which shopping cart is best for your business?
Many ecommerce sellers sell exclusively and profitably on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. But, many online businesses want to build a brand and have their own online store. There are just a couple of issues: how do you put products on a site, process payments securely, and store the customer’s information so you know who and where to ship the products to?

Well, this is why shopping carts like Shopify and BigCommerce exist. A shopping cart is a type of ecommerce software that helps website visitors purchase items online. It simplifies the process of selling products and lets you build the brand of your dreams.

With the many options on the market these days, how do you choose the right shopping cart for you? We’re here to help. Below, we’ve compared the standard packages of the top five shopping cart integrations. Read on to see which shopping cart is best for your business.

Software Type Shopify BigCommerce 3dcart Magento WooCommerce
Price $29/month $29.95/month $29/month Free Free
Pros 1. Easy to use
2.Hundreds of attractive templates
3. Well-documented API
1. Easy to use
2. No transaction fees
3. One-page checkout
1. Easy to use
2. Great features for a basic plan
1. Features
2. Easily customized
1. Attractive themes
2. Good selection of extensions
3. WordPress community
Cons 1. Limited functionality
2. Add-ons often necessary
3. Variable customer support
1. Lacks advanced features
2. Inconsistent customer support
1. Outdated design templates
2. Inconsistent customer support
1. Steep learning curve
2. Slow
3. Extension costs add up
4. No support
1. Steep learning curve
2. Extension costs add up
3. Limited support
4. Less theme flexibility

Shopify

Shopify is a fully hosted, web-based ecommerce solution that specializes in ease-of-use. With Shopify, you can easily setup an online store, organize your products, customize your storefront, accept credit card payments, track orders, and more. Well-known users include Tesla Motors, Budweiser, and Red Bull.

shopify dashboard

Pricing

  • Basic Shopify: $29/month (advanced packages with more features range from $79 – $299)

Features

  • Store Management:
    • Intuitive user interface with a drag-and-drop site editor (no coding necessary)
    • Hundreds of website templates
    • Over 1500 add-ons and integrations
    • Access to the Developer API
    • Customer segmentation
    • Bulk import/export features
    • Mobile-friendly designs
  • Marketing & SEO:
    • SEO features
    • Discounts & coupons
    • Social media integration
    • Email templates
    • Blogging platform
    • Customer accounts
    • Analytics
  • Product Management:
    • List unlimited products (limited variations)
    • Sell digital and physical products
    • Sell products across channels including Facebook and Amazon
    • Sell products in person with a POS system
  • Checkout & Shipping:
    • Integrates with over 100 payment gateways
    • Checkouts can be displayed in more than 50 languages
    • Abandoned cart recovery
    • Guest checkout available
    • Automatic shipping rate & tax calculator
  • Support:

Pros

  • Easy to use
    • Merchants can set up a startup or midsize business in a day, even with little-to-no experience creating websites.
  • Hundreds of attractive templates
    • Shopify provides some of the best-looking themes offered by ecommerce platforms.
  • Well-documented API
    • It’s easy to build integrations and applications.

Cons

  • Limited functionality
    • Because Shopify aims to keep its site easy-to-use, there are a few missing elements, including limited variations and lack of wholesale selling options.
  • Add-ons often necessary
    • To get the features Shopify is missing, merchants must purchase add-ons.
  • Variable customer support
    • While reviews say Shopify has quality support, you may be on hold for 30 minutes to an hour to speak to a representative.

Shopify is a great choice for businesses of all sizes – from startups to enterprises. If you’re a beginner in ecommerce with limited tech skills, Shopify may be the solution for you. Its easy-to-use platform makes creating an attractive, dependable online store as simple as possible.

However, if you are a large business with over $500k in yearly sales, you should consider Shopify Plus.

 

BigCommerce

BigCommerce is a fully hosted, web-based, user-friendly shopping cart that powers more than 90,000 online stores, with well-known users including Camelbak, Skullcandy, and Ben & Jerry’s. The platform has all the tools and functionality needed to set up your online store, process orders, and maintain your store’s branded look and feel.

