Top Free E-Commerce Platforms

Check out our list of free E-Commerce Platforms. Products featured on this list are the ones that offer a free trial version. As with most free versions, there are limitations, typically time or features.

If you'd like to see more products and to evaluate additional feature options, compare all E-Commerce Platforms to ensure you get the right product.

Results: 37
(339)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,

Rodger J.
RJ
I like how easy it is to use with multiple brands and stores - even without a dedicated method for managing multiple stores. No matter whether it... Read review
Paul M.
PM
It is all inclusive. You are concentrating, mostly, on marketing and product - not on setting up a Web site. Read review
(57)3.3 out of 5
Entry Level Price:$15 / per month

Online Store Builder, Website Store, Make Your Own Website using Shopping Cart Features by Volusion. When you build an online store with Volusion, the entire design, colors, graphics, look and feel of your website store can be exactly the way you want it.

AI
I'd love to say that I like everything about this company. However, that is not the case. Read review
UA
This is a great tool if you are looking to start selling goods online, but don't have a lot of technical knowledge, as far as building a website or... Read review
(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

AC
Pricing, as no other solution offers 1.9% pricing. Read review
IE
MyCommerce automates sales transactions, digital delivery, payment collections, and local tax handling at a great price Read review
(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

DV
Sana Commerce is easy to set-up and control your content. They have several tools and functionalities what makes it nice to work with for an... Read review
AS
Customer support denk goed mee over de diensten en producten die ze leveren aan hun klanten. Read review
(32)3.9 out of 5

StoreHippo is the new age mobile commerce platform that provides comprehensive turnkey solutions for retailers to sell their products and services in the online marketplace.

AC
There selling team to good to convince you to buy the package. And Features mentioned on their websites (which usually do work) Read review
AA
This is a very cost effective platform. StoreHippo is a great user-friendly mobile e-commerce platform for start-ups to launch their online stores... Read review
(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.

AT
How easy it is to use even for new businesses. Read review
Kaylee S.
KS
I love being able to use commentsold with facebook live and fit videos Read review
(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

CI
The platform has been built around the standard processes for Small-to-mid size businesses. Rich in features and functionalities, allows... Read review
AA
eComchain's team ensures the our requirements were available out of the box and if they were not there for some reason they would go ahead and... Read review
(29)4.0 out of 5
Entry Level Price:$29 monthly

Founded in 1997, 3dcart is a complete and robust eCommerce platform designed to help online store owners thrive in a competitive market. With hundreds of features built directly into its software, merchants can effectively open, operate and maintain a successful eCommerce website with relative ease and efficiency. 3dcart currently powers more than 17,500 global merchants, and its support team is always available, at no additional cost, 24/7/365. 3dcart is an Inc. 5000 company, a Visa PCI Certifi

CF
Tired of the Big Boys and all the complexity.... 3dcart is easy to use and has great low cost Apps. Read review
CB
I like that 3D Cart is the most complete cart set up - right out of the box. It has the most popular feature sets that I need but everyone else... Read review
(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

RA
Modern layout, the technology, customer service, increasing efforts to improve the platform, simple yet effective checkout options. Read review
Donald S.
DS
Samcart is a tool that, out of the box, let's you integrate with a lot of different pieces of software, helping you "close the gaps" on any... Read review
(39)4.4 out of 5
Optimized for quick response
Entry Level Price:FREE fully enterprise-ready

Pimcore is an open-source software platform used by more than 100 000 companies worldwide. It offers state-of-the-art digital asset management (DAM), product information management (PIM), master data management (MDM), digital experience management (DXP/CMS), multi-channel publishing, and digital commerce. Acclaimed by analysts at Gartner and Forrester, its customers include Fortune 100 companies such as Pepsi, Sony, and Audi. The company's headquarters are in Salzburg, Austria. Pimcore’s consol

Anthony P.
AP
This is a great open source platform. This is perfect if you want to customized as a developer. I love the WebToPrint capabilities. Can't beat free... Read review
CK
The Pimcore platform handled our specific requirement very well. Read review
(52)4.4 out of 5
Optimized for quick response

Handshake: B2B customer ordering and sales rep order entry solutions. Handshake is for companies like brands, manufacturers and distributors who are selling to retail stores or other business customers. For customer ordering - Handshake helps you provide a modern B2B eCommerce experience for easy online ordering and a mobile app for shelf-side orders when your customers are out on the floor. For sales rep ordering - Handshake provides a dedicated sales rep app that gives them the customer, pr

CJ
It’s a quick and neat way of helping business sell online services to customers to reduce cost and increase revenue Read review
CK
Actually integrates with QuickBooks inventory feature. Lots of other services say that they integrate with QuickBooks, but all they really do is... Read review
(21)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.

