Now more than ever, a solid online presence is crucial for businesses. While you might already understand that launching a website is an essential step to starting an online business, you might not know where to begin when establishing a brand in Canada. Getting started in ecommerce can be a challenge, especially when facing a significant number of platform choices available. Written with the requirements of Canadian ecommerce businesses in mind, I compared the best ecommerce platforms in Canada, including a range of features, pros and cons, pricing, and screenshots, to help you make an informed decision that aligns with your goals.
What Is an Ecommerce Platform
In its most basic sense, an ecommerce platform is a digital tool or system that enables businesses to sell products or services online. It provides the foundation for creating and managing an online store, allowing merchants to showcase their products, process payments, and handle various aspects of the online shopping experience. Ecommerce platforms come with a range of features and functionalities that empower businesses to build, customize, and operate their online stores, making it easier for customers to browse, purchase, and receive their desired items via the internet.
Ecwid allows businesses to embed an ecommerce store directly into existing websites, social media pages, or blogs. This is an ideal option for those looking to add ecommerce capabilities to their current online presence without the need to create a separate website.
Why I picked Ecwid: The name Ecwid might sound a bit unusual for an ecommerce platform, but it stands for ecommerce widget. The name is fitting because Ecwid is meant for existing websites, such as a company page, WordPress blog, or social media profile. If you have a good grasp of HTML, you can embed Ecwid’s code on your website and implement a fully functional ecommerce storefront to show your products without creating an entirely new site.
Ecwid Standout Features and Integrations
Standout features include PCI DSS Level 1 Service Provider security, the highest international payment info exchange security for online stores, and protecting everyone involved in the online selling process. Ecwid also offers an automated tax calculation tool that helps you accurately charge tax rates wherever you sell products online.
Integrations include over 170 native integrations with popular business tools such as Formstack, Google Analytics, LiveChat, Mailchimp, Printful, QuickBooks Online, ShipFusion, Shippo, Tookan, Xero, and other software options. If you need custom connections between Ecwid and your current systems, you can use a paid Zapier account or the platform’s API.
- Easy to use
- Quick store embedding
- Timely customer support
- Finding page elements can be challenging
- No bulk uploading capabilities
Shopify allows online brands to quickly sell products on their online store and various platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, allowing users to manage multiple sales channels from a single dashboard.
Why I picked Shopify: The platform works best for online ecommerce businesses that sell products across various sales channels. Shopify empowers your brand to showcase its best products on your website and across several channels and marketplaces. Shopify enables you to connect products with platforms such as Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, Etsy, eBay, and Pinterest.
Shopify Standout Features and Integrations
Integrations include connections with over 2,600 systems and third-party applications, such as Drip, EasyShip, Gorgias, Klaviyo, Look, Mailchimp, Privy, QuickBooks Online, ShipBob, ShipStation, and other software solutions. You can also create custom integrations between Shopify and your tool stack using Shopify’s API or a paid Zapier account.
- User-friendly interface
- Many customizable templates
- Straightforward setup process
- Steep learning curve for newcomers
- Transaction fees can accumulate
PrestaShop specializes in providing multilingual and multicurrency support for ecommerce brands. It’s an excellent option for Canadian ecommerce businesses looking to sell internationally and cater to a more diverse audience.
Why I picked PrestaShop: I added PrestaShop to this article because it can help you sell products internationally and widen your customer base. With PrestaShop’s multilingual capabilities, you can easily create a multilingual online store that translates your content into more than 65 languages. The platform’s multicurrency solution empowers your business to allow your customers to shop using their local currency.
PrestaShop Standout Features and Integrations
Standout features include tools that give you ownership of your entire store, allowing you to get the data you need when needed. PrestaShop also offers thousands of themes and modules that will help you convert visitors into customers.
Integrations include connections with various third-party applications to add more functionality to your business, such as Hubspot, Icecat Catalog Management, Looker Studio, Odoo, PipeDrive, QuickBooks, Salesforce, SimplBooks, Xero, Zoho CRM, and other software options. You can also use the PrestaShop API or a paid Zapier account if you need to make custom integrations with your tools.
- Easy to set up
- Supports international sales
- Allows for customization
- Many integrations are paid
- Support needs work
OpenCart is well-known among ecommerce brands for its lightweight and fast site load times. It’s an excellent option for businesses needing a fast, responsive online store without the bulk found in more extensive platforms.
