10 of the Best Hosted eCommerce Platforms

By Akshay Sachdeva , Jacco Blankenspoor

A store

This article was updated in March, 2017 to bring it up to date with the current state of the hosted eCommerce platform market.

eCommerce platforms are always evolving. With several options available in the market, you’ve got to decide which one suits your needs best!

There’s always been a lot of contention over which self-hosted eCommerce software is the best, and as the hosted space fills out, things are heating up there as well.

Here are the top 10 hosted eCommerce platforms that we think are best for the undecided.

1. Shopify

EatBoutique Shop

Example: EatBoutique Shop

Shopify is one of the most famous online shopping cart tools. It’s popular with small shops because that is the market Shopify is aiming to serve.

Benefits

One of the reasons for Shopify’s success is an app store that makes it simple to expand the abilities of your default web store. Shopify offers hundreds of apps, more than any other competitor. It also offers a nice selection of professional themes.

Shopify features abandoned cart recovery, which sends a reminder to customers who didn’t check out. Unfortunately, this option is only available when you pay $79 a month or more.

Shopify comes with unlimited products and bandwidth, which isn’t as common as you might think.

Noteworthy features

Pricing starts at $29 per month for the most important features, with a limited starter plan called Shopify Lite at $9 a month.

For more on Shopify, check out this behind-the-scenes look.

2. BigCommerce

BigCommerce store

BigCommerce is the most popular online shopping cart in the “top million sites” category, which means it’s popular for small- to medium-sized web stores. It offers more features to grow your sales than almost any other shopping cart software on the market.

Benefits

While the pricing seems comparable to Shopify, its feature set is a bit better for each plan. Features like real-time shipping quotes, gift cards and 24/7 phone/mail/chat support are included in its base plan for $29.95 a month. Too bad you still have to upgrade to a more expensive plan for the abandoned cart recovery.

The great thing about its pricing is that you don’t need more than the Gold plan at $79.95 a month. It comes with all of the features as well as unlimited products, storage and bandwidth.

Noteworthy features

Pricing starts at $29.95 per month for almost all features, with unlimited everything for $79.95 a month.

I wrote an article on BigCommerce before, in a head-to-head comparison with Volusion.

3. Volusion

SlickWraps

Example: SlickWraps

Volusion is the second most used online shopping cart, right after Yahoo Store. It is popular in all ranges, from the top 10,000 sites to the entire Internet.

Benefits

It is the “cheapest” cart to offer abandoned cart recovery, as this feature comes with the starter plan at $15 a month. This plan is actually all you need if you want to test the waters. It is limited to just 100 products and 1GB of data usage, but has all the necessary features to get started.

I wrote about Volusion’s feature set before here on SitePoint when I compared it to BigCommerce. With the Pro plan you get some professional features for $75 a month.

Noteworthy features

Pricing comes in at just $15 a month for what I believe is a decent starter plan. The best goodies are included in its $75/month plan.

4. Wix

Seven Grams Caffe

Example: Seven Grams Caffe

Wix is essentially a free website builder, quickly gaining popularity and aggressively funded. What many people don’t realize is that it also offers eCommerce features as part of its premium packages.

Benefits

Wix eCommerce doesn’t impress with its features, but there’s enough to get your store up and running. What really sets Wix apart is its brilliant visual design interface, which you can use to position every element of your site in any color you like.

Particularly if you are selling a limited number of products, you might want to take the time to make beautiful sales pages in a far more convenient way than any other tool.

Noteworthy features

  • Visual editor (worth mentioning again) with live examples and template reference
  • Low pricing and easy setup, perfect for testing the waters
  • No transaction costs, just the monthly fee

You’re best off paying for a full year, which is priced just over $120.

5. 3dcart

Ideal Baby

Example: Ideal Baby

3dcart is one of the lesser-known online eCommerce solutions, yet it is feature rich. It even has some features specifically built for Web designers, should you be doing research for a client.

Benefits

3dcart has no transaction fees, which is always a big plus. It also offers both a mobile front-end and a mobile back-end. What’s interesting is that it also has a full suite of web store related services, like SEO or Facebook marketing. That’s not common for a shopping cart provider but could come in handy. I would advise you to look at some other pages on the site as well, since there are some excellent resources there (like a shopping search engine comparison).

Too bad its pricing is a bit outdated. While you get a decent number of features in its starter plan, it is limited at 4,000 visitors (actually it’s limited on bandwidth, but it does the math for you). It’s also limited at 100 products, which equals 20 visits per product. That’s not enough for a decent conversion rate. Even when you pay $129.99 a month you only get 90,000 visitors, which isn’t that much. Its High Traffic Plus plan will give you up to 500,000 visitors (at a staggering cost of $499.99/month).

Noteworthy features

  • Useful features for Web designers, like the option to sell re-branded stores and an extensive permission system
  • Tons of shipping options, far more than any other competitor
  • Many, many more features included even in the starter plan

The starter plan is $19.99 a month, but for a reasonably popular web store you will be looking at $99.99 per month.

