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E-Commerce Platforms reviews by real, verified users. Find unbiased ratings on user satisfaction, features, and price based on the most reviews available anywhere.

Best E-Commerce Platforms

An e-commerce platform is a comprehensive software that allows companies to manage all operations related to online sales of products or services. E-commerce platforms create a centralized, digital hub for product and customer data, allowing e-commerce businesses to manage product information, personalize store content and layout, and process online transactions and payments. While most e-commerce platforms are designed for B2C sales, some vendors provide versions for B2B. Traditional e-commerce platforms focus on managing sales of physical products, but more and more solutions are providing features for digital products that are sold as a subscription model. This type of software can be used by all employees of an online commerce company but is most beneficial for sales, product management, and marketing.

E-commerce platforms unify, scale, and maintain core business processes like the front-facing selling of products and services and the back-end functions of managing inventory and shipping. This type of software should not be confused with shopping cart software, which can only be used to create and manage online stores. E-commerce platforms generally integrate with inventory management software and drop shipping software. B2B e-commerce platforms integrate with CRM software , ERP systems , and supply chain & logistics software

To qualify for inclusion in the E-commerce Platforms category, a product must:

Help companies run their e-commerce business on a single, unified platform
Manage e-commerce products and services, as well as product information
Deliver standard options to create online stores that can be customized
Include functionality for personalization to improve the customer experience
Provide features for or integrate with drop shipping and inventory management software
Track and manage customers, their order history, and online behavior
Allow companies to choose between multiple payment options and gateways
Support the headless commerce architecture and provide native mobile apps
Offer security, or encryption of data and information, or both and comply with regulations
Include features for e-commerce data management, integration, and search

Top 10 E-Commerce Platforms

  • Shopify
  • WooCommerce
  • Shopify Plus
  • BigCommerce
  • Ecwid
  • Salesforce B2C Commerce
  • FastSpring
  • Magento Commerce
  • Miva
  • nopCommerce

Compare E-Commerce Platforms

G2 takes pride in showing unbiased reviews on user satisfaction in our ratings and reports. We do not allow paid placements in any of our ratings, rankings, or reports. Learn about our scoring methodologies.
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(3,510)4.3 out of 5
Entry Level Price:$29 / per month

Shopify is the leading cloud-based, multichannel commerce platform designed for small and medium-sized businesses. Merchants can use the software to design, set up, and manage their stores across multiple sales channels, including web, mobile, social media, marketplaces, brick-and-mortar locations, and pop-up shops. The platform also provides merchants with a powerful back-office and a single view of their business. The Shopify platform was engineered for reliability and scale, using enterprise-

(778)4.3 out of 5

WooCommerce is the most popular WordPress eCommerce plugin. And it's available for free. Packed full of features, perfectly integrated into your self-hosted WordPress website. Add powerful shop facilities to your WordPress website with our free eCommerce plugin. Powering over 24% of all online shops, WooCommerce helps you sell anything. Beautifully.

(172)4.5 out of 5

Shopify Plus is the commerce platform for enterprise high-growth, high-volume brands, coupling speed and agility with the scalable foundation they need to grow bigger, faster. Our platform enables brands to break the rules of commerce through: - Unlimited extensibility, integrations, and customization through Shopify apps and partners - Custom automation with apps like Shopify Flow, Launchpad, and Scripts - Accelerated and customizable checkout - Localized customer experiences with global store

(340)4.2 out of 5
Optimized for quick response
Entry Level Price:$29.95 / per month

BigCommerce (Nasdaq: BIGC) is a leading software-as-a-service (SaaS) ecommerce platform that empowers merchants of all sizes to build, innovate and grow their businesses online. As a leading open SaaS solution, BigCommerce provides merchants sophisticated enterprise-grade functionality, customization and performance with simplicity and ease-of-use. Tens of thousands of B2B and B2C companies across 120 countries and numerous industries use BigCommerce to create beautiful, engaging online stores,

(195)4.8 out of 5
Entry Level Price:$0

Ecwid is the easiest way to add an online store to any webpage or social media profile. Used by hundreds of thousands of merchants in 175 countries, Ecwid has everything you need to reach your customers wherever they are: in-person, through your website, Instagram, Facebook, Amazon, or Google Shopping. And with Ecwid’s point-of-sale integrations, email marketing integrations and dedicated mobile app, you can manage your marketing, merchandising, and sales any time, anywhere.

