20 best e-commerce platforms for websites in April 2020. Top e-commerce platforms list
Updated: February 10, 2020 | Ilse Lauwens, Marketing Director
20 best e-commerce platform contenders
Best e-commerce platform
So, what is the best e-commerce platform? There are hundreds of options available on the market of e-commerce platforms with no single “best e-commerce platform” to really stand out, as they all vary in functionality, features, usability and offer many different choices of building a website, accounting for your personal needs, resources and preferences.
Some of the universal features that the best e-commerce platforms would have are:
- Availability of listing and displaying products, with the ability of comparison between them
- Allowing your buyers to put products into the “Shopping Cart”
- Allowing your customers to place an order from their cart later
- Collecting payments and offering multiple payment options for the orders
- Providing the store owner and the customer with information about the order
- Allowing the customer to place feedback or a review
And these useful features of the best online store platform do not stop there. Some of the top e-commerce platforms will provide you with certain eccentricities like unique design features, additional security options, marketing tools and so on. With all of that in mind, the best way to go is to choose a digital commerce platform that offers the maximum output for your business and provides you with the most convenience at the lowest cost.
Questions to ask yourself while choosing the best online store platform for your business
While picking the right e-commerce platform for you, consider asking yourself the following questions:
- Stock size. What is the size of your inventory? Try to find the e-commerce platform where you will be able to create flexible product catalogs with the ability to list thousands of product items without losing website performance.
- Physical or digital. Do you provide online services or physical products? It will make you think about shipping costs and the ways your product will be delivered to your customer. There are e-commerce platforms that are specifically tied to physical or digital goods’ sales.
- Payment methods. Not all online store platforms choose third-party payment methods, and you need to consider this as well. PayPal is usually a good option that is easy to use in making arrangements with the best e-commerce platforms. Stripe is also the “must-have” for the platform in 2018.
- Self-hosted or hosted by the online store platform. The option of self-hosting a website is preferable to you in case you want to control the source code of your online store and modify it on a regular basis. Platform-hosted solutions save your time taking care of server management and system administration.
Now let’s move from the topic of questions you’ll be asking yourself to the topic of questions you’ll be asking your potential ecommerce platforms. There’s quite a lot of different ecommerce platforms out there, with their own unique capabilities and differences. That’s why it’s a good idea to cover the “pick one” part a bit more thoroughly.
First of all, the obvious points of comparison would be the most basic ones, like pricing, third-party application support, overall design and customization capabilities, flexibility, scalability, platform’s popularity and reputation, and so much more. More specific requests are bound to happen for each market, of course.
Moving to the topic of specific questions that you should ask when choosing a platform for yourself – any platform provider should be able to incorporate all of the different functions in one platform-sized package. The most important groups of features include:
- Customer support
- Order management
- Promotion and pricing controls
- Easy reporting and analytics
- Content management system
However, due to your specific business needs or your specific market you might ask different questions within each category. To simplify the choice you’ll need to make there’s a thing called RFP or request for proposal.
RFP is usually used to approach several different ecommerce platforms with the same exact question and the ability to directly compare their answers afterwards. The fact that you’re creating this request for yourself means you can automatically include and prioritize everything in the exact way your business needs. However, it’s not an easy solution. RFP for ecommerce might include literally hundreds of questions, and creating them all might be harder than answering them.
On the other hand, the overall method of RFP’s work allows you to at least segregate all of your questions you want to ask into several categories, like:
- General questions
- Site’s UI/UX questions
- Hosting questions
- Administration questions
- Questions regarding analytics
- Checkout questions
- Promotion questions
- SEO-related questions
- Questions about products and catalogs
- Platform’s customer support questions, and more
Segregating all of your questions into categories might make it easier to determine which of all the listed ecommerce platforms do you need and simplify the overall process in general. Most of these categories are pretty obvious, and each one of them might include a lot of questions. As an example, “Site’s UI/UX questions” category would include questions like:
- Is there an option to install and use custom web forms?
- Can we make the shopping cart persistent across multiple devices?
- Is there any kind of mobile-optimized checkout already available?
- Can you expand the amount of features in our themes?
- Is there a preview option for themes we haven’t bought yet?
- How much of the customization can be done with the tools available within a standard desktop browser?
