I think you’ll agree when I say: choosing the perfect e-commerce platform to create an online store is challenging, especially if you’re the perfect beginner.
What features do you need and are there pitfalls to watch out for? Do you need technical expertise, and how much money will you spend? These are just some of the questions that plague you.
Turns out you can easily choose an e-commerce platform so long as you know your business needs. We say this because each business is different, and some e-stores will need more power than others.
Your multi-national e-commerce store will need more features than, say, George’s who is selling his grandma’s cookies in your town.
If you have a brick-and-mortar store and would like to start an online store, you’ll obviously need more features than the guy who is planning to sell on Facebook only.
Which brings us down to the million-dollar question of the hour: Out of the many e-commerce platforms available on the web, which one is perfect for your business?
In this post, we list five of the best e-commerce platforms of 2018 and beyond. Our goal is to help you to pick an e-commerce platform that works for (not against) your business.
Without further ado, let us dive in.
What is an E-commerce Platform?
In a single line, an e-commerce platform is simply a website builder that packs a lot of e-commerce-related features.
So, instead of just shipping with website building capabilities, e-commerce platforms come with additional features such as built-in payment gateways, tax calculators, carts, and checkout pages among others.
You don’t have to get down and dirty building an online store from scratch. Starting an e-store with the e-commerce platforms of today is as easy as signing up for the service. Or installing a script, as is the case with one of the e-commerce platforms in this post.
After that, you just need to configure a couple of site-specific settings, which you can do with your mouse. And unlike the past, starting a store with modern e-commerce platforms is cheap.
Top 5 E-commerce Platforms of 2018 & Beyond
Topping the list is Shopify, a one of a kind e-commerce solution that completely changed how we do business online. Before Shopify, you had to spend a billion dollars and hours setting up an online store.
With Shopify, you simply need to sign up and configure a couple of settings to start selling. The signup process is as easy as pie and takes less than 30 minutes.
Building an online store with Shopify is also easy whether you’re customizing the design, setting up payment gateways or tracking inventory.
Really, you can never get a more intuitive and beginner-friendly e-commerce platform than Shopify, and I’m not sugarcoating anything. If you’re a bit curious, Shopify ships with features such as:
- An easy to use interface that makes building a store a breeze
- SEO features
- Over 60 future-proof and responsive themes offering you more than 180 layout options
- Capability to sell single or grouped products
- An app store that lets you extend your online store in amazing ways
- Multiple payment gateways with full support for all major cards
- Quick integration with Google Analytics
- Automatic shipping and tax calculators
- Support for custom domain names, meaning you can use your existing domain name
- Free SSL certificate because the security of your online store is important
- Dedicated hosting meaning you get unlimited bandwidth and products. You don’t need to buy hosting elsewhere once you sign up for any of Shopify’s paid plans
- Oberlo dropshipping
- Ability to sell on Facebook, Instagram and Amazon
- Point of Sale integration for your brick-and-mortar store
- Multi-language support
- 24/7 support
- And so much more
Shopify is the perfect e-commerce platform for all types of businesses, big or small. They offer five price tiers: Shopify Lite ($9/mo.), Basic Shopify ($29/mo.), Shopify ($79/mo.), Advanced Shopify ($299/mo.) and Shopify Plus. They offer a 14-day trial if you want to test the waters.
Be vigilant and choose a plan that works for your business needs, keeping in mind that Shopify charges transaction fees for all successful sales you make. Also, there are extra charges if you decide to use a third-party payment gateway as opposed to Shopify’s built-in payment system.
Next on the lineup of e-commerce platforms is BigCommerce, a worthy contender by all means. Just like Shopify, you simply need your email address to sign up to BigCommerce.
And while it is a fully-featured e-commerce platform, you can use BigCommerce to add shopping cart features to other types of websites.
In comparison to Shopify, BigCommerce offers way more features to manage your e-commerce store. You get all the features you need to get your online store off the ground, and then some. I’m talking about features such as:
- 132 responsive e-commerce themes offering you over 525 layout options
- App marketplace to extend your store
- A Storefront Editor that helps you to design your online store until you drop
- You can import products into BigCommerce from over 50 other e-commerce platforms including Shopify, WooCommerce, Yahoo Store, Magento and Volusion
- Free SSL certificate and HTTPS for your entire store
- Unlimited bandwidth, products, and file storage
- Custom domain names
- Fast content delivery network for quick page load speeds
- A fully-fledged e-commerce CMS, so nothing can get in your way as you do what you do best
- A modern and user-friendly control panel that allows you to manage your entire online store like a boss
- Over 40 pre-integrated payment gateways
- Blog functionality
- Ability to sync your inventory with sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, Square POS, and Amazon among others
- SEO features and seamless integration with Google Shopping
- Full integration with email marketing providers
- Conversion optimized pages for your online store, so you can get more from the traffic you drive
- Powerful APIs that help you to customize your business in new ways or integrate third-party tools without bending backwards
- Loyalty programs
- Customer segmentation lists
- Awesome support
- And so much more
In the pricing department, BigCommerce doesn’t disappoint. They offer four packages: Standard ($29.95/mo.), Plus ($79.95/mo.), Pro ($249.95/mo.) and Enterprise for the big fish. The plan you choose ultimately boils down to the features you need. There is a 15-day trial.
Unlike Shopify, BigCommerce doesn’t charge you a single cent – in transaction fees – even if you decide to use an external payment gateway. This alone makes BigCommerce the e-commerce platform of choice for a multitude of entrepreneurs.
