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Best eCommerce Platforms for Building Online Stores 2021

Looking to build an online store but don't know where to start? This article will walk you through the best ecommerce platforms to get you started.
Best eCommerce Platforms
Looking to build an online store but don't know where to start? This article will walk you through the best ecommerce platforms to get you started.

Best eCommerce Platforms for Building Online Stores 2021

With the drastic shift in our lives lately it is no wonder that online shopping has become one of the leading industry business that offers people everything they wish from the comfort of their homes. It has become imperative that you put your business online in order to expand the the reach of your audience. 

One way to put your business online or start a business online is through some of the most popular eCommerce platforms that will ease the process of doing business, helping you sell, distribute, showcase your products, sort out taxes, take payments, handle shipping, all from your home office. 

When choosing just the right eCommerce platform to bild a stable, strong and capable online store, there are a few things that you should consider in order to reach your business’ goals and ensure long-term growth. 

In this article, we will lay down the best eCommerce platforms, the comparision between each, and the best solutions for small and large businesses. 

What is an eCommerce platform?

Ecommerce has taken over the market and has foreseen a tremendous growth within the last years. Whether you are looking to establish your online presence for your business or start an online business, eCommerce platforms are the proper solution and choosing the right one will have a great impact on your business. But what is an eCommerce platform? 

An eCommerce platform is a software that allows the transactions of buying and selling products as well as provide businesses with the means to manage their online presence including sales, marketing, website, and the business activity. 

When conducting online business, it is imperative that the eCommerce software provides the capabilities to manage orders, perform accountability tasks, inventory management as well as provide users with an excellent customer service. Nowadays, eCommerce platforms work upon a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model which integrates al the mentioned topics into a single platform.

With such infrastructure that consolidates business applications and online data only to be provided with the best, engaging, and personalized online experience. 

Running an online store requires undertaking a lot of complex tasks like building the website, managing the stock, or taking payments, this is where eCommerce platforms come in, they are the solution that help you manage all the tasks without having to deal with each individually. 

How to find the best eCommerce platform for your online store?

As we stated eCommerce platforms should be able to provide the best user experience and and enable them to buy products and services from your online store As you will all eCommerce platforms will be provided with its intrinsic features that meet certain needs and criterias for your online store.

We have concluded all the best platforms that will offer everything an online store needs to thrive and will give you the means to customize your store to meet your requirements.

To find the best eCommerce platforms that will suit the needs of your online business it will need to provide great customization option in terms of design and content, customer engagement and lead generation. 

For small businesses that are just starting out as well as large businesses with a great revenue, these are the main features you will need to look for when choosing the right eCommerce platform. 

  • We will mention it as the first requirement for an eCommerce online store. Design customizability should be a check on the list when looking for the right eCommerce platform for your online business. You must be able to build and create mobile-friendly online stores that is an important part of user experience and accessibility. 
  • The eCommerce platform shall be able to allow you to manage orders smoothly, this will have you store run effectively. You should also be able to ships the gods you sell, track your inventory as well as have control over your store via the backend without needing other applications of services. 
  • Next, keep your eyes on the platforms that will offer you integration with other services and applications, plugins or extensions. You will need to be able to extend the features and functionality of your online store like in the case the integration with email marketing providers or sell via social media. 
  • A good eCommerce platform should be able to give you the freedom to sell any kind of product of goods you want, this will include physical and digital goods. 
  • Payments gateways is one crucial components for every online store. The ability to sell and handle national and international sales taxes. This is particularly useful when the business is showing growth or when your targeted audience lies on international courses. 
  • The budget is of course one major facto that be a determinator on your selection of eCommerce stores. You need to understand that paying more won’t give you the best user experience. Check the boxes on the most important components that the eCommerce platform provides and make sure it comes at a reasonable price. 

Our list of eCommerce platforms is hand-picked to make the best solution for any online store. Each of them will give you the mentioned features, although they vary in availability, price, and business goals. 

Is eCommerce still profitable in 2021?

eCommerce has shown an incredible growth in the last years. Due to the expected growth and advent of eCommerce in 2020, the industry is proliferating. Retailers are turning their attention to creating and establishing an online presence as well as entrepreneurs are starting on eCommerce ventures. 

