The 7 Best Ecommerce Platforms & Website Builders 2022

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The easiest way to build an online store is using an ecommerce platform, so we’ve compiled the seven best ecommerce platforms all in one place to help you out.

According to our research, Wix is the best choice for smaller stores, thanks to its beginner-friendly editor and excellent ecommerce tools. If you have a larger and more varied inventory, we recommend Shopify, whilst Squarespace offers the best value for money out of the bunch.

Our comparison chart below will reveal all seven of our best ecommerce platforms, so read on for the chance to compare your favorite against its competitors, and check out what each website builder has to offer.

Best Ecommerce Platforms

  1. Wix best for small online stores.
  2. Shopify best for larger businesses.
  3. Squarespace best value for money.
  4. Square Online best way to sell for free.
  5. BigCommerce best for a purely online business.
  6. Zyro Best for running a hobby store
  7. Big Cartel best for independent artists.

Compare the 7 Best Ecommerce Platforms

We know how tricky it can be deciding between ecommerce platforms – that’s why we put the top choices side by side in this handy comparison chart! Use the arrows at the top of the chart to scroll through the seven best online store platforms, and compare features, pricing, and star ratings. You can read full reviews of each below!

0 out of 0
Overall rating
Starting Price
Transaction Fees
Free plan or free trial
Abandoned cart recovery
Bandwidth
Storage space
Number of products on cheapest plan
Payment options
Multichannel integration
Sales features

Wix

Shopify

Squarespace

Square Online

BigCommerce

Zyro

Big Cartel

4.7
4.6
4.5
4.2
4.1
3.6
3.1

$23

$29

$18

$12

$29.95

$10.90

$9.99

None

0% – 2%

0% – 3%

None

None

0% – 1%

None

Free plan

14-day free trial

14-day free trial

Free plan

15-day free trial

No free trial for ecommerce plans

Free plan

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unspecified

20GB – 50GB

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unspecified

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

100

5

11 including: Paypal, Wix Payments, Stripe, Square

100+ including: Shopify Payments, Paypal, Klarna

3: Stripe, Paypal, Square

4: Credit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Square

36 including: Paypal, Square, Stripe, Klarna

14+ Paypal, Stripe

5 including: Venmo, Apple Pay, Stripe

4.4
4.5
3.4
3.5
4.6
3.4
2.3

We conducted hundreds of hours of research and testing to bring you this list, so you can sit back and enjoy our breakdown of the seven best ecommerce platforms. We’ll also reveal which platforms are best by industry, to give you a detailed low-down and help you get started with the right one.

Would you prefer instant, personalized answers? No problem, take our 4-question quiz and find your perfect builder!

Personalised Recommendation

What are the Best Online Store Builders?

What about more advanced ecommerce tools?

In this article, we’ll look at easy-to-use website builders that let you create and run an online store. Advanced users may be interested in ecommerce solutions like WordPress, which you can use to code an online store from scratch. To find out more, read our article on the best ecommerce software.

Best Ecommerce Platform Reviews

#1. Wix

Best for small online stores.

Start selling from $23 a month.

Heads Up: Wix is running a 50% flash sale until 31st March!

Best for small online stores

4.7

out of 5
Top Choice
Ease Of Use

4 out of 5 stars

Design Flexibility

4 out of 5 stars

Website Features

4.4 out of 5 stars

Sales Features

4.4 out of 5 stars

Help and Support

3.8 out of 5 stars

Value For Money

4.4 out of 5 stars

Customer Score

4 out of 5 stars

Wix is a hugely popular drag-and-drop website builder and ecommerce platform, with over 110 million users worldwide. Wix knows a thing or two about creating websites and online stores!

Wix came third in our sales features research, and took the top position in the website features category. Need we say much more?

There are three Wix plans which are totally dedicated to ecommerce. The cheapest Wix ecommerce plan is the Business Basic at $23 a month, granting you access to a superb range of ecommerce features

Some of our favourite ecommerce features include:

  • Abandoned cart recovery – send automatic emails and regain lost sales by encouraging customers to finalize purchases 
  • Multi-channel integration – sell on Instagram without installing any apps
  • ‘Buy now’ and ‘Add to cart’ buttons – create an easier shopping experience and increase sales
  • Printable shipping labels – develop your brand image by personalizing your packaging
  • Store card details – customers can pay-on-the-go using their stored card details in the ‘wallet’ area of the checkout
  • Dropshipping – use a third party company and save the hassle of packaging and shipping yourself
  • Integrations with Shipstation – provide a seamless shipping experience for your customers using apps like Shipstation

Better still, all Wix websites automatically come with SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates. This is really important as it means customers can safely submit their details through your website.

