The Best Ecommerce Platforms in 2020 (Free & Paid)

There is no doubt that ecommerce is booming! Statistics tell us that the Global ecommerce sales in 2019 exceeded $3.5 trillion, with an increase of 18% from the year before. It’s expected that ecommerce sales will nearly double by 2023.

Choosing which platform to build your online store on top of is an important choice and can often make or break an ecommerce business. The features of the platform, SEO-friendliness, easy of use and ability to integrate with various payment providers are really important features.

Too often important technology decisions like this come down to price with the assumption cheaper equals better but that’s definitely not the case here.

As an agency, we’re well versed in ecommerce having directly optimized 100s of stores of all sorts of platforms as well as built a 100+ ecommerce sites from scratch. The goal of this article is to highlight the pros and cons of the most popular ecommerce platforms on the market and help you make an informed decision as to which is the best choice for your business.

Shopify is probably the best solution for you….

This article is quite long and goes into a lot of detail comparing different features etc.

If you’re not sure which to choose from, Shopify is *probably* the best ecommerce platform to for you ESPECIALLY if you’re new to ecommerce or selling online.

It has everything you need out of the box, is super simple to use even for a non-technical person, has a HUGE app store so almost any functionality you can think of will be available via an app and the starting price is dirt cheap at $29/month. There’s also a free trial available (no credit card required) so you can try it out without committing any money!

Note that we’ve also included free platforms in this post as well BUT you’ll still need to pay for hosting, support and so forth so while those platforms technically are “free”, there are costs you’ll incur elsewhere.

Click here to visit Shopify.com

Shopify is probably the best ecommerce platform to start with

Choose a platform based on features

Before we dive into the reviews, let’s briefly go over some essential features you need to look for in your platform of choice.

Shopping Cart Plugins and Add-ons

An online store without a shopping cart is, well, a not very efficient online store. Shopping carts simplify the payment process, allow online shoppers to add or remove more than one product at the same time, keep their products in one place, give you information on cart abandonment so you can send automated emails to remind your customers to complete their purchase, and has many more benefits that improve both the user experience and the functionality of your store. 

Since there are so many options, the most important things to consider when choosing a shopping cart plugin and add-ons are:

  • an easy-to-use interface, 
  • secure and well-established payment gateways, 
  • and customizable options.  

Choice of Templates and Themes

When it comes to templates and themes, most ecommerce platforms offer both free and premium (paid) options. While the free ones can be all that you need to set up your store, the premium options offer more diversity and design choices, so look for a platform that gives you enough of both. 

You should look for templates and themes that are:

  • Mobile-friendly; 
  • With simple check-out; 
  • With aesthetically pleasing designs;
  • Offer a fast loading time;
  • Compatible with the ecommerce plugins you need.

Mobile-Friendliness

Given that 60% of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices, you need to choose a mobile-friendly platform where your customers will experience a safe purchase with just a few clicks. 

Security

Your online store is a complex system with multiple components interacting with each other (the server, web apps, users, a network connection), and all these activities can make your website vulnerable to threats. That is why, when choosing an ecommerce platform, choose one with security features such as:

  • encrypted payment gateways;
  • SSL certificates;
  • shipping method extensions; 
  • authentication protocols.

Customer Support

Customer support is another essential feature that you need from your ecommerce platform. There are a lot of elements in your online store that need to function properly so your customers have a great user experience and your online store runs smoothly. Considering that these platforms are not perfect and can be susceptible to external attacks, you should always consider the platform’s customer support before you commit. Ideally,  the ecommerce platform should offer 24/7h customer support (via phone, live chat, or email, or a combination of these modes). 

CLICK HERE TO VISIT WOOCOMMERCE

The Best Paid Ecommerce Platforms in Detail

1. Shopify

Shopify's landing page

Pros

  • Sheer variety of useful features;
  • Good inventory system that helps you run your store smoothly; 
  • Possibility to sell across multiple channels; 
  • A lot of third-party apps which extend the functionality of the platform;
  • Printing shipping labels;
  • 24/7 customer support (email, live chat, and phone).

Cons

  • Allows only two stores under one domain;
  • Doesn’t offer many free templates;
  • Transaction fees for using a third-party payment gateway.

Best for: Small, medium, large business. 

Pricing starts from: the “Basic Shopify” plan starts from $29 per month, the more advanced “Shopify” plan starts from $79 per month, and the “Advanced Shopify” plan starts from $299 per month.

