With the advent of online shopping and marketing, e-commerce websites have become the norm for businesses, both big and small. The number of online shopping stores as well as vendors and firms selling their products or services on the internet is increasing everyday, and this has added to the importance of capable e-commerce platforms.
And when it comes to e-commerce platforms, the options are numerous. In this article, we take a look at some of the best known e-commerce platforms to help you create your own online store. Most such platforms offer a similar set of features – ranging from awesome integration with payment gateways to secure shopping carts. Some of these platforms also come with hosting plans of their own, as we shall soon see. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the major e-commerce platforms.
On With the Show-case
Magento is one of the most popular e-commerce CMSs that boasts of having over 100,000 users. Magento offers separate solutions based on your business needs, including Enterprise and Small Business versions. The company also conducts Developer Certification programs.
Highwire is a unique solution in the sense that apart from setting up your own store, you can also use it to sell on eBay or Facebook. Plus, you can sync your inventory across multiple channels of e-commerce – thus, no matter where you decide to sell, be it your own site or eBay, you can always keep track of all orders and payments from one centralized system. It comes loaded with excellent mobile-friendly features (including iOS and Android apps). While most features are Premium, there is also a Free plan.
Shopify is an easy to use hosted e-commerce solution that lets you create your online store within minutes. It comes loaded with secure shopping carts, beautiful e-commerce templates as well as web hosting. Before you purchase Shopify, you can also opt for a risk-free 30-day trial.
CubeCart is a flexible e-commerce platform that offers a hassle-free way to set up your own e-commerce website. CubeCart keeps it really simple when it comes to pricing – you can either go for the free Lite version which limits you to 100 customers and 250 products (no technical support, by the way), or you can pay a one-time fee of $180 and get the Pro version with tech support and unlimited features.
Before anything else, Zen Cart has an awesome tagline – “the art of e-commerce”! Apart from that, Zen Cart is free and open source software that is pretty simple to use and setup.
osCommerce is another open source e-commerce solution. It powers over 12,000 websites and has an active community of over 260,000 members. osCommerce is licensed under a GPL and is well supplemented by addons.
Volusion is an all-in-one hosted e-commerce solution. So unlike Zen Cart, you won’t really be able to download-and-install Volusion for free, but their pricing is competitive, and Volusion also comes with a 14-day free trial. The product is backed by 24×7 support as well.
Ubercart isn’t really a full-fledged CMS in its own right. Instead, it is a shopping cart solution that you can integrate within your Drupal-powered website. So Ubercart will probably not be the most powerful bet for your e-commerce needs, but if you are running a Drupal-based website and wish to have features such as paid or Premium downloads, shopping cart, etc. you can consider using Ubercart. And Ubercart is free and open source.
BigCommerce lets you sell your products on Facebook and eBay as well as your own store. If you wish to sell unlimited products on your website, you’ll have to opt for the Platinum Plan at $149.95 per month. There is also a free 15-day trial.
FoxyCart is a unique e-commerce product – unlike the rest, it does not claim to be the one-stop solution to all your e-commerce woes. It is not a CMS in its own right, and does not come with specialized tools for analytics or inventory. Instead, FoxyCart simply integrates itself seamlessly within your existing design and functionality.
E-junkie provides shopping cart functionality to help you sell products on your own website or websites such as eBay and CraigsList. It is one of the cheapest e-commerce solutions out there – 500 MB of storage (maximum of 120 products) is available for a monthly fee of $27.
SolidShops is a flexible e-commerce solution that comes loaded with web hosting as well. It offers you features such as daily backups, custom tax settings, Facebook stores and stock trackings. Plus, SolidShops also has native support for SEO.
Cart66 is a plugin that transforms your WordPress-powered website into an e-commerce store. You can track your inventory, charge tax on the basis of ZIP code, specify currency, and perform several other functions. Cart66 also offers a Lite version that is free to use, but has limited functionality.
Just as Cart66 helps change WP websites into e-commerce stores, VirtueMart performs the same function for Joomla! websites. However, unlike Cart66, VirtueMart is not just open source but also free to download and use. Apart from that, VirtueMart focuses more on shopping cart functionality rather than full-fledged e-commerce features.
1ShoppingCart is actually spread across two separate products – you can either choose a simple shopping cart software, or opt for the entire e-commerce solution. 1ShoppingCart boasts of features such as real-time shipping rates, PayPal integration, etc.
Big Cartel is a simple shopping cart primarily meant for designers and artists. It comes with a Free version, wherein you can sell maximum 5 products and cannot use your own domain. If you need additional functionality, you can opt for their paid plans.
Loaded Commerce is a platform that offers features such as shopping cart, inventory tracking, PayPal integration, and so on.
Adobe Business Catalyst
Adobe Business Catalyst lets you create websites without using your server-side programming skills. In fact, BC is more of a hosted CMS for any genre of website, let alone e-commerce. You can either purchase just BC, or have it as part of Adobe Creative Cloud along with other products.
With that, we come to the end of this round-up. Which e-commerce platform or tool do you employ for your online store or that you have used for clients? Do share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Sufyan bin Uzayr writes for various magazine and blogs, and has authored several books. He blogs about technology, Linux and open source, mobile, web design and development, typography, and Content Management Systems at Code Carbon. You can learn more about him, follow him on Twitter or friend him on Facebook and Google+.