Setting up an e-commerce platform is a necessary step if you want to sell goods online or if you are going to expand and advertise your brick-and-mortar store on the web. Whether your online business sells services, physical goods, or digital products, you need to have an e-commerce platform to operate successfully. Fortunately for you, finding the best e-commerce platform has never been so easy, as there are unlimited options from which to choose.
In this guide, we will go through some of the best eCommerce platforms for your online business. We will also address some frequent questions related to e-commerce platforms.
Why Your Business Needs an e-Commerce Platform
e-Commerce platforms are websites for online shopping or any other form of commercial transactions conducted online. What makes e-commerce platforms different from other websites are software features essential for online stores to operate. For example, e-commerce software should include web hosting, payment processors, shopping cart tools, shipping tools, and other necessary features.
Thanks to the development of state-of-the-art software, setting up an e-commerce platform for your online business is incredibly easy, especially when compared to past efforts which required you to hire a full-time software developer. What’s more, now you can choose from a wide range of e-commerce platforms.
Your e-commerce platform should depend on the nature and size of your business, as well as your budget. However, the reason you should invest in a quality e-commerce website is that it can ultimately impact your online store’s success.
With brick-and-mortar businesses, customers experience products in an entirely different way, as their senses such as smell and touch may be activated. With online stores, the sense of sight is activated, so the appearance and functionality of your site play very significant roles. Your e-commerce platform should be able to capture your customers’ attention in a matter of moments, as well as offer a unique virtual customer experience.
What to Look for in an e-Commerce Platform
When selecting the right e-commerce software for your online business, there are several factors to consider. No matter what type of products or services you offer, every e-commerce website should include the following features:
- An easy method to set up and use the platform – It’s essential to go with an e-commerce platform that isn’t complicated to use from your and your customers’ points of view. Makes sure that products and payment options are easily accessible to ensure a positive customer experience and build customer loyalty
- A selection of templates – Look for e-commerce websites that offer a wide range of templates and choose one that suits the general theme of your online store
- Integrations – The e-commerce platform you choose should come with a system for integrations, apps, and plugins. The integration tools should be relevant and promote your e-commerce functionality. For example, if you have an online store, it’s helpful to integrate apps that help with shipping and marketing
- SEO friendliness – It’s imperative for your e-commerce platform to be SEO-friendly. This means that your online store needs to rank high in search engine page results for your customers to find it easily. One way you can ensure this is by setting up a blog as part of your online business
- Mobile-friendliness – Because more than 60% of searches take place on mobile phones, you need to make sure your e-commerce platform is mobile-friendly. This means that the mobile version of your website needs to be accessible and easy to use to the same degree as your desktop version
- Payment processors – The more payment gateways your e-commerce platform has to offer, the better. Customers always like to be presented with multiple options. In terms of payment, your e-commerce software should include various payment methods such as PayPal, Apple Pay, Stripe, and local payment options
- Analytics – A built-in analytics system should monitor and evaluate your online store’s performance. Some of the metrics you should measure are sales, payment methods, conversion rates, the number of orders, customer lifetime values, etc.
- Pricing – The e-commerce platform you end up choosing depends, to a great extent, on your budget. Research the cost of monthly and processing fees, app subscriptions, and other expenses
Best eCommerce Platforms
Your e-commerce platform should be based on the size and nature of your online business. But, most importantly, you should find an e-commerce website that caters to your specific needs and performs best. Here are some of the best e-commerce platforms on the market right now:
This e-commerce platform is one of the most popular options globally, with over 1,700,000 businesses. In fact, 31% of e-commerce businesses in the U.S. use Shopify. What makes Shopify a favorite option for countless online companies is that it’s easy to use and convenient for businesses of all sizes.
Shopify offers a free trial and different packages in terms of pricing, including fees ranging from $19 to $299 a month. In addition, the Shopify app store offers 2,400 apps and tools for various business types, as well as more than 100 payment gateways. Shopify is also one of the best e-commerce platforms for dropshipping.
Shopify also offers excellent customer support service, comprehensive analytics reports, SEO-friendly tools, and built-in cart recovery tools.
- Very easy to set up and use
- 14-day free trial
- Quick load time
- Various templates and themes
- Pricey add-on apps
- International currency requires a third-party app
This e-commerce platform is another favorite option among countless business owners. It’s most suitable for large e-commerce businesses, as well as brick-and-mortar companies that want to include an online version of their store as well.
Moreover, the process of building your website is relatively straightforward, as you don’t need to be a tech genius to set everything up. A website on this platform allows you to include a blog, add digital and physical products in bulk, and sell your products on other platforms like Amazon, eBay, Instagram, and Facebook.
This e-commerce platform also gives you the option to use almost 1,000 add-on apps and more than 65 payment gateways. In terms of pricing, BigCommerce offers plans ranging from $30 to $300 a month.