Other categories are working like that, too. Creating your own personalized list of questions in regards to your needs when it comes to the subject of your future ecommerce platform might help you a lot with choosing the correct one since you can answer most of those questions without even addressing the company itself.
Considering that choosing a platform can be challenging and daunting, in this article, we wanted to review the top e-commerce platforms that will match your needs and will provide you with a perfect solution for your business.
B2B e-commerce Case Studies from Virto Commerce
Retail equipmentObjective: B2C/B2B Online StoreProviding maximum scalability and centralizationfor expanding business internationally.
B2B GiftsObjective: PlatformConsolidate various system using single platform to manage gift certificates for largest companies in the world. Provides both B2C and B2B solutions.
Retail lightingObjective: B2C Online StoreCreate value through growth in profits by expanding the existing stores.
Retail blindsObjective: B2C/B2B Online StoreFlexible solution with maximum customization for the online window-treatment website.
Despite having a number of fantastic features, such as great customer service, advanced tools, and App Store, just like any other on the list of the best e-commerce platforms, Shopify lacks certain important tools. Content marketing is the biggest of them. Content marketing has become a huge must-have for an e-commerce website. If your buyers are educated about the solutions your product can provide, they are more likely to buy it. Shopify has a blogging software feature, but it can’t be compared to that of a Wordpress.
The good thing about this platform is a vast variety of how-tos, advice, and letters about running a successful store. It doesn’t seem very well-organized, but the information from the BigCommerce University will help you to set up and promote your website. Just like Shopify, it provides a hassle-free setup and security with intuitive features and an all-in-one solution for your website.
An important thing to consider with this platform is pricing. For a smaller online store, it can get too much very fast. There is a whole number of fees, like monthly fees, credit card fees, platform transaction fees and add-on fees that could drain your budget really quickly. Another one is customization. While having a great variety of built-in options, it lacks add-ons and themes for your website as well as good inventory management. Nevertheless, it’s still commonly named among the top e-commerce platforms.
Magento is a huge independent company that is currently on the rise and continues to be an enterprise-level player in the field of the best e-commerce platforms, offering a wide range of business solutions to its customers, including certain big companies like Burger King, Coca-Cola and etc. It is elastic and provides excellent support to large corporations, while not forgetting about small businesses either. Given its open-source features and the fact that it is very scalable, Magento has become very popular within the community. However, it requires a lot of research and programming knowledge in order to use it, which puts it at a certain disadvantage among the top e-commerce platforms.
If you are planning to have a serious platform, Magento would be a great choice. However, if you are just looking for a simple and basic solution that is easy to integrate on your own, Magento might be a bit of overkill.
Volusion is a simple website creation tool. It is represented in the top e-commerce platforms list just like Shopify and BigCommerce and it offers some notable features that are highly appreciated by designers and developers. If you are more dedicated to the operational side of an e-commerce store than to its marketing-led features, you may consider choosing Volusion over BigCommerce. Like Shopify and BigCommerce, Volusion offers a perfect balance between providing everything you need to set up, operate and expand your business and leaving some space for your personal customization. Also, just like BigCommerce, Volusion offers a vast knowledge base, where you can get help setting up an online store of your own. Volusion even takes it a step further by featuring account specialists – personnel, who will assist you directly in building your website.
Another area where Volusion excels is customer support. The team puts a tremendous amount of effort into making sure their clients have the best experience, thus putting a legit fight for that best e-commerce platform title.
Having these beautiful features as well as the full range of tools for marketing, Volusion, however, has some of the disadvantages of its own. Just like its two competitors, the big one is, of course, pricing. While having no transaction fees and lower credit card fees compared to the competitors, it does charge a lot of add-on fees, which may turn out to be expensive for a smaller company. Two other disadvantages include limited responsiveness and design options. In the age where most of the people surf the web via smartphones and tablets, it has become the best practice to have a responsive design. As for the design options, Volusion has a fairly limited choice of templates, while also making the new ones very expensive to use, which unfortunately doesn’t help it with the claim to be the best e-commerce platform on the market.
Despite the fact that it makes you wonder about whether they are going to update the website or not, it still does the trick of providing what you need most of the time. 3dcart offers great tutorials and tools for deciding on anything from a template of your website to defining your shipping options. This platform is well-suited for beginners and makes wizardry of keeping it all simple.
