Top platforms for building an e-commerce website
Running a successful online store requires a strong e-commerce website with extensive capabilities. It can certainly prove to be an obstacle to not have the time or knowledge to build such a website. Luckily, there are other ways to meet this challenge head-on. The answer lies in choosing the right platform for building an e-commerce website. Created with the purpose of simplifying the website building process, these platforms provide a rapid and simple way to get your online store up&selling in no time. Whether you are looking to set up product pages, shipping carts, the checkout & payment processes, or customer support options – there are platforms for building an e-commerce website that can help you get there. In this article, Digital Dot explores some of the best website builders for you to consider choosing from.
Essential criteria for choosing an e-commerce website builder?
Business owners can understand the importance of making educated decisions when it comes to running different segments of their companies. When you have an important decision that can impact the overall performance of your online sales process, you need to make sure that you are making the best call for your business. Making hasty decisions can lead to choosing a platform that is badly optimized for your business. And so, to help prepare you for the decision-making process, you need to consider the fundamental criteria when purchasing different types of software for your business:
The cost of setting up your online store should not outweigh your initial revenue predictions. That is why you need to consider the pricing for each of the platforms for building an e-commerce website. Make sure to consider the various features that different pricing packages offer, as well as the add-on costs for each of them.
Aside from the costs of building your website, you still need to consider the experience it can provide for consumers. Your website builder should have the functionalities necessary to:
- manage questions from customers via chat/email;
- product returns;
- promotional campaigns for products and discounts, etc.
Hosting & Tech Support
Consider how you will maintain the performance of your website – whether you will need to invest in outsourcing IT support for your website or if the website builder has hosting options to help you set up and run the website. Hosting services might cost extra, but they can also save you the hassle of troubleshooting the website on your own.
A good tech support system can help you avoid running into problems either while building the site or after it’s operational. This can end up saving you time and revenue as a result.
You need to consider the number of products your business has to offer, and whether or not the platform can support that number of products. Additionally, certain platforms for building an e-commerce website have limitations when it comes to monthly traffic on your site. You need to explore the content and traffic limits for each builder and take them into consideration.
Search and SEO Help
At some point, it will be essential for you to consider the organic traffic that your online store attracts and how to improve it. That is where the implementation of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) solutions comes into play. And that is also where platforms with built-in SEO tools can give you an advantage over your competitors. So, make sure to inspect the SEO capabilities of the platforms you look at.
Going back to the user experience your e-commerce website offers, you need to consider the structure that the website builder offers. Badly structured websites easily lead to misleading information and overall confusion – which increase bounce rates and reduce revenue. Consider features such as menus, categories, sub-categories, navigation options, and tags. All these features will provide a more consistent look for your online store, giving users an easier way to navigate through the different products.
Time might be of the essence for certain website owners looking to launch their online stores as soon as possible. Therefore, the amount of time it takes for a platform to create the website might be of the essence. Since most platforms for building online stores have site-building templates, you will want to consider which offers the most options to choose from, to speed up the process of setting up shop online.
Top 9 platforms for building an e-commerce website
- Price starts at $29/mo
- 24/7 customer support
- Drag-and-drop site builder
- Used by more than one million online stores
With well over a million e-commerce businesses around the globe using it, Shopify exemplifies the most renowned e-commerce platform in the world. Known for its 24/7 support, Shopify offers companies the option to get answers for all their concerns in record time. Its’ core values that stand out most would be ease of use and versatility. With Shopify, a business has the option to easily set up a website through its drag-and-drop builder, offering ways to promote products via different digital marketing channels, while being optimized for all devices.
This particular platform is used by both small businesses and large corporations, complete with a 14-day free trial for all of its plans. It has its own payment processor built into the platform. It also integrates with more than 3,200 apps in the Shopify App Store.
- Price starts at $23/mo
- Drag-and-drop site builder
- 500+ e-commerce templates
- Unlimited bandwidth
Although more established as a drag-and-drop website builder, Wix also offers the option to build a completely new website. With a database of over 500 templates, Wix offers simplicity as a core value of its functionality. It has different pricing plans, one of which can unlock the e-commerce features.
With Wix, a business can manage inventory, track orders, communicate with customers, set up global shipping with multiple carriers, etc. Although relatively new among platforms for building e-commerce websites, Wix is rapidly improving, working on providing features such as dropshipping, targeting abandoned shopping carts, etc.
- Price starts at $29.95/mo
- Pricing based on annual sales
- Lots of built-in native features
- Multi-channel selling capabilities
An all-in-one e-commerce platform with over a decade worth of solutions and more than 17 billion dollars in merchant sales, BigCommerce has more built-in native features than even Shopify. Additionally, there are extra features that businesses can take advantage of. The benefits of this platform for building e-commerce websites speak for themselves:
- Sales management through multiple channels
- Fast loading speed
- High security
- Outstanding uptime reputation
- Use throughout various industries
- Versatility, etc.
Whether you are looking to start a brand new business or scale your current one into the e-commerce world, BigCommerce offers solutions for B2B stores, wholesale shops, and WordPress users.
