A great eCommerce platform can completely transform your business.
A fast, versatile, and easy to use online platform makes a lot of things a lot more simple. But finding the solution that fits your business the most can be seriously challenging - there are so many options to choose from!
Well, this is what I'm here for. I want to help you find the best eCommerce platform for your online shop. Hopefully, by the end of this post, you'll be well informed, as to which platform is perfect for your business.
And here's the list of the best eCommerce platform options:
- Shopify (Best all-around eCommerce platform)
- BigCommerce (eCommerce platform suited for big international businesses)
- Volusion (inexpensive, simple to use eCommerce solution)
- Etsy (online sales solution for crafting experts)
- BigCartel (free eCommerce plan available)
Let's have a look at them in detail.
The best all-around eCommerce platform starting at $29/month.
Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce solutions in the world. It offers an easy-to-use website builder and plenty of powerful tools to help you build an online store of your dreams, sell well, and track your data. Overall, it's a great option for most small businesses - because there's also plenty of room to grow should that small business suddenly turn into a serious corporation.
Shopify is being used by plenty of massive companies, such as Pepsi, Nestle, or Kylie Jenner cosmetics - so it'll have enough space for you and your business.
And it won't stop on the internet, too - Shopify has introduced a physical card reader, which allows to sync shop purchases with an online store!
The stock version of Shopify doesn't have much going on for it - but there's an in-house application shop which can help the users make the shop the way they want it to be. Some of these apps are paid - be wary of that, as a perfect online shop of your dreams may cost you a bit extra.
At least when you finally get what you want, making a shop is going to be a breeze - Shopify website builder has plenty of great themes and is easy to use. It really feels like the best eCommerce website builder out there. One of my favorite things is the fact how many dropshipping options there are.
Adding products and checking out analytics is also quite simple, both on a desktop and a highly-rated mobile application. Also, stores hosted on Shopify servers have impressed us with their speeds.
The only genuine disadvantage of Shopify is its price. With plans starting from $29 a month and fairly big credit card rates, you may see your profit margins reducing by quite a bit. But even then - it's still a brilliant option, considering how much you get for your money.
|A very interesting app store, including plenty of applications to choose from.|
|Good performance and SEO optimization.|
|A good website builder.|
|A highly-rated mobile application (4.5+ out of 5 rating on Apple App Store).|
|True eCommerce plan starts at $29 a month.|
|Relatively big credit cards rates and transaction fees. They may significantly reduce your profit margins.|
|Add-ons in the application may cost you even more.|
The eCommerce solution for serious businesses starting at $29.95/month.
BigCommerce aims to be the perfect eCommerce solution for big businesses. Trusted by Ford, Toyota, Motorola, and many more, BigCommerce is a custom eCommerce solution, ready to build your website the way you want it.
How can you join this elite club?
Well - you can request a demo from the company, state your business, and they shall return with the offer - which is going to be quite big.
Or alternatively, you can use BigCommerce Essentials - a solution built for smaller businesses.
And its cheapest plan at $29.95 offers amazing value.
Unlimited bandwidth, unlimited items, professional reporting, gift cards, and checkout codes are all available with the 'Standard' plan which is really quite good.
The only stumbling block is the yearly sales you're allowed - with the cheapest plan, you may not exceed $50,000 a year. If you reach that - you'll need to upgrade.
The real question is, whether you need all of BigCommerce features at the same time. But it's good to have them - and on top of that, there are no transaction fees, so every dollar you make is yours.
If you plan to sell a lot, chances are you also plan to sell worldwide. BigCommerce has your back - with more than 60 payment gateways, it provides international solutions to 30 countries. Amongst the options, there's Skrill, WorldPay, 2CheckOut and plenty, plenty of others.
Of course, some things have to be clarified. For instance, looking at the user reviews of BigCommerce, I spotted quite a few people disgruntled with this platform. Amongst the most common complaints, there are examples of sudden price changes and sporadic replies to support tickets. We've done some testing ourselves - and customer support seems to be good
|While expensive, BigCommerce Standard plan actually offers a lot of great features.|
|Plenty of payment gateways.|
|Free trial plan for 15 days.|
|Lackluster customer support.|
|No free/low-cost plan.|
Simple to use professional eCommerce platform starting at $15/month.
