Advertiser Disclosure

๐Ÿ’ณ Save money on credit card processing with one our top 5 picks for 2021

The Best eCommerce Platforms For Small Businesses

Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.

One of the most important decisions eCommerce vendors make is choosing the best eCommerce platform to build and manage their online store. Usually, it’s a balancing act between quality and cost. You need to select a platform that will meet your needs without charging you extra for a bunch of bells and whistles you’ll never use. But what is the best eCommerce software app?

To help you in your search for the best eCommerce software, we have compiled a list of seven of our highest-rated picks. Each of these top eCommerce platforms has a different focus and may best serve specific types of businesses. We’ve included both fully-hosted and open-source eCommerce platforms.

Hosted, SaaS (software as a solution) options like Shopify or Wix are typically more user-friendly for eCommerce beginners, 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, keep in mind not only your business’s specific needs but also your team’s technical abilities.

Learn More About Our Top Picks

CompanySummaryNext StepsSummary

Read More

Best for sellers of any size who want an easy-to-use platform.
Best for sellers of any size who want an easy-to-use platform.

Start Trial

Read More

Read More

Best for merchants of all sizes looking for a scalable solution.
Best for merchants of all sizes looking for a scalable solution.

Start Trial

Read More

Read More

Best for sellers of all sizes who want a budget-friendly website with strong built-in features.
Best for sellers of all sizes who want a budget-friendly website with strong built-in features.

Visit Site

Read More

Read More

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

Visit Site

Read More

Read More

Best for merchants who already use Square or Square POS.
Best for merchants who already use Square or Square POS.

Start Trial

Read More

Other Featured Options:

  • WooCommerce: Best for merchants who want to use open-source software for a large degree of control over their site.
  • PrestaShop: Best for sellers focused on global eCommerce and looking for multilingual options.

Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

The 7 Best eCommerce Platforms

In identifying the best eCommerce platforms, we considered each software’s price, features, scalability, and ease of use. It’s no surprise to find Shopify on this list, and other platforms like BigCommerce, 3dcart, Wix, and WooCommerce are all top contenders too. Prestashop and Square Online round out our best-of list. But what is the best software for eCommerce? It may depend entirely on your own business needs. Read on to learn why.

 

1. Shopify

Shopify



Start Trial

Read our Review

Best for sellers of any size who want an easy-to-use platform.

Shopify is one of the biggest names in the eCommerce industry, and for good reason. The combination of strong core features, an exhaustive app marketplace, and high user-friendliness makes Shopify an excellent option for many online stores.

That said, Shopify does have its limitations. Merchants may find that with Shopify they need to purchase more add-ons and extensions than 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.

Pros

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

Cons

  • Add-ons often necessary
  • Transaction fees

Shopify Pricing

There are technically five Shopify plans, but the three subscription levels in the middle are considered the standards for most merchants needing an online store. The price differences between those three plans are based primarily on additional features and the ability to set up more staff accounts. The mid-level plans are Basic ($29/month), Shopify ($79/month), and Advanced ($299/month). Take advantage of Shopify’s free 14-day trial to get a feel for the platform and see if it’s right for your needs.

When it comes to accepting payment from your customers, note that Shopify is the only platform on our list that charges an extra transaction fee per sale. This comes on top of the normal processing fees you’ll 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 โ€” Shopify Payments (powered by Stripe) โ€” but this gateway is not available in all countries or to all merchants. 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 the extra transaction fee on every sale outside Shopify Payments.

Shopify Features

Shopify is defined by a quality core feature set that works well for many sellers. Moreover, Shopify has a very large app marketplace with thousands of options you can select to add virtually any additional features your online store 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 Shopify shipping software
  • 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 best features is its ease of use. Simplicity is the name of the game for this eCommerce platform. 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, 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.

Screengrab of Shopify admin

Shopify offers nine free themes as well as 64 paid themes ranging in price. As a group, Shopify’s themes are some of the more elegant and functional options out there.

When To Use Shopify

If eCommerce were a recreational sports league, Shopify would receive the “Most Well-Rounded Player” award, if not the overall MVP award.