DM
Their customer service is probably the best part about Expedite Commerce. The CPQ product is very easy to set up and use out of the box, but EC... Read review
RA
Expedite Commerce is a niche player in Configure Price Quoting (CPQ) with rich expertise in quoting and configuration of products. The guided... Read review
(10)3.9 out of 5
Entry Level Price:$24.95 per month

For any hard-working business pushing through to the next level, a simple platform just doesn't cut it. You need a heavyweight. You need a professional, powerful, innovative eCommerce software that works as hard as you do. That's what you'll find in AmeriCommerce. Mid-size companies to major players all across the country turn to us for flexibility and control with our revolutionary Multi-Store™ technology, our relentless ingenuity, and our passion to serve B2B eCommerce better than all the res

Calvin L.
CL
Easy to use, quick to market and responsive design out of the box. Easy integration to blog and social networking like a free Facebook App and... Read review
Shimmy M.
SM
I love the fact that we can customize the platform to our needs as well as the needs of our donors and our recipients. Read review
(15)4.8 out of 5
Entry Level Price:99 /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

Sue B.
SB
There are many things I like about PayKickstart. Some of those things are the fact that you have built-in affiliate system, can create coupons,... Read review
(25)4.8 out of 5
Optimized for quick response

In Mind Cloud's 'Manufacturing X Sales Platform' is the leading End-to-End solution for manufacturers that combines the power of CRM, CPQ, and Commerce within one innovative platform. Discover how Manufacturing X supports your business growth and catapults you ahead of your competition. Reduce your sales cycles and time-to-market while improving margins and deliver the customer excellence that your buyers need. Based on the SAP Cloud Platform our platform is deeply integrated into manufacturi

JO
The solution provides a unified platform for all our engineering and sales data. It delivers transparency across all our departments and plant... Read review
A
Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) provides 100% accurate quotes, automates and speeds up configuration of products. It assures increase in... Read review
(4)3.6 out of 5

Liferay Commerce is a digital commerce platform that promises to equip B2B sellers with a fully-integrated suite of digital engagement tools. The vendor promises the following key benefits: Erase B2B Complexity: Manage commerce sites faster with configurable rules for tiered pricing, organizational hierarchy, contract pricing, order workflows and more. Unite Customer Touchpoints: Eliminate frustration by offering your customers a single place to learn about products, manage their accounts and

CL
It has a good look and feel and is easy to use Read review
CI
The platform is so flexible like the possibility to customize, to upload predefined files or images Read review
(3)3.5 out of 5
Entry Level Price:$39.99 per month

eCommerce platforms for store creation, hosting and payments. Choose from a variety of responsive templates, or have us build your custom store or just add us as your shopping cart linked to your existing website. Our customizable hosted payments page products can also work as a standalone, secure product for collecting payments from your clients.

U.S. Packaging W.
UW
CoreCommerce provides a top notch service setting them apart from the competition. Always available and fast to resolve issues. Read review
(19)4.8 out of 5
Entry Level Price:$20 per month

User-friendly e-commerce software platform with mobile app. Merchants can create their website and sell products to B2C and B2B (both) customers. API integrated with all major payment gateways and shipping companies. Having marketing tools like: automated mailer to abandoned order, reward point system to engage customers, persistent cart, automatic currency based on customer location, etc.

NS
The best part of this platform is "Reports". We can get a detailed report related to our Customers, Orders as well as Products. We can view... Read review
PS
The software is very user friendly, its really very easy to use and upload. Allows you complete control of your website. Minimum interference of... Read review
(4)4.2 out of 5

Zoey helps B2B and wholesale businesses take orders online anytime, anywhere, with any device. Leverage a mobile app to capture orders, create sales quotes or look up product and pricing information on the go. Offer a self-service order portal for capturing web orders from your buyers. Our feature set for sellers includes customer and pricing segmentation, quote generation/management, net terms with credit limits, and access/catalog restrictions. Our self-service feature set for buyers includes

