Whether you are looking to get into the world of online retail or taking an existing business to the digital playing field, you will be pleasantly surprised to find many eCommerce options available to you.
However, not all eCommerce platform providers are the same. It’s best to understand your business’ needs first and choose the provider which best suits you.
For newcomers, the differences may often be hard to find or understand. This breakdown of 5 of the leading eComm builders should put things in order, and help you make the right choice for your business.
Wix is possibly the most versatile eCommerce platform, providing hundreds of free themes and customization options.
Pricewise, Wix is pretty competitive, starting at $17/month for a Basic Business plan and $35/month for the Business VIP plan. Many other eCommerce providers offer business plans costing hundreds or thousands of dollars per month, so for a larger business Wix definitely provides the best value.
As Wix is, first and foremost, a website provider, Wix Stores works solely with Wix websites. But the number of features provided covers everything a business may ever require, like a business email address, or domain registration, making it a complete one-stop-shop.
Some of the key features and add-ons include a free domain, SEO Wiz and Google Analytics, easy to make promotional videos and easy integration and management of additional content such as a blog.
The most basic feature of any eCommerce provider is transactions. With Wix you can accept all major forms of online payment, 100% commission-free.
No modern eCommerce business is complete without Facebook integration, which is freely available with Wix.
One of the biggest questions these days is dropshipping and now, Wix based shops can easily integrate with Modalyst, one of the leading dropshipping platforms.
Shopify is synonymous with eCommerce, and they’ve been around seemingly forever in digital terms.
What used to be one of the most budget-friendly platforms has recently changed things up. Plans now start at $29/month and up to $299/month for larger businesses. For extremely small businesses Shopify does provide a Lite plan for $9/month, with limited functionality.
Shopify does not provide a free domain, requiring you to purchase one, either from them, or from any other domain provider. Domain names usually cost around $10/year. But if you already have a WordPress website, Shopify will be able to fully integrate with it.
Like Wix, Shopify comes with a blog feature and built-in app store with a large array of first and third party add-ons, to fulfill any need your business may have. Where things differ a bit is in the design compartment. While Shopify does offer many theme options, only 8 are currently free to use. The rest of the themes range from $140 to $180.
When it comes to transactions, Shopify collects 0.5%-2.9% of any credit card or any other form of payment other than Shopify Payments.
Fit for the 2020’s, Shopify fully integrates with both Facebook and Instagram, as well as leading dropshipping platforms such as Modalyst.
BigCommerce offers a similar experience to that provided by Shopify, with plans starting $29.95/month up to $249.95/month. All of these plans allow for customization, but the number of free themes is limited here as well, with only a dozen to choose from.
BigCommerce also requires a separately purchased domain name and can integrate with a new or existing WordPress website.
Like the platforms previously covered, BigCommerce too provides a wide array of first and third party apps to enhance your store and customize it to your needs and a blog feature to introduce additional content and boost SEO efforts.
Purchases made on BigCommerce do not entail a transaction fee.
Finally, like Wix and Shopify, BigCommerce too integrates with Facebook and Instagram, as well as dropshipping platform Modalyst.
Volusion is another seasoned eCommerce provider. Like other platforms, it offers plans ranging from $29/month to $299/month. These plans differ in their functionality, but they also introduce a product limit.
The basic plan, for example, allows up to 100 products and yearly sales of $50,000. This may not sound like a very strict limitation for a newer business, but it may put Volusion at a disadvantage for larger ones.
The customization options here are pretty standard, with several free themes as well as a large number of paid themes costing $180.
To run an online store with Volusion, you need to acquire a domain name as well as an SSL certificate, which can add up to a couple hundred dollars a year.
A couple plus points include their lack of transaction fees, drag-and-drop site building and easy to use dashboard to manage your sales, inventory and marketing. The platform also offers full integration with Facebook and Instagram.
It should be noted that Volusion is a physical goods platform and does not currently support the sale of digital products. It also, unfortunately, does not include blogging capabilities, which can be a setback when it comes to SEO.
As opposed to most other eCommerce providers, Volusion has its own dropshipping platform. Like Modalyst, it connects merchants with suppliers, letting you choose from thousands of products to dropship. Volusion’s platform differs in one aspect though- all products are shipped from the United States. Depending on where your customer base is located, this could either be great, or a serious flaw.
WooCommerce differentiates itself from the pack by being solely available for WordPress sites. It’s a free open source platform, so it’s best suited to programmers or those looking to dive deeper into customization, as opposed to an easily accessible platform.
As previously stated, customization options are numerous. But if you choose to settle on a premade theme, there are 3 free options, as well as several paid templates starting at $39.
WooCommerce does not really start you off with everything you need. Rather, most functions need to be added as extensions. This includes freely available payment options such as PayPal Checkout or Amazon Pay. Additional free extensions include fundamentals such as Facebook and Mailchimp.
Some rather basic WordPress extensions are quite costly though, like the ability to export customer orders as a CSV file, which requires a $79 plugin.
WooCommerce, like Volusion, has its own dropshipping scheme, requiring an additional extension priced at $49 for a single site.
Most platforms offer a similar experience, with the real differences being in the details. While some offer easy access, like Wix or Shopify, others may cater better to businesses with specific characteristics.
For example, if you already run a WordPress site and are technically savvy, WooCommerce may be a good fit. On the other hand, if you’re looking to dropship products globally, maybe a platform like Shopify may work better for you.
Choosing the right platform for your business is all about understanding your specific needs, capabilities, and restrictions. If you define these clearly, finding the right platform should be pretty simple.