eCommerce, along with digital marketing, is booming like never before, with a massive boost to the sector last year due to the pandemic and lockdowns that meant more people than ever turned to the internet to get the food and other basic items they wanted.
Due to the closure of stores deemed non-essential and restrictions on travel that may have put distant shops out of the reach of consumers, it’s likely a large number of people who had never shopped online before were forced to use their computers and phones to get the things they needed.
Perhaps with the ease and convenience of online shopping — eliminating the need to travel and park vehicles, both of which can be costly — the newly formed habit may stay and eCommerce might further overtake the High Street in the long term.
As of now, it’s estimated that retail sales online make up just over 14% of all retail sales around the world, and the figure is forecast to rise to 22% by 2023.
The total value of the eCommerce retail sector in 2020 was just under $4 billion, according to research firm eMarketer, which said growth was robust in almost all countries but dominated by economic powerhouses China and India.
eCommerce Rising: Global online retail sales. (Statista)
Due to the abrupt arrest of much of the physical economy in 2020, companies were suddenly forced to adapt and change so they could survive; that meant quickly starting a digital arm of their business.
Popular eCommerce platform Shopify saw “unprecedented” growth during the year, enjoying record expansion in the 12 months of a whopping 86% and reaping $2.9 billion in revenue.
And the trend is increasingly towards mobile, with shopping on smartphones and tablets expected to make up almost 54% of all retail eCommerce sales this year, meaning online stores must be responsive and able to adapt to whatever type of device is accessing them.
If you’re wondering which is the best eCommerce platform for you, here’s a rundown of the top ones to consider.
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Some of the Best eCommerce Platforms in 2021
Shopify has become wildly popular as one of the best eCommerce platforms today because of its ease of use, making it quick and easy to set up an online store; plus it has many add-ons and plug-ins that help with orders, deliveries and lots more.
The company says that more than 1 million companies in 175 countries use the platform and, all told, have made more than $200 billion in sales by using it.
What they promise: We help people achieve independence by making it easier to start, run and grow a business. We believe the future of commerce has more voices, not fewer, so we’re reducing the barriers to business ownership to make commerce better for everyone.
This is one of the best eCommerce platforms for bigger companies — from medium- to large-scale enterprises — but it’s also built with simplicity in mind.
For instance, you can easily customise your online store without knowing anything about code or requiring a web developer. And unlike some other eCommerce platforms, BigCommerce is strong on SEO, meaning you’ll get the online exposure and sales traction you need.
What they promise: Create a robust, differentiated commerce experience without compromising security, stability or scalability. The openness and power of the BigCommerce platform empower you to focus on optimising your business for growth.
Switching from BigCommerce to Shopify?
If you’re already using BigCommerce and thinking about switching to Shopify (after the Shopify 2.0 update), then you can read all about how to complete that migration in this post: How to Migrate BigCommerce to Shopify.
Anyone who’s familiar with the popular publishing platform WordPress and wants to start an online store will love WooCommerce because it’s built on the easy-to-use content management system. It has a team of “Happiness Engineers” around the world to provide the support customers need, and the entire company is remote.
What they promise: WooCommerce is committed to democratising commerce and putting you in control of your own livelihood. Our core platform is free and open-source, empowering anyone to sell anything, anywhere.
Switching between WooCommerce and Shopify?
If you’re thinking of switching from WooCommerce to Shopify, or you’re thinking of switching from Shopify to WooCommerce, then these two migration guides might be useful to you:
Magento is another big-business eCommerce platform, reflected in the $100 billion in sales that passes through it every year.
It’s got lots of great features, including 1-Click selling, but while it can be used free, for large eCommerce solutions, it can be pricey, with astronomic fees in the tens of thousands.
What they promise: Magento successfully integrates digital and physical shopping experiences, delighting customers. In addition to its flagship, open-source commerce platform, Magento boasts a strong portfolio of cloud-based omnichannel solutions, including in-store, retail associate and order management technologies.
Switch from Magento to Shopify
If you’re using Magento — now Adobe Commerce — and thinking of switching to Shopify, then read through this Magento to Shopify migration guide before you do:
Many small businesses operate online stores using Wix eCommerce, but as they grow, they might find the maximum storage space of 50GB for the top-tier Business VIP service limiting. And that the platform’s features and lacklustre SEO options might not be the best for them. Still, it’s not a bad starting point for an eCom setup.
What they promise: Wix eCommerce is the complete solution for entrepreneurs starting an online business, retailers moving their store online or brands already selling over $1M. Our industry-leading eCommerce website builder and advanced business features help you launch, run and scale your online store successfully.
Next on our list of the best eCommerce platforms in 2021 is the online stores solution offered by Weebly.
It’s another solid solution for someone looking to start a basic online store, as it has lots of slick templates to choose from as well as tools that help you customise them the way you want; plus, you get great email tools.
But the SEO is not all that amazing, so if that’s your focus, it may not be the best eCommerce platform for you.
What they promise: Choose a unique online store design with a customisable theme to showcase your products. Our easy-to-use drag & drop builder helps you launch your online store quickly.
Squarespace’s online store offering provides an easy-to-use interface that lets you arrange your products the way you want.
It’s another reliable choice for anyone who wishes to start a simple online store without much fuss, and the template designs are stunning.
It has all the add-ons you need to make your business a reality, including shipping and subscriptions.
What they promise: The most creative way to sell your products is with a Squarespace online store. Allow your customers to browse your merchandise, add items to their cart, and check out simply and efficiently.
Quickly set up an online store with the platform offered by Volusion.
There are lots of great templates to choose from and all the plug-ins and integrations you need — and it comes with its own CRM system, newsletter option and built-in SEO to get the online visibility and sales you desire.
What they promise: With responsive themes and a comprehensive site builder, you can create a unique store — without code — in minutes.
Use the Demo feature of PrestaShop to see what your new online store could look like. Then you can browse the many themes and customise the one you like.
PrestaShop lets you use a number of languages and currencies so that you can sell in markets around the world.
What they promise: Choose from a store with web hosting that you can set up in just a few clicks, a store that’s 100% customisable, or get help from an expert to build your e-commerce website.
Want an online store with no monthly fee, just pay a commission with every sale? Then eCommerce platform Square may be for you.
Setting up an online business with Square is also pretty simple. The service offers such desirable benefits as local delivery and curbside pickup, along with tons of free apps to integrate into your new shop.
What they promise: You can create and publish your online store quickly. With the help of our site builder, you don’t need to know how to code. And your site will work well on any device.
Already have an online store but it’s not doing as well as you’d hoped? Let the digital marketing experts at Exposure Ninja have a look at it and give you a free website and marketing review. Your sales and profits could skyrocket!
Don’t have a store yet? Request a website quote and we’ll turn your needs into a high-converting eCommerce store.