The 7 Best Ecommerce Platforms of 2020

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Whether it’s buying a physical product or booking a salon appointment, customers are getting used to purchasing more products, services, and memberships online. 

It’s estimated that ecommerce sales make up 15.5% of retail sales worldwide. And yet, half of small businesses in the U.S. don’t have websites, making it hard for their customers to shop with them and, in turn, causing them to lose out to competitors that are using dedicated ecommerce platforms to create a seamless shopping experience.

We reviewed over a dozen popular ecommerce platforms based on price, range of features, ease-of-use, scalability, and more. Here are our top picks.            

The 7 Best Ecommerce Platforms of 2020

Best Overall: Shopify

Shopify

Shopify

Started in 2004 by three entrepreneurs trying to start an online snowboarding equipment store, Shopify has grown to over 5,000 employees worldwide serving 1,000,000 customers. We chose it as the best overall because it’s an affordable, robust, and easy-to-use platform for both beginners and growing businesses.

As an all-in-one ecommerce platform, Shopify is easy to set up and administer, making it a great choice for businesses with little in-house technical support. The platform lets users sell products from an online store, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, and in-person with Shopify’s point-of-sale (POS) system.

Shopify offers some of the most advanced inventory management features of all the platforms we reviewed. Users can easily view stock levels and orders at a glance and create detailed product pages with custom metadata, images, pricing rules, and more. Shopify also streamlines shipping tasks including printing labels and sending tracking information to customers. 

Shopify has a built-in payment processor that works with major credit cards, debit cards, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Users can choose from third-party payment processors like PayPal for an additional fee.

Designing a Shopify ecommerce store is easy with a drag-and-drop store builder, over 70 professional and free store themes, and the ability to customize anything without needing design skills. Finally, Shopify integrates with thousands of marketing, sales, inventory, accounting, and other apps to expand its already extensive ecommerce capabilities.       

Shopify Pricing

Lite Plan

  • $9 per month
  • 1 staff account
  • Buy button and social media sales
  • POS app

Basic Plan

  • $29 per month
  • 2 staff accounts
  • All Lite Plan features
  • Branded online store
  • Abandoned cart recovery

Shopify Plan

  • $79 per month
  • 5 staff accounts
  • All Basic Plan features
  • Professional reports

Advanced Plan

  • $299 per month
  • 15 staff accounts
  • All Shopify Plan features
  • Advanced report builder

All Shopify plans come with a 90-day free trial and 24/7 email, live chat, and phone support.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: BigCommerce

BigCommerce

BigCommerce

Built originally as an online shopping cart by two developers in 2009, BigCommerce now boasts over 600 employees and has processed $25 billion in merchant sales for businesses in 120 countries. We chose it as the runner-up because it is comparable to Shopify with a focus on larger businesses and more robust SEO capabilities.

One place where BigCommerce differs from Shopify is in payment processing. Unlike Shopify, which charges 0.5% to 2% per transaction for using third-party payment processors, BigCommerce lets users choose from over 40 processors, including PayPal, Square, and Stripe, without extra fees. This is great for businesses that want to stick with their established merchant accounts. 

Like Shopify, BigCommerce makes it easy to build beautiful ecommerce sites and sell on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram and marketplaces like eBay and Amazon. It also offers an equally impressive marketplace of apps for shipping, marketing, accounting, customer relationship management (CRM), and more.

Where BigCommerce pulls away from Shopify is with SEO and analytics. BigCommerce’s SEO increases page load times for better customer experiences and also lets users customize page titles, metadata, and product URLs to improve the chances of products showing up in Google search results. Many of these advanced SEO features are only available from Shopify as add-ons. 

BigCommerce provides advanced reporting and analytics with every plan, unlike Shopify, which only offers it on it’s more expensive plans. In addition to getting real-time data on orders, customers, and conversions, users can also drill down and create custom reports on revenue, customer habits, order details, and more.        

