7 Best Ecommerce Platforms for Startups in 2023
Wondering which ecommerce platform for a startup you should choose?
In its simplest form, an ecommerce platform enables you to stock and sell products online.
However, to grow your ecommerce startup, you’ll also need marketing tools, omnichannel selling, and customer management features like those found in the best CRM software.
The ecommerce industry has been growing steadily over the years. Online sales are expected to continue rising and take a larger piece of the retail pie.
By 2026, it’s estimated that world retail ecommerce sales will exceed $8.1 trillion, and the overall ecommerce share of retail sales will hit 24%.
As more startups get into the ecommerce space, more ecommerce solutions are emerging. And as these tools compete for a share of the growing market, choosing the right platform for your startup becomes a challenge.
To help you out, we researched popular ecommerce software to determine which ones are the best for startups.
What Have We Looked at During Reviewing Ecommerce Platforms for Startups?
In reviewing the best ecommerce platforms for startups, we considered the basics as well as the advanced features necessary for startup growth.
Here’s what we looked at:
1. Ease of Use
A great ecommerce solution is easy to use and provides simple customization options for your ecommerce website. Also, inventory management and order tracking should not require much training, and the user interface should enable you to quickly find what you need.
2. Ecommerce Essentials
When getting started, especially for small business owners, basic ecommerce features are the most important things to look at.
Here, we checked whether the ecommerce software provides multiple payment options, the ability to sell on social media platforms, and customizable templates optimized for mobile.
Scaling your ecommerce startup requires advanced features, which ecommerce platforms usually provide in their higher-tier plans.
Some of the features we considered for growing ecommerce businesses include international shipping, creating and managing regional storefronts, and the ability to sell on global marketplaces.
Pricing is a major factor to consider in ecommerce because every startup has its budget.
To determine which solutions to recommend, we considered affordability, price transparency (hidden fees), and custom pricing for ecommerce startups that outgrow the pre-defined plans.
We looked at what integrations are available on these ecommerce platforms.
Some platforms have built-in integrations with popular apps, while others have an app store from where you can add third-party apps to your ecommerce website.
6. Customer support
Another feature we considered necessary for ecommerce businesses is the available customer support channels. This is important because, at some point, you’ll likely need help with something.
What are the Best Ecommerce Platforms for Startups in 2023?
In our search for the best ecommerce platforms for startups, we narrowed down the list to the below seven SaaS solutions.
- Squarespace – design a beautiful online store and create and schedule social media posts with various templates.
- Shopify – start your ecommerce journey with a platform that makes it easy for your startup to grow.
- Wix – get creative and build your ecommerce store and mobile app without any coding skills.
- BigCommerce – start big or grow gradually using a platform that gives you maximum flexibility when scaling.
- Ecwid – extend your existing website by adding ecommerce functionality from a tool that doesn’t charge you any transaction fees.
- Square Online – sell through your ecommerce website and maximize profits by avoiding third-party marketplace commissions.
- WooCommerce – build your ecommerce store on the trusted WordPress platform and get unlimited customization options.
Best Overall Ecommerce Platform for Entrepreneurs New to Selling Online
Squarespace includes beautifully designed templates to help you create a professional-looking online store that’s optimized for desktop and mobile. You can also embed product videos in your ecommerce store to increase your conversion rates.
If you’re working with a team, you can assign roles and use permissions to control access to different parts of your admin panel.
Squarespace does a lot to help you market your ecommerce store. For instance, using the “Unfold” app, you can edit images, create reels, and schedule social media posts. You can also engage your prospects and customers through email campaigns, which is an affordable add-on, by sending them emails that include existing products and links to blog articles.
Built-in SEO features
Squarespace takes care of your site’s core search engine optimization. It automatically creates your store’s sitemap and robots.txt file, converts image descriptions to alt tags, and generates meta tags for your pages. Also, you can update your Google Business Profile details and track the traffic of your ecommerce store through the Google Search Console integration.
