eCommerce Platform or Online Marketplace?

There are a lot of online selling options out there! It’s nice to have choices but knowing whether an eCommerce platform or online marketplace is best for you can be tough.

If you are an Etsy artisan who is considering adding another channel to your retail empire, the following breakdown will be a great place to start!

The table below as a quick review of the differences based on key criteria. This will help you narrow down what might be right for your business.

CriteriaeCommerce PlatformOnline Marketplace
OwnershipYour store is built as a standalone websiteYour store is an account on the marketplace’s website
TrafficTraffic to your site comes from your marketing activities and search enginesEach marketplace comes with its own search engine that offers an additional source of traffic
CustomizationGreater freedom to personalize your store as you see fitLimited options for personalization determined by the marketplace
Payment ProcessingPayment processing is set up separately (most platforms offer apps or add-ons for this)Most marketplaces offer built-in payment processing
GoalsIdeal for sellers looking to grow their own brandIdeal for sellers who want to start out on an already known marketplace

eCommerce Platforms

Below are some of the eCommerce platforms available today along with a price range and short description to help you narrow down which one might be right for you.

PlatformPrice RangeDescription
Shopify$$Shopify is an easy to use platform. It has a quick and intuitive setup, user-friendly interface, and it comes with hosting.
WooCommerce$A free plugin for WordPress websites. It doesn’t include hosting, but it gives you more flexibility to customize your store.
Wix$$Choose Wix if you want full control over your online store’s appearance. Design your own storefront with Wix’s intuitive drag and drop builder or choose from 500+ beautiful, customizable, designer-made templates.
Squarespace$$Squarespace is a widely popular, design-oriented platform known for simplistic, minimal, and fully responsive website themes. They offer an array of resources and 24/7 support.
Ecwid$$Ecwid supports sales on multiple platforms including Facebook, Tumblr, and Google Shopping. Create your own store, or easily add a shopping cart to existing websites on WordPress, Squarespace, and more.
BigCommerce$$BigCommerce enables multi-channel selling, so you can sell on your store and on other marketplaces and social sites, like Etsy and Facebook. It’s easy to use, has great support services, and provides hosting.
Prestashop$A free, open-source eCommerce platform. It doesn’t include hosting, but it gives you more flexibility to customize your store.
Weebly$Weebly is an ideal platform for small to midsize businesses with little to no technical experience. It’s extremely user-friendly and easy to set up.
BigCartel$Big Cartel is an easy to use platform that focuses on artists. It’s free if you have five items or fewer, but it charges a monthly subscription if you add more products.
Magento$$Magento is an open-source platform with powerful features. They offer two versions. The first is Magento open source, their free-to-use platform created for small, growing businesses. Their second, paid option, Magento Commerce, is designed for large enterprises.
Gumroad$This is a minimalistic platform that lets you sell products on your dedicated store site by adding a “buy” button on any webpage. It’s easy to set up but doesn’t offer much customization.

Online Marketplaces

Below are some of the online marketplaces available today along with a price range and short description to help you narrow down which one might be right for you.

MarketplacePrice RangeDescription
Etsy$Etsy is a trusted, well-known marketplace that’s ideal for creatives looking to reach a large audience. 
Amazon$$$Amazon is trusted by millions of shoppers and is one of the most popular online marketplaces. It’s a great choice if you already have an online store and want to sell on another channel, or if you want to sell on Amazon exclusively.
eBay$$eBay is an excellent choice for those who already have a store and are looking for an additional selling channel.
Wish$One of the most successful mobile marketplaces that makes shopping fun! With over 500 million users around the world, it’s the #1 shopping app in 42 countries.
Storenvy$$A ready-made marketplace with a focus on social sharing. It’s hosted, free, and your store uses Storenvy’s default design and designated domain.
Bonanza$Bonanza is an online platform that connects sellers directly with buyers, providing powerful tools to help users grow their businesses. A worldwide presence, Bonanza empowers 50,000+ sellers in almost 200 countries!

These are only some of the options out there and the lists will likely continue to increase. To keep from becoming too overwhelmed, I suggest deciding on the priority of your criteria and then start deleting options if they don’t provide or focus on what you need. Then, with that shortlist, you can dig a little deeper to find the best solution for your needs.