Over the past decade, consumers are constantly changing the way they shop merchants are working round the clock to keep up. In other words, the world economy is changing and electronic commerce (e-Commerce) is taking the center stage!
In this emerging global economy, e-Commerce has increasingly become a vital component of business strategy and a solid catalyst for economic development.
The continued expansion of e-Commerce could lead to downward pressure on inflation through increased competition, cost savings, and changes in sellers’ pricing behavior.
From startups to small and medium-sized businesses right through to huge brands, there are a large number of companies that can benefit from their own online store, where they can sell their own products/services.
At the same time, the speedy influx of new technology in the retail experience has driven consumers of all ages to expect a convenient and connected experience seamlessly aligns with their everyday lives.
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What is e-Commerce?
eCommerce encompasses any commercial transaction that involves the transfer of information across the internet. It can take many different formats, such as a branded website, mobile app, marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, and social media platforms like Facebook Marketplace, Instagram Shoppable Ads, and Pinterest Buyable Pins.
While there are many ways to sell to consumers over the internet, the main advantage of online selling is you can sell to consumers anywhere, anytime. You can meet the customer where and when they’re shopping. It doesn’t matter if they’re sitting at home on the couch, on their lunchbreak at work, or even using your app in a physical store – they can complete a purchase online.
In this article, we will focus on e-Commerce platforms or software.
What is e-Commerce Software or Platform?
e-Commerce software lets you track and manage product inventory, as well as fulfill and ship orders. It helps you maintain a product database, track sales, market to customers, offer discounts, maintain a loyalty program, and even create a blog to connect with potential customers.
Even better, there are numerous turnkey bundles available that combine custom or name brand shopping cart solutions with e-commerce-focused web hosting services, banks and payment processors, as well as e-commerce fulfillment and warehousing operators. The problem with such complex, do-it-all services, however, is that it’s tough to know how to evaluate them or even where to begin. Don’t worry, we’re here to lend a helping hand.
If you’re still on the fence about launching your own e-Commerce store, you may ask yourself why e-Commerce is getting attention around the world?
10 Reasons Your Business Needs e-Commerce
Many web hosting services now offer e-commerce packages as part of their hosting plans, using built-in tools or integrating with open-source tools. It boils down to just how much extra work you, as a small business owner, want to put in to manage your store from scratch. It’s just another set of hoops through which to jump if you have to set up your own merchant account and payment gateway. Plus, everything is on the web now: If you make your customers place an order and then call you with their credit card information, you are going to lose a lot of sales.
- Operation Cost Reduction
With an online store, you avoid many of the large, upfront investments that traditional retail can incur – like a physical storefront, inventory, or payroll. In other words, e-Commerce allows you to sequentially build out your business as your sales grow.
- Go Global
A physical store is limited geographically but an e-Commerce website will give you the opportunity to increase your outreach. An e-Commerce store takes your products to the world. Consumers do not have the explicit need to travel to where you are to see what you have to offer.
- Fast Go-to-Market Time
Unlike traditional retail, your eCommerce store can be up and running in just a few clicks (if you’re looking for a basic store.) eCommerce platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, and Squarespace use pre-made templates to create your store. They take care of hosting, PCI compliance, platform maintenance, and more. Marketplaces like Amazon or eBay just require you to set up an account before you start selling.
You can get off the ground quickly with eCommerce solutions, especially if you’ve already created word of mouth or a social following to tap into. You can quickly get a site up and running and then drive traffic to your new site.
- Content Marketing Strategy
An online presence allows you to provide more information about your products and services to your customers. A branded site especially gives sellers a place to provide key content to customers.
Key product content includes in-depth product descriptions, product comparisons, in-store inventory availability, and pricing. This information helps a customer make their purchasing decision both in-store or online.
Your e-Commerce site can also provide more information about your business or how to use your products. Webpages and email marketing can be dedicated to your brand’s story and how your products are made. Blog posts and videos can also provide helpful content about the use of your products or services.
