Dropshipping is a flourishing business to set up and operate entirely online. This is because there is much content all over the internet that facilitates this form of business set up. Dropshipping essentially entails partnering up with various suppliers in order to display their items on your store. The actual order delivery is done by the partners that handle inventory control, warehousing, and shipping. 

The image below shows the difference between a classic shop and dropshipping business:

Dropshipping and e-commerce businesses both use e-commerce platforms to render their businesses. This is mainly because both businesses are symbiotic in their purchase and delivery options. Key concerns in the business are majorly the ease of access to products and services, pricing and store support.

Lack of a strong foundation within the business leads to catastrophic results. As such, getting into the dropshipping business requires that you carefully select the best web hosting provider that will facilitate the efficient running of services in your website.

Criteria for Selecting the Best E-Commerce Platform for Dropshipping

To have a seamless dropshipping platform, you will need to consider a variety of factors. Without careful consideration of the most important elements that you want to run within your website, being successful at the business will be left to chance. This is not what you want.

There are four main selection criteria that I consider before selecting the best e-commerce platform to use for dropshipping as listed below:

  • First off, the dropshipping platform should be able to support all the relevant dropshipping plugins required for customer convenience
  • The dropshipping platform should have a simple Graphical User Interface (GUI) that is easy to use
  • Further, customer support is most critical and an efficient dropshipping platform should have a 24/7 support system
  • Finally, the dropshipping platform should be easy to manage such that I am well-versed with all the functionalities of the system
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Market Share of Top E-Commerce Platforms

When comparing the best e-commerce platforms in the market, WooCommerce is undoubtedly the best with regards to the large market share in the industry. It faces close competition from Magento and Shopify; which are also among the top market share holders to render businesses in the market.

Big Commerce also has a relatively high market share in the market such that it is popular among users in the market. 

Platforms used by top dropshipping websites have to be well established, reliable and offer all the relevant features associated with the business. There are various platforms used by dropshipping businesses to conduct their businesses and render their supply services to their customers.

It is worth noting that the dropshipping businesses are distributed across a wide array of products ranging from household items to mechanical products. Below is a list of top dropshipping business websites in the market that use these e-commerce platforms:

  • Ripley
  • Eukanuba Shop
  • Wool Couture Company
  • Helly Hensen
  • Miss Guided
  • Marucci Sports
  • Nine Line Apparel
  • For fans by fans
  • 6DollarShirts
  • Negative Underwear
  • UgMonk

Best E-Commerce Platforms for Dropshipping

In my research, I reckon that these five platforms comprise the list of the best e-commerce platforms to use in dropshipping:

  • Woocommerce
  • Magento
  • Shopify
  • Bigcommerce
  • Opencart

WooCommerce

Woocommerce is an e-commerce platform that is user-friendly, especially for beginners. It has all the basic features that you would require for your dropshipping business. Even so, Woocommerce is difficult to use as most of the plugins and functionalities have to be acquired through third parties.

Woocommerce
Setup time and CostWoocommerce is a free wordpress framework plugin that is easy to install in the storeFurther, if you don’t have an active wordpress or if you are a beginner, you can still acquire the assistance of a website developer; which will cost you approximately $1500 – $3500It is also worth mentioning that Woocommerce only comes with the basic features and any additional features will require extra costs to install
E-commerce featuresWoocommerce features have basic features such as product catalogs, payment gateways, geo-location support, shipping calculations, tax calculations, shipping methods, inventory management not to mention the sales reportHowever, there are over 75,000 plugins to select from in case you need to upgrade your site to incorporate more features
Ease of UseWoocommerce has an intuitive and simple graphical user interface which is easy for the front-end user to useAnother feature that enables the easy usage of Woocommerce is the comprehensive user guide which entails all the relevant functionalities that are apparent in the basic website created
ScalabilityWoocommerce is not very scalable and is mostly efficient for small business owners. Increasing the number of products and/or orders made might affect the site functionality negatively
SupportWoocommerce has a versatile customer support that enables you to get any assistance 24/7 and with ease. Further, you can also get valuable support from searching in the woocommerce documentation that comes with the package by default

Shopify

Shopify is yet another e-commerce platform that is ideal for dropshipping. Shopify has been able to empower over 600,000 businesses since its beginning. Dropshipping businesses have thrived under shopify. It even has an exclusive platform, Oberlo, which enables customers to find products to sell.

