A Few years ago, if you wanted to run a store, you need to open a brick-and-mortar store and spend a huge amount of money on advertisements to get a decent footfall of customers in your store. I mean to say, you needed a huge amount of investment to start a business and not everyone could do it.
Now we are living in a digital era, which has made things simpler and now anyone with creativity and passion with the available online tools can open an online store and start their e-commerce journey. You still need a location, rather virtual than physical, to start your online storefront. Creating an online store now-a-days are effortless, thanks to many available e-commerce solutions like Shopify, Big-Commerce, PrestaShop, Magento etc.
There are various e-commerce platforms available now claiming to be the best e-commerce platform for small businesses. So if you are a small business owner who wants to set up your online store, and looking for the best e-commerce platform for small business which is not only easy to use but also pocket-friendly, then you’ve come at a right place.
In this post we will compare the best ecommerce platforms for small business and find out which one is best for you.
Choosing Best Ecommerce Platforms
There are almost infinite numbers of ecommerce platforms to choose from while staring your online business and each one claim to be best for small businesses and start-ups. But there are many things to be considered when choosing the best ecommerce platform for small business. The ecommerce platform that is right for one business may not be suitable for other business. For Example, Some business may want to consider an open-source ecommerce platform, where they can control each aspect of their online store from hosting to design and inventory to customer care also.
On the other hand, some business specially if they are beginners in the ecommerce world, they might prefer a hosted solution for them. So, that they don’t need to look into the technical aspect of their online store, and they can focus more on sales and inventory management. Below are some top points to consider while selecting an ecommerce platform:
- Easy shop setup – Look for an ecommerce platform that is easy to set up and design. As a small business, you want to create a store that showcase your unique brand, so always look for the templates / theme each platform offers. Templates are great for staring a store as they don’t need you to hire expensive outside help to create a professional look for your store to match your brand.
- Easy to navigate and secure – Today’s online shoppers expect a seamless experience from an online store that’s quick and painless. The customers now are more impatience, and they will leave your website if they will not be able to find a product they are looking for. So, the ecommerce platform you’re using must provide smooth navigation to your customers. Security is also a great concern for today’s customer as they are going to spend money on your store, they want to be secure so that their payment data does remain safe. Always look for a platform that provides SSL support for safe and secure checkout.
- Integrations – You need to be able to integrate your online store with other third-party applications especially with your other existing systems and marketing channels. You should choose an ecommerce platform that makes it easy to add on other application integration without even knowing you to code.
- Site Speed – If you are planning to sell physical products, then you’ll be going to add plenty of product images or videos to your site. So, you must need an ecommerce platform that’s fast and reliable. If your customers has to wait for loading of your product images, they might close your site and look somewhere else for the product, and you may lose out on sales.
- SEO-friendly – Most of the people today start their product search on search engines like Google, the ecommerce platform you choose must be SEO-friendly so that people can find your store in their search results. You want to ensure that your online store ranks higher in search results pages, so that customers can find you, especially if you are new to online business.
- Mobile-friendly – Today more and more people are using their smartphones for online shopping, that’s why any platform you choose must be mobile responsive. According to Statista.com, the global mobile retail revenue is projected to be $3.56 trillion by 2021. So, when looking for an ecommerce store, be sure to check that they offer mobile friendly themes that offers consistent experience on all devices.
- Platform Scalability – As a small business owner you may want to grow big one day, but you may not know when and how much big you’ll grow. It’s important to choose an ecommerce platform that will grow along with your business. You may not want to pay for all the features of a platform that you’ll not use, when you’ll first start out. Also, you’ll want a platform to keep up with the higher demands as your business takes off.
- Pricing and Payment – Being a small business you also need to consider the price of the ecommerce platform. Almost all platform offers monthly plans. You will also need to consider processing fees and other add-on fees associated with the ecommerce platforms. You also need to consider how will get payment from your customers. The balance is to don’t pay for what you don’t need to start with and also don’t sacrifice the things you definitely need for a cheaper price.
