With so many ecommerce platforms to choose from, it can be hard to decide on the best retail website builder for your unique needs. This post has a list of our 10 best ecommerce platforms of 2017 based on personal experience and research into credible reviews of online store builders and shopping cart solutions.
Why Choose an eCommerce Website Builder?
$481 billion in ecommerce sales is a good reason! This has been projected by 2018 for the global retail market, and we are likely to be over $350 billion p/a as it stands. Everyone today is talking about eCommerce, and for good reason. Consumer habits are moving more and more toward the online world every day, and retailers are doing everything they can do to keep up with or stay ahead of the game.
It’s not necessarily that bricks and mortar stores are becoming a thing of the past, but that eCommerce sites have become so good. They’re giving people a convenient new option to do their shopping from the comfort of their own homes, or offices, or coffee shops, or anywhere there’s internet, really.
The days of eCommerce sites that were clunky and difficult to use as a shopper are long gone. Today, the onus is squarely on providing the best user experience to customers to help them make purchases easily, quickly, and more often. The easier it is to spend money, the more likely that people are going to do it. It is especially likely if your ecommerce website makes your products look shiny and desirable, if user interfaces are smooth and simple, and if online payment systems are flexible and accessible.
The same goes for those who are involved in eCommerce Website Design. These days, almost anyone can open an online store, and there are all kinds of options when it comes to companies that you can use to provide all the backend work to make the e-shop actually run, and run well. Depending on your specific requirements, there are a lot of great ecommerce website builders on the market.
There really is something for everyone. The key is to weigh the pros and cons of each to find something that fits for what you need. In this article you’ll find some great information about our top 10 eCommerce website builders that are available today in 2016. Take a look through them, read the pros and cons of each, and by the end, hopefully you’ll have a good idea of which one will be the best ecommerce platform for your business.
Shopify is generally considered to be the industry standard these days for people who want to run an eCommerce store but don’t have a ton of technical knowledge or experience, but it also brings enough power that those with more advanced skills will get a lot out of it, too. It has a number of pros that appeal to both beginners and experts. First of all, it’s easy to use. The folks at Shopify pride themselves on designing a product that can be used by almost anyone, and that’s a big part of the reason they’ve seen so much growth in recent years. With Shopify, you’ll get lots of payment options, SSL encryption, and there are plenty of good designs that will make your products look great to consumers.
There aren’t a lot of cons when it comes to Shopify, but it does have a few potential downsides, particularly with the lack of advanced control that users have over it compared to open source or self hosted platforms. Also with Shopify, domains aren’t included, although they do provide you with some options to be able to use your own domain name. They don’t have great multilingual support, and that could be an issue as some users have had a bit of trouble in the early stages of their website creation for non-English speakers. However, with Shopify, you don’t need to know how to build an ecommerce website in advance – the hard work is done for you.
As the popularity of WordPress sites has grown, the popularity of WooCommerce has grown with it. WooCommerce does not work at all without WordPress, as it is a plugin for this, the world’s most popular blogging and website platform. WordPress has become the industry standard for blogs and company websites in the last few years because of its ease of use combined with power and flexibility. WooCommerce enables you to combine an easy to use ecommerce store with a great website.
The biggest advantage of WooCommerce is that your website will be able to do everything that WordPress can usually do, since they’re fully integrated. WooCommerce is open source, meaning that you get a lot more control over the end result than you do with platforms such as Shopify. Because of this, it’s very powerful, flexible, and adaptable to whatever you need from your eCommerce website and shopping cart solution. WooCommerce also comes with great tutorials to help you through various issues as you go forward with your website.
The biggest downside of using WooCommerce is that it’s definitely not for beginners. It’s not the most advanced ecommerce website builder out there, but it’s certainly not the simplest, either. Also, there are a number of extra costs that can pop up unexpectedly, so users need to be aware of this going in. The plus side to this is that it benefits from the great support that WordPress users have come to expect.
If you already have a WordPress website, then WooCommerce can be downloaded from the Woothemes website and added to your existing website. If you want to go with this ecommerce site builder but don’t yet have a WordPress site, then you might want to go to a good quality WordPress hosting company, like Bluehost which is low cost and offers 1-click install of WordPress to make things easy to set up and manage. You can then add WooCommerce for creating your online store.
BigCommerce is another one of the big boys on the market, so is aptly named. It’s not the easiest to use eCommerce website builder on the market, but it would definitely be categorised more on the easy side than the difficult side. This is especially true when you consider how many features you get with BigCommerce. It’s a flexible ecommerce platform that supports things such as store credit, which is a great feature that can help set you apart from your competition, as not everyone offers this.
Unfortunately, BigCommerce doesn’t come with a great selection of designs or free templates, which can make it a challenge for people who value advanced aesthetics for their online shopping experience. They also lack great multilingual support, but that’s a theme that runs between a few of the top ten.
Weebly has become a great option for your eCommerce solution if you’re not looking to spend a whole lot of money, but you still want to be able to access some fairly powerful features. It’s extremely easy to use, and they have great support for being able to sell digital products online, which gives them a leg up in certain circles of the market. Weebly also has an integrated blog feature, which is great for content marketing as well as integrating SEO options into your site and product pages.