Shopify is suitable for a wide 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 17 countries where Shopify Payments is available, because that’s the only way to avoid Shopify’s transaction fees. 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.

Get Started with Shopify

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

2. BigCommerce

BigCommerce



Start Trial

Read our Review

Best for merchants of all sizes looking for a scalable solution.

BigCommerce offers ease of use and functionality to its customers while keeping the price within reach even for budget-conscious businesses. 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?

Pros

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

Cons

  • Limited customizability
  • Revenue caps on plan levels

BigCommerce Pricing

Subscription levels with BigCommerce are organized by included features and annual revenue caps. When you hit a certain amount of sales per year, you’ll be bumped up to the next pricing tier. The plans are Standard ($29.95/month), Plus ($79.95/month), and Pro ($249.95/month). Custom pricing is available if you make over $3 million in sales. You can sign up for a free 30-day trial to test out BigCommerce’s capabilities.

Unlike Shopify, BigCommerce never charges additional transaction fees on sales, although you will of course still pay a standard percentage to your payment processor. For payment processing gateways, you have about 60 options.

BigCommerce Features

BigCommerce has a particularly strong set of native features while maintaining a sizable app marketplace for hundreds of optional add-ons. 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 platform. 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.

Screengrab of BigCommerce admin

BigCommerce’s web design options include around 135 themes and close to 500 total variations (or โ€œstylesโ€) of those themes. Ten of these themes (34 styles) are free; the rest are available for $145โ€“$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.

When To Use BigCommerce

BigCommerce is one of the top eCommerce platforms out there, offering an affordable eCommerce solution that’s ready to grow with your business. Much of your decision will come down to the appeal 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 save money and headaches going with BigCommerce instead of an app-focused software platform like Shopify. Just be prepared for automatic subscription bumps as your revenue grows. To learn more about how Shopify compares to BigCommerce, check out our BigCommerce VS Shopify comparison guide.

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.

Get Started with BigCommerce

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

3. 3dcart

Shift4Shop



Visit Site

Read our Review

Best for sellers of all sizes who want a budget-friendly website with strong built-in features.

This top eCommerce 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 you’re building an online store.

Pros

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

Cons

  • Limited design tools
  • Moderate learning curve

3dcart Pricing

Subscription packages with 3dcart are defined mainly by annual online revenue, the number of staff accounts, customer support channels, and available features. Overall, 3dcart is one of the most affordable options on this list, with plans that are less expensive than competitors’ plans, in general. Plans include Startup Store ($19/month), Basic Store ($29/month), Plus Store ($79/month), Power Store ($129/month) and Pro Store ($229/month). Custom pricing is available if you sell over $400K a month.

Although you may see revenue caps attached to 3dcart plans, 3dcart will not automatically bump you up to the next subscription levelย if you reach that limit. The caps are meant as guidelines regarding what plans are likely to meet your store’s needs.

On top of this, 3dcart never charges its own fee per sale, regardless of which of the over 160 compatible online and offline payment gateways you select. For U.S. merchants, there also are several “preferred” processor options that may give you access to discounted processing rates. 3dcart also offers payment providers in 21 countries in addition to the U.S.

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 if you don’t see a feature you need, you can 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
  • 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, 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 other popular eCommerce platforms. You won’t need coding knowledge to operate your store.

Screengrab of 3dcart admin

In the past few years, 3dcart has streamlined its theme marketplace, resulting in less quantity and more quality. Of the 114 total themes available, 62 are free. Premium themes range from $149-$189. With 3dcart, you’ll have 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.

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 despite 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 if you have 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. Bigger vendors should remember they have the ability to negotiate a specialized, ร  la carte feature package. If you’ve been left feeling a little boxed in by other website builders’ flexibility and customization, 3dcart opens up options for you.

Get Started with Shift4Shop

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

4. Wix

Wix



Visit Site

Read our Review

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

Wix is a bit different than most of the other software solutions on this list. While most of the others were built with eCommerce in mind, Wix began as a traditional website builder. Since then, Wix has expanded to offer features to different types of users, including online sellers. Thanks to its new eCommerce tools, Wix presents an attractive option for online sellers.

