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7 Best E-commerce Platforms

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Best E-commerce Platforms

Can an online store turn into a 500K success story?

With the right e-commerce platforms and some effort, your business may just generate that kind of revenue.

Many successful online entrepreneurs have used e-commerce platforms and experienced phenomenal growth of their business (and I’m not just talking about the likes of Amazon, Pixie Faire, or Finch Goods).

A good example is Bushwick Kitchen, which generated over $170,000 in its first year.

So can you.

The question is, with so many e-commerce platforms available, how can you identify the right one? Because the last thing you want is to build a website, load up your products, only to find that it runs super slow or that to sync to Amazon, you have to pay an additional fee every month.

We understand your dilemma, and to simplify things for you, we’ve curated a list of the best e-commerce platforms based on objective performance data, feature set, and value.

shopping online
Photo by Visuals on Unsplash

What’s an E-commerce Platform?

An e-commerce platform enables the buying and selling of products or services over the internet by managing a business’s website, sales, marketing, and operations.

By providing powerful e-commerce features and integrating with standard business tools, e-commerce platforms enable businesses to centralize their operations. Money and data transfers can occur electronically (over the internet), making it possible to do business without distance and time constraints.

How Does an E-commerce Platform Work?

An e-commerce platform is fundamentally based on shopping via the internet.

It combines three things: First, a web server that manages the online storefront and processes transactions, including authenticating credit card details. Second, a database system of all stock items, continually updating as necessary. Third, a dispatch system linked to a warehouse where products are located and sent to the buyers promptly.

This way, the most significant aspects of a retail transaction, such as evaluating products and validating a payment card, can now happen in the comfort of your home with the click of a button.

Of course, a fast, affordable, and efficient delivery system must accompany these transaction aspects.

The following is a breakdown of how an e-commerce platform works:

  • Search engines, referral traffic, paid advertisements, and the like direct potential customers to your website.
  • The e-commerce platform connects these customers to the website’s database containing product categories, dimensions, features, images, and other details. The website extracts the data requested by the web pages for the customer to see.
  • After browsing, the shopper places an order by adding his or her preferred product or service to a virtual shopping cart. He or she then finalizes the order by checking out, and the seller takes note of the order.
  • Details of the order get processed. The shopper’s credit card information is encrypted and sent to a Payment Gateway such as PayPal for secure remote processing.
  •  When the order is complete and the payment has gone through, the website automatically provides a transaction number or postal tracking number and estimated shipping time.
  • Orders are stored and sent to an order fulfillment team either in-house or a third-party company or drop-shipper for delivery.

Why Use an E-commerce Platform?

E-commerce platforms act as intermediaries of a great deal of information and communication flow on the internet.

They also play a significant role in enabling digital trade across the globe.

In addition, e-commerce platforms increase consumer choice and convenience due to the improved efficiency and increased competitiveness of the industry, which can also heighten civil participation in society.

Another reason you need to use e-commerce platforms is, with the success of e-commerce platforms closely tied to the success of many businesses using these platforms, your business is bound to succeed with the right platform.

Moreover, e-commerce platforms drive innovation in the digital world in their efforts to help businesses reach customers.

E-commerce platforms also enable smaller businesses to spread out their operations beyond their home state.

What to Consider When Choosing Best E-commerce Platforms

Below are some of the factors you should consider when selecting best e-commerce platforms:

1. Microservices

In today’s online climate, modern architecture adds complexity, and only the most digitally savvy online e-commerce platforms can take advantage of technology.

You need a platform that helps bridge this gap by simplifying integration, implementation, and management of providers’ different functions.

“By 2020, brick and mortar retail spaces will be little more than showrooms”

Eddie Machaalani & Mitchell Harper, Co-CEOs of Bigcommerce

2. Website Experience

To break even in today’s market, you need to display various product categories and provide detailed product descriptions.

However, no customer wants to browse a website that takes forever to load pages or is challenging to navigate. That’s why especially companies with a wide selection of products need to be extra careful with navigation.

You also want to be able to use aesthetically pleasing photos and videos to highlight your product and useful information to engage your customers and allow them to search and find products easily.

In short, you need a platform that’s user-friendly and easy to navigate.

“Remember, every ‘mistake’ your customer makes, it’s not because they’re stupid. It’s because your website sucks”

Peep Laja, Founder of ConversionXL

3. Payment Processing

You want a platform that embeds different payment options, providing the flexibility to use the different types of payments available – PayPal, Apple Pay, and the new digital wallets.

