We’ve got good news and bad news.
The good news is that it’s never been easier to start your own business. To sell online today, you need very little knowledge and very little financial investment.
There’s a tonne of eCommerce platforms out there that allow you to create a beautiful website, list products, and start selling in a matter of hours. No code required.
This is also where the bad news comes into play.
There’s so many eCommerce platforms out there that it can be difficult to know which one to pick. It creates a barrier to entry, as it can prevent potential entrepreneurs from ever getting started.
And we all know the hardest part is getting started.
On that note, we’ve got some more good news for you. We’ve identified the best eCommerce platforms for online sellers in 2023. Read this guide, and hopefully we’ll trim down the amount of research you need to do.
We’ve split this guide into two parts; best all-round eCommerce platforms in 2023, and the best eCommerce platforms for small or new businesses.
Rather than list them all, we’ve simply selected the ones we’d recommend you use.
Let’s get stuck in.
Best all-round eCommerce Platforms in 2023
Millions of people use Shopify. Available in over 170 countries, it’s an eCommerce powerhouse for good reason.
Firstly, Shopify has very little barrier to entry. They’ve got a comprehensive free trial, flexible pricing, and an extremely user-friendly website builder.
You won’t need a single line of code to build a professional, responsive, and functional website. However, if you do know how to code a little, you can customise your template further.
Being one of the most popular eCommerce platforms, Shopify supports thousands of ready-to-go ‘apps’ that can be installed for additional functionality on your website, such as data management, social media integration, live chat, and more.
Shopify Pros and Cons
- Ease of use: It’s easy to set a website and grow sales with Shopify’s theme editor and user-friendly interface.
- Scalability: Great for beginners, but easy to ramp up as your business grows.
- Support: Shopify has 24/7 customer support via live chat, with responsive phone lines and email tickets open long hours every day.
- Pricing: Fees can add up, particularly subscription fees for larger plans, transactional fees, and any costs associated with third-party addons.
- Customisation: The amount of themes on offer is quite limited compared to other platforms, making it difficult to create a truly unique website without some technical knowledge.
- Reliant on apps – To get the most out of the platform, you’ll need to install a number of third-party apps that require additional configuration and cost.
- ‘Starter’ Tier: £1 per month for first three months, £5 per month thereafter
- ‘Basic’ Tier: £19 per month
- ‘Shopify’ Tier: £49 per month
- ‘Advanced Tier: £259 per month
- ‘Shopify Plus’: Starting at $2500USD per month
Powered by WordPress, WooCommerce has the largest market share of any eCommerce platform on the market – by a significant margin.
WooCommerce’s popularity comes down to the fact that so many websites use the WordPress CRM. And, of course, because it’s free.
But the benefits don’t stop there; WooCommerce is an incredibly flexible platform, mainly thanks to WordPress. The possibilities are endless when it comes to the look, feel, and functionality of your eCommerce website.
It’s also got created reporting tools right out of the box, and it’s easy to configure and create listings in a pinch.
While the platform itself is free, it’s important to understand that you’ll likely need to pay for plugins if you want additional functionality.
WooCommerce Pros and Cons
- Customisation: Customise your front-end and back-end experience to your heart’s content, thanks to WordPres.
- Price: WooCommerce is a sophisticated platform that’s completely free to use and open-source.
- Large community: There’s an ever growing community of WooCommerce users, meaning you’ll always be able to find help when you need it.
- Tied to WordPress: WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, so you can only use the platform if your website is on WordPress.
- Lack of dedicated support: Although there’s tons of peer-to-peer and third-party support available, official support isn’t available from the developers.
- Harder to set up: Compared to other platforms, it can be difficult to get started without some technical knowledge.
Magento (Now Adobe Commerce)
For sellers who want the ultimate level of customisation and functionality for their website, Magento is the eCommerce platform to use.
There’s very few limitations with Magento, meaning that if you want your website to do something – however abstract or niche, Magento can probably do it. It’s the most feature-rich platform out of the bunch.
All of this comes at a price, though. Literally.
Magento can be very expensive to set-up, and that’s even with the technical knowledge to do it yourself. If you need to outsource this aspect, you can expect to pay even more.
Magento probably isn’t ideal for new ventures – especially if money is a limiting factor. However, it’s a fantastic option for established businesses that truly want to stand out from the crowd.
Magento Pros and Cons
- Unrivalled flexibility: If you have the budget, the look, feel, and functionality options for your website are practically endless.
- Great performance: Whether you have 100 or 10000 SKUs, Magento storefronts are well-known for their responsiveness and speed.
- In-depth reporting: Over 20 high-end reports available through the web interface, covering many aspects of eCommerce.
- Significant cost: You’re looking at a minimum of £12,000 just to get set up, and that doesn’t cover implementation costs, or ongoing upkeep.