In our research, Wix also ranks highly in our categories for value for money and customer support. 

Even on the Basic plan, you’ll get support via phone, email, and social media, as well as access to a forum and an in-depth knowledge base. It’s also the only builder to give you helpful on-page support while you’re creating your store. 

You can create a really strong brand for your online store by creating a highly customized storefront. Because of Wix’s drag-and-drop editor, it’s super easy to add product videos and other cool features to create the ultimate shopping experience. With Wix, you also know exactly how your online store will look to customers while you’re editing, making customization really easy.

Another way to add ecommerce features to your Wix online store is to use apps like Wix Stores and Ecwid.

While Ecwid lets you sell on Facebook, Wix Stores unlocks tons of great ecommerce features for your website, such as the ability to send automated confirmation emails to customers, and creating discounts.

And you don’t have to stay at home to run your business. The Wix Mobile App lets you manage your store on the go. This is a fantastic feature as it gives you more flexibility in managing your brand.

On the downside, Wix does have pretty basic inventory features and lacks a stock level management alert system. 

Overall, though, Wix does a great job of combining the ease and design of the traditional website builder with a range of excellent ecommerce features.

Wix is ideal for users of all tech abilities, offering amazing value for money along with the best help and support of any ecommerce builder. So, you can start flexing your ecommerce muscles without worrying!

wix best website ecommerce builder
This online store, Valeria Monis, was built using Wix. It combines shop and gallery sections to achieve an attractive and functional ecommerce site.

Wix ProsWix Cons
  • Abandoned cart recovery emails
  • Wix’s easy drag-and-drop editor shows you exactly how your storefront will look
  • Built-in ability to sell on Instagram
  • Creates a strong brand for your business
  • Add product videos for better engagement with customers
 

  • Only has basic inventory and analytics systems – not ideal for growth

Further Information


#2. Shopify

Best for larger businesses.

Start selling from $29.99 a month.

Best for larger businesses

4.6

out of 5
Ease Of Use

4 out of 5 stars

Design Flexibility

3.7 out of 5 stars

Website Features

4.1 out of 5 stars

Sales Features

4.7 out of 5 stars

Help and Support

4.1 out of 5 stars

Value For Money

3.5 out of 5 stars

Customer Score

4.65 out of 5 stars

Shopify is the best ecommerce platform for large stores, selling over 10 products. It powers over 600,000 online stores and has over 1 million active users worldwide. More than $100 billion has been sold on Shopify – so it must be doing something right!

Our research confirmed this. Shopify came second in sales features, with lots of high quality tools to support your store. Here’s a few of the main sales features:

You can see why Shopify scored so highly in this area. Features like these don’t just make running your online store possible – they make it easy and enjoyable too. Put simply, Shopify was designed to help people build an online store. That’s why it’s packed with these high quality sales features, which were specially created to support your ecommerce business.

Despite its impressive features, however, Shopify isn’t the easiest to use. It came fifth in our ease of use testing, with many users finding its front and backend interfaces tricky to navigate.

Still, that wasn’t enough to reduce its user popularity.  It received the highest customer score of all the builders we tested, and an impressive 93% of Shopify customers told our researchers they were satisfied with the ecommerce platform.

Shopify is perfect for, well, everyone! Whether you’re just starting out or have a large business that’s scaling fast, Shopify covers all selling bases. With a 14 day free trial (no credit card details required) and over 100 themes to choose from, there’s nothing to lose!

shopify best ecommerce platform
The Penguin Books Store was built using Shopify. It uses clean, sliding images, featured products, as well as drop-down menus, discounts, and search filters to promote its products.
Shopify ProsShopify Cons
  • Needs third party apps to support multiple currencies – not ideal for international growth
  • Shopify transaction fee on most payment gateways
  • Switching template means reformatting your website

Further Information


#3. Squarespace

Best value for money.

Start selling from $18 a month.

Best value for money

4.5

out of 5
Ease Of Use

4.2 out of 5 stars

Design Flexibility

4 out of 5 stars

Website Features

4.2 out of 5 stars

Sales Features

3.4 out of 5 stars

Help and Support

3.5 out of 5 stars

Value For Money

4.4 out of 5 stars

Customer Score

4.3 out of 5 stars

Squarespace is a dream for creatives. If you’re looking to make your online store as visually effective as possible, this is the choice for you! Stunning templates, combined with a strong inventory system and lots of quality features, make Squarespace an attractive choice for thousands of online stores.

It shone for design flexibility in our research, coming joint first, alongside Wix and BigCommerce. Squarespace has a smaller but comprehensive selection of online store templates, covering an impressive range of industries from fashion to food & drink.

