How to Choose the Right Online Store Builder for Your eCommerce Business



Thinking about how to choose an online eCommerce store builder that will perfectly fit your business and stuck on the way? Never be worried on this, for it is the foremost and easy task you will need to prioritize.

And getting to know the one that fits your business is simply by embracing a comparison within this handful of eCommerce website builders; as they are not a one-size-fits-all in terms of good design, updates and security.


best-way-to-chosen-the-right-online-store-builder


As a business owner who has a tangible customer reach potential for his/her goods & services, you must be thinking of taking your business to the next level by creating an online presence.

And factually, choosing a platform to create an online store is always more beneficial and economical as compared to creating a complete solution from scratch.

So, the good news is that online store builders can do this task faster and include numerous features which work as stepping stones towards your success.

Huh... But selecting the appropriate platform is a challenging task.

You may come across many options but choosing the best depends totally on your requirements. So, once you come up with your business specific requirements!

P L E A S E   W A I T   A   M O M E N T.

Before you can be boost to be able to choose your apt Builder, I will like to first give you some tips an eye should be kept on; in order to locate the balance. 


So, here is a list of some of the vital tips to consider while choosing an online store builder.

It’s advisable not to miss these key points while making a choice.

1. Security should always be a priority

Security is a pivotal issue and it should be considered with extreme care. Online business is a virtual interface; hence trust is a necessary factor for your customers. Purchasers prefer secure payment options since they to need share sensitive information like bank details and passwords. Picking a web-based shopping basket with integrated SSL encryption is important to guarantee security. Online store builders that provide total security until the time a customer checks out, needs to be your first priority always; as any harm caused by intruders may have major side effects.

2. A platform ready for mobile commerce

E-commerce has shown tremendous growth with time, proving customers prefer it over brick and mortar shopping. But now is the time for m-commerce. Stats say the revenue generated from m-commerce is projected to reach 37.96 billion US dollars by 2020. These figures clearly show the necessity of having a mobile-ready platform for the progress of the online business. Online store builders that provide the amazing function of building a mobile-ready platform as per the choice of users comes with benefits like better sales and customer satisfaction. Google also prioritizes websites which are mobile-ready by giving them a better ranking and a chance at getting higher traffic and sales. Hence a mobile-ready platform is a necessity to survive and thrive, in the e-commerce domain.

3. Make search and checkouts easy for customers

Navigation plays a key role while a customer is purchasing any item. An online buyer may come to your store looking for a specific product or exploring the variety of your store. Customers are likely to abandon your shopping store if they are not able to checkout easily. Hence online store builders that provide an easy way to buy and checkout are highly preferred by customers because getting redirected to a number of pages just for completing a purchase is a time-consuming task.

4. Facility of product reviews and ratings

Customers trust products on the basis of experience shared by other customers. Product reviews and ratings which were considered as an add-on feature initially have become a necessity now. It attracts more online purchasers who are influenced by the good reviews posted by other buyers and hence place their orders. So the facility of product reviews and ratings is one feature that your chosen online eCommerce store builder should definitely have.

5. Flexibility and Scalability for the long run.

Modifying a website according to the changing trends and business needs becomes difficult as it takes a lot of time and cannot be declared as a bug-free solution till it is thoroughly tested. This may take a lot of time if the online store is not developed with the help of online store builders that are flexible. Customization should always be considered when you have to become better than earlier. (A completely scalable and flexible platform that allows you to do so with ease can be a good option for a long run and helps you compete in a better way in the online market)

With all these ‘Must Have’ features, your online business is likely to progress soon, earn a profit and become a popular choice for the customers.


Conclusion

Several brick-and-mortar retailers who wished to build their online stores either chose marketplaces for listing their products or struggled to build up their store from scratch. Since the evolution of online store builders, numerous small and medium businesses have progressed by creating their own brand name. While you always have the option to choose a developer with eCommerce expertise, online store builders are apt for small to medium scale businesses.

Now I think hitting the rod is the next thing now?
 
What Is An Ecommerce Platform?

An eCommerce platform is software that allows business owners to easily create ecommerce websites and storefronts; sell their products and services online. Most of them will let you create an online store, but you don’t necessarily need a website to sell online. For instance, you could sell online using your social media channels, through email marketing, or by integrating your products with marketplaces like Etsy, Amazon or eBay.
Mind you, some online store builders are free, whereas others are part of a monthly subscription package (also known as SaaS ecommerce).

Your platform will be a core part of your ecommerce business, allowing you to design a website, take orders, manage customers, and market your products and brand to the world.

Choosing the right platform for your ecommerce website is an important step on your ecommerce journey, so take the time to get to know the features, benefits, and potential limitations of your chosen ecommerce platform.

Also, Ecommerce platforms allow you to:

·         Manage front-end (web design, social media etc) and back-end (order management, inventory lookup etc) ecommerce functions
·          
·         Accept payment and manage the compliance and financial sides of online commerce (including offline retail through POS: point of sale)
·         Customize your store with your own unique branding and content
·         Pro-actively market your store and manage customer data
·         Sell your products everywhere: not only through your online store, but on marketplaces and through social media.
Ecommerce platforms are a great to get up and running with an ecommerce business or website in very little time. They also allow you to grow your business without too much upfront financial investment — making them perfect for entrepreneurs.

Best Ecommerce Platforms

Finding the best eCommerce solution for your online store can be a bit tricky. However, if you want to launch a successful eCommerce, you should research the available options and assess their features, performance, prices and more.
This can take a while, and you are, most likely, already pretty busy. So wouldn’t it be great to find an eCommerce tool that made your life easier rather than more complicated? The ideal eCommerce platform will automate a bunch of things for you (e.g. shipping and taxes), so you can focus on selling your products and services online.
As you’ll see below, there isn’t a shortage of solutions when it comes to creating online stores. That’s why I put together this comprehensive guide in order to help you pick the perfect eCommerce platform for your project.
The following are the 12 best eCommerce platforms:
·         Shopify
·         BigCommerce
·         WooCommerce
·         Magento
·         Ecwid
·         Squarespace
·         Weebly
·         Wix
·         Volusion
·         Jimdo
·         OpenCart
·         PrestaShop
Below is a quick overview of what the best tools out there are.
Shopify and BigCommerce are the best solutions to create large online stores easily. WooCommerce appeals to larger projects too, but it may require some technical knowledge. However, it’s more flexible and makes it possible to create multilingual stores.

Squarespace, Weebly and Wix are a good fit if you want to create smaller (and simpler) store projects. These tools come with many options for content marketing creation (e.g. landing pages, blog posts, etc.), so they may be suitable if your strategy is based on this.

Finally, a piece of advice for founders with low budgets: Weebly’s online store is included in ALL plans, even the free one. It shows a small ad in the footer but includes almost all eCommerce features.

Types of Ecommerce Platforms Available

All ecommerce platforms can be classified by breaking them down into types. The main camps you need to know about are hosted vs. self-hosted, and open-source vs. proprietary software.

