Can’t decide whether to set up a storefront on eBay or create your own online store with an all-in-one ecommerce platform? Get in here and find out which one is better for your business.
Are you on the lookout for the best ecommerce platforms to start your online store with? If yes, you’ve got a big step to make as the choice of platform can make or break your online business.
By picking the best ecommerce platform you’ll be supplied with all the tools you’ll need to simply and swiftly create a captivating and fully functional online store and get a capable support staff to take you through every step of the journey.
However, due to the wide variety of ecommerce platforms and packages on the market today, making such a choice can be both challenging and confusing. Still, building an ecommerce store (even from scratch) has never been easier – so, if you’re thinking about starting your first online store or taking your brick-and-mortar shop online, now is a perfect time.
To help you make the right choice for your business, we’ve brought together a list of the best e-commerce platforms that can cover all the basics (such as shopping cart software, payment gateways, and an easy-to-use editor) and offer enough themes, templates, and customization choices that’ll make your store stand out.
We’ll go through some of the best e-commerce platforms available on the market right now, highlight their most noteworthy features, and then go on to consider other ecommerce solutions you might want to check out before making any moves.
Best ecommerce platforms in 2022
Wix is our top-rated ecommerce platform (opens in new tab)
If you want a simpler alternative to some of the full-on web store building solutions here, check out Wix. It’s highly user-friendly, yet there’s still plenty of ecommerce power available to create a suitably impressive online store.
While Wix (opens in new tab) is best known for providing an all-purpose site builder, there’s more about it besides good-looking templates and logos – it can serve as a fully-functional ecommerce platform. That is, if you purchase one of Wix’s two top-tier packages.
While most ecommerce platforms choose to be as complex as possible, Wix offers a much simpler solution for small businesses that don't need all the bells and whistles of an online superstore.
Also, since a whole set of site-building tools is available through Wix, setting up an e-commerce store is strikingly simple and it’s as easy to manage it - so, no coding skills are required. The result of all this is an ecommerce platform that anyone should be able to use without much difficulty.
With over 800 design templates to choose from, you’ll get the look and feel you want for your ecommerce site without a hitch. However, there’s one drawback with these themes – once you choose one you’re stuck with it, and the only way to switch themes is to start everything from scratch.
Thanks to Wix Payments, you can choose from a global network of payment providers including all major credit card companies (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and so forth), as well as other payment systems such as PayPal and Stripe.
All in all, if you want a simpler, beginner-friendly alternative to some of the full-frontal web store building solutions here, Wix delivers well. It stays highly user-friendly while offering plenty of powerful e-commerce features such as SEO tools, an abounding app store, support for multiple currencies, the ability to sell on e-marketplaces, built-in support, and much more.
- Read our Wix review
Instead of being a standalone ecommerce platform, WooCommerce (opens in new tab) is a free plugin that can turn your WordPress site into a fully functional e-commerce store. The basic WooCommerce plugin can be easily installed through WordPress, and what’s even better – it’s completely free to download and use.
However, to get the most from WooCommerce you will need to install several third-party plugins that’ll add features such as payment processing, inventory management, and stock control.
Like most open-source solutions, WooCommerce isn’t the most novice-friendly option around. Fortunately, Bluehost (opens in new tab) simplifies the process by providing a ready-made WooCommerce platform with everything you need already installed, and that includes a shopping theme and essential plugins.
Bluehost currently offers two WooCommerce-specific plans, “Standard” and “Premium” and even the cheaper plan provides almost every feature you could possibly need.
These don’t only include an online store with the store-front theme installed, but also a blog, along with Jetpack free, payment processing, email marketing, and discount codes. The “Premium” plan adds online bookings and appointments, subscriptions, product customization, as well as local and country tax management.
As expected, there's web hosting underlying everything as well, meaning that you have a fully functional e-commerce platform already online as soon as you sign up to Bluehost - all that's left for you is to add your products and set up marketing - and you're good to go.
Overall, WooCommerce is one of the best ecommerce solutions for those who want to have complete control over their store, a high level of customization, tons of templates, themes, and third-party plugins – and if you go with Bluehost’s WooCommerce-specific package you’ll get web hosting service and a simpler, more beginner-friendly start.
