The 9 Best E-Commerce Platforms of 2019

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The Rundown

  • Best Overall: BigCommerce, "Far ahead of the competition when it comes to many things, such as the product search engine."
  • Best for Everything Under One Roof: WooCommerce, "Works with WordPress and can help you turn your website into an all-systems-go online store."
  • Best for Customization: Magento, "Trusted by many large brands, such as Cisco and Procter & Gamble."
  • Best for Dropshipping: Shopify, "The platform is very simple and allows you to launch a store in minutes."
  • Best for Social Selling: Squarespace, "They have the major advantage of low prices, with their lowest plan costing $18 a month."
  • Best for Beginners: Wix, "Works perfectly if you need a simple store and don’t have much technical expertise."
  • Best Website Builder: Weebly, "Great drag-and-drop website builder and over 40 million customers."
  • Best for Shipping Solutions: 3dcart, "They offer unlimited storage and don’t charge transaction fees."
  • Best for Subscription eCommerce: Volusion, "It’s an awesome platform for selling physical products."

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: BigCommerce

BigCommerce

 BigCommerce

BigCommerce takes the nod for best overall e-commerce platform due to their fantastic product search engine, excellent scalability, proven SEO performance, and a variety of other great features. It works well for owners of physical stores, people looking to start up online stores from scratch, and everything in between.

In case you already have a physical store and want to take it online for expansion, BigCommerce can easily accommodate you. It also has a wide range of tools that make it possible to build a store no matter what niche you’re operating in, from apparel and fashion, to health and beauty, to small business, or even food and beverage.

We love how intuitive interface is, and how you can easily build and customize your store without knowing the first thing about coding. You can also sell and market your products without being tech-savvy.

The themes are also both varied and flexible, and there is a large community of both developers and designers who can get you great professional themes to give your store a unique touch.

Prices start at $29.95 a month and go higher as you add features. The major drawback with BigCommerce is that it doesn’t include one-click selling or cart abandonment on the lower priced plans, but these options are there if you want them.

Best for Everything Under One Roof: WooCommerce

WooCommerce

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is an open-source platform that works with WordPress and can help you turn your website into an all-systems-go online store. It is also the best place to run both an online store and an affiliate program under one roof. While it is open source and free, it certainly does as well as most of the paid sites out there.

WooCommerce starts out free, but it includes lots of extensions that you can pay to have integrated into your store, including e-mail marketing and social media marketing, shipping, one-click selling, payment gateways, and so on.

The beauty of WooCommerce is that it is really intuitive to use, especially for those who are already familiar with WordPress. You simply install WooCommerce on your website, add the products you would like to sell, and customize your settings. This really allows you to place your whole site under one roof, making it much easier to manage.

On the flip side, WooCommerce can be a little tough to figure out if you’re not already familiar with WordPress. We recommend taking WordPress for a spin first, and figuring out how it works by itself, before adding WooCommerce.

Best for Customization: Magento

Magento Open Source Ecommerce
Magento Open Source Ecommerce. © Magento, Inc.

Magento is trusted by many large brands, including Cisco and Procter & Gamble. The greatest plus for this platform is that it has a very large community of developers, many of whom will answer your questions for free and even work on your store for a fee. The marketplace is quite extensive and includes lots of themes and extensions that you can use to make your platform more functional.

One issue with Magento is that it isn't the most intuitive platform, and you will need to either know how to code or have a budget for a developer to help you get around the technicalities of the site. However, given the large community of friendly developers, finding one shouldn’t be hard at all.  

Magento is free, for the most part. However, there are paid plans for large e-commerce stores and enterprise solutions. The annual licensing fees on these plans are tens of thousands of dollars, so they are certainly not cheap. However, the platform is much faster, lives in the cloud, and includes lots of additional features like automatic upsell or cross-sell as well as trigger-based e-mail campaigns. 

On the other hand, you can go for the free version and simply hire a developer to add features as and when you need them. There are lots of features you can find on the marketplace, including recurring payments, SEO tools, adjusting content per user, discounts, unlimited products, member subscriptions, and much more.

Best for Dropshipping: Shopify

Shopify

 Courtesy of Shopify

Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms around due to the simplicity of the interface and the ease with which you can use it to launch new stores. We really appreciate how easy it is to use with dropshipping, which is why it takes our recommendation for the best e-commerce platform for dropshipping.

Monthly pricing with Shopify is dependent on the features you decide to add and the volume of orders, starting as low as $29 a month and sometimes going as high as ten times that. This scalability, with such an affordable buy-in, makes it ideal if you're looking to bootstrap a dropshopping business.

If you plan on dropshipping and rely heavily on traffic from social media ads, such as Instagram and Facebook, then you can hardly do better than Shopify. 

The greatest drawback for Shopify is the low SEO performance. The rigid URL structure can be quite a drag, making it hard to organize pages the way you would like.

The result is often a weak ranking on search engine results pages. It also doesn’t support very large stores. For those, you can opt for Shopify Plus. However, there are inherently better options on the market, such as BigCommerce and others.