Let break them down:

Type
Definition
Let’s break it down:
Hosted (Shopify, Wix etc)
Your online store is hosted on an external web server like Amazon Web Services with guaranteed up-time. Hosting comes as part of your ecommerce platform package.
Self-hosted (WooCommerce, Magento etc)
You will have to pay for hosting for your online store separately. You will need to find and pay for a reliable web host to keep your store online.
Open-source (WooCommerce, Drupal etc)
The code that powers your store is in the public domain. It’s an open-source product that anyone can contribute to.
Proprietary (Wix, BigCommerce etc)
The software is owned by a company who are ‘renting’ it out to you. Less customizable than open-source code, it’s nevertheless very popular as it’s reliable and convenient.
Open-source platforms tend to be free to install, but then you have to pay for things like web hosting, domains, and payment processing separately. (Though you also have to pay for payment processing on most proprietary platforms, or it’s built into an escalating pricing structure).

Findind the best solutions for larger ecommerce projects

#Ecommerce PlatformPricingComments
1Shopify online store builder
Shopify
The Swiss Army Knife of Online Stores
Basic: $26
Shopify: $71
Advanced: $266


  • Easy to use
  • Flexible and scalable
  • Big community
  • Many apps
  • Reliable support
  • Multilingual costs
  • Additional fees
  • Content creation
2BigCommerce Online Store Builder
Bigcommerce
The Name Says It All
Standard: $29.95
Plus: $71.95
Pro: $269.96

  • No transaction fees
  • Scalability
  • Options & variants
  • Sales threshold
  • Content creation
  • No multilingual
3The Woocommerce eCommerce platform
WooCommerce
Best Add-On for WordPress
Starter: $13.99
Plus: $17.99
Pro: $31.99


Prices here refer to the WooCommerce hosting with Bluehost.
  • Advanced features
  • Solid SEO
  • Highly customizable
  • Big community
  • Not easy to use
  • No support
  • Updates & security
4
The Magento eCommerce platform
Magento
For larger projects
StartUp: $11.95
GrowBig: $19.95
GoGeek: $34.95

Pricing refers to the SiteGround hosting services.
  • For larger stores
  • Highly customizable
  • Large community
  • Very difficult to use
  • No support
  • Updates & security
  • Special hosting
5Opencart website builder for eCommerce
OpenCart
Suitable for big projects
StartUp: $11.95
GrowBig: $19.95
GoGeek: $34.95

Prices here refer to the SiteGround hosting services.
  • Highly customizable
  • Multilingual
  • Not easy to use
  • No proper support
  • Find your own host
6The Prestashop eCommerce solution
PrestaShop
Popular in Europe
StartUp: $11.95
GrowBig: $19.95
GoGeek: $34.95

Pricing refers to the SiteGround hosting services.
  • Advanced features
  • Customizable
  • Complex to use
  • No official support
  • Small community
7Volusion eCommerce Solution
Volusion
A Solution for Experts
Personal: $29
Professional: $79
Business: $299

  • Many features
  • Deal of the day
  • Fast system
  • No blog integrated
  • Complicated to use
  • Designs

Ecommerce platforms for smaller online shops

#Ecommerce platformPricingComments
1Weebly eCommerce Website Builder
Weebly
Makes Selling Super Easy
Pro: $12
Business: $25
Business Plus: $26
  • Very easy to use
  • Shipping calculator
  • Content creation
  • No offline payments
  • No dropshipping
2Wix Online Store Builder
Wix
Great Value
Biz. Basic: $23
Biz. Unlimited: $27
Biz. VIP: $49
  • Ease of use
  • Affordable
  • No sales fees
  • Good designs
  • Slow loading speed
  • Not recommended for larger stores
3SquareSpace eCommerce Website Builder
Squarespace
For Creatives With ecommerce Ambitions
Business: $18
Online store: $26
Online Store (Advanced): $40
  • Solid blog integration
  • Sell services
  • Sell subscriptions
  • Social media friendly
  • Limited designs
  • No automated taxes
  • Transaction fees
4ecwid hosted ecommerce platform
Ecwid
Online Stores Everywhere
Free: $0
Venture: $12.50
Business: $29.17
Unlimited: $82.50
  • Ease of use
  • Payment methods
  • Limited designs
  • Existing site needed
5jimdo ecommerce website builder
Jimdo
Great for European Stores
Basic: $15
Business: $19
VIP: $39
  • Very easy to use
  • Affordable
  • Fast system
  • No dropshipping
  • No digital goods
  • Designs
  • Lacks basic features

Ecommerce platforms popularity

When it comes to eCommerce builders’ popularity, I have a clear winner: Shopify.
According to GoogleTrends, Shopify has managed to bag the number 1 popularity spot among online creation platforms. But if we look at their usage figures for countries like USA, United Kingdom, Australia or Canada, Shopify seems to be getting a 30% market share, which isn’t bad for a company that started in 2006. Other reports from Statista seem to indicate similar trends.
But, if we take BuiltWith’s global estimates, we can see that WooCommerce (in 2020) is still the most popular ecommerce platform, with 26% of the market share, followed by Shopify with 19%; Magento seems to power 9% of the online stores. BigCommerce and OpenCart are less than 5%.

 


The 12 Best Ecommerce Builders You Can Use



Shopify

The Swiss Army Knife of Online Stores


How-to-Choose-the-Right-Online-Store-Builder-for-Your-eCommerce-Business



With over 1 million merchants, 
Shopify is, no doubt, the most successful online store builder. It started as a personal project to sell snowboards for a young German living in Canada.
Nowadays, Shopify employs thousands and has helped its merchants to sell over $180 billion.
At Shopify they are continuously innovating all the time by launching new features and exploring new opportunities, like making it simpler for users to sell on social media channels. On top of that, their system allows merchants to customize the source code and adapt it to their needs.

 What I like: Shopify is incredibly easy to use if you consider the number of features available. But at the same time, its system is flexible enough to accommodate projects with unique needs. Shopify will also scale up if you need it to (e.g. your online store needs grow). Another big plus for Shopify is the big user community and developer ecosystem that supports the product, for example, you can find hundreds of Shopify apps to expand its capabilities.

What they should improve: I wish Shopify provided a better way to create multilingual online stores. They could offer a bit more when creating regular content (e.g. landing pages or blog articles). You won’t be able to 100% customize Shopify’s URL structure, for example, you can’t modify the ‘/product/’ string for product URLs. It’s not a solution for every budget as their cheaper plan will cost you $26 per month.

BigCommerce


The Name Says It All

How-to-Choose-the-Right-Online-Store-Builder-for-Your-eCommerce-Business

Founded in 2009, BigComemrce is always among the top choices when it comes to creating an online store. Since its inception in Sydney (Australia), this ecommerce platform has undergone significant development and has helped its merchants process over $17 billion in sales.

Like Shopify, it’s also a solution that’s 100% focused on eCommerce, powering around 100,000 online stores. Over 500 people work at BigCommerce.

What I like: BigCommerce has managed to create a system that’s intuitive and easy enough for beginners, but at the same time, it offers a full range of ecommerce features for the pros. BigCommerce is very flexible when it comes to creating product variants and personalization options (e.g. size, color or material). Unlike Shopify, they don’t charge extra transaction fees depending on the payment method used. If your online store grows, BigCommerce will be able to accommodate it with their higher tier plans.

