5 Shopping Carts For Starting An eCommerce Business In Canada
Are you a Canadian seller looking to set up an online store? Or are you an American merchant hoping to sell products in Canada? If so, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll be covering the top 5 eCommerce solutions for Canadian sellers. Each shopping cart included here provides the logistical features that Canadian merchants need for their online stores. What’s more, all of the shopping carts in this article are of top quality, each one earning a perfect five-star review.
Here are a few of the Canada-specific features we’ve looked for in each of the eCommerce solutions presented below:
- Calculate tax rates for Canada
- Display prices and accept payment in CAD
- Integrate with Canada Post for real-time shipping rates
- Support multiple languages, such as French
We’ll kick off the list with a couple of our favorite Canada-based shopping cart solutions, and then we’ll move onto some American software solutions that also work for Canadian merchants. Let’s get started!
Need a payment processing service? Check out the best and worst Canadian merchant accounts providers. Don’t have time to read an entire review? Take a look at our top-rated eCommerce solutions for a few quick recommendations. Every option we present here offers excellent customer support, superb web templates, and easy-to-use software, all for a reasonable price.
|Best Choice For||Small to enterprise businesses with little technical skill||Small to large businesses with some technical skill||Small to large businesses with some technical skill||Small to large businesses with advanced technical skill||Large B2B businesses with some technical skill|
|Based In Canada||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Beginning Pricing Structure||$29/month + 2.0% transaction fee||$19/month for 75 orders||$44.95/month||Free||$299/month|
|Ease Of Use||Easy to use||Moderate learning curve||Moderate learning curve||Steep learning curve||Moderate Learning Curve|
Read on for more details about each eCommerce solution.
Table of Contents
Based out of Ontario, Canada, Shopify is our first recommendation for Canadian merchants seeking an easy to use shopping cart solution. Shopify is the perfect example of an SaaS (software as a service) solution, which means that Shopify handles the technical aspects of running an online store. For a monthly fee (plus transaction fees) Shopify provides hosting, web security, and technical support.
Shopify is designed for merchants with little to no development experience, so it’s perfect for smaller merchants who want to get their products to market quickly. However, that does not mean that Shopify is limited to exclusively these merchants. The software is scalable, so large or enterprise level businesses can also use Shopify to their advantage.
Pricing for Shopify is relatively low, and all plans include unlimited storage, bandwidth, and products. You can subscribe to their Basic Shopify Plan for just $29/month (+ 2.0% transaction fee). For more advanced features, you’ll have to subscribe to a higher level plan. One step up is the Shopify Plan at $79/month and the next step is the Advanced Shopify Plan at $299/month.
As one of our favorite, most versatile solutions, Shopify has a lot to offer merchants. Here are a few of the biggest perks of using Shopify:
- Ease Of Use: Shopify is known for their simple UI. Uploading products is a breeze, and you can make changes to your storefront design with a drag-and-drop tool.
- Elegant Design: The Shopify marketplace comes stocked with beautiful, responsive, ready-to-use themes. Ten of these themes are available free of charge, and the rest cost between $140-$180.
- Good Customer Service: 24/7 customers support is available on all pricing plans via email, phone, and live chat. Some users report excellent interactions with support reps, although other users have a different experience (see Cons below).
Despite all of its positives, Shopify is not a perfect solution. There are still many ways Shopify can continue to improve. Here are a few of the things users complain about on online forums:
- Limited Features: This is the biggest complaint users have about Shopify. While Shopify includes all of the basic features sellers need to initially set up their store, there are not many advanced features available. In order to access more advanced features (like B2B selling options, single page checkout, etc.), you’ll have to purchase the appropriate add-ons. This leads us to our second complaint.
- Add-Ons Add Up: Although Shopify’s plans are affordably priced, costs of using Shopify for your online store can quickly add up once you start using extensions. Extensions and add-ons from the Shopify marketplace are billed monthly.
- Poor Customer Support: This contradicts the “pro” I mentioned above. Reviews are mixed when it comes to customer support. Some users have great experiences. Others end up frustrated.
Because Shopify was created by Canadians, you can expect the software to offer enough features to support Canadian sellers’ specific needs. Here’s how they handle Canada-specific selling:
- Multi-Lingual Features: Have your storefront, checkout, and emails display in multiple languages. Shopify has also recently introduced a beta for a multi-lingual admin. Languages currently supported include French.
- Multiple Currencies: Display pricing in multiple currencies using a drop-down currency picker. Accept multiple currencies.
- Shopify Shipping: Use Shopify Shipping to calculate and display shipping rates for multiple carriers, including Canada Post, UPS, USPS, and DHL.
- Tax: Set tax rates for countries and provinces.
Get started with Shopify by signing up for a free 14-day trial, no credit card required.
