eCommerce has become a trend and it’s changing the way we live, shop, and do business. Due to the affection of the COVID-19 pandemic, eCommerce has seen a huge rise in the past year. Many businesses had to close their physical storefronts for safety. Buying online has become necessary. Businesses need to invest in eCommerce to survive in the pandemic economy. Entering the world of eCommerce can feel like a big move for every business, especially small and startup businesses.

The very first step to start an eCommerce website is to find the eCommerce platform that fits your business model. Statista has made a list of top eCommerce platforms which have the largest market share in the 2021 software industry.

(Image credit: Statista 2021)

As an eCommerce developer, we have experience with a variety of eCommerce platforms that can help to grow an online business. Base on our experience, we would like to share with our audiences "The top popular eCommerce platforms in 2021".

Different businesses have different needs depending on their business model, sales volume, and a variety of other factors. Hope that this article could help our audiences to choose the best platform for their eCommerce websites. 

What Is The Future Of E-Commerce In 2021

The future of eCommerce is admittedly bright, and no one can deny it. eCommerce popularity is at its peak now. As mentioned above, due to COVID-19, nobody could leave their houses to buy things of their essential needs, eCommerce websites took everything in control and provided help to the millions of people out there who were struggling.

In 2019, total global eCommerce sales amounted to more than $3.5 trillion dollars. The exciting fact is that this number is expected to grow over the next few years continuously. eCommerce revenue is predicted to reach $4.9 trillion dollars by 2021 and more than $6 trillion annually by 2023.

(Image credit: Emarketer.com)

This statistic shows how promising the future of the eCommerce business is in the future. The eCommerce share of retail sales globally has been on the rise for at least the past five years and is expected to continue.

(Image credit: Statista 2020)

For anybody interested in growing an online eCommerce business, this is a perfect time. Online attention is at an all-time high and people are familiar with the process of buying online. Online eCommerce platforms today offer easy setup and management, and some have an incredibly low cost. eCommerce features are the best they have ever been, with tools like a website builder, payment gateway, inventory management, and marketing tools all built-in. So, rather than sell through an online marketplace like Amazon or eBay, many business owners are now moving to build their own sites with eCommerce functionality.

What is an eCommerce Platform?

An eCommerce platform is a software application that allows online businesses to manage their website, marketing, sales, and operations. Some big platforms might offer powerful eCommerce features, while also integrating with common business tools which enable businesses to centralize their operations and run their business their way. There are three main eCommerce platform options: 

  • Open-Source Platforms: These are solutions in which you can modify all aspects of the code. This type of eCommerce platform is popular with developers and IT-heavy organizations who want control of their eCommerce environment. For many brands, open-source eCommerce platforms are too cumbersome, expensive to maintain, and require too much technical knowledge. As such, there has been a massive movement to the two other types of eCommerce platforms.
  • SaaS (software-as-a-service): SaaS eCommerce solutions remove much of the complexity from running an online business. Instead of building and developing a custom solution or an open-source solution you essentially “rent” the platform. When factoring in development cost, this is a vastly cheaper option than open-source solutions. Product updates, security, hosting, PCI compliance, and every other task that comes with managing your own software are managed by the SaaS provider.
  • Headless commerce: Headless commerce is a version of CaaS eCommerce in which the shopping cart is decoupled from the CMS. In these use cases, brands often use a design experience platform (DXP) such as Adobe Experience Manager and Bloomreach or a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal. Then they plug in a decoupled eCommerce shopping cart solution. Headless commerce alleviates this pain point by allowing for faster go-to-market with a significantly lower total cost of ownership.

Why Use an Ecommerce Platform?

Whether you’re expanding a brick-and-mortar store, looking to find an enterprise-level solution or even starting a business from scratch, your eCommerce software has a huge impact on the profitability and stability of your business. Here are the top reasons why first-time and established merchants are turning to eCommerce as a main source of revenue.

Fast Go-to-Market Time

Unlike traditional retail, your eCommerce store can be up and running in just a few clicks (if you’re looking for a basic store). You don’t need deep technical or eCommerce knowledge to have a professional website up and running. You can even grow substantially before you need to consider in-house resources or a digital agency to take your site to the next level. You can get off the ground quickly with eCommerce solutions. You can quickly get a site up and running and then drive traffic to your new site.