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6. Big Cartel

Tattly

Example: Tattly

Big Cartel is a much smaller company than some of the others on this list (like Shopify), but it is quickly growing in popularity, especially among niche sellers. It promotes itself as a cart “built for makers” and much like Etsy, tend to target artists and indie brands.

Benefits

Big Cartel’s price points are on the lower end, and comparable with the likes of Shopify and Wix. It has a free plan that gives you 5 products with unlimited features, and its paid plans start at $9.99 a month and go up to $29.99.

The only downside is that its highest priced plan only gives you 300 products, which may be ideal for smaller merchants. But it may not be ideal if you’re looking for more products and higher traffic.

Noteworthy features

  • Ideal for small merchants, artists, or “makers”
  • Quick setup and integration for selling in-person
  • All features and integrations are included with each plan

The starter plan is free, but for a decent sized store you will be looking at $29.99 per month.

7. Squarespace

Grovemade

Example: Grovemade

Squarespace was originally launched in 2004 as a basic drag-and-drop website builder, and now boasts over 1 million users, which is a testament to its durability and focus on customer satisfaction. In addition to traditional websites, Squarespace has a fully loaded eCommerce solution.

Benefits

Squarespace is a highly visual platform that is perfect for stores that want beautiful, rich imagery and designer templates alongside its product listing. Both of its plans offer unlimited products, which is a huge benefit for merchants of any size.

One downside, however, is that it has limited integrations for payment gateways. Currently it only offers Stripe integration, which is not always available to merchants from smaller countries.

Noteworthy features

  • Unlimited products on both Basic and Advanced plans
  • Unlimited pages, galleries, and blogs with unlimited bandwidth, storage, and contributors
  • Drag-and-drop site builder

Squarespace’s Basic plan is $26 a month and its Advanced plan costs $40 a month.

8. LemonStand

Charlotte Hosten

Example: Charlotte Hosten

LemonStand is a relatively new platform, but it’s comparable to some of the top options like Shopify and BigCommerce. It’s also highly customizable, more so than Shopify, and lets retailers change almost every aspect of a store in order to create a unique shopping experience.

Benefits

One of the biggest pros in LemonStand’s favor is SEO. It uses both on-page and off-page SEO, giving insight into things that can help you improve your page like link building and social media,.

One feature unique to LemonStand is the ability to add SSL encryption to every page of the site, not just the checkout process, so that your site is secure from top to bottom.

Noteworthy features

Plans start at $99 a month and go up to $399 with the Premium plan.

9. X-Cart Cloud

X-Cart Demo

Example: X-Cart Demo

X-Cart Cloud is bundle that includes an X-Cart license and fully managed VPS Hosting by X-Cart. It’s the hosted version of X-Cart Downloadable, which I covered in a comparison with Magento in the past.

Benefits

X-Cart is an open source product, and the X-Cart team actively works with developers to improve the product. They are a bit more conservative in pushing updates to the hosted version, which is understandable given the scale they operate on.

Still, they are keen on keeping ahead, like with the recently introduced Cloud Search functionality to speed up product search. Too bad they didn’t include layered navigation in all membership levels; it’s only available at the $99.95 a month level.

Noteworthy features

  • Cloud Search, where products appear instantly in the search box when typing them in
  • No transaction fees, where most popular alternatives charge anything from 0.5% to 2.5% per transaction
  • A point-of-sale module included with its Standard Edition

The starter plan is $19.95 a month, but you will probably want the Standard Edition at $59.95 per month.

10. Etsy

IlluminatedPerfume

Example: IlluminatedPerfume

I’ll conclude this list with something totally different. If you want to sell vintage items, handcrafted goods or craft supplies and want to tap into a community of millions of buyers, you should consider Etsy.

Benefits

Etsy makes it easy to list specific products in a way that is appealing to your target audience. You are automatically connected to its highly-trafficked marketplace, while still having a place of your own within the site.

You get plenty of ways to present yourself and your products and really make a brand out of yourself. Buyers can favorite your product, or ask you questions about the products you’re offering. While this all seems a bit “small town market place,” there is some serious money to be made.

Etsy doesn’t give you all the freedom of the other providers, but if you’ve got a suitable offering it’s a good way to start (and move on to your own domain when successful). It is a safe way of beginning to sell online, as long as you are selling products within its guidelines.

Noteworthy features

  • Plenty of opportunities to establish yourself as a brand
  • Etsy currently has 30 million users you can access
  • Professional design with lots of social interactions

Payment is simple. You only pay 3.5% per transaction and a one-time fee of $0.20 for each item listed.

Wrapping It Up

Depending on what your needs are, how many users you anticipate will visit your website, and the number of SKUs you’re planning to showcase, you’ll need to decide which platform is ideally suited to your needs. So do your homework, and make a choice from the top ten eCommerce platforms!

  • Martin Emmert

    Please reconsider the awful miss-leading headline….