It also came first in our ease of use testing, meaning that it’s the easiest builder to get to grips with. It is worth knowing that there’s a slight learning curve, to begin with, but once you’ve got the basics down, building a store with Squarespace is easy peasy!

But what about the business side? Squarespace is a really strong all-round choice for combining a stylish storefront with classic ecommerce features, such as creating discounts and promotional pop-ups.

Promotional tools is an area where Squarespace really stands out. You can add different types of discounts to the products in your store, from individual products to entire orders. Other great sales tools and features include Squarespace’s inventory system.

Squarespace also allows you to sell unlimited products on any of its ecommerce price plans. Plus, you have the option of either uploading them in bulk or one at a time.

By combining this with in-house stock management, revenue reports, and email alerts about stock levels, Squarespace is more on the level of ecommerce specialist Shopify than its fellow ecommerce website builders.

This means your store won’t just look good with Squarespace: it’ll pack a punch too! But if you want speedy growth on a large scale, you might find Squarespace too small too soon – shipping and payment options are limited when compared to Shopify and BigCommerce.

With its professional templates, Squarespace will really show off your products and let your storefront shine. It’s a solid choice for your online store, as long as you don’t outgrow its range of ecommerce features.

squarespace best platform for design
Online store Bembien uses Squarespace to show off its products, combining high quality images with ecommerce functions.
Squarespace ProsSquarespace Cons
  • Best design of any ecommerce builder
  • Great depth and quality of website features – social media integration
  • Inventory system and analytics tools are really effective
  • Editor can be a little too manual – not a lot of autosave options
  • Harder to scale your store
  • Lacks multiple payment and shipping options

Further Information


#4. Square Online

Best way to sell for free.

Start selling from $12 a month.

Best way to sell for free

4.2

out of 5
Ease Of Use

3.9 out of 5 stars

Design Flexibility

2.7 out of 5 stars

Website Features

3.5 out of 5 stars

Sales Features

3.5 out of 5 stars

Help and Support

4 out of 5 stars

Value For Money

4.5 out of 5 stars

Customer Score

3.6 out of 5 stars

In 2018, the payment processing giant Square bought Weebly (one of our highest-rated website builders). The result is Square Online, which combines powerful payment processing with an easy website building platform.

Unsurprisingly, Square Online’s interface is very similar to Weebly’s. That being said, you’ll enjoy Square Online’s fresh features, and you can even take advantage of its free ecommerce plan to see if it’s really such a great fit.

When we tested Square Online ourselves, we were particularly impressed by its quick and simple editing process. You can have a functioning ecommerce site set up after just a few clicks around your user dashboard.

Sales features like mutlichannel integration, plus quick access to insights about revenue and traffic, are what give Square Online such great value for money. That, and the speed with which Square Online can help you get online and start selling.

Adding products and product variations is extremely easy, and Square Online’s paid plans let you include small labels like “on sale” or “only a few left!” to create a sense of urgency around special deals.

The tradeoff for Square Online’s speed and ease of use is its lack of design customization. It’s true that you’ll have everything you need to create a simple store that emphasizes your products, but if you want to create a layout with your own personal creative flair, you may be better off with a design-oriented builder like Squarespace.

square online store examples
Square Online’s ecommerce designs are sleek and effective, although you won’t get much creative freedom.
Square Online ProsSquare Online Cons
  • Affordable, with great marketing features
  • Easy-to-use site dashboard keeps track of product sales, customer journeys, and abandoned cart recoveries
  • Easy design process
  • Limited opportunities for customization
  • Limited payment gateway options
  • Small learning curve when you first get started with the platform

Further Information


#5. BigCommerce

Best for a purely online business.

Start selling from $29.95 a month.

Best for a purely online business

4.1

out of 5
Ease Of Use

3.3 out of 5 stars

Design Flexibility

3.2 out of 5 stars

Website Features

3.6 out of 5 stars

Sales Features

4.6 out of 5 stars

Help and Support

3.4 out of 5 stars

Value For Money

3 out of 5 stars

Customer Score

3.1 out of 5 stars

BigCommerce is a well-known ecommerce platform which boasts some well-known names – including Clarks and Ben & Jerry’s – as clients. And it’s no wonder! Online stores backed by BigCommerce have been recorded as growing at almost double the industry average.

In our research, BigCommerce came top for website features. This is because of the range of high-quality inhouse features it offers, such as customer reviews, email marketing, and search filters. BigCommerce also scored highly in sales features, allowing for international payments and multi-channel selling.

In fact, BigCommerce has more features than any of its competitors. Everything you need is already built into its library of themes and ready to make your online store succeed. This makes it the best choice if you’re looking to really grow your online store into a large and successful business.

