This is a super-detailed review and small business guide for picking the best eCommerce platform.
I created it from real-world experience and extensive reviews of the top eCommerce platforms. This means my recommendations are informed and logical with specific advice on what to do that you can build a business on.
In other words, this post differentiates the best of the best so you can make the right decision for your needs.
So, if you want to:
- Learn about the best eCommerce platforms;
- Understand their differences and suitability;
- Read in-depth reviews of each one;
Then, you’ll love the super-detailed information in this post.
What are the best eCommerce platforms for Small Business?
- In-depth Analysis
- How to choose the right platform?
- Using WordPress to build an online store
- What is BigCommerce Enterprise?
Disclosure: This site is a free resource that is supported entirely by its visitors. If you purchase a product or service here a referral fee may be received. This comes at no extra cost to you and helps create lots more useful content. Thank you.
1. In-Depth Analysis
Here you’ll find detailed reviews of the best eCommerce platforms for small businesses which explain their key features and highlight differentiators.
As a result, it provides you with all the information you need to make the right decision for your business.
Get comfy and settle in.
BigCommerce – #1 Choice
Best eCommerce Platform for Growth, Scaling & Overall Value
From $29.95 per month
In their words, BigCommerce Essentials is ‘The simple way to tackle the complexity of selling online.’
They are a market leading eCommerce platform that can scale with your business as it grows today, tomorrow and in the future. Specifically, BigCommerce has ensured it is the most open and scalable of the eCommerce platforms so that no business need is too small or too large.
To put this in context, worldwide brands like Sony and Toyota choose BigCommerce alongside many other large enterprises. Equally, it is perfect for any individual who wishes to start selling online.
What BigCommerce can do for you:
- Build a store (with a free trial) that caters to your unique business needs—with the design tools, features, and support to get you up and running.
- Design and customize a beautiful storefront with powerful features and expert eCommerce support along the way.
- Build your brand with a storefront designed to jumpstart growth, from your very first sale onward.
In short, it’s possible to build your exact online store with the peace of mind any features and built-in functionality required are there. What’s more, you’ll struggle to outgrow BigCommerce, which means all your focus can be on promoting your brand and making sales.
- Leverage our Page Builder tool to get your store up and running
- Build and customise your site – no coding required
- Simplify eCommerce management – Take the guesswork out of managing your new or growing online business.
- Build buzz, find your target customers and drive more site traffic
- Live BigCommerce support 24/7 – 85% resolution on the first phone call
- Sell more with channel integrations like Amazon, eBay, Google and Facebook
- Help customers cross the finish line with a seamless path to purchase
- Streamline checkout with optimized one-page checkout
- Win back customers with shopping cart recovery
- Put your products’ best foot forward with native Google AMP and optimized images via Akamai Image Manager
- Choose from leading shipping and payment providers
- Boost SEO strategies with customizable URLs and robot.txt access
- Improve planning with inventory management tools
- Craft personalized shopping experiences with customer groups
- Benefit from industry-leading expertise
- Personalized site audits and tailored advice from BigCommerce experts
- Community forum – webinars, tutorials, and guides
Try BigCommerce Essentials free for 15 days to see if it works for your needs.
- ‘Standard’ – $29.95 per month
- ‘Plus’ – $79.95 per month
- ‘Pro’ – $299.95 per month
At $79.95 per month, ‘Plus’ is the best plan because it includes a suite of marketing tools that are crucial to your success – if you don’t spend the money on these here, you’ll need to do so elsewhere.
Give BigCommerce a go with their 15 day free trial, here:
Best eCommerce Platform for Simplicity & Beginners
From $29 per month
Over 1,000,000 businesses in 175 countries around the world have used Shopify to make over $200 billion in sales. It’s dominated the scene amongst online store platforms in recent years, yet still focuses on product development for its customers.
In short, Shopify enables you to easily create an eCommerce website that’s feature-packed with powerful tools to help find customers and drive sales.