What they should improve: It’s not the cheapest solution; their entry-level plan starts at $29.95 a month. Sadly, there’s not an easy way to create a multilingual online store with BigCommerce. If you are used to a website builder like Wix or Weebly, you’ll find BigCommerce’s way of creating regular content (e.g. landing pages or blog posts) a bit clunky and limited.

WooCommerce


Best eCommerce Add-On for Wordpress
How-to-Choose-the-Right-Online-Store-Builder-for-Your-eCommerce-Business
WooCommerce is a bit different from the previous tools; it’s a plugin you can add to any WordPress site to create a powerhouse ecommerce. This plugin has become so popular among WordPress developers that it’s the default solution for creating online stores. In fact, in 2015, Automattic, the company behind WordPress bought WooCommerce for over $30 million.
But since WooCommerce (and WordPress) are self-hosted open-source solutions, you’ll need to find your own hosting provider and manage the necessary updates and issues that come along the way. You can, of course, hire a professional developer to help you if you have the budget.
What I like: WordPress (and WooCommerce) have a large community, so you won’t be short on options when it comes to designs (themes) and plugins. It’s as flexible as it gets, so if you need a custom solution for your project, you can get it built by a programmer. The available ecommerce features are almost overwhelming. Store owners have a lot to choose from. It’s also suitable for creating online stores in several languages.
 What they should improve: WooCommerce is not easy to use and programming knowledge may be needed to change small things in your template. Even though you can find a lot of information online, there’s no WooCommerce customer support channel you can go through when you are stuck. The hosting services aren’t integrated, so you’ll need to find your own host.

                                               Ecwid

Online Stores Everywhere
How-to-Choose-the-Right-Online-Store-Builder-for-Your-eCommerce-Business

In 2009 Ruslan Fazlyev, an ecommerce veteran (co-founder of X-Cart), launched Ecwid to allow small business owners to sell their products and services online. Since then, over 1 million merchants have chosen Ecwid for their online store.
Ecwid is a bit different to other online store creation tools; you can think of it as an extension that can be added to any website in order to make it a fully-featured online store. Ecwid may be pretty convenient if you already have a website without ecommerce capabilities and you wish to sell online.
One thing that makes Ecwid stand out is that you can start for free. Their Forever Free Plan will let you create a small online store featuring 10 products for exactly $0 a month.
What I like: Don’t let Ecwid’s simple concept fool you into thinking they are a limited platform; it’s actually packed with endless ecommerce features (e.g. abandoned cart saver or point of sale systems). It can be used to create online stores on WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, Joomla, Blogger and many more. With the higher plan, you’ll be able to create an iOS or Android shopping app too.
What they should improve: Even though Ecwid comes with responsive designs, completely customizing your store could require a bit of elbow grease, as you may need to dive into the CSS or purchase additional apps. Ecwid’s SEO has improved in recent times, however, they still have a few glitches that they should fix (e.g. product URLs are not clean). You will need to already have a website if you are planning on using Ecwid, so if you are just starting out, other solutions would be more suitable.

Squarespace

For Creatives With eCommerce Ambitions
How-to-Choose-the-Right-Online-Store-Builder-for-Your-eCommerce-Business
Squarespace, a New York based builder, emerged on the market in 2003. Since then, it has helped millions to create websites, but also online stores – according to BuiltWith, Squarespace has a 5% market share in the US.
When it comes to website builders, there aren’t many as popular and successful as Squarespace. Over the years, they’ve also developed their online store capabilities and become one of the top ecommerce platforms.
What I like: They have an impressive range of ecommerce features, if we take into account that they aren’t an ecommerce focused builder. Not many platforms make it as convenient as Sqaurespace to sell services and subscriptions online. Squarespace’s designs are swanky and modern-looking, perhaps only Wix’s can compete. The online store is perfectly integrated with their system; adding products to sell on your blog posts is a walk in the park. They also have a POS system to sell in-person.
What they should improve: Every time I use Squarespace I feel a bit lost, as their system feels (at times) counterintuitive and some options (e.g. alt text for images) can be challenging to find. Sadly, managing your store’s taxes with Squarespace can be tedious as the process isn’t 100% automatic. They charge extra transaction fees if you use the lower ecommerce plan.

Weebly

Makes Selling Super Easy
How-to-Choose-the-Right-Online-Store-Builder-for-Your-eCommerce-Business
Weebly is another classic website builder. They started journey in 2007 and is currently used by over 50 million people. In 2018, the giant ecommerce solution Square opened its wallet and acquired Weebly for a whooping $365 million.
Somewhat surprisingly, not much new ‘stuff’ has happened at Weebly since the acquisition, but then again, their website builder was already an excellent tool for creating an online store.
What I like: In my experience, Weebly is the easiest ecommerce platform I’ve ever used; their structured editor makes it a sweet match for beginners. Some of their ecommerce features are surprisingly advanced, for example, the shipping and tax calculator. Similar to Squarespace, their ecommerce module will be fully integrated with other parts of your website (e.g. your blog).
What they should improve: Unlike many of its contendents (e.g. Wix or Shopify), they don’t allow offline payment options (e.g. bank transfer or in-store payment). If you are planning to launch a dropshipping project, Weebly won’t be of much help. There’s not a smart way to create an online store (or website) in several languages. To fully unleash Weebly’s ecommerce power you’ll have to get the Business plan (at $25 month).

Wix

Great Value
How-to-Choose-the-Right-Online-Store-Builder-for-Your-eCommerce-Business

There is no doubt that this Israeli shop builder is the most successful on the market; 150 million users choose Wix to create a website. The speed at which Wix develops new features is breathtaking, maybe only Shopify can compete here.
Even if Wix took longer to create a usable ecommerce module (at first, it was minimal), they ended up designing a solid solution with tons of useful features. On top of that, they have a unique approach to helping small businesses in the form of integrated apps for Hotels, Restaurants, to book appointments and organize events.
What I like: Wix has always had more templates than anyone, and even though they aren’t fully responsive, you’ll be able to customize them to look good on any device. After Weebly and Jimdo, Wix is probably the easiest-to-use ecommerce builder. It doesn’t charge extra transaction fees and their (lower) plans are more affordable than those of their direct competitors like Weebly or Squarespace. Wix’s ecommerce features have improved so much in recent years that they are now considered a good ecommerce platform for smaller online stores.
What they should improve: Sadly, when it comes to loading speed, Wix trails behind its competitors. You will only be allowed 1 sub-navigation level and this can make it difficult to accommodate larger online stores. It also lacks flexibility with its confirmation emails as there’s very little room for customization.

Volusion

A Solution for Experts
How-to-Choose-the-Right-Online-Store-Builder-for-Your-eCommerce-Business

Volusion is one of the oldest ecommerce platforms. Founded in 1999, this Texan platform powers 30,000 online stores and employs over 250 people.
If we look at their pricing (starts at $29 a month), Volusion is in the top tier and should offer similar services to Shopify and BigCommerce. Personally, I don’t think it has aged well and there are many aspects I believe they should improve (read below).
What I like: In my tests, I found Volusion to be one of the fastest platforms I benchmarked. Volusion’s many features are appreciated, for example, I like ‘the deal of the day’ promotional option that bumps up a product to the top of your homepage.
What they should improve: Expect to spend some time figuring out how things work with Volusion, as they are not an intuitive solution. I am not a huge fan of their templates, and even though they’re responsive, I don’t find them too appealing. When comparing their system to similarly priced solutions like Shopify or BigCommerce, its platform feels a bit limited. There is not an app store where you can find external apps to enhance your shop’s capabilities (e.g. extensions to improve SEO or email marketing integrations).

