If you want your small business to flourish, then e-commerce is a perfect choice. A good e-commerce platform helps business owners create the best user experience for their customers, regardless of their location or what they’re buying.
Ecommerce platforms don’t just make running a store easier. They allow you to have complete control over every aspect of operating a business, from payment methods to content management. They’re all-in-one tools that not only take the hassle out of fulfilling orders but also enable you to scale your business.
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With so many platforms available, finding one to meet your professional needs and help you achieve your goals can be confusing. We’ve reviewed three popular ecommerce platforms to help you find the best ecommerce platforms for small businesses in 2022.
We’ve also outlined what to look for in a platform for your online store.
Home to more than 800,000 stores, Shopify is dedicated to providing users with top-quality service. In addition, the Ottawa-based company connects sellers with many potential customers for their products.
First, let’s take a look at the pricing plans. Shopify offers five plans, so there are plenty of options to meet your requirements and budget.
An annual subscription to the Basic plan will cost $29 per month and comes with the necessary features to kick-start an internet business. Not only can you sell unlimited products, but you also get access to other beneficial features such as adding discount codes, ensuring secure transactions, and abandoned cart recovery. However, you’ll be charged a 2.9%, plus a 30 cents transaction fee for each sale.
At $79 per month, this is the most popular plan among the platform’s users. It also comes with abandoned shopping cart recovery. You can access the contact details of prospective customers who have failed to complete a purchase through your store and offer them a discount or remind them that their items are still waiting for them in their cart. That way, the sale can proceed successfully. The transaction fee is 2.6%, plus 30 cents.
The plan is an excellent choice for established sellers looking to scale their businesses. By paying $299 per month, you get 15 staff accounts and advanced analytics. Stores that make many sales need to track their data to see how well they’re meeting their targets and where to head next. The transaction fee for online sales is 2.4%, plus 30 cents.
Made for large businesses and enterprises, the Plus plan includes no transaction fees. However, pricing varies and is determined based on the size and success of the company.
This plan lets you sell through a website if you already have one. You get a personal ”Buy” button you can use to sell on places such as your website, blog, or social media accounts. The subscription fee is $9 per month.
Shopify is one of the most expensive services, but its perks make up for the pricing. To lower the cost, you can use Shopify’s payment system, Shopify Payments. It’s free to use and works with all major credit cards and payment methods. You can check here which countries and regions are eligible for the system. Its easy-to-use nature makes it extremely beginner-friendly. Plus, Shopify has a lot of helpful guides to help aspiring business owners when they’re just starting out.
With thousands of themes available, sellers can also use sleek and professional designs to make their stores look more appealing. The designs are also responsive, meaning that they retain their quality on mobile devices. Although the beautiful designs are more than enough to elevate your business, you can also add code to make your own custom theme using the Liquid engine. This will give you a lot of flexibility to make changes.
The abandoned cart recovery option is also available on all Shopify plans, from Basic to Plus, and sends out an automated email reminding the customer their items are still waiting for them so they can complete their purchase.
Shopify also has all the basic SEO features to help your internet store rank better in search results. To make your website more SEO-friendly, you can change title tags, descriptions, and image alt text. The 24/7 customer support is also there for you whenever you encounter an issue. You can overcome your problems by chatting to the support team, emailing them, or participating in one of their many informative webinars. They also have many video tutorials to walk you through Shopify navigation.
All you have to do to protect your shop and your customers’ privacy is come up with a strong password. Shopify handles the rest. Their servers are PCI compliant, so they secure credit card information. They also conduct regular backups, minimizing the chances of a security breach. The servers are also reliable, with a 99.9% uptime, according to Shopify.
There are also mobile e-commerce features that are compatible with both iPhone and Android devices, making shopping on the go easy and stress-free. The integration is also excellent, as the mobile version has the same features found in the online store, so you’ll be able to sell both physical and digital products.
All Shopify plans come with reports about how well your business is doing. Plus, you can integrate Google Analytics for more detailed insight.
