The Best Ecommerce Software
The best ecommerce software provides a suite of services that take you from day one — getting a URL — to the end goal — closing on sales. We looked at 64 of the most popular ecommerce software providers, and ranked them on scope and quality of services. Our four top picks are full-service providers that will help you build a successful site and business.
Shopify hits all the marks: Learning resources, support, great website templates, marketing services, and more. This company’s ecommerce software enables you to build a website that you will love, and your customers will love to shop at.
- January 25, 2018 - We’ve revised this review to show more clearly how we found the best ecommerce software. In addition, this page now includes an in-depth comparison of our favorite ecommerce companies and who they’re best for.
The Best Ecommerce Software
How We Found the Best Ecommerce Software
URLs, HTML, SSL, PCI-DSS… if your head is spinning, you’re not alone. Building and managing a website is complicated business. Beyond listing items and processing payments, your online store has to be able to track inventory and shipments, create user profiles, analyze site activity, and more. This is where ecommerce software steps in.
The best ecommerce software takes a lot of the work of website management out of your hands. It should lead you seamlessly through setup, website design, and order management. It tracks sales, returns, and revenue automatically, so you don’t have to scribble everything down in a leger. It even acts as an in-house marketing agent for your store.
We considered a wide range of criteria before picking the best ecommerce software companies. If you already know what features you’re looking for, feel free to skip down and see Our Top Picks. If you’re new to ecommerce software, read on to learn more about the ins and outs of ecommerce software — and which features are most important.
The best ecommerce software starts by laying the foundation for a safe and seamless website.
- It offers optimal web hosting: “Hosting” is the service that allows you to actually purchase a domain name and get your website up and running — it’ s the basis of any successful ecommerce software. We looked for companies that guarantee excellent hosting. That means more than 99% uptime, ensuring your website will always be accessible. It also means the software automatically backs up and restores your website multiple times per day, to make sure all your information is saved; including orders, products, photos, and customer records. In addition, the best ecommerce software provides unlimited data storage and unlimited bandwidth. You shouldn’t have to contend with size and usage restrictions as your business grows.
- It makes your website (and your business) secure: In order to protect your assets, your information, and your clients’ information, ecommerce software companies need to take certain security measures. Most allow you to set Administrator Permissions, meaning you can control which employees have access to which parts of the site. All ecommerce software should also come with a free SSL certificate, providing standard web-based encryption. Finally, we made sure our top picks are compliant with Payment Card Industry Data Security Systems (PCI-DSS). This ensures that all payments made on your site are totally secure.
- It provides excellent customer support and learning materials: Building and operating a website requires a broad set of skills that can be difficult to master. The best ecommerce software makes this easier by supporting you along the way. Some of our favorite software, like BigCommerce, provide excellent FAQs, knowledge bases, and live webinars. Such tools can help you master your website-building skills along the way. And, when you run into a hitch, the best ecommerce companies include email, live chat, phone, and social media support. Having access your provider through multiple channels can be a huge help when troubleshooting for different issues.
The next step: Helping you build your site from the ground up.
- It helps you design a beautiful and functional web store: Putting up an online storefront is really technical business. It requires coding and programming language that may be unfamiliar to small business owners and entrepreneurs. Ecommerce software lends a hand by providing templates, which allow you to personalize your site without weeding through all the HTML. GoDaddy, for example, offers over 800 customizable templates. Some top-tier ecommerce software will also provide access to a professional designer. They must also provide a content management system (CMS) that allows you to easily upload new pages, edit existing content, add photos, and more.
- It puts your products where the customers can see them:The most effective ecommerce software acts like an in-house marketing pro. It creates useful product displays, taking advantage of side-by-side comparison and cross-selling to boost product awareness. It also displays ratings and reviews, and showcases popular items. In doing so, your ecommerce software maximizes profit for each customer that comes to the site. The software upsells your products — and you don’t even have to lift a finger.
- Its virtual shopping cart is as easy to use as a real-life one: In ecommerce terms, “shopping cart” refers to the range of features that allow customers to select items, view their cart, continue shopping, and eventually follow through with the purchase. Having a smooth shopping cart experience is a big part of what keeps your customers happy — if it’s a hassle to use, you may not make the sale. The best shopping carts, like Volusion’s, allow for customers to make both personal and guest accounts, apply discounts, and check out on a single page. They should also be fully functional on mobile devices — in 2017, almost one in four online sales was through a mobile device.
- It makes orders and payments a breeze for you and your customers: Order management is a huge part of running an online business. Tracking and processing orders one by one is incredibly time consuming. Ecommerce software should facilitate this process by updating your inventory, sending automatic confirmations, and tracking canceled and returned orders. The best ecommerce software also allows for a wide variety of payment options. Ideally, it should be able to process several types of credit cards, PayPal, and newer payment systems like Apple Pay and Google Wallet. You should never lose a sale because your ecommerce software won’t accept the customer’s card. Come shipping time, the software should calculate rates automatically and give options to upgrade for faster shipping.
Finally, the best ecommerce software helps to grow your business through analysis, marketing, and outreach.
