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9 Best Ecommerce Platforms to Build Your Online Store in 2018

Best ecommerce platform

There’s a lot of work that goes into setting up an online store. You have to process payments, deal with clients, and manage inventory. However, the first hurdle you need to deal with is choosing which platform you’re going to use. If you pick the best ecommerce platform, dealing with inventory and processing payments should be much easier.

In this article, we’ll dive deep and discuss everything you need to pick the top platform for your store, starting from:

And in case you’re looking start an online store, all of the above-mentioned scripts can be installed with one mouse click on our web hosting plans!

Time is money though, so let’s get right to business.

What Features Should You Look For in an Ecommerce Platform?

Ecommerce is a great way to make money online. It refers to online stores and the act of selling products or services on the internet. It doesn’t matter if you sell subscriptions, physical products, or even virtual items, as it all falls under the banner of ecommerce.

Any ecommerce platform worth its salt will include inventory management options, enable you to process payments, and provide you with sales reports. However, that’s just the basics when it comes to ecommerce. Here are some other features you should keep an eye out for if you’re looking for the best ecommerce platform:

  • The ability to set up product categories. If you’re selling more than one type of item, you need to keep things organized.
  • Product page customization options. You should be able to create unique pages for each product that contains comprehensive information and look great.
  • Sales and discount functionality. Customers love sales and they’re an excellent way to drum up additional business.
  • Support for multiple payment processors. A lot of people like to use their preferred payment processors, so offering multiple options is an excellent idea.
  • Analytics information. The more you know about your customers, the more you can optimize your store to increase conversions.

These days, it’s easier than ever to create an online store, but that doesn’t mean all ecommerce platforms are made equal. For example, the best ecommerce platform for startups might not be ideal for a one-man operation.

With that in mind, it’s important you shop around to find the best ecommerce platform, which we’ll look at next.

9 of the Best Ecommerce Platforms Overviewed

We have a lot of ground to cover here. There are plenty of options, each with their own pros and cons. In this section, we’ll help you pick the best ecommerce platform based on your unique needs. Finally, keep in mind these are all self-hosted ecommerce platforms, so you’ll also need to look for a hosting provider!

1. WooCommerce

The WooCommerce homepage.

Unlike the rest of the entries in this roundup, WooCommerce is not a standalone ecommerce platform. It’s a plugin that runs on WordPress, the world’s most popular Content Management System (CMS).

WooCommerce does a fantastic job of adding ecommerce functionality to the platform. It’s one of our favorite ecommerce options because the WordPress dashboard is intuitive enough for beginners to pick up quickly. Mix that with extensive and user-friendly ecommerce functionality and you have a winner in your hands.

WooCommerce can handle all the basics, from publishing items for sale to processing payments. Plus, you can augment the plugin’s functionality using dedicated extensions, of which there are hundreds available. For example, there are options to integrate nearly every payment processor available and other types of platforms.

Pros:

  • Use the WordPress CMS to launch your online store.
  • Customize your store using dedicated WooCommerce extensions and themes.
  • Get support from WordPress’ massive user community.

Cons:

  • Adding advanced functionality usually requires multiple extensions.

If you’re looking to set up a simple online store, it’s hard to beat WooCommerce’s ease of use. However, scaling the platform can require several extensions. Plus there are alternative WordPress ecommerce plugins that you can try.

2. PrestaShop

The PrestaShop homepage.

Unlike WooCommerce, PrestaShop is a dedicated ecommerce platform. Its goal is enabling you to set up a beautiful online store as quickly as possible, and it succeeds in that aspect.

On top of being easy to use, PrestaShop packs an astounding number of features. It includes powerful product management functionality, multiple payment options, customizable checkouts, and more. It even enables you to stay on top of taxes.

Aside from its built-in functionality, you can also extend the platform using plugins and themes. In our experience, though, the platform pretty much includes everything you need out of the box. It even includes analytics and customer support without needing any additional modules.

Pros:

  • Advanced product management settings.
  • Multiple payment processing options.
  • Customize your checkout experience.
  • Use analytics to get information on your customer’s behavior.
  • Take care of support queries right within the platform.
  • Stay on top of your product’s taxes.

Cons:

  • There’s a bit of a learning curve to grasp the many features.

