By using an ecommerce platform, your business gets a complete online store for selling almost anything. While terms like “storefront builder” and “ecommerce site builder” are often used synonymously with “ecommerce platform,” there are functional differences between them. With an ecommerce platform, you can not only turn your website into a full-fledged online store, but you can also get a domain name and hosting for your online store presence.
Further, ecommerce platforms give businesses and individuals great flexibility while creating their online stores. Getting access to advanced analytics and reporting tools is yet another advantage. Most of the good ecommerce platforms also provide the following:
App stores with several optional apps that add different functionality
Special customer service etc.
What are the best ecommerce platforms?
Every organization or individual wanting to do business online has its own needs and requirements. You need to take note of these and choose an ecommerce platform that effectively addresses those needs. Also, make it a point to create a detailed plan according for your ecommerce business website. This plan will guide your activities while you are building your ecommerce site.
Some common things that almost all businesses need to consider while choosing a platform are as follows:
Self-hosted or managed hosting
Required technical expertise
Kind of online store
Safety and security features
Easy to use website builder with drag-and-drop feature solutions
Free mobile-friendly themes
App stores with plenty of available apps and integrations with other services
This article gives you detailed information about the top ecommerce platforms that come with most of the essential features of an ecommerce business website. Without further ado, let's dive right in:
Image taken from Strikingly
If you want to build an ecommerce website for your small business or in an individual capacity, then Strikingly is a great choice. Strikingly works well for an ecommerce business website that looks really attractive and aesthetically pleasing. The ecommerce platform works like a charm for casual bloggers and owners of small online stores that want to sell physical goods or file downloads. You can move through the site editor with ease. Further adding sections and implementing custom styles are especially easy, and the platform lets you set up an online store with great simplicity and ease of use.
Strikingly works especially well for small businesses, professionals and bloggers. Of course, if you want to build an ecommerce website you will find plenty of options like Squarespace, Wix and WordPress.
The best thing about Strikingly is its free plan option with minimal limitations and great functionality. The ecommerce platform offers a free, no-risk 14-day trial for you to ensure that it is indeed suited for your needs. If you find it good enough, you can choose from the monthly/2/3/4 and 5-year plans.
Image taken from Strikingly
It is ridiculously easy to use
Great customer support
Specially built for one-page websites and simple online stores
The editor comes with extensive functionality while being easy to use
Lack of customization features for mobile versions
It is more expensive than many of its competitors
People who want to build an ecommerce website and want a balance between functionality and ease of use will find Wix to be a great option they can consider. It might come with a simple user interface but it has tremendous potential to be worthy of your attention.
Wix is better known for its use as a general site builder, but it goes beyond the attractive website templates and pre-built logos–it can be a great ecommerce platform. However, that functionality comes at a cost, and you must subscribe to one of the top two paid package tiers. Most ecommerce platforms assume that developers and business owners are looking for great functionality for building top ecommerce websites and ease of use of the platform is not that important for them. Wix offers an excellent balance of functionality and ease of use though admittedly, developers looking to create mega online superstores will be disappointed.
Image taken from Strikingly
Wix's site-building tools are simple enough; even complex processes like creating ecommerce stores are a breeze. Even people with no prior coding skills can use the platform to build online stores.
Wix stands out by the great number of template designs that you can further customize while you build an ecommerce website. But Wix does indeed come with a significant downside, you can’t simply switch themes i.e. if you choose a particular theme you need to start from scratch to create a fresh look and feel for your online store.
Ecommerce is almost synonymous with the need for online payment systems. The top ecommerce platforms can accept payments from all major credit cards I.e. Visa, Discover and Mastercard amongst others. You can also use major payment systems like Stripe and PayPal with such platforms. Wix is no different.
In all, Wix is a good choice for novices trying to build an ecommerce website and you don’t really need advanced functionality.
Supports transactions in multiple currencies
An app store with a huge number of available apps
Ability to create online marketplaces etc.
Wix eCommerce - Business Basic ($23/m)
Wix eCommerce - Business Unlimited ($27/m)
Wix eCommerce - Business VIP ($49/m)
Comprehensive built-in support
A huge number of templates to choose from
Support for even third-party applications
You can’t simply switch themes and to change site appearance you need to start from scratch
3. Bluehost + WooCommerce
WooCommerce is not a comprehensive ecommerce website solution but rather a plugin or add-on for WordPress-based websites that transform the CMS into a fully functional ecommerce platform. It has a free version with great functionality at an even greater free cost. That being said, it is essential to note that you will often need additional third-party plug-ins for some advanced features, which may cost you. These include processing payments, managing inventory, and controlling stocks.
Being with WordPress means you will need a web host to host your online store data. There are many options open to you in this respect. Many experts recommend Bluehost as your WordPress site hosting solution as its WordPress app comes bundled with WooCommerce with all essential plugins and even a theme making things a whole lot simpler. These features are available for the special WooCommerce hosting plans in Standard and Premium plans.
The Standard Bluehost WooCommerce plan comes with the following features:
The Premium plan adds the following functionality:
Scheduling online appointments and bookings
Regional tax management features
In short, when you choose the WooCommerce Bluehost web hosting plan you get a full-featured ecommerce platform.
Complete control over the functionality and appearance of your online store
Great customization options
A huge number of free and paid templates and themes to choose from
Ability to add additional functionality through specialized plugins
Great quality WordPress hosting
Woocommerce Standard ($12.95/m)
Woocommerce Premium ($24.95/m)
Full control over site functionality and appearance
Great feature set
Relatively simple to start and setup
A numerous number of available themes, templates and plugins
Not beginner friendly
There is tremendous competition in the ecommerce platform market with several services and separate platforms vying to the attention(and money) of consumers. Naturally, not all of them are equally effective functionally and in ease of use. In this best ecommerce platforms guide, we have mentioned the top three we consider to be the best. But they faced close competition from another platform which we think deserves mention- Shopify.
Shopify has made waves in the world of ecommerce platforms since it was introduced in 2006. It is one of the leading ecommerce platforms. If you are looking for enterprise-like features in a simple and easy-to-use website builder, then Shopify is your go-to solution. It delivers on its promise. It makes creating a full-fledged online shop relatively easy. Shopify comes with a free 14-day trial which lets you try things out.
Using the platform, even non-technical persons can create an online store in a few hours. Plus, the software service comes with a dedicated, fully-featured CMS. Using Shopify, users can control both the functionality and appearance of their online store. Users can build Shopify stores even through the platform’s developer mobile apps. Shopify stores look and function gracefully, whether you use a desktop or mobile device.
Users are free to use templates or create custom shop designs.
Simple to use and accessible to non-technical persons
Great feature set
Now that you know the best options open to you if you want to build an ecommerce website, its time to start work. With your great-looking fully-functional ecommerce website, all you need is to wait and let the shoppers take over! :)