For example, food companies provide recipes and tips to consumers on their website. This type of content creates a story for your brand while providing an overall better customer experience. In a competitive market, this type of information differentiates you from other sellers.
- Customer Data Insights
One advantage of online selling you might not have thought of is how easy it makes it to collect, measure, and act on customer data. If you want to be hyper-focused on the customer experience, then you need to own your consumer data. Online selling lets you collect first-hand data by tracking customer interactions. You’ll have a constant feedback loop of actionable insights to continue to innovate your customer experience.
As always, it’s important to think about ethical ways to collect and act on consumer data. There are privacy laws like GDPR to think about. And, if you’re collecting sensitive data, you better be protecting it too.
- Better Marketing Opportunities
Your e-Commerce site is the best marketing tool that you would ever have. Thanks to online tools like social media marketing, email marketing, search engine marketing, pay per click ads, and SEO that help you build very useful links and contacts.
For example, with good SEO, your online store will appear in the top results of SERPs. Also, social media networks will provide you with a platform to engage and build trust with your customers through reviews and ratings, as well as keeping them informed with regular posts about your products and offers.
- Meet Customers Where They Want to Buy
Shoppers don’t just research products online. They also complete purchases online too. e-Commerce makes even it easier for shoppers to hit that buy button, no matter where they are. Shoppers can complete purchases from Instagram Ads, mobile apps in-store, and more. e-Commerce allows sellers to remove friction points and make it as convenient for buyers to purchase the products they want.
Sell where your customers are. If most of your customers shop online, then you should be selling online! e-Commerce allows you to meet the shopping expectations of your customers.
- Increase in Sales
At the end of the day, your business is based on being able to sell more, and therefore it is what it is aimed at. All the previous points contribute to the fact that the tenth and last advantage is that there is an increase in the purchases of your products. Reaching more customers, improving your products thanks to consumers’ feedbacks, or being available 24 hours a day will undoubtedly contribute to all of this.
e-Commerce makes serving niche markets even easier. It can be hard for that rare coin collector to find a seller. However, the ease and breadth of the internet makes that search easier. If you serve a niche market, you might find it easier to distribute your products online. You’ll open your business to a greater depth of consumers.
e-Commerce is, without a doubt, the future business. Search patterns and consumer spending, the advancement of technology, and the latest statistics estimate that by 2040, 95% of purchases will be made through the internet.
Therefore, we are not only talking about a trend of the present but also about what the commercial relations of the future will be. And just as if you are not on the Internet you do not exist, if your business does not sell on the Internet it is limiting its sales in a massive way.
Choosing the Best e-Commerce Platform for your Business
The best ecommerce platforms will enable your business to set up an online store that suits your needs. There is a huge variety of ecommerce platform packages from which to choose, so building an online store has never been easier. They can provide a seamless online retail experience for customers, allowing them to order and pay for products directly from your website.
Want to set up an e-Commerce store for your business, then check out our list of the 10 best e-Commerce platforms below.
Shopify – The Giant of e-Commerce World
Shopify is a well-known eCommerce platform provider, with over one million stores, 2.1 million active users, and $155B+ worth of sold goods on its platform. They have an in-house payment processing platform and substantial discounts on shipping rates.
You have a choice between 73 mobile-optimized themes from which 9 are free, and 64 are paid, starting from $140. There’s no limit on the number of products you can add. However, you need a plugin app to process subscription services, something you can purchase from the Shopify App Store.
Shopify is also the the best choice for dropshipping. The platform makes it easy to find trending products that you can quickly add them to your store and start selling. This easy-to-use ecommerce platform comes with the Shopify POS lite system and tons of features. See specs below.
