Sep 16, 2021
15 Best eCommerce Platforms to Build Your Online Store in 2021
Setting up an online store requires a lot of work. It involves designing a website, managing inventory, and setting up payment gateways.
However, the first step is picking the best eCommerce platform for your business. They help you build a strong marketing strategy, create a great website design, enhance your customers’ shopping experience, and make inventory management and processing orders much more manageable.
There are plenty of options offering all the necessary features to launch an eCommerce website. Therefore, it’s crucial to make your choice based on your business ideas, goals, and budget.
This article lists the 15 best eCommerce platforms available, their pros and cons, and discuss what to look for when choosing which one to use.
15 Best eCommerce Platforms for Your Online Business
Now let’s take a deeper look at the pros and cons of different eCommerce solutions.
We have picked the 15 best eCommerce platform options that suit various business needs and niches. These eCommerce platforms are SaaS and open-source alike, so we hope you’ll find the right one for you.
1. Zyro eCommerce – An Excellent Option for Beginners
Zyro is a website builder that offers affordable yet powerful eCommerce solutions.
This drag-and-drop website builder focuses on ease of use, providing features that allow you to build an eCommerce site within minutes.
It offers several designer-built online store templates that are easy to customize using the drag-and-drop editor. These templates are also responsive by default, meaning your site will quickly adapt to any screen your customers might be using.
Some of the most exciting features Zyro offers are the AI-based tools that help you set up your business and website with ease. They include a business name generator, a logo maker, and even a content generator.
As for payment processing, Zyro is compatible with plenty of third-party payment providers. Simply check the list of supported payment gateways and their supported countries so that you can choose the best option for your market.
When it comes to customer support, Zyro’s support team is available via email, contact form, and 24/7 live chat – option only available for existing users – to assist you on any issues. Additionally, its knowledge base provides answers to common questions and more information on how to use the eCommerce platform.
Pricing and Plans
Zyro offers two eCommerce plans – eCommerce for $9.90/month and eCommerce Plus for $14.90/month.
For starters, the eCommerce plan is one of the most affordable options compared to other website builders on this list. It offers such features as unlimited bandwidth, email notifications, discount coupons, gift cards, and complete order tracking.
The eCommerce Plus plan is best for people who want more advanced tools to grow their business, such as abandoned cart recovery, options for selling products on social media, and multilingual stores.
- Affordable – Zyro’s eCommerce plans’ prices offer excellent value for money.
- Ease of use – use its intuitive drag-and-drop builder to create and arrange website elements.
- Easily scalable – Zyro automatically upgrades the site’s bandwidth and storage to accommodate your website’s growth.
- Multiple payment options – compatible with many third-party payment providers, supporting several countries.
- Includes free eCommerce themes – there are plenty of pre-made templates for online stores.
- Multiple tools offer various tools to help you create and optimize your sites, such as the AI-based logo maker and content generator.
- It is not possible to switch templates. You can’t automatically transfer your website’s content to a new template. You’ll have to duplicate the site and then import its content to the new design.
Zyro is a beginner-friendly website builder that requires no coding knowledge, so you can quickly launch your online store. Besides, it is one of the most affordable and reliable options on this list.
Overall, it is an excellent choice for freelancers and small to medium-sized businesses to build their sites.
2. WooCommerce – A Great eCommerce Plugin for WordPress
Unlike other entries in this list, WooCommerce is not a standalone eCommerce platform. Instead, it’s one of the best eCommerce plugins for WordPress.
WooCommerce does a fantastic job of adding shopping cart functionality to WordPress, and it’s one of our favorite eCommerce platforms on this list. WooCommerce is an excellent choice for all business types – from beginners to professionals alike.
Setting up WooCommerce is easy. Once you’ve installed the plugin, it integrates perfectly with the beginner-friendly WordPress dashboard. Plus, there are plenty of WooCommerce-compatible themes available to help you quickly design the store.
WooCommerce provides you with all the essential eCommerce features – from inventory management to processing payments. Plus, you can extend its functionality with hundreds of dedicated extensions, including marketing, shipping, and store management tools.
If you’re looking to set up a simple WordPress-based online store, it’s hard to beat WooCommerce’s ease of use.
One is that you can’t reach WooCommerce’s customer service through phone or email. You’ll need to submit a ticket first and wait for the team to answer your question through live chat.
Nevertheless, WooCommerce offers plenty of online guides and support forums, providing insights from professionals and everyday users.
Pricing and Plans
WordPress and WooCommerce are free to use. However, as it’s a self-hosted solution, you’ll need to find a hosting service. If you use our WooCommerce hosting, there will be no additional costs for an SSL certificate and a domain name since they are included in the plans.
While plenty of free themes and extensions are available, you might require a more specific design or advanced features only available in premium options.
- Perfect WordPress integration – WooCommerce is a free and open-source plugin for WordPress, one of the industry’s most popular content management systems (CMS).
- WordPress themes – one of the benefits of running a WordPress site is the abundance of WordPress themes compatible with WooCommerce.
- WooCommerce extensions and WordPress plugins – if you need more functionalities or features for your online store, hundreds of WooCommerce extensions and WordPress plugins are available to fulfill your needs.
- Large online community – over 400 million WordPress websites exist, so you get the advantage of a large community to help you solve issues and run your online store smoothly.