Pros

  • Easy learning curve
  • Intuitive editor
  • Beautiful design templates

Cons

  • Limited features for large or complex stores
  • Limited customer support
  • eCommerce requires paid plans

Wix Pricing

While it’s true that Wix lets you create a website for free, you will need to budget for a paid plan to access Wix’s eCommerce features. Plans include Business Basic ($23/month), Business Unlimited ($27/month), and Business VIP ($49/month). There’s also an Enterprise plan, with custom pricing.

Regardless of which payment processor you choose (there are currently 45, including international options), Wix never charges an extra commission per sale. There’s also an in-house option, Wix Payments, that’s free to set up and use on Wix Business plans.

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 you already have a different type of Wix website (e.g., restaurant, hotel, photography site, etc.) and want to add an online shop, simply switch to a Business subscription plan and add the Wix Stores app to your dashboard.

Wix has not always been the most robust eCommerce platform in terms of features, though it’s been steadily improving and we like what we see. Among its best features is the 500+ free and stylish templates you can choose among, each of which can 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. Another, even easier way to create an eCommerce website is via Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence). If you choose this option, you’ll be asked a series of questions about your business, and Wix will use the information to draft a storefront for you to edit and refine.

Screen grab of Wix storefront

Other Wix Business features include:

  • Email marketing
  • Integrate with Square POS (available in the US)
  • Mobile app for store management
  • SEO tools
  • Discounts & coupons
  • Inventory & order management
  • Library of more than a million stock photos for your site
  • Blogging
  • Multi-channel sales
  • Express checkout
  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Member accounts
  • Delivery & curbside pickup
  • Digital product sales
  • Dropshipping

The Wix app marketplace includes hundreds of apps, though not all are eCommerce-specific. This is another area where Wix has made steady improvement over the years, and with more than 200 integrations now available it’s safe to say that you’ll probably find the apps you’re looking for โ€” or a reasonable substitute.

Wix is defined in the web design market by its ease of use, and this extends to its eCommerce functionality as well. 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.

When To Use Wix

Wix is a good platform for merchants who need a multifunctional but still user-friendly website โ€” 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.

Get Started with Wix

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

5. Square Online Store

Square Online Store



Start Trial

Read our Review

Best for merchants who already use Square and Square POS.

If you’ve spent any time looking into payment processors for your business, or shopping at small local shops or farmer’s markets, you’ve undoubtedly run into Square. Over the years, it has grown from just a payment processing solution into an entire ecosystem of business products and services. Square now offers a retail point of sale solution, a restaurant point of sale option, proprietary hardware, invoicing, and more.

Enter Square Online Store, Square’s contribution to eCommerce software. It’s essentially a rebranding of Weebly, a popular website builder acquired by Square 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.

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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. The plans are Free ($0/month). Professional ($12/month), Performance ($26/month), and Premium ($72). Prices assume annual billing. Square Stores sales incur Square payment transaction fees of 2.9% plus $0.30; that rate drops to 2.6% on the Premium plan.

Since Square Online Store is a part of Square’s collection of products, your payment processing options for the software are locked in. With the Free and Professional pricing plans, you are able to accept credit card payments only through Square, or you can use Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Merchants on the Performance and Premium plans are also able to use PayPal as a payment processor.

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:

  • Unlimited products
  • Product variants
  • Integrated Square POS
  • Automatic tax calculator
  • Inventory management
  • Coupons & gift cards
  • Purchase & print shipping labels
  • SEO tools
  • SSL security
  • Curbside pickup and delivery options
  • Product reviews
  • Contact forms
  • Instagram integration
  • Abandoned cart emails
  • Product reviews

Fortunately, Square Online Stores also has an app store of over 130 add-ons you can use to expand the functionality of your store. These 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.

Remember, Square Online Store is essentially built on a Weebly framework, and Weebly was one of the best-known website builders on the market, extolled for its user-friendliness. This usability applies to both the backend administrative tasks and front end design features.

Screengrab of Square Online storefront

Square Online Store takes an interesting approach to design. You won’t find any 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.

