you should keep in mind before examining the platforms.

You must think about the goals and objectives of your store very carefully before moving on to the comparison. We will look at the best paid or premium e-commerce platforms and the top-class free or open-source eCommerce platforms. But first, let us go through some of the factors to consider before going to the comparisons and evaluations.

Factors to consider for the eCommerce platform

Price and Payment

Regardless of whether you are a small business, just starting, or an established store, which has recently decided to move online, pricing is a pressing issue to consider. You must be aware of precisely what you will be paying. Most platforms, after a free trial, will have a monthly fee. Some platforms are self-hosted, while some are pre-hosted. Costs vary depending on that, besides the costs associated with processing your store and orders. You need to prudently judge the pros and cons of each before deciding on the best option.

Besides that, you must also think about how your customers will be paying. While some platforms allow options of paying through third parties like PayPal, some do not. It can be inconvenient for some customers, and they might not progress with their orders due to frustration. Before you take any such risks, it is better to have a good overview of the forms of acceptable payment methods.

  1. SEO Compatibility

E-commerce businesses need to work on their search engine optimization (SEO) because having your online store ranked high in the search results is crucial to reach a broad audience. You want to reach anyone and everyone who is looking for the kind of products your store sells. But how to check SEO friendliness? A few tactics can be checking the option to add a blog to your website, the possibility to use your domain name, and one of the essential features – the possibility of customers leaving feedback or reviews.

  1. Integrations

Plugins and integrations are essential features in eCommerce platforms. Most top platforms have several tools available for your enterprise to use. Still, you need to decide which are most relevant and valuable.

When exploring the platform, think well about what tools your store requires or already uses. Some examples are accounting plugins to assist with sales, taxes, revenues, and profit, email marketing tools to stay in good touch with your customers, tools to reward customers for using your product or service, applications to assist in the shipment of your product, etc.

  1. Security

Does the platform look shady? If you were the customer, would you feel safe entering your credit card or bank details on this platform? Ask yourself these questions. Though most of the software in the world today is equipped with top-class security, it is wise to check if the platform supports HTTPS/SSL for safe and secure checkout options for your buyers. It is also essential to check that the platform complies with PCI (Payment Card Industry).

  1. Ease of Use

You must be careful about how simple or complicated it is to explore the site, find your store or your products. Is it mobile-friendly? According to statistics, 60% of online shopping or searches are conducted through mobile devices. Hence, it is essential to look for platforms that facilitate exploration and purchasing through the buyer’s mobile device besides having a customer-friendly interface.

  1. Customer Service

For any business, customer service is indispensable. When you are dealing with a store online, several things can go wrong- the server might be down for some time, creating a hurdle between your store and the buyer. Sometimes the worst software outage can occur when your customer is ordering your product. It is a threat not just to your revenue but also to your brand image. Hence, choosing a platform where you can receive rapid reactions from the support team or a helpline that your client can contact 24/7 without paying a lot for the call is helpful.

There are, of course, several other factors you need to look at when transitioning from a traditional store to an online store in an e-commerce platform. However, the features above are the most important determining factors. Now, let’s take a look at the different paid eCommerce platforms available and their details.

Best Paid E-commerce Platforms

We have successfully scoured the market and made a list of the five best-paid eCommerce platforms best for beginners with little or no experience setting up or managing an online store. However, these are also very suitable for experts. The platforms listed below are worth spending on, given the excellent assistance they provide to offer solutions for your business and set up your store fast. These platforms facilitate almost all the imperatives like dealing with payment processing, dealing with transactions, or manually sending out invoices.

It is essential to comprehend what each word refers to understand the ratings.

The performance score of the platform is based on the loading time of the storefront page, besides the Google speed, SEO properties, and rankings. Feature scores refer to the rating on the must-haves and the ‘nice to have’ marketing features of the platform. If these options are included in free plans, the platform receives a higher rating than those that come only with paid add-ons.

The ease of use is simple. It is based on how easy it is for a beginner to access the platform, the support available in the platform, involvement of the partners or the community, applications or plugins and their ratings, certified partners or community bases, and the friendliness of the platform towards a developer.

When we talk about integration, we look at the platform’s ability to sell across different distinguished channels such as Amazon, eBay, etc. We also look at the compatibility of the platform with different kinds of business models (such as drop-shipping) and other marketing automation. This factor is an essential indicator of the scalability of the business that registers on the platform in question.

Design and theme scores are understandable as well. We looked at how many free themes are available per platform, how many premium ones there are, the mobile design ratings of each platform, the Google mobile UX score, smartphone friendliness of the site, and the costs associated with the paid themes.

Product

Summary

Ratings

Wix

  • The best-rated e-commerce platform
  • No transaction fees involved
  • Over 500 free eCommerce templates available
  • You can add unlimited products and accounts
  • 24/7 customer support is available
  • Free Trial is possible
  • Easy to set up and use
  • SEO Performance is weak
  • Upselling capabilities are poor
  • Integrations with Amazon are still a challenge
  • Value: 5/ 5
  • Features: 3.7/ 5
  • Performance: 3.9/ 5
  • Ease of use: 4.2/ 5
  • Design and Themes: 4.7/ 5
  • Integrations: 3.5/ 5

Shopify

  • Features do not vary much between the different tier plans
  • Additional shipping discounts possible
  • You can add unlimited products
  • 24/7 support available through chat, email, and call
  • 14-day free trial
  • A limited number of free themes available
  • SEO Performance is weak
  • Apps can be expensive
  • Value: 4.0 / 5
  • Features: 3.8/ 5
  • Performance: 3.9/ 5
  • Ease of use: 4.9/ 5
  • Design and Themes: 4.0/ 5
  • Integrations: 4.6/ 5

Squarespace

  • The starting plan is quite cheap
  • Multiple free themes are available
  • You can add unlimited accounts and products
  • 14-day free trial
  • Weak customer support
  • Value: 3.0/ 5
  • Features: 3.0/ 5
  • Performance: 3.5/ 5
  • Ease of use: 3.8/ 5
  • Design and Themes: 4.3/ 5
  • Integrations: 2.5/ 5

