15 Best Ecommerce Platforms for Startups: Comparison Guide

15 Best Ecommerce Platforms for Startups: Comparison Guide

Ecommerce platforms offer startups a low-cost and high-reach opportunity to do business. They are crucial for startups aiming to sell online, offering tools to facilitate sales, manage inventory, and process payments. The right platform can significantly affect a startup's growth and success, making the selection process vital. In this article, we’ll introduce you to various ecommerce platforms, guiding you through choosing the best ecommerce platform for you. 

We’ll also share the top 15 ecommerce platforms for startups, from user-friendly options designed for those with little to no technical background to highly customizable platforms that cater to businesses with specific needs.

An Ecommerce Platform - What Is It?

An e-commerce platform is a software-based app that helps businesses sell things online. It lets you set up a website, organize your products, handle payments, keep track of what's in stock, and get orders ready to send out. 

The best ecommerce platform for small business operations simplifies the online transaction process and provides a framework for customer interaction, presenting a vital opportunity to enhance customer experience and satisfaction. 

To find the best ecommerce platform for you, it's important to see how well it puts all these pieces together in a way that's easy for both you and your customers to use.

Types Of Ecommerce Platforms

E-commerce platforms can broadly be categorized into hosted, self-hosted, and open-source platforms. 

Hosted Platforms

Hosted platforms, such as Shopify and BigCommerce, are plug-and-play solutions for businesses seeking simplicity and speed in setting up online stores. These platforms are maintained by the service provider, which means that the technical aspects of running an online store, including security, hosting, and updates, are managed by the platform itself. 

Self-Hosted Platforms

Self-hosted platforms like WooCommerce (for WordPress) and Magento provide businesses with the flexibility to host their ecommerce site wherever they choose, offering greater control over their store's functionality and appearance. 

However, setting up and maintaining self-hosted platforms requires technical knowledge or access to development resources. The business is responsible for security, updates, and performance optimization, which can be resource-intensive.

Open-Source Platforms

Open-source platforms, such as PrestaShop and OpenCart, are free to use. They offer extensive customization options through a wide range of community-developed extensions and themes, making them ideal for businesses with unique requirements or those looking to experiment with innovative ecommerce models. 

Is An Ecommerce Platform Necessary For Your Small Business?

The answer is "Yes." Small businesses and startups wanting to reach their customers online cannot do so without a dedicated ecommerce platform. It's not just about having an online store; it's about providing a seamless, efficient, and engaging shopping experience. 

Without an ecommerce platform, your business may struggle to manage its operations effectively, potentially leading to a disjointed customer experience. Also, with over 2 billion people shopping online and 70% of people in the US choosing to buy from online stores, ecommerce is an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

Why Is An Ecommerce Platform For Small Businesses So Important?

Choosing the best ecommerce platform for startups means selecting a platform that offers flexible pricing plans, various themes and templates, and features that deliver value for money. These elements are critical for a startup to create a unique, appealing online store without breaking the bank. 

Also, platforms that offer easy step-by-step instructions and simple layouts can make starting up much easier. This lets startups concentrate on growing their business instead of getting stuck on setting things up.

best ecommerce platform small business

How Should Startups Choose An Ecommerce Platform?

When choosing the best ecommerce platform, startups must consider several key factors:

Business Goals

Pick a platform that helps you meet your goals, like selling more, reaching more people, or offering better customer service. Your chosen platform should help you succeed in these areas.

Target Audience

A platform that caters to your audience's preferences and behaviors can significantly enhance the shopping experience, promoting customer loyalty and retention. For example, if your target audience values sustainability, choosing a platform that supports eco-friendly practices, such as carbon-neutral shipping options or highlighting sustainable products, can resonate with your customers’ values, fostering a stronger connection with your brand.  


The best online ecommerce platform should integrate seamlessly with other tools and software essential to the business, such as accounting software, email marketing tools, and analytics. This integration capability ensures smooth, efficient operation free from unnecessary manual intervention.

Support And Resources

Go for a platform that has great support and helps you learn how to use it. This way, you can overcome any problems and make the most out of what the platform offers.

best ecommerce platform for startups

15 Best Ecommerce Platforms For 2024

1. Shopify

Shopify's intuitive interface and expansive app marketplace make it the best startup e-commerce platform. Its scalability is unmatched, supporting businesses from launch to IPO. 

The platform integrates seamlessly with various third-party applications and services, enhancing its functionality. It also excels in mobile responsiveness, ensuring that e-commerce sites deliver optimal shopping experiences across all devices.

2. WooCommerce

WooCommerce, probably the best free ecommerce platform, seamlessly integrates with WordPress, offering a cost-effective solution for businesses with a WordPress website or blog. 

This plugin transforms any WordPress site into a fully functional ecommerce store, with unlimited customization options available through thousands of plugins and themes. It's ideal for startups that need a flexible platform capable of scaling with their growth, all while keeping costs low.

3. BigCommerce

BigCommerce is designed to support startups in scaling their businesses with ease. It features built-in marketing tools and supports multi-channel selling across Facebook, Instagram, and Google Shopping. 