- Price starts at $12/mo
- Unlimited products
- Sell physical & digital products
- 24/7 customer support
With fully customizable and up-to-date templates, Squarespace offers plenty of custom-tailored options for business to set up their online stores. Aside from the entry-level plan, all other layers offer a fully integrated e-commerce website building platform. Squarespace is a great investment for businesses that want to be prepared for what the future holds, with a vast number of benefits such as:
- Unlimited products
- Flexible product varients
- Sell physical and digital products
- Manage subscriptions
- Multiple payment methods
- Mobile-optimized checkouts
- Gift cards
- Abandoned cart recovery
The downside of this platform is that you can’t add any external integrations or extensions to it. Its foundation holds the most popular and useful apps but you still need to consider whether or not there is something that you truly need in addition to the ones included in this platform.
- Free to install on WordPress sites
- Easily customizable
- 300+ extensions
- Most used e-commerce solution in the world
With over 80 million downloads, WooCommerce powers almost a third of all e-commerce websites across the globe. Despite not being an all-in-one solution, it offers plenty of e-commerce options for WordPress users. With WooCommerce, any WordPress website can be transformed into an online store. It is free to download and simple to install, much like any WP plugin. The only requirements are that your domain, hosting, and WordPress account are all set up before installing it.
Given the many benefits that WordPress can offer to businesses, e-commerce is but one of many solutions. And so, WooCommerce offers endless customization and capabilities, with 300+ extensions to choose from and add to your website. Unfortunately, given how dependant it is on WordPress websites, its primary function is still content-based. And so, it can work great in unison with content but is not among the finer choices when you are looking to create a primarily oriented e-commerce business.
#6: Square Online Store
- Price start – FREE
- Offers basic SEO tools
- Great integration solutions
- Flexible customer connections
Although being an e-commerce platform comes second to Square, its Online Store offers plenty for businesses to want on their e-commerce website. Known initially for its POS solutions and software, Square provides great integration options, with features such as precise inventory count, booking appointments, arranging pickups and deliveries, Instagram sales options, etc. Although the use of the platform is free, it does cost 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.
- The initial pricing plan is FREE
- 13,000+ themes and extensions
- Simple interface
- Open-source software
Unlike the other platforms for building an e-commerce website we noted here, OpenCart is not one of them. It’s an open-source software solution that can add online store features to your current website. The dashboard is easy to use and has a very user-friendly interface. With more than thirteen thousand modules, extensions, and themes – OpenCart offers great integration capabilities.
It is free to download and there are no monthly or annual fees attached to it. But there are certain extensions that can cost you. When it comes to customer support, all you need is the OpenCart community forum, which offers a wide range of topics with over 100,000 registered members.
- Price starts at $19/mo
- Advanced built-in SEO tools
- Best for experienced users
- 30-day money-back guarantee
Despite not being as popular as Shopify or BigCommerce, 3DCart has been around for more than 20 years. It is well-established among platforms for building an e-commerce website, more oriented toward advanced users with experience in the e-commerce industry. Since it doesn’t offer a drag-and-drop approach, you will need some basic coding experience, or a team of skilled web developers to help you along the way. The advantage that 3DCart has over other platforms noted here is its range of built-in SEO tools. Other top features and benefits of 3DCart include:
- No transaction fees
- 24/7 customer support
- 200+ payment gateways
- Integrations with third-party online marketplaces
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Web hosting
- Free domain for one year
- Price starts at $15/mo
- Highly compatible with CRMs and other website builders
- Easy to scale
Ecwid is a great alternative for those looking for something similar to WooCommerce. Even though it lacks in popularity, this solution provides plenty of advantages, the most notable one being its compatibility with platforms other than WordPress, such as:
- Adobe Muse
With a limit of 10 products, Ecwid offers a free plan without an expiration date. However, you won’t be able to integrate your online store with other marketplaces for free.
When should you invest in platforms for building an e-commerce website?
You don’t always need an e-commerce website in order to start selling items online. Instead, businesses that offer less than a dozen products can just as easily customize their WordPress website or another platform with a simple plugin or add-on e-commerce feature. The time when you should start considering e-commerce website builders is the moment your business overgrows its initial consumer base or volume of products. And here are some typical examples of the types of businesses that might come across such a moment:
Starting a brand new business with no pre-existing sales software can offer a clean slate with plenty of potentials. The idea is that so long as you have multiple products in your offer and a business plan to expand, using an e-commerce website builder will only be a matter of time, so why not start early. Making the right choice among platforms for building an e-commerce website from the start can ensure a smooth growth process as your online store expands.
Rapid Growth Businesses
For an e-commerce business with a regular development rate, having an e-commerce set up can accommodate most of its needs during the first couple of years. However, when you have a business with a dynamic growth trend, you need to answer the high demands of your expanding customer base. And that is where the implementation of an efficient and user-friendly e-commerce website builder can come in handy. By using them, you can avoid wasting time and losing potential revenue, costing your business reputation and customers in the process.
For those businesses that are looking for a way to outgrow the brick and mortar sales approach and kickstart their revenue, e-commerce builders can provide an optimal solution. You will be able to tap into new pools of customers, promoting your products to them in a modern and user-friendly way. And with the use of the proper template for your e-commerce website, you might be able to build up your online brand long-term.
Make the best choice for your business
With so many different types of platforms for building an e-commerce website, it can prove difficult to choose the best one. However, so long as you determine your needs and expectations, and then match them with the top choices offered here – you should be able to make the best choice for your business. Whether you are a new business, one looking for a fresh approach, or an advanced user looking to enrich your online store with more functionality – our list of platforms can help you find it all.
- For more useful advice on software solutions for your business, feel free to consult our web development team here at Digital Dot.