Best eCommerce Platforms
Choosing the Best ecommerce platforms for your online store can be a daunting task. However, with the availability of so many ecommerce platforms to choose from, how do you know which one is the best ecommerce platform for your online business needs? How can you be sure that you are getting the value for your money?
When comparing ecommerce platforms, you may find it difficult to ascertain which one would suit your online business needs. Although all ecommerce builders come with the same basic features (for example, taking orders and delivering products), you may not be able to identify the minor differences in features and performance; in the long run, this may affect your online store.
In this review of top ecommerce platforms, we will help you decide the one that best fits your budget and brand.
Top 5 Best eCommerce Platforms in 2018 Reviewed and Compared
Shopify is an ecommerce platform for building online retail businesses. So many businesses are migrating to the world of hosted ecommerce platforms, and Shopify provides them one of the best platforms and that too, without shelling out a fortune.
Almost a decade since Shopify came into the big picture, it has won the hearts of a large number of entrepreneurs and startups around the globe, who looks to expand or extend their businesses to the web.
But why is it so popular, despite the availability of so many other options available? Well, you need to read further to get the answer. Let us quickly examine the features of Shopify which makes it one of the most desired ecommerce platforms.
Features of Shopify
- It is affordable
No matter what you are building, cost is something you cannot ignore. And building a store involves many other expenses which you need to balance out. Shopify provides quality services at affordable rates. Compared to other platforms, you have to pay a lower monthly cost and get maximum services instead of that.
- So many templates to choose from
It is very important that your store is visually attractive. Since there is no face to face interaction, your online store is the only thing you get to showcase to your customers to earn their loyalty.
Not only does Shopify provide you a beautiful and responsive layout, but you can also choose from hundreds of themes which can be customized according to your requirements, allowing you to build unique online shops.
- Does not require a web hosting plan
If you are just starting up your online store, getting a reliable web hosting can be a real headache. With Shopify, you can sit and relax while your store’s servers are maintained properly. Shopify does the following:
- Pays for your store hosting
- Keeps your store up to date
- Handles your payment gateway
Shopify makes your work easy and seamless.
- Access to in-built marketing tools
A store owner knows how much costs are involved in the marketing of the products. Shopify helps you here too! It has some built-in marketing tools to lower the costs of start-ups. It lets you put meta titles, the page title, meta description, unique URLs, make pages visible and invisible, and redirect pages wherever necessary and lets you optimize your store on your terms.
Moreover, Shopify is integrated to Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter, the most popular social media platforms in the contemporary web where you can promote your products.
- Provision of easy access to commendable technical support
When you are running an online store, you will find yourself looking for some technical support now and then. Shopify offers commendable technical support which you can look out for, in case your website stops working, or other glitches arise, Shopify customer care is available 24×7 to pick up your calls or revert you on live chats.
Even though it strikes your mind pretty much after all the things, it’s as important as others. Shopify spends a huge sum of money to ensure that their platform is secure and adhere to relevant rules and regulations. So, you can be sure that all of your security concerns are being taken care of.
Benefits of Shopify
- Access to more than 100 store templates to choose from
- Availability of over 1500 apps (plugins/extensions) that helps extend your store’s functionality
- Provides you the room to connect your online store with your Facebook page and sell directly on Facebook
- Built-in mobile-friendly shopping cart and seller mobile apps (and Shopify connects store owners with app developers for the development of their store’s app)
- Access to 24/7 support via phone, live chats and tutorials. The Shopify community forum comes in handy too.
Depending on your budget, you can choose different Shopify packages, which range from $29 to $299/month. Get started with an extended free trial with Shopify here.
If you have been looking to get an online store going, another beautiful eCommerce platform to consider is BigCommerce. BigCommerce has all the tools that you need to set up a thriving online store that will see you move a lot of your products.
BigCommerce takes care of all the grueling work for you, so your online store set up is a breeze. With BigCommerce there is no extra web hosting to pay for or anything to install on your computer. You also don’t have to worry about backing any information up as BigCommerce will do that for you – this is similar to what Shopify offers.
Setting up your online store with BigCommerce is a quick three step process:
- Pick a Design:BigCommerce has hundreds of platform design templates you can choose from. Once you have a look you are after, you can customize it using the ‘drag and drop’ and ‘click and type’ method. Before you know it, your online store starts to come to life.