Store and inventory management
You can manage your inventory using categories and sub-categories and tag products for easy sorting. Additionally, you can give discounts on products, add “Limited Availability” labels to products, and track stock levels. To give customers more convenience (and increase your sales), you can set up “buy now, pay later” options, and enable customers to track their orders.
The Squarespace ecommerce platform collects and analyzes your store’s data to give you insights that help you optimize your campaigns. With analytics, you can identify the keywords driving traffic to your store, view trend charts, and know the geo of your site visitors. When you combine these with data on sales and abandoned carts, you can adjust your marketing activities accordingly and increase sales.
Custom domain and hosting
Whereas most domain registrars hike domain renewal fees after the first year, Squarespace prices remain the same. And to maximize your sales opportunities, Squarespace gives you unlimited bandwidth, unlimited products, and email hosting through Google Workspace. In addition, your store gets free WHOIS privacy to protect you and your store from spam and identity theft.
- Mobile-Friendly Websites
- 100+ Templates
- Free Custom Domain
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- 2 Contributors
- Ecommerce Functionality
- Unlimited Products
- 3% Transaction Fees
- Custom Code (CSS & JS)
- Unlimited Contributors
- 0% Transaction Fees
- Point of Sale
- On-site Checkout
- Product Reviews
- Facebook and Instagram Selling
- Abandoned Cart Recovery
- Advanced Shipping
- Advanced Discounts
- Subscription Selling
- Commerce APIs
Read more Squarespace pricing or Squarespace ecommerce examples
Although the Business plan has ecommerce functionality, we recommend the Advanced Commerce plan for its advanced ecommerce analytics and zero transaction fees.
Best Ecommerce Platform for Startups New to Ecommerce but Looking to Scale Quickly
Shopify lets you design your store the way you want, add the apps you need, and live-test it through a sub-domain.
When you finally launch, you will benefit from Shopify’s vast network of business partners to quickly scale and start selling internationally. You can then segment customers based on their location and run targeted marketing campaigns to boost sales.
Shopify enables you to sell on different platforms while managing back-office activities from your dashboard. You can list your products on Google’s platforms, Facebook and Instagram, and allow customers to check out without visiting your store. And with the auto-sync feature, product updates on your store automatically reflect on all your sales channels.
Shopify has a vast logistics network that makes cross-border shipping cost-effective. With their “Markets” solution, you get localized storefronts, smooth checkout, and 130+ currencies. Your ecommerce store is SEO-optimized to ensure it appears in local search results, while third-party apps help you distribute localized product feeds.
Shopify lets you create customer segments that help you understand your customers and engage them effectively. Using customer data, you can create segments based on what customers buy, how often they buy, their geographical location, and other custom data fields. And the best part is that these customer segments automatically update to reflect changes in customer information.
Shopify provides an easy platform for managing your store and running a profitable ecommerce startup. You can add products and create categories, add any of the 100+ payment gateways, and enjoy global reach through Shopify’s CDN. Using the mobile app, you can analyze sales and customer data to make the necessary business decisions.
For email marketing campaigns, Shopify’s email templates save you time by automatically pulling product information from your store. And with 10,000 free emails every month, there’s no shortage of opportunities to make a sale. You can also add checkout buttons to your emails so that subscribers can make purchases directly from them.
- 100+ Free Templates
- Unlimited Products
- International Commerce
- 24/7 Support
- Shopify POS
- Ecommerce Automations
- up to 88% Shipping Discounts
- Standard Analytics Reports
- 5 Staff Accounts
- 1% Fees for 3rd Party Payments
- 0.5% Fees for 3rd Party Payments
- Lower Credit Card Fees
- 15 Staff Accounts
- Advanced Analytics Reports
- Duties and Import Taxes
Read more Shopify pricing and be inspired by successful Shopify stores
Shopify’s Basic plan is good enough to get you started. But if you want to sell internationally and get the lowest credit card rates and transaction fees, then choose the Advanced plan.
Best Ecommerce Platform for Website Design Enthusiasts
Wix is a beginner-friendly ecommerce platform with hundreds of professionally-designed templates. Together with third-party apps, Wix enables you to sell anything from physical products to consulting services.
