In today’s modern business world, it’s no longer necessary for consumers to travel to a brick-and-mortar store to make their purchases. Making goods available online through e-commerce websites can help business owners scale to reach more customers — no matter their location or the time of day.
Best of all, crafting, launching, and managing an e-commerce site has never been easier and more cost-effective. In fact, you don’t need any web design or development experience to make it happen. If you have a small business that you’d like to take online, there’s a growing number of user-friendly e-commerce platforms available to choose from. Each platform has its own set of unique features, strengths, and weaknesses. So, let’s take a look at the most popular platforms and help you determine which is the best fit for your unique business needs.
Top Features to Look for While Researching E-Commerce Platforms
In order to find out which e-commerce platforms rank the highest, let’s first discuss some of the features to look for during the research process. Finding the right e-commerce platform will largely depend on your business model and your unique business and customer needs. However, there are a few features to look for in a good e-commerce platform that are universally beneficial for most businesses.
One thing every business owner shares? The desire to save money wherever possible. In some cases, launching an e-commerce website can cost business owners thousands of dollars, especially if a business owner doesn’t do their research first. Thankfully, many of the top e-commerce platforms offer free packages and trials to get started, and, even after those trials, they’re made more affordable through annual and monthly subscription-based plans.
In addition to cost-effectiveness, a few other key characteristics to look out for include SEO capabilities, mobile responsiveness, scalability, and mobile friendliness. Each of these features will make it easy for your customers to find and interact with your e-commerce website once it’s live.
#3. Squarespace | User-Friendly & Optimized for Mobile
Squarespace prides itself on offering “all you need to power your online store,” no matter the size of your business or the industry you’re a part of. This template-based and user-friendly, this platform can suit a wide-range of needs. But what else does it offer?
Well, many shoppers aren’t using their desktop computers to access web stores anymore. Squarespace goes the extra mile to ensure its websites are accessible on any device, including smartphones and tablets. Moreover, Squarespace boasts a built-in “Responsive Image Loader,” which automatically scales images, optimizing them for any screen size.
Another cherished feature among Squarespace users? Design functionality. The platform’s graphics, charts, and other layout features are not only optimized for mobile viewing — a win for consistency! — but they’re also aesthetically pleasing, which can only add to the user experience. Finally, Squarespace also offers features that help business owners track sales and stay organized, such as seamless integration for tracking both online sales and in-person inventory.
#2. Wix | Affordable With Great SEO Features
Wix is commonly known as a free, template-based website builder for all kinds of businesses, but its e-commerce capabilities are becoming increasingly prevalent as well. Foremost, with plans as low as $17 per month, Wix is a great option that won’t drain your bank account. Looking for some added bonuses? The platform will throw in free website domains and ad vouchers when its users pay upfront for an annual e-commerce plan.
The higher-end Wix plans also include professional SEO reviews to ensure your new e-commerce website is attracting the right customers and ranking high in search results after it goes live. Moreover, another beloved Wix feature is the platform’s performance tracking and monitoring capabilities. Business owners can access cohesive data, charts, and stats to track how their website is performing online, including tips for how to improve performance results.
For restaurants, beauty salons, and other appointment-based businesses, Wix even boasts convenient booking features, which allow users to schedule appointments and make reservations online.
#1. Shopify | Scalable & Sophisticated
Often touted as the best e-commerce platform for small businesses looking to grow, Shopify is a sophisticated e-commerce platform. So, why is it great for growing your small business into something big? Shopify is sustainable and scalable over the long term — through every stage of your business growth. In fact, small business owners and major online retailers alike rely on Shopify to manage all of their e-commerce needs in one place.
Beyond layout, design, and domain capabilities, Shopify also offers valuable and unique features. For example, the platform helps business owners find clients and products through their vendor features. Users also get access to a library of (free) product stock photos — as well as the ability to purchase an existing online store so that you don’t have to start from scratch. Moreover, Shopify is known to be a one-stop-shop because the platform allows users to chat with customers, track orders, and send invoices.
Despite the platform’s high level of sophistication and scalability, Shopify doesn’t necessarily come with a higher price tag. The “Lite” plan starts at just $9 per month, while more robust plans cost around $30 per month. No matter the plan, Shopify users can expect unlimited file storage, top-notch security, an abandoned cart recovery feature, a 24/7 support option, and more.
Pro Tip: Not matter which platform you choose, don’t forget to take advantage of any free features and trials. After all, taking things for a test drive can help you better understand your own needs before you make a long-term commitment.
Choosing the Right Ecommerce Platform for Your Small Business
Websites serve as silent ambassadors for your brand and business sales — and they do so 24/7, which means reliability is key. Not to mention, making your business as accessible as possible has never been more important for long-term success. And, although the process can seem intimidating, e-commerce platforms have become so advanced and accessible that it’s easier — and more affordable — than ever to take your business online.
Without a doubt, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to finding the best platform for your business. The right choice will hinge upon your unique business needs, structure, and goals.