(213)4.1 out of 5

Demandware Commerce delivers the speed, agility, innovation and superior economics required to master the new retail reality of constant and unpredictable change. Our enterprise retail solution is powered by a central cloud platform to drive consumer engagement across all devices, channels and geographies. Our cloud platform is open and extensible, and provides retailers with the enterprise scale required for complex operations. It includes a flexible retail data model with core commerce functio

(160)4.5 out of 5
Optimized for quick response

FastSpring—your full-service ecommerce partner. FastSpring is the trusted ecommerce partner for companies that sell software around the world. Companies using FastSpring’s full-service ecommerce solution sell more, stay lean, and compete big. Founded in 2005, FastSpring is a privately owned company headquartered in Santa Barbara with an office in Amsterdam. For more information, please visit https://www.fastspring.com.

(423)3.9 out of 5

Magento Commerce module is to acquire, convert, and retain more buyers through BI.

(165)4.4 out of 5

Miva’s unique hybrid SaaS technology combines the ease of use and trusted security of SaaS with the flexibility and rich functionality found in Open Source and On-Premise systems. Miva’s native functionality includes a rich assortment of shopping and merchandising tools that reduce the need for third-party plug-ins. With Miva, merchants can operate B2B and B2C sales through a single website, displaying products and offering promotions tailored to specific customer groups.

(85)4.5 out of 5

nopCommerce is the leading ASP.NET based open-source eCommerce platform. It is a free solution with comprehensive features that is applicable for all types of users from new online businesses to the most demanding enterprise-level eCommerce experts. nopCommerce is one of the most secure, stable and extendable shopping carts. The platform has a rich architecture with lots of features available out of the box. There is also a lot of additional functionality that one can find in the marketplace. Fr

(142)3.9 out of 5

Oracle Commerce is the industry's top-ranked commerce solution that powers the world's best brands, and delivers a consistent, personalized cross-channel customer experience. Oracle Commerce offers a complete commerce software platform that enables you to deliver a personalized customer buying experience across all customer touchpoints, including the web, contact center, mobile devices, social media, physical stores, and more.

(32)4.9 out of 5
Entry Level Price:$49 + 5% of sales /month

CommentSold is the #1 comment selling platform and complete e-commerce solution powering 4K+ online retailers. With CommentSold, retailers post images, videos, and live videos on Facebook and Instagram, and shoppers comment “sold” to purchase items. Behind the scenes, we are a full e-commerce stack for small businesses, providing social selling tools, personalized websites, white-labeled mobile apps, and a complete backend for intake, inventory management, and shipping/fulfillment.

(112)4.3 out of 5

PrestaShop is an Open-source e-commerce solution powering more than 300,000 online stores worldwide

(77)4.0 out of 5
Optimized for quick response

Digital River's MyCommerce offering is a cloud SaaS ecommerce solution that provides complete payments, subscriptions and recurring billing, with full-feature merchandising and a great checkout experience for your shoppers. Built for global, but designed for self-service and simplicity, MyCommerce empowers clients to grow their digital business with enterprise capabilities and developer agility. Digital River has a full suite of ecommerce solutions to meet your business needs and take the comp

(134)4.1 out of 5

2Checkout is the digital commerce & payments provider that helps companies sell their products and services via multiple channels, acquire customers across multiple touch points, increase customer and revenue retention, leverage smarter payment options and subscription billing models, and maximize sales conversion rates. The company’s clients include ABBYY, Absolute, Bitdefender, FICO, HP Software, Kaspersky Lab, and many more companies across the globe. Avangate acquired 2Checkout (www.2c

(34)4.4 out of 5

Sana Commerce is an e-commerce platform designed to help manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers succeed by fostering lasting relationships with customers who depend on them. How? By making your SAP or Microsoft Dynamics ERP and e-commerce work as one. This eliminates the system silos, unnecessary complexities and compromises caused by mainstream e-commerce solutions. Instead, our approach unlocks 3 key benefits that enable you to build lasting relationships with your customers: • Total cu

(28)4.4 out of 5

Salesforce B2B Commerce is the B2B e-commerce solution that gets you to market faster than on-premise solutions; gives you a connected view of your customer across marketing, commerce, sales, and service; and provides a modern, B2C-like online experience for your B2B customers.

