6 Best eCommerce Platforms: Top Picks for Online Merchants

eCommerce Development
6 Best eCommerce Platforms: Top Picks for Online Merchants
Article by Jelena Relić
Last Updated: May 23, 2024

Did you know retail eCommerce sales worldwide hit an estimated $5.8 trillion in 2023? This number is expected to soar by 39%, reaching over $8 trillion by 2027, providing untapped opportunities for businesses, entrepreneurs, dropshippers, and established brands alike.

With so much potential at stake, finding the right platform to sell online is more important than ever. That’s why we’ve prepared a list of the six best eCommerce platforms tailored for online merchants.

1. Shopify - Best for Global Expansion

Shopify has been the subject of countless reviews due to its popularity, showcasing its position as a major player in the eCommerce industry. What sets it apart from the competition is its robust integration capabilities that connect users to more than 8,000 apps for enhancing store functionality. This vast ecosystem enables merchants to tailor their online shops precisely to their needs.

Additionally, the platform’s global reach is notable, as it offers a streamlined Shopify payments experience for dozens of countries while also supporting multiple payment methods. All in all, Shopify is an excellent choice for merchants, even though you may need some help to fully customize it.

Royson Rajan, CEO at Atlas SoftWeb Pvt Ltd, states that right eCommerce platform depends on various factors, including size, needs, and budget, but his preferred choice is Shopify: “Businesses should choose Shopify because it provides a user-friendly interface and scalability. Moreover, it provides a range of customizable options and integrations, proving to be the best option for businesses."

Artem Semenko, CEO at DigitalSuits, agrees and adds that Shopify platform is developing very quickly and has every chance to lead an e-commerce market: “Thanks to its Shopify Plus, Hydrogen/Oxygen, Commerce Components, and Markets Pro features, it is already the main competitor of Salesforce Commerce and Adobe Commerce in the enterprise market."

Should you need any assistance setting up an online store, there are many specialized eCommerce development agencies that will do the heavy lifting for you.

Features

  • Huge app ecosystem: Shopify connects with over 8,000 applications, allowing merchants to customize their online stores extensively to fit unique business needs and enhance functionality.
  • Global commerce support: Catering to businesses in 175 countries, Shopify provides diverse payment solutions to meet the needs of local markets, making it easier for stores to expand their international footprint.
  • Advanced analytics and reporting: Shopify offers detailed analytics and reporting tools that give merchants insights into sales trends, customer behavior, and inventory management.

Pros

  • 24/7 chat, email, and phone support
  • 99.9% uptime guarantee
  • Customizable URLs

Cons

  • Customization requires technical knowledge
  • Charges 0.5% fee for third-party payments
  • Only 12 free themes to choose from

Pricing

  • Starter plan: $5/month — ideal for social media and messaging sales.
  • Basic plan: $29/month — offers shipping discounts for solo entrepreneurs.
  • Shopify plan: $79/month — includes more discounts and support for small teams.
  • Retail plan: $89/month — designed for in-store sales with enhanced inventory management.
  • Advanced plan: $299/month — tailored for growing businesses with advanced reporting.
  • Plus plan: Starts at $2,300/month — customizable checkout for large enterprises.
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2. WooCommerce - Best for Customization

WooCommerce is a WordPress-specific plugin that offers extensive product variation options. It allows merchants to showcase a wide array of products with different attributes.

It also features customizable checkout processes that enable businesses to tailor the shopping experience to their customers’ needs. This adaptability helps in catering to a diverse customer base by providing various options and personalization at the point of sale.

While WooCommerce can’t be used with a CMS other than WordPress, the latter powers over 40% of all websites, so you’re sure to benefit from the expansive community support. If all else fails, however, you can always resort to contacting some of the top WordPress web design companies.

Features

  • Product variations: WooCommerce lets you create multiple variations of a single product, enabling merchants to choose from different sizes, colors, and other attributes.
  • Customizable checkout: The platform provides tools to customize the checkout experience, such as adding custom fields or modifying checkout steps to suit business needs.
  • Built-in analytics: WooCommerce includes analytics tools that offer insights into sales, customer behaviors, and trends directly within the dashboard.

