Best Ecommerce Platform for Your Business

by | Jan 18, 2019 | e-Commerce | 0 comments

In this post we’ve looked into more than 20 ecommerce platforms. If you’re in a hurry and just want our top picks, here they are:

Shopify

  • Rating 100% 100%

What we like:
- Easy to use
- Beautiful design and themes
- Competitive pricing
- 24/7 customer support

Wix Stores

  • Rating 90% 90%

What we like:
- Geared towards small business
- Solid features
- Affordable

BigCommerce

  • Rating 90% 90%

What we like:
- Easy to use
- Good customer support
- Integrates with popular services

There is a daunting number of ecommerce platforms to choose from when starting your online business and picking the best one for your startup or business requires some research.

To help you with this decision, we’re comparing the best ecommerce platform for startups and other businesses in 2018 and beyond. After reviewing some of the top platforms out there for ecommerce, we’ll pinpoint where certain platforms excel in terms of pricing, themes, ease of use and other important factors.

Best Ecommerce Platform in 2018

In order to pick the right ecommerce platform for your business, take a look at some of the top choices out there such as Shopify (hosted) or WooCommerce (self-hosted). It is likely that business owners moving into ecommerce have already heard of many of these platforms, but simply haven’t dived any deeper into learning about them.

shopify dashboard

Many of these platforms offer different levels of pricing in order to cater to a wider range of ecommerce businesses. Some even have free versions. However, lower cost often means fewer special features and add-ons. Businesses with very specific needs may find that they need to pay a little more to ensure they get all the features they require for their ecommerce business.

Another major consideration is how much effort and time a business can put into their ecommerce platform. Some platforms come with themes and apps to make the work of website construction and management minimal. Others benefit from some amount of coding and website building knowledge.

Those who are comfortable with that additional work will get more customized experiences from their ecommerce platform, though. This is often worth the extra work.

The platforms that we’ll review here are (order is random, and not indicative of rating):

  1. Selz
  2. Shopify
  3. Wix
  4. BigCommerce
  5. Ecwid
  6. Foxy.io
  7. SquareSpace
  8. WooCommerce
  9. nopCommerce
  10. PrestaShop
  11. OpenCart
  12. BigCartel
  13. OSCommerce
  14. Volusion
  15. LemonStand
  16. 3dcart
  17. Miva Merchant
  18. Magento
  19. UltraCart
  20. CoreCommerce
  21. JumpSeller
  22. ShopFactory

Selz – Affordable Alternative to Shopify and BigCommerce

NameSelz
PricePlans range from $17/month to $35/month
For small businessesThe standard plan is a good option for small businesses
For large businessesThe Pro plan reduces transaction fees, making it a good fit for businesses selling at a higher volume
ThemesIncluded with every paid plan
Customer Service/Support24/7 Customer Support, Set-Up Sessions to help you get started, and eCommerce advice and insights on FounderU
Ease of UseVery high
CustomizabilityHigh, even with no coding or design experience

Selz has been slowly building its reputation in the ecommerce platform market and is a good option for those looking to start or scale their business. Selz emphasizes user-friendly tools, lots of customization options, and top shelf customer support.

selz dashboard

With a wide variety of pre-designed themes, users can then utilize the drag and drop store builder to move around and delete design components as they see fit. Designing a store and creating products is fast and simple, even for users with no previous web design or eCommerce experience.

selz themes

Selz also makes it easy to sell from existing websites like WordPress and through social channels like Facebook.

Selz is very affordable, especially when you consider its features compared to comparably priced ecommerce platforms. Not only is it incredibly easy to use, but it also offers integrations for selling through WordPress, Facebook, and other independent websites. It also offers many security features and customer-friendly delivery options for merchants selling digital products.