In addition, it should offer payment fraud protection.

“Optimizing the mobile cart and checkout experience is more important than tweaking your desktop design”

Linda Bustos

4. Data Protection and Analysis

Granted, customers will require to key in their details, some of which are highly sensitive. For this reason, the best e-commerce platforms offer data protection, including encryption.

But in addition to data protection, you want a platform that’s devoted to analytics because information obtained in the analysis is essential in improving customer experience.

Top 7 E-commerce Platforms

BigCommerce e-commerce platform
Screenshot BigCommerce

1. BigCommerce Review – Best for Medium to Large Stores

BigCommerce is one of the best e-commerce platforms for medium to large online stores. That’s because it has more advanced out-of-the-box e-commerce features suited to managing large product volumes and complex catalogs.

It allows the extension to third-party applications and supports both B2C and B2B on the same platform.

Pricing

BigCommerce pricing falls under four plans:

  • Standard ($29.95 per month)
  • Plus ($79.95 per month)
  • Pro ($299.95 per month)
  • Enterprise (custom)

BigCommerce has a 14-day free trial. And for the Plus and Pro options, a 10% discount applies if you pay annually.

International Options

BigCommerce has international options which you need to contact their sales department for more information.

Website-building Features

BigCommerce has the following website-building features:

  • Custom domains
  • Unlimited product listings
  • Unlimited file storage
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Sales in multiple currencies
  • Reporting
  • Ratings and reviews
  • Gift cards
  • Themes – 12 free and more than 160 paid
  •  Integration with shipping and POS software
  •  Page builder

Support Level

BigCommerce support has an A+ rating with several support resources, including:

  • 24-hour live chat for all the four plans and trials
  • Phone support for all the four plans and trials
  • Email support for all the four plans and trials
  • Community forums
  • Online help center

Usability

What makes BigCommerce stand out is its multi-currency features, allowing merchants to sell in multiple currencies.

Another distinguishing feature is it has more out-of-the-box features, and although these features make its learning curve higher, it’s a platform you can comfortably use as a beginner.

BigCommerce makes editing and modifying SEO-related features such as page titles and custom URLs very easy.

In addition, BigCommerce supports CMSs, DXPs, and several Headless Commerce capabilities with which merchants can create unique shopping experiences.

Analytics

BigCommerce has the following analytics:

  • Export reports
  • Product reports
  • Dashboard
  • Google Analytics
  • Traffic reports
  • App integration customizations
Shopify  is one of the e-commerce platforms
Screenshot Shopify

2. Shopify Basic Review – Best All-in-one for Small to Medium Stores

Shopify is one of the best e-commerce platforms if you’re a small-to-medium business starting and need guidance setting up your store.

It comes already integrated with storefront design, performance analytics, content marketing, and all you require to set up your store.

In addition, it’s very easy to upgrade your store with third-party extensions.   

Pricing

  • Basic Shopify at $29 per month
  • Shopify at $79 per month
  • Advanced Shopify at $299 per month

Shopify offers a 14-day free trial with no credit card required.

Bear in mind that Shopify has its payment processor for which they charge according to the plan you choose. You also get charged (0.5 to 2%) if you opt to use other payment processors such as PayPal.

International Options

  • Canada
  • UK
  • Ireland

Website-building Features

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

Level of Support

Shopify Basic has a support rating of A+ with the following:

  • 24-hour chat support
  • Phone support
  • Community forums
  • Online help center

Usability

Shopify has codeless store-building tools and an intuitive interface, making it very easy to learn. And there’s plenty of support resources available to assist you if you get stuck.

It also offers a wide range of design templates, both pre-existing and to design yourself from scratch, and more than 4,000 apps. This means that you can build a highly functional and attractive store without having to start from scratch, all without coding.

What’s more, it has several add-ons and extensions from independent developers you can use to amp your store’s capability.

However, you’ll most likely need to learn Shopify’s front-end customization language for you to customize. Or you could opt to engage a third-party agency with experience in working with Shopify.

Analytics

Shopify Basic has the following analytics available:

  • Dashboard
  • Export reports
  • Product reports
  • Google Analytics
  • Traffic reports
Screenshot Shopify Plus

3. Shopify Plus Review – Best for Large Multinational Stores

Shopify Plus, an upgraded version of Shopify Basic, is arguably one of the best e-commerce platforms for large companies. That’s because of the additional features it offers that are suited for multinational businesses, such as the ability to handle over 100 variants of product listings across several channels, all with simplified technology.

