Choosing an ecommerce platform is not easy considering the amount of things required to run an online store. Essentially, you need:

Web hosting (24/7 server space for your site)

Domain name (unique URL, purchased separately)

Website builder

Online payment system

Features to grow sales and improve the website

”All-in-one” platforms include hosting, website builder, essential website features and sometimes a built-in payment system. More often than not, you have to connect the online store with an external payment solution, but this is often made easy in the platform’s settings. With an external payment system integrated, you pay transaction fees separately to that payment provider in addition to the website platform.

For this list, we include some of the most user-friendly and affordable ecommerce solutions suitable for a small business.

Here are the six best ecommerce platforms in Australia:

Platform Pricing Best for Site
Shopify US$29 – $299* /mo Steady businesses needing flexibility over cost of add-ons
Wix US$18 – $38 /mo Editing in an easy-to-use visual editor with plenty of features
Big-
Commerce
US$29.95 – $299.95* /mo Startups with a high budget and plans to grow fast
Woo-
Commerce
Free Merchants wanting full control over hosting and website
Square-
space
A$25 – $61* /mo Simple online stores with good photos and a minimalistic style
Weebly A$0 – $29 /mo Easy and cheap all-in-one option

*Excluding GST

Platform Best for Offer
Shopify Steady businesses needing flexibility over cost of add-ons
Wix Editing in an easy-to-use visual editor with plenty of features
BigCommerce Startups with a high budget and plans to grow fast
WooCommerce Merchants wanting full control over hosting and website
Squarespace Simple online stores with good photos and a minimalistic style
Weebly Easy and cheap all-in-one option

*Excluding GST

Shopify – popular with small retailers

Best for: Shops with a consistent monthly turnover and detailed inventory library.

Pricing: US$29 – $299 + GST/mo

Pros: Many add-on features available.

Cons: Extra fee for non-Shopify payments. Monthly fee charged in USD.

Shopify is a popular ecommerce platform in the UK, US and Canada, but is also used across the rest of the world — including Australia. It is best for shops that want an all-in-one ecommerce solution with hosting, website builder, payment processing and plenty of features to customise the online store. In fact, Shopify has the widest choice of add-on integrations available to use with the online store, but they do come at a cost.

Shopify website builder Australia

Shopify is generally user-friendly and stores look good on small screens.

Shopify’s main online store plans are Basic Shopify, Shopify and Advanced Shopify. The extent of features depend on the chosen plan, but there’s a steep price rise between the subscriptions. The monthly cost is highest on a pay-monthly subscription compared to paying annually, every other year or every four years.

Accepting card transactions through the integrated Shopify Payments costs a percentage and fixed fee per transaction – the pricier the subscription, the lower the fee. You also have the freedom to integrate with a wide choice of payment processors such as Poli, Zip and Afterpay, but each transaction through a non-Shopify processor incurs a ‘penalty’ cost of 0.5%-2% added to the transaction fees through that processor.

Costs Basic
Shopify
Shopify Advanced
Shopify
Subscription* Annual:
US$21.75/mo
Monthly:
US$29/mo
Annual:
US$59.25/mo
Monthly:
US$79/mo
Annual:
US$219/mo
Monthly:
US$299/mo
Shopify Payments transactions AU cards:
1.75% + 30¢
Non-AU cards:
2.9% + 30¢
AU cards:
1.6% + 30¢
Non-AU cards:
2.8% + 30¢
AU cards:
1.4% + 30¢
Non-AU cards:
2.7% + 30¢
Other payment gateway transactions 2% + fees to payment provider 1% + fees to payment provider 0.5% + fees to payment provider

*Prices exclude GST.

Basic
Shopify
Shopify Advanced
Shopify
Subscription cost*
Annual:
US$21.75/mo
Monthly:
US$29/mo
Annual:
US$59.25/mo
Monthly:
US$79/mo
Annual:
US$219/mo
Monthly:
US$299/mo
Shopify Payments transaction cost
AU cards:
1.75% + 30¢
Non-AU cards:
2.9% + 30¢
AU cards:
1.6% + 30¢
Non-AU cards:
2.8% + 30¢
AU cards:
1.4% + 30¢
Non-AU cards:
2.7% + 30¢
Other payment gateway transaction cost
2% + fees to payment provider 1% + fees to payment provider 0.5% + fees to payment provider

*Prices exclude GST.

Basic Shopify has some feature limitations, for example the lack of gift cards and sales reports that are not as advanced as on higher plans. You do have a choice of 1000+ additional apps and features to add, but many of these have separate fees. Some website templates are free, but most of Shopify’s selection cost US$140-$180 each.

Taking all these things into consideration – particularly if you’re not using Shopify Payments – the costs can easily rack up. However, if you’re in it for the long run and you have consistent sales, Shopify is a great choice that can grow with you.