BigCommerce

NameBigCommerce
PricePlans range from $29.95/month to $249.95/month
For small businessesThe standard option should suit small businesses
For large businessesThere is an Enterprise option that is tailored to large businesses
ThemesFree and Paid
Customer Service/SupportLive support available
Ease of UseHigh
CustomizabilityHigh if you have some coding knowledge

BigCommerce is most easily compared to Shopify. Both platforms offer a similar experience when building an ecommerce platform. Like Shopify, BigCommerce offers a range of prices and packages tailored to different types of businesses. The platform is highly customizable if you are comfortable with some light coding. It is also possible to use themes and templates to build your website, but some of these will come at an additional cost.

Try BigCommerce for Free

Shopify

NameShopify
PricePlans range from $9/month to $299/month
For small businessesHas a variety of powerful features at affordable rates
For large businessesAdvanced Shopify and Shopify Plus are designed for high-volume merchants
ThemesFree and Paid
Customer Service/Support24/7 support available
Ease of UseHigh
CustomizabilityHigh if you have some coding knowledge

Shopify is one of the most successful and best-known ecommerce platforms available right now. It powers more than 500,000 businesses and has more than 1 million active users. A huge amount of business is conducted on Shopify, with more than $46 billion sold on the ecommerce platform.

As a platform, Shopify offers a lot of flexibility. You can fully customize your online store and manage your products and inventory. Shopify also has a thriving community where shop owners share tips and knowledge. There’s also a dedicated mobile app so you can keep track of your store anywhere at any time.

shopify free trial

While it is one of the most customizable platforms you can find for ecommerce, it does come at a price. Aside from the monthly rate for a plan, many of the themes on Shopify come at an additional cost, though there are some free ones available.

Try Shopify for Free

Wix

NameWix
PricePlans range from $5/month to $25/month
For small businessesThe popular “eCommerce” plan is only $17/month and tailored for small business
For large businessesThe VIP plan is better for large businesses but may not meet all their needs
ThemesFree and Paid
Customer Service/SupportIt’s difficult to reach an actual person for help, but there is a support center
Ease of UseHigh
CustomizabilityHigh

Wix is all about ease of use. It has a huge amount of free themes and templates you can use to build an ecommerce platform. It even has an artificial design intelligence feature that builds the site for you via Wix’s AI program. It’s harder to find an easier ecommerce platform builder than Wix.

Wix is also very affordable. The baseline plan is only $5/month. Even their most expensive plan is only $25/month. Of course, with this low price and high ease of use comes a cost. Wix isn’t going to have the bells and whistles that fancier platforms boast, but it should be able to satisfy the needs of most small businesses looking for an ecommerce platform.  

Try Wix for Free

Ecwid

NameEcwid
PricePaid plans range from $15/month to $99/month
For small businessesThe ‘Venture’ option should suit small businesses
For large businessesThe ‘Unlimited’ option allows you to sell through multiple channels
ThemesCan be customized via CSS
Customer Service/SupportLive chat and phone support available
Ease of UseHigh
CustomizabilityHigh if you have some coding knowledge

Ecwid offers an interesting proposition when it comes to ecommerce platforms. It allows you basically ‘plug-in’ your online store to an existing website. Hence, Ecwid is more like a widget than a complete standalone platform like Shopify or Selz. But this where its usefulness lies – there is no need to build another website when you have a perfectly functioning one. And we do have to emphasize the phrase ‘perfectly functioning’, because you don’t want to use Ecwid if your website isn’t setup properly in terms of SEO, design and general usability.

Ecwid can be used on your existing custom-made website, or one that’s built on WordPress (via Ecwid’s excellent plugin) and even on your Facebook page.

ecommerce platform

Pricing-wise, Ecwid is actually quite accessible since its starter plan is just $15 / month, and for that you even get abandoned cart functionality! This functionality is simply unheard of in this price range, as Shopify and other competing platforms offer it at much higher price points.

