It’s no secret that e-commerce is a rapidly growing area of retail. Last year, online sales of physical goods amounted to $446.8 billion, and e-commerce sales are expected to exceed $700 billion in 2022. E-commerce conglomerate Amazon will celebrate their 25th anniversary next year, and projections indicate that the company will be responsible for half of all online sales within three years – Amazon currently commands approximately 37 percent of the market.
These numbers indicate a strong industry for up-and-coming retailers and even brick-and-mortar stores who want to expand into the online marketplace. However, there are lots of platforms to choose from and it can be challenging for those just starting an e-commerce business to choose the right system for their needs.
The most critical features for any e-commerce platform are payment processing and inventory management. After these, retailers will want to weigh security features and the user-friendliness and design of the platform. With these in mind, we’ve researched and narrowed the list to 10 top e-commerce platforms for retail businesses, listed alphabetically…
Note: We’re not listing Etsy or Ebay in this article, since vintage and handmade goods are the only items permitted for sale on Etsy, and Ebay is best for individuals selling collectors items or belongings for cash.
Designed as a platform around the three dimensions of eCommerce, Store Owners, Search Engines, and Shoppers, 3dcart is a great system for small to mid-sized businesses managing e-commerce.
Pricing for 3dcart starts at $19/mo for their startup plan, which allows up to 100 products and one staff user. The three additional larger plans are tiered between $29 and $229 per month, and allow different numbers of additional users as well as unlimited products. The platform doesn’t charge any transaction fees, but your chosen payment gateways fees would apply.
When setting up your site with 3dcart, you’ll have access to around 50 free mobile-friendly web themes, but you can purchase fancy premium themes for $99 and up, depending on special functionality and features you want for your online storefront. You also get full access to the HTML and CSS of your site, allowing you to completely customize your online store.
- Online store manager
- Cart abandonment tools
- Built-in email marketing
- E-commerce automation
- Real-time shipping management
- Supports 200 payment gateways and methods
- Discount/promo codes (all plans)
- Over 100 apps and add-ons
- SEO capabilities
- Sync with eBay, Amazon, Google Shopping, Facebook and more
- PCI Certified, sitewide HTTPS and fraud prevention tools
- Domain registration
- 24×7 tech support
You can give 3DCart a try with a free trial for 45 days.
Lots of online retailers use Amazon’s e-commerce platform as a single distribution channel or in addition to their online store on other platforms. As probably the most popular e-commerce platform, it’s advantageous for small business retailers to do this, since their products will get far more visibility on Amazon and contribute to additional streams of revenue. Plus, data shows 48 percent of online shoppers begin their search on Amazon versus anywhere else.
Pricing for e-commerce retailers is a flat monthly subscription fee of $39.99, but sellers also pay a referral fee for each item sold, which is deducted automatically by Amazon. Referral fees vary by category, and some items have an applicable per-item minimum referral fee. If your store sells media items such as books, music, software, DVDs, video games or computer games and associated consoles and accessories, a closing fee of $1.80 per media item applies.
Amazon is not a content management system (like 3dcart, Shopify, or most of the others on this list). Instead, Amazon sellers are simply listing and managing their products within Amazon’s marketplace. So, there are very few options for customizing the look and feel of your Amazon.com storefront, but you can add a logo, select featured products, and pick and choose which items are shown on your storefront page. Here’s an example.
- Easily add new products to the Amazon catalog
- List products in more than 20 categories
- Amazon handles shipping, fulfillment and customer service
- Customize shipping rates
- Offer special promotions and discounts
- Sell products in the U.S. as well as Canada and Mexico
- Manage inventory from a single account
- Tools for bulk listings
- Robust reporting tools
It’s pretty easy to get started selling your products on Amazon! Just sign up and you can either list products that are already sold on Amazon.com, or list your new branded products with high-quality images and accurate product information. As your items sell, Amazon can handle order fulfillment or you can do it yourself. Deposits will be made to your bank account at regular intervals with notifications.
With solutions for small and enterprise-level businesses, as well as offering a B2B platform, commerce-as-a-service and a scalable backend for WordPress websites, BigCommerce is a versatile e-commerce solution for virtually any online retailer. It’s scalable for growing e-tailers, with advanced features and premium support for high-volume e-commerce sites.