Jimdo

Great for European Stores
How-to-Choose-the-Right-Online-Store-Builder-for-Your-eCommerce-Business
Jimdo is originally from Germany and it’s a very popular tool among Europeans (they are fully localised in English). They have achieved relative success due to the fact that 20 million websites have been created using their system.
Being 100% honest, it’s almost unfair to list Jimdo along with top ecommerce platforms like Shopify or Weebly, as their features simply can’t match those of their competitors. However, there are a couple of perks Jimdo offers that no one else does, let me tell you about them.
What I like: It’s affordable; for as little as $10 a month, you’ll get an ad-free online store with 15 products. A nice little added bonus is that Jimdo sites seem, on average, faster than its competitors’. If you are looking for an easy-to-use tool, Jimdo is certainly that. European users will be relieved to know that they fully comply with the complicated ecommerce EU regulations.
What they should improve: On the other hand, Jimdo feels slightly lacking it, just doesn’t provide many basic ecommerce features. For example, you won’t find a way to import or export data, which makes it difficult to manage larger online stores. It’s not possible to sell digital goods either (e.g. images, PDF documents or songs). Jimdo’s designs are OKish, but they are unimpressive and could use an update.

Best Ecommerce Platforms for:

Let’s now check out a couple of cases and see what platforms are most suitable:

Big online stores


How-to-Choose-the-Right-Online-Store-Builder-for-Your-eCommerce-Business
If you are planning to build a large online store (e.g. more than 500 products) and need a robust system, I would encourage you to check Shopify or BigCommerce out.
Another option, if technical challenges don’t scare you, would be to use a combination of WordPress and WooCommerce. If you want an (open-source) alternative to WordPress, check Magento out.

Small online stores

Sometimes it’s great to be a big fish (e.g. Amazon), but sometimes keeping things small may be the best approach. So, if yours will be a small to medium-sized online shop, I would suggest you check out Squarespace and Weebly.
Alternatively, you can also use Wix, however, it may not be ideal for complex site structures and a lot of products (e.g. more than 200). On the bright side, Wix offers an excellent layout and design flexibility that is unmatched by any other solution.

Dropshipping


How-to-Choose-the-Right-Online-Store-Builder-for-Your-eCommerce-Business
Dropshippers will be happy to know that several (of the bigger) ecommerce solutions integrate with a number of dropshipping providers like AliExpress, Doba or MegaGoods.
But Shopify took it to the next level when they acquired a former Shopify App (named Oberlo) that integrated seamlessly with several dropshipping providers. However, WooCommerce also offers decent solutions via plugins like AliDropship.

Cheapest

Not every project will need all the available bells and whistles in terms of ecommerce features, and the price may be a concern. Jimdo and Wix are the most affordable tools out there.
If, however, you already have a website, check out Ecwid as it may save you some money. It’s also a powerful solution.

Multilingual stores


How-to-Choose-the-Right-Online-Store-Builder-for-Your-eCommerce-Business
You’d think that these days creating a multilingual online store would be as easy as creating a monolingual one. Truth to be told, launching an ecommerce project in several languages is not that straightforward.
To date, platforms like BigCommerce, Squarespace or Weebly haven’t found a reliable way to solve this. There are indeed multilingual apps you can use, but they are either expensive (e.g. Shopify) and/or not great (e.g. for SEO).
Therefore, if you need your online store translated into several languages, you should look into advanced ecommerce platforms like WooCommerce or Magento. You may still need to add extensions (e.g. Polylang or WPML for WooCommerce) to give multilingual capabilities to your online store.

Selling services

Have you ever tried to sell services with a tool that doesn’t have the right capabilities? I have, and it’s not fun, as the whole user experience is just wrong. For example, the confirmation emails make no sense at all and you end up getting masses of messages from confused customers.
OK, if you want a solution that has the adequate software to sell services, you can check out Wix or Squarespace for smaller projects or Shopify and WooCommerce for larger online stores.
How-to-Choose-the-Right-Online-Store-Builder-for-Your-eCommerce-Business
Wix Hotel Rooms 

Note: Wix comes with many business-focused apps that are ready to help business owners sell online. For example, they have solutions for Restaurants, Hotels, Musicians, Photographers and even have an integrated booking system.

Selling Digital products



There are times where you won’t be selling a physical product. For instance, if you are a graphic designer or a photographer, you may be selling your best pictures or illustrations online as digital products, or perhaps you have an ebook that you’d like to start distributing.

Pretty much all the tools in this post are equipped with the features that allow you to sell digital products. The only solution that unfortunately won’t cut it is Jimdo.

Selling subscriptions


How-to-Choose-the-Right-Online-Store-Builder-for-Your-eCommerce-Business

A couple of years ago, selling subscriptions or having recurring payments set up was a big pain. However, a couple of eCommerce platforms have recently taken a big leap and integrated systems so that their users can sell subscriptions.

There are several extensions you can use for WooCommerce to achieve this – warning: technical knowledge may be needed. But if you are looking for a hassle-free solution to sell subscriptions, check out Wix (with the Business plans) or Squarespace (with the Advanced Commerce plans).

Surprisingly, the big players like Shopify and BigCommerce don’t have built-in systems where you can sell subscriptions, you’ll need one of the available apps for this, which may make your subscription more expensive.

Brick & Mortar



How-to-Choose-the-Right-Online-Store-Builder-for-Your-eCommerce-Business

Finally, if you are looking to combine an online store with a physical shop, there are a couple of alternatives you can consider.
There are some plugins available for CMSs like Magento and WooCommerce so you can process sales in-person (e.g. WooCommerce POS). However, they aren’t super popular and you still need to get hardware (e.g. a card reader) to use them.
Shopify, Squarespace and Volusion offer a POS system you can use to process sales face-to-face. The advantage of Shopify is that you can also get the hardware (card readers, barcode scanners or cash drawers) from them .

Note: Be aware that these POS solutions aren’t always available in every country, so double check yours before you commit. US-based businesses won’t have any issues here.



                                   Key Features To Look For

Below we will outline the key features to look for when choosing your ecommerce software, as well as the top three best performing platforms for each category.


Website Design


Designing a great looking website no longer requires any design experience.

That’s right — even if the last thing ‘designery’ you did was Word Art circa 2001, you can now build a beautiful ecommerce website with easy drag and drop online store builders.


Coding


While most ecommerce platforms provide intuitive, user-friendly interfaces to let entrepreneurs of any level create an online store, there are many that offer coding options alongside them.

Easily the best ecommerce platform for coding is Magento. While it’s often deemed unsuitable for beginners, it provides skilled coders with great scope to create highly customizable online stores with ease. Drupal is a real developer-heavy platform that requires lots of custom coding — when done right, it can be super powerful and secure.


