People don’t find it as risky to buy online as they used to in the past. Today, we can securely buy or sell goods and services with just a few screen swipes and keystrokes on our desktops and mobile devices. If you have products or services to sell, you don’t need a physical location to conduct business.
Every time we go online to buy or sell something – that’s eCommerce. Young entrepreneurs and small business owners can start leveraging eCommerce solutions, like Amazon or eBay, and sell products online on digital marketplaces. Still, it’s best to build your own online store because any customers who buy directly from you, belong to you instead of belonging to Amazon and eBay. And we all know that a customer is more valuable than just a ‘sale.’ To build a store of your own, you will need to choose an eCommerce platform. Small business owners can avoid going for enterprise platform solutions because they require hiring technical experts.
Instead of overpaying for a full-blown solution, you can choose a platform that allows you to build and set up a great online business without draining your budget. Here are the top eCommerce platform options to choose from:
For a small business looking to find its way online, the Wix eCommerce platform has much to offer. This platform gives its users total creative control and scores very well when it comes to ease of use, design, and value for money.
Thanks to its drag-and-drop tools, even a beginner can easily build an online store without spending too much money. However, Wix cannot boast powerful sales features and other additional features like Shopify can, which enables you to sell across multiple channels, such as Instagram and Facebook. The ease of use is what makes Wix a dream for small business owners who don’t have much time to dedicate to building an online store or additional cost to outsource web development services.
Open your Wix dashboard, choose a template, drag text boxes, images, and more onto your page, and just drop them wherever you want. You’ll need to sign up for the Business Basic plan to be able to sell products, and it will cost you $17 per month.
Wix comes with priority service ticket support, telephone support, and a review of your website’s SEO and user interface. It allows for the sale of digital and physical products and comes with booking features that will enable your customers to sign up for classes or make appointments. You can track performance and sales stats, send email reminders, and accept reservations (if you run a restaurant, for example).
If you run a small business and want to prepare it for growth, Bigcommerce is ideal because it comes with many advanced tools under its belt and does not demand advanced technical knowledge. It’s a powerful eCommerce website platform builder and is accessible to the rookies in the eCommerce game.
When compared to other eCommerce builders, Bigcommerce is less reliant on apps because it has the most built-in features. This makes it the most scalable eCommerce platform out there, meaning that it can help keep some money in your pocket.
With Bigcommerce, you can sell across different channels, such as Amazon, eBay, Square, Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. As for the cons, we must note that many of their tools are geared toward supporting larger stores and helping businesses grow quickly. If you are not looking to scale your small business, then you will be overpaying for a platform that hosts features you don’t need. Also, some users find that the complex terminology it uses makes the platform score low on ease-of-use testing. On the other hand, its great sales features and SEO tools are powerful and can help streamline your sales process and increase online visibility. The Standard Plan is the cheapest plan – $29.95 per month.
For those who want to grow their small business and do it at a pace that suits them, Volusion has all the data tools you need to track your progress and site’s performance. Thanks to its robust data tracking and analytics system, you can measure how successful your site and its pages are, and then adjust it to improve sales. Furthermore, Volusion also scores high with its sales features, but for a small business, most of those features would be overkill.
When it comes to website features, Volusion scores poorly, mainly because it doesn’t offer blogging tools (blogging is still an important part of content marketing, especially for growing companies).
Volusion is a good place to start if you want to grow your business. The Personal Plan is the cheapest and costs $29 per month (when billed annually). But since it costs the same as Shopify, you will get a better bang for your buck with Shopify.
3dcart is a platform that relies more on its back-end performance. It focuses less on website designs and creativity but has powerful inventory features and back-end tools. Users cannot edit their website on the go because there is no mobile app, but the platform does have excellent built-in sales tools. Also, you won’t have to spend money on buying third-party apps to integrate. 3dcart is flexible regarding customization, with the option to change your theme whenever you want to. However, 3dcart doesn’t provide a mobile app or support to its users. If you’re looking for great tools and don’t mind the limitations in the front-end, you can get 3dcart for $19 per month (the cheapest plan).
Shopify – The Top eCommerce Platform for Small Businesses
When it comes to the top eCommerce platform for startups and to host your digital storefront, Shopify seems to be the best ecosystem for small businesses that strive to grow and transform into something more. With Shopify, you can design your brand’s logo on their site, generate your free domain name, and take a look at their vendor relationships to find products to sell. If you need stock photos, there’s a free library right there on their site. Want to buy an existing online store? Yes, you can even do that on Shopify.
Shopify offers more advanced sales tools than other eCommerce platforms because it’s a dedicated eCommerce platform designed purely to help you build a digital store. It has the highest customer score based on their experience. Shopify has built-in dropshipping tools, so it’s the perfect solution for small businesses that can’t arrange storage for their products. And if you are already in the business, there are apps you could use to sync your inventories and continue to manage all your sales from one dashboard. Shopify also allows merchants to use their Shopify Payments gateway to accept online transactions. The cost is competitive with the other third-party payment processing options.
Shopify pricing plans start from $29 per month, and even though you are getting features you might not need for a while, the balance of price and great features makes it the best bet for small businesses. It offers a 14-day free trial that you can sign up to without giving your credit card number.
Remember that the cheapest eCommerce option is not always the best fit for your business. Think about user experience, marketing tools, inventory management, customization options, and eCommerce plugins. We recommend trying any website builder from our list to see whether it meets your needs. When reviewing the popular eCommerce platforms available today, we focused on mobile responsiveness, scalability, and cost. After reading customer reviews and talking to designers and developers, we made comparisons of the features and prices, paying attention to the effort needed to build, maintain, and grow an online store.