7 Best E-Commerce Platforms in 2021Jan 22, 2021
Are you looking for information on the best eCommerce platform for your business? It’s no secret that e-commerce is an extremely competitive space to be in. No matter what product or service you’re selling, you can bet that you have hundreds (possibly thousands) of competitors out there. Businesses need all the advantages that they can get, and chief among these is the use of an effective platform that can push you ahead of the competition.
The problem is that there are hundreds of e-commerce platforms out there, all claiming to be the best. We realize that it’s difficult for businesses to find the right e-commerce platform suitable for their needs. After all, companies don’t have the time to test the waters and wade through hundreds of e-commerce platforms, hoping to come across the right one.
In this regard, we’ve decided to do our own research and came up with a list of 7 e-commerce platforms worth checking out in 2021 and that we felt deserved the title of “best”. We’ll get into the pros and cons of each platform and what to expect. Such information ought to prove useful in your search for an e-commerce platform that is perfectly suited to your needs.
We’ll go over the following:
1. Unbounce: The Most Powerful E-Commerce Landing Page builder
2. Squarespace: The Best All-in-One E-Commerce and Website Builder
3. Shift4Shop (3dcart): The Most Powerful E-commerce Solution for Advanced Users
4. Ecwid: A Best E-Commerce Tool for Social Media Platforms
5. GetResponse: The Best E-commerce Platform for Email Marketing
6. Weebly: The Most User-Friendly E-Commerce Platform
7. 2checkout: The Best All-in-One Payment Gateway
Let’s go ahead and take a closer look at each one.
While Unbounce may not be as popular as the other e-commerce platforms on this list, we felt that it’s an option worth checking out, and for a good reason. If you’re looking for something that can help you easily create landing pages that are optimized for conversions, then you won’t be disappointed with Unbounce.
Unbounce is one of the first landing page builders on the market to offer what’s known as a drag and drop website builder. As the name implies, this type of interface dramatically simplifies the webpage building process. All you have to do is select a theme (layout of the website), then drag and arrange the various page elements as you see fit.
As you might imagine, the drag and drop interface eliminates the need for code and knowledge in CSS (Cascading Style Sheet). Even people with no technical knowledge about websites can now build and personalize one in just a few hours. Unbounce is one of the first few eCommerce platforms to capitalize on such a feature.
What are the pros to using Unbounce?
- Unbounce’s “drag and drop” landing page builder is straightforward to use. First-time users are often surprised how they could build fully functional landing pages with no coding knowledge necessary. That said, there is an option to do so if you want to.
- Concerning web page design, users can choose from more than 100 landing page templates then customize them for your business. You also have the option to put together everything from scratch and come up with something truly unique (if you are so inclined). Either way, Unbounce makes it easy to make landing pages look however you want.
- Users get access to some advanced conversion optimization features, including something that Unbounce calls “Smart Traffic”, Unbounce uses AI technology to direct visitors to a version of your landing page with the highest chance to convert. This helps keep your business from wasting time on leads that are unlikely to buy or sign up for your newsletters or whatever your conversion goal is.
- A/B testing feature for split testing your landing pages. This can prove extremely helpful for figuring out what works best when designing landing pages for your business.
- Unbounce has left no stone unturned when it comes to platform security. After all, data security is a serious matter when it comes to eCommerce. Your customers have entrusted you with potentially sensitive information, and it is your responsibility to keep it safe. Unbounce knows this, which is why every landing page you build comes with SSL encryption and GDPR compliant (General Data Protection Regulation). If you’re an enterprise user, you also get access to audit logs, automatic backups, and 2-factor authentication.
What are the cons to using Unbounce?
Of course, no e-commerce platform is perfect, and we found that Unbounce has a few downsides worth considering:
- Perhaps the most significant has to do with its higher cost in comparison to other options.
Squarespace is primarily a website builder (and a popular one at that) but can also serve as a complete e-commerce platform (except for the personal plan). This platform is marketed towards businesses looking for a simple way to create a fully functional and professional-looking e-commerce website. With Squarespace, this can be done without having to fiddle with things that don’t necessarily contribute to your bottom line.
To use Squarespace for e-commerce, we recommend signing up for the Basic Commerce plan at $26 per month, which gives you access to essential eCommerce features. This includes analytics, social media marketing, and an integrated CRM (Customer Relations Management) tool, just to mention a few.
