In this guide
  1. 60+ unique digital product ideas for every niche
  2. Idea to product: How to build a valuable product from a simple idea
  3. The truths and myths behind passive income
  4. Why every entrepreneur should consider starting with services
  5. How to sell physical products on your blog
  6. The complete guide to the best ecommerce platforms for creators in 2021
  7. How to turn a successful blog into a growing software company
  8. How to create a timeline for a successful product launch
  9. How to use email marketing to sell products online

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Issue #1

The complete guide to the best ecommerce platforms for creators in 2021

Commerce Monetize Your List
15 min read
In this Article

Some decisions in life are easy. Like whether or not you should add extra whipped cream to that hot chocolate you’ve ordered (the answer is always yes)!

But other decisions require more thought. Like trying to choose the best ecommerce platform for your business.

A good ecommerce platform will help you sell your products and grow your business. But picking the wrong platform makes it challenging to sell your products and will cost you time and money.

We want you to feel confident while selling and marketing your products, which is why we’re breaking down the best online store platforms!

The key ecommerce features every platform needs

To find the best ecommerce solution for your needs, let’s review some key features to look for:

  • Simple to set up: The top ecommerce platforms give you the power to start selling your products right away. They’re easy to set up, and you don’t need to learn web development overnight to start your ecommerce store.
  • Easy to customize: You need an ecommerce platform that reflects your unique brand. The best ecommerce store platforms let creators easily customize their storefronts to match their brands.
  • Optimized for different devices: 79% of smartphone users have made a purchase in the last six months from their mobile devices. To make sure mobile visitors shop at your store, you want an ecommerce platform that looks great (and works) on different devices.
  • Integrates with email marketing platforms: Growing an email list for your ecommerce business will help you connect with your audience and promote new products or sales. Your ecommerce platform needs a way to collect email addresses so you can show up in your customers’ inbox with relevant messages!
  • Offers other promotional capabilities: Things like coupons, countdown timers (for shop cart urgency), and sales banners can help you sell more products in your shop.

The best ecommerce platforms for creators

The best ecommerce platform for creators selling digital products

ConvertKit Commerce

With ConvertKit Commerce, you can set up and sell digital products right inside your ConvertKit account, with or without an existing website! Creators like musicians, photographers, videographers, bloggers, authors, and athletes can use ConvertKit Commerce to make a living doing work they love.

ConvertKit Commerce lets you sell your products two different ways:

  1. Create a landing page with our landing page builder (and use your own URL or one of the free ones we provide)
  2. Embed a “Buy Now” button onto your existing website or content
ConvertKit Commerce
Tess Wittler sells digital coaching sessions from her ConvertKit Commerce landing page. Image via Tess Wittler.

With ConvertKit Commerce, you can start selling digital products right away. Want to see this in action?

After signing up for your free account, click on “Products”:

ConvertKit Commerce

Next, click “Create a Product”:

ConvertKit Commerce

It’s time to add in your product details by giving your product a name and setting the price:

ConvertKit Commerce

Next, upload your digital product (if you don’t have a digital product to sell, we have a list of different product ideas to get you started):

ConvertKit Commerce

Almost done! The last step before designing your landing page is to customize your page URL:

ConvertKit Commerce

After that’s complete, you can customize your product page, checkout, confirmation, and receipt with your brand fonts and colors.

ConvertKit Commerce

Now you’re ready to sell your products and start earning an income!

Pros

  • Easy to set up! To start selling, all you need to do is set up payments and create your product.
  • ConvertKit Commerce landing pages work on all different devices, including mobile.
  • Collect email addresses and build your list while simultaneously selling products.
  • Sell digital products one-time or create subscription-based products to earn monthly recurring revenue.
  • Sell using a “Buy Now” button on your existing website or use your ConvertKit landing page.

Cons

  • Physical products not supported (yet).
  • You can give full refunds to customers, but partial refunds are not available at this moment.
  • Heavy landing page customizations–like completely changing the layout–is not possible. But you can change colors, fonts, and add your own imagery to stay on brand.

And at ConvertKit, we’re always working to give our creators more options. Here are some exciting new features you can look forward to with ConvertKit Commerce:

  • Affiliate tracking
  • Taxes
  • Partial refunds (full refunds are supported)

Start selling within minutes

As a creator, you deserve to get paid for your work. ConvertKit Commerce is ready-made to help you sell digital products.

Get paid with ConvertKit Commerce

The best ecommerce platform to sell physical and digital products

Shopify

It’s no surprise that Shopify is on our list. It’s one of the most popular ecommerce platforms.

Think of Shopify as a website with a shopping cart where you can do more than just sell your products: You can blog, create different landing pages, and grow your email list.

Shopify
Peregrine Supply uses Shopify to sell physical products like cologne and beard oil. Image via Peregrine Supply.

Shopify gives users a library of templates to choose from so creators can easily customize their shops.