PayPro Global (founded 2006) is a provider of premium e-commerce solutions designed for software, Saas and digital goods companies. We deliver complete automation of the online sales management & optimization process through highly efficient in-house tools. Our user-optimized platform offers our partners: ⦿ A truly global solution with 110 currencies and over 70 payment methods to expand your business worldwide; ⦿ A high-performing and secure online processing system with dynamic pricin

(124)3.9 out of 5
Optimized for quick response

HCL Commerce is a flexible cloud commerce platform that gives brands the best of both worlds by combining cloud convenience, ease of use and low cost of ownership with the ability to customize the brand experience for seamless customer engagement across any digital touch-point. With a micro-service approach and the latest container technology, HCL Commerce simplifies the creation of omnichannel experiences and makes upgrades for HCL provided enhancements simple and fast so you can focus on the

(42)3.9 out of 5
Entry Level Price:$29 0 NA MONTH

Sellfy is a cloud-based eCommerce solution designed to enable digital content creators, including writers, illustrators, designers, musicians, and filmmakers, to sell their products online. Users can set up a customizable Sellfy storefront to display their digital products, and add product widgets or embedded "Buy Now" buttons to their own website or blog. Sellfy storefronts include individual product pages, enabling users to showcase their products from different angles with multiple images and

(17)4.0 out of 5

Elastic Path is a "headless" e-commerce system, allowing template-less eCommerce to integrated as middle ware into Enterprise ERP systems. The system is API based and is specifically targeted towards Enterprise level organizations.

The Nexternal eCommerce Platform is a PCI Service Level 1 hosted system that enables brands to sell products directly to consumers or other businesses online, in person, or over the phone. The platform has been continuously evolving since 1999 and has features that will not be found in simpler applications. The software is a single database solution that provides a holistic overview of customer activity regardless of the channel the purchaser is utilizing. All orders can be managed in a web ba

(15)4.8 out of 5
Entry Level Price:299 /month

PayKickstart has reinvented subscription billing and affiliate management for online businesses who want to sell smarter, sell easier, sell faster, and sell more. Boost your sales, retain more customers, and increase recurring revenue with advanced out-of-the-box tools like customizable checkout options, dunning management, cart recovery, conversion tools so much more. Have the full flexibility and power to manage your business, with loads of 3rd party integrations, a robust API, and mobile ap

(182)3.7 out of 5
Optimized for quick response

NetSuite SuiteCommerce is a cloud-based ecommerce solution that enables merchants to deliver unique and engaging B2B and B2C online experiences. As part of the suite of applications in NetSuite, SuiteCommerce unifies ecommerce with your back-end business systems, providing one solution to manage your commerce business.

(20)4.2 out of 5

Move at the speed of business with 24/7 agility. Tell your brand story with a responsive commerce experience for B2C and B2B with intuitive tools in the secure, flexible, and scalable Oracle Cloud. Deliver amazing omnichannel experiences with AI-driven personalization, pixel-perfect drag-and-drop experience management, and multi-varient testing. Focus on your business and innovate with rapid upgrades, and scale with peace of mind. Extend beyond the boundaries of traditional SaaS and integrate se

(22)4.5 out of 5

VTEX is a leading global commerce and marketplace solution provider that helps brands, retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, grocers, CPGs, and others sell more, operate more efficiently, scale seamlessly and deliver remarkable customer experiences across all their channels and customer touchpoints. VTEX is the leader in Collaborative Commerce and the first and only commerce platform provider in the world with e-commerce, marketplace, and order management capabilities in a single solution. We

(52)4.5 out of 5
Optimized for quick response
Entry Level Price:$49/month

SamCart is the first e-commerce platform, built from the ground up, for direct to consumer brands. Online shopping has changed. Today’s eCommerce runs on selling products, not brands. By focusing on the product level, and not the store level our customers can create beautiful sites that showcase their products, convert visitors into customers, and increase the value of each purchase. SamCart's mission is to empower entrepreneurs and brands with the tools they need to succeed. With our easy to us

(81)3.9 out of 5

The SAP Commerce solutions delivers feature rich digital commerce capabilities built on a modern cloud native platform that will enable businesses to innovate quickly and deliver the perfect fit digital commerce solution for your business. SAP Commerce has the broadest and varying customer base with over 3500 customers, representing 20 industries across 100 countries. Customers trust our solution for its ability to scale and perform, customers has transacted over 570B+ dollars of gross mercha

(22)4.9 out of 5

Expedite Commerce is a simple-to-use eCommerce platform that handles sophisticated processes including CPQ, Order Management, and Revenue Management. It provides Intuitive rules-based proposals, selling, provisioning and fulfillment for B2B companies with complex products & services.

