If you want to start selling products and services online, you need a reliable eCommerce platform that will push your business or online store to the next level. But what actually is eCommerce? And why is it so important to businesses and brands here in the US?
In short, an eCommerce platform is a software product that enables businesses to set up shop online and manage their website operations, marketing, and internet-based sales all in one place. Sounds super-helpful, right?
The best eCommerce tools for new businesses and start-up brands can help you build a professional-looking website and manage your sales and online traffic quickly and easily via one common portal.
For established companies that already have a website, these platforms provide amazing eCommerce features that help you supercharge your online image and connect with your target market.
Let’s take a look at how to find the best eCommerce platforms currently available in the US.
How Do I Pick the Best Ecommerce Platform?
The best eCommerce platforms offer easy-to-use features, extensive customization options, and intelligent tools that help emerging businesses and growing brands reach wider audiences and more customers with ease.
At first glance, any ecommerce website you visit might look like a safe bet for your start-up, but in reality, it’s important to do your research. By doing so, you can compare and contrast what’s out there to find platforms that offer the right eCommerce features and payment options to suit you.
When comparing eCommerce platforms online, you should:
Check Out Online Reviews
This latest MintChip blog will help you familiarize yourself with some of the best eCommerce platforms currently on the market – but you should also visit online review sites like TrustPilot to check out what existing clients have to say about each platform, too.
Businesses that already have a website with the likes of Wix, WooCommerce, Shopify, BigCommerce, or Volusion tend to share their thoughts on TrustPilot and other sites, especially if they’ve had a particularly good or awful experience.
It’s your job to learn from their mistakes.
Scrutinize the All-Round User Experience
In theory, the best eCommerce platform should be the one that’s easiest to use for a beginner. We’re talking about smooth navigation and eCommerce functionality, easy-to-use web tools, and apps that are compatible with all your existing devices.
Like Wix and Shopify, many platforms offer “free trial” periods that grant businesses taster sessions, showcasing how their eCommerce website builders and other digital products work.
So, test out the ease of use for yourself, watch tutorials on YouTube when you get stuck, and opt for whichever platform meets your needs.
Compare Payment Methods and Price
You might think that securing the best experience means paying more money per month for the privilege – but that isn’t always the case. Every platform has its products and payment options, so you should cross-compare between providers to see which per-month price plan best works for you.
Like Shopify and Wix, the best eCommerce companies tend to offer unlimited products and three or more payment gateways to new business clients opening online stores. That said, some may charge transaction fees as a percentage of sales, so watch out for this and be sure to calculate such expenses into your budget.
12 Best User-friendly Ecommerce Platforms to Explore in 2021
Ease of use is arguably the most critical consideration when opening an eCommerce store as a beginner. So, what are the best eCommerce platforms for businesses that just want an online store that’s easy to use and manage? Let’s take a look at the top 12 ecommerce platforms for 2021.
If you’re looking for a super-simple website builder with drag and drop tools that offer ultimate ease of use, Wix is a truly solid option. You can create a professional-looking website in minutes, set up global shipping rules from multiple carriers, enjoy inventory management and order tracking in real-time, and start selling multi-channel styles across social media. Wix is fairly new to the game, which means cool, additional eCommerce features are still being added by the day.
- Easy to set up with simple Wix eCommerce functionality
- More than 500 beautiful templates to choose from
- Excellent range of bonus eCommerce features, like collections, galleries, and customer wishlists
- Tons of email marketing, SEO, video-making, and social media scheduling tools available
- The Wix website is fully optimised for use on mobile devices
- No upselling features available with Wix
- Customers have to pay more for better Wix file storage options
- Wix SEO problems have been reported in previous years
Plan and Price:
- From $23 per month for “Business Basic” to $500 for an “Enterprise” account
Get started with Wix now.
With a reputation and history dating back almost as far as eCommerce itself, Shopify is a tried-and-tested platform that offers powerful solutions to beginner businesses and established brands.
Founded in 2006, Shopify has expanded big time in recent years to take on thousands of employees and develop tons of new services. It offers hands-on customer support and more than 3,200 intuitive apps – as well as a 14-day trial.
- No-nonsense drag and drop Shopify website builder
- More than 70 Shopify design templates available
- 14-day free trial on offer to new Shopify customers
- Fully customizable domains, email marketing campaigns, and social media ads
- Multi-currency selling, dropshipping, and Shopify analytics services on offer
- Shopify email marketing platforms have limited features
- Additional fees are charged when using third-party payment providers
- Customers must download lots of apps to take full advantage of customization options
Plan and Price:
- From $29 per month for “Basic Shopify” to $299 for “Advanced Shopify”
Get started with Shopify now.
First launched in 2009 to tackle Shopify head-on, BigCommerce Essential markets itself as an all-in-one eCommerce solution for businesses of all shapes and sizes – and it seriously delivers the goods.
BigCommerce customers get to take advantage of such pros as multi-channel selling, drag and drop website builder tools, and superb blogging features that all come built-in rather than as chargeable extras. BigCommerce also offers some genuinely unique B2B sales solutions – and a very attractive price plan.