- Read our Bluehost review
Shopify (opens in new tab) is perhaps the most well-known ecommerce platform as we write and it came a long way since its inception in 2006. True to its word, to use Shopify to create a beautiful online store you don’t require any technical or design skills.
With Shopify, you can get your online store up and running in a matter of hours. Users can choose from a wide range of templates, or they can design the look and feel of their store themselves. Shopify also supports a comprehensive range of credit cards, offers certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliance and an SSL certificate, and offers round-the-clock customer support via telephone line, live chat, and email.
Shopify platform provides a full-fledged CMS with which users can manage the functionality and layout of their online store. They can also do it on the go by utilizing Shopify's mobile apps, and the platform is fully optimized for visitors whether they’re accessing it from desktops or smartphones.
A live chat function will allow you to have a real-time conversation with your customers, and there’s built-in support for 3D models and videos too. Plus, you get an option to create customizable storefronts on Facebook and Instagram.
Shopify also offers unlimited hosting for their stores, in-depth analytics of how visitors are using the store, and powerful marketing tools such as SEO optimization, discounts, a coupon engine, gift cards, and email marketing tools.
Shopify offers three pricing plans and the cheapest one starts at $29 per month – which is pretty pricey. However, all plans come with free trials. So, if you want to try out Shopify on your own before spending any money, you can sign up for their free 14-day trial.
- Read our Shopify review
Launched in 2009, BigCommerce (opens in new tab) is today one of the leading e-commerce platforms providing a splendid level of scalability for online stores – meaning it can follow and shape your business’ growth.
Much like Shopify, BigCommerce provides a variety of templates and themes to help stores look their best and get up and running quickly. Alternatively, users can design their own store or employ BigCommerce designers to do so. The platform incorporates a full-featured CMS that allows users to run an entire site, rather than just an online store.
Users can benefit from detailed and flexible product management, optimized search engine rankings, along with a variety of integrated marketing tools and analytics.
Payments can be accepted via over 65 pre-integrated gateways, and shipping details can be customized as per the business's requirements. As of late, some new features have been added like support for Amazon Import and Link and Shopping in Instagram Stories. The platform offers automated order processing, flexible tax rules depending on where orders are made and shipped, and support for over 140 currencies.
As for support, in addition to telephone, live chat, and email, BigCommerce also offers how-to guides and videos to help with e-commerce and access to a team of e-commerce experts who can provide advice and guidance about online selling. Their experts are qualified in both Google Analytics and Adwords.
While BigCommerce is not the most beginner-friendly ecommerce platform out there, thanks to its 15-day free trial you can try everything out and see how it works for you.
- Read our BigCommerce review
Set up in 2001, CoreCommerce (opens in new tab) focuses on providing ecommerce services to small and medium-sized businesses. The company emphasizes simplicity and transparency while offering an easy-to-use platform that comes without any hidden costs.
Probably the most unique aspect of CoreCommerce is that all of its features are offered to all customers regardless of what plan they are on. What determines the pricing is the number of products you can add to your store (with the most pocket-friendly plan you can add up to 150 products), number of email accounts, amount of bandwidth, and GB of storage space. All plans also come with $50 of ads credit for Facebook.
As with other ecommerce providers, CoreCommerce offers functionality for store design, product management, order processing, and marketing. Among its core features, the platform offers unlimited product customization options, a built-in blogging engine, and secure hosting that is provided by Rackspace and comes with a 99.99% uptime guarantee.
To try out CoreCommerce for free, you can sign up for their 30-day free trial and you won’t even have to leave your credit card details.
Formally known as 3dcart, Shift4Shop (opens in new tab) has been in the business since 1997 which makes it the oldest of our featured providers here. It was set up to incorporate as many of the most requested e-commerce features into one platform as possible.
The company claims it has six core values by which it operates: ongoing innovation, good service, simple solutions, fostering trust, keeping employees and customers happy, and stimulating prosperity amongst employees and customers.
Some of the platform's innovative features include a module that users can install to offer gift-wrapping, a purchase order system, the option of running a loyalty program, and the ability to offer recurring orders. Many of these features are very specific, meaning that stores can be highly tailored to the needs of each business.
Stores can be designed using one of the many templates offered by Shift4Shop, or users can design their own store. A quick edit bar means that making changes to the design of a store is simple. Product images are fore-fronted with Shift4Shop’s auto-zoom feature and products can be sold via Facebook with its store integration.
