Best eCommerce Platform 2020

In recent years a variety of e-commerce platforms have risen in popularity. People find online shopping more convenient than in-person shopping in Highstreet stores. This trend saw a steep increase with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. People got confined to their houses, adhering to the social distancing laws already in power. While many malls and supermarkets suffered at the pandemic’s hand, the eCommerce industry saw a boom.

Now is an excellent moment in time to start your e-commerce store. We have rounded up a list of all the best e-commerce platforms that caught our attention in 2020 and put them on trial.

The eCommerce platforms we mention have a lot of differences, similarities too. One common denominator is their deployment method: some platforms allow clients to install them on their machines; others take on the many lucrative advantages of the cloud. The first option enables clients to have more control over their assets. The other method uses something most refer to as Software as a Service (SaaS). This mode may be more financially demanding, at least at first glance, and maybe for newcomers. However, some of the bundled cloud-based solutions we will review are flexible and bend under non-common requirements. They justify the total cost of ownership, even the ones with subscription fees and zero try-out packages.

Also, a small portion of our list of eCommerce platform providers run both on-premise and SaaS models. They extend the possibilities for customers to test and consider what their best option is. Some even get recognized by industry experts as tools that maintain high performance and adapt to change.

Gartner Magic Quadrant for eCommerce (August 2020)
Source: Gartner Magic Quadrant for eCommerce (August 2020)

Here are the platforms we’ll cover in this report. Gartner puts special attention by criteria when adding a platform to their Magic Quadrant, which is enough in the context of this post to cover the tool, and its capabilities as a serious player in the field. 

Platform name On-premise SaaS Free Trial
1 Shopify
2 Woo-commerce
3 BigCommerce
4 Wix
5 SAP
6 Square
7 Magento
8 Shopware
9 VTEX
10 Spryker
11 Salesforce
12 Oracle
13 Oro
14 Commercetools
15 Episerver
16 Unilog
17 Kibo
18 Elastic Path

We built our chart based on a mixed factor between what’s most useful and what gains popularity. Magento is by far the most popular eCommerce platform, but this is largely because it is one of the first successful attempts at online commerce that also sustained itself over time. We believe that platforms with increased popularity bear the mark of positive potentials. Unlike Magento, which was created a long time ago, newly created platforms have the luxury to fully take advantage of what cutting edge technologies provide. The two platforms we believe fall into this category are products like Shopify on the SaaS side and Shopware on the self-hosted end.

Since Magento framework was created, a lot of things changed in technological perspective, and platform updates not always manage to catch up with trends or technical requirements. In comparison, Shopware’s core architecture is designed with contemporary tech, and is flexible enough to allow collaborations and various integrations.

Shopify

Shopify
Shopify

Shopify is an e-commerce platform providing almost all the facilities at one platform. It makes it easy for the customer to develop and design their online store, accept payments, and manage their stores’ catalog from a single platform without worrying about other technical aspects like web domain, security, hosting, etc.

Shopify does not require you to install any additional software. It holds a complete solution, including security, backups, etc. All you must do is choose a store template and then customize it via the drag and drop interface. Shopify’s pricing ranges from a basic plan ($29) to an advanced plan ($299). All plans include SSL certificate, domain name, and web hosting, and there is no limit for product addition and storage for any of these plans. However, once the business starts growing, the user must buy many third-party tools and add-ons.

Shopify offers its payment method named “Shopify payment” and third-party payment gateways including PayPal, Amazon Payments, First Data, Stripe, etc. and charges 2% for each transaction to the third-party gateway. Many add-ons and apps can be integrated into the store to get the required feature. It provides some SEO apps to optimize the store and improve its ranking. It also offers social media integration features to enhance sales using the medial social platform.

Woo-commerce

Woo Commerce
Woocommerce

Woo-commerce is an open-source e-commerce plugin, allowing you to customize any store feature and built for WordPress. It provides a powerful content management system (CMS) used to operate online stores efficiently.