If you’re even slightly familiar with the best ecommerce platforms, you must have heard about Shopify. After all, it’s considered one of the best ecommerce platforms by many, so let’s see why this is. 

Shopify is very easy to use. It has an intuitive drag-and-drop interface and additional plugins that you can download from the Shopify App Store. You’ll get 9 free templates that you can use, but you can always pay for the premium templates which are quite versatile and easy to set up. 

You’ll be able to print shipping labels and your customers will receive automatic tracking updates for their orders. Shopify also offers shipping discounts since it’s partnered with DHL, UPS, USPS, Canada Post, and Sendle.    

When you set up your online store with this platform, you can choose between several different options for selling your products. 

  • Online (via your online store);
  • In person (via Shopify’s POS app);
  • Directly on Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Instagram, and other channels;
  • Add a custom “Buy” button on any website.

Shopify offers 24/7 customer support and a safe and in-house payment processing platform that is integrated with most of the major credit card gateways. The transaction fees depend on the plan you choose, and you can try it out for 2 weeks completely free of charge before you make your final decision.

Shopify is one of the three most popular ecommerce platforms with a market share of approximately 11%

CHECK OUT SHOPIFY HERE

2. BigCommerce

BigCommerce's landing page

Pros

  • The platform allows you to add variations to individual products;
  • Built-in abandoned cart saver (not an option in the Standard plan);
  • Supports different payment gateways;
  • Allows you to connect to a POS software system of your choice;
  • Advanced analytics.

Cons

  • Limited amount of free templates;
  • Does not automatically categorize products based on a name or a tag;
  • Fewer apps than its competitors.

Best for: Small, medium, and large businesses. 

Pricing starts from: The “Standard” plan starts from $29.95/mo, the “Plus” plan starts from $79.95/mo, the “Pro” plan starts from $299.95/mo, while the “Enterprise” plan is based on sales volumes.

BigCommerce is another great and reliable store builder that made our list of the best ecommerce platforms in 2020. Similarly to Shopify, BigCommerce offers 12 free templates and a lot more reasonably priced and sometimes discounted premium templates. 

However, unlike Shopify, BigCommerce offers an unlimited number of user (staff) accounts. So, if you have more than two people managing your online store, you’ll certainly appreciate this feature. BigCommerce has an easy-to-use interface, but it doesn’t automatically categorize products based on a name or a tag. This process can be a bit demanding since you have to manually assign the categories to your products. 

One of the most praised features of BigCommerce is its built-in abandoned cart saver, which automatically sends a series of customizable emails to shoppers who don’t finish their checkout process. It’s so useful that BigCommerce claims it helps recover 15% of lost sales on average. This option comes with the “Plus”, “Pro”, and “Enterprise” plans. 

BigCommerce also offers 24/7 customer support via chat, email, and phone. 

BigCommerce supports most payment gateways, while the processing fees for debit and credit cards begin at 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction for all plans. 

CHECK OUT BIGCOMMERCE HERE

3. Wix

Wix's landing page

Pros

  • Easy to use with free templates; 
  • A flexible website builder that allows you to move elements around;
  • Ability to add animation;
  • Artificial design intelligence;
  • Automatic backup of your website;
  • Extensive app market;
  • Free hosting for a year.

Cons

  • More expensive basic plan than its competitors;
  • Once you choose a template you can change its design but you can’t change the template.

Best for: Individual entrepreneurs, small, and medium-sized companies.

Pricing starts from: The “Basic Domain” plan is $4.50 per/mo, the “Combo” plan is $8.50 per/mo, the “Unlimited” plan is 12.50 per/mo, and the “VIP” plan is 24.50 per/mo.

If you’re looking for a user-friendly ecommerce platform with drag-and-drop features, look no further than Wix. It’s great for beginners and those with no coding knowledge, and you can experiment with an abundance of free templates that are broken down by best industry fits. If the free templates aren’t enough, you can always purchase the premium plans, some of which are quite reasonably priced. 

There’s a theme for every niche, and once you find the one you like, you can easily customize it and make it your own. But if you like Wix and want to start selling products, you will have to buy one of the premium plans which include web hosting as well as a free domain for a year. 

Although it might be perceived as basic, this ecommerce platform offers an extensive App Market with more than 250 apps that cater to different types of businesses and offer powerful solutions even for the more demanding store owners. This is one of the reasons why many consider Wix as one of the best ecommerce platforms on the market today.

