An eCommerce platform is not just a piece of technology.
It defines your business model and brand.
Some eCommerce platforms are specifically designed to sell digital products like online courses, subscriptions, or software with features like support for multi-channel selling or audio, PDF, survey, video, and download support.
Other platforms best suit physical products, including application programming interface (API) integrations for dropshipping and payments or the ability to link inventory from a brick-and-mortar store.
There are also eCommerce platforms that suit almost any product you can imagine – and whichever marketing strategy you employ.
There are 5 primary purposes of eCommerce platforms:
All of these should be taken into account as you select your platform, whether for a new venture or an existing site which you will be migrating.
When you launch your eCommerce store, you want to hit the ground running. There has never been a better time to launch but you certainly won’t be alone. In 2021, US consumers spent $933.30 billion via eCommerce, up 17.9% YoY. That’s 15.3% of total US retail sales.
Most eCommerce platforms are built on a SaaS (Software as a Service) model, making them accessible to non-tech background business owners.
Even if you have no coding knowledge, you can build elegant, online stores that foster confidence in your brand.
The time has arrived when you don’t need coding or deep tech skills to set up an eCommerce store that looks great and has secure payment processing functionalities.
The hardest part? There are hundreds of eCommerce platforms to choose from, all with different features, specific use-cases, and pricing options.
With Shopify, you can quickly build an online store that looks professional (which increases trust and conversions) with a robust suite of tools to help navigate your eCommerce journey.
Shopify hosts over 1 million businesses around the world and captures 23% of US eCommerce market share. You can sell any product, physical or digital, that you choose.
There are thousands of marketing, accounting, inventory, and sales apps that integrate with Shopify, offering a centralized location to measure and improve your business.
Need an easy-to-make button to get subscription membership signups for exclusive content? They’ve got that. Want to sell digital downloads like website templates, art, or something else entirely? You got it. Integrate with your physical store? Of course.
Over 100 customizable templates and themes to choose from puts you in total control of the creative presentation of your business.
There are also pre-created color palettes and marketing guidelines to assist you in making branding decisions as you build.
Importantly, the platform makes it easy to monitor inventory at a glance from a mobile device with the Shopify app.
You can also streamline shipping tasks through a variety of options, including auto-generated printing labels and the ability to automate the delivery of tracking information.
Shopify’s content management system (CMS) makes it easy to manage the functionality and the layout of your online store.
The CMS is fully responsive so you can easily track purchases, manage inventory, and update your store from anywhere – whether from mobile or desktop.
The drag-and-drop design style makes it an ideal choice for businesses with little in-house technical support.
You can sell products from your online store, Facebook and Instagram, online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, and integrate with your in-person store.
Shopify allows you to accept all major credit cards, debit cards, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. You can also choose from third-party payment processors like PayPal for a percentage fee.
Pricing: You can test Shopify for 14 days with the free trial, then upgrade to Basic Shopify for $29USD/month. For advanced features, you can pay $79USD/month and $299USD/month package.
Best For: Everything from digital downloads and physical products to subscriptions.
BigCommerce is a close competitor to Shopify, which is saying a lot. Some of the biggest brands in the world have this platform in their tech stack, including Sony and Ubisoft.
One area where this platform outshines Shopify is stronger built-in search engine optimization (SEO) and analytics. You can customize everything from page titles to metadata to product URLs.
These are all key customization options that can drastically impact Google search results.
BigCommerce offers advanced reporting and analytics on all plans.
You can deep dive into real-time data on orders, conversions, users, and customers to create highly-customized reports on everything from customer habits to revenue.
Another key feature is the simple multi-channel integration. If you already sell across marketplaces like Etsy or social media, BigCommerce is a turnkey solution.
Pricing: $29.95USD/month up to $299.95USD/month.
Best For: Physical products – but you can sell anything with this robust platform.
Square Online is a user-friendly, non-tech-background required favorite. You can create attractive, feature-rich online stories with ease on this intuitive website building platform.
Square makes it easy to integrate its wildly popular point-of-sale (POS) system and card processing platform.
You can get paid anywhere, anytime with the physical mobile device, which offers elegant, easy-to-setup integration with inventory and data from the Square eCommerce platform.
Drag-and-drop makes it easy to design, build, and launch professional-looking eCommerce stores in under a week – faster if you are familiar with Square Online already.
The platform is easy to integrate with all your social media channels and makes it easier to build and centralize an omni-channels marketing and sales experience for your customers.
Square Online and Shopify rank right up as the easiest, most cost-effective eCommerce platforms available.
Pricing: You can set up a free shop on Square Online. Paid subscriptions range from $12-$72USD/month.
Best For: Anything. Start selling, taking orders, or booking appointments online with very little setup time or learning curve.
WooCommerce ranks at the top of the list to run eCommerce stores and affiliate marketing campaigns under one umbrella.
This is a free WordPress plugin that lets you start selling from any WordPress website in no time flat.
Setup is not quite as simple as with the two first options on this list, but the WooCommerce team is consistently putting out new features and making the selling experience easier from the back-end user perspective.
There are also dozens of options for integrating payment gateways, intuitive email marketing, social media campaigns, 1-click selling, shipping and logistics, and more.
For WordPress users and those familiar with the platform, WooCommerce is an easy option as an eCommerce platform.
Once installed, you just add your products, manage your store settings and inventory, and start selling.
Inventory management is basic but that’s what many small to medium size businesses, otherwise known as SMBs, prefer. Woo falls behind here in some ways for eCommerce stores that do a high volume of sales but is ideal for small and even medium-sized businesses.
Other extensions on Woo allow you to sell products on social media and marketplaces, including Amazon, Instagram, Facebook, eBay, Pinterest, and even Tik Tok.