The platform stands out for its ability to handle high sales volumes without compromising site performance, making it an excellent choice for startups with aggressive growth plans. Additionally, BigCommerce's emphasis on SEO capabilities helps businesses improve their online visibility and attract more customers.

4. Wix

Wix's drag-and-drop builder and an array of e-commerce templates offer startups a quick and easy way to launch their online stores. Its affordability makes it best for startups on tight budgets who don’t want to trade off design quality or site functionality. Wix also offers a range of SEO tools to help businesses improve their search engine rankings, driving more organic traffic to their sites.

5. Squarespace

Squarespace has stunning, design-focused templates optimized for mobile shopping. Its all-in-one platform includes hosting, domain registration, and e-commerce capabilities, simplifying the process for startups to get online. 

Squarespace's user-friendly interface allows anyone to create a professional-looking online store without coding, making it ideal for creatives and entrepreneurs who prioritize aesthetics.

6. Magento (now Adobe Commerce)

Magento, now Adobe Commerce, caters to larger startups and enterprises with its advanced e-commerce features and extensive customization options. It's a powerful platform capable of supporting complex product catalogs and global expansion efforts. Magento's scalability and robustness make it suitable for startups with high aspirations and the technical know-how to leverage its full potential.

7. Volusion

Volusion provides a solid ecommerce foundation with its user-friendly interface and built-in marketing tools. Startups can benefit from its comprehensive features, including inventory management, payment processing, and analytics. The platform's support for startups extends to educational resources and 24/7 customer service, helping businesses navigate the complexities of ecommerce.

8. 3dcart (now Shift4Shop)

3dcart, rebranded as Shift4Shop, offers a competitive all-in-one ecommerce solution. With built-in features and affordable pricing plans, it caters to the needs of startups and small businesses. Its customizable themes and extensive app marketplace allow businesses to create unique online stores that stand out.

9. Ecwid

Ecwid is designed for businesses looking to add ecommerce capabilities to existing websites or social media platforms. Its simplicity and ease of integration make it an ideal choice for startups that want to start selling quickly without developing a separate ecommerce site. Ecwid’s mobile app also allows business owners to manage their stores on the go, enhancing flexibility and control.

10. PrestaShop

PrestaShop offers a robust open-source ecommerce solution with extensive customization capabilities. Its global community of users and developers provides a wealth of plugins and themes, allowing startups to create highly customized and scalable online stores. PrestaShop is well-suited for technically savvy business owners looking for a platform without ongoing subscription fees.

11. Zoho Commerce

ZohoCommerce provides startups with tools to build online stores and manage business operations. Integrated with Zoho's suite of business applications, it offers seamless management of e-commerce, customer relationships, and back-office tasks. Its user-friendly interface and affordable pricing make it a great option for startups looking for an all-in-one ecommerce solution.

12. Salesforce  

Salesforce Commerce Cloud offers a cloud-based ecommerce platform that's scalable and integrated with Salesforce's CRM capabilities. This allows startups to deliver personalized customer experiences across multiple channels. Its AI-powered insights and recommendations engine helps businesses optimize their online stores and improve sales.

13. Amazon 

Amazon Webstore leverages Amazon's vast ecosystem, allowing startups to reach millions of customers worldwide. It's the best ecommerce marketplace platform, providing access to Amazon's logistics, payment processing, and customer service. This platform is best for startups looking to capitalize on Amazon's massive audience and streamline their operations.

14. OpenCart

OpenCart is a free, open-source ecommerce platform known for its developer-friendly nature and extensive customization options. It supports unlimited products, categories, and transactions, making it scalable for growing startups. The platform's community provides thousands of free and premium extensions and themes.

15. Etsy

Etsy is best for startups specializing in handmade, vintage, and unique items, offering a marketplace that connects them with buyers seeking distinctive products. Its appeal lies in its ease of use, low start-up costs, and access to a dedicated audience appreciating craftsmanship. Ideal for small-scale entrepreneurs, Etsy fosters a community-focused environment for seller support and networking.

The Challenges Of Ecommerce For Small Businesses

Small businesses have to navigate through several challenges, which include;


There are over 26 million e-commerce websites online, with newer websites springing up daily. This creates intense competition for startups striving to be seen by their target audience. However, Standouts like Warby Parker have shown that startups can carve out a significant market share with a unique value proposition and strong branding.

Technical Challenges

Ecommerce has technical challenges that differ greatly from those business owners experience in brick-and-mortar settings due to technical setup, integration complexities, and maintenance. However, platforms like Shopify and Squarespace offer user-friendly solutions that minimize these challenges, allowing entrepreneurs to focus more on their business and less on technical issues.

Customer Acquisition

Gaining new customers in a competitive online space requires strategic marketing and engagement. Social media, SEO, and content marketing can be useful for building visibility and attracting customers.


Startups often struggle to secure enough capital to cover inventory, marketing, and technology costs. Options like crowdfunding, angel investing, and venture capital can provide the necessary resources for growth, but they require a compelling business case.

best ecommerce platform for small business

Comparative Analysis Of Ecommerce Platforms' Pricing And Services

So what is the best ecommerce platform for you? Below, we compare some of the best platforms against each other.