WooCommerce is a free plugin available for Wordpress.com, but one needs to buy SSL certificates, domain names, and a WordPress hosting to start its store using it, which makes it an expensive asset for creating an online store. Some hosting companies provide you with specialized WooCommerce hosting, reducing expenses to about $7/month.  Users are responsible for installing and managing updates and backups of WooCommerce and managing the security aspect themselves, making it a relatively tricky process for a new user.

Moreover, Woo is an open-source plugin that enables the user to change the store and develop any features. However, there is no built-in drag and drop interface for designers. There is no limitation to the type of product or number of products for stores.

WooCommerce provides PayPal and Stripe payments and enables the user to add other payment methods by add-ons. Any payment company can build their add-on and then can be used in-store for payment methods. It doesn’t charge any cost for payment through a third-party gateway. It enables you to use 55000 free WordPress plugins and access to many paid plugins allowing the user to access unlimited features. There are many SEO optimization plugins available for WordPress, which can be integrated and used for stores.

BigCommerce

BigCommerce
BigCommerce

BigCommerce is also an all-in-one e-commerce platform—like Shopify—providing the customers with almost all features in one place, including web domain, SSL certificates, security, hosting, etc. BigCommerce provides the drag-and-drop interface feature, making it easy for newcomers to design the store according to the requirement easily. BigCommerce offers many templates arranged in categories. Users can quickly search and find what most fits their desire for the store they have in mind. BigCommerce provides a lot of SEO integrations and features that help in ranking the store and its items. One of the main features of BigCommerce is its capabilities for multichannel sales.

The cost of BigCommerce ranges from $29.95 (Standard Plan) to $299.95 (Pro Plan). It allows unlimited products, staff accounts, file storage, and bandwidth in all of its plans. It provides 15 days free trial, 24/7 chat and phone support, responsive and customizable themes, and multichannel selling.

It provides free SSL integration and social media selling tools to increase sales. BigCommerce delivers an extensive catalog of free and paid extensions and apps to integrate different store features. There are more than 65 pre-integrated gateways in BigCommerce which support more than 100 countries and more than 250 local payment methods and provides a one clicks setup payment process. It also enables users to sell digital, service-based, and physical products easily.

Wix

Wix.com
WiX

Experts consider Wix as one of theeasiest and beginner-friendly eCommerce platforms Building and designing a store on Wix is effortless, quick, and with the least amount of effort. One can use the Wix ADI tool to build the store according to the requirements through artificial intelligence.

Wix provides more than 500 completely free templates, stylish and holding that modern look, but lacks responsiveness.  Users must place the elements manually to view them on smartphones in a specific style. Wix offers tons of flexibility but doesn’t give many customizations via code. While using Wix, user cannot embed videos to the descriptions of the items in store.

Wix provides many payment options, including PayPal, credit card payments through Wix Payments, PayPal, Stripe, Moolah, Square, and offline payments. In the free version, Wix provides free web domain, bandwidth, and storage up to 500 MB and doesn’t include payment methods. Premium plans range from $4 to $24 per month and offer different bandwidth, storage, and other features. One can add up to 50,000 products in a store on Wix, but it may affect the store’s performance and storage capabilities. Wix offers multichannel sales and social media sales integration. The user must sign up for the premium plan to start selling through Wix.

SAP

SAP Commerce
SAP

SAP provides the cloud-based e-commerce solution to the companies and fulfills customers’ unique requirements and provides a customized product by unifying all the touchpoints.

Some of SAP’s main features include product content management, catalog management, sales performance management, and subscription order management, making this platform easy. SAP offers multichannel commerce and built-in SEO tools helping the user to rank the store. SAP supports web-based apps, iOS, and Android devices and is usually used by medium businesses and enterprises. SAP gives built-in promotion capabilities to increase sales.

SAP allows its user to integrate any payment gateway to its e-commerce platform, enabling the buyer to use credit cards, PayPal, or any other payment method to place orders. SAP marketing cloud allows the user to integrate social media to enhance the sales.