As you might have noticed, we’re big fans of PrestaShop. We’d go as far as to say is the best ecommerce platform for beginners if you’re not using WordPress. They provide two very different experiences, though, so it’s worth testing both of them to see which one you prefer.

3. Magento

The Magento homepage.

Magento is another name you hear a lot when people talk about finding the best ecommerce platform. Unlike our previous picks, Magento mainly targets larger-scale businesses.

When it comes to flexibility, Magento comes far ahead of the competition in the ecommerce field. It’s a powerful platform that enables you to create small and large online stores. However, you pretty much need to have some web development experience if you want to use it.

The platform is not the most user-friendly. However, it makes up for it with its wealth of features. For example, it’s built with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in mind, it’s highly secure, and it also enables you to use themes and plugins.

Pros:

  • Incredibly scalable ecommerce platform that’s perfect for large online stores.
  • Built with SEO and security in mind.
  • Supports multiple currencies and tax rates.
  • Integrates with almost any payment processor you want.

Cons:

  • The platform has a steep learning curve.
  • It can be tough to use if you don’t have web development experience.

In our opinion, Magento is the best ecommerce platform for startups. It offers a lot of flexibility, all the ecommerce features you need, and it’s a perfect fit for companies that have in-house developers. However, it’s not such a good option for beginners or if you’re looking to set up a simple store.

4. OpenCart

The OpenCart homepage.

The best way to describe OpenCart is to say it’s right between WooCommerce and PrestaShop in terms of power. It offers a lot more ecommerce features out of the box than the former, but it lags a bit behind the latter.

Where OpenCart shines is with its dashboard experience. Its intuitive, modern-looking, and it provides you with all the information you need to stay on top of your store’s performance at a glance.

Moreover, customizing your OpenCart store is easy thanks to the platform’s module system. It’s not as intuitive as modern page builders, but it’s easy enough to pick up even if you’ve never created an online store before.

Pros:

  • Very easy to use in comparison with other platforms such as PrestaShop and Magento.
  • Built-in SEO features.
  • Supports extensions and themes.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t offer as many built-in features as some platforms.
  • A lot of OpenCart themes look a bit outdated.

OpenCart is an excellent option if you’re looking for a platform that’s easy to use and that simplifies the page-building process. It might not pack as many features as other ecommerce platforms, but it’s more than enough for a small business to thrive.

5. AbanteCart

The AbanteCart homepage.

AbanteCart is a little-known ecommerce platform that offers a lot of great features. It’s not the flashiest option if we’re talking about interfaces, but it is very easy to pick up for a complete beginner.

One of our favorite aspects of AbanteCart is how easy it is to add new products to your store using its dashboard. It’s a two-step process that takes only a few minutes, and the platform provides you with tooltips to help you out at each step of the way.

This open-source platform also supports themes and extensions. Its collections are not particularly large, but you’re still provided decent options, even if the platform could certainly benefit from more modern themes.

Pros:

  • Set up an online store quickly thanks to an intuitive dashboard.
  • Add new products in a matter of minutes.
  • Built-in SEO functionality.
  • Supports plugins and themes.

Cons:

  • The AbanteCart community is rather small.
  • The number of themes and plugins is a bit limited.

If you’re looking for an easy-to-use ecommerce platform, AbanteCart is an excellent option. Despite its lack of variety when it comes to themes, you have some decent options to choose from, which wouldn’t look out of place for a modern online store.

6. osCommerce

The osCommerce homepage.

osCommerce shares a lot of similarities with other ecommerce platforms we’ve checked out so far. It’s easy to set up and you don’t need any experience with ecommerce platforms to get your first store up and running.

When you first boot up osCommerce, you’ll notice its dashboard looks a bit dated. Despite that fact, it packs a lot of standard and advanced functionality, more or less at the same level than AbanteCart.

osCommerce also has the distinct advantage of having a very active community, with thousands of free add-ons and themes. That gives you an edge when it comes to customizing your store.

Pros:

  • Setting up an online store with osCommerce is very simple.
  • The platform boasts thousands of free add-ons and themes.
  • There’s a large community of users ready to help in case you run into any errors.

Cons:

  • The platform doesn’t scale as well as we’d hope, so it’s not a good option for large stores.
  • The dashboard appears somewhat outdated.

