This comparison guide will take a look at the top 12 ecommerce platforms and how to evaluate which is best for your business needs.
Starting an ecommerce business is exciting. You get to choose your business name, create your logo and branding, and build your website. And while it’s easy to consider your needs now, it’s also important to think about where your business is heading and what other tools you’ll need in the future.
What is an ecommerce platform?
An ecommerce platform is the software an online store deploys to handle all their merchant buying needs and their own seller needs. These needs include product pages, reviews, transactions, order fulfillment, and returns.
The best ecommerce platform comes down to your unique business model and growth plan. Here’s an overview of some of the best ecommerce platforms for 2022 to help you evaluate the best option for your business.
Best for easy, all-in-one ecommerce store building
Shopify is, arguably, the best software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for ecommerce. Our robust platform comes with complementary tools and features for multichannel selling and dropshipping, so you can sell directly through your website, at your retail store, on social media and third-party marketplaces, and everywhere in between. Choose from over 100 paid and free themes to get your store up and running fast with zero learning curve.
Those are just a few of the many powerful apps that work together seamlessly as part of the Shopify ecosystem. You can also tap into our extensive library of third-party apps that can extend your experience with Shopify even further. Shopify offers a free email marketing service, abandoned cart recovery, search engine optimization, and more native tools for business owners.
Shopify’s mobile app offers almost complete parity to manage your business online or on your mobile device, with features for fulfilling orders adding products, real-time sales and inventory updates, and more.
With all of these powerful features, you can set up your business with little technical know-how and budget and scale to an international online brand without changing platforms along the way.
- Quick start with slick onboarding process
- Customizable themes
- Fast and reliable sites
- Community support
- Excellent built-in marketing tools
- Sell everywhere online and in-person
- Access to over 6,000 apps through the Shopify App Store
- Great SEO out of the box
- Easy to obtain a custom domain
Price: Basic Shopify: $39/month; Shopify: $105/month; Advanced Shopify: $399/month
Mobile app features: Suite of mobile tools to fully manage your online business.
G2 rating ⭐: 4.3/5
Best for individual sellers
As far as ecommerce functionality goes, Wix has a few helpful tools. The platform lets merchants track orders, accept online payments, sell products on multiple channels, and create abandoned cart campaigns.
However, it lacks certain features that are imperative for product-based businesses in particular. Shortcomings include the absence of low-stock alerts and other key inventory management features. If you have more than 10 or so products, you’ll want a platform with more robust inventory-tracking tools. Plus, you need to use a third-party app for social commerce integrations.
- Fully hosted
- Easy to use
- Free forever plan
- Lots of support
- Tracking and analytics require paid plan
- Site isn’t transferrable
- Free plan forces Wix branding
Price: Business Basic: $23/month; Business Unlimited: $27/month; Business VIP: $49/month.
Mobile app features: The ability to manage your website, though lacks key business tools like inventory management; requires separate app to use mobile POS.
G2 rating ⭐: 4.2/5
Best for big companies
BigCommerce is an ecommerce platform used by enterprise-level software companies. Like Shopify and Wix, BigCommerce offers web hosting and lots of customization options. However, you can’t register your domain name through BigCommerce, so you’ll need to purchase and register elsewhere and port it over.
Valuable features include international selling, SEO tools, and multichannel selling on social and third-party marketplaces. However, with these powerful features also comes complexity.
Lack of flexibility and ease of use were major factors in Grace & Lace’s decision to migrate from the platform. It moved over to Shopify Plus, Shopify’s enterprise solution, to take advantage of more than just the ecommerce platform. The brand quickly reaped the benefits of having an entire ecosystem of business tools from Shopify.
- Fully hosted
- Comprehensive business management abilities
- Multiple payment options with no transaction fees
- No native POS
- Expensive themes
Price: Standard: $29.95/month; Plus: $79.95/month, or $71.95/month when paid annually; Pro: $299.95/month, or $269.96/month when paid annually; Enterprise custom pricing.
Mobile app features: View analytics, update orders, manage inventory and products, and search for customers; some features are Android-only.
Adobe Commerce (formerly Magento)
Best for businesses with PHP programming experience
Photo courtesy of: Adobe
Adobe Commerce is a non-hosted ecommerce platform made for developers who want a system they can customize. And while this offers benefits for brands that want a completely tailored platform, it also presents a lot of hurdles in the form of complexity and cost. You need advanced coding and development skills to build out and manage the entire infrastructure yourself.
Magento also lacks tools to create a seamless multichannel strategy. There’s no easy way to turn on social commerce or marketplace selling with Magento, and the same rings true for foreign currencies. So if going global is in your plans, Magento may not be the best ecommerce platform for you.
Ecommerce site Character.com maintained its complex Magento site with thousands of products, tons of integrations, and solid SEO—despite its poor UX. Magento was limiting and too complex, so Character.com migrated to Shopify. Conversions increased by 40% and its success soon pushed it to upgrade to Shopify Plus to take advantage of even more features.