Speed


In ecommerce, speed is everything. Customers want a quick, seamless ecommerce experience, and a speedy loading time can be the difference between a happy customer or a lost customer. On top of that, a good website performance can also enhance your search engine rankings.

Your ecommerce store’s load speed is a crucial factor for keeping your customer in the sales funnel. Google views a load speed under 500 milliseconds as optimum for websites, and is a good rule of thumb to stick to.

In studies, OpenCart often ranks on the lower end of the scale, with its websites taking more than 800 milliseconds to load in some cases. On the other end of the scale is Shopify, with its stores loading in around 300 milliseconds, well below the optimum limit of 500 milliseconds set by Google.

SEO


Optimizing your store for search is absolutely vital in ecommerce, so it’s important to choose a platform that offers comprehensive SEO options. Most ecommerce platforms come with basic SEO capabilities, but some are more exhaustive than others.

It’s common best practice to include a blog with your store — it’s good for SEO and it’s good for your brand.

Unfortunately, not all sites include an integrated same-domain blog.  Big Cartel for example only lets users add a blog through an extra plugin, and even then it appears on a separate domain entirely, losing you valuable SEO.

You should also keep an eye out for alt tag options too. Image text is especially important in the world of ecommerce, helping shoppers find your products in image searches.

Most ecommerce platforms (such as ZenCart) only have alt tags enabled through extra plugins — even PrestaShop, which has a built-in alt tag option, offers better capability through an additional plugin.


Mobile Friendly


Most consumers today are mobile-first when they’re shopping online, so look for an ecommerce platform that offers responsive design across a range of devices.

Shopify excels in this by letting users create two disparate themes for both standard desktops and mobile devices. On top of that, its themes are all automatically responsive, which is great for ecommerce novices who might not be familiar with the technicalities of coding required for Magento stores.

Volusion was slow on the uptake when it came to mobile ecommerce, at one point not letting customers make any orders online. While that’s changed, its mobile themes today are still not as reactive or efficient as many of its competitors.


Security


Keeping your customers’ information secure and safe online is vital for building a reliable ecommerce business, so don’t scrimp on this.

One key feature to look out for in particular is an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate. Most ecommerce platforms require you to purchase an extra certificate when signing up, with the notable exception of Shopify. Each Shopify store includes an SSL certificate as default.

You should also go for multiple layers of security to keep your customers’ information safe Firewalls are a necessity, and forcing customers to create complex passwords can enhance this security.


Uptime


It doesn’t matter how feature-rich an ecommerce CMS might be if it can’t ensure that your site stays live when you need it the most. Imagine the consequences of your store going offline due to a hosting problem on the cusp of Black Friday weekend — you’d lose a huge amount of money and damage your reputation with your target audience.

The three top hosted systems for uptime are Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento (hosted in its enterprise-level Commerce configuration). Overall, they offer comparable uptime levels. Shopify lists 99.98% uptime as a feature of its service, while BigCommerce has a 99.99% uptime guarantee, and Magento Commerce hosting claims “up to 99.99% uptime”.

What do these figures mean in practice? Well, if Shopify hit 99.98% uptime and no higher, and BigCommerce achieved 99.99%, the difference would amount to just under 53 minutes of uptime in an entire year, and not even necessarily at an inconvenient time. It could be during routine maintenance in the early hours of the morning.

Because of BigCommerce having an explicit guarantee, it gets the nod for the top spot, but the difference here is going to be so marginal that you won’t go wrong no matter which platform you pick.


Ease of Use


Most ecommerce platforms are generally (but not exclusively) geared towards helping amateur entrepreneurs start a business from scratch. In general, they’re not aimed at experienced, high-level users.

Consequently, most ecommerce builders place great emphasis on delivering an intuitive, easy to use interface that requires only the most basic knowledge — in a sense, idiot-proof.

Part of Shopify’s popularity is down to its incredibly user-friendly format. A crisp, clean interface and straightforward setup process makes it the platform of choice for many a novice solopreneur.

Magento, on the other hand, lacks that degree of ease of use, although it should be said it isn’t aimed at the everyday user. For those with the necessary skill set, it’s easy to use — if you’re in the know.


Customization


When you’re building an online store, you want to make it your own. If an ecommerce platform doesn’t let you convey your personal brand through your store’s design or features, you’ll lose out on sales.

Customization is something that ecommerce platforms know matter, so many of them offer fairly strong options for this. Coding, custom templates, app integrations, and more, set good platforms apart from the poor.

Templates


Your website’s template plays an important role in your customer’s experience. A cluttered or untidy design will repel, whilst a clean, attractive one will create a welcoming online store. Most ecommerce platforms offer a variety of paid themes, with a smattering of free templates too.

A good template is responsive, clean, and intuitive from a customer’s perspective. As a rule, the paid themes will naturally be preferable, although many online store builders offer perfectly usable free themes as a matter of course. BigCommerce for example has plenty of themes that are free to use and professional at the same time.

Integration and Plugins


The best ecommerce platform is one that offers a range of features that makes it easy for you to grow your business. Apps for SEO, blogs, marketing, and so on are crucial.

Perhaps the most feature-rich ecommerce platform on the market is Shopify. Boasting more than 2400 apps in the Shopify App Store, as well as an integrated blog and built-in SSL certificate, it provides essential functionality straight out of the box.

But there are some ecommerce builders that don’t offer as many apps or plugins. Certainly, free platforms such as PrestaShop don’t seem to offer as many integrations as paid builders. As always, it’s worth using a free trial of an ecommerce platform to make sure you’re getting the features that are right for you.

Customer Support


Building your own online store will always be fraught with issues and roadblocks. Even experienced ecommerce entrepreneurs will find themselves seeking assistance from time-to-time.

Consequently, as you choose an ecommerce platform, it’s worth paying attention to the level of customer support they provide their users. In an always-on age, most decent ecommerce platforms offer 24/7 customer support as standard (Shopify and BigCommerce, take a bow), so be wary of those that don’t.

And a multichannel customer support system is also a feature worth looking out for. A live chat is perfect for the smaller, instant-fix problems, while an email thread is better for outlining more complex issues.

Finally, do your research on response times. Store downtime means lost sales, hitting your pocket every minute your website is down.

Community


A strong community can often make up for poor customer support, with like-minded users getting together to crowdsource solutions to problems. An ecommerce platform that encourages collaboration and community is a platform that ultimately fosters growth.

As an open source ecommerce platform, Magento is naturally the top dog for community. But for those lacking the programming know-how who use more straightforward platforms, WooCommerce has them covered.

As well as online forums, WooCommerce also offers a dedicated Slack channel and even real-world meetups on top of that. WooCommerce clearly takes community seriously.

Marketing Features


Marketing is an essential part of ecommerce, and it’s vital for growing your store. So when you’re choosing an ecommerce platform, it’s important to find one that encourages or makes it easy for you to market your online business.

Your ecommerce platform should accept integrations with major email and social automation tools such as MailChimp and Buffer. Your social and email channels are vital for growing your store, and these should be offered as standard.