- Choose Preferences:Once your store is designed the way you want, you then need to choose your preferences. This is where you will select a shipping method as well as what type of payment you will accept. Whatever combination you can think of, you can do it with BigCommerce.
- Get to Selling:Once you design your store and choose your preferences, you are ready to get to selling. You can start right away and always evolve your store as you go along.
A great feature that comes with you opening an online store using BigCommerce is the fact that your store will be fully optimized once complete. That means that the search engine giants, such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing, will be able to find you and if they can find you so can customers. There are even more features BigCommerce has to offer:
Features of BigCommerce
BigCommerce has hundreds and hundreds of features that make it one of the most robust ecommerce software solutions out there on the market. Here are some of the features:
- Store Design
One of the most important features for me is the advancements to design customization. Now I have built over 50 websites in my time, and the biggest expense to date has been the cost of designers, and web developers to add, edit or delete certain elements to my websites.
Gone are those days with BigCommerce. They have a feature that allows you to drag and drop straight onto the design template and the changes are immediate. So if you don’t like where the newsletter module is, you simply need to click and drag it somewhere else. It doesn’t get easier than that, and this feature alone could save you hundreds, if not thousands over the long run in design and development costs. Thumbs up BigCommerce!
- Integration with eBay
Now we all know that eBay is a massive website. The website has made many people rich and given them the freedom to live life on their terms. eBay is a recognizable brand around the world and is trusted by many millions of shoppers.
So instead of competing against this giant, BigCommerce has become its ally. Right from the administration panel of your BigCommerce store, you can put your items up on eBay either on their sale or their auction format.
One of the best features about this, and if you know how to place items on eBay, you’ll know how important this is, is the ability to schedule your items to go live at a certain time.
- Automated Email Marketing
This is a very powerful feature no matter what you’re selling! This is how the big stores make a lot more money than the smaller ones. It’s their secret weapon, and you’ve probably come across if many times if you’ve ever purchased anything from one of the major stores on the Internet.
Imagine this; a visitor comes to your website and purchases a shirt from your store. A Fortnight later that customer receives an email with a 25% discount coupon, and suggestions on shorts that will match the shirt already purchased. Do you think this strategy works? You better believe it.
Best of all, just like it is with Shopify, you can try all that BigCommerce has to offer, free, for 15 days. This free trial is not a scaled-down version either; it is a fully functional trial that allows you sufficient time to see if their solutions will work for you.
Bigcommerce Pricing Plans:
BigCommerce has three pricing plans that small, medium and large companies that look to create an online store can choose from. You can also opt to Try BigCommerce for free. Below are the pricing plans:
Standard – Costs $29.95/month
All Basic Features
- Accept Credit Cards & PayPal
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- Unlimited Products
- Unlimited Storage
Plus – costs $79.95
Includes all Standard features including:
- Abandoned Cart Saver
- No Transaction Fees
- 5% Transaction Fee
- Checkout Hosted on Your Domain
- Advanced Customer Segmentation
- Real-Time Carrier Shipping
- Best-In-Class Payment Providers
- Omni-Channel Sales Tools
Enterprise – Custom Pricing
Includes all Plus features plus:
- Dedicated SSL & IP Address Available
- Maximize SEO with Site-Wide HTTPS
- Uptime SLA Available
- Setup & Data Migration
- Dedicated Account Management Available
- Google Trusted Stores
- Advanced Reporting Tools
- Priority Support Available
- Product Filtering (Faceted Search)
Wix is also a very good ecommerce platform to use when you want to start up your online store. With impressive pricing and beautiful-looking templates, Wix has witnessed some success.
Wix has won the hearts of many, as it gives room for small business owners to create a stylish ecommerce website without them having to break their banks. With Wix, you can sell anything from clothing to custom cakes. Although Wix brings many offers to the table, it still can’t beat ecommerce platform giants like Shopify; only time will tell how larger it becomes.
Wix has a user-friendly user interface that is simple and responsive. Below are the features Wix offers.
Wix Ecommerce Features
Registering an account with Wix welcomes you with standard features expected of any ecommerce platform. However, you will find quite a few features missing when you compare Wix with an ecommerce bigwig like Shopify, or if you made use of a WordPress website.
