These trends are showing no signs of slowing down in the foreseeable future. In fact, the global ecommerce market is expected to eclipse $6.54 trillion in sales by 2022. That’s up from $3.53 trillion in 2019.
Whether you’re interested in starting a new ecommerce business from scratch or looking to expand your retail operation to an online store, you can use an ecommerce tool to achieve your goal.
Not all ecommerce solutions are created equally. Some tools are all-in-one website builders, while others are plug-ins, add-ons, or shopping cart software.
So what’s the best ecommerce tool for 2021? The answer depends on your unique situation. Use this guide to find the best ecommerce solution for you and your business.
The 10 Best Ecommerce Tools of 2021
Easy Digital Downloads
In a market saturated with dozens, if not hundreds, of different ecommerce tools, there are the top ten that I’d recommend. I’ll give you an in-depth overview of the features, benefits, pricing, and use cases for each one of these tools as we continue through this guide.
Shopify has everything you need and more to start an ecommerce website from scratch. It’s an all-in-one ecommerce solution for website creation and shopping cart software.
Regardless of your technical skill level, Shopify is easy for anyone to set up and use right out of the box.
Shopify makes it possible for you to sell from anywhere. In addition to your own ecommerce store, Shopify supports third-party marketplaces, social media selling, and in-person sales with Shopify POS (point of sale) software.
Every Shopify theme is optimized for mobile devices. Additionally, with tools like BuildFire, you could always build a Shopify mobile app to take your mobile sales strategy to the next level.
One of the most significant standouts of Shopify is its versatility. From startups to small businesses and large-scale operations, this ecommerce tool can fit the needs of any organization.
Pricing: Shopify has three different plans — Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify. These plans start at $29, $79, and $299 per month, respectively. You can try Shopify for free with a 14-day trial.
WooCommerce is unique compared to some of the other ecommerce tools on our list. That’s because it’s not an all-in-one ecommerce solution.
If you already have a WordPress website, you can add ecommerce functionality by installing the WooCommerce plugin.
From selling products to subscriptions and memberships, WooCommerce has everything you need to add ecommerce capabilities to WordPress.
The tool is fully customizable. It integrates with popular payment platforms like Stripe, Square, PayPal, Amazon Pay, and more. WooCommerce has other extensions for things like printing shipping labels and integrating with your email marketing platform.
For those of you who have an existing WordPress site, WooCommerce is the best way to start selling online without doing a complete rebuild. Simply install the plugin, and customize your settings from there.
Pricing: WooCommerce is free to install on your WordPress site. But other extensions to customize the WooCommerce plugin do cost money. Tons of extensions are free like the HubSpot for WooCommerce integration, while others range up to $300 per installation.
Since launching back in 2009, BigCommerce has processed more than $25 billion in merchant sales. It’s used by businesses in 120+ countries worldwide.
As another full-service ecommerce platform provider, BigCommerce offers everything you need to start selling online.
Compared to other ecommerce tools on the market today, BigCommerce comes pre-loaded with the most native features.
BigCommerce has exceptional tools for inventory management, SEO, and conversions. You’ll also benefit from 24/7 customer support via phone, email, and live chat. So you can rest assured knowing that you’ll have access to assistance if you ever have any questions.
In addition to traditional online sales, BigCommerce supports B2B wholesale websites and provides enterprise-grade ecommerce solutions as well.
BigCommerce is an industry leader in ecommerce performance. When it comes to page loading speed, uptime, and security, this tool is second to none.
Pricing: The Standard plan starts at $29.95 per month. BigCommerce Plus starts at $79.95 per month, and Pro starts at $299.95 per month. You’ll need to contact the sales team for a custom quote on Enterprise solutions.
Wix is arguably the world’s simplest website builder. The platform is the easiest way for anyone to build a new website from scratch without any technical knowledge or coding experience.
Using the intuitive drag-and-drop builder, you can design a high-quality website with text, images, videos, and other media types in minutes. Adding new pages or starting a blog with Wix is just as easy.
Wix has 500+ templates for you to choose from. Your website will automatically be optimized for SEO and mobile web browsers. If you build a site with Wix, you’ll have access to the Wix App Market. This resource is filled with powerful web apps to customize your site.
You can also create an online store with your Wix website.
Wix offers a fully customizable storefront and shopping cart. Add features like a shopping wishlist, related product galleries, a quick add-to-cart button, mini-carts, and more.
For those of you who want to start selling new products online but don’t know where to start, Wix’s platform supports dropshipping. Browse from thousands of products that you can sell, with no inventory costs. Products ship in 5-7 business days.
Wix allows you to set up custom shipping rules as well. Manage international orders, choose your carrier preferences, and give customers real-time delivery estimates.
Pricing: Wix has plans starting at $13 per month. But not every Wix subscription supports online selling. The ecommerce plans with the ability to accept online payments range from $23 to $49 per month. Enterprise solutions start at $500 per month.
Magento is an ecommerce tool offered by Adobe. It’s an all-in-one ecommerce solution that processes more than $100 billion in gross merchandise sales each year.
With Magento, you can create an ecommerce store no matter how big or small your website is. This platform supports small businesses, mid-market and enterprise, and B2B online sales as well.
Magento stands out from other platforms with its efficiency, automation, and access to crucial data. You’ll benefit from inventory management, business intelligence, shipping solutions, and order management.
This ecommerce tool has specific features for customer segmentation and personalization.
Your store will automatically display products, promotions, content, and prices based on factors like customer location, order history, customer gender, LTV, and wish list items. You can even improve the shopping experience for unknown website visitors based on their shopping cart or products viewed.
Pricing: Contact the Magento sales team for a custom quote on a Magento Commerce license. You can request a free demo to try it out before you commit.