The main drawback of BigCommerce is its ease of use, or lack thereof. It uses a lot of complex terminology in its descriptions, which won’t appear user friendly to anyone who doesn’t have good knowledge of such specialist terms.

Add this to a confusing editing interface and BigCommerce becomes a less than ideal choice, particularly if you’re looking for an easy to use ecommerce platform. Indeed, it received low customer scores in our research because of its lack of user-friendly language and difficult editor.

On the other hand, if you’re confident and tech-savvy, BigCommerce is an excellent choice. You can automatically sell physical and digital goods as well as services. And you don’t need apps to enable these – you can just start selling!

BigCommerce wants to see your store grow and succeed. You can upload products in bulk to save you time, and there’s no limit on the number of products you can sell. You can keep track of your products and customers using BigCommerce’s analytics reports. This is an important strength of the platform, with these reports available:

  • Store overview
  • Real time reports
  • Customer reports
  • Abandoned cart reports
  • Merchandising reports

Abandoned cart recovery is already built in, plus you can customize the email that gets sent out to customers. You can even combine this with coupon codes to entice your customers back to your store.

BigCommerce Named a “Strong Performer” in the Ecommerce Space

Forrester Research named BigCommerce a strong performer in two recently released reports, one on B2B commerce suites and one on B2C commerce suites. These reports evaluate the most significant commerce software providers, to help businesses select the best technology for their needs.

The reports also cite feedback from BigCommerce customers, which found that they “like the culture and responsiveness of the support experience” when using the platform.

BigCommerce should be used by anyone wanting to rapidly and remarkably grow their online store. Don’t use it if you are a beginner, either in business or in tech! It’s not the easiest to use, and its prices reflect the number of tools and features you get.

You will only get great value for your money if you’re using those features! After all, you wouldn’t buy a whole toolkit, then only use it to prop the door open. BigCommerce has every tool in the box, and is the perfect choice if your business is ready for a boom.

bigcommerce best ecommerce platform for large business
The official Clarks store was built using BigCommerce. Its features include a members log in, search bar, menu, and store locator.
BigCommerce ProsBigCommerce Cons
  • Range of in-built features makes it the best builder for growing and scaling your online store
  • Sell across multiple channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest
  • Fantastic SEO
  • Not suitable for beginners because of tricky editing interface
  • Expensive beyond the standard plan

Further Information


#6. Zyro

Best for running a hobby store

Start selling from $4.90 a month.

Best for running a hobby store

3.9

out of 5
Ease Of Use

4 out of 5 stars

Design Flexibility

3.1 out of 5 stars

Website Features

0 out of 5 stars

Sales Features

0 out of 5 stars

Help and Support

3.3 out of 5 stars

Value For Money

4.2 out of 5 stars

Customer Score

4.1 out of 5 stars

Zyro is a relatively new website builder on the ecommerce scene and has been designed to mimic competitors like Wix and Shopify. However, it does this with only varying degrees of success. Saying this, it has plenty about it that will appeal to the right user, so it’s worth taking a look!

Overall, Zyro scored 3.6 out of 5 in our research and testing. Its strongest area was its design functionalities. In this category, we awarded it 4.6 out of 5. This is thanks to its attractive templates, but also largely because it gives users so many options when it comes to customizing their store pages.

Usually, ecommerce builders offer a standard product design, but Zyro goes much further, allowing users to amend the layout of product pictures and text, as well as determining how many products are displayed per page. You can also completely customize your checkout page for an experience that’s unique to your online store.

In terms of its sales features, however, Zyro doesn’t really have the goods to hold its own in the company of more well-known names. We scored it 3.4 out of 5 in this area, which, whilst by no means bad, is not the best score on the board.

Although it supports the sale of both physical and digital products, as well as services, Zyro only allows you to sell up to 2500 items on its most expensive Advanced Store plan. This is limiting for larger stores or smaller ones with the ambition to grow.

It supports both PayPal and Stripe, as well as 14 additional US-based payment processors, but you’ll need to be prepared to pay a 1% transaction fee unless you upgrade to the most expensive plan.

Despite this, we were particularly impressed that Zyro can be connected with a POS (Point of Sale) device. Not many website builders offer this, and it’s a big bonus if you want to sell your items in real life, too.

You can also connect your online store to a number of social media platforms. Zyro supports integrations with Facebook, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Pinterest, and Whatsapp. It also works seamlessly alongside marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and Google Shopping, too.

Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t come with a mobile app for on-the-go management.

