The Best Ecommerce Platforms for Online Stores, Period.

David Utke •  Updated: October 3, 2022 •  Business Software

So you want to start selling online? You’re going to need an online store platform for that which takes care of all the technical, backend details of ecommerce. Things like inventory management, checkout carts, discounts, taxes, conversion, shipping, CRM integration and more.

I’ve create numerous ecommerce tutorials and have managed online stores myself. You can trust this review because it’s based on actual experience from building and managing online stores using different platforms.

There is no perfect platform for everyone, depending on the size and complexity of what you’re looking to do will influence what platform you should use. With that said, Shopify is my #1 recommendation in general for most individuals and small businesses.

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11 Best ecommerce platforms for selling online

There are several methods to begin selling items and services online. The most popular are Shopify (an online store website builder) and WooCommerce (a free ecommerce plugin for WordPress). They’ve each been created with the objective of allowing you to set up an online store in one place.

There are a variety of reasons why may want to use a website builders like Wix, Squarespace or Zyro. They take care of all the technical issues on an online store, but provide a stronger emphasis on design, email marketing and blogging.

There are many things to consider whenchoosing the best ecommerce website builder for your needs, such as the number of products you want to sell and whether or not you want to do dropshipping. Each ecommerce website builder provides different features, so it’s important to choose one that fits your specific needs.

Your ecommerce software should ideally be easy to use so that you can add products quickly, offer coupons and discounts, and automatically track inventory. The best software will also help manage shipping and fulfillment so that you can focus on your business goals.

Shopify – The best overall online store website builder

Shopify is the best website builder for ecommerce because it’s simple to use and has all the features you need to start and run a successful online store. You can add “buy now” buttons to your emails, blog posts, and social media profiles, making it easy for your audience to buy what they need from you.

Plus, Shopify stores come with all the features you need to run a successful online store, including a shopping cart, payment processing, high converting design templates and shipping tools. There are a wide range of plugins that allow you to add in additional features too, in fact I’ve found that Shopify has the most developed 3rd party ecosystem of every option I’ve tried.

With this platform you get a wide range of design options, superior product organization and inventory management, a huge 3rd party ecosystem and excellent drop shipping options. Last, Shopify also offers a “lite” version that you can use to integrate with an existing website or social media profile. If you’re looking to start drop shipping or you plan to build up a store that sells a large volume of products, I strongly recommend checking out the Shopify platform first and foremost.

Pricing and features

You can get a 10% discount if you sign up for one year, or 20% off if you sign up for two years. Subscribing to Shopify Basic which starts at $19 per month, gives you access to everything you need in order to begin selling. You’re allowed two staff accounts and four locations for inventory.

Services include with your plan are printable shipping labels, gift certificates, discount codes, and abandoned cart reminders (available only to the buy button sales channel and the wholesale channel). All Shopify users unlock discounts on shipping rates from DHL Express, UPS, and USPS. Users with Basic plans get a 77% discount while those with premium plans receive an 88% markdown.

In the middle tier “Shopify” plan, Shopify provides you with extras like more staff accounts and inventory locations, as well as standard reporting features. Plus, you get a reduced rate on transactions fees for credit card use.

Shopify’s “Advanced” plan adds additional reporting capabilities, third-party calculated shipping rates, and a further discount for credit card purchases. If you use Shopify Payments, the only transaction fee you’ll incur are those from your credit card processing company.

This is why they advertise “0% transaction fees.” However, if you utilize another payment gateway not affiliated with Shopify, then you will have to pay a separate transaction fee on top of everything else.

Finally as mentioned, Shopify offers both a lite plan at $9 a month that is made for anyone who wants to add a buy button to an existing website. They also provide a “starter” plan at $5 for social media profiles and Shopify Plus at $2000+ a month for enterprise level clients.

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Example Shopify store

Bare Performance Nutrition – Nick Bare (a popular YouTuber and founder of BPN) built his multi-million dollar business using the Shopify platform. If it’s good enough for him and his team, maybe it’s good enough for what you want to do?

BigCommerce – Better out of the box than Shopify

Big Commerce is my #2 choice for anyone looking to start an online store. To be honest, it was a tough call putting Big Commerce second as out of the proverbial box I do think that Big Commerce is superior to Shopify in a lot of key ways.

There are more features available with BigCommerce without the need to purchase any additional apps. As such, it tends to be cheaper than Shopify. WordPress integration is also better with BigCommerce as you can have a blog and store on the same domain. The default analytics and reporting I also prefer too, but both Shopify and Big Commerce deliver in this area.