Squarespace is another well-known website builder. Unlike Wix, Squarespace has integrated ecommerce capabilities built-in to all of its business plans.
This ecommerce tool is popular for businesses and individuals in creative industries. The Squarespace designs are known for being both beautiful and modern. These award-winning templates are perfect for fashion designers, artists, musicians, and photographers.
If you want to showcase your work and sell it online, Squarespace is the place to do it.
You can also Squarespace to sell subscriptions and digital content.
If you’re selling physical products, Squarespace offers automatic inventory management, shipping calculator tools, and a rich product display. Use this ecommerce tool to showcase videos of your products as well.
Squarespace integrates with other popular online selling tools such as PayPal, Stripe, USPS, FedEx, and Apple Pay. It also integrates with popular accounting solutions like Xero.
For those of you who want to create a portfolio website and monetize it with ecommerce capabilities, Squarespace is the best choice for you.
Pricing: Squarespace Personal costs $12 per month. But you can’t sell online with this option. The $18 business plan has a fully integrated ecommerce store with the ability to sell unlimited products, although it does have some limitations.
To take full advantage of Squarespace as an ecommerce tool, consider the Basic Commerce or Advanced Commerce plan. These start at $26 and $40 per month, respectively.
Shift4Shop is one of the oldest ecommerce tools on our list. The platform was founded as 3dcart back in 1997 and acquired by Shift4 Payments in 2020. Shift4Shop is designed to support ecommerce stores of any size and is loaded with features. Tens of thousands of merchants use this tool to power their ecommerce websites.
Since Shift4Shop is a hosted, SaaS platform, it includes everything needed to create an online store without having to build a separate website first. It supports product and category pages as well as an unlimited number of content pages that can be used for any purpose. Pages can be edited with a block-based Page Editor that allows you to add different types of content including text and images.
Once you’ve signed up, you’ll have access to more than 200 built-in ecommerce features, as well as dozens of free themes. All Shift4Shop themes are free and are ADA compliant right out of the box. They can be edited with the built-in Theme Editor, or more advanced users can edit the code directly.
Shift4Shop also integrates with platforms like Moosend, MailChimp, Facebook, Amazon, PayPal, QuickBooks, and many more.
For those of you who don’t want the restrictions associated with an all-in-one ecommerce website builder, Shift4Shop offers full customization. If the built-in tools aren’t enough, you can edit the code on your own.
Pricing: Shift4Shop offers a completely free plan that still includes all its features, rather than limiting its free plan to basic functionality only. Access to the free plan depends on which payment processor you use and the country your business is located in, so there’s a range of alternative paid plans as well. These start at $29 per month.
8. Easy Digital Downloads
Just as its name implies, Easy Digital Downloads is an ecommerce tool designed for selling digital products. Similar to WooCommerce, it’s a plugin for WordPress websites.
This ecommerce tool makes it easy for you to create discount codes, track download activity, and restrict file access. It comes with a fully integrated shopping cart that allows customers to purchase multiple downloads simultaneously.
There are no limitations on how many digital products you can sell with the Easy Digital Downloads plugin.
The tool integrates with other popular tools and extensions that you’re already using. Some examples include PayPal, Authorize.net, Stripe, Slack, Zapier, AWeber, Dropbox, and Amazon Web Services.
Pricing: There are four different plans for the EDD plugin license. All of them are billed on an annual basis until canceled. The Personal Pass is $99, Extended Pass is $199, Professional Pass is $299, and All Access Pass is $499.
Ecwid is a free commerce extension that’s compatible with WordPress and other popular CMS platforms. You can add the Ecwid tool to Weebly, Joomla, Tumblr, Squarespace, Wix, Blogger, and Adobe Muse.
You’ll also be able to sell online from marketplaces like Amazon and eBay or sell on social media via Facebook and Instagram.
Unlike 3DCart, you can install Ecwid to your website without any development or coding experience. The Ecwid software can integrate with in-person selling at your brick and mortar retail stores as well.
If you’re currently using WordPress but don’t want to use WooCommerce as an ecommerce tool, Ecwid is a viable alternative.
Ecwid has a free forever plan, but it’s extremely limited. You’ll only be able to sell up to ten products and won’t have access to sales channels outside of your website.
Pricing: The entry-level Venture plan starts at $15 per month. Business and Unlimited plans start at $35 per month and $99 per month, respectively. You can save money on all of these if you commit to an annual contract.
Last but certainly not least on our list is OpenCart. Unlike some of the other tools listed above, this is not a website builder. OpenCart is a free and open-source platform that adds ecommerce functionality to existing websites.
Over 342,000 ecommerce websites across the world use OpenCart for selling online.
The most significant standout feature of this ecommerce tool is the OpenCart marketplace. You’ll have access to 13,000+ modules and themes. You can integrate OpenCart with an extensive list of payment gateways and shipping providers.
As an open-source platform, OpenCart has an outstanding community support forum with more than 550,000 posts from 110,000+ registered members.
For a one-time fee or ongoing monthly service, you can have access to OpenCart’s dedicated support staff.
Pricing: As I mentioned earlier, OpenCart is free to download and install. But extensions and dedicated support will cost extra.
What’s the best ecommerce tool to use? It depends on your unique situation.
An ecommerce startup won’t have the same needs as a small business retailer that wants to expand online. There are ecommerce tools that are better for selling wholesale B2B products and other tools made for digital downloads.
Do you want to create a new website from scratch? Or are you adding ecommerce functionality to your existing site? All of these scenarios will impact how you choose an ecommerce solution.
Since I included something for everyone in this guide, I’m confident that you can find what you’re looking for in one of the options listed above.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in April 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Oct 15, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated June 27 2022