Are you ready to start selling products online? You need the best eCommerce platform.
But, searching for the best eCommerce platform is not easy.
It is a big decision that you will make because it will have a long-term effect on your project. With hundreds of eCommerce solutions to consider, it will be tough to compare different variables.
The good news is, having multitudes of options for eCommerce platforms means the best eCommerce platform for your specific needs is out there. All you have to do is to find it.
What is an eCommerce platform?
An eCommerce platform is a software that helps you build and manage a store online. It handles everything from website design and listing products to shipping and marketing. You can add products, manage inventory, ship orders, and communicate with customers within an eCommerce software tool.
But first, you have to understand what eCommerce is. Many people confuse eCommerce with eBusiness and use the terms interchangeably. To get a better understanding, I recommend you read our article about the difference between eCommerce and eBusiness.
After you get that out of the way, time to know what eCommerce features to look for in the best eCommerce platform.
Features to look out for in eCommerce platforms
Starting an eCommerce store is a great way to earn money online aside from blogging, consulting, freelancing, affiliate marketing, or running a digital marketing agency. It can be a side hustle if you already have a full-time job. Or a full-time venture if you are ready to leave your 9 to 5 grind.
You can create an online store from scratch or no money using the best free eCommerce platform for small businesses. But the paid options have certain advantages that would be very helpful in growing your business from the ground up.
To build a fully operating website, these are the features to look for in an eCommerce solution:
- Ease of use
- Customizable design templates
- Site building features with additional functions like SEO, blogging, and email marketing
- Integrations with 3rd party plugins or applications
- 24/7 customer support
- Offers a price plan that fits your budget and suits your business needs
Of course, these are just the basics. The best eCommerce platform should bring other elements to the table. These include but are not limited to product page customization, support for multiple payment processors, and analytics information.
Weigh your options before committing to one of the eCommerce platforms out there. The best eCommerce platform in 2021 for a large enterprise might not be the best eCommerce platform for startups.
This comparison of the Top 5 Best eCommerce Platforms in 2021 will help you with that.
Top 5 Best eCommerce platforms
1. Shopify – Best eCommerce platform for beginners, startups, small & medium-sized businesses
Considered to be the giant of the eCommerce world, Shopify is the preferred eCommerce platform of over 1,000,000 businesses in 175 countries around the world.
Shopify is a breeze to use because it integrated everything you need in the platform from storefront design to performance analytics. You only have to set up the basics of your online store and upgrade it later with third-party applications.
What I love about Shopify is the abundance of resources available to help resolve your site-building issues. Though you can contact their 24/7 customer support anytime, their guides and articles are comprehensive enough to follow on your own. These are very helpful even to beginners who have no coding skills and experience in building online stores.
Shopify’s intuitive drag-and-drop interface can help get your store up-and-running in just minutes. It is simple to use as you can choose from a wide range of templates to design your store. They also offer unlimited hosting for your store, in-depth analytics of your visitors, and marketing functionality like coupon and discount creation and email marketing tools.
Other Shopify features include:
- Custom domains
- Unlimited product listings
- Inventory tracking
- Manage store on-the-go using Shopify’s mobile apps
- Built-in support for 3D models and video
- Real-time sales statistics
- The store is optimized for desktop and mobile users
- Live chat function
- Abandoned cart recovery option
- Create customizable storefronts on Facebook and Instagram
If you are starting an online store with no money, you can test out Shopify with a 14-day free trial. You can already build a store with it and pick a plan later. The lowest plan costs $29/month.
2. WooCommerce – Best eCommerce solution for WordPress
If you already have a WordPress website, you can turn it into an eCommerce website using WooCommerce. It is a plugin that is free to download and use. However, you need to install several third-party plugins to get the most from the eCommerce tool. These include inventory management, payment processing, shipping methods, and marketing extensions.
Although most third-party extensions have a cost, they are comparatively cheap. By choosing your plugins, you can customize your eCommerce store quickly. You can also equip it with essential functions much more cheaply than using standalone eCommerce platforms.
WooCommerce only takes minutes to set up when you have an existing WordPress website. Just follow their New Store Owners Guide step-by-step to transform it into an eCommerce website to sell physical or digital products.
The free WooCommerce plugin has the following features:
- Inventory management
- Catalog management
- Mobile-optimized shopping
- Coupons and discounts
- Geo-location support
- Search engine optimization
- Shipping options and calculator
- Product reviews
- Google Analytics integration
Another advantage of using WooCommerce is you can sell affiliate or external products to your website. By selling your products and marketing affiliate products on your site, you can make more money online.
3. BigCommerce – Best eCommerce platform for large businesses
BigCommerce is another great website builder for eCommerce sites. It is best for medium to large businesses who require a lot from their eCommerce platform. It does not only offer lots of out-of-the-box features, but it also allows integration with third-party applications.
Big Commerce has the Channel Manager, a multi-channel selling feature that enables you to connect your store to different marketplaces. Other benefits of using this tool include:
- Social media integration
- Impressive options for SEO
- Unlimited number of staff accounts
- No additional transaction fees
Their pricing plan for essentials starts at $29.95/month. It is suitable for eCommerce startups who only need the essential features to build and activate their stores. With BigCommerce, the higher the plan, the better and more advanced the features. Try out their 15-day free trial to see if it is the right one for your business.
One of the user-friendly design interfaces out there, Squarespace is quick to set up and modify. Regardless of your skills, you can create your online store quickly using the drag-and-drop functionality and pre-built website templates of the platform.
When you sign up to Squarespace, you will have access to the following features:
- Flexible product variants
- Product import/export
- Multiple payment methods
- SEO tools
- Sell physical and digital products
- Personalized products
- Upselling and cross-selling
- Automatic discounts
- Gift cards
- Mobile-optimized checkouts
- Real-time shipping rates and tracking
- Manage subscriptions
- Abandon cart auto-recovery
The lowest pricing tier is $12/month and comes with award-winning 24/7 customer support.
With Wix, you can create a professional website for free. When you sign up for the free website builder, you also get top security, the best SEO, free reliable web hosting, and a dedicated support team. Unlike other eCommerce platforms that you can try out for a limited time before choosing a paid plan, Wix lets you create a website, absolutely free.
Using the drag and drop website builder, you can choose from hundreds of design features. You can add an online store, booking system, members area, and even a blog. Once you have set up your eCommerce store, you can publish it to go live.
However, to receive online payments and connect your domain, you need to upgrade to at least the Business Basic plan ($17/month).
Wix has many uses. It is not just for building eCommerce websites. I suggest that you read our article “What is Wix Used For?” to know what they are.
Finding the right eCommerce platform is the first step to building an online store. For most users, we highly recommend Shopify and WooCommerce. They are easy to use and ideal for businesses of all sizes. Not only that, they are affordable – making them the best eCommerce platforms for startups and small businesses with a limited budget.
If you are a medium-to-large business owner, BigCommerce and Squarespace have all the features more fitting to your needs. However, if you want to build an online store from scratch using the best free eCommerce platform for small businesses, Wix is a good option for you.
Picking the best eCommerce platform can be challenging with all the tons of options out there. But with this guide, you can quickly find the right one for you.
Need some idea on how to make your eCommerce business successful? See our examples of top-earning eCommerce businesses! You can also see our guides for the best web hosting services and best email marketing platforms for your website.
However, if you want to know a less stressful way of making money online, I recommend you check out our 4-HOUR AGENCY course. It teaches you to work on your terms without stressing over updating your inventory or placating an angry customer. You get to earn money fast without sales calls and run your business on autopilot.