Try Ecwid for Free

Volusion

NameVolusion
PriceRanges from $15/month to $135/month
For small businessesThe mini and plus options should be appropriate
For large businessesThe premium package may suit your needs
ThemesFree
Customer Service/SupportFree 24/7 customer support
Ease of UseMedium – some customers have expressed frustration
CustomizabilityMedium – customize within themes

Volusion compares to platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce. For a monthly subscription, you get themes, support and an all-in-one ecommerce platform that is fairly customizable.

As a platform, it is fairly robust. However, some users have complained about being confused by the user interface and having some difficulty figuring out how to build their store. Volusion does offer lower priced plans than some of the bigger ecommerce platforms however, and offers 24/7 customer support.

Try Volusion for Free

Foxy.io / FoxyCart

NameFoxy
PricePlans range from $20/month to $2000+/month
For small businessesThe ‘Standard’ option should suit small businesses
For large businessesThe ‘Advanced’ option gives you priority support
ThemesCan be customized via CSS
Customer Service/SupportEmail support on Standard plan
Ease of UseHigh
CustomizabilityDepends on your coding knowledge

Foxy has been around for quite a while now. Initially launched as FoxyCart, they have now become what can be best described as a general-purpose ecommerce platform solution(and renamed Foxy.io). The name change was done because Foxy goes well beyond just managing your cart and checkout process. Let’s look at what the platform offers briefly.

Foxy now aims to integrate a complete ecommerce management solution with your existing website or CMS. This gives you greater flexibility as you don’t have to go all-in on a platform and have that manage every aspect of your online business. Say for example, that you like Wix for its website building capabilities but do not want to sell through it. This is where Foxy.io could be a strong option.

Foxy can integrate with most content management platforms including WordPress, Squarespace and Wix. It comes with its own payment gateway integrations such as PayPal, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay and more. You can also use Foxy with your custom website and it will manage the ecommerce side of things.

Pricing for Foxy isn’t what we’d call cheap, but it’s certainly competitive. Plans start at $20/month ($15/mo if you pay annually) and go up to a whopping $2000/month. The first 100 transactions are included in the monthly or annual price, but you will be charged 15 cents per transaction thereafter. It’s certainly something to keep in mind if you expect to sell in big volume.

SquareSpace

NameSquareSpace
PricePlans range from $12/month to $40/month
For small businesses“Professional” version offers a straightforward way to get started
For large businesses“Advanced” version has more features but may not be as powerful as you need
ThemesUsable once you have an account
Customer Service/Support24/7 support available
Ease of UseHigh
CustomizabilityMedium – customize within templates

SquareSpace is used by everyone from individuals to businesses. It is on the simpler end of platforms and not right for large businesses. It is better for personal websites, blogs, portfolios and small businesses.

SquareSpace is comparable to Wix and WordPress more than a dedicated ecommerce platform like BigCommerce. However, it offers many features that are attractive for smaller websites. If your ecommerce business is on the smaller side and you’re not looking for advanced features, SquareSpace will make setting up an online store pretty simple and painless.

WooCommerce

NameWooCommerce
PricePrice is hard to pin down. You will need a domain and other tools as well as the plugin. Cost can be high.
For small businessesBecause it connects to WordPress, it’s great for small business
For large businessesCan be customized to suit larger businesses’ needs, but requires extensive coding knowledge
ThemesWooCommerce-optimized themes are aplenty
Customer Service/SupportUsers have to rely on documentation and forums
Ease of UseMedium – you need to understand WordPress as well
CustomizabilityHigh

WooCommerce is different from all the other ecommerce platforms on this list because it is a WordPress plugin. This comes with some challenges as well as benefits. In order to use WooCommerce you will need to have some knowledge of how to use WordPress. Because it plugs directly into WordPress, understanding that platform as well is essential.

Also, WooCommerce pricing is a bit hard to pin down. There are costs associated with hosting, WordPress and WooCommerce that can all fluctuate within a range. One user’s costs are going to be different from another user’s costs.