Why I picked OpenCart: The platform is a lightweight and fast open-sourced ecommerce platform that makes it easy for brands to build an online storefront. To use OpenCart, you’ll need some quality web hosting before building your store, which should allow you to get good performance suitable for an ecommerce business. Hosting can play a significant role in your site’s speed and performance when using OpenCart, but because the solution is very lightweight, you can efficiently run the software on a shared hosting environment and get the performance you expect.
OpenCart Standout Features and Integrations
Standout features include simple order management tools that allow you to print packing slips or invoices from the order dashboard. When using OpenCart, you can also add an unlimited number of categories, subcategories, and products.
Integrations include connections with over 13,000 extensions to increase performance, such as Flagship Shipping, Freshchat, Hubspot, Infusionsoft, IntercomChat, Mailchimp, QuickBooks Online, XeroCart, Zendesk, Zoho, and other software options. If you need custom integrations, you can use a paid Zapier account or use the platform’s API.
- Low continuous development costs
- Thousands of integrations
- Open-sourced and lightweight
- Interface needs work
- Self-hosting requires additional maintenance
BigCommerce provides businesses with a headless ecommerce solution to separate their front end from their back end. This flexibility helps users create custom, unique online stores while using the platform's extensive ecommerce backend.
Why I picked BigCommerce: Many large enterprise-size ecommerce organizations utilize BigCommerce’s headless capabilities to connect the platforms with multiple frontends, such as a website or mobile site. BigCommerce allows you to use API endpoints to create custom functionality based on your store requirements, including product management, billing, payments, search, and content tools. For example, you can use BigCommerce for administrative and customer data, Drupal to manage content, and Fluent Commerce for order management, all connected through APIs.
BigCommerce Standout Features and Integrations
Standout features include multi-store management tools that empower you to manage all online stores from a single, convenient space. BigCommerce also offers search engine optimization tools that help you get more traffic to your online store.
Integrations include connections with various third-party tools, such as ActiveCampaign, AfterShip Tracking, Brightpearl, Feedonomics, Gorgias, LiveChat, Mailchimp, QuickBooks Online, ShipStation, Twilio Segment, and other software options. You can also create custom integrations with BigCommerce’s API or a paid Zapier account.
- User-friendly interface
- Good multi-store capabilities
- Excellent search engine optimization tools
- Requires coding expertise
- Customer support needs work
X-Cart specializes in helping businesses create multi-vendor ecommerce marketplaces, allowing users to add multiple sellers to list their products on a single platform.
Why I picked X-Cart: If your ecommerce goal is to create a marketplace like Amazon or eBay, using X-Cart will be beneficial. With X-Cart, you can launch a comprehensive marketplace and fine-tune your site to meet your needs, no matter how many vendors, products, or visitors you have. The platform allows you to customize your marketplace however you want by implementing extensions or custom coding.
X-Cart Standout Features and Integrations
Standout features include many built-in capabilities, such as multicurrency support and tax calculations based on location. You can also take advantage of the platform’s customer group management tool to help you create various prices for different groups.
Integrations include connections with various third-party tools to help you reach more buyers and efficiently manage operations, such as Feedonomics, Heap, Hubspot, Kissmetrics, Klaviyo, LiveChat, Mailchimp, Moosend, Oracle Eloqua, Salesforce, and other software options. You can also create custom integrations by using X-Cart’s API or a paid Zapier account.
- Native multi-vendor capabilities
- Highly customizable
- No transaction fees
- Navigation can be challenging
- Not suitable for small businesses
Volusion provides ecommerce businesses with a built-in CRM system, which helps manage and track customer interactions so they can provide more personalized experiences and support.
Why I picked Volusion: I added Volusion for consideration because it offers a customer relationship management system to help you communicate with customers, get an overview of order histories, and track support inquiries. With Volusion, using their CRM allows you to manage customer interactions, track buying histories, and collect customer behavior data. The built-in CRM will help you get comprehensive insights into customers, create targeted marketing campaigns, improve support, and tailor future product offerings.
Volusion Standout Features and Integrations
Standout features include customizable website layouts that enable you to create an online store that allows customers to shop on your store from their desktop or mobile devices. Volusion also provides cross-selling functionality that helps you sell products across other channels and manage all orders from a single dashboard.
Integrations include connections with over 80 business systems, such as AccessiBe, Answerbase, DataFeedWatch, LiveChat, Mailchimp, POWR Comments, Privy, QuickBooks Online, Rejoiner, Shipwire, and other software options. You can also use Volusion’s API or a paid Zapier account if you need custom integrations with your tool stack.
- Easy to use
- Advanced built-in CRM
- Simple setup for beginners
- Can be glitchy
- Support needs work
Magento is well-known for ecommerce business scalability and customization and can handle complex and high-traffic websites with complete control over design and functionality.
