There was a time when it seemed impossible to sell products and services without having a physical shop. Customers who were interested in purchasing your goods had to travel to your physical location to do so.
With only a few keystrokes, you can now find everything you need online. Ordering products, videos, and even food from your laptop or mobile device are simple thanks to e-commerce platforms.
Customers benefit from e-commerce sites, which often make it easier for new companies to get started. And if you want to open an online store in 2020, you’ll have a lot of choices to choose from.
What to Look for in an E-Commerce Platform
You’re probably already acquainted with sites like eBay and Amazon if you’re deciding which e-commerce platform to use. However, depending on the type of store you want to open, there may be other outlets that are a better match.
When assessing e-commerce sites, below are some of the most significant features to look for.
E-commerce costs can range from free to thousands of dollars, depending on the size of the business. Most sites, on the other hand, would let you try them out for free without requiring you to enter your credit card details.
Spend some time thinking about all of the available functionality when taking advantage of these free trials. Don’t forget about hosting, extensions, and other add-ons as well.
If people can’t find your shop in the first place, you won’t have any customers. As a result, the e-commerce platform you choose should provide SEO software.
Having the ability to customize your URL with your name and items would aid in search engine optimization and make your store more available. Some platforms have improved SEO software as part of their subscription plans.
Your online store will begin tiny, but that does not mean it will remain so. That’s why you need an e-commerce platform that can scale up with your business.
Even at the outset, you can need more than a simple e-commerce solution. Look for a platform that won’t lock you into a strategy that isn’t right for your business.
More than 125 million Americans own smartphones, according to e-commerce designer OuterBox. Furthermore, more than 60% of mobile users have made transactions using their devices.
As a result, any platform you use must be mobile-friendly. Mobile devices would account for the bulk of your sales, so if your online store isn’t mobile-friendly, you’ll be missing out on potential revenue.
If you sell physical goods, your shop would almost certainly have a lot of pictures and even videos. That means you’ll need a fast and dependable e-commerce platform. Customers will abandon your site if they have to wait for photos and videos to load.
You want an e-commerce site that offers a meaningful user experience for both you and your customers. With little to no programming experience, you should be able to set up your online store. Customers should be able to navigate and search for items easily once the store is up and running.
You must be able to integrate your online store with third-party apps. Even if you don’t know how to code, you should be able to add these resources and applications.
Many sites, fortunately, make this simple by allowing you to embed “buy buttons” in social media networks like Pinterest. Alternatively, others have plug-ins that can be used for the current WordPress account.
The Top 5 E-Commerce Platforms for Small Businesses
Let’s take a look at some choices now that you know what to look for in an e-commerce platform. Our top five picks for the best e-commerce platforms in 2020 are listed below.
Best E-Commerce Platform for Small Businesses
While there are many excellent e-commerce platforms available, Shopify appears to provide the most value to small businesses. It can benefit you at any stage of your company’s growth.
After all, what small company intends to remain small indefinitely?
Shopify is a one-stop-shop for e-commerce store development. You can choose a custom domain, create a logo, and search for items using their vendor relationships.
Brand shots can be found in their free stock picture archive. You can also use Shopify to purchase an existing online store if you don’t want to start from scratch.
Shopify provides a 14-day free trial and doesn’t need a credit card to get started. You don’t even need to choose a plan; simply sign up and start creating your shop.
For their “Lite” package, pricing starts at just $9 a month. This plan allows you to add a “buy icon” to every blog, website, or Facebook page you already have.
Shopify allows you to chat with customers over the internet, monitor orders, and submit invoices. The Lite plan also includes a point-of-sale app that allows you to accept purchases in person.
The plans range in price from $29 per month to $299 per month as you upgrade and add more features. Large retailers may also use an enterprise approach.
All plans provide unlimited file storage, an unlimited number of product options, hosting, protection, abandoned cart recovery, and 24/7 customer service.
Best E-Commerce Platform for Startups
Wix is best known as a free website builder, but it also has e-commerce plans for new entrepreneurs. The monthly plans start at $17, and if you pay annually, you’ll get a free domain and $300 in ad credits.
Wix’s most costly package costs $25 a month and includes the following benefits:
- Phone support
- Priority service
- Ticket support
- A review of your site’s interface and SEO
Wix, like most e-commerce sites, lets you sell both physical and digital products. It does, however, have features that will cater to a wide range of businesses.