Volusion

  • The on-boarding/ help center support is great
  • Subscription and recurring payments are included
  • SMB Friendly
  • Several plans available
  • Cross-selling is poor
  • Load times are slow
  • The site does not always look updated
  • Value: 3.0/ 5
  • Features: 3.5/ 5
  • Performance: 2.9/ 5
  • Ease of use: 4.1/ 5
  • Design and Themes: 3.7/ 5
  • Integrations: 3.5/ 5

BigCommerce

  • Flexible platform for convenient use
  • Amazing at multi-channel selling
  • SEO Performance is strong
  • No 1-Click Selling is possible
  • Loading speed is inconsistent
  • Value: 4.0/ 5
  • Features: 3.9/ 5
  • Performance: 4.5/ 5
  • Ease of use: 4.8/ 5
  • Design and Themes: 3.8/ 5
  • Integrations: 4.2/ 5

It is time for us to look into the aforementioned paid e-commerce platforms in more detail, considering the features each of these sites offer and the ones that best suit the store’s need.

  1. Wix

This eCommerce platform is one of the best-reviewed platforms for eCommerce. It is primarily because of the upfront way Wix facilitates the online store to build itself in the website. Empowering over 500,000 businesses worldwide, Wix is a pretty cost-effective platform where you can get hosting for your online store. It starts from $23 / month with an annual subscription.

What is even enjoyable is that Wix provides you the chance to choose from over 500 free, mobile-friendly templates and themes on e-commerce. You can create an online enterprise in over 90 languages, thereby having a higher global reach. Even with the cheapest plan, you can list unlimited products and accounts in your store here. However, you must know that subscription selling only starts with a higher tier plan (starting from $27/month).

Some of the essential features of Wix include the option of recovering an abandoned cart, being able to customize the checkout page, making wishlists, the availability of instant purchase buttons and loyalty programs alongside discount codes, etc. Besides, you get $300 worth of online advertisement credit besides useful online marketing tools. Moreover, Wix also supports multi-channel sales through social media like Facebook and Instagram and platforms such as eBay.

Wix is also one of the best options for small businesses that do not have access to professional web designers since it is easy to use and caters to the basic needs of the business very well.

The verticals of the platform include:

  1. Arts and Design
  2. Food and Beverages
  3. Beauty and Cosmetics
  4. Fashion and Apparel
  5. Sporting Goods
  6. Toys and Games

Pricing/ Plans

The pricing for eCommerce needs to be analyzed minutely before making up your mind on what to subscribe to, based on what you need for your site. The available options are:

  • eCommerce ($17/mo.)
  • VIP ($25/mo.)
  • Business Basic ($23/mo.)

o Free eCommerce templates are available

o Unlimited accounts and products can be listed

o 20GB of storage available

o Integration with Google Analytics available

  • Business Unlimited ($27/mo.)

o Everything in the Business Basic plan

o 35GB of storage available

o Subscription selling possible

o Automated sales tax (100 transactions/month)

o Advanced shipping options available

o Currency converter option available

o Facebook, Instagram, and eBay integrations

  • Business VIP ($35/mo.)
    • Everything in the Business Unlimited plan
    • 50GB of storage available
    • Automated sales tax (500 transactions/month)
    • Priority support available
    • Customized reports available
    • Loyalty program available
  • Enterprise ($500/mo.)

The first two plans (eCommerce and VIP) allow you to make your store on the site. However, it is only from the Business plans. Above that, you can process and collect payments, besides the availability of more site creation tools, storage space, and video time. Furthermore, the Enterprise plan provides you higher-level support and consultation. Also, you can subscribe to monthly, yearly, or bi-annual subscription plans. Also, there are no transaction fees per sale.

International options are not available.

Site construction features:

Even the cheapest plan of Wix offers some of the best features for making the site, which can be very useful for all businesses. These include:

· Digital products

· Product galleries

· Shipping options

· Discount codes

· Inventory management

· Abandoned cart recovery

· Mobile-optimized

· Payment options

· Other functionalities available via extensions

Support Availability:

Rating: A

The rating for customer support is based on how and by what means the support is available when using e-commerce. For Wix, the following options are available:

· Phone support

· Social media support

· Email support

· Community forums

· Online help center

The Business VIP plan offers you a priority pass for phone consultations.

Analytics

In-app analytics and Google analytics are integrated into this platform. The platform also gets you access to customizable reports, top products’ reports, and business insights. Again it varies in availability by the plans you choose.

To summarize the advantages and disadvantages of the Wix platform:

Pros:

· 72 free, mesmerizing themes.

· Convenient to use and setup

· On-page support for various needs

· Marketing automation is included

· 14-day money-back is guaranteed

· Free domain is available for the first year

· USPS shipping discounts are available due to partnership

· No transaction fees are involved

Cons:

· Poor SEO reputation

· Some of the sites are not secure

· No Live chat option available

  1. Shopify

Shopify is renowned for being the best eCommerce platform for selling. If your business is planning to focus on Facebook advertisements and Instagram marketing, this will be a perfect choice. Though the platform is not the best in terms of SEO and for creating a large store with many products, it has the upper hand in post-purchase 1-click upsells. It has one of the fastest loading times, and the practicality of setting up makes it a popular choice. The platform now supports over 1million businesses across 175 countries, varied in size and industries.

Shopify fits well with beginners and small to medium-sized businesses that need assistance in setting up their stores. Most of the required facilities are pre-integrated into the platform. These include storefront design, content marketing, and performance analytics. It is effortless to have the basic setup. Upgrading your store using third-party extensions is also an easy process.

The verticals of the platform include:

  1. Consumer Electronics
  2. Food and Beverage
  3. Beauty and Cosmetics
  4. Fashion and Apparel
  5. Home Furnishing

Pricing/ Plans

The available options are:

  • Basic Shopify ($29/mo.)

o You can create two accounts

o Shipping discount up to 64% is possible

o Online credit card fee 2.9% + 30¢ or 2% using other providers

  • Shopify ($79/mo.)

o You can create five accounts

o Shipping discount up to 72% is possible

o Online credit card fee 2.6% + 30¢ or 1% using other providers

  • E-commerce reports are available.
  • Advanced Shopify ($299/mo.)

