Top 6 E-commerce Platforms to build a website in 2021

by | Mar 8, 2021

Top 6 E-commerce platforms to build a website with in 2021

Selling online doesn’t have to be as pain-staking as they make it out to be. With the right ecommerce platform, you can give your customers an online store that is easily navigable, offers enough payment gateways, has a smooth-running order and content management system, and a sleek web-design to top it all off.

Choosing the right platform for your store is a crucial decision which will have a lasting impact on your business. You have to consider the cost of each platform, and decide whether you want to opt for an open-source platform or a cloud-based solution. After thorough research, we have gathered the 6 best ecommerce platforms in the market that you can use to jump-start your online business. These platforms are:

  • Shopify
  • BigCommerce
  • WooCommerce
  • Squarespace
  • Magento
  • Wix

We’ll dive into all the important features for these ecommerce platforms to give you an overview.

Shopify

Shopify is a long time player in the ecommerce industry, and one of the most popular and trusted platforms. It hosts over one million stores, has 2.1 million active users, and $155B+ worth of sold goods on the platform. With built-in features that help accommodate new users easily, Shopify has a very user-friendly interface.

Extensions and Integrations

App Store that supports thousands of applications, allowing users to increase their portfolio and make use of various functionalities for their online stores. If you’re looking to gather in-depth analytics of your website and viewer behaviour, or you want to manage your product data using a PIM software, you can find these and many more on the Shopify App Store. Similarly, if you’re looking to boost your SEOs, the store has a bunch of apps for that too. You name it, and Shopify will have an app for it.

All you need to do is determine what your website needs, and then look for it on the App Store. It’s also a great idea to read up reviews before you install an app or integration.

Pricing & Payment Options

Shopify’s plans start from $29/month and include all the main features, but the significant difference comes from the transaction fees per payment received from the customer. The fees for online credit card rates start from 2.9% + 30¢, and there is an additional charge of 2% for using any payment provider that isn’t already registered with Shopify.

We’ve listed out Shopify payment plans for you:

Basic Shopify plan: $29/month

2 accounts:  5 accounts 15 accounts

Shipping discount up to 64%

Online credit card fee 2.9% + 30¢ or 2% using other providers

Shopify plan: $79/month

Shipping discount up to 72%

Online credit card fees 2.6% + 30¢ or 1% using other providers.

Advanced Shopify plan: $299/month

Third-party shipping rates calculations

Shipping discount up to 74%

Online credit card fee 2.4% + 30¢ or 0.5% using other providers

The cheaper plans are suitable for smaller businesses that can’t afford to pay for the bigger plans. However, the higher transaction fee is a big drawback, and businesses also miss out on custom reports that can give them valuable insight into consumer trends and behaviour. Shopiyfy has a 14-day free trial which you can sign up for without any credit card information. This gives you enough time to test out the platform, acquaint yourself with the Shopify Admin features, and create a store before going live.

You can use the in-house developed Shopify Payments platform for your Shopify store which is integrated with most major gateways from credit cards, to Google Pay, Apple Pay, Stripe, etc. You can track and manage all your payments, and the platform offers increased security protocols with Level 1 PCI compliance and default fraud analysis.

Customer Support

A 24/7 customer support line is available over email, live chat, and phone for users paying for Shopify. This isn’t something every ecommerce platform is able to provide its users, which makes Shopify one of the best when it comes to customer support, with the platform being available in different countries around the world, having varying time zones. 

You can also reach Shopify’s support team via Twitter. After starting a Twitter support session, you’re simply redirected to a direct message at Shopify’s Twitter, where you can have a conversation with a representative, similar to the live chat. 

Shopify provides a huge and easily searchable knowledge base, offering guides on multiple topics related to orders, products, deliveries, and so on. They also provide you with valuable materials that give advice on growing and scaling your ecommerce business.