Pros

  • Strong community support with forums and tutorials available
  • Integrates seamlessly with WordPress
  • More than 800 extensions

Cons

  • Setup and customization may require technical assistance
  • Plugins can impact its performance
  • Limited to WordPress sites

Pricing

WooCommerce itself does not have specific “plans” in the traditional sense like other eCommerce platforms, as it's a free, open-source plugin for WordPress websites. Instead, costs associated with using WooCommerce can come from web hosting, themes, and plugins.

Below is a general estimate of the costs of using WooCommerce:

  • Web hosting: Basic shared hosting plans start as low as $3–$5 per month, while managed WordPress hosting can range from $25–$30 per month for starter plans, scaling up for higher traffic and performance needs.
  • Themes: Premium eCommerce development themes can cost anywhere from $30 to $100 as a one-time fee.
  • Plugins: Many essential plugins are free, but specialized premium plugins can range from $25 to $200+ per year.

3. BigCommerce - Best for Scalability

BigCommerce sets itself apart by being the most scalable eCommerce platform. It offers multi-storefront options, headless commerce, and Commerce-as-a-Service solutions.

The platform also offers sophisticated omnichannel selling capabilities. Besides catering to traditional online storefronts, it also lets users connect to Instagram and Facebook, marketplaces like eBay and Amazon, and even physical store point-of-sale (POS) systems.

Features

  • Scalable eCommerce platform: BigCommerce supports businesses in efficiently managing high volumes of transactions and extensive product catalogs.
  • Omnichannel capabilities: Businesses can seamlessly integrate across various platforms like Instagram, eBay, and POS systems.
  • Advanced security measures: BigCommerce prioritizes security by offering SSL encryption and PCI DSS customer data protection.

Pros

  • Has Tier 1 certifications such as ISO, GDPR, and PCI
  • Automatic image optimization via Cloudflare Polish
  • 100% uptime guarantee

Cons

  • Advanced customization requires familiarity with CSS and JavaScript
  • Automatically upgrades businesses to a more costly plan
  • Users only have 12 free themes to choose from

Pricing

  • Standard plan: $29/month — caters to new online stores with up to $50k in yearly sales, offering unlimited products and essential features.
  • Plus plan: $79/month — designed for businesses growing to $180k in yearly sales, with tools like abandoned cart recovery to boost customer retention.
  • Pro plan: $299/month — supports scaling businesses with up to $400k in yearly sales, adding advanced functionalities like Google customer reviews.
  • Enterprise plan: Custom pricing for high-volume sales, exceeding the Pro plan’s threshold with tailored security, API support, and personalized account management.

4. Wix - Best for Small Businesses

Wix is a user-friendly platform that lets users create beautiful websites without coding. It provides many customization options and templates for building an online store. The platform is a solid eCommerce solution for small businesses thanks to its Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) capability. The ADI feature uses sophisticated algorithms that automatically design custom sites based on user responses.

On the other hand, Wix Velo offers users serverless computing, allowing them to deploy web apps without managing the servers themselves. This feature also means that merchants will only pay for the time their apps are used rather than idle server time, helping save on costs.

Features

  • Wix ADI: Utilizes artificial intelligence to design custom websites in minutes by analyzing user inputs and preferences, helping streamline the site creation process.
  • Wix Velo: This feature offers a serverless computing environment that lets developers prioritize building web applications without worrying about backend infrastructure.
  • Extensive app market: Features over 300 apps and services that can be integrated directly into Wix websites.

Pros

  • Provides SEO features such as customizable metadata and URLs
  • Automatic generation of mobile-optimized website
  • Over 800 website templates available

Cons

  • In-depth customization requires familiarity with Wix’s editor
  • Unable to change a template once a site has been built
  • Free plan displays Wix ads on your site

Pricing

  • Core plan: $27/month — targets smaller enterprises seeking growth, provides 20GB of storage, online booking, and accepts online payments.
  • Business plan: $32/month — aimed at mature companies needing more storage (100GB) and Google Analytics integration.
  • Business Elite plan: $159/month — provides extensive storage capabilities and bandwidth for large entities.
  • Enterprise: Custom pricing — serves multinational corporations seeking bespoke features and white-glove service.
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5. Square Online - Best for Food and Beverage Businesses

Square Online offers real-time synchronization of inventory across both physical and online stores thanks to its seamless integration with Square’s POS system. This means that sales made anywhere update inventory counts instantly, ensuring that both online shoppers and in-store customers have access to up-to-date product availability.

