Finding the best ecommerce software solution is a daunting task. With an array of options out there, how does one know which shopping cart to use? While I do not have an easy answer for you, I hope this list makes the decision a little easier. The problem with a lot of people looking for a decent shopping cart is the fact that they read search dozens of comparisons and reviews, trying to figure out which platform is the best. Going forward, I strongly advise you stop wasting your time doing all of the research and just pick a shopping cart and start selling online.
Anyways, I am going to keep this list focused on hosted shopping cart solutions. Nothing against self-hosted carts but I just find them harder to work with. Hosted shopping carts (like the ones featured below) are easier to work with, do not need separate hosting accounts and offer structured support.
If you plan on using a self-hosted shopping cart and need a reliable web host, I recommend SiteGround.
FIVE BEST ECOMMERCE SOFTWARE PLATFORMS
When looking for the best ecommerce software platform for your online business, it is important to choose the one that covers the most of what you are looking for. Of course, you will never find a shopping cart that completely fulfills your needs. Anyways, the five hosted shopping carts below have a good reputation and are the big players in ecommerce.
1) BIGCOMMERCE (Editors Recommend Solution)
If you did not have a chance to work with Bigcommerce yet, you are missing out. Bigcommerce offers robust features, plenty of wiggle room to grow and a support structure that knows ecommerce well. Users of all experience levels will find the necessary tools to get started without all of the hassles one would find on other ecommerce software platforms.
The latest release of Bigcommerce Next brought the shopping cart to a whole new level, practically crushing the competition. This update focused on bringing new integrated features, rolling out new and responsive themes, and upgrading the dashboard with a friendlier interface.
Bigcommerce plans start from $29.95/month and offers key unlimited features such as bandwidth, products and storage space. Larger plans are also available, including an enterprise solution for large stores. To learn more about Bigcommerce, read my Bigcommerce review or go to http://www.bigcommerce.com.
- Bigcommerce has one of the biggest selections of built-in features such as the abandoned cart saver, product reviews and ratings, Google Trusted Stores integration, SEO optimization, email marketing and an integrated blog.
- Bigcommerce enables the sale of various type of items such as physical products, digital downloads, services and events.
- Bigcommerce has integrated real-time shipping rates from major shipping carriers.
- Bigcommerce is fully integrated with over 65 payment gateways.
- Features the editable homepage slider that is ideal for running promotions and newly released products.
- Free access to Bigcommerce University where users can educate themselves on building an ecommerce empire.
- The lower tier plan has transaction fees of 1.5%. The more expensive plan does not.
- An affiliate program is not built into the platform. Although, I am pretty sure there is an app that will integrate an affiliate program into the store.
- The abandoned cart saver is excluded from the cheapest plan.
There is not a doubt in my mind that can convince me that Shopify is not the easiest platform to work with. If you had an issue learning how to work with any other shopping cart, you will not have that problem here.
Actually, out of the best ecommerce software platforms listed on this page, Shopify happens to be the most popular, hosting over 160,000 online stores. The reason individuals and small businesses love Shopify is due to its easy to use interface, having just enough features and its array of professional store themes.
Another benefit of trying Shopify is the low, competitive pricing options. Shopify packages start at $14/month and offer unlimited bandwidth, a gigabyte of storage space and the ability to sell up to 25 products. Of course, larger plans are also available, including a complete enterprise solution. For more information on Shopify, read my Shopify review or go to http://www.shopify.com.
- Shopify has the largest ecommerce app store, just in case you find yourself needing more features.
- Shopify has a clean admin backend and storefront, making their cart very easy to use and appealing to customers.
- Shopify has a solid set of features such as the abandoned checkout recovery, drop shipping capabilities, complete blogging platform, email marketing and the ability to sell on Facebook.
- Shopify is fully integrated with over 70 external payment gateways, both domestic and international providers.
- The checkout experience can be translated into 50 different languages. One could manipulate the themes settings to make them translated as well.
- Shopify offers extensive support options and give store owners full access to “Ecommerce University.” This is the place to learn everything you need to know about selling online.
- For the ones that plan on using an external payment gateway, Shopify will charge transaction fees ofup to two percent, depending on the plan selected. Using Shopify’s in-house credit card processing service will waive those pesky transaction fees.
- Shopify uses a custom template language called liquid. This might be an issue for users trying to edit their themes.
- The cheaper plans limit certain features such as the abandoned checkout recovery, professional store reporting and real-time carrier shipping.
I think people tend to underestimate how good Volusion really is. Sure, it seems like their shopping cart is going downhill, but it is constantly updated behind the scenes to match the current trends in ecommerce.
It is important to note that Volusion is amongst the very few hosted ecommerce software platforms not charging transaction fees. When it comes to store themes, the shopping cart has plenty of options, although some are basic for an online store today. However, the true benefit of using Volusion is their array of built-in feature
Volusion has a pricing structure that is very flexible and ideal for all budgets. Plans start at $15/month and offer unlimited storage space, a gigabyte of bandwidth and the ability to sell 100 products. Larger plans are also available, including a scalable enterprise solution. For more information on Volusion, go to http://www.volusion.com.
- Volusion offers simplified management tools for controlling inventory and product variants such as size, color and style.