- Requires multiple extensions – WooCommerce doesn’t come with many features by default.
WooCommerce makes for one of the most flexible eCommerce platforms you can get. Thanks to the availability of WooCommerce extensions, WordPress plugins, and WordPress themes, you get great flexibility to customize your store’s design and functionality.
3. PrestaShop – An Advanced Open-Source Platform
PrestaShop is a free, open-source eCommerce platform that you download and install on your hosting server.
This platform comes with great features such as a powerful product management system, multiple payment options, and customizable checkouts.
Besides, you can sell customizable products such as personalized t-shirts by letting customers upload files. They can easily upload a design to the store so that you can print their orders.
In addition to that, add more functionality to your site with the pre-made website templates and modules available on PrestaShop’s add-on marketplace. They include an image slider, Mailchimp integration, and templates for electronics, food delivery, and other types of stores.
In addition to the payment options available on its marketplace, PrestaShop worked with PayPal to develop the PrestaShop Checkout module. It allows you to accept various payment methods from one interface, and it is free to download.
However, it charges commission rates according to your monthly payment volume, payment methods used, and location.
Pricing and Plans
Depending on your website needs, you may have to pay for an additional template and modules. Premium modules start from €44.99, but there is also a variety of free tools available.
Templates, on the other hand, start from €59.99 – there are no free versions available.
- Advanced product management – easily create product categories, set a minimum purchase quantity, and customize a message for out-of-stock products.
- Customizable product – customers can select product variants and upload files necessary for product customization.
- Excellent checkout options – allows you to set a one-page checkout and simplify the account creation process to decrease your cart abandonment rates.
- Expensive add-ons – depending on your needs, you might need to install an additional template or modules, increasing your total costs.
- Limited support – you can only contact the support team by email. If you wish to have expert assistance, you must purchase a support plan starting at €249/three months.
PrestaShop is one of the most advanced open-source eCommerce platforms. It packs many helpful features and has a wide range of modules to help upgrade your online store.
4. Magento – A Feature-Rich Platform for Medium to Large Businesses
Magento is another eCommerce-specific CMS. It’s a robust platform with advanced features that enable you to create small or large-scale online stores.
This platform offers two eCommerce solutions, an open-source and a hosted software, Magento Commerce.
Plus, users can save their own pages and content templates and reuse them across multiple pages or sites.
It also has content staging and preview options, so users can tweak their web design in a different environment to reduce downtime.
Go to the Magento marketplace to download or purchase extensions to expand your Magento site with extra functionalities like SEO, analytic tools, or payment gateways.
However, you need to upgrade to Magento Commerce to get a visual website builder or access advanced tools like data reporting and customer segmentation.
Magento uses advanced algorithms and AI technology to analyze customers’ behavior, offering them personalized shopping experiences and product recommendations.
Pricing and Plans
Magento offers two types of eCommerce platforms – Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce.
Magento Open Source is a free self-hosted solution, so while the software itself is free to download and use, there will be a cost for a hosting service, a domain name, and an SSL certificate. Depending on the host, you might need to install Magento manually.
Plus, you might need to purchase some extensions or themes.
Magento Commerce, on the other hand, is a premium all-in-one service that includes a hosting service. The price depends on your business scale, and you have to contact them to get a quote.
- Staging environment – work on your Magento site’s update without taking the main site offline. This prevents potential losses due to downtime.
- Customer personalization – enhance your customers’ shopping experience by providing personalized product recommendations.
- Integrates well with multiple payment processors – there are more than 300 payment gateways to choose from in Magento’s marketplace.
- Limited support – ticket support is only available if you have a Magento Commerce account. Users of the open-source platform can only rely on Magento’s knowledge base, documentation, and community forum.
- Not user-friendly – the platform has a steep learning curve.
Magento is one of the most advanced eCommerce platforms. However, it may require a bit more experience to establish a full-fledged online store.
Besides, if you need advanced features for a large-scale enterprise, it’s worth considering the platform’s hosted solution.
5. Shopify – A Complete eCommerce Website Builder
Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce website builders. This platform offers all the tools needed to create fully functional eCommerce sites with ease.
Beginners can create their online stores within minutes, thanks to its intuitive drag-and-drop builder. There are pre-made templates, too, so that users don’t have to start designing from scratch.
One notable feature that’s available on all Shopify plans is the abandoned cart recovery. This allows store owners to send an email reminding their customers about their abandoned carts, inviting them to complete their purchases.
In addition, all Shopify plans come with a fraud analysis feature. It works for online credit card payments to help you identify potentially fraudulent orders, avoiding risks of potential chargebacks.
Shopify is compatible with over 100 payment gateways around the world. However, Shopify incurs additional transaction fees for third-party processors. Depending on the plan, this fee ranges from 0.5% to 2% per transaction.
To avoid this fee, customers in certain locations can use Shopify’s service, Shopify Payments. It accepts online credit card payments as well as Google Pay and Apple Pay transactions. Plus, it’s easy to set up and offers a helpful payment and cash flow report.
Shopify has 24/7 phone support, live chat, and email support, ensuring that its customers can get direct help from the team in a matter of minutes.
Pricing and Plans
Shopify has three pricing plans available – Basic Shopify for $29/month, Shopify for $79/month, and Advanced Shopify for $299/month. It also offers a 14-day free trial, allowing users to test the platform before choosing their plan.
