You want a good ecommerce platform to provide an all-in-one solution for building, managing and tracking your online business, including creating your store, stocking your virtual shelves, and processing your orders. Before these comprehensive ecommerce platforms emerged, businesses had to patch together a set of tools, software solutions and services to create a DIY bundle which may not always have worked well together.
The new breed of SaaS (software-as-a-service) ecommerce platforms provide an end-to-end solution bringing together all the areas of an online store, including supply chain management, shopping cart systems, customer support, as well as analytics and reporting in most cases. The advantage of a SaaS model is that you are removed from dealing with the hassle of maintaining expensive and unstable technology yourself, so that you can focus on the business side of things.
Here are some features to look for in an ecommerce platform:
- End-to-end integrated solution, preferably cloud-based
- User-friendly interface to manage and track the various areas of your business
- Error-free processing of orders, purchases, billing and returns
- Real-time updates of inventory across multiple channels
- Comprehensive customer relationship data across all touch points
- Analytics and reporting to monitor the health of your business
As your online business scales up, you move from a transactional service to a relationship based service. Choose a good ecommerce platform that will accommodate the growth and success of your business. Take a look at our recommendations below, and see which platform serves you best.
If you’re a new business setting up your first online storefront, Shopify is a great drag-and-drop option that has a lower learning curve. Their easy to use interface makes adding products, managing orders and tracking sales a breeze. They offer 70+ responsive themes allowing you to create a customizable storefront.
In addition to its own payment platform, Shopify is integrated with other major payment gateways such as credit cards, debit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, making it convenient for your customers to choose the best option for them.
Shopify’s plans start from $29 per month, which is a good starting point for a brand new business.
Wix has had a rocky beginning in the ecommerce industry, however they have substantially enhanced their platform over the years, making it a go-to option for many small businesses. Some of their newer features, such as drag-and-drop website builder, instant purchase buttons, customizable checkout page, and abandoned cart recovery are all appealing features for a beginner ecommerce website.
Some of the limiting factors with Wix are its low storage space, buggy poorly tested code, and difficult to customize templates. This may mean that you will eventually need to find a different solution when you’re ready to expand.
The Business Basic plan starts at $23 per month, plus you get a 14-day free trial before you commit.
WooCommerce is a popular (and free) choice for Wordpress websites because it allows you to integrate with your existing website without having to start from scratch on a new platform. The online business operations such as managing your inventory, calculating your shipping rates, and tracking your orders and sales are performed on Wordpress.
WooCommerce Payment platform is also free with no setup charges, so you can accept credit cards and debit cards. You may also purchase add-ons to integrate with other payment gateways, as well as other ecommerce tools.
WooCommerce is free for all standard features. Additional extensions available from $29.
Volusion is a solid choice if you’re a mid-sized business looking for an easy to use ecommerce package. They provide a user-friendly dashboard to set up product pages, manage inventory and monitor sales. One feature that makes it particularly easy to navigate is that the backend matches with the front end.
One downside to keep in mind with Volusion is that they don’t provide website hosting. So if you want to use blogging and content marketing you may need to invest in that separately.
Although there are some added setup costs for premium themes and SSL certificates, the starting plan starts fairly low, at $29 per month.
3dCart is a particularly enticing choice if you want to consider marketing built into your ecommerce platform. They have a Marketing tab on their dashboard with pre-installed tools and a suggested checklist of tasks to help you with your marketing options. Unlike Volusion, their blogging platform has great features including SEO tools.
Although their store builder is not very intuitive, and doesn’t use drag-and-drop functionality, they have a user-friendly interface and hundreds of responsive themes to choose from. Another advantage to choosing 3dcart is their unlimited storage.
Lowest price plans start from $19 per month.
Another popular option for an online storefront is SquareSpace, known for its sleek templates and minimalistic designs. If you prefer a simple interface and don’t need a lot of features, SquareSpace is a great platform to set up shop. Some of their additional features at higher tiers include promotional pop-ups, automated shipping rates, abandoned cart recovery and SEO tools.
One feature that you may miss is that SquareSpace only supports PayPal and Stripe. And they don’t offer dropshipping.
Their ecommerce plans start at $26 for basic features.
The reason Ecwid has become more popular is that it allows you to sell well on social media. Ecwid can seamlessly sync up your products to social media markets like Facebook Marketplace or Instagram tags giving you an undeniable advantage over other ecommerce platforms that don’t offer this feature.
Ecwid has come up with a pricing model and platform that is affordable and yet offers features that other ecommerce platforms don’t. You can use Ecwid as a store plug-in so that you can convert any site into an ecommerce platform. It has a control panel that makes it easy to manage all your sales channels.
Ecwid is free for standard features, and paid plans start low at $15 per month.
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