Choosing an ecommerce platform is not easy considering the cascade 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

So-called “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.

Mobile Transaction’s picks for the 7 best ecommerce platforms in the UK:

Platform Pricing* Best for Offer
Shopify $21.75–$299/mo Steady businesses preferring flexibility over cost of add-ons
Wix £10.50-£25/mo Editing in an easy-to-use visual editor with plenty of features
Big-
Commerce
$29.95-$249.95/mo Startups with a decent budget and plans for fast online growth
Woo-
Commerce
Free Merchants who want full control over hosting and website functions
EKM £32.49-£549.99/mo Quality of UK-based support and breadth of features on all plans
Square-
space
£15-£37/mo Simple online stores with good photos and a minimalistic style
Lightspeed £39+/mo Medium businesses keen on scaling both online and POS sales
Platform Best for Offer
Shopify Steady businesses preferring flexibility over cost of add-ons
Wix Editing in an easy-to-use visual editor with plenty of features
BigCommerce Startups with a decent budget and plans for fast online growth
WooCommerce Merchants who want full control over hosting and website functions
EKM Quality of UK-based support and breadth of features on all plans
Squarespace Simple online stores with good photos and a minimalistic style
Lightspeed Medium businesses keen on scaling both online and POS sales

Shopify – popular with small retailers

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

Pricing: $21.75 – $299 + VAT/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. 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 store editing on laptop

The Shopify store editor is generally user-friendly, while having the flexibility to expand through third party features.

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 Skrill, Worldpay or Klarna, but each transaction through a non-Shopify processor incurs a ‘penalty’ cost of 0.5%-2% added to the transaction fees through that processor.

Basic Shopify Shopify Advanced Shopify
Monthly cost $21.75 – $29/mo* $79 – $59.25/mo* $219 – $299/mo*
Shopify Payments 2.2% + 20p 1.9% + 20p 1.6% + 20p
Other payments 2% + fee from payment provider 1% + fee from payment provider 0.5% + fee from payment provider

*Prices exclude VAT.

Basic
Shopify
Shopify Advanced
Shopify
Monthly cost
$21.75 – $29* /mo $79 – $59.25* /mo $219 – $299* /mo
Shopify Payments
2.2% + 20p 1.9% + 20p 1.6% + 20p
Other payments
2% + fee from payment provider 1% + fee from payment provider 0.5% + fee from payment provider

*Prices exclude VAT.

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 $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, Worldpay, SagePay, Klarna 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: £10.50-£25 + VAT/mo

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

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

Wix’s features are hard to beat in their price range. The most advanced plan costs max. £17 + VAT monthly, 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 Business visual editor

Wix’s visual editor shows the page you’re tweaking, with plenty of intuitive 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 less 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 £10.50-£16/mo* £13-£19/mo* £17-£25/mo*
Wix Payments 1.9% + 20p

*Prices exclude VAT.

Business
Basic
Business
Unlimited
Business
VIP
Subscription cost/month
£10.50-£16* £13-£19* £17-£25*
Wix Payments
1.9% + 20p

*Prices exclude VAT.

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 working 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, Maestro, Visa, American Express, Discover, Diners Club, JCB)
  • 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 – very scalable online store

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

Pricing: $29.95-$249.95 + VAT/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. The latter are best served by the Essentials subscriptions, which 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 Essentials builder

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

You can pay monthly or annually for subscriptions, the monthly one being priciest except for the Essentials Standard subscription costing 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, $150k on Plus and $400k on Pro.

Essentials plan Standard Plus Pro
Monthly cost $29.95/mo $71.95-$79.95/mo $224.95-$249.95/mo
Online sales allowed Up to $50k/yr Up to $150k/yr Up to $400k/yr

*Pricing excludes VAT.

Essentials
Standard
Essentials
Plus
Essentials
Pro
Subscription cost/month
$29.95/mo $71.95-$79.95/mo $224.95-$249.95/mo
Online sales allowed
Up to $50k/yr Up to $150k/yr Up to $400k/yr

*Pricing excludes VAT.

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 ~$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 – plenty of options to make your online business as complicated as you like.

Payments:

  • Built-in: None
  • Integrations: Authorize.Net, PayPal, Stripe, Klarna, 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. Then you can download WooCommerce and cherry-pick the features relevant to your online store.

WooCommerce product editor

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

The thing about WooCommerce is that everything is customisable, including costs. Domain registration, hosting and payment processing are compulsory 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 £10 monthly for a super-simple online store to £1,000+ monthly for a unique, high-turnover store.

Expenses Estimated costs
Hosting (compulsory) £90-£100/year on average
Domain registration (compulsory) £10-£15/year on average
Website theme (compulsory) Free-£100+/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) £90-£100/year on average
Domain registration (compulsory) £10-£15/year on average
Website theme (compulsory) Free-£100+/year
Payment processing (compulsory) Depends on payment system
Security, SEO, marketing, sales tools etc. Varies hugely depending on extent of features

WooCommerce features 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, Klarna, many others
  • POS integrations: Square, Worldpay, others

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

EKM – UK-based support and all-inclusive features

Best for: All-round value and complexity for the price.

Pricing: £32.49-£194.99 + VAT/mo

Pros: Excellent UK support. Features cover many areas without additional apps. Free site review.

Cons: Not the cheapest subscriptions. No direct POS integration.