Its starting plan includes options for gift cards, real-time shipping rates, unlimited bandwidth, and an unlimited number of products to sell. To get professional reports and increase staff accounts and inventory locations, you need to upgrade your plan.
It offers the Shopify Plus eCommerce platform for more prominent companies, starting at $2,000/month. Its price depends on the business’s needs and size.
- Provides tons of additional tools – Shopify’s dedicated app store offers several tools to expand your site’s functionality.
- Outstanding customer support – provides support through various channels, including 24/7 phone support.
- Built-in abandoned cart recovery – this feature is available on all plans to help you recover lost sales.
- Fraud analysis – prevent potential chargebacks by identifying fraudulent transactions.
- Additional transaction fees – transaction fees apply if you want to use third-party payment gateways and accept card payments. The rates vary according to your Shopify plan.
- A limited selection of free templates – the templates available in Shopify’s theme store are limited, and some are pretty expensive. However, you can get third-party themes from ThemeForest.
By offering ease of use, a collection of great features, and plenty of third-party integrations, Shopify is an excellent option for small to medium-sized stores.
6. BigCommerce – Best eCommerce Platform for Large Businesses
Another excellent platform for eCommerce sites is BigCommerce. Packed with unique tools and features, this website builder is a reliable option for medium to large businesses.
One of BigCommerce’s best features is multi-channel selling, called the Channel Manager. With this tool, business owners can connect their stores to different marketplaces while keeping their inventory management tasks in one place.
Besides, this eCommerce platform also has a customer segmentation feature that differentiates customer groups based on their background and shopping habits. This allows you to provide them a personalized experience in your online store, such as offering specific item recommendations and promotions.
BigCommerce comes with built-in social media integration and SEO features, including rich snippets, custom URLs, page titles, and a CDN to help your site load faster. These features can help you drive more traffic and achieve a higher rank in search engine results.
Another plus of using BigCommerce is that it has no transaction fees. However, it has an annual sales threshold – if your sales reach over $50,000 in one year, this eCommerce platform will automatically upgrade your plan to a higher-tier.
Pricing and plans
BigCommerce offers three pricing plans, ranging from $29.95/month to $299.95/month. In addition, it provides the Enterprise level plan, which comes with a custom price calculated according to your business needs and sales volume.
Some of the features you’ll get with the BigCommerce Standard plan are unlimited product listing, real-time shipping rates, and gift cards. It is a very suitable choice for a business that is just getting started.
- Advanced multi-channel feature – manage your inventory from one place for more effective multi-channel selling.
- An unlimited number of staff accounts – each team member has an account. You can set permissions so that each user only has access to their tasks.
- No additional transaction fees – there are no additional transaction fees for using third-party payment gateways.
- Personalized shopping experience – the customer segmentation feature helps provide a personalized experience for each customer depending on their shopping habits.
- Annual sales limit – BigCommerce will automatically upgrade your plan if you exceed your limit or charge an extra fee if you’re already using its highest plan.
- Steep learning curve – learning how to use its more advanced tools may take time.
Even though it comes with great tools, BigCommerce might not be the best solution for small online stores. Its cheapest Premium plan alone is more expensive than most of the competitors.
However, BigCommerce is one of the best eCommerce platforms for medium and large-scale businesses. It features advanced analytics tools and helps you handle bulk orders and manage shipping options with ease.
7. Shift4Shop – A Feature-Rich eCommerce Platform
Shift4Shop, formerly known as 3dcart, is another SaaS eCommerce platform on our list.
This platform provides a page builder to design your website quickly, and its interface is very similar to the WordPress dashboard. It is intuitive and user-friendly, allowing you to build a powerful eCommerce site with ease.
Shift4Shop comes with various excellent features, including SEO tools, abandoned cart recovery, and advanced product management.
Furthermore, it allows you to customize your checkout settings. You can opt for a three-page or one-page checkout method to provide a more convenient experience for your customers.
Shift4Shop also has customer accounts and guest checkout options. The guest checkout allows you to attract first-time customers who just want to make a single purchase. Creating an account can sometimes make customers abandon their carts.
If they opt to create accounts, they can keep track of their order status in their order management dashboard. Plus, they get access to a great feature that automatically places their orders for recurring purchases.
This eCommerce platform is also compatible with digital downloads and event ticket sales. Shift4Shop automatically sends an email with an encrypted download link to the buyers, so you don’t need to do it manually.
Payment-wise, Shift4Shop is integrated with the Shift4 payment system. It supports credit cards, digital wallets, and various other popular payment methods. If you wish to use a third-party processor, Shift4Shop is compatible with more than 100 payment providers.
Pricing and plans
Shift4Shop offers a free plan for US merchants that provides free themes, unlimited product listing, and fraud protection.
For international users, the paid plans range from $29/month to $229/month. More prominent companies also have the option of using an Enterprise plan. You can get a free plan and pay for each feature you use or purchase a package for $2,000/month, including everything offered psreviously.
- Excellent customer service – their 24/7 tech support is ready to help you with any issues.
- Feature-rich – Shift4Shop has plenty of built-in advanced features, allowing you to build great eCommerce sites without hassle.
- Multiple checkout options – choose between a single-page or three-page checkout process. Also, the guest checkout feature allows customers without accounts to make purchases in your store.
