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Many small business owners turn to ecommerce to sell goods through their own online store, on social media, or on marketplaces. This is such a hot area of commerce that the ecommerce platform market is saturated with providers offering various software products to help with sales, marketing, and payment processing. There are similarities, but each offers a different value proposition in its focus and features. Because of this, we provide you with an analysis and explanation of the 10 top companies we found offering this important service. Read on to find out what is the best ecommerce platform for small businesses.
What is an Ecommerce Platform?
A program or online tool known as an ecommerce platform enables companies to sell goods and services through online stores. By utilizing their computers, tablets, or smartphones, customers may browse, choose, and buy goods and services from businesses that have set up online storefronts. Ecommerce platforms frequently include a variety of features and functionalities, such as customer management, order monitoring, payment processing, and inventory management. To improve both the company and consumer eCommerce experiences, they also integrate with a variety of third-party products and services.
What Does an Ecommerce Platform Do?
An ecommerce site serves as the foundation for an online store, providing a range of tools and features to help businesses sell products or services over the internet. For example, a core function is product management. Businesses can add, edit, and organize their products or services within the platform, including descriptions, images, and pricing. The platforms provide a shopping cart and checkout where the customers can add items to their cart and complete the purchase process through a secure checkout process, which typically includes payment processing, shipping options, and order tracking. Ecommerce companies can help with Inventory management to track and manage their inventory levels and receive notifications when stock runs low. They also can collect and manage customer data, including contact information and purchase history, and use marketing tools to reach customers. Some premium providers give analytics and reporting insights into sales performance, website traffic, and customer behavior, allowing businesses to optimize their strategies and make data-driven decisions.
Overall, ecommerce platforms streamline the online selling process, making it easier for businesses to reach a wider audience and grow their revenue online.
10 Best Ecommerce Platforms For Small Businesses 2023
Top 10 Best Ecommerce Platforms For Small Businesses December 2023
Shopify is an all-around performer that is easy to set up and manage – while filled with features. They offer elegant and effective store templates for quickset up and design of a storefront. Additionally, Shopify can help businesses with marketing, payment processing, and shipping as an all-in-one solution. Shopify works well for omnichannel commerce. Users can integrate their social platforms such as Instagram and Facebook while also selling through Amazon, Walmart, and eBay. Your customers can use one of the dozens of payment methods that are supported. Shopify provides excellent customer support with its own staff and there are always many Shopify experts to connect with. Shopify stands out with the integration of thousands of apps and plugins – which is generally excellent but at times overwhelming. Their plans all provide excellent value – they offer Basic ($29/month), Shopify (($79/month), Advanced ($299/month), and the enterprise level Plus ($2,000) per month. The plans come with most features, but the Basic and Shopify are meant for smaller operations, allowing limited numbers of items and only 2 and 5 staff users respectively.
Wix is a dominant force in webpage design overall and offers an excellent all-in-one solution for e-commerce stores and online sellers. Wix offers omnichannel commerce connections. This allows owners to sell through a Wix e-commerce website builder, from social media accounts, from online marketplaces, and even in brick-and-mortar stores with a POS connection. An outstanding feature of Wix is scalable infrastructure including lightning-fast speeds and almost infinite scalability of its e-commerce tools. It’s great to know that your customers will always have a fast and smooth browsing experience and that the back-end infrastructure will always support your expanding enterprise. Wix has three plans to choose from which all have a high ROI. The Business Basic Plan ($27/month), The Unlimited Plan ($32), and the VIP ($59) are all low-cost and packed full of features.
Weebly makes it easy to set up your e-commerce website – there are no technical skills needed to take advantage of their large set of features. Weebly is flexible, with the ability to handle sales of products, services, or digital items. They can help you track inventory for your physical goods and online sales. As a powerful web design company, of course, Weebly offers easy drag-and-drop design which is user-friendly and helps make simple, elegant, and efficient small business e-commerce sites. You can get budget plans such as the Free and Personal ($6/month) plans, but we would avoid those as they are limited and require the site to host Weebly advertisements. Rather the Preferred ($12) and (Performance $26) are the more viable choices.