Payments:

  • Built-in: Shopify Payments (Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, American Express, Apple Pay, Google Pay)
  • Integration options: PayPal, Poli, ZipPay, Afterpay, and many others
  • POS integrations: Shopify POS, Vend, Hike POS, others

Can you try before you subscribe? Yes, Shopify offers a 14-day free trial.

Wix – top-notch visual editor

Best for: All-round value for non-programmers on a budget.

Pricing: US$18 – $38/mo

Pros: Visual editor. Many additional features available. Low monthly cost.

Cons: Payouts can take up to 2 weeks. Customer service is not the best.

Wix’s features are hard to beat in their price range. The most advanced plan costs US$38 monthly (price includes GST), which gives you comprehensive website-building features as well as priority customer support, unlimited videos on your site and 50GB website storage.

Photo: Wix

Wix online store editor

Wix’s visual editor shows the page you’re tweaking, with plenty of editing options.

All plans have the same amount of ecommerce features with the option to add more tools and integrations from a wide range of external apps as well as Wix’s own apps. This could, however, rack up the monthly cost because many of the add-ons have separate subscriptions.

The more frequently you pay for a Wix ecommerce subscription, the higher the monthly cost. You can pay up to three years in advance for the lowest cost per month, but payments are non-refundable.

Wix subscription Business Basic Business Unlimited Business VIP
Monthly cost* Annual plan:
US$18/mo
Annual plan:
US$28/mo
Annual plan:
US$38/mo
Wix Payments 2.9% + 0.30 USD per transaction

*Prices include GST. Monthly plans available at a higher price per month.

Business
Basic
Business
Unlimited
Business
VIP
Subscription cost*/month
Annual plan:
US$18/mo
Annual plan:
US$28/mo
Annual plan:
US$38/mo
Wix Payments transactions
2.9% + 0.30 USD

*Prices include GST. Monthly plans available at a higher price per month.

Wix has its own payment system built in: Wix Payments. You’re free to implement this in your online store incurring the above transaction fee, but also PayPal and a few others without an extra Wix fee incurred (though fees apply to the chosen payment processors). Wix Payments only processes transactions to your bank account on Mondays, after which it takes 3-5 business days for money to clear which can be a barrier if you require fast access to money.

Although Wix ecommerce is very user-friendly and visually pleasing, getting help from a real customer service person is more difficult. That said, there are plenty of pointers in Wix so you know what to do and what the different features mean.

Payments:

  • Built-in: Wix Payments (Mastercard, Visa, American Express)
  • Integrations: PayPal, AliPay, iDeal, offline payments
  • POS integration: Square

Can you try before you subscribe? No, you have to pay upfront for a plan, but there’s a 14-day money-back guarantee if you’re not happy with the subscription.

BigCommerce – scalable online store

Best for: Tech-literate businesses with plans to grow fast online.

Pricing: US$29.95 – $299.95 + GST/mo

Pros: Big choice of payment options. Lots of customisations.

Cons: Steep price curve. Some features require knowledge of coding.

BigCommerce is an all-in-one ecommerce platform for large enterprises and small businesses alike. Smaller businesses are best served by the Essentials subscriptions. These are the most affordable plans for merchants just starting out. Each plan includes hosting, website builder, marketing tools and room for additional integrations.

Image: BigCommerce

BigCommerce’s website builder is fairly easy to use, but sometimes uses technical terms.

You can pay monthly or annually for subscriptions. Monthly plans are the priciest, except for the Essentials Standard subscription which costs the same regardless. Online store payments are not handled by BigCommerce. In fact, you can choose to integrate any of 20+ payment gateways such as PayPal or Adyen. BigCommerce does not charge you for online transactions, so you only pay the transaction fee applicable to the chosen payment provider.

Subscriptions have tiered features, with only standard features on the cheapest plan. For instance the cheapest (Standard) plan does not send abandoned cart emails, while product-filtered search is only available on the Pro plan (which could be deal-breaker for a cash-strapped, inventory-rich boutique).

Where BigCommerce differs from other online stores on this list is the limits they impose on online sales for each tiered plan. That is, you can max. sell for up to US$50k annually on the Standard plan, $180k on Plus and $400k on Pro.

Essentials plan Standard Plus Pro
Monthly cost* Annual plan:
US$29.95/mo
Monthly plan:
US$29.95/mo
Annual plan:
US$71.95/mo
Monthly plan:
US$79.95/mo
Annual plan:
US$269.96/mo
Monthly plan:
US$299.95/mo
Online sales allowed Up to US$50k/yr Up to US$180k/yr Up to US$400k/yr

*Pricing excludes GST.

Essentials
Standard
Essentials
Plus
Essentials
Pro
Subscription cost*/month
Annual plan:
US$29.95
Monthly plan:
US$29.95
Annual plan:
US$71.95
Monthly plan:
US$79.95
Annual plan:
US$269.95
Monthly plan:
US$299.95
Online sales allowed
Up to US$50k/yr Up to US$180k/yr Up to US$400k/yr

*Pricing excludes GST.