Last, a huge difference between the two are that there are no transaction fees with Big Commerce, you get more product option variants and display flexibility and custom ratings and reviews are built into the platform unlike Shopify which requires a 3rd party app.

With Big Commerce, you can use whatever payment processor you want too. Additionally, there is better international support, better discount features, and better abandon cart features too as there are more triggers that set off the abandon cart function.

Pricing and features:

BigCommerce provides users with unlimited staff accounts, unlimited product storage and bandwidth, and 0% transaction fees on all tiers. All plans also get multiple sales channels like Amazon, eBay, Walmart as well as integration with Facebook and Instagram. Last you also get point of sale support on all plans.

The big differences I’ve found using BigCommerce is that the “Plus” plan provides an abandon cart recovery option which is lacking on the standard plan. The “Pro” plan allows for you to display Google reviews and custom product filtering.

Finally, each tier has a sales limit. Unlike Shopify where you could technically sell half a million dollars a year on their Basic plan without upgrading, BigCommerce requires you to upgrade your account once you cross certain sales thresholds:

The standard plan is 50K in sales a year or less, the Plus plan is 180K a year or less, the Pro plan is up to 400k or less and then from there out it’s a custom price based on sales.

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Example BigCommerce store:

Brew Shop – One of the finest examples of a beautiful store built with BigCommerce.

SiteGround – Best hosting for WooCommerce

Ah WooCommerce (see my free YouTube tutorial). WooCommerce was started by a theme maker called WooThemes that’s since been acquired by the company that develops the CMS’s WordPress. It’s the best option if you want to turn a WordPress website into an online store. It’s a free plugin with a lot of paid extensions.

The base free version is perfect if you want to sell simple products, drop shipping or affiliate offers. However you will need to pay for various WordPress plugins to add on additional, helpful functionality and you may need to hire a skilled professional who has a deep understanding of HTML and CSS to get everything working as you like.

WooCommerce is a bit techy to setup for a beginner but the advantage of going with it over a website builder is that you have full control over the entire design, look and feel of your store. With the use of various themes and frameworks you can literally create anything you want.

With SiteGround hosting and the right plugins you can equip your store with features like an abandoned cart plugin, Glew.io for advanced online store analytics, image compression, a framework like Elementor, AffiliateWP, and more.

WooCommerce is totally free, but you will need to setup your own WordPress website on a quality host. The best host I’ve used for WooCommerce is SiteGround. They provide a managed WordPress experience, on demand backups, a free CDN and their own internal cache plugin. They also have dedicated plans aimed at ecommerce using WooCommerce, as such they provide the required server side resources needed to run an online store.

Pricing and features:

If you’re totally sure you’re only going to be running one store I would choose the “start up” plan. At $2.99 a month for the first year, it’s the perfect plan to lay the groundwork for your store. As your traffic grows and as your store becomes more complex you can always upgrade.

With each tier you get everything you need to run a fast, secure, compliant online store. The only benefit missing from the start up plan is the ability to setup staging and on demand backup. The higher tiers also provide faster performance but if you have no traffic this is not important.

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WooCommerce example store:

Kopi Coffee – This coffee store is a perfect example of what is possible with WordPress and WooCommerce. With each and every page customized to optimal conversion and branding, you simply can’t achieve something like this with other platforms. However, this design will set you back $1000’s of dollars.

Nexcess – Best hosting for Magento

Magento is a free, and open source ecommerce platform that enables businesses to sell their products online. It offers features such as catalog management, order management, payment processing, and shipping. Magento is also highly customizable, so businesses can create a unique online store that meets their specific needs.

Nexcess is one of the best hosts I’ve used for building an online store powered by Magento. Services provided include hosting for ecommerce platforms such as Drupal and BigCommerce, PHP optimization, support for PHP7, 24/7 monitoring with alert response, container add-ons and asset caching that is nearly instantaneous.

One aspect I love about Nexcess compared to SiteGround is that with just one click, you can automatically scale to accommodate a sudden influx in traffic. SiteGround by contrast suspends your website if you get a huge influx in traffic from an advertisement or a viral post or product.

Pricing and features

Nexcess provides managed Magento hosting. As such it’s a bit more expensive than other options because keeping Magento updated and working correctly would typically require a technical person on your team.

Elasticsearch enhances your Magento powered business’ search capabilities and helps you to provide better search results to your customers. Even with typos, misplaced or scrambled words, and other all-too-human errors, consumers can still discover what they’re looking for. Elasticsearch makes your Magento store more search-friendly while also increasing conversion potential.