Following its acquisition of Weebly, Square Online has further enhanced its eCommerce capabilities, offering users a more intuitive interface and expanded website customization options. The platform provides an array of tools tailored for food and beverage businesses, such as integrated online ordering for pickup and delivery without requiring third-party apps. Such a direct approach streamlines operations while promoting repeat purchases.

Features

  • Real-time inventory synchronization: Every sale made instantly updates the inventory and ensures accurate stock levels across all sales channels.
  • Built-in tools for food and beverage businesses: Restaurants can set up online ordering for pickup and delivery directly through their website, reducing dependency on third-party delivery platforms and keeping more profits.
  • Facebook and Instagram integration: Merchants can connect their Square Online store with their social media profiles so they can sell products directly through Facebook and Instagram.

Pros

  • Competitive transaction fees: With a 2.9% + 30¢ transaction fee per online sale, Square Online provides a competitive rate for processing payments.
  • No startup fees: Square Online allows merchants to begin building their online store without any initial setup costs.
  • Free SSL certificate: Every Square Online store comes with a free SSL certificate to ensure all transactions are encrypted and secure.

Cons

  • High-volume sales transaction fees: For businesses processing a high volume of sales, the standard transaction fee of 2.9% + 30¢ can become costly.
  • Only basic SEO tools on lower-tier plans: The SEO capabilities provided in the lower-tier plans lack advanced features like full control over URL structures or rich snippets, which are essential for maximizing online visibility in SERPs.
  • Limited third-party app integration: Square Online’s platform only has about 30 third-party app integrations, which can limit functionality expansion for specialized business needs.

Pricing

  • Free plan: This plan allows for unlimited items and basic site features but includes Square branding.
  • Plus plan: $29/month — offers advanced site customization, customer accounts, and item badges.
  • Premium plan: $79/month — includes lower payment processing rates, real-time shipping rates, and waived in-house delivery fees.

6. Squarespace - Best for eCommerce Analytics

Squarespace is a website builder that shines in the eCommerce industry thanks to its integrated extensions and detailed analytics. Squarespace Extensions enhances the user experience by offering a seamless way to connect with third-party services for finance management, inventory control, and marketing efforts, among others.

Squarespace’s analytics provide in-depth insights into product performance and the sales funnel. The Sales by Product panel delivers precise statistics on revenue, order volume, and conversion rates per item, enabling sellers to make informed decisions about their inventory.

Squarespace is one of the favorite platforms of Evan Polivy, Chief Strategy Officer & Director of Brand Development at Stateless Fashion Design & Consulting: "Among the myriad options available, our web team at Stateless prefers two platforms when developing sites for our clients: Shopify and Squarespace. Choosing between Shopify and Squarespace ultimately depends on your apparel business's specific needs and long-term goals. Shopify may be better if you prioritize extensive customization, many eCommerce features, and scalability. On the other hand, if you prefer a visually stunning website and a more accessible option, Squarespace could be the ideal fit."

Features

  • Detailed product performance analytics: Provides comprehensive analytics with data on revenue, order volume, and conversion rates for each product.
  • Squarespace extensions: Offers a suite of extensions for integrating services like bookkeeping, inventory management, and marketing tools directly into your website.
  • Advanced sales funnel insights: Delivers in-depth analysis of the sales funnel, showing conv

Pros

  • High-quality templates: Over 100 professionally designed templates that automatically include mobile-responsive design.
  • 24/7 customer support: Offers round-the-clock customer support with an extensive knowledge base and live chat options.
  • Google Search Console integration: Verified sites can view what keywords their customers are using to find them.

Cons

  • Only one free domain registration in the first year of an annual billing plan
  • Custom Squarespace templates require design and coding skills
  • Lacks multicurrency support

Pricing

  • Business plan: $23/month — includes free custom domain, free invoices, and checkout on your domain.
  • Basic Commerce plan: $27/month — includes displaying related products, offering product waitlists, and promoting urgency via "low stock" alerts.
  • Advanced Commerce plan: $49/month — includes free shipping for orders that reach a specific threshold, automatic discounts, and selling subscriptions.

