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The Best eCommerce Software For Your Businesses

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When setting up shop as an eCommerce seller, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is which software to use to manage your online store. For most store owners, the decision comes down to finding that elusive balance between quality and cost. You’ll need to carefully select a software platform that can meet the demands of your online store (or stores) without making you pay extra for a bunch of bells and whistles you’ll never use. The question of what’s ultimately “best” is always an individual one.

In this list, we have compiled seven of our favorite eCommerce solutions. Each shopping cart has a different focus, and many best serve specific types of businesses. To help ensure we’ve covered the majority of eCommerce sellers out there, we’ve included both fully-hosted and open-source eCommerce platforms. Hosted, SaaS solutions (like Shopify or Wix) are typically more user-friendly for the web beginner, whereas open-source solutions (like WooCommerce or PrestaShop) offer a higher degree of customization for those with the skill to pull it off. As you read about each option, be sure to not only keep in mind your own business’s specific needs but also your team’s technical abilities.

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Best for sellers of all sizes who want an easy to use platform.

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Best for merchants of all sizes that need a scalable solution.

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Best for sellers of all sizes who want strong built-in features.

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Best for small businesses that value ease of use and aesthetics.

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Best for merchants who already use Square or Square POS.

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Other Featured Options:

  • WooCommerce: Best for merchants who want a large degree of control over their site and who are not afraid of a technical challenge.
  • PrestaShop: Best for sellers focused on global eCommerce and multilingual options.

Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

The Best eCommerce Platforms

In identifying the best eCommerce platforms, each software’s price, features, scalability, and ease of use are important considerations. With a solid balance of these elements, Shopify is a popular choice, but the other options on our list may beat out Shopify as the best solution depending on your needs.

1. Shopify


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Best for sellers of all sizes who want an easy to use platform.

Shopify is one of the biggest names in the eCommerce industry, and it is also one of the shopping cart platforms we recommend most frequently. The combination of strong core features, an exhaustive app marketplace, and high ease-of-use make Shopify an excellent option for many online stores.

That said, Shopify does have a few limitations. Merchants may find that with Shopify they need to purchase more add-ons and extensions that they would with another platform. In addition, Shopify’s own payment option, Shopify Payments, can be a blessing for some users and a curse for others. Keep reading to find out if Shopify is right for you.


  • Easy to use
  • Numerous integrations
  • Attractive templates
  • Advanced design tools


  • Add-ons often necessary
  • Fee for not using Shopify Payments

Shopify Pricing

There are technically five Shopify plans, but the three subscription levels in the middle are considered the standard options for most merchants needing an online store. The price differences between the three middle plans are based primarily on additional features and the ability to set up more staff accounts. The mid-level plans sit at $29 (Basic), $79 (Shopify), and $299 (Advanced) per month.

When it comes to accepting payment from your customers, you should note that this is the only platform on our list that charges an extra transaction fee per sale. This goes above and beyond the normal processing fees you’ll need to pay to your credit card processor. Shopify’s transaction fee decreases incrementally as you climb the subscription ladder: 2.0% on Basic, 1.0% on Shopify, 0.5% on Advanced.

You can avoid these extra Shopify transaction fees if you sign up for the in-house payment processor — Shopify Payments (powered by Stripe) — but this gateway is only available in 15 countries. Signing up with Shopify Payments may also give you access to lower payment processing fees than if you were to use a similar processor by itself. These discounts apply to your processing if you’re on the Shopify Plan or the Advanced Shopify Plan.

Shopify also provides over 100 alternative gateway options. You’ll just be saddled with that extra percentage Shopify charges per sale when you stray from Shopify Payments.

Shopify Features

Shopify is defined by a quality core feature set that works well for a wide variety of sellers. Moreover, Shopify has a very large app marketplace (of around 3,600 apps) that provides virtually any additional features you might need. If there is one disadvantage to this system, it is that these integrations can add to your monthly operating costs. That said, Shopify does have a growing number of built-in features.