Why I picked Magento: I added Magento to this list because it can help Canadian ecommerce brands quickly scale and customize their online store. If you or someone on your team has extensive programming experience, you can customize almost every aspect of your online store. Magento is also able to scale with your business, allowing you to handle extensive inventories and higher traffic volumes as your business grows.
Magento Standout Features and Integrations
Standout features include artificial intelligence capabilities that help you deliver personalized product recommendations, site search, and browsing. Magento also allows you to deploy many storefronts at scale fast.
Integrations include connections with tools such as Adobe Analytics, GUMU, Kleene, MyCommerce, Octocom, Phrase, Pimberly, ShipMonk, SocialBug CRM, Webeyez, and other software options. You can also create custom connections between Magento and your current systems through the platform’s API and a paid Zapier account.
- Simple interactions between Adobe products
- Beneficial scalability and customization
- Offers many built-in ecommerce functions
- Steep learning curve
- Not suitable for smaller businesses
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that allows users to turn a WordPress website into a functional ecommerce store. It leverages WordPress’s content management functionality while providing extensive ecommerce capabilities.
Why I picked WooCommerce: If you’re already using WordPress to manage your content and create a website, you can use the WooCommerce plugin to transform your site into an online store. WooCommerce offers extensive product management capabilities, enabling you to sell anything from physical items to digital downloads and subscriptions, all on your WordPress site. The plugin is open-sourced, which means it’s a good fit for businesses of any size.
WooCommerce Standout Features and Integrations
Standout features include the ability to add essential ecommerce components such as tax and inventory management, secure payments, and shipping information. WooCommerce also offers a highly customizable checkout process that will help you increase conversions.
Integrations include connections with over 6,000 third-party applications to help you create an ecommerce store that fits your needs, such as ClickSend, Fishbowl, Google Analytics, Help Scout, Klaviyo, LiveChat, Mailchimp, monday.com, QuickBooks, ShipBob, and other software options.
- Extensive extension library
- Highly customizable
- Excellent for WordPress users
- Advanced features come at an additional cost
- Steep learning curve
Square Online is an ecommerce platform that connects with Square’s payment processing, making it a good option for businesses that need a unified system for managing online and in-store sales.
Why I picked Square Online: If you’re already operating an in-person storefront and utilize Square, you can easily integrate your ecommerce site into the point-of-sale system, creating a unified payment processing system. Square Online uses Square’s powerful payment processing infrastructure and vast payment processing experience to enable your business to sell online and offline. With Square Online, you can quickly and securely accept payments through a secure checkout process and protect your store from payment fraud.
Square Online Standout Features and Integrations
Standout features include the ability to allow customers to buy products through QR codes you can send through email, SMS, and social media. The platform also offers a built-in CRM solution you can use to collect and analyze sales and customer data and monitor multichannel selling strategies.
Integrations include connections with third-party tools such as Arka, Flonomics, Gigasheet, My Lead Fox, Next-Cart, Paloma, Shippo, Shopventory, SimpleTix, Store Leads, and other software options. You can also create custom integrations with Square Online through its API or a paid Zapier account.
- Customizable templates
- Excellent marketing tools
- Simple set up
- Platform layout needs improvement
- High transaction fees
Ecwid by Lightspeed
Best for embeddable storefronts
Free plan available
Best for omnichannel selling
3-day free trial + $1/month for the first three months
|$29/month, 2.9% + $0.30/transaction||Website|
Best for multilingual and multicurrency support
Free to download
Best lightweight and fast ecommerce platform
|Pricing upon request||Website|
Best headless commerce tool
15-day free trial
|From $29/month (billed annually)||Website|
Best for creating ecommerce marketplaces
Free demo available
Best for a built-in CRM
14-day free trial
Best for scalability and customization
Free open source version
|Starts at $15,000/year||Website|
Best for integrating with WordPress websites
|Free to use||Website|
Best for integrated payment processing
Free plan available + transaction fees
|From $35/month and 2.9% + $0.30/transaction||Website|
- Big Cartel
Best artist-friendly ecommerce platform
Best for artificial design intelligence
Best for comprehensive marketing tools.
Best for stunning design templates.
Best drag-and-drop store builder
Best for search engine optimization capabilities.
Best for mobile device experiences.
Best for subscription management.
Best for built-in merchant services.
Best for creating mobile commerce applications.
Best open-source ecommerce platform.