Best Ecommerce Platforms For Small Business
Now that you know the things to consider in an ecommerce platform that you should use to build your online store. Let’s now check some of the best available ecommerce platform in the market for these features and find out the best ecommerce platform.
Shopify is one of the biggest and most popular cloud based ecommerce platform for all scale of online business. This ecommerce platform is a software as a service (SaaS) – means you need to pay monthly to use this software to create your own online store.
This platform is easy to use, and you don’t need to have coding or design skills to set up your online store. Shopify is available in five different versions to caters to small businesses and large ecommerce businesses. Shopify lite is one of the cheapest method to start selling products online, it allows you to integrate a buy button in your existing blog, website or social media page.
Basic Shopify allows you to sell an unlimited number of products and enables you to create a fully functional standalone store. The next plan is Shopify which allows you to do everything the Basic plan plus pretty much every feature you’re looking for from a Shopify perspective—customizable website, online store, blog, even an abandoned cart recovery tool.
Advanced Shopify plan is a step above from Shopify plan and provides extra features such as advanced report building, real-time carrier shipping quotations from third parties, integrate with your shipping accounts, extra discounted shipping rates etc.
Setting up shop – Setting up shop on Shopify is straightforward, and it offers a step-by-step guide on how to add products, customize themes, and add a domain. Everything can be managed from their admin dashboard and the platform offers a range of free and paid themes to change the look and feel of your online store.
Navigation/Security – Shopify offers unlimited bandwidth and 99.98% uptime. Shopify is also PCI-compliant and includes a 256-bit SSL certificate to keep your store safe and secure.
Integrations – Shopify offers integrations with more than 2500 apps and is increasing day by day.
SEO-friendly – Shopify offers good SEO features and all their store are SEO built-in. The sitemap.xml and robots.txt are automatically generated as well as title tags including the name of your store. Shopify allows you to edit the URLs for the bog post, products, webpages and alt text for the images as well.
Mobile-friendly – Shopify is purely mobile-friendly, you can even manage your store from mobile device and your customer can also access your store from their mobile phone and make purchases. Shopify uses HTML 5 which makes your store looks awesome and easy for your customers to navigate.
Analytics – Shopify offers platform’s analytics and reports ranging from total sales to online store conversion rate percentages to average order values.
Tech Support – Shopify offers 24/7 support via email, live chat, and phone support.
Customer payment options – Shopify offers a various payment options like Shopify Payments, PayPal, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay and even other methods of payment like cryptocurrency.
Price – Shopify offers free 14-day trial to test you their services before you start any paid plan. The Lite plan starts out at $9/mo; Basic plan is $29/mo; Shopify plan is $79/mo; and Advanced plan at $299/mo.
BigCommerce is a SaaS platform to create an online store, ideal for smaller businesses that are in the process of growing larger. BigCommerce is loaded with tons of built-in features, that means most of the functionality you need will already be in-built into your software. You don’t need to install or add additional add-ons as like Shopify.
BigCommerce is available in 4 different versions Standard, Plus, Pro, and Enterprise. This platform lets you sell across various sales channel like eBay, Amazon, Square, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Shop setup – Setting up a store on BigCommerce is easy, and you don’t need to be a tech wizard to do it. Its has many free and paid themes available to easily customize your store up to a great extent.
Navigation/Security – BigCommerce offers 99.99% uptime and claims to offer a 20% faster server response time than other ecommerce platforms. BigCommerce’s servers are PCI DSS 3.2 certified at Level 1 and the platform offers DDoS protection to keep your store safe and secure.
Integrations – BigCommerce integrates with almost any app out there from Facebook Easy Ads to Google Shopping, Coupon Manager, and ShipStation, to makes your selling, shipping, and marketing a lot easier to manage.
SEO-friendly – BigCommerce offers great SEO features, page titles and headers are easy to edit, you can change product pages URLs, and other advanced SEO tools are also available.
Mobile-friendly – BigCommerce is purely mobile-friendly and offers native support for accelerated mobile pages (AMP) for lightning-fast page load times.
