Best E-Commerce Platform: Volusion vs Shopify vs BigCommerce vs PrestaShop vs 3DCart vs Godaddy vs Selz & More

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Ready to dive into your online store, but lost in the sea of e-commerce platforms available? Selling online has never been easier, but with endless options, it’s hard to know which one will best grow your business on the web.

You want a platform that’s easy to set up and operate, a seamless shopping experience for your customers and, of course, a platform that’s financially safe and secure for everyone involved.

Article Overview

What Is The Best E-Commerce Platform?

Unlike in years past when your feature options were limited, you might be amazed at what you can do with an online store today. Most of the best e-commerce websites deliver built-in marketing, SEO, shipping integration, social media selling, sales reports and a host of other tools to enhance your ability to manage your online store and engage with customers.

Read our reviews of the leading e-commerce platforms, including available features, pros and cons and pricing to help narrow down your choices.

Shopify Review

#1

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Simple, sleek and seamless, Shopify wins our first place spot for best e-commerce platform for small businesses. Shopify has been in business for more than a decade and has blazed over much of its competition. They operate in more than 150 countries and boast $72 billion in sales through their platform.

Shopify’s value is unmatched, with attractive pricing and sophisticated features. Shopify offers more than 100 beautifully designed mobile-friendly templates, unlimited bandwidth and tech support customers rave about. Perhaps the most impressive feature is the ability to customize the templates easily. The amount of detail you can tweak and alter is second to none, which is why it’s among the best e-commerce sites for small businesses.

Shopify screenshot

Key Features

  • All 100+ template themes fully (and easily) customizable; 10+ free templates
  • Use your own domain name or purchase a new one for $11, lower price than most
  • Unlimited online storage and bandwidth
  • Full-featured content management system
  • Built-in blog and article section
  • Integrates with all major U.S. shipping carriers, including UPS, USPS and FedEx
  • High 256-bit encryption level (bank-level security)
  • New and improved Fraud Detection and partial returns
  • Automatic inventory updates
  • Built-in analytics and reporting; Google Analytics integration
  • Mobile apps for Android and iPhone to manage your store on the go

Pros

Cons

  • Very competitive pricing
  • Set-up and add products easier than most platforms
  • Unlimited bandwidth and storage with every plan
  • Unlimited number of products with all plans (except Lite version)
  • Top-quality design themes – the best we’ve seen
  • 900+ integrations, including Google Analytics and Quickbooks
  • Excellent 24/7 customer support via phone, email and live chat
  • Built-in POS (point of sale) system
  • Free shared SSL certificate at 256-bit encryption (for securing your customer’s data)
  • Transaction fees if you don’t use Shopify Payments
  • Many features through add-ons only (some free, some not)

Pricing & Tech Specs

All plans include unlimited bandwidth, 24/7 customer support and no transaction fees if you use Shopify Payments. You can save 10% with their annual plan and 20% with a biennial plan. Shopify offers a fully functional free trial for 14 days, no credit card required, so you can see if they’re the solution for your online store.

 Lite Basic Shopify Advanced Plus
Price Per Month$9$29$79$299Contact Customer Service for a Quote
Number of Productsn/aUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Staff Accounts2515Unlimited

Coupon Code

Use this link to get the best deal we can offer on Shopify.

Read our In-Depth Shopify Review | Read our In-Depth Shopify Plus Review

How Do You Drive People To Your Online Store?

So, you’ve launched your online store. Congratulations! The next step is to get potential customers to notice you. Check out Shopify’s video to get tips on how to generate traffic to your new online store.

BigCommerce Review

#2

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BigCommerce, our number two choice for best e-commerce platform, has gained a lot of traction in these last few years. BigCommerce gives Shopify a run for its money, offering unlimited products, storage and bandwidth, 24/7 customer service and straightforward set-up and administrative tools.

They also offer a wealth of conversion tools like product reviews, wish lists and more. But where BigCommerce falls short compared to our top pick is in its versatility with template customization and shipping features. Still, BigCommerce is one of the best out there for small and large businesses alike.

BigCommerce screenshot

Key Features

  • Unlimited products, storage and bandwidth with every pricing level
  • Single-page checkout
  • WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) and full HTML editors
  • Sell on eBay, Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, Google Shopping and Pinterest
  • 150+ integrations, including Google Analytics, QuickBooks and MailChimp
  • Mobile apps for Android and iPhone
  • High 256-bit encryption level (bank-level security)

Pros

Cons

  • Easy to set up and manage
  • Unlimited bandwidth, storage and number of products with every plan
  • 100+ templates (10 free)
  • 150+ integrations, including Google Analytics and QuickBooks
  • 24/7 customer support
  • High 256-bit SSL encryption level (free shared SSL)
  • Pricing can be confusing; sales per year caps on most pricing tiers
  • Transaction fees are high compared to most
  • No built-in POS system

Pricing & Tech Specs

All plans include unlimited products, storage and bandwidth. And you get 10% off the following monthly pricing for Plus and Pro if you pay annually. Try them out with their 15-day free trial – you get to test out the full functionality of their platform.

