10 Best E-commerce platforms for your online store


With the global & Indian ecommerce market growing at a rapid pace, we are seeing a lot of new trends. When starting out a new ecommerce venture, there are a lot of elements that need to be figured out – right from the ecommerce platform (which this post explains in detail), payment gateway to integrate with your ecommerce site, product photography, social media strategy, customer acquisition, customer retention, search engine optimisation & a whole lot more. There are a whole lot of specialists out there who can help you with each of these elements. There are a lot of digital marketing courses and if you are looking at getting a holistic view on digital marketing & analytics for ecommerce then ISB Hyderabad has an interesting programme.

The first step when starting out is the ecommerce platform and the number of such platforms and content management systems available has grown over the years. In such a scenario, figuring out which platform to use when you’re looking to build your online store can be a fairly confusing task – especially if you aren’t from a technical/ecommerce background.  This post intends to make your research work easier by helping you choose the platform best suited for your needs.

Managed e-commerce platforms vs. Content Management Systems (CMS)
There are two options available for building an ecommerce website – one can either use managed (hosted) ecommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce or open-source Content Management Systems (CMS) like Magento.

As the name indicates, a hosted ecommerce platform is hosted on a server that you will not have access to, while CMS-based websites are self-hosted on server space (such as Bluehost) you will have to purchase. Which option to choose will depend a lot on your specific needs as well as your level of technical involvement. Below is a list of benefits of both which could help you make a choice between the two based on your business’ current requirements:

Benefits of using Hosted ecommerce platforms

  • Lower development and maintenance – There is no coding expertise required, thereby eliminating the need for a development team. Also, the hosting is shared, which lowers the server costs.
  • Better technical support – Most online store creators have a strong tech-support team to assist users with any issues that may arise.
  • Less complex to work with – The back-end for most of these platforms is user-friendly and is built for ease of use keeping in mind users with limited technical knowledge.

Benefits of using a CMS

  • Better functionality – Multitude of plugins, add-ons and themes available for content management systems allow the addition of advanced functionalities that would not be possible in the case of self-hosted platforms.
  • Better customizability – Content management systems allow the freedom of adding/modifying features as well as building a customized design unique to one’s brand. They also allow for constant improvements and enhancements to the user experience on the site, which plays a major role in today’s highly competitive ecommerce space.
  • Can support large stores and sophisticated websites – Content Management Systems, being self-hosted do not have a limit to the number of products or categories allowed, so they can handle much larger stores as well as sophisticated websites.

The server can also be an important aspect of how your ecommerce site is built and we usually use the Linux based servers being provided by Bluehost or Amazon Web Services. We usually refrain from using Windows based servers.

You could use this flowchart below (Click on the flowchart to enlarge) to help you arrive at a decision on whether you should go ahead with a hosted ecommerce platform or with a CMS, based on your requirements:

Hosted-ecommerce-platforms-vs-open-source-Content-Management-Systems

Once you’ve made your choice on going ahead with either of the two platforms, here is a list of the 5 best options you could explore in each niche:

 

5 Best Content Management Systems
If you’ve decided that a CMS is what will suit your needs best, then below are the 5 best ecommerce CMS available in the market at the moment. The most important factors which will come into consideration when zeroing in on the CMS would be the availability of extensions, availability of support, functionality, customizability and the cost of development and maintenance. All of them are open source and have free community versions and paid enterprise versions.

 

Top 100,000 websites using Ecommerce technologie
Top 100,000 websites using Ecommerce technologies – Source: Builtwith.com

 

Magento:
With nearly 21% of the world’s top 100,000 ecommerce sites built on the Magento platform*, it is by far the most popular and one of the best ecommerce CMS’ being used today. Its biggest advantages are the large number of plugins and extensions available which allow the addition of any new functionality, the ease of availability of experienced developers as well as a lower overall development and maintenance cost.

