The Best 5 Ecommerce Platforms in 2020
Whether selling products online is your main activity or you want to start a side project, ecommerce is a great way to make money and run a business from the comfort of your home.
Long gone are the days where you had to be a technical wiz to start an online store, and a lot of platforms are available to help kickstart your business in 2020. But which one should you pick?
As always, there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
In this post we will break down the most popular and relevant ecommerce platforms available in 2020, to help you make the right choice for your business needs.
Types of ecommerce platforms
Before diving into the specifics, it’s important to determine your goals, and where you stand with your store.
Do you have a website already, and just want to add a button to sell some merch?
Do you run an online store and want to reach a wider audience?
Are you willing to spend time setting up a custom store, or are you looking for a turnkey solution?
These are questions you need to answer before starting to evaluate your options. But before we get there, let’s take a look at the three main types of ecommerce platforms there are.
1. Online retail marketplaces
Amazon, eBay, Wish, Etsy, and others: these are the first platforms that come to mind for most online shoppers.
While they are viable options for you to sell your products, you might want to consider your strategy before focusing solely on them.
Why? Because bigger online retailers typically impose stricter restrictions on sellers.
Furthermore, these are well-oiled machines and often leave you in the backseat of the seller/buyer relationship.
This lack of control can cause you to miss out on the opportunity to “own” your audience, and to customize your business the way you want to.
An analog situation takes place in the physical world: you can choose to put your products on a Walmart shelf, but it’s not quite the same as opening and running your own store.
2. Website building platforms
Notable products in this space include Squarespace, Wix, Webflow, and WordPress.
The democratization of the no-code movement is empowering troves of people with little to no technical knowledge to sell online, and website building platforms are playing a huge role in this by adding ecommerce features into their offerings.
Such features are a great choice if you are already using one of the aforementioned products to host and manage your website.
However, it’s good to note that these are still add-ons, and don’t bring all the options and possibilities a fully-fledged ecommerce platform can offer.
3. Dedicated ecommerce platforms
Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, PrestaShop, BigCommerce: now we are speaking, right?
These platforms represent the most notable examples of what can be defined as a “core ecommerce platform”. Unlike generalistic website building platforms, dedicated ones allow you to create and manage your online store in a more custom, feature-rich way.
It’s not uncommon for online sellers to use a hybrid strategy, combining online marketplaces and dedicated online stores hosted on leading ecommerce platforms.
For the sake of simplicity, we will focus on this last category, which is the most relevant if you are serious about your ecommerce efforts.
Top 5 ecommerce platforms in 2020
Based on the most popular ecommerce platforms across the web and our expertise, we managed to come up with a list of the best ecommerce platforms in 2020.
They all include the basic features we come to expect from an ecommerce platform, such as:
Product and order management
Multiple payment gateways
But beyond the basics, they each have distinctive pros and cons and serve specific target demographics, price points, skill sets, and expectations.
Shopify: the most popular ecommerce platform
Quick facts about Shopify:
Started in 2006
In 2019, more than 2 million full-time jobs were supported by businesses running on Shopify (source: Shopify and You).
Pricing starts at $29/month
Free trial version: Yes (14 days)
Through the years, Shopify has become synonymous with ecommerce, and for good reasons: the all-in-one platform generated $870,000 in sales per minute in 2019, and currently powers 20% of the top 1 million websites.
Its popularity is in part due to the fact that it is easy to set up and maintain while offering considerable customization opportunities for the advanced user.
Built for ecommerce
Popular and well-known: there’s a large number of resources and community help
Free trial (14 days)
Strong ecosystem: apps, plugins, and integrations
Pricing, starting at $29/month
Limited amount of free themes
Not much to complain about, as Shopify provides a very well-rounded, intuitive platform for entrepreneurs running small and mid-sized businesses.
2. WooCommerce: best for WordPress
Quick facts about WooCommerce
Started in 2011
Used by 3.9 million websites
Pricing: Free (hosting and domain need to be purchased via WordPress)
WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress, the largest content management system solution in the world.
