16 Best Ecommerce Platforms for Your Online Business
January 27, 2022
The Bolt Team
The key to Ecommerce success is choosing the right platforms for managing your online sales. Assuming you already know your niche and who you serve, your next steps are choosing an Ecommerce platform and building your website.
Sounds easy, right? But there’s a little more to it than just picking an Ecommerce platform. So let’s look more closely at your options.
Why sell online?
The pandemic made online shopping mainstream. As a result, in Q2 of 2021, the total value of retail trade Ecommerce sales in the United States exceeded $220 billion, the highest quarterly revenue in history.
But Ecommerce isn’t just a way for retailers to cope with COVID-19. There are many benefits for selling your products online, including:
- Diversifying retail venues
- Future-proofing your business
- Scaling quickly
- Going global
- Increasing your ability to market online
- Personalizing the shopping experience
- Selling 24/7/365
As your competitors adopt Ecommerce, the more you’ll be left behind if you don’t. As a result, late-comers will find themselves at an ever-growing disadvantage in the marketplace.
Three types of Ecommerce platforms
Before you choose a platform, you need to understand the kind of platform you’re considering. Specifically, you need to know which of these three options it is and whether it’s right for you: self-hosted or open-source, hosted, or marketplaces.
Self-hosted or open-source
Self-hosted selling platforms, like WooCommerce, are available as downloadable software or plugins. You download the software and either upload it to your website or set up a server in the cloud. It’s your responsibility to manage upgrades, security, and performance.
Self-hosted platforms give you the most control over your website, sales, and customer experience. For example, if one of the hosted platforms goes down, you’re safe. Also, you can personalize the platform to a greater degree than is possible on hosted platforms.
Hosted platforms, also known as Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), are Ecommerce websites hosted by the software company that created them. They’re made available to merchants via a monthly or yearly subscription.
Examples of PaaS websites are BigCommerce and Shopify (more on these platforms below). Hosted Ecommerce websites take care of security, software upgrades, and ensuring uptime and performance. That gives you the ability to focus 100% on managing and marketing your online store.
Marketplaces have built-in audiences, which can save you time, money, and effort marketing your Ecommerce site and generating traffic. Of course, you still must stand out from your competitors. But having a built-in audience can make it easier to get your products in front of your customers.
The best online selling platforms for your Ecommerce business
Now that you have a general overview of the types of Ecommerce platforms available for your online store let’s look at the top Ecommerce solutions available today.
We’ll start with our top three recommendations, and then we’ll review your options for self-hosted and hosted solutions, as well as popular Ecommerce marketplaces.
BigCommerce is one of the most popular hosted selling platforms. It powers the online stores of many well-known brands, including Ben & Jerry’s, Skullcandy, Sony, and Woolrich.
BigCommerce’s design tools give you the flexibility you need to design the store you visualize. It includes a mobile app. And you can integrate your store with Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Instagram/Facebook, and Google Shopping.
Pricing ranges from $29.95 per month, for BigCommerce Essentials, to $299.95 per month, for pro features. In addition, enterprise pricing is available for companies with advanced needs.
2. Adobe Commerce
Adobe Commerce (formerly Magento) is a leading enterprise-level Ecommerce provider. It’s a self-hosted, open-source platform that gives you many integrations and workflows. It can handle traffic spikes without skipping a beat. And it can grow with you, all the way to enterprise scale.
French open-source Ecommerce platform PrestaShop was founded in 2007, initially as a self-hosted solution. However, in 2015 they launched a cloud version, providing merchants with both self-hosted and cloud options.
Prestashop is free to download as an open-source provider, but you’ll have to pay for hosting and add-ons. Being aware setting up the self-hosted version takes some technical knowledge, but it does allow for more customization.
Prestashop won two CMS Critic Awards for Best eCommerce Solution for SMBs and Best eCommerce Solution for the Enterprise in 2014. Their customers include PayPal, Google, Mailchimp, Stripe, and even Facebook.
Self-hosted online selling platforms
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that makes it easy to add Ecommerce to your website. With more than 161 million downloads, it powers more than five million online stores.
As an open-source WordPress plugin, WooCommerce is free, but you pay for add-ons or extensions that add advanced features to your store. A large community of both developers and plugin providers are available to help you personalize your store without needing deep technical knowledge.
5. Easy Digital Downloads
Easy Digital Downloads is an Ecommerce plugin for WordPress explicitly created for selling digital products, such as eBooks, documents, music, and graphic designs.
The plugin is free to download. You can then customize your Ecommerce site with extensions—both free and paid. These allow you to set up recurring payments, send emails, license software, set up an affiliate program, and more.
Hosted online selling platforms
Shopify is the 800-pound gorilla among hosted Ecommerce platforms. It serves over one million merchants, including Allbirds, Gymshark, PepsiCo, and Staples, in 175 countries.