Low Cost

In many cases, it costs less to start an eCommerce business. When you’re first starting out, eCommerce allows you to avoid many of the large, upfront investments that traditional retail can incur, such as a physical storefront, inventory, or payroll. With an online store, you can start with a basic store and sequentially build out your business as your sales grow.

Shoppers Start Online

The use of digital channels keeps increasing. 87% of shoppers begin product searches on digital channels, up from 71% last year (according to salesforce’s new research about customer retail statistics). Even if they end up buying from a physical store, shoppers are more likely to start their search online. Shoppers research online for a variety of reasons to compare prices, compare brands, search customer reviews, check inventory levels, and more. The only way to ensure potential shoppers find your products is to have an online presence. Even if it’s just to check store hours or locations, it’s important that customers find the information they’re looking for. 

Customer Data Insights

One advantage of online selling you might not have thought of is how easy it makes it to collect, measure, and act on customer data. If you want to be hyper-focused on the customer experience, then you need to own your consumer data. Online selling lets you collect first-hand data by tracking customer interactions. You’ll have a constant feedback loop of actionable insights to continue to innovate your customer experience.

Reach New Customers

An online site can help you engage multiple audiences at once and reach international shoppers. Unlike brick and mortar, online channels aren’t limited to who can physically visit your store. Whether you’re just starting out or an existing seller, you can reach someone online that you couldn’t before.

Content Marketing Strategy

A branded site especially gives sellers a place to provide key content (in-depth product descriptions, product comparisons, in-store inventory availability, and pricing) to customers. An online presence allows you to provide more information about your products and services to your customers. Your eCommerce site can also provide more information about your business or how to use your products. Webpages and email marketing can be dedicated to your brand’s story and how your products are made. Blog posts and videos can also provide helpful content about the use of your products or services. 

Serve Niche Markets

eCommerce makes serving niche markets even easier. It can be hard for that rare coin collector to find a seller. However, the ease and breadth of the internet make that search easier. If you serve a niche market, you might find it easier to distribute your products online. You’ll open your business to a greater depth of consumers.

Meet Customers Where They Want to Buy

eCommerce makes it even easier for shoppers to hit that buy button, no matter where they are. Shoppers can complete purchases from anywhere and at any time. eCommerce allows sellers to remove friction points and make it convenient for buyers to purchase the products they want.

Needed Features of an eCommerce Platform

Every online shop has unique needs, and choosing the right eCommerce platform is wholly dependent on the platform’s ability to solve the day-to-day challenges inherent within your organization. Figuring out a solution to meet your business needs can be a tough job. To pick the best service, evaluate the following aspects of any eCommerce platform you consider.

Interface

A user-friendly intuitive interface for website creation is a must for any eCommerce platform. To find the best and most convenient for you, test several platforms and go for the one you like the most. Look for a platform that lets you create not only product pages but also blog posts. This feature may come in handy when you decide to acquire new customers with content marketing or improve your website search results with a series of SEO-optimized articles.

Design options

Most eCommerce platforms offer countless ready-to-use designs and themes so you can create your website's appearance quickly and easily. Pay attention to how many free and paid templates your solution provides. Look for additional designs in the platform’s community. It will help you save time and money.

On the other hand, you may have a vision of your future store or develop it as time passes. In this case, explore design customization opportunities your eCommerce platform provides. The best decision is to find a platform that offers a perfect balance between design freedom and a variety of pre-made templates.

Store management system

Management systems are the core of every eCommerce website since they differentiate online stores from any other types of websites. To operate your shop, you need three frameworks:

  • The product management system lets the admin upload products to your website and manage listings. A quality solution should allow bulk uploads, categorizing and mapping products, setting up dynamic catalog filters like sorting, price range, color, size, and so on.
  • The order management system accounts for processing customers’ orders. To perform this task at a fast pace, it should include order tracking, email notifications, and shipping service API.
  • The return management system allows you to take care of your return policy. It should encompass return rules and types, place and approve requests, print invoices, update statuses, and so on.

Your eCommerce platform may offer these systems as part of the standard package or allow integration with services that provide them.