Wix also offers unique customer support via the resourceful help center, the user-friendly chatbot, email, and phone.

Wix provides three payment options: credit cards, PayPal, and manual (cash or money transfer). 

CHECK OUT WIX HERE

4. Volusion

Volusion's landing page

Pros

  • Easy to access from mobile devices;
  • A lot of free features;
  • Simple and intuitive design suitable for beginners;
  • Great knowledge-base/help center;
  • Lots of payment methods;
  • Great analytical tools;
  • Mobile app.

Cons

  • Expensive starting plan;
  • Product limits with cheaper plans.

Best for: Beginners, small, and medium-sized companies.

Pricing starts from: the “Personal Plan” starts from $29/mo; the “Professional” plan from $79/mo, and the “Business”’ plan starts from $299/mo.

Volusion is an easy-to-use ecommerce platform and a website builder with 11 free and 34 paid professionally-designed themes that you can easily customize. Unlike its competitors, you don’t need to purchase expensive add-ons through a separate web store to enrich your store because Volution has most of the features a store owner needs. This is exactly what makes this platform great for so many. 

You can check the incoming orders on your mobile device via their app and send emails to consumers who didn’t finish their checkout process. This is not an automated process so you have to do it manually, which might be a bit frustrating, especially if you have a lot of unfinished purchases in your store. 

The good thing is that if you encounter any problems, you can always contact their 24/7 customer support. You can do this via email, chat, or phone, or watch their instructional videos which you can find on their site.

Volusion supports more than 30 different payment processors, still, the only built-in ones are PayPal and Stripe. There are no hidden transaction fees with this ecommerce platform, while the credit card processing fees Volusion charges are similar to their competitors, 2.15% + $0.34 for US cards and 3.96% + $0.34 for non-US cards.

CHECK OUT VOLUSION HERE

5. Squarespace

Squarespace's landing page

Pros

Cons

  • No support for third-party apps, plugins, and extensions;
  • Lacks phone support.

Best for: Beginners, artists, small, medium-sized, and big companies.

Pricing starts from: the “Personal” plan is $12/mo, the “Business” plan is $18/mo, the “Commerce Basic” plan is $26/mo, and the “Commerce Advanced” plan is $40/mo.

Squarespace is the most used ecommerce platform in the world with a total market share of 17.69%. Due to its beautiful design and various capabilities, it’s currently considered one of the best ecommerce platforms, which is why we have it on our list. 

You can start with any website template and customize it until you create your dream website that satisfies your needs. 

Given the creative potential it holds, Squarespace is perfect for artists, designers, photographers, and everybody else who wants to create a unique edge for their store.  

The interface is easy to use and it allows you to set up products, manage your catalogs, track orders, administer your customer base, and much more. You’ll get a web hosting and a domain, but if your domain is registered to a third-party provider, you can easily transfer it or connect it to Squarespace. When you do the transfer, you’ll be able to manage all your domain settings and billings from your Squarespace account. 

With Squarespace, you can upload as many physical products as you want, and if you buy the advanced plans, you will be able to open the option for subscription selling. You’ll also get abandoned cart recovery, customizable discounts, banners, pop-ups, and other features with promotional value. 

Squarespace has a 24/7 customer service, although it’s mainly email-based. The live chat is available only from Monday until Thursday. 

Squarespace is available with monthly and annual payments. The yearly plans come with a free domain for a year. The transaction fees apply only to the Business plan (3%) and the credit card processors fees apply as usual.

CHECK OUT SQUARESPACE HERE

6. ThriveCart

ThriveCart's landing page

Pros

  • One-time lifetime fee;
  • Easy to use;
  • Intuitive affiliate management system;
  • 1-Click upsells and bump offers;
  • Affiliate programs;
  • Integration with Zapier.

Cons

  • Lack of templates;
  • No advanced drag-and-drop customization available;
  • No advanced support to recover failed payments.

Best for: Beginners, small, medium-sized, and big companies.

Pricing starts from: One-lifetime fee of $495.

ThriveCart is a pilot shopping cart software with a one-time lifetime fee of $495. It’s an easy-to-use software that creates bumps to checkout pages, sends automated emails to consumers who have abandoned their shopping carts, creates an affiliate program for your products, split-tests your cart, and entices your customers to buy using countdown timers. 

