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:

PlatformPricing*Best forOffer
Shopify$21.75–$299/moSteady businesses preferring flexibility over cost of add-ons
Wix£10.50-£25/moEditing in an easy-to-use visual editor with plenty of features
Big-
Commerce
$29.95-$249.95/moStartups with a decent budget and plans for fast online growth
Woo-
Commerce
FreeMerchants who want full control over hosting and website functions
EKM£14.99-£549.99/moQuality of UK-based support and breadth of features on all plans
Square-
space
£15-£37/moSimple online stores with good photos and a minimalistic style
Lightspeed£39+/moMedium businesses keen on scaling both online and POS sales
PlatformBest forOffer
ShopifySteady businesses preferring flexibility over cost of add-ons
WixEditing in an easy-to-use visual editor with plenty of features
BigCommerceStartups with a decent budget and plans for fast online growth
WooCommerceMerchants who want full control over hosting and website functions
EKMQuality of UK-based support and breadth of features on all plans
SquarespaceSimple online stores with good photos and a minimalistic style
LightspeedMedium 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 ShopifyShopifyAdvanced Shopify
Monthly cost$21.75 – $29/mo*$79 – $59.25/mo*$219 – $299/mo*
Shopify Payments2.2% + 20p1.9% + 20p1.6% + 20p
Other payments2% + fee from payment provider1% + fee from payment provider0.5% + fee from payment provider

*Prices exclude VAT.

Basic
Shopify
ShopifyAdvanced
Shopify
Monthly cost
$21.75 – $29* /mo$79 – $59.25* /mo$219 – $299* /mo
Shopify Payments
2.2% + 20p1.9% + 20p1.6% + 20p
Other payments
2% + fee from payment provider1% + fee from payment provider0.5% + 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 subscriptionBusiness BasicBusiness UnlimitedBusiness VIP
Monthly cost£10.50-£16/mo*£13-£19/mo*£17-£25/mo*
Wix Payments1.9% + 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 planStandardPlusPro
Monthly cost$29.95/mo$71.95-$79.95/mo$224.95-$249.95/mo
Online sales allowedUp to $50k/yrUp to $150k/yrUp 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/yrUp to $150k/yrUp 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.

ExpensesEstimated 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
ExpensesEstimated
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: £14.99-£194.99 + VAT/mo

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

Cons: Not the cheapest subscriptions.

(4/5)

EKM is an all-in-one hosted ecommerce platform with website builder, templates and a good range of features to complete your online store and marketing. The customer support is based in the UK, making this particularly attractive for British merchants preferring a good understanding of the UK market.

EKM dashboard on laptop

EKM ecommerce dashboard on a laptop.

Though not as well known as Shopify and others on this list, EKM goes the extra mile with both service and features. For example, there’s a cool banner creator, logo builder and built-in email marketing (normally, you have to integrate with an external app for this).

All users can request a free Site Review from the EKM team every now and then, which is a free report about your site, highlighting omissions and things to improve. A similar service is the Evolution Mode, which the EKM team can perform for free annually. This gives you specific improvement suggestions that will increase your sales.

SubscriptionMonthly cost*Turnover limit
EKM Lite£14.99£10k/year
EKM Basic£32.49£50k/year
EKM Standard£64.99£150k/year
EKM Advanced£194.99£1m/year

*Pricing excludes VAT.

EKM
plan
Monthly
cost*
Turnover
limit
Lite£14.99£10k/yr
Basic£32.49£50k/yr
Standard£64.99£150k/yr
Advanced£194.99£1m/yr

*Pricing excludes VAT.

Subscriptions are commitment-free, all plans including all essential ecommerce features. There’s a limit on online sales under each plan, e.g. Basic only allows you to sell up to £50,000 a year through the site. You can add 100 products on Lite, 500 on Basic, and unlimited products on the higher plans. Analytics are advanced from the Standard plan, but Basic also gives you decent reports and much else that other website platforms may consider premium.

Overall, EKM is excellent value. The subscriptions are a fair price to pay for the amount of hours the support team will put in to helping your business.

Payments:

  • Built-in: None
  • Integrations: Klarna, PayPal, Sage Pay, Amazon Pay, Stripe, many more
  • POS integrations: Worldpay, others

Can you try before you subscribe? Yes, there’s a 14-day free trial.

Squarespace – emphasis on simple, stunning web designs

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

Pricing: £15-£37 + VAT/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.

Image: Mobile Transaction

Squarespace website setup

To set up a Squarespace site, you first pick a theme, then basic style choices for your site.

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.

SubscriptionBusinessBasic CommerceAdvanced Commerce
Monthly cost£15-£21*£20-£24*£30-£37*
Squarespace payment fee3%NoneNone
Stripe payments1.4% + 20p for European cards
2.9% + 20p for non-European cards

*Pricing excludes VAT.

BusinessBasic
Commerce
Advanced
Commerce
Subscription cost/month
£15-£21*£20-£24*£30-£37*
Squarespace payment fee
3%NoneNone
Stripe payments
1.4% + 20p for European cards
2.9% + 20p for non-European cards

*Pricing excludes VAT.

Squarespace is not the best for breadth of ecommerce features, but it works well for online stores that doesn’t have tons 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 loose access to it until you subscribe to a paid plan, or you can create a new website to test for 14 days in the same account.

Lightspeed eCommerce – good for omnichannel retail

Best for: Lightspeed POS users who want the smoothest integration with online sales.

Pricing: From £39 + VAT/mo

Pros: Very scalable. Easy to use. Omnichannel capabilities.

Cons: Several features – such as like advanced analytics – cost extra, so it can get expensive.

Lightspeed eCommerce is not the cheapest online store, but if you’re selling from a physical location, you’d appreciate that the integration with the Lightspeed Retail POS system is nuanced. Omnichannel capabilities ensure you can track customers both in store and online, follow up on sales and generally provide a unified customer experience across sales channels.

Photo: Lightspeed

Lightspeed eCommerce

Lightspeed’s ecommerce platform is straightforward to use.

Subscriptions start at £39 + VAT a month if paying yearly upfront (expect to pay more for a month-on-month subscription), plus any number of paid apps and modules you might add. Advanced analytics, for example, are not included on the cheapest plan, and customer loyalty tools cost extra too. Lightspeed’s pricing is not transparent, so you need to contact them for an exact subscription quote.

Overall, Lightspeed eCommerce gives you good marketing tools with options to expand features to suit a larger business. Although targeted at SMEs, this is a solution that’s best for medium-to-larger businesses with the budget to spend on online growth analytics (offered by Lightspeed) and other tailored features.

Lightspeed eCommerce charges
Basic annual subscription£39*
More advanced and/or monthly subscriptionMore than £39/mo*
Additional feature modulesVaries, contact Lightspeed for details

*Pricing excludes VAT.

Lightspeed
eCommerce
charges
Basic annual subscription£39*
More advanced and/or monthly subscriptionMore than £39/mo*
Additional feature modulesVaries, contact Lightspeed for details

*Pricing excludes VAT.

24/7 customer support and extensive online resources are included. Lightspeed does not have its own payment system, instead allowing you to set up an integration with select payment processors.

Payments:

  • Built-in: None
  • Integrations: Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.Net, 2Checkout
  • POS integration: Lightspeed

Can you try before you subscribe? Yes, there’s a 14-day free trial.

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 UK merchants. These include:

Weebly – All-in-one platform, very easy website builder (Weebly also powers Square Online Store)

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

ShopWired – All-in-one platform, easy migration of existing site to ShopWired

iZettle E-commerce – All-in-one platform, integrated with card reader sales

Bluepark – All-in-one platform, UK-based

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