The features are plentiful in this platform, and you can find that all of them are built-in, offering you things like blog, newsletter, email, and CRM. Also, if you are an advanced web developer, you may find some great options for you to get in there and customize your website.
While having useful apps and add-ons, 3dcart still lacks the variety of them unlike its competitors Shopify or BigCommerce.
The process of making a website is straightforward and intuitive, offering some tutorials for you along the process. The support is smooth and reliable, but without any interesting features that other companies don’t have. 3dcart also offers a big variety of responsive templates and a great set of tools for marketing and inventory.
If your goal is to start a small and simple online store to sell digital goods, then this platform is the best choice for you! Its easy drag-and-drop website creation tool is intuitive to use: quickly add descriptions and images to the product along with shipping rates and price. With its simple features, you can easily verify the digital keys to your products and deliver them in PDF file with customer’s information.
You can also simply share the link to the product via social networks, to make it easy for the customers to purchase it. You can create either your personal Gumroad store (gumroad.com/your_shop) or have your personal domain created which will be hosted by the platform itself. Additionally, you can easily brand your products by creating simple colorful themes using root design features provided by the platform. Provide customer support via Gumroad’s e-mail system and ensure that they receive the best service possible. With Gumroad’s free plan you receive the basic features, while Gumroad itself takes 8,5% +30¢ per sale. When purchasing a Premium account for $10/month you only have to pay 3.5% +30¢ per sale, while also receiving a wider selection of tools to start selling online now.
A wonderful tool to build your customized store in an already existing marketplace. This means that you can launch your web store almost as you were using such grand platforms like Amazon or eBay. The main advantage of such stores is that they have a large customer base that allows you to gain visitors quickly.
The only downside is that they can’t allow you to create a personalized store as YOU want it. Wanting to combine the best of two worlds of e-commerce, Storenvy was created. It lets you easily launch you unique and customized store inside a Storenvy marketplace with the essential tools offered by the platform. Facebook store integration along with social-style “watch” and ‘’envy” buttons allow you to easily grow your store and attract more people to follow your products. The huge advantage of the platform is that it is free, making you able to upload up to 500 product listings, only taking 10% of each sale when your product is posted up front on the Storenvy Marketplace.
If you want to quickly change the appearance or description of your product, then this e-commerce platform is suited just for you! Its easy interface allows you to manage your website with a single click. It makes it quick and easy for you to set your site’s design and start selling online.
The addition of products is also that simple. You can just scroll down your store section and click “Store Item”. Then, you can start adding images, descriptions, price, shipping rates and more while only using a simple toolbar.
This is currently one of the most advanced websites if you consider all of the features it has thanks to its own App Market. You will be amazed at the very beginning when you will start designing your website. You’ll be using the platform's Photoshop-style editor. It will allow you to put elements and edit them according to the grid, format text with various fonts and styles with the ability to add powerpoint-like animations to any given element.
If you can’t get enough of tools, check out the App Market to find some essential plugins and add-ons and quickly include them in your website with just one click. The Wix pricing starts from $17/month which delivers domain name, form builder to your personal e-commerce store.
It is the best platform for arranging your products in a unique way with beautiful and robust themes. This is the artsiest platform out there, delivering to you themes and tools that will quickly help you to create and personalize your brand. With a large variety of the tools provided by the platform, you can easily open your store by drag-and-dropping products in the order YOU want instead of relying on product filters and categories.
Tap another button, and you are editing the product listing, adding a description and uploading an image that can be easily zoomed. With such a flexible and robust platform as Squarespace, you can create an online store for any niche you would like with the right amount of tools needed!
Another popular and reliable platform that allows you to build a customized store with drag-and-drop. The rich amount of templates are always making sure that you are doing the right website regarding UI. You can also easily manage your content with unique blogging features that help you in promoting your product on the market. Once you add the products to your website, the platform will automatically create a “Store” button in the Navigation tab.
Display all your products and quickly add elements like buttons, images, descriptions, surveys by using a drag-and-drop feature of the website, without any sweat. Prices start from $8/month plus 3% transaction fee per sale for the Starter plan. With the plan, you get the core features that will help in building your website and the ability to upload up to 10 products.