Shopify Plus also offers automation tools that assist brands to function at scale and a very high level of onboarding and technical support.

Pricing

Shopify Plus has custom pricing, which generally starts at $2,000 a month, with the final price determined by the options you select. They have a free trial available upon request.

International Options

International options are available upon request.

Website-building Features

  • Custom domains
  • Real-time sales statistics
  • Unlimited product listings
  • Inventory tracking
  • 70+ themes or templates

Level of Support

Like Spotify Basic, Spotify Plus has a support rating of A+ with the following:

  • 24-hour chat support
  • Phone support
  • Dedicated account manager
  • Community forums
  • Online help center

Usability

Shopify Plus focuses on the enterprise market, meaning it has more complex features and customizability.

Like Shopify Basic, to customize ShopifyPlus, you need to learn Liquid (Shopify’s front-end customization language) or hire a third-party agency with experience working with Shopify Plus.

Analytics

Shopify Plus has the following analytics available:

  • Dashboard
  • Product reports
  • Export reports
  • Google Analytics
  • Traffic (or referrals) reports
  • Additional app integration
  • Customization
e-commerce platforms: magento
screenshot Magento

4. Magento Review – Best for E-commerce Stores With an Established Demand in Place

Magento is a powerful platform with a library of 5,000+ extensions. It’s one of the best e-commerce platforms for small-to-medium-sized businesses with an established demand in place plus the workforce and skills to build their website.

However, it requires a larger budget and takes longer to develop than most other competing e-commerce platforms.

Pricing

Magento’s pricing falls under two tiers:

  • Magento Open Source – Free to download and use. However, services like hosting, themes, and add-ons associated with the website are chargeable.
  • Magento Commerce enterprise-level solution – Prices are custom, and they range from $15,000 to $50,000 annually.

Magento has no trial period or discounts.

Website-building Features

Magento Open Source comes with the following basic website-building features:

  • Integrated checkout, payment, and shipping
  • Mobile device-optimized shopping
  • Catalog management
  • Worldwide selling
  • Extended functionality through App marketplace
  • Instant purchase
  • Website search
  • Customization options

Support Level

Magento support is rated at D+, with the Open Source support being non-existent. The only help you get to develop your site is from the available guides and community resources.

For Magento Commerce, support is available via Magento online help center and community forums, but at a high fee.

Usability

Magento is one of the most powerful e-commerce platforms. It has a steep learning curve, and unless you hire a Magento developer, you have to learn everything you do in your store on your own.

However, this should not necessarily be cause for alarm because you have access to a large knowledgeable community capable of troubleshooting problems and answering any questions you may have.

Analytics

  • Integrations
  • Add-ons
screenshot WooCommerce

5. WooCommerce Review – Best for Small Businesses with Existing Website

WooCommerce is most suitable if you’re a small business with an existing WordPress website, and you’re running on a tight budget but still need a robust online store.

It provides a lot of flexibility to accommodate most business needs, such as accepting online payments, product listings, and shipping options with various plugins and third-party themes.

However, if you don’t have a WordPress website, you’re better off with all-in-one e-commerce platforms.

Pricing

WooCommerce is free to download and use forever. Some of its add-ons and extensions are free, but the majority are chargeable.

International Options

WooCommerce has international options available via extensions.

Website-building Features

The free WooCommerce download includes the following free website-building features:

  • Mobile-optimized shopping
  • Geo-location support
  • Catalog management
  • Inventory management
  • Calculator and shipping options
  • Search engine optimization
  • Discounts and Coupons
  • Product reviews

Level of Support

WooCommerce support has a rating of C. It lacks phone and email support but has the following levels of support:

  • Live chat. There’s no phone or email support, and users have to file a ticket that’s answered by live chat.
  • Online help guides
  • Community forums

Usability

As a plugin built to add e-commerce functionality on WordPress websites, it provides limitless customization options.

That said, if you’re unfamiliar with open-source e-commerce platforms, learning to use WooCommerce can be a challenge. And although its plugin setup and installation is relatively straightforward, users have to build their expertise using the online help guides and community forums.

Analytics Available

WooCommerce has the following analytics:

  • Third-party plugins
  • Google analytics integration
screenshot Wix

6. Wix Review – Best for Small Businesses Wanting Something Affordable

Wix.com is one of the best e-commerce platforms if you’re a small business with no access to a dedicated website designer looking for something affordable and flexible.