    Sorry, but this article is absolutely not about the 10 top eCommerce solutions and it is strongly opinionated by it’s author and does not rely on any sources but personal experiences…

    Magento, OXID or Intershop are eCommerce solutions, the named here are for small businesses and shouldn’t be called eCommerce solutions…

    just my 2 cents.

    • Steven Finch, Attorney at Law

      Yes, not to mention they’re all hosted solutions, which I found especially annoying.

    • Hi Martin,

      these are generally considered to be the best online solutions, and are suited both for small and larger businesses (probably not enterprise though). Thanks, Jacco

      • Jeroen Meeus

        generally? any proof? The problem is in your title. What you actually are comparing is the EAAS platforms (ecommers as a service). But then there is the DAAS + commercemodule. Does this count then?

    • Pete

      Yes, the title should have probably said ‘hosted’ and ‘very basic’ or ‘starter’ sites, as it didn’t include things like hosted Magento etc. But still, a good article I thought as it outlined all the main players in this space, and one of very great interest to non-technical people starting out. I was surprised at the cost of some of these products: they’re edging up there given they mostly contain extremely basic product management. One huge disadvantage of Etsy is that it’s so completely saturated, and seems to have lost control of its original intent: hand-crafted stuff. It’s so crowded out with middle-American junk sellers, often importing rubbish from 3rd world countries under the guise of ‘hand-made’ that it even has websites devoted to pointing out how much rubbish is on there (eg. ‘Vaginas on Etsy’). As a marketing tool, it’s pointless given its size, but it is cheap. One other aspect of these sites: they’re mostly ugly, using 90s style designs. A couple look OK eg. Wix, but the shopping functionality is very simplistic – in fact none of them have very sophisticated product attribute management. I found my clients want nothing to do with these sites given the dated, unstylish looks of them, but I guess it depends on your product. A significantly simplified and neatened oscommerce site (not easy: the default layout is really busy and unattractive), or a customised Magento site (not easy, expensive, but looks great) solution beat these hands down in my opinion.

  • John

    Where is nopCommerce, magento, prestashop, opencart? Author is missing a lot of sites

  • Anon

    The number one e-commerce solution, with 12%+ marketshare according to BuiltWith, is WooCommerce. Would be nice to see that discussed here…

  • Andrii Kasian

    seems to me you’ve forgotten the #0 Magento – best of the best

    • Hi Andrii, this articles focuses on online tools, and unfortunately Magento is phasing out Magento Go (their online version of Magento).

  • hoanglan87

    You should add “Hosted” to the title

  • tahiiri

    Prestashop ?

  • Personally I think all these commodity point-n-click shopping carts are garbage for doing serious business. They may be fine for people selling some clothes, or for grandma to sell her soy candles, or mom and pop shops who do everything themselves. But for a real business shipping dozens of orders a day, managing multiple employees and departments, vendors, product options/variations/personalizations, inventory, purchase orders, complex workflows, etc etc, they fall apart completely.

    The last time I tested carts like these for a company I work for, it was a disaster. They couldn’t handle proper shipping tables and regions, or they couldn’t handle the variations we needed, or they had horrible reporting and couldn’t even do proper reports for taxes and other things. We have products with as many as 10 different options which creates a combination of almost a thousand variations, I’ve crashed these carts just trying to set up ONE product like this.

    If you have a shipping department, they need to be able to export orders or manage them in bulk, and to change the order status and attach tracking numbers, most of these are poor shipping managers, and perhaps they aren’t trying to be? If a cart literally expect the shipping person to go in to the backend and click every order one by one to paste in a tracking code, save it, change its status, this is a HUGE waste of time in a fast-paced company. Some of these carts cannot even handle storing multiple shipments/boxes with multiple tracking numbers.

    I don’t have a problem with hosted carts, in fact it’s almost necessary if you expect to be PCI DSS certified and manage payments and credit cards from the backend of the cart. If you want people to stay on your store during checkout and not just use some 3rd party popup payment window, or Paypal, then you need to think about PCI DSS, and many smaller companies can’t do that themselves, so hosted carts are the best option if they have excellent security and compliance. How many of the above carts even claim PCI DSS?

    Another caveat of PCI DSS is that when your cart is capable, you can manage payments in the cart. In other words, you can charge the orders, refund, or cancel, without having to go to the gateway to do it. When testing carts, if they could not let us manage the payments from the backend and expect us to try and do it one by one in the gateway, they were off the table. A huge waste of time there too managing payments that way.

    They carts are often also poor when it comes to discounts/coupons/specials. Some have little more than discounting a product or a category by price or by percentage. While this basic discount is expected, it is not enough. What about BOGO? What about BOGA (buy one get another product). What about bulk discount rules (5 @ $x but 10 @ $y etc). What about price levels for different custom groups, or supplies who buy FROM you? What about buy one get something else at a certain discount? What about discounts based only on certain rules of engagement? In other words, Tweet “this” and get 5% off “that”. What about member discounts, member groups?

    What about product and vendor management? In other words, can you record who your vendor is for a product and the SKU for that? What if you have products with more than one vendor? I’m pretty sure none of the carts above even let you store your vendors or manufacturer SKUs.

