Today’s post is all about ecommerce platforms! As someone who sells digital products on multiple websites I know what a pain it can be trying to sort through all the options. The second you think you’ve found the perfect one, it’s missing that one tiny feature that you NEED. So today I’ve asked a bunch of badass babe business owners to share what they love and hate about the platforms they use.
I’m guessing most of you aren’t going to offer hundreds of products, so I’ve pulled pricing info for 10-20 products, but most services offer more. (All pricing is in USD)
If there’s a platform we’ve missed feel free to leave your pros and cons in the comments!
5 product, limited features, free
25 products, all features, $9.99/month
Digital products via Pulley: 25 products, $6/month
Payments and funds via PayPal or Stripe
Customizable CSS, discount codes available w/premium packages
Jess Marie from Pine & Boon says
- It is by far the cheapest platform I have found that has nice design and integrates a shop. If you sell less than 25 products, you can get away with paying the base price.
- Easy and quick.
- Great for uploading images. Alerts you to when the file is too large or too small.
- While almost everything is customizable, I still have to look up some basic HTML to change a few things. There are not a whole lot of resources out there to do that.
- There is no plug-in for a shipping calculator that I am aware of. You have to just enter the shipping and tax rates manually which makes it hard to do international shipping.
- I wish there were more pages viewable on my templates home page. The template has a set amount of pages that show up on the main page. This kind of limits the amount of content I can create. But like I said, great for a beginner. I hope to upgrade to something else soon.
20 products, 1GB space, $10/month, no per-transaction fees
Create buttons or full shop
Affiliate program, PDF stamping, 3rd party integrations (MailChimp, ShareASale, etc.)
30 day trial
Mariah from Femtrepreneuer says
- Easy to use: When I started out I was a tech-phobic and needed a super easy way to get started selling my digital products. I didnt have time to learn a new software, I needed a simple, elegant solution. DPD is super easy for new product sellers to use. The interface is simple and I had my first product and affiliate program set up in 30 minutes. Now it takes me about 2 minutes to create a new product in DPD.
- Easy for affiliates: When you want to exponentially expand your business with an awesome affiliates strategy you want the least amount of friction between your potential affiliates and your program sign-up. It should be stupid simple for them to sign up. DPD is designed to be simple for affiliates, which increases how many people will promote your stuff.
- Integrations: DPD integrates easily with the major payment systems I use and email services like MailChimp.
Con: If you have a complex ecosystem of products, courses, services, multiple websites, and multi-tiered affiliate programs etc, DPD can feel limiting. This is not an issue for everyone, but it has become one for me as I build new, “complex” businesses every few months. (They also currently don’t allow recurring payments, which was an issue for me – S)
10 products, 5MB, $5/month
20 products, 100MB, $10/month
Payment via PayPal
Discount codes, affiliates, integrates with sites like AWeber & MailChimp
Kam from Campfire Chic says
- No Frills: E-junkie is a no-frills site that lets me focus on the task at hand without me getting distracted by offers, upgrades, or shiny things. I’m able to get into my account, upload a new digital product to my shop, and be on my merry way. I like that I have all the options I need without the process being confusing.
- Built-in Affiliate Marketing: E-junkie allows you to set your products up for affiliate marketing without needing to start a different account. With two options (common affiliate and product-specific affiliate information) available, I am able to easily set up the affiliate information for each product without needing to connect accounts. Everything is in-house, just the way I like it.
- Google Analytics Tracking: For sellers who are focused on perfecting their sales funnels and conversion junkies, Google Analytics tracking is pre-integrated into your buy now buttons. You can also manually add your Google Analytics tracking code to your thank you page, if you prefer to do things on your own. Being able to track my sales and conversions is really important to me, so these features are nice to have.
- Not very pretty: E-junkie is pretty dated looking, which can be a little off-putting to new users. If you’re driving traffic to your e-junkie shop, your buyers may be turned off by the looks of things unless you take extra time to focus on making it look good. Here’s mine as an example >>> Not pretty and it doesn’t convey trust.
- Affiliate Dashboard isn’t as robust as other platforms. While E-junkie allows me to set up my digital products and services to be sold by affiliates, the affiliate dashboard is lacking. I’m not able to include images or copy for my affiliates to use, all they get is the specific link to the products they are looking to sell…they can’t create personalized affiliate links, either. I created a page on my website that has images and resources for my affiliates to use but it isn’t streamlined the way ShareASale or iDevAffiliate.
