The current limitations to in person sales presents small businesses without e-commerce sites the perfect opportunity to explore the best e-commerce platforms of 2020. Each of these platforms come with unique features to help small businesses carve out a niche for themselves in the online space.
An increasing consumer preference for brands to have an online business presence has made it mandatory for small business owners and marketers to explore the best e-commerce platforms based on a number of variables. Discover more about the best options, including free ecommerce platforms, to promote your products and services online and stay ahead in today’s digitally competitive world.
Taking your business online: The best e-commerce platforms of 2020
In today’s digital era, e-commerce plays a big role in our daily lives. The convenience of getting products and services ordered right to our doorstep within no time at all, and with no extra delivery cost, has become quite the norm. And such platforms have become imperative for small business owners.
Now is the perfect time to set up an e-commerce store. But first you’ll need to choose the best available platform from a multitude options.
Types of E-Commerce Platforms
To pick the best of many different e-commerce platforms and you’ll need to weigh several distinguishing factors between them. Analyze your requirements and the type of help and support you need to choose the best fit for your small business. The most important difference to look for between e-commerce website builders is related to hosting and almost all popular e-commerce platforms can be separated into three types depending on this variable:
- Hosted – Small businesses taking to the e-commerce platform for the first time can go for a hosted e-commerce platform as it is beginner-friendly and helps in streamlining the process. This Software as a Service or SaaS solution can cost a little more than other options but at the same time, it allows businesses to run their e-commerce operations more efficiently.
- Self-hosted- Businesses in need of better control over their retail online store can go for self-hosted software. It would require online retail store developers to host, deal with installations, maintain, secure and update their websites manually. The benefit of having this ecommerce software is that it would give developers better visibility of their own data and also helps them understand data security better. However, it can turn out to be quite costly and time-consuming process. This e-commerce software model is good for more complex businesses.
- Mixed- Some ecommerce platforms lets businesses to add their shopping carts into WordPress and other platforms. This is known as the Commerce as a Service, or CaaS ecommerce that allows developers to decouple the shopping cart from the CMS. It is a viable ecommerce plan for store owners operating on a shoestring budget as it is much cheaper than several ecommerce platforms.
Beside the above points, one also needs to take into account the different ecommerce features of each ecommerce website and consider variables depending on their specific needs. Following are some of the important factors to consider when choosing the best ecommerce software:
- Ease of use
- Features to help get the best user-experience
- Mobile capabilities
- Customer support & help
Here are some of our top picks for the popular ecommerce platforms to try this year.
1. BigCommerce – It is the most highly recommended open SaaS ecommerce platforms with best-in-class SEO features, advanced product options, simple user interface, zero transaction fees and an open partner ecosystem. Many Fortune-1000 companies use this software to scale their e-commerce business up to over $100 million per year.
BigCommerce Essentials is built for small businesses and can help them scale new heights to turn into successful business giants with their amazing capabilities. With over 40+ payment gateways, 24/7 support, built-in functionality and an accessible platform, small business owners using this software would be faced with a higher learning curve than when using a more basic tool such as Wix.
Many Fortune-1000 companies use this software to scale their e-commerce business up to over $100 million per year.
It also launched the BigCommerce for WordPress, a “headless commerce” product, to let users manage their front-end content on WordPress and their backend e-commerce with BigCommerce. The use of APIs facilitates faster WordPress site speed than any other WordPress e-commerce platform, which installs multiple WordPress plugins and may hinder performance. With pricing plan starting at as low as $29.95/month, a small business can get a branded online store and domain name along with an easy access to sell products on big sites such as Amazon, eBay, and promote on social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest at very little cost.
2. Shopify – When searching for one of the best overall e-commerce solutions in the market at present, Shopify naturally comes to mind. For businesses with plans for dropshipping or marketing via social media platforms, this e-commerce powerhouse is really one of the best as it comes loaded with several interesting features and marketing tools designed to benefit small online shop owners. This scalable solution is able to let online sellers grow as sales jumps on the online storefront and as the business expands. It comes with hundreds of amazing mobile-ready designs and themes. Small businesses using this solution can infinitely increase the functionality of their e-commerce business with its thousands of apps.
The customizable checkout options, drag-and-drop functionality, good quality as well as presence of wide range of tools, enabled with over 100 payment options, add-ons and abandoned cart recovery are some of its major highlights. Along with these it also comes with ecommerce functionalities such as multi-channel selling, shipping support, in-depth analytics, automatic customer email notifications, and a mobile app for on-the-go store, order management & inventory management, thereby making it a perfect pick out of the many ecommerce platforms out there not just for large enterprises but also small businesses. Beginners in the online sales channels can also get a hang of it in no time with the presence of several apps and its easy-to-use interface. With its SEO features, it can drive the user to get the top search engine rankings. Moreover, it comes with excellent 24/7 customer support.