- It provides analytics and reporting tools so you stay current with your customers: Ecommerce software should track everything that happens on your website — customer profiles and activity, sales and revenue, site performance — and then share that information with you. This provides valuable insight into the types of customers visiting your site and what they’re looking for. The best ecommerce software, like Shopify, pairs analytics with marketing tools, so you can put that data to work right away.
- It provides effective marketing tools to improve brand recognition: Making a name for yourself among an infinite number of webpages is a lofty task. Your ecommerce software should make it a little easier. Affiliate programs, email marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO) are just a few of the tools that can help promote your site. Social media integration is a big help, too. Links that allow customers to share a page on facebook, instagram, or pinterest can bring more visitors to your site organically.
Our Picks for the Best Ecommerce Software
Shopify offers full-featured ecommerce software that will help you build a beautiful, successful online store from the ground up. This company offers great support throughout the whole site-building process. It has an extensive collection of learning resources — manuals, a knowledge base, and even an ‘Ecommerce University’ feature — that make website building easy, even for beginners. Once your website is up and running, these resources also teach you how to increase revenue and generate more web traffic. In addition, Shopify provides access to Community Forums, so you can share and learn alongside other business owners.
Along with its learning resources, Shopify brings a great marketing toolkit to the table. SEO functionality will help boost your site in Google’s rankings, and integrated social media makes it easy to get free shares through your customers. Shopify also integrates with MailChimp, which allows you to send targeted email campaigns to your subscribers, informing them about sales and new products. And, singing up automatically gets you $100 in Google ad credits and $50 in Facebook advertising — making it easy to get the word out about your site right away. Coupled with Shopify’s analytics and reporting functions, you’re armed with a full arsenal of marketing insight and capabilities.
Finally, Shopify has an awesome selection of website templates — most of which are available for free. You’ll be able to choose from a long list of themes to truly personalize your website. It also offers templates with specific features, like a mobile-friendly interface and drop-down menus, that make your site more user-friendly. If you do decide to pay for an upgraded template, you can choose one of Shopify’s Guaranteed Themes, which are fully refundable within a week. That means you can take the site for a spin, and switch it out if you don’t love the feel. All in all, Shopify makes it easy to customize your online store.
Versatile Website Design
Our favorite thing about GoDaddy is its exceptional collection of website templates. Its software allows you to choose from over 800 website designs — far more than most companies offer — and the customization doesn’t stop there. You can change font, choose a color scheme, upload your company logo, change the background image, and more. Also unique to GoDaddy is the option to select a navigation style. That means you can choose how many products appear in a row or on a single page, and have a little more control over the shopping experience. This is especially important for companies that offer a large number of products. If you’re looking to get really hands-on with website customization, we recommend GoDaddy. Its only drawback: There’s no template search feature, so you have to manually scroll through. The process is a little more time consuming than, say, Shopify’s.
GoDaddy stands out for a couple other functions, too. For one, it has one of the best ecommerce marketing kits we saw anywhere. With SEO, social media integration, email marketing, and product reviews, GoDaddy makes it possible to gain site recognition. In addition, its ecommerce software comes with a really strong shopping cart solution. It’s simple and to-the-point, with a one-page checkout system. It supports multiple payment options, international currencies, and foreign languages, so all your customers will feel right at home. And, it’s fully mobile-friendly, so customers can make purchases on the fly.
Excellent Shopping Cart Solution
Volusion’s ecommerce software is super effective, especially for first-time users. If you’re new to ecommerce and website building, you’ll love Volusion’s easy-to-navigate interface. You have quick access to video tutorials and other online resources, which are located directly on the dashboard. These offer advice on building your store, expanding it, and everything in between. Volusion also makes site design blissfully simple — just choose a template, click ‘Install,’ then ‘Activate,’ and you’re off (you can even preview the template first). For beginners, or users who want to be more hands-off with site design, this simplicity is key.
We’re also really impressed with Volusion’s high-end shopping cart software. It’s loaded with features: Personal and guest profiles, wish lists, and a unique pop-up list that lets shoppers view their cart without leaving the page. The cart experience is also mobile compatible and available in multiple languages, like GoDaddy’s, so it’s accessible for a wider range of customers. At the end, one-page checkout makes the purchase process quick and painless.
It’s worth noting that Volusion is a bit pricier than our other top picks. The company does, however, offer a free trial option. This is especially nice for new users who want to take their ecommerce software for a spin before committing fully to it.
Approachable for Beginners
We’re also a fan BigCommerce for ecommerce beginners. This company offers similar resources to some of our other top picks: User guides, video tutorials, and FAQs that help you build your site. However, BigCommerce goes above and beyond by providing access to its ‘Success Squad.’ This group of ecommerce experts are around to answer all your questions on a personal level, and help you out step-by-step when a tutorial just won’t cut it.
BigCommerce also has a good array of template options — you can choose your look and customize color schemes to get your site up to snuff. And, if you’re on the fence, BigCommerce offers a free trial period for new users. The perk: You don’t have to provide a credit card number, so it’s a totally risk-free and worry-free trial period.