One of the cons you’re sure to notice with Weebly is that for all their strengths, they’re just not as sophisticated as Shopify, which can hold them back in a few ways. They also don’t support a customer login feature, and they don’t have the number of templates that a lot of users are going to look for.
Wix has taken a few steps forward in the past couple years. They had a major editor overhaul during the summer of 2015, and it’s made a big difference for them. The design has been improved and a number of new features have been added, such as SKU’s, options to have coupons, more diverse payment options, and a few others.
However, they’re not without some faults. Adding SEO-relevant information to a product is a challenge, and you need to get an app from the store in order to sell digital goods such as PDFs, eBooks, and so on. There also isn’t an effective import and export function for products which makes it more difficult for businesses with a large number of products. Overall, the eCommerce plan that Wix offers is intended primarily for small online stores, and larger operations might struggle with them a bit.
Squarespace is known primarily for their great blog integration, which shouldn’t be underestimated, given the number of blogs that are currently out there in all kinds of different fields. This makes them a great choice for bloggers who have ambitions to transition into the world of eCommerce. They accept donations, which is another attractive feature to this market, and they also have a sleek express checkout feature which is pretty attractive to consumers.
The downside to Squarespace is that even though they’re geared toward the blogging crowd, it’s a surprisingly difficult platform to use. They also don’t support PayPal, which is a huge drawback for a lot of consumers, since they’re the industry standard for online payments. Sure, there are other options, but not having the ability to accept PayPal can be a significant problem in today’s online marketplace.
Volusion is one of the ecommerce platforms that have been around for a long time. They’re one of the pioneers in the online retail industry, but over time, they’ve been surpassed in popularity by some of their newer competitors – perhaps a case of ‘last mover advantage’. That said, the fact that they’re industry veterans also means that they’re one of the best online shop providers when it comes to customer support. If you’re someone who needs a lot of that, you might want to consider Volusion as an option, as you’ll actually be able to get in touch with another human to help you with any issues that you might be having.
The downsides to Volusion, unfortunately, have been holding them back in recent years. Volusion is not particularly easy to use, especially for beginner users. They don’t have an app store, and creating regular content pages is generally considered to be overcomplicated. Overall, they’re still an effective option with a lot of upside, but they’re not the industry standard.
Jimdo is one of the lesser-known eCommerce website builders in the United States, but it’s a lot more well-known in other areas, particularly in European countries. One of the key advantages of Jimdo is that they’re adept at dealing with the many EU regulations that can make eCommerce complicated in that region. Besides that, they have a very easy to use platform, and they’re remarkably inexpensive, with no additional sales fees that pop up like many of the others. They have great domain and email support, and they have extraordinarily strong SEO capabilities.
On the downside, they don’t support digital goods, and they don’t allow for easy importing and exporting of product data, which can be a particular drawback for sellers with large numbers of products on their sites. And of course, their inability to accept payments other than PayPal or direct payments will continue to limit them in many markets, including the US.
It surprises many people to learn how huge the client base is with the Magento eCommerce system. In fact, it’s one of the most popular ecommerce site builders in the world. It’s especially powerful for larger scale operations, so could be seen as the corporate ecommerce software of choice. It’s sophisticated, scalable, and highly customisable out of the box and furthermore with a large range of useful plugins and add-ons developed by the open source community. The downside to Magento is that as a business owner, you have to do a lot yourself. Magento is powerful software, but it’s not exactly user-friendly. The costs with using Magento will come from having to pay for hosting, development, and so on, and there is minimal free customer support. In addition, the services of a specialist Magento developer can get to be very expensive at the higher levels of need.
If you’ve got great technical expertise and you’re willing to take a lot on yourself, Magento might be a great solution for you. If you know how to build an ecommerce website already, then the Magento platform will give you the tools to do a great job.
OpenCart is an eCommerce website builder with a lot of potential, but with both pros and cons. It has a clean design and it’s actually very easy to use, with a backend that’s particularly easy to manage and navigate.
On the downside, as open source ecommerce software, it requires a huge amount of technical knowledge. It’s decidedly difficult for beginners to use. A lot of plugins are required, and despite the low initial price tag, the costs can add up and become prohibitive once you’ve added in the features you need in an online shopping cart solution. Customer support is also reported to be lacking by some users.
It certainly seems like eCommerce isn’t going anywhere in our consumer marketplace, and that as time goes by, it’s only going to grow in importance. More and more businesses will turn to an eCommerce platform to sell their products, and the potential is really pretty endless.
In 2014, eCommerce sales accounted for about $298 billion in sales, and a study showed that number is projected to grow dramatically to $481 billion by just 2018. There’s an eCommerce platform for almost every business now.
To narrow it down further than our list of the top 10, perhaps you could currently say that Shopify is the best ecommerce platform for small businesses, while Magento is the top retail website builder for massive, complex stores or big corporations.
However, the trick is to finding the one that works best for the specific requirements of your business, the products you’re selling, and the market that you’re selling to. The options are getting better and better, more and more powerful and sophisticated, and easier to use every day.
We’ll try to keep this list as up to date as possible. Know of any great ecommerce platforms that are not on here? Please contact us to let us know!