If you want to sell anything online, you need an ecommerce platform. While a regular website provides everything you need to promote your business, people can’t pay for products, as this requires integrations with shipping providers and payment processors.
The solution is an ecommerce platform that includes basic features like web hosting, shopping cart tools, and payment processing. Depending on your budget, sales volume, or industry, you may want additional features such as bulk upload or real-time stock inventory tools.
When selecting an ecommerce platform, make sure it suits your tech skills, provides features to improve customer experiences, and offers customization options. Each element delivers specific benefits to you and your customers. We researched more than two dozen of the best options to help narrow your search. Read on to learn more about the best ecommerce platforms based on available plans, templates, and ease of use.
Best Ecommerce Platforms of 2021
- Best Overall: BigCommerce
- Best for Small Business: Wix
- Best for Startups: Squarespace
- Best for Large Business: Magento
- Best for Dropshipping: Shopify
- Best for International Sales: Smoolis
- Best for Ease of Use: GoDaddy
- Best Affordable Option: Square Online
- Best for Online Only: 3dcart
- Best for Brick and Mortar: Weebly
Best Overall: BigCommerce
BigCommerce is the best all-in-one platform with the flexibility to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes.
Supports multi-channel sales
Can accept international payments
15-day free trial, no credit card required
There’s a learning curve for non-tech users
Limited free themes
More expensive for high sales volume
Regardless of your industry or what you sell, BigCommerce provides a feature-rich platform, affordable pricing plans, and comprehensive reporting options. Few providers offer total customization without developer skills, but BigCommerce delivers on every aspect, making it the best overall ecommerce platform.
Along with unlimited storage, products, and bandwidth, all plans let you:
- Sell on Facebook, Instagram, eBay, and Amazon
- Add a blog to your ecommerce website
- Upload products in bulk
- Connects with more than 65 payment gateways
- Offer digital and physical goods
- Set up coupons, discount codes, and gift cards
- Integrate with roughly 1,000 applications
Along with a fast and responsive website, BigCommerce provides features perfect for enhancing the customer experience, such as:
- Real-time shipping quotes
- Product reviews and ratings
- Multiple languages and currencies supported
- Streamlined one-page checkout
There are four plans available with month-to-month payments and no contract required. You can save 10% on Plus and Pro plans with an annual payment. Unlike other platforms, BigCommerce doesn’t charge transaction fees, so you’ll only pay fees to your payment processor. On top of the stated price, you’ll also pay the appropriate sales tax for your location. You may pay a one-time fee if you select a paid theme, ranging from $150 to $300.
You can select any plan, but once you reach the sales volume maximum for that plan over 12 months, BigCommerce automatically upgrades your program to the next level. Plans include:
- Standard: $29.95 per month for up to $50,000 in sales, includes all features above
- Plus: $79.95 per month for up to $180,000 in sales, adds abandoned cart and customer segmentation features
- Pro: $299.95 per month for up to $400,000 in sales, adds a search button and Google reviews
- Enterprise: Negotiate a special rate for higher sales volume and get custom support options
BigCommerce provides an extensive knowledge base and 24/7 customer service via live chat, email, and phone.
Best for Small Business: Wix
If your small business needs to quickly pivot to digital sales, Wix offers an easy-to-use platform with everything to start selling online within minutes.
Drag-and-drop website builder
Multi-channel sales capabilities
14-day free trial
Only 20GB storage space on Basic plan
No free trial
Basic plan may not be enough for most businesses
With Wix, you can quickly create an ecommerce website and take advantage of unique features for small business owners, like reservation and booking capabilities or more than 500 templates to customize your site. Its simple website builder combined with robust selling and marketing features make Wix the best option for small businesses.
You can use Wix to design a gorgeous website using the drag-and-drop editor or the Wix artificial design intelligence (ADI) tool. With ADI, you answer a few questions, and Wix automatically builds your website. Then you can customize your colors and theme.
