With so many easy-to-use platforms, It’s easier than ever to set up an e-commerce store. However, choosing the right platform—out of several excellent options—can take a while.
To make the process of selecting the best e-commerce platform easier, I’ve made a list of the top ones and discussed their best features, pros, cons, and prices below.
What makes a great e-commerce platform?
Here are the essential features of a good e-commerce platform. Consider them while choosing the right one.
Loading time directly affects your conversion rate. If your site loads quickly, people will stay longer and buy your products. Ideally, you want your website to load in zero to four seconds.
If it can load in one second, that’s even better. Your conversion rate drops for every extra second your site takes to load.
Pick a platform with an excellent hosting service to ensure that image-heavy product pages load quickly. If the service has a built-in CDN (content delivery network), that’s a bonus. It can further quicken the speed.
You can test this speed by signing up for a trial and setting up a temporary site or by testing a site that uses the platform.
Note: If you set up your store with a WordPress plugin, how quickly your site loads will depend on your WordPress host. It might be better to get good WordPress-managed hosting before you set up your store.
Ease of use
A top e-commerce design agency will charge you $3,000 to $25,000 to set up an e-commerce site. You’ll also need to pay a maintenance fee for future assistance.
If you want to save on these expenses, pick a platform that’s easy to use. It should have a drag-and-drop builder that makes it easy for anyone to set up high-converting landing pages. Themes and templates will also make the setup process faster. Many platforms offer these for free or charge a small fee for premium versions.
Test the themes out to make sure they are easy to navigate. Many platforms let you play around with a live demo. The website should work well on both desktop and mobile devices.
High-converting checkout process
Cart abandonment is a colossal problem in the e-commerce industry. The average abandonment rate is 77.73%. Thankfully, you can lower this with a good checkout process.
Your platform should make it easy to set up a good checkout page and offer multiple payment options like card, PayPal, cryptocurrency, and wallets. If it makes it possible to follow up with abandoners with retargeting ads and emails, even better.
Here’s an example from AppSumo itself.
I added a product to the cart, but didn’t buy it. AppSumo followed up with a reminder email, and I bought it.
The e-commerce platform should integrate with software such as email marketing tools, payment gateways, accounting software, and customer relationship management (CRM) software. This will make it simpler to handle other tasks. If the platform doesn’t offer an integration, it should at least have a built-in feature that executes the task.
You can only improve your abandonment rate, conversion rate, and traffic if you can measure them. So, your e-commerce platform should have built-in analytics.
The best e-commerce platforms you should consider
Here are some of the best e-commerce platforms.
1. Shopify [Massive library of third-party apps]
Shopify, not to be confused with Spotify, is the most popular e-commerce platform used by 1,700,000 businesses. It’s popular for many reasons—but especially its marketplace.
Shopify’s marketplace integrates with hundreds of apps that can help you not just with running your e-commerce store, but other areas of your business.
These include tools for design, dropshipping, conversion optimization, marketing, shipping, customer service, and store management. It also integrates with course platforms like Thinkific to make it easy to sell digital products.
Several third-party designers sell themes and templates to create entire stores and landing pages. You can also buy themes made by Shopify. The platform has a drag and drop builder that makes it easy to assemble the store.
If you don’t have an email service provider, don’t fret. You can send 2,500 emails every month for free with Shopify. After that, it’s only $1 for every 1,000 emails you send.
Other impressive features you can expect from Shopify include a fast hosting service, robust checkout experience, and detailed analytics.
The main drawback with Shopify is that you need to install an app for some crucial operations.
Pricing: The Shopify Lite, Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify plans cost $9, $29, $79, and $299 per month, with a 14-day trial. There’s also a Shopify Plus plan that starts at $2,000.
2. BigCommerce [Ecommerce platform with more built-in tools]
If you don’t want to integrate all those apps and prefer software with more built-in tools, BigCommerce is a better option. This makes it easy to manage your store and save money as you won’t need to spend on the premium versions of apps.
Useful built-in features include a drag-and-drop builder, abandoned cart saver, inventory management tools, and product reviews. BigCommerce integrates with social networks like Facebook and Instagram. This makes it easy to list products on your Facebook page and share them on Instagram with shoppable posts.
Along with these, BigCommerce offers good hosting. It’s a very scalable platform and is ideal if you want to feature several products or sell them in huge volumes.
BigCommerce has built-in analytics and integrates with Google Analytics and hundreds of other apps. However, it doesn’t directly integrate with as many apps as Shopify. Also, there aren’t as many themes and templates as you will find for Shopify stores—it’s just not as popular as Shopify.
Of course, you probably won’t need sophisticated themes and apps because many essential features are already built-in.
Pricing: The Standard, Plus, and Pro plans cost $29.95, $79.95, and $299.95 per month, with one-month trial. There’s also an Enterprise plan.
3. WooCommerce [Best e-commerce WordPress plugin]
If your site runs on WordPress, the best option is to use a plugin like WooCommerce. It’s the most popular WordPress e-commerce plugin trusted by over 4 million stores.
It’s free to use, and you can set up the store on the main domain. There are so many free and paid themes, and you can even combine it with other plugins like Elementor to build your store and landing pages. There are other plugins and extensions for payments, shipping, marketing, design, and store management.