Square

Square
Square

Square enables the user to quickly set up the store by signing in and providing the raw data about the store. One can link the existing domain to the square store or buy a web domain through Square or use the provided free subdomain. One can design the store by choosing the template of any category and then customize its setting to get the requirements. It doesn’t offer drag and drop features and is not much flexibility in customizing appearance.

One of the main features of the Square is that it allows the user to sell without having to pay a monthly fee. They just have to cover the payment transaction fee. The free plan includes unlimited products, 500 MB storage, social media integration, free SSL security, inventory management, and order customization. It also provides in-store and curbside pickup and SEO tools to optimize and rank the store for better sales.

For the free version, it only provides payment options through Square, but for paid plans, it accepts payment through PayPal. Other features in paid plans include shipping labels, product reviews, shipping discounts, etc.

Magento

Magento
Magento

It is an open-source platform installed on a user’s system, and the user needs to buy web hosting, security, and other extensions. Users are expected to know how to code and build a website or store, making it difficult for new players. One can customize and build the store according to requirements making it flexible in designing and appearance.

It doesn’t provide free themes to set up stores. One can buy ready-made themes that don’t require any customization and custom themes that are expensive and customizable. It provides multichannel selling options by installing extensions to integrate stores with Facebook, eBay, etc., and doesn’t have the opportunity to sell digital products. There are no built-in marketing tools in Magento. One must integrate the add-ons to the store, and that requires a knowledge of web development. Magento marketplace consists of 5000 extensions to add to the store to increase the store’s functionality and features, nearly half of which are free of cost.

Magento supports 500 payment gateways; they can quickly become part of the store, install them from the marketplace. Magento’s SEO tools are better than many eCommerce platforms enabling the user to edit image alt tags and customize URLs to better rank the products. Although Magento is open source and free to download and install, it requires web hosting, SSL certificates, and other paid integrations to start, making it expensive compared to many other E-commerce platforms.

Shopware

Shopware
Shopware

Shopware is also an open-source platform that can be downloaded and installed for free. It provides many professional design templates with a fully responsive display and is completely customizable. The integrated content management system allows the user to create and design pages using drag and drop editor. This tool includes a broader selection of contributors due to the intuitive nature of this type of interface.

At its core, Shopware’s wraps the technological power needed to run complex processes. However, this hidden power’s primary purpose is to enable consumers to shape and fine-tune the tools they use to run their business. The environment of Shopware naturally reduces the boundaries between decision-makers and creators. All the management and administrative functionalities are made to suit people with varied work capabilities, skill sets, and even authority levels.

One of the main features of the Shopware is the integrated SEO functionality, which helps create optimized content elements. There are over 3500 plugins and themes that are available in Shopware’s community store. What is more, you have the whole community itself as an advisor, and whenever you need help installing or using new features to your store. Having both the plugins and the support of developers who made them means that eComm providers not only have a wide variety of customizable elements but the knowledge to apply them efficiently.

Shopware has now built a community that links creators, supplies, and providers in perfect equilibrium. Problems with plugins or add-ons are quickly eradicated — their original creators are always glad to remove a bug or make their app even better. Shopware’s best advertisement tool is the opinion and value of those who use it and improve upon it. Great tools prevail over time, and if they lack the power, they claim they have — the community is there to point it out.

Shopware has become the supreme tool for eCommerce by the incremental improvements born within a whole group of like-minded individuals who support it and despite all the strong constructive criticism coming from clients and users.

Shopware supports standard interfaces available for payment options, including PayPal, Klarna, Credit cards, etc. It has the multichannel capability — you can set up an unlimited number of shops and their backend management. Users can create different categories and products. There is no limit for the number of products added, either in single or multiple stores.

Shopware Starter Edition is free and provides an all-in-one cloud-powered solution, including an integrated storefront and drag and drops editor for designing landing pages. Professional Edition costs 199 Euro per month, and it can be cloud-based or self-hosted with options for additional features.