Specifically, you can:
- Create a business with a fresh idea or make money on the side;
- Turn your retail store into an online store without missing a beat;
- Migrate your business to Shopify from any other eCommerce platform;
- Get a set up by a pro from the Shopify Experts Marketplace.
Shopify provides all the eCommerce and point of sale features you need to start, run, and grow your business. As a result, it’s possible to sell wherever your customers are—online, in‑person, and everywhere in‑between.
- Online store – Sell online with an eCommerce website
- Point of Sale – sell in person at retail locations and pop-ups
- Buy button – add eCommerce to any website of blog
- Sales channels – sell on social media and online marketplaces
- 70+ Themes – bring your brand to life with customizable templates
- Drag-and-drop store builder – no coding or design skills required
- Custom domains – add your own or get a new one on the platform
- Max. customer experience – offer personalized service & painless returns
- Easy-to-use – simplified store set up and user training
- Management – one tool to products, inventory, and customers
- Embed products anywhere including on Squarespace and WordPress
- Secure checkout – add a mobile-friendly & secure experience to your site
- Add a buy button – create shopping experiences on an existing site
- Social Media – grow your audience and sales by boosting awareness
- Online marketplaces – tap into the largest customer bases like Amazon
Try Shopify free for 14 days to see if it works for your needs.
- ‘Basic Shopify’ – $29 per month
- ‘Shopify’ – $79 per month
- ‘Advanced Shopify’ – $299 per month
At $79 per month, ‘Shopify’ is the best plan because it has all the features most people will ever need.
Get your free trial with Shopify, here:
Best eCommerce Platform for Bloggers, Artists & Creators
From $19 per month
As the name suggests, Sellfy is all about simplifying eCommerce for its customers, who tend to be creators and bloggers. The entire platform is aimed at selling your merchandise and digital products hassle-free and all from one place.
It’s super easy to get a store up and running in a matter of minutes, and is perfect for anyone who hates complexity but needs results.
- Design, create and sell from one storefront;
- Built-in print-on-demand for launching your merchandise store;
- Sell digital goods without the technical headaches;
- Embed on your website with a “buy now” button and shopping cart;
- 24/7 support for a helping hand whenever you need it.
With Sellfy, you can create a store in a couple of clicks (literally!). Simply sign up, add products, customize your store and then go live.
To grow your business there is a plethora of built-in marketing features to engage with potential customers and grow your sales. Moreover, it’s possible to sell directly on social media, on your website or anywhere else with a custom storefront.
- Digital – sell any ‘files’ like ebooks, videos, music & graphics
- Physical – sell products & tangible items
- Streaming – offer your videos on demand
- Print on demand – Sell printed merch (e.g. mugs) directly to customers
- Subscriptions – create and sell digital products on a recurring basis
- Product links – sell anywhere with just a link
- Brand creation – add your logo, change colors and create your layout
- Optimized for mobile devices – flawless experience on all screens
- Connect your own domain to your Sellfy store
- Use discount codes to engage with customers and increase sales
- Provide powerful upsells to increase your average order value
- Collect newsletter subscribers for effective email marketing
- Add Facebook and Twitter ad pixels to create & track ads
- Use Sellfy within YouTube videos to increase traffic to your store
- Accept secure payments worldwide
There is a 14 day free trial with Sellfy to see if it works for your needs, then it’s tiered plans:
- ‘Starter’ – $19 per month
- ‘Business’ – $39 per month
- ‘Premium’ – $89 per month
At $39 per month, ‘Business’ is the best plan because Sellfy branding is removed, and cart abandonment is included. What’s more, you can get a 34% saving with any annual plan.
Give Sellfy a go with their 14 day free trial, here:
Best eCommerce Platform for Non-profit Orgs & Local Pickup
Free – $72 per month
From side gigs to sports stadiums, Square is helping power businesses of all sizes and types to help them succeed with online sales. They’re a newer entrant to the online store marketplace, comparatively, but have rivalled PayPal in the point of sale technology space for a long time.
