The Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce Platforms for Small Business 2017

Written by Jon on 4th June 2017

Whether you’re just starting out or looking to migrate your site to something new (in which case check out our guide to migration), you need to find the ecommerce platform that suits your business.

There are a huge range of ecommerce solutions available, and trawling through each of them to find which features you need and work for you can be difficult. So we’ve done the hard work for you!

We’ve looked through 14 of the top ecommerce platforms and analyzed all of the features for you. From price, integrations and features we’ve covered everything to help you decide which platform to choose.

Want to compare specific features, skip ahead:

Costs & Hosting

Possibly the most important aspect of choosing your ecommerce solutions is knowing what it’s gonna cost you. That’s not just looking at how much the solution itself costs but the other costs involved such as hosting and storage.

Prices can vary from free to $15,000 per year depending on the platform; depending on our budget that will immediately rule out some platforms. That can also be without considering the cost of actually hosting your site too, which could vary from an extra $5 to an extra $100 per month.

Deciding how you’d like to host your site is another key aspect that can affect costs. Hosted or SaaS sites are generally a lot simpler to setup and manage, with little technical skill required.

If you’re not technical, self-hosted or deployed platforms might require you to work with a developer to get setup and for ongoing maintenance. However, they do tend to offer a lot more potential for customization because of this.

Finally, consider the level of support included. For some of the ecommerce solutions below, the only support available is that of the online community which can be tricky if you have limited technical skills and advice around you.

Platform Pricing Free trial? Saas or Deployed Cost to Host Storage Support Included
magento Community Edition Free deployed $100-$200 Community
magentoEnterprise $15,000 per year deployed $500/m unlimited Yes
shopify_logo_black $29 – $499 a month yes saas non unlimited Yes
logo_0003_x-home-5-woocommerce-logo Free deployed $20-$50/m unlimited Community
BigCommerce-logo-dark $29 – $250 per month yes saas none 3gb – unlimited Yes
spreelogo Free deployed $20-$30/m Community
volusion $15 – $135/m yes saas none unlimited Yes
Print $20 – $30 per month ? none 20gb Yes
squarespace-logo-stacked-black $30 – $40 per month yes saas none unlimited Yes
opencart-logo Free deployed $5/m Community
big_cartel_logo $9.99 – $29.99 SAAS  – Unlimited Yes
logo_lemonstand $19 – $199 Yes SAAS none Unlimited Yes
3dcart $29 – $229 Yes SAAS none Unlimited Yes
spark-business-home $24.95 – $299 SAAS none Upto 50Gb yes

Design

Particularly for new sites, using the range of templates available to get your site ready for sales is the simplest way to get started. All of the tools we’ve researched here included free templates for you to use, with most of them customizable.

If you’re after something a little more unique, there’s also paid templates available. With prices starting from $10 and up, you can find something that fits the personality of your website.

Though it should go without saying these days, all of these platforms were mobile friendly so that you’ll be able to serve your mobile-only customers.

Platform Free Website Templates Paid Templates Cost of paid templates Mobile Friendly
magento Community Edition 500+ yes $10-$300 yes
magento Enterprise 500+ yes $10-$300 yes
shopify_logo_black 20+ yes $80-$180 yes
logo_0003_x-home-5-woocommerce-logo 14+ yes $39 yes
BigCommerce-logo-dark 115+ yes $39-$139 yes
spreelogoCommerce 500+ no yes
volusion 35+ yes $180 yes
Print 40+ no yes
squarespace-logo-stacked-black  60+ no yes
opencart-logo 280+ yes $10-$600 yes
big_cartel_logo 10+ no yes
logo_lemonstand 20+ no Included Yes
3dcart 20+ no Included Yes
spark-business-home 50+ Yes $95 Yes

Integrations

As we know very well here at neatly, people like yourself are using more and more cloud applications to help you run your business. It’s super important then for everything to be able to integrate your platform with these tools so that you’re making the most of your data.

A lot of the platforms we covered feature their own marketplace to list all of the apps that they integrate with. If you’re just starting out, it’s a great place to look to see which tools work with your chosen platform so that you everything works together smoothly.

Platform Social Media Integration Facebook Shopping/Amazon/Ebay integration Marketplace? Add-ons 
magento Community Edition paid extension paid extension https://marketplace.magento.com yes
magento Enterprise yes paid extension https://marketplace.magento.com yes
shopify_logo_black paid extension amazon/facebook apps.shopify.com yes
logo_0003_x-home-5-woocommerce-logo paid extension paid extension yes yes
BigCommerce-logo-dark yes paid extension yes yes
spreelogoCommerce free extension no no yes
volusion paid extension all 3 https://www.volusion.com/marketplace yes
Print yes facebook http://www.wix.com/app-market/main yes
squarespace-logo-stacked-black yes no See Support yes
opencart-logo yes paid extension https://help.bigcartel.com/apps/ yes
big_cartel_logo Yes Facebook https://help.bigcartel.com/apps/ Yes
logo_lemonstand Yes No Via Zapier yes
3dcart Yes Yes No No
spark-business-home Yes Facebook https://www.sparkpay.com/ecommerce-apps Yes

Payment

As an ecommerce store, another hugely important element is payment. All our platforms bar one included a payment gateway within their service such as Paypal, Stripe or Sagepay.

