So you’ve decided to bring your business online. Congratulations!
Lucky for you, we live in a time where creating your online store has never been easier. There are a plethora of services out there that can help you set up a website, showcase your product, and accept online payments.
While having access to so many options can be a good thing, making a decision can be difficult. What is the best ecommerce platform? Which ecommerce platform is best for small business?
The information out there can be overwhelming, but we’ve gone and saved you a solid three to four hours of homework: we’ve combed through more than a dozen sites, read customer reviews, tried the software out ourselves, and actually spoken to real businesses using these platforms day in and day out.
Now, we’ve put together an ecommerce platform comparison list for you, featuring four easy-to use ecommerce software solutions designed to help small businesses with their online stores.
We considered three main factors when we compared the platforms:
- Ease of use
As software builders ourselves, we thought ease of use was of the utmost importance. After all, if the software isn’t easy to use, it’s useless to you! Software has to be accessible, first and foremost.
The second factor is pricing. We know how every dollar counts, especially when it comes to small business. We have to make sure the platform’s pricing is affordable and that it has the potential to scale as your business grows.
Lastly, we’ll do a quick overview of the features so you understand what capabilities the platform has in general. This will give you an idea of whether or not the software can do what you need it to do, without going through the trouble of signing up for multiple trials and spending weeks trying out various platforms.
So, let’s give it a go, shall we?
Ease of Use : High
Price : Ranges from $29 to $299 USD / month
Features : Extensive
Shopify is your one-stop shop for building an online store. The platform is extremely user-friendly, allowing business owners and operators with practically no website building skills to build modern, customized online stores.
In under ten minutes, we were able to do a lot. We generated a domain name, chosed a modern, mobile-friendly template, featured a few products on the site, and uploaded customer information.
Don’t worry – you’ll have a lot more than ten minutes to test things out. Shopify gives you a 14-day free trial, which you can start without a credit card and without commiting to a plan. You literally just sign up with an email and start building a store.
Plans are $29, $79, and $299. As the plan prices go up, so do the features, which include a website builder, payment processing, inventory tracking, shopping cart software, annd shipping software, just to name a few.
Shopify has some serious street cred: more than one million businesses use the ecommerce platform around the world, and Shopify businesses have made over $135 billion USD in sales to date.
Ease of Use : Moderate
Price : Variable
Features : Extensive
WooCommerce is the eCommerce solution built on WordPress, which is an incredibly popular content management system that’s been around since forever. You might recognize WordPress as a free blog service. It’s actually much more than that: WordPress powers more than 60 million websites on the Internet.
The reason why so many people love WordPress is because it’s entirely customizable. Your website can really be anything you want it to be. There is literally a plugin for everything under the sun, whether its email marketing, social media, payments, shipping and delivery options, accounting, or software for you to have live chats with your customers when they’re on your site.
But, to properly build an online store with WordPress’ ecommerce plugin, WooCommerce, you must first possess a good understanding of WordPress and you should also be comfortable tinkering with some code. For that reason, we’ve ranked ease of use to be moderate. The learning curve is a bit steeper here.
In terms of pricing, Wordpress is free, but you’ll need to find your own hosting solution, and deal with the added cost of domain registration. You will also need a bunch of other plugins to run your store to help with processing payments, sending invoices, email marketing and social media, for example. Finding a nice looking theme so your ecommerce store looks beautiful, unique, and original, can also be a challenge as out-of-the-box WordPress themes are not known to be pretty. If you don’t want to code a theme from scratch, you’ll most likely have to pay for one.
That’s why we’ve listed pricing as ‘variable’. It really depends on each business’ needs.
Ease of Use : High
Price : Starting at $26 USD / month
Features : Moderate
If there was an award for aesthetics, Squarespace would be the winner.
Squarespace allows users to create beautiful websites and online stores quickly and easily. It’s hard to believe that the elegant templates are out-of-the-box, and that users are simply dragging and dropping files behind the scenes using Squarespace’s sleek content management system.
There’s a reason why the platform has won over many artists and business owners who pay a lot of attention to design.
Squarespace is the perfect ecommerce platform for a small business with simple ecommerce needs. It offers a number of basic ecommerce tools including payment processing, inventory management, coupons, waitlists, shipping configurations, and email campaigns. If your small business doesn’t require an integration payroll, accounting, and other business management softwares, Squarespace is a good option.
It’s also one of the most affordable options on the market. Just keep in mind that it might not be able to help you scale should your business take off and your needs become more complex.
Squarespace has a 14-day free trial.
Ease of Use : High
Price : Starting at $20 USD / month
Features : Basic
Wix is first and foremost a free website builder, but starting at $20 a month, there is an ecommerce plan that can help an entrepreneur launch an online business.
Signing up and getting started on building your website is fast and straightforward, with access to plenty of free and modern-looking web templates and themes. Editing the site is also super easy with a drag-and-drop editor and mobile responsive templates.
It’s the add-ons that help you build the ecommerce side of things. An extra $10 gets you access to marketing tools like email, chat, and forms. There are also apps for more ecommerce tools like inventory, promotions, payments, and shipping options.
While some people love the total freedom they have with Wix, we’ve heard from entrepreneurs that a little more structure can be helpful when setting up an online store.
For example, when choosing a website template, Wix offers more than 500 templates, many of which are not designed for ecommerce. Sometimes, an ecommerce-focused platform helps create the boundaries of your sandbox to cut out distractions and enable you to stay focused.
Wix gets major points with ease-of-use and price. This is one of the cheapest options on the market, so if that’s the most important to you at this time, we’d suggest giving Wix a try. Just know that you’ll be getting a very basic ecommerce platform.
Here’s a quick roundup of our findings:
If you want a simple, fast, and cheap option, Wix is a great choice; designed-focused companies should definitely check out Squarespace; Woocommerce offers a ton of customization options for your store; and Shopify is your best bet for an out-of-the-box ecommerce experience.
No doubt there are many options at your fingertips when it comes to setting up your online store. We hope this guide has helped inform your decision making, and saved you some time in the research process. Good luck!