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
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!
Free plan or free trial
Abandoned cart recovery
Number of products on cheapest plan
50% OFF NOW
0% – 2%
0% – 3%
0% – 1%
14-day free trial
14-day free trial
15-day free trial
No free trial for ecommerce plans
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20GB – 50GB
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
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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.
We’re pretty proud of our research process, because not many sites can say they’ve carried out such in-depth testing before making recommendations. Here’s how our in-house research team goes about finding the best website builders on the market.
Every single builder goes through our thorough research process. We investigate important areas such as:
- Ease of use
- Sales Features
- Design flexibility
- Value for money
- Feature quality
- Help and support
- Customer satisfaction
When creating our list of the top ecommerce builders, we paid particular attention to the sales features each has to offer, because these are the tools that are going to be instrumental in making your website a success.
Balancing this against the other categories helps us rate and compare the builders fairly, focusing on important factors that users have told us matter most.
We even get groups of everyday people to test the builders out and give us feedback, which we then analyze. This helps us:
- understand exactly how easy (or difficult) beginners find the builder
- uncover any issues within the builder
- judge customer satisfaction
We’ve applied this process to over 50 website builders so far – all so we can bring you the most accurate results and recommendations!
Still got questions? Read our report on How We Conduct Our Ecommerce Website Builder Research for a more detailed explanation.
Would you prefer instant, personalized answers? No problem, take our 4-question quiz and find your perfect ecommerce builder!
Further InformationLooking for 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 for small online stores
Start selling from $27 a month.
|Wix Pros||Wix Cons|
| - Comes with 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|
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 – so much so, that it takes first prize in our ecommerce ratings with an overall score of 4.7 out of 5.
But it hasn’t always been this way. In recent years, Wix has made significant improvements to its ecommerce offering that’s resulted in its score increase and led to us dubbing it the best overall ecommerce website builder.
We’ve been particularly impressed by Wix’s sales features, which have expanded drastically since we last tested it. This means that it now sits in third position for this category, a hairsbreadth behind ecommerce giants Shopify and BigCommerce. And if that weren’t enough, Wix has the best website features out of all the builders we tested, too!
Because of this, users don’t have to look very far to find the tools they need for online store success – they’re all right there at the touch of a button!
However, we would still only recommend Wix for smaller online stores. Its tools and features are impressive, but they aren’t quite good enough to deal with a large or complex inventory. We’d recommend either Shopify or BigCommerce for that.
When it comes to value for money, Wix is one of the best we tested. Considering the awesome features it offers, its three ecommerce plans are very affordable. The cheapest starts at $27 per month, which is a whole $2 cheaper per month than Shopify.
Wix is ideal for users of all tech abilities and is known for its ease of use. This means you can start flexing your ecommerce muscles without worrying!
Wix’s sales features have only gotten better over the years. What started off as a modest ecommerce offering has now grown into something to rival even the biggest of online store builders.
Some of our favorite 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 and Facebook 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.
On the downside, though, Wix does have pretty basic inventory features and lacks a stock level management alert system.
Another way to add ecommerce features to your Wix online store is to use apps. Wix has a formidable app store that means you can boost your selling functionality even further. Be careful, though – lots of these apps come with extra costs that can quickly mount up.
Wix has over 800 templates to choose from, around 500 of which are specifically for ecommerce stores. You can even filter them by specific ecommerce industries, too.
Each template is highly customizable, meaning you can create a really strong brand for your online store. 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.
However, it is worth noting that once you publish your online store, you won’t be able to change your template, so make sure you choose carefully! If you do decide that you want to switch it up, you’ll need to start from scratch.
Wix offers three pricing plans which are totally dedicated to ecommerce. Here’s each plan, with its monthly cost, billed annually:
The cheapest plan is ideal for those who are just starting out on their ecommerce journey, allowing you to take payments and sell across multiple channels. However, you won’t be able to sell on marketplaces – you’ll need to upgrade to either the Business Unlimited or Business VIP plan for this.
The higher tier plans also allow you to sell subscriptions, as well as give you access to dropshipping apps. You’ll also be able to display our prices in a variety of currencies, too.
Best for larger businesses
Start selling from $29.99 a month.
|Shopify Pros||Shopify Cons|
| - Excellent sales features and customer score |
- Sell across multiple channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest
- Easily manage your store with a brilliant inventory system
| - Needs third party apps to support multiple currencies – not ideal for international growth |
- High transaction fee when not using Shopify Payments
- Switching template means reformatting your website
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, scoring 4.5 out of 5 in this category thanks to the variety of high-quality tools it offers to support your store. Its inventory system is a particular highlight, as well as its many multi-channel selling options.