All plans include features like:
- Add unlimited products
- Abandoned account recovery tools
- Sell on Facebook and Instagram
- Take online bookings for services and classes
- Host unlimited events and sell tickets
- Stream videos and music
- More than 250 app integrations
On all plans except the Basic package, you get added functionality such as:
- Offer subscriptions and set up online recurring payments
- Ability to sell on online marketplaces
- Product reviews
- Add dropshipping capabilities via a third-party app
Wix integrates with all major payment companies and doesn’t charge a transaction fee, so you’ll only pay fees from your payment gateways. If you sell online tickets, Wix charges a 2.5% service fee. With all plans, you’ll also get $300 in online advertising vouchers. The subscription packages include:
- Business Basic: $23 per month for 20GB of storage and five hours of video
- Business Unlimited: $27 per month for 35GB of storage, 10 hours of video, multiple currency capabilities, and the ability to print shipping labels
- Business VIP: $49 per month for 50GB of storage, unlimited video, custom reports, a loyalty program, and priority customer care
- Enterprise: Get a custom quote based on the amount of storage space needed for unlimited video streaming and VIP support
You’ll find a robust knowledge base and 24/7 support options via help tickets or a callback service for phone support.
Best for Startups: Squarespace
As a startup, you’re limited on time and need an ecommerce platform that’ll scale with your business. Squarespace’s robust promotional tools help you start earning money quickly.
14-day free trial, no credit card required
Drag-and-drop website builder
Offers the most visually appealing designs out of all platforms
Charges an extra transaction fee for payment processing
No phone customer support
Jump right into selling your products or services or request donations to get your business up and running. Squarespace provides a mobile app for entrepreneurs on the go plus strong promotional tools, making it the clear winner in our best for startups category.
Make an excellent first impression using professionally designed templates and a simple website editor. All ecommerce website plans come with:
- Unlimited bandwidth and storage
- Extra guidance for search engine optimization (SEO)
- Advanced website analytics to track conversions and sales
- Promotional popups and banners
- Integrates with all major credit cards, Stripe, Apple Pay, and PayPal
- Email marketing features
Most startups will prefer the Commerce plans because you get additional features such as:
- Customer accounts to store credit card and shipping data
- Show related products on item pages
- Accept donations
- Sell and accept gift cards
- Use spreadsheet bulk editing tools to manage inventory
- Offer product waitlists
- Sell products on Instagram
- Multiple currency support
- Sell in person using the Square point of sale (POS) system
Squarespace offers monthly or yearly contracts, and you can save up to 30% with annual plans. You also get up to $100 in Google ad credits with your package. You will pay an additional 3% transaction fee on the business plan, on top of fees charged by your credit card processor. Plans include:
- Business: $18 per month
- Basic Commerce: $26 per month
- Advanced Commerce: $40 per month for abandoned cart recovery, subscriptions sales, and real-time shipping information
Although Squarespace doesn’t offer phone support, you can expect an answer to your email in under one hour.
Best for Large Business: Magento
Built for enterprises, Magento offers total control over your website so your site developer can create a unique web presence while maintaining server autonomy.
Open source software is free
Nearly unlimited capabilities
Best for search engine optimization
Hosted sites are expensive
Need developer and IT support to get your website up and running
No support for open source software
As an Adobe product, Magento offers the most customizable solution for large companies with plans to expand even further. Although you need a developer to get started, your non-tech teams will appreciate the intuitive interface that makes it easy to update and oversee your high-volume business. Magento’s open source and hosted software is the best option for large companies.
With the free, open source software, you can build in any functions you want, but it comes with features such as:
- Site search tools
- One-click instant purchase options
- Total control over catalog management
- Access global shipping providers and accept many currencies
- More than 1,000 extensions and themes
For fully hosted Magento Commerce software, prices start at $1,500 per month with an annual payment and provide top-level enterprise features to support your business, including:
- Drag-and-drop tools to update or create product pages
- Comprehensive tools to custom build reports and analytics
- AI-enabled personalized product recommendations
- Visual merchandising tools for quicker product placement
- More than 100 standard reports
- Built-in customer loyalty tools
- Wishlists and gift registries
Although the open source version doesn’t come with support, the paid version gives you a customer success manager and engineering support.
Best for Dropshipping: Shopify
Find trending products, quickly add them to your store, and start selling using the Shopify ecommerce platform.
Fast website load time
14-day free trial, no credit card required
Needs third-party app for international currency
Only nine free themes
Extra transaction fees on all non-Shopify payments
Shopify connects with Oberlo for integrated dropshipping tools, and you can sell unlimited products with all plans, making it the best choice for dropshipping.
