Ecommerce Platforms

5 Best Ecommerce Platforms to Start, Build and Scale Your Online Business

With the growing number of ecommerce platforms, it can seem hard to know which is best among them.

It’s hard to tell of their internal features, supports and performance since they all scream, “We are faster, reliable, optimized for search engine (SEO). We are the best”.

The question boils down to, “Which ecommerce platform is the best?


The Best Ecommerce Platforms Are:

  • BigCommerce
  • Shopify
  • Wix
  • WooCommerce
  • Magento

Choosing the best ecommerce platforms is one of the greatest decision you will make when starting your online business.

And the reasons are no other than

You want your customers to reduce friction when shopping products on your website so they have the possible best experience.

You want to ensure you have all things in place before running marketing campaign and strategies to avoid running money down the drain.

You want to avoid negatives in profits and loss of growth because of the ecommerce platforms installation and maintenance fees.

The worst that can happen to you is to customize your ecommerce website, upload products’ images, write description and state the price, but only to find out the ecommerce platform is experiencing server failure.

Or find out about some hidden fees you never bargained for at the beginning, then it becomes too late to quit since you already start selling.

I will discuss with you on things to consider when selecting an ecommerce platforms and the top best in the industry. You will learn which ecommerce platform you need to meet your goals, perform best and helps sell more.

What is an Ecommerce Platform?

An ecommerce platform is a software application allowing online businesses to build, grow, and scale their website coupled with marketing and sales operations.

Ecommerce platforms offer from basic to premium features you need to integrate with popular business tools.

These features allow you to customize and operate your business from a central dashboard.


Why Use an Ecommerce Platform?

Whether you are starting or already in business and looking to expand, your ecommerce platforms has large role to play in the success of your online business. The little few are:

  • Save time in managing
  • Reduce cost of building from scratch
  • Save energy in maintaining.

What Are Important Ecommerce Platform Features?

Every online business has different needs, and choosing the ecommerce platform that fit to your needs is critical to your business success.

Be sure your ecommerce platforms can meet with your demands now and later.

Yet, there are basic features you must look out for when choosing an ecommerce platforms. They are:

1. Hosting:

Do they provide hosting or not? If they do, how reliable is it? What is the uptime? You don’t want to wake some day and found out your website is down. You know what that means to your business.

And if you are the one to host, then you can check out my guide on how to choose the best ecommerce hosting providers.

2. Domain:

Will you be getting a free domain? If yes, how long? Is it just for a year or as much as you keep using the platform?

PS: I don’t encourage registering your domain with the same ecommerce platform you are using. Register elsewhere and connect with the platform.

3. Website Builder

You will definitely use a page builder if you are not writing codes. How friendly are the page builders? Are the themes easy to customize? Can you see your changes in real-time?

Also, with the increasing number of mobile users, check to know if the themes available on the ecommerce platforms are responsive. I.e. They look good and fit on all electronic devices.

4. Add-ons and Plugins

As your business grows, you will also need to integrate some tools to meet up with customer demands.

So, ensure the ecommerce platforms you are choosing to have enough apps and integrations with major business providers for your smooth business running.

5. SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a must for your online business if you want to appear on the front pages of search engines–Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.

Not all ecommerce platforms are excellent for SEOs. It’s important you note this.

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Things to Consider When Choosing Your Ecommerce Platform

I am sure you will be happy with the offers you are seeing on an ecommerce platforms. But wait before you commit yourself, a little research of your business and target audience is necessary.

You can change host anytime, but it’s not as easy as it is to write. So, before you make payment, consider:

1. Finance

What is your budget? How much do you dedicate to setting up your ecommerce website? You need to have a full detail of what you are paying for and how long you can continue paying.

There are two sides to this.

A high priced ecommerce platform does not always mean the best. And a cheap ecommerce platform will do you no good in the long run.

So you have to balance the features you need and the amount you have to pay.

The best way to do this most times is to compare features from various ecommerce platforms and their respective cost.