- BigCommerce is flexible, packed full of great eCommerce features and easy to use
- BigCommerce businesses can sell on multiple marketplaces in various currencies
- BigCommerce user seats for employees have no limit
- B2B businesses and WordPress users can benefit from special tools and solutions
- Real-time shipping calculations are included even with the cheapest plan
- Users are automatically upgraded to pricier plans if they hit specific targets
- Limited design templates and themes compared to Wix or Shopify
- BigCommerce customer reviews are quite mixed
Plan and Price:
- From $29.95 per month for “Standard” to $299.95 for “Pro”
Get started with BigCommerce now.
Larger businesses seeking a full mobile eCommerce solution could do a lot worse than Magento Commerce. Used by big-name brands like Canon, Nike and Jack Daniel’s, Magento is targeted squarely at online store owners with huge markets, so probably isn’t the best option for startups or first-timers who just want to build a WordPress website.
That said, Magento open source and app solutions are very highly regarded across the industry.
- Amazing Progressive Web App (PWA) and mobile shopping cart options
- Drag and drop builder with previews, merchandising, and instant purchases
- More than 1,000 themes and extensions available
- A great enterprise-level solution, perfect for larger B2C and B2B online stores
- Up to 500,000 products and 80,000 orders per hour can be handled
- Not the best eCommerce platform for small businesses – better suited to large firms
- Sophisticated technology might seem confusing to customers who aren’t tech savvy
- Pricing aimed more at larger companies
Plan and Price:
- Magento Enterprise License from $20,000 per year
Get started with Magento Commerce now.
Few of the top eCommerce platforms for 2021 are expanding rapidly as Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
First established way back in 1999, Salesforce Commerce Cloud has completely transitioned to cloud-based services as of 2016 and developed world-leading CRM systems as well as competitive eCommerce solutions that suit businesses of all shapes and sizes.
Keeping everything in one place has never been easier or more efficient.
- Salesforce Commerce Cloud acts as an eCommerce platform with a fully integrated CRM system
- Businesses can leverage sales with analytics data from “Commerce Cloud Einstein”
- Intelligent AI software keeps track of real-time shipping, customer purchase history, and browsing behaviour
- Good range of digital products available
- Excellent reputation across the eCommerce industry and customer reviews
- The price structure isn’t fixed or transparent
- Businesses with a smaller eCommerce site might not be a good fit
Plan and Price:
- Tailored pricing available via quote only
Get started with Salesforce now.
3DCart is an ideal solution for established eCommerce store businesses that already have an online store or have built an eCommerce site before.
This popular business offers advanced users some awesome capabilities in terms of unlimited bandwidth, free domains for up to 12 months, built-in SEO tools, and easy integration with third-party online marketplaces.
- Unlimited bandwidth, easy web hosting options, and good discounts on domains
- 24/7 customer support available to all 3DCart customers
- More than 200 payment gateways available
- Easy integration with third-party sites and marketplaces
- Free trial available and no transaction fees charged
- No drag and drop builder available
- Customers will need a basic understanding of coding and development to customize their themes
Plan and Price:
- From $19 per month for “Startup Store” to $229 for “Pro Store”
Get started with 3DCart now.
Those looking for a simple WordPress plugin capable of reimagining their WordPress site as a standout eCommerce store should look no further than WooCommerce.
This alternative solution to the classic, Shopify style all-in-one eCommerce product is entirely free for WordPress users and is incredibly easy to customize. In fact, it currently ranks as one of the most popular eCommerce products in the world.
- Free to install on existing WordPress sites
- Amazing reputation as one of the most-used e-commerce platforms globally
- More than 300 WooCommerce extensions downloadable from the WooCommerce Extensions Store
- A wide selection of analytics and marketing features available
- Store management options are superb
- Works best for established WordPress websites and blogs – not ideal for new web builds
- Some WooCommerce Extension Store add-ons cost $250 or more each
- It might be unsuitable for websites that aren’t primarily content-based
Price and Plan:
- Free to download
Get started with WooCommerce now.
Square Online is perhaps best known for its financial products, but the company’s eCommerce platform offers so many great features, it gives many of the top eCommerce platforms on the US market a real run for their money. Customers can expect some impressive SEO tools and excellent integration with pre-existing Square Online products.
- Good range of store SEO and social media tools
- The perfect solution for businesses that want to integrate Square PoS
- Multichannel selling and analytics available
- Inventory management is super easy
- Usability is truly idiot-proof
- Limited customization options
- No support for PayPal – only credit card, Square Pay and Apple/Google Pay
Price and Plan:
- From $0 to $72 per month, with transaction fees of 2.9 or 2.6% + 30 cents per transaction
Get started with Square Online now.
Volusion is a top eCommerce platform for anyone whose store predominantly sells physical products, such as clothing, groceries, or other deliverable items. Companies with large product catalogs can set up a store, sell their products, and scale-up super-fast thanks to a competitive price structure, superb inventory management and tracking tools, and no limits whatsoever on product numbers.