- Compatible with digital downloads and event ticketing – this platform doesn’t limit you to physical products.
- Pricing plans – the free plan is only available in the US. For non-US merchants, the most affordable option only provides two staff accounts.
This is one of the most solid eCommerce website builders, especially if you’re eligible for its free version. It offers many advanced features and the possibility of selling digital products.
8. Big Cartel – Best for Artists
Big Cartel is a cloud-based eCommerce platform aimed at creative freelancers and artists. Anyone can start their online store for free and sell up to five products with this platform.
Building online stores with Big Cartel is relatively straightforward – simply pick a theme, upload your product images, add the prices, and you’re all set.
Its click-and-drag customization tool makes it easy to shape your website. However, if you want to tweak the site further, you’ll need basic coding knowledge to use its theme code editor.
The list of tools available in Big Cartel is rather basic when set against Shopify or BigCommerce, for example. It’s missing some essential sales tools, such as login options for customers and product reviews.
To get additional functions like selling digital products or accessing analytics tools, you’ll have to use third-party extensions and add-ons.
Big Cartel doesn’t support as many payment gateways as other eCommerce platforms on this list – only Stripe and PayPal are available.
It’s also not PCI compliant. This means eCommerce store owners will have to take care of the operational standards by themselves when processing card payments in their stores.
Pricing and Plans
Big Cartel offers a free plan that allows users to list up to five products. In addition to that, it has four paid plans, ranging from $9.99/month to $29.99/month. The premium plans include Google Analytics, sales tax autopilot, theme code editing, inventory tracking, and bulk editing.
The only difference between each plan is the number of products you can sell. For example, when you pick their lowest-price plan, you get a 50 product limit. On the other hand, with the highest-priced plan, you’ll be able to list up to 500 items.
Another factor to consider is Big Cartel’s third-party apps and integrations. While the integration itself is free, you have to pay the subscription or transaction fee set by each platform.
- Free plan available – for smaller businesses or startups, the free plan is an excellent option to start selling.
- Similar features across the paid plans – you can select a plan without compromising any of the features as the only difference among them is the number of products you can list.
- Wide selection of free themes – not only do they speed up the process of website building, but the variety of themes allows you to find and customize one to suit your business easily.
- Limited payment processors – Big Cartel is only compatible with four payment gateways.
- Coding knowledge needed for customization – you get a theme code editor on the paid plans to customize your theme further. However, it requires basic coding knowledge.
Big Cartel is a great platform for artists who want to start selling their products or services. Setting up a website can be tricky, as you need to install third-party apps to enable more features and edit code for further theme customization.
However, if all you need is a straightforward platform to sell art products, you can skip coding and use Big Cartel to start selling.
9. Volusion – Best for Dropshipping Businesses
Volusion is one of the oldest eCommerce platforms in the business, and its strong point is the dropshipping business. It has dedicated dropshipping tools that allow you to choose from over 80,000 dropship products and compare prices, profit margins, and shipping options.
Adding products to your store to start selling is also a straightforward process. Plus, this tool allows you to sell both digital and physical products.
It offers plenty of free themes which feature industry-focused designs. Combined with the drag-and-drop website builder, this platform enables you to create an online store within minutes.
It comes with an advanced inventory tracker that allows you to monitor inventory status and set notifications for low-stock. There’s also a store management mobile app with all the tools necessary to manage your store wherever you are.
What’s more, Volusion lets users sell on the go using its mobile app, allowing them to update prices, snap product pictures, and check the inventory from their phones.
Volusion’s analytics tool is an excellent feature, as it gives you an in-depth look at your eCommerce store, helping you better manage and scale your business as needed.
If you need help with your site, Volusion has a 24/7 support team that you can reach by phone or online. However, the phone service is not available in its lowest-priced plan.
Pricing and Plans
Volusion offers a 14-day free trial and four plans ranging from $29/month to $299/month.
Each plan comes with unlimited products and unlimited bandwidth, an automatic tax calculator, and synced inventory. However, to use third-party gateways, you must get at least a Volusion Startup plan.
- Free trial available – if you’re still unsure about this platform, you can have a 14-day free trial to test the platform before making a decision.
- Excellent dropshipping platform – Volusion’s dropshipping tool makes this platform one of the best dropshipping platforms available.
- Advanced features and tools – store management app, inventory tracker, warehouse location setup for shipping, and barcode generator are just a few of the advanced tools you get from Volusion.
- SEO ready – Volusion allows you to manage meta descriptions, title tags, and URLs to make your pages SEO-friendly. Plus, the robots.txt file is editable to prevent search engines from crawling certain pages.
- No dedicated tools for blogging – to launch a blog for content marketing, you need to use another platform like WordPress, then integrate the URL to your Volusion site.
- Only US suppliers for dropshipping – Volusion only accommodates US suppliers in their dropshipping platform. While they ship internationally, this is an important factor to consider if you run a dropshipping business outside the US.
Volusion is an excellent platform for dropshipping businesses, as its dedicated tool makes it easy to find and sell products. If you want to start a dropshipping business, look no further.
10. OpenCart – Best for International Selling
OpenCart is one of the most popular open-source eCommerce platforms. This self-hosted solution packs plenty of free eCommerce tools right out of the box.
One of OpenCart’s best features is its dashboard design – it’s intuitive, modern-looking, and provides you with all the information you need to stay on top of your store’s performance at a glance.