BigCommerce shopping cart

Pricing

  • BigCommerce Standard: $29.95/month (advanced packages with more features range from $79 – $250)

Features

  • Store Management:
    • Intuitive user interface with drag-and-drop site editor (no coding necessary)
    • Over 80 website templates
    • Offers over 500 add-ons and integrations
    • Filtered search functionality
    • Bulk import/export features
    • Mobile-friendly designs
  • Marketing & SEO:
    • SEO features
    • Discounts & coupons
    • Social shar­ing
    • Email providers
    • Blogging platform
    • Private & public wish lists
    • Recently viewed products
    • Product reviews
    • Customer accounts
    • Analytics
  • Product Management:
    • Sell products across channels including Google Shopping, eBay, and Amazon
    • Sell products on social channels like Facebook and Instagram
    • Integrates with Square POS
  • Checkout & Shipping:
    • Integrates with over 65 payment gateways
    • No transaction fees to use leading payment gateways
    • Multi-currency support
    • Customer account or guest checkout
    • One-page checkout
  • Support

Pros

  • Easy to use
    • BigCommerce is up there with Shopify in terms of usability.
  • No transaction fees
    • BigCommerce’s biggest competition, Shopify, still charges transaction fees.
  • One-page checkout
    • If checkout is easy, more customers will purchase your products. Shopify does not offer a native one-page checkout.

Cons

  • Lacks advanced features
    • While BigCommerce is great for smaller businesses, it doesn’t offer features that larger businesses may need.
  • Inconsistent customer support
    • Many BigCommerce support reviews are positive, but some customers report that BigCommerce could not resolve their issues.

BigCommerce is a great choice for small to mid-sized businesses. If you’re a beginner in ecommerce with limited tech skills, BigCommerce may be right for you. Its easy-to-use platform makes it simple to create a functional and beautiful online store. And, if you’re looking to avoid transaction fees, this service has a leg-up on Shopify.

 

3dcart

3dcart is a fully hosted, web-based ecommerce platform that serves both small and large businesses. With a wide range of features and pricing options, 3dcart is great for merchants who need an affordable selling solution. While the shopping cart offers 100+ themes, you must know the basics of HTML and CSS to design an online store. Users of 3dcart include Hunter’s Friend, Frantic Stamper, and Pete’s Tire Barns.

 

Pricing

  • 3dcart Basic: $29/month (advanced packages with more features range from $79 – $229)

Features

  • Store Management:
    • Complete with 100+ website templates
    • App store includes essential add-ons
    • Access to the Developer API
    • Bulk import/export features
    • Mobile-friendly designs
  • Marketing & SEO:
    • SEO tools
    • Discounts & coupons
    • Email templates
    • Blogging platform
    • Product reviews
    • Upsell and cross-sell
    • Out-of-stock options
  • Product Management:
    • Sell digital and physical products
    • Sell across channels like Facebook, eBay, and Google Shopping
    • Sell products in person with POS system
  • Checkout & Shipping:
    • Integrates with over 200 payment gateways
    • Automatic shipping rate & tax calculator
    • Abandoned cart saver
    • No transaction fees
    • Shipping label discounts
    • Generate and print shipping labels
    • One-page checkout
  • Support:

Pros

  • Easy to use
    • 3dcart’s platform is relatively intuitive if you are familiar with HTML and CSS. If you’re not an expert and need help, there are many resources to help you.
  • Great features for a basic plan
    • 3dcart offers uncommon features for low-tier pricing plans, like a one-page checkout page option.

Cons

  • Outdated design templates
    • Only 65 free themes are offered. You can pay $99-$199 for premium themes, however, none of these themes are as stunning as competitors like Shopify and BigCommerce.
  • Inconsistent customer support
    • The majority of 3dcart customer service reviews are negative. While they offer live chat and 24/7 phone support, they are known for slow and vague responses to customer concerns.

3dcart is best for small to mid-sized businesses looking for an affordable, fully-hosted selling solution. If you’re a beginner in ecommerce with basic HTML and CSS knowledge, 3dcart may be the right solution for you.