Marketing is a diverse discipline. As well as the above, it spans UGC, social proof, and customer segmentation, to name but a few. And while some platforms offer plenty of apps for this (Shopify), many provide them as part of the package. BigCommerce for example markets itself as an out-of-the-box ecommerce platform, and includes abandoned cart email chasers as standard.

Email Marketing


Your email strategy is a core part of your business, helping you grow your store through abandoned cart emails, SKU integration for out-of-stock updates, and more. Every ecommerce platform worth its salt should seamlessly integrate with your email automation tool of choice (or provide its own).

There are dozens and dozens of email marketing platforms available today. Whilst heavy-hitters like MailChimp and and ActiveCampaign dominate, there are plenty of smaller names that can help you grow your store.

Of course, ecommerce platforms generally cater for the bigger email tools. So if you’re using a less common email marketing tool, you might wish to migrate to a bigger name if your ecommerce platform of choice isn’t.

Social Media


Social selling is a wonderfully effective means for growing your store by selling to customers in an arena where they are active most. As with email marketing integrations, most decent ecommerce platforms offer this as standard.

Virtually every social network offers social selling options or a dedicated marketplace to sell products and services through, and a good ecommerce platform should cater to that. Shopify’s app store overflows with social selling plugins for every platform you could ask for, from Facebook to Pinterest.

While the social selling aspect is vital, so too should your platform of choice integrate for social ads and promo campaigns. These are often included as standard in the app store, but do your research before committing.

Analytics


Crunching the numbers is a must for every growing business, as even the most basic analytics can provide valuable insight into which aspects of your enterprise are working (and which aren’t).

As with email automation tools, there is a plethora of analytics tools at your fingertips, both free and paid versions. Again, while most ecommerce platforms cater to the bigger names with plugins and integrations, there are just as many that offer their own analytics tools too.

BigCommerce offers basic metrics analysis as standard with its cheapest plan for example, and in general the built-in analytics get better when you upgrade your price plan.

Technical


Creative marketing potential and innovative aesthetics are great strengths for ecommerce stores, but it’s more important for them to be technically robust. Remember to secure function before you put too much thought into form.

Which platform will give you the best range of features, allowing you to keep your data secure, outrank your competitors, and keep up with the latest technological developments? Any technical issues will wear at you over time, causing inconvenience and sabotaging just about about everything you try to achieve with your store.

A great ecommerce CMS will be updated regularly, have strong security, and make your life as a retailer much easier by getting out of your way as much as possible so you can focus on what you’re good at.

Migrations


It’s quite common for a fast-growing ecommerce brand to outgrow its platform. You start out with something low-cost that gives you the financial freedom to get established, but then you start picking up momentum and realize that your store can no longer handle the level of traffic. Often, that calls for a full migration.

Ecommerce platforms vary when it comes to migration viability, though. If you choose well, migration can be very straightforward and relatively painless — choose poorly, though, and you’ll struggle to carry over all your data (if you can manage it at all). You should aim for a platform that’s simple to migrate to or from, just in case.

SSL


An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is vitally important for ecommerce. Provided by a trusted third-party company to confirm that your store is trustworthy, it not only shows visitors that they can safely buy from you but also ensures that you won’t be penalized by Google in the form of a damaging “Not secure” tag in results.

There are various ways to get an SSL certificate: some are free, but not necessarily very authoritative, while others are tightly-secured but somewhat expensive. Some ecommerce platforms, such as Shopify and BigCommerce, now provide SSL certification for store owners by default, saving them time and money.

Domain + Hosting


Having a domain that represents your brand well for years to come is an often-undervalued part of setting up a store. The best store domains are memorable, straightforward, and directly relevant to the products being sold — a generic company name can work fine, but for SEO, having primary keywords in there is a plus.

And once you have that domain, you need hosting to support you as your business grows. Scalability is essential. A great ecommerce CMS will provide supply to meet your demand, giving you resources only when needed to keep your costs down without damaging performance.

When choosing an ecommerce platform, be aware of your options for selecting a domain and picking a hosting tier. Cater everything to the specific needs of your business so you only pay as much as you need to — hosted platforms such as Shopify and Volusion are ideal for this.

API


An API, or Application Programming Interface, makes it simpler and easier for a system to communicate with other systems. Developers set out structures for mapping internal functions to external inputs, allowing users to configure some creative and powerful integrations without affecting overall security.

Because the ecommerce industry is so rich with tools (this page being a strong reflection of that), an ecommerce CMS with an excellent API is hugely convenient for a store owner. If you have grand aspirations for what you want to do with your store one day, select a CMS with a well-supported API, such as Shopify or Magento.


Pricing


My top pricing tip is to select the free trial before you commit to a platform. You’ll often get a month to trial the software and see how you get on with it.

Use this time wisely before making a long-term commitment. Why is this important? Because some providers don’t offer data transfers.

So if you pick the wrong platform you won’t be able to move it to a new one. This means any time and money you spent on it will be lost.  

The best free trial/free platforms are:

Payment Structure


While the initial cost of your platform is important, it’s crucial you think long-term. Pick one with a payment structure that allows you to meet the ambitions you have for your website, or online store. Consider:
  • Do you want an ecommerce site with unlimited products?
  • Are you building an online store with up to 100 products?
  • Will you need more than 10 staff accounts?
  • Is unlimited bandwidth and storage a requirement?
  • Do you want a cheap all-rounder?
The top ranking platforms for payment structure are:

Scalability


Your online store or website needs different features as you grow. There are some fundamental points for you to consider as you scale up:
  • Back office requirements
  • Global payments and deliveries
  • SEO functionality
Each platform has its own unique features to help your upscaling:
  • Shopify has Shopify Ping. It’s a tool that links messaging, chat and social applications. It makes Shopify a great choice for scaling a business while you’re on the go
  • WooCommerce has an unrivaled developer community, with WordPress powering 30% of the internet. Whatever you need to scale your business, you’ll find someone who can help

Inventory Management


Ecommerce stores might take orders online, but when it comes to fulfilment, the practical considerations aren’t much different from those of physical stores. You still need to source your products, store them, package them, and ship them when needed.

The best ecommerce platforms for inventory management either provide well-rounded functions by default or allow easy extension through free or low-cost add-ons. Basic inventory options such as handling SKUs are common to every ecommerce CMS, so choose based on how easy the management system is to use and how flexible it is.

Shopify has the best combination of support and extendability, but Magento is the enterprise choice for a reason. If you aspire to stock large product ranges and implement high-level automation, Magento will scale with you — just remember that it will come at major cost.

Transactions


Every kind of payment system will have transaction fees, though they can be implemented differently. You need your transactions to be as cheap, reliable, fast, and convenient as possible, though which part you prioritize will likely depend on the size of your business.

Operating in a luxury field? Perhaps paying a little more for your transactions will be worth it if you can make them as smooth as possible. A smaller business, meanwhile, might not be able to afford higher transaction fees, having to get by with the occasional slow payment.

Some ecommerce platforms require you to use external payment systems (such as WooCommerce), while others, such as Shopify and BigCommerce, offer integrated payments or external payments, depending on your choice. With Shopify having the lowest transaction fees at its basic tier, it gets the top spot here.