Pros:

  • Robust platform with a high level of functionality and customizability
  • Large number of marketplace extensions available
  • Highly active community for assistance with tutorials and troubleshooting options
  • More SEO-friendly as compared to most other platforms
  • It is highly-scalable – no need would arise to upgrade to another platform while scaling up in future
  • Easy Integration with emailing platforms such as Mailchimp so that you can stay in touch with your customers

Cons:

  • It requires sufficient server space to operate efficiently at high speeds. Smaller servers may cause speed and other related issues
  • Might be too complex for businesses that are too small

 

WooCommerce:
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin used for building ecommerce websites on the WordPress platform. A large number of WordPress themes have the WooCommerce functionality built-in. The plugin provides almost all the features that are available in the other open-sources CMS’ listed here. WooCommerce might work out more user-friendly and cost-effective for smaller businesses as well as for those familiar with WordPress.

Pros:

  • Easy setup – WordPress requires very little time to get familiar
  • Runs on Wordpess – so does not have powerful servers requirements
  • Good number of lower-priced add-ons and themes available
  • Huge WordPress support community
  • Easy Integration with emailing platforms such as Mailchimp so that you can stay in touch with your customers

Cons:

  • Might not work for mid and large size businesses or for businesses looking to scale up soon

osCommerce:
osCommerce is a fairly popular platform as well, with about 11% of the top 100,000 sites built on open source technologies using osCommerce. Being one of the earliest open-source platforms available, it has a huge support base and a very active forum, though some users find that updates to the platform have not kept up with the times.

Pros:

  • Easy installation and an easy-to-use interface
  • Active forum with a large support base
  • Large number of plugins and add-ons allowing the addition of most functionalities

Cons:

  • Some users find that the software updates and designs have not kept up with times and remain slightly outdated

 

Top 100,000 ecommerce websites using Open Source technologies
Top 100,000 ecommerce websites using Open Source technologies – Source – Builtwith.com

 

Drupal Commerce:
Drupal is the second most-used open source website content management system after WordPress and Drupal commerce is the plugin for ecommerce sites built on this platform. Its seamless integration with Drupal makes creating a blog or forum much more convenient than most other ecommerce content management systems.

Pros:

  • Seamless integration with the Drupal CMS framework gives it an edge over other platforms when it comes to blog integration and content marketing
  • Allows for easy implementation of SEO strategy

Cons:

  • The support community/forum is not as large or active as Magento or osCommerce.

 

Opencart:
Opencart is another open source CMS for ecommerce. Though it has one of the easiest to use backends, its support systems are not as comprehensive as compared to the other platforms listed.

Pros:

  • Easy to use back-end
  • Feature rich with large number of plug-ins
  • CSS can be edited from within the admin

Cons:

  • Some users report difficulty in installation of some themes
  • Support documentation is not comprehensive enough

 

Magento vs Woocommerce vs Drupal Commerce vs Opencart vs osCommerce
Magento vs Woocommerce vs Drupal Commerce vs Opencart vs osCommerce

 

5 Best hosted ecommerce platforms
If you’ve decided that an online store creator would better suit your business, then below are the 5 best platforms available for you to choose from. Two of these – Zepo and Kartrocket have been chosen with the Indian market in mind, as being mostly domestic players, they might have a better understanding and feel of the local market.

Shopify:
Shopify is one of the first names that comes to mind when one thinks of an online commerce platform. With 74,418 sites using Shopify*, it is one of the most popular as well.

Pros:

  • Large number of add-ons as well as beautiful and professional templates to choose from for a beautiful storefront
  • 24/7 customer support – Can be reached by phone, online live chat or email.
  • SEO Compliant

Cons:

  • May work out slightly more expensive as compared to other platforms
  • The back-end UX is slightly complex to understand in the beginning

Pricing**: Starter – $14/month, Basic – $29/month, Professional- $79/month, Unlimited – $179/month.

 

BigCommerce:
Bigcommerce is another popular platform, with 17% of the top 100,000 sites using hosted ecommerce solutions; and 51,977 sites overall*, being built on Bigcommerce.

