Best ecommerce platforms 2020 – recommendations for different use cases

In 2020 using an ecommerce platform remains the most effective way to launch an online store. And while it can be said that there is now much less difference in terms of the quality between the different platforms, than there was a few years ago, it still certainly pays off to spend a little bit of time comparing the different options before launching your store. And hopefully this page can help you find the ecommerce platform that is the best option for you specifically.

Shopify – still the best overall ecommerce platform

While Shopify’s success has pushed many of its competitors to improve their offering, in my opinion, Shopify is still in 2020 the best ecommerce platform for most people who are looking to launch an online store.

Shopify’s most important advantages include, for example, how easy it is to use, how good their customer service and the fact its service is priced in a very open and clear way. In 2020 the cheapest proper Shopify plan still usually costs $29/month and the two other normal options cost respectively $79/month and $299/month. And, if you pay for a year or two in advance, you can get a discount on those already relatively modest prices.

Does Shopify’s offering have problems in 2020? While Shopify is a pretty great ecommerce solution, it is not perfect. And in my opinion Shopify’s two biggest problems are its quite big transaction fees (especially with the $29/month plan) and the fact that Shopify doesn’t, in my opinion, give enough options for modifying the URLs of store pages.

Wix – surprisingly good, great for beginners

If I had to guess which e-commerce platform might become the “next Shopify”, I would guess Wix. That is because Wix appears to have done significant improvements on its ecommerce solution and in addition to that it is also, for example, quite modestly priced (and in fact Wix is currently one of the few platforms that we recommend for those looking for a cheap ecommerce solution with no turnover or product limits). In practice Wix’s listed prices for its e-commerce platform start from $23/month, but it is very possible to be offered a significant discount by Wix after you have tried their store builder for a few minutes.

What are some advantages of Wix in 2020? The most obvious one is that, it is extremely easy to design a nice looking store with Wix. And I suspect that even if you never before done anything like it, you can build a solid looking Wix store in 15 to 30 minutes. It really is that easy.

What are some of the cons of Wix in 2020? Based on my experiences, Wix might not be a great choice if you are looking to launch a non-English language online store, this as it appears that their translations are not always great and as a user you also don’t have a full control over them. Also, while Wix might be a great choice for those just getting started with ecommere, experienced and/or ambitious founders might be better off choosing a platform (such as Shopify or BigCommerce) that is not as easy to use, but offers more freedom.

BigCommerce – good choice for tech-savvy and/or very ambitious founders

While BigCommerce has been moving more into serving really large companies, it does also have a pretty or even a very good ecommerce solution geared more towards small and medium sized ecommerce businesses. That part of BigCommerce’s offering is called “BigCommerce Essentials”. And the one that is serving large clients is called “BigCommerce Enterprise”. On this page we will focus on “BigCommerce Essentials”, for more information about the enterprise-solution I recommend checking out BigCommerce’s website.

When considering just the features of the platform, BigCommerce Essentials might actually in 2020 be even better than Shopify: Just like Shopify, BigCommerce also offers lot of different ways to customize how your store looks and functions and also with BigCommerce it is possible to launch your online store quite quickly. However, in addition to those things, BigCommerce also offers, for example, more options than Shopify when it comes to customizing your store’s URLs. And what is also great is that at least in many cases BigCommerce charges less transaction fees than Shopify.

Unfortunately though, BigCommerce also has some downsides. The first two of them apply to pretty much all BigCommerce users and the third one to those who would like to have their store in some other language than English.

The first issue is that BigCommerce has revenue limits on its 3 Essential plans. In practice that means that with BigCommerce’s Standard-plan you can sell at most $50,000 worth in a 12-month period, with Plus-plan you can sell at most $180,000 worth in 12 months and with Pro-plan the limit is set at $400,000 in one year. However, in regard to the Pro-plan it is nice to know that it is possible to increase the yearly revenue limit by paying extra $150/month for every $200,000 in the yearly limit.

The second issue with BigCommerce is that it has a bit steeper learning curve than, for example, Wix or even Shopify. So, if you are going to use BigCommerce and don’t have previous experience with building online stores or websites, it will probably take some time to get everything look and function as you want them to.