- Multi-channel sales
- 15-day free trial
- Powerful SEO tools
- Accepts international currency
- 24/7 customer support
- No one-click selling
- A limited number of free themes
Squarespace is an excellent e-commerce platform for small online businesses that are just starting. This website offers a wide range of creative templates and design tools that you can use to build websites, online stores, blogs, small businesses, and similar.
The process of setting up your online e-commerce business on Squarespace is easy, and it even offers detailed guides for those who need some help setting up. In addition, Squarespace includes unlimited storage, website analytics, powerful SEO tools, and email marketing tools, among other promotional features.
Using Squarespace’s website allows you to use major payment processors, such as PayPal, Stripe, Apple Pay, etc. When it comes to pricing, Squarespace services are more affordable than other options, ranging from $23 per month for basic businesses to $65 per month for an advanced e-commerce plan.
- Affordable option
- 14-day free trial
- Great selection of templates
- Easy setting up process
- No mobile customer support
- Limited integrations
- Limited payment gateways
Wix is very convenient for startups and small e-commerce businesses, with over 800 templates and up to 72 free themes to choose from for your online business. It also offers you the option to upload unlimited products, integrations with Instagram, Facebook, and 250 other apps, as well as abandoned cart recovery tools. You can also add a blog, use advanced web development tools, and integrate various web design features that Wix offers.
The Business Basic plan costs $17 a month, but it only offers 20GB of storage. The Business Unlimited plan costs $25 a month, with a one-year free domain and 24/7 customer support. Finally, the most expensive plan, the Business VIP, is $35 a month, and it includes unlimited video hours and 50GB of storage space.
- A selection of free themes
- Easy to set up and use
- Marketing automation
- Multi-channel sales
- No free trial
- Limited storage for the Business Basic plan
Chargify is an e-commerce platform aimed at B2B SaaS companies, which are businesses that sell software to other businesses as a form of service. This e-commerce platform specializes in recurring billing and subscription management. Chargify is fully integrated with platforms like HubSpot, Salesforce, Xero, QuickBooks, Zapier, and many more.
Chargify offers other features, including process optimization, email support, 25 payment gateways, the option to accept all major currencies, and more.
The Essential plan starts at $599 a month, and it includes events-based billing, business intelligence, and numerous add-ons. The Standard plan, which costs $1,499 a month, offers advanced analytics and SFDC integrations. Finally, the Specialized plan, which is $3,499 a month, includes bespoke integrations, technical architects, and quarterly pricing consultations.
- 24/7 customer support service
- Numerous integrations
- Pricey packages
- Not mobile-friendly
Magento, which powers Adobe Commerce, is best suited for medium to large e-commerce businesses. You can choose between Magento Open-Source and Magento Commerce. The Open-Source version doesn’t cost anything, and it’s generally intended for people with experience in web design. On the other hand, Magento Commerce starts at $1,500 a month.
Some of the most popular features Magento has to offer include drag-and-drop tools, recurring payments, an in-built payment processor, and over 1,000 themes and extensions. However, Magento is best known for the numerous ways you can customize your e-commerce platform, as well as its easy-to-use interface.
Magento offers solutions for small businesses, B2Bs, mobile commerce, mid-markets, and various other companies. Its SEO tools allow you to change your URL and customize your automatic Google sitemap location.
- Powerful SEO tools
- Drag-and-drop tools
- Integrated B2B
- Available one-click selling apps
- It can be complicated to use
- No payment gateway for credit card payments
As the most well-known website generator in the world, WordPress accounts for 41% of online platforms. It’s very convenient for setting up an e-commerce website where you can sell goods and promote content at the same time.
Apart from the fact that using WordPress is cheaper than other options (prices starting at $9 per month for bloggers and going to $70 per month for the e-commerce plan), there are plenty of advantages that this platform has to offer.
WordPress offers some of the most popular features and tools that include a wide selection of themes and dashboard customization options, inventory management, powerful SEO tools, frequent updates, and many more features.
WordPress also allows you to integrate with various social media platforms, which is ideal for digital marketing. In addition, WordPress offers different ways to collect payment.
- Built‑in marketing tools
- Plans available for any type of business
- One‑click payments
- Customizable design tools
- Pricey efficiency-enhancing tools
- Competitive blogging platform
Square offers e-commerce solutions to retailers, food and beverage businesses, professional services, enterprises, and other types of businesses. This platform provides free and affordable plans, and you can choose between in-person payments and remote payments. This includes flat rates for all credit card types and no startup fees.
Square also offers a free package, where you have the option to book appointments, sell tickets, accept donations, etc. The free plan also offers 500MB of storage space and the ability to upload unlimited products.
Square offers the option to sell both digital products and physical products, inventory management, and an intuitive dashboard in terms of standard website features. Furthermore, Square is integrated with over 125 apps. As a result, it’s an excellent option for start ups and small online businesses.
