6 eCommerce Platforms for Starting A Small Business

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If you were to start a brick-and-mortar business, you would need to start planning how your shop would look, how to advertise your products, how to catch the attention of new customers, etc. But how exactly do you start an online business? Well, being an online merchant may look slightly different, but essentially you need to follow these steps: 

  • The first step is research. You should think about your strengths and in what way you would appeal to your customers;
  • Next, choose a unique and clear business name. (At this stage it's important to consider the available business domain names for your website);
  • Consider getting an EIN (employer identification number). It's free of charge, and it can help you separate your personal and business finances;
  • Obtain business permits and licenses to operate legally within your city and state.
  • Choose an eCommerce platform and create your website
    • Like a real shop, this website will be the face of your company – it will be the first thing your customers see and will be used to explore and purchase your items or services. Keeping this in mind, developing your website will be one of the most significant aspects of launching your e-commerce venture.
  • Work on your list of products. As much as you will be enthusiastic about starting with a huge inventory, we recommend starting small until you get the hang of it;
  • Optimize your business website for SEO and use online marketing tools to attract more customers.

You can check our blog for an extensive list of tips and tricks for starting a successful eCommerce business. Today, we'll focus on eCommerce platforms and what they offer. First, let's take a closer look at some of the most used and highest-rated platforms, their pros and cons, and which is ultimately the best for your business. 

Shopify

 Shopify Logo

Shopify is, without a doubt the most popular eCommerce platform, with over one million businesses worldwide. As an eCommerce platform, it allows you to run an online store, create a website, manage products, calculate shipping prices, sell across numerous channels, and much more. Furthermore, because Shopify is a cloud-based, hosted solution (also known as a SaaS or software-as-a-service), you are not responsible for software maintenance.

Even though Shopify is not a free platform, you may use Shopify Lite to add a buy button to your current website or blog. If you want additional features, choose Basic for $29 a month, Shopify for $79 a month, or Advanced for $299 a month, and you will have access to different features based on the plan you select.

So far, so good. However, Shopify provides several features that may not be appropriate for your requirements. For example, if you do not utilize Shopify's in-house service, be prepared to spend up to 2% on each transaction. Furthermore, several helpful services, such as real-time shipping costs, taking gift cards, and personalizing your checkout page, are only available with higher-tier subscriptions. Another critical point is that Shopify is notorious for having poor SEO features. Therefore you should examine alternate options for improved ranking performance.

Pros Cons
Simple to Use The free plan is not available 
24/7 Support All features are not available in every country
Easily Customizable Insufficient beginner template options
Fully-hosted SEO needs improving

WooCommerce

WooCommerce Logo

If you already have a WordPress website for your business, WooCommerce is an open-source plugin that can be customized to meet your specific requirements. Furthermore, even if you do not have a WordPress website, you may easily utilize WooCommerce.

One of the best aspects of WooCommerce is that it is entirely free to use with any WordPress site. Because it is open-source, you may completely alter the code for your shop. WooCommerce provides many free tools, many of which are copied from WordPress and customized for WooCommerce. Extensions are similar to WooCommerce plugins in that they let you add functionality to your checkout, payment gateways, shipping, and other areas.

However, even if the plugin is free, you are still responsible for domain hosting fees, an SSL certificate, choosing an email provider, and other features. If you don't know HTML or CSS, you'll probably need the assistance of a specialized developer or designer to get the most out of your eCommerce store. In addition, adding fundamental functionality to WooCommerce necessitates the use of plugins, which adds complexity and reduces site speed.

In contrast to Shopify, which is based on monthly subscriptions, WooCommerce offers premium add-ons for a one-time purchase or annual subscriptions for numerous billing choices.

Pros Cons
Free plans available No hosting
Easy to use Basic knowledge of HTML or CSS is needed
Easy WordPress integration Dependent on third-party plugins
No additional transaction Isn't great for large or complex eCommerce sites

Magento (Adobe Commerce)

Magento logo

Magento is suited for mid-sized to big enterprises with in-house programmers and the resources to customize the platform to their needs. It is free, open-source, feature-rich, and downloadable. As long as you know how to code, the platform enables sophisticated changes. Magento actually shines when it comes to flexibility, optimization, scalability, and the capacity to absorb massive levels of traffic and revenues provided you have development resources. Magento is a free and open-source eCommerce platform. This means you'll have access to the backend and will be able to personalize anything in your business. The platform's functionality is continually increasing because of the platform's 260,000 developers globally.

Pros Cons
No monthly charges Requires hosting
Useful SEO tools Complex to manage
Adaptable for international shopping Requires a lot of server resources
Excellent at scalability Requires manual updating

BigCommerce

BigCommerce logo

BigCommerce is a popular open SaaS eCommerce platform for both established and rapidly growing small businesses. By combining corporate features, an open architecture and app ecosystem, and market-leading performance, BigCommerce aims to help companies develop online sales with less money, time, and complexity than on-premise software. It provides over 55 payment channels with no additional transaction costs, omnichannel retailing, excellent SEO, 24/7 support, and an easy-to-use visual editor.

Pros Cons
Secure platform The mobile app is not very good
Easy to learn and use Only 5 free templates
Omnichannel retailing Weak email marketing options
Robust API The review systems need improvements

Wix.com

Wix Logo

Wix offers everything you need in an easy-to-use interface, topped off with reasonable options. More than 100 useful templates, a diverse set of applications, highly configurable theme choices, and a user-friendly editor make it a go-to solution for both novice and experienced users. It is a free hosted website builder that is meant to be user-friendly and extremely adaptable without the need for the user to code. 

At $17/month, your package includes 20GB of storage space and unlimited bandwidth, as well as the flexibility to link to a custom domain, making it a popular choice among many online company owners. Wix Business Unlimited costs $25 per month and includes unlimited bandwidth and 35GB of storage, as well as a free domain name and certain add-ons, while Business VIP plans start at $35 per month and include unlimited traffic and 50GB of storage (as well as priority customer care and customized reports).

Pros Cons
Tasteful design choices and layouts Low-quality mobile response
Easy to learn and use Only 5 free templates
Unique content Need improvements in analytics
Reliability  Lack of multiple language support

Squarespace

Squarespace logo

If you don't have a lot of computer expertise or resources and want to keep your product catalog modest, Squarespace is a good option. The platform includes a powerful website builder as well as a large selection of templates and themes. With that and a little tweaking, you can get some spectacular results and have an e-store that appears to have cost a fortune.

The Basic Business plan is $23 a month and includes a free custom domain, video storage, premium integration, unlimited bandwidth, mobile-optimized websites, SSL security, extensive website analytics, gift cards, and limitless products for a 3% transaction fee. For $27 per month, you can opt for the Basic Commerce package and receive all of the amazing eCommerce features with no transaction costs.

Squarespace allows eCommerce users to modify not just themes and fonts, but also fundamental features such as online shop layouts. The templates have been optimized for mobile shopping. SEO, product galleries, and order management are all included. Squarespace works with Stripe to accept credit card payments.

Pros Cons
Solid professional templates Limited check-out integrations
Great marketing and SEO integration Limited tools and 3rd party plugins
Mobile responsive Needs improvements for picture and video integrations
Great customer service Lack of multiple language support

What to choose?

Seeing how all eCommerce platforms have their challenges and strengths, it's hard to answer this question easily. It's important to choose which one works best for you and your business first and foremost. 

PackageHopper, fortunately, interfaces seamlessly with the majority of eCommerce systems. Sign up for a free account today to connect your online store and expand your company internationally with the best shipping rates!