BigCommerce Pricing

Standard Plan

  • $29.95 per month
  • Up to $50,000 online sales per year
  • Branded online store
  • BigCommerce mobile app
  • Integrated social and marketplace selling
  • Professional reporting tools
  • Real-time shipping quotes

Plus Plan

  • $79.95 per month
  • Up to $180,000 online sales per year
  • All Standard Plan features
  • Abandoned cart saver
  • Customer groups and segmentation

Pro Plan

  • $299.95 per month
  • Up to $400,000 online sales per year*
  • All Plus Plan features
  • Google customer reviews
  • Custom product filtering
  • Price lists

* +$150/month for each additional $200,000 in online sales.

All BigCommerce plans come with a 15-day free trial and 24/7 live agent support. 

Best Budget Solution: Volusion

Volusion

Volusion

Started in 1999 by a 16-year-old coder building websites for clients, Volusion has grown from a simple online shopping cart to a full-featured ecommerce platform processing $28 billion in sales through over 30,000 merchants. We chose it as the best budget solution because it gives businesses everything they need to sell online without all the bells and whistles.

Volusion makes it easy to design a professional ecommerce site with dozens of themes and a drag-and-drop page editor. Order and inventory management are simple and sufficient for smaller sellers. Volusion also sticks to the basics when it comes to reporting and analytics, allowing users to check traffic, product performance, and abandoned shopping carts.

Volusion’s simplicity does have a few drawbacks, however. For one, the platform doesn’t support selling products on social media or marketplaces like eBay and Amazon. In addition, Volusion’s add-ons and integrations are much more limited than those of Shopify and BigCommerce. However, Volusion is a great choice for ecommerce businesses just getting started and not wanting to get overwhelmed by complex platforms and features.

Volusion Pricing

Personal Plan

  • $26 per month
  • Unlimited products and storage
  • Online support
  • No transaction fees

    Professional Plan

  • $71 per month
  • All Personal Plan features
  • Online and phone support
  • Abandoned cart reports

Startup Plan

  • $161 per month
  • All Professional Plan features
  • $50 per month in Quick Wins*
  • Third-party gateways

Business Plan

  • $269 per month
  • Priority support
  • All Startup Plan features
  • $150 per month in Quick Wins*
  • Traffic growth consultation

* Credits available for Volusion’s marketing and analytics training. 

All Volusion plans come with a 14-day free trial and 24/7 online support.

Best User-Experience: Wix

Wix

Wix

Wix was founded in 2006 by three developers frustrated with the expense and difficulty involved in building an ecommerce website. Today, the company has a staff of 2,700 employees worldwide and 150 million users in 190 countries. We chose Wix for the best user-experience since it lets businesses create an ecommerce site easier and more affordably than any of the other platforms we reviewed.

Wix comes with hundreds of professional templates and a drag-and-drop editor, making it easy to create a beautiful ecommerce site in just minutes. Setting up and running a basic personal website is free, but upgrading to a paid plan is the only way to unlock Wix’s ecommerce features.

Similar to Volusion, Wix offers a choice of just three payment processors: Wix Payments, PayPal, and Alipay. Managing inventory and orders and getting revenue and conversion rate reports is handled through Wix’s clean and simple dashboard.

Finally, Wix offers more add-ons and integrations (including Google Analytics) than Volusion but fewer than Shopify or BigCommerce, allowing businesses to expand their ecommerce capabilities as needed. And, while Wix doesn’t let users sell on eBay or Amazon, it does integrate Instagram and Facebook.

It’s important to note that, while Wix’s limitations make it appear to be a lesser platform to Shopify, BigCommerce, or Volusion, the number of ecommerce features you get for the money makes Wix a great option for small online sellers.

Wix Pricing

Business Basic Plan

  • $23 per month
  • Accept online payments
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • 20GB storage
  • Connect your domain
  • Remove Wix ads
  • 5 video hours
  • Google Analytics
  • Free domain for 1 year
  • $300 ad vouchers
  • Site Booster app
  • Visitor Analytics app

Business Unlimited Plan

  • $27 per month
  • 35GB storage
  • All Business Basic Plan features
  • 10 video hours
  • Professional logo
  • Social media logo files

Business VIP Plan

  • $49 per month
  • 500GB storage
  • All Business Unlimited Plan features
  • Unlimited video hours
  • Priority Response
  • VIP Support

All of Wix’s paid plans include a 14-day free trial, free hosting, Google Analytics, and the ability to link a custom domain.

