15 Best E-commerce Platforms Compared (Plus How to Choose the Right One for Your Online Store)

15 Best E-commerce Platforms Compared (Plus How to Choose the Right One for Your Online Store)

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There’s an abundance of e-commerce platforms available to today’s online merchants. The barrier to entry to launch an e-commerce business is relatively low. However, finding the best e-commerce platform is a crucial step in launching and growing your online shop. 

Here we’ll review the most used and different types of e-commerce platforms. Including recommendations by business type, and the key factors to consider when choosing the best e-commerce platform for your business.

What is an E-commerce Platform? 

An e-commerce platform is a software solution that online merchants use to create and manage their websites. Many e-commerce platforms include marketing, sales, and operations features to help online businesses succeed. 

A standard website builder has basic features like adding pages and dropdown menus. An e-commerce platform offers features like payment processing, order fulfillment and shipping tools, inventory management, and robust sales dashboards. 

Many e-commerce platforms are sold as software-as-a-service solutions (SaaS) with a range of monthly fees depending on your needs. There are also self-hosted or open-source e-commerce platforms that refer to software systems that allow you more control over your design and customization. However, with open-source, you need an experienced developer to maintain your site and you need to find your own hosting. 

E-commerce Platform Types 

Depending on your growth plans, you can choose an e-commerce platform that offers the features and customization capabilities you need. Think about what you need right now and in the future so you select the right solution to scale your business. 

Self Hosted or Open-Source E-commerce Platforms

Open-source means the original source code is freely available and may be modified and redistributed. An open-source e-commerce platform gives you more freedom and flexibility to create and build exactly what you want without restrictions. It’s essentially a software system that you download and make work on your own. 

The downside of open-source frameworks is that they offer little to no support. You are responsible for making sure your site is secure and making sure it works. You’re held accountable for everything. Unlike a SaaS, you don’t pay a monthly fee for open-source.

Hosted or SaaS E-commerce Platforms 

Hosted or software-as-a-service (SaaS) e-commerce platforms usually have a monthly recurring fee that merchants pay to use the software. Think of it as an off the shelf solution. 

The SaaS will make sure your site is always up and running and develops new features so you can stay competitive and continue to use the platform. SaaS e-commerce frameworks are responsible for security, and they tend to offer great customer support. 

With SaaS e-commerce platforms, customization capabilities may be restrictive when compared to open-source frameworks. However, you can choose from a range of themes and pre-designed templates as well as work with a developer to design your online store. 

Headless Commerce Systems 

Headless commerce offers you the freedom to build whatever you want and can help to improve customer experience. Its architecture provides a separation of the front end and back end of an e-commerce application. 

Adopters of headless commerce are usually large enterprises with an IT and development team. Custom programming is necessary to build a separate yet reliable front end and back end. 

Further reading: The Lasting Impact of COVID-19 on E-commerce Growth

Important Factors to Consider When Choosing The Best E-commerce Platform for Your Business

Pricing, design, features, interface, and many other components go into choosing the best e-commerce platform for your online store. It may be tempting to choose the most affordable plan, but migrating your site later can be a hassle.

You can start by researching the following factors for each platform you’re considering, and then narrow down your choices.

What’s Your Budget? 

E-commerce platform pricing depends on the type of platform and your customization needs. The costs to build and host your e-commerce site can range from $10 to $10,000 plus.

Many SaaS platforms offer competitive pricing packages, but it’s still important to understand whether it’s the most cost-effective choice for your business. 

Paying more doesn’t always guarantee the best experience, but choosing the least expensive option can mean you’ll pay extra for plugins and additional features. Combining fees from various providers tends to be the most expensive option. 

Before you chose an e-commerce platform, you can consider your budget for the following pieces:

  • Website design
  • Programming and functionality
  • Security 
  • Custom app development
  • Monthly hosting fees
  • Maintenance 
  • Licensing 

If you choose an open-source platform, you’ll need to research the costs of these services from various providers. With a hosted or SaaS platform, it’s more common to find a package that includes all the features you need within a monthly subscription. 

What are Your Growth Plans and Can Your E-commerce Platform Grow with You? 

Choose an e-commerce platform that will grow with your business. That way, you’ll already be familiar with how it works when you’re ready to scale.

How many products will you sell?

Factor in whether you’re selling one product or many products with numerous variants. An e-commerce platform that lets you increase the number of SKUs allows you to avoid restrictions later.

Can the platform handle high-volume traffic? 

Find a hosting infrastructure that can handle traffic surges without crashing your site. That way when your marketing campaign goes viral, you’ll be ready. 

What are Your Customer Service Expectations? 

The livelihood of your e-commerce business is highly dependent on the platform you choose. 