VTEX

VTEX
VTEX

VTEX is a “service as a software” e-commerce platform that provides all the features required to sell online. VTEX provides customers with powerful tools for organic traffic boost and improved conversion rates. It has multichannel solutions for eCommerce, such as omnichannel management. Some of the other main features include management systems for promotion, multi-store, orders, and catalog.

Experts consider VTEX useful for its product management capabilities. The platform is sales-oriented and supports activity tracking, availability management, billing and invoicing, campaign management and segmentation, delivery tracking, disaster recovery, e-commerce management, etc. SSL security is available across all multichannel commerce features. Included SEO management tools cover content optimization.

But the problem with this platform is that it does not provide any free services or free trial. It usually costs $5000/month, so beginners tend to avoid it; the same goes for new customers or small businesses. VTEX doesn’t provide shipment management services like label printing, inventory management, order management, and order processing. Moreover, it doesn’t accept electronic payments. It does not provide different useful integrations, including other payment methods or social media sales integration.

Spryker

Spryker
Spryker

It is an eCommerce platform focused on product, catalog, and channel management. Small to mid-sized enterprises are the ones who consider it as their solution. Spryker is a developer-focused framework with innovative solutions to many business problems. It provides different functionalities required for eCommerce business and assists to reach all customers across digital platforms.

Some of the most recognized Spryker features include flexibility and speed. The platform delivers the user experience without affecting the rate or breaking base requirements. Other prominent features include management systems for customer relations, promotion, returns and review, mobile access, etc. It also provides data security, email marketing, and multichannel marketing supported by all OS and web platforms. One can easily integrate different payment gateways into SPryker, including PayPal, Amazon Pay, Klarna, After pay, Billpay, etc. It can offer multiple payment options on check-out.

Spryker is not suitable for beginners or small businesses as it is expensive and does not offer free services. Located in Germany, it struggles to spread its influence beyond the border. One of Spryker’s drawbacks is that it lacks SEO management tools, considered today as a significant factor for product placement and exposure, sales rates, retention, to name a few. It also doesn’t support customizable templates. Such conditions deter users from using the tool to realize their ideas.

Salesforce

Salesforce
Salesforce

Salesforce is a cloud-based eCommerce platform and is considered highly scalable. It provides many features required for online businesses to offer better experience and functionality to customers. Software as a Service Solution (SaaSS) helps users manage their online business without worrying about the technical roadmap. It gives the built-in features that help in marketing and selling the products. It is fast and secure as compared to many other eCommerce platforms.

The main features that Salesforce offers include marketing automation, CRM project management, backend customization, security. One intriguing benefit is the ability for third-party software integration. This feature helps to increase the store’s functionality. Salesforce is built for tricky omnichannel retail business, and it shines when complex order must be managed. It provides social medial sale integrations, flexible SEO module, order management capabilities, promotion engines, and search management features. It offers multiple features for customization of storefronts, multiple catalog options for different customers, target promotion management, currency, language localization, and mobile-optimized design. It also supports multichannel commerce, product and catalog management, and SEO tools integrations. It comes furnished with security, hosting, performance, and supports scalability.

However, Salesforce lacks free services or free trial. There are a few paid plans that customers can choose according to their requirements. The paid plans range from $25 per month for the Essential Plan to $300 per month for the Unlimited Plan.

Oracle

Oracle
Oracle

Oracle is an eCommerce platform that integrates many required features to streamline and customize the online business activities. It provides very flexible and scalable application interfaces for eCommerce. It serves to both B2B and B2C brands that increase the functionality and control over the use of tools.

The main advantage of Oracle is its ease of use. Mastering it does not call for any prior technical knowledge. One can easily customize the design and options in the dashboard. A/B testing capabilities are built-in and ready to use.

Oracle has easy products and catalog management, which makes it great for beginners. Prominent features include multi-site creation and management, transaction and settlement tracking, and search and navigation options. It also has built-in SEO and merchandising integrations. Medium and long-term projects mostly use this platform. Although it works under all OS and devices, it presently supports only one language: English.