In our experience, osCommerce performs excellently for small businesses. However, it starts to stumble once you have an extensive product catalog. In some cases, this can be due to poor hosting performance, but it seems to be a common theme with the platform.

Putting that aside, osCommerce is one of the best ecommerce platforms if you’re looking to set up a small online store.

7. CubeCart

The Cubecart homepage.

CubeCart proves that looks can be deceiving. When you first log into the platform’s dashboard, it looks pretty simple. However, you have a lot of options to play with.

The platform offers all the features you need to run a successful ecommerce store, from product management to sales tracking. However, it doesn’t stop there. You can use CubeCart to send basic newsletters to your customers, which is a fantastic way to get more sales.

It’s little details like that which make CubeCart such a great platform. Another outstanding example is the basic image editing tools you can use from your admin panel. It’s no Photoshop, to be sure, but cropping and resizing your images can help you improve your product pages.

CubeCart also supports plugins and themes. There aren’t that many available options, but the platform is good enough on its own for small to medium-sized stores.

Pros:

  • Easy-to-use platform with a lot of extra features.
  • Send newsletters to your past customers.
  • Edit your images from your admin screen.
  • Get access to extensions to customize your store.

Cons:

  • The selection of extensions isn’t anything to write home about.

We walked away pleasantly surprised from CubeCart. This ecommerce platform offers a lot of quality-of-life features that other similar software don’t. However, since it doesn’t provide that many extensions, we would primarily recommend it for small businesses.

8. Open Real Estate

The Open Real Estate homepage.

The final entry in our list of the best ecommerce platforms is a bit different from the others we’ve covered so far. As the name gives away, Open Real Estate is all about creating your real estate website.

With Open Real Estate, you can add listings for rent or for sale in multiple currencies. Plus, the platform includes powerful search functionality that enables potential customers to sort through your properties.

As you might expect, you can extend the platform’s functionality using modules and themes. While most modules are premium, there are plenty of free and professional-looking theme options available.

Pros:

  • Create your own real estate website.
  • Put up properties for sale or for rent in multiple properties.
  • Set up individual product pages for each property.
  • Include a search feature to enable visitors to look through your listings.
  • Use modules and themes to customize your website.

Cons:

  • Most module options aren’t free.
  • It’s a very specialized platform, so it only works for real estate websites.

Real estate ecommerce platforms are a rarity and hiring someone to create a website that packs all the functionality we mentioned earlier would cost a fortune. With that in mind, using this platform is an easy choice if you want to try your hand at real estate.

9. Joomla!

Using Joomla as an ecommerce platform

While Joomla usually ends up in a list of top content managent systems, you can actually use it make an online store. All you have to do is install an extension, similarly to how you setup WooCoomerce with WordPress.

Based on community reviews, J2Store is the best free extension to do the job. But there are other options to consider, however, some of them are paid.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up and maintain
  • Multiple free ecommerce extension available
  • Lets you add products the same way you publish posts

Cons:

  • Some free extensions are very limited
  • May lack the functionality compared to a full-fledged ecommerce platform

Overall, Joomla is simple to use and learn. And it’s one of the rivals of WordPress and WooCommerce combination.

Conclusion

These days, setting up an online store is much easier than ever before. The best ecommerce platforms will enable you to get an online store up and running in a matter of hours. In our opinion, WooCommerce is the best ecommerce platform for small business, but there’s plenty of other options depending on your requirements. As such, be sure to check out the rest of our picks to find the best ecommerce platform for you.

What do you think is the best ecommerce platform at the moment? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!

About the author

Will Morris

Will Morris is a staff writer at WordCandy. When he's not writing about WordPress, he likes to gig his stand-up comedy routine on the local circuit.

2 Comments

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  • Nice overview! There are surely a lot of options to pick from.

    I’m actually in the process of planning my first online business. Your shared hosting plans seem like a nice place to begin. What do you think is the best ecommerce platform for me?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hello, Greg.

      If you’re just starting out, I think the combination of WordPress+WooCommerce is the best choice. It has lots of guides available and does not have a huge learning curve. You can also implement the most important features with free plugins, which is great if you’re starting with a smaller budget.

      If you have any more questions, just drop me another line! 😉

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