You’ll be using the platform every day. Can you get support from a real person to help you with a problem? Many SaaS e-commerce platforms offer email, chat, or phone support. 

As mentioned above, you’ll have a harder time finding great customer support if you choose an open-source platform. 

Social Media Integration

Social media is a must-have for e-commerce businesses. It’s important to define your social media strategy based on your target audience. It’s key to figure out if the e-commerce platform offers built-in integrations with social media channels you plan to use. 

Social media integrations can provide a seamless experience so you can advertise and promote your brand directly to users in their news feeds.

Sales Channels and Synching

Selling products online can also involve syncing your inventory with marketplaces like Amazon. Does the e-commerce platform integrate with the marketplaces you plan to use?

Can You Understand the Backend Dashboard? 

The last thing you need when you’re growing your e-commerce business is a dashboard that makes your head spin. 

Personal preference will play a role in preferred dashboard features and design. However, an easy-to-use interface that includes visuals, sales summaries, and guides to help you configure your store is a good starting point. 

Payment Gateway Options

E-commerce platforms offer integrations with payment gateways. Some platforms are limited to the basics like Stripe or PayPal, while others come with an abundance of third party payment gateway integrations.

When you evaluate payment gateway options, look for the following:

  • Transaction fees
  • Number of payment methods available to your customer
  • Cross border transaction capabilities
  • Checkout page appearance — can you customize?
  • Custom domain capabilities
  • Security

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Design Capabilities and Prebuilt Themes

Many SaaS e-commerce platforms offer libraries of prebuilt themes and templates that can be used for a variety of industries. You can usually preview the themes before deciding on the best design for your business. 

If you choose an open-source or headless platform, you don’t get this benefit. 

Shipping and Order Fulfillment Options 

Shipping needs depend on the products you sell. It’s good to look for an e-commerce platform that offers plenty of options to make sure you’re covered for every possible scenario. 

Some solutions offer dynamic rates or flat fees for shipping. And extra shipping tools like label printing, shipping emails, and automatic shipping calculations come in handy.

Some e-commerce platforms provide fulfillment solutions, but that’s rare. Take a look at the method of fulfillment provided, and consider whether you want self-fulfillment, third party logistics (3PL), or dropshipping. Each option is unique and requires different solutions. 

Apps and Plugins

Apps and plugins can help you advance your online store without having to pay for a developer. 

It’s vital to read app reviews to see if there are performance issues before integrating them with your store. Too many plugins can sometimes cause performance issues. However, it’s standard to use apps for social media, design, marketing, inventory, and sales. 

The 15 Best E-commerce Platforms to Consider 

All e-commerce platforms have their advantages and disadvantages. It’s crucial to evaluate each platform based on your specific business needs and long term plans for growth. 

Here we’ve provided an overview of the most popular e-commerce platforms (in no particular order). 

  • BigCommerce
  • Shopify
  • GoDaddy
  • Oberlo 
  • Wix
  • 3dcart
  • WooCommerce
  • Volusion
  • PrestaShop
  • Weebly
  • Squarespace
  • Magento
  • Big Cartel
  • osCommerce
  • OpenCart

BigCommerce

BigCommerce 

BigCommerce is a versatile and customizable e-commerce solution that offers cross-channel commerce — marketplaces, social commerce, brick and mortar, and multi-storefront. They have open-platform flexibility and extendibility supported by specialized services. 

Platform Type: 

  • Open SaaS
  • Headless ready

Pricing: 

  • Free 15-day trial
  • $29.95 per month for a standard membership
  • $79.95 per month for a plus membership
  • $299.95 per month for a pro membership
  • Custom pricing for enterprise solutions

Pros:

  • User-friendly
  • Helps you with SEO so you don’t need to outsource that task
  • Websites on this platform have fast load times

Cons: 

  • No function to save a customer’s credit card information for repeat sales
  • Some functionalities require price upgrades that may be out of reach for some small businesses
  • The platform does include security, but some users may need to add a 3rd party to upgrade their security service

Who it’s for: 

  • Enterprise and mid-market merchants

Shopify

Shopify

Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms. The interface is simple to use and good for most e-commerce businesses. Shopify offers many apps that expand functionality. 