    Of all the carts above, I personally think BigCommerce is one of the most feature rich, but again, small things completely blocked our organization from considering it for our cart. Namely, they didn’t (at the time), let us create any order statuses beside the defaults they give you. So basically your company can ONLY have one of maybe 7 statuses like pending, complete, canceled, etc. How about partially shipped? Out for customization? Payment issue? Fraud check? Blacklisted customers? We actually have about 40 different order statuses we use, not just a few defaults.

    The author seemed to focus on one feature of managing abandoned carts, but this “feature” is horrible and typically something commodity carts do but real workhorse carts don’t focus on. I would HATE a shopping site that bugs me and sends automated spam every time I put a couple things in a cart to price check or test a coupon code or see a “hidden price” that is “too low to show” or whatever the case may be. Abandoned cart spams are a horrible idea and there are far better ways to help customers make decisions, such as availability of live chat, and making sure your checkout process doesn’t suck.

    Magento is fine and dandy, but a company will need a team of nerds to program it up to do everything you want. And don’t get me started on that horrible garbage that is Woocommerce! You will spend $1000 buying their addons just to get basic features that already come with the lowest priced versions of any cart in this article. And shoving a cart into the WordPress mold is a disaster for management and multiple-user security.

    Anyway, not to be a downer, nothing against the author, but these carts are of little use to real businesses doing millions in revenue, or want complex products, discounts, shipping management, vendor management, workflows, or anything else a normal business would need.

    • Jake Jackson

      I enjoyed reading this more than the article itself. Now if you would only follow up with your alternatives for enterprise business it would be complete.

      • Haha, thanks!
        When you use the word “enterprise” you are almost immediately talking about carts that will cost horrific amounts. Magento enterprise stuff is at least $50,000 a year. Or at least it used to be before ebay bought it. The community edition is free but like any self-hosted solution, you will have to worry about the server it’s stored on, and pass PCI-DSS and manage all the SSL and security stuff yourself. Even after all that, you still may have to manage charging orders from the gateway rather than your own store.
        I talked to a company recently who manages Magento Community stores for you, doing web design and catalog work, plugin development, feature installations, updates, backups etc etc, and they are something like $1200 a month or more.

        If your business has to work among multiple departments and the cart is wimpy, then what happens is you have to build data bridges between a bunch of silos. In other words, your sales reps and tech support have to use a CRM app which has to stay in sync with the store customer records. The sales people need to sync up the cart sales with Quickbooks or something. The shipping department has to use some 3rd party shipping tool like Shipworks which may or may not include the inventory tool, or vendor management ERP stuff. The marketing guys have to sync their newsletter tools with the CRM and store for creating lists. The cart has to have a powerful enough API which just happens to be able to communicate with 10 other tools, until one thing changes and the whole chain breaks apart or data doesn’t match up and customers get mad!

        How do you handle an RMA? The tech people record it in a CRM, but that doesn’t change the store, so they have to edit something manually, then trigger the shipping department to expect a return, which then has to sync data back to the store, customer notes, and back to CRM again, then to finance, inventory, etc etc

        Frankly, I just don’t think ecommerce software has evolved far enough to do this right. You are either paying a team of nerds to program your store continuously, or you use some out of the box cart and hope for the best, hope they do it right, and let your employees fight with the data to try and get what they need out of it. It’s just not refined. In the early days we had a finance person who was forced to charge orders 1 by 1 in the gateway and spent half the day doing this useless labor because carts weren’t smart enough to batch things.

        It’s the same story with CMSes for websites. You can do pretty good stuff with all-in-one themes and plugins, but you will reach that point where you just want to work a certain way, have a certain workflow, add a certain feature, and you just can’t do it. It’s either-or, custom or packaged. That annoying workflow you wish you could bypass, or not have to click here and there to do something, or add a new report, or change how exports work. Or you are the boss and are mad because that one employee has to keep working around stupid limitations of the cart and wasting their time because the cart doesn’t give you the data in the way they need it.

        The future holds great things for carts to evolve, if they stop focusing on bizarre useless features to pad their feature lists and instead focus on boring backend stuff that helps businesses run.

        Rant over!

        • Sensational Guy

          Exactly. Magento Enterprise is expensive.

          Actually, If I were a serious online seller I would sign up for a store on Amazon. Tough to beat that right? You’d get tons of traffic. Only problem is there is a super expensive price you have to pay to them, and you have to move a lot of merchandise just to break even, or you will actually be losing money!

          • RioBrewster

            Amazon is pretty saturated too. They won’t even look at new jewelry shops.

