Ecommerce is quietly and conveniently taking over our lives. According to Jeff Bezos, Amazon has over 100 million Amazon Prime members. Free shipping is the norm. Two-day shipping is becoming one-day or two-hour shipping. If you want to start your own ecommerce store (or replatform to a new one), choosing from the best ecommerce platforms can be tough – right now there are over 477 different options to choose from.
I want to make this decision easier by showcasing the best ecommerce software so you can find the right solution for your online store. Let’s face it – in the end, out of 477 platforms, there will only be a few left standing, so you want to make sure you pick the winner.
These reviews are based on price, reliability, technical support, features, scalability, product options, shipping, fulfillment, the control panel experience, and more.
Please note, I may receive affiliate compensation for the links below. However, these are the best tools I have used and tested that I believe are most effective for launching and running an online store.
What Are the Best Ecommerce Platforms?
Ecommerce platforms are robust, full-featured way to sell products online. When choosing from the best options, there are many considerations, and each ecommerce website builder provides different features.
For example, your needs will be different if you’re selling 3 products vs. 100. Or if you want to do dropshipping rather than your own shipping and fulfillment.
Ultimately, ecommerce software should allow you to easily add your products, offer coupons and discounts, automatically track inventory, and help manage shipping and fulfillment so that you can focus on running your business.
Here are my picks for the best ecommerce platforms:
Best Overall Ecommerce Platform Built to Scale ($29.95/mo)
BigCommerce is my #1 ecommerce platform recommendation. They have best-in-class SEO features, 40+ payment gateways, advanced product options, 24/7 support, and can literally scale with your ecommerce business up to over $100 million per year.
Here’s what typically happens.
A small business owner decides to get into ecommerce and chooses a platform like Shopify or Wix because of their name recognition. After 6-12 months, they start growing sales and paying extra for apps and add-ons to help their ecommerce business grow.
After some time, they hit a growth ceiling. They may realize they’re paying hundreds of dollars every month for apps instead of one flat monthly price, their SEO is lacking, product options aren’t robust, transaction fees are adding up, and they’re outgrowing their platform.
They are the most open SaaS ecommerce platform on the market – open APIs, zero transaction fees, and an unrestricted partner ecosystem unlike Shopify’s data breaches with Mailchimp.
BigCommerce is split into two product offerings: BigCommerce (their enterprise offering) and BigCommerce Essentials (built for small businesses). Both are built to scale with your growth.
On one hand, they are an easy platform for small business owners because of their features and built-in functionality. However there is a slightly higher learning curve that other very basic tools like Wix.
They’re also perfect for enterprise brands looking to leave expensive on-premise solutions like Magento and move to SaaS. Brands like Ford, Toyota, Skullcandy, and others in the Fortune 1000 use BigCommerce to bring in over $100 million in annual sales.
In December 2018, they also launched BigCommerce for WordPress, a “headless commerce” offering that allows users to manage their front end content on WordPress and their backend ecommerce functionality via APIs.
This allows for faster WordPress site speed than you find with other WordPress ecommerce options like WooCommerce, which installs multiple plugins to work and hinders performance.
Their plans start at $29.95/month and with that you get a branded online store with the ability to sell on Amazon, eBay, and social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
They have a simple user interface to build your online store, including sections for your orders, products, marketing, analytics, taxes, and your storefront:
With the newly launched shipping features, you get discounted carrier rates, and gain the ability to print shipping labels and manage fulfillment right in your dashboard.
Their themes are fully responsive and optimized with conversion in mind. They also offer free SSL certificates, have a clear pricing structure, and again – zero transaction fees.
BigCommerce receives my highest recommendation as the best ecommerce platform.
Best Simple Ecommerce Platform for Small Business ($9.50/month)
3dcart is a fast growing ecommerce platform that is known for their strong SEO features, 50 free themes, and 100+ payment processors.
Their plans range from $9.50 per month for a Startup Store up to $114.50 per month for their Pro Store plan. All plans come with domain registration, no transaction fees, unlimited bandwidth, a Facebook store, a built-in blog, API access, and 24/7 tech support.
They recently released new shipping settings and an upgrade to their promotional tools. For shipping, you can display all of your order’s shipping carriers and rates on your checkout page instead of just one at a time.
Then rates are loaded automatically when a buyer checks out with their credit card or PayPal.
With Promotion Manager, you can choose multiple Customer Groups to offer a promotion to at once instead of just one group like in the past. This is great for B2B brand and users that want an online shopping cart with more personalization.
Ultimately, if you’re a small business that needs strong SEO, marketing tools, and ecommerce functionality without the need for advanced enterprise features, 3dcart is a good choice.
Try 3dcart today.
Easy Ecommerce Website Design and Hundreds of Themes ($23/month)
Wix is a fast growing website builder that allows users to upgrade to full ecommerce functionality for $20 per month. They boast hundreds of designer-made templates, promotions and gift cards, beautiful product galleries, and easy order management and shipping.