For this reason, they’re more than just an online store platform and provide all manner of PoS hardware and software. This means they can also enable you to sell in a retail store in person as well as online.
Take the best path forward:
- Easily sell online and ship orders to customers, offer curbside pickup, or local delivery—no matter what type of business you have.
- Be in business now for free, and only pay on sales—2.9% + 30¢ per transaction, or get a paid plan for advanced features.
- Create and publish your online store quickly with a streamlined site builder(no coding required) that looks good on all devices.
Square allows anyone to easily start selling products online much like the other top eCommerce platforms.
Their unique selling points, however, make it possible to create a restaurant website, take online orders and offer curbside pickup or delivery. What’s more, you can provide online appointment booking for remote service delivery, and accept donations or membership fees online.
- Create a free, professional website quickly with an intuitive builder
- Sell in-store or on the go with hardware and software for all businesses
- All sales, inventory, & customer information syncs automatically
- Sell anything and everything from food to clothing
- Customer notifications and live order updates via text messages
- Let customers tap and go with contactless payments
- Sell with style and ease with the perfect point of sale hardware
- Track online and in-person sales together all in real time
- Understand everything with insights into sales, customers & employees
- Access your money instantly via a business debit card or bank transfer
Square offer a free plan which allows you to build, customize and launch your online store. The only cost comes when you sell something, as follows:
- 2.9% + 30c per transaction
- $0.50 per delivery order
If you want to publish to a custom domain and remove Square branding you’ll need one of the reasonably priced tiered plans:
- Professional – $12 / month
- Performance – $26 / month
- Premium – $72 / month
At $26 per month, ‘Performance’ is the best plan because it includes abandoned cart emails and posting customer reviews on your site.
Give a Square Online Store a go with their free plan, here:
Best eCommerce Platform for SEO & Fixed Pricing
$29 per month
3dcart was acquired by Shift4 Payments in November 2020.
If there’s one eCommerce platform that helps you increase visitors and sales with leading eCommerce software for SEO, it’s Shift4Shop.
Their all-in-one software is built for the serious entrepreneur, bursting with features, mobile-ready themes, and the latest SEO standards. What’s more, it offers genuinely powerful marketing tools specifically to help you increase conversion rates.
- All-inclusive – everything you need for creating an optimized eCommerce website with a customizable online store and shopping cart, complete with a blog for content marketing.
- Secure – Shift4Shop is fully secured with sitewide HTTPS, PCI Certification, two-factor authentication, and anti-fraud tools to protect all sensitive data and personal information.
- Great-looking – wide selection of mobile-ready themes suitable for any industry.
- Scalable – a platform that can grow with you, from home-based startups to medium-sized businesses and large enterprise eCommerce sites.
- Omni-channel – sell on social media, multi-vendor marketplaces, and other channels, plus sync everything with the big names like Amazon.
- Financial clarity – unlike other eCommerce software solutions, Shift4Shop charge no setup or transaction fees.
Shift4Shop enables you to build pretty much any type of online selling website you can think of. Notable ones are dropshipping, event tickets, subscriptions, digital downloads, and print on-demand merchandise.
Not only that, it is feature packed and has the most comprehensive SEO capabilities out of all the online store platforms.
- Build, design, and customize your eCommerce website easily
- Powerful shopping cart features for optimal sales conversion
- Streamlined order management, invesntory and product catalogue
- Built-in eCommerce marketing software to drive sales & loyalty
- PCI certified and secure eCommerce hosting with 99.9% uptime
- Dedicated support team available 24/7, 365 days per year
- Optimized for all devices to maximise sales including mobile
The good news is there are no setup fees or hidden costs with Shift4Shop, which means you pay a simple monthly fee based on your needs.