Order Management System (OMS) and Content Management System (CMS)

Shopify’s streamlined CMS interface allows sellers to easily add, edit and upload their product data, and track inventory of whichever products they wish to. Sellers can add keywords to aid in searching for products, and the drag-and-drop feature lets users set up their stores easily, and exactly how they want it.

The CMS admin interface immediately notifies sellers if inventories are running low, with an interactive real-time statistics panel. An in-built CMS is ideal for those selling on multiple channels, and dealing with multiple vendors, as keeping track of orders and inventory otherwise would be complicated and tedious.

Shopify also offers fulfilment services that let users outsource their shipping, such as through Fulfillment by Amazon. This CMS has been designed specially by SEO experts in order for Shopify stores to rank on Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

There are also hundreds of Order Management extensions available on the Shopify App Store. Information and reviews of these extensions are easily available on the Shopify Blog. These extensions allow sellers to keep up with all new orders, and track shipping and payment of these orders. Sellers can customize their order views filtered by their most current status. There is also an option for automatic cancellation of orders with immediate chargeback. 

BigCommerce  

The name says it all for this ecommerce platform that is best suited for companies with big operations. BigCommerce is built for large enterprises offering a wide range of products, or for startups looking for immediate expansion. It’s also well suited for users that have brick and mortar stores and are looking to start online operations. 

The platform offers a plethora of features, with a lot of advanced features suited for professionals with more experience. They also have a whole community of designers and developers available to lend your business a helping hand. This platform, however, isn’t as user-friendly as Shopify. While you can use customizable templates to beautify your store without having any coding knowledge, users must possess some knowledge on web design to efficiently use the platform’s advanced features. 

biggest-platforms-list

Extensions & Integrations

Similar to Shopify, BigCommerce also offers various apps and integrations for sellers to add to their functionalities, and provide the ultimate consumer experience. Some of the apps are free, and others can charge a high fee depending on what you need.

Pricing & Payment Options 

BigCommerce offers different pricing plans that businesses can choose from. They all come with different features, of course. But the major difference arises in the types of reports you can get. 

  • BigCommerce Standard: $29.95 per month.
  • BigCommerce Plus: $79.95 per month.
  • BigCommerce Pro: $299.95 per month.
  • BigCommerce Enterprise: Custom pricing according to features.

BigCommerce is very convenient with its payment gateways, as they offer over 65 options dealing in over 140 currencies. They also don’t charge any extra fee for using third-party integrations, unlike Shopify.  All of their online payment solutions are PCI compliant and integrated into the platform, so that businesses don’t have to go through any hassle of setting these up themselves. 

Customer Support 

BigCommerce’s support team is available 24/7 via phone, email or chat. These representatives can answer any queries related to setting up your store, growing your business, boosting conversion, and much more. 

There is also a Help Center full of online resources that can guide you through everything you need to set up a full and running BigCommerce store. 

Order Management System (OMS) and Content Management System (CMS) 

BigCommerce is great for multichannel selling and offers one of the best CMS in the market, that allows you to manage larger product catalogs easily, and comes with an abandoned cart recovery feature that is great to lure customers back to your website. 

The platform is PCI compliant and users can connect to other CMS solutions (including custom solutions) while utilizing the BigCommerce shopping cart. It’s also one of the best platforms for SEO optimization with built-in analytics enabling your business to track performance levels, and identify your user metrics and trends, allowing you to make better decisions by identifying your target audience’s buying behaviour.

While there are many integrations for Order Management on BigCommerce, you don’t necessarily need them for your business immediately. BigCommerce has in-built tools through which you can manage your orders. If using channel integrations like Amazon, BigCommerce consolidates all orders from those channels for you, creating a single location for all your orders. 

If you want additional order management tools not already integrated with BigCommerce, you can choose from extensions like NetSuite, Brightpearl, and Order Desk, which will help you seamlessly coordinate all your fulfillment processes. 

Magento

Magento is an open-source solution, available in self-hosted and cloud-hosted options, that is more suited towards brands that have IT and development teams on hand. In more recent years, Magento has launched Magento 2, also known as Magento Commerce Cloud, allowing for easier data integration. 