Elasticsearch is now a requirement for Magento installs of version 2.4 and higher. With Nexcess, they include Elasticsearch with every new cloud container plan for Magento. Making running your online store less technical so you and your team can focus on selling.

Last, they also don’t cut corners when it comes to customer support by offering 24/7/365 expert support, proactive service monitoring, and free white-glove site migrations.

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Magento example store:

Scuf Gaming – This site sells custom video game controllers internationally and is powered by Magento on the back end.

Squarespace – Ideal for content creators

Squarespace is not for enterprise level ecommerce the way Magento or even Shopify is. They are an outstanding platform if you’re looking to sell 10-50 products online, digital downloads all the while you blog and run an email list.

They are a solid choice for content creators as Squarespace is sort of like the iPhone of website builders. It’s feature rich and everything just works. Where Squarespace ecommerce stands out is that they offer gift cards on all plans, low inventory notifications, a structured editor for design, Etsy integration and the ability to sell directly through Instagram.

Overall Squarespace allows anyone to create a beautiful, high converting store with their structured editor. The downside of this however is that websites made with Squarespace do tend to be a bit cookie cutter in appearance. So if a truly custom design is important to you then Squarespace may not be right for you.

Pricing and features:

Squarespace pricing is very straight forward. The “business” plan is mostly designed towards bloggers who want a little ecommerce functionality built into their website. At this plan you can sell digital downloads and physical products. However there is a transaction fee of 3% at this tier.

When you upgrade to the commerce basic or advanced plans there is no transaction fee at this level. You also get the ability to have the checkout process be on your domain, allow for point of sale, sell products on Instagram and business analytics.

The “advanced” plan provides more features with shipping, discounts, access to API’s and finally an abandon cart feature. For most, the basic commerce plan is the optimal choice.

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Squarespace store example:

The Sorry Girls – A great example of leveraging all the functionality Squarespace provides. A blog, physical products, cool design and an email list.

Wix – Custom design and good drop shipping

Wix is a popular “unstructured” website builder that offers both website plans (aimed if you’re looking to start a blog or build an information website) and ecommerce focused plans for creating online stores. Starting at $17 a month you can get access to the various ecommerce features they provide store owners.

With Wix they provide hundreds of custom-made templates, deals and gift cards, app integration as well as amazing product pictures and straightforward order management and delivery. However, a large majority of their templates are quite dated in my opinion. But the unique selling point of Wix is that with their unstructured, drag and drop editor you can make whatever design you want.

That means you can build a beautiful online store without having to deal with HTML or CSS. But if you want to jump into the HTML or CSS you can. In addition, they automatically optimize your online store for all types of mobile devices. But you also have full control over the mobile design too if you like.

Pricing and features

The Wix ecommerce plans come in at three tiers: Basic, Unlimited and VIP. All tiers provide abandon cart recovery which is a nice advantage when compared to Squarespace. There are also no transaction fees.

The Basic plan unlocks the ability to sell products and is fine for the blogger or content marketer who want’s to sell a few products on their site like digital downloads or a handful of physical products. For anyone looking to make an online store you’ll want to get the “Business Unlimited” plan.

The Unlimited plan provides all the same features as the VIP plan, but not the same level of storage or amount of products. With Wix you can have multiple variations of products, custom design your product pages, sell on social media and other marketplaces, leverage 3PL solutions and integrate drop shipping.

The drop shipping particular I liked which is powered by Modalyst for physical products and Printful for print on demand. So what’s great about Wix is that you can build an online store that sells products you don’t even have. Just sync everything with these two on-demand marketplaces.

The only thing I found annoying about Modalyst integrate is that it automatically detects your location. So when I was in Vietnam building my store, I had to price everything in VND and could not change it to USD. Then when I synced it to my store, it then priced everything in USD. So 500,000 VND is about $20.

My store ended having cups and books priced at half a million dollars. I was able to fix the issue through support but it was a time consuming headache. Overall Wix ecommerce is good choice if you’re looking to start a blog, dropship and sell both digital and physical products. However, for high volume stores Shopify is the better choice.

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Wix store example:

Copper and Brass – A simple, well designed Wix store selling everyday stationary items.

Zyro – The budget option

When I was creating tutorials for Hostinger I noticed a call to action to use something called “Zyro” as an alternative to a shared hosting account. Zyro, owned and operated by Hostinger media is a budget friendly website builder that offers two straight forward plans. One for websites, one for websites with ecommerce.

The ecommerce plan costs $1 more per month than the website plan and opens up the ability to sell products both digital and physical as well as book client. The Zyro ecommerce plan is incredibly affordable, feature rich and ideal for small, simple stores looking to keep costs down.

