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How to Choose the Best Ecommerce Platform for Small Businesses

11 min read

The rise in online shopping has created new opportunities for small businesses.  Ecommerce is now an option for all companies, even small businesses just starting out. However, small businesses still face many common challenges regarding online success. Often small businesses must operate on tight budgets, especially early on. This can magnify the importance of every business decision the company makes, from branding to pricing and inventory management.

One new challenge for small ecommerce businesses is the process of finding the right ecommerce platform. Several great small business ecommerce platforms are available, but each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Still trying to figure out where to begin? This helpful guide will explain everything you need to know about the best-selling platforms for small businesses online.

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What to Look for In SMB Ecommerce Platforms

Pricing

The cost of using an ecommerce platform is essential for all businesses. But for small businesses, the importance of pricing is heightened. Ecommerce for small companies is not simply about choosing the cheapest option available. This can often be shortsighted, leaving your business without access to certain important features.

Instead, small businesses should seek out the best value ecommerce platforms for them. Consider all of the ecommerce features that your small business needs. Each platform has unique plans and features. The goal should be to find the platform that offers your business the most essential components at the best price.

Scalability

While you think about the ecommerce features your small business needs, try to look beyond the present. You may be a small business today, but if everything goes well, your company will grow. This will change your needs. An expanded inventory, a larger team, and multiple storefronts could all be on the horizon.

Look into the scalability of each ecommerce platform. In other words, how could each platform help your company grow? Do any platforms present obstacles that could hinder your company’s growth?

Changing platforms is more accessible with some platforms than others. But doing this can be disruptive or inconvenient. It’s simply easier to carefully consider all your options and make the best choice at the outset.

Order fulfillment tools

Most small businesses don’t have their own order fulfillment infrastructure to use. But many small business ecommerce platforms have tools to help with crucial things like shipping and returns. This can solve one of the most complicated logistical problems facing online businesses with little to no stress.

Small businesses should review the features and tools platforms offer for shipping, warehousing, and returns. Customizable shipping cost options or shipping methods can significantly benefit small businesses. Depending on your business model, regional and international shipping options might also be important.

As always, carefully consider your company’s unique order fulfillment needs when comparing small business ecommerce platforms.

Payment processing

The importance of a user-friendly interface for your online store should never be overlooked for small businesses. One of the ways small businesses can achieve this goal is by offering a variety of payment processing methods. Shopping cart abandonment can be a serious problem for ecommerce businesses.

One of the leading reasons why consumers ditch their would-be purchases is inconvenient checkout methods. The more flexible and accommodating your checkout process, the better.  Simple bank accounts or credit card checkouts can handle most transactions. But many customers prefer newer payment methods like PayPal or Apple Pay. Access to these options on your website can increase sales conversions over the long term.

Support

Small business ecommerce platforms free small business owners from a lot of back-end work. But small businesses can still face problems and questions about their online stores during their operations. Access to good, reliable customer support should be a priority for every small business when choosing an ecommerce platform. Customer support can help your company address customer issues or develop custom solutions for your online store.

What’s the Best Ecommerce Platform for Small Businesses? Comparing Top Options

There are dozens of good small business ecommerce platforms to choose from. So how do you know which is right for your business? Here’s a look at the strengths and weaknesses of some of the leading options.

Shopify

Shopify is one of the best ecommerce website builders for small businesses. Shopify is a dedicated ecommerce platform that gives businesses a vast array of customization options. Shopify is remarkable for its ease of use, making it a strong choice if you want a clean, professional-looking online store without much web design experience.

Shopify has all the tools small businesses need: inventory management, payment processing, promotional tools, etc. The platform can also offer 24/7 customer support, which is excellent should you encounter any problems.

While Shopify is one of the most robust small business ecommerce platforms, it comes with some potential drawbacks. First, its pricing plans are more expensive than some competitors. The basic Shopify plan starts at $39 monthly, with more advanced plans costing $105 and $399 per month. The other major issue that users have with Shopify is that it can be challenging to leave the platform.

Transferring a Shopify website to a different ecommerce platform is very difficult should you change your mind.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a widely-used open source ecommerce platform that is easy to use for small businesses. Because it’s open source, WooCommerce is highly customizable and constantly updated. This makes it great for users that have a bit more technical expertise and want access to the latest tools.

WooCommerce is also a very scalable platform. Small businesses face no notable sales or inventory restrictions when they use the platform. On top of that, it is technically free to use. So what’s the catch?

WooCommerce is not an independent ecommerce platform. Rather, it is a plugin for WordPress-hosted websites. This means that only websites hosted by WordPress can access WooCommerce. Additionally, while it is free to use, not all of its features are free. Many advanced tools and features available on WooCommerce require fees in order to access them.

So while WooCommerce has a lot of potential as a platform, it can take more work to project operation costs. It can also be somewhat restrictive to rely on WordPress exclusively. However, if your website is already built through WordPress, this is not a problem.

Wix

Wix is another platform offering great, easy customization for inexperienced web designers. Building a website with Wix is simple, thanks to the platform’s many templates and themes. Wix covers most of the basics that a small business ecommerce platform needs. Online stores with Wix can set up multiple payment processing options, and the platform is great for content and inventory management.

However, while Wix is great for designing a professional-looking website, it lags in terms of ecommerce features. The platform lacks analytic tools and is not the most scalable as your business grows. However, it is not a bad option to get started.

Not to mention, it is also less expensive than some competitors, with professional pricing plans starting at $22 per month.

Squarespace

Squarespace is a website builder and ecommerce platform with many similarities to Wix. Users have great creative control over the design and layout of their online stores when using Squarespace.

Squarespace has a bit more to offer than Wix in terms of ecommerce tools as well and has affordable pricing plans. Another advantage of SquareSpace is that it is easy to integrate blogs and other social media channels with your store.

The drawback of using Squarespace has to do with transactions on the platform. First, it has limited payment processing options. Second, and perhaps more importantly, is that SquareSpace charges higher transaction fees than most ecommerce platforms. SquareSpace transaction fees vary by payment platform but generally range from 3% to 6%. This may not seem like much, but it can cut into profits significantly for small businesses.

Ecwid

Ecwid is the most affordable small business ecommerce platform available. Unlike most platforms, Ecwid has a totally free plan that actually includes all the necessary tools to run a business. Ecwid’s free plan allows companies to list five products in their catalog and set up all payment and order fulfillment methods. This is much more than other platforms, which may offer free trials or free registration, but charge fees for essential tools.

Of course, Ecwid also offers more advanced features with paid plans. The Venture plan greatly expands your store’s inventory size and provides access to an array of cross-platform and analytic tools.

Get Started With Ecwid

Ecwid is also a highly flexible ecommerce platform. Users can easily transfer existing websites to Ecwid’s ecommerce platform without missing a beat. Or, you can build your online store from scratch by using Ecwid.

Ecwid is designed to be a more accessible ecommerce platform than most, which makes it ideal for small businesses. Read about getting started with Ecwid to learn more.

 

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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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I’ve used Ecwid and I love the platform itself. Everything is so simplified it’s insane. I love how you have different options to choose shipping carriers, to be able to put in so many different variants. It’s a pretty open e-commerce gateway.
Easy to use, affordable (and a free option if starting off). Looks professional, many templates to select from. The App is my favorite feature as I can manage my store right from my phone. Highly recommended 👌👍
I like that Ecwid was easy to start and to use. Even for a person like me, without any technical background. Very well written help articles. And the support team is the best for my opinion.
For everything it has to offer, ECWID is incredibly easy to set up. Highly recommend! I did a lot of research and tried about 3 other competitors. Just try ECWID and you'll be online in no time.

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