- Time investment: Magento will take a good amount of time and attention during initial set up, and on an ongoing basis.
- Reliance on third-parties: It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to run this storefront by yourself, meaning you’ll need to rely upon a developer.
Magento License Pricing
- Magento Open Source: Free
- Magento Commerce: Starts at $22,000 p/y
- Magento Commerce Cloud: Starts at $40,000 p/y
Remember that the above costs are just for the licence. This doesn’t take into account development costs, extensions, design costs, and more. Learn more about Magento Pricing here.
The final entry on our ‘all-rounders’ list is BigCommerce.
Out of all the platforms we’ve mentioned so far, BigCommerce is the one most suited for people with little to no design skills or technical knowledge.
BigCommerce offers a selection of free and paid themes to use for your website, and a simple drag and drop page builder. Just be aware that, as with most web-builders, ease of use comes at the expense of customisation.
BigCommerce also has a well-regarded customer support team, which can be extremely beneficial when things aren’t going quite to plan.
BigCommerce Pros and Cons
- No transaction fee: BigCommerce doesn’t take a cut for sales made through their platform.
- Built-in features: Lots of built-in features for international selling, tax, promotions and much more make it work great out of the box
- Easy design: There’s lots of templates and editing functionality, making it easy for anyone to create a professional website.
- High monthly fee: The service fee is quite expensive. Can be off putting for newer businesses as it puts pressure on making sales.
- Less customisation: Ease of use means there is less scope to create a truly unique website.
- Limited blogging: BigCommerce is all about selling, so isn’t ideal for generating traffic with blogs and other forms of content.
- Standard – $29 per month
- Plus – $79 per month
- Pro – $299 per month
- Enterprise – Custom pricing
Best eCommerce Platforms for Small Businesses
The following eCommerce platforms don’t have the same level of sales features as the ones we’ve mentioned above, but they’re very easy to use.
That’s why we’re mentioning them to small businesses that simply need a straightforward storefront to sell their products, and aren’t necessarily shooting for the moon.
Wix is considered to be one of the better eCommerce platforms that isn’t designed specifically for eCommerce.
Wix still has all the features you need to start selling online, with the benefit of an intuitive front-end editor, and a host of marketing tools built in. It’s also got loads of free templates to get you started.
That said, Wix isn’t particularly flexible. Its app store isn’t quite as full as Shopify’s, and it has nowhere close to the level of customisation as WordPress or Magento.
But if it’s a simple, easy to set-up storefront you’re after, you can’t go far wrong with Wix.
Wix Pros and Cons
- Pricing: The accessible pricing model makes Wix a low risk option for many businesses.
- Ascend by Wix: A unique feature included on all plans that helps you to improve time management and workflow.
- Category templates: Wix has lots of templates designed specifically for eCommerce industries, such as fashion, jewellery, and more.
- Loading: We’ve encountered quite a few Wix websites that aren’t the fastest to load.
- Complex in areas: Customising websites isn’t quite as beginner friendly as some other entries on this list.
- Mobile: It takes work to make a Wix site responsive on both desktop and mobile devices
- Business Basic – £15 per month
- Business Unlimited – £20 per month
- Business VIP – £27 per month
Traditionally the ‘go-to’ website builder for bloggers and creatives, SquareSpace has entered the eCommerce market after the boom of the industry in 2020.
It’s perfect for small businesses that need to showcase their products through high quality images and video. If your business is all about content, including social media and blog articles, then SquareSpace might be a great option for you.
Furthermore, it’s ideal for digital products, such as downloadable files, courses, videos, and so on.
SquareSpace is held back slightly by being slightly less user-friendly than some of the other website builders, and its features and app support are quite limited.
You’re not going to find advanced SEO tools, email integrations, and advanced reporting capabilities found within other platforms.
Squarespace Pros and Cons
- Attractive: Squarespace’s templates are all about the imagery, making it simple to showcase products with great photography.
- Blogging: Squarespace has good blog templates and rich SEO features to help you get the most out of content marketing.
- Templates: There’s over 150 top-quality templates available, which is more than most offerings on this list.
- Small app store: Limited options when it comes to third-party apps, especially in comparison to other platforms.
- Business tools: Doesn’t have the most comprehensive suite of business and analytics tools.
- Payment options: You won’t be able to offer your customers tonnes of ways to pay on a Squarespace site.
- Business – £17 per month
- Commerce (Basic) – £23 per month
- Commerce (Advanced) – £35 per month
James and James integrate with each of these eCommerce platforms… and many more!
Whether you’re getting ready for market, new to market, or an established eCommerce business, you have likely thought long and hard about the fulfillment of your operation.
While it’s fairly straightforward to fulfil orders in-house in the early stages of a business, as sales grow, it rapidly becomes too time-consuming and too complex to cost-effectively fulfil orders from your home or office.