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There is a daunting number of ecommerce platforms to choose from when starting your online business and picking the best one for your startup or business requires some research.

To help you with this decision, we’re comparing the best ecommerce platforms for startups and other businesses in 2018 and beyond. After reviewing some of the top platforms out there for ecommerce, we’ll pinpoint where certain platforms excel in terms of pricing, themes, ease of use and other important factors.

If you already have a platform in mind, check out our head to head comparisons of Shopify and Etsy, Shopify and Volusion and WooCommerce and Magento.

Best Ecommerce Platform in 2018

In order to pick the best ecommerce platform for your business, take a look at some of the top choices out there (Shopify, WooCommerce etcetra). It is likely that business owners moving into ecommerce have already heard of many of these platforms, but simply haven’t dived any deeper into learning about them.

selz pricing

Many of these platforms offer different levels of pricing in order to cater to a wider range of ecommerce businesses. Some even have free versions. However, lower cost often means fewer special features and add-ons. Businesses with very specific needs may find that they need to pay a little more to ensure they get all the features they require for their ecommerce business.

shopify dashboard

Another major consideration is how much effort and time a business can put into their ecommerce platform. Some platforms come with themes and apps to make the work of website construction and management minimal. Others benefit from some amount of coding and website building knowledge.

Those who are comfortable with that additional work will get more customized experiences from their ecommerce platform, though. This is often worth the extra work.

The best ecommerce platforms that we’ll review here are:

  1. Selz
  2. Shopify
  3. Wix
  4. BigCommerce
  5. SquareSpace
  6. WooCommerce
  7. OpenCart
  8. BigCartel
  9. OSCommerce
  10. Volusion
  11. LemonStand
  12. 3dcart
  13. SparkPay
  14. Magento
  15. UltraCart
  16. CoreCommerce

Selz – Affordable Alternative to Shopify and BigCommerce

Name Selz
Price Plans range from $17/month to $35/month
For small businesses The standard plan is a good option for small businesses
For large businesses The Pro plan reduces transaction fees, making it a good fit for businesses selling at a higher volume
Themes Included with every paid plan
Customer Service/Support 24/7 Customer Support, Set-Up Sessions to help you get started, and eCommerce advice and insights on FounderU
Ease of Use Very high
Customizability High, even with no coding or design experience

Selz has been slowly building its reputation in the ecommerce platform market and is a good option for those looking to start or scale their business. Selz emphasizes user-friendly tools, lots of customization options, and top shelf customer support.

selz dashboard

With a wide variety of pre-designed themes, users can then utilize the drag and drop store builder to move around and delete design components as they see fit. Designing a store and creating products is fast and simple, even for users with no previous web design or eCommerce experience.

selz themes

Selz also makes it easy to sell from existing websites like WordPress and through social channels like Facebook.

Selz is very affordable, especially when you consider its features compared to comparably priced ecommerce platforms. Not only is it incredibly easy to use, but it also offers integrations for selling through WordPress, Facebook, and other independent websites. It also offers many security features and customer-friendly delivery options for merchants selling digital products.

Shopify – Best Ecommerce Platform for Small and Large Businesses

Name Shopify
Price Plans range from $9/month to $299/month
For small businesses Has a variety of powerful features at affordable rates
For large businesses Advanced Shopify and Shopify Plus are designed for high-volume merchants
Themes Free and Paid
Customer Service/Support 24/7 support available
Ease of Use High
Customizability High if you have some coding knowledge

Shopify is one of the most successful and best-known ecommerce platforms available right now. It powers more than 500,000 businesses and has more than 1 million active users. A huge amount of business is conducted on Shopify, with more than $46 billion sold on the ecommerce platform.

As a platform, Shopify offers a lot of flexibility. You can fully customize your online store and manage your products and inventory. Shopify also has a thriving community where shop owners share tips and knowledge. There’s also a dedicated mobile app so you can keep track of your store anywhere at any time.

shopify free trial

While it is one of the most customizable platforms you can find for ecommerce, it does come at a price. Aside from the monthly rate for a plan, many of the themes on Shopify come at an additional cost, though there are some free ones available.

Wix – Best Ecommerce Platform for Casual Sellers

Name Wix
Price Plans range from $5/month to $25/month
For small businesses The popular “eCommerce” plan is only $17/month and tailored for small business
For large businesses The VIP plan is better for large businesses but may not meet all their needs
Themes Free and Paid
Customer Service/Support It’s difficult to reach an actual person for help, but there is a support center
Ease of Use High
Customizability High

Wix is all about ease of use. It has a huge amount of free themes and templates you can use to build an ecommerce platform. It even has an artificial design intelligence feature that builds the site for you via Wix’s AI program. It’s harder to find an easier ecommerce platform builder than Wix.