Payment processing

You can’t do business without accepting payments, and it is not as straightforward as it sounds. You should consider the currencies you operate with, the payment methods your customers prefer, tax systems, and more.

The main difficulty here is the payment gateway your eCommerce platform uses. A payment gateway is a processor that moves money from your customers’ accounts to your own. This component often limits the payment methods and determines the currencies your service can offer.

So, define the payment options your eCommerce platform supports out of the box. You can also learn which third-party services you can integrate with your software to expand its opportunities.

Security

You should protect your customer data at any cost. Data breaches and leaks will have devastating effects on your business. Thus, it’s crucial to make sure your eCommerce platform offers suitable security options.

To keep your transactions protected, make sure your eCommerce platform meets the PCI security standards – a 12-piece set of requirements for websites that work with payment information. Another aspect of a secure website is its SSL certificates. They are a type of file that lets a browser securely process sensitive transactions.

Support

Operating a web store, you will inevitably face technical issues. No matter how hard you try to minimize them, they will occur at some point. Support from an eCommerce platform can help you troubleshoot these problems instantly and reduce downtime.

When exploring the support your provider offers, start with any available documentation on their site. An extensive library of FAQs, how-tos, and guides will walk you through the main issues without needing to waste time on reaching a support team member. Another indicator of good support is the presence of forums or Q&A areas, where you can ask for advice from other users.

Finally, learn more about getting in touch with the support team. See which channels your eCommerce platform offers to reach specialists and how fast they resolve questions. You can also browse through reviews on third-party websites to find out how your service really deals with customers’ issues.

Promotion opportunities

The majority of eCommerce platforms offer different options to promote your web store. Many of these solutions lay beyond the standard package the service provides, so you need to figure out which of them will fit your eCommerce marketing strategy.

The main point to consider here is SEO, as it is believed to be a more efficient acquisition channel than PPC, especially in the COVID19 pandemic, when every business has to face many difficulties to earn money. Pay attention to SEO-friendly eCommerce platforms. They should allow you to use your domain name, add your blog, and collect customer reviews.

Remember the number one SEO trend – mobile optimization. As more than half of internet traffic comes from mobile devices, an eCommerce platform should provide your web store with a mobile version or mobile app.

Data consolidation

If you can't measure your website's performance, you can’t manage it. Calculating your results is the only way to make timely changes and refine your business outcomes. However, using a bundle of tools for analytics may be tricky and time-consuming.

Make sure your eCommerce platform allows you to collect and store data, or supports integrations with analytics services. These parameters may become inadequate as your business grows. Thus, pay attention to your eCommerce platform’s scalability. Another feature to look for is flexibility – it often comes in the form of integrations with third-party services. Make sure your solution supports integration with popular CRM, CMS, marketing automation software, and so on.

Things to Consider When Choosing Your Ecommerce Platform

Although you might be lured into an especially affordable plan that meets some of your criteria, it’s important to do some research before you commit. You can change hosts at any time, but migrating your site can be a hassle for you and your customers. Consider the following:

Determine your eCommerce needs

Determining your requirements before you even start looking into eCommerce platforms will make the process of finding and selecting a solution much easier.

Begin your search with a roadmap. Outline where your business is now and where you want it to go. What are the features and experiences that your site is currently offering? Put them on paper and make sure the solution you select has comparable (or better) capabilities.

Next, think about your future plans for the business. Are you planning to expand to more stores or markets? Do you intend to introduce more fulfillment options? You want a solution that will allow your business to scale and improve.

Another great exercise is to map your customers’ path to purchase. How do they find you? What channels do they use? How do they want their orders to be fulfilled? The answers to these questions will enable you to determine the features and capabilities that you need.

Put them on paper

Doing the above exercises will enable you to create a list of required features. To make things more efficient later on, organize these needs in a spreadsheet that will allow you to compare solutions side by side.

You also need to list key people in your organization in this initial phase of determining your needs: people from different departments, such as IT, customer service, sales, marketing, fulfillment. This will enable you to get a complete view of your needs and consider hiring an eCommerce consultant or not. Hiring an eCommerce consultant can make the process of finding and selecting a system much easier. Consultants can provide insights and expertise that your internal teams may not have, allowing you to be more informed (and objective) when assessing different solutions.