Customers may, for example, use booking features to arrange appointments or register for classes. Wix Music also allows you to customize your music player, sell digital downloads, and track sales and performance statistics.
You can take online takeout or delivery orders, accept reservations, and send email updates to guests if you own a restaurant. As a result, the site isn’t limited to online retailers.
Best E-Commerce Platform for Mobile
Every e-commerce platform on this list is mobile-friendly, but Squarespace goes above and beyond to make sure that the user experience on a mobile device is excellent. Every template design has a distinct mobile experience that suits the store’s overall style. This function is activated by default, but it can be turned off in the Website Manager.
While images can take a long time to load, Squarespace employs a “Responsive Image Loader” that creates multiple scaled versions of each picture uploaded. The site will identify the computer being used and load the appropriate image for the best viewing experience. It also fits with Retina Display Apple computers.
The responsiveness isn’t limited to imagery. The overall layout, maps, and visuals of the web are all mobile-friendly. Even emails have been optimized so that marketing campaigns can be read on mobile devices.
Best E-Commerce Platform for Retailers
Magento is the best e-commerce site for existing businesses looking to expand their online sales. Magento is used by some of the world’s most well-known brands, according to the company’s website.
The app is available for free download, but it will take a developer to transform it into something spectacular. Magento has a number of partners that can assist you in creating an online store that integrates with your brick-and-mortar location.
Magento is picky on the developers who are allowed to contribute to its open-source platform. The firm offers enterprise-level strategies to help you build a streamlined omnichannel strategy.
Customers can place orders online and pick them up in your shop, with real-time inventory monitoring.
One free theme is included with your online shop, and the rest cost between $29 and $500. You may also add extensions to your account that will assist you with the following aspects of your business:
- Content management
- Customer support
Best E-Commerce Platform for Software Integration
WooCommerce is a WordPress-based e-commerce platform. It’s simple to incorporate your e-commerce business into your content because it integrates with a common content management system.
WooCommerce has plug-ins for your eCommerce platform, just as you do for your WordPress blog. Nearly 300 official extensions covering purchases, delivery, marketing, and accounting are available in the open-source platform’s shop.
These plugins are as easy as checking a box since the framework is built on WordPress. However, some payment and delivery methods have extra fees.
Storefront is a free WooCommerce theme that comes in a variety of variations that should fit your needs. Storefront, like WordPress, is completely customizable, and the only weakness is your coding skills.
You must find a hosting solution for your WooCommerce account, just as you must for WordPress. That means you’ll have to pay extra for hosting and domain registration.
More eCommerce Solutions for Small Business
There are other e-commerce sites to consider if you’re still unsure. Overall, there isn’t much of a difference between these channels. The majority of them emphasize convenience and give companies the ability to create their own online brand.
You may also use one of the following e-commerce platforms:
Big Cartel: This is a fantastic resource for artists looking to sell their work online. Anyone selling up to five goods on a Big Cartel-branded website is eligible for a free plan.
BigCommerce: BigCommerce is an excellent site that competes with Shopify and also outperforms it by providing unrestricted staff accounts. Each plan, however, has an annual revenue threshold, and if you surpass it, you’ll be shifted to a more costly plan.
OSCommerce: Another open-source e-commerce platform is OSCommerce. That means you can download it for free, but you must find your own hosting solution. If you know how to code, you can build a great site with thousands of free extensions.
OpenCart: OpenCart is an open-source platform that lets you customize your store with a variety of design themes.
To use the platform effectively, you’ll need some basic coding skills. OpenCart has a small number of features and themes, but it is inexpensive and a viable choice for those who are just getting started.
Volusion: Volusion is a Shopify rival that has been chastised for enforcing secret fees. The organization no longer charges for SSL certification or bandwidth; instead, transaction fees are charged.
Weebly: For beginners, Weebly is an excellent online shop. It would be even better if there was a customer login area.
There is no one-size-fits-all e-commerce platform; instead, choose the one that best suits your needs. Price, scalability, and mobile responsiveness are some of the most important factors to consider when weighing your choices.
Take advantage of the free trials and check out the different features first. This knowledge will assist you in evaluating your choices and selecting the best e-commerce store for you.