One notable feature of Wix is the built-in CRM. With insights from your site’s analytics, the CRM enables you to engage customers and build relationships that drive business growth.
Store and inventory management
Wix enables you to manage your online business from any device and sell on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and eBay. You can import data from CSV files, connect your ecommerce store to your ERP system, and create custom shipping rates. When expanding to a global market, you’ll be able to translate your store into 90+ languages and sell to international customers in their local currencies.
Start using coupons and discounts to promote your ecommerce website on social media sites and automate your email campaigns. You can also create and track Facebook and Instagram ads from your Wix dashboard. To build trust with your customers, you can add product reviews on your site and run a customer loyalty program.
Customer relationship management
Instead of integrating with a third-party CRM, Wix has built this functionality right into your online store. You can capture leads using custom forms, create mailing lists, send price quotes, and use automation to improve your lead-nurturing workflows.
Mobile app builder
Wix is the best ecommerce platform for startups wanting to build their own mobile app. Using the Wix app builder, you can customize everything from the app layout to the user experience. To meet your specific business needs, you’ll decide which ecommerce functionality to add and get real-time sync between the app and your online store. Note, however, that this feature requires a separate subscription that costs between $109 to $259 per month.
Reports and insights
Using insights from your store’s data, you’ll be able to see how shoppers interact with your site and understand your customers’ purchasing patterns. Wix comes with some customizable ready-made reports while allowing you to create your own. You can view reports on mobile and export or share them with stakeholders.
- Custom Domain
- 1GB Bandwidth
- 500MB Disk Space
- 24/7 Support
- Free Custom Domain
- No Wix Ads
- 2GB Bandwidth
- 3GB Disk Space
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- 10GB Disk Space
- SEO Booster App
- Visitor Analytics App
- Priority Customer Support
- 35GB Disk Space
- Professional Logo
- Lead-Capture Forms
Read more about Wix pricing or beautiful examples of Wix
The Business VIP plan gives you the highest possibilities, with unlimited products for dropshipping businesses.
Best Ecommerce Platform for Startups Looking for Advanced features and Flexible Scaling
BigCommerce is your go-to ecommerce platform if you’ve outgrown your current one, or you’re looking for flexibility during scaling. You can sell in 150+ global commerce channels, create region-specific storefronts with local currencies, and even engage local business partners.
With the ability to add ecommerce services to your apps, you can boost your revenues without incurring any development costs.
BigCommerce makes it easy to run a B2B ecommerce site. You can let customers create multiple accounts, assign team members different roles and permissions, and pay invoices online through multiple payment options. Moreover, your sales reps can shop on behalf of your customers and give them additional discounts, leading to increased customer loyalty.
This is a unique feature that other ecommerce platforms don’t offer. In addition to running your ecommerce site, BigCommerce lets you sell custom versions of its ecommerce solution. You can create a full suite of business tools with ecommerce powered by BigCommerce, or simply add ecommerce functionality to your mobile app. If you’re looking for additional income streams, then BigCommerce is the right ecommerce platform to work with.
Powerful omnichannel selling
BigCommerce has both native integrations and specialized third-party apps for omnichannel sales. Combined, these allow you to sell in 150+ commerce channels globally. Your product catalog will be optimized for each channel to boost performance and synced with your inventory to avoid overselling.
Scaling to international markets
Give your ecommerce startup a global footprint by creating multiple storefronts for new markets and localizing product content and pricing. You can customize checkout pages, add 100+ currencies, automate taxes, and deliver goods using local carriers. To understand your startup’s performance, BigCommerce gives you insights into each storefront’s performance while providing you with region-specific growth tools.
BigCommerce is your ideal ecommerce platform if you want to future-proof your startup expansion by using headless commerce. With headless commerce, store owners can focus on creating customer experiences optimized to increase sales without being restricted by a rigid backend.
