Haven’t decided which ecommerce platform to use? In this article, I will cover the ins and outs of the biggest ecommerce platforms in the industry to help you decide which one suits your needs.
In the last year, eCommerce sales accounted for 14.1% of all retail sales worldwide, and it is expected to reach 22% by 2023.
Hence, eCommerce is a lucrative business, and there is no better time to start your online store than today. However, running an online store can be complicated because there are many processes to manage like inventory, customer service, store creation, product addition, payments and much more.
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When figuring out which eCommerce platform to use, you need to consider how their features fit your business needs. I will be covering the key features of all the platforms along with the pricing so that you can select the best platform that fits both your business needs and budget.
But, before we start discussing the top eCommerce platforms for 2021, let us understand the basics of an eCommerce platform.
What is an eCommerce Platform?
An eCommerce platform is a software that lets you manage your inventory, orders, products, marketing, and even customer service assistance via chatbots.
The platform is an integration of different components such as the CMS to upload products or content, order manager to process orders, payment gateway to process payments, stock database to check the availability of products, and marketing components to improve the organic visibility of the store.
Every eCommerce platform offers customer service to help you start your online shop with ease.
Now, let us discuss the top eCommerce platforms for 2021.
Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms founded in 2006 by Tobias Lütke.
There are more than 1 million businesses who are using Shopify as their eCommerce platform in around 175 countries worldwide.
It is one of the easiest platforms to use while still being customizable. Even beginners can quickly start using it without any technical knowledge.
It comes with a user-friendly interface and a helpful customer support team to answer all your questions.
Shopify comes with a drag and drop website builder with over 70 pre-designs and ready to use templates for your online store.
- With the help of the abandoned cart recovery feature, you can email all your customers who have added product(s) in their cart but haven’t completed the purchase.
- Shopify lets you calculate shipping costs easily based on the location of the customer and the product specifications. Moreover, it supports 100 payment gateways, including PayPal and bitcoin.
- You can translate your store in over 50 languages to increase your international sales. The platform automatically handles the taxes for major countries and states based on the location.
- The platform supports discounts and gift cards to boost your sales.
- It comes with all major SEO settings like H1, title, description, and meta tags.
- To help you with dropshipping, Shopify integrates with apps like Inventory Source, eCommHub, and Ordoro.
- Shopify offers advanced security with dedicated SSL certificates.
- Provides professional reporting only on Shopify and Advanced Shopify plans.
- The built-in Shopify payments are supported in some countries. You can check the list of supported countries here.
- You have to upload images with the same ratio to display them properly on pages. There is no auto-resize and adjust functionality.
Shopify offers three pricing plans:
- Basic Shopify: $29 per month (with an online store, two staff members account, and 24/7 support)
- Shopify: $79 per month (with five staff members account and professional reports)
- Advanced Shopify: $299 per month (with 15 staff members account and custom report creation)
Shopify comes with a 14-days free trial.
Squarespace is a widely popular, design-oriented platform known for simple, minimal, and fully responsive website themes. Anthony Casalena founded it in 2003.
Squarespace lets you use their wide range of themes to create visually appealing stores. It also comes with built-in marketing and SEO tools like email marketing and SEO settings (sitemaps and SSL certificate).
The powerful integrations of Squarespace let you use third-party apps, including marketing extensions like Smart SEO and shipping extensions like AfterShip, Easyship, ShipBob, and Shippo.
- To save your time, Squarespace enables you to duplicate any page on your online store.
- With powerful design tools, you can perform easy customization, such as flexible layouts, fonts, colors, and padding.
- With passwords and page locks, you can lock your entire site when the site is under construction and can also lock individual pages with “Page Locks”. This enables you to create a private area on the site.
- Supports “AMP” by using which you can create AMP versions of your pages to speed up the site on mobile devices.
- Supports 3rd party domain integration that allows you to connect domain from a third-party provider including GoDaddy, Namecheap or Google).
- There is no phone support for customers.
- There is no multi-currency selling option.
- It doesn’t automatically calculate tax rates.
Squarespace offers four pricing plans:
- Personal: $16 per month (with free SSL, mobile optimization, and tons of extensions)
- Business: $26 per month (unlimited customization, unlimited products, and website analysis)
- Basic Commerce: $30 per month (with 0% transaction fee, point of sale, social media selling, and merchandise tools)
- Advanced Commerce: $46 per month (with abandoned cart recovery and sell subscriptions)
With a yearly subscription, you get a free custom domain name.
WooCommerce is another popular ecommerce platform that operates on WordPress with an easy to use plugin.