- Free to start
- Not hosted
- Easy to find developers for customization
- Requires technical knowledge
- Not SEO-friendly natively
Price: Custom pricing only.
Integrated sales channels: Amazon.
Mobile app features: n/a
Point-of-sale: Third-party extensions available.
G2 rating ⭐: 4.6/5
Photo courtesy of: WooCommerce
WooCommerce is especially familiar to those who know WordPress, as it’s essentially an add-on to the popular blogging platform. WordPress is traditionally for content-driven websites, not ecommerce, so WooCommerce is WordPress’s answer to those who want to sell online.
Because WordPress is a content management system (CMS) first and an ecommerce platform second, many of the selling features are simple or rely on adding apps. And while there are plenty of apps and plug-ins you can add to your store, the more you use, the more likely it is you’ll break something. And this isn’t always a risk worth taking, considering limited support options.
Overall, WooCommerce’s fragility and unreliability makes it difficult not only to build an online store but also to maintain it. Plus, it’s not hosted, so you’ll have the added task and cost of managing your website hosting. It also lacks PCI compliance, which puts your business at risk when processing payments.
- Open source and highly customizable
- Over 6,000 integrations and WordPress plug-ins
- Active developer and expert community
- Requires efficiency in WordPress
- High costs for hosting, development, maintenance, and more
Price: Average monthly fee is up to $30; WooCommerce estimates costs to be $120/year for hosting, $15/year for domain name registration, up to $100/year for your site theme, up to $108/year for shipping, 2.9% plus $0.30 per sale, up to $348/year for marketing and communications, up to $79/year for SEO, up to $65/year for SSL certificate.
Mobile app features: Add products, manage orders, and view analytics.
Point-of-sale: Native POS available.
G2 rating ⭐: 4.4/5
Best open source ecommerce platform
Business tools and features include inventory tracking, online shopping cart, international selling, and analytics reporting. You also have lots of control over the privacy and security settings on your PrestaShop site.
Overall, maintaining your ecommerce site with PrestaShop can be cumbersome when it comes to third-party hosting, the multitude of unvetted add-ons and modules, and the cumbersome setup.
- Free and open source
- Global selling through payment option plug-ins
- Easy to use
- Limited scalability
- Low-quality web designs
- No official support team
Point-of-sale: Available as add-on modules.
Best for high quality templates
The next website builder with an ecommerce platform option is Squarespace. Like Wix, Squarespace uses drag-and-drop functionality, which requires little technical know-how. Both platforms are primarily website builders, not online selling platforms, so they require a fair amount of tweaking to add ecommerce functionality.
Squarespace requires time and patience to set up if you want to sell online, not to mention there are only two payment integrations, Stripe and PayPal. If you have the budget, you may even outsource it. Once you’ve set up the ecommerce function, Squarespace has decent inventory tracking tools. Higher-tiered plans also come with the ability to sell gift cards or subscription-based products.
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of the back end in Squarespace to turn your website into a full-blown online store, you can simply add the Shopify Buy Button. For just $5/month, you can add a small embeddable code to your Squarespace site and leverage Shopify’s advanced ecommerce tools to handle the rest.
With them, you get to add an unlimited number of products, use secure checkout with more than 100+ compatible payment gateways, track sales and growth trends, easily integrate orders and shipping, and get global tax and currency support.
- Professionally designed templates
- No transaction fees
- Not just focused on ecommerce
- Limited multichannel sales
- No phone support
- Hard to override themes CSS and HTML
Price: Personal: $16/month, or $12/month when paid annually; Business: $26/month, or $18/month when paid annually; Basic Commerce: $30/month, or $26/month when paid annually; Advanced Commerce: $46/month, or $40/month when paid annually; Enterprise pricing also available.
Integrated sales channels: Shopping Feed extension to sell on Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and Google Actions.
Mobile app features: Website editing, shipping label scanning, order management, inventory management, and customer communication.
POS: Available via mobile app.
Best for artists and creatives
Big Cartel is a fully hosted ecommerce platform and website builder that is specifically designed for makers, artists, and crafters—the types of businesses you’d expect to see on Etsy. Big Cartel has customizable templates, domain name registration, and marketing tools.
While you can change the look and feel of your site, Big Cartel limits merchants to five images for each product. Payment and integration options are also limited, so this platform makes it much harder to scale as a multichannel business.
Pricing is based on how many products you sell, so it can get pretty costly as your business and product collections grow.
- Free to set up and sell online
- Easy-to-build store
- Perfect for artists
- Low levels of customization
- Lacking quality and in-depth features
Price: Five products: free; 50 products: $9.99/month; 250 products: $19.99/month; 500 products: $29.99/month.
Integrated sales channels: n/a
Mobile app features: Store analytics, add/edit products, track order shipping, manage discounts, and print packing slips.
Point-of-sale: Requires third-party integration.
Most affordable for small businesses
Weebly is a simple ecommerce website builder owned by Square. It works well if you want a small online store that doesn’t need much upkeep. You don’t need any technical expertise to operate Weebly’s platform, but it offers a very basic online store.