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Shopify
Setup time and CostSetting up a website via shopify is very easy as it only requires you to sign up, choose your subscription plan and pay for the selected package to get started. This process typically takes a couple of hours or days to set upUnlike other e-commerce platforms, shopify requires a monthly fee of $29 – $299 depending on the subscription packageShopify also has over 100 themes from which users can select from. Even so, shopify only offers 10 free themes out of the 100 which probably means that you will have to buy a suitable theme for your website when starting your dropshipping businessIn addition, shopify also charges extra fees if you subscribe to other payment gateways other those designated for shopify itself
E-commerce featuresShopify provides a lot of features that are suitable for dropshipping business owners like:Product catalogsOrdersCustomer managementInventory managementTheme settings and managementPayment managementTax calculationsMultiple languages and currenciesSearch Engine Optimization (SEO)Unlimited hosting
Ease of UseShopify is suitable for novice users as it has an easy setup processYou can easily set up a shopify store by simply signing up, choosing your preferred subscription, selecting your preferred theme and customizing aspects of theme to be user friendlyShopify also has a simple simplified graphical user interface that makes it easy for the front-user to use
ScalabilityWith regards to the scalability, shopify is pretty much scalable as you can be able to select an advanced package as your website user traffic increases. Similarly, you can choose to degrade to a more suitable package depending on your dropshipping business needs
SupportShopify has probably the best customer support among e-commerce platforms. This is because the platform provides a 24/7 access to customer support through email, phone or live chats. Nevertheless, there have been several complains from various users that the live chat is an automated robot program that gathers information only for the support team to send a response via email much later

Magento

Magento is one of the most powerful e-commerce platforms in the market. It has two versions and two editions. I would highly recommend Magento 1 and Magento 2 for use in your dropshipping business. Nevertheless, you can use the open-source Magento or the Magento commerce-premium to supplement all the needs that you require.

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Magento
Setup time and costHas a free open source system that can be used to set up the dropshipping businessOther types of Magento require a lot of technical knowledge such that you might need a Magento developer to create your websiteIt costs approximately $3000-$5000 and an approximate time of 1-3 months
e-commerce featuresMagento has many features that facilitate dropshipping business needsMagento websites have very nice landing pages as well as a convenient product and catalogue pageMagento provides a comprehensive site management scheme as well as advanced SEO and marketing toolsMagento websites have extremely fast loading speeds which foster reliabilityMagento also provides high security through free SSL certification that encrypt client data; to and from the customer’s browser to the server
Ease of useMagento websites are very user friendly with regards to the front end userNonetheless a beginner with administrative access might find it hard to effectively control the website as it requires technical operational knowhow
ScalabilityMagento is a very scalable e-commerce platform that allows you to grow from hosting very few products to holding a wide array of products when the dropshipping business growsIn fact, Magento can hold an unlimited products catalog with boundless number of orders
SupportMagento has a 24/7 support system that is easily accessible to all Magento usersMagento users can also access technical assistance through community forums

Bigcommerce

Bigcommerce is an excellent e-commerce platform that hosts over 50,000 websites within the dropshipping business. It has various payment options which are flexible for beginners all the way to advanced users.

BigCommerce
Setup time and CostThe e-commerce platform is easy to set up and use: What you need to do is register an account, select a theme and start customizing the website featuresBigcommerce has 3 main subscription packages: standard package, bigcommerce plus package and bigcommerce pro packageBigcommerce packages are paid on a monthly subscription plan which starts from $29.95 – $249.95Bigcommerce also has an extra enterprise package that is used by advanced users. The price is not made public as it varies depending on the user functionalities; you have to contact bigcommerce to have a lead on their pricing for your preferred business needsA big advantage of bigcommerce e-commerce platform is that it offers a 15 day trial period in which you can test the website functionalities before subscribing to any package offered by the platform
E-commerce featuresMuch like other e-commerce platforms, bigcommerce offers an array of features that are best suited for your dropshipping business. These features include:Order managementInventory managementProduct catalogsMarketing features and techniquesMultiple payment gatewaysIntegration with shipperHQ and ShipStationTax automated calculations
Ease of UseBigcommerce provides an easy to use platform that delineates the simple steps that are required during setting up of websitesIt is also easy for front-end users to use the platform owing to its simple layout
ScalabilityBigcommerce is easily scalable as you can switch to more advanced packages with respect to the growth of your dropshipping businessThe monthly plan allows users to select higher or lower packages when renewing the payment of services in every month
SupportJust like shopify, bigcommerce has a 24/7 customer support system that is accessible via email, phone or live chats. It makes it easy for users to quickly resolve any issues arising with website management as well as technical issues arising in the user website

Opencart

Opencart is a free e-commerce platform that utilizes an open source platform to host websites. It is similar to open source Magento where you can select the servers hosting your websites as well as customize many more themes and extensions. The e-commerce platform is most suitable for tech-savvy users as compared to novice users who have no technological knowledge as to how websites work.