Pros:

  • A large knowledge base – The Bigcommerce university provides extensive help resources
  • Easy-to-use interface

Cons:

  • Some users claim that customer support is a little unreliable at times

Pricing**: Silver – $29.95/month, Gold – $79.95/month, Platinum – $199.95/month

 

Volusion:
Volusion also has nearly as big a share of the top 100,000 sites using hosted ecommerce solutions – nearly 17%*; with over 90% of its market share is in the United States

Pros:

  • Wide variety of features
  • Personalized service from account specialists
  • Easy to use interface

Cons:

  • Volution stores use a mobile site as against a responsive design
  • Add-on store is not as large as Shopify or BigCommerce
  • No Blog setup available

Pricing**: Mini – $15/month, Gold – $35/month, Platinum – $75/month, Pro – $135/month

 

Zepo:
Mumbai-based Zepo supports more than 1200 ecommerce stores at the moment and has also raised an undisclosed amount of funding in December 2014 to drive its expansion plans.

Pros:

  • Local brand – local support as well as a better understanding and feel of local market
  • An easy interface, especially for newbies
  • Hosted on Rackspace servers – so you can expect a better speed as compared to most platforms.

Cons:

  • Limited Images per product on the lower priced plans

Pricing**: Basic – Rs. 949/month, Starter – Rs. 1899/month, Pro – Rs. 2849/month, Unlimited – Rs. 4749/month

 

Kartrocket:
Delhi-based KartRocket has powered over 1900 stores via its platform and snapped up close to $2 million investment in January 2015 to fund its expansion as well as develop innovative and India-focused product solutions

Pros:

  • Good choice of storefront templates
  • Usability – Clean backend interface
  • Local brand – better understanding and feel of local market

Cons:

  • Comparatively new player in the market as compared to the others above

Pricing**: Studio – Free (5% Transaction fee), Starter – Rs. 1500/month, Pro – Rs. 3000/month, Unlimited – Rs. 7000/month

 

Top 100000 websites using Hosted Solution technologies - Builtwith.com
Top 100000 websites using Hosted Solution technologies – Builtwith.com

 

 

Conclusion
Every platform and CMS has its plus and minus points and choosing the right one depends on your business model and requirements. If you are going in for a hosted platform, Shopify or Zepo (if you prefer a local player) might be the best options, while if you are looking for a Content Mangement System, then Magento would most definitely work best. This, however, is based on our experince and we would love to hear what your experience says.

As a last word, switching platforms or content management systems after a store is up and running is not really a straightforward process and can truly be a nightmare. So, make sure you take a prudent and informed decision with a good amount of foresight.

If you’re a retailer looking to get onto the ecommerce bandwagon, please feel free to contact us and we would be glad to assist you.

Once you’ve zeroed in on the right platform for your ecommerce business and need to decide on the best payments solution you could use, you can check out our blog on the top payment gateways for ecommerce websites.

*Statistics from builtwith.com
** All price data is from the respective websites as on 12th January, 2015

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80 thoughts on “10 Best E-commerce platforms for your online store

    1. Hi Amit, can you tell us the scale of your store for us to better understand. Number of products/categories along with extent of customization would help determine which platform is best suited.

    2. I would suggest you to go with Presashop – It is easy to install, Free open source ecommerce software.
      You can use Hostinger for free/paid hosting. All this will be done at very low cost. After when you get settled up, you can expand.
      Thank you.

  • Hi, Could you please let me know which platform to use for developing a price comparison site for around 7-10 product categories with a few sub categories.
    Example – money.co.uk / kliki.com

    1. Thanks for reaching out Jitendra. Your requirement is a bit unique because its not direct product selling (which is what most of these platforms support). You could explore Magento or WooCommerce or perhaps even a custom platform of your own as price comparison (and crawling of other sites for information) is not a feature that comes built in. Hope that helps.

  • Hello team,

    It is really very nice side..

    I wanted to have ecommerce site for multiple products..

    Number of products would be 400-500SKU
    categories would be 10-12

    need to update new catelogue of product on weekly basis or remove the product in case of stock out.

    hope you understand and suggest good options

    Thanks
    Sanjeev

    1. Thanks for sharing your inputs Sanjeev. Since its a mid size site we would recommend going in for a CMS. Depending on whether you are going to scale up the number of products in the future you can look at WooCommerce. Magento requires more technical expertise to set up but would be a better choice if you are going to scale to 1000 or 2000 products in the next 8-12 months. Else go for WooCommerce. On the other hand if you just wanna get started and try out ecommerce then check out Zepo.

