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Best E-Commerce Software for Small Businesses 2015

Best E-Commerce Software for Small Businesses 2015 Credit: Bacho/Shutterstock

Your e-commerce business is unlike any other. Whether you're selling products, services or digital downloads, you need an e-commerce software product that fits your online store's unique needs and requirements. Our staff researched and reviewed an extensive collection of e-commerce and shopping-cart software, and picked out what we believe are the top ones for different types of small e-commerce businesses.
Here is a roundup of our best picks and how we chose them.

Shopify has everything you need to launch, run and manage a successful e-commerce business. In addition to providing you with an online storefront and payment processing capabilities, the software includes a Web host, website builder, inventory management, back-end functionality, marketing tools, customer relationship management (CRM) and more. It's also super easy to use and requires zero tech skills, so you can get your online store up and running instantly. Go here for a full review of the Shopify e-commerce software. 

Editor’s Note: Looking for an e-commerce website builder for your business? If you’re looking for information to help you choose the one that’s right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

buyerzone widget

If you need a completely customizable online store, Magento has your back. As an open-source e-commerce software, Magento lets you tailor-make any aspect of your e-commerce website, giving you an online store that looks, feels and works exactly the way you want it to. It's also a great option if you own or plan to run more than one online store, as you can manage them all from one Magento dashboard. Go here for a full review of the Magento e-commerce software. 

Turn your WordPress-powered website or blog into an e-commerce business, or launch a stand-alone online store on the WordPress platform — for free. The WooCommerce shopping-cart plugin lets you build a free WordPress-based online store quickly and easily. As a popular shopping-cart software used by hundreds of thousands of online businesses and brands, WooCommerce also gives you limitless capabilities and endless customization options from the vast collection of themes, extensions and plugins available throughout the Web. Go here for a full review of the WooCommerce shopping-cart plugin. 

Not all e-commerce businesses deal with physical products and services. Selz lets you sell e-books, software, video stream subscriptions, music, PDF files and other digital downloads, and even takes care of distribution. Simply build your storefront, and the software automatically processes orders, accepts payments and sends download links, letting you run your digital e-commerce business even in your sleep. Go here for a full review of the Selz e-commerce software. 

To find the best e-commerce software for small business, we researched a wide range of e-commerce software and shopping carts from many different sources, and then tested them out ourselves. 

First, we decided to go straight to the source: We asked small e-commerce business owners which e-commerce software they use, what they loved and hated about it, and what they think makes a "perfect" e-commerce software. They also shared their thoughts on the most popular e-commerce software available, how they compare, and why they chose one solution over others.

Next, we researched the top e-commerce software that frequently appeared on various sources around the Web, such as reputable review websites, top lists and business websites. We also studied user reviews to see what people really thought about these e-commerce software after using the products themselves.

We also wanted to see how easy or difficult it was to use the most popular e-commerce software, so we tried them ourselves. We signed up for our own business accounts whenever we could, as well as tried out any available demos, watched tutorial videos and checked out knowledge bases, user forums and other resources available to customers.

In total, we ended up with nearly 40 e-commerce software and plugins, and less than a quarter of them made it to our short list. Our top picks include Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, Selz, Volusion, Bigcommerce, Shoppable, Squarespace, GoDaddy Online Store, Easy Digital Downloads, Ecwid, X-Cart and PayPal. (See the full list of e-commerce software and shopping carts and their websites below.)

Here are the criteria we used to evaluate each software product:

  • Cost
  • Ease of use
  • E-commerce features offered
  • Website hosting and design
  • Customization options
  • Payment processors
  • Merchant tools
  • Automation capabilities
  • Back-end features
  • Marketing tools
  • Third-party integration
  • Reporting and analytics 
  • Service limitations
  • Customer service

Here is a full list of e-commerce software and shopping-cart vendors, and a summary of what each company claims to offer. This alphabetical list also includes our best picks.

1ShoppingCart — Sell everything from products and services to digital goods. This shopping cart and e-commerce software focuses on selling, promoting and growing your business, providing you with all the tools you need to be successful with your e-commerce startup.  1shoppingcart.com

3dcart — Use this online store builder and shopping-cart software to easily launch an e-commerce website or an online store on your existing website. It requires no coding or Web programming skills — simply choose a template, add your logo, upload product images, and add descriptions and pricing, and you're good to go. 3dcart.com

AmeriCommerce — Build a professional online store complete with a shopping cart, payment processing, merchant tools, mobile commerce capabilities and more. Services include custom e-commerce Web design, custom shopping carts, apps, add-ons and the ability to run multiple online stores. AmeriCommerce is a Capital One company. americommerce.com

Ashop Commerce — Get your online store up and running without all the fuss. Ashop Commerce provides fast and simple setup, so you can start selling right away. It also focuses on helping you increase sales and growing your business by providing robust tools to measure your store's performance and further improve your website. ashopcommerce.com

Avactis — Avactis is a full-featured PHP shopping cart that includes cloud-based hosting options and mobile commerce. In addition to getting an online store, you can build a custom mobile app, so customers can shop wherever they are. Avactis online stores can also be customized using a wide range of themes and extensions. avactis.com