3. 3Dcart – It has terrific shipping solutions just like majors – Shopify and BigCommerce – and it serves 22,000+ online businesses. 3Dcart is driven by several powerful features such as POS functionality, unlimited storage, multi-channel selling support, and zero transaction fees to name a few.
This e-commerce website builder is also enabled with good blogging functionality and great reporting, analytics, and management tools to support endless integrations. Shipping being its strongest point, developers can enjoy access to real-time shipping rates and other advanced shipping solutions even without using an API.
However, 3Dcart is not as user-friendly as Shopify, Shopify Plus or Bigcommerce. Users may have issues with outdated templates, making the platform visually less-appealing. Beginners in online store sales may have problems setting it up, and customizing product pages can take a lot of time. Despite these cons, features such as email marketing, blogging and more makes 3Dcart a good e-commerce platform in terms of value provided. Each plan allows users to achieve a certain sales volume but one can scale to higher plans as per their sales growth.
4. WooCommerce – It is one of the best open source platforms with one of the finest multi channel ecommerce solutions designed for small businesses and large enterprises alike.
This software comes with the best content management system – WordPress and is easy to use. No coding knowledge is required as it seamlessly works with WordPress (WP). Having Familiarity with WP would be best to use this as an ecommerce solution. Businesses with lack of familiarity about WP will face difficulty in setting up web hosting, installing WordPress, and selecting and setting up one of the free themes or premium themes and plugins. Customers may also face scalability issue as the site tends to slow down with greater customer visits and additions of new products.
5.Weebly– Small business website developers new to the world of online retailing can make the most of this highly recommended drop-ship e-commerce platform.
Weebly is a great tool with easy to use features and some amazing built-in marketing functionality. It lacks the sophistication and SEO features of some major e-commerce platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce but definitely a great tool for online entrepreneurs with a business plan to avoid investing money on hiring expensive developers. Online entrepreneurs looking to sell digital products cannot use this platform and this is quite a turn-off for many small businesses. There is abundance of free templates and good designs to choose from and has fine quality email marketing tools. It is a beginner-friendly, functional tool for small and simple stores.
6.Wix – It is the most beginner-friendly e-commerce platform for small business looking to create a simple, functional store. It’s easy to use, intuitive interface and its drag and drop functionality allows users to add videos with ease, thus making it a great tool for businesses starting out in online selling channels. Like the Shopify, there are tons of great themes to choose from and excellent support available. Moreover, there are minimal add-ons, thereby turning it into a good ecommerce platform for beginners.
7. Squarespace – This is another great drag-and-drop site builder with excellent features and functionalities that put it on par with the best e-commerce platforms.
The sleek templates, design tools and low prices make Squarespace worth a try for all small businesses looking for a value for money, functional simple online store. Users can enjoy access to a variety of management tools such as inventory, social selling, SEO, analytics, marketing, and shipping features. Using this ecommerce solution, users can also index their sites on Google, Bing, and Yahoo. It also supports integration with ShipStation and facilitates real-time shipping rate calculations. Moreover, the prices are low as compared to other platforms and by buying the premium plan one can access automatic abandoned cart recovery and can also give discounts and sell gift cards. However, it only supports PayPal and credit card or payments via Stripe, and it lacks an app store for added features and functionality.
8. Volusion – Online entrepreneurs looking for a comprehensive solution to fulfill their ecommerce needs can make use of this great platform. It is equipped with best tracking and analytics management tools. The sleek, mobile-responsive designs, templates and availability of interesting tools for Amazon and eBay integration, tax calculations, and so on makes it a solid choice for online sellers in several niches – right from clothing to fashion to food & beverages and electronics. There are no coding skills required to create a stylish, online store using this platform and there are no transaction fees too. Like other major e-commerce platforms such as Shopify and WooCommerce, this software support apple pay integration and let its sellers accept apple pay.
9. Prestashop – It is a free open source e-commerce platform with excellent features for online sellers. With free version, users need to pay for hosting, getting an SSL certificate, and also other additional features required to set up a complete online opencart. It also offers paid version of the software called the PrestaShop Ready for only around $20 a month. If online seller lacks HTML and CSS skills then taking professional help from hired developers can help in optimizing the ample features of the free version platform. The downloadable free software supports integration with payment processors, shippers, warehouses, ERP, accounting, and more.
With a wide array of excellent e-commerce platforms to choose from, small businesses looking to foray in the online retailing world can create a significant digital footprint. Our research shows that BigCommerce, Shopify, Magento, 3Dcart, WooCommerce, Weebly, Wix, Squarespace, Volusion and PrestaShop are all helping small manufacturers and entrepreneurs set up scalable, flexible online stores with no hassle. If you’re looking for a platform outside of this list, Pinnacle Cart, Ecwid and Bigcartel also get honorable mentions among the top e-commerce platform providers.