Selection Criteria For Ecommerce Platforms in Canada
Here’s a short summary of the main selection and evaluation criteria I used to develop my list of the best ecommerce platforms in Canada for this article:
The core functionality makes an ecommerce platform an ecommerce platform - even though vendors will have different features compared to others. To ensure you only see proper ecommerce builder solutions, I look for options that offer the following core functionality.
- Ability to create a website or online store, or act as an add-on to a website you already own
- Ability to upload a product catalog, including images, descriptions, and pricing information]
- Includes considerations for Canadian companies like .ca URLs and CAD pricing
When selecting the best ecommerce platforms in Canada, I look for solutions that offer several key features to ensure each option will meet your needs. The following are some of the top features I look for in each platform.
- Website Design: Basic drag-and-drop website tools with features you would expect from a basic website builder, (customization options, domain name, SSL certificate, unlimited bandwidth, etc.).
- SEO Tools: SEO (search engine optimization) is essential for driving traffic to your online business; many ecommerce platforms offer built-in SEO features like customizable meta tags, URL structures, and sitemaps.
- Inventory Management: You and your team can use these ecommerce platforms to upload inventory to your site and manage product listing; they allow bulk uploads, product mapping and categorization, and dynamic catalog filters.
- Order Management: To process orders quickly, ecommerce solutions offer order tracking, email notifications, and the ability to connect with various shipping services.
- Return Management: Ecommerce platforms will allow you to handle your store's return policy, enabling you to create return rules and types, place and approve requests, update statuses, print invoices, and more.
- Data Consolidation: Measuring your store’s performance is crucial to managing it, and calculating your results will help you make effective changes; ecommerce platforms empower users to collect and store data for further analysis.
- Dropshipping Support: This can be a quick and easy way to access more products that you wouldn’t be able to offer otherwise. It can be a complete business model unto itself or just accenture whatever strategy you already have.
- Robust POS (point-of-sale) system: It should be able to handle all payment options, from credit card, PayPal, mobile app online payments (Apple Pay, Google Pay), etc.
- Support: Having real-time customer support available from the ecommerce vendor will help you troubleshoot problems as they happen and reduce downtime; many ecommerce solutions will offer extensive documentation libraries or allow users to contact their support team across different channels, such as email, phone, live chat, and more.
No Code Website Builder
One way many ecommerce platforms help businesses quickly create an online store is by offering a no-code website builder. A no-code website builder is a tool that will enable you to develop a professional website without the need for any programming or coding expertise. So, when creating this article, I look for vendors that offer drag-and-drop software, site templates, site-wide design settings, and more. All of which will help you quickly create the store you want and get it in front of customers.
It may be a bit obvious, but ensuring the options in this article support Canadian dollar transactions is essential. This helps deliver a localized shopping experience and avoids conversion fees. Also, to be more inclusive, the vendors in this list provide multilingual support, making it suitable for Canada’s rich linguistic diversity across the country.
I look for ecommerce platforms that integrate with as many third-party applications as possible. Integrating with other systems and tools will help your business simplify operations, allowing you to focus on more important things. You’re likely already using a stack of vital applications to run your company, such as customer relationship management (CRM), accounting, and point-of-sale tools. Integrating your ecommerce builder with all of these platforms will allow you to easily manage complex processes and provide accurate, detailed business health analytics.
How much do ecommerce platforms cost?
What is the easiest ecommerce platform to use?
What are the benefits of ecommerce platforms?
Other Ecommerce Platform Reviews
When operating an ecommerce business, you’ll need other tools to help manage several aspects of your organization. The following are other ecommerce software you can use in your company to run your brand efficiently.
Ecommerce Platforms by Business Type
- SaaS Ecommerce Platforms
- B2B Ecommerce Platforms
- Ecommerce Marketplace Platforms
- Subscription Ecommerce Platforms
- Ecommerce Platforms For Small Businesses
Ecommerce Platforms by Need
- Headless Ecommerce Platforms
- Easiest Ecommerce Platforms
- Omnichannel Commerce Platforms
- Enterprise Ecommerce Platforms
- Free Ecommerce Platforms
- Open Source Ecommerce Platforms
- Social Commerce Platforms
- Cheap Ecommerce Platforms
- Hosted Ecommerce Platforms
In Canada, the ecommerce industry is growing more than ever. Choosing the best ecommerce platform in Canada depends on your organization’s specific requirements, technical expertise, and budget. Correctly selecting the most suitable solution is a crucial aspect every online brand will experience. To help you start, you can establish what you want your business to achieve and then check each platform above to determine whether it has the capabilities you need to reach your objectives.
If you want to learn more about growing your ecommerce business and the software you should use, sign up for The Ecomm Manager newsletter for more tool lists like this and ecommerce advice.