Business owners will find SquareSpace an amply stacked platform to help with a robust omnichannel enterprise. To start, they offer world-class designed templates that are elegant and appealing that require no coding to set up. This is where you can integrate with online marketplaces, advertisements, and socials. Squarespace is a full-service provider. In addition to the basic site, you also get a highly effective cart with easy checkout and the ability for customers to review products. Additionally, you can book services, sell subscriptions, and create an advertising campaign. Squarespace will help your search engine optimization, craft an email campaign, and create social media posts sure to enhance sales. They offer three plans – the Business ($33/month), Commerce Basic ($36/month), and Commerce Advanced ($65/per month). Go for the Advanced, it features an abandoned cart recovery and reminder system which is an important feature.
BigCommerce provides many e-commerce solutions with an excellent range of features and customization options. It starts with a powerful visual editor to create an online store. BigCommerce has omnichannel capabilities working well for online stores, brick and mortar, and marketplaces. Users find that WordPress integrations, mobile optimization, coupons, discount codes, and compatibility with many digital wallets all enhance end-customer usability. Consumers can choose from the Standard ($39/month) for small operations under 50k in sales, Plus ($105/month) for up to $180k in sales, and Pro ($399/month) plans for up to $400k in annual sales. Enterprise pricing is by custom quote. We see the midsize and enterprise applications to be the best value here since BigCommerce is at its best with all the features and customizations. Smaller businesses are better off going with a provider who naturally targets that segment with their value proposition.
As a plug-in to WordPress, WooCommerce is a somewhat different category than other competitors. The platform is very easy to install and allows small business owners to begin customizing solutions for their sites right away. There are many features at the free price, though the best extensions will need to be purchased. Users can create a store, take payments, and configure shipping options. Some limitations exist. First, the actual store design templates and appearance are fairly basic, but dealing with so many extensions and features can get overwhelming. However, we see that once mastered, many users find impressive capabilities.
You can either build your e-commerce site from scratch on Ecwid or import and connect all your stores, marketplaces, and socials into one platform. You can really sell almost any way possible here – the platform works well with marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart; and is adept on socials including TikTok. But Ecwid also powers an app and in-person POS adequately. Further, Ecwid provides excellent marketing help with social ads, google ads, and a CRM system that uses Mailchimp to send out a series of emails. There are plans including Free, Venture ($14.08/month), Business ($29/month), and Unlimited ($82.50/month). Free and venture are quite limited in features, users, and products – thus we think most businesses should utilize the higher-level plans.
Square Online accepts and manages orders from a POS, online store, through socials, and on a mobile app. An outstanding feature is seamless inventory sync between retail POS sales and online sales. A weakness is the lack of sophisticated and customizable features, but it does have excellent customer-facing options. It does a nice job creating customer accounts where personalized service and recommendations can help with continued relationships and upsells. Features for free local pickup of online orders from your brick-and-mortar, special pop-up sales, and personal discounts also attract customers. This is an excellent product for those who have a blended brick-and-mortar with an e-commerce enterprise. Plans include the Free, Plus ($29/month), and Premium ($79). The Premium optimizes shipping and gives a volume discount on processing fees so it will likely pay for itself.
As long as you utilize Shift4Shop as the payment processor, they will provide premium service for no fee. Therefore, this option far and away provides a better suite of features than the other low-cost plans from competitors. They provide free templates for various industries, SEO tools, product and inventory management, social and email marketing, and access to experts to custom edit your http and css. The company espouses an important social mission aspect, donating a portion of proceeds to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. All this along with unlimited users and products provides enterprise-like service for free.
There is a market for GoDaddy’s service for those using the site to create web domains and pages who wish to create a basic e-commerce site at the same time. They do offer many features such as omnichannel reach into online stores, socials, and marketplaces. They have easy-to-use templates and accept at least the most common payment forms. The use of Ai to create your page for you is an interesting feature, though it is then not customizable further. There are several issues for consumers to be aware of. First, the best features like card reading and the Smart terminal are upsold which will raise the cost significantly… In addition, the poor cart and checkout system is a critical issue. There are just two plans – Commerce ($11.99/month) and Commerce Unlimited ($29.99).
