Creating an e-commerce website is a significant achievement if you’re running an online business. But it is not always easy to pick the right technology when choosing the best e-commerce platform.
Even experienced business owners might find it hard to make an optimal choice for a WordPress e-commerce plugin.
It can be frustrating and expensive.
We understand that, and that’s why we’re comparing different e-commerce platforms to help you save time and energy as you make your choice.
We’ll also give you important insights to keep in mind when choosing an e-commerce platform for your business.
Keep reading to find:
Considerations Before Choosing an E-commerce Platform for Your Business
There are several e-commerce platforms available in the market to sell your products.
E-commerce solutions and WordPress e-commerce plugins for custom e-commerce websites are the most popular, and each has advantages and disadvantages.
Whether you select an e-commerce solution or opt to build a website, choosing the best e-commerce platform for your business depends on factors such as:
The beauty of starting an e-commerce store today is that it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. For that reason, every new business owner scoping the market is looking for the best e-commerce platform within their budget.
And here’s the good news — there are plenty of affordable options available.
When comparing prices between e-commerce platforms, don’t forget to factor additional costs like hosting or payment processing into the plans. Some platforms offer these services, while others will require you to sign up for them separately.
The products you plan on selling also play a role in choosing an e-commerce platform.
Are you planning to sell physical products, digital products, or both? There are platforms suited to each type of product.
3. Business Model
You should also factor in your business model when choosing an e-commerce platform.
Will you be supplying products to businesses (B2B) or consumers (B2C)? Will you have inventory on-hand or offer dropshipping? Will you have affiliates?
E-commerce solutions like Shopify may be well suited to B2C businesses because they support inventory and dropshipping. Owning a website might be a better option for B2B shops.
4. Payment Methods
One of the primary reasons customers abandon their carts in the check-out process is that they can’t find their preferred payment method. Therefore, you should make it easy and convenient for your customers to make payments.
Digital wallets such as PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, and Amazon Pay are among the most convenient and simple payment options to make online payments. Your storefront should be user-friendly and cater to a variety of these payment platforms.
Note that some platforms don’t support specific payment methods, so it’s best to check the preferred payment method of the market you want to tap.
For instance, the U.S., Europe, and Australia are comfortable using credit cards, while the Southeast Asian market prefers cash upon delivery.
Must-Have Elements When Choosing the Best E-commerce Platforms
Whether you decide to choose an e-commerce solution or build a custom e-commerce website with WordPress plugins, here are some non-negotiables when choosing an e-commerce platform:
When running an e-commerce store, you’ll be handling sensitive personal and financial information. The best e-commerce platforms have SSL certificates, fraud prevention protocols and are PCI-compliant.
2. Ease of Use
Ease of use depends on your level of technical skill.
Building an e-commerce store on WordPress shouldn’t be much of a problem if you have some background in coding. Although it’s not necessary if you use a website builder.
3. Third-Party Integrations
Even the best e-commerce platforms aren’t enough to run an online store alone; they need the help of third-party integrations such as email marketing, inventory management, customer relationship management (CRM) and other essential tools.
The best e-commerce platforms let you customize and scale your website.
E-commerce solutions and WordPress e-commerce plugins for custom websites are the most flexible. In the following sections, we take a look at each.
Also known as e-commerce platforms, e-commerce solutions are typically software as a service (SaaS) options that enable business owners to manage their online store.
They’re a great alternative to custom e-commerce websites for users that want to set up an online store in less than five minutes or don’t know how to code.
E-commerce solutions require you to pay a monthly fee, which covers:
- Drag and drop website builders
- Payment gateways
- Website maintenance and security
However, compared to custom e-commerce websites, flexibility and customizability are more limited.
Examples of e-commerce solutions include Shopify and BigCommerce.
Shopify is an all-in-one, hassle-free e-commerce solution for starting an online store. You only need to sign up to hit the ground running.
Compared to WooCommerce, with Shopify, you don’t need to set up payment gateways, deal with taxes and shipping, or attain security compliance from your hosting provider. Shopify does all this for you, which makes it ideal for startups.
Shopify also makes inventory management easy thanks to features including:
- An order tracker
- An inventory editor
- A bulk importer
With its multiple payments options, it’s easier and more convenient for customers to make payments, whether in-person or online.
BigCommerce is a popular e-commerce solution that provides robust e-commerce integration to build and scale your online store.
Any business owner wants to get their e-commerce store up and running within the shortest time possible. With a fully hosted platform like BigCommerce, you have a ready package to help start and scale your business in one place.
You need not worry about hosting, software updates, security, or coding, making it an ideal plugin for startup businesses.