You can create o 15 accounts

o Shipping discount up to 74% is possible

o Online credit card fee 2.4% + 30¢ or 0.5% using other providers

  • Custom reports are possible
  • Third-party shipping rate calculations are possible

You can also take a free trial for 14 days before subscribing. During this time, no credit card is required.

International options for Canada, UK, and Ireland are available.

Site construction features:

  • Unlimited product listings
  • Custom domains
  • Real-time sales statistics
  • Inventory tracking
  • AI/Personalization
  • Over 70 themes/templates available

Support Availability:

Rating: A+

The rating for customer support is based on how and by what means the support is available when using e-commerce. For Shopify, the following options are available:

· Phone support

· 24/7 chat support

· Community forums

· Online help center

The usability of Shopify is simple and easy to learn due to the extensive support resources available, the codeless store building tools, and the intuitive interface.

Analytics

Analytics support is available in the Shopify eCommerce platform in the dashboard, product reports, export reports, google analytics, and traffic/referral reports.

Pros:

· Super-fast loading time

· Very easy and convenient to set up

· Lots of certified partners available to help you

· 1-Click selling option available

· multiple channels and social media selling available

· Wide variety of themes available

· 24/7 live support available

· 14-day free trial available

· In-house payment platform

Cons:

· SEO improvements are highly required

· Not customizable checkout process

· Apps can be expensive

· Only nine free themes are available

  1. Squarespace

One of the most outstanding facilities provided by Squarespace is the drag-and-drop. Since 2003, this eCommerce platform became increasingly popular given its unique design capabilities and perfect templates. If you are not in search of a platform with too many features, try out Squarespace. For instance, if you print on demand eCommerce business, this will be your perfect fit.

Besides being convenient and straightforward to set up, it is the perfect option for simple stores because of the low starting plans. However, to start selling, you need to at least be on the Business website plan. The price is pretty low, but this platform includes 3% transaction fees.

The website has been reviewed not to have a simple web design part. The drag and drop editor can be difficult for beginners. However, once you are past that phase, you can surely enjoy access to marketing, inventory, social media selling options, SEO, and several other analytics features.

The verticals of the platform include:

  1. Arts and Design
  2. Food and Beverage
  3. Beauty and Cosmetics
  4. Fashion and Apparel
  5. Toys and Games

Pricing/ Plans

The available options are:

· Personal ($16/mo.)

· Business ($26/mo.)

o Free templates are available

o Unlimited contributors and products can be listed

o Website analytics available

o A 3% transaction fee is charged

· Basic Commerce ($30/mo.)

o Everything from the Business plan is included

o You can create customer accounts

o Additional eCommerce analytics is possible

o No transaction fee is charged

o On-domain checkout process available

· Advanced Commerce ($46/mo.)

  • Everything in Basic Commerce plan is included
  • Abandoned cart recovery is possible
  • Subscription selling is possible
  • You can do the automatic shipping rate calculation

However, only the Business plan and above allows you to sell. A 3% transaction fee applies for any purchase made in the store. You can also take free trials before subscribing. During this time, no credit card is required.

International options are not available.

Site construction features:

  • Abandon cart auto-recovery
  • Digital products listing options
  • Personalized products listing options
  • Product import/export option
  • Real-time shipping rates and tracking
  • SEO tools
  • Upselling and cross-selling
  • Gift cards
  • Automatic discounts
  • Limited integration options

Support Availability:

Rating: B+

The rating for customer support is based on how and by what means the support is available when using e-commerce. For Squarespace, the following options are available:

· 24/7 Twitter support

· 24/7 email support

· Live Chat options (Monday to Friday)

· Online help center

· Community forums

Given its easy design interface, Squarespace is easy to manage. You can organize and modify your store with little or no experience. However, you must be aware that there are not many add-ons available by default.

Analytics

Default builder analytics are available. However, it serves a very general-purpose, and the availability of eCommerce-specific reports is very little.

Pros:

· Very simple to set up and explore

· Perfect fit for simple stores

· Stunning Designs available

· Solid SEO tools available

· Integrates with ShipStation and ShipBob

· Free domain is available for the 1st year

· 14 days free trial included

Cons:

· No drop shipping option

· No marketing automation integration

· Could be faster for the price

  1. Volusion

Founded in 1999, Volusion is one of the oldest and stable eCommerce platforms in the world. Despite being old, it is a stable and popular platform, competing with so many new ones. It consists of over 30,000 stores and has generated over $28 billion through sales.

It is most suitable as an eCommerce platform for start-ups and small businesses who need a quick start and want to explore the room to grow within their chosen plan. Unlike many other platforms, Volusion does not need you to go through an app store to get started. All the integral features are already part of the standard dashboard. This platform successfully serves most of the needs of the businesses in several ways.

Volusion is known to have a top-class on-boarding or help center and allows subscriptions or recurring payments. It is SMB friendly as well. It is considered a robust, cheaper alternative to many high-end eCommerce platforms. However, it is not suitable if your business is print on demand. Cross-selling or up-selling is also not suitable for this platform. Moreover, you have to pay a high price for Amazon integration.

The verticals of the platform include:

  1. Consumer Electronics
  2. Food and Beverages
  3. Beauty and Cosmetics
  4. Fashion and Apparel
  5. Home Furnishing
  6. Sporting Goods

Pricing/ Plans

The available options are:

· Personal ($29/mo.)

o You can make one contributor account

You can list o 100 products

o Social media integrations possible

o Online Support is available

· Professional ($79/mo.)

o You can make five contributor accounts

You can list o 5000 products

o Reports for abandoned carts available

o Online support is available

o Phone support is available

· Business ($299/mo.)

