As a small business selling products online, the eCommerce platform you choose is a big decision. You need something that is cost-effective, has the features you need and, if you aren’t a designer yourself, doesn’t need an expert to set it up. You also want to look to the future when your business continues to grow, and see if it has the features you need to expand your range. So here are some of the top eCommerce platforms for small businesses and how they might work for your company.
Shopify is currently operating on some 325,000 shops around the internet and is a popular option for anyone who can afford a monthly fee and wants to have an easy to operate their stores. It is a little like Etsy in that many of the features are included as standard, but you can pair it with your own website.
Shopify has over 100 templates and themes to choose from and an extensive app marketplace with over 1500 apps in it to extend the functionality of the store, both free and paid. Other benefits to it are that you can plug it into your Facebook business page to allow sales straight from there and the platform is responsive and mobile friendly. There is a built-in shopping cart, mobile apps and 24/7 support to help with any problems.
In terms of cost, the basic plan starts at $29 a month and goes up to nearly $300 a month for the top of the line shop. As with any template store, your shop can be somewhat similar to others but there are pros and cons for this – if people recognize the basics of a design then they can feel more at home with it.
BigCommerce is similar to Shopify in many ways and is currently used in around 55,000 online stores including some big names like Martha Stewart in the US and car giant Toyota. For small businesses, it has a comprehensive list of features and you don’t need any technical knowledge to get your shop up and running.
You can easily set up your store and there is an extensive list of built-in features that require no extra apps including newsletters, using coupons and adding analytics. You can also easily integrate your store with Facebook, eBay, Google Shopping and even comparison sites. The company offers a comprehensive knowledge base to help you answer any questions and all themes are responsive.
Cost plans are similar to Shopify, but one benefit is that BigCommerce doesn’t charge a transaction fee. The number of themes is much more limited than Shopify, as are the apps in the marketplace. But the software does have a lot of built-in features that are ideal for small businesses.
YoKart is an eCommerce platform aimed specifically at small businesses and start-ups and is a simple way to launch a multi-vendor store on eBay, Etsy and similar platforms. This integration is seen on other software but is something that YoKart excels at.
The software is built in an encrypted framework, so you do need some knowledge of it to use it. A PHP developer would quickly be able to help you with this and the resulting shop will have a mobile friendly theme and a dedicated Android app. There is also comprehensive manual and video tutorials as well as 12 months free support.
The cost is $250 a year for multi-vendor stores or a one-off-charge of $999 for a self-hosted, customizable advanced version. Currently, there are no third party extensions for the platform but there are a lot of built-in features to cover the most important areas. Currently, you can’t use YoKart to sell on social media.
Magento is the chosen platform for one-quarter of eCommerce websites including companies such as Burger King, Pepe Jeans, and Liverpool football club. The big thing about Magento is that you need some developer knowledge to use it so people either tend to employ someone to set it up for them or choose it when they have good developer skills themselves.
The platform is an open source so there are near limitless customisations that you can make to it. In addition, there are some 9000+ plugins and extensions that are available. You can connect to social media with free extensions and the website offers an extensive database of information to help you with both the technical and business side of running your site.
The basic version of Magento is free but this doesn’t give you the full story, as you will need either the skills or someone to set it up for you. Top level enterprise versions cost around $20,000 a year with an astounding number of high-end features included.
WooCommerce is technically a plugin for WordPress and as such, cannot work unless you first download it. However, WordPress remains one of the most used platforms for websites around the world, so this is not a major issue. Once WordPress is in place, you can easily download and install WooCommerce.
The plugin is free but does have extras and extensions that come with their own cost. In theory, you can use their free theme and basic features to get an online store up and running with only the basic website costs involved. This is a great way for small businesses to start their first store without extra monthly commitments. The pairing with WordPress makes it easy to use content marketing such as blogging alongside the store.
WooCommerce can be a little resource heavy so on shared hosting, you might run into problems as your store grows. The extensions and paid themes are reasonable in cost but do watch how they can all add up when you consider the cost of running your store. It can also integrate with payment providers such as PayPal and Stripe, although these do take a cut of your payment for their services. You will also need suitable security on your site.
If you are only selling digital products and downloads, then Selz is worth considering as an eCommerce option. Selz is affordable and easy to use, with five different plans to suit your needs. The basic plan is free to use, and you only pay a percentage of the sale when you make one.
Selz is very easy to set up with little technical know-how required. There is a simple, straightforward layout that you can customize, to sort products by category if they are available and other options. There is an automated delivery system to easily provide the digital product and the software is very SEO-friendly to help improve your traffic.
Selz may not be suitable if you want to advance beyond digital downloads but if this is what your business is about, it can be an ideal option. Unlimited plans start from $12.99 a month and there is a 2% transaction fee, along with a 2.9% plus $0.30 credit card processing fee to consider when pricing products.
These are some of the main eCommerce options available for small businesses. When considering them, look at the costs, the extras you may need to pay and the charges that are placed on each transaction. Consider whether you can set it up yourself or if you can afford to pay someone to do it for you.