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 trickier to navigate than the likes of Wix and Squarespace.
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.
With three pricing plans to choose between, Shopify isn’t the cheapest of options, however, we think it’s fair to say you get what you pay for. It’s a platform that will grow with you, supporting the trajectory of your business.
Unfortunately, Shopify doesn’t offer a free plan, but you can take advantage of its 14-day free trial to decide whether it’s the right builder for you.
When it comes to sales features, Shopify excels. Second only to BigCommerce, it has a near-infinite list of ecommerce tools to boost your sales performance.
Here are a few of the main sales features:
- Sell physical and digital goods and services
- Abandoned cart recovery is built-in, helping catch incomplete sales
- Online invoice generator makes billing and collecting money easier
- Sync with 10 other sales platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon
- Over 100 different payment gateways to choose from (including Shopify Payments and Google Pay)
- Sell unlimited products
- Stay on track on the go with Shopify’s mobile app
- Easily customize your checkout with your own logo, brand colors and fonts
Plus, for anything that Shopify doesn’t offer as a built-in feature, it has an app for. Its app market rivals even that of Wix, so you can increase your store’s functionality as it grows.
However, as with Wix, it is worth bearing in mind that lots of these apps come with an additional cost. This, on top of a fairly steep monthly subscription price, isn’t ideal for those working with a smaller budget.
While talking about some of Shopify’s pitfalls, we should also mention its transaction fees. Shopify offers over 100 different payment options – something we’re big fans of. However, many of these gateways will come with additional transaction fees.
The only way for you to avoid this is if you sign up for Shopify’s own payment gateway, Shopify Payments. Although this isn’t the worst thing in the world, it does limit some of your choices, especially if there’s a particular gateway you’d rather use.
This is a small complaint, though, given the impressive functionality of Shopify as a whole. It’s no wonder that Shopify scores so highly in this category, making it a great choice for anyone who’s serious about building a successful and scalable ecommerce store.
In our design category, Shopify scored 3.9 out of 5, putting it just below Wix. It has over 100 themes to choose from, although only nine of these are actually free. The rest you’ll need to pay for, and prices vary between $180 and $350.
There’s a lot to be said for purchasing a premium theme, not least because they often come with more complex designs and built-in features, but it’s a big investment to make right off the bat.
For those just starting out, the free themes are still a good option. Each one is professionally designed and comes in a variety of color options to best suit your branding. However, because there are only nine to choose from, it can be tricky to create a storefront that truly stands out.
This is made harder by the fact that the Shopify editor isn’t as straightforward as it could be. This is because it’s set across two different interfaces – a front end and a back end – meaning you’ll need to constantly switch between the two when editing.
It’s not an insurmountable learning curve, but users commented that it did make things more complicated and took a while to master.
Shopify has three different pricing plans available:
With a value for money score of 3 out of 5, Shopify is one of the more expensive ecommerce builders out there. However, it’s a worthy investment, especially if you run a larger store that needs more complex inventory control.
We’d definitely say that the quality of Shopify’s tools justifies its prices, and the popularity of this platform with users all across the world lends plenty of weight to this. Plus, with a 14 day free trial (no credit card details required) there’s nothing to lose in trying Shopify out!
Shopify is an invaluable tool for eCommerce retailers. It grows with businesses.
Its customization apps and analytics have improved our SEO strategies and created a more enjoyable customer experience as they shop online. Its security features and certifications ensure data protection and privacy, building trust between us and our customer base.
We’ve also used Shopify’s POS features to track our sales when we have pop-up stores. Crucially, Shopify also helps optimize websites for mobile viewing, making them accessible to customers no matter where they are.
- Read our Shopify Review for a full look at the features, pros and cons of this top ecommerce platform
- See how Shopify ranks in our Online Store Builders Comparison Chart
- This could be you! See our list of Shopify Success Stories
- Want to know about SEO? Our Shopify SEO Review tells you all you need to know
- Not sure how to start? Read our guide on how to build an online store and get started today!
Best value for money
Start selling from $23 a month.
|Squarespace Pros||Squarespace 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
Best for smaller stores or those looking to sell digital products online, Squarespace is renowned for its creative finesse. 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 good inventory system and lots of quality features, make Squarespace an attractive choice. That’s why it sits in third place in our rankings with an overall score of 4.5 out of 5.