It’s a great platform to help you manage your orders, your catalog, and process payments.
BigCommerce also comes with a WordPress e-commerce plugin so you can make sales from your website.
The Best WordPress E-commerce Plugins for Custom E-commerce Websites
Custom e-commerce websites are often powered by open-source content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress and Magento.
Building a custom e-commerce website usually requires technical knowledge but is undoubtedly the way to go if you want more control over your platform.
Custom e-commerce websites require higher upfront costs because you have to do everything from scratch. Some of these upfront costs include:
- Web hosting
- Fees for premium plugins and add-ons
- Website development and design
However, once your website is up and running smoothly, these costs go down over time.
The real benefit of having a custom e-commerce website is having ownership over the platform. When you sign up for e-commerce marketplaces or solutions, you have to agree to a set of terms of usage, which can change anytime.
WordPress is often the preferred CMS to build an e-commerce website. WordPress, which powers over 40% of the internet, is flexible, easy to use, customizable, and can be converted into an e-commerce website with the help of plugins.
When choosing a WordPress e-commerce plugin, remember that the best e-commerce plugins will let you establish your online profile and process online sales.
E-Commerce Plugin for Website
- Easy Digital Downloads
- Ecwid E-Commerce Shopping Cart
- WP EasyCart
- Cart66 Cloud
Best for: All e-commerce store owners — WooCommerce supports both physical and digital products.
WooCommerce is the most powerful and popular WordPress e-commerce plugin.
Run by WordPress’ parent company, Automattic, the WooCommerce plugin is a favorite for WordPress website owners because of the hundreds of extensions and themes that add customization to your WooCommerce store.
The wide array of themes empower you to choose the layout and design of your website. You can also sell both physical goods and digital products, including software and music. WooCommerce also offers thorough customer support.
If you can’t find your preferred payment option, you can add it using the provided extensions.
2. Easy Digital Downloads (EDD)
Best for: Selling digital goods.
Price: Free. Premium version starts at $99/year.
The Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) plugin lets you manage and sell digital products on your WordPress website.
If you’re looking to sell non-physical goods, including e-books, PDFs or music, EDD is what you need.
This free plugin features a fully functional WordPress shopping cart to process payments without leaving the website.
You can upgrade to the premium version for more functionality that includes integration with payment and email marketing.
3. Ecwid E-Commerce Shopping Cart
Best for: E-commerce stores that have a presence on various platforms.
Pricing: Free plan available. Premium version starts at $15/month.
If you’re searching for a platform with a smooth setup and a relatively clean interface, this is it. The core plugin in the Ecwid E-Commerce Shopping Cart is free with tons of built-in features and multiple sales channels, including eBay and Facebook.
Unlike many platforms limited to one content management system, you can use the Ecwid e-commerce platform on WordPress, Tumblr, or Drupal.
Ecwid’s free plan offers you up to 10 products, but you can get unlimited products for $99/month.
Ecwid E-Commerce Shopping Cart is PCI-DCC certified, so it’s secure for conducting online transactions. With most other platforms, you’d need to attain compliance from your website host.
4. WP EasyCart
Best for: Small business owners.
Pricing: Free. Premium version costs $99/year.
If you’re a small business owner who wants a simple to install and operate e-commerce business, then WP EasyCart is an excellent option.
The plugin provides a fast configuration process and easy-to-use tools for those who lack advanced user capabilities.
WP EasyCart provides seamless integration with other software like QuickBooks and Mailchimp to help your email marketing efforts.
What’s more, with this plugin, you can sell all kinds of products, from physical products like laptops and shoes to digital items like music and e-books.
5. Cart66 Cloud
Best for: Serial entrepreneurs.
Pricing: Plansstart at $19/month.
One of the major highlights for Cart66 Cloud is that it has most of its features built-in, which minimizes the need for coding knowledge or more extensions and add-ons.
Cart66 Cloud is the perfect WordPress e-commerce plugin for serial entrepreneurs. Besides the e-commerce features, the plugin also supports donations, subscriptions and memberships.
With its drip campaigns, list segmentation and timed follow-up email marketing feature, Cart66 provides a unique advantage over most platforms.
With its 100+ built-in payment gateways, you also have multiple payment options available for your customers.
Final Thoughts: The Best WordPress E-Commerce Plugin for Your Website
After you’ve chosen your e-commerce platform, it is crucial to ensure your website is running optimally.
Since the host is the home of your website, it should be effective and reliable. Here at Bluehost, we have flexible WordPress hosting plans for every kind of business and budget.
Sign up for a WordPress hosting plan today.