Although Zyro is generally one of the easier builders to use, we found that certain areas of its backend store manager weren’t very intuitive when trying to create an online store. You’ll need to switch between the two dashboards and this makes it difficult to visualize how it’s all going to come together in the end.

Plus, unlike Wix, Zyro doesn’t come with any helpful hints and tips to help you out whilst you’re building. This would be particularly helpful when trying to create more advanced site elements, like popups. If you get stuck, you’ll need to use the on-page chatbox. The staff are very responsive, but sometimes it can be difficult to get the exact information you need.

Because Zyro’s ecommerce offering is still fairly new, there are a lot of tools missing that you’d expect to see on a more mature ecommerce builder. Despite the low price of its starter plan, we don’t consider it to be especially good value for money because of this. Its competitors offer more for what you pay.

That’s not to say that Zyro is a bad ecommerce builder. In fact, it has a lot going for it, not least the fact that we anticipate a host of improvements and innovations to come flooding in over the next few years.

At the moment, however, Zyro is best suited for hobbyists or those who are just testing the ecommerce waters. Those with more fully established ecommerce businesses will find themselves frustrated by Zyro’s limitations and basic sales functions.

Zyro Online Store
Zyro has great design functionality, but swapping between the editor and store manager can be frustrating.

 

Zyro ProsZyro Cons
  • Strong design functionality with a host of attractive templates 
  • Can be integration with POS systems for real-life selling
  • Has a good number of payment providers to choose from
  • The website editor and store manager don’t integrate that well
  • Limited SEO tools – no canonical tags or best practice prompts for new users
  • Help and support is limited, with no email, phone, or onsite editor support

Further Information


#7. Big Cartel

Best for independent artists.

Start selling for free.

Best for independent artists

3.1

out of 5
Ease Of Use

3.7 out of 5 stars

Design Flexibility

2.2 out of 5 stars

Website Features

1 out of 5 stars

Sales Features

2.3 out of 5 stars

Help and Support

1.1 out of 5 stars

Value For Money

2.4 out of 5 stars

Customer Score

3.7 out of 5 stars

Big Cartel is a simple ecommerce platform that lets you sell up to five products for freeup to 50 products for $9.99 per month, and up to 500 products for $19.99 per month. As you might be able to tell by these caps, Big Cartel is not as scalable as Shopify or BigCommerce. But it’s a great option if you’re only looking to sell a few products online.

Big Cartel is also good for enthusiastic beginners and total technophobes, because its user-friendly onboarding process does a great job of showing you what’s what – there are plenty of prompts and reminders to help you set up your store. If you don’t intend to grow your business much in the near future, then Big Cartel’s simple sales features are more than enough to get you started.

But if you do want to expand your store, you’ll have to either switch to a more scalable platform (Wix is scalable but still beginner-friendly), or learn a few things about code to get more out of your Big Cartel experience.

We recommend Big Cartel for artists in particular. Being able to sell for free is great for anyone sticking to a budget, and its clean and professional templates are minimalist enough to let your work speak for itself. You’ll also be able to tag your Big Cartel products on Instagram, which is a handy feature if you like to show off your work on social media.

Big Cartel has enough sales features to get you off the ground, like payment processing integrations with PayPal and Stripe, and no in-house transaction fees (you’ll still have to pay the fee imposed by the payment processor, which is usually 2.9% + $0.30 for each sale, but this is pretty standard).

That said, Big Cartel is lacking in website features. You can’t sell in more than one language, and you can’t set up customer accounts or password-protected members areas on your site. However, for smaller sellers who aren’t looking for a ton of growth, these features probably won’t be missed very much.

Big Cartel’s ease of use and free selling option make it a great, budget-friendly choice. Just be sure to save your work as you go, because this platform doesn’t have an autosave feature, and you can only reach the support team via email!

big cartel store example
Illustrator José A. Roda uses Big Cartel to show off his work.

 

Big Cartel ProsBig Cartel Cons
  • Lets you sell up to five product for free
  • Helpful prompts to guide you as you go
  • Accepts payments via Stripe, PayPal and Square
  • Not a lot of design freedom
  • Features aren’t as powerful as Wix’s or Shopify’s
  • Not very scalable unless you know how to code

 


Further Information

[/wbe_accordion_faq_item][/wbe_accordion_faq]

Best Ecommerce Platform by Product, Service and Industry

Use the expandable sections below to choose your product, service or industry and to see which ecommerce platform comes out on top.

An ecommerce website is a great starting base for any startup. Selling online with a cost-effective and easy-to-use platform presents the ideal solution for businesses looking to establish themselves without spending too much money.

Top three platforms for Startups:

Had success selling locally? Why not take your products to a national, or even global market? An online store gives you worldwide access, taking your business to the next level. Make use of social media and marketplaces, and turn your budding business into an ecommerce empire.