This platform lets you keep 100% control of your ecommerce business and while some businesses might see this as an advantage, other smaller businesses prefer giving control to platforms and only carrying out basic operations from their own end. Having full control of the platform means regular bug updates that need to be done by your own team, and requiring entire site integrations. Doesn’t sound like a pleasant task if you’re a small business or startup without the expertise, does it? That’s why Magento is more suited for businesses who have the resources to take on a lot of the business functions themselves, and wish to have full autonomy of their online stores. 

Integration & Extensions

Magento users get access to a digital marketplace from where you can buy different themes and extensions to make your website look more appealing. Magento Business Intelligence is an analytics tool that allows the platform’s users to get a view of the customer journey and performance which can help them make better business decisions, and enhance user experience. 

Magento is the only ecommerce platform that offers white label services. The Magespacex extension  enables smaller companies with fewer resources to expand with the help of Magento. Magespacex executes the plan under the brand name of the company meaning your customers will never see a different brand name or logo. This service is great for companies that want to expand, but face financial or other restrictions. 

Before you finalize the purchase of any extensions, refer to a developer to confirm version compatibility of the extensions you intend to buy. There is a possibility that an extension could cause errors and impact your page load speed. Thus, experts suggest to limit the number of extensions on your Magento store. 

Pricing & Payment Options

 Magento has two plans: Magento Community Edition and Magento Enterprise Edition. The Magento Community Edition is completely free, and users just need to download and install to set up their stores. This free version allows users to apply unlimited customizations to make the store according to their needs. 

The Magento Enterprise Edition comes with countless features and tools that users can integrate with their online stores. However, these come at a hefty cost starting from $22,000 per year. 

The platform is integrated with PCI Compliant Payment Solutions, but website owners are responsible for setting up their own payment getaways. They can also get extensions from the Magento marketplace. The platform has integrated checkout, payment, and shipping modules, but again, users need to set these up themselves. 

Customer Support 

There isn’t any direct technical support with the open-source Magento version. However, users can access guides, walkthroughs, and forums dedicated to any questions related to Magento’s platform or customer support page. There are also developers available for hire who specialize particularly in Magento’s online stores. 

Order Management System (OMS) and Content Management System (CMS) 

The Magento OMS is a flexible and affordable solution that allows managing, selling, and fulfilling inventory requirements through multiple sales channels. It helps provide customers with a seamless experience, increasing sales while reducing costs and accelerating the time to market.

Magento’s CMS offers a convenient drag-and-drop page builder which doesn’t require technical skills – you choose a page layout and build a page by dragging content blocks (like headings, banners, media), filling them in with data and arranging them on a page. You can easily switch between editing and previewing to achieve your desired page look and feel. A drag-and-drop page builder gives ecommerce teams the freedom to focus on creative vision, rather than some kind of programming expertise. 

Users can buy a full-fledged CMS software from the Magento marketplace to further improve content management with tools already integrated in Magento. 

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is not your typical standalone ecommerce platform. It’s a little different, and also super easy to install! It’s a free plugin that can turn your WordPress account into a fully functional ecommerce site. 

Extensions & Integrations 

WooCommerce supports over 400 extensions, including payment processing, inventory management, and stock control. Being able to choose your own plugins means you can customize your website according to your needs, and while these do come at a cost, they’re still relatively cheap. You can also get plugins for other integrations for email marketing, multi-channel integration, drag and drop feature, and multi-vendor features.

Payment & Pricing Options 

Since WooCommerce is a plugin, you’ll need a WordPress site that can use plugins. The very first thing you’ll need to do is choose a host for your store and buy a plan. This is actually quite easy. It is recommended to use hosts like SiteGround, Bluehost, and Pressable

WooCommerce is technically free, but you still have to pay for hosting. Hosting can cost you as little as $3.95 per month and as high as $5,000. 

