Compare the best ecommerce platforms by a range of metrics and categories, from SEO, to pricing and ease of use.
Unlike pretty much every single other article on the internet comparing ecommerce platforms, this guide has no affiliate links, and is - we hope - as unbiased as possible.
Choosing a platform
Choosing the right ecommerce platform is something to consider very carefully.
Once you have your site set up and products added, changing platforms isn't always easy: migrations and site redesigns will often lead to SEO issues and lost traffic.
So what should you look for in an ecommerce platform? The answer to this question depends quite a lot on your needs, and level of technical resources.
Some of the main things to consider when choosing an ecommerce platform include:
- Pricing and upgrades
- Ease of use
- Plugins and extensions
- Growth and scalability
The best and most popular ecommerce platforms usually have a wide feature set and an eco-system of agencies and freelance web developers that can help you fix problems and implement features on your website.
The biggest ecommerce systems often have a plugin/app store where you can download and install plugins, to extend and improve the functionality of the platform.
Some platforms can be more flexible and more powerful than others, but you should look into how good developer support is if you don't have the in-house resources already to take care of development.
Whether you are starting your first ecommerce store or are already running a large ecommerce site, we have a range of options to cover you.
Hosted / SaaS Ecommerce Platforms
Hosted or SaaS (software-as-a-service) ecommerce platforms handle the hosting for you, which takes away a lot of the work of server management and software upgrades.
This can be great for small businesses and people that don't have the financial or technical resources to invest in development.
Below we list some of the best hosted ecommerce platforms available to companies in the UK.
Shopify is the most popular hosted SaaS ecommerce platforms in the world in 2022 and has a full eco-system of plugins and developers that can help you build your store.
Extend the functionality of your e-commerce store with access to thousands of free and paid plugins and bespoke services designed specially for Shopify.
Shopify is a good choice for small and medium sized ecommerce operations, and for larger sites there is Shopify Plus.
Out of the box you can quickly set up an ecommerce store that will function well - but make sure to customise your store unless you want people to think it looks generic and untrustworthy.
Shopify's pricing starts at £24 per month for a basic site, rising to £69 and £259 for more features.
BigCommerce is a hosted ecommerce platforms for all sizes of businesses from small to large.
With BigCommerce you can set up a site in minutes and make use of the offered 15 day free trial in case you change your mind.
BigCommerce has an app marketplace with a range of different apps to help extend your stores features.
For large high performance ecommerce sites, with BigCommerce you can also make use of headless ecommerce using their APIs.
BigCommerce pricing starts at $29.95 for the cheapest package, increasing to $79.95 and $299.95 for the larger packages.
Wix could be a good option for beginners with no web design experience and a small budget.
The Wix platform has a decent range of apps in their marketplace and a lot of different drag-and-drop features that you can use to build out your site, including ecommerce functionality.
However the functionality of the Wix platform is limited compared to some of the competitors and the eco-system is not as big.
Wix's pricing is below that of the main competitors, with prices for the business/ecommerce packages starting at £13 a month, going up to £22 per month for more features.
Squarespace is another good platform for beginners that can help you to build a beautiful ecommerce store.
Often used by creatives and people who want to design things their own way, Squarespace is a good platform for people who want to set up a simple ecommerce store in the cloud.
Again however the platform does not have as many advanced features and upgrades available as the best competitors.
Squarespace's ecommerce pricing starts at £15 per month for a pared down basic offering, rising to £20 and £30 per month for more fully featured offerings.
Best Overall SaaS Ecommerce Platform
Shopify is without a doubt the best hosted ecommerce platform available in our opinion, and according to many other ecommerce experts.
The combination of ease of use with the availability of powerful upgrades and an eco-system of different apps makes Shopify hard to beat for small, medium sized, and even large businesses with Shopify Plus.
Self Hosted Ecommerce Platforms
Self hosted ecommerce platforms involve managing your own hosting infrastructure and software installations.
The benefit of self hosted is you own your own infrastructure so can upgrade and downgrade as you decide, and have more control overall - which can potentially be more cost effective as well as flexible compared to a hosted solution on someone else's hardware.
Self hosted (and ideally open source) platforms generally speaking also provide more flexibility at the software level - allowing you to make customisations to themes and code as needed, something that is rarely possible with hosted solutions.
WooCommerce is the most widely used self hosted ecommerce platform in the world as of 2022.
Highly flexible and able to make use of the rich and wide WordPress open-source infrastructure, WooCommerce has access to a huge range of both free and paid plugins to extend functionality.
There are a huge number of talented WooCommerce developers and agencies available to help you build and manage your WooCommerce site.
SEO functionality for WooCommerce can be tuned to be excellent and there are a wide range of plugins to help you sort out the SEO basics.
Magento (Adobe Commerce)
Magento, or Adobe Commerce as it is now known as, is a self hosted ecommerce platform that has long been a popular choice for a range of mid to large sized ecommerce sites.
Magento is highly flexible and customisable and has add-ons available for many different functionalities.
Development can be very expensive and good Magento developers can be hard to find.
Although add-ons are available and with good theme development many SEO functionalities can be provided, the amount of and quality of reliable SEO plugins to extend Magento are just not as good when compared to WooCommerce which can utilise WordPress plugins.
Magento is far from being an easy to use platform, so is not suitable for beginners or operations with low or no technical resources.
Best Overall Self Hosted Ecommerce Platform
WooCommerce is our recommendation for the best self-hosted ecommerce platform, though Magento is also an excellent choice.
Best Ecommerce Platforms for SEO
Many e-commerce platforms can have outdated or sub-standard SEO features out of the box - which means they can require a heavy investment and lots of customisation to get them to the same level as other more mature e-commerce platforms such as WooCommerce or Shopify Plus will provide.
The best ecommerce platform for SEO depends a little on the resources and skill level you have available.
If you do not have access to an SEO professional who can help you with the best ecommerce SEO setup, a hosted ecommerce platform may be the best - such as Shopify or BigCommerce.
However if you do have the ability or resources to hire someone to optimise your site, WooCommerce is our recommendation for the best ecommerce platform for SEO - due to how flexible, powerful, and easy to customise it is compared to hosted alternatives.
If we had to choose one single platform to call the best for SEO, it would be WooCommerce.
Best Ecommerce Platforms for Small Business
Not all small businesses have the same needs, however generally factors like pricing, ease-of-use, as well as a wide plugin and developer ecosystem are things to look out for.
Shopify is a great recommendation for any small ecommerce business. Shopify provide access to everything a small site needs to get started, and more.
WooCommerce is another excellent option for smaller ecommerce businesses. It can require a little bit more technical work to get started than hosted alternatives like Shopify - but offers access to huge ecosystem and number of ecommerce features, plugins and more.
Best Ecommerce Platforms for Enterprise
Enterprise ecommerce is a different beast to everything else. Many top ecommerce sites use a combination of different platforms and integrations - often custom built, and headless ecommerce is becoming the gold-standard for site infrastructure.
The selection process for choosing ecommerce platforms at enterprise level can be complex - more than we can hope to cover in one article.
Shopify Plus is one popular choice for enterprise level headless ecommerce.
Magento/Adobe Commerce is another popular choice at enterprise level.
Headless ecommerce can come with SEO challenges - it is important that Google and other search engines are able to render your site.
We hope this ecommerce SEO guide was useful. For more ecommerce content check the related article links below or subscribe on Twitter @SearchCandy.