Anyone can benefit from eCommerce, whether you have a small online store, a successful online business, a brick-and-mortar shop, or entrepreneurs, will all have their share of benefit in the eCommerce world.

Online shopping is one of the most popular online activities worldwide. In 2019, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to 3.53 trillion US dollars and e-retail revenues are projected to grow to 6.54 trillion US dollars in 2022. 

If we view this from a macro-perspective, seeing the increase in development of the internet, online selling, eCommerce websites are the future. We can say that eCommerce is at an all time high, especially in the circumstances we are currently facing, lockdown, travel bans, as well as retail closure has brought people and with a lot of time to spare and find their required items online.

During the pandemic we have seen the tremendous growth of the number one online marketplace, Amazon, but big-box retailers like Walmart, Target, The Home Depot do not lack behind either. In 2019, e-retail sales accounted for 14.1 percent of all retail sales worldwide. This figure is expected to reach 22 percent in 2023. 

The statistics show an increase in eCommerce worldwide, and these figures sure look good, if you were ever wondering whether or not to start an online business, the numbers give a positive affirmation. 

The best eCommerce Platforms for 2021

As we have perpetually stated throughout the article eCommerce is the future of retail. If you are looking to establish an online business, selecting the perfectly suited eCommerce platform will give you a good start.

Based on our analysis and interpretation of of each platform you will be able to tick the boxes that meet your criteria, thus making the right decision for you and your business. Without further ado, let’s get to it. 

We shall begin our list with Shopify, a highly popular eCommerce platform that has been around for quite some time now, gathering a large audience, with more than a million store build using the platform. Shopify is the perfect solution for small to medium businesses, that will help you star your online store in no time. 

Shopify is the perfect solution to start you online store as it will give you tons of customization options to create the online store you wish without having technical or design experience.

Shopify offers a 14-day trial. Once you are signed up, you will be greeted by the wizard, which will be there to help you through the process of adding your products, customizing your store, establishing your domain, as well as set up the payments gateways. 

Once you set up your online store with Shopify, you will have access to a full content managements service that will allow you to manage the functionality and layout of your online store. What’s more, you can manage your Shopify online store via the mobile apps. 

Int erms of user experience, Shopify as an eCommerce platform is completely responsive, meaning your online store will look as stunning on all devices accordingly. 

You can easily add your products via the intuitive back-end editor, simply click on Products fro mthe left sidebar and begin adding their respective informations, like description, price, quantity and more.

And if you wish to change the look of your online store s well as extend the functionality, Shopify takes the court with its app store. You can choose between the 10 free themes available as well as search the paid collection of themes that start with a price of $140. 

Next on the list, we have WooCommerce, the best eCommerce platform for WordPress websites. WooCommerce is a free, open-source plugin owned by WordPress and is accessible to everyone with a WordPress website. Worth mentioning that WooCommerce is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms on the internet. 

WooCommerce presents a simple and straightforward interface that allows you to manage and run your store like a pro. You will first be presented with a wizard that allows the first customizations of your online store. You can easily add your products and detailed information about them.  

WooCommerce gives you the freedom to sell any kind of product either that be physical or digital goods. With WooCommerce you can customize the look and design of your online store and create outstanding e-commerce shops without coding knowledge needed.

To extend the functionality of WooCommerce, they provide premium apps and extensions, you can also purchase WooCommerce based WordPress themes that give you total control over the design of your online store. 

You can connect your WooCommerce store with other useful applications like Zapier or various marketing tools to collect leads. You can download WooCommerce as a free WordPress plugin, but the extensions to increase the functionality of your store will be an added value. 


Wix is the all-in-one platform for building online stress that creates an exceptional user experience. Most of the eCommerce platforms will lack the opportunity to provide crating full websites, while Wix on the other hand will allow the creation of full websites. Maybe you want to add a blog to your online store, Wix freely lets you do that. 

Wix is the complete solution for business owners and entrepreneurs. You can get started your online business in an instant. The intuitive Wix questionnaire will help you create a personalized store for your business. Wix is a powerful website builder. 

Other areas besides customizing your online store to give it your flair, you can also select from the pre-made templates to help you reduce time and establish your business online right away. Wix will give you the power to run your store effectively starting from order tracking, automated tax sales, or abandoned cart recovery. 