Analytics – BigCommerce Analytics and Insights reports offer stats on your store’s performance, shows its interaction with customers, and provides snapshots on your dashboard for quick views of orders, sales channels, and conversions.
Tech Support – It offers 24/7 live support via phone, chat, or email and also comes with lots of self-help guides including a section called “Ecommerce Answers” that includes how-to tips, ecommerce marketing and strategy tips.
Customer payment options – BigCommerce lets you choose your payment provider without any additional transaction fees or penalties. It allows various payment processors like PayPal, Apple Pay, Square, Stripe, Visa, Amazon Pay etc.
Price – The Standard plan of BigCommerce comes at $29.95/mo, Plus at $79.95/mo, Pro jumps comes at $249.95/mo, and for Enterprise you need to talk to their sales representative. They also offer a free 15-day trial to test you their services before you start any paid plan.
WooCommerce is an open-source ecommerce solution that’s built on the WordPress Content Management System. Basically, it is a WordPress plugin and is a very popular choice among the ecommerce community. Just like any other WordPress plugin, you can easily connect WooCommerce to your WordPress blog / website. It has nearly 300 official extensions in its store spread over payments, shipping, marketing, and accounting etc.
Shop setup – If you’ve ever worked on WordPress, setting up WooCommerce will be a piece of cake for you. It’s a simple as installing any other WordPress plugin and following the setup wizard. The internet is full of many free and paid themes for WooCommerce using that you can make your store as attractive you want.
Navigation/Security – As WooCommerce is based on WordPress, it’s easy to navigate that depends on the installed theme. Apart from the navigation menu categories, tags, and attributes helps your customers find the product they are looking for. As WooCommerce is a self-hosted platform, the security of your store will be mostly managed by you. There are lots of security plugins available in WordPress plugin repository to manage that.
Integrations – WooCommerce offers more than 400 extensions to integrate with almost anything from Payments to Shipping, Marketing to Store Enhancements to name a few.
SEO-friendly – WooCommerce is out-of-the box SEO-friendly as it is based upon WordPress. There are various popular SEO plugins available to make your store more SEO-friendly like Yoast, RankMath etc.
Mobile-friendly – WooCommerce storefront and administration panel is purely mobile-friendly. It lets your customers access your store on-the-go on their mobile devices.
Analytics – WooCommerce displays sales, orders, and general store status in your WordPress dashboard. You can also integrate your store with Google Analytics and track the ecommerce stats right from your dashboard.
Tech Support – As it’s an open-source platform, tech support is not that great. For support, you need to rely on self-help guides, blogs, YouTube videos and documentation on their website.
Customer payment options – PayPal comes as default payment options for WooCommerce, but you can also add other payment plugins such as Amazon Payments, Stripe, PayFast, Authorize.net, and FirstData etc.
Price – WooCommerce being an open-source platform is free, but you need to pay for domain fees (around $15/year) and hosting fees (approximately $120/year). Apart from this, you’ll also need to spend for a look looking theme ($20 – $100) and communications/SEO/security add up to be around $250/year.
Wix is an all-in-one SaaS platform for creating websites, it also allows you to create an online store using Wix eCommerce. Wix offers power, scalability options, and lots of customization power for selling online.
Shop setup – Setting your online store is straightforward in Wix, just log into your account or sign up, choose your online store templates, edit it, add products and do other settings and done. The interface is beginner-friendly and easy to use drag-and-drop website builder helps you to create your store in no time.
Navigation/Security – Wix templates offers clean layouts and a shopper-friendly experience. From a security standpoint, the platform has PSD2 SCA and PCI-compliant payment processing, secure on-site and in-app checkout with HTTPS/TLS data encryption and avoid common fraud attacks with Wix’s AI and rule-based risk system.
Integrations – Wix offers integration with various third-party applications like HubSpot, Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, Mailchimp, Google Ads, Crazy egg etc.