ThriveCart is also conveniently integrated with most email software, payment processors, webinars, and membership platforms.   

This pilot software only gives you 4 optional templates. And while you can customize the content of the page, you can’t change the overall appearance of the template. Even though some don’t find them very stylish, they all give you different but functional checkout experiences, such as one-step checkout, two-step checkout, embeddable checkout, and pop up checkouts. 

ThriveCart does automatic tax collection on sales, and unlike other shopping carts, it offers integration with Zapier. Because of its unique capabilities, ThriveCart is also considered one of the best ecommerce platforms for 2020.  

ThriveCart offers customer support via a ticketing system that works from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 6 pm, and their average replay is within 24h.

Click here to visit Thrivecart.com

7. Ecwid

Ecwid's landing page

Pros

  • Easy way to turn your website into an online store;
  • Beginner-friendly;
  • Extensive tools for selling and managing sales across multiple stores;
  • POS functionality;
  • Free plan;
  • The plugin is available for Squarespace, WordPress, Wix, eBay, Facebook;
  • The “Instant Sites” option is great for those who want to set up a store quickly.

Cons

  • limited design;
  • A limited number of apps;
  • Small-scale tools.

Best for: Beginners, small, and medium-sized companies. 

Pricing starts from:  the “Venture” plan is $15/mo, the “Business” plan is $35/mo, and the “Unlimited” plan is $99/mo. 

Ecwid is best known as an ecommerce plugin that lets you add a store to an existing selling website that gets a fair amount of traffic. But Ecwid can also be a standard ecommerce platform where you can set up an online shop and organize your products in catalogs, add photos, define shipping rates, accept credit card payments, and more. However, this option, known as “Instant Sights”, is a very basic, one-page functionality that sellers who still haven’t finished developing their full site usually use. 

The plugin is very suitable for small and medium-sized businesses that want to add an online store option to reach more customers. It can be added as a widget and is easily installed as a plugin. 

Because of its multifunctionality, Squarespace, WordPress, Wix, eBay, Facebook, and other platforms include Ecwid in their app stores. This ecommerce platform also provides the point-of-sale (POS) option, which allows you to sell even in physical locations.  

Since it doesn’t work as a regular store builder, Ecwid comes with a design that’s integrated with your website. While you can customize some options, others are built-in and might not be suited to your preferences. 

This ecommerce plugin also comes with a number of management tools that help you run your store smoothly (inventory tracking, promotion, and discounts, shipping options, abandoned cart saver, etc). 

In addition to the many helpful resources found on their website, Ecwid also offers a live chat and email support system, while the Business and Unlimited plans include phone support as well.

Ecwid doesn’t charge transaction fees but offers fewer payment options than its competitors. 

CHECK OUT ECWID HERE

8. SamCart

Samcart's landing page

Pros:

  • Simple and high-converting checkout pages;
  • Advanced sales funnel feature (bump offers and upsells);
  • Abandoned checkouts feature;
  • Integration with Zapier and other tools. 

Cons:

  • Some steps can get tedious when adding products and services;
  • Support only via email and chat on weekdays (9 am – 5 pm).

Best for: Beginners, small, and medium-sized companies. 

Pricing starts from:  The “Basic” plan is $19/mo, the “Pro” plan is $99/mo, and the “Premium” plan is $199/mo. 

If your customers are getting tired of going through different landing pages, automated email, and inflated ecommerce stores, Samcart is an ecommerce platform that offers one simple page to turn your visitors into buyers. It’s a fully-fledged shopping cart software equipped with tools that will help you upgrade your business. 

Samcart offers templates with a drag-and-drop content builder with which you can create beautiful 1-click pages. This web-based checkout platform, besides the optimized checkout templates, also offers the option to upsell, order bumps, and payment plans designed to engage your subscribers and increase your profits. 

You get 18 nicely designed templates and the number keeps on growing. Once you choose a template, you can customize the header, footer, colors, buttons, add bullet points to describe the product, and customize it in whichever way you want. The templates are very functional for mobile devices which guarantees a user-friendly shopping on mobile devices. 

This ecommerce platform also offers a cross-selling strategy, combining the main product with other useful auxiliary products.  If you have a great percentage of abandonment rate, then this ecommerce solution will give you the option to run A/B and live split testing so you can experiment with the templates and see which one is most suitable for your needs.  