Here are a few Shopify features we like:

  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Built-in shipping software (Shopify Shipping)
  • Manual order creation (virtual terminal)
  • Automatic tax calculation
  • Shopify POS & other POS integrations
  • Extensive order fulfillment & dropshipping integrations
  • Coupons, discounts & gift cards

One of Shopify’s most significant features is its ease of use. Simplicity is the name of the game for Shopify. The Shopify dashboard is clear and well-organized. While the Shopify theme editor may not be as flexible as that of a top-notch website builder (like Wix), the drag-and-drop editor makes it easy for anyone to customize their web page exactly how they like. HTML and CSS customizations are available for those with coding experience.

Best eCommerce Software For Small Businesses

Shopify offers 10 free themes (made by Shopify), as well as 57 paid themes (made by third-parties) that range in price from $140-$180. Shopify themes are some of the more elegant and functional options we’ve seen.

Shopify offers 24/7 phone, email, and live chat support at all subscription levels. Although no customer support system is perfect, we’ve found Shopify’s responses helpful and timely overall. On top of this, the strong community of users and developers currently working with Shopify makes finding resources, reviews, and feedback a breeze. The library of self-help articles, tutorials, courses, and videos produced by Shopify is also impressive.

When To Use Shopify

If this were a little kids’ recreational sports league, Shopify would receive the “Most Well-Rounded Player” award, if not the full MVP as well.

Shopify is suited to the widest variety of store types and sizes. When Shopify works for merchants, it works really well. Store owners who benefit the most from Shopify will most likely be based in one of the 15 countries in which Shopify Payments is available, because that’s the only way Shopify’s extra commission per sale is avoided. However, the quality of Shopify’s platform is strong enough overall that many merchants are willing to accept those extra transaction fees, even if they can’t (or won’t) use Shopify Payments.

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2. BigCommerce


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Best for merchants of all sizes that need a scalable solution.

If you asked most experts at large, they’d probably tell you that BigCommerce is Shopify’s most direct competitor. Like Shopify, BigCommerce offers ease of use and functionality to its customers, while keeping the price of the plans attainable for businesses of many sizes. BigCommerce’s user base ranges from startups to enterprise-level companies. This highly scalable software is a great option for many businesses. Could it work for yours? Let’s take a look.


  • Numerous built-in features
  • Attractive design templates
  • Minimal learning curve
  • Single-page checkout


  • Limited customizability
  • Revenue caps on plan levels

BigCommerce Pricing

Subscription levels with BigCommerce are organized by included features and annual revenue caps. When you make a certain amount of sales per year, you’ll be bumped up to the next pricing tier. The plans range from $29.95/month – $249.95/month. (Custom pricing is available if you make over $3 million in sales).

Unlike Shopify, BigCommerce never charges an additional commission per sale, although you will of course always have to pay a set rate to your payment processor. For payment processing gateways, you have about 60 options. One of these is Braintree (a division of PayPal), which gives access to discounted processing rates as you move up the BigCommerce subscription ladder.

BigCommerce Features

BigCommerce has a particularly strong set of native features, while also maintaining a sizable app marketplace for optional add-ons (ballpark 600 in total). BigCommerce’s built-in features include:

  • Faceted (filtered) search
  • Single-page checkout
  • Customer groups & segmentation
  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Real-time shipping calculations
  • Product ratings & reviews
  • Product variants
  • Coupons, discounts, & gift certificates
  • Square POS integration

In terms of ease of use, BigCommerce is an excellent program. Features are organized into the toolbar on the left of the dashboard, and all of the most common functions are intuitive and easy to implement. For more detailed information on day to day use of BigCommerce, be sure to read our full BigCommerce review.

Best eCommerce Software for Small Businesses

BigCommerce’s web design options include around 135 themes and close to 500 total variations (or “styles”) of those themes. Ten of these themes (34 styles) are free; the rest are available for $145–$235. Quality of design is always subjective, but BigCommerce definitely has a variety of elegant templates from which to choose. Unfortunately, BigCommerce’s themes are not very easy to edit. The theme editor lacks a drag-and-drop element, so unless you have knowledge of HTML or CSS, you are stuck with the theme’s layout for the most part.