Top three platforms for Small Business:

At this stage, you probably already have a website. If you’re thinking about switching, though, you’ll need a robust platform that can: handle bulk orders, manage your shipping options and marketing campaigns, and has advanced analytics.

Top two platforms for Large Business:

Think of your online store like a shop window. You want it to look as enticing as possible. Combine your mannequin displays with stunning product imagery, sale racks with discount codes. You’ll need a platform that comes with stunning themes to really show your products off.

Top three platforms for Clothing:

When it comes to art, your website needs to capture the essence of your craft. Selling digital copies of your work is a vital feature, as is having a variety of shipping options. You may not need the power of a ‘big gun’ ecommerce platform, but it’s important to have a manageable online store you can be creative with.

Top three platforms for Art:

Dropshipping is becoming an ever more popular way to sell products. Not all platforms allow dropshipping, but, lucky for you, some of the best ones on the market do. Powerful features and tools like multi-channel selling, shipping and invoice management, and analytics are all important here.

Top three platforms for Dropshipping:

For credibility and authority as much as anything, your own online store for digital products is essential. It can be complex to build a site for digital downloads (and eye-wateringly expensive to pay a developer to do so!) but the platforms below make it a simple process, with everything you need under one roof.

Top three platforms for Digital:

To make your website a real page-turner, you’ll need a platform with some ‘best seller’ features. Things like digital downloads, preview snippets, and amendable shipping rates are all features that will make your online store far more than just a pretty cover.

Top three platforms for Books:

If you want to take online payments for your services, there’s some great choices out there. Whether you need a fully-fledged ecommerce solution, or just a bookings and payments system, all bases are covered.

Top three platforms for Services:

Selling toys or tech? Phones or gadgets? An online store can help pull all your products together. Manage everything with one controller – an ecommerce website builder. In order to supercharge your sales, build a site with any of the below platforms.

Top three platforms for Electronics:

Best Ecommerce Platform by Features

We’re extremely proud of our research. It’s what makes us stand out from the competition when rating and reviewing website builders and ecommerce platforms.

To keep reading about the areas we’ve investigated, to find out why they matter and which platforms were victorious in each category, click on the expandable links below:

Why it matters

As helpful as it would be, we’re not all computer experts. If you don’t see the Matrix running across your eyeline every time your laptop boots up, you’ll want a website builder that’s easy to use. Simple to navigate, simple to edit, and simple to manage.

How we test this

Testing ease of use isn’t straightforward. What’s easy for you may not be for someone else. That’s why we tested this by getting regular folk to build their own online stores on each ecommerce website builder.

To make it fair, we used a wide range of people. Some with a decent level of computer knowledge, who had used different ecommerce website builders before. And others who had limited computer skills, who’d never even heard of a website builder before, let alone used one!

Everyone was asked to fill in a task sheet while they created their online store and score how easy, or difficult, they found certain tasks. These scores were then combined and averaged out for each platform, giving us a final ‘ease of use’ score.

Category winner: Squarespace

Squarespace’s section-based template blocks and sleek dashboard make editing and managing your store a really simple process.

Read our detailed review of Squarespace.

Why it matters

Let’s start by explaining why features has been separated into two areas:

Website features refers to things like image galleries, contact forms and calendars. They’re things you may need on your website, but they don’t literally help you sell products.

Sales features are things like abandoned cart recovery or the amount of payment gateways that are provided – things that have a direct impact on your revenue.

Sales features can ultimately be the difference between a customer completing a transaction, or leaving your site. They’re vital to your success in the world of ecommerce.

How we test this

More than just checking if the platform did or didn’t have each feature, we wanted to know how good that feature was.

Let’s use multi-channel integration as an example. Multi-channel integration is a feature that lets you sell away from your website. In other words, can you sell directly on marketplaces and social media, like Facebook and Amazon.

First we checked if the platform had a multi-channel feature, then, if so, how many different websites you could sell on. We also took into consideration if the feature came at an added cost, if it was in-built, or if you had to add it through an app.

Category winner: BigCommerce

BigCommerce is one of the most powerful ecommerce platforms on the market today. Its focus is to help you grow your business, and from what we’ve seen, there’s no denying that. It has tons of scalable sales features that don’t require any coding.

Best For Multi-Currency: BigCommerce

BigCommerce’s ‘Bold Multi-Currency’ app lets you show and sell your products in over 100 different currencies. On top of that, BigCommerce also supports 12 different languages and will automatically translate any text pre-embed on its themes.