Unlimited listings, 20¢ / listing + 3.5% item price
Payment via credit card (funds direct deposit weekly) or PayPal
Digital downloads, discount codes, shopping marketplace
No customization aside from shop banner
Shai from The Vagabond Studio says
(She just launched an ebook for Etsy sellers >>>)
Etsy is great in terms of organic traffic. They have over 30 million users and, if they are shopping on Etsy, they are generally looking for something that would be on Etsy: design, handmade, vintage, or supplies. The set-up is also extremely basic and involves zero coding and minimal design effort, which is great for someone who wants to focus on their business and not setting up a shop. Etsy is, for the most part, low-maintenance in terms of driving traffic and maintaining a store, if you know how to utilize SEO properly.
Etsy has opened their doors to shop owners working with manufacturers. This has, in turn, resulted in a lot of mass-manufactured, very cheap items being sold on Etsy as “handmade.” Between this issue and a lot of sellers simply pricing their products incredibly low, it can be difficult for someone who values their time and work to make regular sales.
5% + 25¢ per transaction
Discount codes, custom fields at checkout, PDF stamping
Funds delivered via PayPal or direct deposit every two weeks
Carrie from Careful Cents says
- It’s very user-friendly and has a simplistic design which is very appealing. You can set up a custom store landing page with Gumroad, which makes it great for directing people to your products or even putting it on a business card. For example mine is gumroad.com/carefulcentsstore.
- Deposits from sales are sent out on a monthly basis. This really helps with tackling that inconsistent cash flow problem that many online business owners face. I find myself spending the $12 or $20 much easier than saving it up for a once-a-month payout.
- In addition, you have access to a library where all of your products are available, and customers can easily access them whenever they want. You can also view their email addresses and send updates directly anytime you want to contact them.
- You don’t have as much customization with the landing page as you would with a custom store page on a website.
- Gumroad works great if you’re just getting started since it’s completely free. You do however have to pay a bit more in commission fees than if customers paid via PayPal directly. They take a 5% cut + $0.25 of each sale you make (compared to PayPal’s 3% fee), so this can really add up if you make a lot of sales.
- There’s also no way to add these email addresses to a newsletter list. So I have to do this manually, which is a definite drawback because it takes a lot of time to add each email to a list separately.
Unlimited products, 5% per transaction
Only digital goods, buy now buttons
Payment via PayPal, Stripe, credit cards
Instantly receive funds
Marketplace, discount codes
Ciera from Ciera Design says
- The simple interface makes it super easy to set up an account and add new listings
- Built in analytics makes it easy to see what sites visitors are coming from and where they are geographically. Product views and sales are also tracked here
- There is no upfront cost so you dont have to pay anything until you sell a product
- Built in discount codes and social discounts make is easy to offer specials and reward customers for sharing your product! Discounts can be set to any amount, even free, in return for social media shares
- When I first signed up for Sellfy they had an affiliate program which they have since discontinued. I really wanted to be able to easily reward those who were promoting my items, but now it has to be done separately
- Since some of my files are larger than 2 GB (Sellfy’s upload limit) Ive had to use a work-around for delivering those products
10 products, 1GB storage, $10/month
30 products, 3GB storage, affiliate option, $15/month
Subscriptions, stream instead of download videos, upsells
Option to let customer pick the price
Pro: SendOwl allows me to set different affiliate rates for each product, pop buyers into different lists depending on what they bought, and has PDF stamping. Meaning I can bump up the bonuses for affiliates on different products depending on time of year, send custom emails that get buyers excited about the next product and track who is giving away the paid stuff. (Also, it integrates with Shopify. BOOM!)
Con: There’s a slight lag when sending to Paypal for checkout and the “pay what you can” option is available, but not great.
25 products, 1GB storage, 2.9% + 30¢ fee (no design customization), $14/month
Unlimited products, 1GB storage, 2.9% + 30¢ credit card rate, $29/month
Apps for connecting to things like MailChimp, shipping, reporting. Some free, some not.
- Getting set up is quick and easy. The process for adding products is straightforward.
- You don’t need to spend a ton of money to make your store look professional. There are lots of well-built themes available in the theme store and many have a theme customizer that allows you to make changes without knowing code.
- The app store is full of great add-ons to make running your store simpler. You can find lots of apps for accounting, marketing, and shipping. Some of my favorites are MailChimp for Shopify, Shipping Easy and Zapier.
- It can get expensive. Some features that come standard in most e-commerce platforms like gift cards and abandon cart recovery require moving to a more expensive plan. Also, if you use a lot of paid apps your bill may shock you at the end of the month.