Pricing and features:

Zyro provides a generous introduction rate for both the website and business plans. Please note the business plan renews at $14.99 a month. With it you get a whole host of standard features to sell products online.

You can have up to 500 products within your store both physical and digital. You’re able to book clients if you want to have a consulting offer for some reason, decent inventory management on the backend, a wide variety of support for different payment gateway and finally there is a 1% transaction fee.

With regards to the design, you add in different premade sections which you can then customize. It’s not as unstructured as Wix, but it is ideal for a beginner or a small business looking to get setup quick.

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Ecwid – Best ecommerce platform for beginners

One of the best things about Ecwid is that it’s extremely easy to use – even if you’re a complete beginner. The platform has a user-friendly interface and simple, step-by-step instructions that make setting up an online store quick and easy. With a forever free plan you can get started today designing your online store.

Ecwid paid plans also unlock all the features you should come to expect like mobile POS, the ability to sell on marketplaces like Amazon or Ebay, gift cards, discount codes automatic tax calculations, custom checkout fields, the ability to sell digital products and even set products to a “pay what you want” price point and more.

Where Ecwid is weak is with their design templates and lack of blogging functionality. You can technically start a blog on Ecwid but it’s inferior to WordPress, Shopify or a website builder like Wix and Sqaurespace. Trust me, I tried setting up a blog and I was not impressed.

If blogging and content marketing is not important to you and you’re going to instead run paid ads to your website then Ecwid is a good choice. Just know that all ecommerce sites on this platform do look a bit cookie cutter which I don’t like. But that price point, hard to beat with the features you’re given.

Ecwid pricing and features:

Ecwid offers a straight up free plan to help you try out the platform. You can only sell 10 products on the free plan however, you’re not allowed to sell digital downloads, no drop shipping integration and you can’t set a custom domain. So your store is going to be a subdomain of Ecwid.

The Venture plan unlocks everything you need to create a fully functional online store with your own custom domain, coupon codes, tax invoices automatically applied, access to their app store, inventory management and so forth. For access to selling on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay you’ll need to upgrade to the “Business” plan.

The Business plan unlocks everything Ecwid has to offer including abandon cart recovery, mobile POS, Mailchimp integration and wholesale pricing.

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Snipcart – Add a shopping cart to any website

Snipcart is a developer-oriented shopping cart platform that anyone can integrate into their website with simple HTML and JavaScript. Snipcart offers customizable frontend options for your store, webhooks & APIs, as well as a merchant back office to manage e-commerce operations easily.

Pretty much every ecommerce platform is designed with the merchant in mind, Snipcart is the first tool designed for the web designer and developer who wants to easily add in ecommerce functionality to a website. So if you’re using Drupal, WordPress or even Ghost.org, you can now easily add a shopping cart to your website as a way to accept payment for both physical or digital goods.

Snipcart pricing and features:

Snipcart is free to use but does charge a 2% transaction fee. If you’re intent is to build a large ecommerce website where you’re doing a lot of volume then Snipcart is not ideal for you. It’s also not a good choice if you’re looking to drop ship. It is the perfect solution though if you’re wanting to add on ecommerce functionality to an already existing website or a website where ecommerce is not the only offer.

Snipcart provides a complete set of tools for managing orders, payments, inventory, shipping, and taxes. In addition, businesses can use Snipcart to create custom shopping experiences for their customers. With its flexible API, businesses can integrate Snipcart into their existing websites and systems with ease. As a result, Snipcart is a powerful e-commerce solution that can help businesses of all sizes Sell Online.

With Snipcart you get a huge amount of customizable features. From a customizable shopping, invoice, shipping methods and email templates to real time shipping estimates and multi-currency support. Snipcart is an under rated, powerful ecommerce solution.

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Gumroad – Sell anything (really)

Gumroad is has evolved into the swiss army knife of ecommerce platforms. You can sell pretty much anything you want using Gumroad. From downloadable PDF’s, music, online courses, licenses for software to physical products, Gumroad has something for you.

There are pretty much two things I don’t like about Gumroad. First is the heavy “Gumroad” branding you’ll have on your website. In particular a big “powered by Gumroad” logo in your footer. Next is that they take a 9% transaction fee (which is reduced as you sell more). There is no monthly fee but 9% does cut into your sales when starting out.

Last, the whole process of consuming content like an online course is a bit clunky when compared to something like Teachable (which powered Website Creative Pro).

