If you’re looking to sell online – there are no shortage of services to assist you. Here’s a look at nine options to choose from. Some ecommerce platforms are better suited toward beginners who have only a handful of products to sell, while others are highly robust with nearly limitless capabilities.
As one of the most well-known eCommerce platforms available on the market today, Shopify offers a user-friendly interface, so those with little to no web design experience can build a professional looking shop in just a few minutes. There are more than 100 templates to start from, and those who are more technical have the option to customize the appearance using HTML and CSS. With Shopify Plus, you can easily scale the business and sell across multiple channels, including social media, Amazon, and eBay.
Shopify integrates with more than 50 payment gateways, so you’re in complete control of the payment methods you want to accept. When you sign up for an account, you’ll be assigned to a coach who will guide you through how to set up your store and give you advice on how to sell your products. New accounts are given $100 in Google AdWords credit to start their marketing, and Shopify comes with a built-in iPhone app for customers who want to make purchases on the go.
Shopify offers three plans, starting at $29.99/month with no transaction fees, though there are limitations on products and files unless you opt for the unlimited plan which will cost you $179.99/month. There are no setup fees or service contracts, and the plans come with a 14-day free trial. There are no restrictions on the products you can sell.
Etsy is a niche ecommerce platform, focusing on handmade and vintage items, and crafting supplies or tools needed to create items. Creating an account is free, but the service takes a 3.5% transaction fee once an item sells, and there is a 20 cent listing fee for every item listed. That 20 cent fee covers four months, or until the item sells. Then, after the transaction fee, there’s a 3% plus 25 cents payment processing fee.
Etsy includes a built-in analytics platform so you can see how well the shop is doing. The design process is simple, using a drag-and-drop platform so you can have a website up and running in minutes. Shop owners can buy and print discounted postage and can attract more buyers with promoted listings.
Etsy also offers Pattern, which is a platform priced at $15 a month to create a website around the store. With Pattern, you can setup a custom domain. The domain is not included, and the themes are fairly limited. If you decide to use it, you can connect it to your Google Analytics to get traffic data. Pattern comes with a free 30-day trial.
It’s an ideal solution for people who don’t want to spend time handling a payment gateway and have products that fit within the sales niche. But, for most people, it’s a rather limited (and expensive) ecommerce platform. It’s also an ideal choice for people who want to sell wholesale.
Another niche ecommerce platform, Big Cartel is designed for authors, crafters, bakers, and photographers. The web-based, full hosted platform has hundreds of web templates to choose from, and takes zero transaction fees. It’s easy to add and manage products and discounts. But, if you’re a shop selling mass quantities of products, you’ll need something else. If you’re looking for more advanced features, you’ll also need another platform.
If you’ve got five or fewer products, you can take advantage of the free plan, with Facebook store access, basic statistics, and basic customization. This plan lacks the ability to add discount codes, or the ability to use a custom domain.
Paid plans start at $9.99/month, and go to $29.99/month, covering anywhere from 25 to 300 products depending on tier. All paid plans include the ability to add five images per product, additional stats, full customization with access to HTML, inventory tracking, discount codes, and a custom URL.
Integrations are limited to a few add-ons, but using Zapier (another paid service) allows you to expand those integrations.
Bigcommerce is a full website builder that produces responsive websites without needing to know code, or even much about web design in general. Everything you need to add and manage products and accept payments is included. There are customizable shipping options, with a tax system and drop shipping features. Users also get a variety of reports, marketing tools, and advanced search engine optimization options. With Bigcommerce, you can also sell products in person, via social media, and on various marketplaces. App integrations make it easy to manage everything from a central platform. Options include marketing, shipping, accounting, and customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, to name a few.
Pricing starts at $29.95 a month. Enterprise plans are available with custom pricing, where you must call and speak to a consultant to develop a plan that fits your needs. The standard plan is enough for someone just starting out, while the enterprise plan is best for a fast-growing and well-established brand. It comes with a 15-day free trial to get you started.