    • Lola

      Yep, most of these solutions are suitable for older people selling 10 units of unconfigurable, handmade stuff a month. They look like they’re designed for the midwest grandma market too with their 1990s designs. I’d recommend them for a sole trader just starting their business, but in the remote chance their business succeeds at becoming bigger and profitable, they have to move away from these sites. Taxes, reporting, shipping: they all revolve around you doing this yourself, separately, kind of like the ‘soy candles’ (LOL!) you mention. Etsy is hysterical in this regard – a browse through that site for an hour or so is a guaranteed way to get a laugh, both from the products on sale (“25 dead bees in a jar” or “human breast milk popsicles” or “sexy vampire reusable menstrual goddess post partum cloth pad” ), and the absurd, poorly educated writing about the products (“nurture your femininity with these hand-crocheted labia made in China by craftswomen using centuries old techniques and 21st century nylon”). None of these sites handled configurable products properly, because they’re mostly used to sell one-offs, and can’t be taken seriously for a serious business.

    • Thanks Zack :) Appreciate your reply. Am finding WooCommerce limited while Magento a bit overpriced as well. What solution did you take at the end of the day then? :)

      • We are still looking! No cart has “exactly” the same features we currently have, plus those we want/need. It’s always a trade off. Get this cool feature we need, lose some other features we’ve been relying on. Nothing seems to take the cake.

        As a small business, I actually prefer the managed/hosted solutions, simply because they take care of the security and PCI-DSS stuff. To do this yourself with a self-hosted cart can be a pain. At the very least you would need a host that allows you to get this certification.

        So with hosted solutions, you might look at ShoppingCartElite.com. I also think the features of BigCommerce are 90% of the way there. If I wanted a hosted cart right this second, I’d probably try them first, but they lack the ability to create custom order status labels and workflow. Orders must go between their predefined statuses.

        For a self-hosted solution when you have a developer, try Magento Community. For a non-developer, probably PrestaShop is at the top for me.

    • Sensational Guy

      “…for a real business shipping dozens of orders a day, managing multiple employees and departments, vendors, product options/variations/personalizations, inventory, purchase orders, complex workflows, etc etc, they fall apart completely”

      No $hit Sherlock. But if you spend a lot of time and money building a custom online store, you better damned well hope to be doing serious business. If not, it will be the biggest waste of time and money you ever spent. The problem is no one knows how successful their company will be until AFTER they decide which of type of store to use, not BEFORE. That’s why in many ways using one of these subscription-based websites is a smart choice to make for a start-up.

    • Rzg

      Zack, Which application did your orgamnisation then finnaly settle on ?. Your review is indepth and very insightful. I have really learnt a lot from it. thanks. I Was thinking about using Magento but i will welcome your suggestions…. We are about to startup an online version of our shop and we have great ambition, so dont want any solutions that do not have robust functionality…..Your suggestions and or insights will be most welcome…Regards RZG.

  • Josh Summerhays

    Doba’s integration with Pinnacle Cart was mentioned, but Doba is also integrated with X-Cart, 3dcart, 1ShoppingCart, and BigCommerce. Full disclosure, I work for Doba and just wanted to clarify that. Thanks!

  • Hi, I did a number of articles on WooCommerce in the past, please check my profile here on SitePoint: http://www.sitepoint.com/author/jaccob/

  • Hi, I did quite a number of articles on shopping carts before, please check my profile: http://www.sitepoint.com/author/jaccob/

  • That looks like a great alternative for Magento Go!

  • Any thoughts on Miva Merchant? http://www.mivamer hant.com

  • Richard Varno

    What about non-hosted solutions (where you don’t have to pay a monthly fee) such as WooCommerce?

  • johnster0777

    Personally I think that any of this whole shopping carts can be good for small businesses but they all have there pros and cons. SaleHoo directory has over 8000, huge range of products. Over 1.5 million products in 150 categories. You could find suppliers of brand name goods, perfect for ebay sellers and power sellers and they offer several price ranges of their SaleHoo store platforms. Although you’re not obligated to use any of there store platforms ’cause you can chose whatever platform of your choice but their directory is good. As for all of the nay sayers I highly doubt you’ve ever worked for companies as big as Amazon or EnRoute Global Exchange which is a tier one company. Even if you do or have worked there, I would rather have a small business and make a lot of money than to work for someone else. You have to remember that all large companies didn’t start big. They got big because of their hard work and effort and it took them years in order to accomplish their big success. Haven’t you heard the story of Sam Walton the founder of Walmart and Sam’s club? All of his hard work paid off and now Walmart is international. Too bad that Sam Walton is already dead though but he left a good legacy for his family. At the time of his death he had 1,735 Walmarts,212 Sam’s Clubs and 13 Supercenters. A person has to start from somewhere, have a good vision and persistency and anything is possible.

  • I had already added a comment to this discussion but since I commented under anonymous without signing in, I can’t see my own comment. Oh well that’s the way the ball bounces, but next time I’ll know better.

  • Hi Richard, an article focusing on self-hosted shopping carts is in the works :-)

  • Didn’t made it to the list, but thanks for adding!

  • Luke Wale

    Where is magento… that’s massive.

    Also oscommerce (but I hate that p ersonally)

    Or even wordpress versions… woocommerce and wp ecommerce???

