Ecommerce Platform Reviews

Essential Guide To Choosing An eCommerce Platform

Overwhelmed making an attempt to decide on precisely learn how to launch your on-line store?

Wish somebody would explain in plain English what all the alternatives to truly run your online retailer?

I wrote this unique information to picking an ecommerce platforms in 2012. However rather a lot has changed up to now 7 years. Online storeowners have higher choices in almost every respect.

However that doesn’t make the selection any much less daunting. Most ecommerce corporations sell with features and worth. However like buying a home – worth and options do not tell the whole story.

They don’t inform you if this software is an effective selection for your store. There isn’t a such thing because the “best ecommerce platform” or the “best ecommerce software.” There’s solely the only option based mostly in your objectives, assets and preferences.

And in some methods, the spectrum of decisions is identical is it ever was. The names could be totally different, however the positions on the spectrum are the identical.

Right here’s my information – up to date for 2019 – to what that you must know to make an knowledgeable selection when choosing a ecommerce software on your online store – with the intention to make the only option for your retailer.

Fast Aside – if you need one thing quick and simple, I put all these elements right into a Buzzfeed fashion Ecommerce Platform Quiz. You’ll be able to check it out right here. In any other case, let’s learn on!

Disclosure – I receive referral charges from corporations mentioned on this website. All knowledge and opinion is predicated on my expertise as a paying customer or advisor to a paying buyer.

What You Want To Know Earlier than Choosing Ecommerce Software program

Identical to looking for a home, automotive or business location – it’s a must to take a look at what you’re looking for, what you need, what you want and what the tradeoffs are among all of your decisions.

Getting The Features You Need

At it’s core – “ecommerce” software program is just a bundle of very specific website features. They’re –

  • Itemizing & displaying products.
  • Permitting clients to put merchandise in a purchasing cart.
  • Permitting clients to put an order with the merchandise in their purchasing cart.
  • Amassing cost securely for the order.
  • Offering the storeowner with order info.

But often you’ll need features above and beyond. You may want design options, better safety, advertising tools, and perhaps the power to sync together with your inventory system.

Or not – you may need a single product and need final comfort and lowest value.

But that’s the purpose – there might be tradeoffs which will or might not matter. The top objective is to figure what you need, what you need – and what you need to pay for those options.

Evaluating Core Tradeoffs

The primary, and most essential, tradeoff is between maximum convenience and most management. When you make that decision, we will start taking a look at tradeoffs amongst totally different choices.

The tradeoff between convenience and control is widespread in software program. Software program turns into “easier” when it has fewer options. The extra choices a consumer has – the less convenient software program turns into.

Think of it like shopping for somewhere to reside.

Absolutely the most convenient place is a lodge room. It’s protected and furnished with room service. However can you repaint the room? Nope.

On the opposite extreme is uncooked land. You’ve gotten limitless management to do no matter you want. But is it handy? Nope.

And within the middle, you might have a mixture. An condo has some freedom – but you have got landlord. A rental has even more freedom…but you’ve got a HOA and shared property.

A home has much more freedom…but you could have more duty and you need to cope with an present building.

Right here’s a graphic as an example –

Ecommerce Real Estate Tradeoffs

Now that you’ve a way of what you want and a sense of the core tradeoffs – let’s take a look at some particular providers to further slender your search.

Ecommerce Platform Decisions

Apart – like all simplification, this breakdown removes some nuance. But, I feel the general tradeoff holds up nicely. Here’s a choice of specific providers for each bucket along with what they do nicely and what it is best to search for.

100% Comfort // 0% Control

This a part of the spectrum permits you to record your products and take orders and cost. But you are able to management very little of your clients’ experience. You’re additionally unlikely to have your personal domain identify or your personal model.

Nevertheless, you possibly can often listing your merchandise with no problems – and often with no upfront fees. Additionally, often the software program supplier may also present clients. It’ll be a spot where clients come to the platform and discover you – so that you (ideally) need to do less advertising.

Aside – word that many storeowners begin out with these platforms and keep a presence on them even as soon as they’ve launched a retailer on one other platform.


Although Amazon did away with their Net Retailer program – you’ll be able to nonetheless promote immediately on Amazon. The enroll process is simple and low cost. You control very little besides your product and your worth but you additionally faucet into Amazon’s monumental audience. Take a look at the Amazon Sellers program right here.


eBay is the original ecommerce market. Regardless that they don’t have the hip-ness of a few years in the past, they allow a very handy platform for on-line storeowners. And like Amazon, they will deliver loads of clients to your page simply since you are on their platform. Take a look at eBay here…


Etsy is restricted to artisans moderately than traders but they make establishing and operating a retailer very simple. You possibly can customize your page considerably – however it is and all the time can be “an Etsy page” fairly that your store. Take a look at Etsy here…

70% Convenience // 30% Management

Next up on the spectrum are providers that permit for extra control – particularly with having your personal domain identify. Nevertheless, like an condominium, you’re nonetheless dwelling on another person’s area and should finally play inside their guidelines.


Wix is most well-known for allowing you to construct web sites with a drag and drop software. However – they have ecommerce functionality as nicely. They provide some versatility with limits. You’ll be able to have ecommerce functionality seamlessly integrated into an internet site.