Best for Social Selling: Squarespace

SquareSpace
Logotipo cortesía de Squarespace Inc. ©

Squarespace has been around since 2003 and has great design capabilities and sleek templates. If you’re not big on having a whole bunch of features that you probably won’t use anyway, then Squarespace is a great option to go for. One thing they do right is social integration, which is why we like this platform for social selling.

Squarespace offers the major advantage of low prices, with their lowest plan costing $18 a month. This is exactly the sort of plan you need if you're just getting started and relying on relatively low-volume sales through social media engagement. You do have to fork over three percent on transactions, but that's the tradeoff for the low buy in. To get rid of transaction fees, you can upgrade to a more expensive plan. 

Apart from having a drag and drop website builder, Squarespace also offers great inventory, analytics, SEO, marketing, and social selling features to help you get your business up and running. They also have ShipStation, which gives you a real-time calculation of shipping from providers like USPS, FedEx, and UPS. 

The main draws for Squarespace include third party applications and payment processors. Your customers can only pay via Paypal and Stripe, and the range of third party applications you can integrate with the platform is fairly limited. 

Best for Beginners: Wix

Wix

Courtesy of Wix

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Wix works perfectly if you need a simple store and don’t have much technical expertise. They have one of our favorite site builders and some decent e-commerce functionality, but this platform is definitely better suited for beginners than e-commerce experts.

The best thing about Wix is how friendly and intuitive it is for beginners, with great customer support. The integrated website builder allows you to drag and drop all sorts of elements for added functionality, including e-commerce. They have 72 free themes and over 400 other paid ones.

While Wix is a great way for beginners to get their feet wet with e-commerc, there are a few important drawbacks that may eventually drive you elsewhere. The most important is that you don’t get a lot of features that are are considered staples in eCommerce, like abandoned cart recovery.

They also seem to have a few issues with SEO, and you the 20 GB of storage space you get won't cut it if you want to ad big, beautiful photos of all your products.

Best Website Builder: Weebly

Weebly

 Courtesy of Weebly

Weebly is another platform with a great drag-and-drop website builder and over 40 million customers. We like Wix's website builder more in general, but for the specific purposes of e-commerce we found Weebly's offering to be outstanding. If you’re looking for a platform that allows you to build a simple store and automates your marketing, then it’s hard to go wrong with Weebly.

Weebly is quite easy to use, and it comes with all the basic tools you need to make your store functional. You also get a drag and drop website builder that includes HTML and CSS functionality, and lots of free themes to pick from. There is also a mobile app that helps you to manage your business from the comfort of your phone.

Weebly’s e-commerce option is actually cheaper than Shopify to get started, and their built-in site builder is also better. The store plus marketing automation costs $38 a month with Weebly, while on Shopify you would pay $29 for the store and an extra $17 for market automation. 

The biggest problems with Weebly are that you’re restricted to 25 products for physical goods, and you also have to pay a 3% fee on each transaction.

Best for Shipping Solutions: 3dcart

3dcart

3dcart

3dcart has been around since 2001 and has about 22,000 operating businesses using it, including PCMag. They offer unlimited storage and don’t charge transaction fees. They also offer multi-channel selling and POS services, making this a fantastic option for anyone looking for easy shipping solutions.

In fact, 3dcart has one of the strongest shipping solutions on the market today, offering advanced shipping features without requiring you to use an API. It just works right out of the box without any complicated setup.

There are a few big draws for 3dcart, and they do a lot to detract from the great value it offers otherwise. It really isn’t the best platform for beginners, with a very confusing dashboard and a website builder that isn’t very intuitive to use. 

The templates available to use can also sometimes feel rather outdated, and customizing your store can be an exercise in frustration since there is no drag-and-drop functionality. 

While the pricing is good, they do place restrictions on your sales volume, with the lowest plan costing $19 and restricting your monthly sales volume to $50,000.

Best for Subscription eCommerce: Volusion

volusion

Volusion

Volusion is pretty old as e-commerce companies go, having been founded in 1999. However, it only launched as an e-commerce company in 2002. It’s an awesome platform for site subscriptions and selling physical products, but it doesn’t work as well for digital products since download automation isn’t allowed.

The platform provides you with a website builder and 11 free themes, though you can also access additional premium themes for a cost. The SSL certificate also doesn’t come for free, which is a bit of a bummer, considering there are platforms that offer SSL certificates for free. 

You also don’t get blogging capabilities with your Volusion store, which means your SEO is probably going to take a hit. If you want to blog you’ll have to find a way to connect your store to WordPress.

Volusion also limits the number of products you can sell based on the plan you choose. The lowest-priced plan, for example, costs $29 a month and only allows you to sell 100 products. The next plan costs $70 per month bumps your product list up to 5,000.

We did find Volusion to be great for beginners, with a highly intuitive dashboard and plenty of learning materials to help you get up to speed. It’s also an excellent platform if your e-commerce business relies on the subscription model in addition to selling physical products.

Our Process 

Our writers spent 3 hours researching the most popular e-commerce platforms on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 16 different platforms overall, screened options from 16 different brands and manufacturers, read over 60 user reviews (both positive and negative), and tested 9 of the e-commerce platforms themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.