Founded in 2010, LemonStand is an SaaS eCommerce solution with headquarters in Vancouver, BC. Like Shopify, LemonStand provides merchants with hosting, customer service, and site security.
One notable trait about LemonStand is that their design templates are completely customizable. The design is all open source, so if you have the proper know-how, you can change nearly every aspect of the look and feel of your store.
Pricing for LemonStand is based on the number of orders you process each month. We like this pricing model because all features are included with all plans. However, merchants who process many orders each month with very narrow profit margins might be turned off by this pricing model. You can begin with the Starter plan ($19/month for 75 orders) or move up to the Growth plan ($69/month for 300 orders) or Professional plan ($199/month for 1000 orders). There’s also a Premium plan available for even larger sellers.
We deem LemonStand a 5-star solution, and it seems many users would agree. Here’s what current users praise most frequently on comment boards and review sites:
- Customizability: If you have the technical experience, you can do a lot with LemonStand. In particular, you will be able to change many aspects of the look and feel or your storefront.
- Progress: LemonStand is constantly working to add new features to their software and improve existing features. This progress is encouraging.
- Good Customer Service: LemonStand’s representatives are helpful, courteous, and timely.
LemonStand isn’t a perfect solution, however. Here are a few of the complaints I’ve found:
- Missing Features: LemonStand is constantly adding new features, in part because the software is still missing some advanced functionality. Users are hopeful that these gaps in features will be filled soon.
- Technical Skill Required: Web design with LemonStand requires at least some knowledge of HTML and CSS. If you don’t have that knowledge, you should be able to hire someone who can take care of design issues for you.
- Lacking Documentation: LemonStand provides documentation as a form of self-help technical support. Unfortunately, some of that documentation is not very detailed. Documentation can occasionally be difficult to follow.
Here’s how LemonStand supports Canadian merchants:
- Canada Post: LemonStand integrates with Canada Post so you can provide real-time shipping rates.
- Taxes: Use tax classes to define tax rates by location. Alternatively, you can integrate with Avalara for more detailed tax calculation.
Surprisingly, I was not able to find any information about displaying your storefront in multiple languages and currencies. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are unavailable (especially since LemonStand is a Canadian based company). Comment below if you have any information on the matter.
Test out the software for yourself with a free, commitment-free 14 day trial. Or, read our full review for more information!
Read our full LemonStand review
PinnacleCart was developed with the intention of helping merchants promote and sell their products, regardless of technical ability. As SaaS software, PinnacleCart gives you the ability to add and edit products, process orders, create marketing materials, and customize your site design. And although PinnacleCart is not a Canadian company, they do provide many of the logistical features that Canadian merchants need.
Pricing for PinnacleCart is based on traffic and storage. All features come included with every plan. These features include unlimited products, daily backups, phone and email support, and an SSL certificate. Pricing is available in three tiers: $44.95/month, $94.95/month, and $199.95/month.
Pinnacle Cart is another five-star solution. Find out what makes it great:
- Ease Of Use: Once you conquer the initial learning curve, using your PinnacleCart admin should be second nature.
- Customer Support: Users are happy with the support they receive from PinnacleCart.
- Good Marketing Features: Use widgets to market your products on any website, and integrate with social media to further your reach. PinnacleCart’s SEO features are also generally well praised.
Some PinnacleCart users, however, may have a different experience. Here are a few cons we’ve noticed:
- Learning Curve: Users who are new to PinnacleCart (and new to eCommerce in general) will have to overcome a slight learning curve when they first begin using the software.
- Difficult Customization: Some users have trouble customizing their design.
- Not International Friendly: PinnacleCart does not offer many languages or currency options. In addition, users have some difficulty accepting payments outside of the US and Canada.
Although PinnacleCart is not the best solution for cross-continental selling, they offer plenty of features for selling within Canada:
- Canada Post: Add real-time shipping for Canada Post.
- Automatic Tax Calculation: Use flat-rate tax options to set up tax rates by state and province. Integrate with Avalara Ava Tax or Exactor Tax for more detailed tax estimates.
- Accept Multiple Currencies: List your prices in multiple currencies and accept payments in multiple currencies.
- Add French Language Options: Choose to display your site in multiple languages.
Try out the platform for free for two weeks, no need to hand over any credit card information. For more details on pricing and features, view our full review.
Read our full PinnacleCart review
Until now, we’ve discussed exclusively SaaS platforms that favor ease of use over customizability. Magento is the opposite. As one of the eCommerce industry’s most popular open-source software, Magento is highly customizable and scalable, and it’s perfect for merchants with greater developing skills.
Another advantage to Magento is that it’s totally free to download. However, that doesn’t mean Magento costs $0 to implement. Because Magento is open-source, you will be responsible for finding hosting, maintaining security, and hiring developers (or being your own developer) to design your site and add necessary features. There is no Magento support available. Your only options are to resolve issues on your own or pay a developer to fix things for you.