When To Use Square Online Store

Square Online Store may be a top eCommerce platform choice 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.

Square Online can be a good eCommerce platform for vendors looking to set up a simple storefront. However, if you do not currently use Square and you are looking for a place to launch a robust business with plans for big growth, 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.

Get Started with Square Online Store

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

6. WooCommerce

WooCommerce



Visit Site

Read our Review

Best for merchants who want to use open-source software for a large degree of control over their site.

WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress that allows you to add an online store to your existing WordPress.org website. It’s 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 won’t find with the other software apps on this list. For one thing, it’s self-hosted. That means 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.

Importantly, WooCommerce is open-source software that you’ll be able to use to build your own website, as long as you have the coding know-how or can hire someone who does. While some users will love the control they gain over their site, other users will find the responsibility overwhelming. If you’re looking for a drag-and-drop editor you can use to customize prebuilt templates to get a store up and running in a day, WooCommerce won’t fit the bill.

Pros

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

Cons

  • Limited customer support
  • Steep learning curve
  • Developer knowledge required

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 more than 100 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 hundreds of apps in the extensions store, including solutions for marketing, payments, shipping, subscriptions, and more. Because WooCommerce is open-source software, new apps and add-ons are always being developed and released.

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 steep 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, starting with PHP.

Screengrab showing WooCommerce dashboard

When it comes to web design, WooCommerce offers three free, basic templates you can customize to build your online store. Or you can purchase a theme, with many options priced at $39. You can also 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.

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, or you are willing to hire 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, though you definitely will incur expenses for site hosting and security.

WooCommerce is one of our top recommendations for open-source software. Anyone looking for a customizable shopping cart solution should try it out.

Get Started with WooCommerce

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

7. PrestaShop

PrestaShop



Visit Site

Read our Review

Best for sellers focused on global eCommerce and looking for multilingual options.

For PrestaShop, international is the name of the game. PrestaShop is behind 300,000 stores worldwide. Headquartered in Paris, the company employs 120 people who speak a variety of languages. In fact, PrestaShop is available in 75 different 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. PrestaShopโ€™s biggest drawback is that youโ€™ll need developer skills in order to best use the software.

Pros

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

Cons

  • Expensive customer support
  • Developer skills required

PrestaShop Pricing

PrestaShop really is completely free to install, but you will have to 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 PrestaShop store include extensions (called feature “modules”) and software add-ons, as well as the purchase of a theme if you’d prefer not to expand 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 Stripe, Skrill, Amazon Pay, and HiPay. You’ll also find integrated modules for different countries and currencies.

PrestaShop Features

Prestashop boasts hundreds of pre-integrated and free add-on modules as part of its eCommerce platform. Here are a few highlights:

  • 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
  • Multiple stores
  • Blogging
  • Image editor
  • Searchable customer database
  • Affiliate advertising features
  • Social media integrations

Screengrab of PrestaShop dashboard

Close to 4,000 total integrations in the PrestaShop’s app marketplace provide sellers with the most features imaginable, although costs can certainly add up. The good news is that you pay only 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 $50 and $250 apiece if you’d prefer to opt-out of the free default template. With 4,000+ third-party templates available, most with 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.

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 recommend a few top eCommerce platforms for merchants with a global focus, PrestaShop takes the international mindset to a whole new level. PrestaShop provides 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.

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

How To Choose The Best eCommerce Platform

Did you find your eCommerce match? Hopefully, you’re ready to choose a promising candidates or two and begin a free trial or check out an online demo. It’s worth taking more than one option for a spin before fully committing to any eCommerce software. Test-drive the features, work on customizing your storefront, and pepper customer support with questions at all hours. That’s the only way you’ll really know you’ve found the best fit.