Originally just a website builder, Wix now offers you the tools you need to create an online store easily. Branded Wix Stores, this service brings the simplicity of Wix and basic ecommerce tools together, offering you exactly what you need to start selling right away.
If you’ve used Wix before, you know creating a site on the platform is as simple as A, B, C. Thanks to a suite of amazing features, you don’t have to break a sweat to create an e-store you’re proud of. You can expect to find goodies such as:
- 500+ stunning and e-commerce-ready templates that help you to build the online store of your dreams
- The signature drag-and-drop website builder that allows you to build a beautiful and personalized store in record time
- Fantastic product galleries
- Responsive and mobile-ready
- Simple and secure checkout that supports multiple payment gateways including PayPal
- Automatic tax and shipping calculators
- Email notifications
- A Store Manager area that makes running your online biz a breeze
- Built-in ShoutOut newsletters, meaning you needn’t invest in a third-party email marketing provider
- Industry-leading SEO features
- An app market that helps you to extend your store in new unique ways
- Unlimited fonts
- Parallax scroll effects
- Wix ADI, a robust engine that builds a website for you based on your recommendations. You simply answer a couple of questions and Wix ADI does the rest
- Advanced code capability meaning you have full control of your website’s functionality
- Custom domain names
- Professional email
- Contacts management
- Wix Chat so you can offer live chat support to your customers
- Social media tools
- SSL certificate
- And so much more
You can get started for free (to test the waters), but you will need a premium plan to unlock the many awesome features of Wix Stores. They offer you five price points depending on the features you need.
The cheapest plan (Connect Domain) costs just $4.50 bucks per month for 1GB bandwidth and 500MB storage space. This plan shows Wix Brand ads on your site.
Their most popular plan (Unlimited) costs $12.50 bucks a month and offers you unlimited bandwidth and 10GB storage space without Wix ads.
The most expensive plan (VIP) costs $24.50 per month for a nice suite of features
Volusion is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms on the web. Reports show that shoppers have completed over 185 million orders and spent more than $28 billion bucks on Volusion-based e-commerce sites.
Setting up a site on Volusion is easy, and running your store is even easier thanks to a slew of powerful e-commerce features. It is a solid e-commerce platform, even though it is a bit pricier than the other solutions in this post.
Volusion is best known for features such as:
- Zero transaction fees
- Unlimited products on the Business and Prime plans
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Awesome support
- Secure checkout
- 40+ professional, responsive and e-commerce-ready themes
- A powerful and intuitive site builder
- An app marketplace with more than 70 apps to supercharge your e-commerce store
- Rich content editor
- Custom domain
- Powerful site search functionality, so your users can find products easily
- Homepage slideshows
- Multiple payment gateways
- SSL certificates
- Multiple shipping options
- Barcode generator
- Drop shipping features
- Customer reviews
- Etcetera, etcetera
Volusion offers you a robust e-commerce solution with all the features you need to create a fully-fledged e-commerce store. Prices start at $29 bucks per month if you don’t sell more than $50k per year. If you make online sales of $500k per year, Volusion will cost $299 per month. They also offer custom pricing for specific needs.
You sort of knew this way coming, right? Well, WooCommerce is not a cloud-based e-commerce platform like the other solutions on this list. It is merely a plugin that helps you to add e-commerce features to your WordPress site.
Still, it’s damn good it had to make this list. You don’t sign up to WooCommerce, no you don’t. Instead, you install it on your WordPress site. This means you must have a WordPress site going on to leverage the power of WooCommerce.
I love all things WordPress, and WooCommerce carries the day for me as far as e-commerce solutions go. But that’s just me, plus WooCommerce is not an ideal platform if you simply want to set up an online store without the technicalities.
WooCommerce is perfect for the entrepreneur ready to configure a website from scratch. If only there was a cloud-based version. Still, it delivers quite the punch as an e-commerce platform. The plugin ships with awesome features such as:
- Open source, meaning you can modify WooCommerce however you want
- Countless themes keeping in mind WordPress powers over 26% of all websites
- 400+ official extensions that allow you to add so much functionality to your online store
- A large community
- REST API, which allows you to turn your e-commerce store whichever way you desire
- Unlimited products
- Amazing SEO capabilities
- Built-in blogging functionality
- Shortcodes that allow you to embed your products anywhere on your site
- Product ratings and reviews
- Custom product categories, tags, and attributes
- Multiple currencies
- Unlimited galleries
- Ability to sell affiliate products
- Drop shipping
- Import/export functionality
- Multiple built-in payment gateways
- Free/custom rate shipping
- Automatic tax rate calculator
- Intuitive dashboard
- One-click refunds
- Fully customizable email templates
- Great support and documentation
- Beginners and developer-friendly
- And so much more
WooCommerce has a lot of amazing e-commerce features, which is probably why it is the leading e-commerce platform powering over two million active stores.
Provided you’re ready to create a WordPress site, WooCommerce offers you all the features you need to create an online store out of this galaxy.
The best part is WooCommerce is free. You will, however, need to invest in a web host. Unless you go with managed WordPress hosting, you will take care of all the technical aspects of running an online store.
Choosing the right e-commerce platform is one of the most important steps in launching a successful online store. We hope this simple guide points you in the right direction, keeping in mind the platform you ultimately choose depends on your business needs.
Which is your favorite e-commerce platform? Please let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.
Read more: Find the Right E-Commerce Platform for Your Business [Infographic]
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