If you’re looking for the best ecommerce platform for building your own online store, you’ve landed in the right place.
But before we dive into that, let’s define what an ecommerce “platform” actually is.
We’re guessing you’ve heard of website builders, right? Well, by providing tools that help you sell online, these builders don’t just create websites – they create online stores. These builders are what’s known as ecommerce platforms.
There are so many ecommerce platforms available, choosing one can get pretty confusing pretty quickly – especially when they all claim to be the best.
In this guide, we’ll introduce you to seven of the best ecommerce platforms:
There are a lot of ecommerce platforms out there that simply aren’t worth your time or money (trust us, we’ve been there). This guide will spare you a lot of the heavy lifting.
By the end, you will know the top ecommerce platforms for building online stores. You’ll also learn how to pick the right ecommerce platform for you.
If you’re raring to go, you can see how our top three ecommerce platforms rate on key features in our comparison chart below. We’ve even included links for you to try them out:
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 advanced ecommerce software.
Best all-round ecommerce platform.
Start selling from $29.99 a month.
|Shopify Pros||Shopify Cons|
Shopify is the best all-round ecommerce platform. It powers over 600,000 online stores and has over 1 million active users worldwide. More than $72 billion has been sold on Shopify – so it must be doing something right!
Our research confirmed this. Shopify came first in sales features, with lots of high quality tools to support your store. There are far too many to list them all, but here’s 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 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
You can see why Shopify scored top marks 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.
There’s no point having all these impressive features if they’re too hard for anyone to actually use. The good news is that Shopify came second overall for ease of use (beaten only by GoDaddy).
Powerful ecommerce features combined with straightforward processes make for a winning combination. 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 templates to choose from, there’s nothing to lose!
Best website builder with ecommerce functionality. Especially good for small businesses and getting started.
Start selling from $20 a month.
|Wix Pros||Wix Cons|
Wix is a popular drag-and-drop website builder which you can use to create an online store. With over 110 million users worldwide, Wix sure knows a thing or two about building websites – and online stores are no different! In fact, there are three Wix plans which are totally dedicated to ecommerce.
In our research, Wix was number one for value for money, as well as for help and support. It’s the best website builder with ecommerce functionality, but since it’s not a specialized ecommerce platform, it doesn’t have the same range of sales features as Shopify. Despite this, it’s certainly enough to get you started.
The cheapest Wix ecommerce plan is Business Basic at $20 a month.
This comes with phone, email, and social media support, as well as 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. This makes it perfect for beginners, or for setting up a small business.
You can create a really strong brand for your website 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. You know exactly how your online store will look to customers while you’re editing, making customization really easy.
But your online store needs to do more than just look good – and fortunately, Wix has great basic ecommerce features built in. For example, all Wix websites automatically have SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates. This is really important as it means customers can safely submit their details through your website.
But the best way to really give your Wix online store the best features is to use apps like Wix Stores and Ecwid.
While Ecwid lets you sell across multiple channels, such as Facebook and Instagram, Wix Stores unlocks tons of great ecommerce features, such as sending automated confirmation emails to customers or 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.
The main drawback of Wix is that it doesn’t offer abandoned cart recovery. This is an important feature which helps you re-engage customers who have left products in their basket during the checkout process.
Overall though, Wix does a great job of combining the ease and design of the traditional website builder with a range of ecommerce features perfect for getting your online store off the ground.
It’s especially good for those of you just starting out, 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!
Best for: large and fast-growing businesses, scaling your online store.
Start selling from $29.95 a month.
|BigCommerce Pros||BigCommerce Cons|
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 customer accounts and multi-channel selling.
In fact, BigCommerce has more features than any of its competitors. Everything you need is already built-in 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 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.
Best for: high quality templates and an aesthetic storefront.
Start selling from $18 a month.
|Squarespace Pros||Squarespace Cons|
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 first out of all the builders. Squarespace has a smaller but comprehensive selection of templates, covering an impressive range of industries.
It’s worth knowing Squarespace came out as the hardest to use ecommerce website builder in our research. People found it much trickier to get used to than Wix, Weebly, and GoDaddy, the other non-specialized ecommerce website builders.
That said, Squarespace still scored better than BigCommerce in ease of use testing. It might not be the best choice for total beginners or for getting online fast, but give it time and patience and you shouldn’t struggle too much.
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.
Unlike similar website builders like Wix and Weebly, Squarespace allows you to sell unlimited products. Plus, you have the option of either uploading them in bulk or one at a time.
By combining this with inhouse 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. With no app store, you’re totally reliant on the inhouse features and tools provided by Squarespace. Shipping and payment options are also 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.
Best for: value for money.