Setting up an online store with BigCommerce Essentials is fairly straightforward, given the step-by-step prompts in the dashboard telling you what to do next. You can pick between 80+ website themes, some of which are free, others costing ~US$200 each. Some of the features, for example the gift card editor, requires coding to handle, so it is not entirely user-friendly for someone with no technical skills.

BigCommerce allows you to integrate with over 700 additional tools and platforms for e.g. accounting, online marketing and shipping tools – giving you plenty of options to make your online business as complicated as you like.

Payments:

  • Built-in: None
  • Integrations: Authorize.Net, PayPal, Stripe, Afterpay and many others
  • POS integration: Square, Hike POS, Vend, Worldpay

Can you try before you subscribe? Yes, BigCommerce offers a 15-day free trial.

WooCommerce – most customisable, requires WordPress

Best for: Merchants, with website experience, who want full control over all aspects of the online store.

Pricing: Free

Pros: Fully customisable down to choice of web host, costs, payments and website features.

Cons: Not easy to use with limited website knowledge. For WordPress only.

WooCommerce is an open-source ecommerce plugin that can only be used on WordPress websites. Before installing WooCommerce, you need to subscribe to any web host you like (e.g. DreamHost, BlueHost, SiteGround), buy a domain, set up a WordPress site and install a website theme compatible with WooCommerce. You can then download WooCommerce and cherry-pick the features relevant to your online store.

WooCommerce is a plugin in WordPress that adds ecommerce functionality to your website.

The great thing about WooCommerce is that everything is customisable, including costs. Domain registration, hosting and payment processing are of course, unavoidable expenses, while website themes can be free or come at a price.

Email marketing, advanced SEO tools, security, sales-enhancing features and various other extensions may require paid subscriptions.

The total cost per month can end up being anywhere from $20 monthly for a super-simple online store to $1500+ monthly for a unique, high-turnover store.

Expenses Estimated costs
Hosting (compulsory) A$160-$180/year on average
Domain registration (compulsory) A$18-$28/year on average
Website theme (compulsory) Free – A$200+/year
Payment processing (compulsory) Depends on payment system
Security, SEO, marketing, sales tools etc. Varies hugely depending on extent of features
Expenses Estimated
costs
Hosting (compulsory) A$160-$180/year on average
Domain registration (compulsory) A$18-$28/year on average
Website theme (compulsory) Free – A$200+/year
Payment processing (compulsory) Depends on payment system
Security, SEO, marketing, sales tools etc. Varies hugely depending on extent of features

WooCommerce offers features that are modular and completely customisable, allowing you to add unlimited products, orders, users and more. If you need it, you can hire a WooCommerce developer to build your online store with the exact ecommerce options you had in mind.

As for payments, you can sell physical and digital products, bookings, subscriptions, content and more. WooCommerce does not charge for transactions – only your integrated payment provider does. For example, you can link a Square account to your online store and only Square charges a transaction fee.

WooCommerce is not a simple solution, given all its customisations, open-source features and reliance on you to securely host and update the WordPress website. But it is certainly an ambitious contender for total control over your online store.

Payments:

  • Built-in: None
  • Integrations: Stripe, PayPal, Sage Pay, Authorize.Net, Afterpay, ZipPay, and many others
  • POS integrations: Square, Worldpay, others

Can you try before you subscribe? No trial required, just install WooCommerce and relevant extensions.

Squarespace – emphasis on simple, stunning web designs

Best for: Style-conscious online stores with beautiful photos.

Pricing: A$25 – $61 + GST/mo

Pros: Easy to set up a stunning website. Not crowded with features.

Cons: Not as flexible as other platforms. No app store for extra features.

Squarespace is an all-in-one website builder with hosting, website builder and designs included.

To build and run an online store, you need to subscribe to the Business or one of the Commerce plans. Many bloggers and businesses use Squarespace due to its ease of use and pretty templates, but there are some limitations too.

Squarespace website editor

The Squarespace website editor doesn’t overload you with too many editing options.

While most other ecommerce platforms have an app store with many options to integrate third-party features, Squarespace can only connect with a few of the most crucial apps: Google tools, social media channels and payment processors (Stripe or PayPal). Beyond this, you are limited to the inbuilt features on the platform.

Subscriptions can be paid monthly or annually, the latter costing least on a per-month basis, but you cannot get money refunded when you pay a year upfront. On the Business plan (cheapest subscription with online store capabilities), you pay 3% per online transaction to Squarespace in addition to the separate Stripe or PayPal fees. To avoid this extra fee, you have to subscribe to Basic Commerce or Advanced Commerce.