It was launched in 2011 by Mark Forrester, Magnus Jepson, and Adii Pienaar who also owns WooThemes (library of WordPress themes).
Unlike the other platforms, WooCommerce doesn’t provide hosting as it is a plugin, and it’s totally customizable. You just need to have a hosted WordPress website with a custom domain.
With powerful integrations from categories like payments (Stripe, PayPal), shipping (ShipStation, FedEx), marketing (Google Analytics, Ads), subscription and store management (Square, Quickbooks), you can customize and manage your store effectively with ease.
- Offers over 400 extensions including payments, shipping and marketing.
- WooCommerce has built-in blogging functionality that enables you to add blogs to your online store.
- With “shortcodes”, you can add products to blogs, landing pages, and even at checkout.
- With “One-Click” refunds, you can offer refunds to customers that you can directly manage from your WooCommerce dashboard.
- You can boost your sales by displaying ratings and reviews on products with a special “Verified Owner” label.
- With WooCommerce’s email templates. You can send custom messages to customers on every step from purchasing to order completion.
- You can use this plugin only on WordPress sites.
- You need a good hosting as WooCommerce consumes a lot of bandwidth.
WooCommerce is a free platform. The only cost is setting up your website (domain + hosting).
BigCommerce is a popular choice for ecommerce stores because it offers multi-channel selling. You can sell on your online store as well as on marketplaces and social media sites like Pinterest and Facebook.
It is easy to use, includes hosting, and offers stellar customer support. BigCommerce was launched in 2009 by founder Eddie Machaalani with the intent to deliver the best ecommerce services.
BigCommerce powers some of the world’s top brands, including Jeep People, Tyler’s, DI Bruno Bros, and Berlin Packaging.
With advanced solutions including visual page builder, customizable themes, mobile optimization, WordPress integration, speed optimization, SEO support, digital payments, cross-platform selling, global CDN, tax management, and 24×7 customer support, BigCommerce has all the features to take your business to the next level.
- Offers POS (Point of Sale) integration with leading providers like Clover and Square.
- To boost conversions, BigCommerce offers features like guest checkouts, mobile optimization and SSL support.
- With abandoned cart features, you can reach out to your customers with ease and increase your conversions.
- You get 24×7 customer support via channels such as live chat, email, and phone number.
- With expert SEO audits, you can improve the organic presence of your online store with ease.
- The free templates or themes are not good enough as all of them look the same.
- It doesn’t offer RSS feeds for blogs.
BigCommerce offers three pricing plans:
- Standard: $29.95 per month (unlimited staff accounts and products)
- Plus: $79.95 per month (Abandoned cart saver and marketing tools)
- Pro: $299.95 per month (customer reviews, custom SSL and API support)
In all the above plans, there is a 0% transaction fee.
Magento is the king of open-source platforms with a robust toolset and dedicated user base. It was launched in 2008 by founder Roy Rubin.
Magento is trusted by leading companies, including Accent Group, Nike, Helly Hansen, and Zumiez.
Magento offers two options. One is the Magento Open Source that is perfect for a small business looking for a free, professional, and flexible solution. The second is Magento Commerce, which is a paid option designed for people looking for an enterprise-level solution.
It’s free to use the Magento Open Source version, but you’ll need hosting to use it for your online store.
Magento comes with thousands of essential extensions developed by over 450 developers to customize your eCommerce store.
- With Magento PWA (Progressive Web Application) you can create your own high-performance PWS.
- It tracks your inventory accurately on various locations including drop shippers, stores and warehouses.
- The advanced “Product Recommendation” feature allows you to drive more conversions by displaying relevant products to customers.
- With “Amazon Sales Channel” extension, you can sell on the largest marketplace seamlessly.
- You should have good coding skills to use Magento.
- You need a dedicated hosting to run Magento smoothly because it runs slow on shared hosting.
- Costing is very high as compared to other eCommerce platforms.
Magento commerce starter plan starts at $1,600 per month including CDN, image optimization, cloud services, data backups, monitoring tools and much more.
Selecting a good eCommerce platform is a very challenging task, especially if you are a beginner. Shopify or BigCommerce are the best options for starters while Magento is a robust platform if you have good command over coding. Make sure to compare the options offered by every platform before you make your selection.
Antoine Bechara is a tech author based in Sydney, Australia. I am a self confessed tech geek and a lover of everything technology. My mission is to bring you the latest news and info on a wide range of products, services and gadgets, and write about tech stories that interest me in the hope of entertaining you.