24/7 live chat, email, and phone support
14-day free trial
Unlimited storage and monthly data transfer
Zero transaction fees via Shopify Payments
Free, attractive themes
Fastest Load Time
1-Click Selling Apps Available
|2 accounts with the cheapest plan|
2% commission outside Shopify Payments
Only 9 free themes
Weak at SEO/Content Marketing
Checkout not customizable
Apps Are Expensive
Lacks integrated email marketing tools
Potentially overwhelming number of options
Ease of Use 4.9
Wix – Best for for Transaction-Free E-Commerce
While other platforms are known for their complexity in being able to deliver an ecommerce platform for all needs, Wix offers a much simpler solution for small businesses who don’t need all the bells and whistles of an online megastore.
Additionally, because of the suite of website building tools available through Wix, setting up an ecommerce platform is really simple and easy to do, and just as easy to manage, with no coding skills required. The result is a platform that anyone should be able to use without too much difficulty.
There are over 500 templates available to help you get the look and feel you need for your ecommerce site, and along with inventory management, you can also use Wix payments to choose from a global network of payment providers, including all major credit card companies, as well as other services such as PayPal and Stripe.
Overall, if you want a simpler alternative to some of the full-on web store building solutions here, Wix delivers well. It’s highly user-friendly, yet there’s still plenty of ecommerce power available to create a suitably impressive online store.
|Tons of Free, Amazing Themes|
Simple to Use and Set Up
Includes Marketing Automation
Easy to use and understand
Many customization options
Supports POS systems
No transaction fees
|Poor SEO Performance|
Weak Upselling Capabilities
Weak Integration with Amazon
Free trial doesn’t let you receive payments
Doesn’t let you switch templates
Ease of Use 4.2
GoDaddy – Best for Marketing and SEO Tools
GoDaddy is ubiquitous when it comes to anything on the web. It’s the world’s biggest domain registrar, and it has held that title for a long time. GoDaddy Websites + Marketing is a expansion of that strength; if you’re already getting a domain name from GoDaddy, why not get a website to go along with it? The company’s website building tool is an all-in-one service that includes marketing and tools for promoting and monetizing your site. You get the domain name, the website builder, social media hooks, and email marketing all in one spot. Sadly, there’s only one e-commerce plan available if selling products online is your focus.
The e-commerce plan ($29.99 per month, $24.99 for an annual commitment) is GoDaddy’s top-level website builder tier. Like the Premium plan, e-commerce has unlimited social media platforms and posts. It also includes the ability to add and edit product listings, set up shipping options, sell items through an online store, manage promotions and discounts, sell on online marketplaces, such as Amazon and eBay. If you’re serious about selling products online, the e-commerce plan is the one for you.
|Good-looking sites on desktop and mobile|
Unlimited storage and monthly data transfers
Great marketing and SEO tools
More than 100 templates
Good customer service
|Limited layout customization |
and photo editing
Ecommerce not available with all tiers
Doesn’t let you switch templates
Ease of Use 4.1
BigCommerce – Best Platform with Full-featured CMS
Its tagline says it all: ‘Ecommerce for a New era’. Bigcommerce was created to “support your business, not just your store” by providing a feature-rich platform, affordable pricing plans, and comprehensive reporting options. In addition to offering support via phone, instant chat and email, it also offers articles and videos to help with ecommerce, and access to a team of ecommerce experts who can provide advice and guidance about online selling. Their experts are qualified in both Google Analytics and Adwords.
Like Shopify, Bigcommerce provides a variety of templates and themes to help stores look their best and get up-and-running quickly. Alternatively, users can design their own store or use Bigcommerce designers to do so. The platform incorporates a full-featured CMS that allows users to run an entire website, rather than just a store.
Users can benefit from detailed and flexible product management, optimized search engine rankings, along with a variety of integrated marketing tools and analytics. Payments can be accepted via 40+ pre-integrated gateways and shipping details can be customized as per the business’s requirements. As of late, some new features have been added like support for Amazon Import and Link and Shopping in Instagram Stories. The platform offers automated order processing, flexible tax rules depending on where orders are made and shipped, and support for multiple currencies.
|Flexible and scalable.|
Excels with multi-channel selling.