This platform uses a module system for store customization. It’s not as intuitive as drag-and-drop page builders, but it’s simple enough to enable first-time users to create their online store easily.
What makes OpenCart an excellent choice when compared to other self-hosted solutions is the built-in advanced features. You get a multi-store admin, unlimited product listing, product filtering, and a marketing analytics tool, just to name a few. Some of these features require extensions on other platforms.
What’s more, OpenCart comes with multi-currency and language options. For instance, with other popular eCommerce platforms such as WooCommerce and PrestaShop, you would need to use a separate plugin for that.
That said, OpenCart offers thousands of additional extensions in their marketplace.
OpenCart comes with 36 payment methods integrated with the platform. Besides, you can download more options from their app store.
Pricing and Plans
OpenCart is a self-hosted platform that you can download for free. You only need to find a hosting provider and purchase a domain name before getting started.
Another expense that you should consider is extensions. While plenty of free extensions are available, the paid ones can cost you from $20 to $50.
Third-party themes may cost you from $19 to $59 on ThemeForest.
- Guests checkout – shoppers don’t have to create accounts to make purchases on OpenCart sites. This can reduce your cart abandonment rates, as many shoppers are reluctant to make accounts and submit their personal information just for a single purchase.
- Advanced built-in options – no need to browse through extensions to get advanced features like product filtering or analytics as OpenCart already integrates them to the platform.
- Multi-currency and multi-language compatible – this platform allows you to sell across borders thanks to these features.
- No drag-and-drop builders – users have to use OpenCart’s module system to customize their store design.
- No built-in SEO features – to optimize your online store for search engines, you need to get one of the SEO tools from the app store.
With plenty of advanced features, OpenCart is suitable for medium to large businesses. Its multi-currency and multi-language features make it an excellent choice for selling internationally.
11. AbanteCart – Great for Beginners
AbanteCart is an open-source eCommerce platform. While it’s rather not as well known, this platform combines several great features and ease of use, making it a great option for beginners.
AbanteCart’s notable features are product categorization, product customization, customer dashboard, and digital product download.
Shoppers can see their order status and history through the customers’ dashboard, plus access their digital products. If you want to add more features to your customer’s dashboard, AbanteCart provides several extensions in its marketplace.
You can extend your eCommerce site’s functionality with SEO tools, payment processing, social logins, and many other extensions. Themes are available as well, but they don’t look as modern as those on other platforms.
One of our favorite aspects of AbanteCart is how easy it is to add new products to your store from the dashboard. It’s a two-step process that takes only a few minutes, and the platform provides you with tooltips to help you out at each step of the way.
Another great feature is product embedding. If you already have an existing website or blog, you can embed products on your content to attract customers and generate more sales.
Pricing and Plans
This open-source eCommerce solution is free to download and use. However, getting a hosting plan and a domain name is necessary. Also, it is required to pay for some of the extensions and themes.
- Easy product management – adding new products to your store only requires a few simple steps. The platform’s tooltip system helps you to complete the process without confusion.
- Product embedding – embed products on your existing website or blog to drive more sales.
- Customer dashboard – customers get a comprehensive dashboard to manage their accounts, orders, and digital products.
- Limited customer support – AbanteCart only provides paid customer support. Otherwise, you can reach other users in the community forum. However, it is quite a small community, meaning there are few resources to help you.
- Some of the themes are somewhat outdated – the themes available look obsolete in terms of design compared to other platforms. This means you may have to do some extensive customization.
AbanteCart offers a user-friendly interface and plenty of useful features, making this platform a worthwhile option for newcomers and small-scale stores.
12. osCommerce – Tons of Free Add-Ons
osCommerce is a free eCommerce software that you can download and install to your hosting platform. It’s easy to set up, and you don’t need any technical experience to start building your online store.
This platform is one of the early eCommerce platforms available, so it’s no surprise that the demo website and the dashboard look outdated. However, it’s easy to customize the website design and create a modern-looking storefront.
osCommerce has a large user community forum with over 280,000 merchants actively helping each other. Plus, there are thousands of free add-ons to give you more customization options.
In our experience, osCommerce performs excellently for small businesses. However, it starts to stumble once you reach a more extensive product catalog. In some cases, this can be due to poor hosting performance, but it seems to be a common issue with the platform.
Despite that, osCommerce is one of the best eCommerce platforms if you’re looking to set up a small-scale online store.
Pricing and Plans
osCommerce is free to download and use. You will only need to pay for a hosting plan, a domain name, and an SSL certificate to run your website.
- Free add-ons – osCommerce offers more than 9,000 add-ons that are free to download.
- Large user community – if you face any problem, the osCommerce community forum has more than 280,000 active merchants to help you solve issues.
- Lower costs – the only costs to run this platform are the hosting service and domain name registration. There’s no additional cost with osCommerce as the software and add-ons are free.
- Outdated look – it’s easy to be put off by the interface and the default store design look. However, they function well, and you can effortlessly customize the store design to fit your brand better.
- It’s not highly scalable – as your business grows, this eCommerce platform lacks essential features to support it.
osCommerce allows its users to set up an extendable and highly customizable online store with thousands of add-ons to choose from. It also has a large and active community that can help you launch and maintain your site.