As we have seen so far, many candidates for the best eCommerce platform in 2020 don’t feature free services. In this line of words, Oracle makes no exception, and beginners should look for something more suitable for their tech level. Its cost depends on user requirements and is usually comes as a one-time payment. Oracle supports a few native integrations. For example, it pairs with CyberSource when credit card processing is involved. It also works with PayPal Express check-out.

Oro

Oro
Oro

Oro is specifically designed and built for enterprise-level businesses and mainly focused on B2B companies. All the features and functionalities are added to this platform to run and manage B2B companies. It is an opensource platform that makes it more flexible and customizable as anyone in the team can contribute by editing. Users can also add new features to the open-source platform and change it according to business requirements.

Oro’s main features include flexibility, built-in CRM, and open source. Flexibility and customizability are some of the most wanted features sought by eCommerce entrepreneurs, as each business requires different sets of features for their operation. A flexible platform is what customers need to fit their operations. Oro allows you to create multiple price lists according to different buyers or companies. Users can control numerous stores and run websites in remote regions, managing currencies and tax regulations using one platform. CMS of this platform allows the customer to manage the content and media of the store quickly. One of the main features it that It provides tools to optimize the web pages or stores, products and customize URLs according to SEO rules. Its free plan offers multiple price lists support, custom catalog personalization, flexible workflow engine, etc.

Oro has a minimal range for marketplaces and hence the limitations of its features. Although the open-source version comes free, it is not suitable for small businesses —ownership cost is too high.

Payment integrations go only through PayPal — no other payment methods are in play.

Commercetools

Commercetools
commercetools

Commercetools is an eCommerce platform that includes all the functionalities and features fully enabling APIs. It does not require SQL or any other kind of customization as API provides all types of extendable functionalities needed to run an online shop. It is a cloud-based platform, so it doesn’t need hosting and is a simple platform that’s also easy to use.

This platform’s main features include product diversity, product breadth, store search, mobility, and customization. It also supports multichannel commerce and integration and deployment of external add-ons, which sometimes increase the store’s functionality. One of the advantages of using this platform is easy to deploy. Commercetools includes tools for SEO management and supports different templates. The combination of content optimization and the variety in design means that managers can easily handle new stores.

Some of the notable features include CRM, email marketing, and management for multi-store, promotion, and returns. Web apps, Mac and Windows, are supported, and customers can enjoy 24/7 support. Commercetools offers a free trial of 15 days to use the services, but one needs a paid plan to use services.   

Episerver

EpiServer
EpiServer

Episerver unites services of content management and commerce under a single platform. It comes with an extensive collection of features suitable for full online business management.

Some of the vital traits of Episerver include personalization, product and catalog management, order management, shipping options, and many others.

One of the main advantages of using Episerver is that it provides the drag and drop interface, allowing the user to design product pages without technical skills. The site search management enables this platform to promote attributes and provide fine-tune results. You can integrate this platform with other systems, including ERP, product information management systems, and marketing automation systems, and this helps to take advantage of the systems we already have.

Episerver does not provide free services or free trial. It also doesn’t offer tools for SEO management and does not support any language other than English. This platform supports the 3rd part store integrations like eBay, Amazon, etc., and promotes social media sale integrations.

Unilog

Unilog
Unilog

Unilog is a powerful eCommerce platform, specifically designed for medium businesses. It provides eCommerce solutions and services for content enrichment using advanced business capabilities. This platform’s main features include product information management, content management system, commerce module, site search, and mobile apps. This platform was developed and designed specifical, keeping B2B buyers in mind.

This platform does not provide services for free or free trials. It gives standard templates with many tools to edit the template and customize it according to needs. Usually, editing and customization tools are easy to use and do not require much technical background. It provides the means for SEO management, which optimizes the content and drives traffic to the store. The payment processing includes fraud detection and management and integrating to different services to provide additional payment gateways, including credit cards, PayPal, etc. It also has tools to manage the check-out process and shipping procedure and handles the orders and refunds. It supports the social media sale integrations and 3rd party store integrations such as Amazon, eBay, etc.