The third issue with BigCommerce is that their themes are currently only available in English. According to BigCommerce it is possible to translate your store to another language but obviously that will take some work and you might run into some hurdles when doing it.

How much does using BigCommerce Essentials cost? That depends on the plan you pick. The Standard-plan costs $29.95/month, the Plus-plan costs $79.95/month and the Pro-plan costs $299.95/month. Those are the prices when paid in monthly-basis, however with the Plus- and Pro-plans you get a 10% discount if you pay for a full year in advance.

Does BigCommerce offer a free trial? Yes. BigCommerce Essential users get a 15-day free trial. Try BigCommerce for free.

WooCommerce – good option for WordPress users

If you are familiar with WordPress, WooCommerce might be as good of an option as Shopify. That is because with WooCommerce it is these days extremely easy to start a nice looking online store. And naturally it is also nice that WooCommerce is free – unless you need to buy plugins which, granted, is quite likely to happen.

What are some of the cons of WooCommerce? Maybe the biggest issue with WooCommerce is that if you are not familiar with WordPress, you first need to learn how to use it in order to use WooCommerce and to go along with that you also need to pay for hosting for your WordPress site (e-commerce platform services such as Shopify give free hosting with a subscription).

Squarespace – solid choice for a store focused on aesthetics

Given how heavily Squarespace focuses on its traditional website-builder, it is understandable that its ecommerce store builder is sometimes overlooked when people think about the best ecommerce platforms. And while I don’t rank Squarespace on the level of Shopify or WooCommerce, I would consider it as an option if I were to launch an online store with just a few products and in a niche where aesthetics (e.g. high fashion) are extremely important.

2020 Squarespace ecommerce solution prices: when paid in monthly-basis the cheaper option costs $30/month and the more expensive option costs $46/month.

3dcart – worth considering for those on a small budget

When thinking purely in terms of the quality of the platform, 3dcart is probably not as good of a choice as Shopify or WooCommerce. But in the real world low cost is sometimes more important than high quality. And that is where 3dcart shines: 3dcart’s cheapest regular plan costs $19/month, which already in itself is quite cheap, but then in addition to that 3dcart also runs lot of promotions. During those promotions you can often get a 3dcart plan for 50% off, and at that point 3dcart becomes really cheap for what it can offer.

Are there reasons other than its cheap price for choosing 3dcart? At least two. The first one is its age: 3dcart was founded in 1997 and thus it can be a good choice for those looking for a well-established e-commerce platform – the fact that 3dcart is already 23 years aged is also a strong indicator that 3dcart is safe. The second reason is that 3dcart gives an impressive amount of freedom for your store’s URLs,

In practice that second reason means that with 3dcart you can have product URLs such as whatever.com/whatever, where as with some other e-commerce platform your product pages might be forced to have URL’s such as whatever.com/products/whatever – maybe not a big issue if your store’s language is English, but quite annoying if your store is, for example, in German or French.

Volusion – a reasonable option for people from the United States

Volusion has couple things going for it: First of all it charges no additional transaction fees, and that can mean really big savings, when compared to something like Shopify where the fees can be up to 2.9%+30c per transaction. And secondly, Volusion’s new store builder is aesthetically very pleasing. And as with all the other good e-commerce platforms, also with Volusion it is easy to build a solid online store.

However, Volusion also has some disadvantages: First of all, its cheaper plans have quite low turnover limits and the cheapest Volusion also plan has a quite low product limit. Secondly, Volusion’s own payment solution is only available for people from the United States and thirdly, Volusion’s cheaper plans don’t support 3rd party gateways. Those last two things add up to the fact that, while Volusion might be worth considering for those people who are from the United States, the rest of us are probably better off choosing some other ecommerce solution.

Are there other ecommere platforms possibly worth considering in 2020?

If none of the above platforms seem like the right fit for you, it might worth checking out, for example, Ecwid. Although at least my experience of Ecwid was that it should be considerable easier to use.