The best ecommerce platform for startups offers simple, yet intuitive functionality for companies ready to grow and sell. When you’re trying to innovate in your chosen market, you need an ecommerce environment that’s agile, and scalable – just like you.
Unfortunately, choosing the ideal ecommerce platform is easier said than done. There are plenty of different options out there all claiming to be the best. It’s easy to get confused when figuring out what you really need. Only a handful of the top contenders will really be as “start-up-friendly” as they claim. So, how do you know where to look?
To help you make a splash online, we’ve done the research for you. Sorting through some of the most popular ecommerce platforms around, we’ve brought you a convenient list of the top platforms ideal for startups today. Let’s get started.
Widely considered the most popular ecommerce platform around, Shopify is an infinitely flexible tool for taking your business online. Easy-to-use and surprisingly sleek, Shopify allows companies from all backgrounds to build the website best for them, with infinite customization options.
You can access a host of themes and templates to get you started, then adjust elements of your site using the drag-and-drop builder. There’s also a comprehensive app market, where startups can access unique functionality specific to the needs of their budding websites. The opportunities are endless.
With Shopify, you can sell physical and digital products, memberships, subscriptions, and even dropshipping items. What’s more, the solution takes a wide range of payment options, so you have no shortage of ways to collect money from your customers.
Shopify’s ever-evolving ecosystem of features makes it a great pick for companies hoping to stay on the cutting edge of the ecommerce landscape. Just remember the more you invest in unique features for your site, the more likely it is you’ll have to pay extra.
Shopify has pricing options to suit all kinds of companies. The cheapest option is the “Lite” plan for $9 per month, which simply adds ecommerce functionality to an existing website or blog. To build an entire store with Shopify, you’ll need the “Basic” plan for $29 per month.
The “Shopify” central plan is available for $79 per month, and it comes with advanced functionality like multiple inventory locations and reporting. Alternatively, you can try “Advanced” for tools like shipping rate calculations for $299 per month. You’ll also be able to request a quote for enterprise-sized businesses.
- Endless scalability for a rapidly-growing startup
- Lots of apps and tools to make your site stand out
- Unlimited products for all pricing plans
- Lots of guidance from excellent support team
- Extensive range of themes and templates
- Plenty of payment options
- Can become more expensive with premium plugins
- Transaction fees are an issue when you’re not using Shopify Payments
Further reading 📚
Try Shopify with $1 per month for the first 3 months!
Shopify has begun offering a special deal for sellers who sign up for a new Shopify plan. That deal? Pay Shopify $1/month for 3 months of full access to the platform!
This offer is is now available on all standard plans: Starter, Basic, Shopify, and Advanced.
2. Wix Ecommerce
Wix has been helping startup companies and beginners in the ecommerce world to thrive for a number of years now. The platform is best-known for it’s exceptional ease of use, and wide range of intuitive features, which include access to an AI system to help you build an intelligent website. For startups investing in the latest technology, Wix can be an excellent way to get ahead of the competition.
Wix’s intuitive interface comes packed with exceptional features to explore, including customizable templates to suit a range of industries, an app store for add-ons and plugins, and a mobile-optimized range of excellent themes. You can set up amazing product galleries, and offer a range of payment solutions with secure checkout methods too.
Wix does have some slight limitations when it comes to the kinds of products you can sell and how intuitive the checkout process is, but the company is consistently improving it’s feature sets and capabilities. The product may also be a little problematic for startups looking to scale incredibly quickly, as larger brands have struggled with getting the most from Wix tools.
To unlock ecommerce functionality with Wix, you’ll need to access the Business and eCommerce plans from the company. These packages offer access to payment processing and checkout pages, starting with a price of £13 per month. The cheapest plan allows around 20GB of storage space and unlimited bandwidth.
Extra storage space and additional tools are available from Business Unlimited, which starts at £17 per month and supports automated sales tax. There’s also a “Business VIP” package for 500 transactions per month and advanced shipping settings, costing £22 per month.
- Wide selection of attractive customizable templates
- Seamless integration with Google analytics
- Easy to use for beginners with AI enhancements
- Mobile app to manage your store on the move
- Lots of secure payment options
- Ever-evolving range of features
- Some limitations for ecommerce
- Difficult to export data
Further reading 📚
Startups are all about fast growth, so it makes sense to choose a website builder which can handle exceptional scalability. BigCommerce is a great tool for enabling growth, with a wide range of pricing plans to choose from, and a flexible selection of features. Everything you need to build your store already comes built into the technology too, so you can worry less about plugins.
BigCommerce is all about freedom and simple functionality. You can sell all kinds of products and services through the system, and even reach customers across a range of channels, like Amazon, eBay, and even Facebook or Instagram. You’ll also have the freedom to take payments from various payment gateways, without paying any transaction fees on any plans.