Payment Types


The payment stage of ecommerce has become significantly more complex, even as shoppers have required it to be easier. This is because of the proliferation of payment options, moving past old credit card methods to encompass one-click digital payment systems such as PayPal or Google Pay.

When looking at ecommerce platforms, consider how your customers are likely to want to pay. If they can’t pay using their preferred gateway, they may think twice about buying from you, so aim for maximum compatibility. Shopify was the first major ecommerce platform to accept Bitcoin payments, and connects to numerous payment gateways by default, so it’s the logical choice here.

Coupons & Discounts


Coupons and discounts are great for drawing in new customers, as well as helping inactive customers rediscover your store.

A strong ecommerce platform should let you easily create and customize coupon codes. Some platforms also let you track each discount code to measure the efficacy of each marketing campaign across email, social, and so on.

As part of its out-of-the-box allure, BigCommerce includes built-in discount codes that you can customize to suit your needs. However, most platforms require you to download additional plugins to use coupon or discount codes.

Customer Management


The best ecommerce platforms include stringent customer management systems that make it easy to stay on top of your customers. This is especially important as your business grows, as a great deal of your sales will come from a loyal base of existing customers.

Rather than constantly chasing new customers, you should focus on looking after your current ones. A good ecommerce builder makes this easy for you, either by offering comprehensive customer data collection and storage, or by providing CRM integration in the app store.

POS System


The bridge between online and offline retail is a worthy one to cross: a pop-up store is the perfect opportunity to increase sales. A seasonal shop or one-off event lets you take advantage of busy foot traffic, while spreading awareness of your brand in an offline space at the same time.

To ensure your real-world sales are counted alongside your online business, your ecommerce platform should provide a decent point-of-sale (POS) system. This lets you manage offline orders, as well as integrating sales and customer information with your existing online data.

Shopify leads the charge on this, with a sophisticated POS system that makes your pop-up shop sales easy to manage, but it’s not the only ecommerce platform to do so. Big Cartel lets its customers use the Square app for iOS to process sales in-person.

While this isn’t a vital aspect of ecommerce, it’s part of an increasingly popular trend that your store could very well benefit from.


What can these ecommerce solutions do for you?

Back in the day, selling online wasn’t an easy journey, but these days website builders and top ecommerce platforms make it (relatively) easy. For instance, you won’t need coding experience to manage your online store.
But how do these platforms simplify your life as an online store owner? Here ares some benefits:
  • Launch your ecommerce without programming knowledge
  • Let them handle the updates and security issues*
  • Process orders and payments online
  • Easily manage the tax and shipping settings
  • Support content creation (e.g. landing pages or blog posts)
  • Marketing features available to increase conversions (e.g. gift cards or coupons)
  • Robust reporting systems to track success and uncover issues
  • Multi-channel sales integration (e.g. sell on eBay, Facebook or Amazon)
  • Quick import and export data (e.g. for products)
  • SEO options customization
* This only applies to solutions like Shopify, BigCommerce, Squarespace Weebly or Wix. Not for CMSs like Magento, WooCommerce and PrestaShop
I am not saying that you won’t need to work hard to create a successful online store, but these tools will let you focus on selling more, as you’ll be free of tedious chores like uploading products to your store or updating plugins and extensions.

How much are ecommerce platforms?

That’s an important question, as not everyone will have a big budget to spend on software. Let me tell you how much these ecommerce platforms will cost you:
Shopify, BigCommerce and Volusion prices start from about $29.95 a month. If you need more advanced features (e.g. advanced reports with Shopify) you’ll have to upgrade to a higher plan at around $71 a month. Some things to consider are:
  • Shopify charges extra-transaction fees if you don’t use their payment gateway
  • BigCommerce has a limit on the sales you can process with each plan; if you go over you’ll be forced to upgrade
  • Volusion will limit the products you can sell with each plan. They also have a yearly threshold sales limit.
The Woocommerce extensions
On paper, CMSs like Magento, WooCommerce and PrestaShop are free, as they are open-source solutions. However, you will need to get a hosting service (a decent one will start at $20 a month), and any extras you may require such as templates or plugins. On top of that, if you don’t have programming experience and need a developer, it can get expensive, as they charge by the hour (e.g. from $30 to $100).
Tools like Wix, Weebly and Squarespace will let you have your online store a bit cheaper: $23, $25 and $18 a month respectively. However, be aware that Squarespace will charge you extra transaction fees (3%) on its lower plans.
Jimdo is by far the cheapest way to start your online store, you can have up to 50 pages for $15 a month. If you need more pages or storage, you can always upgrade.
Finally, if you already have a website, Ecwid is the cheapest alternative, starting at $12.50 a month for a functional online store where you can sell up to 100 products. Like Jimdo, they have a free plan with certain limitations (e.g. only 10 products).
ProviderPlansStaff accountsAllowed productsOther
Shopify
$26/month
$71/month
$266/month
2
5
15
UnlimitedIf you don’t use their gateway processor, extra-transaction fees are charged (2%, 1% & 0,5%)
BigCommerce
$29.95/month
$71.95/month
$269.96/month
UnlimitedUnlimitedUpgrade needed if you go over the yearly sales thresholds ($50K, $150K or $450K)
Volusion
$29/month
$79/month
$299/month
1
5
15
100
5.000
Unlimited
Upgrade needed if you go over the yearly sales thresholds ($50K, $100K or $500K)
WooCommerce, Magento & PrestaShopFrom $20 a month for hostingUnlimitedUnlimitedPlugins, themes and developer fees may apply
Squarespace
$18/month
$26/month
$40/month
UnlimitedUnlimitedExtra 3% transaction fee with the Business plan
Weebly
$12/month
$25/month
$26/month
UnlimitedUnlimitedUseful ecommerce features only available for Business tiers or higher
Wix
$23/month
$27/month
$49/month
UnlimitedUnlimited
20 GB storage
35 GB storage
50 GB storage
Jimdo
$15/month
$19/month
$39/month
1Unlimited
10 GB storage
15 GB storage
Unlimited
Ecwid *
$12.50/month
$29.17/month
$82.50/month
1
2
Unlimited
100
2.500
Unlimited
Max. 100MB/file
Max. 1GB/file
Max. 10GB/file
* Note that Ecwid offers basic free online stores (e.g. limited functionality and products).

Things and features you should consider:

Before choosing the ecommerce platform for your project, there are a bunch of factors you should take into account in order to make sure you go with the solution that best fits your needs.

Ease of use

You need a platform that matches your technical skills and needs. It doesn’t make sense to go for an advanced CMS like Magento or WooCommerce if you aren’t (a bit) tech-savvy. And the same applies the other way around; don’t go for a (too) simple and easy-to-use ecommerce platform like Jimdo when you intend to create a complex ecommerce (e.g. with multilingual features).
The Product Settings Shopify
Shopify simply makes it easy to edit product details
In my opinion, the easiest tools to use to create online stores are: Wix, Weebly, Squarespace and Jimdo. But they are also a bit more limited in terms of ecommerce features – especially Jimdo.
Shopify (and BigCommerce, to a certain extent) are a happy medium. They are reasonably easy to use, but at the same time allow you to scale your store as they provide pretty much any ecommerce feature you need.
On the other hand, open-source content management systems like WordPress, PrestaShop or Magento will let you create anything you can think of, but often you’ll need programming knowledge even, at times, for simple updates.