Decide on amount you want to spend on

  • Web design and maintenance.
  • Security and functionality.
  • Hosting and Domain
  • App building

Compare the various ecommerce platforms to conclude on what is best for you.

2. Target Audience.

Where are your potential customers? Where do they hangout? I know it’s social media.

Promoting your business to your targeted audience is a must if you are to succeed in business.

But how do you promote if your ecommerce platforms don’t integrate fully with these social media platforms?

Facebook alone has billions of monthly users. You can’t imagine the number of sales you can have using these platforms.

A standard ecommerce platform should have built-in integrations with major social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc) to allow you market directly to user of these networks.

Also, that allows you to measure your conversion rate and know where more efforts are needed.

3. Inventory.

Do you sell many products or just some below a hundred?

Choosing a platform with low inventory limits can place restrictions on your business.

If you have a large products number to sell, choose an ecommerce platform that allows you sell unlimited products. Very Necessary!

4. Growth.

How many people do you forecast on your website? What number of visit do you plan to have per month?

Don’t forget you will promote your business using ads. What happens if one of your ads goes viral? Does your ecommerce platform have infrastructures in place to handle the number of customers coming in?

It’s expected that as you grow, your ecommerce platform grows with you. It becomes a poor business when reverse is the case.

Don’t place a ceiling on your business today. Leave room for growth tomorrow.

I encourage you choose an ecommerce platform that can grow with you from the onset so you get to know more of their operations even as you scale up.

If you can, choose ecommerce platform with cloud hosting. Reason? Your site will be live even if there are server failures.

5. Support

In business, nothing is 100% guaranteed.

There will come a day when you will face technical issues or website errors. Will the ecommerce platform be available to help?

You need be sure you are working with actual humans who will be there to assist should any problem arise and not bots.

Avoid ecommerce platform that either outsource the supports system or ask you to submit tickets for every little need you have.

You need a support system that will attend to you in proper time.


Ecommerce Platforms Comparison

Each ecommerce platforms have its own advantages and disadvantages. It is important you test the various platforms and the features they offer and compare to your own needs.


Best Ecommerce Platform For Large Volume Sellers

BigCommerce

BigCommerce is an Open SaaS provider and ecommerce platforms serving customers on low cost with powerful features.

This ecommerce platform offers plans fitting for small and big businesses.

With BigCommerce, they do not leave you alone as they walk you through the step-by-step method you need to set up your online store.

BigCommerce instruction guides are clear and well-detailed about information you need with links to help for further support.

There are hundreds of apps in the BigCommerce app store you can use to add additional functionalities like SEO, Social media, and more.

BigCommerce integrates with popular online payment processor like Paypal, Stripe, Braintree and many others.

As part of its flexibility, BigCommerce gives you an option to configure your ecommerce store to accept payments by bank transfer and check.

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You can also choose to automate listing your products on popular marketplace like Amazon, eBay and Facebook. With these, you save time listing manually and customers don’t have to directly from your store.

BigCommerce has free built-in themes that look great with a powerful drag-and-drop page builder to customize to your taste without having to know how to code. It allows those with coding knowledge to tweak the HTML and CSS to suit their needs.

Just in case you need help, there is a community of designers and developers ready to work with you to bring the vision of your store to your reality.

BigCommerce strengths:

  • Unlimited products, orders, file storage, and capacity
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • Point of sale
  • Visual store builder
  • Migrate your store and import products
  • Accept payments via PayPal powered by Braintree, Stripe, Apple Pay, Pay with Amazon and dozens more
  • Manage orders and inventory
  • Sell via Facebook, Pinterest, eBay, Amazon and Square POS
  • Multiple marketing features
  • API
  • Multi-layered hosting security and DDOS protection
  • Level 1 PCI-compliant hosting
  • HTTPS
  • Get found on product comparison sites
  • Encourage return visits with email marketing
  • SEO features

With BigCommerce, you almost cannot miss it.


