Want to start an eCommerce business but not sure which platform to use? Check out our list of the most popular eCommerce platforms.
Small businesses are having to shift to digital operations because of the COVID-19 pandemic. One such example is of James Leach, the owner of Longhorn Meat Market in Austin, Texas. He thought social media was going to be the extent of technology in his business and never planned on selling raw meat online. But when restaurants and major grocery chains shut down, 70% of his business revenue disappeared.
James finally had to bring his family’s century-old butcher shop online to deal with the crisis.
Such anecdotes are aplenty. As much as 34% of small business owners are now offering at least one product or service online. However, taking the plunge can be daunting and finding the right eCommerce software can take weeks or even months.
To make the task a little easier, we have created a list of the most popular eCommerce platforms.
Why do we call them most popular? It’s because these tools feature in Capterra’s Top 20 eCommerce Software report, have user ratings higher than 4.5 (out of 5), and offer all the key features of eCommerce software. (Click here to view the complete selection methodology.)
Common product features
Before we look at the tools, it will be helpful to understand the features all of them have in common. This will give an overview of their general functionality.
It is important to note that these are not the only features any of the tools offers, rather these are the features common across all of them.
- Web hosting: All the solutions in this article support web hosting, either free of cost or for a charge. You can also get a custom domain name for a few extra bucks.
- Website builder: This involves setting up an online store using customizable web page templates. The tool usually provides images for web pages, CSS design schemes, catalog and inventory management, and buttons and forms.
- Marketplace: A marketplace helps you find third-party apps to add to your online store. These may include finance, customer service, search engine optimization (SEO), and CSS apps.
- Open source/open API: All the solutions mentioned in this article, except SITE123, offer either an open API or open source code. This gives greater flexibility in making customizations to the website.
- Payment systems: The solutions help you accept payments for sales by integrating with online payment channels or point-of-sale systems.
- Marketing: All the solutions support SEO, email marketing, page traffic analytics, and other such features that help market the online store.
- Social media selling: Create and manage an online store on social media sites, such as Facebook and Instagram.
User ratings: 4.6/5
Number of reviews: 65+
CS-Cart B2B & B2C is an on-premise eCommerce tool that helps manufacturers and wholesalers set up online stores. For those who wish to migrate to the cloud, the vendor provides a cloud hosting service through Amazon Web Services (AWS), for a monthly subscription.
CS-Cart supports features such as multiple storefronts, customer group-based pricing, in-stock and low-stock notifications, and bulk product addition to carts.
Pricing info: A CS-Cart B2B & B2C license costs $4,750 and has lifetime validity. It comes with free access to upgrades for a year and free technical support for six months.
Support: After the first six months of license purchase, you need to buy support credits to access technical support. To seek support, you can contact their helpdesk, ask an expert for advice, or go through their extensive list of guides on how to set up and manage a store.
Unique eCommerce feature: Warehouse management
This feature simplifies tracking stock levels for sellers that have multiple warehouses. When a buyer places an order, the feature automatically informs them about the product’s availability and delivery time based on their nearest warehouse.
FAQ: Can the domain name on my CS-Cart license be changed after purchase?
Answer: Yes, a CS-Cart license can be used with a new domain name after the purchase. However, it is essential to inform CS-Cart about the change in advance. For this, you may raise a request with their customer help desk and specify the new domain name of your eCommerce site.
User ratings: 4.6/5
Number of reviews: 440+
Ecwid is a cloud-based tool that allows its users to sell through any online channel, such as websites, marketplaces (Amazon and eBay), or social media platforms (Facebook and Instagram).
Ecwid’s features include automatic page translation, promotional pricing, volume discounts, product variants, and automatic shipping calculations.
Pricing info: Ecwid offers one free and three paid plans, namely, Free, Venture, Business, and Unlimited. The free version is available without any time restrictions or upgrade compulsions. The paid plans start at $15 paid monthly.
Support: In addition to email support, Ecwid offers an exhaustive library of “how to” and video guides on the tool’s features and settings. It also runs a podcast—The Ecwid E-commerce Show—that provides guidance on managing eCommerce sites.
Unique feature: Instant site
If you don’t want to take the trouble of adding content blocks, buttons, and pages, Ecwid provides a ready-to-use, one-page website template. You simply have to create an Ecwid account and add products to the store. This one-page website includes a banner, a product catalog, a testimonial, a map block for offline store location, and an “about us” section, all of which are customizable. What’s more? The website is also mobile-friendly.
FAQ: Can I add my Ecwid store to WordPress, Weebly, or similar CMSs?