Platform Type: 

  • SaaS
  • Supports Headless commerce 

Pricing: 

  • $9 per month for Shopify Lite
  • $29 per month for Basic Shopify
  • $79 per month for Shopify
  • $299 per month for Advanced Shopify
  • Starting at $2,000 per month for Shopify Plus, the enterprise-grade Shopify plan

Pros:

  • Highly-rated and widely used e-commerce platform
  • Costs are all-inclusive so there are no additional fees for a domain or hosting
  • Nice pre-built designs and themes that are regularly updated

Cons: 

  • Built-in themes are harder to customize because they are coded in Liquid, Shopify’s own PHP language
  • No email hosting
  • The platform can be expensive

Who it’s for: 

  • Small to large businesses
  • Dropshippers
  • Brick and mortar stores

MONEI Shopify integration

GoDaddy

GoDaddy

GoDaddy’s e-commerce platform allows you to sell everywhere online and manage it in a single interface. 

Platform Type: 

  • Saas

Pricing: 

  • $14.99 per month for Standard 
  • $19.99 per month for Premium
  • $24.99 per month for E-commerce

Pros:

  • Manages your sales from your store, social media, marketplaces, and Google all in one place
  • Built-in marketing tools like SEO, Google My Business, Facebook Sync, and email marketing
  • Flexible shipping and payment options

Cons: 

  • Designs aren’t as customizable as some other platforms
  • No live chat support
  • Internal speeds aren’t always the best because it’s such a large platform

Who it’s for: 

  • Small to large stores
  • E-commerce and brick and mortar

Oberlo

Oberlo

Oberlo isn’t a full e-commerce platform. It’s an extension on Shopify that allows you to drop ship items.

Platform Type: 

  • SaaS

Pricing: 

  • Free for Starter Plan
  • $29.90 per month for Basic Plan
  • $79.90 per month for Pro Plan

Pros:

  • This extension offers secure product importing from AliExpress
  • User-friendly interface
  • Change suppliers whenever you like

Cons: 

  • Only works if you’re using Shopify
  • It doesn’t have an option for a standalone platform 
  • The extension only supports AliExpress

Who it’s for: 

  • Dropshipping businesses who use Shopify

Wix

Wix

Wix is one of the most inexpensive, user-friendly ways to sell online. It’s easy for beginners and has a large theme selection. 

Platform Type: 

  • SaaS

Pricing: 

  • Free
  • $23 per month for Business Basic
  • $27 per month for Business Unlimited
  • $49 per month for Business VIP
  • $500 per month for Enterprise

Pros:

  • Casy to use for people without much technical knowledge
  • Good for selling both physical and digital goods 
  • Wix app market offers robust offerings to manage your site

Cons: 

  • Templates are not interchangeable
  • The free plan includes Wix branding and URL 
  • If you don’t like it you can’t transfer your site elsewhere

Who it’s for: 

  • Small to midsize businesses

MONEI is currently working on integrating with Wix. Join our newsletter here to find out when it's available!

3dcart

3dcart

This theme-based web builder helps you grow your traffic and sales.

Platform Type: 

  • SaaS

Pricing: 

  • $19 per month for Startup plan
  • $29 per month for Basic package
  • $79 per month for Plus plan
  • $229 per month for Pro plan

Pros:

  • Integrates with a variety of payment gateways giving you flexible checkout options
  • Easily scale your business with unlimited product storage options

Cons: 

  • Not as intuitive as some of the others we’ve mentioned
  • Design templates are limited 

Who it’s for: 

  • Online businesses that want to grow and scale quickly 

WooCommerce

WooCommerce

This platform is built on WordPress. It gives you many options to customize your store while being very user-friendly. 

Platform Type: 

  • Open-source

Pricing: 

  • Free for software
  • Cost varies for themes, payment gateways, hosting, and plugins

Pros:

  • Advanced features for larger stores
  • Free and paid themes are both highly customizable
  • Customers can checkout as a guest without creating an account

Cons: 

  • Technical expertise is needed to set up your store
  • For your theme, plugins, and hosting you will have to seek support from different providers 

Who it’s for: 

  • Small to large businesses who have the technical expertise or are willing to hire someone to set up

MONEI WooCommerce Integration

Volusion

Volusion

This platform offers an all-in-one e-commerce website builder. Its cloud-based service is feature-rich and integrates with many popular tools like Pinterest, Facebook Pixel, Mailchimp, and more. 

Platform Type: 

  • SaaS

Pricing: 

  • $26 per month for Personal
  • $71 per month for Professional
  • $161 per month for Startup
  • $269 per month for Business

Pros:

  • Pages are easy to customize
  • 24/7 online support 
  • Many business management tools built-in so you don’t need to install plugins

Cons: 

  • You can’t sell digital products
  • Premium templates are expensive

Who it’s for: 

  • Small to large businesses that sell physical products. 

PrestaShop

PrestaShop

This platform is highly customizable and offers both free and paid options. 