Best Ecommerce Platform for Starting Quick

Shopify

Shopify is another SaaS ecommerce platform provider you need to consider. They are popular with small business owners with little products to sell.

Shopify is no doubt the most popular ecommerce platforms in US with millions of small business owners.

I believe the reason for this use is its flexibility and ease of use. The smallest of businesses can set up and start receiving payments in minutes.

Shopify has a built-in CMS, multiple themes and lots of third-party apps, making it easy for business owners to start an ecommerce site.

Shopify also has an enterprise solution called Shopify Plus that carters for large businesses. You can sign up for a free trial on Shopify to best understand its operation.

The setup wizard walks you through a step-by-step guide on how to add your products, customize your ecommerce store, connect your custom domain name and start receiving payments.

Everything seems simple with Shopify that you need almost no tutorial to add your products to your online store on Shopify.

It’s as simple as filling in the product title, quantity available, inputting prices and writing a description of what the products are about.

There are free available themes to use, and you can also opt in for paid ones if you need more functionalities.

You will also find thousands of premium themes you can use on Shopify from ThemeForest.

Getting a professional web designer experienced with the ecommerce platform can also be of good to you.

Shopify wants to make it possible for everyone to launch their own ecommerce store, even having no coding knowledge.

Shopify strengths:

  • Unlimited orders, products, file storage, capacity
  • 24/7 support
  • Mobile commerce ready
  • Use your own domain name
  • Point of sale
  • Free SSL certificate
  • You can accept credit cards + 100 payment gateways
  • Automatic carrier shipping rates
  • Automatic taxes
  • Web-based ecommerce website builder with drag-and-drop
  • Full blogging platform
  • Multiple languages
  • Customer profiles
  • Dropshipping
  • Customer accounts
  • Search engine optimized
  • Product reviews
  • Gift cards
  • Social media integration + sell on Facebook
  • Inventory management
  • Digital products
  • Product variations
  • Level-1 PCI compliant.
  • Advanced reporting
  • Mobile app

Be it you sell physical products (shirts, electronics, etc), digital products (ebooks, software, etc) or offers services (web design, writing, etc), Shopify can handle your operations.


Best Ecommerce Platform for Building a Complete Website Plus Online Store

Wix

Wix is best known for its competitive pricing, easy-to-use drag-and-drop site builder and modern themes. It’s often used by business owners and creatives.

The ecommerce platform boast of helping beginners and experts interested in creative freedom in their website.

If you want to build a complete website where an ecommerce store is an addition and not the core, check no further than Wix.

Wix is a powerful website builder with tons of features like automated sales tax and abandoned cart recovery.

The Wix wizard welcomes you with a questionnaire that it automatically uses to set up your website. You can also choose to answer a few more questions about what you sell and let Wix’s Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) do the work for you.

If you have an existing website, with Wix, you can import your content from this site. You can also own a professional email (@yourbusiness.com)

Because of its popularity, Wix has many third-party apps and extensions in its marketplace.

One thing I appreciate about Wix is that it comes with over 500 themes. So, you will not need to change later as the themes are modern and built to look good on all devices.

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They categorize these themes into over 50 sub categories, allowing you to search according to your industry.

Wix strengths:

  • Secure Online Payments
  • Plans & Recurring Payments
  • Customer Accounts
  • Free Custom Domain for 1 Year
  • Unlimited capacity
  • Storage Space
  • Unlimited Video Hours
  • Customized Reports
  • 24/7 Priority Customer Care
  • Abandoned Cart Recovery
  • Subscriptions
  • Multiple Currencies
  • Automated Sales Tax
  • Sell on Social Channels
  • Sell on Marketplaces
  • Dropshipping

Today, Wix is a major player in the ecommerce platform games as they deliver outstanding value at a lower price.


Best Ecommerce Platform for Big Brands and Enterprises

Magento

Magento is an open-source ecommerce solution. It’s preferred by top companies who are ready to invest in experienced developers and IT teams. It is not suitable for do-it-yourself web designers or drag-and-drop business owners.

