If you want to leverage an eCommerce platform to make money by selling products or services online, and are wondering how you go about doing so, you’ve arrived at the right place.
Using an eCommerce platform is the best way to build an online store, even if you’re not tech-savvy. These platforms are designed to be easy to use and have plans suitable for a range of budgets.
However, choosing a platform can be a bit of a minefield, especially when there are so many good deals to be had. We’ve signed up for each eCommerce platform in this guide to give you an honest account of their features, pricing, reliability, and pros and cons.
What is an eCommerce Platform?
An eCommerce platform is much like a website builder; you can design and build your own online store so you can sell online. The best features are that they are simple to use, and you won’t have to know how to code to build a successful store.
If you want to make money online and build a store for your small or growing business, creating an eCommerce site is a great way to start.
You don’t even need to sell a lot of products; you can always start small and see how the journey fairs before you dive into something deeper.
eCommerce platforms also come with a lot more than just the ability to build a store. You’ll be able to promote your products and services via marketing tools, boost your SEO efforts so your website can be found on Google, and start expanding your reach via social media integration.
#1: Wix (Best eCommerce Platform)
Wix is one of the most popular drag and drop website builders and eCommerce platforms. It attracts hundreds of millions of users who enjoy their simple interface and stunning templates. With dedicated online store pricing plans starting from just £13 per month, you can start selling your products or services on the best eCommerce platform on the market.
|BUSINESS BASIC||BUSINESS UNLIMITED||BUSINESS VIP|
|STORAGE||20 GB||35 GB||50 GB|
|DOMAIN||Free domain||Free domain||Free domain|
|VIDEOS||5 hours||10 hours||Unlimited|
|VOUCHERS||£75 ads||£75 ads||£75 ads|
|EXTRAS||Site Booster + Visitor Analytics||Site Booster + Visitor Analytics||Site Booster + Visitor Analytics|
|COMMISSION||100% commission free||100% commission free||100% commission free|
|PRICE||£13 /month||£16 /month||£22 /month|
Although Wix’s pricing plans start from £3 per month for standard website creation, we’ll be focusing on the Business & eCommerce platforms for this review.
The Business Basic plan really does what it says on the tin. For £13 per month, you’ll be able to accept online payments and offer a basic online store to sell your products and services through. You’ll get a generous 20GB storage, unlimited bandwidth, and you can connect your own professional domain without the threat of Wix ads.
If you’re ready to start growing your business, the Business Unlimited plan increases the amount of storage you can use, doubles the video hours, and offers bonuses like Site Booster App, Visitor Analytics, professional logo, and more.
For medium to larger-sized businesses, the Business VIP plan includes everything you need to sell online. You’ll also get VIP support and priority response if you encounter any issues. All of Wix’s eCommerce plans are 100% commission-free.
Wix boasts a number of features that are essential when considering building an online store. Setting up an eCommerce site isn’t always easy, but with these useful features from Wix, it should be a breeze:
- Any Channel: Once you’ve built your online store you can sell your products across multiple channels to reach a wider audience. This includes Facebook, eBay, Instagram, and Amazon. All manageable via your Wix dashboard.
- Orders: All of your orders can be fulfilled and managed via the range of dropshipping services Wix works with. You’ll be able to handle all of your payments including refunds and payouts via Wix payments with the ability to instantly accept payments online.
- Marketing: Get found online with search engines like Google using Wix’s SEO tools. You’ll be able to reach new customers via Facebook and Instagram via ad campaigns, as well as creating promotional videos to market your products.
- Guides: Wix offers a range of useful guides and video tutorials to help you make the best eCommerce website. You can learn how to start an online store, how to set up specific businesses, how to manage different seasons, and how to market your products successfully.
- Mobile: As well as all of Wix’s themes being mobile-friendly, you can actually manage your online store on the go via the Wix mobile app. You can add new products, fulfill and cancel orders, track inventory, send invoices, and lots more.
Pros & Cons
+ Easy drag and drop builder to build your online store
+ Abandoned cart recovery emails included
+ Product videos
– Basic inventory systems (best for startups)
Shopify is one of the most popular platforms for building an online store. They are ideal for larger stores or businesses who are looking to grow. Whilst Shopify does offer plenty of features, they are on the more expensive side of the best eCommerce platforms and require a little more know-how to get started.
Shopify’s pricing plans are split into the following:
- Basic Shopify: $29/mo (£21.99)
- Shopify: $79/mo (£59.90)
- Advanced Shopify: $299/mo (£226.71)
For the most part, the core features are the same, with a small increase in staff accounts as you go up the price plans, increase in locations, and additional features being available like professional reports and third-party calculated shipping rates.
