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Best Ecommerce Platforms and Shopping Cart Software

by Lori FairbanksLast Modified: May 23, 2018

The Best Ecommerce Platforms and Shopping Cart Software For 2018

Choosing ecommerce software can feel overwhelming due to the abundance of companies that offer it, each with several plans and long lists of features. Adding to the confusion, some companies offer shopping cart software while others call themselves ecommerce platforms; some are open source and others are hosted. What's the difference, and which one do you need?  

If you already have a website and want to add an online store to it, you want shopping cart software. If you want to create an online store website from scratch, though, an ecommerce platform is likely a better fit. Open source programs are great options if you're a developer or you have one on staff; otherwise, you want hosted ecommerce software because it's easy to set up and use, and it includes web hosting, a shopping cart and tech support.  

Our ecommerce software recommendations include 3dcart, Shopify, Volusion and GoDaddy. Below, you can read more about these companies, which features you should look for, and tips to help you save money as you select the ecommerce software that's the best fit for your business.

Best Picks

Best Ecommerce Software for Ease of Use: Volusion

For small businesses that want easy-to-use ecommerce software, Volusion is a good choice. In our testing, it was one of the easiest programs to use to create a website. Adding and editing products, text and images is straightforward, and you can also edit many items directly from the preview. After you sign up, the company offers you a direct point of contact to guide you through the process of setting up your online store, which is a helpful service for businesses creating their first website.

Several free templates are available from Volusion, or you can purchase a premium theme. The software includes a blog and integrates with WordPress. It also integrates with online stores, such as Amazon and eBay, so you can manage your sales and inventory sold through those channels in addition to sales made through your website. You can use Volusion as your credit card processor or choose from more than 35 external payment gateways, including Authorize.Net, Beanstream and PayPal.

Volusion has four plans. Mini costs $15 per month, supports 100 products and includes 1GB of bandwidth. Plus costs $35 per month, supports 1,000 products and includes 3GB of bandwidth. Pro costs $75 per month, supports 10,000 products and includes 10GB of bandwidth. Premium costs $135 per month, supports an unlimited number of products and includes 35GB of bandwidth. If you choose to pay annually rather than monthly, you receive a 10 percent discount. There aren't any additional transaction fees, but if you exceed your bandwidth, you're charged an additional $7 per gigabyte above your plan limit.

Volusion
Volusion
The Verdict

Volusion offers nearly all of the features we looked for in eCommerce software and is one of the easiest platforms to use, making this company one of the best eCommerce services available.

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Best Shopping Cart Software: 3dcart

3dcart is the best shopping cart software for small businesses because it has an impressive feature set and all its plans support an unlimited number of products, have unlimited bandwidth and storage, and include a shared SSL certificate at no additional cost. You can use this ecommerce software to add an online store to your existing website or to create a new online store website. 3dcart is easy to use and has excellent customer support that you can reach 24/7.

Four plans are available from 3dcart: It costs $29 per month for the Basic plan, $79 per month for the Plus plan and $229 for the Pro plan. If you're interested in the Enterprise plan, you can contact the company for a quote. There are no setup or transaction fees, and a discount is available if you choose to pay annually rather than monthly.

This ecommerce software is versatile, offering more than 50 templates and customization tools, including drag-and-drop capabilities that allow you to move elements around to your liking within the template. It has a built-in blog feature and also integrates with WordPress.

3dcart is compatible with more than 100 payment gateways, so you can most likely continue working with your current payment processor. Its checkout process works well on both desktop computers and mobile devices. The site is PCI compliant, and the software includes a built-in POS module.

3dcart
3dcart
The Verdict

3dcart has a full set of web-building features and a top-notch checkout platform for your customers to use. While it does not have unlimited bandwidth, it met all the criteria we deemed important for a solid online store provider.

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Best Ecommerce Software for Very Small Businesses: GoDaddy Online Store

Very small businesses that want good, basic ecommerce software should consider GoDaddy's GoCentral Online Store. Although not as advanced as some of its competitors, this user-friendly ecommerce software offers multiple integrations, and your customers will find the checkout process very easy, particularly those using mobile devices.