Like Shopify, BigCommerce offers 24/7 phone, email, and live chat support at all plan levels. We’ve had mixed experiences with BigCommerce’s support, but find that more users praise the service than knock it. There are also active community forums and plenty of BigCommerce-produced support materials available online.

When To Use BigCommerce

The target market for BigCommerce overlaps significantly with that of Shopify. Much of your decision will come down to the appeal and specific fit-to-business of the extra features that come built-in with BigCommerce. If you’re confident you’ll actually use most of the native features BigCommerce offers, you could definitely end up saving money and headaches going with BigCommerce instead of an app-focused software platform like Shopify. You’ll just need to be prepared for the automatic subscription bumps as your revenue grows.

Perhaps the most obvious appeal of BigCommerce is the freedom to choose your payment processor without the penalty of an extra transaction fee. With BigCommerce, your payment acceptance options are quite open.

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3. 3dcart


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Best for sellers of all sizes who want strong built-in features.

This platform has been around longer than any other on our list. Over the years, 3dcart has developed a substantial and nuanced core feature set and continues to add and improve features at a steady clip. The software’s low monthly cost, extensive features, and plentiful payment gateway options make it worth a look when opening an online store.


  • Numerous features on all plans
  • Flexible and robust features
  • Customized feature packages available
  • Scalable


  • Limited design tools
  • Moderate learning curve

3dcart Pricing

Subscription packages with 3dcart are delineated mainly by annual online revenue, the number of staff accounts, customer support channels, and available features. 3dcart is one of the most affordable options on this list, with plans that are less expensive than comparable options on BigCommerce and Shopify. Prices range from $19/month – $229/month. (Custom pricing is available if you sell over $400K a month.)

An important caveat to the advertised revenue caps is that, unlike BigCommerce, 3dcart will not automatically bump you up to the next subscription level if you reach your limit. Rather, 3dcart treats these caps more as guidelines regarding which plan is likely to work for sellers as they grow. You are also invited to negotiate a custom feature package and price point if needed.

On top of this, 3dcart never charges its own fee per sale, regardless of which of the over 160 compatible payment gateways you select. For US merchants, there also are several “preferred” processor options (e.g., Square, Stripe, FattMerchant, Persolvent, and goEmerchant) that may give you access to discounted processing rates at the Plus and Pro subscription level.

3dcart Features

3dcart prides itself on a rich supply of native, built-in features. We can vouch that the feature set is robust, especially for the price. And, while it’s true that 3dcart has managed to avoid some of the excessive “app creep” from which Shopify suffers, you can still connect with lots of useful third-party software apps via the app store. Here are a few of 3dcart’s noteworthy built-in features:

  • Unlimited product variants
  • Single-page checkout
  • Robust discount & coupon engine
  • Real-time shipping calculations
  • Create & print shipping labels in-dashboard
  • Gift certificates on all plans
  • Wish lists & gift registries
  • Customer reviews & product Q&A
  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Waiting list & pre-orders

3dcart is still a user-friendly platform overall. However, you should be aware that the learning curve you encounter may be slightly steeper than it is for Shopify (and perhaps BigCommerce as well), depending on your experience. The menus go a little deeper, the dashboard screens are more complex, and some advanced functions can be a little tricky to locate and use at first. Still, the basic setup and navigation are comparable to the eCommerce platforms we’ve discussed so far. You won’t need coding knowledge to operate your store.

Best Shopping Carts for Small Businesses

In the past few years, 3dcart has streamlined its entire theme marketplace, resulting in less quantity and more quality. Of the 60 total themes available, about half are free, and more than half were created by 3dcart. Premium themes range from $149-$189. With 3dcart, you get a very basic theme editor to change out photos and font colors, but you can’t rearrange any page elements. Beyond these simple changes, you must use HTML and CSS inside the template editor.

Another key reason 3dcart makes our “best” list is the availability of 24/7 phone, live chat, email support. The only subscription that doesn’t offer phone support is the $19/month plan, but you still have the ability to talk to someone in real-time with live chat. Support quality and responsiveness receive mixed reviews, but this is typical of all the software apps on our list. You also have access to plenty of online resources produced by 3dcart, as well as an active community forum. Just note that while the knowledge base articles are helpful, they’re sometimes low on screenshots and high on text.