Big Cartel — Designed specifically for artists, the Big Cartel shopping-cart software lets fashion designers, bands, record labels, jewelry makers, crafters and other creative professionals launch an independent online store on their own websites. The service features both free and paid packages using a monthly subscription, so they don't take a cut of your sales. bigcartel.com

Bigcommerce — One of our runner-ups, Bigcommerce lets small businesses with big visions create scalable, powerful online stores for all types of products. A full-featured e-commerce software, Bigcommerce provides you with a website and domain name, secure shopping cart and product catalog, payment gateways, email accounts, marketing tools, mobile optimization and much more. bigcommerce.com

Claim the Web — More than an e-commerce software, Claim the Web provides expert consulting and evaluation services to make sure your online store is optimized for success. It also features conversion-based website designs and custom functionalities to help you increase sales and simplify your operations. claimtheweb.com

CoreCommerce — Affordability and ease of use are key for any small business. CoreCommerce provides an all-in-one hosted shopping cart that offers no transaction fees, simple setup, plenty of customization options and fast customer service. Additional features include responsive themes for mobile access, social capabilities, search engine optimization (SEO) and many more tools to help your e-commerce business grow. corecommerce.com

CS-Cart — Offering a more advanced e-commerce solution, CS-Cart is a feature-rich shopping-cart software built for businesses of all sizes. In addition to a website, shopping cart and payment processing, it offers a built-in content management system (CMS), advanced SEO tools and customizable PHP/MySQL-based templates to fit your vision for your online store. cs-cart.com

Easy Digital Downloads — If you wish to sell digital goods and are a fan of the WordPress platform, Easy Digital Downloads is for you. This shopping-cart plugin lets you easily sell digital downloads on your WordPress website or blog and comes complete with a shopping cart, payment gateways, customizable themes, detailed reporting and more. The best part? It's completely free. easydigitaldownloads.com

Ecwid — Loved by many of the small business owners we spoke to, Ecwid lets you add an online store to your existing website in as little as 5 minutes. For even more selling opportunities, Ecwid online stores also work on mobile devices and can be added everywhere, from social media (including Facebook and Tumblr) to marketplaces like Google Shopping, Yahoo and Shopping.com. ecwid.com

fortune3 — An all-in-one e-commerce solution, fortune3 is a robust shopping-cart software that includes everything you need for your e-commerce business. On the e-commerce side, it offers a website builder, shopping cart, payment processing, mobile commerce, social commerce and marketing tools. On the business side, fortune3 helps you better run your business with order fulfilment, inventory management and shipping tools. fortune3.com

GoDaddy Online Store — Like its registration service, the GoDaddy Online Store software is all about simplicity and ease of use. This DIY website and online store builder gives you professionally designed themes and built-in payment processing, so you don't have to worry about the tech side of owning an e-commerce business. It's also backed by GoDaddy's award-winning 24/7 customer support. godaddy.com/ecommerce/online-store.aspx

King Cart — King Cart offers two types of shopping carts: a completely customizable e-cart system and a turnkey e-commerce software that lets you get started instantly. It's also a super affordable solution for small businesses, as there are no application or setup fees, gateway fees, bank fees, statement fees, monthly minimums, cancellation fees or long-term commitments. king-cart.com

LemonStand — If your online store is outgrowing e-commerce software that's built for startups, check out LemonStand. Tailor-made for growing businesses, LemonStand is a cloud-based e-commerce platform for online stores that make more than six figures per year in sales. The software also aims to help you sell quickly and simply, so you can sell more while being better able to manage your growing business. lemonstand.com

*Magento — Get a completely customizable online store that works for your business. This open-source e-commerce software can be used as-is out of the box, or you can change everything from how your online store looks to how it functions in a way that best works for your brand and operations. Some technical skills may be necessary. magento.com. Read our full review here.

Modular Merchant — From shipped products to digital goods and subscription services, Modular Merchant makes it easy to sell shippable items, downloads and services with recurring billing. It's also an affordable e-commerce solution that includes free shopping-cart templates and free customer support. modularmerchant.com

osCommerce — A runner-up on our top picks of best e-commerce software, osCommerce lets you build a secure, self-hosted online store for free. One of the most widely customizable e-commerce software products, osCommerce is an open-source solution that also offers more than 7,000 free add-ons, so you get total control over how your online store looks and works. The company has been around for 14 years, making it one of the most reputable e-commerce solutions for small business. oscommerce.com

PayPal — Simplify your e-commerce business, and use your PayPal account. If you already have a website, PayPal's shopping-cart solution lets you add Buy buttons, product images and complete shopping carts. The company has also partnered with Yahoo Stores to provide a comprehensive e-commerce solution for your business. paypal.com/webapps/mpp/shopping-cart

Pinnacle Cart — Is your business focused on growth? Even if you're just starting out, it never hurts to plan ahead. What makes the Pinnacle Cart e-commerce software stand out is that it focuses on scalability, so it grows as your business grows. This takes away the hassle of having to switch e-commerce software once your business expands, and makes it easy to stay on your growth trajectory. pinnaclecart.com