They automatically optimize your online store on mobile, including iPhones and Android devices, (Apple and Google). You can also customize the look of your mobile ecommerce site with their online store builder tool. You don’t need to dive into HTML or CSS in order to create a stunning site with Wix.
Finally, they offer a domain name, secure checkout, 24/7 customer support, multiple payment options and solutions, global tax and shipping, and coupons and discounts to help you sell more.
Try Wix Ecommerce today.
Best Ecommerce Platform for Dropshipping ($29/month)
Shopify is an ecommerce powerhouse, hosting over 400,000 merchants worldwide. When you think of ecommerce, your mind might go right to Shopify. They’re a Canadian company that launched in 2004 and quickly became one of the fastest growing SaaS companies in North America.
Dissatisfied by existing mobile apps and ecommerce products on the market, Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake built their own open source web application with Ruby on Rails and launched after two months.
That program became Shopify.
Fast forward to today and when I think of Shopify one thing comes to mind – dropshipping.
One reason Shopify gained massive brand awareness was by appealing to the widest possible audience of “dreamers” – people with little ecommerce experience, but firm believers they can strike it rich in a short period of time.
I fell for it too.
I built a dropshipping website on Shopify in 2015, believed the hype, and designed a high-end camping gear store very amazingly named Rebel Peak (now that I think of it the logo was actually pretty legit lol). After carefully picking my inventory, painstakingly tracking my potential gross margin in spreadsheets, and integrating wholesalers and Shopify with Inventory Source, I launched my store.
That’s when I realized Shopify’s limitations.
Yes, while it was easy to design a cool-looking website and add products, once it came to generating traffic and managing sales, reality struck. Shopify is not the best ecommerce platform.
For one, your URL structure is locked into their format. For example, instead of a category pages located at rebelpeak.com/camping, Shopify forces you to use their format of rebelpeak.com/collections/camping. This is not ideal for search rankings, especially considering “category” is a higher-level subfolder than the more important keyword “camping”.
Second, they have limited product options. If you are selling t-shirts for example and have different colors, materials, and sizes, your SKUs add up quickly. Shopify is limited to only 100 product variants – not nearly enough if you have a good number of product combinations.
Compare both of these issues to BigCommerce: zero rules on URL structures and 600+ product variants – and you start to understand the story.
Shopify is also moving their business model to an add-on-centered approach, moving into payment gateways and point of sale systems. Pretty soon, Shopify may be the Amazon (or Facebook) of B2B retail and ecommerce, generating most of their profit from transaction fees, apps, and selling data.
I’m not saying that Shopify is a bad platform – it’s not at all. In fact, it’s a fantastic tool. Brands are successful highly successful with Shopify and Shopify Plus.
I just want to be a realist and not let popularity cloud reality. Running an ecommerce, even if it’s dropshipping, is hard work.
So the next time you’re on YouTube and see a pre-roll ad telling you how to make $1 million in three months by dropshipping with Shopify, please click skip immediately.
Ultimately, Shopify has three plans ranging from $29 to $299.
All plans include unlimited products, a free SSL, discount codes, inventory management, multilingual support, an easy buy button, abandoned cart recovery, marketing features, and 24/7 support. To test them out for yourself, they offer a 14-day free trial.
Try Shopify today.
Best User-Friendly Ecommerce Platform ($26/month)
Their $26/month Personal Plan comes with unlimited products, online support, and zero transaction fees.
On the high end, their $161/month Business Plan comes with more in-house support, which is primarily what they are known for. A benefit of a Volusion site is that they have an in-house SEO and marketing team that can help with digital marketing and getting visibility on search engines.
Higher tier plans come with “$100 of quick wins” every month. If you’re a store owner, this could be a quick web design fix, SEO optimizations, or other assistance to improve website performance.
If you want to test them out, you can get started with a 14-day free trial.
Try Volusion today.
Best Drag-and-Drop Ecommerce Website Builder ($26/month)
Squarespace is a well-known website builder that has basic ecommerce features on their third highest priced plan.
They have four main pricing plans – two website builder monthly plans and two online store monthly plans:
- Personal Plan: $12/month
- Business Plan: $18/month
- Basic (Online Store): $26/month
- Advanced (Online Store): $40/month
Before I moved my blog to WordPress, I started with the Squarespace Personal Plan. It was very easy to drag and drop content on my site and update their pre-designed templates. However, I quickly realized that Squarespace wasn’t the best option for SEO, site speed, or customizations.
Yes, they make it easy for anyone without technical knowledge, including my 4-year-old cousin to create a website, but what you gain in ease of use, you lose in functionality and SEO benefits. I remember when I started with them, I got stuck with a very simple XML sitemap issue that was impacting my SEO and simply could not be solved.