One of the best things about Squarespace is just how easy it is to use. It came first in our ease of use testing, meaning that it’s the easiest builder to get to grips with.
This is impressive enough, but what’s even better is that since we last tested it, Squarespace’s score in this area has increased from 3.4 out of 5 to 4.2, showing the incredible work that’s been done to make this platform more enjoyable for its users.
Despite this, it is worth knowing that there’s still 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-around choice for combining a stylish storefront with classic ecommerce features, such as creating discounts and promotional pop-ups.
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 doesn’t boast the longest list of sales features, which is why it has a slightly lower score of 3.4 out of 5, but those features it does have are all of the highest quality.
Ideally suited for those with a smaller inventory, or for a store specializing in digital products, Squarespace comes with limited but functional in-house stock management, as well as revenue reports, stock-level email reports, and strong marketing tools.
Promotional features are 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.
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.
One thing’s for sure – 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.
Design is kind of Squarespace’s thing. It’s well-known for its beautiful templates and strong customizability, consistently scoring well in this area.
In this round of testing, we awarded it 4 out of 5 for its design functionality. This puts it in joint first place, alongside Wix and BigCommerce.
However, the number of ecommerce templates available compared to other builders is disappointingly low. Luckily, those that are available are very appealing, so users won’t struggle to find a template they like.
Alongside its stunning designs, we really like the fact that Squarespace offers such good value for money. In our testing, it scored 4.4 out of 5 in this category, putting it in joint second place with Wix.
Squarespace offers three pricing plans, two of which are solely dedicated to ecommerce. The prices for each are as follows (billed annually):
Both the Basic and Advanced Commerce plans come with everything you need to run an online store. The only difference between the two is that the Advanced plan comes with increased ecommerce functionality, including abandoned cart emails, advanced shipping and discounts, as well as the ability to sell subscriptions.
If you aren’t fully ready to commit to an ecommerce-specific plan, we’d recommend opting for the Business plan. This comes with reduced ecommerce features but still allows you to sell an unlimited number of products.
It’s worth noting, however, that if you do choose the Business plan, you’ll be charged a hefty 3% transaction fee on all of your orders. This disappears if you upgrade to either the Basic or Advanced Ecommerce plans.
- Read our Squarespace Ecommerce Review to find out more about this stylish store builder
- Our Squarespace Pricing Review gives you a full breakdown of the builder’s premium plans and what they offer
- Get 10% off any Squarespace plan with our exclusive Squarespace Offer Code
- Read our Shopify vs Squarespace Review to compare these leading brands
- See how Squarespace compares with other leading brands in our Ecommerce Comparison Chart
Best way to sell for free
Start selling from $12 a month.
|Square Online Pros||Square 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
Square Online Overview
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.
And it’s not stingy with its ecommerce features, either. From generous multi-channel integrations to quick access to revenue and traffic insights, Square Online has an excellent bank of tools to help you get online and start selling.
Its real selling point, though, is its great value for money. In this category, Square Online scored an excellent 4.5 out of 5. This accolade is largely down to the fact that Square Online is one of only two builders on this list that let you sell for free. That means you can get started without spending a single cent.
Although, it’s worth mentioning that its free plan is obviously more limited than its paid packages. For example, if you won’t be able to use a custom domain on the free plan, and you’ll also have Square adverts to contend with.
In our research, Square Online scored 3.5 out of 5 for its sales features. Although not the best on the list, Square Online does come with enough tools for small businesses. Here’s a quick look at some of our favorites:
- Sell unlimited items – even on its free plan
- A variety of shipping options are available, including curbside pickup
- Automatically generate shipping labels and take advantage of shipping discounts
- Accept payments through PayPal, Apple Pay, Stripe, and Square
- Sell on Facebook and Instagram
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.
Plus, if you want to host a pop-up store, or open a brick-and-mortar business alongside your online store, you can integrate your website with Square’s Point of Sale (POS). This can sync up with your online stock inventory, too.
The variety of delivery options available makes Square Online the ideal choice if you’re planning on starting a food or drink delivery business. It even has a self-serve option, so users can use QR codes in your restaurant for contact-free delivery.
Although Square Online has a lot going for it, one of its main drawbacks is that it charges quite high transaction fees. You’ll need to pay 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction. There’s no way of getting around them, either, like there is with Shopify. You’ll have to pay them on even the most expensive plans.