  • hi i like to start up an online store for my apparels, i am a manufacture of apparels & can you please suggest me a best ecommerce platform for my business. i am having around 40-50 SKU’s right now.

    awaiting for your reply

    1. An eCommerce platform never depends on the kind of the product. Can you please tell the number of products, category, and customers. If product count exceed 1000 magento is the best option.
      No Other CMS has such a vast functionality. And the number of extensions and easiness to extend through custom module makes its more powerful.

  • Hi,

    Planning to work on a knowledge based portal. I need to integrate an LMS (maybe Moodle) with a CMS. Which one would you suggest Magento or Drupal?

    1. Dear Gauri, for Moodle or other LMS it is better to use WordPress or Bootstrap because Magento is predominantly for ecommerce and for sites which need to sell. WordPress (with Woocommerce in case you are planning to collect payments) would be more apt. Do let us know if we can help in this regard.

  • I want to sell my own brand of groceries online. Magento CMS have decided to go in for building website. I need to have payment options online as well. Initially my number of products will be around 50SKU’s and gradually will build 100-150SKU’s. Kindly advise, is it right to go ahead with the decision taken. I also want to know, if I can use Zepo for initial sales to see the growth and then go ahead with Magento website design. Need your opinion.

    1. Thanks for writing in Madhusuden – Since its just 50 products to start with Zepo or Shopify might be good options to try out the success of the business model. A magento installation also requires more technical expertise especially when hosted on cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services.

  • Hi, I’m launching a website for kids and baby products, with nearly 1000 products. Which platform would you recommend?

  • Wow.. what a Comparison it clears my all question regarding this two platform for ecommerce. thanks. We are looking for WordPress Woocommerce theme for our Spiritual website

    1. Thanks for reaching out Akhil. Our team will reach out to you and send you the Infographic. Feel free to use it on your blog (but please do cite our blog as the source).

  • Fantastic compilation of facts. Keep up the good work.
    Reassuring to know that I picked the right partner – shopify. It is ridiculously easy and truly fun to upload my store.
    Now, I am waiting for the customers 🙂 – any leads on h2 improve eyeballs, visitors to the site and enable me to understand h2 convert them into ‘loyal’ customers?
    Cheers
    N

  • I Want to Host a website with more than 12000 Products….And more than 500 Categories… Please recommend I Am Going forward with Prestashop…Would You Recommend Going with it or shall i move to magento…And what about the security Issues..i Want to host a website like Snapdeal or flipkart in future where sellers can sell their Products,,.. Please Suggest

    1. Hi Mudit, for such a large website Magento (or custom built platform) would be ideal. There are a few paid extensions which allow for supplier login.

  • for Gold /silver price calculation , as gold/silver price changes daily so its not possible to change each article price manually. Kindly suggest some opensource e-com platform which have such feature to calculate.

    product will be around 300-500 initially, as of now i have decide opencart, but not sure of business logic implementation

    1. Hey Sandeep – This functionality is posibble in Magento with a custom pricing based on gold/silver rates. It requires some programming skills but your web development team should be able to accomplish that. StackOverflow Forums can be seen to understand this issue better.

  • Hi, I am exploring various options for my website and mobile app. that has among other requirements social media integration, frequent content changes and quick speed for mobile users. While initial numbers and coverage is small, plan is to take it to several metros over 12-18 months time. One of the developers suggests WordPress while couple of others say it is not appropriate given my requirements. Pleas advise!!

    1. Hi Akshay – Thanks for reaching out to us. Our team shall reach out to you at the email address provided by you while commenting on the blog.

  • Dear Social Beat,

    Greetings!

    We are to be launching a brand new ecommerce portal very soon on the likes of jabong and myntra. However, a few questions for you to comfort us.

    We’ve started with magento, and have the desired workforce ready and in place.
    Is Magento open source alone enough with workforce coupled with customisation for scalability or should we look at an enterprise edition of magento which costs almost as much as 77000 USD.