Start selling from $8 a month.
|Weebly Pros||Weebly Cons|
Weebly came joint with Wix for the platform offering best value for money. This is a really important factor for businesses – after all, you don’t want unnecessary costs to be taking away from your profits!
Weebly has four price plans, all of which support ecommerce. It might not really matter which Weebly plan you choose – you can sell online with any of them – but the best plan for you will depend on the size of your business. You can only sell up to 10 products on the cheapest Starter plan, whereas if you want to sell unlimited products, you’ll need the Business plan at $25 a month. This also removes the 3% transaction fee placed on the cheaper price plans.
But just what do you get for your money? Weebly makes it super easy to sell physical, digital, and service-based goods online. You can upload products in bulk and use inhouse tools to manage your stock levels.
Weebly only supports the three main payment gateways: Stripe, Square, and PayPal.
Weebly was recently acquired by Square, which has brought a stronger ecommerce focus to the website builder. Recent updates have made running your online store even easier: this includes a mobile app so you can manage your business on the go, as well as the option to print shipping labels from your phone!
As well as great sales features, Weebly also comes with other tools to expand your site’s functions. For example, you can now launch a blog or portfolio to go alongside your store. This is a great way of engaging with customers and standing out from your competitors.
Adding apps is another way to make your store stand out. There are over 300 apps to choose from in the Weebly App Center. Whether it’s displaying an Instagram feed on your homepage or adding an FAQs section to a product page, you’ll find an app to suit your needs.
Weebly is a drag-and-drop builder like Wix, but its templates have more structure. This makes it easier to quickly create your store, by following the guidelines of your chosen theme. This gives you more creative control than Shopify, and a more simple building process than Wix.
The downside of Weebly is that certain features – including abandoned cart recovery, gift cards, and real time shipping rates – which are only available as part of the most expensive Performance plan. Other features, such as customizing the checkout and managing your inventory, need more power to really make your online store succeed.
Weebly’s range of price plans and various features make it great value for money. You can easily scale up through the price plans as your store grows, but for large or fast-growing stores, it’s not the best option. Weebly is developing its ecommerce focus and releasing some promising updates. With Square now opening up Weebly’s ecommerce abilities, we definitely recommend watching this space.
Best for: analytics features.
Start selling from $29 a month.
|Volusion Pros||Volusion Cons|
Volusion is a specialized ecommerce platform in the mold of Shopify and BigCommerce. It’s not quite at the same level as these competitors, but it still has lots to offer for the right business. Customers have spent over $28 billion on websites built with Volusion, so it’s worth taking a look at!
Volusion came a solid third overall in our research for its sales features. You can create customer accounts, which means customers can safely store their details for a faster and easier shopping experience through your store.
You can link a Facebook Store to your Volusion site, which also supports marketplaces like Ebay and Amazon. This multi-channel integration is a super effective way of creating a more personal connection with your customers and maximizing your online presence.
Payment options include Paypal and Stripe, as well as Amazon and Apple Pay. You can use a third party app like Zapier to use Square. This choice means it’s easier to receive payments and better for appealing to your customers.
Despite its range of features, Volusion can’t compete with leading ecommerce platforms like Shopify. Where other platforms either have more powerful features or fill a niche in the market, Volusion lacks some of this refinement.
It scored poorly in ease of use, and doesn’t have those extra little features to make running your store as smooth as possible. For example, you can’t sell digital products, or add extra features like blogging which could add an extra dimension to your store.
A big issue with Volusion is the extra cost of $99 to install an SSL certificate to your site. This is a hefty price to pay for an essential feature, which allows customers to safely submit their details to your store. Considering other ecommerce platforms automatically include this for free, it’s a big drawback of Volusion.
In contrast, some of Volusion’s best features are its analytics and insight reports. These let you keep track of all your stock in one place. This is super useful, especially if you’re making the most of multi-channel selling over Facebook. This takes a lot of stress off your shoulders – with Volusion, you can sit back, relax, and easily keep your store organized.
Volusion is great if you’re super keen on tracking your inventory and the success of your store. It’s hard to narrow down who this ecommerce platform is really best for, but if you’re looking for an easy and smooth builder, this isn’t the choice for you.
Best for: beginners!
Start selling from $19.99 a month.
|GoDaddy Pros||GoDaddy Cons|
GoDaddy is a well-known website builder. But you can also use it to create your very own online store. Although it’s the lowest ranking website builder with ecommerce functionality, it’s also the easiest to use! This makes it great for anyone who wants to start selling online, but isn’t too confident with the techy side of things.
Because GoDaddy is so easy to use, you can get your online store up and running in a flash. So if you’ve got loads of products that need shifting fast, you could have your GoDaddy store online and selling within the hour. It really is that quick and easy!