Wix is also very affordable. The baseline plan is only $5/month. Even their most expensive plan is only $25/month. Of course, with this low price and high ease of use comes a cost. Wix isn’t going to have the bells and whistles that fancier platforms boast, but it should be able to satisfy the needs of most small businesses looking for an ecommerce platform.  

BigCommerce – Best Ecommerce Platform Alternative to Shopify

Name BigCommerce
Price Plans range from $29.95/month to $249.95/month
For small businesses The standard option should suit small businesses
For large businesses There is an Enterprise option that is tailored to large businesses
Themes Free and Paid
Customer Service/Support Live support available
Ease of Use High
Customizability High if you have some coding knowledge

BigCommerce is most easily compared to Shopify. Both platforms offer a similar experience when building an ecommerce platform. Like Shopify, BigCommerce offers a range of prices and packages tailored to different types of businesses. The platform is highly customizable if you are comfortable with some light coding. It is also possible to use themes and templates to build your website, but some of these will come at an additional cost.

SquareSpace – Best Ecommerce Platform for Individuals and Artists

Name SquareSpace
Price Plans range from $12/month to $40/month
For small businesses “Professional” version offers a straightforward way to get started
For large businesses “Advanced” version has more features but may not be as powerful as you need
Themes Usable once you have an account
Customer Service/Support 24/7 support available
Ease of Use High
Customizability Medium – customize within templates

SquareSpace is used by everyone from individuals to businesses. It is on the simpler end of platforms and not right for large businesses. It is better for personal websites, blogs, portfolios and small businesses.

SquareSpace is comparable to Wix and WordPress more than a dedicated ecommerce platform like BigCommerce. However, it offers many features that are attractive for smaller websites. If your ecommerce business is on the smaller side and you’re not looking for advanced features, SquareSpace will make setting up an online store pretty simple and painless.

WooCommerce – Best Free Ecommerce Platform

The big picture:

Name WooCommerce
Price Price is hard to pin down. You will need a domain and other tools as well as the plugin. Cost can be high.
For small businesses Because it connects to WordPress, it’s great for small business
For large businesses Can be customized to suit larger businesses’ needs, but requires extensive coding knowledge
Themes WooCommerce-optimized themes are aplenty
Customer Service/Support Users have to rely on documentation and forums
Ease of Use Medium – you need to understand WordPress as well
Customizability High

WooCommerce is different from all the other ecommerce platforms on this list because it is a WordPress plugin. This comes with some challenges as well as benefits. In order to use WooCommerce you will need to have some knowledge of how to use WordPress. Because it plugs directly into WordPress, understanding that platform as well is essential.

Also, WooCommerce pricing is a bit hard to pin down. There are costs associated with hosting, WordPress and WooCommerce that can all fluctuate within a range. One user’s costs are going to be different from another user’s costs.

OpenCart

Name OpenCart
Price Free to download and install
For small businesses Depends on how you use it
For large businesses Depends on how you use it
Themes None
Customer Service/Support Documentation and forums
Ease of Use Low
Customizability High if you have coding knowledge

OpenCart is a free piece of software that anyone can download and use. It is meant to adapt to any operating system or ecommerce requirements. It does not have much built in to its basic form, though.

OpenCart requires a fair bit of work to use. Many books are available on how to use the platform. If you do have the knowledge and skills to use it though, OpenCart is a fantastic ecommerce platform. It enjoys success around the world and is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms available.

BigCartel

Name BigCartel
Price Price ranges from free to $29.99/month
For small businesses Designed specifically for small, creative ventures
For large businesses Probably not ideal
Themes Free
Customer Service/Support Help Center
Ease of Use Very High
Customizability Medium

BigCartel is a great platform for small businesses and creative independent ventures. They aim to make selling easy for small stores, with a “quick setup” feature that can get an ecommerce store up and running extremely quickly. They also have a range of free themes. Customizability isn’t super high, but apps and add-ons do allow for some flexibility.

The free version is very limited, but even the most expensive paid version is very affordable. While BigCartel is coder-friendly, using the platform does not actually require any coding.

OSCommerce

Name OSCommerce
Price Free (open source)
For small businesses Good
For large businesses Good
Themes None
Customer Service/Support Support Center
Ease of Use Low
Customizability Very High

OSCommerce is free open course software that anyone can download in order to set up an online ecommerce store. About 21,000 live ecommerce stores currently use OSCommerce. OSCommerce also offers more than 8,500 free add-ons that you can download in addition to the platform itself.

Like other open source software, there’s a learning curve associated with OSCommerce. But those who are willing and able to learn the software can get a surprisingly robust ecommerce platform that is genuinely free. Hosting and other costs will fall on you, but once you’re up and running it should be smooth sailing.