Use WooCommerce for Free

nopCommerce

NamenopCommerce
PriceFree to download, use and customize. Hosting, security and domain are up to you.
For small businessesNot recommended due to the developer skill required
For large businessesCan be heavily customized, and works particularly well with Microsoft solutions
Themes40+ free themes, but premium themes are expensive
Customer Service/SupportFree support through community forums. Premium support is $300 for three months
Ease of UseASP.NET coding knowledge required
CustomizabilityVery high

nopCommerce is a relatively unknown Russian-made ecommerce platform, and its selling point is certainly interesting. It’s been developed using Microsoft’s ASP.NET platform, and it’s available to download for free. Now free software usually means that there are critical features missing, but that’s not the case with nopCommerce. It comes out of the box with impressive features (such as multi-site and multi-vendor support) that you’d expect to find in more premium platforms.

e-commerce platform

The only catch with nopCommerce is that it’s not for everyone. You need to be a developer, or more specifically an ASP.NET develop in order to use its functionality. With a solid ASP.NET dev team, you can get a lot out of this platform as it is highly customizable. Another thing worth noting is that premium support options carry a premium price – $300 for 3 months. If you’re not operating a mission-critical store then you certainly get by using the nopCommerce support forums where you will find a fairly active community.

PrestaShop

NamePrestaShop
PriceFree to download and install
For small businessesDepends on technical skill
For large businessesSuitable for larger businesses
Themes3000+
Customer Service/Support$399/year for 6 hours of support a year
Ease of UseLow
CustomizabilityHigh

PrestaShop is an open source shopping cart solution. The platform is used by 270,000 stores worldwide so it’s got a fairly large user base. As an open source ecommerce platform, PrestaShop is completely free to download and use. This puts it (broadly speaking) into the same category as WooCommerce, nopCommerce and OpenCart. You’ll have to pay for your own hosting and domain (not that expensive), and at some point you will have to integrate modules (plugins) into your store, which is where it can get expensive.

Setting up PrestaShop requires technical skills. If you’re not a developer, you’d be better served with hosted ecommerce services such as BigCommerce or Selz. For smaller businesses with no in-house development team, PrestaShop is hard to recommend. PrestaShop developers also tend to be expensive so it’s not really a pragmatic option for a small business.

For larger businesses that have development resources however, PrestaShop is a compelling option. It comes more than 600 built-in features and these cover most of the basics – and then some – that most online sellers need to launch their store. For businesses that can afford them, there are lots of modules available which means you can tailor your PrestaShop store to adopt any kind of functionality you want.

OpenCart

NameOpenCart
PriceFree to download and install
For small businessesDepends on how you use it
For large businessesDepends on how you use it
Themes200+
Customer Service/SupportDocumentation and forums
Ease of UseLow
CustomizabilityHigh if you have coding knowledge

OpenCart is a free piece of software that anyone can download and use. It is meant to adapt to any operating system or ecommerce requirements. It does not have much built in to its basic form, though.

OpenCart requires a fair bit of work to use. Many books are available on how to use the platform. If you do have the knowledge and skills to use it though, OpenCart is a fantastic ecommerce platform. It enjoys success around the world and is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms available.

BigCartel

NameBigCartel
PricePrice ranges from free to $29.99/month
For small businessesDesigned specifically for small, creative ventures
For large businessesProbably not ideal
ThemesFree
Customer Service/SupportHelp Center
Ease of UseVery High
CustomizabilityMedium

BigCartel is a great platform for small businesses and creative independent ventures. They aim to make selling easy for small stores, with a “quick setup” feature that can get an ecommerce store up and running extremely quickly. They also have a range of free themes. Customizability isn’t super high, but apps and add-ons do allow for some flexibility.

The free version is very limited, but even the most expensive paid version is very affordable. While BigCartel is coder-friendly, using the platform does not actually require any coding.