Using Samcart will also protect you from subscribers with expired credit cards and declined payments, because if such a case occurs, Samcart will send an email to the customer to update their payment data. If the customer fails to do it, the platform will automatically cancel the subscription. 

Samcart can be integrated with your favorite tools like Zapier, ActiveCampaign, Wishlist, Mailchimp, and many more.  

They offer a 14-day free trial with a money-back guarantee and an email or chat support that works from 9 am – 5 pm during weekdays.

CHECK OUT SAMCART HERE

The Best Free Ecommerce Platforms in Detail

1. WooCommerce

WooCommerce's landing page

Pros

Cons

  • Works only with WordPress;
  • No central support because of the multiple plugins and hosting that comes with different support channels.

Best for: Entrepreneurs with no coding experience.

Pricing starts from: No setup fees, no monthly fee (you only pay for additional extensions, themes, and plugins, plus per-transaction fees).

Woocommerce is a free, simple, and powerful ecommerce platform that can be installed as a plugin on your WordPress site. It’s mostly used by small and medium-sized companies and it offers a variety of features and extensions that’ll help you run a professional ecommerce store. You can log in from one centralized account, where you can observe everything from one dashboard, and have full control over the management of your purchases, tickets, and subscriptions. 

Since it’s targeted towards entrepreneurs with no coding experience, WooCommerce offers a simple and intuitive interface with flexible customization. 

Your customers will have various payment options to choose from, from major credit cards to online credit processors such as WooCommerce Payment, Square, PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Pay, and others. It has no setup charges and no monthly fees, however, you need to have a WordPress hosting, and if you want to add functionality to your online store, you’ll have to purchase additional extensions, premium themes, and extra plugins. 

WooCommerce also charges for transactions. The rate is 2.9% = 30¢ per transaction for U.S issued cards, plus 1% for transactions for non-U.S issued cards. 

Since it’s a free plug-in, this ecommerce platform does not have a dedicated customer support service, but it offers LiveChat via the free application, and has a robust community of developers that are keen to help. 

WooCommerce is one of the best ecommerce platforms in 2020 that you can get for free, with a market share of 28.24%. 

2. Magento

Magento's landing page

Pros

  • Open-source with a lot of freedom;
  • Secure and supports a variety of payment options and online credit processors;
  • Supportive community;
  • SEO friendly; 
  • Extended functionality via an app marketplace; 
  • Integration with other 3rd party providers.

Cons

  • Requires coding skills;
  • Doesn’t offer hosting.

Best for: Entrepreneurs and developers with coding experience.

Pricing starts from: The open-source Magento is free to download, and the unmanaged hosting starts from $10 and go up to $250.

Magento is an open-source ecommerce platform targeted towards developers and small businesses. This online store builder is considered one of the best ecommerce platforms because it gives you the most freedom to set up your shop. However, you need to be experienced in coding or hire someone who is. 

It’s highly optimizable and has integrated checkouts, payments, shipping modules, and PCI Compliant Payment Solutions, but then again, you are responsible for setting them up. 

Unlike WooCommerce, Magento doesn’t offer a single solution to its users, instead, it offers two different versions suitable for different businesses. If you have your own hosting, Magento open-source is free and it’s intended for developers and small businesses. There is no direct support line, but if you are working on maintenance with a developer, then they should have your answers related to your question. 

On the other hand, the Magento Commerce platform has a license fee, offers professional support, and is intended for larger organizations. Although the code base of these two versions is the same, Magento Commerce offers more built-in features, hosting and better support for its users.

Magento Open-Source supports a variety of payment gateways and it doesn’t charge transaction fees, but if you run a Magento online store, you‘re the one who will pay the transaction fees for the payment processors. Currently, Magento holds 3.4% of the market share worldwide, so it’s no wonder that it often makes its way into “best ecommerce platforms of 2020” lists.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT MAGENTO.COM

Over and Out!

We hope this guide will help you choose the best ecommerce platform for your needs. As you can see, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the “What’s the best ecommerce platform in 2020” question. The answer depends on what you want to accomplish with your online store. Every ecommerce platform offers something that its competitors don’t, and each is more suitable for certain types of businesses, so go over our reviews carefully and choose the right option for your store.

Related Posts

Woocommerce Speed Optimization – how to fix a slow Woocommerce website

The Best (and fastest!) Woocommerce Themes

An Abandoned Cart Email Template, that actually works!

Shopify Site Speed Optimization

The Fasteset Themes for Shopify

Comments are closed.