- Basic Store – $29 per month
- Plus Store – $79 per month
- Pro Store – $229 per month
At $79 per month, ‘Plus Store’ is the best plan because it has all the features most people will ever need.
Give a Shift4Shop a go, here:
2. How to choose the right online store platform?
Every online shop has unique needs so your eCommerce platform needs to fit them whilst underpinning sustainable success.
Having said that there are some native out-of-the-box tools and features that are essential:
- Secure & reliable hosting and custom domain connection
- Built-in drag and drop website builder with modern site themes
- App store for essential add-ons (e.g. social media, email marketing)
- Mobile-optimized site and/ or mobile app
- Visibility into your inventory management across all sales channels
- SEO tools and fully customizable URLs throughout the site
- Basic ecommerce features like promotions, discounts, and analytics
- Genuine and trustworthy customer support
- Unlimited number of products (e.g. digital or physical products)
- PCI compliant
In order to be competitive in the market, you’ll want to make sure you choose the best eCommerce platform with native advanced features for your small business.
With this in mind, there are five factors to consider in order to get it right.
a. Start a free trial for working answers
Prepare a set of questions that will help you make the right decision for your store, then test any given platform to provide the answers. Furthermore, if you can’t find the answer ask sales support.
Pro tip – get their answers by email if possible because that way they’re less likely to just tell you what you want to hear.
Here is a checklist to make sure you’ve covered all the different angles and shop corners:
- Does it have all core building functionality like a drag and drop editor?
- Is it easy to use, and have you used it enough to make sure?
- How customizable are the themes?
- What is the server uptime, and bandwidth restriction (if any)?
- What do customer reviews say about support?
- Does it lend itself to the product type you want to sell?
- Are product variations (like clothing sizes and colours) easy to manage?
- Can you sell directly on Facebook, eBay, Amazon, and Pinterest?
- Is the store optimised to look good on all device types including mobile?
- Are you seeking traffic from Google Search? If so, what are the SEO tools?
- What self-help knowledge resources do they offer? Are they any good?
- Does checkout offer well-known payment gateways like PayPal?
- What are the shipping options? And, are these important to your store?
b. Determine which platform is best for your store’s design.
The visuals of any website are vitally important. Not only are they the first impression your business makes on potential customers, they also serve to deepen your brand’s impact on them.
What’s more, online consumers nowadays are used to uncluttered and polished web designs and a highly intuitive user experience.
You’ll want to find a theme or template that is more or less fully customizable so you can bring your brand to life from launch.
Spend as long as it takes investigating their themes and templates when you’re investigating any given platform. Look specifically at mobile response (will they look good on all screen sizes) and how clean the store design is.
Web design is not just about the page looking good, even though that is important because it shows you take your brand seriously. The page must also have a highly intuitive user interface that makes buying your products simple, easy and convenient.
Avoid over-styled and cluttered designs and very dark backgrounds; instead go for something with lots of white space, clear typefaces and bold accent colours to stay in keeping with current trends.
c. Test ease of use
The platform you choose needs to be easy to navigate, set up, and use over time.
Make sure you’re convinced on these things carefully:
Does the platform offer easy setup process that takes you through the necessary steps up to launch? This should include loading in products, setting up taxes, payment processing, connecting your domain name, and adding any other branding (e.g. logo).
You want to be able to add unlimited products and ideally, be able to bulk upload these using a .CSV file type. Alternatively, just make sure that adding products and editing them is well developed, easy to pick up and as streamlined as possible.
If you’re struggling to ascertain this info, just read customer reviews and even ask questions in the platform’s community groups (like Facebook, or other forums).
One-Click App Marketplace
As you grow there is a chance you’ll need to add new functionality which is typically done through one-click apps and/ or built-in integrations.
Use a platform’s app store to browse and learn about the tools you think you’ll need. Again, ask the community (i.e. platform forum, reddit, Facebook) if you can’t find the answers you want. Social insights and proof are the very best source of information.