We were pretty impressed with Square Online’s sales features and its ease of use, but we were less thrilled by its lack of design customization. It only scored 2.7 out of 5 in our research for this category.
Square Online only has two layout options: Shop Online and Order Online. Both are fairly similar, but one is aimed particularly at food and drink businesses, while the other targets the more typical “online store” market.
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.
Pricing and value for money are where Square Online really shines. Not only can you sell products for free, but even its paid premium plans are pretty cheap, too!
Aside from its free plan, Square Online has three plans to choose from:
Although the free plan is great for getting your business up and running, we’d always recommend upgrading to a paid plan if and when you can. This is because, on Square Online’s free plan, you’ll have to contend with ads on your site, and you won’t be able to use a custom domain name.
Upgrading to the Professional plan will remove these ads, and let you set your own domain name. Your business will immediately look more legitimate, increasing customer trust.
Plus, at $12 per month, the Professional plan is still a steal!
Square Online Gallery
- Check out our Square Online Review for a detailed look at this ecommerce builder
Best for a purely online business
Start selling from $29.95 a month.
|BigCommerce Pros||BigCommerce 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
BigCommerce is a well-known ecommerce platform that boasts some big 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 first for its sales features, scoring 4.6 out of 5 in this category. This is thanks to the sheer breadth of tools it offers, including plenty of multi-channel selling options, as well as the ability to accept international payments.
It also performed reasonably well when it came to website features, too. Its score of 3.6 out of 5 puts it in fourth place. You can expect a range of good in-house features, such as customer reviews, email marketing, and search filters.
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 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 large number of tools and features you get.
BigCommerce wants to see your store grow and succeed and this is evident in the number and quality of features it offers.
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.
Most importantly, BigCommerce’s stock management system is second-to-none. It can cope with complex, multi-variation inventories and its functionality beats even the likes of Shopify.
If you have ambitions to run a large store one day, BigCommerce has all the tools you need to support that dream.
With a score of 4 out of 5, BigCommerce came joint first in our research for design, alongside Wix and Squarespace.
BigCommerce has over 100 themes in its library. Like Shopify, however, only a few of these are free. You’ll have 12 free designs to choose from, but if you decide to opt for a premium theme, you’ll find yourself paying anywhere between $145 and $235.
All of BigCommerce’s themes are fully mobile responsive. Even better, it’ll optimize your design for you, so you don’t need to worry about flicking between the different editor modes to make sure you get the formatting right.
While the editing interface isn’t the most straightforward, BigCommerce’s customizability is great. Whereas with other builders, you might struggle to create a storefront that’s unique and personal, this isn’t a problem for BigCommerce users.
BigCommerce isn’t the cheapest of builders, especially when you get onto the more advanced plans, but as with Shopify, this is another platform where you get what you pay for.
Although BigCommerce offers tiered pricing like its competitors, these tiers are also based on how much revenue your business makes each year. Take a look at its pricing plans (and the associated revenue brackets) below:
- Standard plan ($0 – $50k) – $29.95/month
- Plus plan ($50 – $180k) – $79.95/month
- Pro plan ($180 – $400k) – $299.95/month
If your business has made more than $400k in the last year, you’ll need BigCommerce’s Enterprise plan, which comes at a custom price.
Generally, BigCommerce is aimed more at larger, enterprise-level businesses that can often afford the higher costs. This is why it operates on a revenue-based model. That means your pricing plan will be decided for you, depending on how much money your business has made in the last 12 months.
But if you’re a small startup, don’t let this discourage you. With an entry plan that is fairly affordable, you can still get a piece of the BigCommerce pie, upgrading only when your business has grown and you’re making more money.
BigCommerce doesn’t offer a free plan, but it does have a 15-day free trial so you can test out whether investing is the best move for your online business.
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.
- Read our BigCommerce Review for more detail on this ecommerce platform
- Find out about what you get for your money in our BigCommerce Pricing Review
- Can’t decide? Read BigCommerce vs Shopify or Wix vs Bigcommerce and find out which ecommerce platform is right for you
Best for running a hobby store
Start selling from $4.90 a month.
|Zyro Pros||Zyro 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
Zyro is a relatively new website builder on the ecommerce scene and has been designed to mimic competitors like Wix and Shopify. It still has some work to do on its ecommerce platform, but 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 is 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.
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 affordability of its Business 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, 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 entry-level sales functions.