You can build a store on Weebly for free. The trade-off? You can’t use your own domain name or get rid of the in-app ads until you buy a paid ecommerce plan.
- Mobile app
- Fast site speeds
- Customizable themes
- Limited blogging tools
- Better support costs more
Mobile app features: Drag-and-drop builder, order fulfillment, inventory management, payments, analytics.
Point-of-sale: Integrated Square POS.
Best for business owners familiar with ecommerce
3dcart offers a shopping cart for store owners who want to sell online. The platform doesn’t have extensive features, but you can build a mobile-ready storefront fast. It offers hundreds of out-of-the-box features and templates to create and operate your store. You can also use its API and apps to integrate your 3dcart store with third-party apps.
- Extensive shopping cart solution
- Multichannel retail options
- Strong marketing abilities
- Not good for beginners
- Limited free themes
- Lacks critical ecommerce features
Price: $9.99 per month.
Point-of-sale: Available for purchase.
G2 rating ⭐: 3.8/5
Best for quick set up and easy interface
Volusion is one of the oldest ecommerce platforms around. Launched in 1999, Volusion has helped businesses get online with no frills. You can create the basics, like homepage and product pages, plus integrate with over 30 payment gateways and sell unlimited products.
There is no free plan. You can also only sell physical products in Volusion. So if you want to sell ebooks or music, you’ll need another ecommerce solution.
- Easily customized and extended
- 24/7 support
- Nice looking, responsive templates
- Premium templates can be expensive
- Free option is limited
- Forced to pay for an SSL
- Can only sell physical products
Price: $29 per month.
Point-of-sale: Available as add-on.
G2 rating ⭐: 3.2/5
Best for free ecommerce solution
Photo courtesy of: OpenCart
OpenCart is a free, open-source ecommerce platform known for being highly customizable and simple to set up. The platform lets you create and manage multiple stores and provides a robust dashboard with important metrics like sales and repeat customers. OpenCart has over 13,000 modules and themes you can build on to create your own website, along with plenty of integrations to connect your tools.
- Open sourced and highlight customizable
- Hundreds of integrations
- The platform is free
- Low ongoing development costs
- Limited built-in marketing and sales features
- Not the fastest platform
- Self-hosted, so you’ll control hosting, development, and maintenance
Mobile app features: Varies.
An ecommerce platform is a software application that enables online commerce for merchants and consumers. Ecommerce platforms can manage web hosting, inventory management, payment processing, marketing, order fulfillment, and more.
While most people think their ecommerce platform is just a tool that lets them list products and accept payments online, a true ecommerce platform is much more than that. Your ecommerce platform should be a complete business command center from where you control everything from inventory to marketing. It should let you process payments but should also give you seamless access to all of the tools you need to sell online, including (but not limited to) your own online store.
What types of ecommerce platforms are there?
Every website is hosted somewhere, meaning it has dedicated server space from a provider. Some ecommerce platforms have hosting built in, while others require you use self-hosting or open-source hosting.
Some website builders offer a hosted platform. In this case, you don’t need to worry about the mess of self or third-party hosting and the additional fees attached. Shopify stores, for example, include website hosting in every plan.
All Shopify updates are automatic and hassle free, so your site will always be up to date. Building on a hosted ecommerce platform gives you more freedom to focus on running your business—not on putting out fires caused by downtime and the need to fix bugs.
Self-hosted, or non-hosted, ecommerce platforms require merchants to use their own server space or pay to rent space from a hosting provider. This makes ongoing website management complex, as you’re responsible for updates, maintenance, and bug fixes. This requires a lot of internal resources that you could otherwise allocate elsewhere.
Self-hosted platforms are typically open source, and you use a third party to host your website data. Third-party sourcing options charge fees for their services, and these costs quickly add up. Many times, these hosting services use tiered pricing structures, so those on the lowest plans don’t get much in the way of customer support. This can leave you hanging at really important times, like traffic boosts after unexpected press coverage.
What types of ecommerce are there?
There are four types of ecommerce: B2C (business-to-consumer), B2B (business-to-business), C2B (consumer-to-business), and C2C (consumer-to-consumer).
- B2C. This refers to online selling from a business to an individual consumer. You might also hear people refer to B2C ecommerce as DTC, or direct-to-consumer.
- B2B. When one business sells to another business online, it’s B2B ecommerce. These transactions include wholesale buying, when the purchasing business intends to resell at a profit, as well as for business use—things like office supplies and equipment.
- C2B. Consumers also have selling power, as seen when they sell to businesses. Typically, these transactions are less traditional. A consumer might sell their influence in the form of a featured social post or they might offer a five-star review in exchange for money.
Ultimately, the type of ecommerce business you run will help you dictate which is the best ecommerce site for that business.
How to choose the right ecommerce software for you
If you’ve figured out how to start an online store and are ready to choose which ecommerce platform is best for you, there are a number of considerations. The best ecommerce software for you might be different from the best platform for another merchant—you need to consider your unique business needs and goals.
Many merchants choose the easiest and most affordable online store builder, which often leads them to Shopify. But there’s more to the decision than day-to-day use and cost. You need to think about where your business is headed and anticipate your future needs—and find a platform that can anticipate those needs as well.