The real differences come in when you hit the payments section where the credit card rates differ between plans:
Online credit card rates
2.2% + 20p
1.9% + 20p
1.6% + 20p
In-person credit card rates
1.7% + 0p
1.6% + 0p
1.5% + 0p
In comparison to some of the other best eCommerce platforms, Shopify is expensive. In addition to their pricing, they also offer Apps which you’ll need to pay additionally for to make your online store what you want it to be.
Shopify offers powerful sales features to make your online store go further. There are plenty of high-quality tools to support your eCommerce venture, as well as third-party apps from Shopify’s App Store:
- Abandoned Cart: Shopify’s abandoned cart recovery is built-in and is perfect for catching sales which have are incomplete or have been abandoned. It’s a great opportunity to increase your conversion rate optimisation.
- Multi-channel: Much like Wix, Shopify allows you to sync with other sales platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon to extend your sales reach further than your online store.
- Products: With Shopify, you can sell unlimited products, so it’s an ideal platform if you want to go big or grow as your site and sales grow.
- Mobile App: Shopify’s mobile app is useful so you can track orders, products, and make changes on-the-go.
- Checkout: Your online store checkout can be customised with your own logo, brand designs, and fonts. Even if you use a third-party payment gateway, your customers will recognise which brand they are shopping with.
Pros & Cons
+ Great, in-depth sales features
+ Multi-channel selling
+ Easy inventory system
– Third-party apps are expensive and usually required
BigCommerce is a fierce competitor in the eCommerce world. Big brand names like Ben & Jerry’s use BigCommerce, and it’s no wonder given the amount of features on offer. If you want to sell big, including reaching an international market, BigCommerce is worth a consideration.
BigCommerce is great value for money if you’re able to use all of the features on offer. The pricing reflects the features and tools, but because of its ease of use (more lack of) then I would suggest to sign up only if you have some experience with coding and are business savvy.
If you are a beginner, I wouldn’t recommend BigCommerce, however, you can always try them out with a 14-day free trial if you’re not 100% sure.
- Sales Channels: BigCommerce supports a wealth of sales channels including a branded online store, point of sale, Facebook and Instagram, and Google Shopping. These are included within all of BigCommerce’s pricing plans.
- Security: All BigCommerce customers will receive a free SSL certificate for HTTPS and a dedicated SSL license.
- Abandoned Cart: Unlike Shopify where abandoned cart recovery is included in all plans, it is only included in the Plus and Pro plans, however, is very handy if you’re running an eCommerce store.
- Shipping: Real-time shipping quotes are offered to all customers, so you can calculate accurate shipping costs for your customers from a wide choice of companies including UPS, Royal Mail, and Canada Post.
- Currency: Multi-currency is enabled on all pricing plans as well as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Amazon Pay so you can reach a wide audience.
Pros & Cons
+ Great in-built features
+ Brilliant SEO tools
+ Multi-channel selling
– Not suitable for beginners
SquareSpace is one of my favourite eCommerce platform choices for creatives. Their themes and templates are absolutely stunning and this will reflect in your online store. There’s plenty of quality features for you to enjoy too, as well as being easy to use for beginners.
|Features||Basic (£20/mo)||Advanced (£30/mo)|
|Free Custom Domain||✔||✔|
|Unlimited Bandwidth and Storage||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|SEO Features for Site Visibility||✔||✔|
|Templates to Fit Every Need from Blogs to Portfolios||✔||✔|
|24/7 Customer Support||✔||✔|
|Basic Website Metrics||✔||✔|
|Professional Email from Google||✔||✔|
|Premium Integrations and Blocks||✔||✔|
|Advanced Website Analytics||✔||✔|
|$100 Google Adwords Credits||✔||✔|
|Promotional Pop-ups and Banners||✔||✔|
|Fully Integrated E-Commerce||✔||✔|
|Sell Unlimited Products||✔||✔|
|Point of Sale||✔||✔|
|Checkout on Your Domain||✔||✔|
|Powerful E-Commerce Analytics||✔||✔|
|Powerful Merchandising Tools||✔||✔|
|Products on Instagram||✔||✔|
|Abandoned Cart Recovery||✔|
|Limited Availability Labels||✔|
SquareSpace offers two online store pricing plans, starting from £20 per month. All plans include a custom domain name, free SSL certificate, SEO tools, website analytics, 0% transaction fees, gift cards, point of sale, and multi-channel selling.