 Standard Plus Pro Enterprise
Price Per Month$29.95$79.95$249.95Contact BigCommerce
Sales Per YearUp to $50kUp to $150kUp to $400kCustom

Coupon Code

There are no BigCommerce coupons available.

3DCart Review

#3

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3DCart is our 3rd choice for best e-commerce platform. It has one of the most feature-rich platforms we’ve seen for a relatively low price. Founded in 1997, 3DCart is one of the oldest e-commerce platforms on the market, but it’s kept up with the times. While they do have product limits, 3DCart includes unlimited bandwidth and storage in all of their pricing plans.

Perhaps not the best choice for e-commerce beginners – once you get past their set-up wizard, their multiple features can be overwhelming to navigate. But their price points are among the best for what you get. 3DCart continues to evolve, coming close to taking our number two spot this year for best shopping cart. Learn more about 3DCart in our interview with CEO Gonzalo Gil.

3DCart screenshot

Key Features

  • Unlimited storage with every pricing plan
  • No transaction fees
  • Fully customizable feature set
  • Free advertising credits for Amazon, Facebook and Yahoo Bing
  • Free domain registration
  • Free 256-bit SSL encryption level
  • 24/7 tech support
  • Facebook store and mobile storefront capabilities

Pros

Cons

  • Very competitive pricing
  • Good set-up wizard
  • No transaction fees
  • Unlimited storage with every plan
  • 100+ free templates (all mobile-ready); all templates are fully customizable
  • Best inventory management system we’ve seen
  • Built-in POS system
  • High 256-bit SSL encryption level (free shared SSL)
  • Pricing can be confusing; sales per year caps on most pricing tiers
  • Product limits with their entry-level plan
  • Wide range of customization features could lead to a complex store setup
  • A number of complaints about sub-par customer service (although they offer 24/7 support)

Pricing & Tech Specs

All plans include unlimited storage. If you pay annually, you save 10% off the following monthly pricing, and they offer discounts for nonprofits. Try 3DCart to see if it fits your needs with their 15-day free trial period. 3DCart also offers a 30-day money back guarantee, which is rare in this industry.

 Startup Basic Plus Pro
Price Per Month$19 ($9/month 1st 6 months)$29 ($19/month 1st 6 months)$79 ($49/month 1st 6 months)$229 ($129/month 1st 6 months)
Number of Products100UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Staff Users12515
Online Sales Limit Per Year$50k$100k$200k$400k

Coupon Code

3dcart offers many time-sensitive discounts that can often be found by using our link. They are currently offering savings of $10-100 per month for the first 6 months.

Read our In-Depth 3DCart Review

Comparison Chart

Use this comparison table to help you make an informed decision on which online shopping cart service best meets your needs. If you click on a link under the company name in the header, you will be taken to that company’s homepage to explore further. Please note that there are two tables, since there were too many e-commerce platforms to fit in one. You can jump to the second table using the navigation links below.

 Winner: Shopify2nd Place: BigCommerce3rd Place: 3dCartAshop CommerceBig CartelGoDaddy Online StorePrestaShopSelzVolusionXcart
Lowest Price per Month$9.00$29.95$9.99$25.00Free$19.99FreeFree$15.00None
SKU's Included in Lowest Price25Unlimited105005UnlimitedUnlimited5100Unlimited
Activation Fee (One-Time)NoneNoneNoneNoneNoneNoneNoneNoneNone195
Per Transaction FeeNone2.2-2.9% + $0.30NoneNoneNone2.9% + 30 centsNoneNone - 2%NoneNone
Storage Space1GB - UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited1GB - 5GBLimitedUnlimitedDepends on the server you chooseUnlimitedUnlimited20GB - 160GB
BandwidthUnlimitedUnlimited2GB - 250GBUnlimitedLimitedUnlimitedDepends on serverUnlimited1GB - 35GB1TB - 6TB
In-House Credit Card ProcessingCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkIntegration OnlyCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
PayPal CompatibleCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkExtra CostCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Social Media IntegrationCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkExtra CostCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Live Online ChatCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
24/7 SupportCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Free Trial14 Days15 Days15 Days14 DaysFree Plan30 DaysFree Plan14 Days14 DaysFree Edition
Mobile StorefrontCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Sales and Inventory ReportsCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Payment Gateways70+60+140+70+210+50+330+75+
Advertising CreditCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Free SSL CertificateSharedSharedSharedCheckmarkUnlistedSharedSharedExtra Cost
Unique Domain NameExtra CostExtra CostFreeExtra CostFreeExtra CostExtra CostExtra CostExtra Cost
Amazon & eBay SyncCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkExtra CostExtra CostCheckmark
Winner: Shopify2nd Place: BigCommerce3rd Place: 3dCartAshop CommerceBig CartelGoDaddy Online StorePrestaShopSelzVolusionXcart