(27)4.8 out of 5

eComchain is Cloud-based eCommerce platform hosted on AWS. Its unique offering is its B2B2C model, first of its kind for Manufacturers, Distributors / Dealers and end Consumers for various verticals of the business. With eComchain, a manufacturer can reach out to a network of dealers and distributors on the eComchain's B2B eCommece platform. These network of dealers and distributors can in turn reach out to their end consumers through their branded specialized sites on the same eComchain platf

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Check out the G2 Grid® for the top E-Commerce Platforms products. G2 scores products and sellers based on reviews gathered from our user community, as well as data aggregated from online sources and social networks. Together, these scores are mapped on our proprietary G2 Grid®, which you can use to compare products, streamline the buying process, and quickly identify the best products based on the experiences of your peers.
Leaders
High Performers
Contenders
Niche
Salesforce B2C Commerce
SuiteCommerce
Oracle Commerce
Volusion
Salesforce B2B Commerce
HCL Commerce
Shopify
BigCommerce
FastSpring
Digital River
cleverbridge
2Checkout
SAP Commerce Cloud
Magento OS
Elastic Path
3dcart
CommerceV3
Ecwid
k-eCommerce
X-Cart
ChannelAdvisor
PrestaShop
Sana Commerce
Miva
Handshake
Nexternal
AmeriCommerce
WooCommerce
Unilog CIMM2
VTEX Commerce Platform
Slatwall
Pimcore
nopCommerce
Virto Commerce
Digital River MyCommerce
Drupal Commerce
Shopify Plus
Kibo eCommerce
Ecomchain
Episerver
PayPro Global
StoreHippo
Magento Commerce
Oracle Commerce Cloud
payever
Sitecore Experience Commerce
Sellfy
PayKickstart
Lightspeed eCom
Expedite Commerce
SamCart
CommentSold
Spryker
Market Presence
Satisfaction

Learn More About E-Commerce Platforms

What are E-commerce Platforms?

E-commerce platforms are end-to-end solutions that cover most aspects of an online business. While there are hundreds (maybe thousands) of products that provide features for online sales, not all of them are e-commerce platforms. The basic e-commerce tools are usually known as shopping cart software and their functions are limited to creating the online store, adding products, and embedding the shopping cart on a website.

What Types of E-commerce Platforms Exist?

B2C e-commerce platforms

Business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce platform is the most common and focuses exclusively on selling to consumers. B2C e-commerce is open to anyone who wants to purchase online. There may be geographical limitations regarding shipping or currencies, but theoretically, any consumer with a valid credit card can use this type of software to buy online.

B2B e-commerce platforms

Business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce platform allows companies to sell online to other companies. 

B2C vs. B2B e-commerce platforms

There are a few essential differences between B2C and B2B e-commerce:

  • Invoicing is used for B2B while for B2C, consumers only need receipts or payment confirmation
  • Account-specific pricing ensures business customers can benefit from special pricing when purchasing online
  • Catalogs can be customized for corporate customers
  • Product configuration and quotes are used for custom products or to personalize standard items for each corporate customer
  • Multistore management allows businesses to consolidate purchases from various physical and online stores
  • Integration with contract management, finance, ERP, or retail management systems is essential for B2B

Besides physical products, companies can also use online stores to sell services and software. While traditional e-commerce software can, in theory, be used to sell both products and services, it is preferable to use a platform dedicated to services. These service-based platforms provide features such as:

  • Subscription plans to define what service or software is being offered on a regular basis
  • Subscription billing to invoice and track payments for the products and services delivered using a subscription model
  • Subscription analytics to monitor the efficiency of plans, packages, or promotions

What are the Common Features of E-commerce Platforms?

E-commerce platforms features for merchandising and marketing

E-commerce personalization: Personalization features help companies customize their online content and messaging to better target users and influence their purchasing behavior. It can be used to provide recommendations and to deliver messages at critical stages of the buying process. For instance, when users try to close a webpage, they will get a popup window that is meant to convince them to stay on the page.

E-merchandising: This combines product marketing and merchandising to provide potential buyers with information and purchase flows that make it easier for them to buy online. E-merchandising can also improve the buyer experience, which translates into consumer loyalty.

Product catalog (or catalog management): This feature helps display products by category in a way that’s easier to navigate than scrolling or searching through lists of hundreds or thousands of products. Most basic e-commerce tools do not provide this type of functionality because it is not critical for small companies. Medium and large businesses that sell a high number of products and services can significantly benefit from using catalog management software by creating custom catalogs for various consumer segments and sometimes even for individual B2B customers.

