The best eCommerce platforms for 2021
The best eCommerce platform comes down to your unique business model and growth plan. Here’s an overview of some of the best eCommerce platforms for 2021 to help you evaluate the best option for your business:
Price: Basic Shopify: $29/month; Shopify: $79/month; Advanced Shopify: $299/month; 10% discount on annual plans and 20% on biennial plans when paid upfront
Free trial length: 14 days
Customer support options: Callback phone support; email support; support provided in 19 languages; community forum; support content
Integrated sales channels: Facebook, Instagram, Google, Walmart Marketplace, eBay, and Amazon
Mobile app features: Suite of mobile tools to fully manage your online business
Shopify is arguably the best platform for eCommerce. It comes with complementary tools and features for multi-channel selling, so you can sell directly through your website, at your retail store, on social media and third-party marketplaces, and everywhere in between.
Plus, Shopify handles all aspects of your business—you can use a best-in-class suite of business tools to build a complete business command center.
Shop Pay handles payment processing, Shopify POS administers in-person sales, and Shopify Fulfillment can help you get products into customers’ hands.
And those are just a few of the many powerful tools and apps that work together seamlessly as part of the Shopify ecosystem. You can also tap into the extensive library of third-party apps that can extend your experience with Shopify even further.
With all of these powerful features, you can set up your business with little technical know-how and budget and scale to an international online brand without changing platforms along the way.
Price: Business Basic: $23/month; Business Unlimited: $27/month; Business VIP: $49/month
Free trial length: No free trial
Customer support options: Callback service available 24/7
Integrated sales channels: Facebook and Instagram require third-party app Ecwid
Mobile app features: The ability to manage your website, though lacks key business tools like inventory management; requires a separate app to use mobile POS
Wix is a user-friendly drag-and-drop website builder that offers customizable templates, web hosting, and domain name registration. You can build a basic website for free, but you’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan to use Wix’s eCommerce features.
As far as eCommerce functionality goes, Wix has a few helpful tools. The platform allows merchants to track orders, accept online payments, sell on multiple channels, and create abandoned cart campaigns.
However, it lacks certain features that are imperative for product-based businesses in particular. Shortcomings include the absence of low stock alerts and other key inventory management features. If you have more than 10 or so products, you’ll want a platform with more robust inventory tracking tools. Plus, you need to use a third-party app for social commerce integrations.
Price: Standard: $29.95/month; Plus: $79.95/month or $71.95/month when paid annually; Pro: $299.95/month or $269.96/month when paid annually; Enterprise custom pricing
Free trial length: 15 days
Customer support options: 24/7 technical support via phone, email, or chat
Integrated sales channels: Google Shopping, Facebook, price comparison engines, eBay, Amazon, Walmart, Etsy, and Instagram
Mobile app features: View analytics, update orders, manage inventory and products, and search for customers; some features are Android-only
BigCommerce is an eCommerce platform well-suited to enterprise-level software companies. Like Shopify and Wix, BigCommerce offers web hosting and lots of customization options. However, you can’t register your domain name through BigCommerce, so you’ll need to purchase and register elsewhere and port it over.
Valuable features include international selling, SEO tools, and multichannel selling on social and third-party marketplaces. However, with these powerful features also comes complexity.
Lack of flexibility and ease of use were major factors in The House of Rare’s decision to migrate to Shopify. The availability of apps and support of the right partners helped the brand scale manifolds in the least amount of time.
Price: custom pricing only
Free trial length: no free trial
Customer support options: phone support and online help center/technical support resources available
Integrated sales channels: Amazon
Mobile app features: N/A
POS: third-party extensions available
Magento is a non-hosted eCommerce platform made for developers who want a powerful, flexible system they can customize. And while this offers many benefits for brands that want a completely tailored platform, it also presents a lot of hurdles in the form of complexity and cost. You need advanced coding and development skills to build out and manage the entire infrastructure yourself.
Magento also lacks the tools to create a seamless multichannel strategy. There’s no easy way to turn on social commerce or marketplace selling with Magento, and the same rings true for foreign currencies. So if going global is in your plans, Magento may not be the best eCommerce platform for you.