It’s easy to use, with its drag-and-drop tools users can use to build online stores.

Moreover, it has an extensive range of pre-built templates and designs (500+) and customization options to enable you easily build a functional website capable of serving your basic needs, plus plugins for extended functionality.

However, if you anticipate that your business will grow so that you have huge volumes of orders and an extensive product line, a dedicated e-commerce platform like Shopify or BigCommerce would be a better option for you.

Pricing

Wix’s pricing falls under the following plans:

  • Business Basic at $23 per month – allows you to create an online store, process and collect payments, additional site creation tools, storage space, and video time.
  • Business Unlimited at $27 per month – allows you to create an online store, process and collect payments, additional site creation tools, storage space, and video time.
  • Business VIP at $49 per month – allows you to create an online store, process and collect payments, additional site creation tools, storage space, and video time. In addition, you get a wide range of additional features.
  • Enterprise at $500 per month – allows you to create an online store, process and collect payments, additional site creation tools, storage space, and video time. You also get higher support levels and consultation but fewer features that are available in the VIP plan.

Wix offers a free 14-day trial.

International Options

None.

Website-building Features

Wix provides the following website-building features at its lowest e-commerce-capable tier.

  • Product galleries
  • Digital products
  • Shipping options
  • Discount codes
  • Inventory managing
  •  Abandoned cart recovery
  • Mobile device optimization
  • Payment options
  • Moe functionalities available through extensions

Level of Support

Wix has a support rating of A, with the following support systems:

  • Phone support
  • Social media support
  • Email support
  • Online help center
  • Community forums

Subscribers to the Business VIP plan have priority phone and ticket status.

Usability

What makes Wix stand out is it’s easy to use with its user-friendly drag-and-drop, codeless website builder.

Wix also has a wide range of templates and e-commerce functionality that will fit most of what a business would require. In addition, it’s mobile device-friendly, enabling you to edit and manage your store from anywhere.

What’s more, you can access marketing features like Facebook ads, social media posts, and emails from your dashboard.

Analytics

Wix has the following analytics:

  • Google Analytics integration
  • In-app analysis

7. Volusion Review – Best for Analytic Tools

Volusion is among e-commerce platforms best suited for small businesses and startups who have room for growth but want to get started quickly and need great analytic tools.

It has many features included as part of the standard dashboard eliminating the need to use an app store, and it’s robust enough to serve most business needs.

Pricing

Volusion pricing falls under the following tiers:

  • Personal at $29 per month
  • Professional ($79 per month)
  • Business ($299 per month)
  • Custom (contact vendor for price)

There’s a free 14-day trial period to build and test your store. Volusion charges no transaction fees, and no credit card is required.

International Options

Volusion offers no international options.

Website-building Features

Volusion offers the following website-building features:

  • Secure payments
  • Secure checkout
  • Free and paid themes
  • Drag and drop builder
  • Inventory management
  • Automatic tax calculator
  • SEO tools
  • Social media integrations
  • Ratings and reviews
  • SKU import o and export
  • Abandoned cart reporting
  • Discounts and coupons

In addition, complex requirements such as Amazon and eBay integrations, batch processing, higher levels of support, and third-party gateways get unlocked with the Business and Custom tiers.

Level of Support

Volusion has a support rating of B with mostly positive reviews, with a few cases where the support team takes a long time to respond to questions. Supports include:

  • Phone support.
  • Social Media Support
  • Live chat
  • Online help center
  • Community forums

Usability

Although Volusion offers a simple drag-and-drop site builder, it’s not as convenient to use as other e-commerce platforms, and users often describe it as lacking in functionality.

However, the company is making efforts to catch up with other e-commerce platforms by revamping the functionality and interface and making it more modern.

Analytics

Volusion has Google Analytics, and you can easily integrate it to third-parties like Salesforce.

“Ecommerce isn’t the cherry on the cake, it’s the new cake”

Jean Paul Ago CEO L’Oreal

Final Thoughts on Best E-Commerce Platforms For You

We hope you find this information helps you rid any trepidation you may have about e-commerce platforms and understand more about them, why they’re useful, and how to identify the one most suitable for your business.

Whatever your business needs, budget, there’s an online platform that’s just right for you.

Related post: Why is Dropshipping Business Tempting [2021 Updated Guide]

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