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A complete guide to the top ecommerce platforms in 2023

You'll ask yourself a lot of questions when you start building and growing an online store, but one of the most fundamental questions is: what ecommerce platform is the best for your business? 

The world of ecommerce platforms is vast—from industry leaders to free options to advanced open-source solutions—but choosing the right platform for your online store doesn't have to be intimidating.

Last updated

2 Dec 2022

Every ecommerce platform has pros and cons; ultimately, your choice depends on your store's business model and budget, not to mention your coding skills (more on that later).

To support your decision-making, we've compared and reviewed 13 ecommerce platforms for online businesses in 2023 so you can find the perfect platform for your ecommerce site.

Understand and improve the customer experience

Hotjar gives you valuable insights into what your customers are doing—and why—so you can make the right changes to your ecommerce store and improve conversions.

13 ecommerce platforms for your online store

Each ecommerce platform offers a wide range of features and possibilities for your online store. Let's look at each platform's pros and cons, add-ons, use cases, and tips on integrating them with Hotjar. 

1. Shopify: the all-in-one solution loved by many

Shopify is one of the most popular cloud-based, multichannel ecommerce platforms available—it's the choice of over 1 million online stores, serving small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), solopreneurs, and enterprises. 

It's easy to use, with over 100 paid and free themes to set up your online store through whatever digital medium you prefer: a website, social media, and even third-party marketplaces (like Amazon).

#An example of a Shopify online store
An example of a Shopify online store

One of the advantages of using Shopify is their support for every aspect of an online business—like payment processing and shipping—with a range of APIs. They also offer competitive shipping rates with brands like USPS, UPS, and DHL; even services like email marketing, abandoned cart recovery, and search engine optimization (SEO) come for free. 

Hotjar integration: yes. Here's how to integrate Hotjar with Shopify.

Useful add-ons: Shopify provides over 6,000 third-party plugins and APIs.

Best for: businesses looking for an all-in-one solution with extensive service support.

Pros

Cons

Smooth onboarding process

Customization can be complex

Great community and customer support

It doesn't allow an easy exit

Built-in marketing tools

Some countries don't allow Shopify Payments

Wide range of third-party apps (over 6,000)

Requires add-ons

Advanced design tools

Transaction fees can add up

2. BigCommerce: an enterprise-ready ecommerce platform

The ecommerce platform choice of industry giants such as Ben & Jerry's and Vodaphone, BigCommerce promises to make every online store enterprise-ready. However, that offers some complexity to users. 

#Choosing a template in BigCommerce
Choosing a template in BigCommerce

Like many other enterprise-ready ecommerce platforms, BigCommerce offers many customization options and features, including international selling, SEO support, and multichannel selling (e.g. social media and third-party marketplaces).

Although it offers web hosting, BigCommerce doesn't let you register your domain name through the platform, so you have to organize that separately—overall, a small step for big stores, but another hassle for solopreneurs or SMBs.

Hotjar integration: yes. Here's how to integrate Hotjar with BigCommerce

Useful add-ons: BigCommerce provides a wide range of third-party plugins and APIs.

Best for: large businesses that have the necessary budget for the add-ons.

Pros

Cons

No additional transaction fee

It's not possible to register your domain in the platform

Wide range of business management tools

Free templates aren't easy to customize

Multiple payment options

Lacks analytics

24/7 technical support

Some business management tools are an add-on expense

Easy to get started

Revenue caps on different plans

3. Squarespace: the best drag-and-drop templates 

With its user-friendly drag-and-drop functionality, setting up a Squarespace website doesn't require a lot of technical expertise. Primarily a website builder with many template options, you can also transform your Squarespace site into a functional—and beautiful, given their award-winning designs—ecommerce platform.

#Squarespace's templates include award-winning designs
Squarespace's templates include award-winning designs

As an ecommerce platform, experienced online sellers might lack some core features, like multichannel sales and multicurrency functionalities. That said, Squarespace still offers familiar benefits like integrated email marketing, SEO support, and reviews. 