GoDaddy only offers one ecommerce plan for small businesses that want to create an online store. It costs $29.99 per month, based on annual payment. It comes with unlimited bandwidth and a shared SSL certificate, and it supports up to 1,500 products. You can choose from more than 20 mobile-ready templates, and mix-and-match content blocks allow you to customize your website.

The software includes tools for SEO and email marketing. It can also create a Facebook page that connects to your online store, or, if you already have social media pages, integrations are available.

You won't have as many payment gateways to choose from when you use GoDaddy for your ecommerce software, but it works with PayPal and Stripe, and allows you to accept Apple Pay. In addition to the transaction fees you pay the payment gateway, you'll pay a transaction fee to GoDaddy for each sale made through your website. Customer support is available 24/7 via phone, chat and email.

GoDaddy Online Store
GoDaddy Online Store
The Verdict

GoDaddy's eCommerce platform is not as comprehensive as other services, but it still offers a multitude of integrations and an excellent customer checkout experience. It only works with a couple of payment gateways, however, limiting your options.

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Best Ecommerce Platform : Shopify - Ecommerce Platforms & Shopping Cart Software

Shopify is the best ecommerce platform for small businesses because all its plans include unlimited bandwidth and storage, support an unlimited number of products, and include 24/7 customer support. It's also easy to use when you're creating your website, and the checkout process is intuitive for your customers.

Shopify has three main plans. Basic Shopify costs $29 per month, Shopify costs $79 per month, and Advanced Shopify costs $299 per month. Additionally, it offers Shopify Lite for $9 per month for retailers that want to add a buy button to an existing website or sell on Facebook and Messenger, and Shopify Plus for high-volume merchants that need enterprise-grade ecommerce software.

You can use Shopify Payments for your credit card processing, but this software is also compatible with more than 100 payment gateways such as PayPal, Authorize.Net and Stripe. However, if you use one of these external payment gateways, Shopify charges an additional transaction fee, which costs 0.5 to 2 percent of each sale, depending on your plan.

Shopify offers more than 25 free templates, and additional options are available for purchase. It comes with a built-in blog but also integrates with WordPress, so you can blog on the platform you prefer. One thing that's unique about Shopify is that you can also use it as your in-store POS system by adding its Retail Package to your plan, making it a great choice for small businesses that have both online and brick-and-mortar stores.

Shopify - Ecommerce Platforms & Shopping Cart Software
Shopify - Ecommerce Platforms & Shopping Cart Software
The Verdict

Shopify is one of the best eCommerce software options available with an easy-to-use platform, variety of features and unlimited storage.

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Reviews

Pricing

The cost for small business ecommerce software varies widely. Most companies charge a monthly subscription fee for their software. Some plans start as low as $10 per month, while others cost up to $300 per month. Companies typically post their pricing on their websites, along with a list of features, and offer a choice of plans. Setup fees are rare, and most companies provide their services on a month-to-month basis unless you choose an annual subscription. Here are more costs to consider as you evaluate services:  

  • Payment gateway fees:Whether you use the payment gateway provided by the ecommerce software company or one from a third-party processor, you must pay for credit card processing. For every sale you make, you'll pay a transaction fee (usually 2 to 4 percent of the sale), and there may be other fees, such as a monthly fee, monthly minimum and annual PCI compliance fee, depending on the details of your processing service.  
  • Additional transaction fees:Some ecommerce software companies charge transaction fees (usually 1 to 3 percent) for each sale made through your site.  
  • SSL certificate:Some companies include a shared SSL certificate as part of their services. Others require you to purchase your own, which costs around $100 per year.
  • Domain name: Most ecommerce software companies provide you with a domain name, though some may be subdomains. You may have to pay extra for a unique domain name.  
  • Web hosting:If you're using a shopping cart rather than an ecommerce platform, you'll need to set up an account with a web host.  
  • Premium or custom templates:Although every ecommerce software company offers free templates, most also offer nicer or bespoke designs for an additional charge.

Negotiation Tips

Ecommerce software companies are upfront with their pricing and plan details; typically, only large businesses with high-volume sales would qualify for custom rates. However, closely examining the following considerations can help you make sure you're getting a good deal.