13. CubeCart – For People Looking for Simplicity
CubeCart is an open-source eCommerce platform that comes both as hosted and self-hosted solution.
When you first log into the platform’s dashboard, it looks rather unimpressive. However, the platform offers all the features you need to run a successful eCommerce store, from product management to sales tracking.
Additionally, you can use CubeCart to send newsletters to your customers, which is an excellent way of keeping them informed about your products and promotions. Most of the other eCommerce platforms require that you add an extension for this type of feature.
CubeCart comes with a built-in image editing tool that’s accessible from the store’s admin panel. It’s not as sophisticated as other tools on the market, but it’s very useful to crop and resize images on the go.
While it might not seem unique, resizing and reducing the size of your image files is very important to optimize the website speed.
This eCommerce platform also offers its own plugins and themes. There aren’t many options available, but the platform provides enough eCommerce functionality features for small to medium-sized stores.
Overall, it offers many features that other similar competitors do not, such as the newsletter and image resizing tools. However, since it doesn’t provide many extensions, we would primarily recommend CubeCart for small-scale businesses.
Pricing and Plans
CubeCart comes as a self-hosted and hosted solution.
If you pick the self-hosted solution, you can download the open-source eCommerce software for free, and your only costs will be with the web hosting service and domain name. It’s also recommended to run it on a Linux hosting platform.
On the other hand, the hosted solution comes in three different plans. It starts with an unmanaged plan that costs €29/month, but you only get basic customer support via live chat and email.
The other two plans, Managed and Managed+, cost €46/month and €69/month, respectively. They come with additional customer support, including assistance to transfer the store from another host, minor coding tweaks, and extension management.
- Managed hosted solution available – if you need more support and want more convenience, a hosted version is available so that you don’t have to worry about finding a web hosting service and configuring the software.
- Excellent customer service – CubeCart provides live chat and email support in the hosted plans. It offers advanced features like store transfer, security patching, and minor coding tweaks on the managed plans, designed to help those with little to no technical experience.
- Feature-rich – the software comes with many useful built-in features, minimizing the time you need to find and manage extensions to expand the site’s functionality.
- Limited extension library – although there are extensions available for several additional functions, there aren’t many options available compared to other platforms.
CubeCart is an excellent open-source eCommerce platform for those who prioritize ease of use. It comes with many great features, including integrated image editing tools.
The extension library doesn’t provide many options, but the built-in features are enough to run a functional online store.
Similar to Magento, CubeCart is an eCommerce platform that offers both hosted and self-hosted software. Beginners can benefit from the hosted plans, as the platform provides managed services to help them with various aspects of setting up the website.
On the other hand, users can opt for the self-hosted solution to obtain more freedom and control over their store’s infrastructure.
14. Joomla! – Complete Control and Flexibility
Joomla is another open-source CMS platform that you can use to build an online store, and it’s one of the more popular rivals of WordPress.
However, it’s not a dedicated eCommerce platform, so you’ll have to install an extension to add the shopping cart functionality to your site, similar to adding WooCommerce to WordPress.
Joomla offers several eCommerce extensions for its users. One of the most well-known is J2Store, a freemium extension. Installing it is a straightforward job, but it also provides extensive documentation to help you throughout the process.
J2Store comes with several eCommerce features such as product management, eCommerce design, and order management.
Besides, use J2Store specific extensions to enable various types of transactions, such as subscriptions, ticket booking, and partial payments. This makes J2Store a flexible alternative, suiting different types of industries, products, and services.
There are over 70 payment plugins that cover well-known providers, including PayPal, Stride, and Authorize.net. Keep in mind that only a few of those plugins are available for free.
When it comes to eCommerce analytics, J2Store doesn’t offer any extensions. However, you can get analytics tools from Joomla’s extension library.
Joomla has a built-in SEO feature, meaning you don’t have to install an extension to optimize your site. It allows you to edit meta descriptions easily, focus keywords, and modify the robots.txt file to customize your site’s searchability.
Unlike WordPress, Joomla has a steep learning curve. Its dashboard uses website development terminology, and its navigation is not that simple.
However, it provides several forums and tutorials to help beginners build an eCommerce site to suit their business needs without much hassle.
Overall, Joomla is an excellent option for those with more technical knowledge or willing to take some time to learn their way around this content management system.
Pricing and Plans
Joomla is a free, open-source content management system, meaning you’ll only need to get web hosting and a domain name.
The J2Store extension, on the other hand, is available as free and pro versions. The pro version starts from $79/six months, and it includes additional features like coupons, email templates, and invoice templates. You’ll also get the PayPal and Paymill payment plugins for free.
Another factor that you should take into account is extensions. Joomla’s extensions are more varied, and most of them you can get for free. On the other hand, you have to pay for most of J2Store’s extensions.
- Multiple free shopping cart extensions available – there are plenty of extensions to enable the eCommerce functionality on Joomla sites.
- Great flexibility – just like WordPress and WooCommerce, Joomla offers excellent flexibility to customize the website to suit your needs and liking.
- Accept various products or services – J2Store is suitable for physical products, digital downloads, subscriptions, and ticket booking.
- Limited free extensions for J2Store – there are only a few free extensions available. You even have to pay to add a payment gateway extension to the site.
- Lack of integrated eCommerce functionality – features like analytic tools, abandoned cart recovery, or marketing tools are not integrated into the platform, meaning you have to get extensions if you want to use them.