Hotjar integration: yes. Here's how to integrate Hotjar with Squarespace.

Useful add-ons: Squarespace offers Squarespace Extensions, a collection of third-party plugins and APIs. Add-ons include email campaigns, social media creation, customer profiles, and SEO tools.

Best for: online stores that also want a beautifully-designed website.

Pros

Cons

Flat learning curve

The templates can be limiting without coding expertise

No code, drag-and-drop website builder

Some core features are pay-walled

SEO support is easy and efficient

The lack of ecommerce focus might be a disadvantage for online sellers

Zero transaction fees

Multichannel sales are limited

Efficient customer support

Limited integrations

4. Wix: the champion of user-friendliness

Wix is a primarily cloud-based web development platform, allowing users to create an all-in-one ecommerce site.Wix supports multichannel selling and has one unified dashboard to manage shipping, payments, and marketing efforts.

#Drag-and-drop features make creating an online store much easier
Drag-and-drop features make creating an online store much easier

With easy drag-and-drop features, Wix is a champion in user-friendliness, especially for those with little-to-no coding experience. Besides being customizable, Wix also offers website hosting and domain registration.

The downside? There are no free trials for ecommerce options, and the lack of ecommerce focus results in missing features like low-stock alerts or inventory tracking support. To extend Wix's functionality as an ecommerce platform, you might need a handful of third-party apps—which could increase your expenses considerably.

Hotjar integration: yes. Here's how to integrate Hotjar with Wix. 

Useful add-ons: Wix provides 49 in-house apps to integrate with your website and online store—a lot of them for free, including a blog, loyalty program, countdown clock, and Etsy and Amazon integrations.

Best for: beginner online stores that want an easy platform to set up their shop.

Pros

Cons

Ease-of-use

Price for ad removal is high

It's possible to make changes quickly

Marketing tools like tracking and analytics are paid features

Easy migration to Wix from other ecommerce platforms

Site isn’t transferrable

Print-on-demand features (items are printed once an order is placed)

Adding outsider code or widgets is limited

Numerous integrations and add-ons

Difficult to scale your business

5. WooCommerce: the best ecommerce platform solution for WordPress lovers

WooCommerce is a popular open-source plugin that allows your WordPress website to transform into a fully functional ecommerce platform.If your website is already on WordPress, this might be a simple solution to start selling online.

#WooCommerce allows you to add an online store to a WordPress website
WooCommerce allows you to add an online store to a WordPress website

WooCommerce is packed with features like free plugins and themes and currently powers over 28% of all online stores. The biggest issue with WooCommerce actually comes from WordPress: most ecommerce features are only available through plug-ins or APIs. And even though there are plenty of them to choose from, the more you add to WordPress, the more fragile your website—and online store—becomes. 

In the end, it might be challenging to keep your ecommerce shop running smoothly on WooCommerce—but that depends on your website traffic and the size of your online store. WooCommerce requires some hosting resources, such as 128 MB WordPress memory limit. If your hosting selection doesn't cover that, your website won't run properly. 

Hotjar integration: yes. Here's how to integrate Hotjar with WooCommerce.

Useful add-ons: options like gift wrapping, gift cards, special messages, product bundles, minimum and maximum quantities, product recommendations, and 360º images.

Best for: WordPress users who want to add an online store to their existing website.

Pros

Cons

Open-source

Relies on WordPress efficiency

Active and supportive community

Costs for hosting, maintenance, and development can add up

An excellent option for WordPress users

Doesn't offer free hosting

Customizable

Steep learning curve

Allows over 6,000 integrations and plug-ins

Lacks Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance

6. Adobe Commerce (formerly known as Magento): an ecommerce platform for developers 

Adobe Commerce allows you to build multichannel ecommerce experiences, offering support from catalog building to processing payments. 

Adobe Commerce also features insights from Adobe Sensei AI—Adobe's intelligent commerce tool. Adobe Sensei AI gathers data analysis and provides handy automations such as back-end workflows on catalog updates, site content creation, product recommendations, fulfillment, customer targeting, and even personalization.