Now, it’s about finding the best platform for commerce—online and in-store and everything in between. This means you need a best-in-class online store and a best-in-class suite of business management tools. Look for a platform that consistently invests in its technology and stays ahead of the curve when it comes to commerce. Your website builder can become so much more than just a platform where you do business—it can be a vehicle for growth.
- I need to sell my products online, offline, and to all my customers—no matter where they are—and accept payment for those sales.
- I need to deliver my products to my customers in the best way for my business.
- I need to engage my current and future customers to grow my business.
- I need to operate my business day to day, doing everything from managing my finances to making sure my strategies are working, learning new tactics, and getting technical support when I need it.
Know your costs
While budget shouldn’t be the only deciding factor, it’s certainly an important one. You can get started for as little as $100, but you’ll likely put more than that into your startup business before you start recuperating your investments, especially upfront.
According to our research, most small business owners spend about $40,000 during their first year—and only 9% of that goes to online business needs (though Shopify merchants spent an average of $38,000, while non-Shopify merchants came in closer to $41,000). And when you have a platform that supports your business needs, you can make the money back or offset it with your profit margins.
With so many other aspects of your business to fund, it’s important you find an ecommerce platform that won’t suck your budget dry but still has the features you need to operate your business and make a profit.
When evaluating costs, look at more than just the setup and monthly fees. You’ll also want to account for payment processing fees, costs for adding integrations, and potential fees for customer support (PrestaShop, for instance). Remember, if hosting isn’t included, you’ll need to figure that in as an added expense too.
Find a good fit for your business model
Selling online takes many forms. You might sell tangible products or digital products, and other business models have emerged as well. If you dropship, for example, you’ll want an ecommerce platform that can easily connect in the back end to streamline operations.
A platform like Shopify has tons of apps you can add to your site to make selling easier for different business models. There are apps for print-on-demand and subscription businesses, for example, that make it easier to run on Shopify compared to other platforms.
Look for safe and reliable checkout and payment gateways
Checkout is a core component of your ecommerce site. You need a protected and dependable way to accept payments, while ensuring the process is quick and painless for shoppers. Shop Pay, for instance, increases checkout speed by four times. Shopify also offers simple integrations with over 100 payment gateways, so you can offer the most relevant payment options for your audience, no matter where they are in the world.
Plus, it’s extra important to instill trust at this stage, so you’ll want to accommodate familiar payment methods like mobile wallets and PayPal. These known platforms can make customers more comfortable providing payment information and make their checkout process easier at the same time.
Consider your future business plans
While your business might have humble beginnings, you likely have a vision for where you want to take it in the future. These goals are important to think about, even if you don’t plan to become a global brand.
You might also want to add physical retail to your business at some point. With a limited ecommerce platform, POS integrations may be cumbersome. You risk having inaccurate inventory data due to disjointed online and in-person systems.
With a platform like Shopify, everything is tracked and synced in a single place. So you’ll have accurate inventory and sales data at any time—and you can be up and running for in-person sales in a matter of minutes. And you can also add services like local delivery and take advantage of the Shopify Fulfillment Network.
Many businesses need additional funding down the line. In fact, as many as two-thirds of entrepreneurs pull from personal savings to fund their business in the early stages, as many as 23% borrow from friends and family, and 21% use personal loans, according to our analysis.
But there are other business funding options that pose less risk to personal relationships. Look for ecommerce platforms that provide assistance to merchants, like Shopify Capital small business lending.
Start selling online with Shopify
When you’re deep into ecommerce comparison shopping, it’s easy to forget why you’re picking an ecommerce platform at all. At the end of the day, there is no best choice for everyone. Instead, look for the right platform that lets you serve your customers the best ecommerce experience that makes shopping online feel easy.
Beyond simply the best online store builder, think about the other business tools those platforms offer. It’s often beneficial to use a seamlessly integrated ecosystem, consisting of your online store, payment processor, POS, and even small business lender. Shopify, for example, has an entire suite of tools that help you manage every aspect of your business, and an App Store with over 4,000 apps to help you customize the experience for your customers and your team.
Selling online with your own ecommerce website has never been easier, faster, or more scalable. Shopify is a single platform that lets you sell wherever your customers are—online, in-person, and everywhere in between.
Illustration by Rachel Tunstall
Each ecommerce platform is best-suited for different types of businesses:
- Shopify: best all-round platform for selling products
- Wix: best for building a full-blown website
- BigCommerce: best for big businesses and enterprises
- Adobe Commerce: best for shops with technical resources and developers
- WooCommerce: best for WordPress websites
- PrestaShop: best for technical founders who want a self-hosted ecommerce platform
- Squarespace: best drag-and-drop design functionality
- Big Cartel: best budget option for a few products
Get started with Shopify
Is Amazon an ecommerce platform?
