Top 5 ecommerce platforms for small businesses

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(unsplash.com)

 

Introduction

With what we have witnessed in the past 2 years, you can be sure of one thing – gone are the days of being dependent on the sales performance of your brick-and-mortar business. Today everyone needs to have an online presence. Ecommerce is the way forward and this has been embraced by all, even the small guy. The best thing you can do to make your business grow and break the geographical barriers is to have an e-store.

If you are small business, you needn’t worry as there are many e-commerce platforms available that can help you onboard very quickly and are easy to maintain. So, let’s review some of the most popular ones to help you decide which work the best for you.

  

SHOPIFY

 

Shopify banner - build an ecommerce website with Shopify

(shopify.com)

 

Shopify is the perfect out-of-the-box solution for a small or mid-sized business. It has already been deployed at over 1,700,000 merchants worldwide. Shopify is indeed the most popular and easiest to use e-commerce platform available in the market today. You can launch your online store within minutes. Besides, that has extremely low-entry barriers. The cost is as low as $ 30 per month.  If you wish to sell only on Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest, you can buy the Shopify Lite plan at $9 / month.

Some of the features worth noting are:

  • Mobile-ready interface, you can manage your store through your phone
  • No programming required
  • SEO ready
  • No design skills are needed, yet you can customize the look and feel of your website
  • Shopify handles everything from marketing and payments, to secure checkout and shipping
  • Shopify POS integrates your e-store with your brick-and-mortar store helping you keep track of your inventory
  • It provides an SSL, the standard for internet security
  • With over 2000 apps and plug-ins, Shopify lets you extend its functionality
  • You can sell physical products / shippable goods, digital products, services, and you can also establish a Dropshipping operation

  

MAGENTO

 

 

Magento banner - build an ecommerce website with Magento

(magento.com)

 

Magento has been taken over by Adobe and is on the top level in the Gartner Quadrant. It is more suited for the mid-sized to large-sized organizations. The community version of the platform is free and is popular with small businesses. The community version runs in more than 2,50,000 establishments.

 

Some Salient Features of the Magento platform are:

  • Robust Inventory management
  • Support for Multiple Payment Gateways through extensions thus making payments easy. Supports one-click payments
  • API for web services and 5000+ extensions help increase the functionality of Magento with ease
  • Multilingual support to set up web stores in different languages
  • Responsive to Mobile and Tablet
  • Built-in SEO features
  • Build for scalability from a 10 to 100000 products
  • Newsletter management
  • Magento Store will need a dedicated server and hence you should consider this when calculating annual maintenance costs
  • One would need a Magento tech support or developer in the initial days as the product is not very easy to learn

 

 

BIG COMMERCE

 

Bigcommerce banner - build an ecommerce website with Bigcommerce

(bigcommerce.com)

 

With more than 60,000+ merchants using Big Commerce, Big Commerce is definitely a force to reckon with. The pricing is as low as $ 30 per month to a Pro version which costs $300 per month. The Enterprise version is priced as per your requirement. Big Commerce boasts of a very strong 24×7 support where 85% of the issues are resolved over the phone.

Some highlights of Big Commerce are as follows:

  • Multiple payment options to ease the customer experience
  • Flexible tax system and drop-shipping enables selling globally without making any changes
  • Deployment and customizing aren’t for the novice and needs a developer to do it
  • Reliable hosting with uptime of 99.99 %
  • Bank-grade security and DDoS protection
  • Support for APIs and Add-ins. Range of apps available. You can integrate your store with platforms such as QuickBooks, Mailchimp, and many others
  • Easy Store management as order management, product management, reports, analytics are all in-built in the platform
  • Mobile ready and your shop can be managed on the go using the mobile app
  • Pre-built integration with many ERPS, POS, accounting tools through APIs
  • The multi-currency features allow merchants to enhance and improve their cross-border operations. At the same time, international customers get a localized shopping experience that’s tailored to their native currency and language.
  • One of the fastest eCommerce platforms in terms of speed
  • SEO support
  • No limit on the number of products that can be added to your e-store

 

 

WIX

 

Wix banner - build an ecommerce website with WIX

(wix.com)

 

Wix is a very versatile e-commerce platform that is feature-rich and very easy to use for beginners. Wix powers more than 700,000 stores — with 200,000 of them established in 2020 alone. With support for selling myriad kinds of goods such as clothes, digital music, books and food, appointment bookings to blogs, WIX has taken the e-commerce world by a storm. It has more than 500 templates and over 100 design features. Loading speed needs improvement though. The popular plan is as low as $12.50 per month.

Some salient features:

  • Accepts payment in over 40 currencies through leading providers such as PayPal, Wix Payments, and credit/debit cards.
  • Quick and easy setup and ready if you want to start selling as soon as possible.
  • Customization options available
  • Mobile ready and you can manage your store through your phone
  • No sales fees to worry about (or commission requirements)
  • Real-time calculator helps with planning shipping costs and taxes
  • Advanced SEO tools that drive organic traffic, customizable meta tags
  • It is an Open Platform that readily connects to third-party APIs and external data sources.
  • E-store Analytics helps you track your site’s performance and stats.
  • SSL Certified

 

 

VOLUSION

 

Volusion banner -build an ecommerce website with Volusion

(volusion.com)

 

Volusion is one of the market leaders in e-commerce platforms with around 180,000 entrepreneurs who trust and use the Volusion ecommerce platform. With a competitive pricing strategy, Volusion has everything you need to build your store your way. Volusion’s Personal plan costs $29 per month for about 100 products and Volusion’s Professional plan costs $79 per month for about 5000 products.

Some noteworthy features are as below:

  • Responsive Themes and Rich Content Editor with no backend coding required.
  • Homepage Slideshow which lets highlights discounts and products directly on your homepage.
  • Store Management Mobile App lets you process Orders through the site as well as the mobile phone
  • PCI-certified secure checkout process and SSL certificates (chargeable)
  • Guaranteed 99.9% uptime
  • Easy shipping Options and Dropshipping option available.
  • Inventory/Stock management and CRM integrated into the platform
  • Automatic Tax Rate Calculator and options for multiple currencies
  • Powerful SEO tools
  • Comprehensive ROI Tracking helps you track your investments based on affiliates, ad campaigns, and newsletters.
  • Newsletter feature to keep the customers in the know
  • Social media integrations
  • Volusion is completely cloud-based platform
  • Volusion has a few Integration partners and supports third-party add-ons. API is available
  • Limited scalability
  • Site Monitoring and Statistics to track trends and customer behaviors
  • 24/7 support to all users on all the plans

 

 

Wrap-up

 

While most large enterprises have a significant IT setup, it gets easy for them to build their own ecommerce platform. But many small and mid-sized companies find it hard to invest such a huge amount of time, money, and resources to go online. Also maintaining servers and a large IT infrastructure may not be feasible.

As a SMB, one must factor in the upfront costs of the ecommerce platform, hidden costs involved such as hosting and add-on costs, learning curve involved and time to go live before deciding. Scalability is also an important factor so that as your business grows, your e-store can keep pace with your success.

 

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