  • Are discounts available?Some companies offer a discount if you pay annually rather than monthly. Discounts may be also offered to nonprofit organizations.
  • Does the plan include unlimited bandwidth?The best plans have unlimited bandwidth and file storage. If the company limits bandwidth, it's important to make sure you choose a plan that has enough bandwidth to support the traffic on your site so you're not surprised to see overage charges when you get your bill. 
  • Is there a sales cap on your plan? Some companies require you to upgrade to a higher plan once you reach a certain sales volume. For example, 3dcart requires you to upgrade to its Enterprise plan once your rolling 12-month sales volume hits $400,000.
  • Are security tools included? Plans that include an SSL certificate can save you money, since it costs around $100 per year to purchase it separately.
  • Does the plan include a free domain name?Some plans do, though some may be subdomain names rather than unique domain names, and it may cost extra if you want a custom domain name. If this is the case, or the company doesn't provide a domain name in its plans, you'll want to add this cost to your calculations.
  • Does the company charge transaction fees? As mentioned above, some ecommerce software providers charge transaction fees on each sale made through the platform. Keep in mind that this is in addition to the transaction fees you pay your payment gateway. For example, GoDaddy charges transaction fees, and Shopify charges them if you use a different company as your payment processor.

State of the Industry

Ecommerce software companies are making it easier for small businesses to create online stores, providing ecommerce platforms that function as one-stop shops, bundling all the technology and services you need. Additionally, the software is becoming more intuitive for non-techy business owners to use. For example, templates with drag-and-drop technology allow you to easily customize the look and feel of your online store, even if you don't have any design or website development skills. Here are three features to look for as you choose ecommerce software for your small business.  

  • Mobile optimization: The best ecommerce software providers offer mobile-compatible templates that work on both mobile and desktop browsers. This is an important feature to look for because consumers now use mobile devices more than desktop computers for searching online, according to a 2015 Google announcement, and you don't want to lose prospective customers because your site doesn't work right on their phones.  
  • Integrations:Several ecommerce software providers have app stores that make it easy to add features to your online store, such as email marketing or sales tools. They can also be used to connect your online store to the other business programs you use, such as your accounting software and POS system. This can be a particularly important feature if you have a brick-and-mortar store, allowing you to keep accurate inventory and sales data across both your online and physical locations.  
  • Social commerce: A recent report by Deloitte states that 47 percent of millennials and 19 percent of individuals in other age groups say social media influences their purchases. The best ecommerce software companies provide tools to connect your online store with your social media pages. Selling your products directly from your social media pages, such as Facebook, Pinterest and Polyvore, helps you convert interested consumers into buying customers.

What We Evaluated; What We Found

We looked for certain criteria when we reviewed the eCommerce software companies in our review. These included web-hosting tools, shopping cart and eCommerce tools, and back-office features. None of the companies in our review had any say in the results of testing.

Web Hosting Tools
All of the companies we reviewed offered web hosting in conjunction with an online store. We evaluated each platform and created an ease-of-use score based off our testers’ experiences building websites in each service. This score considered the types of editors available, such as HTML or CSS editors, as well as how easy it was to change text and images, add products, customize the templates, and complete other aspects of building and customizing a website. Volusion and Pinnacle Cart earned the highest ease-of-use scores in our comparison.

We made sure that each company in our review offers free templates that you can use when you sign up for an eCommerce plan. The number of templates available in products in our review varies from four to more than 100. Many companies also allow premium templates, which cost extra. CoreCommerce, Ashop and Pinnacle Cart do not offer premium templates but do offer to create custom templates for you for an additional cost.

Most of the eCommerce platforms in our review have different apps that you can install to help you get your store exactly where you need it to be for your business. For example, if you need to offer flash deals or special promotions, there may be a third-party app with which the platform integrates to make this possible on your website. These applications are often free, though they may sometimes cost extra depending on the software you’ve chosen and the app itself.

Cart & Checkout
We tested the cart and checkout process available from each service from the vantage point of the customer. In this score, we considered the number of steps it takes to complete checkout, the availability of guest checkout, the presence of a PayPal option, and the ease of use of shopping and checking out on a mobile device. Most of the products on our lineup earned high scores for this ease-of-use test.

We also considered services that integrate with online stores, like Amazon or eBay, and that can translate your store into languages other than English.

Customer Support
In our review, we also considered the helpfulness of the support available from each company. The support score we created considers the offerings of 24/7 support, live chat, an online support center, being welcomed and contacted by a real person, and other factors.