You can make o 15 contributor accounts

o You can list unlimited products

o Advanced reports available

o Priority support is available

o Amazon and eBay integrations are allowed

o 3rd party shipping rates and payment gateways are available

· Custom (contact vendor)

No transaction fee is involved. You can also take free trials before subscribing. During this time, no credit card is required. However, standard credit card fees apply to transactions. You can unlock Amazon and eBay integrations, third-party gateways, higher levels of support, and batch processing only at the Business or Custom plan tiers.

International options are not available.

Site construction features:

· Secure checkout availability

· Drag and drop builder

· Free and paid themes availability

· Secure payments availability

· Inventory management included

· Discounts and coupons options

· Automatic tax calculator

· SEO tools availability

· Social media integrations possible

· Ratings and reviews visible

· SKU import/export possible

· Abandoned cart reporting

Support Availability:

Rating: B

The rating for customer support is based on how and by what means the support is available when using eCommerce. For Volusion, the following supports are available:

  • Phone Support
  • Live chat via social media
  • Community forums
  • Online help centers

Though easy to set up, it might look and function as very outdated compared to the more recent platforms. However, it is improving every day in functionality and interface to keep up with today’s market.

Analytics

Google Analytics and Salesforce are two analytics options available in this e-commerce platform.

Pros:

· Top class on-boarding and customer care support

· Built-in Subscription/Recurring Payments

· SMB Friendly

· No transaction fees involved

· 11 free themes available

You can access · 24/7 support

· 14-day free trial possible

Cons:

· You are not able to sell automatic digital downloads

· Up/cross-selling features are not available

· Starting plan is expensive ($26/mo.)

· Website hosting is not included

  1. BigCommerce

Founded in 2009, BigCommerce houses tens of thousands of B2B and B2C companies across 150 countries. BigCommerce scores high when reviewing the best-paid eCommerce platforms due to its highly flexible and scalable site, which excels in multi-channel selling and has a strong SEO performance. However, it is known to have inconsistent loading speeds, and no 1-click selling option is available.

If you are a large retail brand, this is the best fit for you, given its vital search engine operator facilities. Whether you are just starting your store or want to expand your business, BigCommerce promises to help you become successful.

The relatively simple interface lets you customize your online store without knowing to code. Several themes, templates, and customizable designs are available. However, if you enjoy HTML and CSS, you can tweak these exceptional designs to make your store look even better. It is rated high in ease of use because of the setup friendliness it offers. Nonetheless, among the templates, most are not free; only seven free themes are available.

The verticals of the platform include:

  1. Automotive
  2. B2B (wholesale and distribution)
  3. Food and Beverages
  4. Beauty and Cosmetics
  5. Fashion and Apparel
  6. Home Furnishing
  7. Sporting Goods
  8. CBD

Pricing/ Plans

The available options are:

  • BigCommerce Standard ($29.95/mo.)
  • BigCommerce Plus ($79.95/mo.)
  • BigCommerce Pro ($299.95/mo.)
  • BigCommerce Enterprise (available upon request)

No transaction fee is involved. Furthermore, a 10% discount is available if you choose to take the Plus and the Pro options on a yearly payment scale. You can also take free trials before subscribing. During this time, no credit card is required.

International options are available.

Site construction features (in the Standard Option):

  • Custom domains construction
  • Unlimited product listings
  • Unlimited bandwidth and file storage
  • Multi-currency sales
  • Reporting
  • Ratings and reviews visibility
  • Gift cards
  • 12 free themes and 160+ paid themes
  • Integrations with shipping and POS software
  • Page builder

Support Availability:

Rating: A+

The rating for customer support is based on how and by what means the support is available when using e-commerce. For BigCommerce, the following supports are available:

  • 24-hour live chat (for all plan types, including trials)
  • Phone support (for all plan types, including trials)
  • Email support (for all plan types, including trials)
  • Community forums
  • Online help center

BigCommerce is a good competition in terms of usability for the world of eCommerce platforms. BigCommerce has new things to offer with several unique features and hence a different learning curve than the other platforms. It provides ease of use by allowing you to easily edit and modify SEO-related features like customizing URLs, page headers, etc. It also can sell in multiple currencies.

Analytics

The availability of analytics is pretty sound for BigCommerce. Dashboard, product reports, export reports, export reports, google analytics, traffic or referral reports, and additional app integration are available.

Pros:

· Flexible and scalable platform

· Excels with multi-channel selling

· Strong SEO Performance has been demonstrated

· Fantastic Theme Designs are available

· Strong abandoned cart feature

Cons:

· Inconsistent speeds can be annoying

· No 1-click Selling/Upselling facilities

Best Free or Open-source eCommerce Platforms

We have talked about the best-paid eCommerce platforms that take care of most of the imperatives you need to build and manage your online store fast. However, what if you do not want to spend your capital on any such platform? There are several excellent free, open-source e-commerce platforms available. However, you will require web hosting and a domain name ready in place for these platforms to work.

With these, you can then set up a free platform through your web hosting panels, such as the cPanel, using 1-click-installation. On the other hand, you can also set them up manually. We have successfully scoured the market and made a list of the four best free, open-source e-commerce platforms, taking into account some of the essential features mentioned at the start of this article.

Product

Summary

Ratings

WooCommerce (Free)

  • Consists of a simple WordPress Interface
  • A lot of free themes available
  • In-house Payment platform available
  • You will have access to support forums
  • They have a 30-day money-back guarantee
  • You have limited freedom
  • Value: 3.0/ 5
  • Features: 3.0/ 5
  • Performance: 3.5/ 5
  • Ease of use: 3.8/ 5
  • Design and Themes: 4.3/ 5
  • Integrations: 2.5/ 5

Magento Open Source (Free)

  • Lots of freedom in terms of development
  • Very popular
  • Consists of a clean marketplace
  • You will have access to support forums
  • Not best for beginners, you need to have some intermediate experience
  • The paid version is expensive
  • Value: 3.5/ 5
  • Features: 4.4/ 5
  • Performance: 2.8/ 5
  • Ease of use: 2.2/ 5
  • Design and Themes: 3.7/ 5
  • Integrations: 3.6/ 5

PrestaShop (Free)

  • Houses a strong community
  • Available in 75 languages, reaching all around the globe
  • In-house fraud detection facility available
  • You will have access to support forums
  • Free Themes are hidden
  • Value: 4.0/ 5
  • Features: 2.6/ 5
  • Performance: 2.9/ 5
  • Ease of use: 2.9/ 5
  • Design and Themes: 3.2/ 5
  • Integrations: 2.9/ 5

OpenCart (Free)

  • Several free extensions are available
  • Shipping methods are well integrated
  • Consists of 36 Payment gateways
  • You will have access to support forums
  • The marketplace does not look exactly clean
  • Value: 4.0/ 5
  • Features: 3.0/ 5
  • Performance: 3.5/ 5
  • Ease of use: 2.9/ 5
  • Design and Themes: 3.2/ 5
  • Integrations: 2.9/ 5

It is time for us to look into the open-source, free eCommerce platforms in more detail, considering the features each of these sites offers and the ones that best suit the store’s need.