Amazon is the largest online marketplace used by individuals and businesses, available in many different countries and languages. Amazon is not an ecommerce platform. With Shopify, you can set up your own online store and run a business. With Amazon, you are just a seller in a marketplace. Get started with Shopify
Starting an ecommerce business is exciting. You have a great product idea, a vision for your brand, a target customer in mind, and marketing campaigns queued up.
On the flip side, there are a lot of not-so-exciting parts to starting your online business. Choosing your ecommerce software can be one of them, especially if you’re not a developer.
But it’s an important decision to carefully consider. Changing platforms after you’ve already launched your business can be a hefty undertaking, so it’s best to get it right from the start.
What is ecommerce software?
Ecommerce software is the system that allows your online store to operate. The system often includes related business tools like inventory management, accounting, and email marketing, for instance.
At a bare minimum, a ecommerce software solution allows you to list products for sale and accept payments online. However, most online businesses need more than the bare minimum, and ecommerce software is adding other business management tools too. The best has the basic tools you need to get started, along with an ecosystem of upgraded tools and platforms you can use as your business grows.
The best ecommerce software for 2022
The best ecommerce software depends on your individual business goals and needs. Let’s look at some the best ecommerce platforms for 2022:
The best ecommerce software for all-in-one store building
Shopify is the best ecommerce software for most online sellers. People love Shopify for its ease of use and the advanced ecommerce features it offers. Our robust platform includes a comprehensive set of tools for omnichannel selling. You’re set up to sell directly through your website, in person, on social media, via third-party marketplaces, and pretty much anywhere else you can think of.
Shopify goes beyond simply selling online. Our offerings include ecommerce software, as well as a comprehensive best-in-class suite of business tools. With Shopify, you’re creating an entire business command center where you can manage every aspect of your ecommerce empire—including email automation, CRM, hosting services, abandoned cart recovery, and payment processing.
Shop Pay is the fastest best-converting online checkout, Shopify POS captures in-person sales, and Shopify Fulfillment reliably delivers customer orders, among many other functions. Tap into our extensive library of apps at the Shopify App Store to make your site even more powerful. Your tech stack works together seamlessly as part of the Shopify ecosystem.
You don’t need a lot of technical expertise or money to launch and scale your business with Shopify.
Price: Basic Shopify: $39/month; Shopify: $105/month; Advanced Shopify: $399/month.
Free trial length: 3 days.
Point of sale: Yes.
Best ecommerce software for zero transaction fees
Wix is fairly easy to use, thanks to its drag-and-drop functionality. The ecommerce software is actually a website builder with ecommerce features added on, so some extra tweaks and customizations are needed if you want to sell products online. And while Wix is free for basic sites, you will need a paid subscription to take advantage of its ecommerce tools.
Ecommerce features are a bit lacking, especially compared to Shopify. With it, you can do the basics: track orders, process online payments, multi-channel selling, and automated emails. However, there are no low-stock alerts to help you avoid stockouts. So if you have a decent-sized inventory, Wix is likely too bare bones for you.
Free trial length: No free trial.
Mobile app features: The ability to manage your website and inventory, view orders, and communicate with customers; setting up mobile POS requires either Square or SumUp for credit card payments.
Best ecommerce platform for big companies
Enterprise-level tech companies are the target for BigCommerce’s ecommerce software. The platform is extremely robust and comprehensive, which makes it powerful enough to handle enterprise needs—but likely too powerful for anything smaller. It’s also a bit more rigid when it comes to customizing.
As far as ecommerce features go, BigCommerce supports cross-border sales, SEO, social selling, and third-party marketplaces. Ecommerce brand Grace & Lace ended up switching from BigCommerce to Shopify Plus (Shopify’s enterprise solution) because the former was more than it could handle. It quickly turned out to be a smart decision for the business.
Free trial length: 15 days.
Best ecommerce software for businesses with PHP programming experience
Adobe Commerce is a highly customizable ecommerce software meant for larger, established businesses that have technical resources to build and maintain an online store. It also requires you find a third-party hosting provider, which adds to both the software’s flexibility and complexity.
If you want to sell across multiple channels, Adobe Commerce is likely not the way to go. It requires a hefty amount of leg work to integrate various selling channels and international payments.
Ecommerce site Character.com used to have a complex Magento site that promoted thousands of products. It had to use tons of integrations to get the store to function the way it needed, eventually pushing it to migrate to Shopify—resulting in a 40% increase in conversions.
Point of sale: Third-party extensions available.
If you’ve heard of the popular blogging platform and content management system called WordPress, WooCommerce is its ecommerce add-on. As such, the ecommerce features aren’t as tightly integrated and often require the use of third-party apps and plug-ins. Because of this, your store quickly becomes a hodge-podge of disparate systems. Should something break, you could be in for a complicated fix.
You need to find your own third-party hosting when building an online store on WooCommerce. WooCommerce lacks PCI compliance and even has a reputation for being unreliable, two risks you might not want to take.
Price: Average monthly fee is up to $30; WooCommerce estimates costs to be $120/year for hosting; $15/year for domain name registration; up to $100/year for your site theme; up to $108/year for shipping; 2.9% plus 30¢ per sale; up to $348/year for marketing and communications; up to $79/year for SEO; up to $65/year for SSL certificate.