The main difference between the two plans is that the advanced plan includes abandoned cart recovery, subscriptions, advanced shipping, advanced discounts, and commerce APIs.
I think SquareSpace’s pricing is actually very good and well-priced against the eCommerce platform market.
- Services: Selling your services is easy with SquareSpace; you can schedule appointments with an online booking system, build mailing lists, integrate social media channels, and embed maps to help people locate you.
- Payments: SquareSpace offers flexible payments and built-in tax tools so you can easily manage your customer’s payments. Secure checkout is available on every device, along with discount codes, gift cards, and abandoned cart recovery.
- Commerce Tools: Connect your favourite commerce tools like Stripe, Xero, UPS, and lots more to your SquareSpace website with seamless integration.
- Mobile Management: SquareSpace’s commerce app lets you run your business on the go, sell in-person, track inventory, and scan shipping labels. The app is available on the App Store and Google Play.
- Templates: SquareSpace’s stunning templates deserve a mention because they are absolutely beautiful. As well as being mostly easy-to-use, the mobile-responsive templates are suitable for most online stores and will guarantee to look out-of-the-box professional.
Pros & Cons
+ Superb template designs
+ Great value for money
+ Effective inventory system
– Multiple payment and shipping options are limited
Weebly is a beginner-friendly eCommerce platform that is built-in to many web hosting services. Weebly offers a free plan and you can even sell without paying a penny (though the options are limited).
Weebly has three pricing plans suitable for eCommerce customers, starting from just £9 per month. They all include the same basic site features, however, you will get email marketing included in the Business Plus plan valued at $96.
The Pro plan is ideal for small and startup businesses, however, as your business grows, I’d recommend upgrading to at least the Business plan to enjoy all of the features it offers. For abandoned cart emails, you’ll need to upgrade to the Business Plus plan.
- Drag and Drop: Weebly is super easy to use; the drag and drop builder makes it easy to build your website and online store, even if you’re a beginner.
- Mobile: Manage your online store and products from your mobile device. If you need to make any changes to your website or products, you can edit everything on the go.
- App Center: Weebly’s App Center is a great addition. You can browse the App Center to add extra features to your website like social media integration, interactive maps, sliders, etc.
- SEO: Weebly’s SEO tools are really handy, even if you don’t know much about SEO. Get your website found online through the likes of Google and expand your reach.
- Blog: It’s really easy to make and integrate a blog into your online store. Let your customers know more about you or the products/services you’re offering and share your posts across social media.
Pros & Cons
+ Great value for money
+ Ideal for beginners
+ Easy to use
– Limited features
Best eCommerce Platforms: Types of Platforms
- Self-hosted: Self-hosted platforms like WordPress.org require you to seek your own web hosting and domain name. Whilst you won’t have to pay for access to the platform, as it’s open-source, you will need to pay for extras, but it gives you more control.
- Hosted: Hosted platforms come as all-in-one platforms, so you’ll get your hosting for free. Platforms like Shopify, Wix, and BigCommerce include your hosting within the monthly fee and offer less control as they will deal with issues for you. This is a good option for beginners.
- Mixed: You can mix platforms e.g. use Shopify’s plugin on WordPress, so you add pieces of each pie to make the perfect recipe. You’ll get the flexibility and control you need along with built-in tools that make your life easier.
Best eCommerce Platforms FAQs
What is the easiest eCommerce platform?
Wix and Weebly are some of the easiest eCommerce platforms I’ve come across. They are suitable for beginners and don’t require any coding knowledge to get started. Weebly is a little more limited than Wix in terms of features and tools, however, both are powerful online store builders.
Is Shopify good for beginners?
Shopify isn’t hard to use, but I wouldn’t say it’s particularly easy either. Because there are so many features, tools, options, and apps available, things can get a little overwhelming quite quickly. I would suggest signing up for Shopify’s free trial or start with an easier online store builder like Wix.
What is the cheapest platform to sell online?
Weebly is the cheapest platform to sell products and services online. In fact, you can sell online with their free plan, though I wouldn’t recommend it. SquareSpace is great value for money; though it’s not the cheapest platform to sell online, the features and tools on offer versus the price you pay is damn good.
If you’re ready to start your eCommerce venture, I hope these review overviews of our chosen best eCommerce platforms come in handy.
Many online store builders offer free trials, so if you’re still unsure of which one to choose, check out which ones you can try for free and give them a go.