When To Use 3dcart

3dcart has a tried-and-true and even somewhat old school vibe, but without feeling clunky or inflexible. It has managed to stick around amongst an onslaught of newer competitors by quietly improving the quantity and quality of its core offerings over time. What’s more, you can still add on plenty of extra features via the app market, or do a bit of template tinkering on your own with some coding knowledge.

We think 3dcart is a solid option for small-to-midsize business owners on a budget who still appreciate lots of built-in features, along with the ability to negotiate a specialized, à la carte feature package. If you’ve experimented with Shopify or BigCommerce and felt a little boxed-in when it came to flexibility and customization, 3dcart opens up options for you.


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4. Wix


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Best for small businesses that value ease of use and aesthetics.

Wix is a bit different than most of the other software solutions on this list. While most other software was built with eCommerce in mind, Wix began as a traditional website builder. Since then, Wix has expanded to offer features to multiple industries, including online selling. Thanks to these new eCommerce tools, Wix presents an attractive (both figuratively and literally) option for online sellers. Keep reading to find out what’s included in Wix’s eCommerce platform.


  • Easy learning curve
  • Intuitive editor
  • Beautiful design templates


  • Limited features for large or complex stores
  • Limited customer support

Wix Pricing

You may have heard that Wix lets you create a website for free. While this is true, you need a paid plan to use Wix’s eCommerce features. Below are your eCommerce subscription options, defined by file storage and customer support. Prices range from $28/month – $56/month.

Regardless of which payment processor you choose (there are currently close to 20 options), Wix never charges an extra commission per sale.

Wix Features

If you choose to build an eCommerce website with Wix from scratch, the core of your site will be built upon the Wix Stores app. If, however, you already have a different type of Wix website (e.g., restaurant, hotel, photography site, etc.) and want to add an online shop, you simply switch to a Business subscription plan and add the Wix Stores app to your dashboard.

Wix is not incredibly robust in terms of features. They are still working on adding some features that are becoming more standard amongst eCommerce platforms, and because of that, the platform is really best for smaller sellers. That said, we like a lot of what it offers so far:

  • Email marketing
  • Integrate with Square POS (available in the US)
  • Mobile app for store management
  • Checkout on your own domain
  • SEO tools
  • Create discounts & coupons
  • Inventory & order management
  • Library of stock photos for your site

The Wix app marketplace includes hundreds of apps, but not all are eCommerce-specific. You may also notice limited pre-built connections to third-party integrations (shipping and accounting software, for example). These sorts of apps become more indispensable as a store grows, but are not as critical for a store that manages fewer products and orders.

Wix Stores integrates seamlessly with the rest of the Wix dashboard. eCommerce features and settings are simply added to the left sidebar menu, like in any other eCommerce platform. Further dashboards open as you explore each individual feature (like adding a product or creating a coupon). Wix is defined in the web design market by its ease-of-use, and this extends to its eCommerce functionality as well.

Top eCommerce Software for Small Businesses

There are actually two ways to design an eCommerce storefront in Wix. The first option follows the typical model (choosing and customizing a design template). Wix offers over 600 free templates to choose from, and they can all be edited with the most flexible no-coding-required theme editor of any eCommerce platform we’ve covered here. Rather than simply dragging and dropping elements up and down your pages, you can adjust and place page elements virtually anywhere. The second (and even easier) method of creating an eCommerce website is via Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence). If you choose this option, you’ll be asked a series of detailed questions about your business, and Wix will use this information to draft a storefront for you.

Support from Wix is available 24/7 by phone and email. Phone support is a bit limited as it is technically a callback service. You cannot call Wix directly; rather, you have to wait for them to call you back. The Business VIP plan also offers priority support, meaning your emails and callback requests jump to the front of the queue. Wix doesn’t have as thorough a set of self-help resources as some of the other platforms, but the resources it does maintain are well done and useful.