The next cost would be for registering a domain, or site name. Like hosting, domain registration is usually lower in cost initially, but rises over time, with discounts that you can avail when you buy multiple years of service. You should expect to pay around $15 for each domain name you use, per year. 

Moving on to payment gateways, if you’re using WooCommerce, you have access to all the major online payment gateways including PayPal, Square, Stripe, Amazon Pay, Alipay, 2checkout, and so on. You just need to figure out which one is more convenient for your customers, as the payment gateways will play a huge role in the growth and accessibility of your WooCommerce store. 

There is no setup cost or monthly fees for WooCommerce Payments. If you’re using  a U.S. issued credit or debit card, you will pay 2.9% + $0.30 for each transaction made. For cards that have been issued outside the U.S., there’s an additional 1% fee.

Another choice is to use Paypal. If you have a basic Paypal account, you won’t need to pay a monthly fee. However, you will pay 2.9% + 0.30 cents per sale to Paypal. This will direct all your customers to the Paypal site, where they can pay with their personal account or credit card.

If you wish to accept credit card payments directly on your site, you can upgrade to Paypal Pro. This costs an additional $30.00 per month. Other options for your WooCommerce payment include Stripe which is 2.9% and 0.30 cents per transaction with no additional fees, and Authorize.net which is 2.9% and 0.30 cents per transaction + $25/month. 

Customer Support

A 24/7 customer helpline is available for users if they run into any trouble. 

Being an open source platform, there is also no limit on the number of products or images you upload, and WooCommerce enables you to access the large community of helpers and supporters at WordPress. 

Order Management System (OMS) and Content Management System (CMS) 

WooCommerce has a great order management system where you can add customer notes, edit stock manually, mark items you shipped, and manage the fulfillment process. 

These functions make WooCommerce one of the strongest contenders in the market, allowing users to set up their ecommerce websites quickly and easily, and with much lesser cost involved. Customer refunds can directly be managed through the WooCommerce dashboard without any hassle.

Working on top of the world’s most renowned Content Management System- WordPress, WooCommerce provides its users with the most seamlessly integrated onlin with content optimized for the web. WordPress is also one of the best platforms for SEO practices, so users on WooCommerce can have their content ranked on the best search engines. You can show customers products related to their current purchases, and returning customers can experience a more personal journey by being recommended products based on their previous purchases.

Squarespace 

Squarespace is a SaaS website platform provider best known for their work with the creative community. It’s mostly used by smaller businesses with low SKU volumes. 

Extensions & Integrations 

You can connect Squarespace Extensions on all plans. There’s no additional cost of connecting extensions on Squarespace, however, there are some third-party services that require subscriptions. You can view the pricing details for each service on their details page in Squarespace Extensions save time by connecting your site to automation extensions that streamline key tasks, like sales tax reporting and order fulfillment.  

However, these extensions aren’t official Squarespace integrations, so they don’t come with functionality guarantee or compatibility, so users must contact integration support directly as Squarepsace doesn’t provide any help in this area.  

Pricing & Payment Options

Both monthly and annual payment plans are available for Squarespace users, however, the latter is cheaper. A downside to using Squarespace is that it only supports Stripe and Paypal, making payment processors very limited.  

  • SquareSpace Personal: $16/month
  • SquareSpace Business: $26/month
  • SquareSpace Basic Commerce: $26/month
  • SquareSpace Advanced Commerce: $40/month

Customer Support 

Squarespace has numerous guides and videos on how to use their platform. Users can also book webinars to have an interactive session with one of their experts to understand the basics of the platform. There is also 24/7 customer support, and a community forum that provides guidance on advanced customizations. 

Order Management System (OMS) and Content Management System (CMS) 

 

And the best thing about SquareSpace? Its renowned Content Management System. Yes, the platform offers one of the best CMS in the market that lets you maximize your business potential and manage your website better. You can also make use of Analytics integrated into your website to read and understand customer behaviour and product trends.  