Besides building online stores, Wix lets you build brands too, the Wix Logomaker and Business Name Generator will guide you through building a stable brand and recognized online presence. 

Once you set up your products and their corresponding details, which is quite easy in fact, as Wix will be the guiding light throughout the entire process, you can start making secure payments via the built-in native Wix Payments or there is always the options to connect to global payment providers. 

With Wix, it is worth mentioning its extensive app store that allows the extension of your store’s functionality with a simple one-click install application. Wix is free for 14 days, the trial period, and starts with a price of $28/month Business Basic Plan; transaction fees depend on payment gateway with Wix Payments charging 2.9% + $0.30.

Squarespace is a popular eCommerce platform for those looking to create a stunning online store that sells well. Squarespace is another outstanding “all-around” website builder that allows the creation of full websites, using the intuitive website builder. One area where Squarespace excels is the design of the pre-made eCommerce templates that will get you started in an instant. 

You can power up your online store right away with the tools and features available. You can start selling your products online whether that be physical or digital goods. Manage the inventory and stock levels with a simple and easy-to-use interface. You can get real-time shipping estimates with API integrations to connect your store to third-party tax and shipping tools. 

With Squarespace, you will be able to take payments from the industry leading providers like PayPal or Stripe. You can also easily share all your products online as Squarespace provides the integration of social media platforms as part of your online store 

One amazing feature that Squarespace has added is in-person payments features. They’ve partnered with Square to make it easy to accept payments with credit cards, mobile payments, as well as cash.

The Squarespace Commerce app will allow you to run your business from anywhere you are using your mobile device. You can sell in person, track inventory, or connect with customers at any time. 

Once you set up your store and have managed to make all the arrangements necessary, Squarespace will allow you to grow your online store using advanced email marketing strategy and SEO. 

Magento is another amazing and popular eCommerce platform that was released in 2009, since then, the platform has made some quite impressive improvements. Magento comes in two versions.

First, we have the Magento open-source that will give you basic eCommerce capabilities to build and create online stores around. And secondly, you have Magento Commerce that’s the premium version of the eCommerce platform. It’s a no-brainer that Magento Commerce is the platform that offers full commerce capabilities to build powerful and capable online stores. 

Magento Commerce is an enterprise solution platform and employs expensive prices ranging anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 annually. Meanwhile, Magento Open-Source is free to download and to use, however for added functionality you would need to pay for other extensions like hosting, themes, development, or other add-ons. 

Magento is the platform most suitable for small businesses and developers. It gives you total freedom to build and customize your online store, although Magento has a steep learning curve, either hire a Magento developer or learn everything on your own. 

Magento open source provides a bountiful of features required for a successful online store, including features like fully-mobile responsive, integrated checkout, payments, and shipping, all of which you will need to set up yourself.  

Hence the name Big Commerce is the perfect eCommerce platform solution for big retailer brands, but not only that, Big Commerce will be the fitting choice for businesses who are just starting out or brick-and-mortar shops looking to expand their reach. 

We will start with the clean and sharp interface that Big Commerce provides, The straightforward interface which makes it possible for you to customize and edit your online store with such ease, you won’t need any coding knowledge.

This eCommerce platform offers an intuitive dashboard divided into their respective categories, making it easier to add the products as well as find orders, and customer info easily. 

If it wasn’t just that, Big Commerce will provide some built-in marketing settings, analytics, and other modules where you can optimize your store’s appearance. To change the appearance of your online store you can try our Big Commerce themes that give your store an aesthetically pleasing look to enchant users. 

In terms of price, Big Commerce offers 4 pricing plans starting from $29.95 per month, one thing worth mentioning BigCommerce doesn’t charge a per-transaction fee in addition to their monthly fees. 

Square is the ultimate eCommerce platform for building brands and businesses to extend and surpass normal commerce capabilities. Anyone can sell with Square, it’s as simple as creating an account, setting up your store, and begin taking up payments wherever they are. 

Square presents a simple way of doing eCommerce. Once you sign up with Square you will get a basic looking yet highly functional online store that’s intuitive and straightforward. You can locate all your order under one dashboard as well as track customers, all from one place. 

