Finding the best ecommerce software to build an online store can be a difficult and confusing task – kind of like trying to figure out what products to sell. It becomes even harder if you are new to creating online stores. More importantly, how do you know what type of shopping cart is best for your online business?
Self-hosted and hosted shopping carts are the two types of ecommerce software platforms. Each has its benefits and disadvantages as well.
Self-hosted platforms are open-source shopping carts that you have to host on your own hosting account (I recommend Bluehost for this). These carts are usually geared towards more technical users with coding experience. A majority of these self-hosted carts are free but come with limited features. Extra features are available in the form of third-party apps that are both free and premium.
On the other hand, hosted ecommerce software are carts that do not require a separate hosting account. These shopping carts are a lot easier to work with and require little to no previous knowledge. Basically, you will have more built-in features and frequent updates to feature the changing trends in ecommerce. Hosted shopping carts have a monthly fee associated with them.
Anyways, let me dive into the best ecommerce software platforms. I am going to keep this focused on hosted ecommerce software platforms as it pertains to more users.
WHY USE THE BEST ECOMMERCE SOFTWARE
Consumers are doing more and more of their shopping online. Studies show that consumers look for deals online and leave physical shopping as a last resort. A majority of people find online shopping more convenient and less time consuming.
With the right ecommerce software, nearly anyone can create and manage an online store. The best ecommerce software will include the tools you need to succeed online, attract more customers, create effective marketing campaigns, process store orders and sell on other marketplace platforms.
And in case things go wrong, the best ecommerce software will have technical knowledge to assist. Each shopping cart is unique, each catering to stores of varying sizes. With all of these things in mind, I found the best ecommerce software solutions to be Bigcommerce, Shopify and Volusion.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN CHOOSING THE BEST ECOMMERCE SOFTWARE?
Just because you like a shopping cart does not mean it will be good for your online store. Personally, I love Shopify, but it is not the best shopping cart for a variety of reasons including limited features and no room to grow. Anyways, here are some things to look at when choosing a shopping cart for your online store:
- A price that you can afford. Switching to a new provider when your store grows can be a pain.
- Core features and those that are included with your monthly plan (bandwidth, storage and products).
- Make sure that the cart has reliable hosting that withstands all store traffic.
- Website building tools such as a website builder, templates and code editing.
- Mobile friendly design and checkout process.
- Effective marketing features to run effective campaigns and promotions.
- The ability to complete admin tasks from the back office. Things like managing inventory, adding products, processing orders and viewing store statistics are vital.
- Store security and fraud detection such as CVV2 verification.
- Help and support that is available throughout the day, just in case things go wrong.
BEST ECOMMERCE SOFTWARE PLATFORMS
1. BIGCOMMERCE (the best ecommerce software with the most built-in features)
The leader in ecommerce software and the best shopping cart to build an online store with. Bigcommerce offers robust features, a lot of wiggle room to grow and a structured support system that knows ecommerce. Novice and expert users will find the necessary tools to get started without the hassle associated with other shopping carts.
The recent release of Bigcommerce Next brought the shopping cart to a whole new level. This update focused on brining fresh features, new templates and a friendlier control panel.
The biggest benefit of building an online store with Bigcommerce is their extensive feature lineup consisting of reliable tools to kick start your online business. In addition, all plans come with unlimited products and bandwidth.
Bigcommerce plans start at $29.95/month. A 10% discount is available on annual prepayments.
Noteworthy Bigcommerce Features
- Abandoned cart saver (available on Gold and Platinum plans)
- Google Trusted Stores integration
- Product ratings and reviews
- Optimized SEO tools & options
- Real-time shipping
- Built-in email marketing
- Built-in blog
Drawbacks Of Using Bigcommerce
- 1.5% transaction fee for Silver plan users only
2. SHOPIFY (the easiest shopping cart to build an online store)
Without a doubt, the easiest shopping cart for launching an online store. Quick store setup, basic features and cheap pricing is what makes Shopify a popular choice for online store owners. Since most of us do not know the ins and outs of building an online store, this shopping cart is a must look at.
Shopify has just enough features and tools to build, launch and manage an online store. With over 100,000 using their shopping cart, you cannot go wrong. Oh yeah, their customers love them.