Centralized Channel Management
Omni-channel marketing is the norm nowadays and today’s customers shop everywhere and anywhere –– Instagram, Etsy, Facebook, Amazon, etc.
It’s important that your products are visible to your audience across the relevant channels (i.e where potential customers hang out).
Ideally, your eCommerce platform of choice enables you to push out your products directly to those channels, as well as manage them — all in one dashboard. BigCommerce is the best example of this.
d. Cost versus value
Ultimately, the platform you choose has to be affordable obviously; keeping an eye on costs is commercially vital for any business.
But, you also must focus your buying decision on value, not price.
The biggest mistake I see people make is purchase software and services and then face insurmountable issues down the line. They come to me for help migrating to another platform, which is sometimes possible, sometimes not.
Every one of them, bar none, wished they’d paid what was necessary (which is seldom that much more!) from the start.
In summary, focus on the medium to long term objectives and goals of your online business. Save yourself time and hassle down the line by buying on value, not on price.
That way, all your effort can focus on marketing & sales and being successful, rather than wrestling with technology.
3. Using WordPress to build an Online Store
WordPress powers 39.5% of the world’s websites – yes! You read that correctly which means over half a billion sites are built with it.
It’s no surprise then that there is a world-class plugin that allows you to build and customise an online store. In fact, this particular plugin allows you to do pretty much anything with your online store, providing you’re willing to learn and watch a few how-to videos.
Best for WordPress Online Stores – Simple yet Immensely Powerful
Free + Premium Add-ons (like WooCommerce Subscriptions)
WooCommerce is a fully customizable, open-source eCommerce platform built for WordPress that enables anyone to build any type of online store.
- Use WooCommerce to set up a new store on any WordPress website
- Customize your store in any way you like
- Extend functionality – from subscriptions to membership sites
- Manage everything on the go with the WooCommerce Mobile App
- WooCommerce is one of the fastest-growing eCommerce communities
Whether you’re launching a business, taking an existing brick and mortar store online, or designing sites for clients, Woocommerce enables you. It’s easy to pick up, even for those without any prior knowledge or coding skills too, which is why it’s so widespread.
With a little intuitive, patience and perseverance anyone can build their own online store and grow a successful business.
- Add WooCommere to your WordPress site to in minutes
- Highly intuitive & robust dashboard for easy product management
- Sell anything – physical products, members-only and digital content
- Promote bestsellers, new products, on-sale products across your store
- Boost sales by promoting products on Google Shopping and Facebook
- Connect with email marketing software like ConvertKit
- Track and report on your marketing efforts with Google Analytics
- Global reach – enable multilingual content & foreign currency pricing
- Enhancements – 100s of free & paid extensions for new functionality
- Secure payments – accept major credit cards and bank transfers (BACS)
- 140 region-specific gateways including Stripe and PayPal
- Automated tax calculations & live shipping rates from leading carriers
- Self-help – extensive documentation and a public support forum.
- WooCommerce.com account holders get dedicated support
The WooCommerce plugin is free to install on any WordPress installation. Of course, you’ll need to set up suitable web hosting and a domain name.
Add-ons for WooCommerce and premium themes do incur additional costs which range from $10 – $300 or so depending on what you’re trying to achieve. For example, the subscription add-on for WooCommerce is $199 for 1 year of updates and support.
Alternatively, you can purchase a WooCommerce online store (powered by Bluehost), priced as follows;
- ‘WooCommerce Standard’ – $29.95 per month
- ‘WooCommerce Premium’ – $49.95 per month
Bluehost offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
At $49.95 per month, ‘WooCommerce Premium’ is the best plan because it has all the features most people will ever need. What’s more, you can add Constant Contact email marketing software to your plan for as little as $3 per month.
Simply put, WooCommerce offers something none of the best eCommerce platforms for small businesses are able to. Unlimited customisation, flexibility and development potential.