What to Look for in the Best eCommerce Platforms

As we’ve established, picking the right eCommerce platform is a big decision for any online business. Here are the aspects you need to consider when looking for the best eCommerce platform for your needs:

Website Personalization

Choosing an eCommerce platform with advanced personalization capabilities allows for tailoring the shopping experience uniquely to each visitor. This might include personalized recommendations based on similar items viewed.

Some platforms even use machine learning algorithms to enhance personalization by predicting what the user might be interested in next based on their browsing patterns and purchase history. This dynamic approach improves user engagement and significantly increases the chances of conversion.

Omnichannel Support

Selecting a platform that excels in omnichannel sales & marketing support ensures that your business can provide a consistent experience across all customer touchpoints. This includes integrating social media, mobile apps, and physical stores for a unified shopping experience.

The ability to synchronize inventory and sales data in real-time across all channels helps maintain accurate stock levels and provide reliable customer service. Effective omnichannel strategies facilitate easier returns and exchanges, boosting customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Robust Product Support

The ideal eCommerce platform will offer robust tools for managing a diverse range of products, including those requiring complex inventory management. This encompasses support for multiple product variants, such as size, color, and material, and the capability to efficiently handle backorders and preorders.

Platforms that provide advanced categorization and filtering options make it easier for customers to navigate through extensive product listings. Moreover, integrating supply chain software aids in streamlining inventory management processes, ensuring that stock levels are kept optimal.

High Scalability

For growing businesses, the scalability of an eCommerce platform is paramount. The right solution should effortlessly handle surges in traffic, particularly during peak shopping seasons, without affecting site speed or reliability.

Scalable platforms offer cloud-based solutions, which automatically adjust resources based on traffic demands. They also support international expansion, including multi-language and multicurrency features, enabling businesses to reach a global audience without compromising performance.

Strong Customer Service Options

An eCommerce platform’s quality of customer service can significantly impact your brand’s reputation. Platforms offering 24/7 support through multiple channels, including phone, email, and live chat, guarantee customers that help is always available when needed.

Integration with CRM systems can further personalize customer service interactions, providing representatives with detailed customer histories at their fingertips. Advanced platforms also feature AI-powered chatbots for instant assistance, efficiently guiding customers through common issues and inquiries.

Conclusion

Knowing where to set up your online shop could make or break your business in today’s digital gold rush. With eCommerce sales expected to climb significantly in the coming years, there’s a huge pie out there, and everyone from startups to big brands wants a piece. To help you cut through the noise, we’ve picked out the six best places to sell your merchandise online.

Here’s a quick refresher of your six best options:

Platform Best For Pricing Unique Feature
ShopifyGlobal ExpansionStarts at $5/monthCaters to more than 170 countries
WooCommerceCustomizationFree but has associated costsProduct variations
BigCommerceScalabilityStarts at $29/monthOmnichannel capabilities
WixSmall BusinessesStarts at $27/monthAI can design custom websites
Square OnlineFood and Beverage BusinessesHas free planReal-time inventory synchronization
SquarespaceeCommerce AnalyticsStarts at $23/monthDetailed product performance analytics

Choosing the appropriate eCommerce platform for your online store comes down to figuring out what you really need and matching it up with what these options offer.

Whether you’re all about data and analytics to guide your decisions or you need something that can scale with you as you grow, there’s an option out there available.

FAQ

What is an eCommerce platform?

An eCommerce platform is an app or plugin that enables merchants to build online stores and manage their sales, products, and logistics through the Internet. It provides the infrastructure needed for executing transactions and managing customer interactions in a digital environment.

Which platform is best for eCommerce?

Shopify is the best platform for eCommerce because it offers a comprehensive, user-friendly solution that caters to businesses of all sizes. It has an extensive range of themes and customization options that allow merchants to easily create unique and engaging online stores.

Additionally, Shopify provides robust tools for inventory management, payment processing, and analytics to simplify business operations and enhance scalability.

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