If you want to create a full-featured all in the web store, this is just for you. It allows you to post up to 5 products for free, later providing reasonably priced plans for bigger amounts of products. This is the store that has both the features of a full-featured, enterprise-built platform and the focus on making success for smaller online stores.
The developers have made a checklist of things to add to your website, making sure that you will not forget about anything before launching your own store. This includes logo, theme, design template, price, shipping, fees and other settings. Most of this stuff you can fill out using Big Cartel itself. The platform is intended for small stores, only allowing you to list up to 300 items maximum. However, it gives you as much freedom as enterprise solutions would. The plans’ pricing starts from free up to $9,99/ month for the Platinum one that includes all features for 25 products.
This is the platform that is best suited for creating an embedded store. With it, you don’t have to build a full store but only add product pages. It offers you an easy way of selling your products without making a “real” e-commerce site. No switching required, you can vary with buttons and design.
If your store is small and doesn’t have many products to put up, try this platform and it will quickly pay out all your money as Basic plans start from $9/months and allow you to upload 10 products.
Another useful platform that allows you to embed your personal store into an existing personal website, while still providing the maximum freedom of choice. The platform can be seen as a full web store. Add product listings as you do on the other platforms, manage products and set prices.
The benefit also lies in that you won’t have to worry about choosing a theme for your store, as the platform does it naturally for you. Publish the store on Facebook or add the store to your personal website or blog. The store will organize your products in categories, having a search tool to scroll for the options and many more tools. Everything you would ever like to see in a full-fledged e-commerce store.
To further that more, you can spread your website across your audience by sharing the affiliate codes. The pricing starts from $5/month and with that plan you can upload 10 products with the essential features to launch your selling platform.
This is considered to be the platform that is ideally suited for building a self-hosted store and starting selling in-person on eBay. It has multiple e-commerce tools that will help to gain more customers and attract them to the point they will come back for more goods.
Promotions and special deals, incorporated by the platform will assist in increasing your sales, while store connection with social media accounts will help in marketing. Syncing with eBay and PayPal is perfect, allowing for quick checkout and payment, without any sweat. Pricing is a bit different from other stores and includes a one-time $495 purchase of Business edition that lets you upload multiple products, control your social media marketing and more.
A service that allows you to have an advanced e-commerce store with the ability to have it hosted via the platform itself. It is free just like Wordpress.com that lets you use both the same tools in the cloud or on your own. Despite the choice, it stays open. Starting with basic features, you can add popovers for customers to see your product options and browse through them quickly.
Also included, is the filtered search option along with e-mail marketing and detailed analytics about the visiting rates of every single page of your store. Another great feature of the platform is that you can run multiple stores at ones by only using one account to manage them. You can also buy additional themes and templates along with customer support services to help you get the largest conversion rates possible. Pricing varies according to the add-ons installed on the platform.
The e-commerce platform that allows you to code your own product listings and that has any tool you want for opening a successful online store. You can code anything for the given product, including product name, tax, shipping, weight, description, category, price and more. If you are an advanced coding geek, this would be a whole new world of e-commerce for you.
However, if you do not tolerate coding, this can be perceived as a nightmare. The only thing that Foxycart handles itself is shipping tax calculation and confirmation e-mails. This is the most freedom you can get with an e-commerce platform, while still having the hardest parts taken care of. Prices for plans start at $20/month plus 15 cents per sale with the ability to upload an unlimited amount of products.
The platform that is highly valued for its top-notch security protocols. It is also reliable in providing sufficient data about your website that will help in content marketing as well as in SEO optimization. The platform is open to discussion and has its own forums where people help each other in the laborious process of setting up a web store.
The service is flexible and gives you the right amount of freedom, while still handling all the hard parts of running an online shop. This can be seen as a perfect and cheap solution for all of your e-commerce needs that can be adapted to any web-hosting.
Digital commerce platform for your business - Conslusions
There is no single “best platform for e-commerce website” and the choice of the best e-commerce platform will always be upon you. None of the e-commerce platforms offer a “one size fits all” solution, and it’s up to you to consider different options depending on your solution. To choose the best e-commerce platform you need to define the solution features and configuration that you need in advance. Test the e-commerce platforms with the necessary features using trial versions, compare support and documentation during the trial period – this will give you a better understanding of the customer service.