Best For Multi-Channel Selling: Shopify

With Shopify, you can connect your online store to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Amazon, eBay and many more. It allows you to sell directly through these social platforms and marketplaces, meaning your customers don’t have to leave the site or app they’re on to buy your products.

Read our detailed BigCommerce review. 

Or, check out our Shopify review.

Why it matters

It’s all well and good being set up to sell, but what about the extras? Things like blogging, email marketing and SEO can help, not only take your online store to the next level, but transform it from a house to a home.

How we test this

Much like sales features, we wanted to see what was offered and the quality of each feature. This time let’s use domains as the example:

First we wanted to know whether you could buy a domain directly from the platform. After that, we looked at the cost and if a 1-year free domain was provided. We also made note of how many variations you could have (i.e. .com, .co.uk, .org etc.) and if you could transfer an existing domain to the platform.

All of this gave us an overall domain score, which formed just one part of the total website feature score. Still with us? Great.

Category Winner: Wix 

Whether you’re running a small boutique or international brand, you’ll find that most of the website features you need are already built-in. We’d say that if Wix doesn’t have it, you probably don’t need it. 

Joint Best For SEO: Wix and BigCommerce

Both BigCommerce and Wix give you total control over your ecommerce store’s SEO. On each platform, you can edit meta titles and descriptions, URL slugs, header code, image alt text and more. They also offer keyword support, best practice prompts, and SEO specific apps. We also love Wix’s SEO Wiz, which suggests personalized SEO optimizations for your online store.

Head over to our BigCommerce review for further details.

Or check out our article on BigCommerce pricing to find the perfect plan for you.

Read our full Wix Ecommerce review for more information.

Dive into our Wix Pricing review to see more about Wix’s plans.

Why it matters

People use ecommerce website builders so they can be in control. That doesn’t mean they want to sacrifice aesthetics, though. Design looks at the themes offered by each platform and how customizable they are. Don’t be fooled, looks matter!

How we test this

This was an area that posed a lot of questions. Obviously, we wanted to know which website builder had the best-looking themes, but also how functional they were. We spoke to branding, design and UX (user experience) experts to get a feel of what they thought was vital to great web design.

From there, we drew up a list of criteria each platform’s themes had to meet. This helped us determine who had the ‘best’ themes, but we wanted to know more.

We also investigated how many industries the themes covered, whether or not they are mobile/tablet responsive, and if you can switch themes after you’ve published your site.

Category Winner: Zyro

Zyro offers great user experience whilst designing and customizing your store. It comes with a small but very attractive selection of templates, but they automatically repopulate depending on which industry you’re searching for. Plus, it offers a host of customizable options when designing your product pages and your checkout.

See our in-depth Zyro review.

Why it matters

Cheap quality is something everyone wants. It’s not that easy to come by, but we were determined to find the best deals. Pricing plans across platforms ranged from free to in the hundreds, so what makes an ecommerce website builder worth the money?

How we test this

Price is obviously important, so it was the first thing we researched: how much the average cost was across each platform’s pricing plans. Next up we checked for freebies – a free trial, a free plan? It’s always nice to try before you buy.

Finally, we brought the value aspect into our testing. We looked at the scores taken from our features testing and worked out how much you had to pay to get certain key features. These scores were then all calculated to give us a final value for money rating.

Category Winner(s): Squarespace, Wix, and Square Online

We have a three-way tie! Squarespace, Wix, and Square Online all scored identical marks. They all offer free plans, low average pricing, and a healthy amount of features at affordable rates to boot. Choose one of these three, and you’ll get great bang for your buck.

See what we think of Squarespace ecommerce. 

See our expert analysis of Wix eCommerce.

Read our Square Online review.

Or, have a look at our article on the best free ecommerce platforms.

Why it matters

Few things are more frustrating than getting stuck when no one’s around to help. Having support is important, whether it comes from reading helpful guides, or picking up the phone and talking over your problem with someone.

How we test this

We started by exploring how many different types of support were available (phone, email, live chat etc.). Then if you could contact these services 24/7 or not – you never know when you might have a 2am crisis!

To avoid crashing websites and smashed keyboards, we also checked for restore options and if there was an autosave feature. To round off, we looked for the minimum price you can get at least three types of support, and tested how good the help center was at answering common queries.

Category Winner: Square Online

Square provides phone, live chat, forum, email, and social media support. Its guides are detailed and clear. Combine that with being really easy to use in the first place, and you can be sure that Square is pretty great for beginners.

Conclusion

In this guide, we’ve introduced you to the seven best ecommerce platforms. You won’t waste any time on inferior platforms – instead, you’re now ready to pick a first-class platform to build your online store and start selling online.

Let’s recap quickly.