Try WooCommerce by Bluehost, here:
4. What is BigCommerce Enterprise?
Best for Businesses who Need An eCommerce Partner
In short, BigCommerce Enterprise is a flexible, open SaaS platform that seeks to lead the way into a new era of eCommerce.
In their words, it allows customers to “Explore limitless possibilities to Build, Innovate and Grow.“
But, it’s more than a technology platform and is backed by a team of eCommerce experts focussed on maximizing your success. BigCommerce provides the strategy, support, and tools to take your business from one stage of growth to the next.
- Build from a rock-solid foundation and powerful eCommerce platform.
- Be creative & craft beautiful store experiences with unbridled design
- Deliver lightning-fast experiences that keep customers coming back
- Bring innovative experiences to life with the flexibility of open SaaS
- Seize market opportunities and stay ahead of the curve
- Integrate with third-party apps and unify your backend at pace
- Scale and grow sustainably without complexity holding you back
- Reach new global audiences with omnichannel commerce
- API Driven – Flexible APIs & over 400 calls per second, per customer
- Hosting – Google Cloud Platform for best-in-class server response times
- Headless ready – utilize any front-end for content-rich user experiences
- Cost – reduce re-platforming time and minimize operating costs
- Robust Security – ISO/IEC 27001:2013 & PCI DSS 3.2, Level 1 certified
- Expertise – drive critical requirements with market-leading partners.
- Make it easier for your customers to pay digital wallets like Apple Pay
- Mobile responsive themes from the homepage to checkout
- WordPress integration with full back-end platform enablement
- Major marketplace integration with eBay, Amazon and Google Shopping
- Get more customers with Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram integrations
- Keep in-store sales automatically updated with native POS systems
- Segment your customers for pricing, product access and promotions
- Multi-Currency – accept payments in over 100+ currencies
There is no set dollar amount, BigCommerce Enterprise provides pricing tailored to each merchant’s needs at any stage of growth. Contact sales for custom pricing.
Try BigCommerce (Enterprise), here:
5. eCommerce Platforms FAQ
Is eCommerce easy?
The best eCommerce platforms for small businesses make it easy to set up an online store and don’t cost huge amounts of money. Providing you have a selection of products there is not much standing in your way.
However, marketing your eCommerce brand is a different matter yet absolutely critical to your success. If potential customer don’t know about your products and online store, you won’t sell anything.
Learning how to promote your brand and products is the other side to being successful at eCommerce. There is a lot to learn in digital marketing, namely social media promotion, SEO, email marketing and possibly Pay-Per-Click advertising.
What is the easiest eCommerce platform?
Ecommerce website builders are intuitive and allow you to easily build a website, add products, and market your business online.
However, some are easier to use than others. Here are the easiest ecommerce platforms based on usability and simplicity:
Can I sell on Facebook without a website?
Yes, you can.
If you want to sell products on Facebook, you need a Facebook Page which is an additional space with a personal account. Here, you can add brand information, product names & descriptions, prices, and photos, as well as post under your business name.
What ecommerce platform does Amazon use?
Amazon sites use the AWS platform which Amazon created. They make a large income from allowing others to use their AWS service. Other big companies and websites also use AWS, including Netflix.
Is it better to sell on Amazon or BigCommerce?
Although Amazon is easy-to-use for small online sellers, BigCommercey is a better option. BigCommerce’s lower-priced plans are affordable and is a more scalable solution.
It is important to build your brand presence online which means owning your own online store.
Is Shopify easier than WordPress?
BigCommerce’s website builder is a little easier to set up and use than WordPress, although the difference is not as great as many seem to think. A few how-to videos on YouTube would enable any ambitious store owner to get going properly with either solution.
BigCommerce has a lot of built-in eCommerce features that are not included in WordPress without plugins, some of which are not free. On the other hand, WordPress is far more powerful for SEO and blogging which is vital for any serious content marketing strategy.