- Volusion has advanced optimization tools that are built right into the platform.
- Volusion offers a good feature lineup including deal of the day, gift cards, coupons, customer product reviews and simple social media integration.
- If you happen to need additional features, Volusion has an extensive list of external applications that are fully integrated with the shopping cart.
- Volusion is able to integrate with some of the most popular payment gateways such as PayPal, Authorize.net, Stripe and others.
- On top of the traditional support options, Volusion offers an ecommerce blog, filled with tips and tutorials on running an ecommerce website.
- Since all plans have limited bandwidth, Volusion charges overage fees for crossing over your monthly bandwidth limit. Correct me if I am wrong, current overage fees are $7 for each gigabyte that goes over.
- Many of the cheaper plans limit features. This could mean that one would have to upgrade to be able to use those features.
The 3dcart platform has a strong emphasis on marketing, which is vital in the beginning stages of an online ecommerce business. It is unfortunate that 3dcart is not a common choice when building an online website, mainly because they are not so popular.
Like Volusion, 3dcart does not charge any transaction fees. The shopping cart is constantly updated to keep up with the trends in ecommerce. It was created, not only for US-based stores, but for international businesses as well.
3dcart offers flexible pricing options. Plans start at $19.99/month and offer unlimited storage space, bandwidth good enough for 4,000 visits each month and the ability to sell 200 products. Larger monthly plans are also available, including an enterprise solution for large online businesses. For more information on 3dcart, read my 3dcart review or go to http://3dcart.com.
- 3dcart offers a 15% discount for annual plans. Depending on the plan selected, this could be a huge chunk of savings.
- 3dcart has advanced features built into the cart. Some noteworthy features include email newsletters, daily deals, group deals, autoresponders, product questions and answers, multiple ship to addresses, affiliate program and gift registry.
- Almost all themes include the new HTML5 markup language and are responsive across multiple devices.
- 3dcart is integrated with over 100 external payment gateways. No matter where your customers live, there will be a payment method available for them.
- 3dcart gives you the ability to generate custom store reports such as bestselling products, top customers and daily traffic levels.
- The 3dcart platform supports drop shipping and wholesale orders. However, this is only a benefit to the stores that offer these kinds of orders.
- Since 3dcart does not offer unlimited bandwidth on any of its plans, you can expect to pay overage fees. Bandwidth overage fees are $5 for each gigabyte over your designated monthly limit.
- 3dcart does not offer a built-in point of sale system (POS). Although, I am sure you can integrate one on your own or using external software.
CoreCommerce was designed to look a lot like Bigcommerce. One can say that they are like sister websites that offer the same service but with different pricing options and features.
Like 3dcart, CoreCommerce is not as popular as the big three, only hosting a little over 3,000 online stores. On the plus side, CoreCommerce does not charge any transaction fees, making them a true contender in ecommerce.
CoreCommerce is also a little more flexible when it comes to their plan options. Plans start at $39.99/month and offer 2 GB of bandwidth, a gigabyte of storage space and the ability to sell 150 products. Like all others above, CoreCommerce has larger plans to suit your needs. To learn more about CoreCommerce, read my CoreCommerce review or go to http://www.corecommerce.com directly.
- If you are looking for plenty of design styles and options, CoreCommece has you covered. With 100s of themes and a little customizing, there will be something unique for every online store.
- CoreCommerce offers top of the line features. Some noteworthy features include built-in phone order system, point of sale system, widgets, refer a friend program, reward points system, gift registry and an affiliate program.
- CoreCommerce offer flexible shipping options. The cart is pre-integrated with popular shipping carriers such as UPS, USPS, FedEx, DHL and Australia Post.
- Unlike the best ecommerce software platforms listed above, CoreCommerce does not limit any of its features on the cheaper plans.
- CoreCommerce supports multiple store languages and currencies. This is a must if you are selling in the international market.
- CoreCommerce does security really well.
- CoreCommerce has limited storage space. This will be an issue for the ones that have a lot of products and are adding multiple product images.
- CoreCommerce does not integrate well with external applications.
BEST ECOMMERCE SOFTWARE – WHY DO I RECOMMEND BIGCOMMERCE?
Do not get me wrong, each one of the hosted platforms above can be used to create a successful online store. Heck, you can even use a self-hosted solution and sell online efficiently.
The reason I would choose Bigcommerce is due to its flexibility, no limitations on what you can do, readiness for the future and an array of built-in features. Think of Bigcommerce as a stock car that is really good and think of the other platforms as good cars needing some upgrading under the hood. In shortest and simplest words, Bigcommerce has a little bit of everything, making it a complete ecommerce solution.
BEST ECOMMERCE SOFTWARE – CONCLUSION
In conclusion, I really think you can be open and run a successful online store with either shopping cart you choose. It all comes down to your level of expertise, willingness to learn and having profitable products to sell.
While I recommend Bigcommerce, I understand it might not be the solution everyone is willing to work with. That is why it is important to take advantage of the free trials being offered as they give you the chance to test out the shopping cart.
Lastly, I also understand that we tend to skip from comparison to comparison and lose a lot of time that could be spent on building an online store. Stop reading and pick a shopping cart and start your online business already.
Which shopping cart do you use and recommend?