Sandra W.
SW
What’s not to like? Zoey is based on the leader of eCommerce platforms - Magento and has completely been rethought to make it a breeze for... Read review
Pat H.
PH
It has everything we needed without the need to purchase a lot of plug-ins. The cost might look higher than some competitors but once you add... Read review
(2)3.8 out of 5
Entry Level Price:$249 per month

Hosted Shopping Cart Software solution

AD
The way it integrates with social networks and it's marketing component Read review
CC
Friendly operation , good interation with social networks , love the marketing tools. Read review
(2)3.8 out of 5
Entry Level Price:£32.49 per month

EKM is the UK's most popular ecommerce platform, it's everything you need to create a successful online shop. Your online shop continuously improves thanks to our unique Evolution Mode. With UK support and your own dedicated Account Manager to get you setup, EKM is the quickest and easiest way to sell your products online.

Anthony C.
AC
I have been using EKM for couple of years. It's really a fantastic platform that can help you to run your e-commerce website. It's very easy to... Read review
(2)4.0 out of 5
Entry Level Price:$19.95 per month

Create your online store today! No risk. No credit card required.

SH
Ease of use and good customer interface Read review
CS
Proporciona una excelente plataforma para iniciarse en el mundo del comercio electrónico, posee una amplia variedad de plantillas personalizables... Read review
(1)4.5 out of 5

commercetools is the world’s leading platform for next-generation B2C and B2B commerce. To break the market out of being restrained by legacy suites, commercetools invented a headless, API-first, multi-tenant SaaS commerce platform that is cloud-native and uses flexible microservices. Using modern development building blocks in a true cloud platform provided by commercetools, customers can deliver the best commerce experiences across every touchpoint on a large scale. commercetools has offices

Juan P.
JP
What I loved most about this web manager, is that you can add a purchase Project and manage everything related to the base Project, without the... Read review

Smartstore.net is the leading eCommerce solution in the Microsoft world. Smartstore.net is the perfect solution for your successful e-commerce. Smartstore.net is supported by a large international network of technology partners and a highly active global community of more than 1,400 developers. The strong synergies in the international network benefit everyone. Smartstore.net also offers a marketplace for ongoing extensions (plug-ins) for download.

Joseph B.
JB
* Smartstore is an awesome shop system system based on ASP MVC C#. The plugins are very easy to write and thus customize the shop system. * Very... Read review
0 ratings
Entry Level Price:$2799 per year

apptinoCOMMERCE is a SaaS B2B digital commerce platform for companies from manufacturing & wholesale distribution. Our digital commerce platform helps our customers to bring their sales teams, service teams, channel partners, influencers & it's customers on a digital commerce platform to provide an omnichannel experience. Hence we call it a "Connected Commerce Experience." We help our customers to reach 100% of their existing & new B2B customers digitally with one platform. Delive

0 ratings

B2B eCommerce solution for manufacturers, wholesale distributors, & dropshipping suppliers. Accept orders & re-orders, create an online product catalog, add multiple price lists, manage customers, sync your inventory and accounting system, integrate with 2000+ tools via Zapier, and build custom integrations using our fully-fledged API. Try it free for 30 days.

0 ratings
Entry Level Price:0

branchbob is a cloud-based eCommerce platform that offers online shops free of charge and without restrictions. Merchants can create a complete online shop which is internationally usable, supporting various currencies, languages and payment methods. The system is easy to use, with no IT or coding skills required to build a store. Supported by video tutorials and live support, merchants can create a store within minutes. They can choose multiple designs and customize the shop to fit their needs

0 ratings

Comandia Online Store offers features & marketing tools without making large investments helps to choose a template & personalize the store.

0 ratings

Commerce 360 is a Wholesale distributor e-commerce platform to help you compete within a global supply chain.

0 ratings
Entry Level Price:$149 0 NA Month

Commerce365- Wholesale eCommerce Software Platform that is designed for Fast-Growing Brands. About us: Commerce365 powered by Balluun is the leader in B2B Wholesale eCommerce, built and designed exclusively for fast growing brands. Founded in 2019, Leveraging over 10 years of growth in Balluun’s Vertical B2B Market Networks, Commerce365 was launched as a stand-alone Wholesale eCommerce Infrastructure Platform to support our growing customer Wholesale eCommerce demands. Commerce365 is fast be

Top 10 Free E-Commerce Platforms in 2021

  • BigCommerce
  • Volusion
  • Digital River MyCommerce
  • Sana Commerce
  • StoreHippo

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).