    We will start with 3000+ SKU and about 50 Categories and will ramp up to close to 30K + SKUs by end of year.

    Kindly suggest if we should forego magento and all other opensources but hire a strong PHP team to build our own cms which has no scalability issues?

    Thanks in advance,
    Manjunath

    1. Thanks for writing in Manjunath. The costs vary significantly if the platform is being built inhouse. Moreover, security, scalability and functionality upgrades become an issue. So most startups start with an open source or plug and play platform to keep the costs low.

  • Hi kindly suggest as we wanted to launch a shopping portal just similar to loginkart (dot) com

    can u guide us on which platform it has been created and what will be the approx cost in running or operating such a site.

  • Hello, I need a cms solution that can build a classified site like craigslist, that can allow bboth the admin and the users to place the new content in the site. I have tried hard coding but I just wnat to try hands on a CMS tool.
    Any suggestion is welcome.
    Thanks..!!

  • Thats a great post and certainly clarifies lots of doubt but do we have any more addon’s to the list (as this was originally posted 7 months back)?
    I am planning to start a couple of online stores:

    1st with upto 50 products and 2nd with around 500 products (scalable)
    Both will be targeted to domestic (india) market – From the logistics point of view

    I have reviewed Shopify, Zepo, Shop2Grab, BuildABazar, Shopmania, powerstores and a few more.
    I am working as an individual without external funding – offcourse budget is the biggest role player 🙂

    Any guidence would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    1. Hey Kumar – Thanks for writing in. If you have lower budgets and dont want to get a technology team in place then its best to go for Shopify or Zepo. They would allow you to go to market quickly. The platform can be upgraded to a different one once you scale up. Hope this helps.

  • hello, I am planning to have a startup based on idea somewhat similar to airbnb(dot)com. it needs to have 2 types of users, now who provides and one who uses the commodity, can you please suggest me a platform with which i can cater my needs?

  • hi,
    Thanks for the info.. we would like to open our designer women gamrnets E Comm ..plz advice .. we are starting with some 6-7 categories with 10-15 design initially..and love to go beyond as per market neeeds..

    looking forward for your reply

    regards
    Divvya Prakash

  • Hi,

    We are maintaining a site and we need to implement ecommerce framework and some integrations with it… but it will be in a small city and the expense is low.. which framework would i prefer to?

  • Hi Social Beat, a little late to the post, and yet still very relevant one feels. Would like your insight. I need to rebuild my website which is primarily a gadgets and electronics commerce site. Have all told maybe around 200 skus.
    But my main concern is that beyond ecommerce i have a few other requirements. Like we have a Support page (with a web form etc), news/press page (with cms of its own), also some additions like integrating a chatting service (like tawk.to or others) and a proprietary product registration service.

    Which platform do you recommend? Shopify seems closed off to customizations (like a product registration section). Magento i keep hearing requires more technical resource… so WordPress/Woocommerce then?

    1. Hi Varun, Given you requirements for customization, WooCommerce or Magento would be the best options. Magento has more ecommerce functionality built in, but does require an experienced team to develop the website. Woocommerce is relatively cheaper and easier to develop and manage. So, based on your budget, you can take a call.

  • I am planning to start a local grocery online retail business starting with 1500 products.. i ofcourse want to test my model first hence i am leaning towards Zepo, why dont youll suggest zepo for a big product line up ?

  • In addition to the above, COD will be the basis of the business, and i heave heard that shopify doesnt support that, is that true ?

    1. Hi Shaan, Shopify does support COD payments but they dont manage it for you. Zepo on the other hand has partnered with AVN to provide COD & Logistics. But you could partner with any third party logistics for COD and then enable the feature in Shopify.

  • Very useful information guys. I’m planning a website to list all service providers required by a mother. Which platform would you recommend?

    1. Hi Shweta, for a listings website, a custom designed WordPress website turn out great. Let us know if you need any help and we would be glad to discuss the project with you.

  • Hi,

    I am planning to start my ecommerce Tshirt store, so can you please suggest me which platform should i go for? Also i would like to know whether shopify provides COD facility?

    Any suggestions would be warmly welcomed.

    Thank you in advance.

