From small business solutions, through dropshipping eCommerce, to large stores with various points of sale. The journey always starts with choosing the best eCommerce platform. Don’t waste your time doing it yourself, and use our list of the best eCommerce platforms in 2023.
Since Shopify was founded in 2006, it is still growing (see Google Trends). A good combination of intuitive software with innovations and great marketing has led them to be the industry leader. In my opinion, they are the best eCommerce platform and I can recommend Shopify to almost anyone.
The intuitive and easy-to-learn user interface is the main Shopify feature. Often eCommerce platforms are clunky and difficult to use. Shopify still keeps the balance between adding new features and maintaining a clutter-free user interface – and they do it well.
The main core of Shopify software covers about 80% of what users need. The remaining 20% are free or paid apps available in Shopify App Store, where you can add unusual features like wishlist, product reviews, or integrations with third-party services. This approach is why Shopify is still so user-friendly.
On the other hand, Shopify is constantly evolving and adding innovations to its platform. As the first, they introduced their own credit card processor, known as Shopify Payments. They added the ability to use augmented reality to view products or payments with cryptocurrencies.
Besides the online store, you can also use other sales channels such as Social Media platforms, Marketplaces, or Brick-and-mortar stores to sell your products. By connecting each sales channel to Shopify, you can keep track of your products, orders, and customers in one place.
Shopify offers quite a large selection of templates. Everyone has the possibility to choose from 15 free or almost 70 paid themes from the official Shopify Themes Store. Also, Shopify themes is a constantly growing category on Template Monster, where you can choose from more than 1400 themes, or Theme Forest, where are more than 1500 themes.
In June 2021, Shopify introduced Online Store 2.0, which means they added a lot of new features for creating and editing themes. Each page consists of sections – modular components that can be added, deleted, edited and rearranged as you like. Customizing the template to your own needs is quite simple and can be done without any web development skills.
Shopify offers three main plans. For new eCommerce businesses with occasional in-person sales, the Basic plan for $29 per month is the best option. The more expensive plans – Shopify for $79/month and Advanced for $299/month are for merchants who need advanced reporting, third-party shipping rates, or lower credit card transaction fees. All plans are available for a 14-day free trial.
There’s also an additional plan with no fixed price (pricing is determined by a quote) – Shopify Plus. This plan is for larger brands that need scale. It includes unlimited staff accounts, customizable checkout, wholesaling, and some other features.
There are two possible transaction fees in Shopify:
- Credit card processing fees charged by any credit card processor (for example Shopify Payments, Braintree, PayPal),
- Transaction fees charged by Shopify if you don’t use a Shopify Payments credit card processor. The amount of the fees depends on the Shopify plan you choose (fees are lower in more expensive plans).
Wix is the most popular drag-and-drop website editor in the world. It has built-in eCommerce features and a highly customizable editor that offers more options than any other website creation tool. It’s used by over 200 million users worldwide and is becoming more known every year.
The main Wix feature is the most customizable drag-and-drop editor from the competitors. It allows you to change almost every element of the website and even move it pixel by pixel. You can start with a predefined template or a blank page and modify it using Wix’s component library. Also, each component is fully editable, you can even add a special animation for it. This can be a great feature, but also a problem because you’ve to be careful not to make a mess.
Besides standard website, you can also create online store with Wix. The integrated eCommerce features are pretty good and intuitive. The product editor is clear and easy to use. It’s very similar to Shopify’s product editor.
Instead of building a website from scratch, Wix lets you use a tool called ADI. It’s a setup wizard based on artificial intelligence. It asks you a few questions and automatically sets up a website for you.
Wix offers about 125 templates for online stores – some modern, some a bit outdated. It’s not possible to install the theme from an external source (like you can do in Shopify) and you must use templates from the Wix library. However, you’ve many options to customize the theme.
Wix has three plans for eCommerce. You can choose between Business Basic for $23 per month or the more recommended Business Unlimited for $27 per month (this plan includes a dropshipping option, multiple currencies, or the ability to sell subscription products). There’s also the Business VIP plan for $49/month, which gives you access to priority customer support. All prices are listed as a monthly cost, but to get them you’ve to pay for the whole year. It’s also important to note that all plans include one year of free domain registration.
Wix offers its own payment processor – Wix Payments. It doesn’t make any difference if you use it or not because in all cases you’ll have to pay small transaction fees, just like with any other payment provider. You can find the exact prices in this article in Wix Help Center.
Squarespace is known as a great website builder with excellent templates. They were often awarded for the clean and modern design of their themes. If you want to make your online store visually outstanding, Squarespace is the right choice for you!
The main feature of Squarespace are undoubtedly the themes, which aren’t only visually beautiful, but also very well made. The templates are fully responsive, so they fit well with desktop and mobile browser windows. Moreover, they’ve good performance and load very quickly, even though the main part often consists of large images.
The user interface is also well-designed, it is calm and never overwhelming. Thanks to its simplicity, even beginners can learn to use it quickly and easily. In my opinion, Squarespace is a good place to start the first eCommerce business.
An integrated ecosystem built around Squarespace’s products can make your life easier. There are tools for social media, email marketing, or systems for managing members or appointments. Along with the eCommerce feature, you’ve many options to create and maintain online stores.
