As new ecommerce businesses are started daily and more and more existing companies adopt ecommerce to extend their customer base beyond just the people living close by, the question of which ecommerce platform to select becomes very important. Different platforms have different functionality and integrate with different external services. Some must be self-hosted, while others offer integrated cloud hosting. Some do a better job of scaling to large businesses than others. Choosing the right platform can make a huge difference in the success of any business that sells over the Internet.
No matter what ecommerce platform a company chooses, they all offer far more customization options and lower costs than selling on a marketplace like Amazon, although businesses with their own ecommerce storefronts must market their websites to attract customers. A variety of suggestions for how to start an ecommerce business are discussed in another one of our guides.
In this article, you’ll learn about the relative popularity of a number of common ecommerce platforms, in addition to information about advantages and disadvantages between them. The market share figures are calculated from the top one million website domains across the world using data from Datanyze and Alexa.
While no ecommerce platform singlehandedly controls the majority of the ecommerce market, WooCommerce captures the largest market share. As a plugin for WordPress, WooCommerce takes advantage of the huge number of WordPress installations around the world. Website owners who already use WordPress can easily add a WooCommerce store to their existing website without revamping their technology stack. Given that WordPress powers over 30% of the web, it’s no surprise that WooCommerce is used by such a high percentage of ecommerce websites.
The functionality included out of the box in WooCommerce is somewhat limited compared to other ecommerce platforms, although it boasts a large number of third-party extensions, making it competitive with other solutions like Shopify and Magento. In general, WooCommerce is a safe choice for smaller stores and those with relatively limited needs, resulting in its large market share.
Squarespace Commerce: 17%
Squarespace is a popular way for small businesses to build websites with limited technical resources. Their ecommerce functionality allows site owners with Squarespace-based websites to easily add an online storefront. Due to the sheer number of Squarespace sites used to power small businesses, Squarespace Commerce controls a significant portion of the ecommerce market. Squarespace Commerce plans are also relatively inexpensive compared to some other options, making it accessible to a wide variety of store owners with different budgets.
For the most part, Squarespace’s ecommerce functionality is targeted at ecommerce businesses with relatively limited needs. For this reason, Squarespace Commerce does not integrate with advanced third-party services or offer extreme customization abilities. Businesses requiring relatively limited ecommerce functionality and do-it-yourself customization would be well-served by Squarespace Commerce.
Shopify offers cloud-hosted ecommerce services to a huge variety of companies. Shopify oftentimes powers larger companies than either Squarespace or Wix, although it is also popular with small businesses. Like Squarespace, Wix, and most Magento configurations, Shopify stores are not hosted on computer systems operated by the ecommerce business itself. While this means that Shopify requires less maintenance than options like WooCommerce, it can also be a fair bit more expensive and restricted in many cases.
Shopify is also quite expensive compared to Squarespace and Wix, although it includes a large number of built-in ecommerce features that make it worth the price for a lot of companies. Shopify extensions are also somewhat more limited compared to the functionality available with Magento and WooCommerce plugins, especially with regards to custom integrations.
Magento is popular with medium businesses and enterprises, although it also scales down to small businesses. In terms of architecture, Magento is most similar to WooCommerce. It offers a huge number of themes and custom extensions, can be molded to fit nearly any set of business requirements, and includes a large set of features useful for stores of all kinds.
Compared to WooCommerce, Magento includes more functionality out of the box, making it more tightly integrated. Additionally, shipping integrations, fulfillment software, accounting systems, and other advanced third-party software can be integrated into digital storefronts using Magento with ease. Magento development services offer advanced automation for complex promotions and all sorts of other use cases that many of the other ecommerce platforms might struggle with. Magento pricing includes three different Magento versions. Depending on your business needs you can choose between the Open Source version, downloading it for free, Magento Commerce with advanced features and high scalability and Magento Commerce Cloud with Cloud hosting and easy customization.
Wix Stores: 4%
Like Squarespace Commerce, Wix Stores is an ecommerce platform connected to an existing do-it-yourself website builder. It specializes in allowing small businesses with existing websites built using Wix to add ecommerce functionality without paying for an additional ecommerce solution. Wix itself offers quite a bit of customization functionality and is occasionally even used by web designers, so it can be a good option for companies looking to achieve websites with unique visual designs without hiring external developers or designers.
Medium and large companies or businesses with specific requirements would be unlikely to find Wix suitable for their needs, although it is a good option for many small businesses looking to keep technical complexity low.
Starting Your Ecommerce Business?
It’s your decision as to which ecommerce platform best suits the needs of your business. Although switching between ecommerce platforms is doable if a company outgrows the capabilities of one service, it can be expensive to make the change without losing some functionality or data from the old platform. Because of this, it’s usually a good idea to select an ecommerce platform with future needs in mind from the start, so that a conversion will be unnecessary later on.