While other ecommerce platforms use drag-and-drop editing, or even let you create your store from scratch if you want to, GoDaddy does something different. It uses ADI, which stands for Artificial Intelligence Design. This means it simply asks you a few questions, and then uses your answers to create a personalized store for you. This is what makes it the easiest ecommerce platform to use on the whole market.
Wix also offers ADI, so if you’re after something super easy you can choose between Wix and GoDaddy. You can add Wix Stores and other ecommerce apps to your Wix ADI site, adding almost as many ecommerce features as Shopify.
While GoDaddy scored top marks for ease of use, it does fall down in the depth and quality of its features. Like Volusion, you have to pay extra for an SSL certificate, which will allow customers’ details to be safely submitted on your website.
With limited payment options, only one premium plan, and basic tracking systems, GoDaddy is an average solution for your online store.
But despite its shortcomings, GoDaddy shouldn’t be dismissed. You can’t sell digital goods, but your customers can book online appointments through your GoDaddy site.
One of GoDaddy’s best features is its email marketing. You can send automated customer updates, as well as abandoned cart reminders.
Overall, because of GoDaddy’s ADI design, there is limited creative control, meaning it’s best for anyone wanting to set up an online store quickly and easily. Basic sales features mean this ecommerce platform is not suited to large or fast-growing businesses.
So what can the best ecommerce platforms do for you? Well, they’re a great way for you to sell online and make a few extra dollars. You don’t need to be a design expert and you don’t need to know code!
Say you want to make some money online. You want to build a store for your small business or start selling on a simple ecommerce site.
Does this sound like you?
You’re selling a handful of products and start by adding some beautiful product images and descriptions. You connect to a shopping cart (a web tool that allows your store to accept payments) and you’re off!
Next you promote your store using different marketing techniques and people start to visit. You’ve discovered that your visitors love what you have to offer, and they’re spending their money! You’re now in business!
Sounds exciting right?
But here’s the problem: if you’re not careful, you’ll use up all your time keeping your store up and running. You will have to:
- Manage your sales channels (including social media accounts)
- Create new marketing material
- Respond to (sometimes angry) support emails
- Manage your stock inventory
- Analyze your sales reports
- Handle taxes and do the dreaded paperwork
Throw this all together and you won’t have any time left to focus on growing your online store (we’ve been there and done that).
Don’t let this be you.
So what do you do?
This is where a top ecommerce platform can help you out.
Each of the best ecommerce platforms we feature in this guide will help you build and grow your online store.
You can choose between specialized ecommerce platforms, such as Shopify, and website builders with ecommerce functionality, such as Wix and Weebly. Not all website builders are great for ecommerce, which is why we did the research to bring you the best on the market.
They’re all ecommerce platforms. But which one you choose depends on your needs, the size of your business, and the type of store you’re running.
Some ecommerce website builders like Wix are better overall than specialized ecommerce platforms like Volusion. So it’s best to think about how many products you’re selling, how important creative control is to you, and how fast your business is growing.
“A good ecommerce platform is like a Lego set. You get the base to build on, then you can add new features to change the look, feel and functionality of your product. Also, if you decide you no longer like a block, you can remove it. Simple! You get great flexibility to build and grow the store you want.”
The best ecommerce platforms allow you to keep adding tools to your online store. Not only does this help your business grow, but it also frees up your time so you can focus on other more important things (both personal and professional).
So how do you choose from our top seven ecommerce platforms? To find the right platform, you need to think about things like ease of use, apps and extensions, and how far you want to grow your store.
In this section, we’ll cover what should you keep in mind when picking your ecommerce platform.
First and foremost, we based our choices on our own research and experience. After using several ecommerce platforms, we found that the key ways they help you run your online store are:
- Mobile optimization
- Ease of use
- Payment options
- Apps and add-ons
Let’s go into a bit more detail.
How many different devices can you browse the internet on in your household?
If you’re anything like the typical family, I imagine quite a few. This is also true for your potential customers.
Shopping on mobile phones is more popular than ever. In fact, by 2021, mobile could make up to 72.9% of ecommerce sales – up from just 11.6% in 2014.
Mobile optimization is a fancy way of describing how well your store adapts when people look at it on different devices (think smartphone, tablet, laptop) with different screen sizes.
Top ecommerce platforms make sure your store looks great no matter what device your customer is using.
On top of that, the best ecommerce platform editors make it easy to see what your store looks like on different devices. You can switch between previewing on phone and desktop at the click of a button.
A top ecommerce platform will even do a lot of the legwork for you. The themes (also called templates) you use to design your online store are built to look good on any device.