Gumroad pricing:

Gumroad pricing is pretty straight forward which I appreciate. You can signup for free, create your online store with it’s own custom domain and only pay a tiered transaction fee based on life time earnings. That means you need to earn over 100K in order for the transaction fee to be reduced to 3%.

However Gumroad is free so it simply becomes a math problem. Is it better to pay a monthly fee and no transaction fee or is it better to pay a transaction fee but the platform is free otherwise? Only you can answer that but it’s something to take into consideration when looking at different selling options.

Last, all Gumroad stores and product pages designed the same way so if you want a unique look for your online shop you won’t get it with Gumroad. The platform is also not designed for a drop shipping merchant or a merchant who wants to sell high volumes of physical products.

It’s more ideal if you have a big audience with a YouTube channel, vlog or blog and want to sell T-Shirts, posters, art and so forth.

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Example Gumroad site:

Grind Reel: From YouTuber Josh Fluke. He sells digital products for helping you grow your career and technical skills. While he does not sell physical products, Grind Reel is a good example of what to expect if you decide to build your shop on Gumroad.

Square Online – Great restaurant and retail choice

Square online is a website builder that allows you to create and customize your own website and online store. With Square online, you can choose from a variety of templates to create an online store that fits your brand and style. From online order fulfillment, to accepting payments with a variety of processors like the Cash App, to setting up age confirmation challenges for 18+ an older content. Square is a solid choice.

Creators can add their own photos, videos, and text to create a uniquely designed website. Square online also offers a variety of features such as contact forms, ecommerce integration, and social media integration. Best of all, Square online has a free plan to take advantage of if you’re just starting out.

Square Online pricing and features:

Like Ecwid, Square Online provides a totally free plan to create an online store. Your not limited by the amount of products, but you are limited to 500 MB of bandwidth and storage which is enough to get you going. However if you want to set a custom domain you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan.

As for the transaction fee, all plans charge 2.9% of the sale plus an additional 30 cents. With a paid plan you get access to all the ecommerce features you’re going expect and more. In store and curb side pickup, shipping label printing, password protected pages, sell on social media like Instagram, abandon cart recovery (on the Performance plan and above), item badges on products to help drive sales (20% off!) and access to the “stories blog platform.

Last, in addition to selling products and blogging, you can now schedule client calls with Square’s built in appointment booking feature. Great if you’re also providing a service in addition to physical products.

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Ecommerce tips for new sellers

Now let me answer a few frequently asked questions I get whenever I make ecommerce tutorials as I know things can be a bit overwhelming if you’re new to this space.

Why have my own store if I’m going to sell on Amazon or eBay?

Because having your own store that ranks organically for search terms, your own store that you can run paid ads too, capture emails and run your own offers will help drive more sales. I think beginners get confused and think you’re driving traffic from your store to an Amazon.

No.

When you seem “marketplace integration” that means you can use the marketplace for fulfillment. So people buy from your shop but Amazon packs and delivers the product. The only catch if you need to have a seller account on Amazon. Same with eBay if you’re going that route.

Can I sell on Facebook without a website?

Yes you can sell on both Facebook and Instagram without needing your own website. With Facebook Marketplace, you can sell items on your own Facebook page. However, if you want to take advantage of this feature and actually make some sales, there are a few things you’ll need first:

A Facebook Page for your business as well as actual products to promote on said page. Additionally, it’s helpful (though not required) to add things like product names, descriptions, prices and photos on your page so potential customers have all the information they could possibly desire right at their fingertips.

Is Shopify better than WooCommerce?

This is a very common question, it really depends on your needs and what you want to do. I like WooCommerce more if you want full control over your website, you’re selling just a handful of products or you want to leverage affiliate marketing and build out an affiliate store like how This is why I’m broke has done.

Shopify is better if you have a smaller team, you want the whole process to be less technical and your focus is mostly on ecommerce. I find all the features of Shopify and the robust 3rd party app ecosystem they have to be enough to grow a simple online store into an enterprise level business like how Nick Bare did with BPN.

How do I sell online for free?

So you really don’t want to spend any money but want a way to sell online here is what I suggest using:

Best ecommerce platforms conclusion

All of the ecommerce platforms on my list are great choices for businesses of all sizes. It’s important to consider your own business needs and what features you need from an ecommerce platform before making a decision. I hope I helped you narrow down your options and given you a better understanding of what each platform offers.

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David Utke

David Utke is a professional blogger, YouTuber and a highly rated user experience consultant. He and his team create helpful tutorials, software reviews, videos and more based on real-world experience. Join over 30,000 monthly readers and 20k+ YouTube subscribers!