- Easy to use and beginner-friendly
- Several pricing plans for different budgets
- 24/7 customer service
- Good security and data protection
- Sell physical and digital goods
Thanks to its open-source design, Magento is free to download. So while getting used to this content management system will require some coding knowledge, it still has a lot to offer as long as you’re willing to put in a bit of effort.
When it comes to pricing, Magento offers two options:
Magento Open Source
You can download this software for free.
Magento Commerce Plan
The Commerce plan works best for large companies and businesses with seemingly limitless features. Unfortunately, the pricing depends on the size of your company and can be pretty expensive.
Despite being free to download, the open-source version also comes with additional costs. For example, you’ll need to find your own domain name, hosting, theme, and payment processing. However, it’s very effective when scaling your online business, and it’s worth considering if you have experience in coding or are willing to hire a designer or developer.
It’s not the most beginner-friendly platform, but it might be a good choice if it fits your budget.
However, its features definitely make up for the steep pricing. The marketing tools are impressive and allow businesses to offer discount codes with offline options and insight into customer data.
These are grouped together, according to demographics and location. Customers can also get targeted recommendations based on recent purchases and compare similar products from our store. The preserve cart option is also beneficial, and it will save the items a customer has selected until they return to finish their purchase. There’s also the option to organize quantity discounts to encourage customers to shop more to activate the discount.
As an SEO-friendly e-commerce solution, Magento is configured to help your online business get picked up by search engines. You can also edit product descriptions to optimize the site further by enabling URL rewrites. In addition, this tool will remove unnecessary words that can impede your website’s performance.
While Magento doesn’t have any free or premium templates, the custom design option allows for a lot of flexibility and creativity. You can find many pre-made templates from other companies on the Magento Marketplace when you need some inspiration. While some solid designs are free, you’ll have to go through the paid options to get a more polished theme.
Many of the themes are responsive, so your customers will have a great experience on their mobile devices. In addition, many extensions are available to help you connect the business with your social media and reach a wider audience. For example, you can add the Facebook ”Like” button on your website pages.
You’ll have to do the work to ensure that your customer information is well-protected. Therefore, it’s up to you to get an SSL certificate that secures online communications. It’s also the business owner’s responsibility to make sure their Magento site meets the requirements for PCI compliance.
This is a big drawback as security breaches not only break the trust between you and your customers but can also cost your business a lot of money. Therefore, it’s good practice to use the Magento Scan Tool to check your site for potential security risks. When it identifies an issue, it will outline the best steps to resolve it.
Magento’s customer support consists of a dedicated page full of guides, tutorials, tips, and FAQs. You can also exchange experiences by chatting with other users. However, live chat and email support are only available with the Commerce subscription. When you’re just getting ready to open up your small business, this lack of all-around support might be discouraging, as the guides and tips will only take you so far.
- Flexible customization
- Great SEO
- Good for large businesses
- Difficult to navigate
- Not beginner-friendly
- Pricier option
If you’re a small business owner looking for a simple yet effective website builder to sell online, Wix’s ecommerce solution might be for you. A free plan is available, enabling you to try out the platform to see if it suits your needs. However, to fully set up your store and start selling, you’ll have to sign up for one of the paid plans.
Wix works hard to accommodate novices, and it shows with its interface and content editor. You only have to drag and drop items onto your page to make the appropriate changes. The good news is that Wix doesn’t require any coding knowledge. The built-in editor makes it easy to add different elements to your site, from text boxes to video files. The video files are helpful when it comes to showcasing your products and providing a rich customer experience.
There are three e-commerce plans:
The Business Basic Plan
The most affordable business option is $23 per month. It’s a great way to go for beginners. It won’t display unwanted ads across your website, and it comes with a free domain name. In addition to the Wix visitors analytics app, you’ll be able to connect the store with Google Analytics to learn more about your customers. You’ll have access to 20GB of storage space
The Business Unlimited Plan
If you want to scale your business, this plan costs $27 per month. It’s compatible with third-party apps, and you get access to Wix’s logo maker and 30GB of storage space.