When To Use Wix

Wix may differ from the other eCommerce platforms we’ve discussed, but we see this variety as a very good thing. This platform is a great option for merchants who need a multifunctional (but still user-friendly) website — not just an online store. In addition, Wix is great for smaller sellers who put a strong focus on the aesthetics of their websites. If you own a small business that’s looking for a simple way to design a beautiful store, Wix is a strong contender.

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5. Square Online Store

Square Online Store

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Best for merchants who already use Square and Square POS.

If you’ve looked into payment processors for your business, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Square. Over the years, Square has grown from just a payment processing solution into an entire ecosystem of business products and services. They now offer a retail point of sale solution, a restaurant point of sale solution, proprietary hardware, invoicing, and more.

Square Online Store is Square’s contribution to the eCommerce space. This software is essentially a rebranding of Weebly (a popular website builder, which Square acquired in 2018). Because Square Online Store is built on a website builder, it is not the most robust solution on this list, making it a good solution for small businesses only, particularly those that are already using many of Square’s existing products. Let’s take a look at a few more details about Square Online Store.


  • Free plan available
  • Easy to use
  • Ideal for low-volume merchants
  • All-in-one eCommerce & payment processing solution


  • Limited customization
  • Limited features
  • Limited payment options

Square Online Store Pricing

Square Online Store is available at four pricing levels. These levels are divided by storage amounts, features, and payment options, and costs range from $0/month – $79/month, plus a 2.6% + $0.30 – 2.9% + $0.30 transaction fee (via Square).

Since Square Online Store is a part of Square’s collection of products, your payment processing options for the software are decided for you. With the Free and Professional pricing plans, you are only able to accept payments through Square. Merchants on the Performance and Premium plans are also able to use PayPal as a payment processor. In addition, users of the Premium plan are given a discounted payment processing rate with Square.

Square Online Store Features

As previously mentioned, Square Online Store is a bit limited in terms of features. That said, if you’re a small seller who sends out fewer than 100 orders a month, Square Online Store will likely have most (or all) of the features you need. Here’s a quick look:

  • Product variants
  • Integrated Square POS
  • Automatic tax calculator
  • Inventory management
  • Coupons & gift cards
  • Purchase & print shipping labels
  • SEO tools
  • Product reviews

Fortunately, Square Online Stores also has an app store of over 130 add-ons, which can help expand the functionality of your store. These add-ons include options for accounting, point of sale, invoicing, marketing, loyalty, and more. There are also APIs available if you want to develop your own custom connections.

Square Online Store is essentially just Weebly repackaged. Weebly is one of the best-known website builders on the market, precisely because of its ease of use. This usability applies to both the backend administrative tasks and front end design features.

What is the Best eCommerce Software for Small Businesses?

Square Online Store takes an interesting approach to design. There are no themes to choose from. Everything you build starts with a basic editable template. From there, you can pick different layouts, fonts, colors, and add or change content blocks. Square Online Store’s designs are not 100% customizable (you are limited to the content blocks that Square Online Store has already designed), but they are certainly simple to create.

Square Online Store offers support to all users (even those on the free plan). Phone and live chat support channels are open Mon-Fri 6am-6pm PDT and Sat-Sun 8am-5pm PDT. Email support is available 24/7. Square Online Store’s self-help resources are also easily accessible. Articles in the help center include up-to-date screenshots. Square Online Store offers a shared community forum with Weebly.

When To Use Square Online Store

Square Online Store is best for merchants who are already deeply involved in the Square ecosystem. If you already use Square POS to sell in person and you process payments via Square, Square Online Store is a natural next step. The software is deeply integrated with the systems you already use, and it will be easy to track inventory and sales across your multiple channels.

However, if you do not currently use Square and you are looking for a place to begin your business, Square Online Store is likely not the best option. There are plenty of alternative eCommerce platforms that include more features and are probably better options than Square Online Store in the long run.

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6. WooCommerce


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Best for merchants who want a large degree of control over their site and who are not afraid of a technical challenge.

WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress that allows you to add an online store to your existing website. WooCommerce is an incredibly useful and popular solution for WordPress users, and best of all, it’s totally free to use! That said, WooCommerce does come with a few challenges that you avoid with the other software apps on this list. When you use WooCommerce, you are responsible for managing the technical aspects of your website. You must find hosting, maintain security, and really dig into the code in order to customize your store. While some users will love the control they gain over their site, other users will find the responsibility overwhelming. Is WooCommerce right for you? Read more to find out.


  • Free to download
  • Highly customizable
  • Numerous integrations
  • Scalable


  • Limited customer support
  • Add-ons are often necessary
  • Steep learning curve

WooCommerce Pricing

WooCommerce is totally free to download and use! However, you will likely find you need to purchase a few themes or extensions from WooCommerce or a third-party seller. Nevertheless, the base software is completely free.

WooCommerce does not place any restrictions on your payment processing options. There are currently 66 different payment processors and gateways listed in the extensions store.

WooCommerce Features

WooCommerce has a wide range of features available to its users. These include:

  • Product ratings & reviews
  • Filtered search
  • Unlimited product variations
  • Flat-rate or product-specific shipping (not calculated shipping)
  • Automatic tax calculator
  • Inventory & order management
  • Coupons

Additional features are available in the form of apps and extensions. WooCommerce lists over 400 apps in the extensions store including solutions for marketing, payments, shipping, subscriptions, and more.

Since WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, the software is easier to use for people who are already familiar with the blogging platform. That said, WooCommerce definitely has a learning curve. It’s a bit unusual to manage a store from a blogging platform, and in order to make large changes to your website, you need to have knowledge of code.

Top eCommerce Picks for Small Businesses 2020

When it comes to web design, WooCommerce offers 17 templates, ranging in price from free to $79.00. Alternatively, you can choose to purchase one of the thousands of themes designed by third parties. WooCommerce does not have any visual editors or drag-and-drop tools. All theme customization must be done in HTML and CSS.

Support options are very limited with WooCommerce. In most cases, you will need to find information on your own in WooCommerce’s documentation. Fortunately, the documentation provided is thorough and helpful for both users and developers. You can also find some answers from other users in the WordPress forums. Anyone who has purchased a product (and extension or theme) from WooCommerce also gets access to email support (for questions regarding those purchased products). Email support is available Mon-Fri 8:30am-5:00pm GMT.

When To Use WooCommerce

WooCommerce was built with developers in mind. If you are a business owner who wants an incredible degree of control over your site, and you are willing to hire or contract a developer, WooCommerce may be an excellent option. The software is very flexible, and best of all, you don’t need to pay any monthly subscription fees to use it. WooCommerce is one of our top recommendations for open-source software. Anyone looking for a customizable shopping cart solution should try it out.

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7. PrestaShop



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Best for sellers focused on global eCommerce and multilingual options.

With PrestaShop, international is the name of the game. PrestaShop is behind 300,000 stores worldwide. They have headquarters in Miami and Paris and employ over 100 employees who are proud to speak a variety of languages.

PrestaShop is open-source software that is free to download, highly customizable, and offers loads of add-ons. With a strong international user community supporting the development of the software, you can expect new releases and extensions regularly.

PrestaShop’s biggest downfall is that you’ll need developer skills in order to best use the software. What’s more, PrestaShop’s customer support costs a bit more than you may be willing to spend.


  • Free to download
  • Highly customizable
  • Numerous integrations
  • Strong international user community


  • Expensive customer support
  • Developer skills required

PrestaShop Pricing

PrestaShop really is completely free to install, but similar to WooCommerce, you must pay for server space on a hosting service. Hosting plans often start at around $5/month for the most basic option. Other costs associated with running a store on PrestaShop include extensions (called feature “modules”) and software add-ons, as well as the purchase of a theme if you’d prefer not to expand upon the basic free template on your own. You may also choose to purchase training or support packages, but the core platform is always free.

Several popular payment processing options are also included as free modules in the add-on marketplace, including Prestashop Checkout, powered by PayPal. Prestashop Checkout supports both major credit cards and local, country-specific payment methods.