Nevertheless, Wix doesn’t have plenty of advanced advertising instruments and places “soft” limits on what you can do together with your web site. I reviewed Wix here. You’ll be able to take a look at Wix right here.


Weebly is a direct competitor to Wix and has an identical setup. You’ll be able to improve your account to include ecommerce performance. They’ve an honest function set with drag and drop performance as nicely.

However like Wix, they finally restrict many superior ecommerce features that some growing storeowners will need (partly as a result of they are owned by Square, the payments processor). I reviewed Weebly right here. You’ll be able to take a look at Weebly right here…

PayPal Button

If you have already got an internet site, but need to promote a couple of products there are also “bolt-on” options that present ordering and cost functionality.

PayPal has had a Purchase Now button for some time. Shopify, which shall be mentioned in the 50% // 50% part, additionally offers a button for patrons who use only their inventory/cost plan.

All three of those will let you paste a snippet of code in your present web site which reroutes your clients via their cost methods.

It’s super-convenient and offers some management for you (since you will have it on your own website). Nevertheless, you also don’t control the checkout expertise. You also can’t construct out a purchasing cart or a real product catalog.

50% Comfort // 50% Control

This group (often referred to as “hosted ecommerce platforms”) supplies as a lot control as you’ll be able to have before you must have your personal server. The most important benefit here is that you’ve buyer help, seamless “onboarding” and superior instruments.

Nevertheless, you do should play by the provider’s rules – they usually can get a bit expensive.

Operating a retailer with these providers is like proudly owning a condominium or leasing a storefront in a mall. The plumbing and “big stuff” is taken care of. You possibly can just about do what you need because you do absolutely own your property. Nevertheless, you’re going to run into rental association rules and costs.


Shopify is probably the most well-known hosted ecommerce platform. I reviewed Shopify here. They have a very strong product with a big app store together with superior advertising and ecommerce tools.

They’re reasonably priced and have the infrastructure for tiny outlets to worldwide brands. Additionally they have features for retailers who sell both on and offline. However once more – you gained’t have root server access to make any change conceivable. Take a look at Shopify right here…


BigCommerce is Shopify’s smaller direct competitor. I reviewed BigCommerce here. They are extra targeted on online-only retailers than Shopify.

Their setup can also be a bit extra intuitive than Shopify they usually have a strong function set – even when their app and theme retailer is smaller. Like Shopify, they do have limits as a hosted ecommerce platform. Take a look at BigCommerce right here…


Volusion is one other well-known hosted ecommerce platform. I reviewed Volusion right here. They’ve a big following amongst designers and developers with some notable features.

Nevertheless, additionally they have further parameters and additional fees in comparison with Shopify / BigCommerce. Take a look at Volusion here…

30% Convenience // 70% Control

On this group, we run into the world of operating your personal web site by yourself server. That isn’t as difficult or as daunting as it might sound. Buying hosting signifies that, sure, you’ve gotten a further merchandise to worry about.

Nevertheless, you might have considerably more management over each your prices and your options.

Choices in this group are like owning a home. You’re chargeable for every little thing, but you may as well do something you need. You could have the choice to call a plumber or care for the problem your self. You possibly can add on, take away or change something. The only actual constraint is your finances.

Self-Hosted WordPress

WordPress is probably the most versatile website software on the Web. You possibly can add functionality to it by way of “plugins” – together with ecommerce functionality.

I wrote a full guide on creating an ecommerce website with WordPress + WooCommerce right here. It’s simple to put in and use (even for freshmen). It can be as low cost or as expensive as you want it to be. Take a look at my information here…


Magento is among the most used ecommerce platforms out there. It’s free for small stores, however paid for enterprise clients (like North Face).

It has tons of options – however in my experience, it takes a superb designer/programmer to get probably the most out of it. They provide a small paid hosting plan where you need to use a “lite” model of this system. Take a look at Magento right here…

Different “Plugin” Purchasing Carts

There are a myriad different “bolt-on” solutions which you could add to an present website. These options are dying out as a result of they don’t have the comfort of the PayPal button they usually still don’t integrate utterly into your present web site.

That stated, you are able to do no matter you want with them. Right here’s a pair options.

OpenCart is probably the only (that’s good and dangerous) of all the purchasing carts. It’s free, and is a program that you simply set up on your net host. It’s supported by an open-source group, which suggests will probably be around as long as individuals contribute. It has loads of easy-to-implement templates for the precise website.

Plugins like Ecwid may even will let you embed “ecommerce” on your website – although it’s like an internet site within an internet site relatively than a true ecommerce choice.

0% Convenience // 100% Management

What in case you have a huge finances and very specific needs? Nicely, that may imply hiring a developer (or learning code your self) and leasing a dedicated server.

In our analogy – you’ll be buying land and building even your home from scratch. This is the route of some ecommerce startups which have a very particular function set and vision in thoughts. Along with the fee, you’ll even have a myriad different issues. But that is still a route some companies take.

It’s very common at the Enterprise ecommerce degree, though even at that degree, you still have decisions & tradeoffs to make.

Subsequent Steps

  1. Outline what you’re in search of.
  2. Think about what tradeoffs you’re prepared to make.
  3. Evaluate specific providers.
  4. Do a trial period.
  5. Launch your retailer!

Be sure you take a look at my ecommerce quiz which can assist type your choices.

After you launch your store, take a look at my advertising information for ecommerce websites right here.