Pricing on BigCommerce starts at $29.95/mo for the Standard level, with Plus plans at $79.95/mo and Pro plans at $249.95/mo (Enterprise plans are custom-priced, but BigCommerce advertises that their enterprise pricing is less than Magento or Shopify Plus). You can save 10% by paying annually. Regardless of your plan, there are no transaction fees if you go with the leading payment gateways (including PayPal, Square, Amazon Pay and Stripe), and you’ll get unlimited staff accounts and unlimited products, file storage and bandwidth. The plans above Standard include extra tools and features.
BigCommerce’s website builder is easy to use and creates beautiful and responsive designs, even if you don’t know much about web design. If you do, the platform’s Stencil framework allows more technical customizations. There are plenty of apps and integrations to use, and the themes are all pre-built to increase the ‘pro’ feel of your e-commerce website. There are plenty of beautiful free themes, and the paid themes range between $150 and $200. The one drawback is that BigCommerce has been reportedly unresponsive to requests to update, fix or add features. BigCommerce’s SEO features are a step ahead of the competition, though, giving you a leg up with user experience and compatibility for search.
- Customized shipping and dropshipping
- Smart product rules
- Flexible tax system
- Accepts a wide variety of payment methods and gateways
- Downloadable sales
- Advanced inventory management (upload quick products, update stock levels and set up inventory tracking)
- Advanced SEO and email marketing tools
- Level-1 certified PCI compliant
You can do a free trial of BigCommerce for a period of 15 days, or request a demo for an enterprise-grade solution.
With Ecwid, there’s no need to create a whole new website when you’re launching your e-commerce store; it can go directly on your existing CMS or even social network. That’s the key differentiator with this e-commerce platform, since you can essentially take your current site and integrate Ecwid within just a few minutes. Ecwid supports WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, Joomla, Blogger, Tumblr, Adobe Muse and more.
Pricing starts free, which allows up to 10 products and unlimited bandwidth when you add your Ecwid store to your website, or you can take advantage of a free Ecwid starter site that features a mobile-responsive shopping cart. Monthly costs increase with additional products and features, and are listed at $15/mo, $35/mo and $99/mo – discounts available when paid annually. Ecwid also doesn’t charge any transaction fees, but it’s not a payment processor so you will need to use another party/platform (Ecwid integrates with over 40) for that aspect and their fees may apply.
In terms of design and backend user experience, you’ll get easy-to-follow instructions throughout every step of creating and/or integrating your Ecwid store. Once launched, the designs are easy to navigate and its quality SEO features help merchants increase their visibility in Google searches.
- Mobile Point-of-Sale
- Android and iOS store management app & app market with extensions
- Discount coupons
- Automated tax calculations
- Inventory Management
- Advanced SEO Tools
- Google Shopping
- Ebay integration
- Facebook and Instagram stores
- Abandoned cart saver
- Customized email notifications
- Real-time shipping integrations
- Wholesale pricing groups
- Square POS integration
- Over 43 translations for international retail
- Phone and chat support
- PCI DSS Level-1 certified
Customization and backend access are the top reasons why retailers choose LemonStand for their e-commerce platform. From the checkout process to the sales funnel, LemonStand is completely customizable and built to scale with your retail business.
Pricing for LemonStand is reasonable, but remember that you’ll also likely be paying for a web developer that costs extra. All of the platform’s core features (unlimited products, product variants, storage, bandwidth, and user accounts and no transaction fees) are available on every pricing plan, and the only real difference is the number of orders your plan allows. The Starter plan is $19/month and allows up to 75 orders, the Growth plan is $69/month and accommodates up to 300 orders each month, and the Professional plan is $199/month and allows up to 1,000 orders per month.
You will need to have some experience with code (or employ someone who does) in order to successfully use the customization features on LemonStand, although the default settings are easy to use.
- Integrate just about any app (100+ tools and applications)
- Change your discounts, shipping, subscriptions, SEO, manufacturer and more from the “Add Product” page
- Supports 95 payment gateways with some advanced features
- Create your own collections, product types, categories, tags and more
- Bulk product upload
- New cloud system
- Sales tracking
- Unlimited product images
- Landing pages
- A/B testing
- Custom order statuses
- SEO functionality programmed in
- Email marketing tools
- SSL encryption
- Excellent customer support
Give LemonStand a try for free for 14 days.
As an open-source e-commerce platform, Magento is constantly being updated and upgraded to continue to develop and improve e-commerce retail in the digital world. It’s written in PHP, which allows for more customization with each online store. Although it’s primarily best for large e-commerce stores (and is priced as such), their Community version is free to download for small e-commerce retailers to launch their own online store with Magento.