You can customize and expand however you want with its in-depth feature list.

As a beginner, you may find Magento scary, but an experienced web developer should tweak to meet your needs.

Magento is an Open Source, and it’s free. But if you need more support with the ecommerce platform, there is a paid plan available for you.

Top companies like Nike, Cisco, and Adobe all believed in Magento to run their operations.

Magento has a community with many developers ready to work on your ecommerce store for a fee.

Magento’s marketplace is where you can get extensions and themes to increase your store functionality.

Magento is perfect for you if you:

  • Expect to double online growth in the future
  • Need sophisticated integrations
  • Experience spikes in traffic or frequent surges

Magento strengths:

  • Core Application Support
  • Business Intelligence Pro
  • B2B Functionality
  • Single-tenant, dedicated infrastructure
  • Managed Cloud Services
  • Deployment Tools
  • Larger dedicated staging environment
  • Faster support response time
  • Increased customization available
  • 50 GB of testing
  • Disaster recovery and data retention
  • Varnish-based CDN
  • Image Optimization
  • DDoS protection and WAF
  • Performance Monitoring Tools
  • Infrastructure support
  • Technical Account Manager
  • High Availability Architecture
  • Automated data backup
  • Expansive monitoring and alerting
  • Scale globally on AWS and Azure clouds

Best Ecommerce Platform for WordPress Website

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is an open-source customizable ecommerce platform. It offers an all-in-one cart solution in the most popular content management system, WordPress.

Using WooCommerce to build your ecommerce store means you will need to buy domain name and hosting, and security separately.

One key reason I enjoy WoCommerce is the total control I have over my ecommerce website. I can literally do as I want and sell anything with no restrictions.

WooCommerce works on WordPress, powering a large percentage of the web. It’s regularly audited by Sucuri, an industry leader in security, so you are in expert hands.

It’s very simple to install WooCommerce on your WordPress site. You only need to go to the plugin section of WordPress and search for it.

With WooCommerce, you can create coupons, manage orders, and view your sales in your dashboard.

Adding new products o WooCommerce is as easy as adding a new post. The only difference is adding other extra information like product’s price, categories, and more.

If you need additional features, you can always search for in the plugin section of WordPress.

WooCommerce Strengths:

  • Ability to sell anything
  • Ship Anywhere
  • Multiple Payment Options
  • Customize for your location
  • No Fees, No Limits
  • User Accounts
  • Categories, tags and attributes make products easier to find
  • Dashboard
  • Product sorting and filtering
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Coupons and Discounts
  • One-Click Refunds
  • Inventory Management
  • Order Management
  • Email Templates
  • Add Shop Managers
  • Import and Export Products
  • Shipping Rates
  • Geo-Location Support
  • Affiliate Products
  • Tax Options
  • Unlimited Products
  • Product Ratings and Reviews
  • Unlimited Images and Galleries
  • Related Products

Ecommerce Platforms Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best ecommerce platform?

That would depend on your experience and needs. Each platform has its advantages and disadvantages.

Yet, BigCommerce, Shopify and WooCommerce. are the most common ecommerce platforms for small businesses.

If you are an enterprise with developers’ department, you can go with Magento. If you need to build a complete website and adding online store as addition, go with Wix.

Ecommerce platform or build a custom solution?

You will most likely need an ecommerce platform. Reason is this.

Ecommerce platforms lower the barrier to entry to running your online business, saving you time and money.

Custom solutions require huge capital and team to build and maintained. Also, it delays before launching.

Are ecommerce platforms free?

No, there are no free ecommerce platforms. There can only ecommerce platforms offering free trials. Ecommerce website costs vary.

While some ecommerce platforms offers their core products as free, you still have to pay to access other advanced features.

 

Oluboba Ayodeji
Oluboba Ayodeji teaches business owners on how to build, grow, and scale a successful ecommerce business. He shares proven strategies and expert insights to help you avoid losing your customers, time and energy on the web. Wants to reach him? Email Olubobayo@gmail[dot]com