If you want similar flexibility as WordPress, Joomla is a great alternative. This platform offers impressive built-in tools, thousands of extensions, multilingual features, and an active community. However, Joomla is not as intuitive and easy to use as other options on this list.
15. Sellfy – Best for Selling Digital Goods
Sellfy is an eCommerce platform designed to sell digital and physical products, but it excels at offering the former.
Using this service, store owners can let their customers shop, purchase, and download files directly from the website. They can also add an unlimited number of digital products to their store, though Sellfy recommends that each file be less than 5 GB in size.
This platform allows you to embed items and “buy buttons” on your social media profiles, such as Facebook or YouTube. Furthermore, Sellfy provides a user-friendly checkout experience regardless of the device your customers are using.
Sellfy also has a great “pay what you want” feature that allows customers to choose the price of your products – you can set a minimum fee and let the customers decide what they want to pay for a specific product.
Another great feature is the automatic store translation for buttons and checkout pages. This gives users the translated version of your site, depending on their location and language.
It is also possible to manually translate product categories, email templates, and other aspects of the store.
In terms of security for your digital products, Sellfy comes with anti-fraud measures, such as limited download attempts, unique download links, and PDF stamping.
Sellfy is also PCI-ready, but users can only use PayPal and Stripe as their payment gateways.
Pricing and Plans
Sellfy offers a 14-day free trial and three pricing plans, ranging from $29/month to $129/month.
With the Sellfy Starter plan, users can sell up to $10,000/year and connect their custom domain to the platform.
However, if you exceed the sales limit, you’ll have to upgrade to the next subscription level. If you don’t, you’ll be charged a 2% overage fee based on the revenue that surpassed the limit.
- Suitable for various products – this platform allows you to sell digital and physical products, print-on-demand, subscription, and video streaming services.
- Great built-in features – Sellfy offers advanced features, including “pay what you want,” automatic translation, and ad tracking.
- Limited choice of payment processors – Sellfy is only compatible with PayPal and Stride.
For companies that primarily sell digital items, Sellfy can make the selling experience much more intuitive. Setting up an online store, customizing products, and maintaining the site don’t require much effort when using Sellfy.
Why Should You Use an eCommerce Platform?
You can hire a web developer to create your eCommerce site, but it is an expensive option. Another way is to build it yourself from scratch by coding, which requires extensive technical knowledge and plenty of time.
This is where eCommerce platforms come in handy. They help to easily create online stores even if you’re not an eCommerce expert.
There are two main types of eCommerce platforms – Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and open-source.
Online website builders, such as Shopify and BigCommerce, follow the SaaS model. These platforms offer a user-friendly website builder in an all-in-one package with hosting, domain name registration, and an SSL certificate.
This one-stop approach makes it easier to start a website, especially for beginners.
On the other hand, the open-source platforms offer software that you download and install to your hosting account for creating and managing your site.
This option might not be as beginner-friendly as online website builders, but it gives you more flexibility and control over your website.
Due to their open-source nature, you are free to choose a hosting plan to fit your budget, adjust the software to better fit your business, and manage all the website elements yourself.
Besides, eCommerce platforms provide customer support, knowledge bases, and even community forums to help you build and manage your business with ease.
What Features Should You Look For in an eCommerce Platform?
eCommerce platforms help you to create an online store without hassle. However, to build a functional website, there are some aspects that you should look for, such as customer support, ease of use, and payment integrations.
In the following section, we will discuss the main factors to consider when analyzing different platforms.
Ease of Use
Managing an online store is a challenging task as it is. Therefore, you must choose an eCommerce platform that makes building and maintaining an online store easier.
Besides, the platform’s interface must be user-friendly, allowing you to easily list items on the store, receive payments, and finish orders.
If you opt for a SaaS, all you need to do is create an account, choose a plan, and you can start building the site. This type of platform takes care of security and updates for you.
When it comes to open-source eCommerce platforms, first, you need to choose a web hosting provider and a plan. Then, you can download and install the software. In addition, site owners are responsible for updating features and implementing security protocols.
Next, you should see what eCommerce features they offer. By default, all eCommerce platforms enable online purchases and online payments so that you can look beyond that.
For example, some platforms limit the number of products in their more affordable plans. Make sure that the eCommerce platform allows you to list all your products.
Also, look for features that can help enhance your customer experience, such as product filters so customers can easily find products and a shipping tracker to track their orders.
Overall, here are some critical eCommerce features the platform should offer to help manage your online store:
- Product filtering and categorization – especially if you have a wide variety of products, it helps customers easily find the products they want.
- Product variations – if you sell t-shirts, for example, which come in different sizes and colors, make sure the eCommerce platform allows you to add and manage all product variants.
- Promotions, discounts, and coupon codes – sales promotion is one of the most popular strategies to generate sales, especially during seasonal holidays like Christmas or New Year.
- Inventory management – track your inventory in real-time to know when to replenish your stock to keep up with the demand.
- Abandoned cart recovery – customers may put products in their shopping carts and leave the site without completing their purchases. Send emails to remind them about their carts and recover lost sales.
- Checkout and payments – you should offer different shipping and payment methods so that your customers have a smooth checkout experience, decreasing your cart abandonment rates.