In terms of its sales features, Zyro’s offering is rather modest. We scored it 3.4 out of 5 in this area, which, while by no means bad, is not the best score on the board. It’s not really enough to hold its own in the company of more well-known names.
Although it supports the sale of both physical and digital products, as well as services, Zyro only allows you to sell up to 100 items on its ecommerce-specific plan. This is limiting for larger stores or smaller ones with the ambition to grow.
Zyro 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 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.
Zyro excelled when it came to design. It has 29 ecommerce-specific templates to choose from, all of which are attractive and professionally designed.
As we’ve mentioned, there were some elements of the editing process that our users found frustrating, but creating a storefront that looks and feels good for customers wasn’t one of them.
The grid-based layout makes it very easy to drag and drop elements where you want them, and reminds us of Wix – which is no bad thing!
The difficulty comes in when you need to switch between the frontend editor and the ecommerce store manager. The two feel very disconnected and it’s hard to picture how your website will look once it’s all done.
However, Zyro did offer a trump card here that helped to boost its score. Usually, ecommerce builders offer a standard product page design, but Zyro goes much further.
It allows users to amend the layout of product pictures and text, as well as determine 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.
No other builder we’ve tested has offered this depth of creative control, and we really liked that it allowed us to give our online store that extra personal touch.
Zyro has one ecommerce dedicated plan – its Business plan – that allows you to sell online. This costs $14.99 per month, however Zyro regularly runs sales where you can save as much as 77%. This brings the price down to $3.39 per month if you commit to a two-year plan, or $4.24 for an annual plan.
Zyro does offer monthly payment plans, however, we don’t recommend these. Not only are they more expensive per month, but they don’t come with a free domain either.
Although cheap, Zyro isn’t necessarily good value for money because it lacks lots of the core ecommerce features its competitors have. Plus, it doesn’t offer a free trial for ecommerce plans. As a result, we only awarded it a score of 2.5 out of 5 for value for money.
- Read our Zyro Review to see a full breakdown of its features, pricing, and more
Best for independent artists
Start selling for free.
|Big Cartel Pros||Big 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
Big Cartel Overview
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.
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!
If you don’t intend to grow your business much in the near future, then Big Cartel’s simple sales tools are more than enough to get you started.
It 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).
Don’t expect anything too advanced, though. Big Cartel doesn’t offer anything like abandoned cart recovery, and you’ll only be able to display up to five product images per product. If you opt for the free plan, you’ll only be able to feature one image.
On the more expensive plans, however, you will be able to offer promotions and sales. Big Cartel also offers shipment tracking and a sales tax autopilot to help with those pesky taxes.
With an overall sales features score of 2.3 out of 5, Big Cartel isn’t going to be winning any awards, but it provides just enough for very small businesses. Those vendors making the move from a marketplace like Etsy will find everything they need to satisfy their ecommerce needs.
Although it’s possible to build a professional-looking website with Big Cartel, design isn’t its strong suit.
The templates on offer are clean and neat, but they can’t compete with the likes of Squarespace. They’re also not the easiest to customize either. The editor is fairly rigid, and what you can do with each template is limited. Unless you have coding knowledge, of course, which not everyone does.
Overall, it’s pretty difficult to build a brand with Big Cartel. It’s much easier if your business is already fully established, but if not, carving out a unique corner of the internet could prove tricky. Because of this, we only awarded it a score of 2.2 out of 5 for design.
In addition to its free Gold plan, Big Cartel has two premium plans on offer:
- Platinum plan – $9.99/month
- Diamond plan – $19.99/month
Although these prices are fairly affordable, they don’t offer very good value for money. This is because the features you get for what you pay are fairly lacking. Instead, we’d recommend checking out Square Online for free selling and cheap premium plans.
Big Cartel Gallery
Use the expandable sections below to choose your product, service or industry and to see which ecommerce platform comes out on top.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
See our expert opinion on Square Online.
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
- Wix – An extremely customizable platform ideal for small online stores.
- Shopify – Easy to use with excellent professional sales tools for larger businesses.
- Squarespace – Beautiful designs and excellent value for money.
- Square Online – Feature-rich with a quick and easy setup process.
- BigCommerce – An incredibly scalable platform crammed with powerful features.
- Zyro – Best for running a hobby store.
- 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
While Amazon dominates much of the western world, Mercado Libre is the most used marketplace across much of South America. Schibsted is another big marketplace that is used heavily by Scandinavian countries.
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.
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 and Squarespace are great options if you just have a few products to sell on the side.