If you’re still considering your options, take a look at this quick overview of the key elements we consider when evaluating eCommerce platforms. Understanding each of these will help you make effective comparisons:

  • Pricing: Include monthly subscription costs and the factors that determine different pricing levels as well as the options and costs associated with accepting payments.
  • Features & Add-ons: How strong is the core feature set and how well can these features be expanded upon using the platform’s associated app marketplace? And how much can you expect to budget for add-ons?
  • Ease Of Use: How steep is the learning curve for eCommerce beginners? What is the balance between user-friendliness and the capability of the platform?
  • Web Design: How attractive, modern, and functional are the theme templates for? What customization options are available, and how robust and flexible are these tools?
  • User Reviews: What are real store owners (like you!) saying about the software, both good and bad?

Before you make your final selection, we also recommend reading our full review of the platforms you’re interested in. We think most small business owners will find a good solution among these options.

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!

FAQs

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

What is eCommerce software?

eCommerce software (often referred to as shopping cart software) is a software service that lets merchants 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 โ€œStoreโ€ 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. This post provides recommendations for different types of businesses. Overall, 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 to build an eCommerce website. 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.

In Summary: The 7 Best eCommerce Platforms

  1. Shopify: Best for sellers of any size who want an easy-to-use platform.
  2. BigCommerce: Best for merchants of all sizes looking for a scalable solution.
  3. Shift4Shop: Best for sellers of all sizes who want a budget-friendly website with strong built-in features.
  4. Wix: Best for small businesses that value aesthetics and ease of use.
  5. Square Online Store: Best for merchants who already use Square or Square POS.
  6. WooCommerce: Best for merchants who want to use open-source software for a large degree of control over their site.
  7. PrestaShop: Best for sellers focused on global eCommerce and looking for multilingual options.
Kate Hoots

Kate Hoots

Writer
Kate Hoots is a writer for Merchant Maverick, taking on the topic of eCommerce. She brings a background in journalism as well as in business leadership and communication training. Kate has a degree in English Literature from Lewis & Clark College.
Leave a comment

3 Comments

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the vendor or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the vendor or bank advertiser. It is not the vendor or bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

    Robin

    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.

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

      Zubida

      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.

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

        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.

        Leave a Reply

        Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

        Your Review

        Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment may take some time to appear.
        Please read the "User Review and Comment Policy" before posting.

        Share

        Get Started With Featured Pick! ๐Ÿ†

        is our current featured vendor in this category.




        Get Started

        Learn more today with no commitment.

        Featured Offer: We Recommend QuickBooks ๐ŸŽ‰

        Take it for a spin with a free trial.

        Try QuickBooks Today

        We Recommend Fattmerchant ๐Ÿ†

        Fattmerchant is one of our top picks for Credit Card Processing!

         

         

        We love Fattmerchant as a credit card processor for its predictable pricing, excellent service, and integrated billing features. Get started today and get your first month for $5 with an exclusive Merchant Maverick promo.

        Get Started

        Get started with no commitment today.

        We Recommend Divvy Card ๐Ÿ†

        Divvy Card is one of our top picks for Corporate Charge Cards!

         

         

        Divvy offers a free corporate card for virtually any business. Start earning rewards with your corporate spending today.

        Get Started

        Get started with no commitment today.

        We Recommend Fattmerchant ๐Ÿ†

        Fattmerchant is one of our top picks for Credit Card Processing!

         

         

        We love Fattmerchant as a credit card processor for its predictable pricing, excellent service, and integrated billing features. Get started today and get your first month for $5 with an exclusive Merchant Maverick promo.

        Get Started

        Get started with no commitment today.

        We Recommend PaymentCloud ๐Ÿ†

        PaymentCloud is one of our top picks for credit card processing!

         

         

        We love PaymentCloud's predictable pricing and excellent service.

        Get Started

        Get started with no commitment today.

        We Recommend Donorbox ๐Ÿ†

        Donorbox is one of our top picks for Donation Systems!

         

         

        Donorbox is a versatile, feature-rich, and easy-to-use donation management system that can help you attract more recurring donors. Get started today for free.

        Get Started

        Get started with no commitment today.

        We Recommend BigCommerce ๐Ÿ†

        BigCommerce is one of our top picks for eCommerce Platforms!

         

         

        Bigcommerce offers exceptional tools for all eCommerce businesses from startups looking to build a site to enterprise-level systems. Now get a 15-day free trial + one month free when you upgrade!

