Pros & Cons of the Top 5 Ecommerce Platforms

By January 27, 2017eCommerce

From ease of use to offered themes and everything in between, we break down the good and the bad on the top 5 ecommerce platforms (in no specific order) so you can successfully start and run your own ecommerce store.

1. WooCommerce

screenshot of WooCommerce platform

Powering 39% of the world’s online stores (according to their website), it’s clear WooCommerce is liked and used by many in your same shoes, which is a good sign for you.

Pros

  • Free WordPress plugin
  • Easy to use if you’re familiar with WordPress
  • Able to use basically any WordPress theme you want (thousands to choose from)
  • Built-in payments via PayPal and Stripe, while also accepting checks, bank transfers and cash on delivery payments
  • Unlimited products and product categories
  • Hundreds of plugins available
  • No limitations to how you can monitor your store
  • You have total control over your data
  • Offers various plugins to help your site be better optimized for SEO

Cons

  • As an open source software it’s free, but you have to pay third-party sites to actually run your ecommerce store (pay for hosting, SSL certificate and domain).
  • The process of setting it up can take a few hours, depending on your web knowledge. You have to get a domain name, sign up for a hosting account, install WordPress and then install a WordPress theme before you can install the WooCommerce plugin.
  • File storage is limited by your web host

2. Shopify

screenshot of Shopify platformBased on current popularity, Shopify is the clear winner amongst its ecommerce platform peers.

Ecommerce platforms popularity comparison graph[Screenshot from ecommerce-platforms.com]

So what makes Shopify the “it” platform right now? And what are its imperfections that so many are able to overlook? Let’s take a look.

Pros

  • Easy to set up (seriously, you can be done in minutes)
  • Offers more than 100 high-quality, fashionably sleek themes
  • Cheap, straightforward pricing for new businesses ($29/month for the basic option)
  • Can try the platform for free for 14 days
  • Offers numerous free features, i.e. unlimited file storage, social media integration, unlimited number of products, daily backups, blog module, site stats, product reports and more
  • Can use it online and offline
  • Allows for various payment options, i.e. PayPal, Stripe, bank deposits and cash on delivery
  • Known for its superior customer care, 24/7 access to a customer adviser

Cons

  • Only about 20 of their store templates are free. The others can run as high as $180.
  • Advanced Shopify option costs $299/month
  • If you don’t use Shopify Payment, you get charged an additional transaction fee on each sale.
  • Shopify, not you, controls your ecommerce store and site’s data
  • Uses liquid markup language, meaning system customizations are possible, just for additional costs

3. BigCommerce

screenshot of Bigcommerce platformBigCommerce merchants have a 28% annual growth rate, about 2 times the industry average (according to BigCommerce’s site), and works with big-name companies like Toyota and Camelbak. See why these businesses and others trust their company with BigCommerce.

Pros

  • No hosting, update or maintenance expenses
  • Not charged a transaction fee
  • Clear dashboard and direction to easily build your site in a few, short minutes
  • Offers unlimited products, bandwidth and staff accounts
  • Provides a comprehensive list of built-in features, i.e. coupons, newsletters, tax system, customized shipping, analytics and more
  • Very SEO-friendly
  • Pricing is similar to others, with their standard plan costing $29.95/month
  • Receive customer support through phone, email, live chat or the forum

Cons

  • Lack of free themes compared to other platforms
  • Recurring billing isn’t built right into the platform
  • Annual limit on sales volume with each plan

4. Magento

screenshot of Magento platformAround 300 stores currently use Magento, like Coca-Cola and Burger King. It’s a great platform for enterprise-level businesses, but also offers perks for new businesses wanting to grow.

Pros

  • Seamless user experience
  • Scalability
  • Open source platform, meaning there’s a lot you can customize
  • Offers thousands of apps and extensions, including a free social extension so you can sell on social media
  • No charge to download the software
  • No transaction fees
  • Allows for an unlimited number of products
  • Offers more than 100 free themes
  • 100% SEO-friendly

Cons

  • Being an open source platform, it can make customization complex, so you might have to hire a good developer, unless you’re really tech-savvy
  • Self-hosted so you have to find and pay for a hosting provider and domain name
  • Doesn’t offer access to a 24/7 support person, but there are support forms you can check out

5. Volusion

screenshot of Volusion softwareVolusion is known to help out smaller startup ecommerce companies. Read on to see if it offers what you need to succeed.

Pros

  • Only costs $15/month for their mini plan
  • Can try it for free for 14 days
  • No transaction fees
  • Good marketing features
  • Intuitive interface
  • Simple frontend
  • Responsive design
  • Social media options so you can sell and share online
  • Can set up a customer loyalty program
  • Can integrate to sell on Amazon and eBay as well
  • Offers 24/7 support through different formats

Cons

  • Not too many awesome design options (28 free themes, 88 paid ones)
  • Really need coding knowledge if you’re going to change the design or layout of any of your site pages
  • Limited add-ons
  • Restricted bandwidth (1GB to 35GB based on plan) and has overage fees
  • Limited number of products on 3 of their 4 plans

Knowing what your shop’s goals are, what you need and what you can live without, and using our helpful pro-con list, you can decide which ecommerce platform is the best fit for your business.

About Laurel Teuscher

Laurel is a digital marketing manager at Stryde. Armed with a Masters in Information Science, she is basically a walking Google—if she can't find it, she assures you that whatever it is doesn't exist. When she decides that she's had enough of work, she's usually working through her stack of books, preferably next to a pool or beach (in her native California).

Leave a Reply