The Business VIP Plan
For $49 per month, you get 50GB of storage space and priority response from customer support, invaluable for larger businesses.
The reasonable pricing scheme attracts many smaller business owners. All plans grant users unlimited bandwidth, making for excellent uptime and preventing website crashes. Wix is an economical way to set up your online store and build a unique brand image if you have a strict budget.
Wix has over 800 easy-to-customize templates. If you want more control over your site’s appearance, you can start with a blank template and choose the layout and elements you want. The themes come with no additional fees so that you can give your storefront a modern and professional feel with just a few clicks. However, once your website goes live, you won’t be able to change the template. So make sure you’re happy with the design before publishing the site. Otherwise, you’ll have to rebuild your store and re-enter your content, which is far from ideal.
With Wix, there are no limits to what types of products you can sell. From digital and physical goods to services, anything goes with Wix. For example, if you’re a nail technician offering appointments, you can use the Wix Bookings app to accept bookings and payments. Additionally, customers can easily zoom in on a specific product to help them make up their minds about purchasing from your site. You can also make your products shine by adding product videos via the drag-and-drop editor.
Popular payment providers such as PayPal and Skrill are compatible with Wix. However, there are over 50 different payment options. This attracts sellers and customers from many countries and regions where certain payment methods may be unavailable. You can also choose to go for Wix Payments, which allows users to handle all their business dealings on the platform. Wix websites also get an SSL certificate, so you can process all payments without worrying about the safety of your customer information.
Wix’s built-in SEO features boost your website’s ranking in browser searches. In addition, there’s a specialized SEO plan to follow as you scale your business. Another helpful tool is the SEO Wiz, which helps you create a personalized SEO setup plan. Once you enter specific information about your site, such as its name and keywords, Wix generates a personalized plan that will help you rank better in searches.
Also available with all Wix plans are abandoned cart recovery, which emails customers who haven’t completed their purchase and have left their items at the checkout.
You can also use Wix to sell products through your social media accounts and grow your audience. Use the platform to enable selling through Instagram, and by going through a simple process, you can do the same for sites. For example, if you have a YouTube channel dedicated to your business and want to share a video with your customers, you can use Wix Video to sync your channel to your site. You’ll also be able to host YouTube live shows directly on your page to boost engagement and reach more people.
Wix also boasts superb customer service and offers phone and social media support, forums, video tutorials, and a rich resource directory. You can browse the directory and go through various categories until you find the answer you’re looking for. There are no live chats, but the existing help should be enough to get you through whatever issue you’re facing. When you get the VIP subscription, you’ll get an immediate response to any problem that occurs. The VIP plan also comes with priority phone support.
Wix automatically generates a mobile-friendly version of your site using your website’s content. It will resize the content and preserve its quality for smaller screens. You can also create exclusive mobile-only content with the mobile editor and switch between the mobile and desktop versions in the top left of your screen.
- Good value for money
- Requires no coding experience
Limited template customization
What to Look For in an eCommerce Platform
With numerous ecommerce platforms to choose from, you’ll see various features designed to attract small business owners. Below, we’ll highlight the most critical factors for generating good results. If you’re still looking for your ideal platform, here are the things you should keep in mind:
Ease of Use
Launching an online business should be as simple as possible. A streamlined interface helps users make the most of the available features save time, energy, and financial resources. Built-in plugins also allow you to directly change the website without going to third-party pages. The benefits of open-source software won’t make any difference if you don’t know how to code. Similarly, setting up your domain name and hosting can bump up the price of maintaining a website.
Uptime refers to the time your website operates without problems. When your website crashes or fails to load, this means that your business door is closed, and potential customers are turned away. In addition, human error and software and hardware malfunction can cause downtime. Therefore, a reliable e-commerce platform should have the equipment and staff to keep your site up and running.
If your business operates solely through your online store, downtime will cost you a lot of money. Customers can take this as a sign of unprofessionalism and stop buying your products, seriously affecting your brand’s reputation.