  • Chris Charette

    There’s a new mobile-based ecommerce iPhone/iPad app called BuySellFast (http://buysellfast.mobi). It’s a free app, actually it’s $.99 to add a store. Totally free for buyers. Buyers can recommend item on their wall when they shop and friends can add comments. Buyers can follow stores, and sellers can post notifications to all followers. Sellers get to personalize their own storefront and add a banner and policy documents.

  • Just a quick note for everybody, the self-hosted shopping cart article is live now:
    http://www.sitepoint.com/10-best-self-hosted-ecommerce-solutions/

  • afk

    Do you have any experience with or have an opinion on the Lemonstand solution?

  • Vanessa

    Shopify has met all of my needs and more time and time again. I have been very pleased with their services: http://www.shopify.com/?ref=082010

  • Dennis

    Have you tried PrestaShop? It is one of the best I think. I am still testing my online shop application based on PrestaShop and I am planning to go online in 2015. There is a nice guide at https://www.rosehosting.com/blog/install-prestashop-on-a-centos-vps/ about how to install PrestaShop and how to start using it. It has very clean and easy to use UI.

  • Bigcommerce and Shopify are definitely the clear leaders in ecommerce software. I think that Bigcommerce has a slight edge due to the fact that they give you tons of room to grow. Shopify limits these tools.

    Check out this comparison:

    http://rijalda.com/best-ecommerce-software

  • inspiredmag

    Thanks for a great comparison Jacco! I’ve also reviewed top 20 ecommerce platforms based on their SEO features, which are extremely important these days: http://ecommerce-platforms.com/compare/best-ecommerce-platform-seo

  • Shopify is an incredible platform. If it were not just hosted platforms, then Magento closely followed by Drupal would be ruling the throne, but our of the hosted ones – Shopify is definitely the game-changing platform.

  • Hi,

    I am looking for a best Ecommerce solution which provides all the customizable features. Can you suggest me the best one hosted software?

    Thanks

  • Shopify and Big Commerce are great self hosted solutions specially for the beginners who want to develop their website and they don’t have much technical experience.

  • Great list of hosted shopping carts. Specially some are quite new for me like WIX and Pinnaclecart. I think urls of this article is not optimized as It is only addressing ecommerce platforms, i.e. hosted is not mentioned. That is the reason that most of the reviewer like Martin and others have confusion in it.

  • Alastair

    Hi, The way you compared them all is awesome specially I like the way you given the examples with each one. At the end, I have a question that when we have free shopping carts like PrestaShop then why we go for hosted carts??? In the context that PrestaShop is offering cloud hosting free then why we pay for hosted carts.

  • Tyler

    You guys should all check out Evance, the UK’s answer to Shopify, big commerce, magento etc. http://www.evance.it

  • A hosted solution usually takes on a lot of technical maintenance issues. They host it, they provide security (usually), they provide storage, bandwidth, CDN (sometimes). They perform the upgrades to the software, they keep backups and disaster recovery plan. They provide 24/7 (hopefully) support so you can get answer to issues.
    They are also in a way better position to provide PCI-DSS certification to make sure you can accept credit cards from the store. It’s almost impossible for mere mortals to secure a home-built store these days.
    The downfall of hosted is that you usually cannot edit deeper source code or perform extensive customizing, nor do you get access to the raw database. Basically they stop you from being able to do things that would destroy the store entirely.

    Personally I would always go for a hosted store, especially if you do not have the IT staff to maintain updates, test, backup, and provide all your support and security. If your store is hacked, the liability will be on the hosting provider who manages security and PCI for you.

    I would only run a home-grown self-hosted store if it’s for super small business and I want to be very hands on in maintaining it, and I use a complete off-site checkout service to avoid PCI.

    • Alastair

      Thanks for a great insight about hosted carts and their benefits.

    • Ashwin Colaco

      Hi Zack ,
      Fantastic insight especially when it comes to RMA and CRM requirements
      I have been reading a lot and am thoroughly confused .
      I’m rolling out on magento community with multi vendor marketplace plug ins with all the works ( Ajax pro, paypal adaptive,RMA , drop shipping , SMS, ) mobile app for market place .Im gonna spend some and give it a shot .

      Was wondering if there is a hosted market place solution . Do any of these support multi vendor market place plugins … or is my question just stupid

      Ashwin

  • swamy

    Gainstores.com is growing e-commerce startup by providing the platform for merchants.

  • salman khan

    Awesome article! Especially agree with #2: Social
    Network will Serve As Shopping Platforms. “Facebook stores” are
    becoming more popular (a good example is – http://www.getsocialshops.com) and I expect those numbers to grow in 2015. Not sure if
    Facebook’s “buy button” will take off, but the call-to-action buttons
    they just announced will be popular!

  • James Carlos

    eCommerce site development companies provides companies to
    improve their online location, boost visitor site traffic. Qtriangle
    specializes in offering ecommerce website development services in india.