This easy-to-use ecommerce platform comes with the Shopify POS lite system and tons of features such as:
- An available live chat function
- Online invoice creator
- Over 100 payment gateways
- Syncs with Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, and Pinterest
- Can sell physical and digital items
- Integrates with more than 3,200 apps in the Shopify app store
- Built-in abandoned cart recovery tools
To set up dropshipping, you can install the free plugin Oberlo and sell up to 500 products per month for free. It costs $29.90 per month to sell up to 30,000 items per month. You may also select a premium theme for a one-time fee ranging from $100 to $180.
Shopify offers three plans. On all plans, you can save 10% with an annual payment or 20% on a biennial subscription. Shopify plans include:
- Basic Shopify: $29 per month plus Shopify payment processing fees of 2.9% plus $0.30 per online transaction, 2.7% for in-person transactions, and a 2% transaction fee on all other payments, along with your payment processor’s fees
- Shopify: $79 per month plus Shopify payment processing fees of 2.6% plus $0.30 per online transaction, 2.5% for in-person activities, and 1% transaction fee on all other payments, along with your payment processor fees
- Advanced Shopify: $299 per month plus Shopify payment processing fees of 2.4% plus $0.30 for online transactions and 2.4% for in-person transactions, along with a 0.5% fee on all other payments along with your processor fees
Shopify provides an in-depth knowledge base and 24/7 support via live chat, email, phone, and Twitter.
Best for International Sales: Smoolis
Create a multilingual site and accept international currencies without using plugins or needing developer skills.
14-day free trial, no credit card required
A built-in currency convertor
Products limited to 500
Web pages limited to 100
Fewer integrations than other platforms
Smoolis supports 58 languages, meaning every aspect of your website, from search bars to your shopping cart, translates into the language your customers choose. Its affordable price and out-of-the-box language capabilities make Smoolis best for international sales.
With Smoolis, the multilingual capabilities include:
- Simple activation of the languages you’ll use and your site automatically switches as needed
- Ability to use text or flag icons to show customers language options
- Multiple international currencies for checkout
- A search tool that works for all activated languages
- Tax rates for various countries
- A currency converter built into your checkout
All plans come with the same features, such as:
- Free themes
- Inventory track and "out of stock" alerts
- Five payment gateways including all major credit cards, Stripe, and PayPal
- Printable packing slips
Smoolis offers three plans and is best for small to medium-size businesses. There are no extra charges or fees, except for third-party processing fees. Plans consist of:
- Small: $16 per month for two languages, one currency, 50 products, and 20 web pages
- Medium: $28 per month for four languages, four currencies, 250 products, and 50 pages
- Large: $40 for eight languages, multiple currencies, 500 products, and 100 pages
You can contact customer service via the Zendesk help desk in English, Greek, or German.
Best for Ease of Use: GoDaddy
GoDaddy’s ADI tool creates your site in minutes then walks you through each step of setting up your store.
No coding or tech skills needed
24/7 customer support
Intuitive central dashboard
Limited customization options
Only one plan for ecommerce
Can’t switch between themes
GoDaddy is the optimal choice for beginners due to its simple setup process and an intuitive central dashboard that puts everything business-related at your fingertips. You can get your site up and fully functional in under an hour. Or take your time to build your product listings using the free plan. When you’re ready to open your store for business, upgrade to the paid ecommerce plan.
Along with ADI capabilities, you can also select a free theme from its online store. From the main GoDaddy dashboard, you can:
- Create and send up to 25,000 emails per month
- Post and reply to messages on your social media channels
- Monitor your Yelp listing and online comments
- Track orders
However, GoDaddy offers tons of other features, including:
- Integrates with Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Walmart, Facebook, Google Shopping, and Instagram
- Accepts all major credit cards, Apple Pay, PayPal, and Google Pay
- Can display reviews on your website from Yelp, Google, or Facebook
- One-time or recurring appointment or group event booking
- Abandoned cart recovery tools
- A mobile app to access your data from anywhere
With GoDaddy, you set up your initial site by signing up for a free plan. You can either upgrade to a paid plan immediately after setting up your primary site or wait until you’re ready to start selling. Although GoDaddy offers several paid programs, you can only sell items with an ecommerce subscription, which is $24.99 per month with an annual payment.