Free trial length: None, but offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Point of sale: Native POS available.
Did you know? You can monetize your WordPress blog without migrating to a new ecommerce software with the Shopify Buy Button. Simply embed the button to start selling on your blog—starting at only $9/month.
Best open source ecommerce software
If you’re just starting out and consider yourself to be tech-savvy, PrestaShop is worth a look. The ecommerce software is extremely flexible and customizable—a pro and a con in and of itself.
On the positive side, this means you can tailor your store exactly as you need. On the other hand, you need to find your own hosting provider, set up all the privacy and security settings, and more—all on your own, because PrestaShop has no customer support. It is free, after all.
As far as ecommerce goes, PrestaShop covers the basics. Features include inventory tracking, online checkout and shopping cart, international selling, and analytics reporting.
Free trial length: n/a
Point of sale: Available as add-on modules.
Best website builder for artists and creatives
If you’re going with Squarespace, set aside a decent amount of time to set it up and customize it the way you want it to look and feel. Better yet, outsource the design and development if you can afford it.
After the pesky setup, Squarespace has some decent inventory tracking features. You can also upgrade your plan to be able to sell gift cards and subscription-based products.
Price: Personal: $16/month, or $12/month when paid annually; Business: $26/month, or $18/month when paid annually; Basic Commerce: $35/month, or $26/month when paid annually; Advanced Commerce: $54/month, or $40/month when paid annually; Enterprise pricing also available.
Free trial length: 14 days, and you can opt for a one-time seven-day trial extension.
Mobile app features: Website editing, scan shipping labels, order management, inventory management, and customer communication.
Point of sale: Available via mobile app (only available in the US).
Keep it simple: Skip the hassle of dealing with Squarespace’s back end with the Shopify Buy Button. For just $9 per month, you can add a small embeddable code to your Squarespace site and leverage Shopify’s advanced ecommerce and marketing tools to handle the rest.
Best ecommerce software for SEO
GoDaddy is a well-known website builder that also offers an ecommerce website builder. It uses artificial design intelligence to make building an ecommerce site quick and easy, taking information you provide to build a customized website.
You don’t get much creative freedom with GoDaddy. Even though you can get up and running fast, you can only sell up to 1,500 products on a GoDaddy website. If you want to scale your store, GoDaddy isn’t the best ecommerce platform for you.
Price: $14.99 per month for ecommerce plan; $29.99 per month for ecommerce plus.
Free trial length: 30 days.
Mobile app features: Website builder, instant notifications, site metrics, take various payment options via card reader.
Volusion is another ecommerce software that started out as a basic website builder but has since expanded functionality to accommodate online selling. While you need to register and pay for your domain name through a third party, Volusion includes web hosting in its packages. However, you can choose a third party hosting provider if you prefer.
Volusion has all the basic ecommerce features a new merchant might need. You can process orders, set up recurring billing, track inventory, and promote related products. You can also create and manage customer accounts and add taxes. However, customization options are limited, and you can only tailor templates so much. So once you hit a certain stage of growth, it’ll be time to upgrade to a more full-featured and flexible option.
Price: Personal: $29/month, or $26.10/month when paid annually; Pro: $79/month, or $71.10/month when paid annually; Business: $299/month, or $269.10/month when paid annually; Prime pricing also available.
Free trial length: 14 days.
Integrated sales channels: GoDataFeed extension available to allow sales on more than 200 ecommerce channels, including Amazon, Google Shopping, eBay, and Walmart.
Best for people who don’t want to build a store
While Amazon used to be just a third-party marketplace for promoting and selling your products, it has since expanded its offerings to online sellers. Now you can use the marketplace to create your own branded mini Amazon storefront. While it puts you in front of millions of shoppers, it’s still “rented land”—in other words, Amazon can make changes or even pull the plug at any moment, and all your hard work could be gone in an instant.
That being said, creating an Amazon store is a great way to supplement your existing commerce channels. With Amazon, you can reach new customers and build brand awareness. Over time, the hope is that they start shopping with you directly so you can avoid Amazon’s associated fees and restrictions.
Price: Individual: 99¢ per item sold plus additional selling fees; Business: $39.99/month plus additional selling fees; additional selling fees may include referral fees, fulfillment fees, inventory fees, and refund fees.
Mobile app features: Analytics reporting; basic inventory management; order management; returns; view upcoming payment balance; respond to messages; take photos; list new products.
Point of sale: n/a
Best free ecommerce software
Formerly 3dcart, Shift4Shop offers a robust free shopping cart software for businesses selling online. The platform doesn’t have extensive ecommerce functionality, but you can set up online shopping for your business quickly. It offers hundreds of key features out of the box and templates to create your store. You can also use its API to integrate your 3dcart store with third-party apps.
Point of sale: Available for purchase.
Features to look for in an ecommerce solution
Budget is always a factor. You can launch an ecommerce store for as little as $100, but you’ll probably have to spend more than that once you get the wheels turning.