Volusion

Name Volusion
Price Ranges from $15/month to $135/month
For small businesses The mini and plus options should be appropriate
For large businesses The premium package may suit your needs
Themes Free
Customer Service/Support Free 24/7 customer support
Ease of Use Medium – some customers have expressed frustration
Customizability Medium – customize within themes

Volusion compares to platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce. For a monthly subscription, you get themes, support and an all-in-one ecommerce platform that is fairly customizable.

As a platform, it is fairly robust. However, some users have complained about being confused by the user interface and having some difficulty figuring out how to build their store. Volusion does offer lower priced plans than some of the bigger ecommerce platforms however, and offers 24/7 customer support.

LemonStand

Name LemonStand
Price Price ranges from $19/month to $199/month
For small businesses Ideal
For large businesses Probably not appropriate. The “professional plan” only allows up to 1,000 orders per month
Themes None
Customer Service/Support Difficult to use
Ease of Use Medium – you will have to create your own themes
Customizability Very high

LemonStand targets developers who want to fully customize their ecommerce experience. Such users will find a lot to like in LemonStand. It is fully customizable, top to bottom. Those who want to touch every button and blank space on their site will enjoy this platform.

However, there is a price associated and developers could use open source software to get nearly as much customizability at no cost.

3dcart

Name 3dcart
Website https://www.3dcart.com
Price Ranges from $19/month to $229/month
For small businesses Appropriate
For large businesses Can scale
Themes Free and Paid
Customer Service/Support 24/7 support available
Ease of Use High – professional web design packages available
Customizability High

3dcart offers a wide range of options for whatever sort of business you run. Its most basic plan is literally called a “startup plan” and is great for small businesses trying to get established in the ecommerce realm. 3dcart does not limit the number of products you can sell, no matter the size of your business.

One unique feature of 3dcart is its powerful design capabilities. 3dcart offers a range of themes to get you started and the flexibility to customize those themes using CSS is also there. However, if you don’t have CSS training or the time to customize your site, you can use any of their design experts to customize your website.

SparkPay

Name SparkPay
Price Defunct
For small businesses N/A
For large businesses N/A
Themes N/A
Customer Service/Support N/A
Ease of Use N/A
Customizability N/A

SparkPay is a lesson in the fickleness of ecommerce and business in general. SparkPay was set up by Capital One bank but has since been shut down. SparkPay will only exist until Jan. 31, 2018, after which it will no longer be supported.

Many things in ecommerce come and go. Platforms that are a hit for a few months soon fall by the wayside. SparkPay is a great example of why stability is important. Platforms like Shopify that have been around a decade or more have proven they can withstand the test of time in the difficult world of ecommerce.

Magento – Best Ecommerce Platform for Enterprises

Name Magento
Price Community Edition is open source. Enterprise Edition starts from $2200/month
For small businesses Too expensive and complicated
For large businesses Modular design ensures any ecommerce requirements can be fulfilled
Themes A lot of premium themes available at third-party marketplaces
Customer Service/Support Third-party support services available
Ease of Use High
Customizability Medium

Magento is similar to platforms like WooCommerce and OpenCart. Its Community Edition is completely free and open-source, but you will be responsible for setting it up and paying for the hosting and domain. Magento also comes with a steep learning curve, and Magento developers are noticeably more expensive to hire than rival platforms. For smaller businesses, setting up an ecommerce shop using Magento can be needlessly expensive. 

Really, Magento’s robust platform is meant for enterprise businesses. These businesses typically want the best in functionality and security, which Magento’s modular nature can ensure. Development costs for Magento can be downright astronomical, but for enterprises it’s a fair price to pay for extensibility, robustness and security. For businesses that want to integrate their ecommerce store with integrated systems such as ERPs and CRMs, Magento is one of the best ecommerce platforms. 

UltraCart

Name UltraCart
Price Price ranges from $49.95/month to $229.95/month
For small businesses The small business package is customized for startups
For large businesses The large plan is right for most bigger businesses
Themes Available
Customer Service/Support Support and tutorials available
Ease of Use High
Customizability High

UltraCart tailors its plans for the type of business using them. Starting with small businesses, it offers more features and sales until you reach the large business level.

UltraCart is also easy to use, with a visual builder that doesn’t require any coding knowledge. You can design visually in a way that is intuitive to most people. UltraCart also has video tutorials and documentation available in its support center to help you learn how to use its website builder.

CoreCommerce

Name CoreCommerce
Price Price ranges from $19/month to $600/month
For small businesses Has many lower-cost plans for smaller businesses
For large businesses The higher end plans can suit large businesses
Themes Responsive themes available with all plans
Customer Service/Support Phone number for support readily available
Ease of Use High
Customizability Depends on plan

CoreCommerce has a huge range of plans available, more than most other platforms. This makes it suitable for just about any business looking to break into ecommerce and start up a store. The amount of choices can be a bit dizzying, though, and CoreCommerce’s own website is not the most appealing. This reflects poorly on the options it can give to its customers.