  1. WooCommerce (Free)

WooCommerce is a free, open-source plugin for WordPress-based websites. It means, though WooCommerce is entirely free to get started with, you need to have website hosting and WordPress already set up. You can choose to enhance your online shop with paid extensions, integrations, or themes for your store outlook.

WooCommerce also comes with many free themes that you can use to customize your online store the way you prefer. You can buy premium themes to make your store appear unique and different from free theme users.

You are also allowed to set up several payment options from credit card integrations with Stripe, PayPal, etc. Since WooCommerce also has its internal in-house payment platform, the WooCommerce Payment, you can sign up here with no setup charges or monthly fees. With this, you can accept credit or debit cards with a charge of 2.9% + 30 cents for each transaction with a credit card issued in the USA. For cards outside the USA, an additional 1% fee applies.

The WordPress interface also lets you manage all the tax calculations, shipping rates, and inventory management. Furthermore, you can easily integrate your WooCommerce store with Google Analytics to keep a soundtrack of your records.

The support forum available in the WooCommerce platform is pretty strong. However, since the platform hardly involves any cost, you can expect to handle most things on your own or hire an external programmer for particular issues. Moreover, the 30-day money-back guarantee makes WooCommerce a popular choice among customers.

The verticals of the platform include:

  1. Consumer Electronics
  2. Food and Beverages
  3. Beauty and Cosmetics
  4. Fashion and Apparel
  5. Home Furnishing

International options are available.

Site construction features:

  • Mobile-optimized shopping
  • Geo-location support
  • Catalog management
  • Inventory management
  • Shipping options and calculator
  • Search engine optimization
  • Coupons and discounts
  • Product reviews

Support Availability:

Rating: C

The rating for customer support is based on how and by what means the support is available when using eCommerce. For WooCommerce, the following supports are available:

  • Live Chats
  • Community forums
  • Online help center

Analytics:

WooCommerce comes with Google Analytics integration and has third-party plugins available

Pros:

· WordPress is the best platform for SEO, so WooCommerce has a strong SEO

· 1-Click selling application is available here

· Lots of WordPress experts available for support

· Very customizable platform

· Several marketing options and plenty of other integrations possible

· 30-day money-back guaranteed

· Support forum is available

· In-house payment platform

Cons:

· Good hosting can be pricey

· You need extensions for simple stuff

  1. Magento Open Source (Free)

It is one of the most popular open-source, free eCommerce platforms in the world. Established in 2009 and upgraded to Magento 2.0 in 2015, the platform has been improved with a more robust code base and increased usability, alongside stability features. It also has a paid version named Magento Commerce.

Magento is the best for businesses ranging from small to medium size, which have already established some demand and have enough strength and skill to build their site or store. It is a pretty powerful platform with over 5000 extensions available. However, it requires longer to be developed and requires a bigger budget when compared to its competitors.

The verticals of the platform include:

  1. Consumer Electronics
  2. Food and Beverages
  3. Beauty and Cosmetics
  4. Fashion and Apparel
  5. Home Furnishing
  6. Sporting goods

Magento Open Source is free to download and use. However, as stated before, you must be ready to pay for everything else related to website hosting, development, themes, add-ons, etc.

International options are available.

Site construction features:

  • Integrated checkout, payment, and shipping features available
  • Mobile-optimized shopping is available
  • Global selling possible
  • Catalog management available
  • Extended Functionality via App marketplace possible
  • Instant purchase options exist
  • Site searches possible
  • Customization options available

Support Availability:

Rating: D

The rating for customer support is based on how and by what means the support is available when using eCommerce. For Magento Open Source, support is almost non-existent.

Analytics

You can expect analytics options with integrations and add-ons.

Pros:

· Freedom to develop the way you want

· Very clean marketplace

· Very popular and widely used

· Robust and rich in features

· Strong SEO available

· 1- Click Selling Apps are available

Cons:

· Themes can be pricey

· Requires development skills and intermediate management experience

  1. PrestaShop (Free)

PrestaShop is one of the most common open-source platforms, which consists of a robust community. It is regularly going through updates, improvements, and bug fixes, besides upgraded versions. Furthermore, it is available in 75 languages, thereby ensuring a more extensive reach globally.

This e-commerce platform also offers a mobile-friendly and mobile-optimized interface, whereby you can choose among various themes. If you want your store to stand out from the free theme users, you can buy storefront themes for $69.99. However, there is a broader range of free themes available from the forums. These do not appear in the official marketplace.

You can install payment gateways in several integrations. Some of the free possibilities come through PayPal, Skrill, and Blockonomics Bitcoin Payments add-on. Furthermore, the platform is integrated with in-house fraud detection, which you can add free of charge.

In the store’s dashboard, you may add modules and customize them. In their marketplace, you can access free modules for live chat plugins, shipping options, marketing tools, reports, etc. There are over 50 free modules for you to choose from and add to your online shop.

The verticals of the platform include:

  1. Consumer Electronics
  2. Food and Beverages
  3. Beauty and Cosmetics
  4. Fashion and Apparel

Site construction features:

  • Quick product creation and configuration
  • Inventory Tracking available
  • Global selling possible
  • Catalog management available
  • Instant purchase options exist
  • Customization options available

Support Availability:

Rating: B

The rating for customer support is based on how and by what means the support is available when using e-commerce. For PrestaShop, email support and online contact form submission options exist.

