It's not easy to try and find the best eCommerce platform.
But it's important to do so - the choice of a fitting software solution could make or break your online shop. So you have to pick wisely.
But here's the thing:
It's worth to do research! The payout is great: people love buying online, as it's satisfying, more simple, and saves a lot of time and money.
This is why I decided to write this post - 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 best eCommerce platform list:
- Shopify (Best all-around option)
- BigCommerce (Plenty of powerful tools and payment gateways)
- Volusion (Premium support, loads of help)
- Etsy (No monthly fees, but no customization)
- BigCartel (Free plans available, great for beginners)
Of course, at this point, you may have a question:
"Why are these the best eCommerce platforms around?"
So let's take a deeper dive and review all five of them, in more detail. Here goes:
Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce solutions in the world. With a dedicated fanbase and a lot of success stories, it is very often seen as a #1 option for many people looking to sell online.
Established in 2004, it has been doing well since, setting up partnerships with companies such as Amazon and extending its business to physical "brick and mortar" shops as well.
The company has recently 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.
|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.|
Shopify is the best eCommerce platform for...
A regular user who wants the best eCommerce website builder around. Shopify can help you make a very pretty website and there are multiple easy ways to manage it. Scaling your project up, using either the regular plans or a bespoke "Shopify Plus" solution is also rather simple.
However, high monthly, credit card and transaction fees make it a rather expensive solution.
Is Shopify good?
Sure. Yet if you're sensitive about profit margins, there may be some better options for you. Shopify is, however, the best eCommerce website builder.
A huge name in the world of eCommerce solutions, BigCommerce is popular with store owners all across the world.
This company is trusted by some of the world's major business players. Enterprises such as Ford, Toyota, Motorola, and PayPal all trust BigCommerce with their day-to-day operations.
How can you join this elite club?
Well, by paying $29.95 or more. The entry plan, however, 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. Despite that, it's still a powerful plan.
The real question is, whether you need all of this at the same time - but in sub-30 dollar category, BigCommerce has arguably the most features. On top of that, there are no transaction fees, which makes BigCommerce a great option if you plan to sell quite a lot.
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.
And here's the best part:
I originally wrote this post several months ago and later revisited it with new information - and for the entirety of 2018, the prices stayed exactly the same. So you can tell that BigCommerce seriously devoted themselves to change - and the results are here to see. Lovely stuff.
|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.|
BigCommerce is the best eCommerce platform for...
Bigger international projects. Having fixed some issues that inconvenienced their users previously, BigCommerce has shown it has enough firepower to handle even the biggest online shops. Also, plenty of powerful tools even in the entry plan and loads of the payment gateways bode well if you're planning to go international.
Here's the deal:
If one day you'll become huge, BigCommerce wants to be there as well - the company says it can offer a custom plan for enterprise users that will blow the competition away from the water. Well, the first 15 days of testing BigCommerce are free - so you may as well jump in and give it a shot.
For every reason to use Shopify or BigCommerce, there's a reason to choose Volusion. Founded in 1999 by then-16-year-old developer Kevin Sproles, Volusion joined the list of eCommerce solutions in 2002.
It is commonly regarded as being one of the best eCommerce sites in the world - with 185 million orders made, it has reasons to be seen as one.
While 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.
For example, using Volusion requires a separate SSL certificate (can be purchased separately). It not only increases security but also that means the checkout is happening in your own URL, which is good for your brand.
The starting price is also quite good - from $15 a month, this is quite inexpensive. 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.|
Volusion is the best eCommerce platform for...
People looking for extra features and premium support. On top of offering a serious array of things you can do, Volusion also provides an "always-on" approach to customer service. Therefore, you always have a helping hand by your side. Although advanced features may require a more expensive plan, Volusion still attempts to be the best eCommerce platform - on a budget.
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.
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 would affect you. Be wary of that. Also, make sure you know what you're getting into.
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 differently 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.|
Etsy is the best eCommerce platform for...
Independent artists. There are only 24 hours in a day - if you spend most of them painting, crafting, and creating beautiful things, you may not have a whole lot of time to run a shop. This is who Etsy is for.
Create art - if it's good, chances are you will be noticed and will have plenty of buyers. Etsy's pricing scheme makes it difficult to sell a lot - but you don't risk anything and get a good platform to showcase what can you do.
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 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 or dishes - without having to save up extra money.
Of course, the 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 other serious limitations are used. 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.
|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.|
BigCartel is the best eCommerce platform for...
Designers and aspiring brands. 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.
How to choose a perfect eCommerce platform?
As you saw just now, there's no shortage of platforms waiting to help your business sell and grow. But which one of them is the best? Well, the answer is actually quite difficult to make. Have you noticed that in the list above, these eCommerce platforms were not ranked?
That's because the best eCommerce platform depends solely on your needs. What can be good for one company, might be completely disastrous for the other!
With plenty of platforms available, it's important to remember that they all have some strengths and weaknesses - despite everyone searching for the perfect option, the best choice is very much subjective. So the question you really should be asking is "what is the best eCommerce platform for my needs?" And this is what I tried to answer. Covering both independent designers wishing to sell t-shirts, international business giants and everyone in between, I managed to find 5 brilliant options.
And if you're still not sure which eCommerce platforms suits you best, give a couple of your favorites a shot. Trying things yourself is the best kind of research!
Let's use eCommerce to make you money!
Now, let's say you found your platform. You signed up, and are now ready to sell online. But....how do exactly do you do that?
The goal of entrepreneurship is always noble. But a road to success may be very, very difficult. After spending days testing and comparing eCommerce platforms, I also wanted to answer the question of the ultimate answer - how do you make them work and create profit?
How do you attract users to your platform and then make them do the purchase? Upon looking at the best (and the worst!) examples, I found one underlying trend which always, always seemed to work.
Change your perspective and dominate the market
Shock horror alert: turns out the best entrepreneurs in the business are not like everybody else.
They think differently!
There are plenty of lists, telling you how to make a good online shop. But while reading them, I kept noticing one pesky little trend. A lot of tips consist of how you can get the users to notice you - that means advertising, SEO, speed optimization and many other little things.
While crucial, they don't really ask one important question.
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 easily 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.
Allow users to search for specific price ranges, sizes, colors, options, models, etc. Users often rate “search” as the most frustrating part of eCommerce sites, so make sure you get this part of your website right!
Organise your search results
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.
Replicate the "window shopping" even more
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.
Also, use a mobile website. They 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 never really 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 make 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 the 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 long 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? Great! 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.
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 we've made includes all types of eCommerce platforms just for this sole reason. 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 superior platform and heaps of hard work, there's no stopping you and your company.