Details of 10 E-Commerce Platforms

When it comes to choosing a platform for an e-commerce website there are plenty of options. Having options can be a good thing, but in some cases having too many options can make it difficult to know which one to choose. In this post we’ll take a look at 10 leading options and we’ll provide some details about each. They are actually broken down into 3 categories: hosted, open source, and hosted shopping cart.

Hosted e-commerce platforms will charge a monthly or yearly fee, which will include web hosting, use of the e-commerce system, and support. You’ll have to host your site with them in order to use the system. The downside to this is that you won’t be able to choose your own host, but the upside is that you’ll get support for hosting and the e-commerce system from the same place, and they will know their own system very well. Also, since it is hosted they can take care of most security details.

Open source e-commerce platforms can be downloaded and hosted anywhere. You’re not committed to a particular host, which can be a good thing. The downside is that support is likely limited to a forum or wiki. For designers and developers, open source solutions can be a good choice. End users who are looking to set up their own site will likely face more obstacles with an open source, self-hosted system as compared to a hosted platform.

Hosted shopping carts will allow you to use the CMS and host of your choice, and they will just host the shopping cart and checkout process for you. So they’ll still handle the security details since the payment will be processed through their site, but you won’t host your entire site with them.

So now we’ll take a look at the specific platforms. Certainly there are plenty of other options that could be included, but we have tried to limit the number to a few in each category to avoid overload.

Hosted E-Commerce Platforms:

Shopify 

Shopify

Shopify is a hosted e-commerce platform that is extremely popular with designers/developers and end users. If you’re a designer you’ll appreciate the ease of implementing you designs and templates with Shopify. For end users, Shopify offers a attractive and intuitive user interface and a wealth of features.

Because it is a hosted platform and your site will be hosted on Shopify’s servers and they handle the security details, which is always important for any site that collects payments from visitors. The hosting comes with no bandwidth limits, and also includes a content delivery network (CDN) to help pages to load as quickly as possible.

Shopify users can select from a large number of well-designed templates for free. They also have a theme shop where you can purchase premium templates, typically in the range of $ 100 – $ 200. Having a custom design is also an option, and Shopify provides a list of experts that they recommend for these types of projects.

You’ll also appreciate the fact that Shopify includes a mobile commerce shopping cart and responsive templates, making it possible for your customers to purchase from any device.

On the backend, Shopify provides detailed customer data and allows store owners to create customer groups. The CMS makes it easy for users to update the content of their sites, and it even includes a blogging engine.

The shopping cart integrates with over 70 different payment gateways. If you’re already accepting payment online and looking for a new e-commerce platform, chance are Shopify will integrate with your current payment gateway.

Shopify also includes marketing features like a discount code and coupon engine, social media integration, and email marketing integration with MailChimp. Users have control over things like page titles, URLs, alt tags, and other elements that can be helpful for search engine optimization.

Shopify offers a free 14 day trial on all of its plans, so there is no need to commit without giving it a test drive. Pricing starts at $ 29 per month for their basic account that allows you to sell up to 100 products. Their most popular plan allows for up to 2,500 products for $ 59 per month.

Shopify Summary:

  • Hosting and security provided by Shopify
  • Pricing includes hosting
  • Free templates available
  • Premium templates available for purchase
  • Marketing functionality included
  • Customer and order management from the admin dashboard
  • Mobile-ready
  • Full CMS, including blog functionality
  • Pricing between $ 29 – $ 179 per month

Highwire 

Highwire

Highwire is a hosted e-commerce platform that has a lot in common with Shopify, but there are some significant differences as well. Like Shopify, Highwire also offers a large number of quality templates that can be used with their system. They also have premium templates that can be purchased for $ 50. Their templates and shopping cart are also mobile-ready.

If you’re a designer or developer, Highwire gives you full creative freedom and implementing their system is not complicated to learn. Since online shops using their system are hosted by Highwire, they handle all of the security details, so you won’t need to worry about it.

Highwire features a powerful and well-designed admin interface, which provides plenty of details regarding orders and customers. Store owners have control to easily manage products, categories, and inventory.

Several important marketing features are also included with Highwire. You can set up discount codes, offer gift certificates, allow customers to post reviews of your products, and integrate with popular mailing list managers like MailChimp and Campaign Monitor.