Order management is a much-beloved feature that allows you to deep dive into analytics on products sold, billing and shipping addresses, and customer records – i.e. valuable insights into customer data that can help fine-tune your ever-evolving sales funnel.
The platform offers its own payment processor. You can also get paid via PayPal, Square, Amazon Pay, and Stripe.
Pricing: Free plugin.
Best For: All businesses and products.
Much like its close namesake, Squarespace (not to be confused with Square Online) offers equally user-friendly eCommerce website creation and management.
The stylish, award-winning templates are what set Squarespace apart from others on this list. There are over 100 unique templates that match the needs of almost any brand.
Squarespace templates emphasize your products, and perhaps even more alluring is that they are easy to customize – meaning any template can be molded to fit the needs of your brand.
The eCommerce platform is easy to use and makes it easy to customize your layout and store, without any coding background whatsoever. It’s another drag-and-drop option that makes setting up a store a breeze.
If branding and design are your top priority, then you can’t go wrong with Squarespace as an eCommerce platform.
Squarespace’s intuitive dashboard makes it easy for brands to sell services and gift cards, create subscriptions and membership programs, and for customers to book appointments online.
Fully integrated email marketing features let you build brand loyalty with easy-to-add discounts and deals.
The dashboard also makes it easy to check and manage inventory, confirm and ship orders, and access valuable site traffic, sales trends, and customer data.
Payment processing is streamlined and simple, and customers can pay via PayPal, Stripe, Apple Pay, and Venmo.
You can even add surveys or gift messages, set custom tax rates, and alert customers when inventory is low.
Easy social media integration to share deals is another key feature.
Pricing: Basic Plan starts at $30 USD/month. Full pricing and features here.
Best For: Anything. From t-shirts to courses to eBooks.
Volusion has been in the eCommerce industry for almost two decades so they are doing something right. They are true pioneers in the eCommerce platform space with a dedicated user base.
Key customization options include a variety of navigation styles, custom domains, a robust and rich content editor, and eye-catching product pages.
These are all key features that help create a unique, simple, barrier-free shopping experience for customers. Don’t lose focus on this!
The drag-and-drop page editor makes it easy to set up shop. For SMBs, order and inventory management are easy and efficient.
One of Volusion’s key unique selling points is a premiere suite of SEO tools.
With these SEO insights, you can easily track and manage all your metadata to keep your pages, products, and categories SEO-friendly and your store ranking high on search engine results pages.
Volusion also offers the must-haves of all eCommerce websites: a dashboard that displays data on abandoned carts, live feeds to product, and category views to keep your store organized and easy to navigate.
Pricing: $29USD/month up to $299USD/month.
Best For: Selling physical products.
Wix is a great fit for new online stores and incredibly easy to use.
The drag-and-drop eCommerce platform offers affordable pricing, over 70 free themes, serverless built-in payment processing, and hassle-free coding.
There is also a mobile-optimized version of your store, which is good for both you and your customers.
You can use the Mobile Editor to finetune your mobile experience from your desktop, which is absolutely necessary for eCommerce stores. Why? Mobile eCommerce sales are projected to reach $3.56 trillion in 2021—22.3 percent more than the $2.91 trillion from the year prior.
Wix also provides powerful analytics and SEO tools and can provide intuitive SEO guidance if you answer a few questions about your website, your location, and keywords.
In turn, you can capture more leads and increase conversions. Fist pump!
There are three payment options with Wix: Wix Payments, PayPal, and Alipay – somewhat limited when compared to other options on this list but gets the job done.
Wix’s simple dashboard makes it easy to manage inventory, fulfill orders, get revenue and conversion rate reports, and an easy-to-use customer management system (CMS).
Pricing: $16USD/month up to $45USD/month.
Best For: You can sell absolutely anything.
Podia is an eCommerce platform that focuses on selling digital goods online.
You can sell everything from courses for online learning to digital subscriptions and memberships.
For subject matter experts with lessons to impart to willing customers, Podia helps you to share your expertise, content, and courses online.
Podia makes it easy to integrate email marketing and messaging tools, and offers a clean, simple interface to build an elegant online storefront to highlight and sell your products.
The eCommerce platform is a centralized marketing hub as well as a storefront. Podia assists with content creation, newsletter creation, and delivery, and offers secure payment processing, all on one simple platform.
No coding knowledge is required.
Podia also integrates with Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel, further streamlining your marketing strategy.
For digital creators selling digital goods, you can’t go wrong with Podia.
Pricing: Starts free up to $166USD/month
Best For: Digital products. Anything from courses to subscriptions.
Like WooCommerce, Ecwid is an eCommerce platform that lets you set up an eCommerce store on an existing website.
So if you already have a website on a platform like WordPress, Wix, or Weebly, you can add Ecwid to your site with eCommerce capabilities in minutes.
Not to the extent of others like Squarespace, but you can customize your store with unique themes and install apps to expand the functionality of your eCommerce store.
A unique feature of Ecwid is that it allows you to set up ‘catalogs’ of products.
From here you can add photos, pricing, and weight for each item, which helps streamline shipping quotes and costs.
Unlike Shopify, Squarespace, and BigCommerce, and similar to WooCommerce and Podia, Ecwid is an eCommerce plugin that is added to an existing website or online presence – though in recent years (they have been in business for over a decade) the team added the ‘Instant Sites’ option. Instant Sites lets you create basic, one-page standalone offerings – basically landing or squeeze pages built within or separate from your eCommerce store.
Pricing: Start from free up to $99USD/month.
Best For: No limitations. Sell anything from your pre-existing website.
If you’re looking for an agency who can help you grow your eCommerce store, get in contact with us at Credo. Our team of experts are standing buy to understand your needs and connect you fast with agencies we trust who can deliver results for your business.
This page last updated on October 3, 2022 by Dan Politz
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