- Simple to use
- Available for different business types
- Multi-channel sales
- The ability to sell unlimited products
- Affordable pricing
- No global sales
- Limited customization tools
SamCart is an e-commerce platform for online business owners selling services and digital products. Some of the most valuable features SamCart offers include payment processor integrations, a wide range of templates, shopping cart features, and advanced website design tools.
The basic pricing plan starts at $59 a month, and it includes unlimited templates, drag-and-drop page builders, coupons and discounts, etc. SamCart also offers a $119 plan to grow your e-commerce business, with features such as unlimited products and pages, advanced subscriptions, and customization tools. The final pricing plan costs $299 a month, and it includes multiple payment options, 10 admin users, cart recovery, etc.
- 14-day free trial period
- Easy to use
- Drag-and-drop page builder
Limited payment gateways
With 40 million clients, Weebly is a free website builder especially convenient for e-commerce platforms. Thanks to an extensive collection of creative templates, Weebly allows you to customize your website down to the smallest detail. In addition, Weebly’s marketing tools, email templates, abandoned cart recovery, and shipping tools allow for a guaranteed positive customer experience.
Weebly offers three pricing plans for more comprehensive features – the Connect plan for $10 a month, the Pro plan for $12 a month, and the Business plan for $25 a month. The last two pricing plans include free domains and credit for Google Ads.
Weebly also offers inventory management, integrations with 300 apps, coupons and gift cards, unlimited products, and many more useful website-building tools.
- Easy to use and set up
- Drag-and-drop page builder
- Various template designs
- Limited SEO tools
- Limited payment gateways
Is Shopify the Best e-Commerce Platform?
Weighing the pros and cons of all the e-commerce platforms we listed in this guide, we can firmly state that Shopify is the best e-commerce platform.
We think that Shopify is the best e-commerce platform because it’s suitable and accessible to all types of online businesses. It allows you to set up multi-channel online businesses, and it’s straightforward to use as both an online business owner and as a customer.
There are plenty of other features that Shopify has to offer, which make it the best e-commerce platform. To refresh yourself on them, go back to our best e-commerce platforms list.
Best e-Commerce Platform for Dropshipping?
Dropshipping refers to the process where retailers accept orders from customers but don’t actually keep available products in stock. Instead, the online store promotes goods from their suppliers on their e-commerce platform without importing the goods in question.
Once an order has been placed, the suppliers directly ship the order to the customers, meaning that the e-commerce platform acts as an intermediary. From that point, it’s up to the dropshippers to deliver the product to the client.
Some of the best e-commerce platforms for dropshipping are Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, 3dCart, OpenCart, WooCommerce, and many more. Meanwhile, some of the most popular dropshipping suppliers are AliExpress, Alibaba, MegaGoods, etc.
What are Important e-Commerce Platform Features?
When it comes to choosing the best e-commerce platform for your online business, there are several factors you need to take into consideration. Most importantly, your choice should depend on the type of online business you own, as well as its size and function.
You should always aim to find an e-commerce platform that is easy to use and navigate. A complicated interface and a confusing dashboard will only minimize your traffic and lead to negative customer experiences.
Another critical factor to think about is payment options. Your e-commerce platform should accept various payment methods to suit all your customers. Apart from payment gateways, consider integrating multiple apps and other platforms.
Lastly, make sure you are using the proper marketing and SEO tools, as they can make a huge difference in terms of platform performance.
What is the Best e-Commerce Platform for SEO?
As mentioned before, SEO plays a critical role in your e-commerce business. Therefore, it’s essential to choose the right e-commerce platform that includes all the essential SEO features that optimize your platform from a marketing perspective.
If you are looking for the best e-commerce platform for SEO, we recommend using Wix, Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, or Weebly. Remember; E-commerce is a crowded sector, so it pays to build a better product strategy and increase your chances of success.
Recommendations for E-commerce Stores
Even though all of the e-commerce platforms we mentioned above have the strengths that earned them a place on our list, a few stand out to us.
Here are our top picks for e-commerce platforms:
Best Overall | Shopify
Shopify has all the qualities of the best e-commerce platform. The process of setting up your online e-commerce business is straightforward, it guarantees a positive customer experience, and it’s an excellent choice for any type of business.
Best for Startups | Squarespace
If you are just starting with your online store, Squarespace is an excellent option for you.
Best for B2B SaaS Companies | Chargify
If you are looking for an e-commerce platform specializing in recurring billing and subscription management, then look no further.
Best Affordable Option | WordPress
Not only is WordPress the most popular platform for building websites and blogs it’s also quite reasonable.
Best for Online Businesses That Sell Digital Products | SamCart
SamCart is ideal for online marketers looking to expand their e-commerce business.
Choose an e-Commerce Platform That Works Best for You
We’ve presented you with a list of quality and high-performance websites for your online business, now it’s up to you to choose the best e-commerce platform for your online business. Remember, search for an e-commerce platform that will help bring you lots of new customers, increase your sales, and make your online store shine.