  • Jaga

    Dear Zack,
    Your comments were an eye-opener for me. Thanks again.
    Do you have any other favorites now (as the comment was 6 mnths back)?
    I was looking forward to a B-to-C and B-to-B solution and was thinking of X-Cart. From your above comment, considering PrestaShop aswell.
    Any insights on this would be very helpful ( Well I’m not a developer :-)

    Would PrestaShop be able to handle Multivendor part aswell. Thanks in advance

    JTA

  • Melanie

    Well Zack, thank you very much. I just tore a contract between four clients and software developers based on reading this info.

    As Jaga said below….what do you think nowadays?

    My clients are in Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy.

    • There are really only a few options here.

      1) Just getting started, one person in their garage, trying to make some extra cash with an online store.
      For these people they are going to go with the cheapest possible hosted solution or they will set up some free self-hosted software with a free Paypal checkout. Volusion, BigCommerce, Woocommerce, x-cart, Prestashop, zillion others. They’ll use default templates and will handle all charges, shipments, returns, customer service, fraud checking and everything else, manually 1 by 1.

      2) Business has grown, perhaps have employees, want more customization in the theme, branding, now willing to pay something. Now we’re in to the higher level plans on Volusion, BigC and so forth. Stick with self-hosted backed by a profitable company, Prestashop, OpenCart, X-Cart.
      At this point, prioritize your ability to have 24/7 support, and automated backups, and that the cart has an open API to connect 3rd party tools. You will likely want alternate checkout to Paypal, or you want checkout to “look” like it’s part of your store.

      3) Business is much larger, you want 100% branding, no off-site payment gateway, full customization of theme, and integration to 3rd party management tools like Quickbooks, CRMs, ERP and so forth. Multiple employees have to handle their part of the sales workflow and track their involvement in orders.
      At this point you have your own web designer/programmers so you have to be looking at either very open hosted solutions, or very customizable self-hosted solutions.

      You can certainly still use Prestashop here or some other self-hosted carts, but you may be needing a half-dozen 3rd party tools to actually manage the store. That is shipping management, finance, customer relations, newsletter, chat, stock management, etc.

      The point is, as you grow, you don’t necessarily outgrow the cart, you outgrow the cart’s built-in abilities. This means you must be able to integrate 3rd party enterprise management tools, which can get expensive.

      At the higher levels, depending on how profitable you are, or how much cash you can spend on tech, hosted solutions provide many benefits like 24/7 support, SLAs, automated backup and disaster prevention/recovery, hack prevention, PCI DSS certification, on-site checkout, storing CCs to make future orders easier, or using recurring charges, and more. All things which are more tedious when self-hosting.

      Finally, in the enterprise, well, you gotta hire a team of programmers and create your own cart. Maybe you can build on Magento, or maybe it’s custom.

      I have a client with a store doing about 3 million in revenue with 6 employees and a catalog of about 300 products (or 20,000 if you count all variations). They are on a Network Solutions ecommerce package at $399 a month. Many parts of the cart suck, themes are way outdated, table-based, hard to customize. But on the inside, managing orders and all the employees being able to do their thing is a little easier than some other popular carts. Yet reporting sucks, and you get no access to the raw database. Everything is a compromise.

      In summary, I’m looking at Prestashop as a top self-hosted cart that can grow pretty big once you start buying plugins and integrations. For hosted carts try Shopify and Volusion for point-n-click instant shops on the cheap. Try BigCommerce for a little more edge and freedom.
      For higher end self-hosted with plenty of resources to manage it, look at Magento. For high end hosted, look for hosted platforms built with Magento, or take a look at ShoppingCartElite if you believe in their philosophies.

      Your store may have very particular needs that are completely unsuitable for some of these carts. Like multiple languages, multiple site/shared data, outside vendors listing products in your store, drop shipping, etc. Make sure the cart supports your most unique needs first!

      Since I don’t have a huge store with dozens of employees and 10s of millions in revenue, I can’t say what they use, but I would venture a guess it’s either completely custom, or built on an expensive platform with a team of programmers and designers working on it all day and night. What cart does Amazon or ebay use again?….oh that’s right. No big ecommerce I can think of uses off the shelf carts. But I would be interested to learn if some do!

  • Roger Reynolds

    Why don’t I see PowerStores up here?

  • Caroline Hjerpe

    Hi,

    Totally agree with Martin here. A few of these does not provide a good platform for eCommerce.. But also, like Martin says – I only have my personal experience and I have only tried one of these.

    I personally use Tictail and I am super pleased with this. It is free, unless you want to make your webshop better, which you probably want, but it’s still great to be able to use it for free until you have the money to buy the plug ins, what they call apps. I really love this platform, and also they have this amazing community, which helps you meet other shopkeepers and get contacts in the eCommerce field.

    I would really recommend Tictail!

  • Ђорђе Јовичин

    Even amongst the hosted solutions, these 10 are not cream of the crop. Sure, Shopify and Big Commerce can do when it comes to small scale trading, but they are hardly any good for more advanced systems. Kooomo (www.kooomo.com) should be definitely put into this comparison as it has all the features necessary to deal with any kind of shop, and it is suitable for all platforms. Additionally, it imposes no monthly charges on the clients…

  • Ђорђе Јовичин

    Magento Enterprise costs arm and a leg…. But there is a SaaS alternative called Kooomo. No monthly/yearly fees, and it provides all the features of Magento Enterprise. You can check it out at http://www.kooomo.com

    • Sensational Guy

      Thanks for the tip. I’ll check it out.