E-commerce platforms features for order processing

Shopping cart: The most basic feature but also the most critical, shopping carts are the interface between the company and its customers. The first thing that customers will use to buy online is a shopping cart, and they usually do not care how it works and what’s needed to keep it safe. The essential characteristic of shopping cart software is ease of use. Buyers want the ability to perform transactions fast, so the user interface of a shopping cart needs to be extremely easy to use.

Product management: Product management is essential for companies using e-commerce platforms since they usually sell many types of products. A complex offering of products and services means that a lot of product data needs to be managed and maintained to ensure that the online store accurately represents what the company sells. Product information is also important to track sales and revenues by product, a mix of items, packages, or product types.

Check out: This functionality is critical to finalize the online transaction and place an order. If consumers and customers are having a hard time during check out, they may abandon the purchase and not try again.

Online payments: This feature ensures that the buyer pays for the products and services purchased and the company receives the payment. The accuracy of payments is vital to avoid adjustments and payment gateways should provide sales tax functionality for multiple countries and regions.

Additional features of e-commerce platforms

The following features are not usually included in a typical e-commerce platform but can be very beneficial to companies that need advanced functionality:

  • Standard themes and online store personalization allow companies to customize their online sales portals
  • Payment gateway or out-of-the-box integrations with payment providers eliminate the need for companies to need to work with third-party providers for payments
  • Fraud protection may include SSL certificates and other security measures to protect the company and its customers
  • Multichannel sales allow companies to sell on other channels than their websites, such as social media or email
  • Global, multicountry, multilanguage, and multicurrency features are critical for companies that sell products in different countries
  • Product information management (PIM) allows companies to manage and keep all the details about their products up to date, such as description, price, and characteristics (size, color, weight)
  • Marketing functionality such as A/B testing and SEO help companies promote their online stores so that consumers can find their products or services
  • Web content management helps companies convince potential consumers to buy their products and services
  • Shipping is an essential feature for online sales and e-commerce platforms allow users to choose how and when the products will be shipped
  • Customer service is critical for aftersales to address issues, avoid returns, and keep customers happy

Platform functionality refers to the technical characteristics of the software. 

  • E-commerce platforms need to integrate with other software such as inventory management or shipping, which can be done using APIs. APIs can be customized by users to integrate with most cloud solutions, making it easier to transfer product data or sales information between solutions. 
  • The customization and personalization of the software make it easier to use and increases adoption. Configuring screens and dashboards eliminates unnecessary clutter and helps users quickly access information. 
  • Access rights and user roles define who does what in the system and which features employees can use to do their jobs effectively. It is also important to manage access for external users, such as suppliers or drop shipping partners, who should only use particular modules of the e-commerce platform.
  • Security features protect against unauthorized access to private data such as the consumers’ personal details or credit card information. User access should also be limited to business data. For example, a user in charge of shipping should have access to orders and inventory but should not access payment information.


Overview of the most common features of e-commerce platforms 

What are the Benefits of E-commerce Platforms?

The main objectives that e-commerce platforms can help companies achieve are to:

Manage online stores: Online stores and all related data such as product details and availability, pricing and discounts, customer addresses, and payment information.

Attract buyers: Attract buyers and convince them to purchase the products and services sold by the company.

Address post-purchase issues: Including returns, shipping or payment errors, and discrepancies between what consumers expected and what they received

Track online sales: Track sales by volume and value, as well as missed opportunities such as abandoned carts

Compliance: Comply with regulations for data security and avoid data breaches and cyberattacks or online fraud

Another significant benefit of using e-commerce software is that it generates a lot of data that is used by other systems such as CRM software, accounting software, ERP systems, and supply chain and logistics suites. For instance, detailed information on sales and returns can be used to determine the profitability of the company, how to improve inventory levels, or which customers are the most profitable and which ones are not generating significant revenue.

Using all this information, companies can adjust their strategy to adapt to changing customer preferences and focus on markets and segments that are more likely to generate important revenues and sustainable profits.

Traditionally, businesses sell products and services to two separate categories of customers: businesses and consumers. These two types of customers can be covered by companies that sell to both, usually known as business-to-many (B2M).

A recent approach to attract more customers involves partnerships between businesses to expand their market presence, or business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C). By using this approach, companies can promote each other and cross-sell products and services to reach new market segments.

Who Uses E-commerce Platforms?

