Best Ecommerce Software to Easily Build Your Online Store

Last updated on March 29, 2014

best ecommerce softwareFinding the best ecommerce software to build your online store is a daunting and confusion task – especially if you are new to the world of creating an ecommerce business.

If you are thinking of creating your own online store and looking for some ideas for the top ecommerce platform to use, this article will hopefully shed some light on this subject for you.

When we first started building online stores to kick start our side business while we were working our regular day jobs, we didn’t where to start, how to build a good website, how to upload products, or how to connect a store to payment processors.

We were just confused.

As we invested more time conducting painful research, we discovered that broadly speaking, there are two ways to build an ecommerce store:

  1. Hosted shopping carts (more user-friendly)
  2. Self-hosted open source shopping carts (more advanced)

HOSTED SHOPPING CARTS

Hosted shopping carts are much more user-friendly than self-hosted solutions (more about this in the next section).

Basically, the website builder gives you a complete ecommerce package and takes care of all the technical aspect of things, so you can quickly and easily set up your ecommerce online store and start selling.

The idea is that they “hide” all the codes, and create simple and non-technical user interface for you to create your own website (using drag and drop technology for you to insert your content such as images, galleries, etc) upload your products, connect your website to a payment processor, so you can start selling very quickly.

The main benefit of these ecommerce software is that they are very easy to use even if you are not technically savvy. The drawback is that there isn’t as much flexibility for you if you want to modify the functions provided by these ecommerce software providers.

When we started out, we found that using a hosted shopping cart is the fastest way for us to get set up, without the headaches of learning how to code or hiring expensive developers to help us get set up.

The following are a number of ecommerce platforms (hosted shopping carts) that we recommend you to check out.

Also see our e-Commerce Online Store Builders Comparison Chart for a high level / summary snapshot of different e-Commerce Software

1) Shopify (90,000+ Active Online Stores)

Shopify is probably the best ecommerce software in the market today.

  • Beautiful and professional themes so your store looks great
  • Extensive number of apps for you to add to your store to extend the functionality of your business
  • 24/7 any time support (very important if you are serious about your business)

Best ecommerce software Shopify

Shopify is a one-stop-shop ecommerce website builder where they simplify the challenges of building an online store to drag and drop – making life easier for you.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that they are too simple and cannot handle larger stores, as their users include smaller businesses that are generating thousands of dollars in sales, to million dollar businesses.

2) Bigcommerce (50,000+ Active Online Stores)

Bigcommerce is another reputable ecommerce website builder that allows you to build your store without getting tangled up in technology.

  • A very comprehensive set of “out of the box” e-commerce tools to help you build your store
  • Leverages on different social channels to help you grow your sales
  • You can add more advanced tools through their App store (just like Shopify)

Best ecommerce software Bigcommerce

Bigcommerce is also one of the best ecommerce software available in the market. In our opinion their biggest competitor is Shopify, and each of them has their own pros and cons.

3) Squarespace Commerce

Squarespace is known to help users such as yourself create very beautiful, image rich websites. Their templates are very polished and stunning, but what a lot of people fail to appreciate is that their ecommerce tools are very under-rated.

In addition to being able to create a very beautiful storefront, Squarespace also allows you to have full control over product variants, manage your inventory, upload unlimited products, sell physical or digital products, coupon generation, configure shipping options and costs, configure sales taxes, manage your customer email list, and other helpful tools for you to build a comprehensive online store.

Best ecommerce software Squarespace

Although Squarespace’s available ecommerce tools are not as comprehensive as Shopify or Bigcommerce, if your store is simple enough and doesn’t need all sorts of bells and whistles, Squarespace might just work for your needs, especially if you are picky about your website design.

Further, Squarespace is a much cheaper option than Shopify and Bigcommerce.

Weebly eCommerce (88,000+ Active Online Stores)

Weebly is one of the most user friendly, and intuitive drag and drop website builders in the market.  Further, their eCommerce features are comprehensive and allows you to quickly build a full featured online store.

Not only do you get to insert multiple products with multiple variations of the same product (such as color, size, etc), they also have a fully integrated shopping cart in which your shoppers never leave your website to ensure a fluid, consistent shopping experience, as well as easy integration with popular and trustworthy payment processors such as Stripe, Authorize.net and PayPal.