Part of what makes Highwire unique is its multi-channel approach. In addition to selling products on your own website, you can also use Highwire to sell on Facebook, Bonanza, and Ebay. Inventory is integrated, so if you make a sale through Facebook it is tracked and reflected accordingly.

Highwire’s approach to pricing is also unique. They offer a free plan that allows users to sell on Facebook, Ebay, and Bonanza, but not on your own site. Paid plans start at $ 19 per month. The amount that you are billed is not determined by how many products you sell (unlimited products are allowed on all paid plans) or how much bandwidth you use, but rather by sales volume. For $ 19 per month you can sell up to $ 1,500 in products. The highest priced plan is $ 99 per month with unlimited sales volume, with a few other plans between $ 19 and $ 99.

Highwire Summary:

  • Hosting and security provided by Highwire
  • Pricing includes hosting
  • Free templates available
  • Premium templates available for purchase
  • Sell on your site, Facebook, Ebay, and Bonanza
  • Marketing functionality included
  • Customer and order management from the admin dashboard
  • Mobile-ready
  • Pricing between $ 19 – $ 99 per month

BigCommerce

BigCommerce

BigCommerce is a feature-rich hosted e-commerce platform. They provide the hosting and security for users, although you can also purchase your own SSL certificate if you prefer not to use the shared SSL certificate. They also use a CDN (content delivery network) to decrease load times and improve the experience for your visitors.

After signing up for BigCommerce you will be able to get assistance (if needed) from one of their staff members for getting your site set up. The have a selection of more than 100 free templates that you can use, and they also have a list of recommended designers if you need a custom design.

With BigCommerce you can sell any type of product, including physical goods, digital downloads, events, and services. You can manage inventory, set up unlimited product options, and manage tax and shipping calculations. For payment processing you can choose from more than 60 payment gateways.

BigCommerce provides detailed reporting and analysis, and you can easily manage orders and customers from the admin area. Marketing features include coupon codes, gift certificates, email marketing integration with leading services (MailChimp, Constant Contact, iContact), social media integration, sell on Facebook, RSS feeds, Ebay integration, Google Shopping integration, and more. You also have control over details for SEO, like page titles, URLs, meta data, alt tags, robots.txt, and more.

Sites using BigCommerce are also ready for mobile commerce, feature a single page checkout, and allow user reviews of products. A unique feature that is available on some plans is the abandoned cart saver, which you can set to email users who place an item in their shopping cart and then do not complete the purchase.

Pricing for BigCommerce starts at $ 24.95 per month for the basic plan that allows you to sell up to 100 products. The abandoned cart saver is available starting with the gold plan, which is $ 79.95 per month for up to 1,000 products. The platinum plan offers unlimited products for $ 149.95 per month. A 15-day free trial is available with all plans.

BigCommerce Summary:

  • Hosting and security provided by BigCommerce
  • Pricing includes hosting
  • Free templates available
  • List of recommended designers is available for custom designs
  • Sell on your site, Facebook, Ebay, and through shopping comparison sites
  • Marketing functionality included
  • Customer and order management from the admin dashboard
  • Mobile-ready
  • Pricing between $ 24.95 – $ 299.95 per month

Izzonet 

Izzonet

Izzonet is another hosted e-commerce option. Since the sites are hosted with Izzonet, they also provide the security. They offer over 100 free templates to choose from, and you can also customize the design of the template to meet your needs.

Marketing features include coupon codes, SMS marketing (text messaging), live chat, mobile integration, QR code generator, affiliate management, landing page generation, online surveys and more. In addition, Izzonet integrates with Ebay, Amazon Marketplace, Craigslist, and shopping comparison sites.

Other features include allowing product reviews from customers, email newsletters, product and order management, and product comparison. You can sell physical goods or digital products, and you can even provide serial numbers for products like software.

One of the unique features of Izzonet involves dropshipping capability. You can allow your products to be sold at other sites, and manage it all through Izzonet.

Pricing starts at $ 19.97 per month for the gold plan, which includes some limitations on features (for example, you cannot sell digital products, and cannot sell on Ebay, Amazon, Facebook, etc.). Five different plans are available from $ 19.97 to $ 299.97 per month, each with varying features.