Squarespace offers about 55 free templates for online stores. All of these themes are prepared for version 7.1 of the system (this is the latest version of Squarespace, the previous one was 7.0), which means that the templates are fully customizable with one of the best website editors I’ve ever used. Each template is a starting point and can be edited as you like by changing the layout, colors, typography or content.
If you want to create an online store in Squarespace, you’ve a choice of 3 out of 4 available plans (the cheapest plan doesn’t include an eCommerce feature). The most popular Business plan for $24 per month isn’t the best choice for eCommerce due to the 3% translation fee Squarespace charges for each transaction. The better option is the Basic Commerce plan for $27 per month, which doesn’t include any additional fees, or the Advanced Commerce plan for $49 per month if you need abandoned cart recovery, the ability to sell subscriptions, or some advanced shipping or discount options. All of these prices are for an annual payment (if you want to pay monthly the prices are higher).
4. Square Online
At the beginning, it is worth noting that Square Online and Squarespace are totally different companies and the similarity of names is just an accident. Square started its business as a payment processing provider. In 2018 they bought a popular website editor – Weebly. While the Weebly product has continued to serve millions of customers worldwide, Weebly and Square created together eCommerce platform called Square Online.
The main difference between Square Online and other eCommerce platforms is totally different approach to designing and building an eCommerce website. Square doesn’t support themes like other platforms. You need to pick a font, choose the color palette, upload a logo image, and you will have a website in about 30 seconds. Everything is based on one, universal theme. This can be big advantage for people who want just start selling without losing a lot of time for creating a website.
Because of Square’s core business is payment processing, they can offer great payment options even in a free plan. You can allow customers to pay with Apple Pay, Google Pay, Square Pay or Afterpay. The only exception is PayPal. To accept PayPal payments you need to have a Plus or Premium plan.
As I mentioned before Square Online doesn’t have standard themes. They are using one universal theme, which by the way is very well designed. In the built-in editor, you can modify this theme by changing colors, fonts, banners, etc. Very good approach for merchants who don’t have design skills and don’t want to hire a designer.
Square Online is the only eCommerce platform that offers a free plan. The main disadvantage of this plan is the lack of possibility to connect your own domain (you have to use Square’s subdomain ending with .square.site). You can change this by choosing a Plus plan for $29 per month. Except for the domain, this plan offers also PayPal payment options and some advanced site customization options. The last plan, Premium, for $79 per month offers the lowest processing rates and this is the main pros of choosing it.
BigCommerce is a really powerful service addressed to large eCommerce stores and to retailers who already have their Brick-and-mortar shop, and want to start an online store. Everything you need to build a successful store is already included. This is both advantage and a disadvantage because too many options in the dashboard can be very confusing when you just want to start a small and simple online store.
The main advantage of BigCommerce is a lot of built-in features like marketing e-mails, SEO tools, abandoned cart support, and great omnichannel options. In the channel manager, you can configure point of sales, marketplaces, or social sales tunnels like Instagram or Facebook. Each product can be assigned to the appropriate sales channel.
A huge benefit of using BigCommerce is the lack of additional transaction fees when using leading payment options (only credit card payments operated by Braintree have additional fees). This can be a big incentive for merchants who have a lot of transactions in their stores.
BigCommerce has quite a big amount of templates. Their official Theme Marketplace has 12 free themes and around 174 paid ones. Like in Shopify, you can upload themes from external sources, for example, bought from ThemeForest or TemplateMonster (where currently you can find more than 100 BigCommerce templates).
Like most eCommerce platforms, BigCommerce offers 3 pricing plans to choose from. The cheapest – Standard plan for $29.95 per month (when paid annually) offers everything that is needed to create a simple store. Two main advantages of the more expensive plan (Plus for $79.95 per month) are abandoned cart support and customer groups and segments. The most expensive, Pro plan for $299.95 per month offers a custom SSL certificate and product filtering. What is very important, no additional transaction fees when using leading payment gateways are included in each plan.
Choosing the right eCommerce platform can be tricky. All of the best eCommerce platforms provide the ability to sell products, but not all offer some features. Below you can find a quick summary of the 5 best eCommerce platforms described above and a table with compared key features:
Shopify – Best overall, the best option for dropshipping, easy to use
Wix – Best for small stores, easy to use and customize by drag-and-drop editor
Squarespace – Best for very small stores with max few products and a story to tell
Square Online – Best for merchants who need a free plan or people without design skills
BigCommerce – Best for large stores and multichannel
|Starting Price (Monthly)||$29||$23|
(when paid annually)
(when paid annually)
|Free||$29.95 (when paid annually)|
|Free Themes (Official Free Templates)||Yes (15)||Yes (125)||Yes (55)||Yes (1)||Yes (12)|
|Key Payment Providers||Shopify Payments, PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net and more||Wix Payments, PayPal, Stripe, Square||PayPal, Stripe, Square||PayPal, Stripe, Square||PayPal, Stripe, Amazon, Square|
|Free Domain||No||Yes (for 1 year)||Yes (for 1 year)||Yes (from $12 plan and more)||No|
|Trial Option||Yes (14 days)||Yes (14 days)||Yes (14 days)||Yes (Unlimited)||Yes (14 days)|
|Point of Sale||Yes||Yes (Through 3rd Party Integration)||Yes (Through 3rd Party Integration)||Yes||Yes (Through 3rd Party Integration)|
|Ease of Use||