OSCommerce

NameOSCommerce
PriceFree (open source)
For small businessesGood
For large businessesGood
ThemesNone
Customer Service/SupportSupport Center
Ease of UseLow
CustomizabilityVery High

OSCommerce is free open course software that anyone can download in order to set up an online ecommerce store. About 21,000 live ecommerce stores currently use OSCommerce. OSCommerce also offers more than 8,500 free add-ons that you can download in addition to the platform itself.

Like other open source software, there’s a learning curve associated with OSCommerce. But those who are willing and able to learn the software can get a surprisingly robust ecommerce platform that is genuinely free. Hosting and other costs will fall on you, but once you’re up and running it should be smooth sailing.

LemonStand

NameLemonStand
PricePrice ranges from $19/month to $199/month
For small businessesIdeal
For large businessesProbably not appropriate. The “professional plan” only allows up to 1,000 orders per month
ThemesNone
Customer Service/SupportDifficult to use
Ease of UseMedium – you will have to create your own themes
CustomizabilityVery high

LemonStand targets developers who want to fully customize their ecommerce experience. Such users will find a lot to like in LemonStand. It is fully customizable, top to bottom. Those who want to touch every button and blank space on their site will enjoy this platform.

However, there is a price associated and developers could use open source software to get nearly as much customizability at no cost.

3dcart

Name3dcart
Websitehttps://www.3dcart.com
PriceRanges from $19/month to $229/month
For small businessesAppropriate
For large businessesCan scale
ThemesFree and Paid
Customer Service/Support24/7 support available
Ease of UseHigh – professional web design packages available
CustomizabilityHigh

3dcart offers a wide range of options for whatever sort of business you run. Its most basic plan is literally called a “startup plan” and is great for small businesses trying to get established in the ecommerce realm. 3dcart does not limit the number of products you can sell, no matter the size of your business.

One unique feature of 3dcart is its powerful design capabilities. 3dcart offers a range of themes to get you started and the flexibility to customize those themes using CSS is also there. However, if you don’t have CSS training or the time to customize your site, you can use any of their design experts to customize your website.

Miva Merchant

NameMiva
Websitehttps://www.miva.com
PriceUnspecified, custom pricing
For small businessesFor fast-growing businesses that need to scale
For large businessesExcellent enterprise-tier features
ThemesPaid responsive themes
Customer Service/Support24/7 support available
Ease of UseMedium
CustomizabilityHigh

Miva Merchant is an ecommerce platform with quite a history. They’ve been in the ecommerce business for more than 20 years, and until recently the company offered hosted and self-hosted versions of its Miva platform. Now however, Miva is a SaaS platform that targets small and medium-to-large businesses. Their target audience is certainly quite broad, but how do they measure up?

When it comes to features, Miva is quite impressive. The company says that this is a SaaS platform with open-source possibilities. What that means is that Miva is highly customizable and can its functionality can be extended to fit any business’s needs. Of course, that does come at a cost as Miva development is quite expensive.

Miva used to have a transparent price structure which started at $79.99 per month and went up to $1499 per month. With that sort of pricing, it was evident that Miva wasn’t really suited for smaller businesses or merchants who were just starting out.

Now however, pricing information cannot be found on the Miva website and you’ll have to request a quote. Miva will provide you with a quote after going over your sales data and the size of your business.

We’ve mentioned Miva in this list because its feature set is quite impressive and it is highly customizable. For growing businesses they certainly offer a competitive ecommerce platform option. Go ahead, request a quote and find out if Miva’s upscale feature set justifies its cost.

Magento

NameMagento
PriceCommunity Edition is open source. Enterprise Edition starts from $2200/month
For small businessesToo expensive and complicated
For large businessesModular design ensures any ecommerce requirements can be fulfilled
ThemesA lot of premium themes available at third-party marketplaces
Customer Service/SupportThird-party support services available
Ease of UseHigh
CustomizabilityMedium

Magento is similar to platforms like WooCommerce and OpenCart. Its Community Edition is completely free and open-source, but you will be responsible for setting it up and paying for the hosting and domain. Magento also comes with a steep learning curve, and Magento developers are noticeably more expensive to hire than rival platforms. For smaller businesses, setting up an ecommerce shop using Magento can be needlessly expensive. 