- 200+ Store Templates
- 24/7 Chat & Phone Support
- No Additional Transactions Fees
- Unlimited Bandwidth & Storage
- Annual Sales Limit - $50k
- Clients' Credit Cards Storage
- Abandoned Cart Saver
- 5 Storefronts & Inventory Locations
- Customer Segmentation
- Annual Sales Limit - $180k
- Google Customer Reviews
- Price Lists for B2B & B2C
- 8 Storefronts & Inventory Locations
- Filtering with Custom Product Filters
- Annual Sales Limit - $400k
BigCommerce gives you unlimited products on all its plans. However, for customer segmentation and Google customer reviews, you’ll have to get the Pro or Enterprise plans.
Best Ecommerce Platform for Small Businesses
Ecwid is an ecommerce widget that can be easily added to an existing website to create a functional ecommerce store. And with its free plan, you can start selling up to 5 products.
If you are transitioning from a physical store, Ecwid helps you manage your online business by creating staff accounts that can be assigned to remote workers.
Getting started with omnichannel selling is easier on Ecwid than on other ecommerce platforms. From your Ecwid account, you can add products to Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, and other platforms and receive payments through major payment gateways.
Build your store’s mobile app
With customers increasingly shopping via mobile, you can reach them more conveniently by building your store’s mobile app. Using ShopApp®, startups can build high-performance native apps without requiring a dedicated developer team. The apps will sync to their online stores for product availability, price changes, and other store updates.
Internet marketing and SEO tools
Ecwid gives small businesses a headstart in marketing by taking care of their sites’ technical SEO. For marketing campaigns, Ecwid helps you by automating your Google Shopping Ads and Facebook re-targeting campaigns. Moreover, with the Mailchimp integration, you can send automated emails and include discount coupons to encourage purchases.
Move your local store online
f you’re running a brick-and-mortar store and want to get into the ecommerce environment, Ecwid has you covered. Its secure ecommerce platform helps you rank in local searches, sell via mobile, and hire remote workers. You can set up staff accounts for remote workers and deliver goods through a local delivery service.
Store and inventory management
Ecwid lets you easily manage all your ecommerce operations from any device. From a single dashboard, you get access to inventory management, order tracking, and the ability to choose from 50+ payment options. You can customize shipping rates based on the customer’s location and get updates through notifications in the mobile app.
Ecwid is a great ecommerce platform for selling digital products. Whether you’re selling ebooks, music, or video, you can upload products that are up to 25GB in size.
6. Square Online
Best Ecommerce Platform for Startups Looking for Efficient Customer Communications
Square Online helps you collect and analyze data to understand your customers better and engage them more efficiently.
This ecommerce SaaS solution lets you plan your online sales and centralize all your customer interactions.
You can create your ecommerce site quickly with powerful but easy-to-use tools. You can customize image shapes and fonts and use the Square Photo Studio app to replace backgrounds in your product photos. Your site adapts to mobiles, which makes it easy for customers to shop through their smartphones or tablets.
Sales and promotions
With Square Online, you can highlight specific products, such as top sellers, to reduce your stock levels and drive more sales. You can even plan online sales on your ecommerce sites and set a date for those sales to start running.
Spread the word about your online business, new products, and sales to prospects and customers using text and email campaigns. You can automate all your campaigns and design them to target customer segments you’ve created from your sales data. And with real-time reports on the campaigns’ performance, you’ll identify what you should change to generate more revenue.
All-in-one messaging hub
Square Online is the best ecommerce platform for startups looking for streamlined customer communications. With Square Messages, you avoid the hassle of constantly checking your email for notifications. Handle all your customer interactions from one place. And if you have Square Assistant turned on, this AI assistant will respond to customer queries in real time and update your appointment calendar.
Free built-in CRM
Square Online gives store owners a free CRM to help them understand their customers’ needs, engage them better, and sell to them more. Known as Customer Directory, this CRM enriches customer data with every transaction, tracks all purchases, and lets you create customer segments for marketing purposes.
- You can start with a free plan.
- Includes a free CRM.
- You can create customer loyalty programs.
- Email marketing is a paid add-on.
- The blogging feature is very limited.