Izzonet Summary:

  • Hosting and security provided by Izzonet
  • Pricing includes hosting
  • Free templates available
  • Sell on your site, Facebook, Ebay, Amazon, and through shopping comparison sites
  • Marketing functionality included
  • Customer and order management from the admin dashboard
  • Dropshipping
  • Email and SMS marketing
  • Pricing between $ 19.97 – $ 299.97 per month

Volusion

Volusion

Volusion is a hosted e-commerce platform with a few unique features and a lower starting price point for those who only need to sell a small number of products. Like the other hosted options, they take care of the hosting and security, and they also use a CDN to help reduce page load times. Users can choose from more than 100 free templates, purchase a premium template starting at $ 195, or hire Volusion for a custom design starting at $ 1,295. The system is also mobile-ready to allow customers to buy from their smartphones or tablets.

Features include unlimited product options, product comparison, one-page checkout, inventory tracking, coupon codes, user reviews, email newsletters, social media integration, reporting and analytics, and more. One of the more unique features is the daily deal option that is great for promoting your specials. Another great feature is the option for users to create a wishlist of your products. With Volusion you can integrate you store to sell on Facebook and Ebay.

Pricing starts at $ 9 per month for a mini plan that allows you to sell up to 25 products and has some feature limitations (such as no daily deals, email newsletters, and Ebay integration.). Plans range from $ 9 per month to $ 149 per month for the platinum plan with unlimited products and all features. All features are also included for $ 99 per month on the gold plan, the products are limited to 5,000.

Volusion Summary:

  • Hosting and security provided by Volusion
  • Pricing includes hosting
  • Free templates available
  • Premium templates available for purchase
  • Custom designs available for purchase
  • Sell on your site, Facebook and Ebay
  • Marketing functionality included
  • Customer and order management from the admin dashboard
  • Daily deals
  • Customer wishlists
  • Pricing between $ 9 – $ 149 per month

Open Soure E-Commerce Platforms:

Magento 

Magento

Magento (community edition) is one of the most popular open source e-commerce platforms. Aside from the open source community edition Magento also offers an enterprise edition that is more robust and advanced, and is used by large companies like Nike, Vizio, OfficeMax, and others. They also offer Magento Go, which is a hosted solution that includes support.

The open source community edition is popular with designers and developers who are creating custom e-commerce sites for clients. Because it is free and open source it helps to keep the cost low, which is important for many small businesses and start up e-commerce sites. In addition, it can be hosted anywhere, so you are not locked in to using any particular host.

Free templates and premium templates are available for Magento users. The community edition includes features like analytics and reporting, control over shipping calculations, choice of payment gateways, up-sells/cross-sells/related products, SEO options, coupons and promotions, customer and order management, and mobile commerce.

If you’re a designer/developer who creates a lot of e-commerce sites for clients, Magento is a platform that should be considered. If you are an end user who is looking for the right e-commerce platform for your own site, you’ll probably need to hire a designer/developer if you want to use the community edition. Magento Go is their version that is best suited for small businesses that want to set up their own site.

Magento Community Edition Summary:

  • Free to download
  • Open source
  • Can be hosted anywhere
  • Free templates available
  • Premium templates available
  • Add-ons available from community members
  • Marketing functionality included
  • Customer and order management from the admin dashboard
  • Mobile-ready
  • May require the assistance of a designer/developer

osCommerce 

osCommerce

osCommerce is another leading option when it comes to free and open source e-commerce platforms. The features, as well as the pros and cons, are similar Magento’s community edition. With osCommerce you can use your choice of web hosts, but you’ll need to make sure that it is in a secure hosting environment. The community of users is another big benefit of osCommerce, as there are over 7,000 add-ons from the community that can be downloaded and used for free.