As such, it’s a go-to solution for WordPress users that are already familiar with the platform.
In addition, it doesn’t require a subscription, although the free price tag doesn’t include hosting, themes, or integrations.
Multiple add-ons and plugins are available
A large, vibrant community of users
Very handy if you using WordPress already
Servers, paid plugins and extensions can build up costs pretty fast
Demands some technical knowledge, hard to troubleshoot
Steep learning curve if you are not a WordPress user
If you’re already managing your website with WordPress and want to add ecommerce to it, WooCommerce is a no-brainer.
You will get to keep the same interface, hosting, and open-source, hands-on philosophy.
On the other hand, if you are not a WordPress user, there will be quite a learning curve to get over, and it might not be worth it.
3. PrestaShop: best value for the tech-savvy user
Quick facts about PrestaShop:
Started in 2007
300,000+ ecommerce stores run on PrestaShop technology
Pricing: Free (hosting not included)
PrestaShop is an open-source, free-to-download ecommerce solution. It is available in 75 languages and benefits from a large community of engaged users.
Like other open-source platforms, it allows the user for advanced customization, although it can prove difficult to set up, and potentially become a costly solution despite the absence of an initial fee.
Free / Open source (requires hosting)
Many themes and modules are available
A large, engaged community of users
Available in 75 languages
Add-ons can build up costs
Requires technical knowledge
PrestaShop is a popular and powerful solution. We recommend it for mid and large-sized businesses, as the heavy technical involvement it requires might not make it the most cost-effective solution for a small business or a solo entrepreneur.
4. Adobe Commerce (previously Magento): customization for the win
Quick Adobe Commerce facts:
Started in 2008
Over 250,00 active sites use Adobe Commerce
Pricing: Free (hosting, domain, and SSL certificate not included).
Adobe Commerce is considered the most advanced open-source ecommerce platform. It offers a lot of possibilities and a large, engaged global community. Ecommerce businesses can choose between two solutions:
The open-source version of Adobe Commerce, which is free and caters to small businesses
Adobe Commerce, designed for enterprises
Highly customizable, lots of integrations
A free, open-source version
Large and supportive community
Adobe Commerce cons
Setup takes time
Magento Commerce is pricey
Adobe Commerce is best for large retailers or enterprises willing to dedicate developers to fully customize their store, or for technical entrepreneurs wanting to take full advantage of the open-source version.
5. BigCommerce: features come first
Quick BigCommerce facts:
Started in 2009
$25B+ In merchant sales in 2020
Pricing starts at $29.95/month
Free trial: Yes (15 days)
Similar to Shopify, BigCommerce is a turnkey solution giving users the possibility to start and run an online store. It includes a wide array of features and is aimed at businesses of all sizes, from entrepreneurs to growing businesses.
Hosting is included
Multiple, interesting features
No mobile app
BigCommerce is a great choice for users interested in managing a store while selling on third-party channels such as Facebook or Pinterest. Although the emphasis is put on scalability, you want to be aware of the selling limits per year, up to $50k on the standard plan.
Besides the top ecommerce platforms, there are other options you might want to consider, including:
Volusion: A cloud-based ecommerce platform with included integrations and features
Ecwid: Free, easy to use solution to sell on multiple, existing platforms
Weebly: easy-to-use, drag-and-drop editor for non-technical users
Wix: Affordable solution for beginners with a growing list of features
As we clarified early on, there is no single answer to the question of what is the best ecommerce platform available. Nonetheless, we are confident that the information shared above will prove instrumental in giving you a clearer idea of which ones can suit your needs.
Ecommerce is a fascinating, ever-evolving field and we are delighted to partner with some of its biggest actors to help entrepreneurs and businesses automate their work.
Online stores have a lot to win with Make, as many moving parts and processes can be automated, including:
Invoicing and bookkeeping
Product and inventory management
Feel free to check some of our use cases for inspiration, and let us know what your favorite ecommerce platform is.