Volusion is the best eCommerce platform for people who want to have a massive amount of website building features combined with top class support.
While a regular eCommerce platform such as Shopify has an application shop, Volusion intends on making their tool as useful as possible right from the start - all the add-ons are available from the very beginning. This is a good online shop solution for the people who want to take matters into their own hands, and also wish to have ultimate simplicity, not altered by third-party applications and their varying user experience.
The starting price is also quite good - from $15 a month, it's cheaper than most of its competitors. And even though the price is low, performance appears to be premium: websites hosted on Volusion are very quick, which is always a great bonus.
|True 24/7 Support. Chat response times are around 10 minutes and you can also use the phone service. Customer representative agents are knowledgeable and helpful.|
|Plenty of features, all readily available – no need for an app store.|
|Decent price – from $15 a month ($13.50 with a yearly plan).|
|Things such as newsletters or eBay/Amazon integration require more advanced plans.|
|Website builder could do with more templates.|
An eCommerce option for crafters - for only a $0.20 listing fee.
Etsy is a place for artists and crafts enthusiasts who make handcrafted goods and want to sell them online. It is known as a popular place for DIY geeks who want to vend things to people all around the world.
And the best part is - this eCommerce platform won't require much of your time. It's perfectly possible to dedicate yourself fully to crafting, run a shop, and still remain a one-person operation.
By joining Etsy, you join one big international family. Etsy is a world within a world and has a strong community. In fact, you may not even need a lot of marketing to get your first clients.
If you do well, you may get enough attention to stay afloat and make a serious number of sales! If Etsy deems your goods interesting, you may get featured on its homepage or newsletters they send to the users.
On top of that, starting on Etsy is really quite cheap. There are no monthly fees. Etsy only takes a portion of what you earn. If you have a bad month, you don't lose money!
However, this model is not always good. Despite not charging monthly fees, Etsy takes a solid chunk out of your money. $0.20 item listing fee, 3.5% transaction fee, and 3% + $0.25 payment processing fee make things rather expensive.
Of course, there is a sweet spot where this type of payment is financially viable. However, if you sell more, it may not be a good option as you'll get charged way more than a regular monthly fee with some other provider would affect you. Be wary of that - and do some counting to know that.
By joining Etsy and becoming a part of the family, you also give yourself up to its ecosystem. You can't make your website look different and you can't have your own separate domain - it's always going to be etsy.com/shop/yourshop.
Being a part of the closed community is good for the start but later you may get seriously limited by it.
On top of that, community guidelines are very strict. The Internet is littered with responses and blog posts from disgruntled Etsy shop owners who had their projects removed. Etsy has a very strict policy of dos and donts. If you think your shop may stir controversy, it is not an ideal option.
|No need to have any kind of marketing skill - if your goods look interesting, you will get enough publicity to sell well.|
|No monthly fees - you don't risk anything substantial.|
|You are completely controlled by Etsy. No shop customization, URL or design-wise. A shop may get removed if it doesn't fit the Community Guidelines.|
|No monthly fees mean increased fees for every product and sale - if you sell a lot of different products, it may become a problem.|
An eCommerce platform for designers and brands - starting from free.
A favored place for designers and artists to sell things online, BigCartel is an eCommerce solution which attempts to empower the people with small budgets - but big dreams. This is a great platform for graphic designers, and aspiring brands. How come?
Well, this can be very clearly seen from one of the things - BigCartel is the only eCommerce solution in this entire list which offers a true free plan. That means no credit card details, no trial time. Just genuine, free hosted eCommerce.
On top of that, you may use a drop shipping service, like Printful. Just like that, a designer may sell custom prints, clothes, clothes or dishes - without having to invest into plenty of stocked merchandise.
Of course, the free plan is very limited - you are restricted to a custom BigCartel URL and can only store up to 5 products. Also, there is no analytics tool and there are plenty of other serious limitations. However, with a free plan that is only expected. If you wish to upgrade, the plans are also rather inexpensive.
Also, unlike on Etsy, here you are not limited to your success, as you only get charged for a transaction and can store as many products as your plan allows.