Free templates and premium templates can be purchased for osCommerce, or a custom design can be created. End users may find it necessary to get assistance from a designer/developer to set up osCommerce for their site.

osCommerce Summary:

  • Free to download
  • Open source
  • Can be hosted anywhere
  • Free templates available
  • Premium templates available
  • Add-ons available from community members
  • Customer and order management from the admin dashboard
  • May require the assistance of a designer/developer

Hosted Shopping Carts:

FoxyCart

FoxyCart

FoxyCart is a bit different than any of the other options that we have looked at so far in this article. It is a hosted shopping cart. You do not host your entire site with FoxyCart and it is not a CMS. You can use FoxyCart with your CMS of choice or with static HTML files. When one of your visitors views their shopping cart and checks out they will technically be on FoxyCart’s site, although you can customize the look to match your own site. This gives you the flexibility to use whatever CMS you are already using, and by having FoxyCart host the shopping cart and checkout process they will handle the security details.

The FoxyCart system aims to be simple, and it’s a good option for e-commerce sites with a small number of products, although it can also be used for larger sites. Although FoxyCart is a more simple option, it still includes a lot of features like coupon codes, one-page checkout, control over tax and shipping charges, and custom products and options. You can sell physical goods or digital products with FoxyCart.

To setup and implement FoxyCart you will need at least basic knowledge of HTML. For this reason end users will likely need to hire a designer or developer.

Pricing for FoxyCart is a little different than other options. The standard plan is $ 20 per month plus $ 0.15 per sale (first 100 sales at no extra charge). The advanced plan is $ 300 per month plus $ 0.05 per sale (first 1,00 sales at no extra charge). It is free to use until the store is live, so you there is no need to pay while the site is in development.

FoxyCart Summary:

  • Only the shopping cart and checkout is hosted by FoxyCart
  • Host your site anywhere
  • Use any CMS
  • Pricing $ 20 per month and up

DPD 

DPD

DPD (Digital Product Delivery) is similar to FoxyCart in that they only host the shopping cart and checkout, but DPD specializes in digital products. You can still sell tangible goods with DPD, but most of their features are intended for selling digital products. DPD is ideal for blogs and websites that want to sell digital products in a simple and easy way. DPD not only handles the checkout process, but it also manages the download process for your customers. The buyer will be provider with a secure download link that will be instantly available following the purchase.

Features include checkout security provided by DPD, hosting for your digital files, activation keys for selling software, coupon codes, control over tax and shipping calculations, customizable checkout, mobile-ready checkout, customer management, reporting, and more.

DPD includes a built-in affiliate program, so you can expand your sales by paying a commission to affiliates in exchange for their referrals. You can integrate DPD with your email marketing service, like MailChimp, Aweber, iContact, and Get Response. In addition to standard digital products, you can also sell subscriptions that involve recurring payments.

Pricing starts at $ 10 per month, which allows you to sell up to 20 products and store up to 1GB. Prices range from $ 10 – $ 280 per month, which allows for 3,500 products and 175GB. A 30-day free trial is available.

DPD Summary:

  • Only the shopping cart and checkout is hosted by DPD
  • Host your site anywhere
  • Use any CMS
  • Pricing $ 10 – $ 130 per month
  • Affiliate program included

Digital Delivery App

Digital Delivery App

The features of Digital Delivery App are very similar to those of DPD, with a few exceptions. Like DPD and FoxyCart, DDA hosts only the checkout and shopping cart. You can host your site anywhere, use and CMS of your choice, and add your “buy now” or “add to cart” buttons wherever you like. With DDA you can sell digital files, subscriptions, licenses or tangible goods. When selling digital products, DDA will handle the delivery of the product as well as the checkout experience.

Features includes customization of the shopping cart and checkout, reporting and analytics, the option to self host your files or host them with DDA, mobile-ready checkout, coupon codes, subscriptions and recurring payments, control over tax calculations, and mailing list integration with MailChimp, Aweber, and Campaign Monitor. Like DPD, DDA also includes a built-in affiliate program to help with growing your revenue.

Pricing starts at $ 9 per month for a plan that allows up to 10 products and 1GB. Plans range from $ 9 per month to $ 39 per month, which will allow you to sell 250 products with 15GB of storage. Larger custom plans are available for upon request.

Digital Delivery App Summary:

  • Only the shopping cart and checkout is hosted by DDA
  • Host your site anywhere
  • Use any CMS
  • Pricing $ 9 – $ 39 per month
  • Affiliate program included

We’ve now covered 10 of the leading options for managing an e-commerce website and hopefully you have found some information that is helpful for deciding which option is best for you.


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