- A great choice for online stores with super-sized catalogs
- Volusion is a proven platform, having generated more than $28 billion in sales for customers with Volusion stores
- Excellent search functionality, SEO tools and social media integration
- It comes with a barcode creator, mobile app and spot-on reporting tools
- Volusion customers pay no additional fees and can sell virtually anywhere they want
- Not built to support digital downloads – Volution is for physical product stores only
- Limited payment providers and integrations
Get started with Volusion now.
Open-source eCommerce doesn’t get much simpler than Prestashop. This widely respected open-source platform boasts a massive community of members worldwide.
All thanks to its support for more than 75 languages. Prestashop is a brilliant option for internationally-minded stores with wide customer bases and is well suited to startups and those on a limited budget, too.
- Easy to install, navigate and use
- Good customization and language options, with demographic assistance
- Well-suited to smaller companies and those on a budget
- Secure support for credit card companies and all other major payment methods
- An ideal open source solution
- There is no official customer support service
- Scalability is somewhat limited compared to competitors
Price and Plan:
Get started with Prestashop now.
If you’re operating a digital goods store or SASS business, FastSpring might be the perfect eCommerce platform for you.
Popular among Apple Mac software publishers and packed full of great features such as subscription billing and recurring payments, FastSpring is endlessly customizable and ideal for anyone who wants to set up discounts, trials, and special promotions for on-demand streaming or subscription services.
- Fully customize your stores with FastSpring’s extensive payment features
- Charge customers as and when they use your products or create elaborate price packages and free trials
- Create embedded, in-app purchases
- A perfect fit for the software industry or those offering subscription-based services
- Widely used and respected across the industry
- Functionality isn’t as clear cut as competitor products
- Some reviews complain about poor user experience
Plan and Price:
- Per month prices available via tailored quote only
Get started with FastSpring now.
Another great option for those who need open source solutions is NopCommerce – a shopping cart solution targeted at busy businesses who need to manage very large product numbers.
NopCommerce is well-suited to tech-savvy store owners who like to keep their eCommerce stores running on the latest tech. Expect bi-annual software updates and some superb B2B and B2C sales services with no overly restrictive limits.
- Powerful out-of-the-box B2B and B2C solutions included with all packages
- NopCommerce users can manage several stores all in one place
- Use built-in marketing tools to boost your sales
- Take advantage of customizable payment gateways and real time shipping features
- No upper limit on product numbers
- Discount features could be improved
- Reviews often complain about lack of design templates
Price and Plan:
Get started with NopCommerce now.
6 Features That Your Best Ecommerce Platform Needs to Have
From finding the right file storage limits and real-time shipping options to pinning down customizable payment gateways and useful eCommerce functionality, choosing the right platform to suit you can be a difficult task.
Here are six key things we’d advise businesses to look out for when narrowing down the top eCommerce platforms:
A single customer view
The best eCommerce tools on the market should enable businesses to keep track of all customer interactions and transactions in one place. Having a single view of all targetable touchpoints is crucial, and good analytics will always equal good growth.
Easy content creation
It’s important to pin down eCommerce platforms that are straightforward to use and allow you to create content or add additional pages and contact forms with ease. Strong supporting content is crucial for your SEO, so make sure your eCommerce platform enables you to make quick and easy tweaks when needed.
An all-in-one platform
If you can find an ecommerce platform that combines order management, marketing, accounting, merchandising, customer service and more all in one place, your ecommerce life will become a whole lot easier.
Bonus points for cloud-based platforms.
Hands-on customer experiences
You want your customers to benefit from responsive, rewarding, and all-round memorable customer experiences, right? This means finding an eCommerce platform that enables you to fully customize your store from the customer’s viewpoint.
Find a solution that offers abandoned cart recovery and innovative ways of encouraging buyers to keep coming back for more.
Smarter order management
If you have a single view of all orders, you can create and fine-tune more convenient ways for your customers to make purchases. Better supply chain analytics will help you to engineer more sales and profitability in the longer-term.
Dedicated support when you need it
As with any digital product, eCommerce functionality is rarely 100% perfect. If you encounter a problem, you need to know that someone at your platform can help you resolve it quickly and efficiently – so look for providers that offer sound customer support.
In recent years, advancements in AI, analytics, apps, and technology have helped the best eCommerce companies in the US completely revolutionize their services.
Today, startups can build new websites and online stores in seconds using eCommerce website builders with technophobe-friendly drag and drop features.
Meanwhile, growing businesses can keep full tabs on their online store using state-of-the-art inventory management tools and intelligent features like abandoned cart recovery, while any store in the world can target global niche audiences using clever AI tools.
Ecommerce is forever expanding and evolving, and the best eCommerce platforms are adapting their services accordingly to help their users stay ahead of the game.
By signing up for a leading eCommerce platform that properly meets your needs, it’s easy to gain a competitive advantage in your field and stay on top for the foreseeable future.
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