Whatever plan you choose, by default, Square Online checks your transactions for fraud prevention and provides dispute management services.
Best Ecommerce Business Platform for Startups Using a WordPress Website
WooCommerce is the most popular ecommerce platform by market share.
Built for WordPress, a popular content management system, WooCommerce is loved by designers and developers and ecommerce startups that need custom solutions.
With WooCommerce, you can start for free, sell physical and digital products, and manage multiple ecommerce stores from the same dashboard. If you want more features, you can purchase different add-ons.
WooCommerce uses a drag-and-drop website builder that utilizes blocks and patterns to build ecommerce websites. These give you the ability to make page-specific or site-wide customizations on everything from store layouts to fonts. To further personalize your ecommerce website, you can customize menus, cart, and checkout pages and add content blocks that highlight bestsellers or new products.
WooCommerce encourages you to do content marketing using your existing WordPress website. For blogging, you can add SEO tools, tweak settings, and promote both physical and digital products on your blog posts and landing pages. For email marketing, you can integrate with the best email marketing software tools and services and automate your marketing activities to increase efficiency.
When scaling your ecommerce startup, you need advanced functionality, flexibility, and dedicated support. With WooCommerce, you get all these plus the ability to choose the specific features you need, thus avoiding unnecessary costs. You can also integrate your store with other business apps and get expert help on optimizing your ecommerce website.
Localized payment options
Boost your conversion rates by giving customers the most convenient payment options. With WooCommerce Payments, you can localize checkout for 18 countries and receive payments in 135+ currencies. Since WooCommerce Payments is a built-in solution, you get paid directly and enjoy priority support through email and chat.
Save valuable time and money by using USPS and DHL for shipping and manage everything from your WooCommerce dashboard. You can print your own local and international shipping labels, get discounted shipping rates and alert DHL and USPS to pick up packages for free.
- You can build fully customizable ecommerce sites.
- Has globally-distributed support teams.
- You can choose from lots of paid and free themes.
- Requires an existing WordPress website.
- May be slow for large stores.
Since WooCommerce is a free WordPress plugin, the only costs you’ll incur are those of the paid add-ons you install. For ecommerce stores transacting high volumes, WooCommerce has a custom enterprise plan.
Best Ecommerce Platforms for Startups FAQ
How much your startup can save depends on various factors, such as the features you need and your sales volume.
To be specific, with startup ecommerce platforms, you get free hosting, a free domain, and other unlimited features and freebies. They alone can save you a couple of hundred dollars per year. Not to mention the cost of ecommerce site development, which ranges from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
Among the most popular ecommerce platforms, WooCommerce is the best free solution that is extensible enough to power growing startups.
If you’re on another platform or starting with a few products, check out Ecwid and Square Online. But if you want more than the basic features, then try Squarespace and Wix.
Shopify and BigCommerce are the best ecommerce platforms for scaling your startup quickly.
Between these two platforms, Shopify is easier to use and slightly cheaper when getting started. But for ecommerce startups that need maximum flexibility when scaling, BigCommerce is the right choice.
If you’re setting up a simple online store, Squarespace will make it in the shortest time.
But if your online store will have a large inventory and handle large transactions, then choose Shopify. Although it’s more advanced, it won’t take long to finish building your online business.
Squarespace is the easiest online platform and comes with professionally-designed templates to help those without design or coding skills.
Since Squarespace handles the technical stuff for you and has a simple user interface, building and managing your online store is pretty straightforward.
Recap: Top 5 Best Ecommerce Platforms for Startups in 2023
As more consumers embrace online shopping, the ecommerce industry will continue to grow, and the number of ecommerce solutions will increase.
When choosing the right ecommerce platform, start by identifying your needs, then check which ecommerce solution meets those needs.
Here are the top ecommerce platforms you should consider.
- Types of Ecommerce Websites and How to Build One
- How to Start a Dropshipping Business From Scratch
- 12 Essential Elements for Ecommerce Websites to Increase Profit
- Best Inventory Management Tracking Apps in 2023