SEO-friendly –Wix boasts a wide range of SEO features that are practical and easy to use. You can easily change Page Title, Meta description and Personalized URLs for the product pages as well. Wix also generates an automatic sitemap for your store, but you can’t access it or customize it.
Mobile-friendly – Wix comes with a mobile editor, and it also automatically gives you a mobile-optimized version of the template that you are using. Wix claims that your website will loon amazing on every screen, but the platform uses absolute positioning for mobile responsive design. Absolute positioning give flexibility in positioning elements, but your website will not adapt as well to different screen sizes.
Analytics – Wix eCommerce displays data about your store, such as the number of visits to your site, how visitors got there (e.g. from Google, Facebook, etc.) what percentage of them purchased products, which products are top sellers, and more. You can also integrate your store with Google Analytics and track the ecommerce stats right from your dashboard.
Tech Support – They offer 24/7 live support via phone, chat, or email you can also submit a ticket or request a callback while logged in to your dashboard.
Customer payment options – Wix offers multiple payments options for the customers to pay on your store. You can also use Wix Payments or a third-party payment provider to accept credit card payments. PayPal’s payments are also supported in Wix and other third-party payment gateways include 2Checkout, Alipay, PayU, Razorpay, Stripe, Worldpay to list a few.
Price – Wix eCommerce has three plans to choose from, Business Basic costs $23/ Month, Business Unlimited costs $27 and Business VIP costs $49. They don’t offer a free trial but offers 14 days money-back guarantee, so you can test this platform out without worrying.
Squarespace is an all-in-one SaaS platform website builder that can also be used to create an online store. This ecommerce platform is similar to Wix but it comes with several advanced features such as excellent integration with social media channels.
You can create an attractive online business or portfolio using Squarespace, and it provides many modern templates to male your store the way you want. Although it doesn’t provide as many features as other platforms like Shopify, but you can access SSL security and free domain with any annual plan.
Shop setup – Shop setup with Squarespace is a breeze, just log into your account or sign up, choose your online store templates, edit it, add products and do other settings and done. The interface is clear and the drag-and-drop website builder makes it even more `beginner-friendly.
Navigation/Security – Squarespace templates offer clean layouts and a shopper-friendly experience. The platform has DDoS Protection and built-in security features to ward off bugs and malware, as far as security is concerned.
Integrations – Squarespace has integration with almost anything be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Dropbox etc. Apart from these, other integrations includes G Suite, Adobe Fonts, Zapier, Amazon, and more.
SEO-friendly – Squarespace automatically produces pages with clean HTML and clean URLs that are easily read and indexed. The platform also provides Automatic tagging, automatic redirects, and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
Mobile-friendly – All templates in Squarespace are mobile-friendly and your website will display good even on mobile devices.
Analytics – The platform provides analytic like number of store visitors, trends, traffic influxes, and sales and conversions. It also provides an overall view of how a store is performing.
Tech Support – Squarespace provides 24/7 tech support for any plan and includes email and live chat support. They also have extensive knowledge base, help center, and a community-driven Q&A on their website.
Customer payment options – Squarespace integrates directly with Stripe, but also provides other options like Apple Pay and PayPal.
Price – There are three plans to choose for creating an online store, Business Plan comes at $18 / month with a transaction fees of 3%. The other plans include Basic Commerce and Advanced Commerce at $26/month and $40/month with zero transaction fees.
Which Ecommerce Platform is Best for You
I have listed some of the most popular ecommerce platform and their features based on the points to consider while selecting the best ecommerce platform for small business. Now you must be thinking out of these which one should you use to create your online store , here’s my suggestion.
If you’re a small business just starting out, I recommend one of the top three. You should use:
- Wix If you’re a complete beginner who wants total creative freedom over your site’s design.
- Squarespace if you want a modern template-based website design, tons of creative control, and all your features built-in.
- Shopify if you’re serious about selling, and best tools and apps to smoothly run and scale your business rapidly.
And if your store grows quickly – I hope it will – then you might want to consider switching to a big business-friendly platform like BigCommerce, which is ideal for fast growing ecommerce stores.