Terminologies & Definitions

As you build your online storefront, you’ll come across acronyms such as API, CMS, CDN, SSL, and more. Whether you’re a one-person shop or have dozens of employees or contractors, it’s going to make your life easier to know what these mean. Visit our main E-Commerce page to find out.

Other E-Commerce Platforms

Click below on the e-commerce platform you’re interested in to jump to our review on that service. Several other platforms deserve mention that didn’t make it into our top categories. Each has its strengths, and we encourage you to consider all your options. Note that we only review the top 10 here. For other companies that didn’t make this cut, we invite you to visit our overflow review.

Ashop Commerce | Big Cartel |GoDaddy Online Store | PrestaShop | Selz | Volusion | X-Cart

Ashop Commerce Review

Ashop Commerce logoVisit Website

Ashop gets high marks for customer service, security features and overall experience setting up your e-commerce site. Ashop makes designing and creating your website easy and has a great guide for new users on how to get your shopping cart set up and accepting credit cards that very day. You also get unlimited site hosting with Rackspace. A Shop Commerce is best suited for small businesses with low volume sales.

It’s not as feature rich as other top e-commerce sites, and there’s a cap on the number of products their highest plan allows (10,000). But if your business doesn’t require all the bells and whistles, they’re a solid, secure platform and one of the good e-commerce platforms for small business.

Pros

Cons

  • Competitive pricing
  • Easy set up
  • Unlimited bandwidth for every price plan
  • No transaction fees
  • All features and designs are easily customizable
  • Offers free 128-bit SSL certificate
  • Good customer service reputation
  • Cap on number of products even with highest plan
  • No built-in point-of-sale system
  • Limited storage space

Pricing & Tech Specs

All plans come with unlimited bandwidth. Give them a try with their 14-day free trial.

 Starter Professional Enterprise
Price$25 per Month
$249 per Year
$69 per Month
$690 per Year
$249 per Month
$2,490 per Year
Number of Products5001,00010,000
Amount of Storage1GB2GB5GB

Big Cartel Review

Big Cartel logoVisit Website

Bigcartel is a niche e-commerce platform for artists, musicians and hand craftsmen to sell their wares online (although others business types are welcome!). This unique model makes it difficult to compare to other e-commerce platforms we’ve reviewed. Bigcartel’s primary strategy is simplicity and ease of use, and it delivers on both fronts with a free starter plan, only five templates, just the basic features to get you selling and a quick setup process.

What doesn’t BigCartel deliver? If you want to sell more than 300 products, look elsewhere. You also are very limited in shipping options – it’s handled through Paypal and not customizable. Big Cartel is a basic but fresh platform, so if that’s all you need check out their free forever Gold plan.

Pros

Cons

  • Free custom domain name with every paid plan
  • No transaction fees
  • 13 integrations, including Google Analytics and API
  • Create discount codes
  • Three mobile friendly templates
  • Coding to create your own theme provided
  • Highest plan expensive for what you get
  • Limited bandwidth, storage and number of products with every plan
  • Only 11 templates to choose from (5 are free)
  • No built-in POS system
  • No weekend customer support
  • No phone or live chat support

Pricing & Tech Specs

Bigcartel does not have a free trial, but they do have a free plan that is limited to 5 products.

 Gold Platinum Diamond Titanium
Price Per MonthFree$9.99$19.99$29.99
Number of Products525100300
Images Per Product1555

GoDaddy Online Store Review

GoDaddy logoVisit Website

GoDaddy Online Store is one of many products offered by web hosting/domain name giant GoDaddy. And while the company is a major player in the web hosting arena, its Online Store platform isn’t what you’d consider the “Daddy” of all e-commerce platforms.

GoDaddy Online Store does offer competitive pricing, unlimited products, storage and bandwidth, but its transaction fee is a very high 2.9% plus 30 cents per sale – especially considering most top platforms don’t have transaction fees at all. But if you’re a small business, the cost could be worth it. Go Daddy does have a good number of solid features and great security options.