If you’re keen on hiring a consultant for this project, here are a few pointers to help you select the best one:

  • Pay attention to their past work and experience – Years of experience and a strong portfolio are great, but you want to make sure their credentials are relevant to your business. Look into consultants who have worked with companies whose size and business model are similar to yours.
  • Be clear about expectations – See to it that both parties understand the project and scope of work. Be clear about what you expect the consultant to do. Specify the tasks they need to complete and results from they have to meet, along with the costs of their services.
  • Determine compatibility – Skill level and expertise aren’t enough. You should also ensure that the consultant has a great relationship with you and your staff. Take time to evaluate cultural fit and see if they’re compatible with your team. Look into their work ethic. How do they operate? How do they interact with others? The answers to these questions can help you determine if they’re a good fit.

Set a budget

The next step is to think about how much you’re willing to spend on your eCommerce platform. When setting your budget, be sure to consider the “non-obvious costs” that come with implementing a new solution. Go beyond the on the surface costs like licenses and development, and consider expenses for maintenance, consultation, set up, and the like.

Here are some of the things you should factor into your budget:

  • Cost of the eCommerce platform – eCommerce platform costs will vary depending on the business’ size, sales volume, and of course, the solution itself. Some solutions (such as Magento) charge yearly licensing fees while others (like Shopify) require monthly subscription fees. In some cases (such as Demandware) the provider takes a cut from the retailer’s sales.
  • Design and development costs – Building your online store is another expense. Depending on your company, you can choose to design and develop your site in-house, outsource the job to an agency, or do a combination of both.
  • Maintenance fees – Many merchants end up paying more than expected because they overlooked maintenance when budgeting for a solution. You need to think about ongoing development, as well as other upkeep costs such as marketing, integrations, SEO, security management, analytics, and more.
  • Transaction fees – Transaction fees may vary from one eCommerce solution to another. You may end up with lower fees by choosing the preferred payment provider of the vendor. Look into each platform’s integrated payments to see if they integrate with your payment gateway of choice or if you can use any of their payment partners.
  • Hosting costs – This amount depends on your solution. a hosting partner. 
  • Consultation fees (if applicable) – If you’re hiring a consultant, don’t forget to factor their fees into your budget.

Research eCommerce solutions

Once you have a clear idea of what you need and how much you’re willing to spend, you can start looking into different solutions to determine the best fit. To make this step a little easier, below is a list of the most common eCommerce solutions for enterprises (according to research from Statista in 2021). Also, in the next part of this article, we will also share detailed information about each eCommerce platform.

Top Popular Ecommerce Platforms 

1.Squarespace (23.5%)

(Image credit: Squarespace.com)

As a startup, you’re limited on time and need an eCommerce platform that’ll scale with your business. Squarespace’s robust promotional tools help you start earning money quickly.

Jump right into selling your products or services or request donations to get your business up and running. Squarespace provides a mobile app for entrepreneurs on the go plus strong promotional tools, making it the clear winner in our best for startups category.

Squarespace is known for its wonderful design templates for website building and that also applies to eCommerce.Perfect for beginners, Squarespace offers an all-in-one hosted platform, with drag-and-drop templates featuring some of the most creative, modern designs. Squarespace makes it easy for anyone to quickly and easily create a beautiful eCommerce site starting from templates, to selling the first product.

Squarespace offers monthly or yearly contracts, and you can save up to 30% with annual plans. 

2.WooCommerce (23.4%)

(Image credit: Woocommerce.com)

WooCommerce is an open-source, customizable eCommerce platform for entrepreneurs. It is built on WordPress, and you run it behind your existing WordPress site. It also means that you can benefit from WordPress's SEO capabilities. However, being on WordPress means that you have to separately buy hosting, a domain name, and an SSL certificate, all of which are catered for by many of the stand-alone eCommerce platforms. You will need many extensions if you are to create a usable WooCommerce site. This includes payment gateways, like Stripe, PayPal, Square, Amazon Pay, and Authorize.Net, as well as plug-ins for your shipping and email tracking.WooCommerce is a free, open-source plugin so support comes through a large community of techy people who use the platform or create plugins for it. You'll find tons of guides and tutorials out there, but if you can't find a solution on your own you'll probably need to hire a developer.WooCommerce is a free plugin, but extensions and add-ons will usually cost you.