PrestaShop Features

Prestashop boasts 600 either pre-integrated or free-add-on modules as part of the platform. Here are a few highlights at the time of this article:

  • Multi-currency checkout
  • Automated exchange rates
  • Multi-language product sheet import
  • Inventory, supplier, and manufacturer tracking
  • Create & edit orders from admin (virtual terminal)
  • Coupons, discounts, and price rules
  • Product variants and bundles
  • SEO tools

best ecommerce software

Close to 4000 total integrations in the PrestaShop’s app marketplace provide sellers with most features imaginable, although costs can certainly add up. The good news is that you can pay for what you need and leave the rest. The bad news is that you do need the technical skill to troubleshoot glitches that inevitably turn up when an open-source, extension-based platform is at work. At any rate, key strengths of PrestaShop to keep in mind are the ability to easily translate both the back-end and front-end of your store, as well as access region-specific integrations.

Front-end themes available for purchase in the Prestashop marketplace range between around $60 and $300 a piece if you’d prefer to opt-out of the free default template. With 2800+ third-party templates available, most with many language variants, you’re sure to find a suitable option. However, this is also where front-end developer experience heavily comes into play. If you’re not 100% happy with the theme out-of-the-box (and you probably won’t be, all things considered), you’ll need significant coding skills to make changes.

Yes, PrestaShop can be complicated to manipulate when venturing beyond the day-to-day operation of your store. If you can’t find the support you need within the international user forums or developer documentation, customer service for Prestashop comes in the form of support packages for purchase.

When To Use PrestaShop

We recommend PrestaShop to merchants who strongly value the support of an international community in running their online stores, who need multilingual site templates and other features, and who also desire much more flexibility and freedom than a SaaS, fully-hosted service can provide. While we often still recommend Shopify for merchants with a global eCommerce focus, PrestaShop takes the international mindset to a whole new level. PrestaShop provides both the flexibility in designing a store and in choosing a payment processor that many global sellers require. Just make sure you have access to some technical know-how if PrestaShop is on your shortlist.

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How To Evaluate eCommerce Software

Now that we’ve covered our top software choices for online sellers, below is a quick overview of the key elements we consider when evaluating eCommerce platforms. Understanding each of these ubiquitous facets of eCommerce software is the best way to make effective comparisons between options.

  • Pricing: How does the monthly subscription system work? What factors determine the different pricing levels? Additionally, what are the options and costs associated with accepting payments from shoppers?
  • Features & Add-ons: How strong is the core feature set of the software, and how well can these features be expanded upon using the platform’s associated app marketplace?
  • Ease Of Use: How steep is the learning curve for eCommerce beginners (particularly those without any coding experience)? What is the balance between user-friendliness and the capability of the platform to accomplish both basic and advanced tasks?
  • Web Design: How attractive, modern, and functional are the available theme templates for designing storefronts? What customization options are available, and how robust/flexible are these tools?
  • Customer Support: What is the availability and quality of email, live chat, and phone support for the software, along with any other self-help resources provided by the company and user community?
  • User Reviews: What are real store owners (like you!) saying about the software, both good and bad?

For a more detailed breakdown of the standards we use to assign ratings and scores to eCommerce platforms, check out our eCommerce Software Rating Criteria.

Choosing The Best eCommerce Platform

Did you find your eCommerce match? Hopefully, you’re ready to narrow down our suggestions to a couple of promising candidates for your store and begin a free trial of each. The open-source, downloadable options are trickier to test if you’re not already set up with a hosting service, so take advantage of any online demos showing the product in action.

The point is, it’s worth your time to take more than one option for a spin before diving in for the full commitment for your store. Test-drive all the features you possibly can, work on customizing your storefront, and pepper customer support with questions at all hours. That’s the only way you’ll really know which is the best fit.

Before you make your final selection, we also recommend reading our full review of each platform. We posted head-to-head comparisons for several of the platforms if you’d like to check out those in-depth articles as well.