Really, Magento’s robust platform is meant for enterprise businesses. These businesses typically want the best in functionality and security, which Magento’s modular nature can ensure. Development costs for Magento can be downright astronomical, but for enterprises it’s a fair price to pay for extensibility, robustness and security. For businesses that want to integrate their ecommerce store with integrated systems such as ERPs and CRMs, Magento is quite possibly, the best ecommerce platform. 

UltraCart

NameUltraCart
PricePrice ranges from $49.95/month to $229.95/month
For small businessesThe small business package is customized for startups
For large businessesThe large plan is right for most bigger businesses
ThemesAvailable
Customer Service/SupportSupport and tutorials available
Ease of UseHigh
CustomizabilityHigh

UltraCart tailors its plans for the type of business using them. Starting with small businesses, it offers more features and sales until you reach the large business level.

UltraCart is also easy to use, with a visual builder that doesn’t require any coding knowledge. You can design visually in a way that is intuitive to most people. UltraCart also has video tutorials and documentation available in its support center to help you learn how to use its website builder.

CoreCommerce

NameCoreCommerce
PricePrice ranges from $19/month to $600/month
For small businessesHas many lower-cost plans for smaller businesses
For large businessesThe higher end plans can suit large businesses
ThemesResponsive themes available with all plans
Customer Service/SupportPhone number for support readily available
Ease of UseHigh
CustomizabilityDepends on plan

CoreCommerce has a huge range of plans available, more than most other platforms. This makes it suitable for just about any business looking to break into ecommerce and start up a store. The amount of choices can be a bit dizzying, though, and CoreCommerce’s own website is not the most appealing. This reflects poorly on the options it can give to its customers.

However, if you are willing to sort through the massive amount of information and difficult formatting on their website, you are almost sure to find the plan that is right for your business. Still, its lack of mass adoption keeps it from being the best. 

JumpSeller

NameJumpSeller
PricePrice ranges from $21/month to $84/month
For small businesses‘Plus’ starter plan is great for small businesses
For large businessesNot suitable for businesses that need to integrate with system software
ThemesResponsive themes available with all plans
Customer Service/SupportPriority support with $76/month ‘Premium’ plan. Email support on all plans.
Ease of UseHigh
CustomizabilityDeep customization of theme design through HTML and CSS

JumpSeller is an interesting ecommerce SaaS. On the face of it, it looks like your standard hosted ecommerce platform that offers a decent bunch of features for not a lot of money. But a look at its payment integrations reveals that it seems to have been developed with a focus on the Chilean and other developing markets. Let us explain.

The various payment integration options in JumpSeller include WebPay (a popular payment gateway in Chile), Pag Saguro (Brazil) and PayU (popular in India). This is excellent for merchants in these locations as they don’t have many local payment gateway options with other ecommerce platforms.

best ecommerce

Feature wise, JumpSeller is adequate as it provides everything necessary to build your online store. The development team is said to be quite helpful in working out any bugs or issues and the pricing (starting at $19/month for annual billing) is budget-friendly as well.

ShopFactory

ShopFactory is an ecommerce platform that is available as a hosted subscription-based service and also as a stand-alone product for a flat licensing fee. Let’s talk about the subscription-based SaaS version of ShopFactory.