Best Free Platform: Weebly

Weebly

Weebly

Weebly was created in 2007 with the goal of making it easy for anyone to build a personal website with just a single platform. In 2018, Weebly was acquired by Square, further expanding its ecommerce capabilities. Today it powers more than 50 million sites around the world. We choose it as the best free platform since it is the only platform we reviewed that lets users create a simple, functional ecommerce site for free.   

Weebly’s intuitive drag-and-drop editor rivals that of Wix, allowing users to create a beautiful online store in minutes. The platform walks users step-by-step through setting up a store, including choosing a basic layout, selecting fonts and colors, adding pages, and choosing a site name. Inventory items can be added right away or once the rest of the site has been built.

All of Weebly’s plans feature a fully integrated shopping cart and secure checkout. Users of Weebly’s free plan can use PayPal as a payment processor, with Stripe and Square available on paid accounts. Weebly’s Professional and Performance plans also support customized shipping rates based on geographical locations, including states and provinces, plus free shipping on select orders.

Weebly keeps inventory management and reporting simple and hassle-free, with easy bulk importing and exporting, search engine optimization, and site performance tracking features. Apps and integrations are available, adding even more marketing, sales, and promotion capabilities to any Weebly store.          

Weebly Pricing

Free Plan

  • $0 per month
  • Advanced site stats
  • Shopping cart
  • Inventory management
  • Automatic tax calculator
  • Coupons
  • Square gift cards
  • SEO
  • Lead capture
  • Instagram feed

Personal Plan

  • $6 per month
  • All Free Plan features
  • Connect a custom domain

Professional Plan

  • $12 per month
  • All Personal Plan features
  • Free domain
  • Unlimited storage
  • Remove Square ads
  • Password protection
  • Shipping calculator

Performance Plan

  • $26 per month
  • All Professional Plan features
  • Item reviews
  • Shipping labels
  • Shipping discount
  • Abandoned cart emails
  • Advanced ecommerce insights
  • Priority support

All of Weebly’s plans offer live chat, email, and phone support. While no free trials are available, a full ecommerce store can be built using the free plan with the option to upgrade later.

Best for Creatives: Squarespace

Squarespace

Squarespace

Squarespace was built in a dorm room at the University of Maryland in 2003 as a basic platform for building and hosting blogs. In 2013, it added ecommerce features and a simple drag-and-drop interface, making it a strong competitor alongside Wix and Weebly. We chose it as the best for creatives because it makes it easy to create sleek, visual, portfolio-style sites for showcasing and selling creative works.      

In addition to selling products, Squarespace makes it easy to sell services and gift cards, create subscriptions and membership programs, and for customers to book appointments online. Integrated email marketing features let users build loyalty by offering discounts and deals. The platform also supports a number of third-party integrations, including Printful and ShipStation, so custom products can be easily created and shipped.     

Squarespace keeps payment processing simple as well, allowing customers to pay via PayPal, Stripe, Apple Pay, and Venmo. Checkout is streamlined and simple for quick transactions, and users can customize the checkout process by adding surveys or gift messages, setting custom tax rates, and alerting customers when inventory is low. Easy social integrations allow products to be shared on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. 

Squarespace’s intuitive dashboard allows users to quickly check and manage inventory, fulfill and ship orders, and get valuable insights on site traffic, sales trends, and customer data. In short, Squarespace is an ideal ecommerce platform for creatives who don’t want to mess with complex data sales tools.

Squarespace Pricing

Personal Plan

  • $12 per month
  • Unlimited bandwidth and storage
  • SEO features for site visibility
  • Basic website metrics
  • Squarespace extensions

Business Plan

  • $18 per month
  • All Personal Plan features
  • Professional G Suite account
  • Advanced website analytics
  • $100 in Google AdWords credits
  • Promotional pop-ups and banners
  • Squarespace transaction fees: 3%
  • Gift cards

Basic Commerce Plan

  • $26 per month
  • All Business Plan features
  • Squarespace transaction fees: 0%
  • Customer accounts
  • Ecommerce analytics
  • Social integrations

Advanced Commerce Plan

  • $40 per month
  • All Basic Commerce Plan features
  • Squarespace transaction fees: 0%
  • Sell subscriptions
  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Advanced shipping
  • Limited availability labels

All Squarespace plans come with a 14-day free trial, a custom domain, and 24/7 support. Squarespace has four pricing tiers. However, ecommerce functions are only available with the Business and Commerce plans.