7 Best Ecommerce Platforms: Summary

  1. Wix An extremely customizable platform ideal for small online stores.
  2. Shopify Easy to use with an impressive range of professional sales tools for larger businesses.
  3. Squarespace Beautiful designs and excellent value for money.
  4. Square Online Feature-rich with a quick and easy setup process.
  5. BigCommerce An incredibly scalable platform crammed with powerful features.
  6. Zyro Best for running a hobby store
  7. Big Cartel Great features for artists.

We may have ranked these ecommerce platforms, but the truth is the right one for you will depend on a number of different factors.

We hope we’ve explained how ecommerce platforms help you grow your online store by automating mundane tasks and freeing up your time to focus on other aspects of your business. It’s why choosing the best ecommerce platform – one that’s flexible and has the right tools – is really important.

For example, Wix and Shopify both have comprehensive marketplaces where you can pick and choose free and paid apps to add more functionality to your business. They are such powerful ecommerce platforms because they have the tools to meet different needs.

Meanwhile, Squarespace and Square both offer great value for money thanks to the quality template designs and/or sales tools that you’ll get for a good price.

At some point, it’s all about gaining the right leverage to expand your business, without taking up more of your limited time. This is where ecommerce platforms can give you the right tools for success.

Remember, every platform on this list comes with a free trial or a free plan, so you can try any of them risk-free before making your decision. Don’t miss out – your perfect ecommerce platform is waiting, so jump on a free trial today to get started!

FAQs

An ecommerce platform is an online program that helps you to build your own online store. All the tools and features you need are provided either built-in, or via the platform’s own app center. Everything from hosting, your custom domain, and help and support is available.

You start by picking a theme from a selection of choices. This acts as the layout of your website. After that, you can populate the theme with your own products and content. You will manage your store from a dashboard where you can view things like shipping, analytics, invoices, and marketing.

Wix tops the bill as the most popular ecommerce platform, thanks to its all-rounder approach. Wix and Squarespace are also the biggest non-ecommerce-specific platforms with Wix helping to build around 388,000 stores. Other heavily used platforms include BigCommerce and Square Online.

These are some of the biggest platforms but there are more. Other site builders that are designed for online stores include Square Online, Big Cartel, and 3dcart. There’s also a ton of website builders that have ecommerce functionality, the biggest being Wix, and Squarespace.

While Amazon dominates much of the western world, Mercadolibre is the most used marketplace across much of South America. Similarly, Naspers dominates the east, and is the the most popular platform in Russia. Schibsted is another big marketplace which is used heavily by Scandinavian countries.

Ecommerce platforms give you a base to start from. There’s themes, features, apps and help and support all inhouse. Building from scratch requires a lot of technical knowledge and coding. You have more customization and flexibility but it’ll either be a lengthy process or an expensive one should you hire a developer.

Shopify and BigCommerce lead the way with impressive bulk import features. You can export and import your products via CSV spreadsheet or database. Non-ecommerce specific website builders like Weebly and Squarespace also have bulk product import features.

WordPress.org and Magento are both self-hosted, open source platforms. They’re great options, if you have advanced computer skills. You’ll be personally responsible for things like hosting and registering your domain but it can work out cheaper. Ultimately it depends on your needs, technical knowledge and time.

If you’re looking to build a website and allow multiple merchants to sell on it, you’ll need a platform like Yo!Kart or Magento. Both allow you to manage multiple merchants while still maintaining control over the website itself.

You’ll need things like sign-up/log-in, product categories, ‘people also bought’, abandoned cart recovery, social media integration, and much more. An ecommerce marketplace is a complex site to build, but there are options out there that have all the necessary features.

Yes! Square Online offers a free plan that still allows you to sell online. Similarly, Big Cartel is an ecommerce platform that allows you to sell online totally free of charge. It also doesn’t impose its own transaction fees, meaning the only fee you will owe if directly to the payment processor you use, like PayPal or Stripe.

In order to move your online store to another platform easily, you’ll need to be able to export and import your products in bulk. Shopify, BigCommerce, Weebly, Squarespace, Zyro, Big Cartel, GoDaddy and 3dcart all support this feature. If you’re with another online store builder, or a self-hosted platform, it may be more complex.

Many ecommerce platforms don’t impose their own transaction fees. This means that you only pay the processor, like PayPal, per transaction. If you use Shopify and opt for its own processor, Shopify Payments, you don’t have to pay any transaction fee full stop.

If the sole purpose of your website is to sell, you’re better off using an ecommerce-only platform like Shopify or BigCommerce. Website builders are mainly used for people who don’t sell online. That said, site builders like Wix, Weebly and Squarespace are great options if you just have a few products to sell on the side.

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