The platform offers sleek templates and design capabilities allowing businesses to make their websites more appealing and aesthetic. The design of this web CMS is simple and straightforward. Drag-and-drop editing allows you to easily make changes and updates to your pages however you wish.  

Squarespace also offers WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editing so you can see what your site looks like to visitors. This saves you the huge chunk of time you’d otherwise spend going back and forth between editing the site and then previewing it. 

You can also upload multiple files at a single time to the image and document library. These files can be organized and added to any page on your site, so you don’t have to locate and upload each file individually. You can also import information directly from another website to yours by copying and pasting the URL.

Although Squarespace doesn’t have an in-built shopping cart feature, you add third-party links by embedding HTML.

Wix

Wix powers over 500,000 businesses and is known for its user-friendly interface. Offering competitive pricing, this platform is most popular amongst entrepreneurs and other small business creatives that need basic features for their online stores. As you first sign up with Wix, their Launch Experts help you get your store online quickly which is a great feature, especially if you’re new to online stores.

After recent developments, the company now offers multi-channel integration, abandoned cart recovery, dropshipping and print-on-demand capabilities. It also provides $300 worth of online ad credit and some online marketing tools. Despite these features, the platform isn’t well suited for larger businesses as it lacks a lot of advanced features. Businesses already using Wix will also need to upgrade at some point as the initial plan only offers 20GB of free space and limited features, so if you’re looking to increase your product catalog, you will have to change your pricing plan. 

Extensions & Integrations 

Wix has an App Store, known as the Wix App Market, which works like the Shopify and BigCommerce app store. You choose what you need, and integrate those features into your online stores, and there you have it: an enriched user experience!  

Pricing and Payment Options

Wix has an array of plans to choose from, based on your business’s needs. Some of those plans include the following: 

  • Wix Combo: $13/month
  • Wix Pro: $22 /month
  • Wix Business Basic: $23/month
  • Wix Business Unlimited: $27/month
  • Wix Business VIP: $49/month
  • Wix Enterprise: $500/month

If you just need a website without an online store, then Wix’s General Website category is for you. If you plan to sell products online, you’ll need a Business & ecommerce plan.

Users have very flexible payment options, with over 40 providers including PayPal, Stripe, and Square. They also have Wix Payments, which is an in-house developed payment platform that accepts credit/debit card payments and integrates them with other payment providers. In upgraded plans you can also accept foreign currencies through Wix Payments, allowing you to access international markets.

Customer Support 

Wix’s online Help Centre has answers to almost everything as it’s packed with useful how-to’s, detailed walkthroughs including video tutorials. Wix Customer Care Experts offer 24/7 live support in English for all issues, including those regarding billing, charges & subscriptions, and so on. Customer Care offers phone service in multiple languages.

Wix support can also be reached via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. So users have multiple ways to get in contact with the Wix team if they ever run into a problem.

Order Management System (OMS) and Content Management System (CMS) 

Wix is an all-in-one website builder that includes web hosting services and a drag and drop interface, making it super easy to use, and excellent for beginners. Furthermore, you can manage your store, refunds and tracking through Wix’s dashboard. Wix also has a mobile app through which you can add products, fulfill orders, track your inventory, get notifications, and more.

Wix offers both: direct and drop shipping, so users can set up shipping rules, add custom shipping rates, and print shipping labels. A great perk is Wix’s partnership with USPS, which gives discounted rates on shipping costs.

Wix provides a plethora of useful reports including Google analytics, customizable reports, top products’ reports, and business insights. The availability of different statistics depends on your package.  

With in-built SEO, you can have your own personalized SEO plan and make your website appear on Google. Wix’s powerful tools are suitable for different types of businesses and websites, and it offers competitive pricing so companies with different budgets can build their website with the platform.

