What is an eCommerce Platform?
eCommerce platforms refer to software that allows you to create an online store to buy or sell products online. Although most commonly referred to in the context of buying physical products via the internet, eCommerce also includes any exchange of goods and services taking place online.
Now more than ever, it’s important for fashion brands to have an online presence in addition to a brick-and-mortar retail location or distribution channel(s), especially in the face of things like the prolonged presence of COVID-19. Direct-to-consumer (DTC) business models have also grown increasingly popular not just because of market forces, but because of consumer trends and the ability to reach customers any place, any time, to sell products.
The Team at Backbone has scoured the internet and assembled the following roundup of the best bang-for-your-buck eCommerce platforms on the market today for new startups in the fashion world.
All of the eCommerce tools we summarize in the following blog contain these basic core features every eCommerce platform should have:
- Website Creation (home, category, product, and shopping cart pages)
- Delivery & Shipping Functionality
- Self-Serve Ordering
- Cloud-Based Deployment
- Mobile App Functionality
- Support Services (Email, FAQs, Knowledge Base/Resource Center)
- Training Documentation, Videos, and/or Webinars
Finding the Right eCommerce Tool
As a small brand, the name of the game is to do more with less. Finding a solution that helps your brand market, sell, and scale is a top priority, not just for startups but for enterprise businesses as well. Luckily, most eCommerce solutions on the market today are built with the modern brand in mind. Smaller, scrappy teams can manage everything from their website, payments & purchases, shipping, returns, marketing campaigns, and more from one connected hub.
Consolidating sales, marketing, and operations data in one place is invaluable not only for your budget but for your team’s bandwidth as well. Who doesn’t want to work smarter, not harder?
We recommend starting your search by prioritizing the must-have features your brand needs to start selling products (storefront design, secure online payments, number of products hosted, no transaction fees, etc). Then, consider price: what is the budget for adopting an eCommerce platform? What sales numbers would allow your brand to upgrade? What SKU quantity would require an upgrade? Finally, consider the skill set of your team and organization at large–does anyone have web development experience? Does your team require an easy, no-coding-required solution?
G2 Rating: 4.3 / 5 Stars
Capterra Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars
Basic Version Pricing: $29/mo
Best for: Brands who want integrations and connected apps to their storefront with no coding required.
A great option for new brand owners who want to establish a storefront and online presence but don’t know where to start. Rated highly for ease of use, and ease of integrating other systems. Little to no coding required, Shopify connects to both internal and external apps that allow you to manage all aspects of your business from one convenient place. Shopify also hosts its very own app store where you can trial or purchase various add-ons and integrations.
Backbone Lite is a cloud-based product development software to meet the needs of emergent DTC fashion and apparel brands, available on the Shopify app store. Backbone Lite provides the tools needed to professionalize the product development process, increase speed to market, and empower creativity, allowing designers to focus on constructing products that will grow their business.
Backbone Lite functions very similarly to Backbone PLM with all the essential features needed to create tech packs, including a centralized, cloud-based platform for product and component data. That means enormous time and cost savings for growing brands who spend significant design time compiling tech packs manually using Excel and Adobe Illustrator.
Additional features like the Adobe Illustrator plugin save designers time, enhancing their creative path by syncing changes from Illustrator artboards directly into product libraries and tech packs within Backbone. Backbone Lite’s product development solution provides an effortless path for PLM beginners to solve common barriers and reduce time to value while scaling essential business functions.
Backbone Lite Features
- Centralized Product Information – Work efficiently by giving your whole team access to the most updated product data.
- Tech Packs in Minutes – Dynamic product and component libraries make it easy to create and share tech packs quickly.
- Adobe Illustrator Integration – Save design time by syncing Adobe Illustrator files directly into Backbone as updates are made.
- Sync Products to Shopify – Get a head start on creating new products in your Shopify store by syncing product names and descriptions directly from Backbone.
- Swatches & Pantone Libraries – Manage custom colorways and access all Pantone libraries, which are pre-populated in the system.
- Size Specification Management – Standardize size specs and fit across styles with reusable, editable graded rules and measurements.
- Better Sample Management – Collect feedback, track progress, and collaborate better on production phase samples.
Did you know? You can try Backbone Lite free for 14 days when you install the app on Shopify:
G2 Rating: 4.4 / 5 Stars
Capterra Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars
Basic Version Pricing: $24/month
Best for: WordPress customers who want a trusted plugin to establish an online storefront OR coding-savvy brands who want a free, customizable solution.
If you’re serious about web development, WooCommerce might be the choice for you. This platform has a WordPress plugin available, making it the most advanced website building and management tool connected to an eCommerce platform on our list. Compared with the rest of our breakdown, WooCommerce offers a wider range of pricing tiers than other platforms, allowing brands to scale as needed through the tiers to gain access to new features only when they’re ready. WooCommerce is also open-source software, meaning if you have the right experience, this plugin can be replicated, edited, and customized for any of your brand’s needs for free.
G2 Rating: 4.2 / 5 Stars
Capterra Rating: 4.4 / 5 Stars
Basic Version Pricing: $27/mo
Best for: Brands who want an aesthetically pleasing storefront with no coding required.
Wix eCommerce offers the largest range of no-code, free site-building tools and templates, offering over 500 web templates that come highly rated by users. They also offer dropshipping and print-on-demand functionality, for very new brands who don’t have the bandwidth to manage their own inventory just yet. Wix eCommerce also offers a free version of their product which allows brands to create their eCommerce site at no cost–but when you’re ready to actually start selling products, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan.
G2 Rating: 4.3 / 5 Stars
Capterra Rating: 4.7 / 5 Stars
Basic Version Pricing: FREE
Best for: Basic storefront functionality for free.
Square Online started solely as a payment company, and expanded its offering since to include a website builder and eCommerce tools. The platform comes pre-built with a basic store design to help new brands hit the ground running. Square also offers brick-and-mortar functionality that integrates with the online storefront to keep sales and product information organized in one place. Reviewers also mention that because Square is naturally connected to its own payment processing, issues can be resolved in a more streamlined and “in-house” way.
This is also the only platform in our roundup that offers a totally free version of their platform with core features, so your brand can start selling products as fast as possible.
G2 Rating: 4.2 / 5 Stars
Capterra Rating: 4.3 / 5 Stars
Basic Version Pricing: $29.95/month
Best for: Brands with a large volume of SKUs and a small budget.
Big Commerce touts the most features available at their lowest pricing tier to support startup brands, and includes an a-la-carte pricing model option. Users highlight the customizability of the platform for your brand’s exact needs (all that’s required is a little web development experience). Big Commerce also includes no transaction fees on sales using credit/debit cards. Reviews highlight that its platform is perfect for large SKU volumes at a low cost.
TLDR; There’s an eCommerce Platform for Everyone
When researching and evaluating eCommerce platform options for your business, keep in mind the following questions:
- Does it have the basic features I need to sell products?
- Does it offer secure payments?
- How much can my brand spend on an eCommerce platform?
- At what revenue will I need to upgrade my platform?
- What are the technical skillsets of my team?
- Can I integrate other systems to my eCommerce platform?
Want to try Backbone Lite on Shopify? Hit the button below to try it free for 14 days!