Weebly eCommerce - Best EC Software Post

Although Weebly’s eCommerce tools are not as comprehensive as pure online store builders such as Shopify and Bigcommerce, they do have enough for you to build a very successful online store.  Again, they are very user friendly and intuitive website builder, so the learning curve to how to work their tools is relatively low.

SELF-HOSTED OPEN SOURCE SHOPPING CARTS

Self-hosted carts a lot more technical and confusing if you are not very computer and code savvy. If you don’t consider yourself a technie (we don’t consider ourselves technies either), a hosted shopping cart website builder might be more suitable for you (see discussion above).

Open source shopping carts are basically standalone programs that require you to install them into your own host (such as Bluehost). This also implies that you should have self-hosted website build in order to setup the shopping cart.

Getting a self-hosted website built is not as easy as using drag and drop website builders and is more technically challenging.

The main benefit of using open source carts is that you can configure them to function the way you want them to. So flexibility is a huge benefit here.

The drawback is that most of them require you to be technically savvy to install, setup and configure them. So if you’re not a technie, or if you don’t have time to learn more advanced coding functions, this may not be for you.

Some examples of open source shopping carts include:

These carts are flexible and have a lot of advanced features that you can use and configure. But bear in mind that you’ll need to be technical, or have someone who is technical to help you out here.

CONCLUSION – BEST ECOMMERCE SOFTWARE

Finding the best ecommerce software is not an easy task. The first step is to determine whether you are technically savvy or not. If you are, open source carts will give you more flexibility and you can configure the cart as you wish.

If you are not comfortable with codes (like us), or if you want to quickly and easily set up an online store and start selling, using hosted shopping carts / website builders is an excellent way to proceed without having to deal with technological headaches.

Further, with hosted website builders, they have dedicated full time support teams to answer your questions should you have any. That in itself is worth investing in.

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About Jeremy & Connie

We worked with various website builders extensively on live projects. We've discovered the pros & cons of each website builder through our own trial & error, and we want to share our experiences and recommendations with you. Choosing the right website builder depends on your individual needs. Our website provides comprehensive expert reviews on website builders, so you can pick the perfect website builder that fits your unique needs.

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About Jeremy & Connie

We worked with various website builders extensively on live projects. We've discovered the pros & cons of each website builder through our own trial & error, and we want to share our experiences and recommendations with you. Choosing the right website builder depends on your individual needs. Our website provides comprehensive expert reviews on website builders, so you can pick the perfect website builder that fits your unique needs.

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30 Responses to Best Ecommerce Software to Easily Build Your Online Store

  1. Paul April 9, 2014 at 10:48 PM #

    Really found this info helpful! Thanks for sharing.

    • Jeremy & Connie April 10, 2014 at 10:17 AM #

      Glad it helped Paul! Do click on the social sharing buttons at the top and on the left side of the article to spread the word! You never know who else may benefit from this discussion.

      Cheers,

      - Jeremy

  2. Michael March 26, 2014 at 12:43 PM #

    Great article! I’m wondering if you can advise me on the following. I’m planning on building a web store for my distribution business where every customer has to provide a set of documents before they can purchase from the online store. There is a limited list of document types, like distribution agreement, import license, etc.. Each of them can have an expiration date. So setting up the customer account will require to upload all these documents manually and update the expiration date. Only after all the documents are valid and active the customer will be able to log in and buy from the store. Would you please advise if any of the software you dealt with can be used to provide this functionality.

    • Jeremy & Connie March 26, 2014 at 3:46 PM #

      Hi Michael,

      Sounds like you need something that’s pretty customized and I don’t think any of the e-commerce builders we mentioned above have this capability out of the box.

      What you can do, is set up your page so that people can download the documents, fill them in, and just email them to you. Once you approve (which you have to anyway assuming you manually approve them), you can then reply to them via email.

      I don’t think Shopify or Bigcommerce has membership gateways, but I know that with Squarepace and Weebly, you can use Sentry Login to set up a membership area. That way, once you approve the documents, you can grant them membership access to the site, then they can purchase your products that way.

      Just something to think about!

      - Jeremy

  3. Abby March 18, 2014 at 5:31 PM #

    Great article! Any opinion about using the Amazon platform?

    • Jeremy & Connie March 18, 2014 at 7:30 PM #

      Hey Abby,

      We haven’t actually used them before as we’ve never sold anything on Amazon! Though I heard that they are pretty good as they have fulfillment centers to help you process / deliver products (for a fee, of course!)