You can get an account for cheaper by signing up for a business account ($18 per month), but you’ll have to pay a 3% transaction fee for every sale. Also, you don’t get access to any eCommerce features mentioned above.
So is Squarespace the right eCommerce platform for you? Well, let’s go ahead and take a closer look!
What are the pros to using Squarespace?
- One of the best things about Squarespace is its collection of high quality website design templates, which are nothing to scoff at. All are of high quality, and you are free to personalize them however you please. The design templates are said to be “award-winning,” although there is no way to verify that. Still, we found that their website templates are very well polished and far from tacky.
- You can set up multiple templates for your website and cycle through them whenever you please. This can prove useful for e-commerce stores looking to update their website design to reflect various seasons and occasions — summer, winter, Halloween, Christmas, etc. Such changes might seem trivial, but it’s a proven strategy used by top eCommerce sites like Amazon and eBay.
- Perfect for small businesses looking to build their first e-commerce store to sell products or services. It comes with a tonne of ecommerce features intended to meet this purpose, including the ability to list an unlimited number of products and variants for selling physical and digital goods. You can also use Squarespace to manage subscriptions (only for advanced eCommerce plan), offer multiple payment methods, gift cards, and an abandoned cart tool for maximizing conversions.
Are there any cons to using Squarespace?
- Many of Squarespace’s advanced features are locked behind their most expensive plan (Advanced Commerce at $40 per month). This includes abandoned cart recovery, gift cards, and subscription management tools.
As e-commerce platforms go, shift4shop, previously known as 3dcart, is one of the oldest and most well-established players on the block. Having been in business for more than two decades, 3dcart is the e-commerce platform of choice for more than 22,000 users worldwide.
One thing that you should know about 3dcart is that it’s not exactly beginner-friendly. Unlike most of the other e-commerce platforms on this list, there’s no drag & drop or visual page builder. There are templates provided, but you’ll need at least a basic understanding and coding knowledge to personalize them.
What are the pros to using 3dcart?
- While we can’t help but recommend 3dcart only to advanced users, this e-commerce platform is a popular choice among businesses with experienced tech and web developers. This is due to its powerful features, including an integrated SEO tool that can prove invaluable for obtaining high rankings in search engine results.
- A few other things that we liked about 3dcart is that it already comes with web hosting and unlimited bandwidth.
- New users also get to register one new domain name for free (valid for one year)
- Around the clock customer support.
- There are no transaction fees, and you get access to more than 200 payment gateways.
- Perhaps the best thing about 3dcart is that it works with practically any third-party integrations (provided that you have the necessary technical and coding knowledge).
Any cons to worry about?
- Again, 3dcart is not for beginners and advanced users only. Their dashboard is littered with complicated features that will surely overwhelm beginners.
- We were also disappointed to find that many of their themes and design templates are out of date.
Ecwid is a popular choice among WordPress users looking for an excellent alternative to WooCommerce (an open-source eCommerce plugin for WordPress sites). Unlike the latter, Ecwid is not limited to WordPress but works with other platforms as well (Blogger, Weebly, Wix, etc.).
Ecwid’s premium plans start at $15 per month (Venture) to $99 per month (Unlimited). The difference in price plans has to do with the number of products you can list on your eCommerce site.
What pros can you expect out of Ecwid?
- The main gist of using Ecwid is that it lets you convert just about any site to an e-commerce store. It also works seamlessly with most popular CRMs like Salesforce, Hubspot, Zoho, etc.
- We also loved that Ecwid has a “Free Forever” plan that lets you use their services for free (up to 10 products and no integration features). Hence you can start without spending any money and upgrade to a premium plan once you start making sales.
Any cons you should know about?
- While it’s great that you can start using Ecwid for free, we couldn’t help but notice a few significant downsides. For one thing, we found that design choices on our e-commerce website are minimal. There’s not much that you can personalize, which in turn interferes with your branding.
- Also, we found that their marketing tools can’t support much growth, which is a problem for large to medium-sized businesses. It lacks many of the advanced features in other e-commerce platforms like automation, sales funnels, email marketing, etc.
If you’re looking for a good all-in-one e-commerce platform, then you probably won’t be disappointed with GetResponse. It offers everything from a landing page builder, CRM, email marketing, and even automation. While GetResponse used to be an email marketing tool, it has evolved over the years into an all-in-one eCommerce solution.