Subscription Business Basic Commerce Advanced Commerce
Monthly cost* Annual plan:
A$25
Monthly plan:
A$35
Annual plan:
A$34/mo
Monthly plan:
A$40
Annual plan:
A$52
Monthly plan:
A$61
Squarespace payment fee 3% None None
Stripe payments 1.75% + A$0.30 for domestic cards
2.9% + A$0.30 for international cards

*Pricing excludes GST.

Business Basic
Commerce
Advanced
Commerce
Subscription cost*/month
Annual plan:
A$25
Monthly plan:
A$35
Annual plan:
A$34
Monthly plan:
A$40
Annual plan:
A$52
Monthly plan:
A$61
Squarespace payment fee
3% None None
Stripe payments
1.75% + A$0.30 for domestic cards
2.9% + A$0.30 for international cards

*Pricing excludes GST.

Squarespace is not the best platform if you’re looking for a variety of ecommerce features, but it works well for online stores that don’t have a lot of products. The themes are mostly minimalistic with a heavy reliance on stunning imagery, which is a plus for fashionable outlets with good product photos.

Payments:

  • Built-in: None
  • Integrations: Stripe, PayPal
  • POS integrations: Square

Can you try before you subscribe? Yes, there’s a free 14-day free trial on any new website you create. When the trial is over, you lose access until you subscribe to a paid plan, or you can create a new website to test for 14 days in the same account.

Weebly – great all-in-one option

Best for: Those looking for a streamlined platform that doesn’t break the bank.

Pricing: Free (no custom domain), A$7 – $30/mo

Pros: Easy-to-use platform that always stays up to date. Lots of integration and add-ons.

Cons: Less customisation than other platforms.

Weebly
(3.5/5)

Weebly is an all-in-one website builder that allows you to run a personal site or ecommerce store. To create an online store, users can go with a free plan if they don’t require a custom domain, or upgrade to one of the paid plans for more advanced features. These are known as Personal, Professional and Performance respectively.

Photo: Weebly

Weebly website builder

Weebly’s ecommerce platform is straightforward to use.

As Weebly is powered by tech giant Square, it has become a very popular choice for small businesses who are looking to set up their own online store. It offers a streamlined user interface that beginner website owners can use without any trouble. The drag and drop editor is a breeze and merchants will be selling from a gorgeous shop front in no time.

Much like its closest competitor in the ecommerce arena — Squarespace — Weebly offers integration with only a handful of third party companies. These include social media platforms like Facebook and Pinterest, basic tools from Google and Bing, as well as payment companies Stripe, Square and PayPal (this is only available on the performance plan).

Weebly subscriptions Costs
Free plan A$0/mo
Personal plan Annual: A$6/mo
Monthly: A$9/mo
Professional plan Annual: A$12/mo
Monthly: A$16/mo
Performance plan Annual: A$26/mo
Monthly: A$29/mo
Stripe payments 1.75% + A$0.30 for domestic cards
2.9% + A$0.30 for international cards
Weebly
subscriptions
Costs
Free plan A$0/mo
Personal plan Annual: A$6/mo
Monthly: A$9/mo
Professional plan Annual: A$12/mo
Monthly: A$16/mo
Performance plan Annual: A$26/mo
Monthly: A$29/mo
Stripe payments 1.75% + A$0.30 for domestic cards
2.9% + A$0.30 for international cards

Subscriptions to Weebly can be paid monthly, annually or every two years. The price of the Personal Plan (which still has quite a few ecommerce options) drops from A$10 a month when paying monthly, down to $6 when paid for a year in advance. Weebly offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, after which there are no refunds. So it is important to choose the right plan when you start.

Overall, Weebly is a lean package that offers budding retailers the opportunity to create a functional website without any prior experience. Coming in at a much cheaper rate than its competition, some limitations are to be expected. But as an entry point into the world of ecommerce, it’s definitely nothing to be sneezed at.

Payments:

  • Built-in: Square
  • Integrations: Stripe, PayPal
  • POS integration: Square

Can you try before you subscribe? There are no trials offered by Weebly. But if you’d like to get a feel for the site and the web editor, the Free Plan is just that — free. You can upgrade at any time (and get your own custom domain while you’re at it).

Other ecommerce platforms

We recognise the “best” ecommerce platforms are not the best for everyone. There are options we didn’t include which can also be good for certain Australian merchants. These include:

Ecwid – All-in-one platform, free plan available

GoDaddy – All-in-one platform, quick to set up online store

Big Cartel – All-in-one platform, specifically for artists and other creatives

Volusion – All-in-one platform, good inventory features and analytics but otherwise expensive

PrestaShop – Highly customisable, open-source, coding required

Lightspeed eCommerce – All-in-one platform, best for Lightspeed POS merchants for omnichannel sales

Magento – All-in-one platform, expensive but most expandable, best for larger businesses with developers