Generally speaking, Shopify, BigCommerce, and 3dcart are all quite similar and will work for a lot of the same types and sizes of stores. 3dcart is probably the most complicated and detailed of the three out-of-the-box, and typically requires a bit more out of the user. BigCommerce may be a good middle ground between 3dcart and Shopify, combining ease-of-use with a dense set of out-of-the-box features. And, even with Shopify’s annoying transaction fees (if you don’t use Shopify Payments), it is still a very solid recommendation — it’s just good software.

Square Online Store and Wix each have their own advantages as well, especially for smaller stores. Square Online Store integrates perfectly with the Square ecosystem, while Wix allows you to develop a particularly elegant and multifunctional storefront using your choice of not one, but two different methods.

Finally, WooCommerce and PrestaShop are excellent solutions for merchants who are looking for something a little different. Open-source platforms require a lot of work from their users, but in turn, you get completely customizable software, and you don’t need to make monthly payments.

We think most small business owners will find a good solution from among these options. And, we hope that now you can head into your decision with the confidence that you’ve done your research and (of course!) tested the software thoroughly before handing over your credit card.

Do you have experience with one or more of these eCommerce platforms? Let us know how you think they compare in the comments. We love feedback from real users like you!


Still have questions about eCommerce software? See if we answer your inquiry below or leave us a comment.

What is eCommerce software?

eCommerce software (which you may hear referred to as shopping cart software) is a software service that allows merchants to sell products online. Shopping cart software essentially allows you to build an online store. eCommerce platforms take a variety of forms. Typically, they either allow you to build an entire website from the ground up, or they let you add a “Store” tab to your pre-existing site.

What are the benefits of eCommerce software?

eCommerce software allows you to simplify the process of setting up your own online site. Many solutions help you build a functional online store in a matter of hours. eCommerce software also provides tools for maintaining your store, such as shipping and tax calculators, email marketing features, and promotional tools.

Which eCommerce platform is best?

There is no one-size-fits-all eCommerce platform. Your choice will depend upon your business’s specific needs and strengths. That said, a few popular solutions that we commonly recommend include Shopify, BigCommerce, 3dcart, and WooCommerce.

What is the best free eCommerce software?

Most free eCommerce software is open-source software. Of these solutions, we recommend WooCommerce and Magento. Both are free to download. A few hosted eCommerce solutions that have free plans are Square Online Store, Ecwid, and Big Cartel. We recommend you look into these solutions as well.

What are open source eCommerce platforms?

Open source solutions are downloadable software programs that are free to implement and use. Sellers are responsible for finding their own hosting, paying for site security, and getting everything online and working smoothly. Open source solutions are best for sellers who want a high level of customization and who aren’t intimidated by a technical challenge.

A Last Look At Our Top Picks

  1. Shopify
    Summary - Best for sellers of all sizes who want an easy to use platform.
  2. BigCommerce
    Summary - Best for merchants of all sizes that need a scalable solution.
  3. 3dcart
    Summary - Best for sellers of all sizes who want strong built-in features.
  4. Wix
    Summary - Best for small businesses that value ease of use and aesthetics.
  5. Square Online Store
    Summary - Best for merchants who already use Square or Square POS.
  6. WooCommerce
    Summary - Best for merchants who want a large degree of control over their site and who are not afraid of a technical challenge.
  7. PrestaShop
    Summary - Best for sellers focused on global eCommerce and multilingual options.
Rose Holman

Rose Holman

Rose Holman is a writer, blogger, and educator from Portland, OR with an MA in Teaching from Western Oregon University. She enjoys educating SMB owners about the complicated (and notoriously sketchy) world of payment processing. Since starting at Merchant Maverick in 2016, she has also added eCommerce software to her areas of expertise.
Rose Holman
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    Hey Rose, thanks for these excellent suggestions. From the list, I feel Woocommerce is the best as it provides tons of features and plugins, and for those already using WordPress, integration with WooCommerce is a breeze. My second option would be Shopify.


      Nice to read your article. There are plenty of e-commerce solutions out there. According to our needs and budget, we have to determine which one is ideal for our business. A good shopping cart, social Media Connectivity, and product display and appearance are the most important aspects on which we should judge an eCommerce software.

        Brian Hastings

        Awesome! Thanks for sharing the knowledge and keep posting more.

          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

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