Answer: Yes. Ecwid stands for Ecommerce Widget, so you can use the Ecwid plugin (widget) to embed the store to any website. For websites that don’t support plugins, you can simply copy-paste the integration code. If you don’t wish to add the entire store, you can add a particular product or product category by pasting the specific product or category code.
User ratings: 4.6/5
Number of reviews: 106+
Kartra is a cloud-based solution that helps manage various aspects of an eCommerce store, such as leads management, sales and marketing campaigns, website building, help desk, and forms. It also supports third-party integrations with other business apps and payment gateways.
Pricing info: Kartra offers four paid plans. Its Starter plan is available at $99 per month.
Support: Support for Kartra can only be availed by raising tickets. However, it does provide assistance on the tool’s features and settings through the “Kartranaut Training Program.”
Unique feature: Kartra Academy
Katra offers education on the best practices for creating and marketing eCommerce stores through its online platform, Kartra Academy. The platform provides access to marketing tips and strategies, “how to” guides, webinars, videos, and online courses. The membership is completely free for all users.
FAQ: How do I decide which of Kartra’s pricing plans is right for my business?
Answer: Kartra offers four pricing plans that offer the same features sans extra costs or add-ons. However, they may differ in the monthly network bandwidth, number of emails you can send, and number of custom domains. Therefore, select a plan that aligns with the size of your business, network bandwidth, and the number of leads or marketing assets you’ll need.
User ratings: 4.6/5
Number of reviews: 73+
SITE123 is a cloud-based eCommerce solution that lends a special focus to website building. Some of its website building features include responsive web designer, custom form builder, and image galleries.
Its eCommerce-specific features include payment gateway integration, shipping and taxation management, store labels, and currency management.
Pricing info: SITE123 offers two options—Free and Premium. The Free plan is available without any time restrictions or upgrade requirements. The Premium plan is available for $5.8 per month.
Support: SITE123 provides 24/7 live support through chat. It also has a support center that provides an exhaustive range of “how to” articles about email marketing, setting up the store, billing, account management, etc.
Unique feature: Wire transfer payment
For customers who may not be comfortable (or are unable to) paying through any online payment gateway and wish to pay by bank transfer, SITE123 offers bank wire transfers. Store owners simply need to add their bank account details in the store setting to collect funds offline.
FAQ: How many websites can I register under my SITE123 account?
User ratings: 4.6/5
Number of reviews: 1,788+
Squarespace is a cloud-based solution that helps set up eCommerce websites and sell products online. The solution helps create mobile-friendly websites and supports Google Fonts, progressive image loading, image SEO, and audio collections.
Squarespace also offers a developers platform that allows developers to easily roll out and roll back customizations.
Pricing info: Squarespace’s Business plan starts at $26 per month. Squarespace also offers a Commerce plan at $30 per month for those who require more advanced features.
Support: In addition to email and live chat support, Squarespace provides detailed help guides, videos, and workshops through its knowledge base called the Help Center. There is also a dedicated Q&A section, called Community Answers, where you can find answers to several questions or have your questions answered by Squarespace experts.
Unique feature: Free WHOIS privacy
WHOIS is a digital record that lists information about domains. This record includes information such as the name of servers, DNS records, and contact information. WHOIS privacy is a paid service and not all eCommerce solutions offer it. However, Squarespace offers it free of cost.
FAQ: Does Squarespace provide website building services?
Answer: While Squarespace doesn’t provide website building services, it helps you connect with web designers that specialize in building Squarespace sites. You can explore the Squarespace marketplace to get in touch with a professional. However, it’s important to note that Squarespace doesn’t mediate these arrangements.
Before making a purchase, here are some additional steps you can take to ensure you select a tool that is right for your business:
- Read reviews: To form a well-rounded opinion about the tool you’re looking to purchase, try reading user reviews on third party websites, such as ours. This will help you learn what users think about the tool.
- Speak with the vendor: Getting in touch with the vendor before finalizing a tool could inform you about upcoming versions and features that may not be listed on the product website. Moreover, if you’re looking for a specific product feature or customization, you may discuss this as well with the vendor.
Product selection methodology
To identify the products featured in this article, we used the following methodology:
We referred to the products mentioned in Capterra’s Top 20 eCommerce Software report (published: July 30, 2019) and checked them for the following:
- The tools had to have a user rating higher than 4.5 (out of 5) on Capterra and 10 or more user reviews (information accessed on May 4, 2020).
- The tools had to offer all the core features and at least half of the common features of eCommerce software. The core features include order management, catalog management, shopping cart, and website management; the common features include analytics and reporting, inventory management, CRM, and web hosting.