If you’re using WordPress to host your store, WooCommerce can be a good option. It’s a free plugin, but has an extensive marketplace of free and paid extensions so you can add features and integrations to create a truly customized store. Extensions handle everything from account and customer service, to point of sale, shipping, tax, reporting, and marketing. Free options include: Stipe, Amazon Payments, Conversio, Shippo, and more. Paid options include: WooCommerce Bookings, WooSubscriptions, WooCommerce Memberships, InfusionSoft, and more.
This is a good solution for people who are familiar with WordPress and are comfortable managing all the aspects of the store on their own. The WordPress and WooCommerce combo is my favorite ecommerce platform for most online stores. For those who are a little less technical, this may not be the best choice.
SquareSpace began as a cloud-based content management system, offering user-friendly web design services with high quality templates, but they’ve added ecommerce capabilities to the platform. They have a limited number of features for the commerce part – even though the CMS allows several integrations. Squarespace Commerce themselves says the platform is best suited for stores with less than 200 SKUs. Basic features such as packing slips, coupons, and Mailchimp integration are included. Pricing starts at $26/month. There’s a 14-day free trial, with no credit card required.
LemonStand is an ecommerce platform designed specifically for rapidly growing stores. It works well for people who don’t want to spend a lot of time customizing beyond the logo and product pages. But, it is also a perfect solution for companies that want to develop a completely custom online store, since everyone can access the full code. If you want to run your own website with a lot of custom options, but don’t know code – move on to another platform.
LemonStand doesn’t take any transaction fees, meaning you only have to pay the payment processor fees. Though it integrates with more than 100 tools, the open API allows you to build any app integration you need to ensure your workflow runs smoothly. Though you need advanced technical knowledge to handle this, the LemonStand platform is built based on the assumption you’ll work with a developer to build the store.
Other features include tracking sales, split-testing, custom order statuses, landing pages, and unlimited product images. There are plenty of templates you can use to get started if you don’t plan on doing a lot of customization.
Pricing starts at $49.month and includes one staff user, with unlimited products in your store. The highest tier plan is $149/month and includes 10 staff users, digital product selling, web hooks, subscriptions, custom fields, concierge setup, and more.
Volusion is a cloud-based ecommerce solution, offering full-service options for more than 40,000 online retailers, including some big names like Intel and 3M. One thing that sets them apart from the competition is the fact that most features are built directly into the dashboard, so there’s no need to purchase third-party apps and worry about integrations to manage your stoe. Plus, there’s a live and abandoned shopping cart feature, so you can see who’s actually completing the checkout process and follow up with those that aren’t. It integrates with Amazon and eBay so you can track inventory if you choose to sell on outside marketplaces.
Volusion has a mobile app for iOS and Android devices, so you can monitor orders and inventory on the go. There’s also the ability to take orders by phone, which can be processed from directly within the store dashboard.
There’s no setup wizard like you see with some competitors, but there is a getting started guide and a series of tutorial videos to walk you through the key areas of the store. All plans come with free setup and unlimited storage. Pricing starts at $15 a month for up to 100 products, and tops out at $135 a month for unlimited products. There are no transaction fees on any plan, making this an affordable solution for both small and enterprise businesses.
3dCart is one of the oldest eCommerce site building solutions on the market today. It comes with a free domain for life, and a 15-day free trial. When you sign up for your account, you’ll be given access to more than 100 mobile-friendly store themes, a mobile store, a Facebook store, and access to 24/7 customer support. Beyond offering the shopping cart service, it comes with extras like the ability to create an affiliate program, and support for drop shipping.
Plans range from $19.99/month to $99.99/month. The lowest tier plan includes up to 100 products, with up to 4,000 visits a month, and includes $25 in free advertising credit. The highest tier plan can host an unlimited number of products, comes with $75 in free advertising credit, and includes unlimited email accounts, daily deals, group deals, and an autoresponder.
When it comes to choosing the right ecommerce store for your needs, consider not only the ease of use and price, but the: number of products, the integrations, your level of design and development experience, and how the platform will fit into your overall workflow. Many platforms allow you to scale your efforts as your store grows.
What’s your favorite ecommerce platform? Which one do you feel is best and why? Any tips for successful ecommerce in general? Let’s talk about them in the comments below.
Photo Credit: Adobe Stock