Shopify library of themes
Shopify’s library of themes. Image via Shopify.

With Shopify you can host your entire website on their robust templates, choose a point of sale option for your in-person sales, or even make use of their social buying buttons on your Facebook page. And if you sell products in-person, Shopify has options to connect your point-of-sale purchases so you can easily track all your sales in one place!

But Shopify has its limits. For each product, you only get three product options. For example, if you sell t-shirts that come in five different colors, Shopify only lets you add three options. If you want more options, you’ll need to customize your shop.

Pros:

  • Good for both physical and digital products.
  • User-friendly interface.
  • Not many other ecommerce platforms offer point-of-sale too. Great for in-person sales.
  • Ship physical products with Shopify Shipping.
  • On the ‘Lite’ plan, Shopify offers one of the most affordable ways to start selling online using an ecommerce platform.
  • Zero transaction fees when you process payments with Stripe.
  • Shopify has been around for a while and has a solid reputation.
  • Third-party apps and integrations galore.

Cons:

  • If you use a third-party payment system, transaction fees are unavoidable.
  • You have to crop all product images the same size, or they might not appear in an organized and clean way in your shop.
  • You only get three product options per product.

Shopify is a great place to launch your ecommerce business if you plan to sell products in-person.

The best ecommerce platform for part-time makers

Etsy

Etsy is a popular ecommerce marketplace where many people go to find handmade trinkets and buy digital products. Unlike other platforms, Etsy is a marketplace—this can be good for exposure but it also means your products are right beside your competitors, making it challenging to earn a full-time income through Etsy alone.

Etsy ecommerce platform
Etsy shows your products alongside your competition. Image via Etsy.

With your Etsy shop, you can upload an unlimited number of products. This way, you can test what works and focus your attention on your best-sellers.
But Etsy lacks customization. All shops use the same layout, and the only way to differentiate your online store is through the imagery you upload (like your logo, product images, and your shop’s banner). You can’t customize things like fonts, colors, or your shop’s layout.

Etsy ecommerce platform
You can sell both physical and digital products on Etsy’s ecommerce platform. Image via Easy Life Planners.

And while some email marketing platforms connect with Etsy, you can only collect emails from people who purchase from you (that’s if they choose to opt-in to your list). Since a healthy email list includes people from all stages of your sales funnel, it’s best to find an ecommerce platform where you can collect email addresses from anyone.

Pros:

  • Can sell digital and physical products.
  • There are forums for your questions and answers and the community is incredibly active.
  • Unlimited number of items in your shop.
  • Offers instant digital downloads (for digital products).
  • Quick and easy to set up.

Cons:

  • There’s a fee for every listing plus a transaction fee for every purchase.
  • Your shop is hosted on Etsy so you won’t have a customized domain.
  • Can’t brand your shop beyond your logo in a regular Etsy shop (though they do offer more customization for an additional fee).
  • Your products are beside your competitors.
  • Unable to collect email addresses from people who don’t purchase from you.
  • Etsy can close your shop down at any given notice.

The best ecommerce platform to supplement your existing website

Gumroad

Gumroad lets creators sell products by either embedding them to an existing website or sharing the link of the product landing page with your followers. And Gumroad isn’t just for one-time purchases—you can also use Gumroad to sell subscriptions (like an annual membership to a course).

Gumroad ecommerce platform
Oliur adds a button to blog posts to sell his Lightroom presets through Gumroad. Image via Oliur.

You can also customize your Gumroad product pages through colors, different premade themes, and add custom CSS.

But if you’re operating on a tight budget, Gumroad might not be the best ecommerce platform for you. For each sale on their free plan, you pay 8.5% plus an extra 30 cents! Those fees will quickly eat away at your bottom line.

Pros:

  • Digital and physical product options.
  • Product delivery is built in for digital products.
  • Funds are directly deposited to your bank account.
  • Offers subscription-based products.
  • Clean and easy-to-use interface.
  • The payment modal is incredibly user-friendly.
  • Integrates with lots of external apps and systems.
  • Affiliate program so others can get paid for promoting your product.

Cons:

  • High processing fees.
  • You’ll need an SSL certificate from your website host to use their ‘overlay’ feature.
  • Only product pages and not a full ecommerce site.

The best ecommerce platform for creators with a large social following

Cashdrop

Cashdrop is a quick way to monetize your audience without the need to create a standalone store. With the Cashdrop app, you can create a store (selling either physical products, digital products, or services), add the store’s link to your social media bio, and start selling.

cashdrop ecommerce platform
The Wandering Ear sells merch from their Cashdrop store. Image via Cashdrop.

Although you can upload your own logo, you can’t customize your shop beyond that. And for creators without established audiences, it might be harder to turn a profit using Cashdrop. Cashdrop doesn’t let users embed products on their website, so you’ll need to rely on your social media following to drive traffic to your shop.

Overall, Cashdrop is a suitable ecommerce platform for those who want to get up and running right away and don’t want to customize the look of their shop.