Shopify makes it easy to launch and design your store. It includes Shopify email, an online marketplace, a Facebook Ads platform, and social commerce. But it doesn’t give you much flexibility in designing your store. Fortunately, there’s a large marketplace for themes, add-ons, and service providers who can help you achieve the look and feel you want.
Pricing ranges from $29–$299 per month.
Acquired in November 2020, Shift4Shop, formerly 3dcart, Shift4Shop offers a robust Ecommerce platform at an unbeatable price.
With Shift4Shop, you get a premium Ecommerce account, similar to Shopify, for free for life. That includes unlimited products, users, and bandwidth, with no revenue caps.
However, there is a catch. The pricing is free as long as you use the Shift4 payment processing plan, which charges 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.
Shift4Shop serves over 200,000 customers, including the UPS Store, Hickory Farms, and Everything But Water, and processes $3.5 billion annual transactions, driving more than $200 billion in revenue for its clients.
Powering more than 700,000 stores, Wix is a website builder that now offers Ecommerce functionality. Setup is easy with Wix’s visual editor. And you’ll be able to create your Ecommerce website, including a mobile storefront, and set up social selling and online marketplaces in no time.
Pricing ranges from $10–$15 per month.
Like Wix, Squarespace Ecommerce is another hosted website builder that has added an Ecommerce solution. Squarespace gives shoppers a good browsing experience, with rich product descriptions, embedded videos, images, related products, and more.
It gives you the ability to sell gift cards and subscriptions. It also makes it easy to integrate with your social media and showcase product reviews.
Pricing ranges from $26 per month, for basic commerce, to $40 per month, for advanced business.
10. Big Cartel
Big Cartel is for painters, photographers, crafters, bakers, authors, and other creatives. While they don’t mention Etsy, the comparison is easy to make. In addition, they promise not to take a cut of your sales or charge additional fees.
Big Cartel’s pricing model is unique. It’s free to use if you have five or fewer products for sale, and pricing goes up to $9.99 per month for up to 50 products. After that, it costs $19.99 per month for up to 500 products.
Weebly is another website builder that offers Ecommerce capabilities. It is one of the better drag-and-drop website builders on the market today.
Weebly’s pricing plans range from $6–$29 per month, depending on functionality and whether you choose the yearly or monthly plan.
Founded in 1999, Volusion is a fully hosted Ecommerce solution that has powered over 180,000 online stores. It has responsive themes and a comprehensive site builder, so you can quickly build your Ecommerce site without knowing code.
Prices start at $29 per month for a personal plan. For a business-level account, you’ll pay $299 per month. It also has an enterprise-level Prime account for high-volume Ecommerce sites.
Founded in 2019, Zyro is a fully-hosted website builder plus Ecommerce platform and offers some of the most economical plans in the market.
Prices range from $8.90 per month for the Basic Ecommerce plan, which allows you to sell up to 100 products, to $15.90 per month for the Ecommerce Plus plan, which allows for up to 2,500 products.
Website review site WebsiteBuilderExpert gives Zyro generally positive reviews, but they don’t recommend it for larger stores because of scalability issues.
As the leading Ecommerce marketplace, Amazon has been on the cutting edge of most Ecommerce innovations since 1994. In 2000, they launched their marketplace service, allowing small merchants and individuals to sell their products on the Amazon platform. The marketplace, called Sell on Amazon, hosts more than six million third-party sellers.
To sell on the Amazon marketplace, you’ll pay anywhere from 99 cents per item sold, for individual merchants, to $39.99 per month for a professional subscription.
Etsy has made a name for itself as a platform for small merchants who sell unique hand-crafted or vintage goods. In addition, it has an active, passionate global community of artists, designers, collectors, and crafters.
With over one million merchants, Etsy, like Amazon, has the advantage of a built-in audience of shoppers. However, Etsy shoppers are looking specifically for the hand-crafted or vintage items they can’t find on other online selling platforms.
It’s free to set up a shop on Etsy, but they charge a listing fee, a transaction fee, and a payment processing fee. Prices range from a 20 cent listing fee to a 5% transaction fee and a 4.5% + 50 cents payment processing fee if you decide to use Etsy’s payment gateway.
16. Facebook Marketplace
With nearly three billion active users, Facebook has the most significant number of built-in users, though only a percentage of them are primed to buy, unlike Amazon’s 300 million users.
There are no transaction fees for sales between private parties. However, if you opt to use Marketplace’s Commerce Manager, you’ll pay a selling fee of 5% per shipment or a flat fee of 4 cents for sales of less than $8.
Turbocharge your growth
Regardless of which platform you choose, you need a checkout designed to drive revenue. With the dramatic rise of online shopping, shoppers expect a fast and seamless shopping experience. Bolt One-Click Checkout gets more of your shoppers to the ‘Buy’ button.
With Bolt streamlining your checkout and improving your conversion rate, you’re free to focus on genuinely impactful things—like differentiating your brand or building an incredible customer experience to delight shoppers.