  • jesse lyon

    Stay away from Pixafy (Now Zoey). My site is down constantly. Pixafy is not reliable.

    • Carol Houts

      Hello Jesse,
      We are dealing with the same serious issues with constant outages over the Christmas holiday season. Did you stick it out with Zoey or have you moved on. We are trying to figure out what to do at this point.

  • save the animals

    3dcart sucks. There is no way to randomize products on the landing page. You cannot even give them a numerical placement on the page. The wysiwyg is HORRIBLE. It’s about 2 inches tall and cannot be expanded. How the hell are you supposed to build a page when you can’t see it all at once and are forced to scroll up and down repeatedly?

    Customer service is lacking. I have been on hold for as long as 30 minutes only to be told no one was available and to leave a number so you can be called back. THEY NEVER EVER CALL BACK. However, they continue to take incoming calls and ignore your call back.

    To get anything other than their hideous templates, you must know html.

    I am desperate to find someone else. I don’t like Big Commerce, they are greedy and think they deserve a percentage of each sale. They don’t. They are already getting a monthly fee. I won’t give my money to greedy corporations.

    Shopify charges an EXTRA $20 A MONTH FOR WHAT SHOULD AUTOMATICALLY BE PART OF AN ECOMMERCE SITE…. REAL TIME SHIPPING QUOTES. AND IT COSTS THEM NOTHING… THE SHIPPERS HAVE ALREADY WRITTEN THE PROGRAMS, ALL SHOPIFY HAS TO SO IS LET THEM CONNECT. MORE DISGUSTING GREED.

    Volusion requires far too much html for ordinary folk.

    Wix is limited.

    There really needs to be a decent host who provides everything you need for ecommerce and doesn’t charge a fortune or require html.

  • Hi Jacco Blankenspoo,
    You did an amazing article, these were the nice collection of Hosted Ecommerce Platform. but you have left some instant Ecommerce platform like webnexs wcomm. They offer your own Ecommerce store at the price as low as $19/ month.
    Thanks
    Webnexs

  • Stevechang64

    Having tried shopify I have to say that WIX in infinitely better. Shopify only had like 8 free templates the other templates you had to purchase all over $100. Then the interface is confusing as hell. The workflow is confusing and very difficult to manage.

  • I think Yo!Kart is also one of the popular eCommerce platform.

    This software come with following features :

    Customizable
    Secure
    Mobile friendly
    Cost effective
    Fully SEO Optimized Online Store
    Inbuilt Affiliate Program

    many more.

  • Taj Wali

    Yes you are right Martin, Magento is a big name in ecommerce industry. It can’t be ignored. Few of the headings listed here are for small businesses, when it comes to

  • Bhavesh Koladiya

    Some months ago, i looking eCommerce platform for my online store. I really confuse to choose right software for our business. My Friend suggest one platform SoftwareSuggest. They recommend to WooCommerce for our many online stores. As an experienced and effective international retailer, with what I would call a high all round on the online/tech information I strongly recommend considering your eCommerce solution. WooCommerce is an awesome choice for any startup small and medium business with basic items that will never change. I have now been using WooCommerce for some months with many online stores.

  • Which one is better for jewelry small business? I have 3Dcart platform since May 2016 and I don’t have any sales yet.
    I’m looking for change to another ecommerce who can help me in sales. 3Dcart you have to pay for everything and the bandwidth is very limit

  • i think shopify is the best place to start a new website for ecommerce purpose

  • Heather Brown

    You missed Magento! I been using them on ecomlane for over 2 years and I’m extremely happy with both companies!

  • Clayson Searle

    I would be very careful using 1ShoppingCart.They call their plans monthly plans which would imply that you get billed once a month. Actually they are billing every 28 days so you get billed 13 times per year. They mention that they do this but only on their lengthy terms and conditions page at the very bottom in the fine print. So they put this in the fine print of the fine print. Seems very dishonest and misleading.

    We have also tried to retrieve customer data from them but they are unwilling to provide it despite the fact that the service agreement that we signed with them states that we own the data.

  • domestikgoddez

    incorrect about ETSY fees. it’s $.20 to list an item for 4 months and another $.20 to relist every four months. there are millions of products on ETSY and not only good SEOs matter but they have a shuffle system that drops your product from page 10 in an Etsy search to page 240. they have many vague ways and virtually no customer service – there is no phone number to call. one must jump through hoops to get to a link to request ETSY to call you. which they do at a random time…just once. if you don’t get the call – too bad. start all over. i am on ETSY and looking for another host. they went public and the site has changed. it’s all about making money for ETSY in several ways, and not at all about support small shops. they let imports and big business in.
    i would read the forums on ETSY and then decide. there is a wealth of info – insights to sellers issues…

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