As a retailer you’re also required to be PCI certified to help protect your customers card details. While hosted solutions such as Shopify and BigCommerce have included this within your subscription, a self hosted solution like WooCommerce and Magento will require you to take the necessary steps to make sure you’re PCI compliant.

As well as protecting your customers, it’s important to protect yourself, so Fraud Protection is a worthwhile feature.

Platform Abandoned Cart Payment Gateways included Subscriptions Fraud protection PCI certified POS App
magento Community Edition paid extension 5+ paid extension paid extension no paid extension
magento Enterprise yes yes paid extension paid extension yes paid extension
shopify_logo_black paid extension 50+ paid extension yes yes Yes
logo_0003_x-home-5-woocommerce-logo paid extension yes paid extension paid extension no yes
BigCommerce-logo-dark paid extension yes paid extension yes yes Yes
spreelogoCommerce free extension no yes free extension yes no
volusion yes* yes but only US no paid extra yes
Print no yes no part of extensions no No
squarespace-logo-stacked-black yes yes no no yes No
opencart-logo paid extension 50+ paid extension no no no
big_cartel_logo no 5+ no No no Yes
logo_lemonstand No 95+ Yes No Yes No
3dcart Yes 100+ No No yes Yes
spark-business-home Yes 50+ Yes Paid Extension yes No

Other Features

Payments and Integrations won’t be the only things you need from an ecommerce platform, extra features such as Multi Language, Real Time Shipping and APIs may all be useful to your business too. We’ve covered the most obvious ones below.

Platform Multi Language Real Time Shipping Responsive Admin Panel Dropshipping Open Source API Enterprise Edition Inventory
magentoCommunity Edition yes paid extension free extension paid extension yes yes See Magento Enterprise Yes
magento Enterprise yes opencart-logo yes paid extension yes yes this is it yes
shopify_logo_black yes yes yes yes no yes Yes shopify plus yes
logo_0003_x-home-5-woocommerce-logo free extension paid extension paid extension paid extension yes yes no yes
BigCommerce-logo-dark no paid extension yes paid extension no yes yes yes
spreelogoCommerce no paid extension no paid extension yes yes no no
volusion no no yes paid extension no yes* yes yes
Print free extension no yes no no no no no
squarespace-logo-stacked-black no no mobile app no no yes no yes
opencart-logo no paid extension yes no yes yes no no
big_cartel_logo no no Yes No No No No yes
logo_lemonstand No Yes No Themes Yes Yes No
3dcart No Yes Yes No No Yes Yes No
spark-business-home No Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No

Sales & Marketing

There’s no doubt that when it comes to getting your store out there and increasing your revenue, you’ll need more tools than are built into your ecommerce store. However, every little help, particularly for small businesses, is welcome.

Platform Blog Customer Reviews Loyalty Program Affiliate Program SEO Customer Segments Upselling & Cross Selling Advanced customised reporting
magento

Community Edition

no yes paid extension no paid extension paid extension yes paid extension
magento Enterprise no yes yes paid extension yes yes yes yes
shopify_logo_black yes yes paid extension yes yes paid extension paid extension yes*
logo_0003_x-home-5-woocommerce-logo yes yes paid extension paid extension yes paid extension yes yes
BigCommerce-logo-dark no yes paid extension paid extension yes paid extension free extensions yes
spreelogoCommerce no free extension paid extension free extension yes yes free extension no
volusion no yes* yes yes yes paid extension paid extension no
Print yes yes paid extension no yes no no No
squarespace-logo-stacked-black yes no no no yes yes no no
opencart-logo yes yes paid extension paid extension yes no yes no
big_cartel_logo Yes yes no no Yes no yes No
logo_lemonstand Yes Yes No No Yes No Yes yes
3dcart Yes Yes No No Yes No Yes Yes
spark-business-home Yes Yes No No Yes No Yes Yes

Which platform should you choose?

As I haven’t used every platform out there, it would be difficult to choose a particular platform to recommend, plus a lot of it will come down to your individual needs.

If you’re looking to manage it all yourself and have little technical experience, a hosted platform such as Shopify may be your best bet.

Have you got any experience of these platforms? Which would you recommend? Let us know below.


Also published on Medium.

  • Jacob Chodoriwsky

    You missed out on Weebly! Brilliant platform with great integrations and recently added fully-integrated email marketing. http://www.weebly.com is the platform we use for our adventure strategy board game, Stratos! See https://www.stratosgame.com to see a sample of what Weebly can do!