eCommerce is growing at very fast speed worldwide. All manufacturers, brands and service providers wants to sell their services and goods via eCommerce platform. Mostly young entrepreneurs starting online businesses because of high potential future growth of eCommerce market. For new startups its always difficult to choose the right eCommerce platform as there are many platforms available in the market. On the basis of technical skills requirement, support system, pricing, loading time, SEO friendliness and catalog size I will share the Best eCommerce platform for startups of year 2018 and 2019.
Broadly eCommerce platforms are classified into three categories.
Opensource – Example is Opencart, Magento, WooCommerce and PrestaShop. You can download the coding at free of cost. Purchase a good hosting and upload the coding files as per the instruction given on documentation page of each platform. For using opensource platform you must have technical skills.
SaaS ( Software as a Service) – In simple language SaaS means the eCommerce software is hosted on their own server and they will charge you monthly or yearly fees for using it. Example is Shopify, BigCommerce, 3dCart and Wix. No technical skills are required.
CaaS ( Commerce as a Service) – Its Cloud-based solution like SaaS. Example BigCommerce.
Right decisions are very important in every startup because one wrong decision can burn lots of money and time. In this article I will try to discuss each and every crucial point of eCommerce platform which will help you to choose the best one for your startup. So here is the list of best eCommerce platform for startups.
Shopify is world known eCommerce platform. Its a SaaS based platform having 2018 market share more than 18% all around the world. You can live your store with in one day even if you are a non technical person. Currently more than 2,0000 websites are hosted on it. It is very user friendly platform. Price starts from $29 for basic plan and advanced plan pricing is $299. Shopify plus is another option if your business is at large scale. This is considered the one of the best eCommerce platform for startups.
- You don`t need any technical skills to set up your store.
- There is no worry to select and buy hosting and maintaining server side issues. You can easily focus on your core business because Shopify technical team will take care of all hosting related issues.
- There is a 14 days free trial with all features so that you can check and decide to go or not.
- Shopify has top quality servers so loading time of website is really fast. Its loads in 1.3 Seconds only.
- Very SEO friendly, i totally disagree to those who says shopify is not SEO friendly. Myself own a shopify website which has great organic traffic because of SEO.
- 24X7 live chat and email support.
- Lots of apps are available which you can install and uninstall at single click. You can install the apps according to the features you required.
- Many free themes are available.
- Abandoned Cart Orders Recovery feature is available in basic plan.
- Recurring cost, you can choose yearly plan or monthly. Apart from this apps cost will be added more monthly basis.
- Per order transaction fees is applied extra. Its 2% of order value for basic plan and 0.5% for advanced plan.This does not apply if you are using shopify payments.
- Shopify has own coding language liquid and for any changes either you need to learn it or hire shopify expert for the same.
- Gift card feature is not available for basic plan. For customer returns you will have to do refund in bank.
Decision – Shopify is good option If you are a non technical person or even you are technical but want to focus on your core business. If your products are ready to sell or already have customer base than nothing is better than shopify platform. In case your startup lacks in funds than you can start with basic plan because that plan also have almost all basic features. Once your revenue increase than upgrade the plan.
WooCommerce is a plugin of wordpress which you can install by a single click on wordpress website. Its opensource and absolutely free of cost. Approx 22% of eCommerce websites in world are using WooCommerce to run their stores successfully. This is the best best eCommerce platform for startups if you have little technical knowledge.
- Number one platform for SEO. You will get lots of free traffic if SEO is done properly in website.
- Very Economical, as its free plugin. You can use shared or VPS hosting according to your budget. Shared hosting of bluehost starts from $2.95 per month.
- Lots of developers are available worldwide at very economical pricing. You can visit fiverr.com or seoclerk.com to hire them.
- Easy customization. You can change the design and theme easily as compared to other platforms.
- When your database becomes large or you can say that when your sales grow than both backend and website becomes slow.
- Not good for larger scale customer base.
- You must have little technical knowledge to handle any sudden tech issue.
- You will have to buy hosting and maintain it.
- There is no support. You will have to depend on Youtube videos and google for technical help.
Decision – If your startup is new and you have little technical knowledge than WooCommerce is best platform. Once your sale will increase than you can switch to another platform with all existing customer and supplier database at very little cost.
Magento was launched in year 2008 and now it powers more than 25,000 merchants worldwide. In 2018 magento had 13% market share in eCommerce platforms. It is opensource platform based on PHP language and has many developers worldwide who contribute in making extensions. There is a free version for small and medium business which is called as Magento Community Edition (CE) and another paid version is called as Magento Enterprise Edition (EE) for large scale business. Paid version cost $18,000.
All big brands websites like Nike, Coca Cola, Ford are build up on Magento platform.
- Very much SEO friendly.
- It has maximum features and very flexible. You can easily customize the store according to your requirement.
- Great for large database and scalability has no limits.
- Large number of extensions are available, install and pay for whatever you need.
- Hosting cost goes up in Magento because it does not load fast on shared hosting. It requires minimum a VPS server.
- You must have Php or technical knowledge because developers fees for customization is too high.
- Theme and extensions are quite costly.
- There is no customer support because its opensource. You will have to depend on community post and youtube videos.
Decision – A big No if your business is new and has less funds. You can see that only big and existing brands using magento. Grow your business on WooCommerce or shopify first than shift on Magento with all previous database.