Certain URLs in my sitemap had a trailing slash (/) while others didn’t, making it look like every page was duplicate content. Long story short, it was impacting my SEO and I moved to WordPress right away.
As far as ecommerce solutions go, have you ever heard anyone say, “I run my lucrative online business on Squarespace”. Probably not. However, if you’re already using this platform and want to add a simple ecommerce store to your site with a few products, there are some benefits.
It’s super easy to set up, you get some great looking mobile-friendly templates, product management, and integration with shipping solutions like Shipbob and Shipstation. This includes real-time shipping rates from major providers like UPS, FedEx, and USPS.
They also offer 24/7 support and a 14-day free trial to test out their features.
Try Squarespace today.
Weebly is a website builder founded in 2006 that now boasts over 500,000 domains and 12% market share in the website builder space. They are made for small websites and businesses just starting out that don’t need an advanced web presence.
One bonus is that Weebly has marketing automation features built-in. If you were to purchase another website builder and an email marketing service separately, you may pay an extra $10-20 per month.
Another pro is their product options. You can manage hundreds of products, track inventory, automate out of stock items, and boost buying behavior by showing customers the remaining number of products (Only 3 Left!).
Weebly isn’t nearly as powerful as other platforms like BigCommerce or 3dcart. However, if you’re a small business with a simple website under 10 pages and want to add some ecommerce functionality, Weebly will serve you just fine.
Try Weebly today.
Other notable mentions not yet listed include Prestashop, OpenCart, Big Cartel, Ecwid.
What Are Ecommerce Platforms?
Ecommerce platforms are software tools to help people sell products and services online. Historically, businesses had to purchase expensive, on-premise ecommerce software with an IT setup and in-house hosting to manage their ecommerce. Now, with SaaS software technology, users can build storefronts (front-facing sales channels) online.
What is the Best Ecommerce Platform for SEO?
The best ecommerce platform for SEO focuses on important ranking factors, including site speed, URL structure, page titles/content, and sitewide HTTPS.
My pick is BigCommerce. Heres why:
With site speed, you want to make sure your ecommerce host loads your site content quickly on mobile and desktop. Even a 100-millisecond delay in load time can drop your conversion rate by 7%. Use tools like GTMetrix and Google PageSpeed Insights to check your ecommerce site speed on a regular basis.
Second, image compression is another important factor to site speed, as images that take a long time to load increase page load times, impacting user experience and SEO.
Regarding URL structure, BigCommerce features the best default URL format.
For example as highlighted earlier, www.rebelpeak.com/camping/blue-tent is the best format to follow in the order of domain, category, and product. They allow you to do this, while other platforms like Shopify force you to keep their structure, including the static “/collections/”, /pages/”, and “/products/”.
This is not ideal for SEO, so BigCommerce wins in this regard and is my pick for the best ecommerce platform for SEO.
What Are the Best Free Ecommerce Platforms?
If you’re looking for a free or open source ecommerce platforms, you can find many readily available. When researching different ecommerce frameworks to use, it’s important to ask yourself a few different questions:
- Are you interested in self-hosting?
- How much web development experience do you have?
- How much creative control do you want?
- Would you rather pay a small fee every month to have everything wrapped up in one package?
I would personally go with a paid option over an open source system, because the small fee will save you a ton of time and development costs.
Some limitations of open source ecommerce platforms are that they require more development and coding knowledge, you have to find hosting by yourself, all site maintenance and security has to be done by you, and you don’t get dedicated support.
What Are the Best Ecommerce Platforms for Small Business?
The best ecommerce platforms for small business are focused on uptime guarantees, security, PCI compliance, usability, and performance. If your business depends on ecommerce sales, your requirements will be more stringent than an individual selling online.
In the B2B space, there are also a lot of dependencies on your platform’s user access levels, shipping methods, tax calculations, and invoicing software. You need a solution that is easily managed by multiple users and minimizes time to complete orders.
After all, the more time you save on compliance, shipping and fulfillment, the more time you have to market your business online.
Here are my top picks for the best ecommerce platforms for small business:
What Are the Best Ecommerce Platforms for Dropshipping?
The best ecommerce platforms for dropshipping must easily integrate with wholesalers, connect your inventory across platforms, and automate shipping.
When you hook up your online store to a wholesale supplier, the first thing you need to check is that inventory levels automatically sync between platforms. The last thing you want to happen is someone orders a product on your site that’s out of stock with your wholesaler.
Here are my choices for the best ecommerce platforms for dropshipping:
Best Ecommerce Platforms (Summary)
There you have it – my list of the best ecommerce platforms.
- If you want the best ecommerce platform that can scale with your business, I recommend you get started with BigCommerce.
- If a simpler solution works for you but you still want strong SEO, I recommend 3dcart.
- If you’re a dropshipper than needs the best integrations, Shopify is your best choice.
What popular ecommerce platforms do you recommend?