Platform Type: 

  • Open-source

Pricing: 

  • Free to download the open version 
  • You have to pay for hosting from their partner, 1&1, which costs between $8 and $15 per month
  • $22.62 per month for Prestashop Ready 

Pros:

  • Easily scale your store’s functionality as your business grows
  • Don’t need as much web development expertise for this platform as you do for other open-source options
  • Access to a strong user-support community so you don’t have to pay customer support fees

Cons: 

  • The paid customer support option is expensive
  • Backend is more technical to use than a SaaS solution

Who it’s for: 

  • Small to midsize businesses
  • Startups that don’t want to incur monthly fees

MONEI is currently working on integrating with PrestaShop. Join our newsletter here to find out when it's available!

Weebly

Weebly

Weebly is a complete e-commerce website builder by Square. The platform is user-friendly and has a highly-rated mobile app. 

Platform Type: 

  • SaaS

Pricing: 

  • $12 per month for Pro plan
  • $25 per month for Business plan
  • $38 per month for Business Plus plan

Pros:

  • Drag-and-drop capabilities making it easy to use for beginners
  • Multiple levels of navigation for multiple website pages

Cons: 

  • Can’t undo mistakes because this platform doesn’t offer versioning
  • Templates aren’t very customizable if you don’t have coding skills

Who it’s for: 

  • Small businesses that aren’t concerned with layout customization

Squarespace

Squarespace

This platform is beginner-friendly with drag-and-drop capabilities and plenty of nice templates to create a professional-looking website.

Platform Type: 

  • SaaS

Pricing: 

  • $18 per month for Business
  • $26 per month for Online Store (Basic)
  • $40 per month for Online Store (Advanced)
  • These prices are based on a one-year contract and include a domain name.

Pros:

  • Free domain name with purchase
  • Free SSL
  • Robust help center

Cons: 

  • Templates are restrictive
  • Limitations to which third-party apps you can use
  • Payment methods are limited

Who it’s for: 

  • Small to midsize businesses
  • Creative businesses like artists, designers, and fashion sellers

Magento

Magento

This platform is for larger businesses and people who have experience with professional web development (or the budget to hire a developer). 

Platform Type: 

  • PaaS
  • Open-source

Pricing: 

  • Starts at $1,988 per month 

Pros:

  • Flexibility to modify the source code. 
  • Offers features that other platforms don’t have like VIP discounts
  • Many extensions and plug-ins

Cons: 

  • Expensive and likely out of reach for most startups or small businesses
  • Need a dedicated server to host it
  • Product support is not the best

Who it’s for: 

  • Midsize to large businesses with developers to manage the site 

Big Cartel

Big Cartel

This platform is considered a lite e-commerce platform that is geared toward artists, musicians, makers, and other creatives. 

Platform Type: 

  • SaaS

Pricing: 

  • Free for Gold plan
  • $9.99 per month for Platinum plan
  • $19.99 per month for Diamond plan
  • $29.99 per month for Titanium plan

Pros:

  • Very simple to use and requires very little technical expertise 
  • Pricing plans are very affordable for small businesses and startups
  • Templates are nice looking

Cons: 

  • No search function
  • Doesn’t support large stores or stores that need advanced capabilities
  • Payment options are limited

Who it’s for: 

  • Small creative businesses 
  • Startups 

osCommerce

osCommerce

This platform offers the ability to customize your e-commerce site. It requires technical expertise because you have to perform site maintenance, hosting, and server updates.

Platform Type: 

  • Open-source 

Pricing: 

  • Free
  • Cost for hosting (usually starts around $5 per month)
  • Domain name (can cost around $10 annually)
  • Cost of third-party modules or professional design

Pros:

  • Easy to customize 
  • Community and expert support is available 
  • Nice looking pre-designed templates. 

Cons: 

  • Some users report that it’s prone to errors
  • Requires a lot of manual work to build and keep your site up to date
  • Difficult to scale your business

Who it’s for: 

  • Small to midsize businesses with technical expertise on board (or the budget to hire someone to handle technical aspects)

OpenCart

OpenCart

OpenCart is an open-source platform that is highly customizable and available without any monthly platform fees. You only pay for hosting.

Platform Type: 

  • Open-source

Pricing: 

  • Free
  • Cost for hosting (usually starts around $5 per month)
  • Domain name (can cost around $10 annually)

Pros:

  • Open-source and highly customizable
  • Offers many integrations on its free platform
  • No large ongoing development costs

Cons: 

  • Built-in marketing features are limited
  • Pages are slower to load
  • You need to handle hosting, development, and maintenance on your own

Who it’s for: 

  • Small businesses that don’t need to scale

Conclusion 

Finding the best e-commerce platform for your online store is dependent on your needs for features, customization, and growth. Look for an option with the best overall value for you and your business today and as you scale.

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