3.Wix (6.2%)

(Image credit: Wix.com)

If your small business needs to quickly pivot to digital sales, Wix offers an easy-to-use platform with everything to start selling online within minutes.

With Wix, you can quickly create an eCommerce website and take advantage of unique features for small business owners, like reservation and booking capabilities or more than 500 templates to customize your site. Its simple website builder combined with robust selling and marketing features make Wix the best option for small businesses. You can use Wix to design a gorgeous website using the drag-and-drop editor or the Wix artificial design intelligence (ADI) tool. With ADI, you answer a few questions, and Wix automatically builds your website. Then you can customize your colors and theme. Wix integrates with all major payment companies and doesn’t charge a transaction fee, so you’ll only pay fees from your payment gateways. 

4.Shopify (3.7%)

 

(Image credit: Shopify.com)

Shopify is perhaps the most well-known eCommerce platform available. The platform provides a full CMS with which users can manage the functionality and layout of their online store. Users can manage their store on the go using Shopify's mobile apps, and the platform itself is fully responsive, meaning the store will be optimized for visitors regardless of whether they access it from a desktop computer or a mobile device. A live chat function is available which allows you to have a real-time conversation with your customers. There's built-in support for 3D models and video too. There's also an option to create customizable storefronts on Facebook and Instagram. One of the newer features is the store speed report.
Shopify also offers users unlimited hosting for their stores, in-depth analytics of how visitors are using the store, and functionality for marketing such as SEO optimization, a discount and coupon engine, gift cards and email marketing tools. You can test out Shopify with a 14-day free trial.

5.Magento (2.3%)

(Image credit: Magento.com)

Magento is one of the most used eCommerce platforms in the world. Although it is also well-known for being incredibly complicated, this platform has significant benefits that make it deserving to be at the first position on this list. Besides, the launching of Magento 2 has taken the platform to a higher level, accelerating many providers to create more effective solutions for B2B eCommerce firms.

Some outstanding benefits of using Magento eCommerce:

  • Versatile content management: The backend and content management interface comply with the rule “what you see is what you get” allow store owners to build and customize features on their online stores on the fly.
  • Mobile-friendly configuration: Magento user interface and shopping carts design are responsive to smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.
  • Advanced search engine optimization: With SEO efficiency, it gives online stores more opportunity to rank highly on search engines such as Google, Bing, and more.
  • Sturdy and spacious: The platform allows a site with up to 500,000 products, and handling 80,000 orders per hour.
  • Flexible third-party integrations: Magento enables your online stores to integrate with third modules or apps such as MailChimp, Google Shopping, and more efficiently.
  • Customizable security permissions: Magento supports you to customize multiple levels of security permissions, control internal access, and ensure your site’s safety.
  • Save time and money: Magento is open-source and has several custom extensions that can be shared between multiple Magento users. Through one instance of Magento, you can manage numerous eCommerce stores with various languages and various currencies.

The basic version of Magento is free, but the enterprise version can cost about $20,000 annually. If your brand is new to the eCommerce landscape and isn’t all that tech-savvy, it’s quite risky to choose Magento. As long as you have enough capacity to run your business with this platform, grow your business along with it.

6.Weebly (2.1%)

(Image credit: Weebly.com)

One of the largest site builders with over 40 million websites built and for good reason. Weebly makes it very easy to start your eCommerce website, with responsive design templates that feature drag-and-drop customizability, yet also offering a code editor for those with a bit more experience.

Offering a variety of pricing plans, starting with a free version up to a Business version.

Weebly is built for ease of use, making it perfect for those with little knowledge of websites and eCommerce.

7.Prestashop (1.72%)

(Image credit: Prestashop.com)

Prestashop is another efficient, innovative, and open-source eCommerce solution providing all features you need to build an online store and skyrocket your business. Prestashop has opened the doors of eCommerce for over 300,000 merchants around the world.

The platform is freely accessible and downloadable. You will just have to pay for costs related to the hosting, SSL certificate, and something else similar.

You can build your website with Prestashop’s professional-looking and fleek themes. It doesn’t limit your creativeness and ideas in designing your own website. You can customize those themes to personalize your online on your own style and liking.