BigCommerce is a SaaS based eCommerce platform having approx 8% market share. This is one of the biggest competitor of shopify. More than 95K websites are live on BigCommerce. This is great platform for small and medium size business. Basic plan starts from $29.95 having many rich features. Just to check the BigCommerce features you can signup for the trial of 15 days.
- No technical skills required, you can start selling your products from first day.
- SaaS based so there is no need to buy any hosting. Leading speed is good enough but not better than shopify.
- Gift Card and Single page checkout are included in basic plans.
- One click install apps marketplace.
- SEO friendly but little less than shopify.
- 24X7 customer support.
- There is no transaction fees like in shopify.
- Good for Drop Ship model.
- Recurring cost is too high, specially for Pro Plan.
- Apps cost increase the overall billing of store.
- Limited changes can be done as you don`t have 100% right to access the all files.
- Abandoned Cart Orders Recovery feature not available in basic plan.
Decision – BigCommerce is good for all small and medium size eCommerce websites. This is right choice for those who don`t have technical skills.
3dcart is a SaaS based eCommerce platform founded in 1997. It is a competitor of Shopify and BigCommerce so it has similarities to both, however it focuses more strongly on number of features. This is a great platform if you don’t want to worry as much about apps because most features are built in. Beginner plan is called Startup and is $19 making it lower priced than Shopify and BigCommerce. You can try 3dcart with a free 15 day trial.
- No technical skills required, 3dcart handles all hosting and security.
- More features in the platform, so the app store is mostly for integrations with other software which can be connected to your store with one click.
- Lower price and very cost effective due to no transaction fees and less need for paid apps.
- Gift Card and single page checkout are included in Startup plan.
- Good for Drop Ship model and there is a $9.99 Drop Shipping plan although it is not seen on the Pricing page. Drop Shipping plan has some restrictions but comes with integrations like Doba, AliExpress, and Printful.
- FTP with full access to store theme files.
- Very SEO friendly with all features needed for on page SEO.
- 24X7 live support with chat, email, and phone.
- Many free themes and all are responsive.
- Recurring monthly or yearly cost.
- Abandoned Cart Saver feature is not in the basic plans but can be bought separately from the app store.
- Less customization in Theme Editor so big changes require HTML and CSS knowledge.
- Because of so many features it can be a little harder to learn.
Decision – If you want the most features for the lowest price 3dcart is the right choice for you. If you are lacking in funds, time, and technical knowledge you will find 3dcart’s pricing and features to be the best. There are many plans for different size businesses from startups to high volume stores and most plans are a much lower price than competitors. Startup plan has the most features of any beginner eCommerce plan and costs $10 less than Shopify and BigCommerce.
Prestashop was founded in year 2007 and currently has 4% market share. You have two options to use this platform, first one is to download the software and upload it on your own hosting. Second option is use Prestashop ready which cost €24.90 per month. If you have knowledge of HTML, CSS and PHP than download free version and customize the store according to your need.
You can sign up and take trial of 16 days for Prestashop hosted platform. If your startup is Multi Vendor Marketplace than Prestashop is the final destination for you.
- Very SEO friendly.
- Best for Multi Vendor marketplace.
- Choice of Self hosted or Prestashop Hosted.
- Flexible for Customization.
- Many apps available at Prestashop apps marketplace.
- Load time is more which can irritate your customer.
- Some Apps are costly which increase overall cost.
- You will have to depend on develop even for small changes.
Decision – Prestashop is good for you if you know some languages and want to launch marketplace. This is not popular choice for those who don`t have technical skills.
Wix is a free website builder which become popular in year 2018. It gives solution of eCommerce platform as well but it lacks in SEO and other features which must have in eCommerce website. Although its visual interface design is quite good, easy drag and drop feature which does not require any kind of technical skills.
- No technical skills are required. Easy drag and drop.
- Very cheap in pricing. For India pricing starts from Rs 70/month only.
- No need to hire any developer etc.
- Apps marketplace is available but even basic apps are not free.
- Loading is slow as compared to other eCommerce platform.
- Not much customization is possible.
Decision – Wix is good if you have niche market. You can definitely try it because its very economical and has 14 days trial period as well.
This is a opensource platform which has captured approx 3% market share. Its based on PHP language. I used this eCommerce platform when I started my eCommerce journey in year 2011. Although i do not know PHP at all but i am technical person so I made the website myself after buying a shared hosting.
- Its free of cost.
- Very economical because extensions are paid only once whereas in SaaS based platforms its per month basis.
- Very flexible but you should know PHP language.
- SEO Friendly and loads fast even on shared hosting.
- No support available so you will have to depend on community discussions.
- Poor look and old design. I will suggest you to buy theme which is one time investment.
- Technical knowledge is must and will be great if you know PHP.
So guys these are Best eCommerce Platform for Startups in year 2018 and 2019. The final decision depends on your catalog, funds, requirement and your knowledge.
- Go for WooCommerce if you have technical knowledge + small or medium size business + limited funds.
- Choose Shopify or BigCommece if you want to focus on your core business + no technical knowledge.
- Select Magento if you have a large customer base + can hire developer.
- Go for opencart or wix if you have initial funds issue.
I hope this article will help you to choose the Best eCommerce Platform for Startups, please give your feedback and I will answer them.