Price: Average monthly fee is up to $30; WooCommerce estimates costs to be $120/year for hosting; $15/year for domain name registration; up to $100/year for your site theme; up to $108/year for shipping; 2.9% plus $0.30 per sale; up to $348/year for marketing and communications; up to $79/year for SEO; up to $65/year for SSL certificate
Free trial length: None, but offers a 30-day money-back guarantee
Customer support options: only available via live chat or email; no support offered for third-party apps and plugins
Integrated sales channels: Google Shopping, Etsy, eBay, Facebook, Amazon, Pinterest, and Walmart; integrations are disjointed
Mobile app features: Add products, manage orders and view analytics
POS: Native POS available
WooCommerce is especially familiar to those who know WordPress—WooCommerce is essentially an add-on to the popular blogging platform. WordPress is traditionally for content-driven websites, not eCommerce, so WooCommerce is WordPress’s answer to those who want to sell online.
Because WordPress is a content management system (CMS) first and an eCommerce platform second, many of the selling features are simple or rely on adding apps. And while there are plenty of apps and plug-ins you can add to your store, the more you use, the more likely it is you’ll break something. And this isn’t always a risk worth taking, considering limited support options.
Overall, WooCommerce’s fragility and unreliability make it difficult not only to build an online store but also to maintain it. Plus, it’s not hosted so you’ll have the added task and cost of managing your website hosting. It also lacks PCI compliance, which puts your business at risk when processing payments.
Free trial length: N/A
Customer support options: technical support available through paid support plans; support provided via phone Monday to Friday, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. (GMT+2); help center, technical documentation, and community forum available online
Integrated sales channels: Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and Facebook
Mobile app features: N/A
POS: available as add-on modules
Prestashop is an affordable open-source eCommerce platform that’s great for beginning businesses that have a somewhat technical background. There’s no built-in customer support and integrations can be hit or miss, so PrestaShop users do a lot of troubleshooting themselves with the help of the community.
Business tools and features include inventory tracking, online shopping cart, international selling, and analytics reporting. You also have lots of control over the privacy and security settings on your Prestashop site.
Overall, maintaining your eCommerce site with Prestashop can be cumbersome when it comes to third-party hosting, the multitude of unvetted add-ons and modules, and the cumbersome setup.
Price: Personal: $16/month or $12/month when paid annually; Business: $26/month or $18/month when paid annually; Basic Commerce: $30/month or $26/month when paid annually; Advanced Commerce: $46/month or $40/month when paid annually; Enterprise pricing also available
Free trial length: 14 days, and you can opt for a one-time seven-day trial extension
Customer support options: email available 24/7; live chat available Monday through Friday, 4 a.m.–8 p.m. ET
Integrated sales channels: Shopping Feed extension to sell on Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and Google Actions
Mobile app features: website editing, scan shipping labels, order management, inventory management, and customer communication
POS: available via mobile app
The next website builder with an eCommerce platform option is Squarespace. Like Wix, Squarespace uses drag-and-drop functionality which requires little technicality. Both platforms are primarily website builders, not online selling platforms, so they require a fair amount of tweaking to add eCommerce functionality.
Squarespace requires time and patience to set up if you want to sell online, not to mention there are only two payment integrations. If you have the budget, you may even outsource it. Once you’ve set up the eCommerce function, Squarespace has decent inventory tracking tools. Higher-tiered plans also come with the ability to sell gift cards or subscription-based products.
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of the backend in Squarespace to turn your website into a full-blown online store, you can simply add the Shopify Buy Button.
For just $9/month, you can add a small embeddable code to your Squarespace site and leverage Shopify’s advanced eCommerce tools to handle the rest. With them, you get to add unlimited products, use secure checkout with more than 100+ compatible payment gateways, track sales, and growth trends, easily integrate orders and shipping, and get global tax and currency support.
Price: 5 products: free; 50 products: $9.99/month; 250 products: $19.99/month; 500 products: $29.99/month
Free trial length: none
Customer support options: email available every day 8 a.m.–6 p.m. ET
Integrated sales channels: N/A
Mobile app features: store analytics, add/edit products, track order shipping, manage discounts, and print packing slips
Point-of-sale: requires third-party integration
Big Cartel is a fully hosted eCommerce platform and website builder that is specifically designed for makers, artists, and crafters—the types of businesses you’d expect to see on Etsy. Big Cartel has customizable templates, domain name registration, and marketing tools.
While you can change the look and feel of your site, Big Cartel limits merchants to five images for each product. Payment and integration options are also limited, so this platform makes it much harder to scale as a multichannel business.
Pricing is based on how many products you sell, so it can get pretty costly as your business and product collections grow.