 

Magento (Open Source)

Magento is an open-source ecommerce platform with an expansive feature set and complete customizability. This shopping cart is an excellent choice for experienced online sellers with the knowledge and resources to best implement advanced technology. Well-known users of Magento include Coca Cola, Ford, and Warby Parker.

magento dashboard

Pricing

Magento Open Source (formerly Magento Community Edition) is FREE to download and use. However, you must pay for your own web hosting, domain names, add-ons, an SSL certificate, and payment processing, which can be costly. Magento also offers a fully-hosted platform (similar to Shopify and BigCommerce, where there’s no need to pay extra for the features listed above) called the Magento Commerce Starter, starting at $2,000/month for small businesses. The Commerce Pro package starts at $3,417/month. Most Magento users opt for Magento Open Source, so the we’ve outlined those features below.

Features

  • Store Management:
    • Unrestricted customization
    • Multi-site capabilities to manage various sites from one admin
    • Unlimited staff accounts
    • Access to the Developer API
    • Filtered search
    • Bulk import/export functionality
    • Mobile-friendly designs
  • Marketing & SEO:
    • SEO tools
    • Filtered search
    • Private & public wish lists
    • Discounts & coupons
    • Customer segmentation
    • Recently viewed and compared products
    • Upsell and cross-sell
    • Persistent shopping cart capability (customer’s carts save when they leave the site)
    • Report features including sales, taxes, and abandoned cart data
  • Product Management:
    • Sell digital and physical products
    • Unlimited product attributes
    • Advanced pricing rules
  • Checkout & Shipping:
    • Integrates with over 70 payment gateways (these must be purchased)
    • One-page checkout available
    • Ship to multiple addresses
    • Automatic shipping rate & tax calculator
  • Support:

Pros

  • Features
    • Magento has almost everything you need for your ecommerce store. If you can’t find what you need, there’s a good chance you’ll find it in the Magento Marketplace.
  • Customizable
    • You can customize any aspect of your admin and storefront to fit your needs.

Cons

  • Steep Learning Curve
    • Because Magento can pose a serious challenge to merchants with little to no tech experience, this shopping cart is NOT for beginners. In fact, Magento does not recommend their software to smaller businesses and newer merchants.
  • Slow
    • Magento can often run slowly, which makes admin management and SEO optimization difficult.
  • Extension Costs Add Up
    • This “free” platform can be costly when you add web hosting costs, web developer costs, integrations, payment processing, and more.
  • No Customer Support
    • Customer service is essentially non-existent with Magento. You’re on your own with this platform, but you can find solutions to many problems on the Magento community boards.

Magento Open Source is a great choice for online sellers with an established business, advanced knowledge in web development (or a hired web developer), and resources to purchase the add-ons necessary to run the online store. Because Magento is an open-source platform, there is no limit to the customization and functionality of your site.

If you are a beginner in ecommerce looking for an easy-to-use platform, skip both Magento Open Source and the overpriced Magento Commerce Starter Package. We recommend choosing a fully-hosted shopping cart like Shopify, BigCommerce, or 3dcart.

 

WooCommerce (Open Source)

WooCommerce is an open source shopping cart plugin that works exclusively with WordPress websites. Because the platform offers the features most merchants need at a low price, and it integrates into a platform that most online sellers are already using, WooCommerce is the software used by a staggering 42% of all ecommerce sites. Users include Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Singer, and Ghostbed.

woocommerce dashboard

Pricing

WooCommerce is FREE to download, but not free of expenses. It doesn’t charge transaction fees, or regulate storage, but you must purchase hosting for your WordPress site, along with add-ons and extensions.

Features

  • Store Management:
    • Unrestricted customization
    • Offers 14 themes (may support some WordPress themes)
    • Filtered search
    • Mobile-friendly designs
  • Marketing & SEO:
    • SEO tools
    • Blogging platform
    • Discounts & coupons
    • Product ratings & reviews
    • Customer accounts
    • Analytics
  • Product Management:
    • Unlimited products and variations
    • Sell digital and physical products
  • Checkout & Shipping:
    • 5 payment gateways available (additional gateways can be purchased as add-ons)
    • Shipping calculator option on shopping cart page
    • Guest checkout options
  • Support:

Pros

  • Attractive Themes
    • WooThemes offers 14 clean, image-focused themes.
  • Good Selection of Extensions
    • WooCommerce offers over 300 add-ons, so you’re bound to find the one you need.
  • WordPress Community
    • When you join WooCommerce, you join a large community of ecommerce sellers who’ve found solutions to the shopping cart’s issues. And, since WooCommerce is an open source option, developers are frequently adding features and extensions.