#Automated catalog updates make Adobe Commerce a handy ecommerce platform
Automated catalog updates make Adobe Commerce a handy ecommerce platform

Even with its drag-and-drop tools, Adobe Commerce's strengths lie in being easily integrated into other Adobe Suite platforms, such as Analytics, Target, Experience Manager, and Creative Cloud. It lets you launch, manage, and scale your online store into new countries and languages.

To fully experience Adobe Commerce's advantages, though, you might need advanced coding and programming skills if you want to build and manage your online store alone.

Hotjar integration: yes. Here's how to integrate Hotjar with Adobe Commerce. 

Useful add-ons: page speed optimizer, all-in-one shipping solutions, free gifts, related products, and gift cards are among the 300+ add-ons offered by Adobe Commerce.

Best for: experienced online sellers that are looking to scale their offers worldwide, and have a developer team or know how to code.

Pros

Cons

Highly customizable and tailored pages

More expensive than competitors

Reliable and scalable

Lacks customer support

Full Adobe Suite integration

Maintenance costs can add up

Easy-to-navigate dashboard

Requires technical knowledge

Ability to have multiple stores

Not beginner friendly

7. Square Online (formerly known as Weebly): an affordable online store for small businesses

Square Online (formerly Weebly) started as a credit card payment solution before they became a stand-alone ecommerce platform. This software offers a complete and flexible suite of business tools, including equitable loans to grow your dream business online.

#Flexible tools make it easy to create a product catalog in Square Online
Flexible tools make it easy to create a product catalog in Square Online

One of Square Online's biggest perks is the possibility to set up your online store completely free. However, that comes with a handful of limitations, including not being able to turn off in-app ads or use a custom domain name. 

Hotjar integration: yes. Here's how to integrate Hotjar with Square Online.

Useful add-ons: features like invoices, open tickets, gift cards, subscriptions, and text message marketing.

Best for: small businesses starting with a smaller budget.

Pros

Cons

Flexible tools

Transaction fees can add up

Easy to create a catalog

The free version doesn't include important marketing features

Includes a free custom domain on paid plans

Needs HTML and coding skills to customize

Doesn't require a lot of maintenance

No online photo editing

Ideal for low-volume merchants

Limited payment options

8. OpenCart: an open-source, free ecommerce platform

Looking for a free, open-source ecommerce solution? OpenCart might be the answer you were waiting for—especially if you're confident in your coding skills.

#OpenCart is an open-source solution to fully customize your online store
OpenCart is an open-source solution to fully customize your online store

OpenCart is known for being customizable and easy to set up, allowing you to create multiple stores and manage users to improve conversion. It offers integrations to improve your online store, with over 13,000 modules and themes to create your dream ecommerce site. 

Hotjar integration: not available

Useful add-ons: OpenCart offers over 13,000 downloadable extensions, including customer group control, delivery status, email templates, and more.

Best for: SMBs with a developer team, who are looking for a free solution.

Pros

Cons

Easy user management

Requires coding and technical knowledge

Inbuilt affiliate system

Marketing and sales features are limited

Open-source and customizable

Self-hosted

Completely free

Not cloud-based

Unlimited listings

Can be slow

9. GoDaddy: a totally code-free ecommerce platform

GoDaddy—famously known for its domain registering services—supplies online retailers with an extensive ecommerce platform that is entirely free until you're ready to sell.

#Building and testing your online store is free with GoDaddy
Building and testing your online store is free with GoDaddy

GoDaddy can be helpful for SMBs and solopreneurs that lack technical knowledge—it offers over 100 ready-made designs tailored by industry. The designs are easy to customize and don't require any coding.

Hotjar integration: not available

Useful add-ons: features like web hosting, domain name registration, email marketing, website security, extended validation SSL certificate, and business hosting.

Best for: SMBs and solopreneurs that don't have coding skills or don't need a highly customizable online store.

