The key step in creating an online store is choosing the e-commerce platform on which the store will operate. This choice consists of many factors: simplicity, price, functionality, usability, design options, SEO optimization. Today, we will review the pros and cons of the most popular solutions.

Our top is made for you to define your best e-commerce platform and based on the BuiltWith 2021 analysis, the functions provided by the platforms, their performance, and price.

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Shopify

Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms out there. It is ideal for entrepreneurs who want to launch their online store without calling upon outside development resources and high financial costs.

Pros

  • Shopify’s admin panel is well laid out and pretty easy to use
  • Easy to use interface for many newbies
  • Well-performing themes
  • Effective tools to increase sales

Cons

  • High prices
  • Non-customizable Checkout
  • Shopify Payments (Stripe) only allows you to make sales from certain countries – the USA, Canada, or the UK. If you want to sell from another country, you will need to use a payment gateway, which in turn will result in transaction fees.

 

They have 10 free themes. The rest are paid. Prices for paid themes range from $100 to $180. They have an app store where you can find a wide variety of free and paid solutions to improve your store. This platform is suitable for small and medium stores. Shopify doesn’t have very good SEO indicators, as well as problems with URL sections. Moreover, they charge fees for transactions if they were not processed through Shopify Payment, which is a significant disadvantage.

Websites on Shopify: Ratio, Tattly, Kyliecosmetics.

 

Magento

One of Shopify’s main competitors in the e-commerce sphere is Magento. Magento was originally developed to provide e-commerce services. Their developers position this product as the easiest to learn, but due to the lack of a built-in visual design, beginners still need to study guides with official documentation and understand the functionality. Keep in mind that you will need minimal programming skills if you want to choose Magento.

A large number of well-known brands trust Magento, thanks to its customization capabilities, functionality. It is worth mentioning that Magento has a huge worldwide community that is ready to help solve the problem.

Pros

  • The abundance of built-in functions
  • Good SEO settings
  • The ability to create several online stores at once
  • Access to HTML and PHP code

Cons

  • The complexity of setup and administration compared to other popular CMS
  • High requirements for the quality of hosting
  • Few standard add-ons
  • Expensive themes

 

Magento has 2 versions:

Magento Opensource (free): Formerly known as Magento Community, Magento Open Source is a free version of Magento that you can download, configure and host yourself. You can check the functionality of the free version here.

Magento Commerce (starting from $22,000 per year): Previously Magento Commerce was released in two versions: Magento Enterprise and Magento Enterprise Cloud. These two versions have been merged, resulting in Magento Commerce, a premium version of Magento Opensource that includes cloud hosting as part of the subscription fee.

There are 13 free themes available, and the paid ones from $29 to $499. Magento is suitable for shops of all sizes. Brands like Helly Hansen, Ford, Land Rover, Nestle Nespresso trust and build their sites on Magento. Many Magento features are free. But there are also paid solutions that are quite expensive. The annual license fee is in the tens of thousands of dollars. But the services provided and their quality are worth it. The main advantage of Magento is that it has great potential for empowerment.

Shift4Shop (former 3DCart)

The Shift4Shop platform is positioned as a universal sales tool for small and medium businesses. It can meet the needs of both beginners and experienced users. Shift4Shop (3dcart) is an attractive option for those looking for an affordable solution with a wide range of prices and a diverse feature set.

Pros

Cons

  • Some functions can be difficult to use
  • 3dcart provides limited access to editing files outside of FTP mode

 

This platform is not really for beginners, but it offers tutorials and setup steps to help you do everything. Another but is that you will still have to spend quite a lot of time mastering its functions. 3dcart limits the number of sales that you can generate for each service plan. For $19 a month, this volume will be 50k. The main advantage is that the number of out-of-the-box features exceeds the number of Shopify vanilla features. While Shift4Shop offers a variety of themes, it’s hard to call it creativity as it looks a bit outdated.

Websites on 3dcart: PMFSuspension, Unicusdecor.

 

BigCommerce

BigCommerce is a well-known platform for creating commercial projects. It is often included in ratings and reviews as one of the top e-commerce platforms. A distinctive feature of the service is a set of ready-made options for different niches.

The constructor is easy to use, it has the functions of coupons, discounts, social networks, and advanced reporting.

Pros

  • Easily customizable themes
  • Lots of marketing tools
  • Advanced SEO features
  • Integration with popular payment systems

Cons

  • A small selection of themes
  • Unstable download speed
  • Limited control over the online store

 

There are 3 paid subscriptions available in the builder, priced from $29 to $299 (29 for sales volume up to $50k). The platform is suitable for businesses of any size. The BigCommerce online store engine stands out for two main advantages: no commissions on payments and an unlimited number of products. BigCommerce has an Ecommerce Apps Marketplace with a wide range of paid extensions available.

Websites on BigCommerce: Skullcandy, EZPZ, Pandora.

 

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is the most popular free e-commerce plugin for WordPress. It allows you to convert any site based on this CMS into an online store. But to implement this, the user must install the WooCommerce plugin and other marketing tools himself.

What about the pros and cons of this plugin?