Analytics

You can expect analytics options with integrations and add-ons.

Pros:

· Easy to set up

· Store customization is pretty easy

· Extensive built-in marketing tools available:

· Special offers

· Discount mode

· Coupon codes

· Free shipping

· Email marketing

· Gift wrapping

· Affiliate programs

· You can keep in touch with customers via automated emails

· The community is pretty strong

· Available in 75 languages

· In-house fraud detection in the system

· Support forum is available

Cons:

· Slow load times

· Apps can become expensive

· No multi-channel functionalities on hosted versions

· Free themes are hidden

  1. OpenCart (Free)

OpenCart is easy to set up and use an open-source eCommerce platform, which currently houses over 342,000 eCommerce businesses. The platform is well-equipped with several built-in features and a very detailed library of free extensions.

The platform functions well on mobiles. It is mobile-optimized, and you can choose whether you want to use a free or a paid theme. The latter might be a good option if you plan to make your store stand out from the free theme users. Opencart’s marketplace consists of over 13,000 modules and themes. Some are free, while some have to be purchased.

In all honest opinion, the marketplace is not entirely neat. You might want to check out the ratings and comments before you decide to register your store here.

You are allowed to add unlimited physical or digital products with both one-time and subscription selling methods. The OpenCart platform also provides you the choice between guest and registered user checkout by default.

It has 36 integrated payment gateways, out of which you can choose what you want: Authorize.Net, Amazon Payments, First Data, Klarna, LiqPay, Skrill, PayPal, SagePay, and many more. The platform also has integrated shipping methods with Australia Post, Citylink, FedEx, Parcelforce, Royal Mail, UPS, and USPS.

The management of your store in this platform is also quite upfront for managing products, customers, orders, tax rules, and promo codes. The admin dashboard gives an overview of your online store’s performance. Besides, you can get a default sales report, analyze the viewed products, and purchase products as a platform’s built-in facility.

OpenCart also has free community support with forums and valuable guides for setting up and running your online store.

You can also choose a paid dedicated commercial support option with a price starting at $99/month per site.

The verticals of the platform include:

  1. Consumer Electronics
  2. Food and Beverages
  3. Beauty and Cosmetics
  4. Fashion and Apparel

Site construction features:

  • Quick product creation and configuration
  • Inventory Tracking available
  • Report and analysis of sales available
  • Catalog management available
  • Customization options available

Support Availability:

Rating: C

The rating for customer support is based on how and by what means the support is available when using e-commerce. For OpenCart, the only form of support is through the online community forum.

Analytics

You can expect analytics options with integrations and add-ons. There is also built-in analysis of your sales, viewed products, etc., available.

Pros:

· Easy to set up

· Several free extensions available

· Several shipping methods are integrated

· Support forum available

· There are 36 payment gateways

Cons:

· The marketplace is very messy

Besides the price associated with registering your business in an eCommerce platform, there are several other ways to determine which platform to choose. These are discussed below.

Best eCommerce Platform for Small Business

If you are a small business, please be aware that you will not require extensive features which can be heavy on your budget. Besides the cost, the platform’s pricing structure needs to be prudently evaluated. Monthly, yearly and other fees need to be well considered.

When reviewing, we also considered the scalability of the platforms. It is what looks at the features that can help your website grow. Once your sales have shot up, you will want to scale up your operations through multi-channeling, cross-sell, or to sell in other countries. It means you will want applications that allow your business to scale up.

Our recommendation for this:

  1. BigCommerce
  2. WooCommerce
  3. Wix

Best eCommerce Platform for Start-ups and Beginners

With the e-commerce market booming, people are becoming more and more drawn towards creating an online platform to connect their customers to their products. Like small businesses, start-ups also require a platform that will allow them to scale up quickly and make themselves noticed among existing businesses.

You might be entering the market where there are already big players. It means you need more space to grow and choose a platform that provides you with that room for growth.

There is some functionality that start-ups need to bloom. These include SEO, a suitable UX design, marketing inputs, and the ability to sell on multiple platforms, including social networks and mobile devices.

The start-ups and beginners need to have ease of use in launching and running the store without having to call a web developer for everything. In such stages, we would prefer to give extra points to the platforms that can be set up and run without programming knowledge.

Our recommendation:

  1. BigCommerce
  2. WooCommerce
  3. Shopify

Best eCommerce Platform for SEO

Search Engine Optimization is essential for eCommerce businesses. If your users cannot discover your website through a search engine, you have lost the game. Many platforms offer several SEO tools to help boost your site. Some do not. Some are better than others.

In the following chart, we rank the best e-commerce platforms for SEO based on some criteria:

  • The page load time
  • Mobile and desktop speed
  • SEO
  • Average traffic of top online stores in each platform

Product

Load Time

Mobile Speed

Desktop Speed

Average SEO Traffic

Shopify

1.3

63

75

11717

BigCommerce

2.2

63

80

33626

WooCommerce

3.4

42

52

72968

Volusion

3.5

48

56

15779

Magento

4.8

39

43

19408

PrestaShop

4.62

50

52

33851

Squarespace

3.5

42

63

568

Wix

3.2

69

81

543

SEO-friendly URLs are imperative. Short, relevant URLs are an important ranking factor for usability. Hence, SEO is a top priority. Load time is a pretty good indicator of how fast the site is. It is just a measure of how long it takes to load the site or navigate one tab to another. Each second you gain in a site translates to your sales increasing.

If you are running a self-hosted platform, you can optimize the site for speed. It does require a lot of time and effort from you, and let us not forget the expertise this calls for. Price can become an issue, too, because optimizing costs money and time.

Our Recommendations:

  1. WooCommerce
  2. BigCommerce
  3. Magento

Best eCommerce Platform for large Dropshipping

Before you choose drop-shipping, please be aware that in drop-shipping, you lack control of many things. These include product quality and returns. You have to bear several technicalities in mind when dealing with tracking and managing orders that leave fast, especially if you want to dominate the supply of the products.