In theory, any company that sells online can use e-commerce platforms. In practice, the cost of this type of software can be prohibitive for small businesses. For this reason, these companies usually choose free or limited versions of e-commerce platforms. There are also hundreds of shopping cart tools that can provide sufficient functionality for small companies. Finally, online marketplaces allow these companies to sell their products without investing in e-commerce software. 

E-commerce platforms are most beneficial to medium and large companies who sell their products or services in multiple countries or markets and have complex operations. Since e-commerce platforms provide the most extensive features in the market, this type of software can be used by various employees, customers, and partners.

Employees

Employees from many departments can benefit from using e-commerce platforms, the most important being:

Product management: who make sure that the product information is accurate and up to date and that only active products are available for purchasing online

Marketing: who need to ensure that the products and services sold online are represented and promoted in a manner that protects the brand image and differentiates the company from its competitors

Sales: who define and implement strategies to improve revenues and monitor the performance of the products and services sold by the company

Customer service: who deal with complaints and other interactions with customers that may impact the purchasing process

Additional user personas

Partners: Partners may sell their products and services on the e-commerce platform of a company or their online stores. Partners can also use online marketplace platforms, so they need to synchronize data between these platforms and e-commerce platforms.

Suppliers: They usually provide products and services to other companies and do not sell them directly to consumers. Suppliers need access to e-commerce platforms to provide product information and inventory availability.

Distributors: Distributors buy products from other companies and sell them online. They may sell these products in their online store or online marketplaces. Retailers combine in-store and online sales to target multiple segments of customers or consumers. For this purpose, they need to integrate e-commerce with point of sale (POS) or retail management software.

Customers and consumers: Consumers use e-commerce platforms to look for products and services and to make purchases and payments. The ideal software should provide the easiest and most engaging way to facilitate purchasing.

What are the Alternatives to E-commerce Platforms?

Alternatives to e-commerce platforms can replace this type of software, either partially or completely:

Shopping cart software: This is a lightweight version of e-commerce platforms, with limited functionality that focuses mostly on creating and managing online stores. This option is most beneficial to small businesses that sell a limited range of products.

Marketplace software: This is beneficial for companies that allow partners to sell on their website. This type of software allows each partner to create a separate online store and manage sales independently from the others. 

Omnichannel commerce software: This helps businesses sell their products on multiple channels—online and in store. There are also several online channels such as websites, social media, and mobile devices.

Software Related to E-commerce Platforms

Related solutions that can be used together with e-commerce platforms include:

Inventory control software: This allows companies to manage the availability of the products they sell online. This type of software can also be used to identify the products’ quantities required to fulfill demand, for inventory valuation, and inventory transfers between warehouses and locations. All these features are vital to ensure that companies ship the right products for each consumer and customer.

Accounting and finance software: These tools manage all financial aspects of the sales transactions performed on the e-commerce platform. While consumers do not require invoices and other documents related to a purchase, the high volume of sales data needs to be consolidated and allocated to the appropriate general ledger accounts. For B2B, the volume of transactions isn’t very high, but invoicing is more complicated. Corporate customers may need custom invoices, shipping manifests, and warranty documents. Also, large companies have multiple business units that can purchase online individually or at the corporate level. Payment can also be made by numerous business entities from multiple bank accounts or credit cards.

Product information management (PIM) software: This is a standalone, more sophisticated version of the product management functionality described above. While most e-commerce platforms provide features for product information management, PIM is used by companies selling tens of thousands of products or variations and combinations of items.

Payment gateways: This is usually delivered pre-integrated as part of an e-commerce platform. This type of software can also be used separately by companies who do not want to limit their options to the integrations provided by e-commerce vendors. While most providers of e-commerce platforms offer integration with the most popular payment gateways, other options may be preferable, especially for markets that aren't well served by the main players.

Overview of G2’s categories for e-commerce

Challenges with E-commerce Platforms 

The lack of integration between e-commerce software and other solutions can be a critical issue that can cause the desynchronization of data between online stores and the back office. This, in turn, may lead to lost sales and unhappy consumers.

Another challenge is the ability to transfer product information from e-commerce platforms to other platforms or online marketplaces. Companies using these platforms also need to export sales data and analyze it in accounting or ERP solutions. While there are hundreds of tools to export and import data to and from such platforms, not all e-commerce platforms offer robust features for this purpose.

Which Companies Should Buy E-commerce Platforms?