Pros:

  • Quick set up: start selling within minutes.
  • Sell physical products, digital items, or services.
  • Your customers don’t need the Cashdrop app to buy items from you.
  • You can track sales within the Cashdrop app.

Cons:

  • You need the Cashdrop app to sell your products and it’s only available on iOS at the moment.
  • You need to manually accept orders, which can be tedious if you have lots of orders coming through.
  • Your Cashapp URL is cashdrop.biz/YOURNAME. You cannot customize it beyond that.
  • You can’t customize brand colors or typography.

The best ecommerce platform for WordPress users

WooCommerce

WooCommerce’s flexibility and capabilities makes it an attractive option for experienced shop owners. Using WooCommerce, you can sell physical and digital products, manage shipping, and run promotions and sales.

As a bonus, WooCommerce integrates directly with ConvertKit so you can grow your email list while staying in touch with current and potential customers.

Woocommerce example
Jessica uses WooCommerce to sell physical and digital products. Image via Hey Jessica.

But WooCommerce isn’t a standalone ecommerce platform. It’s a plugin and although it’s free, you still need a self-hosted website on WordPress to use it.

Long-time blogger, Steve Chou, knows a thing or two about selling products from Woocommerce:

I’ve always advocated going with a free open source shopping cart and hosting it yourself as opposed to signing up for an all-in-one hosted ecommerce solution.
After all, if you host your shopping cart yourself, you’re in charge of your own destiny. You have full control over the source and no one can suddenly raise prices on you. Plus, there are many cool things that you can do on your own that the big hosted solutions won’t allow you to do.
But after running this blog for a couple of years now and listening to reader feedback, I’ve come to realize that using an open source ecommerce solution and self-hosting may not be the right solution for everyone.

—Steve Chou

And Steve’s right. Self-hosting is not for everyone. You’ll want to be familiar with coding or you may have to hire someone to help you customize your WooCommerce shop as it’s not beginner-friendly.

Pros:

  • Sell both digital and physical products.
  • WooCommerce is a plugin that connects to your WordPress website. Many people are already on WordPress so this is an easy transition.
  • It’s free.
  • The team at WooCommerce works hard to make sure your site stays as secure as possible. They are always updating the plugin so it stays compatible with your version of WordPress without lifting a finger on your end.
  • Since it’s WordPress based, there’s a large community ready to help you at any time should you need it.

Cons:

  • If you want to customize WooCommerce, it can cost you a pretty penny.
  • It’s connected to WordPress. As much as this is a pro, it’s also a con as WordPress updates and subsequent WooCommerce updates could make it buggy from time to time.
  • In some cases, WooCommerce can make your site slow and you’ll need to do some troubleshooting to figure out why.

The best ecommerce platform for large-scale operations

Magento

Let’s say you have hundreds of physical retail locations across the globe and serve a global online audience. You likely need language customization as well as specific ecommerce shipping for each region. Oh, and you’ll also need a way to track in-store purchases.

Magento might be the right choice for you. Magento is an open-source online store software that is incredibly flexible and let’s you build an entirely custom ecommerce site, complete with a drag-and-drop building.

But if you only sell a handful of digital products where you don’t need to manage a complex supply chain, Magento might be overkill.

Magento ecommerce platform
Graze serves the UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands through both online and offline sales. Their Magento ecommerce website helps them track their large operation. Image via Graze.

Pros:

  • Options to sell both physical and digital products.
  • Robust features with an easy-to-navigate user interface.
  • Small and medium sized businesses can get away with the free community version of Magento.
  • Flexibility with completely customizable templates.
  • Community power comes into play with long-standing users who offer help in real time and even have add-ons and plugins to support your needs.

Cons:

  • If you need the full enterprise version, it’s going to set you back $18,000/year.
  • You need a dedicated server for a Magento site. Normal hosting platforms don’t play nicely with this software and it can end up running slowly if you don’t use a dedicated server.
  • You’ll likely need a developer to help you set it up and Magento-specific developers are sometimes hard to find and they can also be pricey.

Which ecommerce platform is best for you?

Choosing the best ecommerce platform requires you to take a look at your goals along with the products you want to sell now (and in the future). The seven ecommerce platforms we’ve mentioned are some of the best, but that doesn’t mean they are all the best for you and your business!

To avoid the ecommerce platform headaches and start selling your first products online today with a free ConvertKit Commerce account. Sign up here!

Start selling within minutes

As a creator, you deserve to get paid for your work. ConvertKit Commerce is ready-made to help you sell digital products.

Get paid with ConvertKit Commerce

Dana Nicole

Dana Nicole is a freelance copywriter and online marketer who loves to write result-based content for SaaS and B2B clients to help them become an authority in their niche. When she’s not working, you can find her enjoying a warm cup of tea while reading a good book. Dana shares her adventures on Instagram - @dananicoledesigns.

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