OpenCart
Setup time and CostFree to acquire and set upOpenCart also provides free software updates to its customers, not to mention the free lifetime supportThe only major cost incurred when considering OpenCart as your e-commerce platform for dropshipping is the cost of web development. This is because, if you are not tech savvy, you will have to hire a website developer to build and manage your website so as to run a seamless dropshipping business. The cost will vary depending on the type of website as well as the web developer hired to do the jobSetting up a website under these conditions typically takes 2 – 5 months for a completely functional website that is suited for your business
E-commerce featuresListed below are some of OpenCart’s features:Unlimited product hostingUnlimited product categoriesMultiple languages and currenciesIntegrated payment gatewaysUnlimited shipping optionsMarketing promotions such as coupons and discountsDetailed sales reportsEasy backup and restoration processes
Ease of UseOpenCart has a simple and clean user interface that enhances a smooth learning curve for beginnersMost suitable for individuals with valuable experience in web development as they can be easily cut down on costs as well as develop websites that are ideal for the dropshipping business
ScalabilityOpenCart is not easily scalable given that it is a free e-commerce platformIt is therefore most suitable for small and medium-sized e-commerce businesses
SupportOpenCart has a complex support system when compared to other e-commerce platformsGetting customer support from Opencart’s team requires you to create a ticket or alternatively, send an email to opencart’s support teamNevertheless, you can get all the technical assistance you need by simply joining opencart’s forum where you can interact with other members using the platform

Self-hosted Vs Hosted E-Commerce Platforms

There is much debate as to whether to have a self-hosted or a hosted platform. This decision depends on the technicality of the businesses. Self-hosted platforms are suitable for technical businesses while non-technical businesses work well with hosted e-commerce platforms.

 Choosing the type of platform depends on the usability of the e-commerce platform. I have listed the differences between the two platforms to help you select the best platforms for you.

Self-Hosted PlatformsHosted Platforms
Technical gurus opt to choose self-hosted platforms because they can select their preferred serversSelf-hosted platforms also provide the users with the freedom to customize website functions such that the websites are customer orientedAs a minus, clients have to manually add the plugins and themes required by the customerSelf-hosted platforms also provide additional support through their massive online communitySelf-hosted platforms can be used for both personal and commercial use depending on the user preferenceThe user has complete control of the self-hosted platformsHosted platforms do not provide you with the option of selecting your servers but are rather selected for you by the hosting providerHosted platforms have limited customization functions within the storeUnlike self-hosted platforms, hosted platforms have pre-installed themes and pluginsHosted platforms have an available customer support but rarely have online community supportHosted platforms have multiple paid packages from which you can choose fromThe hosted platforms are pretty ease to set up and install but have limited control in the website functions

Recommendation

Making a single recommendation out of the five e-commerce platforms that I have elaborated above. Honestly, the choice of e-commerce platform depends will depends on the hosting applicability as well as the user preference. All in all, it comes down to analyzing the ease of use, costs involved, e-commerce features, platform scalability as well as the customer support offered.

In my analysis, I have considered all these factors, only majorly leaning on the cost and e-commerce features. While most individuals would consider the ease of use, I would argue that this is not a major factor in the selection process. Given enough time, everyone eventually becomes good at something.

When considering the cost of setting up an e-commerce platform, Woocommerce, OpenCart and Magento would be my best bet. This is because OpenCart and Magento have open source platforms that are free to set up. Woocommerce can also be considered free if you already have an active WordPress hosting service.

When starting up any business, you definitely want to minimize on costs while getting the most output of your investment. OpenCart and Magento lets you do just that. Woocommerce would also fit in this criteria but does not exactly provide maximum output.

In comparison to OpenCart and Magento, Woocommerce provides limited features that may hinder you dropshipping business. It is worth noting that in order for Woocommerce to be able to provide the services offered by OpenCart and Magento, you would have to purchase a lot of features and extensions which makes it quite costly in the long run. This only leaves the two: Magento and OpenCart.

A much deeper analysis into the e-commerce features provided by the two e-commerce platforms also reveals that Magento has much more platform features than OpenCart. Further, Magento has a much higher security which protects both user and customer data from unauthorized persons.

If this is not enough, consider that Magento also entails advanced SEO tools and marketing techniques which are valuable for business growth. After all, who doesn’t want their business to grow? I think no one. Even more, Magento tends to be much more user friendly than OpenCart.

I would recommend Magento as the best e-commerce platform for dropshipping; both for beginners and advanced users alike.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Qn: What is an e-commerce platform?

  • An e-commerce platform is an online platform that lets you create and set up your own online store where people can access products easily on the internet

Qn: Which e-commerce platform to use for dropshipping?

  • The choice of e-commerce platform for dropshipping will mostly depend on the price, ease of use, e-commerce features and compatibility of the platform

Qn: What are the best e-commerce platforms in 2020?

  • Valiant research indicates that Magento, OpenCart, Woocommerce, Bigcommerce and Shopify are the best e-commerce platforms to use of dropshipping in 2020
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