Good news for beginners who have little programming knowledge is that Wix has a really simple dashboard; all you need is to drag and drop the features you’d like present in your store. Also, it comes equipped with an app market, where you can get add-ons and other important resources like a contact form and receipts. However, with Shopify, you have access to big and made-for-ecommerce add-ons. This means that Wix will only work best for small stores that won’t be upgrading anytime soon.
Adding a product page, modifying buttons, adding images and integrating social media has never been easier, all thanks to the Wix simple-to-use drag-and-drop tools. Although these are basic functions expected of an ecommerce platform, it feels good to see Wix add them to its features.
Wix also allows you to add product galleries, drop a quick Buy button and showcase sales with a few clicks. After someone buys a product, they get a “thank you” message. Wix uses a secure message-based checkout process that sends you emails regularly.
Wix Ecommerce Ease of Use
One of the major benefits you will derive from Wix is how simple it is to be used – Wix integrated a drag and drop editor to make sure of that. This drag and drop feature has always been around and integrated for Wix site builders, and it has now been made available to use on their ecommerce platforms.
Wix has beginners in mind, so they made their dashboard have just a few and non-complicated buttons that help beginners perform most important tasks. Every component on your homepage can be moved around with your mouse – you can easily decide where you want what to be. Also, you have an awesome taskbar at the top that allows you to save your work easily.
On the left page, you have five buttons that allow you to edit pages, add components, use the app market, customize items and explore your settings. Wix’s interface is simple and fun to use.
Wix Ecommerce Pricing
To create an online store with Wix, you will have to subscribe to its VIP or eCommerce plan, which is $17 and $25 respectively every month.
The Wix eCommerce plan features:
- One free domain that lasts for a year,
- Two premium add-ons for free
- 20GB of storage.
Wix VIP plan features:
- Unlimited bandwidth,
- VIP support,
- Priority response, and
- A professional site review
3dcart eCommerce platform has been around for over 18 years, hosted 17,000+ stores online, and has made $4 billion in online transactions. 3dCart brings a host of great front-end and back-end features to the table.
3dCart offers cost-effective and scalable full-packed product plans that grow with your business. Below are some of the numerous benefits 3dCart offers:
- 3dCart gives you total control over your eCommerce software. You can access the system, shop inventory, invoices and customer data securely from any internet-connected device.
- Gives you access to a big collection of professionally designed templates that can help beautify your store.
- Creates a powerful platform for sellers to market and sell their products online; it also gives room for buyers to order online easily.
- Provides you access to access to a team of professionals who are always available to assist you with any issues that come up from your ecommerce website.
Features of 3dCart
- PCI Certified
- 24x7x365 Phone, Email, and Chat Support
- Support for backorders and wait lists
- Lots of SEO tools
- Integrated with Endicia Label Server
- Bulk Importing/Exporting
- Inventory control, including batch editing and low stock alerts
- No Transaction Fees
- Support for digital products
- Shipment tracking
- Robust Tax and Shipping calculators
- Product options, including bundles
- CRM features like Mailing List Manager
- Support for gift certificates, coupons, discounts, gift registries, and wish lists.
- Customizable invoices and packing slips
3dCart has five different plans that you can choose from, and you can either choose to pay monthly or annually. If you would like to try 3dCart before subscribing to a plan, there’s a 15-day free trial plan with free tech support.
Below are the paid plans:
3d Cart Nano plan – costs $9.99/month (monthly) or $8.49/month (annually)
- 24×7 Tech Support
- Up to 2,000 visits/mo
- Built-in Blog
- Up to 25 Products
- Facebook Store
- Mobile Store
- $175 in Free Ad Credits
- Domain Registration
- Personal Guru Session
- API Access
3d Cart Mini plan – costs $19.99/month (monthly) or $16.99/month (annually)
Contains all Nano features and:
- Up to 4,000 visits/mo
- Up to 200 Products
3dCart Starter plan – costs $35.99/month (monthly) or $30.59/month (annually)
Contains all Mini features and:
- Up to 8,000 visits/mo
- Up to 1,000 Products
3dCart Professional plan – costs $65.99/month (monthly) or $56.09/month (annually)
Contains all Starter features and:
- Up to 20,000 visits/mo
- Up to 10,000 Products
- Live Chat
3dCart Professional Plus plan – costs $99.99/month (monthly) or $84.99/month (annually)
Contains all Professional features and:
- Quickbooks Connector
- $225 in Free Ad Credits
- Ebay Integration
- Unlimited Products
- DOBA Integration
Volusion eCommerce offers robust tools to build an online store or shopping cart and webstore environment that can satisfy the most complex online sales requirements. It is suitable for large, medium and small companies.