    Regards
    Ankit Agarwala

    1. No, Shopify currently doesnt offer COD so you could opt for Zepo. They have partnered with AVN to help with logistics and COD facility.

  • Hello,

    I am planning to start an handloom apparel store soon, the total number of products will be below 100, but I am confused between Shopify and Zepo. Which will be a better option and also please comment on the cost factor as Zepo has increased its monthly prices and Shopify charges in USD (also the overall charges of Shopify are not very clear from their website).

    1. You can start with Zepo as its based in India and likely to cater better to your requirements but both options are good. Do look at the themes/designs each of them offer .

  • Hi ,

    Currently i am selling products on eCommerce giants in India. Now i want to expand and have my own ecommerce website.Based on you above article, i have decided to go for ‘hosted platform’ . Can you please let me know what are some good options (in terms of low costs and reliability) available in India.

    Thanks .
    Prashant Singh

  • Hi,
    I am looking for a company to make a ecommerce website to sell ladies garments and manage for me as well. Please give me the best to start because we are direct importer of ladies western wear and now planing to expand.

  • Very nice post. But there are some more very known e-commerce platforms that are missing in this post can be added. These are: cs.cart, yo!kart and wix. These too are counted as top platforms these days as these are being featured in many magazines like fobes, inc etc.

  • Very informative article. I feel Magento is best e-commerce platform among various software platforms, frameworks and technologies.

  • with 100 retailers having 5-7 products each one.total number of product is 500-700 .basically i will sell special type of ladies garments in mumbai only and the customers are also from mumbai(only).which will be best shopify or zepo? or any other platforms which will suit me .

  • Social Beat…
    I see very little or no coverage of BOOSTMYSALES by Navsoft. Will be good to see a comparative report on that and others.

    Well, I am looking for a TEA marketing platform for India as well as global. Further, also want something that has a 2 level Affiliate Program module or option. Integration with Indian as well as major global marketplaces is required too. I see most service providers in India limiting international marketplace integration with just Amazon and EBay —- there are others in Japan, China, Europe and USA too.

    Would appreciate a cost effective suggestion. I was till now looking into KARTROCKET, BOOSTMYSALES, ECWID, etc. Need a proper solution. SKUs will be below 100.

    Thanks.

  • Very good article explained in a lucid way. I have a query i am interested in starting an ecommerce website to book birthday and other parties andprovide service. Could you help me decide whether to go in for Hosted platforms or CMS , though after reading the artcile above feel CMS is an overkill for the kind of business i am looking forward doing. Thanks for the help

  • I would not recommend shopify specifically to indian business startups as it lacks basic functionality like availability of cash on delivery payment method based on pin codes.

    Moreover the options available for discount coupons are very less like no option to exclude already on sale products from the coupon.

    There is no peer for shopify cdn in India and hence it causes large loading times when they face any technical issues.

    New features are added taking into consideration of US ecommerce market and some of the features are not useful for indian store owners.

  • Good work,
    You have properly explained all the shopping carts. I would prefer Magento as their are lots of free & premium Magento extensions & themes.

  • I need to extend my services online in addition to the current brick & mortar model. There is no physical product involved here & it’s the service executed offline which will be paid for online. Clients to start would be about 5-10 to scale up to around 100 in about a year. Please suggest whether a custom platform or a hosted / CMS solution needs to be used with your recommendation

  • Very Nice Article to decide which platform to choose for a online store.Great Work!!!.

    My Query: bigbasket.com is the current proven online retail store which is a very successful product.Is Magento Platform scalable upto the level of bigbasket.com
    If i use Magento platform can i scale upto bigbasket.com in below technical aspects:
    1)UI/UX look & feel for customers
    2)Speed
    3)Features of a good ecommerce site
    4)Customization

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Regards,
    Balaji

  • There is lots of product comparison website in India. I tried woo commerce but they are good only for a niche website. But I want to make a big product comparison website. Can you tell me what things it need (I know web scrapping) something extra?

  • We would like to develop a tour and activity marketplace. Can we develop on Magento or which platform is suggested.

    Any developers based in Chennai with experience in marketplace development would be preferred

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