On more advanced plans, tools like stored credit cards and abandoned cart saver modes allow you to improve your chances of conversions with any kind of customer. BigCommerce also has tools to help you with marketing your products and driving more sales over time.
Like many ecommerce platforms, BigCommerce gives you a taster of its functionality with a 15-day free trial. Following this, your cheapest pricing option starts at $29.95 for the “Standard” package, which allows for up to $50k in annual sales.
To sell more, and access additional features, you can upgrade to the $79.95 per month plan for up to $180k in sales per year. There’s also a “Pro” plan, for $299.95 per month which supports up to $400k in annual sales. Enterprise options are available too.
- Tools already built-in for selling and marketing
- Visual merchandising tools
- No transaction fees regardless of your chosen plan
- Unlimited bandwidth on all plans
- Excellent staff accounts for co-workers
- BigCommerce 24/7 service and support
- Limitations on theme options
- Can take a while to understand all the features
Further reading 📚
One of the most popular site building tools on the market for companies in search of making a creative splash, Squarespace helps you create super attractive websites. If your startup needs to make a visual impact, the professional templates and customization options from Squarespace will make sure you stand out from the crowd.
Squarespace boasts a range of unique features already built-in, such as powerful image editing options and the ability to publish full-width visuals. Although there is more of a learning curve with this product than some other ecommerce platforms, you’ll soon get the hang of the unique editing system and the wide range of templates.
Squarespace is also one of the few user-friendly tools on the market which gives startup business owners full access to CSS, so you can make specific changes to your site’s layout. Plus, you’ll also be able to take a selection of popular payment methods from your customers, though there are slightly fewer options than you’ll find elsewhere.
Squarespace offers a flexible and versatile environment where startup companies can sell all kinds of products and services with relative ease. There aren’t a lot of apps available to integrate with your store however, which can make the scalability of this builder a little limited.
Squarespace offers a 14-day free trial to beginners, so you’ll have plenty of scope to test out the available features. You can start building websites for £10 per month, but to sell actual products, you’ll need to upgrade to the Business plans.
With a 25% annual saving, you can access the first business plan at £15 per month, but there are relatively high transaction fees on this package. The more advanced commerce plans at £20 per month and above will lower your transaction costs.
- Excellent customer service for beginners
- Attractive and responsive themes
- Full control of CSS for layout changes
- Free domain name on all annual plans
- Social media and multi-channel sales integrations
- No app market for extensibility
- High transaction fees on the cheapest package
Further reading 📚
5. Square Online
If you’re making the transition to an ecommerce business from an offline store, you’re probably already familiar with Square. Small businesses around the world use the technology within their point of sale system, to accept payments. However, it’s also possible to build an online store with the brand, complete with access to SEO features and multi-channel selling.
The great thing about building an ecommerce website with Square, is retailers can automatically sync their inventory between their offline and offline environment. This makes it easier to keep track of everything happening in your ecosystem.
Square online comes with everything you need to make your online business a success, including blog creation, customization for your storefront and great customer support. You can even connect to social media so it’s possible to sell across a range of channels.
Square Online is one of the more affordable ways for entrepreneurs to build their own ecommerce site. You can start building online for free, but you will have transaction fees to consider. Notably, you can also only take payments through Square, so PayPal and Stripe are no longer an option.
The paid plans from Square allow you to utilize the content management system with advanced analytics and sales tools. There’s also a premium $72 per month plan to lower your transaction fees significantly.
- Excellent pricing for taking your business online
- Easy-to-use interface for beginners
- Fantastic for synchronizing offline and online selling
- Discounted shipping for premium packages
- Search engine and marketing tools available
- Some limitations on free themes and templates
- Not the most advanced content management system for ecommerce
Further reading 📚
For many budding entrepreneurs, there are two reasons establishing an online store seems daunting.
First is the cost, and second, the complexity.
If you can relate, Branchbob might be the best ecommerce platform for your startup. Branchbob was founded in Germany, but according to the website, it's now used in over 100 countries!
Branchbob is free to use, without any monthly fees or pricing plans. Thanks to its intuitive and basic design, you can use this simple platform to build your online store in a matter of minutes. Just choose a free theme, upload your brand’s logo and content, and publish!
Branchbob comes with all the basic functionality you need to start selling online. This includes the ability to add product variants and access to inventory, order management, and marketing features.
There's also a small app store where you'll find a limited number of premium and free extensions if you need slightly more advanced features.
As previously highlighted, Branchbob is totally free to use. There are no transaction costs or monthly pricing tiers. As a result, startups can try their hand at running an online store without any investment and then move on to a more advanced platform once they feel more confident in their eCommerce abilities.
The only costs you might incur using Branchbob are if you wish to extend its functionality. For example, you can buy a premium theme and/or paid-for apps in the app store. Of course, you’ll also need to purchase your own domain name (if you wish to upgrade from Branchbob's free subdomain).