The main drawback is that WooCommerce doesn’t include hosting because it’s a WordPress plugin. Also, adding all those extensions and plugins can pile the load on your website and affect your site speed. Plus, if you use too many paid plugins, it can make things expensive.
Pricing: Free. Premium extensions cost extra.
4. Squarespace [Website builder with e-commerce capabilities]
Squarespace is a popular website builder that makes it easy for anyone to design a simple website. It has over 2 million users. But what many people don’t know is that you can build e-commerce sites with it as well. It might not be the best option for scaling your e-commerce store and featuring tons of products, but it’s a better option for creators that want to sell a few.
It’s also great for selling digital products as it’s got built-in sales features to sell any kind of product. Squarespace makes it easy to do this, unlike with Shopify. If you want to sell digital products with Shopify, you’ll need to first install an app—from the Shopify marketplace—on your store.
On top of this, Squarespace has other features for running an e-commerce store. These include robust hosting, product catalogs, inventory management, social integrations, and reviews. There’s also a scheduling feature that makes it easy to launch new products.
You’ll find several well-designed e-commerce templates and themes on Squarespace and third-party websites.
The main drawback of Squarespace is that it offers fewer integrations than other platforms like BigCommerce and Shopify.
Pricing: The Business, Basic Commerce, and Advanced Commerce plans cost $26, $35, and $54 per month, with a 14-day trial. There’s also a $16 Personal plan, but it doesn’t have e-commerce features.
5. Magento [Customizable and scalable e-commerce platform]
If you have coding skills or have the budget to hire someone to help you build a highly customized e-commerce store, then Magento is the best option. Like WordPress, it is an open-source platform that you can install on your website’s root directory or subdirectory for free.
There are templates and a drag-and-drop builder to set up the homepage and landing pages quickly. You also have access to ready-to-use themes.
You can even connect Magento to Adobe Commerce Pro and use features like business intelligence, managed cloud services, and automated data backup.
Magento has a marketplace where you’ll find apps and tools for customer support, marketing, site optimization, and payments. But you might not need to use too many as it already has a ton of built-in features.
The main drawback is that it doesn’t include hosting, which you’ll need to purchase separately. Also, it can cost a lot of money to create a very customized website.
Magento is the best solution for anyone looking for a highly scalable platform.
Pricing: Free. Adobe Commerce Pro costs extra.
6. Square online [Freemium e-commerce platform]
Square Online, from Square, is a freemium e-commerce platform. With its generous free plan, you can host your e-commerce site for free and sell unlimited products with it. It has other free features like automatic inventory, stock management, tax calculator, coupons, and Instagram integration.
Unfortunately, though, with the free plan, you can only accept payments with Square, and there will be ads from Square on your website.
If you upgrade, you can publish to a custom domain and remove branding and ads. You can also get many more features like abandoned cart emails, PayPal payment, and product reviews with the larger plans.
The platform is easy to use and loads quickly. You can quickly set up your store with their templates and builder. Anyone without design or coding experience can use it.
There are other functionalities like shipment and marketing tools.
The main drawback of this software is that you can’t make many customizations and can only accept payments with Square and PayPal. This is an excellent option for people setting up their first online store and would like to test it with a free option.
Pricing: The Professional, Performance, and Premium plans cost $12, $26, and $72 per month, billed annually. There’s also a free plan.
7. Commerce Cloud [Ecommerce platform with CRM]
Commerce Cloud is an e-commerce platform from Salesforce, a popular CRM software. It makes it easy to build a powerful e-commerce store that keeps customers happy. You can use CRM to communicate better with your customers. You can also use the valuable insights you collect to better your products, manage website design, and marketing strategy and increase revenue.
Besides the CRM, it has all essential features for building and running e-commerce stores. These include a drag-and-drop builder, marketing tools, analytics, and a lot of integrations. You can use them to create both B2B and B2C e-commerce websites.
The main con of Commerce Cloud is that it’s harder to use than other top platforms, and there are no fixed pricing plans. You need to request a quote. It depends on your gross merchandise value.
Pricing: Contact for pricing.
8. Webflow [No-code website builder for designers]
Webflow is a simple website builder for designers who don’t want to bother with coding. It’s very customizable, which is something that most builders lack. You can also build e-commerce stores with it.
There are themes, templates, and a builder that let you quickly set up a store. If you are a designer, you will enjoy this design process as it has so many options.
Features such as multiple payment options, automated tax calculations, and sales tools make it easy to sell digital and physical products. It also integrates with useful apps like Printful, Hubspot, Hotjar, and Optimizely that simplify a lot of tasks.
The main drawback of Webflow is that it requires a learning curve to use the builder, especially if you have little design experience.
Pricing: The Standard, Plus, and Advanced plans cost $42, $84, and $235 a month. There’s also a free plan.
What do you think is the best e-commerce platform?
There are so many fantastic e-commerce platforms out there. You can’t go wrong with any of these top choices.
The platform you pick should depend on your needs and budget. If you are testing the waters and have a tight budget, Square is the best option. On the other hand, if you want something more advanced, Shopify or BigCommerce would be ideal. Magento is the best option if you want a highly scalable and customizable platform.
Most of the above offer a free plan or trial, so you can test them before picking your favorite. If you are looking for more e-commerce website builders and other tools to run, manage, and market an e-commerce store, check out the AppSumo store. We have annual and lifetime deals on scores of software.