Search engines also pick up crashes, so the site’s SEO ranking will suffer. Not only will you lose the trust of loyal customers, but you’ll lose the ability to reach new ones. While downtime problems affect all websites, a service with a team that acts quickly to iron out these issues is necessary for all businesses looking to build a strong brand image.
Secure credit card processing is one of the most critical factors for all online stores. Multiple payment methods connect the products with shoppers worldwide, bringing in more revenue. Several payment options encourage people to visit your site. That way, they can choose the provider they feel most comfortable with. Shoppers are likely to compare the transaction fees of different providers, and they’ll be willing to complete their purchase if they’re happy with the payment options.
The best e-commerce services also work with established payment providers who safeguard credit card information and personal data. Security breaches will stunt the growth of your business and negatively impact all of your customers.
It’s a blow few business owners can recover from as cybercrimes are hard to track. The best way to prevent credit card fraud and hacking is by using a platform that works with providers with the most up-to-date safety measures for data protection.
Data-driven analytics will help you determine what’s benefiting your online shop and what’s slowing business down. In addition, knowing how customers interact with your website will show you which practices to implement going forward to maintain an excellent user experience.
Software that logs customer info regardless of location or device enables store owners to develop better products and respond to customer behavior. Conversely, platforms with lackluster analytics tools will stop you from creating a well-thought-out business strategy.
E-commerce websites need exceptional SEO tools to boost product visibility in search engine results. The quality of your items won’t matter if they don’t capture the attention of people browsing the web. Better SEO ranking leads to more visitors to your page. Then, when the quality of your product shines through, you’ll see an increase in sales.
Built-in SEO plugins are also cost-effective as you won’t have to hire a professional marketing team to come up with an over-priced plan to expand your business. Instead, well-designed SEO tools will do the work for you, streamlining your site so it lands at the top of search results.
Online stores need to have a great mobile experience to attract more shoppers. With mobile usage on the rise, having a website that’s not mobile-friendly means you’ll miss out on a large pool of potential customers. If people can purchase from both their desktop and mobile device, there’s a higher chance they’ll come back to buy more products.
Small business owners should use a platform that will give their site a highly-responsive design. It ensures that visitors using different devices can successfully engage with your content.
If you’re serious about your business, you’ve probably considered using several online channels and apps to quicken your progress. For example, when you sell products through Instagram and Pinterest, you’ll need a way to add that revenue data to the purchase log stored on your site. Unfortunately, if the platform you’re using doesn’t allow linking with social media and other apps, you’ll have to organize all the data manually. The right e-commerce tools should let all your apps work together to boost sales performance and organize your business information.
Most new business owners want their website builder to be a cost-effective e-commerce solution. Software that’s marketed as free often involves additional investment. For example, Open-source WordPress and WooCommerce require you to pay to get a domain name and set up web hosting. Luckily, many platforms now offer comprehensive pricing plans to accommodate different budgets.
While the price tag will undoubtedly influence your decision, ensure that the features the plan offers suit your website’s message and purpose.
A platform with great support will help you solve problems quickly, strengthening customer loyalty and trust. For minor technical issues, you’ll be able to find answers through forums and tutorials posted on the builder’s Help page. But when you’re facing a problem affecting your customers and site performance, it’s best to get an immediate response from a dependable 24/7 support service. Online guides can be hard to interpret, and unclear instructions may worsen your situation.
Knowing that you’ll always be able to reach out to the platform for help and guidance will assure you that no problem will threaten your business dealings. Before you commit to a specific platform, research the quality of their customer support to know what to expect.
The Best E-commerce Platforms for Small Businesses: Final Thoughts
When choosing the best e-commerce platform, making the right decision can be difficult, especially if you’re new to the online business game. Small business owners have many factors to consider, like ease of use, pricing schemes, and uptime consistency.
The site builders we’ve discussed all come with features that will help you launch and maintain a successful online store, but we’ll single out Shopify as the best option. Its easy-to-navigate interface, excellent customer support, and data protection make it a stand-out choice.
Wix ECommerce comes in a close second, as its subscription plans include impressive SEO optimization and responsive site designs. But ultimately, your final decision should align with your business goals and your budget.