With Square, you will get a free URL and hosting as well as inventory management and stocking, responsive web design, and more. When we talk about design, Square is a bit more conservative than other options we have presented. 

You will need to design your store from scratch with the options and tools available as opposed to having pre-made templates that are ready to be used in just a matter of minutes. Click on Edit Website to get started and from there begin unleashing the creativity of yours or hire a designer, 

You can add your products right from the dashboard and write their descriptive information. Both the Square Dashboard and Online Square Dashboard will be in sync making it easier to track orders and customers and respond to their inquiries even when offline. 

Ecwid is another great free option for those looking to save up on their beginnings. Ecwid has a great free plan that allows you to start selling products for free and then will start charging $15 per month after your 0 sold physical products. The price is reasonable and if you wish to extend the functionality of your online store you can always do that via apps, again an added value to your budget. 

What’s great about Ecwid is that is fully compatible with all the popular CMS and will offer full integration with your existing website whether that be established on WordPress, Drupal, Weebly, or other platforms alike. 

You can sell anywhere with Ecwid, that made possible with the in-sync eCommerce platform that Ecwid provides allowing you to sell across a website, social media, or even huge marketplaces like Amazon. 

We have included a myriad of options for eCommerce platforms, and Ecwid is another platform that is a plugin tailor-made to add it to an existing website and unlock all the wondrous features it provides.  Ecwid is perfect for small businesses that are experiencing growth and want to expand the capabilities of their online business. 

Volusion is yet another eCommerce platform to provide the creation of online stores and shopping cart software, but that’s about it. You will need hosting for your website, and if you were wishing to create a complimentary blog on the side for your online store, Volusion doesn’t support that, you would need to turn to a third-party extension for that. 

Volusion will give you the advantages of a drag and drop page builder allowing you to customize and configure your online store. You can find themes to elevate the design of your themes, but the quantity is low with free themes, although you can find other amazing premium themes available. 

In terms of payment, Volusion uses a built-in feature to receive and proceed with payments, also all the transactions are PCI certified and secure with additional integrations with Amazon Pay, PayPal, and Stripe.

The pricing plans start from $29 per month. The first two plans will have a restricted number of products that you can sell.

Even if you are a beginner in the online world Volusion makes it easier as it provides walk-through lessons that can be found on the dashboard, making it a better experience for every user. 

3D Cart is one of the oldest eCommerce platforms founded in 1997, back in the early days of eCommerce. 3D Cart has its share of customers and amazing features that it provides.

Most of the tools included in 3D Cart are built-in, you have features like mobile selling, the ability to sell your products on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, all the main social media platforms really, as well as Amazon, Google, Shopzilla, and more. With 3D Cart, you can merchandise both physical and digital goods. 

The Dashboard interface might not be the most intuitive one, as for novices, it can be a little tricky learning the ABC-s of 3D Cart, but it’s still manageable. And to your good fortune, 3D Cart gathers around a large community of developers willing to help you work your way around the platform. 

The pricing method is similarly divided into plans and limited to the volumes of the sales. But on the other hand, all five plans do not get added transaction costs and each plan includes a domain, API access, professional support, Facebook store, and much more. You do get a 15-day trial period to see if 3D Cart is the right fit for you and your business 

Final Words

As we end this article we made sure to include only the best eCommerce platforms that will be suitable for your business, allowing you to create outstanding online stores that excel in functionality as well as design. Not all platforms are suitable for all businesses, and in order to make the right decision, you will need to take into consideration the criteria we set out at the beginning of tis artcile to have a more clear-headed decision. 

If we’d had to conclude this article, the best platforms for small businesses and beginners are WooCommerce, Squarespace, and Wix. They all provided the best of both worlds, unmatched design capabilities, and advanced eCommerce features for capable online stores. 

If you have a large business that is thriving, the best eCommerce platforms would be Shopify and Big Commerce. Both of the platforms will provide excellent service and will help your business how larger with the amazing features they provide. Shopify is an eCommerce driven platform that will provide capability and functionality above all. 

Nevertheless, the right decision will be up to yo and what your business needs, you must take into account other important factors like budget and business goals. See what eCommerce platform will be able to offer you all the features you need at a reasonable price. At the end of the day why pay for extraordinary features that you won’t use at all. 

By Snowy Smith

Director of product design, Freehand

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