We looked for services with fraud detection to help protect you and your customers. We also considered a built-in POS system and available email accounts in association with your website when we ranked the services in our review.

Common Ecommerce Platform and Shopping Cart Software Questions & Answers

Have an ecommerce platform or shopping cart software question of your own?

The concept of the best is rather subjective, and it's highly dependent on the set of constraints that each individual site has. As mentioned already by others, there are free platforms such as WooCommerce and Magento. However, Magento is probably an overkill for a small business, who don't need or want the complexity that goes into having a Magento site. A case of using a jackhammer when a simple hammer will do. As a result, we deploy different cart based on understanding the parameters...

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There is an obvious answer, but before we get there, here's a tip for finding answers like this for everyone who has an ecommerce site. Set up a funnel in Google Analytics for the path through the checkout process. Then you will be able to identify exactly what page you are losing them on. If you were to do that, after you get a good number of sales, I think you might find you are losing them on the payment page. I agree with Stuart here. You can't successfully run a strictly case ecommerce...

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Here are my thoughts on the subject. For a web site the choices are WordPress which is free or something like Wix or the ones like it where you will pay a higher monthly fee but they are drag and drop. I am going to suggest WordPress. Now there are two options I can suggest. One is to go to YouTube and search for " creating a business website" and there will be lots and lots of tutorials. Find one at least an hour long. The shorter ones don't go into as much detail. Watch it once. ...

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answered

The question is what do you want to achieve in the mid to long term. If you envisage your business to grow to beyond 1 product at some point, then you can create a simple 1 Page WordPress site very cost effectively (cheap does not always equal to cost effective). You can use PayPal “Basic” system which allows you to create “Buy Now” or “Pay Now” button/buttons with pre-defined values for products or services. Generally people trust PayPal more than a Credit Card payment on some...

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As Roland mentions, there are different options depending on what you are looking for. If you already have the Infusionsoft CRM and want to continue using it, then there are options to use this in conjunction with your shopping cart if you are using the Woo Commerce shopping cart from your website. If you could clarify your main goal, we could make better recommendations.

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Finding the easiest solution for creating a Website does not insure you will accomplish your goals. How are you going to drive traffic to your site? What are you going to do to keep them coming back? Are you going to Blog? Tie in social media to develop followers? There are a lot of good, well integrated eCommerce sites where you can open a Shop and sell your product far easier than building your own Website. Even with the cost of commissions, such sites handle the sales transactions,...

Read More ▼

Map

ePages
61 Greenpoint Ave
Brooklyn, NY
ePages
CloudCraze
101 N. Wacker Dr.
Chicago, IL
CloudCraze
Squarespace Software
225 Varick Street
New York, NY
Squarespace Software
WebStudio Software
1934 Old Gallows Rd.
Vienna, VA
WebStudio Software
Clarity eCommerce Software
9442 Capital of Texas Hwy
Austin, TX
Clarity eCommerce Software
iAPPS Commerce Software
80 Blanchard Road 
Burlinton, MA
iAPPS Commerce Software
Sana Commerce Software
Van Nelleweg 1
Rotterdam,
Sana Commerce Software
Ecwid Software
144 West D Street
Encinitas, CA
Ecwid Software
X-Cart Cloud
6363 transcanadienne
Montreal,
X-Cart Cloud
Pinnacle Cart
202 E Mcdowell Road
Phoenix, AZ
Pinnacle Cart
Ashop Commerce
L 10 17-19 Bridge Street
Ashop Commerce
3dcart
6691 Nob Hill Road
Tamarac, FL
3dcart
GoDaddy Online Store
14455 N Hayden Road
Scottsdale, AZ
GoDaddy Online Store
Volusion
1835 Kramer Ln
Austin, TX
Volusion
CoreCommerce
231 Wilson Pike Circle
Brentwood, TN
CoreCommerce
fortune3
3042 NW 82ndAvenue
Doral, FL
fortune3

Services

List of 21Best Ecommerce Platforms and Shopping Cart Software

Lori Fairbanks
Lori Fairbanks has years of experience writing and editing for both print and online publications. After graduating from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts in English, she worked as an editor for Creating Keepsakes magazine and then as a freelance writer and editor for a variety of companies, including marketing firms and a medical university. She now writes for Business.com and Business News Daily.

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