The hosted version of ShopFactory comes with some standard store-building features such as order and inventory management, product options and discount codes. It has native integrations with over 60 payment gateways and unlimited online support is offered on all of the two subscription plans. Pricing starts at $49 / month for the ‘PRO’ version and goes up to $79 / month if you opt for the ‘GOLD’ package. The ‘GOLD’ package comes with some advanced features such as B2B tools, customer management and ‘advanced SEO functions’. Discounts are available on all plans if you pay annually.

best e-commerce platform

ShopFactory’s pricing is certainly on the higher end of the spectrum, and the ‘GOLD’ package has features you’d normally find in ecommerce platforms aimed at larger businesses. Perhaps the, ShopFactory is more suited to medium-to-large businesses than one-man operations. Interestingly, you can just straight up buy a lifetime license for the ShopFactory platform for $597 for the ‘PRO’ version and $1,055 for the ‘GOLD’ version.

Ecommerce Platform Options by Size of Business

Best Ecommerce Platform for Small Business

In our opinion, some of the best ecommerce platforms for small businesses are:

  1. Shopify
  2. BigCommerce
  3. Selz

Small businesses have different needs than larger businesses and individuals. There is a tough balance to strike between getting all the features you need to grow your business while not breaking your budget right away.

Ecommerce Platform for Startups

Startups have slightly different needs than small businesses. While there is a lot of overlap in between the two, startups are more likely to be innovators and risk takers. We recommend the following platforms for startups:

  • Ecwid
  • LemonStand

Of course, the needs of all startups are different. The big players like Shopify can still work for startups who have the budget for more standard platforms.

Ecommerce Platform for Small Budgets

When cost is the determining factor, you may need a free ecommerce platform in order to get started. Try one of these:

  • Ecwid
  • Selz

What is an Ecommerce Platform and Why Use It?

An ecommerce platform is a software package that allows you to build an online store with the features you expect from an online store. Ideally, it should give you the tools to manage your site extensively and easily run day-to-day operations of a typical ecommerce business.

Hosted Ecommerce Platform

Hosted ecommerce platforms allow you to build an online store and host it on their cloud storage. There is no need to mess around with getting web hosting and even domain names, if you choose. These are all-in-one deals that aim to completely take care of the job of setting up an online store.

Some benefits of using hosted ecommerce platforms are:

  • EASE OF USE – For most beginners, a hosted ecommerce platform will be the ideal choice since there is little technical knowledge required. The platform will provide you with the web hosting, domain name (you can buy one from third-party services too), and a set of comprehensive tools to setup a professional online store. Capable platforms also have plugins, which allow you to extend the functionality and add new features.
  • COST EFFECTIVE – There is a lot of competition in the hosted ecommerce space, and that works out to the benefit of you, the consumer. Compared to traditional non-hosted ecommerce sites, the capital required to setup a hosted ecommerce store is fractional.
  • TIME-SAVING – Hosted ecommerce platforms allow you to launch an online store fairly quickly – much quicker than the time it would take to setup an online store from scratch.
  • CUSTOMER SUPPORT – This will vary from one service to another, but generally, customer support offered by hosted platforms is quicker. Since these are commercial solutions for which you’re paying a fee, there is an extensive support department to handle customer queries as well.

Self-Hosted Ecommerce Platform

A self-hosted platform is a traditional ecommerce platform which provides you with the software necessary for building an online store. You’ll need to setup the hosting and domain name yourself as well as deploy the ecommerce platform’s installation.

Obviously, this option is suited more towards technically-proficient users. Plus, there are a few distinct benefits of using self-hosted ecommerce platforms:

  • CUSTOMIZABILITY – Self-hosted platforms can be customized extensively, with some giving the user absolute control over every feature. This does require a fair bit of technical prowess of course, but if you’ve got a solid dev team, you can incorporate any feature you like.
  • DATA CONTROL – Because you are managing the hosting of your online store, you’ll be in control of the user data. This can be both good and bad, depending on how secure your hosting service is. It’s generally a good idea to implement stringent security measures to secure your customer’s data.
  • ENTERPRISE INTEGRATIONS – If you’re running a complex ecommerce operation, you’ll need to connect your online store to some sort of an ERP system. This is much easier with self-hosted ecommerce platforms as they’re open to customization.

Self-Hosted vs Hosted Ecommerce Platform – Which One Should You Choose?