When it comes to tools - some people mention that the analytics or shipping calculator tools are not very powerful. Also, unlike in Etsy, the community factor is actually quite small. For most of the part, it means you have to do a lot of the marketing yourself and if you become a huge name, you may need to move away from BigCartel to get extra tools.
But for most, well...We all have to start somewhere and for many, BigCartel offers a great ground zero with a free hosted eCommerce plan. Seamless integration with drop shipping platforms effectively means that your unique design will turn into a beautiful product and ship to your clients without you moving a finger. Although this platform lacks a lot of important analytics tools, you get the absolute basics - a webshop and a custom URL.
Is this a good starting point before you strike gold?
May as well be. It won't give you a powerful website builder or loads of freedom, but could very well be the best option.
|Free plan available.|
|Easy to use for beginners.|
|Monthly plan means you are not limited by your success.|
|Tools are not very advanced.|
|Lack of community support.|
How To Use eCommerce Platforms To Make You Money
So - all 5 of the eCommerce platforms mentioned on this list are great. Just pick one that fits your needs the most, offers the right features for the right pricing, and you're good to go!
An eCommerce platform itself won't make you any money. It's merely a tool in your hands that you can use to create masterpieces. But there are still many things that have to be done in order for a shop to make money.
So - what things should you do to maximize your profit?
Let's have a look at some of the techniques you should implement to improve your online shop.
Think about your customers - not about yourself
On the internet, there are plenty of lists telling, how you can improve your online shop, and how you can use advertising, SEO, speed optimization, and many other things, that make sure that your online shop is as amazing as you want it to be.
You, you, you - it's always about you. But here's the thing - the customers care very little about the person or the company they're buying from. An online shop has to offer a beautiful, seamless experience, that makes it all about them.
So, what do your customers really want out of their online shopping experience?
You may attract your visitors to the shop! But what will they do when they get there?
People are always very quick to make adjustments by improving software or implementing technical updates. However, by taking the best eCommerce sites and comparing them to their underperforming competitors, I found 5 tips that all successful businesses shared with one another.
The results may surprise you - it’s not about the design elements, social media, SEO, or page loading speed. Instead, it’s all about functionality. Let’s see what really drives success.
Make sure that Search button really works!Customers want to find everything as effortlessly as possible. Refine their searches so people can discover exactly what they’re looking for. Advanced searching options give customers the power to find garments in the perfect size, products in the right color, and equipment with the right specifications.
Visitors tend to visit dozens of websites all at once. Therefore, they often tend to leave very soon - the more intuitive and accurate your search option will be, the fewer people will leave without buying anything.
For many users, a broken search function is a dealbreaker. So - capitalize on that, get this part of your website right!
Don't forget to organize those results, too.
Refinement doesn’t stop with search options! Allow customers to refine their search results as well. This will benefit the overall experience by a lot. The options may include “Price - low to high”, “Price - high to low," "Popularity," aka "Best Selling," "Featured," "User Rating" (or "Editor Rating" if you do not have users rate products), and "New" or "Latest."
With these kinds of refinement options available, customers will have no problems finding just the right products - or browse the entire selection with the filters they care about the most.
Show customers the products and they will show you their money
Show customers as many products on one page as you can without slowing down page loading times significantly. Usually, this is up to around 50 products per page.
Allow the users to scroll free! People look at hundreds of products every time they go shopping, so big product pages will help replicate the feeling of “window shopping” - it's like they would if they were shopping in a brick and mortar store.
Most customers can’t stand shopping in stores that don’t allow them to see the products as they browse, or that show very few products per page. The fewer clicks it takes to find the desired product, the better. If at least one of your categories has more than 5 pages worth of products, you either have a huge shop or you do something very wrong.
Visuals and pictures will win the day.
There's another thing you can do to be as real as possible. Show lots of up-close photos of the product from many different angles, so that customers can get a real feel for what the item looks like in real life. Customers love to get a sense of what they’re buying before they purchase it. Fancy, 3D interfaces or video reviews are even better! Use everything you can to give your clients the best visual look and the most information about the product all at once.
Don't have the means or the skill to include beautiful pictures? There are plenty of product photography services that can help you out. Weebly offers a "Photo Studio" feature which will do 3 professional pictures of your product for just $9.95. There are also options on Fiverr and other similar platforms - when there's a will, there's a way.