As you might imagine, Magento is more difficult to implement than the SaaS solutions we’ve discussed above. However, Magento’s strong feature set and customizability make it a good option for fearless merchants.
Take a look at the advantages that come with Magento:
- Features: Magento provides a robust feature set right out of the box. Add even more advanced features through integrations or develop your own extensions with the available API.
- Strong User Community: Magento is used by 240,000 merchants around the world. Join a wide community of sellers and developers. Find solutions in Magento’s community forum or hire a Magento developer for select jobs.
- Scalable & Customizable: Use Magento to build the online store system that your business needs.
As you might expect, Magento comes with its challenges. Many of these challenges relate to ease of use. Take a look:
- Steep Learning Curve: Many sellers find Magento difficult to learn. You will need to have some experience with coding or be able to hire a developer.
- Expensive: Although the software is free to download, there are always expenses related to operating an online store. Be sure to consider web developer costs as well as the expense of hosting, adding integrations, and maintaining security.
- No Customer Support: You can use self-help support routes or hire a developer. Magento does not provide customer support for their open source software.
Magento is built for merchants worldwide. The software includes many international selling features, which benefit Canadian sellers.
- Languages: Choose from many, many available languages. Set up multi-language store views so that you can feature multiple languages without creating multiple sites.
- Accept CAD: Accept CAD. Implement “dual currencies” to accept both USD and CAD easily.
- Taxes: Manually add tax rates and rules, or integrate with AvaTax for more detailed (and easier) tax calculations.
- Canada Post: Use integrations from the Magento Marketplace to add Canada Post shipping calculations to your store.
Magento does not offer a free trial because the software itself is totally free to download. Test out the software by downloading it for free, or read our review for more information.
If Magento sounds great, but you’re turned off by that “steep learning curve,” you might look into Zoey. Zoey offers the functionality of Magento paired with an ease of use that rivals Shopify. Sound perfect, doesn’t it? The only downfall: the price. Zoey is designed to be a B2B eCommerce platform with B2C capabilities. It is therefore intended for merchants beyond the startup phase, and the price reflects that.
Nevertheless, we think Zoey is a fantastic option. In particular, we love Zoey’s robust drag-and-drop storefront design tool, which lets all merchants make changes to their sites with zero coding. In addition, we love Zoey’s extensive feature set that includes strong capabilities for wholesale selling.
Pricing for Zoey is divided into two tiers: Entry ($299/month) and Power ($499/month). A step up in pricing includes more staff account permissions, the ability to list more SKUs, priority customer support, and more.
Something important to note: Multi-language and multi-currency features are only available on the Power plan.
There’s a lot to love about Zoey. Here are just a few of those positives:
- Easy Setup: It’s easy to get your store up and running. Zoey also offers migration services to make the transition from another eCommerce platform easier.
- Feature Rich: Zoey comes with lots and lots of features already built-in, so you won’t have to use so many add-ons.
- Drag & Drop Editor: Zoey’s drag and drop editor gives you control over your site’s look and feel. You can use it to change many, many aspects of your storefront.
However, there a few drawbacks to using Zoey. We’ve compiled a few potential issues:
- Pricey For Smaller Sellers: Zoey’s monthly subscription rates are significantly higher than any of the other solutions in this list. These rates are likely too high for merchants who are just starting out.
- Limited Customizability: Although Zoey is similar to Magento in its features, it is not similar in customizability. Since Zoey is not open source, you will not be able to customize every aspect of your store. So, if you want any additional features, you’ll have to add them via integrations or wait until Zoey releases those features in an update.
- “Heavy” Platform: If you add on lots of extensions, your platform can get a bit bogged down and not run as smoothly as you’d like.
Zoey provides sellers with multiple international sales tools, which Canadian merchants can use to their advantage.
- Multi-Lingual: Sell in 80+ languages.
- Multiple Currencies: Display prices in 168+ currencies and accept payments with 50+ international payment gateways.
- Taxes: Zoey includes tax support for many countries, including Canada.
- Shipping Integrations: Zoey does not offer a direct link to Canada Post, which is unfortunate. Access Canada Post with a shipping software extension like Ordoro or ShipStation.
As you’d expect, Zoey offers a 14-day free trial, no credit card required. Test the platform out for yourself or learn more with our full review.
We hope you’ve found one or two shopping carts that might fit your business’s needs. Take a look into our full review of each potential eCommerce solution to learn the details about pricing, features, and customer service.
And when you have a better idea of what each shopping cart provides, we always recommend you take advantage of a free trial to test out the software yourself. Test out your daily operations, and try to “stump” the software with complex products and promotions.
Best of luck in your search for a Canadian-friendly eCommerce platform! There are lots of great options out there, you just have to find the one that works for you!
Need a payment processing service? Check out the best and worst Canadian merchant accounts providers.