Pros

Cons

  • Attractive monthly pricing
  • Customizable and mobile-friendly template themes
  • Easy to set up and manage
  • Unlimited bandwidth, storage and number of products
  • Good integrations, including Google Analytics, eBay and more
  • Built-in POS system
  • Excellent 24/7 customer service
  • Among the highest per transaction fees we’ve seen (and only 2 payment gateways — far fewer than most platforms)
  • No store sign-in option for your customers
  • Limit of 10 images per product
  • Requires purchase of an SSL certificate (starts at $55.99 per year)

Pricing & Tech Specs

  • $29.99 per month
  • Unlimited products, bandwidth and storage
  • 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction fee
  • A free 30-day trial, longer than most.

PrestaShop Review

PrestaShop logoVisit Website

Open source marketplace PrestaShop’s main “selling” point? It’s entirely free, with no monthly or transaction fees. But once you download the software, you still have to find a web host for your online store. You’ll also need a merchant account and/or a credit card processing service (not free!). And many of their plentiful customizable features are add-ons for an additional fee.

It’s not the easiest platform to install and configure yourself unless you are a tech wiz or have developers on hand. But, Presta Shop could be a viable option if you already know what you want in an e-commerce platform and don’t want to pay a huge monthly fee, which is why it’s one of the best e-commerce platforms for SEO.

Since our last review, PrestaShop has added a free Cloud version, which they host on a subdomain. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any information about the amount of storage, bandwidth, level of security and other necessary information needed to make a sound choice about recommending this version.

Pros

Cons

  • Entirely free and 30+ free payment gateways
  • No transaction fees
  • Fully customizable and high-quality design templates
  • Solid add-ons for SEO, marketing and analytics
  • Strong online community forum
  • Most of their features are add-ons, some free but many are paid
  • Not the best choice for e-commerce beginners
  • You have to find your own hosting site for your online store, except with its limited Cloud version
  • Store security is up to you
  • No built-in POS system
  • You have to pay for good tech support

Selz Review

Selz logoVisit Website

Selz is a relative newcomer to the e-commerce market, but it’s come out of the gate running. Selz’s niche is for entrepreneurs and start-up companies, and its monthly price is right for its target market. Selz offers free and starter plans to get you up and running — and you get some solid features for little to no cost. Its top two plans (Plus and Pro) are impressive for what they charge per month.

One major drawback is that Selz charges transaction fees for all but their Pro plan. And Selz doesn’t have enough gusto for larger companies, but that’s not their target. If you’re just getting started with an online store, Selz is certainly worth consideration. Their pricing is hard to beat.

Pros

Cons

  • Inexpensive monthly fee
  • Easy set up (no coding knowledge required)
  • Unlimited storage and bandwidth, even with free plan
  • Unlimited number of products (except free plan)
  • Excellent app integrations, including Google Analytics, Mailchimp and more
  • High security level
  • Transaction fees for most plans
  • Templates not as sophisticated as competitors
  • No built-in POS system
  • No 24/7 customer support

Pricing & Tech Specs

Selz offers a free plan, but they also have a 14-day free trial for any of the following plans.

 Free PlanStarter PlanPlus PlanPro Plan
Price Per MonthFree$12.99$19.99$26.99
Number of Products5UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Storage & BandwidthUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Transaction Fees2%2%1%None

Volusion Review

Volusion logoVisit Website

Volusion’s features stack up well against their competition – unlimited storage, no transaction fees, solid shipping and inventory tools and competitive monthly pricing.

But as we delved into our research, we noticed that there are a lot of “hidden” fees, from having to purchase an SSL certificate and SEO capability to hefty migration charges.

While Volusion has a good-sized customer base, the number of negative customer reviews we found on the web about the product quality and customer service gives us pause to recommend Volusion.

Pros

Cons

  • No transaction fees
  • 30+ free templates with high quality designs
  • Hundreds of app integrations
  • A bit higher pricing than other platforms that give you more features and better hosting capabilities
  • Platform isn’t intuitive
  • Doesn’t offer free SSL certificates
  • Long wait time for customer support
  • A number of hidden fees (SEO, migration, etc.)

Pricing & Tech Specs

All plans come with unlimited storage and no transaction fees. If you pay annually, you get 10% off the following monthly pricing. They offer a free 14-day trial so you can see for yourself if Volusion might be right for you.

 Mini Plus Pro Premium
Price Per Month$15$35$75$135
Number of Products1001,00010,000Unlimited
Amount of Bandwidth1GB3GB10GB35GB

X-Cart Review

X-Cart logoVisit Website

We like X-Cart for its wide range of features and functions, but the website is hard to navigate and the prices are steep (especially for small businesses looking for something easy to understand).