GoDaddy provides a robust help center and knowledge base. Or you can contact customer service via live chat or phone 24/7.
Best Affordable Option: Square Online
Sell an unlimited number of products on Instagram or your website with no monthly subscription cost using Square Online.
Easy to use, no coding skills needed
Sell unlimited products with no monthly fee
Multi-channel selling capabilities
Limited payment options
Not for high-volume businesses
No global sales
Square Online is 100% free for 500MB of storage. But paid packages start at $12 per month when billed annually, making Square Online the best affordable option for an ecommerce platform.
Square uses Weebly architecture, so it’s easy to set up and use. Although there aren’t any templates, the software walks you through each design step and offers a user-friendly interface.
With all pricing plans, including the free version, you can:
- Sell digital and physical goods
- Accept donations
- Book appointments or sell event tickets
- Offer curbside pickup
- Use inventory management tools for real-time syncing
- Send customers order status text alerts
- Integrate with more than 125 applications
- Sync with Square POS
There are four plans, and you must process your payments through Square, which accepts all major credit cards. The subscription pricing is based on an annual payment and includes:
- Free: $0 per month, 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction for payment processing, and if you deliver items yourself, it’s an extra $0.50 per order or $1.50 for on-demand delivery options
- Professional: $12 per month and 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction for payment processing, for unlimited storage, no Square branding or advertisements
- Performance: $26 per month and 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction for payment processing. The plan adds PayPal payments, reviews on your site, and abandoned cart emails
- Premium: $72 per month and 2.6% plus $0.30 per transaction for payment processing to add a real-time shipping rate calculator
Square Online offers a community forum and knowledge base, plus you can reach out by email, chat, or telephone.
Best for Online Only: 3dcart
3dcart provides a mobile-responsive platform and robust SEO features to ensure your website satisfies algorithms and online customers.
15-day free trial
Provides real-time shipping data
Can accept more than 200 types of payments
No phone support on the startup plan
Customization features more limited than other platforms
You don’t need to learn any code or special tech skills to create a website that handles every online sale with ease. This feature-rich platform and mobile app let you control every part of your business, from inventory to marketing, from anywhere with an internet connection, making it the clear winner for online-only companies.
Along with unlimited products and bandwidth, with all plans, you get:
- 61 free themes
- Real-time shipping data
- Ability to create and print shipping labels
- Sell digital and physical items
- More than 60 real-time reports
- On-site review tools
- Abandoned cart recovery solution
- Comprehensive email marketing and automation tools
Online-only companies appreciate SEO and customization features such as:
- Google AMP for products
- Breadcrumb links for SEO navigation
- Control of site maps
- Customizable shopping cart options
- Multiple shipping choices, including split-address orders
- Multi-channel selling options including a Facebook store
With 3dcart, you won’t pay any extra transaction fees except for those from your credit card processor. Along with free themes, you can also choose from several paid templates for a one-time fee of $149.99.
There are five subscription plans, and you can save 10% when you prepay for 12 months. 3dcart automatically upgrades your program if your trailing 12-month sales volume goes over the maximum for your package. Choose from:
- Startup: $19 for up to $50,000 in sales
- Basic: $29 for up to $100,000 in sales
- Plus: $79 for up to $250,000 in sales
- Power: $129 for up to $500,000 in sales
- Pro: $229 for up to $1,000,000 in sales
3dcart has a great knowledge base and ecommerce academy complete with lessons, webinars, and videos. With the Startup plan, you can reach out via online chat or a help ticket. All other plans also include 24/7 phone support.
Best for Brick and Mortar: Weebly
Create a beautiful website for your physical store, and your customers can buy online then pick it up at your shop.
Simple user interface and dashboard
No Amazon integrations
Limited payment gateways
No phone support for free or personal plans
The Weebly platform and mobile app help you create and manage your online presence without taking time away from your in-person business. Its free and affordable paid plans make it the best option for brick and mortar companies that want to get online fast without making too much fuss.