Besides, there is a wide range of addons and modules contributing to boost the overall performance of your online store. You can manage your products, orders, customer relationships, and get the report on real-time statistics. It’s also easy to create content on your websites such as blogs and share your content on social networks to attract more visitors. The platform breaks any borders for your website by allowing you to present your store in several languages and currencies. You can expand your product selling to any kind of customer and country.

And belows are some eCommerce platforms that are not included in the list but we also highly recommend them. Please take a look for a reference.

8.BigCommerce

(Image credit: Bigcommerce.com)

BigCommerce is famous for being the world’s leading cloud eCommerce platform. The platform is also known for its low total cost of ownership and highly flexible APIs.BigCommerce provides you with a comprehensive set of eCommerce tools with a variety of features and options. It enables your store to integrate out-of-the-box with most of the required solutions in the eCommerce ecosystem.

Businesses covering both B2B and B2C customers can use this platform as it makes it easier to create different price lists or catalogs for different customer groups.

Due to the complexity of built-in features, the initial learning curve of BigCommerce is higher than some other software-as-a-service platforms. However, it is still possible for a new brand to learn about this platform and make use of it quickly thanks to the well-thought-out and in-depth guiding documents and support team of BigCommerce.

9.Salesforce Commerce Cloud

(Image credit: Salesforce.com)

Salesforce is well-known for its CRM solutions. The company claims to help you strengthen the relationship with customers and grow with the world’s first CRM available with Einstein AI.

Formally known as Demandware, Salesforce Commerce Cloud is a cloud-based eCommerce platform tailored to both B2C and B2B merchants. It’s a part of the Salesforce product suite. Therefore, it integrates many other CRM and marketing services, which helps you grow your business and build a good customer relationship all at a time.

Besides, Salesforce Commerce Cloud offers other features such as order management, commerce personalization with AI, globalization solutions for international businesses, and more solutions categorized by business type, needs, industry, and role.

Despite being able to handle high volumes of traffic and sales, Salesforce is not suitable for small brands or starters in selling online as its high price and complex technological requirements.

10.Yo!Kart

(Image credit: yo-kart.com)

Yo!Kart is a powerful standalone multi-vendor eCommerce platform. Yo!Kart is the best fit for business owners who are looking to start online marketplaces similar to Amazon, Etsy, or eBay. The platform has been used by 1000+ businesses that include startups, enterprises, & some Fortune 500 companies.
Yo!Kart is a fully customizable eCommerce platform that allows business owners to scale the business as per the requirements. It offers the right set of features and functionalities to launch future-proof multi-vendor eCommerce stores.
Yo!Kart’s comes with extended eCommerce features such as split payments, pick up at the store, Geolocation, & pre-integrated APIs for taxes & shipping management. To enable a business owner to succeed in the competitive eCommerce landscape, Yo!Kart provides mobile apps and progressive web apps.
Unlike Shopify or BigCommerce, it is a self-hosted multi-vendor platform that comes with a lifetime license and zero recurring fees. Yo!Kart team provides free installation and 1-year free technical support on all packages.

Conclusion 

As a business owner looking for an eCommerce platform, there are many options to consider. While one eCommerce solution may stand out as the more popular choice, others offer unique features that may be more suited for your business.

Choosing the best platform to create an eCommerce website for your business is a long-term decision as rarely do companies shift platforms more than once every few years. This is why it’s extremely important to choose the right one before you commit time and resources to it. We hope this list of the top eCommerce platforms helps in your quest to narrow down your eCommerce platform options and find the one that’s best for your business.

Do you want to grow an eCommerce business? CMSMART is an eCommerce web development agency.  In CMSMART, we offer all the eCommerce-related services in one place for varying sizes of businesses, from startups to enterprise-grade businesses. Aside from premade solutions, customization services, CMSMART also provides a wide range of services, such as:

  • Project analysis and management 

  • Software and website development 

  • Digital marketing and branding 

We can help you plan, design, develop and launch a successful eCommerce store for your business. Contact us today to get started and see how we can help you succeed.

Our consultant - Mr. Vincent Ray who has a lot of experience in analysis and consultancy will support you via vincent@cmsmart.net. Or To save time, you can add WhatsApp +84 355 993 306 or Skype live:vincent_4281 for quick discussion.