Pros

  • Full control over your resource
  • A small investment to open a store
  • Optimization for mobile platforms
  • High security

Cons

  • A limited technical support
  • Hosting can be expensive
  • High resource requirements

 

The system, unlike Magento, is not as complex, but still not as simple as Shopify (in terms of settings). It is used by about 500 thousand known resources, including sites with high load. It is possible to use the platform on a free basic basis, but the lack of free options may still make you pay extra. If you want to make your site stand out from the competition, then you will have to install more original paid themes. The average price of such options is about $50-70. There are enough extensions for the platform to implement various functions. At the moment, there are over 5 thousand proposals in the WP repository. The platform is best suited for small and medium businesses. This platform can accommodate up to 5 thousand products (with a stable server and competent writing of the code).

Websites on WooCommerce: Fitger’s Brewhouse, Picky Bars, J. Hornig.

 

Salesforce Commerce Cloud

Salesforce Commerce Cloud offers a complete solution for your day-to-day e-commerce business. This platform is tailored to both B2C and B2B merchants. It’s a part of the Salesforce product suite.

Pros

  • Commerce personalization with the help of AI
  • Globalization solutions for international business
  • Solutions categorize by business type, needs, industry, and role

Cons

  • High price
  • Complex technical requirements

 

This platform is most suitable for large businesses. Salesforce offers a wide range of features, but it takes a lot of time and effort to figure out how to use all of the software. This platform works on a ‘sandbox’ basis, so it will be very difficult for a beginner to work with it, especially compared to companies offering turnkey solutions. Salesforce solutions are more expensive than products and services offered by competitors. This is why this platform is better suited for companies with a million dollars turnover per quarter. But it’s worth mentioning that it’s highly customizable with 4,000 pre-integrated apps available in the Salesforce store.

Websites on Salesforce Commerce Cloud: Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren, Adidas, JBL.

 

Squarespace

Squarespace is a one-stop solution for anyone looking to build a website. The creators have simplified the process of launching sites on this platform as much as possible.

Squarespace powers over a million websites. Its users have provided pre-built website templates and various drag and drop widgets for adding elements such as text and images. Squarespace developers create their own templates to sell to users.

Pros

  • Ideal for beginners
  • Professional support team
  • Free domain name when purchasing an annual plan
  • Free SSL

Cons

  • A limited selection of themes and plugins
  • Can perform slowly
  • Only Mailchimp can be connected for mailings
  • Limited e-commerce integrations

 

Both beginners and people with experience in creating sites will be able to understand the admin panel. But this platform is most suitable for newbies, in part due to the small set of custom applications and plugins. According to some services, more than a million commercial projects have been launched on the Squarespace online store engine. Unlike other platforms, the Squarespace online store CMS does not have a built-in app marketplace to quickly empower a website. Integrations with third-party services are hidden in different tabs of the control panel. To sell on this platform, you need at least a business plan that costs $18 per month billed annually. Using it, you will have to pay a 3% transaction fee. Well, other plans, which are priced between $26 and $ 40, won’t charge additional transaction fees.

Websites on Squarespace Commerce: Badger Custom Grips, Cosmik, The Warre Store.

 

Volusion

Volusion is now considered one of the best platforms on the market. Volusion, like many others, is a cloud platform. Customers buy a tariff plan and get access to all the features of the engine.

According to the platform, the number of active clients exceeds 185 thousand. The key features of Volusion are its extensive capabilities, built-in CRM system, and a directory of experts that have proven themselves in collaboration with platform clients.

So what are the pros and cons of the Volusion?

Pros

  • Prompt technical support
  • Reliable fraud protection
  • Flexible settings for all modules
  • Fast Speed

Cons

  • Needs more templates
  • Lacks Up/Cross selling features
  • No way to add third-party plugins
  • A small number of themes

 

According to the platform’s developers, the number of active clients exceeds 185 thousand. The key features of Volusion are its extensive capabilities, built-in CRM system, and expert assistance. Full-page load on standard templates takes on average 1.5-2 seconds, which is faster than competitors. On the basis of the service, you can easily create both a small online store for the sale of goods and a large trading platform. The app store has many ready-made extensions, most of which are paid. The platform offers 4 tariff plans. The cost ranges from $ 26 to $ 269 per month. On the most expensive plan, you can download unlimited products and add as many manager profiles as you like. But the annual turnover will be limited to 500 thousand dollars. Therefore, this solution is not suitable for large businesses.

Websites on Volusion: Night Ops Tactical, Real God Gum, Saw House.

 

Prestashop

PrestaShop is one of the leading e-commerce CMS platforms used by a big number of stores in 150 countries. This system was developed taking into account the needs of owners of online stores of various sizes, from small sites to large marketplaces. By default, PrestaShop offers quite a lot of functionality, which is enough to quickly launch a startup. This platform is quite easy to learn and will not cause any particular problems for a beginner.

