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The 4 best eCommerce platforms for small businesses

December 4, 2020

4 min read

Thinking about starting an online store? Well, one of your first steps is figuring out the best eCommerce platforms and which one to go with. Starting your own online store can be overwhelming – luckily we have a guide for that – but we’re here to help you determine which eCommerce platform is the best one for your business. 

What do we look for in an ecommerce platform for small businesses? 

Easy to use. When looking for an ecommerce platform, you want something that’s going to be easy to use and easy to learn. Especially if you’re not tech-savvy, a simple and intuitive ecommerce platform will make your life a lot easier.  

Scalable. You might be small now. But you don’t plan to stay that way. It’s important to plan for the future, and prepare your business for growth and success. That’s why having an ecommerce platform that will let your business grow is essential for small businesses. Don’t make the mistake of picking a non-scalable ecommerce platform only to have to start your online store from scratch once you’ve outgrown it! 

Affordable. While investing in the right tools can be a good thing, some tools are simply too costly to be wise for any small business. 

Functionality. Above all else, you want your ecommerce platform to work for you. Don’t choose an ecommerce platform just because it’s inexpensive or because it’s easy to use, if it doesn’t meet your needs. While it may seem like you’re saving money or time to make those sacrifices, you’ll only end up causing problems in the long run when you can’t run your business effectively. 

Consider all of these attributes when deciding on what ecommerce platform is right for you. Let’s go over the pros and cons of our top picks, and let you decide which one will work best for your business. 

The best eCommerce platforms

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is an exceptional eCommerce platform. It’s the only platform on this list that is completely free – WooCommerce is a free WordPress plugin that you can easily install and set up in your WordPress site. It’s a staple ecommerce platform not only for its affordability, but also because of it’s high customization. WooCommerce comes with a massive library of extensions, many of them free, that allow you to add a ton of features to your online store. It’s also open-source, meaning it can be easily modified with coding and custom development.

The downside to this is that, although WooCommerce is free, the cost can potentially spike. Hosting, paid plugins, and any custom development (if you can’t do it yourself) can become costly.

There is also very little support from WooCommerce – but the WordPress community online is vast, and there are a ton of resources for support.

Pros

  • Highly customizable
  • Good for SEO
  • Affordable
  • Large community
  • Great for developers

Cons

  • Can be tricky without any tech skills
  • Support isn’t great
  • Can become pricey if you need to hire a developer or if you need multiple paid plugins
  • Plugins can cause problems on your site

Shopify

Shopify. Ever heard of it? It’s a popular ecommerce platform because it’s so darn easy to use! It’s page builder is extremely user friendly, and it offers a ton of design templates to make building your online store as easy as possible No tech skills required! 

It comes with a ton of great features to help you manage your online store, including an inventory management system, and it lets you sell across multiple channels like Facebook, Amazon, and eBay. 

However, Shopify can be pretty pricey. Their plans alone can be quite costly, on top of their transaction fees. On top of that, Shopify isn’t as customizable as some of the ecommerce platforms on this list. They aren’t designed to integrate with third party apps, and custom integration isn’t really an option, which can be a problem for store owners with specific needs.

Pros 

  • Great built-in features
  • App Market
  • Excellent inventory system

Cons

  • Pricey for small businesses
  • Transaction fees
  • Third Party apps can be tricky
  • Not very customizable

BigCommerce

BigCommerce is easy to use, and gives you lots of control over your shop with an abundance of features – you don’t need apps or extensions to get a lot of features with BigCommerce. Abandoned cart recovery, analytics, and SSL security, among others, are already built into your website. Like WooCommerce, BigCommerce can be customized with coding, but is designed to be user-friendly even to those who don’t have any coding experience.

However, one of the biggest drawbacks to BigCommerce is their pricing structure. Instead of charging based on subscription plan or features, your price is determined by your revenue and your number of transactions. This doesn’t bode well for scalability, as your prices will skyrocket as you become more successful. 

While BigCommerce is easy to use, their theme editor isn’t as easy as a drag-and-drop, so your creative control is a little bit more limited.

Pros

  • Easy to use 
  • Great store management
  • Lets you sell across other platforms like Facebook, Amazon and Instagram

Cons

  • Not a lot of creative control
  • Prices rise as your store grows

Wix

Wix is ideal for people who have little or no technical skills. It has a library of templates for designing your own store, and an intuitive drag and drop interface that makes designing your online store fun and easy. They also offer a ton of apps you can easily activate to customize your store the way you want it. Wix also makes it easy to market your site,with built-in SEO management and email marketing. 

The drawbacks are that your Wix site is not transferable. If you need to move your online store to another platform, you’ll have to start from scratch. This can be a big problem if your business grows and you need a new ecommerce platform. 

Likewise, Wix has some limitations when it comes to functionality. It does not allow you to upload bulk products, or sell across other channels. On top of that, any analytics tools are only available with a paid plan/

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Drag and drop interface
  • Easy Marketing
  • Lots of features 
  • App Marketplace

Cons

  • No bulk products upload
  • No multi-channel selling
  • Analytics requires a paid plan
  • Your site is not transferable

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