While any company that sells products or services online can benefit from using e-commerce platforms, this type of software is most beneficial for the following types of businesses:

Retailers: They are embracing e-commerce as an increasing number of consumers prefer to buy online. At the same time, retail companies will continue to sell in store, which means that they need to track sales on all channels. 

Manufacturers: Manufacturing companies use e-commerce for B2B sales but require advanced functionality such as product configuration and quote management. Invoicing is also important for B2B sales, as companies require fiscal documents for each transaction. 

Software companies: These companies use subscription management software, an alternative to e-commerce. This type of software manages software packages, pricing, sales and renewals, and revenue management. Some e-commerce vendors provide some of these features as part of their solutions, but that is the exception rather than the rule.

How to Buy E-commerce Platforms

Selecting the best e-commerce platform for the specific needs of a company can be complicated. 

Requirements Gathering (RFI/RFP) for E-commerce Platforms

Requirements gathering helps companies understand what their users need to be productive at work. For e-commerce, requirements can vary significantly depending on the types of products and services the companies are selling.

There are two main types of products: tangible (physical products) and intangible (virtual goods such as digital content and software). Additionally, some companies may sell age-restricted products or services, such as alcohol or online gambling.

Requirements also vary based on how companies are selling their products and services. This refers to buyer personas (B2B vs. B2C), geographical reach (local or global markets), and channels (online, in store, or through distribution partners)

Prioritization of requirements helps the selection team focus on what matters most for their company. Requirements should cover the present and future needs of the company. The former refers to all features that are needed to keep the company up and running, such as the ability to create online stores, manage product information, and provide a seamless buying experience. The latter depends on the strategy of the company. For instance, expanding into new markets requires features for internationalization such as multilanguage stores and the ability to process payments in different currencies. 

Compare E-commerce Platforms Products

Create a long list

Long lists are created by eliminating the options that do not provide critical functionality. For instance, buyers looking for B2B e-commerce should not consider software that focuses exclusively on B2C. A typical long list should not include more than 10 products unless there are many options that are very similar. In this case, additional details like the geographical presence of the company or its reputation can be used to eliminate vendors.

Product comparison

Buyers have multiple options to compare e-commerce platforms, such as research reports and buyer’s guides, decision support systems, as well as technology review platforms. These resources provide different perspectives on the benefits and challenges of e-commerce platforms. 

RFI distribution is the process of gathering detailed information on software capabilities from vendors. RFIs are usually sent out to the vendor that made it to the long list and can contain hundreds or thousands of criteria. 

What to ask vendors of e-commerce platforms?

Requirements are essential, but there are other details about a vendor that can be dealbreakers, such as:

References: Customer references to allow buyers to get in touch with existing e-commerce users. Open discussions may reveal feedback that users aren’t always comfortable sharing publicly. Software reviews and case studies are also useful.

Partner network: The partner network of the vendor can provide valuable support to global companies. Suppose the vendor doesn’t have an office in Europe, for instance. In that case, a partner can help its customers comply with regulations such as GDPR, which protects the privacy of internet users in the European Union.

Customer support: Support options vary from one vendor to another, from 24/7 availability to only on business days, local or global, and customized support packages. Basic support is usually included in the license cost, but additional services can be quite expensive. Around-the-clock support covers multiple time zones, so customers don’t have to wait for hours to get help. E-commerce companies can lose money even when their system is unavailable for only a few minutes.

Create a short list

Short lists are created by reviewing the RFI information received from vendors. It is possible that some vendors decline to participate and don’t respond to RFIs. These vendors are usually eliminated from the selection process.

Conduct demos

Demos are a great opportunity for buyers to see how e-commerce platforms work. Only the shortlisted vendors are invited to demonstrate their solutions. Demos should be performed live, using the system, not through slide decks and screenshots. All vendors should follow a predetermined scenario that simulates the business processes of the buyer. A common scenario for e-commerce is to add a new product in the system, integrate with inventory management to track its availability, then add it to the online store and go through the purchasing steps that buyers would follow.

Selection of E-commerce Platforms

Choose a selection team

To choose a selection team, decision makers need to involve subject matter experts from all teams that will use the system. For e-commerce, this includes product management, sales and marketing, and inventory. The accounting team should also be involved to evaluate the integration of the e-commerce platform with financial software. 

The selection team needs to analyze all the data gathered from vendors, customer references, software reviews, or reports and research. This task can be daunting because all this information is not homogeneous, making it challenging to analyze.