        Get Started

        Get started with no commitment today.

        We Recommend Fattmerchant ๐Ÿ†

        Fattmerchant is one of our top picks for Credit Card Processing!

         

         

        We love Fattmerchant as a credit card processor for its predictable pricing, excellent service, and integrated billing features. Get started today and get your first month for $5 with an exclusive Merchant Maverick promo.

        Get Started

        Get started with no commitment today.

        We Recommend Helcim ๐Ÿ†

        Helcim is one of our top picks for payment processing!

         

         

        Helcim has exceptional service and an advanced platform that we highly recommend for businesses in Canada and the US. Get three months free when you sign up with Helcim through our links!

        Get Started

        Get started with no commitment today.

        We Recommend PaymentCloud ๐Ÿ†

        PaymentCloud is one of our top picks for credit card processing!

         

         

        We love PaymentCloud's predictable pricing and excellent service.

        Get Started

        Get started with no commitment today.

        We Recommend OnDeck ๐Ÿ†

        OnDeck is one of our top picks for Business Loans!

         

         

        OnDeck is our featured vendor for business loans and lines of credit. If you have at least one year in business, a personal credit score of 600 or higher, and $100K in annual revenue, OnDeck is ready to help your business get funded.

        Get Started

        Get started with no commitment today.

        We Recommend Lendio ๐Ÿ†

        Lendio is one of our top picks for PPP/Business Financing!

         

         

        Lendio is a free-to-use marketplace that allows you to compare lenders side-by-side. Easily find PPP/SBA loans alongside other financing options.

        Get Started

        Get started with no commitment today.

        We Recommend PaymentCloud ๐Ÿ†

        PaymentCloud is one of our top picks for credit card processing!

         

         

        We love PaymentCloud's predictable pricing and excellent service.

        Get Started

        Get started with no commitment today.

        We Recommend ADP Payroll ๐Ÿ†

        ADP Payroll is one of our top picks for Payroll Software!

         

         

        Our reviewers like ADP Payroll for its advanced employee management, strong payroll features, and great customer support.๐Ÿ‘

        For a limited time, get three months free when you sign up via our links!

        Get Started

        Get started with no commitment today.

        We Recommend Revel POS ๐Ÿ†

        Revel POS is one of our top picks for Point of Sale!

         

         

        We love Revel POS for its advanced features and exceptional versatiliy in both the retail and restaurant industries. Get a demo today to find out everything Revel has to offer!

        Get Started

        Get started with no commitment today.

        We Recommend TouchBistro ๐Ÿ†

        TouchBistro is one of our top picks for Restaurant POS!

         

         

        Our reviewers praised TouchBistro for a well-designed UI, easy to use format, competitive monthly cost, and numerous integrations. Sign up today to see it in action.

        Get Started

        Get started with no commitment today.

        PPP & EIDL Are Not Your Only Options

        The SBA has expanded their loan portfolio and we have the list that no one else is talking about (yet) โ€” Sign up for our newsletter to get your free copy!

        • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

        We Recommend Fundera ๐Ÿ†

        Fundera is one of our top picks for SBA loans!

         

         

        Fundera is a free-to-use marketplace that allows you to compare lenders side-by-side. Easily find SBA 7(a)loans alongside other financing options.

        Get Started

        Get started with no commitment today.

        We Recommend ShippingEasy ๐Ÿ†

        ShippingEasy is one of our top picks for shipping software!

         

         

        ShippingEasy got a 5-star review from our team. Get a 30-day free trial to access discounted USPS and UPS shipping rates and print labels in no time. No credit card required.

        Get Started

        Get started with no commitment today.

        We Recommend Square POS ๐Ÿ†

        Square POS is one of our top picks for Point of Sale!

         

         

        Square is free to use and currently includes a free card reader at sign-up!

        No credit card is required to create your account.

        Get Started

        Get started with no commitment today.


        ย 

        Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity. The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are authorโ€™s alone.

        Sign up for the Maverick Newsletter

        • Please select topics of interest

        • We occasionally send out emails with special offers.