The 5 Best eCommerce Platforms for Launching an Online Store
Trying to decide which eCommerce platform is best for you and your online business? Start here.
There has never been a better time to launch your own brand. Barriers of entry are lower than ever, the number of eCommerce shoppers keeps going up, and there’s a wider array of tools to help you get started than ever before.
overwhelming number of options is why we rounded up and reviewed the best eCommerce platforms to help you figure out which one will be perfect for your growing brand.
Tons of options. Shopify is equipped with 100+ templates to choose from.
Mobile friendly. Templates and shopping carts are all mobile friendly, making mobile purchases a breeze.
Easiest setup. Clear instructions make setting up your shop and adding products incredibly easy. Getting your site off the ground can be done in minutes.
Sell directly on Facebook.The platform allows you to sync your online store with Facebook to sell directly from your Facebook page.
24/7 support. A pretty major key for those of you who are setting up shop for the first time. Their platform is the easiest to setup, but by the off chance you need some help figuring something out, you’re covered.
Free website hosting. Pretty much speaks for itself.
Difficult to customize. Shopify uses its own templating language (called Liquid), so customizing your site can be difficult and requires some expertise.
Not great for adding content. The content marketing platform leaves some wanting. Shopify does offer a blogging platform, but it doesn’t compare well to other competitors like WordPress.
Transaction fees. Shopify takes 0.5%-2% of all transactions on their platform, unless you use Shopify Payment.
Best Suited For:
Shopify is an ideal platform for brands who are looking to launch or simplify their online shop. Their all encompassing platform makes it easy to get your shop off the ground as quickly as possible. Between the ease of use, template options and social selling features, Shopify is a platform we strongly recommend for small to mid-sized brands.
Fully hosted. Don’t worry about hosting –– it’s covered.
Sell your products anywhere. On top of selling your products on your site, BigCommerce also allows you to sell in other marketplaces like Amazon, Facebook and Ebay.
Marketing help. BigCommerce features strong SEO tools, customer segmentation, and integrations with platforms like MailChimp that will help you find and retain customers.
Scalability. BigCommerce has all of the features and add-ons you’ll need to continue to grow your eCommerce business.
Strong customer support. 24/7 online and phone support to help you with road bumps.
Requires some technical skill. Though BigCommerce has a lot of capabilities, it can be hard to use for someone who isn’t a developer. Non-technical users will have a hard time taking full advantage of all of BigCommerce’s features.
Not a ton of template variation. BigCommerce offers some nice web templates. However, there isn’t a ton of variety to choose from, so if you don’t like what they offer, you’re somewhat out of luck. You’ll have to end up paying extra for a template, or putting in the work to customize one.
Best Suited For:
BigCommerce is a particularly good fit for brands that are already established or are experiencing more growth. If you’re just starting out, BigCommerce will be tough to manage, and you might end up spending more time editing your site than you’d like. But if your brand is on the up and up, you’ll find all of the tools to take you where you want to go.
Beautiful template designs. Style is a huge selling point for Squarespace in the eCommerce space. Their website templates are hands down the most impressive out of the box, which helps bring some instant credibility to your store.
Great reporting and metrics. Squarespace’s clean design doesn’t apply only to their website templates. Their reporting and analytics dashboard makes looking at and analyzing metrics incredibly easy.
Affordable. Squarespace’s eCommerce subscription starts at $26 per month.
No transaction fees. Keep those profit margins high.
No phone support. If you run into issues with your Squarespace site, there is no phone support to help you fix it, so you better be prepared to get your hands dirty to fix it.
Not very customizable. Like we mentioned before, Squarespace’s templates look beautiful out of the box, but the templates can also be really restraining, with limited options for customizing your site outside of their templates.
Best Suited For:
If having a beautiful website to display your products is a high priority for you, Squarespace is definitely worth a look. Honestly, the templates are hard to mess up. Just add some of your own photography and you’ll have a beautiful online shop in no time.
Open source and completely customizable. WooCommerce has a large community of developers who are constantly adding new extensions to their marketplace. So if there’s a feature you want to add, odds are it already exists.
Download is free. WooCommerce is free to download from the WordPress Plugin Directory.
Easy setup. It’s also on the easy end in terms of setup.
Customizable themes. WooCommerce works with any WordPress theme, meaning you’ll have access to thousands of free and paid templates. All of which are customizable.
Great for content marketing. WooCommerce is built on WordPress, making their blog tool best-in-class.
Doesn’t include hosting. You’ll need to take care of setup, hosting and maintenance yourself.
Not easy to customize for new users. WooCommerce is the most customizable of these platforms, but it requires some technical know-how. If you’re not familiar with HTML / CSS, you might have to hire a developer to make the customizations you want.
Best Suited For:
If you’re someone who’s already using WordPress, WooCommerce is a seamless fit. The plugin is easy to implement, and it’ll definitely be scalable as you continue to grow. It can be pretty hands on though, so if you want to spend less time in the trenches of build your site, then look with caution.
Easy to install and configure. Installing the software is really simple. You’ll also find a user-friendly dashboard to keep track of your store’s metrics.
Totally free. PrestaShop is free to download, and has no monthly or transaction fees.
Hundreds of add-ons. PrestaShop has an extensive marketplace full of custom add-ons.
Active user base. PrestaShop’s user base is made up largely of developers. They’re frequently publishing the answers to issues they run across in FAQs or user guides.
Downloads are pricey. Yes, installing and using PrestaShop is free, but add-ons and templates from their marketplace can get pretty expensive.
Not as design-friendly. PrestaShop’s templates and user interface aren’t on the same level as that of their competitors.
Expert support is an (expensive) add-on. When you run in to issues with your shop, you better be willing to dig deep in forums to find the answer, or shell out some cash. PrestaShop’s support plans start at $279.99/mo.
Best Suited For:
PrestaShop’s biggest selling points are it’s price tag (or lack there of), and it’s deep library of technical help. So if you’re just starting out and are strapped for cash, using PrestaShop while getting up and running might be a good fit. But if you’re looking for a platform that’s scalable, sustainable, and easy to manage, we’d recommend looking elsewhere.
Will is a word-obsessed marketer and Real Thread alum. He loves to write about creativity, great design, and of course, soft t-shirts. Outside of work, you can find him being too particular about coffee and hanging out with his son, Ezra.
March 22, 2018
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