Finding the right platform to start your online business requires thorough research and is not always easy. Here we'll compare pricing, features, and other key factors to help you with your search and save you time.Shopify
With over one million merchants, Shopify ranks as one of the most popular ecommerce platforms. It's an all in one platform to start, manage, and grow a business. Their mission is to "reduce the barriers to business ownership to make commerce better for everyone".
Shopify offers an array of plans including:
Free trial period: 14-day free trial
Transaction fees: There are additional fees using payment providers other than Shopify Payments.
Shopify is great for wherever you are in your ecommerce journey. It's easy to use and provides a variety of plans. Another advantage is that there is no need for you to write a single line of code. You can easily add special functionality to your website by choosing from over 4,200 plugins in their app store. If you run into any issues, there's 24/7 support and plenty of resources like their help center, guides and forums.
Their extensive app store makes the opportunities to customize your online shop endless. However, monthly app subscriptions can become costly. Shopify also only has about 9 free themes, which is a lot less compared to other ecommerce platforms.
Big Commerce is a highly scalable all in one platform with loads of built-in features like abandoned cart recovery, unlimited storage and seamless social selling. They have a single dashboard to manage product listings on your website, as well as your products on Amazon, Instagram, Facebook, Etsy, and more.
Their pricing plans include:
Free trial period: 15-day free trial
Transaction fees: No additional transaction fees if using one of their 55 payment providers.
Big Commerce is less reliant on third party apps for enhanced functionality. Similar to Shopify, you won't need coding or web design experience to have a beautiful, engaging online store. Big Commerce features drag-and-drop capabilities, making it easy to get started. They can also help you rank higher in search results with their strong SEO performance.
Although Big Commerce does not charge transaction fees, they enforce "online sales per year" limits. This means if you're selling over the limit, they will upgrade you to a higher tier plan, increasing your monthly cost for the platform. Many users also feel there is a lack of variety in their free themes.
You may know Wix for their website builder, however in June 2020 they added an ecommerce solution to their platform. Although new to the ecommerce space, their tools pack a punch offering abandoned cart recovery, unlimited products, plus over 500 online store templates to choose from.
Wix offers three plans with ecommerce functionality:
Free trial period: You have the option to start your ecommerce site free without a limited trial. Once ready to sell and accept payments, you can upgrade to one of the above plans.
Transaction fees: No transaction fees
Wix starts by asking you a few questions, then creates your website in just a few minutes. Afterwards, you can personalize to your liking. If you need guidance, they recently launched Wix eCommerce School, a portal with live and on demand educational resources. Wix also offers hundreds of zero-cost templates and a free domain for a year, making it a notable value option.
Wix's added ecommerce solution is excellent for a solopreneur or small business just starting out. If you're looking to scale fast or have complex products, consider a dedicated ecommerce platform. It's also important to think about how much storage space your online store will need. Wix has storage limits on all their ecommerce plans, however, sites like Big Commerce and Shopify provide unlimited storage with all their plans.
WooCommerce is a plugin that adds ecommerce functionality to WordPress websites. Although WordPress is one of the most popular website builders in the world, it does not offer ecommerce features. WooCommerce provides a range of website templates that are fully customizable. The store owner can choose from a variety of themes and colors to personalize their site.
Pricing: WooCommerce is free to download and use.
WooCommerce is free to use, making it an affordable tool for running an ecommerce store. Since it's an open source platform, the opportunities to customize your store are endless. WooCommerce has over 50,000 extensions to choose from in their Extensions Store.
WooCommerce is great for if you already have a WordPress website and would like to turn it into a storefront. However, there's a lot of technical work that goes into it including purchasing hosting, SSL security, installing WordPress, setting up your theme and adding plugins. If you're starting from scratch and lack coding experience, it may be easier to use an all-in-one platform.
Squarespace's ecommerce tools are ideal for the creativepreneur. With drag-and-drop functionality and sleek modern templates all optimized for mobile, it's a great place to start an online business.
Squarespace currently offers three plans with ecommerce functionality:
You can save 25% by choosing to pay annually.
Free trial period: Squarespace offers a 14-day free trial, no credit card information required.
Transaction fees: There are no transaction fees for Squarespace Basic and Advanced. They charge a transaction fee of 3% on sales in the Business plan.
Squarespace has rich built-in features like real time shipping estimates, social integrations and unlimited products. They also provide excellent inventory and product catalog management. Squarespace also has some of the best looking templates compared to other platforms.
Squarespace only supports two payment processors at the moment, Stripe and Paypal. They also don't have an app store, so you're limited to customizing your website with the features they provide. Squarespace is great for if you're in the creative space and looking to sell a limited amount of products. If you have high volume sales or are looking to grow, a platform with more scalability make be a better fit.
Shift4Shop was originally known as 3dCart before Shift4 Payments acquired them in November 2020. Their turnkey ecommerce solution includes a website builder, product and order management, AI-driven fraud protection and many more features.
Shift4Shop is 100% free when you use their payment processing, Shift 4 Payments.
If you prefer to use another payment processor, here's their pricing plans:
Free trial period: First month free with paid plans if not using Shift 4 Payments
Transaction fees: No transaction fees
Shift4Shop offers a lot of key features for free. This includes over 100 free themes and, SSL certificate, domain name and unlimited products. Another advantage of Shift4Shop is that they have built in marketing features like email marketing, an affiliate program, and loyalty program at no extra cost. If you're looking to switch shopping carts, Shift4Shop will migrate your current ecommerce website for free. Most of these features would cost you extra on a platform like Shopify.
Compared to Shopify, Shift4Shop has a much smaller app marketplace. This is because of Shopify's popularity, which attracts 3rd party app developers to prioritize the platform. Shift4Shop supports merchants in all countries, however their free plan is only available to U.S. merchants.
Choosing an ecommerce platform is all about what's right for your business. Think about how many products you plan to sell, your budget and key features your store needs to be successful.
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