The choice between a hosted and self-hosted ecommerce platform comes down to two things: convenience and customizability. If you want the most convenient way of launching an online store, go for a hosted ecommerce platform.

If your business is complex and will need a highly customized or bespoke online store to go with it, then a self-hosted platform will be a better choice.

But which ecommerce should you choose? We’ll talk about that in the following sections.

Ecommerce Platform FAQs

What is SaaS eCommerce platform?

A SaaS (software-as-a-service) ecommerce platform is one that is offered to you as a service to be used online. They’re ready-made solutions in which you have to sign up, create a store using web tools and that’s it. SaaS platforms are also known as hosted solutions.

Some SaaS ecommerce platforms are:

  • Shopify
  • Selz
  • BigCommerce
  • Volusion

Which eCommerce platform is best for small business?

Picking an ecommerce store builder for small businesses is going to revolve around two factors: affordability and ease-of-use. Affordability is a major factor because small businesses usually don’t have the monetary bandwidth for expensive feature-filled platforms, even if they are going to be the hub of business. Ease-of-use is another factor to consider because chances are, a small business won’t have a dedicated development team.

Fortunately, we live in a time when ecommerce’s popularity has led to the introduction of affordable store building services. Selz, Ecwid and Shopify are all highly compelling options. Shopify even has a $10/month ‘Lite’ plan which enables you to sell on Facebook and on an existing website.

What is the best eCommerce website platform?

In our opinion, considering their price-to-performance value, these are the best ecommerce website platforms available:

  • BigCommerce
  • Shopify

There are several other promising ecommerce site builders out there, but we don’t want to confuse people any further about the choice. We recommend BigCommerce and Shopify because both these platforms are popular, affordable, full of features and fairly easy to use. Shopify is quite ahead in terms of popularity, but BigCommerce is still popular in its own right and is competitive in all other areas.

Choosing any of these will be a good decision – just go with one that can satisfy your requirements (both short and long term) at a cheaper price.

What is the cheapest eCommerce platform?

The cheapest ecommerce platforms that offer great features and ease-of-use are:

  • Shopify (Lite plan allows you to sell on Facebook for only $9/month)
  • Ecwid (free if you only sell 10 products)

Believe it or not, free ecommerce platforms such as WooCommerce aren’t really that cheap to use. In fact, launching a WooCommerce store can easily cost you in the hundreds (of dollars). Open source platforms might be free to download and use, but they’re geared towards medium-to-large businesses.

Which Ecommerce Platform is Best for SEO?

best ecommerce platform seo

SEO is often the job of you, the business owner, but there are platforms that help you with SEO as you build. Here are some of our picks:

  • WooCommerce
  • Shopify
  • Magento

WooCommerce – because it integrates into WordPress – comes with a lot of strong SEO features built right in. WordPress will give you feedback on your SEO right in pages and posts. This makes it easy to visually judge if your SEO on any given page or post is strong and also takes the pressure and thinking out of SEO. For SEO, it is certainly one of the best ecommerce platforms out there.

Shopify and Magento are similar when it comes to SEO. They both offer tools, add-ons and apps that can help you figure out your SEO.

However, how successful your SEO is on any of these platforms comes down to some extra work on your part. None of these platforms can do SEO perfectly for you. You will have to invest some of your own time and resources in order to get the best SEO possible out of any ecommerce platform.

So What is the Best Platform for an Ecommerce Website?

That depends on how you plan to use it.

For general use, Shopify is hard to beat. It has been an ecommerce leader for a long time because it has been easy to use, customizable and affordable for more than a decade. There is a reason it is so popular.

For medium businesses, WooCommerce has a lot to offer by integrating with WordPress.

For those who need to save money, Ecwid is completely free to use for 10 products.

For SEO, Shopify and WooCommerce both have a lot to offer, but the ultimate success of SEO will still come down to your knowledge and resources.

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