Best E-Commerce Platforms
Topics in this blog post:
Considerations for choosing the best e-commerce platform for your business
The best e-commerce platforms for small business, enterprise, WordPress, and digital download
The best website builders with built-in e-commerce software
The best specialty e-commerce platforms
Complete list of both open source and commercial e-commerce platforms
This is the only guide you need to read about e-commerce platforms. Let's get started!
How to Choose an E-Commerce Platform
Selecting the right e-commerce platform is critical. There are three major considerations you need to examine when choosing the best e-commerce platform:
Your own store versus online marketplace
Hosted store versus self-hosted store
Open source platform versus commercial platform
Your Own Store Versus Online Marketplace
Traditionally, you can sell your products on online marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon, Etsy, Atomic Mall, or niche marketplaces such as ASOS Marketplace and Cult Beauty. It is very easy to set up your own store and add your products. The cost is either zero or extremely low. In addition, your store page is likely to get some traffic because there is already a large number of visitors to the marketplace.
With a marketplace, however, your business fully relies on a platform you don't own (platform dependence), and you can't build your own brand. Another huge problem is you don't have your customers' email addresses for future communication because your marketplace considers them as their customers, not yours. As I mentioned in Part 2 of my 3-part video course Blueprint To Build A Sustainable Business, this is a big no-no.
Another option is to build your own store. In the short term, this is more expensive and time consuming. But it will definitely pay off in the long run because of platform independence, brand building, and direct access to your customers.
Hosted Store Versus Self-Hosted Store
A hosted store means it is hosted on a company's server. The company takes care of everything including security, payment card industry (PCI) compliance, backups and recovery, and more. Shopify and BigCommerce are both hosted e-commerce platforms.
A self-hosted store means it is hosted on a web host you purchase on your own. You will need to download the e-commerce software, and upload and install it on the host by yourself. You are responsible for security, payment card industry (PCI) compliance, backups and recovery, and more. WooCommerce, WordPress and Magento are self-hosted E-Commerce platforms.
For most of us, a hosted store is probably the way to go due to its simplicity unless you have the technical know-how or a tech guy to help you with installation, implementation and support.
Open Source Versus Commercial
Open source e-commerce software is free to use and can be modified and shared. Free sounds very enticing but there are other issues to consider. First, free doesn't mean it will cost you nothing to build your e-commerce store. You will be responsible for installing, maintaining and securing the software on your web host. If you are not a technical person or don't have the time to do this yourself, you will need to hire someone to do it for you, which costs money.
Second, an open source platform has more customization options but it takes a lot of technical know-hows to build and maintain a functional store. If you have never written a line of code or don't know about plug-ins, extensions, and integration, you will need to get professional help.
Third, you need to be extremely organized to manage a variety of operations that are not in a centralized location.
Open source e-commerce software is better for:
Smaller e-commerce businesses that only need a shopping cart solution, and/or
Commercial e-commerce software usually comes with many built-in features, and integration with other systems is much easier than with open source software. Installation, maintenance and security is much easier too. You don't need any coding or technical skills to open and run your store. A commercial e-commerce solution is more capable to handling high traffic and transactions.
In summary, commercial e-commerce software is better for:
Large companies with high-volume traffic and large transactions
Business owners who want greater functionality and easy installation, maintenance, and integration
If you have decided your own store is the way to go, it's time to choose an e-commerce platform that best suits your needs.
Best E-Commerce Platform for...
There is not really the best e-commerce platform because every business has different needs and preferences. If you find it difficult to choose one for your business, I recommend the following four e-commerce platforms.
Best B2C E-Commerce Platform for Small Business
Shopify offers all the features you need to run a successful e-commerce business. It provides you with all the necessary tools you need from putting up an online storefront, web hosting and website builder, payment processing, inventory, down to the Customer Relationship Management tool (CRM). It also offers a mobile commerce shopping cart, marketing tool, store management and many others. To top it all, they offer 24/7 support to help get your business running seamlessly.
Best Enterprise E-Commerce Software
Magento is an open-source e-commerce software that is fully-customizable. It gives you the liberty to tailor-fit any part of your e-commerce store. Its features involve account management, quick order, inventory tracking, 24/7 monitoring and support, omnichannel fulfillment and many others. Magento also allows you to have more than one e-commerce store and view all of it on one dashboard.