According to our analysis, most small businesses spend around $40,000 in their first year, with 9% of that allocated to online business needs. (Shopify merchants spend an average of $38,000, while non-Shopify merchants average around $41,000.)
It takes time before you generate a return on your business investments. It’s important to choose ecommerce software that won’t eat your entire budget but still has the features and tools you need to run and grow your business.
So while it may be tempting to find the easiest and most affordable ecommerce software, there’s more to consider. Instead of focusing only on where your business is now, think about where you envision your business going in the future—and find ecommerce software that can meet those future needs.
Scalability and usability
First things first: you need ecommerce software you can figure out how to use. You’ll want to find ecommerce software that’s intuitive and simple in design, especially if you’re DIYing everything in the beginning. You might get a read on usability from looking at customer reviews, but schedule a demo or start a free trial if you want to find out for yourself.
It’s also important to consider how your ecommerce software fits into your business’s future. You might run a small show now, but with the right ecommerce software, growth is easily in reach.
When choosing an ecommerce software, look for a best-in-class online store paired with a best-in-class suite of business management tools. Ecommerce software that regularly invests in and upgrades its platform will be more likely to help you stay ahead of your competition and on top of consumer behavior trends.
Let’s say you plan to expand into physical retail at some point. You’ll want ecommerce software that has add-ons, plug-ins, and integrations to give you in-person selling features. However, this can be cumbersome and convoluted over time.
So better yet, find ecommerce software that has those tools itself—like Shopify’s ecommerce software and the complementary Shopify POS. This syncs all your inventory and sales data instantly, so you always have up-to-date and accurate information. With Shopify, you can also add local delivery or outsource order fulfillment through the Shopify Fulfillment Network.
A friction-free checkout is crucial to driving conversions. You want to find ecommerce software that makes it as easy and secure as possible for shoppers to complete their purchase. It’s important to instill trust at this stage by offering familiar checkout options like Google Wallet and PayPal, while also collecting important customer information that can inform future business decisions.
If you use Shopify, Shop Pay streamlines online checkout, increasing checkout speed by four times. You can also leverage Shopify’s integrations, with more than 100 payment gateways to accommodate all types of payment methods and currencies.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important part of earning organic traffic to your website. When your online store is optimized for search, you’ll appear more frequently on search engine result pages (SERPs), which increases visibility and traffic.
Find ecommerce software that has important SEO features, like the ability to manipulate metadata, increase page load speed, and optimize your images. With Shopify’s ecommerce software, Google’s WebP image formatting is already built in to make images load 30% faster, for instance.
You need web hosting to allow shoppers to access your online store. Web hosting stores the information and content from your website in a publicly accessible server database. Every website is hosted somewhere with dedicated server space from a web hosting provider. Some ecommerce software offer built-in web hosting, while others require you to use an external solution.
If you use ecommerce software on a hosted platform, your solution is simple. You won’t need to search for a third-party solution, and you won’t need to pay the additional fees that come with it. If you use Shopify, website hosting is included in every plan. Each update is automatically applied to your site.
With a hosted ecommerce software, you also don’t need to worry about a content delivery network (CDN) to store files, because it comes included.
With a self-hosted or non-hosted ecommerce software, you’ll need to find your own server space through a third-party hosting provider. This comes with extra costs and another vendor relationship to manage. Plus, you have more responsibility when it comes to maintaining your site. If you have an unexpected event like a spike in site traffic after a viral social post, third-party hosting can leave you in a lurch with unresponsive customer support teams.
The lines between physical and digital commerce are becoming increasingly blurred, and even small mom and pop shops are embracing a multi-channel approach. You need ecommerce software that can keep up with the rapidly changing landscape of commerce. It’s not enough to simply be able to sell across multiple channels—you want ecommerce software that can bring all of these channels together in a single database.
Shopify acts as a business command center, syncing online and in-person sales data in real-time, so you always have accurate metrics. You can promote and sell on multiple channels from within Shopify, including social media, third-party marketplaces like Amazon, wholesale, and more.
When choosing your ecommerce software, remember to consider both your current and future needs. Some platforms may be the best solution right now, but a powerful software like Shopify can get you started as well as support your future growth.
Shopify is the best ecommerce software. Shopify has an extensive list of tools to help you manage your online business, as well as streamlined checkout, 24/7 customer support, and a platform that scales with any stage of business growth.
What are the major types of ecommerce software?
There are three main types of ecommerce software: software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and on-premise platforms.
How does ecommerce software work?
Ecommerce software connects all of your online systems in the backend to ensure you can promote your website, sell products, and fulfill orders.
How do I build an ecommerce website?
Choose an ecommerce software from this list, sign up for an account, and build your ecommerce website. Customize the look and feel, add products, and set up the backend processes for checkout and fulfillment.
It’s essential to understand the basics of ecommerce regardless of it you run a small one-person online store or a large online, and retail business. In this article, we provide an in-depth explanation of what ecommerce is, how it works, and why it’s crucial for businesses to have an online presence. The article covers the different types of ecommerce models, the benefits of ecommerce, and the challenges that small businesses may face when starting an online store. By reading this article, you can gain a better understanding of ecommerce and how it can help you grow your business.