Best for WordPress Sites: WooCommerce

WooCommerce

WooCommerce

WooCommerce was developed by WooThemes in 2011 as an ecommerce extension for the popular WordPress content management system. With over 74 million downloads, WooCommerce currently powers 25% of online stores worldwide. We choose it as the best for WordPress sites since it is the most popular, flexible, and affordable extension for WordPress users who want to create a full-featured ecommerce site.   

WooCommerce is a free plugin that can be used to add ecommerce functions to any WordPress site. Because WordPress is one of the best SEO platforms on the market, WooCommerce makes it easy to create a scalable online store of any size.

Like many of the other platforms we reviewed, WooCommerce offers its own payment processor. Users can also add PayPal, Square, Amazon Pay, and Stripe with free extensions. In addition to a wide variety of templates and back-end-management tools, WooCommerce features integrated analytics, reporting, shipping, tax tools, and more—all for free.   

WooCommerce offers basic inventory management that, while useful for basic stock management, isn’t well suited for high-volume businesses. Order management is more robust, however, allowing users to drill down to view products sold, billing and shipping addresses, and customer records.

Finally, WooCommerce’s extensions allow users to sell products on social media and marketplaces, including Facebook, eBay, Pinterest, and Amazon. In short, many of WooCommerce’s limitations can be overcome with its huge library of paid and free extensions.

Although WooCommerce is completely free to use, some of the more useful extensions that bring the platform close to the standards of Shopify or BigCommerce can cost upward of $300.           

What Is an Ecommerce Platform?

An evolution of the simple online shopping cart, ecommerce platforms can serve as a business’ entire website, allowing vendors to sell and ship physical products as well as digital products or subscriptions. They come with detailed analytics, reporting and inventory management to help track, analyze, and improve sales.

Just as important as the back-end is the customer experience. The best ecommerce platforms make it easy for customers to shop online, view all of the details about the product they're looking for, choose how to have it shipped, and make a purchase with as few steps as possible.      

How Do Ecommerce Platforms Work?

Ecommerce platforms connect a business’ inventory (whether physical or digital) with a browseable online store that customers can use to make purchases. Payment gateways—a critical part of ecommerce—allow customers to buy a product electronically with just a few clicks and make shipping and tracking products quick and easy.

Behind the scenes, ecommerce platforms give businesses valuable insights about what products are selling and how customers prefer to shop. A variety of marketing tools like coupons, discounts, limited inventory alerts, email marketing, and abandoned cart alerts allow businesses to sell more to new and existing customers.      

How Much Does an Ecommerce Platform Cost?

Most ecommerce platforms offer a variety of plans ranging from $10 to $300 per month. Lower-priced plans tend to support only basic online selling, few or no third-party integrations, and little or no reporting and analytics. Mid- to top-tier plans have increased selling limits and/or site bandwidth, advanced reporting and analytics, more payment processing options, more shipping options, third-party integrations, and marketing and sales tools like abandoned cart recovery.     

Are Free Ecommerce Platforms Worth It?

In general, we found that free ecommerce platforms aren’t worth it for someone serious about selling online, especially with the intent to scale. Most free options are simply shopping carts that get added to existing websites with sales features that are set in stone.

Another difficulty with free ecommerce platforms is that, once a business outgrows them, they will need to start over completely with another platform and rebuild their store from the virtual ground up. It’s better to start with a lower-tier plan of a paid platform and then upgrade as needed.

How We Chose the Best Ecommerce Platforms

We looked at over a dozen ecommerce platforms on the market to come up with our top picks. While many newcomers have made a splash and scaled quickly, we focused on software that has been around for at least 10 years and has grown with the rise of ecommerce. Other important considerations were cost and scalability, flexible payment processing options, the option to sell on social media and online marketplaces, good reporting and analytics, and the ability to expand the platform with third-party add-ons.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
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