Shopify vs. WooCommerce

Shopify offers straightforward pricing but includes transaction fees. So unless you use Shopify Payments, you will incur these expenses. WooCommerce, on the other hand, is free but requires handling hosting costs and potential development fees for customization, making it better for those with technical resources.

Shopify is user-friendly, offering straightforward inventory management, built-in SEO tools, and 24/7 customer support. WooCommerce is free but requires you to manage hosting and potentially pay for customization, making it ideal for those with technical resources. While Shopify provides an all-in-one solution with direct support, WooCommerce offers more flexibility and the power of WordPress's extensive plugin ecosystem but with support mainly through forums and documentation.

BigCommerce vs. Squarespace

BigCommerce is designed for scalability and customization, handling high traffic with plans starting at $29, which is ideal for growing businesses. It allows deep customizations with HTML and CSS. Squarespace, more suited for smaller businesses, offers easy-to-use, sleek templates with pricing from $16, focusing on design and ease of use over extensive customization. 

Both platforms have tiered pricing without transaction fees for higher plans, but additional costs may arise from premium features. BigCommerce is preferable for those planning significant growth, while Squarespace caters to businesses prioritizing simplicity and aesthetics.

Magento vs. Volusion

Magento offers a robust and flexible platform ideal for scaling businesses, featuring advanced multi-channel selling and comprehensive marketing tools. While its open-source version is free, costs for hosting, security, and extensions can add up, and the commercial version, Magento Commerce, comes with additional features and support at a higher price. 

Volusion, tailored for small to medium-sized businesses, provides an easier setup with multi-channel selling capabilities and marketing tools without transaction fees, though it does have potential bandwidth overage fees. 

Magento boasts a vast community for support, extensions, and themes, offering direct support with its paid version. Volusion provides customer support through various channels and has helpful online resources. Magento is best for businesses seeking customization and scalability, whereas Volusion suits those looking for a straightforward, cost-effective solution.

3dcart vs. Ecwid

For 3dcart (now Shift4Shop), the pricing includes a free enterprise-grade plan with a minimum of $500 processed monthly through Shift4shop or starting at $29/month with PayPal for new customers. Standard plans can go up to $299/month, with Enterprise plans starting at $2,000+/month.

Ecwid offers a range of plans: a Free plan forever with basic features; Venture at $14.08/month (annual) or $19/month; Business Essentials at $29.08/month (annual) or $39/month; and Unlimited at $82.50/month (annual) or $99/month. Ecwid's pricing structure includes no setup or transaction fees, providing options from starting a business to scaling up without additional costs.

3dcart excels with its scalable enterprise solutions and a strong emphasis on ecommerce features suitable for high-volume sellers. Ecwid stands out for its flexibility, ease of starting for free, and clear, scalable upgrade paths for growing businesses. Both platforms offer integrations with various payment gateways, shipping carriers, and marketing tools and allow for customization through themes, plugins, and code, with 3dcart generally offering more depth for complex setups.

PrestaShop vs. OpenCart

PrestaShop and OpenCart are both free, open-source e-commerce platforms, allowing full access to the source code for deep customization. They offer extensive options for themes, plugins, and direct code tweaks, catering to various needs from basic storefronts to complex, custom e-commerce setups. 

Community support is robust for both, with forums, documentation, and tutorials widely available, providing a wealth of knowledge and assistance. PrestaShop tends to have a more intuitive interface and a larger selection of professional-grade themes, while OpenCart is praised for its simplicity and lightweight structure, making it slightly easier for beginners to tweak and maintain.

Bottom Line

Choosing the best web platform for ecommerce is a decision that will significantly influence your startup's success. Whether prioritizing SEO capabilities—important for those wondering which e-commerce platform is best for SEO—or looking for the best e-commerce marketplace platform, you must weigh your options carefully. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Which Ecommerce Platform Is Easiest For Beginners?

Shopify and Wix stand out for beginners because they offer intuitive design interfaces, drag-and-drop features, and comprehensive customer support. These platforms simplify the process of setting up and managing an online store without needing advanced technical skills.

Can I Switch My Ecommerce Platform Later?

Switching ecommerce platforms is possible but involves transferring data like product listings, customer information, and site design. While many platforms offer migration tools, the process requires careful planning to avoid data loss and ensure a smooth transition for your customers.

How Important Are SEO Features In An Ecommerce Platform?

SEO features are vital for an ecommerce platform as they help improve your site's visibility on search engines, attract more organic traffic, and increase sales. Platforms with robust SEO tools enable easier optimization of content, images, and meta tags to rank higher and attract targeted customers.

Which Ecommerce Platform Is Best For SEO?

Shopify and WooCommerce are often rated as the best ecommerce platforms for SEO, offering extensive optimization tools for crucial ranking factors. Shopify excels with its advanced ecommerce features, such as independent navigation links, page titles, and URLs, while WooCommerce provides a highly customizable platform with robust SEO capabilities.

Alex Quin

Entrepreneur. Podcaster. Go-Getter.

Alex Quin is a full-stack marketing expert and global keynote speaker. Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of UADV Marketing - a member of the Forbes Agency Council.

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