Design and Customizability
Your web design can improve customer’s shopping experience, make them stay longer in your store, and drive purchases. 38% of people will leave your eCommerce site if they find its design or content unappealing.
Great eCommerce platforms should offer attractive website templates or themes. This saves time and effort as users don’t have to design their sites from scratch. They can simply pick a template and modify it to suit their brand and business.
Also, check to what extent you can customize the product page, such as adding product variants or uploading product images. Depending on the type of products you sell, these customization features may be essential.
Many eCommerce platforms also come with a visual drag-and-drop editor. This is a great feature for beginners who don’t have experience with web development and design. A visual editor helps to build a website intuitively with a simple and easy-to-use interface.
The platform should also offer some flexibility. For example, when a store owner wants to renew their online store design, they should be able to do it without starting from scratch again. Usually, open-source eCommerce platforms take the lead on this aspect.
Payments and Third-Party Integrations
A payment gateway is the service used to process different online payments. Giving your customers various options improves their shopping experience, especially if you provide local payment methods.
Some eCommerce platforms include built-in payment gateways, making them convenient for users. However, make sure that they are also compatible with third-party payment providers.
Besides, check if the platform charges additional transaction fees so that you can take them into account when developing your pricing strategy.
Marketing and SEO
eCommerce marketing features are crucial to expanding your customer base, promote your brand, and grow your business.
Email marketing tools and a subscription list help to communicate with your customers via email. It helps to create newsletters and inform customers about promotions and other important information.
Social media integration is also helpful to strengthen your relationship with customers, grow your audience, and even sell products. 57% of consumers will follow your brand on social media to receive information about new services and products you may offer.
You also want to have an eCommerce platform that’s SEO-friendly. Optimizing your site’s SEO helps people find your store on search engines, increasing organic traffic to your eCommerce website.
Blogging is another way to strengthen your content marketing campaign and SEO strategy. Sharing informative articles about your business will help your website to be more discoverable and trustworthy.
Here are some marketing features you should look for in an eCommerce platform:
- Mailing list subscription – this is essential to launch an email marketing campaign. Create your list of subscribers by adding sign-up buttons or banners and send them newsletters about ongoing promotions or new products.
- SEO options – SEO-friendly URLs, page titles, and meta descriptions are some of the essential features you need to optimize your site for search engines.
- Social media integration – integrate your brand’s social media channels to engage your audience or even sell products.
- Analytic tools – analyze your audience’s behavior and traffic sources to optimize the website’s layout, content, SEO, and marketing strategy to generate more sales.
Value for Money
When looking for the best eCommerce platform for your business, you should consider the long-term costs associated with it.
Pick plans or platforms that suit your budget and compare their features. Besides monthly subscription fees, there might be additional expenses with themes, extensions, or integrations, even if you opt for a free, open-source platform.
Also, using an open-source eCommerce platform, you’ll need to pay for a hosting service and your domain name registration instead of subscription fees. Make sure you choose a reliable and scalable hosting provider that will support your site’s growth.
Ensure that the platform offers good customer support and tutorials for you. You may find trouble when you build and maintain your website, and the availability of support will reduce your time to solve any issue.
Not every platform offers the same level of support. Some may be limited to chat and ticket support, while others may provide 24/7 phone support.
Having all types of support is excellent, but you can reflect on your expertise and needs. For example, if you already have experience building and running sites, you may find that 24/7 phone support is not the primary necessity.
There is no easy answer when it comes to defining the best eCommerce platform. It’s essential to look closely at the service and features to ensure that your choice fits your budget, goals, and business model.
For example, a software developer may need a platform that allows them to sell digital products, and they will not necessarily prioritize ease of use.
On the other hand, a startup t-shirt business owner may not have the extensive knowledge to create a website from scratch.
Thus, they might opt for the most beginner-friendly and possibly affordable platform. They will also need an eCommerce platform that allows them to create product variables.
For that reason, we have selected the best eCommerce solutions for different categories.
- Most beginner-friendly – Zyro. Offers a user-friendly interface, a wide choice of pre-made templates, and powerful AI-based tools to help you create and manage the website.
- Best value for money – Shift4Shop. Provides many built-in features, is compatible with digital downloads and event ticketing, with the starting price of $29/month.
- Most flexible – WooCommerce. One of the most popular WordPress eCommerce plugins available. Customize your eCommerce website to be exactly what you want.
- Best for small businesses – Shopify. It offers a lot of features and third-party integrations that make starting an eCommerce website easy.
- Best for medium to large businesses – BigCommerce. Has multi-channel integration and a customizable enterprise plan.
- Best for dropshipping businesses – Volusion. Includes a reliable dropshipping tool to help you find and add products to your store in a few clicks.
- Most extensive features – Magento. Offers staging environments to reduce downtime during updates, an AI-based personalized shopping experience, and various extensions in its app store.
- Best for selling digital goods – Sellfy. This platform allows you to sell both physical and digital products. To help generate sales, add “buy buttons” to your social media profiles.
Now that you know the pros and cons of the best eCommerce platforms, you can make your choice and start building your eCommerce website.
If you still have doubts, we have a comparison reviews to help you decide:
- Magento vs WooCommerce
- Magento vs Prestashop
- Magento vs Shopify
- WooCommerce vs PrestaShop
- WooCommerce vs Shopify
Let us know in the comments which platform you end up choosing. Good luck!