A review of Different Online Store Development Platforms

Prior to working on a client’s e-commerce site migration. I did some research to determine which platform would work the best for their business. In this post, I am going to review some of the most commonly used platforms for building a new e-commerce site or web shop.

The truth is that each e-commerce platform has some strengths and weaknesses. All of the platforms offer hosting packages and are very customizable. Depending on which hosting package you choose, they will also allow you to build and maintain your own blog. All of the platforms come with plenty of mobile friendly themes, Social media integration, etc.

Here are the highlights:


Shopify is considered by many developers to be the GOLD standard for creating an online store. This is what they do and they do it well. Shopify boasts integration capabilities with more payment processing compatibility options than both WIX and Volusion combined. They have a robust app store and flexible monthly packages that will allow you to customize your shop in almost any way you want.

Without getting too technical, Shopify will allow web designers to “Drop in” bits of custom HTML code at almost any point on your site. This can allow for flexibility when attempting to develop your site’s appearance.

There is also great documentation and support for Shopify, so much that most questions can be answered through navigating the online manual.
There are plenty of developers working on Apps and themes for Shopify. This allows for more themes and apps being available.

Having said that, the fact that Shopify is the leader in online stores has led to them providing most of your store’s functionality themselves. This does have some advantages. Primarily you can be assured that when you purchase additional functionality from Shopify, it will integrate with your site hassle-free.
The challenge with this is that all your functionality is monetized by Shopify. As an example, if you want to redeem gift cards on Shopify, you will need to enroll in the $79 / month plan. Whereas if you use Wix, you are able to start with a lower monthly hosting plan and integrate a 3rd party for $5 /month.


Wix is a great platform for DIY website builders or designers who hate code. It boasts that it powers over 63 million websites worldwide. Many of these are small businesses and others are blogs, there are also many Online Shops.

The primary advantage to using WIX is that there is literally no coding at all. Everything is done via point and click. The load times on the server are very fast and most themes are mobile friendly with many storefront options to choose from.
The main drawback in using WIX for your shop would be a lack of flexibility in terms of customizing your design. Essentially you will be limited to what Appstore will allow you to add or buy or drop in with the Wix editor.

Another consideration with WIX is that it uses a lot AJAX based in page coding to serve its pages. This isn’t a problem per say as it is what allows designers to use click and drag features in the editor. In the past, there were some SEO concerns, but Wix has gone to great lengths to satisfy them.
The only real concern you might have is the individual URLs end up a bit funky. (lot’s of hashtags and question marks.)


Volusion tends to be the most expensive of the bunch, the mini-package at $15 / month is well priced, but there are some restrictions
Another major drawback for Volusion is the price of their templates. Volusion is a lot more expensive. For example, the most expensive Shopify template (or theme) retails at $130. All of the platforms we will discuss offer support, but phone support is only available with Volusion starting at $35 per month. Moreover, the Shopify offers 24 /7 support on all of their packages.

How does it measure up?

Transaction fees are pretty standard across the board, Wix, Shopify and Volusion all have no additional transaction fees beyond the standard 2- 3% for processing through a 3rd party gateway, aka PayPal, etc.
Volusion tends to encourage customers to use their in-house merchant software. This will require application and approval. The advantage would be a more streamlined process for your customers to complete transactions online.

The downside is that you may be limited to what Volusion has to offer. One nice thing I did like about Volusion is the ability to integrate with Amazon & Ebay. This could potentially add to your site’s visibility, and increase traffic though honestly, it needs more exploring.

CSE integration seems to be a strong point of emphasis for Volusion though there is little documentation on their site for this and many of their other features. The recurring theme with Volusion is that they want you to call them rather than engage their resources to provide support.

The AppStore for Volusion is full of many helpful premium apps, most of which cost $10 – $30 / month to use.  In total there are only 13 free apps on Volusion; comparatively, Wix has over 100 “free apps” and Shopify has almost 500. In addition, the premium app pricing is significantly lower on both WIX and Shopify ranging from $2 – $30 /month.


One platform that we have yet to mention is WordPress. WordPress is still the preferred platform for many developers and has countless free and premium themes to choose from. The leading E-commerce solution on WordPress is Woocommerce, which has several plugins and is a viable alternative to Shopify and Volusion.

Another benefit to WordPress is that many of the add-ons are free or have an annual or one-time fee attached to them rather than a recurring monthly charge. This helps lower your monthly site maintenance fees.

The main drawback with WordPress is that many themes aren’t perfect “out of the box” and it is sometimes more difficult to find a theme that does everything you need and looks great. This often means using “shortcodes” or “hackarounds” and the integration of many third party apps which can sometimes lead to compatibility issues.

Summary and additional considerations for the Online Store Development Platforms

In summary, all of these platforms have advantages and disadvantages. Shopify clearly is the industry leader and will provide the most functionality and highest level of compatibility across different apps.
Building a New Online Store with Shopify should be easy, but you will pay a premium to host it if you want to take advantage of their enhanced features.

The alternatives

WIX is by far the best solution for the Do-it-yourself business owner or designer who does not know any code. Their platform is reliable and they offer several in-house solutions at a reasonable price to allow your online shop to have full functionality.
The primary drawback with Wix is your inability to fully customize your site beyond what is available either in the AppStore or in the Wix site editor.
Volusion appears to be ideal for larger scale merchants with limited Development experience. These are business owners who are looking to outsource the build of their online shop. Accordingly, most of their pricing is incomplete.
Personally, I believe that building a site on their platform will get expensive really quickly. The end product will be reliable, high quality and very customizable, but you do not have the developer base or availability of 3rd party apps.

What we used

In our client’s case, we chose to move ahead with a WordPress and the results were stunning. Keeping that in mind,  Wordpress may or may not be a solution depending on your client’s needs.  Although WordPress is highly customizable, has a large developer base,  and many compatible payment gateways.
However, there are always challenges. WordPress is not always “plug and play” friendly. This means the development process can sometimes take a bit longer in order to ensure that all aspects of the site work properly.
In the end, each development platform has something unique to offer. Each platform is scalable and each platform can be adapted to fit most situations depending on your budget.