Access to GetResponse starts at $15 per month for the basic plan. Higher plans give you access to more features and the option to work with a bigger list.
What are the pros of using GetResponse?
The following account is far from comprehensive, but there are a lot of things to love about GetResponse:
- GetResponse is that it enables you to create beautiful landing pages in just a few clicks. You can then use said landing pages to create sales funnels for specific products or services.
- We also loved the fact that GetResponse comes with a design testing feature. This allows you to find the best version of a landing page by split testing various elements and analyzing the results.
- However, what sets Getresponse from most other eCommerce platforms in the market is its powerful automation features. One good example is their intelligent list automation feature, which lets you set automatically just about any possible condition for segmenting subscribers.
- You can set up automation workflows like sending marketing emails to subscribers who took a specific action or met certain conditions (didn’t read your emails, opened your emails at a particular time/date, etc.) As you might imagine, this level of segmentation can help you create emails that are highly targeted and will most likely resonate with your audience.
Any cons you should know about?
While the fact that GetResponse offers so many features under one roof is a good thing, it also has its downsides:
- It can take a long time for the average user to master everything that the e-commerce platform has to offer. This can be a problem, especially when access gets more expensive as you add more people to your marketing list.
Weebly may not be the best website builder we’ve seen, but it is safe to say that it’s one of the easiest to work with. If we had to describe the experience, it’s like getting into a brand new car and knowing exactly where all the buttons and controls are. It’s that intuitive!
What are the pros to using Weebly?
- Like most other platforms on this list, Weebly uses a drag & drop interface for their page builder. This makes it easy to get your website to look exactly how you want. However, we found that Weebly is a lot more optimized, and we were surprised that it could easily manage sites with dozens of pages.
- While you don’t need any coding knowledge to build a website with Weebly, they simplify things when it comes to editing or adding code to personalize your site. If your business already has someone proficient with code, then all the better.
- We also liked that users can get started with Weebly for free (with limitations — ads and no option to use your domain name). Their highest plan is also reasonably affordable ($26 per month) and comes with plenty of e-commerce features, including inventory tracking and an integrated shopping cart and checkout system.
What are the cons?
- While we loved working with Weebly’s website builder, we were disappointed to find out that we cannot move page elements around however we please. This might seem like a minor gripe for what is otherwise an excellent page builder. Still, this can be a deal-breaker for many.
- Also, we’ve verified reports that, for some reason, Weebly blocks certain countries by default, including Russia and China. As of this writing, there’s no way to get around this restriction, which can be a problem for businesses that sell products or services internationally.
While 2checkout is primarily a payment gateway used to accept and process payments from customers, it is likewise an integral part of e-commerce and well worth mentioning. With it, you can link to more than 100 shopping carts and start accepting payments in 87 different countries and 15 languages.
What are the pros?
We liked that 2checkout caters to all major payment methods like Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Paypal, etc. This is important for businesses that deal with customers from around the world.
Easy to integrate with just about any site. No coding and technical knowledge required thanks to a highly optimized API (Application Programming Interface)
What about the cons?
There is no doubt that 2checkout is one of the best payment gateways on the market today. That said, we couldn’t help but notice a few downsides which is bound to turn away a lot of people:
- Getting approved with 2checkout is a lengthy and frustrating process. It’s almost like its their protocol to view new applications to their API with suspicion and could have been handled better.
- Even after approval, we’ve discovered complaints that the payment verification takes too long. This can be a problem for small businesses that rely on their funds’ liquidity to support operations.
- Depending on what you’re selling, the transaction fees they charge could be significant. Still, 2checkout is a solid choice for a payment gateway, especially for businesses that make a bulk of their sales internationally.
So there you have it — 7 of the top e-commerce platforms that are well worth looking into in 2021. As you may have already realized, no single platform is necessarily better than the others. It’s all a matter of carefully weighing the pros and cons and the notable things that each eCommerce platform has to offer.
At this point, it’s only a matter of choosing an eCommerce platform that best suits the needs of your business while minimizing the impact of its limitations. For example, if you’re a complete beginner in the eCommerce space, then it’s probably a good idea to steer clear of 3dcart and build your website or landing page with Squarespace instead. You get the idea.
Ultimately, the goal is to find an e-commerce platform that offers the best value for your money and yield the most impact on your business. We hope that this article has proven helpful in obtaining the same.
No time to read? Here’s a quick summary, to compare all these platforms:
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