      Would love to hear other people’s experiences here.

      - Jeremy

  4. Janet March 11, 2014 at 9:20 AM #

    Thanks for this! I’m going to be building an e-commerce site and am in the research stage. I found your article very helpful.

  5. Dennis February 22, 2014 at 8:55 PM #

    Exceptional information……will save a newby much time and confusion

    Dennis

    • Jeremy & Connie February 23, 2014 at 10:57 AM #

      Thanks Dennis! Glad you find it helpful. Do click on the social buttons to share any articles you enjoyed reading! You never know who else may benefit them!

      - Jeremy

  6. Cedric February 13, 2014 at 9:33 AM #

    Hi,

    I want to create an e-commerce in the printing industry. I would have few products only but they will be custom one. People would choose the product and size ex: 10′ x 24′ and then upload their picture.

    The one I prefer was Squarespace but will it be able to do what I want?

    Thank you for being so resourceful!

    • Jeremy & Connie February 14, 2014 at 3:23 PM #

      Hi Cedric,

      I don’t think you can do this with Squarespace or with any of the website builders that we’ve tested and reviewed.

      The only thing with Squarespace is that you can build your own custom contact form where you can ask people to submit whatever specific information you need, then you will need to contact them through email where they can then email you the picture.

      If you want something that’s automated, you might need to have a system custom built for you. But if anyone reading this comment has seen any system that provides this service, I’d love to hear about it!

      - Jeremy

  7. Thabi February 10, 2014 at 9:36 AM #

    Hi

    I just wanted to say that your website is beyond awesome…. and I’m sure you do well for disseminating such brilliant objective information.

    I wanted to enquire about the integration of payment facilities on weebly commerce and squarespace:

    do they have capabilities to accept EFT payments (or have this feature on the site) as well as 3rd parties like Paypal and paygate?

    Are they also compatible with eCommerce activities in international markets – can I set up a store in another country with multiple currencies?

    • Jeremy & Connie February 12, 2014 at 10:55 PM #

      Hi Thabi,

      I’m not entirely sure if either Weebly or Squarespace can accept EFT, but it really depends on whether their payment processors can handle it. Weebly offers you PayPal, Stripe and Authorize.net, and Squarespace offers you Stripe to handle payments. So if those services providers can handle EFT, then I suppose the answer is yes!

      For your last question, I believe you can only set your products in 1 single currency. So if you set your store in US$, then your international customers will have to pay in US$ (their credit card providers will make the currency exchange for them)

      - Jeremy

  8. Steve K February 7, 2014 at 10:36 AM #

    Very glad to see that you did NOT include Volusion in your review. I strongly caution anyone looking for an ecommerce solution to stay a very long way away from Volusion. My experience was disastrous with them – in spite of what they tell you, their software is not user-friendly, is not intuitive, and the customer support was dismal. (It was great until they started billing me, then it was all downhill from there.) I spent months trying to get their system to work with the USPS shipping system and never once got it to work correctly. The help from Volusion was basically “call the Post Office”, and we can all guess how that went, right? And, don’t be fooled by reasonable pricing claims and read the fine print for all the cancellations fees they try to screw you with when you discover what a mess their product is. Learn from my experience – run away, fast.

    • Jeremy & Connie February 7, 2014 at 3:55 PM #

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for sharing and I’m sorry for your poor experiences with Volusion. We haven’t used them before so can’t add to any of this. But thanks for sharing. Are you using a new store builder right now?

      - Jeremy

      • Steve K February 9, 2014 at 6:42 AM #

        Yes, I’m moving to Squarespace – so far it’s like night and day – much more intuitive and friendly.

  9. Terri Ioannou February 5, 2014 at 4:07 AM #

    Hi, I am a graphic designer about to sell some soft furnishings I’ve created and I have been considering SupaDupa. Do you have any opinions about them?

    Also, do you know if squarespace allows users in Australia to have payment options through credit card AND paypal as a standard option?

    • Jeremy & Connie February 5, 2014 at 8:07 PM #

      Hi Terri,

      Unfortunately we haven’t used SupaDupa before so we don’t really have any meaningful comments on them.

      For Squarespace, I know that Stripe is currently in Beta testing phase. So hopefully they will have it up and 100% running shortly.