Shopify pricing starts at $14/month for 25 products and unlimited bandwidth.
Noteworthy Shopify Features
- Extensive app store for adding more features
- Abandoned cart recovery (available on Professional and Unlimited plans)
- Multiple store languages
- Integrated blogging platform
- Integrated Point of Sale
Drawbacks Of Using Shopify
- Up to 2% transaction fees (waived when you use Shopify Payments)
- Lower priced plans limit key features such as product reviews, theme editing & real time shipping
3. VOLUSION (the best alternative to the two shopping carts above, a lot of extra features)
An all-in-one shopping cart for online stores of all sizes. No matter what type of niche you are establishing, Volusion has the tools to get you started.
Volusion is one of the very few shopping carts that do not charge transaction fees, regardless of the plan or payment gateway you choose. The shopping cart comes with tons of free templates and simple editing tools.
Pricing starts at $15/month for 100 products and 1 GB of bandwidth. A discount is available with annual prepayments.
Noteworthy Volusion Features:
- Deal of the day
- Homepage slider
- Multiple currencies and automatic tax rates
- Abandoned cart reports (available on Plus, Pro and Premium plans)
- Integrated newsletters
- Unlimited product display options
Drawbacks Of Using Volusion:
- Limited bandwidth with possible overage fees ($7 per GB over your monthly limit)
- Limited features on lowered-tier plans
4. 3DCART (has effective marketing features such as email newsletters, affiliate program, gift registry, etc.)
3dcart is the most underrated shopping cart out there. Fortunately, for the ones that do use it, are intrigued by the service it delivers. Like Volusion, 3dcart does not charge transaction fees.
Online store marketing is where 3dcart excels when compared to the other shopping carts listed here. On top of its advanced marketing features, 3dcart offers a wide range of other shopping cart features needed for the creation of a successful online business.
3dcart pricing starts at $19.99/month for 200 products and up to 4,000 visits each month. A 15% discount is available with annual plans.
Noteworthy 3dcart Features:
- Coupons and promotions
- Affiliate program, gift registry and a referral system
- Newsletter manager
- Multiple pricing levels
- Hide price until checkout
- Multiple “ship to” recipients and addresses
- Custom checkout questions
- Automated RMA system
Drawbacks Of Using 3dcart:
- Limited bandwidth with possible overage fees ($5 per GB over your monthly limit)
- Basic templates
5. CORECOMMERCE (very similar to Bigcommerce)
In terms of structuring and features, CoreCommerce is a lot like Bigcommerce. Consider them their little sister and a good Bigcommerce alternative.
An extensive feature lineup is included with all of their monthly plans. CoreCommerce does not charge transaction fees, regardless of the plan selected.
Pricing starts at $39.99/month for 150 products and 2 GB of bandwidth.
Noteworthy CoreCommerce Features:
- Widgets for featured products, new arrivals, deal of the day and related products
- Customizable receipts and packing slips
- Product comparisons
- Multiple store languages
- Tax exempt option
- View abandoned and live carts
- Customers can request quotes and request lower product pricing
- Real-time shipping rates
Drawbacks Of Using CoreCommerce:
- Limited bandwidth with possible overages ($9 per GB over your monthly limit)
- Lower-tier plans are expensive (cheapest plan starts at $39.99/month)
BEST ECOMMERCE SOFTWARE COMPARISON
|Price Range (Per Month)||$29.95 – $199.95||$14 – $179||$15 – $135||$19.99 – $129.99||$39.99 – $199.99|
|Products||Unlimited||25 – Unlimited||100 – Unlimited||200 – Unlimited||150 – Unlimited|
|Bandwidth||Unlimited||Unlimited||1GB – 35GB||4,000 – 90,000
|2GB – Unlimited|
|Storage||3GB – Unlimited||1GB – Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||1GB – 50GB|
|Transaction Fees||1.5% (Silver Plan Only)||None – 2%||None||None||None|
|Recurring Billing||Using Paid App||Using Paid App||Included||Included||None|
|Free Trial||15 Days||14 Days||14 Days||15 Days||15 Days|
*Point of Sale Integration (POS) is able to be integrated into the shopping cart. This service might be free or require a fee. Make sure to check with your shopping cart provider.
This concludes my take on the best ecommerce software platforms to create an online store.