Templates & Design

Would you buy a shirt, or anything else, from a brick and mortar shop that wasn’t clean, didn’t have the products nicely displayed and had a 30-minute queue to pay?
If you are anything like me, no way.
Awful ecommerce example
What do you think about this website design? Maybe they are successful, but I wouldn’t want my eCommerce to look like it – no offense meant.
Online stores are the same; you should use neat designs and a good structure to favor user experience and conversions. Things that you should be looking for are:
  • Enough (eCommerce-focused) template alternatives to choose from
  • All templates should be mobile-friendly so they look good on any display
  • Obviously, the designs should look good and ideally A/B tested for conversions
  • You’ll need a system that allows you to customize your styles and designs
In my opinion, Wix and Squarespace offer the best designs for smaller projects, plus all are free. Without a doubt, design-wise, Wix is the most flexible site builder out there. But if you are looking for a fully-focused ecommerce solution, Shopify’s designs look (to me) a bit more modern and they provide you with a decent range of free templates.

Ecommerce features

All the platforms mentioned in this post (even Jimdo) come with the basic ecommerce features you’ll need. For example, a system that processes the orders, tax and shipping management options and promotional features like gift cards or discount codes.
The Bigcommerce ecommerce features
BigCommerce processing orders
However, some tools offer more than others, so make sure you consider what you need before committing to an ecommerce platform.
I would say that, or course, WooCommerce has a broader range of features available. Tools like Shopify or BigCommerce also provide an excellent variety, but sometimes they are only available with the higher plans.

Additional sales channels

Having your online store is great, but for many ecommerce projects, having the option to sell using other channels would be even better. For example, you may want to be able to sell on Facebook or Instagram (e.g. if you sell flashy phone cases), integrate your online store with Amazon or even start a dropshipping business.
The Shopify sales channels
If having a multi-channel ecommerce project is your goal, I would suggest you check out Shopify, as it allows to sell on eBay, Amazon, Facebook or Instagram. On top of that, they have their own dropshipping app and will enable you to sell in-person with their Shopify POS.
Most of these integrations are also possible with other providers (e.g. BigCommerce or WooCommerce), but Shopify offers a more all-round experience.

Apps and extensions

These ecommerce platforms are really impressive, but what blows my mind is that by adding extensions (e.g. plugins or apps) you can add more features and optimize your online store.
For example, by using Yoast SEO for WordPress you can super-charge your store’s SEO, as it unleashes new options to optimize your pages (e.g. XML sitemaps).
The Wix app market
WordPress (and WooCommerce) have the largest community, and the number of available plugins is breathtaking. After WordPress, I would say that Shopify and Wix offer the largest extension repository.

SEO Options

If I’ve learned one thing working at WebsiteToolTester over the years : you guys love SEO –as do I!
Bigcommerce Seo Options
You’d be surprised by the amount of SEO-related questions my colleagues and I receive, and more often than not, these are related to how each platform’s (e.g. Shopify or BigCommerce) SEO features compare. Of course, every store owner wants to nail their SEO strategy in order to attract organic sales with ‘free’ traffic.
Let me start by saying that, most of the time, when a store isn’t performing well due to SEO, it’s usually because of optimization issues like missing title tags, broken links or weak backlink profiles.
Having said that, some tools offer a bit extra in the way of SEO features. The clear winner here is WooCommerce. However, platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, Weebly, Wix and Squarespace get many things right and there are examples of SEO successful stores.
But since WooCommerce works on top of WordPress, you can customize virtually any SEO option you wish – this comes in handy for very competitive niches.
But hey!
Remember that speed is crucial for SEO, so make sure you get a decent hosting provider like DreamHost or SiteGround if you set up your online store with WooCommerce or similar CMSs.

Customer support

Sure, most online ecommerce platforms have a knowledge base packed with tutorials you can check. But when you get stuck, having a customer support agent to help you can be a life-saver – or at least save you a ton of time and money.
Personally, I like it when they provide live chat support, though you might prefer email or phone support.
In my experience, Shopify and Jimdo have superb customer care. In my tests, they were quick to answer and the quality of those answers was good. Find out how I evaluated their support.
The Wordpress support forums
Be aware that open-source apps like WordPress or PrestaShop don’t provide personalized support. If you encounter any issue, be ready to browse the community forums to (hopefully) find a fix for your problem. You can always hire a professional developer, but you’ll need a budget for this.

Performance and ecommerce platforms

Since mobile connectivity exploded in the early 2000s, site owners, users and search engines (like Google) have been obsessed with performance – everyone wants sites that load fast.
Yes, you can have the swankiest looking online store and a bad-ass conversion funnel implemented, but if your online shop is (too) slow, you are doomed; you’ll see conversions drop and search engines will punish your rankings.
But no worries, I have your back. You don’t need to go and test every platform out there to see which ones are fast and which are not, I’ve done that for you. I checked over 4,000 websites to find the best-performing platforms – here are the results:
Speed results summary
I found out that Jimdo, Volusion, BigCommerce, Webnode, Weebly, Squarespace and Shopify performed OK – desktop sites loaded under 3 seconds.
I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the speed of Wix, WordPress and WooCommerce, as sites, on average, needed more than 3 seconds to load on desktop devices.
Let’s not forget about uptime, as it is equally important. You don’t want an online store that’s down all the time because your provider is incapable of offering stable servers – you will make ZERO sales if your website doesn’t work.
The Shopify uptime response time
Shopify uptime is greater than 99.95%
As you can imagine, search engines like Google and Bing don’t like websites with long and continuous downtime periods either; they’ll just think your website has vanished from the internet or won’t trust it.
I tested many shop builders’ uptime, so I can tell you which ones are the most reliable. I am happy to report that during the last 12 months every ecommerce builder in this article managed to achieve at least an uptime of 99.95%.
Final thoughts about the best ecommerce ecommerce platforms
As we’ve seen, there are many viable alternatives to create an online store with, however not all of them are right for everyone. Factors like your technical experience, project size or budget should influence your choice.
As I see it, we can categorize most tools into 3 groups:
  • Easy to use, simple solutions like Wix, Squarespace or Weebly:
In my opinion, these are suitable for (smaller) projects that will have an online store attached. For example, you are planning to promote yourself as a photographer but you’d also like to sell your work online.
  • Online store-focused eCommerce solutions like Shopify or BigCommerce:
These are suitable for small projects too, but they also scale well and can accommodate huge ecommerce sites. You’ll need a budget, as their starting plans are higher than regular website builders’.
  • Open-source solutions such as WooCommerce, OpenCart and Magento:
These are a good fit for large projects that have unique customization needs. Being able to choose the hosting provider (e.g. SiteGround or DreamHost) may be an advantage for some, even if it requires more work and technical knowledge.
Well, I hope you now have a clearer idea of what ecommerce solution you should choose for your online store. However, if you have any questions about this, leave a comment and I’ll try to help you.

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