PrestaShop — Create a free online store quickly and easily. Just download the software or use the cloud version; upload your product catalog; add your desired features; and start selling immediately. This open-source software is also backed by a community of more than 700,000 users, as well as offers training opportunities and expert support, so you're sure to find help when you need it. prestashop.com

ProductCart — Established in 2002, ProductCart offers a designer-friendly shopping-cart software that's completely customizable to fit your business's needs. There are no design limitations, and you can change everything using HTML5 or CSS3 Web languages. It also includes responsive design for mobile devices and different browsers, allowing you to optimize your store for all types of customers. productcart.com

*Selz — Sell e-books, software, video streams, music, PDF files and other digital products with our top pick for the best e-commerce software for digital downloads. Just set up your storefront, and Selz automates everything from order processing to download distribution, so you can focus on growing your business. selz.com. Read our full review here.

*Shopify — Our top pick for the best e-commerce software for business is Shopify, which lets you create an online store quickly and easily. The full-featured e-commerce software includes an online storefront, payment processing, Web hosting, a website builder, marketing and analytics tools, third-party integration and more. shopify.com. Read our full review here.

Shoppable — Want to monetize your blog or website? Shoppable connects you with retailers so you can sell their products on your self-hosted website. Included in the service is a multiretailer checkout system, so you only need to install one shopping cart that lets customers purchase from multiple retailers featured in your store. shoppable.com

Shopping Cart Elite — If you need a sophisticated e-commerce software, check out Shopping Cart Elite. In addition to an online storefront, website builder and merchant tools, Shopping Cart Elite offers a wide range of advanced backend capabilities, such as ERP and CRM integration, warehousing solutions, shipping tools, B2B opportunities and automation to take the leg work out of running your e-commerce business. shoppingcartelite.com

ShopSite — Need an online store fast? ShopSite lets you launch your e-commerce website in just 15 minutes. Your store can be hosted anywhere and includes a shopping cart, payment gateway and mobile commerce functionality. ShopSite also lets you sell anywhere on the Web with a Facebook store and the ability to add order buttons on emails, newsletters, blog posts, affiliate websites and more. shopsite.com

Spree — Save time while fulfilling orders. Spree e-commerce software goes beyond letting you sell online. What makes it stand out is that it can automate your order fulfillment process. Just connect your storefront to Spree's Wombat service, integrate solutions you already use and watch your business grow. Spree is also completely scalable, allowing you to add additional suppliers, shippers and other vendors as your business expands. spreecommerce.com

Squarespace — Use the popular Squarespace website builder for your e-commerce business. It offers the same features of regular Squarespace websites, such as Web hosting, professional and customizable templates, domain names, social sharing, SEO, analytics and 24/7 support. Moreover, Squarespace online stores include inventory management, order processing, marketing tools and PCI-compliant payment processing. squarespace.com/tour/ecommerce-website

Tomato Cart — Tomato Cart makes your online store look its best on all types of devices. This open-source shopping-cart solution focuses on delivering an excellent customer experience, so it optimizes your online store on desktops, tablets and mobile phones to make it easier to browse products and complete purchases. The software also considers device resolutions, as well as types of browsers customers are using, to optimize your online store. tomatocart.com

Volusion — A very close runner-up for our pick for the best shopping-cart software for small business, Volusion offers an easy-to-use, robust, all-in-one solution that lets any business quickly sell online. Whether you're just starting out or you have a growing business, Volusion offers beautiful website designs and shopping-cart themes that require no coding or tech skills to get started. Plans also include hosting, merchant tools and order management capabilities, so you have everything you need to grow your e-commerce business in one place. volusion.com

*WooCommerce — Build your e-commerce business on WordPress, or add an online store to your existing self-hosted WordPress website or blog. WooCommerce provides you with a shopping cart, payment processing, back-end integration, online store management tools and more. Like WordPress, WooCommerce can be customized with different themes, extensions and plugins, giving you limitless options for your online store. woothemes.com/woocommerce. Read our full review here.

X-Cart — X-Cart is all about making e-commerce as easy to use, maintain and modify as possible. With this open-source, full-featured e-commerce solution, you can choose from a vast collection of design templates, and then customize it to fit your business's needs. Unlike other e-commerce software products, X-Cart doesn't require any setup, monthly or add-on fees — just pay a one-time licensing fee, and the software is yours to use as you please. x-cart.com

Are you an e-commerce software or shopping-cart provider that would like to be added to this list and possibly considered for our next round of reviews? Please feel free to contact Business News Daily staff writer Sara Angeles at sangeles@purch.com.

Editor’s Note: Looking for an e-commerce website builder for your business? If you’re looking for information to help you choose the one that’s right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

Sara Angeles
Sara Angeles

Sara is a tech writer with a background in business and marketing. After graduating from UC Irvine, she worked as a copywriter and blogger for nonprofit organizations, tech labs and lifestyle companies. She started freelancing in 2009 and joined Business News Daily in 2013. Follow Sara Angeles on Twitter @sara_angeles.