You can purchase X-Cart as stand-alone, cloud-based software and host it elsewhere or go with their monthly hosting prices, which can get expensive. But if you sign up for their high-volume hosting plans you get their software included.

Before you decide on X-Cart we recommend talking with a representative. It would be easy to end up with a product that doesn’t fit your needs as most of their pricing is a la carte.

Pros

Cons

  • No transaction fees
  • Unlimited bandwidth and storage (but you pay extra)
  • Built-in point-of-sale system
  • Quickbooks and other good integrations
  • Solid security (for added fee)
  • Gets expensive with add-ons and monthly hosting fees
  • Many features are a la carte: SSL certificate, CDN, abandoned cart, etc.
  • Not for beginners, unless you employ their developer services and tech support
  • Only 4 free design templates
  • Must pay an added fee for unlimited/priority tech support

Pricing & Tech Specs

Cloud-based X-Cart 5.0 software for download

  • Free Edition
  • $495 – Business Edition
  • $1,495 – Multivendor Edition
  • $3,995 – Ultimate Edition

X-Cart Classic 4.0x software for download

  • $195 – Gold
  • $495 – Gold Plus
  • $1,795 – Platinum

Basic Hosting plans: $29.95; $49.95 or $89.95 per month

High Volume Hosting plans: $199; $299 or $399 per month (comes with free 5.0 Business Edition or Classic Gold Plus Edition software)

Why Not Sell Online?

It’s a no-brainer that your business should have a virtual store, with so many people shopping and buying online. e-commerce influenced more than 55% of total retail sales in the U.S. during 2015, based on projected statistics from eMarketer.

Join the e-commerce world today using one of the easy and affordable e-commerce platforms we’ve reviewed here. Most offer free trials, so it’s worth your time to explore your options and make the choice that is right for you!

Is An Open Source Marketplace A Good Option For My Business?

You have to be pretty tech savvy (or be able to hire a developer) to go the open source route. Open Source Marketplaces require much more tech knowledge and typically are harder and more time consuming to set up. Here are the basic differences between open source marketplaces and e-commerce software:

  • Website hosting: Proprietary e-commerce software, like Shopify, includes website hosting in its pricing. Open source options don’t, so you’ll have to find your own hosting service and website security. Checkout our best website host reviews to find a good fit for your business. Most of the e-commerce solutions we review here are e-commerce software with hosting included.
  • Tech support: e-commerce software provides you dedicated technical support for your storefront. Open source marketplaces don’t, but they often have excellent developer community forums where you can get a lot of help. Again, you have to be pretty tech savvy.
  • Customization: Open source marketplaces give you more freedom in the number of apps you can integrate into your store. e-commerce software limits your customization ability, but those limitations vary with each platform. The best e-commerce software can still give you a lot of customization options.
  • Pricing: Although open source marketplaces don’t charge a monthly fee (like software options), you still have to pay for a hosting service and all the apps you’ll want to integrate into your storefront. Most of the popular apps charge a monthly fee, so you may end up paying more in the long run than you would with e-commerce cloud-based software.

What Are Some Other Open Source Options?

Prestashop is the only open source marketplace we reviewed here, but there are a number of solid options, including,

What If I Want A Multi-Vendor Storefront?

Multi-vendor e-commerce platforms are booming these days. As the site owner of a multi-vendor marketplace, you can earn big money through fees you charge for vendors to sell on your site. eBay and Etsy are the big guns right now, but you now have more options than ever to create your own multi-vendor marketplace. Some of our top picks include:

What About The Appearance Of My Online Store?

Some e-commerce solutions are fully loaded. For those that are not, however, you’ll need to choose your own website theme (also known as a template) so that you look good and can impress your customers! Read our best website template reviews for the scoop.

It’s also important that your theme be responsive. This essentially means that it will look good on any device. Find out more about responsive website design in our tutorial.

What kind of business are you looking to move online?

About The Author:

While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s graduate school for journalism and public relations in the late 1990s, Sally began a long career researching and writing about business, technical and scientific topics.

Her decades of experience as well as a passion to stay on top of the latest online tools and resources combine to help small businesses (and freelancers like herself) flourish. Her work has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, People, Forbes, Huffington Post, and more.

Disclaimer: This website contains reviews, opinions and information regarding products and services manufactured or provided by third parties. We are not responsible in any way for such products and services, and nothing contained here should be construed as a guarantee of the functionality, utility, safety or reliability of any product or services reviewed or discussed. Please follow the directions provided by the manufacturer or service provider when using any product or service reviewed or discussed on this website.