With all plans, including the free plan, you get access to features and functionality like:
- Unlimited products
- Inventory management
- Coupons and gift cards
- Automatic tax calculator
- Integrations with over 300 ecommerce apps
- Stripe or Square payment processors
- A mobile app to manage your ecommerce site
Weebly offers four plans, including:
- Free: $0 per month for all features listed above
- Personal: $6 per month billed annually or $9 month-to-month for all basic features, plus adds digital goods sales
- Professional: $12 per month billed yearly or $16 month-to-month for unlimited storage and removal of Square ads
- Performance: $26 per month billed annually or $29 month-to-month for abandoned cart emails, on-site reviews, and PayPal payment processing
You’ll find plenty of tutorials in Weebly’s support center or chat online or through email. Professional and Performance plans add phone support.
Most ecommerce platforms offer similar shopping and buying features. However, you’ll find differences in the initial site design and build. Some like GoDaddy offer AI design tools, while others such as Squarespace use drag-and-drop tools. Your decision will rely on your comfort with tech tools, store volume, and the type of support required.
BigCommerce is our choice for the best overall ecommerce platform. It works for nearly any business type by integrating with more than 1,000 applications and over 65 payment gateways. With BigCommerce, you can sell on your website or social media channels. Plus, prices start at $29.95 per month, which is affordable for most companies.
|Company||Why We Picked It||Top Features|
|BigCommerce||Best Overall||More than 1,000 integrations, multi-channel sales, and unlimited storage|
|Wix||Best for Small Business||Over 500 free templates, unlimited events and bookings|
|Squarespace||Best for Startups||Product waitlists, modern themes, and SEO guidance|
|Magento||Best for Large Business||AI-enabled personal recommendations and over 100 standard reports|
|Shopify||Best for Dropshipping||Free Shopify Lite POS and Oberlo plugin for dropshipping|
|Smoolis||Best for International Sales||Out-of-the-box multilingual capabilities with no extra fees|
|GoDaddy||Best for Ease of Use||An intuitive dashboard to access everything and an ADI to design your site|
|Square Online||Best Affordable Option||Manage inventory and sell unlimited products for free|
|3dcart||Best for Online Only||Onsite review tools and advanced SEO assistance|
|Weebly||Best for Brick and Mortar||Buy online/pick up in-store options and user-friendly interface|
What Is an Ecommerce Platform?
An ecommerce platform is software that allows you to sell products or services online via a website. Most services include:
- Web hosting: Your website data lives in the cloud, not on personal storage devices
- Website builder: Tools to design and create your website
- Shopping cart software: Offers a customizable shopping cart and checkout pages
- Payment integrations: Works with various payment processors so you can accept payments
- Shipping tools: Integrates with shipping providers, in-store pickup, or curbside delivery options
How Do Ecommerce Platforms Work?
Ecommerce platforms let you upload digital or physical products, sell event tickets, and book appointments. Depending on your business needs, your services may:
- Come with a POS system or integrate with existing POS software
- Feature inventory management or connect to your inventory software
- Support email and social media marketing
- Allow for multi-channel sales on social media or online marketplaces
- Help you reduce cart abandonment
- Provide gift cards and coupons
What Do Ecommerce Platforms Cost?
Ecommerce platforms use a subscription model where you make monthly or annual payments. Plans usually offer advanced features in the higher tier and more expensive packages. But, some like BigCommerce and 3dcart automatically move you to the next plan tier according to your sales. Examples of price ranges and extra fees include:
- Non-volume-based plans: Prices range from free to $1,200 per month
- Volume-based plans: Monthly cost ranges from $19 to $29.95 for $50,000 in sales
- Theme and template fees: A one-time fee if you don’t want a free theme, with prices ranging from $100 to $180 for upgraded themes
- Credit card processing: Separate fees differ by individual provider but typically hover around 2.5% plus $0.30 per transaction
- Platform processing fees: Some ecommerce platforms charge an extra transaction fee on top of your payment processor, ranging from 0.5% to 3% per transaction
How We Chose the Best Ecommerce Platforms
There are many great ecommerce platforms, but some are better than others. We reviewed more than two dozen companies to determine how easy it was to set up a website, upload products, and make changes to prices or product listings. Next, we uncovered special features that support operations, such as marketing and inventory tools. Finally, we compared reporting, integrations, and customization options.