Different Types of Ecommerce Platforms
Larger enterprises can download software and host the service on their own server. This is referred to as self-hosting or local hosting. This gives more control to the organization, but it requires more infrastructure and more IT staff.
Cloud-based software runs remotely on remote servers. Since cloud-based services leverage the power of a large software hosting company, it is easier to use and scale.
Limitations & Challenges of Using Ecommerce Platforms
Ecommerce platforms are great, but they are not a panacea or guarantee that your business will succeed. Some of the most common challenges include creating a complete and user-friendly customer experience, fulfilling orders on time through an efficient chain, having enough staff to personally interact with customers, and reaching the right consumers who are likely to buy at your store.
How Can You Build an Online Store with an Ecommerce Platform?
The process to set up an eCommerce store is straightforward – though there are a number of steps. You must select an ecommerce platform, register a domain name, select a hosting provider, add products to your shop, configure payment and delivery options, and launch your store in order to set up an online ecommerce store. Also, it’s critical to market your store through numerous marketing methods and optimize it for search engines. Luckily, the platforms will usually walk you through the process.
What is a Dedicated Ecommerce Platform?
You can sell your items on a mass marketplace like eBay, Amazon, or Walmart. However, you are simply listing your items in their template and on their site. Ecommerce platforms allow you to make your own dedicated site. Dedicated e-commerce platforms are those that are customized to the needs of a particular business.
How to Choose The Best Ecommerce Platform?
Business owners should consider cost and ROI, security, inventory controls, customer management, analytics, and mobile optimization.
Costs & Fees
Ecommerce platforms make money in three ways. First, they charge a subscription fee for monthly use of the service. They may also promote upsells of their more premium services. However, their funds are primarily derived from a percentage of revenue deducted as a small part of each online transaction through the payment processing software.
Data security is paramount as you handle consumers’ personal financial information. At a minimum, make sure your e-commerce site uses encrypted SSL to secure customer credit card payments and other security measures. Platforms that offer multi-step verifications and platforms that frequently repair any bugs are generally more secure.
Inventory and Product Management
Selling retail products presents an inventory challenge as items need to be stocked shipped, and returns processed. The best platforms connect inventory across channels to one dashboard and give you alerts as products run low.
Customers can sign up for an account, receive recommendations, and access coupons and promotions. The system can also generate marketing emails.
Small business owners need to know their numbers. Analytics and insights can help you analyze sales, product performance, advertising results, and more. When comparing plans, you may consider higher fee options when they include powerful analytics as it will easily pay for itself.
Many customers make purchases from their smartphones. Having a mobile-optimized platform is key to many businesses.
Experts and tech wizards can give analyses – but they should be coupled with another form of data in user reviews. This actually gives you the best idea of how customers experience the service. Make sure to vet any platform you consider.
Ecommerce accounts for upwards of 20% of all retail transactions, and it’s often a great equalizer for smaller entrepreneurs who cannot afford the expense and infrastructure associated with traditional brick and mortar. There is a dizzying array of online portals providing SAAS ecommerce solutions. They are basically a must-have for any online seller. Therefore, make sure to use the guide here as a starting point to determine which service best meets your needs. Since there are so many varying value propositions, it’s not a case of what is the single best portal – but rather which company provides the services tailored to your company.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Many ecommerce platforms support drop shipping. Reviews show that Shopify has an extensive range of drop-shipping integrations and Woocommerce is a powerful plug-in with dropshipping integrations.
Most reviewers find that WooCommerce is the most versatile commercial plug-in for WordPress. Users find it easy to install and customize – and it’s free.
Open Source is code that is available for anyone to use and modify. Open source resources allow the user to modify the code in any way they wish to customize their pages.
Yes. Online ecommerce store builders are among the most popular services in the SAAS market and they drive billions of dollars of sales. Check the professional analyses and customer reviews to judge the reliability of any platform.
Yes. Most ecommerce sites have special code or plugins that help process international payments. For example, they convert currency and adjust taxes.
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