When we decided to evaluate platforms for drop-shipping, there are several features we decided to look at. These include:

  • The ability to sync with the supplier’s inventory
  • Support of several drop-shipping plugins
  • Automation facilities for different suppliers or SKUs for the same product
  • Ability to track the order from both the supplier’s and the customer’s end
  • Free or paid drop-shipping integration

We reached a conclusion to recommend:

  1. Shopify
  2. BigCommerce

Best eCommerce Platform for local simple stores

Most simple local shops need a simple primary store. You do not require a rich platform. It means you can safely ignore marketing automatons or multi-channel selling features. Hence, we looked at the ability and ease of creating a website and adding a payment gateway to evaluate the best option. You can also leave out advertising facilities and shopping cart recovery options.

Our recommendations:

  1. Shopify
  2. Wix

Best eCommerce Platform for large enterprises

When running a large e-commerce business, you might want to take over the entire control and server autonomy. It means you should start buying a dedicated server or VPS from a web hosting company. You can then set up your store there.

A platform like BigCommerce can serve the purpose of setting it up but not bothering yourself with hosting technicalities.

For large enterprises, orders range between hundreds and thousands in a week. It means large businesses need a platform that gives them enough flexibility to connect software, reduce errors, and integrate their warehouse management and other inventory systems. You may also want to look at platforms that allow multiple currency transactions and the integration of Google services.

Our recommendations:

  1. BigCommerce
  2. Magento

Best eCommerce Platform in terms of design

Though often ignored, this is an essential thing to consider for your platform. Your site must be able to deliver a satisfying, rich, and smooth experience to attract customers to visit your store, make them stay and explore, and eventually convince them to buy.

However, you do not have to go over complicated with design. It can lead to your store slowing down with a longer loading time. In turn, this will annoy your visitors. Thus, you must choose a lightweight design that can also keep customers hooked on your site. The same applies to the navigation and checkout process.

When scouring the market to find platforms with the best design, we looked at a few relevant features. These include design and theme rating, visual design rating, mobile UX, cost of Premium themes in USD, and the number of free themes available.

Product

Design & Theme

Visual Design

Mobile UX

Premium Themes ($)

# of Free Themes

Shopify

4

5

97

140

9

BigCommerce

3.8

5

94

150

12

WooCommerce

4.3

3

97

39

1000

Volusion

3.7

4

92

180

18

Magento

3.7

5

5

300

1

PrestaShop

3.2

4

94

29

0

Squarespace

4.3

5

5

100

14

Wix

4.7

5

92

0

72

Customization is one of the essential features to look out for. The drag and drop builder plugin can be a potent tool when combining it with BigCommerce or WooCommerce plugin. Starting with creating price tables and lists, product widgets, customizing your checkout page, tracking order sections, or mobile view optimization, you can do advanced tweaks without code.

Furthermore, you must be careful about the theme you select. Suppose you are a beginner at programming. You are on a platform that does not allow many options for developers to re-code. In that case, you need to think and check the available themes prudently. Choosing a layout that can meet the need and expectations of both you and your customers is very important. Sometimes, spending on premium themes can be a very worthwhile investment.

As mentioned many times, mobile-friendliness is an essential feature for consumers. Why so? Because 66% of the time spent on online shopping is done using mobile phones, 82% of smartphone users are prone to turning to their devices to shop online or decide what to buy. Hence, e-retailers better spend well on this.

Some of the most important factors to consider when trying to please mobile using customers or to keep them hooked at your site are listed below:

  1. Configuration of the viewport
  2. Legibility of the font used in the site
  3. Usage of compatible plugins
  4. Content of the viewport
  5. Size of the links on the page
  6. The proximity of the links on the site

Our recommendation:

  1. Wix

Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

Now that we have looked at the best picks for both paid and open-source, free e-commerce platforms, you must also think about the frequently asked questions that can pop up in your head before choosing the platform for your online store.

Let’s start with the FAQ:

1. How can I make the PERFECT FAQ page for my store?

A perfect FAQ page is all you need to get your customer’s highest level of satisfaction. To assist you in the process, we are here with some of the most relevant questions.

Before jumping to the right questions, it is essential to consider the correct steps in doing so.

Step 1: Decide where you want the FAQ page to appear and how you can navigate there.

You must ask yourself, before anything else, where to put the FAQ of my store? It would be best if you remembered that your business would grow (fingers crossed) and also the questions asked by your clients. Hence, it is wise to consider placing them in an area that can allocate enough space for all those questions. You might be tempted at the start to have a small section for FAQ.

Furthermore, you should think well about where you want your FAQ navigation link to be displayed or visible on your homepage. It requires you to think a bit strategically because there are several options open to you. Remember, the FAQ is there to assist your client and hence needs to be easily accessible. So, you either want the link in your primary navigation menu bar or, if you think your primary navigation bar is too cluttered, you can choose to place it as a logical drop-down to customer support option.

Finally, you must ensure that the product relevant to the FAQ is also well linked to it.

Step 2: Brainstorm how to format your FAQ for maximum success and SEO boost

You must craft your FAQ page efficiently and very well. You must ensure it matches the outlook of your brand, your site, and your style and is easy to explore. If your store involves selling simple products that do not require much explanation, you can have a shortlist of questions.

However, suppose you are selling complicated products that can require answers to many questions. In that case, you have to consider how you want the FAQ to be structured. They can be structured using tabs, drop-down headings, or links to more detailed questions. Some examples can be as follows:

  1. Main FAQ Page with links to various questions: at this moment, the FAQ page will link to several headlines, which you can neatly display under the headings that are easy to find and explore.
  2. One-Page FAQ: this is a simple one-page display of the most frequently asked queries of clients
  3. Drop Arrow One-Page FAQ Page: This option makes FAQ easy to go through for your customers.
  4. Combination FAQ pages for high-volume product stores: at this moment, you can use menu links and search to make navigation to all questions and products more accessible.