- The built-in blog is lacking. It’s better than most e-commerce solutions but it’s still not great.
- The url structure could be cleaner. There are extra parameters added to urls for simple things like product and regular pages.
500 products, 2.9% + 30¢ fee (payments via PayPal)
Product marketplace, 10%/transaction via the marketplace (payments via Stripe)
Digital downloads via BoxTruck only: 20 products, $7/month
Funds delivered via PayPal or Stripe
Customize CSS, discount codes
Chrystina from Chrystina Noel says
- There is no fee for listing items, there is also no item limit
- It’s a fully customizable storefront with the proper design knowledge
- Contacting support was both easy and efficient
- You are able to build and view your shop before you launch
- It’s still a pretty new site and doesn’t have the gravitas of Etsy
- The marketplace is not quite as active as the Etsy marketplace; however I recently added a few items to Etsy to see if they were organically picked up on the marketplace search, and only one item was purchased in three months. Also, the Storenvy marketplace has been running holiday sales to spark more interest.
- The only coupon promotional item you can use for free is a percent-off to the entire store. It would be great to have access to buy-one-get-one or limit this feature to only certain items in the shop.
20 products, full website w/unlimited pages
$16/month (billed annually) or $20 month-to-month
Discount codes, connects with Shopify and Etsy
Payments via Stripe only
14 day free trial
Alisha from The Alisha Nicole says
- SquareSpace is super easy to customize without needing any coding knowledge. Perfect for start-ups who are not ready to invest in a full web design, but still want a professionally styled store.
- It also has a ton of e-commerce customization’s like the ability to sell both physical products and downloads, an option for your customers to leave custom notes at checkout and an option to accept donations.
- SquareSpace is a one stop shop where you can host your blog and shop in the same place, get detailed reports of your monthly sales and site analytics.
- It does not accept PayPal payments. All payments have to be paid with a credit/debit card and you have to set up an account with Stripe to receive the payments.
- Depending on what you’re wanting to spend each month in business expenses, SquareSpace is on the higher end of ecommerce options.
Unlimited products, digital products self-hosted, FREE
Only for self-hosted WordPress
Payment & funds delivered via PayPal, Stripe (buy plugin for this), bank transfer
Discount codes, affiliates (free & paid plugins available), fully customizable via CSS
This is the platform that I use!
(Along with Etsy for blog themes)
- Integrates into my WordPress website, so users never leave even to pay
- Lots of payment options, coupon codes, reviews, digital product delivery
- Looks clean and organized straight out of the box. Colors are easy to customize.
- If you don’t have some CSS skills (but are picky like me), editing the appearance of the shop can be challenging
- While the platform is free, add-ons can be costly (groups, extra checkout fields, subscription options). You can see the whole list here >>>
- This works best for single products. If you lots of size or color variations for each item it turns into a pain in the butt!
In my opinion, a monthly fee is a better option than a percentage of every sale, but crunch some numbers and see what is the best option for you. How much would you pay in fees to sell 10 items per month? What if you sold 500? (Dream big baby!) Don’t forget to take into account payment processing fees if you’ll be using PayPal or Stripe for credit cards. Both charge 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction.
Look for platforms that offer a free trial or a 30-day money back guarantee. You never quite know what you’ll need in an online shop until you start using the platform. And from personal experience, it sucks to pay for something and then realize it’s missing one tiny, but important feature and then be stuck with it.
Things to consider
- How many products you’ll sell & at what price vs fees?
- Payment gateways and fees (PayPal, Stripe, etc)
- How you’ll be paid and how often?
- Will you sell variants? (colors or size options) Will there be a price difference?
- Do you need . . .
- Drip content, groups, or an affiliate program?
- To limit the number of products sold (Ex: 20 spaces in your e-course)
- Extra checkout fields to collect info from the user?
- Do you want something that integrates into your site or is it OK if customers go outside your site to purchase?
- Do you need and entire shop or just ‘buy now’ buttons?
- Will you ever include free products or let customers set their own price?
- Does the platform offer the option for upsells before and/or after payment?
- Is it easy to email buyers with discount codes or product updates? Can you email customers who only bought a specific product?
- Will the platform grow with your business? How much will your expenses be then?
- Does it integrate with your email list or other websites? (Ex: for my e-course buyers are automatically added to a specific email list)
- Does the platform take care of collecting and paying the new VAT tax? (Etsy and Gumroad do)
- Do you need to collect payments in-person?
What e-commerce platforms do you use? What are your pros and cons?