And of course, both your website and your images should be easy to observe through most internet-capable devices, such as smartphones. A well-optimized website will give your customers the freedom to shop from any device, at any time.
The mobile market is huge and definitely is not a demographic that you want to ignore. Sure - some gurus may tell you that people only browse using their phones and rarely ever buy. To that, I can answer very simply - 10% is better than 0 and you have to make sure your visitors feel happy on every device that's possible.
A good deal of eCommerce management platforms makes it easy to convert your website to a mobile version simply by turning on a function in their settings. Make sure you don’t miss out on this very important part of your market.
Make sure buying and sharing is perfect
Guarantee that customers can share their favorite products and purchases via social media by adding social media sharing functions to your eCommerce website.
This equals free marketing for your website every time a customer shares them! That's definitely not something you want to leave out of your website’s design. Many platforms feature this as part of their design or have plugins available that allow you to add this. You don't even need to look for a specific eCommerce website builder to do so. A lot of this is available to get as a separate code, so definitely seek out this opportunity.
Also - make sure you put a lot of emphasis on social media yourselves. A visitor won't just randomly start sharing every product they see. By adding your social media feeds on the website and filling them with interesting information, reviews or competitions, you will make your eCommerce website an interesting brand to follow. By being social and engaging you will give something back to your visitors.
Chances are, your shop isn't interesting enough on its own. You need to give something extra.
Want to start a conversation or keep up with the pulse of your users? Include a spot for reviews or maybe even a question form. The opinion of your clients is as important as it gets.
Just add a Captcha form or review the comments before publishing to avoid spam and/or other issues.
Transparency wins hearts!
Make sure customers can see all of the delivery options before they start shopping. Many users won’t even shop if they can’t see this information. Rightly so, too!
Some locations may have lengthy shipping times and big fees. While that's disappointing, it is important to be transparent about it. Don't try to trick your visitors, it simply won't work.
Also, make sure that customers can see if an item is in stock before they reach the checkout. There is nothing more disappointing than going to checkout only to discover an item is out of stock! This kind of experience can permanently lose customers and stain your reputation.
Some companies also tend to forget that the work doesn't stop when the money is received. By taking care of all the important details you will increase the overall experience and make the clients loyal to your brand. Also, make sure - when you send out an order confirmation, all of the details of the order have to be included. Allow any errors to be corrected before the order ships.
Keep the customer updated on the status of their order by email so they know you haven’t forgotten them! This includes not only confirmation of the order but also when the order is ready to ship and when it ships.
A wonderful final touch is an email letting the customer know that the package is expected to arrive soon. Put an extra touch of attention every step of the way - it will most definitely pay off.
Test, grow, evolve, change
This is one important step that is easy to forget but is absolutely vital to the success of your page. TEST IT OUT. Do a full run through of your eCommerce website as a customer to make sure that EVERY part of the website is functioning as it should be BEFORE you launch it. Think it's already perfect?
Now go through it again.
Test every nook and cranny, try out weird action combinations and click on random buttons in different situations. This way you don’t run the risk of losing any new customers the day it launches just because of stray errors on the website. First impressions are important, you know.
Never stop adding new features and products to your eCommerce website that will continue to draw new customers and keep current customers coming back for more. Too many fantastic eCommerce websites allow themselves to become stagnant by not adding anything new to keep customers returning to their sites. Don’t become one of these websites. Constantly seek new ways to grow, evolve, and change. You need to inspire excitement.
Best eCommerce Platform - Conclusion
A good eCommerce platform is a brilliant start to your website. but don't forget two things.
First, remember that there's no perfect answer as to which platform is superior. To each their own - the list I've made includes all types of eCommerce platforms just for this sole reason.
For example, BigCommerce and Shopify are great eCommerce platforms for business. Meanwhile, BigCartel and Etsy are more focused on individual users, while Volusion falls somewhere in between.
If you're serious about your success, test out at least a couple of your preferred options. This way, you'll have more information before properly diving in.
And of course, remember that an eCommerce platform alone won't launch you into success. You need to make sure that users absolutely love your website and the shopping experience.
That should come as no surprise. If you'll combine the best eCommerce platform platform and heaps of hard work, there's no stopping you and your company.