  • Users must get rid of irrelevant data such as research that is too vague to be useful or reviews by users from other industries or geographical locations. A company focusing on the market in North America won’t benefit from knowing what users in Europe think about the software.
  • It is important to decide what data is the most significant and then focus on it. Basic features like creating an online store are provided by most vendors, unlike functionality for cart abandonment. Also, buyers may give a higher importance to user reviews than analyst research, or vice versa.
  • Users should validate data from multiple sources. The product description on the vendor website, the opinion of an e-commerce expert, and user feedback may be very different from each other. In this situation, buyers should try the product themselves or ask for a demo.

Negotiation

Negotiation happens between the buyer and the short list of vendors. In some cases, there are only two vendors that make it to this stage, which means that they offer similar products. At this point, the dealbreaker is the price of the product, which can vary based on the discounts offered by each vendor. 

The final decision should be based on all the information gathered previously. 

What do E-commerce Platforms Cost?

The types of pricing for e-commerce platforms depend on the delivery model. For on-premises software, vendors sell named or perpetual licenses. For cloud or SaaS e-commerce, the subscription model is used, which allows companies to pay a monthly fee per user. 

There are three types of e-commerce software costs:

  • The initial price of an e-commerce platform usually includes the cost of implementation, training, and software licenses
  • Ongoing costs such as licenses and maintenance are usually higher for on-premises software
  • Additional costs refer to the customization of the e-commerce platform or professional services such as content creation or marketing campaigns

Businesses looking to try an e-commerce platform without an upfront financial commitment may want to consider a free e-commerce platform. More and more vendors are offering free-trials or freemium models that can make these tools more accessible.

Return on Investment (ROI)

The factors that impact ROI can be grouped into two main categories: costs and benefits: 

Costs: This refers to any type of spending related to software such as license costs, training, support, and professional services. The time and effort spent to implement and maintain the software should also be considered. 

Benefits: The benefits are not limited to improving sales and revenues. Other advantages of using e-commerce platforms are increased productivity, better inventory management, and customer satisfaction. These factors impact ROI directly or indirectly, which is why it may be difficult to calculate them.

To calculate ROI, buyers need to estimate software costs and software benefits.

Software costs can include:

  • The initial cost of the software, which includes license cost for on-premises software, integration with other systems 
  • Implementation and training may include migration from other e-commerce solutions and access to learning portals
  • Ongoing license cost and consulting services to optimize the use of the e-commerce platform
  • Software maintenance such as regular backups of the product and sales data

Software benefits can include:

  • Increased online sales of products and services
  • Time saved managing products and processing orders
  • Less manual work and data entry for product information
  • Reduced number of shipping errors and returns

ROI is calculated as a ratio between the benefits and the costs of the software. When the benefits surpass the costs, the buyers achieve positive ROI.

It is preferable to calculate ROI at least one year after go live since the benefits of the software are not fully realized before that. For e-commerce, companies may need to adjust the platform by configuring it or adding optional features after they start using it. This can generate extra costs, which may impact the ROI.

Implementation of E-commerce Platforms

How are E-commerce Platforms Implemented?

Implementation can be done directly by the vendor, indirectly by one of its partners, or in house by the company that bought the software. 

Who is Responsible for E-commerce Platforms Implementation?

The implementation team usually includes a project manager from the vendor or its partner, subject matter experts from the buyer, and sometimes external consultants. The IT department of the buyer is also involved in the technical aspects of the implementation such as data migration.

What Does the Implementation Process Look Like for E-commerce Platforms?

As most e-commerce systems are subscription based, users may think that the implementation means creating accounts and starting using the software. In reality, implementation can be much more complicated. 

First of all, companies need to migrate data from one or more legacy systems to the new platform. Historical data on sales and inventory, product information, and customer records for B2B are the most important datasets that need to be transferred to a new e-commerce platform.

Secondly, a system may require configuration based on user type and role. Also, user access should be defined so that employees can use the modules and features they need most. For instance, sales may be able to see the inventory availability for a product but should not be able to adjust the quantity.  

Finally, training the users is essential to ensure that they are fully taking advantage of its capabilities. E-commerce platforms can be complicated and self learning is not recommended, especially for modules like product management and e-commerce personalization.

When Should You Implement E-commerce Platforms?

Timing is very important when it comes to e-commerce platform implementation. For instance, implementing this type of software during a peak shopping season is not a good idea because it may disrupt operations. It is therefore critical to define an implementation schedule that works for everyone (employees, managers, vendors, and its partners).

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