However, if you are willing to sort through the massive amount of information and difficult formatting on their website, you are almost sure to find the plan that is right for your business. Still, its lack of mass adoption keeps it from being the best ecommerce platform. 

Best Ecommerce Platform for Small Business

Small businesses have different needs than larger businesses and individuals. There is a tough balance to strike between getting all the features you need to grow your business while not breaking your budget right away.

In our opinion, some of the best ecommerce platforms for small businesses are:

  1. Shopify
  2. BigCommerce
  3. WooCommerce

Shopify has been in the business for a very long time. It is one of the most successful platforms out there and gets good reviews from users. It offers light and reduced cost plans for small businesses that aren’t too expensive. And Shopify’s themes allow for a large amount of customizability. Generally speaking, it is extremely easy to setup and use, so much that you don’t really need to hire a developer. For small businesses, we consider it to be the best ecommerce platform out there. 

BigCommerce is similar to Shopify in that it offers a range of powerful ecommerce features packaged in an easy-to-use SaaS platform. It’s almost neck-and-neck with Shopify in terms of pricing too, and currently enjoys a decent amount of popularity with users. Ultimately, it’s Shopify’s superior app developer support that keeps BigCommerce from being the best ecommerce platform for small businesses.

WooCommerce is an interesting option for small business. It connects right into WordPress. Small business owners who already use WordPress for their website will find a lot to love with WooCommerce and there is a lot of flexibility when the requirements of the business grow. Thanks to strong third-party development support and easily-available Woo developers, it’s definitely one of the best ecommerce platforms out there. 

Best Ecommerce Platform for Startups

Starups have slightly different needs than small businesses. While there is a lot of overlap in between the two, startups are more likely to be innovators and risk takers. We recommend the following platforms for startups:

  • 3dcart
  • LemonStand

3dcart literally offers a “startup plan” that is aimed at startup businesses. They are focused on startups and other small businesses and tailor certain experiences toward this.

LemonStand is a platform for web developers who want to fully customize their web development experience when it comes to their ecommerce business. This is good for startups who are trying to innovate and customize. Many startups who are breaking into the business world with something new and creative will appreciate the openness of LemonStand.

Of course, the needs of all startups are different. The big players like Shopify can still work for startups who have the budget for more standard platforms.

Best Ecommerce Platform for Small Budgets

When cost is the determining factor, you may need a free ecommerce platform in order to get started. Try one of these:

  • WooCommerce
  • OpenCart
  • OSCommerce

WooCommerce does not come without costs, but if you have a keen grasp over coding you can get a decent ecommerce store up-and-running at not much cost without sacrificing anything in the way of functionality. It is definitely the best ecommerce platform if you are on a budget.

OpenCart offers a basic package for free that you can further customize in order to fit your needs. The OpenCart marketplace offers add-ons if you do find you need more features and have some money to spend on them.

OSCommerce not only offers a free platform, but free add-ons as well. The app marketplace allows you to build a lot of features into your website. As far as a free platform goes, OSCommerce offers a lot of additional options.

Best Ecommerce Platform for SEO

best ecommerce platform seo

SEO is often the job of you, the business owner, but there are platforms that help you with SEO as you build. Here are some of our picks:

  • WooCommerce
  • Shopify
  • Magento

WooCommerce – because it integrates into WordPress – comes with a lot of strong SEO features built right in. WordPress will give you feedback on your SEO right in pages and posts. This makes it easy to visually judge if your SEO on any given page or post is strong and also takes the pressure and thinking out of SEO. For SEO, it is certainly one of the best ecommerce platforms out there.

Shopify and Magento are similar when it comes to SEO. They both offer tools, add-ons and apps that can help you figure out your SEO.

However, how successful your SEO is on any of these platforms comes down to some extra work on your part. None of these platforms can do SEO perfectly for you. You will have to invest some of your own time and resources in order to get the best SEO possible out of any ecommerce platform.

So What is the Best Platform for an Ecommerce Website?

That depends on how you plan to use it.

For general use, Shopify is hard to beat. It has been an ecommerce leader for a long time because it has been easy to use, customizable and affordable for more than a decade. There is a reason it is so popular.

For startups and small businesses, WooCommerce has a lot to offer by integrating with WordPress.

For those who need to save money, OSCommerce is completely free to use and offers free add-ons to further customize your ecommerce platform.

For SEO, Shopify and WooCommerce both have a lot to offer, but the ultimate success of SEO will still come down to your knowledge and resources.

 

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