One pro-tip for working towards improving SEO would be using question keywords and elaborating the most-asked questions. You may also choose to make a landing page for your top queries. It can be helpful also to send page links within your customer service and streamline the process of answering them.

Step 3: Treat the FAQ as part of the journey

Regardless of what formatting you choose for your FAQ page, you must bear in mind that the FAQ needs to lead somewhere. For instance, if the question was related to returns, you should link the answer to the returns page. Similarly, if the question deals with shipping, it should link to a page displaying shipping methods and costs. In every part of the site, you have to keep holding on to the shopper’s attention, keep traffic on your site and create a logical journey for them when they check out the answer to the FAQ.

To summarize, your FAQ should also act as a funnel for sales. you should lead the potential shoppers towards the next stage: buying through these FAQs.

Step 4: Make sure your FAQ is searchable

User-friendliness is the secret behind the success of many businesses. Want to make your FAQ extremely attractive and convenient for your users? Then, make the questions searchable. It is especially relevant if you have too many questions on your site.

you can do it by adjusting the code in some of the platforms or by adding certain available apps associated with the platform. These usually also facilitate adding FAQs to the product pages. One famous free app is the Help Centre which you can use in these situations.

Step 5: Research the right questions and place them in a proper strategic manner.

It is when you need to think like your buyer. Once you have taken care of the technicalities of your business, you need to do your homework about what questions your FAQ section will answer. It is imperative to understand and know your potential customers, their needs, mentality, and what they might ask.

You need to reach out to customer support, social media, and store comments and surveys to find these questions and to answer them accordingly. First, it can be an idea to group the questions from the same or similar topics and make sure those questions follow one after another in a logical order.

Finding the perfect orderlies is the secret of understanding the shoppers’ needs and the trend of your sales funnel. You cannot please all customers. You need to test this out in different orders and see which serves the most amounts of your potential buyers.

An example of a natural, logical ordering for your FAQ is as follows:

  • When will I receive my item?
  • Where do you ship from?
  • How can I return or exchange my item?
  • What is the return policy?
  • The color looks slightly different in reality than the pictures
  • I am facing trouble entering the voucher/ discount code, or I forgot to enter it
  • I am facing trouble with the website
  • Size Guides: what fits me?
  • Where do you get your items from?
  • Where are the items made?
  • How can I track my order?
  • Can I cancel or change my order?
  • Do you ship internationally?
  • What are your shipping costs and options?
  • Are my payment details secure?

These questions need to follow a natural progression for the ease of the audience while remaining concise and straightforward. You must remember to end the FAQ with a call to action to push the potential customer to go further along the young sales channel.

When writing the FAQ, you must also keep a few things in mind.

  • Give a clear answer to the questions asked
  • Avoid answers which may diminish or not encourage trust
  • Include the links to other relevant pages and products
  • Order them by relevance, importance, and similarity
  • Try to keep them as questions, not as statements
  • Do not put questions that are not frequent
  • Ensure that the list includes only questions which are must-haves
  • Keep your FAQ up to date

Step 6: Consider adding visuals to add value to your FAQ page

You can set yourself apart by adding visuals to your FAQ page. It gives a professional touch to your FAQ. Furthermore, they make it easy to navigate through your FAQ page.

You can also simply add some product visuals to make the page and product extra visible and stand out from the crowd.

Step 7: Remain on-brand and on-point

It is essential to maintain the right tone in the FAQ. Be as straightforward as possible. However, you also need to make sure that what you are saying matches your brand’s voice and your products. The language should be in proper sync with the other areas of the store. Check and develop it precisely to match the need and expectations of your ideal potential customer.

2. Why is it essential for any business owner to create an e-commerce site?

Physical stores have started to become less popular nowadays. Online shopping is the new norm. People have started to gain confidence with online shopping and prefer to browse on their electronic devices instead of wasting time walking to the store, which might be far away or not available locally. Having an eCommerce site for your business will help you attract the market base, keep your potential clients informed about all your updates, and even increase your profit margins by cutting down costs of utilities, maintenance, and rent associated with a physical store.

3. How can I choose the best platform for my e-commerce business website?

It has been discussed from the start of this article and has been elaborated on above. To summarize, before getting started with your e-commerce web development, you need to consider the few fundamental elements that can help you choose the perfect fit for your store.

It starts with the items you sell in your store. Some platforms allow or handle inventory tracking and multiple product options, while some do not. Check which design layout speaks most to you. Payment gateways, security of the site, integration with other tools, features of the platform, and pricing are all imperatives to keep in mind as well.

  • What products are you selling? Small or Large inventory? Digital or Physical?
  • How much growth are you anticipating?
  • How much control do you want? Are you lost without a hosted site or prefer a self-hosted site?
  • What is your budget?
  • How do you expect your customers to pay?
  • Is it SEO-friendly?
  • How secure is the site?
  • How flexible do you need the web design to be?
  • Does it allow customers to leave reviews on your products?
  • What essential plugins and integrations are allowed in the platform?
  • What are the marketing features offered by the platform?
  • How is the site speed affected?
  • Is there a free trial?
  • Does it support mobile devices?
  • What happens if you need support?

Conclusion:

By now, you must have already realized that there is no 100% perfect platform for eCommerce. However, if you have to narrow down the choices, this list will be your friend. Choosing the best site builder is highly dependent on your needs and expectations.

To recommend a few front runners, we want to start with BigCommerce. By far, it is the best overall platform for any business model amidst the paid options and performs pretty well for SEO. We also have WooCommerce catching up with market toppers like Shopify, especially in terms of features and apps. It is quite the best choice for private or white label e-commerce sites. Furthermore, if you are looking for affiliate marketing, this has a strong point.

For drop-shipping, including a print of demand, Shopify is the winner we name. Wix is suitable for simple stores. If you are a solo entrepreneur or small business owner, Wix might as well be your best choice.

Most eCommerce platforms do a good job, but it is always good to think before committing yourself and putting the future of your business in the hand of a site. Reading this article, we hope you will feel confident and well-equipped with everything you need to know to make this commitment. The best e-commerce platform is waiting for your business to flourish!

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