With the Volusion online store builder and Volusion shopping cart, you can create compelling, user-friendly eCommerce platforms and websites. The Volusion framework supports all kinds of shopping carts, and it has hosted, supported tools and easy-to-use templates to configure and support product sales quickly.
Volusion is comprised of a rich toolset that allows you to efficiently create powerful, feature-rich eCommerce solutions and websites, and provides plentiful opportunities for online enterprise sales.
You can use Volusion templates and design tools to create a Volusion site that utilizes customized, uniquely configured Volusion components to support a portal application or Volusion shopping cart.
The enterprise can achieve an online sales presence for products and services that are user-friendly, and attractive, and satisfies the most demanding eCommerce needs. The Volusion framework supports integration with payment gateways, shipping systems, and other internal systems such as ERP or CRM.
You can utilize Volusion capabilities to create customized discounts and many other features to attract and retain customers.
Volusion eCommerce features:
- Social and Mobile eCommerce Support
- Integrated check-out and live package tracking
- Unlimited product photos and enhanced image display
- Stock Management and Inventory Management
- Unlimited Product Options and Product Comparison
- Marketing Tools and Features
- Robust Data and Information Security
- Administrative Tool Suite Including User Security Tools
- Numerous Other Business Store Features
Volusion eCommerce platform gives room for you to:
- Create an eCommerce shopping cart solution for dynamic customer interaction
- Present fresh, relevant information
- Integrate the Volusion shopping cart with ERP, CRM, logistics and shipping
- Design rewards coupons and audit coupon redemption
- Audit Sales, track order status, shipping dates, and returns to ensure customer satisfaction
- Import, update and delete products and export orders to provide accurate, timely service
- Manage state, category and product taxes
- Provide real-time order and fraud detection to protect your business and customers
Volusion Pricing Plans:
Volusion pricing plans have been made to meet your requirements and also suit your budget. If you would like to test the Volution eCommerce platform, there is a free trial version you can utilize. All enterprise pricing plans are billed monthly or annually.
Mini – costs $15/month (monthly) or $13.50/month (annually)
- Online Support
- Unlimited Storage
- Mobile Commerce
- Facebook Store
- No Transaction Fees
- Automatic Tax Rates
- 100 Products
- Social Media Tools
Plus – costs $35/month (monthly) or $31.50/month (annually)
Contains Mini plan features, and:
- Abandoned Cart Reports
- 1,000 Products
- Phone Support
- Ratings and Reviews
Pro – $75/month (monthly) or $67.50/month (annually)
Contains all Plus plan features and:
- eBay Integration
- Amazon Integration
- 10,000 Products
- Priority Support
- API Access
Premium – $135/month (monthly) or $121.50/month (annually)
Contains all Plus plan features plus:
- Unlimited Products
- Priority Support
- Dedicated Account Manager
With the above reviews, you should not have a problem with deciding which ecommerce platform will work best for you.
What else do I need to know before starting my online store?
You don’t need to have a PhD in programming to use the ecommerce platforms discussed in this article; after signing up for any of the ecommerce platforms above, your store should be active in a couple of hours. However, just like your local shop, you will need to do the work of making people know about your new store – this is the challenging aspect of setting up your online store.
Are these eCommerce platforms better than self-hosted ones?
Yes, they are! If you are looking to have a store that stays online almost all the time, choosing from the reviewed platforms above is the best choice to make. Hosting your online store yourself is a dicey thing to do; what if you didn’t choose a host with 99.9% uptime? What if you ran out of bandwidth? You will never have to deal with issues like this, by choosing from the list above.
How soon can I start promoting my store?
Immediately! Most of the stores above allow you to integrate your online store with your social media accounts. You can start promoting products immediately they are updated in your store through your connected social media profiles. If you have a few cash to spend, you could pay for ads.