Pricing for Magento works on a subscription license basis. There are two editions, Magento Community and Magento Enterprise. Both require some significant development to build the initial store, but you’ll have access to the source code which provides far more flexibility and control. Magento Community is open source, free to download, and the most popular version of the platform. It’s best for a small or mid-sized e-commerce store that just needs basic features that every e-commerce website needs. Magento Enterprise is better for larger e-commerce stores that need enterprise-class features, and license fees start at $18,000 per year. From there, the customization and extra features will determine how much it’ll cost to launch your Magento site, depending on how extensive and unique your needs are.
You’re likely going to need a skilled developer to build your Magento site initially. The Page Builder is a tool that allows easy drag-and-drop design, but the backend is not built for beginners and requires at least a working knowledge of PHP to make more custom changes. That said, it’s the perfect platform for larger e-commerce stores and offers the depth of functionality and customization to really make your store stand out.
- Unrivaled ability to customize
- Dynamic rule-based product relations (upsells, cross-sells and related products)
- Manage large product catalogs
- Scaleable search capacity
- Quick and easy access to sales, orders, searches and best-selling product
- Promotional pricing and flexible coupons
- Segmentation and personalization of customers
- Instant purchase capability
- Shipping features such as real-time rates, integrations for label printing, flat rate settings, order tracking, returns processing and shipping to multiple addresses for one order
- Visual merchandising
- SEO and email marketing tools
- Cloud platform
- Seamless third party integrations and extensions
- Integrates with multiple payment gateways, with additional payment extensions
Designed to be easy to activate and low-cost, MyCommerce is a global self-service e-commerce solution for online retailers of any size. It’s a robust SaaS infrastructure that brings everything into a comprehensive stack of services for technology and business, so you don’t have to piece together a bunch of separate solutions.
Pricing on MyCommerce varies based on your sales. Their Simple plan costs 7.9% per sale with a $0.90 minimum, and is recommended for average order values of $30 or less. The Blended plan is 4.9% of sales plus $0.90 and is recommended for sales with an average value of more than $30. MyCommerce also offers enterprise plans at custom negotiated rates that come with full-service onboarding plus ongoing account management and support.
One of MyCommerce’s differentiators is that they offer the latest and greatest e-commerce experiences from self-service and plug-and-play tools to make it easy to build a cutting-edge online store. They offer customizable and configurable themes and top-performing e-commerce templates to create the best look and feel for your e-commerce store.
- Free sign up with a low rate and no contract commitment
- Cloud-based commerce
- Full stack of advanced payment processing solutions (supports POs, invoicing and lines of credit for B2B retailers)
- Localized checkout experience
- Easy to integrate developer tools and APIs
- Subscriptions and monetization
- Merchant account services
- Fraud protection
- Data security
- Global tax and compliance
- Localized marketing support
MyCommerce doesn’t offer a free trial, but they do offer an online tour and the ability to schedule a live demo to learn more about whether MyCommerce is right for you.
Probably the most well-known and commonly used e-commerce platform on this list is Shopify, although it’s more popular for small- and mid-sized e-commerce retailers, while enterprise businesses will likely use something more robust like Magento. One of the most attractive features of Shopify is that you don’t need to have any design skills at all to establish a beautiful e-commerce site on Shopify. It’s also a unified platform for inventory management, order fulfillment and marketing.
Pricing on Shopify starts at $29/mo. Shopify standard and Advanced plans are $79/mo and $299/mo respectively, and all of these three plans allow an unlimited number of products. Extra features such as gift cards, professional reports and third-party calculated shipping rates are available on the higher plan levels. If you use Shopify’s payment gateway, you won’t be charged any transaction fees, but fees of up to 2% apply if you use the third party gateways (only 1% on the standard plan and 0.5% on the Advanced plan).
The easy design capacity that Shopify offers is a very attractive feature. It’s user-friendly for customizing basic elements, but also has an advanced interface that allows you to customize your store with HTML or CSS. There are hundreds of themes available in their online store, with many more available on third-party sites that integrate with the Shopify platform – many are free, while the paid themes start at around $80 (which is cheaper than other e-commerce platforms such as 3dcart.
