The Best eCommerce Platform for your Online Store: Top 7 Ranked
Let’s forget Amazon, Etsy, eBay, and other 3rd party platforms for a second. If you are looking for the best eCommerce platform to start an individual store, then this is the post for you. Here we will discuss what to look for in a store and what qualities make the best eCommerce platforms. We will discuss pricing and other benefits. I will also reveal the Top 7 eCommerce platforms in the market today and why they were selected for this post.
Why Start your own eCommerce Store?
If you want to sell anything today, the best approach is to open an eCommerce store. This will let you sell anything from physical products, digital goods, subscriptions, or engage in affiliate marketing.
The internet is the largest marketplace in the world. You can attract individuals who share a common interest and put products that they are (or may have) an interest in, in front of them. Subtly or actively referring them to make a purchase.
As attitudes and needs continue to change, more and more people are looking to the internet for solutions. More people are using the web to search for services, and even more are making purchases online. Major physical stores such as ToysRus, Men’s Warehouse, Pier 1 Imports were all impacted in 2020 by the change in demand for physical stores to online stores.
As stores continue to grow online, now is your opportunity to take advantage of this trend. It doesn’t hurt that you can engage in dropshipping with online stores, which means no inventory, no fulfillment, no processing, and no goods shipment. Learn how you can start selling online with a dropshipping store here.
What you should look for in the best eCommerce Platform
Not all stores are created equal. Some stores may offer speed, while others offer versatility. Some are user-friendly, and some require developer experience. Below are the 10 things you should look for in the best eCommerce platform of your choice.
1) Cost – It is essential to ensure that the platform you choose for your store does not throw you off your budget. Different have different costs. Sometimes you may not need all the best plan features when starting, as you can upgrade your plan as your store grows.
2) Design – The look and feel of your store are crucial, and in most portals, you can achieve this by using themes or by coding. The portal you choose must have a good selection of themes as you do not want to waste all your time designing a completely new look if an existing theme can suffice.
3) User-friendliness – Some platforms are so complicated that you would need help navigating through each stage of building your store. If you are not a developer, you most certainly will welcome a user-friendly platform. View demos where available and reviews to ensure that the eCommerce platforms you choose are not too complicated for you to work with.
4) Time required for building your store – Most platforms say that you can have your store up and running in a few hours. Ensure that your store can be created within the time-frame you have planned, with the platform you choose.
5) Basic features of the platform – the best eCommerce platforms have features that make them unique. You want to be sure that the platform you select can do what you need. For instance, you may need your platform to integrate with a specific payment system, offer shipping and delivery, customize your check out, and so on. You may also be able to get the features you need by integrating with other software.
6) Integration with other apps – There are so many apps that help your store function the way you want it to. Such apps could allow you to download reviews, find products or offer one-click processing, and so on.
7) Customer service – Support does not come with every platform. If this is important to you, then you need to ensure that it is offered.
Choosing between SAAS or Open Source Platforms
The best eCommerce stores are run on either a Software as a Service (SAAS) platform or an open-source platform. And your choice of either will depend on your needs or level of expertise.
SAAS offers hosted stores run on the provider’s server, and examples are BigCommerce, Volusion, and Shopify. Stores here are usually easier to create, and since the provider hosts them, you will not have to download software, provide security for, or worry about your store’s performance. SAAS platforms also provide customer support for their customers.
Open source platforms such as Prestashop, Magento, and WooCommerce plugin, are an option that individuals turn to when they don’t want to spend so much on monthly fees; while maintaining better control of their websites. Open source platforms do not host your website, so you will have to download the software and host it yourself. You will also have to deal with security, and the performance of your website will depend on your hosting service. Customer support here will depend on the community of developers, agents, and users.
Below are the 10 best eCommerce Platforms
The following eCommerce platforms are selected for their popularity with online store owners; they are listed in no order of preference.
Cost: Free – Open Source
Prestashop is a versatile open-source platform with tons of features to help you build and manage your online store. This platform is popular in Europe and Latin America. It is designed to allow the store owner to create a beautiful and highly functional eCommerce store. As an open-source platform, Prestashop is popular for its huge community of members, contributors, agencies, and experts to help you along every step of building your online store. You can check out a demo on Prestashop here.
Pros of Prestashop:
- Free platform
- No coding required
- Easy to use but might need a little getting used to if you are not a developer
- Over 2000 themes to choose from
- Premium themes priced as low as $52 plus
- Very versatile, allowing you to customize your store as you see fit
- Prestashop has its own payment interface built with PayPal to offer a seamless checkout experience to customers.
- Offers a demo
- You need to provide your own hosting; Prestashop partners with Ionos to offer hosting service to store owners.
- No dedicated customer service with the free plan; however, if you get hosting from Ionos, you may be able to get assistance with setting up your store through them, and you can always turn to Prestashop’s community for help.
Cost: $29/mo – Basic Shopify, $79/mo – Shopify and $299/mo – Advanced Shopify
The name Shopify is almost synonymous with eCommerce stores, and for a good reason. Shopify has invested a great deal into its user-friendly platform, such that a newbie can create a store in any niche in just a few hours. Shopify is very effective for building an eCommerce website. They offer a vast number of apps that enhance the features that come with it. Shopify has its dropshipping app, Oberlo, which works with Aliexpress to automate the product listing and inventory monitoring, among other things.
Shopify has thought of everything you need to run your store smoothly, from billing, taxes, to shipping and so on. Further, Shopify integrates with most wholesalers who offer more features like price automation, 1-click imports, fulfillment services, and so much more.
Learn more about store automation services here.
- 14-day free trial – allows you to get a feel for the store before getting charged.