Best WordPress E-Commerce Plugin
WooCommerce is a free WordPress e-commerce plug in that allows you to build an online store. It offers a lot of themes that you may use to set up an attractive online store. It lets you turn your WordPress site or blog into an income generating e-commerce business. It is mobile friendly and it ensures that your store and products look just as good as when you view it on a mobile device and a computer. It also has an integrated marketing and SEO feature, which allows you to integrate your WooCommerce site to your social media accounts.
Best E-Commerce Platform for Digital Downloads
Selz allows you to sell physical and digital goods such as e-books, software, music, video stream subscriptions, PDF files, and others. It allows you to sell your products through your website by embedding widgets, buy buttons or the whole store. It has a wide range of customizable themes that you can choose from. It supports multiple languages from English, German, Portuguese, French or Spanish. Selz offers an easy payment method and also helps you with taxes as it calculates tax at checkout. To help increase your sales, customers who have abandoned receive an email automatically. It offers the fastest possible downloads, which is a delight to your customers.
Free/Open Source E-Commerce Platforms
Here is the list of top open source e-commerce platforms in the market:
Magento is a complete e-commerce solution that allows the fully customizable functionality and design of your website with the abundant features available to its users. It is one of the top open source e-commerce platforms.
One of the best things about it is the built-in SEO feature that aids your e-commerce store to generate more traffic and sales. Magento also allows you to customize both the frontend and the backend with access to PHP coding to make your site aesthetically pleasing and fully functional for you and your customers.
They also offer full support to aid you in your e-commerce business, such as security, multi-platform designs, expert consultations, and order management tools for sales and inventory, Magento also has useful payment systems that can integrate different currencies and tax rates. Magento offers various account types and products that you can learn more about on their site or through talking to a specialist.
Ecwid provides a quick and simple means for small businesses to add online stores to any or all of your existing websites, social media sites, and other global marketplace accounts. Additionally, you can manage all these sites on one dashboard. Ecwid offers free and paid accounts with added features for each higher tier.
Some account features include mobile responsive designs and app, international payment gateways, shipping integration, multiple language support, security services, and more. Setup is made easy with an Ecwid specialist to assist you, and their customer care team will surely help you with any future concerns.
Powering more than 33% of the e-commerce in the entire World Wide Web, WooCommerce is the most widely used and popular free e-commerce WordPress plug-in. Filled with topnotch features, it allows you to shift from a WordPress website or blog to a million dollar generating e-commerce shop. It has a wide selection of either free or paid themes and extensions for you to choose from.
PayPal Standard integration is the key feature of WooCommerce. It also includes reports for sales and reviews, inventory management, multiple shipping location and flexible couponing system.
WP eCommerce is a free plugin that you can easily use on your Wordpress.org website. They also offer paid add-ons to better grow your business.
With customized CSS and HTML features true to WordPress fashion, WP eCommerce lets you have full control of the look and feel of your e-commerce store. Some of its features include built-in marketing tools, secured checkout with SSL, catalog order and management tools, popular shipping and payment options, sales tracking, and many more. You can also hire one of their in-house experts to help you develop your e-commerce site. They also provide some video tutorials to help you learn more about the features of the plugin.
You can create a visually stunning store with PrestaShop, and the best part is that you can do it for free, though there are paid add-ons you can opt for.
PrestaShop features over 2,000 professional templates to help you design your own unique and creative store page. Plus, each theme can be easily customized with the Live Configurator feature. You may also cater to users who prefer to use their mobile devices with its mobile-responsive design. There are also over 300 built-in features for product management and sales, such as payment gateways, customer service tools, analytics, marketing tools, global market integration, and so much more.
PrestaShop powers more than 250,000 online stores. It is currently used in more than 200 countries, and has built partnership with renowned names in the industry.
OpenCart is a PHP-based and open-source e-commerce platform. With more than 14,000 third-party extensions, OpenCart is great for e-commerce stores of all sizes, budget and industries.
Its features include: unlimited products and categories, search engine optimization (SEO), shipping weight calculation, discount coupon system, multi-language and multi-currency, 40+ payment gateways, and many others.
Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) is a free and easy-to-use plugin that allows you to sell digital downloads through WordPress.org.
Built around WordPress Coding Standards, it is easy for developers to create changes to its codebase. EDD features more than 200 extensions and themes that you can easily customize.
Some features include shopping cart customization, customer management tools, discounted prices integration, data reporting, payment options, and more.
Spree Commerce, also known as Spree, is a Ruby on Rails based e-commerce solution. It stands out from its counterparts in the industry in terms of stability, scalability, integrations, and speed.
Spree Commerce is an open source software that provides flexible customization to your e-commerce store. It includes features and design options to help you create your own storefront.