What is Ecommerce?
Ecommerce is the buying and selling of goods and services online. Ecommerce relies on various digital platforms and technologies: websites, mobile applications, social media, and other digital channels. These technologies make possible the transactions between businesses, consumers, and other entities.
Whereas e-business refers to all aspects of operating an online business, ecommerce refers specifically to the transaction of goods and services.
The History of Ecommerce
The history of ecommerce begins with the first ever online sale: on the August 11, 1994 a man sold a CD by the band Sting to his friend through his website NetMarket, an American retail platform. This is the first example of a consumer purchasing a product from a business through the World Wide Web—or “ecommerce” as we commonly know it today.
Since then, ecommerce has evolved to make products easier to discover and purchase through online retailers and marketplaces. Independent freelancers, small businesses, and large corporations have all benefited from ecommerce, which enables them to sell their goods and services at a scale that was not possible with traditional offline retail.
The global retail ecommerce market is expected to experience significant growth in the coming years. It is projected that total ecommerce sales will surpass $5.5 trillion in 2022, and will continue to grow to exceed $8 trillion by 2026.
What Exactly is an Ecommerce Business
An ecommerce business is where the buying and selling of goods or services is done over the internet. To execute transactions, ecommerce businesses transfer money and data.
Types of Ecommerce Models
There are four main types of ecommerce models that can describe almost every transaction that takes place between consumers and businesses.
1. Business to Consumer (B2C): When a business sells a good or service to an individual consumer (e.g. You buy a pair of shoes from an online retailer).
2. Business to Business (B2B): When a business sells a good or service to another business (e.g. A business sells software-as-a-service for other businesses to use)
3. Consumer to Consumer (C2C): When a consumer sells a good or service to another consumer (e.g. You sell your old furniture on eBay to another consumer).
4. Consumer to Business (C2B): When a consumer sells their own products or services to a business or organization (e.g. An influencer offers exposure to their online audience in exchange for a fee, or a photographer licenses their photo for a business to use).
Examples of Ecommerce
Ecommerce can take on a variety of forms involving different transactional relationships between businesses and consumers, as well as different objects being exchanged as part of these transactions.
1. Retail: The sale of a product by a business directly to a customer without any intermediary.
2. Wholesale: The sale of products in bulk, often to a retailer that then sells them directly to consumers.
3. Dropshipping: The sale of a product, which is manufactured and shipped to the consumer by a third party.
4. Crowdfunding: The collection of money from consumers in advance of a product being available in order to raise the startup capital necessary to bring it to market.
5. Subscription: The automatic recurring purchase of a product or service on a regular basis until the subscriber chooses to cancel.
6. Physical products: Any tangible good that requires inventory to be replenished and orders to be physically shipped to customers as sales are made.
7. Digital products: Downloadable digital goods, templates, and courses, or media that must be purchased for consumption or licensed for use.
8. Services: A skill or set of skills provided in exchange for compensation. The service provider’s time can be purchased for a fee.
- Find product opportunities and choose what to sell
- Thoroughly research your competition Write a business plan
- Choose a logo and name
- Set up your online store
- Choose your shipping strategy
- Set sales and marketing goals
- Launch your ecommerce business
How much does it cost to start a ecommerce?
The cost to start an ecommerce business can vary depending on the type of business you’re starting, the services and products you offer, and the platform you choose to use. Generally, you can expect to spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars to get your ecommerce business started.
Is ecommerce profitable?
Indeed, ecommerce as a business model can be very profitable. Some ecommerce businesses can make millions of dollars in profits each year. It is important to note that ecommerce is a highly competitive industry, so it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and creativity to make a profit.
Can you make a living off ecommerce?
Many people make a living off running an ecommerce business. You can earn money by selling products, providing services, or creating digital products and selling them on your own website. A person can also start an affiliate business, where you earn a commission for referring customers to another business. Using the right strategies and a bit of hard work, it is very possible to earn enough to make a living from ecommerce.
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It’s never been easier to jump on the eCommerce bandwagon but finding the best eCommerce platform as a merchant has never been more critical.
But deciding on the perfect eCommerce platform can be time-consuming. There are so many things to consider, not least the cost.
The good news is your search ends here! We’ve got your eCommerce marketing solution.
We’ve compiled the best eCommerce platforms for 2022 to help you decide which best suits your business and its needs.
An eCommerce platform is a platform that allows you to build and create an online shopping experience for your clients and customers—meeting them wherever they are. Although the processes and eCommerce functionality vary, the constant is to make sales and fulfill orders.
When set up correctly, these sites serve as the business’ command center with a broad range of functions.
Every business is unique. So, you must pick a platform tailored to serve your business goals. For example, if you’re selling a digital download, you need an eCommerce platform best suited for digital products.
Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all eCommerce platform. So, it’s more effective to look for a platform that best enables you to excel at providing excellent online shopping experiences for your customers.
Now that you understand what you’re looking for let’s look at what to consider when choosing an eCommerce platform.