- Multiple themes in various niches to choose from
- Extremely user-friendly platform
- No coding required, and no need to hire a website builder
- Access to multiple plugins and apps to enhance your store
- Powerful platform – Shopify hosts your website, so you shouldn’t be worried about your website’s speed.
- If you decide you don’t want the store anymore, you can sell it through Shopify’s store sales service.
- Paid platform
- The website is hosted on Shopify’s server, which means that you will always be subject to Shopify’s rules and policies. This may be a benefit to some people depending on individual needs.
- New users may find the premium themes costly at approximately $180.
- This may not be a problem for everyone, but, personally, I’m not too fond of the fact that my logos seem to shrink on the website, and I can’t do much about it.
- Extra charges for each transaction
Cost: Free – Open Source
With WooCommerce, even a beginner can create a fully functioning store in a few minutes as long as they have a WordPress website.
WooCommerce is a powerful free plugin that works seamlessly with WordPress websites, allowing you to create your eCommerce store on your website or blog. It also integrates with the top dropshipping wholesaler’s apps to give your store added functionality.
WooCommerce is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms. This plugin powers over 4,414,537 existing websites, approximately 93.7% of all WordPress eCommerce websites (Hosting Tribunal). This plugin works with all the major payment systems and integrates with other WordPress plugins to expand its features. With WooCommerce, you can create a beautiful store with powerful features and pay no fees. You must be comfortable with working with WordPress to be able to use this plugin effectively.
- Powerful Plugin
- Integrates with WordPress allowing design flexibility
- 2000 plus themes to choose from
- User-friendly installation
- Forever free
- You will have to attract customers to your shop by yourself
- Must be familiar with using WordPress
- Have your hosting service – Make sure it can support your store
Cost: Free trial then $29/mo – Standard Plan, $79/mo – Plus Plan and $299/mo – Pro Plan
Like Shopify, BigCommerce is one of the easiest ways to build an online store. It is even priced like Shopify. But don’t let this fool you; both are very different. For instance, BigCommerce charges no transaction fees and offers more themes and more variations than Shopify does. It also boasts of built-in page builders, which gives you better flexibility on your store’s design.
BigCommerce integrates with many apps to enhance your online store and is an excellent platform if you are working with a team since this platform has no limit on staff accounts. What’s more, Big Commerce is known to be SEO-friendly and great for pulling organic traffic.
- Search engine friendly
- No transaction fees
- 30-day Free trial
- Built-in page builder
- No coding required
- More themes and templates
- Customizable categories
- No limit on staff accounts
- Limited sales – you have to move up to the next payment plan every time you reach the sales limit set on your selected plan.
Cost: $0 – Free Plan, $6/mo – Personal Plan, $12/mo – Professional Plan, $26/mo – Performance Plan
Weebly is more popular as a website building service; however, they have an easy-to-use eCommerce builder that is noteworthy. This platform competes directly with Wix. They also have a drag and drop editing function to allow you easily create a fully functional store. If you are more advanced, you can also use HTML and CSS to personalize your store design.
Weebly offers free themes as well as very affordable premium themes, with prices starting at $45. This platform integrates with other wholesaler apps to provide product and pricing automation, access to wholesalers, and so much more. Its features include bulk import of products and printing of shipping labels, among other things. Learn more about Weebly Commerce here.
- Plans are not too expensive
- Easy to use drag and drop designer
- Premium themes start at $45
- Not as many features as you would find with Shopify or BigCommerce
Cost: Forever free plan – $0/mo, Venture Plan – $15/mo, Business Plan – $35/mo, Unlimited Plan – $99/mo
Ecwid (eCommerce Widget) is one of my personal favorites when it comes to choosing the best eCommerce platform for your online store, and I will tell you why in a few words.
Firstly, this platform is very affordable, and you can achieve a lot if you decide to start with the free plan since you can get a lot of essential features (including promotion in social media) with this plan. If you plan to upgrade, then the next plan is still very affordable. At $15/mo, you will get a lot more features than other eCommerce platforms offer. The best plans, however, are the business and unlimited plans.
You can work with most websites, including WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix. Doing so makes it easy for you to control your site design.
Ecwid also provides video tutorials to guide you every step of the way.
- Tons of video guides to help you with every aspect of building your eCommerce store, including promotion
- No need for programmers or designers
- Zero transaction fees with all plans
- Facebook Shop
- Instagram Store
- Get your own branded app for IOS and android with the unlimited plan.
- Use your current website
- Works with most platforms including WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Joomla, Blogger, Squarespace, and Blogger
- Sell physical and digital products
- Ecwid is not the best when it comes to analytics this can be remedied with the use of available apps.
Cost: Free – Open Source, but also has a hosted option
Magento is an open-source platform owned by Adobe, which allows you to build the eCommerce store you want. Like most open-source platforms, Magento is backed by a large community that includes developers. This company also offers a hosted plan, and you can view the details here.
Flexibility is a great benefit of this platform. Magento offers control over your store’s source code, and you may edit as you wish. This makes it a great option for eCommerce sellers who are also developers. However, this platform is user-friendly and has many features to ease your store-building experience. If you are new to eCommerce, you can quickly find your way around.
Further, this platform will support your business’ growth as the framework can handle unlimited traffic and inventory.
- Free – Open source
- Large community, offering support
- Flexibilty of design
- Multisource inventory
- Self host or choose their hosting plan
- Support comes from agency partners
- Make be time costly to design and build your own eCommerce store
In choosing the best eCommerce platform for your online store, there is a lot to consider, from the cost to ease of design, availability of apps, and time needed to get your store up and running. Hopefully, this article will help you cut your decision time in half to get to the essential part of starting an online store, which is building traffic that converts to sales.
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