This platform’s other features include security, performance, reliability, cross-browser support, reports and analytics, and admin access rights.

Kibo

Kibo
Kibo

It is a cloud-based platform that has brought eCommerce, retail enterprise, and logistic capabilities to one platform. This platform helps the user edit the eCommerce sites or stores quickly without any need for coding or heavy customization, which makes this platform easy. The easy use and customization features allow the business to adapt to the changes and keep it prepared for the future.

This platform’s main features include front and back store operations, advanced consumer targeting, analytics and business intelligence, order routing, and intelligent merchandising. It provides SEO management tools to optimize the website or store and increase its ranking. It offers tools for promotions and discounts, content management, shipping options, check-out processing, and payment processing. The platform provides complete customization to the design and functionality and keeps the stores and data secure. Easy-to-use tools are provided to customize standard themes to change the design according to the store and business requirements.

This platform is supported by Web-based, iOS, and Android devices and is meant for all types and sizes of businesses. Kibo does not provide free services and free trials. It gives the quote-based plan.

Elastic Path

Elasticpath
Elasticpath

Elastic Path provides a cost-effective solution to eCommerce and brings capabilities to offer a better user experience. This platform uses open source tools, and its main feature is its ease of use for people who do not know how to code. This platform has a lot of built-in functionality that makes the user experience better.

With Elastic Path, you can enjoy features like CRM, email marketing, inventory management, return management, multi-store management, SEO tools. Elastic Path holds the tools for product catalog, listing and visual customization, and marketing instruments for promotions, discounts, or personalized recommendations.

The abundance of useful features in the paid plan compensates because there is no free or ‘try-it-before-buy-it’ plan. Elastic Path features the eCommerce business management tool, great for business owners with more than one store. As this is built using open source tools, it makes this platform flexible, and one can easily customize the display and features in its stores and websites.

Elastic Path does not provide any free services or free trials. Its starting price is $35000 for one time, and this suggests that it is not suitable for small businesses and individuals. Moreover, it does not support multichannel commerce and does not provide templates. Project management tools are not accessible through the web that makes its use difficult. Elastic Path provides different built-in payment gateways that can be enabled or disabled using the payment management tools.

Conclusion

To sum up, what we said so far— all these websites and platforms cover most of all the significant features for an online store. Each eCommerce solution comes with unique angles, features, and ease of use. Their main goal is to provide users with the flexibility they need to manage their shops properly, allowed by present technology.

These eCommerce tools all differ in the type of audience that they serve. Each platform has one or more prominent features that stand out, and some are trying to fit specific branch niches. Each of the platform’s unique features is usually also their most substantial competitive advantages.

Hosting, domain, and SSL are all problems solved by the SaaS solution. Alternatively, on-premise plans may seem enticing to newcomers, especially with platforms that offer free-to-try plans. However, clients must manually take care of all the collateral needs on any online commerce mission. It seems that the tech-savvy shop owners are the ones who most benefit from the ‘to-install’ version.

The down-side of non-SaaS solutions has always increased the demand for resources and technical knowledge needed to make it happen. It also puts more strain on the decision-makers because they also add store technical management to their already loaded task lists.

There are hardly any one-size-fits-all solutions. However, for serious entrepreneurs with a vision, we found Shopware to be best equipped to handle varied requirements and project scope. Due to its headless-first approach, it can also be easily connected to complimentary technologies like PWA, ERP, PIM, Marketplaces like Amazon, eBay or Walmart.

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Author

David Dorr, Head of eCommerce

David is the Head of e-Commerce at CodeCoda where he is responsible to lead several teams of eCommerce specialists. In his previous role as a data scientist for London Metropolitan Police, he was developing deep learning NLP algorithms as part of the Crime Prediction initiative. He then switched over to combine AI with e-Commerce.
He received a B.Sc in Physics from the University of Surrey, Guildford in 1996. With this scientific background, he switched relatively early in his life towards Neural Networks and e-Commerce and has ever since been fascinated with what AI and Machine Learning can do for Online Commerce.