Pros

  • A decent base of extensions with over 3500 modules.
  • Strong SEO
  • Active communities
  • Adaptive design

Cons

  • The high cost of modules
  • Difficulties in editing source code
  • Limited 3rd party automation integration

 

This platform is designed for small and medium businesses. Using this CMS for an online store, it is quite possible to launch a functional platform in a few hours, i.e. the platform is quite easy to use. PrestaShop is often referred to as a cross between Magento and Shopify. Statistics show that there are about 250,000 stores based on PrestaShop. By default, PrestaShop offers quite rich functionality: over 300 standard options are built into the system.

The main advantage of the platform is that it is free. But it is worth noting that prices for advanced extensions that provide additional functionality for the site start at 39 euros, which is 2-3 times more expensive than similar solutions, for example, on OpenCart.

Websites on PrestaShop: Sumo Lounge, Decathlon, Champagne De Lozey.

 

Wix

Wix is a renowned platform for creating beautiful and presentable websites with over 96 million users worldwide. The functionality of Wix allows you to make your site as unique as possible, without the need to be a pro in web mastering. The main advantage of this system is a large number of high-quality templates for sites of absolutely any subject.

Pros

  • Quality themed templates
  • Simplicity and variety of design customization tools
  • High prices

Cons

  • Poor tech support
  • Poor SEO performance
  • You cannot change the template in progress
  • Your site isn’t transferrable

 

This solution is used mostly by small business owners. The number of platform users is approaching one hundred million. Working with this platform, the user receives a workable program on a third-party resource. At the same time, there is no access to system files and it will not work to modify them.

To create a trading platform, you need to purchase the maximum tariff plan which is 28 dollars per month, but still, it is not very expensive. If you are an experienced developer, then a strong disadvantage for you will be the lack of access to the source code.

 

Summing up

The best e-commerce platforms for small business

For small businesses, the main parameters of platforms are the price, quantity, and quality of the functions provided for the money. Based on the combination of these parameters, the best platforms for small businesses are:

  • Wix
  • 3dcart
  • WooCommerce
  • BigCommerce

The best e-commerce platforms for startups

Unlike small businesses, startups can be large-scale, so when choosing a platform, other parameters are important for them: user experience design, SEO, support for multiple platforms for product implementation, etc.

Based on the above material and an analysis of other sources, the best start-up platforms would be:

  • Shopify
  • WooCommerce
  • Magento
  • BigCommerce

Brief comparison of all these platforms

PlatformPricingCustomization optionsBest suitable
business size
ShopifyBasic Shopify — $29\month
Shopify — $79/month.
Advanced Shopify — $299/month.
Shopify Plus — negotiable (usually around $2000\month).
App Store;
Free themes;
Paid themes.
Small
Medium
MagentoMagento Opensource: free
Magento Commerce pricing starts at $22000\year.
Magento Marketplace:
Custom Magento themes;
Custom Magento extensions.
Small
Medium
Large
Shift4Shop (3DCart)Basic ($29/month)
Plus ($79/month)
Pro ($229/month)
Shift4Shop Theme StoreSmall
Medium
BigCommerceBigCommerce Standard: $29.95 per month.
BigCommerce Plus: $79.95 per month.
BigCommerce Pro: $299.95 per month.
BigCommerce Enterprise: varies depending on requirements.
BigCommerce Apps Marketplace:
Apps and integrations;
Themes
Small
Medium
Large
WooCommerceWooCommerce itself is free. But a domain name ($15/year), and a hosting service is needed ($7-$13/month). WooCommerce can have additional costs like a theme ($0-$129), plugins & extensions (from $25 each) and developer fees.
Extensions Store
Theme Store
Small
Medium
Salesforce Commerce CloudThe Starter tier approximately 1% GMV
Growth Tier: approximately between 1-2% of GMV
Unlimited Tier: approximately 2% of GMV.
Salesforce AppExchange:
free and paid solutions.
Large
SquarespacePersonal plan: $12/month (paid yearly). It’s ad-free and includes a free domain name for 1 year. (Not suitable for sales)
The Business: $18/month and adds marketing features.
The Online Stores Basic: ($26/month) and Advanced tier ($40/month) add e-commerce features.
You can add custom code and CSS styling, plugins, or even more by accessing the Squarespace Developer Platform.
You can hire a Squarespace designer.
Small
VolusionVolusion Personal: $29\month
Volusion Professional: $79\month
Volusion Startup: $179\month
Volusion Business: $299\month
Volusion Prime: custom pricing, based on requirements
Volusion Marketplace with apps;
Custom themes
Small
Medium
Large
PrestashopIt’s free, but you’ll have to pay for web hosting, SSL certificate, and other modules to complete your store. PrestaShop marketplace with add-ons, modules and templatesSmall
Medium
WixCombo plan: $14\month (billed annually). It’s ad-free, includes hosting, and a domain name for 1 year.
Unlimited costs $18\month and is ideal for larger sites.
Wix VIP at $39\month adds priority support.
The cheapest e-commerce plan is Business Basic at $23\month.
Wix App Store
Wix Marketplace (Hire a Web Designer)
Small

At the very end, I want to note that nowadays there are many popular platforms on the market, they differ little from each other. Your task is to decide which one suits you best.

If you are searching for how to build a B2B business from scratch, then use the B2B E-commerce Suite, which includes all the essential features to build a successful B2B store.

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