Cons

  • Steep Learning Curve
    • WooCommerce can be difficult to use, especially if you don’t have experience with WordPress or coding.
  • Extension Costs Can Add Up
    • WooCommerce is free, but its extensions and required WordPress site are not. Some extensions cost a one-time fee, while others cost a monthly subscription.
  • Limited Customer Support
    • WooCommerce does not offer phone, email, or chat support, but you can submit a web ticket. To have access to the knowledge base and user forums, you must purchase a product from WooThemes.
  • Less Theme Flexibility
      • While you could use any WordPress theme, you probably shouldn’t. Stick to WooThemes – they work best with WooCommerce.

WooCommerce is a great choice for small to mid-sized business owners looking for an open-source platform. If you’re an ecommerce seller with a WordPress site and coding experience, WooCommerce may be the best solution.

 

How to Choose the Right Ecommerce Platform

Sellers reach out to us every day and ask, “Which is the best out of these shopping cart platforms?” There is no doubt that choosing the right platform for your ecommerce business is a tough decision.

With all the options out there, how do you know which one is the right choice for you? Some seem simple, or inexpensive, or popular – all things that may sound appealing to you. But basing your decision solely on one of those aspects – or even two – isn’t likely to result in the best choice. The following are some questions to consider as you narrow down your options.

 

Hosting or Self-Hosting?

There are pros and cons to both hosting your own site, or allowing your ecommerce platform to do so. Hosting yourself with tools like Magento will allow you the most control, but it also means that you will have to maintain the site, provide security for customer data, update software, and fix technical problems – or pay someone else for all of it.

If you choose to allow the platform to host for you, you don’t have to worry about updates, technical support, or site maintenance, it’s all done for you. This includes sites like Shopify and marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. However, with hosted platforms you only have limited customization, they can be expensive and they can change the rules at any time.

Ultimately, you have to decide how savvy you are at programming. When you use a hosted platform, it’s as easy as setting up a Facebook page. When you self-host, you have to have knowledge of coding, and you have to do all of the setup on your own, or hire a developer.

 

Is There Room to Grow?

Hopefully, you are anticipating growth in your ecommerce business. This is something to consider when choosing your ecommerce platform. Selecting the least expensive option that fits your current needs may seem like a good idea, but you really need to consider your future needs as well. What is sufficient for your business today, may not be in six months. You don’t want to end up paying extra fees due to increased business. Look for a scalable platform that is able to grow with your business.

 

Does It Play Well with Others?

Integration is key for ecommerce platforms. Think about the tools that you are already using to support your ecommerce business. Many ecommerce platforms come with integration options for the managing of your accounting, marketing, customer service, inventory, social media, and reporting. Check to see if the ecommerce platforms you are considering offer integration with your current favorite services.

Using a shopping cart is a great way to build a brand. But, each business is unique and needs different features. Check out the differences between the top 5 shopping carts above, choose the one that best fits your business, build your branded online store, and watch your business grow.

 

Will Help Be There When You Need It?

Whether you’re an ecommerce pro or rookie, you will likely need help at some point. Before deciding on a platform, be sure to take a look at what kind of support they will provide when you need assistance. Preferably, you should be able to find support through a number of channels, such as: online help options, support forums, live chat, and support tickets.

 

Can You Afford It?

Every business decision requires that you consider what it is going to cost, and picking an ecommerce platform is no different. With so many options available, you really have to take a look at all of the features and pricing that each platform offers. You definitely want all of the cool features you can get for your money, but you don’t want to pay for things you are not going to use. It really is a balancing act. If you take the time to identify the features that you really need, and then shop around for the best price, you will make the best decision for your bottom line.

 

Takeaway: It Depends

Clearly, when it comes to choosing an ecommerce platform for your business, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all option. But if you consider your answers to the above questions, you should be on your way to making the right decision for your ecommerce business.

Have you used any of the shopping carts listed above? What did you think of them? Are there better options out there for your business? Let us know in the comment section below!

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