Pros

Cons

Beginner-friendly and easy to navigate

Not code-customizable

Attractive templates

Doesn't support content export

Third-party marketplace integration

Transaction fees can add up

100+ mobile-friendly designs

Unscalable

No-code solutions

Limited integrations

10. PrestaShop: the affordable, open-source solution

With over 300,000 online stores worldwide, PrestaShop is the leading open-source ecommerce platform in Europe and Latin America, with a community of over 1 million members that contribute to forums, blogs, and events.

#A reliable community will help you set up your own PrestaShop ecommerce
A reliable community will help you set up your own PrestaShop ecommerce

With helpful add-ons such as PrestaShop Essentials (which offers secure payment solutions and marketing analytics) and PrestaShop Platform (hosting), businesses can tailor the platform according to their needs. 

However, without official customer support, some technical knowledge—and engaging with the PrestaShop community—will be necessary to set up your online store and to fix bugs and issues. 

Hotjar integration: yes. Here's how to integrate Hotjar with PrestaShop.

Useful add-ons: SEO assistance, PayPal checkout, anti-spam captchas, online chats, premium buy button, and cart dropdown.

Best for: SMBs with a technical background, who don't mind troubleshooting without official customer support.

Pros

Cons

Great support from the community

No official customer support

Affordable and competitive pricing

Compromised security

Great payment plug-in choices

Not beginner-friendly

Excellent integrations and add-ons

Technical background is needed

Designs and themes are great

Limited scalability

11. Big Cartel: a simple ecommerce solution for creatives

Targeting creative entrepreneurs, Big Cartel is a fully hosted ecommerce platform that offers a simple and affordable shopping cart solution with customizable designs, marketing features, and domain name registration.

#Simple and straightforward, Big Cartel is a popular ecommerce platform amongst artists and creatives
Simple and straightforward, Big Cartel is a popular ecommerce platform amongst artists and creatives

User-friendly and straightforward, Big Cartel is an easy-to-use platform that might be limited to advanced, fast-growing online stores. Due to limited payment and integration options, it can be hard to scale internationally or across multiple selling channels. 

Hotjar integration: not available

Useful add-ons: only third-party apps and integrations are available.

Best for: creative entrepreneurs that need a simple and easy solution for their online store.

Pros

Cons

Great for creatives

Pricing is based on sales

Free-forever plan

Lacks advanced ecommerce features

Easy to set up and launch

Limited customization

Features are basic but efficient

Not scalable

Designs and themes are good

Limited integrations and add-ons

12. Volusion: a great starter setup

Launched in 1999, Volusion is a veteran when it comes to ecommerce platforms, helping businesses set up their online stores. But has it aged well? Yes, if you're selling physical products.

#Hit the ground running with Volusion: a great starter platform
Hit the ground running with Volusion: a great starter platform

Overall, Volusion is a simple solution to get started with landing and product pages—as long as you're selling physical products. The platform doesn't support the selling of ebooks, music, and other digital products. 

Hotjar integration: not available

Useful add-ons: Volusion has an in-house design and marketing agency, Studio, that provides online store owners with services like digital advertising, SEO optimization, email marketing, social media, custom design, and theme services.

Best for: SMBs who are selling physical items and are looking for a no-frills solution for their online store.

Pros

Cons

Simple to set up, user-friendly

Limited customer support

Great user management features

Doesn't support a blog

No code solution

SSL certificate is paid

Affordable and competitive pricing

Sales are capped per plan

Optimized for physical products

Limited payment integrations

13. 3dCart: a free solution for experienced US store owners

3dCart is Shift4Shop's answer to a shopping cart-style ecommerce platform—and most of it, for free. With a website builder; marketing features; and inventory, orders, and user management tools, 3dCart is a fair choice for any online store. 

3dCart also includes a 24/7 customer support platform for any bugs and fixes you might need.

#No drag-and-drop solutions with 3dCart, but still a lot of customizable features.
No drag-and-drop solutions with 3dCart, but still a lot of customizable features.