- Fully-customizable online store (no design skills needed)
- Manage unlimited products and inventory on all plans
- Sell on online marketplaces and social media as well as the Shopify platform itself
- One-step order fulfillment
- Supports 70 payment gateways and methods (fewer than most platforms)
- Shopify POS app
- Over 100 apps and direct as well as third party integrations
- Discount codes
- Sales and growth tracking
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Online and in-person credit card processing (rates from 2.9% – 2.4%, plus $0.30 for online transactions)
- Fraud analysis
- Print shipping labels
- Discounts on shipping rates from USPS, UPS and DHL Express
- High levels of SEO capabilities (the highest amongst all currently available ecommerce platforms)
- Free SSL certificate
Use Shopify for free for a 14-day trial.
Volusion is another fully cloud-based shopping platform with some special features. It’s an all-in-one platform for e-commerce websites, with a sleek dashboard to make inventory management easy. Volusion is also full of built-in features, so you don’t need to piecemeal your SaaS.
Pricing with Volusion starts at the Personal level for $25/mo, followed by Professional and Business plans for $75/mo and $135/mo, respectively. All of these plans include unlimited products and storage, plus support and secure checkout. The Professional and Business plans include abandoned cart reports as well. There’s also a Prime plan that includes all of the other features, plus VIP support, a dedicated success team, free one-on-one setup and executive slack support, but pricing is custom. Pro tip, if you pay for the year up front, you can get 10% off and if you run multiple sites on Volusion, you can apply to receive a 10% discount for each additional store.
With regard to themes, design and user experience, Volusion has a limited number of premium (38 for around $180 each) and seven (7) free themes to choose from, and the differentiator here is that you can access and install them within a minute. These themes have all of the features an e-commerce retailer would want, from page builders and social sharing to homepage slideshows and infinite scroll. Volusion also recently changed the design interface to be a drag-and-drop visual designer, so you can create your own beautiful store without knowledge of HTML or CSS. Adding new products is also easy!
- More than 30 accepted payment processors
- Merchant Accounts and Stripe or PayPal for built-in payment gateways
- Purchase Orders for B2B e-commerce
- Variant product pricing capability
- Intuitive integrations with Amazon Marketplace and eBay (easily manage both from your Volusion dashboard)
- Zapier integrations
- Advanced shipping features
- Complete and free dropshipping integration
- Discount deals (percentages and dollar amounts, as well as quantity-based for Buy One Get One specials)
- Rewards program, coupons and gift certificates
- Customer reviews (integrates with Mailchimp)
- Rich text product descriptions
- Automatically generated tax rates
- On-dashboard reports and direct access to orders, inventory, customers, design, marketing and more
- Advanced built-in SEO
- Free security tools, including secure domain checkout and a free SSL certificate (true custom certificates vs. shared SSLs – as offered on Shopify)
- PCI Certified
- 24/7 live support via chat, phone or email
There is a 14-day free trial of Volusion available for interested e-commerce retailers.
With so many companies using WordPress for the management of their websites, it’s great that an e-commerce platform exists to sync up perfectly with the popular open-source content management system. WooCommerce is a completely customizable e-commerce platform for WordPress websites, seamlessly integrating content with commerce. You have to have a WordPress account in order to access and use WooCommerce, but that brings more security and convenience.
Pricing on WooCommerce is merely for the type of license you need, and costs range from $79 to $249 per year for an annual license, which includes updates and support:
Add-on license pricing is as follows:
There is a free version, but it won’t accommodate the commercial extensions and plugins that you’ll most likely need for a store of any size. There are no transaction fees, although your choice of payment processor may charge a fee.
WooCommerce has countless themes and unrestricted customization, giving you complete control of the look, feel, user experience and function of your online store. If you’re just getting started with WooCommerce and WordPress, you’ll need to purchase a domain and set up hosting to support your site, and also purchase a WordPress theme. While there are several free WooCommerce themes, you’ll most likely want something that has more functionality and special design features to make your online store stand out.
- Sell anything! Physical products, subscriptions, digital downloads, content, and appointments
- Open source to allow 100% customization and modification
- Unlimited products, orders and users
- 400+ integrations and extensions (payments, shipping, marketing and accounting)
- Built-in payment processing
- Works alongside your WordPress plugins
- Affiliate products
- Easy inventory management (includes one-click refunds)
- Add products to any page with shortcodes
- Product attributes, categories and tags – unlimited variations
- Sort products by popularity, rating, price and other attributes
- Unlimited images and galleries
- Variable shipping options and rates
- Guest checkout and customer accounts for loyalty
- Email automation
- At-a-glance and in-depth reporting dashboard
- Customer reviews (includes “Verified Owner” label)
- SEO compatibility
- Regularly audited by Sucuri, an industry leader in security
- 24/7 support via phone, email and chat