Shopify themes, for example, are generally optimized for use on both mobile and computer. Similarly, Wix will automatically reformat your store to look good on mobile devices. Squarespace, Weebly and BigCommerce also offer mobile-friendly stores.
The best thing is that adding these themes and previewing your site on mobile is easy. Which leads us on to…
Ease of use
Whether you’re just starting out selling online, or getting your bricks-and-mortar business online for the first time, ease of use is everything.
All of our top ecommerce platforms are different, but they have one crucial thing in common: you can get online and start selling without knowing how to code.
What’s the point in having all-powerful customization potential if you don’t know how to use it?
The best ecommerce platform dashboards are simple and intuitive to use. They also come with excellent customer support and setup wizards that guide you through building your online store.
Having quality support is like hiring a full-time business mentor. They’re in your corner all day and can point you in the right direction when things go wrong.
We’ve rated the top ecommerce platforms at least four stars out of five in our ecommerce comparison chart. You don’t need any coding knowledge to build a stylish online store. This is not true of more complex self-hosted ecommerce software like WordPress and Magento (if you want to find out more about these advanced tools, visit our guide on best ecommerce software).
If you find it difficult to create and run your online store, it’s going to cost you time and money. This is because you will have to spend a lot of your time working out how to do things, or a lot of your money hiring a designer to do the work for you.
Fortunately, ecommerce platforms have been designed with you in mind. They make it easy to add the features, colors, fonts and functionality that you want on your store.
They’re intuitive to use – this means that designing your store should feel natural; just point and click at the feature you want to add, remove or change.
And the best part?
Each of our top ecommerce platforms offer a free trial. You don’t have to take our word for it that they’re easy to use. Make sure you find using the platform easy, before you commit your hard-earned dollars, by signing up to a free trial.
An ecommerce platform doesn’t just give you what you need right now – it gives you what you need to run a successful long-term business. After all, as you grow, you want to sell more products to more customers, right? You need to know if:
- Your store can handle the extra number of shoppers without slowing down or crashing
- You have the flexibility to make changes as your business goals change
- If you can add more products as you expand your range
- You can be confident your store has the right security certificates to sell online.
The best ecommerce platforms give you all this and more. For example, all Shopify plans come with unlimited bandwidth (the amount of data your store can handle before it breaks), unlimited file storage (so you can upload as many quality product pictures as you want), and unlimited products..
As your store grows, the things you’ll want are luxury add-ons, such as better analytics on your customers. Ecommerce platforms provide this by offering a range of plans that cater to businesses of different sizes. The bigger your store becomes, the more you will want to think about upgrading to a more advanced plan that comes with more features.
Ecommerce Platforms – Extensions and Apps
The best ecommerce platforms are like Swiss Army knives. They let you perform all the important functions of running an online store from the same place.
They do this by giving you access to apps and extensions you can add to your store.
Let us explain in a bit more depth.
There are a number of categories of functions that you can add to your online store, including:
- Sales & Marketing
- Shipping / Fulfillment
- Inventory / Order Management
- Customer Service
- Reporting / Analytics
If you want more detail on any of the above, head over to our in-depth platform reviews
Think of apps as problem-solvers. Most of the top ecommerce platforms in this guide all have a store that connects you to a comprehensive list of apps. There is only one of you, so selecting a solid ecommerce platform that gives you the tools necessary to grow with your business is so important.
The best ecommerce platforms provide a range of payment options, including:
- Visa or Debit Card
- Credit Card
- Amazon Pay
- Apple Pay
- Cryptocurrency (such as Bitcoin)
It’s all about choice.
The more options you can give your shoppers, the more chance you have of making a sale.
Now you know the key ways an ecommerce platform can help you build and grow an online store. And you’ve read our list of the top seven ecommerce platforms too. So now it’s up to you to decide which one suits your business the best.
There’s no magical answer that’s right for everyone. It’ll depend on the size and growth of your business, your own level of tech confidence, how much creative control you want, or what types of products you’re going to sell. The right ecommerce platform for you may even change over time as your business grows or changes.
In this guide, we’ve introduced you to the seven best ecommerce platforms. You’re now ready to pick one to build an online store and start selling online.
Let’s recap quickly.
Our top seven best ecommerce platforms are:
- Shopify: Best all-round ecommerce platform.
- Wix: Best website builder with ecommerce functionality. Best for small businesses starting out.
- BigCommerce: Best for scaling large or fast-growing businesses.
- Squarespace: Best for creatives, with a stylish storefront.
- Weebly: Best value for money.
- Volusion: Best for in-depth analytics reports.
- GoDaddy: Best for beginners. Easiest to use ecommerce platform.
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.
Shopify and BigCommerce, for example, 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 depth to grow with your business.
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.