      Another solution if you want to use Squarespace is to pair it with Ecwid which is a powerful e-commerce solution add-on that works with Squarespace.

      You can definitely add a PayPal buy button in Squarespace by inserting the PayPal codes into the Code block in Squarespace.

      Hope this helps!

      - Jeremy

      • Terri Ioannou February 9, 2014 at 3:01 PM #

        One more thing. What does private beta actually mean? I have been on Stripes site and see it is available in Australia if you sign up for Private Beta. is it a testing phase? is it best to wait till it’s no longer in this phase?

        • Jeremy & Connie February 9, 2014 at 4:32 PM #

          Hi Terri,

          Great question! According to Stripe, this is what they say about “Beta”:

          “Our betas may not be feature complete, but they’re always ready for production use.”

          So they’re suggesting that Stripe is functional for merchants in Australia, but they may not have all the features active yet. But presumably all the basic functions are ready for you to start selling products!

          If you would like to know exactly what features are yet to be made available, perhaps you can reach out to Stripe and inquire directly to get the most up to date information? I think our readers (and I) would love know what you find out as well!

          - Jeremy

          • Terri Ioannou February 10, 2014 at 7:57 PM #

            Got this from Stripe Today FYI:

            “As of today, you can accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express transactions denominated in Australian dollars. We’re also working to allow you to transact in US dollars, Euros, British pounds and others, very soon. All of our standard docs and features apply — find out more at https://stripe.com/docs.

            Additionally, if you’re creating a marketplace, store builder, invoicing system, or anything else that helps users get paid, you can use Stripe Connect to let your users accept credit cards instantly by having them connect their Stripe account — find out more at https://stripe.com/connect.

            We’d love to hear your feedback, either on using Stripe as a whole, or on Australia-specific details, such as wording that seems off or sub-optimal behavior. We’d especially like to hear about any glitches so we can fix them as soon as possible.”

            “Our beta is fully production-ready and already in use by many thousands of users in Australia. You may note, however, that while you can accept payments from around the world, at the moment you can only charge in AUD. There’s no monthly fee or other type of commitment, and as soon as you signup you’ll be able to make test payments and check any other behavior you like. “

            • Jeremy & Connie February 12, 2014 at 1:23 AM #

              Hi Terri – this is awesome thanks for sharing this with all of us!

  10. Greg January 29, 2014 at 7:46 PM #

    Are you aware of any out of the box software for building a client customer site like ebay, ruby lane, etc?

    • Jeremy & Connie January 30, 2014 at 11:12 AM #

      Hi Greg,

      Nope – not aware of any of these as I think these platforms work (such as eBay) are very specialized solutions, and so even if there were solutions available, you will most likely need to have a pretty skilled programmer to do the set up and customizations for you.

      - Jeremy

  11. Zola Howard December 26, 2013 at 2:13 AM #

    Shopfiy, BigEcommerce and etc which you have mentioned are some widely used E-Commerce software at present scenario. If I have to pick then I will go with Shopify. So choose your ones according to your business requirement.

  12. Clay Atchison III November 23, 2013 at 7:53 AM #

    I enjoyed reading your e-commerce review, and your review on Shopify. Are any of the e-commerce platforms offering “Responsive” design for e-commerce?

    • Jeremy & Connie November 23, 2013 at 4:41 PM #

      Hi Clay,

      A lot of Shopify’s themes are responsive. Their themes is probably one of the best parts of of their platform (in addition to their tools of course). I would say amongst all the pure online store builders, Shopify has the best designs available for its users.

      - Jeremy

  13. Ian Brun October 25, 2013 at 12:00 PM #

    Very good article. I just bought CS-Cart from www. nettxpress .no, and after reading your article, I think I made a good choice. A good support deal is super important.

  14. Gregory October 17, 2013 at 7:30 AM #

    Hi.

    The idea of having an online store is great. This is something that I’d really like to pursue….but..I have no products to sell. What are my options:

    • Jeremy & Connie October 17, 2013 at 11:53 AM #

      Hi Gregory,

      I think this is also a very common problem amongst a lot of people who want to start their own businesses. There are a lot of good blogs out there exploring the idea of starting businesses, and what to start.

      Here’s one that I’ve been reading up lately and it’s quite interesting and educational. Very inspiring indeed – http://mywifequitherjob.com/

      Let me know what you think!

      - Jeremy