While 3dCart has industry-specific templates that are mobile-friendly, customizable, and SEO-optimized, their free options are limited. The platform also lacks useful features like drag-and-drop builders, international payments, and page speed optimization. In addition, the platform has a limit on stores' sales volume and bandwidth usage, and is only available in the US. 

Hotjar integration: not available

Useful add-ons: countdown timer for checkouts, time-sensitive offers, delivery calendar, custom product emails, menu builder, AI-personalized recommendations, and chat buttons. 

Best for: online stores based in the US with substantial ecommerce experience.

Pros

Cons

Great SEO features and tools

Only available to US store owners

Wide range of marketing features

Not beginner friendly

Free plans available

Lacks some ecommerce features

Third-party marketplace integration and sync

Paid plans have revenue limits

No setup fees or transaction fees

Customer support is inconsistent

How to choose the right ecommerce platform for your online store

Whether you already have an online store and you're looking for an alternative to scale and optimize your business and your sales, or you're just starting an online business, here's what you should consider when selecting an ecommerce platform:

1. Put the customer first

Is your online store useful, easy to use, and efficient? Your ecommerce store should offer an enjoyable shopping experience for your customers—a negative or difficult experience might lead to abandoned shopping carts. Creating ecommerce customer delight builds trust and loyalty, and keeps your customers coming back for more.

When choosing a platform for your online store, put your customer first and aim to deliver the best user experience possible. 

Tip: product experience and customer behavior analytics tools like Hotjar help you understand user needs and improve your online store's user experience.

2. Think beyond your current budget

Think strategically: what tools and add-on features are indispensable for your online store? 

Then, see if they're included in your chosen platform and plan. If not, how much more would you have to invest to cover all your needs? While it's tempting to jump on the most affordable choice, that might become more expensive later, depending on your needs.

3. Consider your growth goals

A lot of ecommerce platforms have a difficult exit, meaning that you might not be able to export product descriptions or user profiles, for example. Consider that—and more— along your expansion plans: is your chosen software scalable? If your online store grows, will you have to pay more? Is revenue capped on your chosen plan?

Knowing the answers to those questions will ensure you make a decision that supports your business in the long term.

4. Think about your team resources

Whether you have a team of 50 or 50,000, consider them when choosing your ecommerce platform. Can you or your team easily manage payments, orders, shipping, and returns? Do you have in-house technical support, or will you rely on the software's customer service?

Many ecommerce solutions don't have 24/7 customer service, and some limit customer support access depending on the paid plan. If you need bug fixes and troubleshooting, who will be responsible for it? 

5. Consider your business model

Selling online is more complex than it used to be, because it can happen on a website, on social media, or on third-party marketplaces. Does your chosen ecommerce platform support your business model and selling channels?

Whether you're selling physical or digital products, look for specific features that relate to your business model: subscription-based online stores have different requirements to print-on-demand ones, for example (and different add-ons, too).

6. Take payment safety and data compliance seriously

Checkout is probably the most critical moment in an online store's customer journey. And it's your job to choose hassle-free software—for you and your customer.

Trust is an important feature, here. What kind of payment gateways are available? Check to see if your chosen ecommerce platform offers a familiar and safe payment gateway, like PayPal or mobile wallets, and look for safety certificates like SSL.

Final thoughts: choose your ecommerce platform with customers in mind 

While there are many options out there, it's important to remember that there's no right or wrong answer when selecting an ecommerce platform. Each business is unique, with its own business model, growth plan, and business needs.

Always keep your customers in mind when choosing a platform for your ecommerce store, and keep an eye on their customer and user experience (with tools like Hotjar) to ensure you understand their needs, and continue to deliver the experience they deserve.

I've chosen my platform—what now?

Stay tuned for these upcoming chapters of the Ecommerce Platforms guide:

Find out what your customers are doing

Hotjar gives you valuable insights into what your customers are doing, and why—so you can make the right changes to your ecommerce store and improve conversions.

FAQs about ecommerce platforms