- Branchbob comes with a comprehensive mobile app for managing your store while you're on the go
- Its interface is incredibly intuitive
- It's completely free to use
- You can offer customers a wide variety of payment options
- Branchbob's coupon functionality is pretty sophisticated
- Minimal customization is available (unless you have coding smarts)
- There are only ten themes to choose from
- You can’t sell digital products
- Overall its functionality is pretty basic
- Branchbob doesn't currently offer any native dropshipping integrations
Intended to help store owners get online and selling as quickly as possible, Sellfy is brimming with excellent tools on an easy-to-use backend. One of the best platform options for those who want to sell a range of products, Sellfy supports the dropshipping business model. There’s a built-in print on demand system available, for expanding your store.
Sellfy comes with ecommerce features you wouldn’t get elsewhere, including a POD marketplace, a range of customization options, and unlimited sales per year. You don’t need to rely on a host of add-ons and plugins with this ecommerce software, because everything is already built-in.
Companies can access a range of marketing tools, integrate email marketing, and sell a number of products from different backgrounds to help increase their profitability. There’s also access to search engine optimization built-in, and real-time reporting too.
Sellfy has a free package available, but you won’t be able to build a very advanced store. Users can only sell up to 10 products with Sellfy, although there’s still access to tax and VAT automated calculations built into the system.
The initial paid package from Sellfy starts at $19 per month with access to a range of subscription and digital product-selling and a custom domain with SSL certificates. You’ll also be able to access a “Business” package to sell up to $50k in products per year, and a premium $99 per month service.
- Included print on demand services
- VAT and tax calculations
- Unlimited products and sales
- Multiple payment options (such as Stripe and Paypal)
- In-depth reporting and analytics
- Mobile optimized SaaS solution
- Removing the branding requires an advanced premium package
- Very basic free plan
Further reading 📚
A leading ecommerce plugin designed for the world’s most popular CMS, WordPress, WooCommerce is one of the most popular tools in thew world. Perfect for creative startups, WooCommerce gives business owners unlimited freedom to adapt and adjust their website based on their specific needs. The solution can flex to suit any kind of company.
Because it’s built on top of WordPress, WooCommerce offers the same simplicity and intuitive performance people with a WordPress website will already be comfortable with. You’ll also have access to the same comprehensive plugin and theme directory, which means it’s easy to access thousands of great extras for your store.
WooCommerce makes it easy to do everything from launch omnichannel sales strategies for your website, to manage unlimited products and orders. You can integrate with social media or set up a dropshipping partnership. There’s also a comprehensive open-source community where you can connect with other site builders.
As an open-source product there’s no actual price for WooCommerce. The app is free to download and install, but there will be additional costs to consider. For instance, you still need to pay for the payment processing fees of your providers, and the hosting of your WordPress website. There may also be premium plugins and themes to consider.
- Endless customization options and plenty of plugins
- Lots of ways to make your store more affordable
- Exceptional design freedom
- Easy-to-use thanks to WordPress CRM
- Manage unlimited products and orders
- May require basic technical knowledge
- Can become expensive with third-party addons
Further reading 📚
Offering fantastic user experience and easy functionality, Ecwid is packed with great tools for selling online. Users can simply add this open-source solution onto their existing website builder, so there’s no need to start building a new solution from scratch.
Once you download the plugin, it’s easy to unlock everything from inventory management to social selling in an environment you’re already comfortable and familiar with. If you want to continue accessing the same SEO tools and content features you have from your existing website builder, this could be the perfect API add-in for you. There’s even the option to link in POS technology.
Ecwid is a convenient online shopping solution with shopping cart customizations and a range of adjustable features. There’s the option to take various payment options and the commerce solution is surprisingly affordable too.
Although there is a free version of Ecwid available, you won’t be able to do a great deal with your online store using this solution. As your site begins to grow, you’ll need to consider at least the first premium package for $15 per month.
The more you spend, the more features you can unlock, including things like white labelling for agencies building a number of stores on a regular basis.
- Great for use with an existing website on various platforms
- Easy-to-use with lots of support for beginners
- Multi-channel sales for all kinds of stores
- Plenty of bandwidth and themes
- Various great payment options
- Not a full site builder on its own
- Limited functionality for larger companies
Further reading 📚
Best Ecommerce Store platforms for Startups
There are plenty of easy ways to build an ecommerce store these days. We’ve mentioned just a handful of the most user-friendly and feature-rich tools on the market above. However, you can also explore options like Magento, Big Cartel, Volusion, Opencart, prestashop, Weebly and Shopify Plus, depending on your individual needs.
Remember, take your time to consider all of your available options when shopping for an ecommerce solution. Making the right choice now will save you a lot of time and money in the long-term.
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