A common challenge for Retailers on Ecommerce platforms: 

Uploading product data

Ecommerce is a highly competitive industry, and maintaining your storefront is a vital part of the business, but definitely not the easiest. Uploading product data to ecommerce platforms is a tedious task with many important factors to it. So why do retailers struggle with maintaining their online stores? 

Manual Product Updates (Long, hands-on processes in onboarding product)

A lot of retailers store their product data in excel sheets, which has to be updated and uploaded to store fronts manually. This takes up too much of their time and effort that could otherwise have been used for more important tasks. This becomes a huge cost to the business as every second lost in business can cost you money. 

It also leads to a lot of inaccurate and inconsistent information on storefronts as any information updated manually contains errors. When information contains errors, it ends in consumers making uninformed decisions when purchasing from your website, leading to increased returns and refunds. 

Product Images are Scattered 

Product images are an important aspect of ecommerce businesses. Unlike brick-and-mortar stores where the consumer can touch and see the product right in front of them, ecommerce stores don’t hold that feature. They fill this void through images which allow consumers to imagine what the product would feel like, and whether it would fit their needs. So if your product images are not right, or of high quality, you’re losing out on millions of potential sales. 

During peak seasons like Christmas, it happens often that product images get mixed up. This means that the image of one product may be showing for another product, or certain images are just missing from your store-fronts, misleading customers. This usually occurs when feeds are uploaded in bulk, or when product images are stored in different files and folders with no central base for them, and information gets lost or mixed up.

Longer Time to Market 

When product information is scattered all over the place, with employees working tirelessly to bring it together in one place, it undoubtedly creates a delay in putting information out on store fronts. This means your products are taking longer to reach the market as compared to your competitors who may be using more efficient tools to manage their product data. Your competitors reaching potential customers before you? Doesn’t sound very efficient. 

Think about it. If you are able to put out product information faster and more accurately, how would you reap the benefits of this increased efficiency? Well, your time-to-market will drop drastically. Your products will be put out for the public much faster than possible with manual uploading. A faster time-to-market helps your products reach a larger audience too, which means more sales. Doesn’t that sound perfect? It can be, with the right solution in place. 

So what would be the ideal way to get accurate and complete product data out to your customers, without spending hours on manually uploading all this information? 

Product Information Management software: Integrated Feeds & Automatic Uploads 

The ultimate solution to all your product data feeds lies in a Product Information Management system (PIMs) that automates all your product information sharing, and allows for better collaboration between manufacturers and retailers. 

Manufacturers play a crucial role in product data collection, and can greatly improve the process of information sharing for retailers. 

PIMs such as Apimio, Akeneo, inRiver, and more allow manufacturers to provide retailers with all product information, not requiring retailers to put in extra time to edit and upload the information to their online websites. Manufacturers can make sure all product information is consistent and accurate, and the right images are attached with each. This will ultimately reward the manufacturer with higher yields and a better image of their brand. So enabling seamless product integration for retailers allows manufacturers to enjoy more sales and profits.    

Expecting retailers to protect your brand image is a long-shot as they’re handling products from hundreds of different manufacturers, so they can’t guarantee a good product experience for each. Hence, it’s in your hands as a manufacturer to provide the most optimal product experience to your end consumer by integrating your retailers in your PIMs. This will allow you to be in control of the information that you give out regarding your products, and it reduces the chances of inconsistent information being put out which can severely damage the trust consumers have in your products. 

Apimio makes all of this attainable for you. You can have all your retailers integrated on your platform and share all your product information through a single source. Rather than maintaining traditional excel files, you can directly upload your product listings to the PIM platform for your retailers to access. This reduces the chances of having repetitive or redundant information on your ecommerce platforms, and you can ensure that consumers have access to the right information. As a manufacturer you can oversee all your product data, and the whole supply chain.

In conclusion

There’s no perfect ecommerce platform that would serve every business. They each differ in what they can offer a business, and it’s up to you as a business owner to decide what suits you and your needs best. Once you know exactly what you need in your online store, you can easily compare the ecommerce platforms available in the market to decide which serves you best.

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