As with some other platforms, users can blog directly from Shift4Shop, and tools are provided for setting up coupons, sending newsletters, and affiliate marketing.
Shift4Shop is regularly updated and new features are constantly added, like the drag-and-drop HTML builder, built-in SEO stats, the home page editor, and scheduled promotions. Users can also make use of the "make an offer" feature, which basically lets you and your customers negotiate a price. There is also a B2B quote system, which provides customers with a temporary quoted price after discussing their order via phone.
In addition to its ecommerce platform, Shift4Shop also offers several professional services such as help with SEO, PPC, shopping feed management, social media, Facebook ads, and conversion consulting. Help can also be provided to ensure that a user's store is set up to the highest standard. Services such as site cloning, setting up custom tracking, data migration, and training are offered. Also, Shift4Shop can provide SSL certification.
Web hosting is guaranteed at 99.9% uptime and 24/7 support is provided via telephone, email, or online chat. You can test out these service with a 15-day free trial.
Best ecommerce platforms FAQs
How to choose the best ecommerce platform?
Since every online store has a specific set of needs, the ecommerce platform of your choice should possess the capacity to fulfill these needs. So, before choosing one platform over the others and picking out a plan make sure to get the main idea of what you’ll be getting with it.
First, you need to know whether you’ll be using a hosted or self-hosted ecommerce platform, what’s your level of technical know-how, and what kind of online store you’ll be creating.
However, in any case, you should be looking for a safe and secure hosting environment for your ecommerce website, a user-friendly site builder with free, mobile-friendly themes and drag-and-drop functionality, an app store supplied with pre-built integrations and add-ons, PCI compliance, some SEO tools, and built-in ecommerce features (such as promotions, analytics, and abandoned cart recovery).
Also, it’s always a good idea to check whether an ecommerce platform provides a free trial or a money-back guarantee before purchasing their package.
The best ecommerce platforms: How do we test them?
First, we’ll check what type of e-commerce platform we’re looking at: hosted or self-hosted; proprietary or open-source; SaaS or PaaS. Then we’ll see what ecommerce packages are available, how many tiers there are, and how much they cost – both long-term and short-term.
Then we’ll evaluate the ease of use (how simple it is to sign up, set up an online store, and customize it), highlight any unique features, the level of flexibility, and figure out what value for money these platforms provide.
In conclusion, we’ll estimate how their products compare with the competition.
What is an ecommerce platform?
In a nutshell, an ecommerce platform is an end-to-end software solution for selling all sorts of stuff online. While the term “ecommerce platform” is sometimes used as a synonym with the terms “ecommerce site builder” and “storefront builder”, they differ in terms of functionality.
Besides supplying you with all the essentials you need to turn a simple site into a complete online store, an e-commerce platform often includes domain name registration and web hosting services - however, there are self-hosted platforms as well.
Also, with an ecommerce platform, you can expect to get a high level of flexibility, advanced analytics and reporting, marketing tools, plenty of payment gateways, a well-supplied app store, specialized customer support, and more.
How to create your own ecommerce solution
Of course, if you want complete control over every aspect of your new online store, building each page yourself will be the best course of action.
Hiring someone to code your website is one option. If you decide to do this, follow these steps:
1. Ask the company for live examples of their work to look at;
2. Write a detailed brief of the site you want to be created. The more detail the better to avoid confusion;
3. Ensure you understand the price you are being charged and how many revisions this price includes;
4. Always have a signed agreement or contract before work commences;
5. Ask whether the designers will host your site and if you will be able to make updates yourself or if all updates must go through the design agency at an additional cost;
6. Ask for the copyright of your design to be assigned to your company, as your website is an important part of your business' intellectual property;
7. Put into your contract, details of how the agreement can be amicably dissolved if things go wrong.
Also, you don't have to build your site completely from scratch. Buying a template can give you all the basic pages your site needs. You can then either modify them yourself using an application like Dreamweaver or hire a coding expert to make the changes. Website templates are available from a number of vendors including Template Monster (opens in new tab).
If you already have a website and want to add e-commerce functionality, this can be easily achieved with applications such as XCart (opens in new tab), Kryptronic (opens in new tab), and CubeCart (opens in new tab).