Strong SEO Performance.
Unlimited products, file storage, and
bandwidth with all plans
Robust search options
24/7 live agent support
More than 100 free and premium themes
Free, 15-day trial
|Inconsistent loading speed.|
High volume stores pay more.
No 1-Click Selling
Relatively expensive advanced plans
Dashboard has a mild learning curve
Lacks an integrated point-of-sale system
Ease of Use 4.8
WooCommerce – The WordPress e-Commerce Solution
WooCommerce is Bluehost’s gift to small business owners on WordPress who want a fully functional e-commerce website. Rather than being a standalone ecommerce platform, WooCommerce is a free plugin that can turn your WordPress website into an e-commerce website with all its impressive offers in place.
Like WordPress, WooCommerce has several free themes that you can use to build your online store. Another option is to purchase premium themes to set your store apart from free theme users.
You can set up various payment options from major credit cards to integrations with Stripe, PayPal, etc. You can also sign up with WooCommerce Payment with no setup charges or monthly fees. This allows you to accept credit or debit cards with a charge of 2.9% + 30¢ for each transaction with the US-issued cards. An additional 1% fee applies for any other cards issued outside the US.
All of the inventory management, tax calculation, and shipping rates management takes place in the WordPress interface. You can integrate your WooCommerce store with Google Analytics to keep track of data.
As a bonus, you have a 30-day money-back guarantee with every purchase from the WooCommerce app store.
|Best llatform for SEO|
1-Click selling apps available
Lots of service providers
|Hosting can be expensive|
Difficult to troubleshoot
Needs lots of extensions
Ease of Use 3.3
Volusion – Best for Third-Party Integration
Volusion stands out from the competition with its zero transaction fees, many marketing tools, and third-party integrations. Although those are welcome features, Volusion’s non-enterprise plans aren’t quite as robust as those offered by Shopify and Wix Stores. Still, the service has many elements that may appeal to small businesses.
The platform offers four available packages, though the top-tier one is a custom plan intended for Enterprise-level customers. The Personal plan starts at $29 per month, and offers a single staff account, the ability to sell 100 products, and online support. The $79-per-month Professional plan lets you sell up to 5,000 products, and delivers five staff accounts, phone-based help, newsletters, phone orders, and abandoned cart reports. The Business plan (a massive $299 per month) supports unlimited products, 15 staff accounts, Amazon and eBay integrations, third-party shipping calculations, and batch order processing. All plans let you set up a Facebook store, use a mobile app to manage your shop, and create slideshows.
|Great on-boarding / help center|
Subscription/recurring payments included
Zero transaction fees
Feature-packed dashboard and CRM system
Unlimited monthly data transfers with each plan
Comes bundled with useful marketing and SEO tools
Many help articles and videos
Free, 14-day trial
|Lacks up/cross selling|
Slower load times
Many sites look dated
Annual revenue limits
Base plan lacks phone support
Lacks an integrated blogging option
Site builder has rough edges
Ease of Use 4.1
Design/ Themes 3.7
What to Look Out for in e-Commerce Platforms
Some e-commerce services are better suited for selling physical goods, while others support digital and virtual products, such as ebooks and services. As a result, you need to think about the types of products you want to sell before selecting a service. Some e-commerce companies let you migrate data from an existing service. They handle bulk, product database uploads, as well as moving customer and order history. If you aren’t setting up a brand-new storefront, then you really need to look for e-commerce tools to help with the move.
Look for plans that let you organize inventory and maintain a customer database. If there aren’t any built-in tools, see if you can integrate your cart with a third-party service. If you plan to send emails from your e-commerce website, then MailChimp, for example, might integrate with your service tier. See if you can issue discounts, gift certificates, and run sales.
More importantly, look out for SEO options. You want search engine optimization (SEO) tools to help your storefront rise up in search results. You should consider integrating Google Analytics (GA) into the dashboard to understand who is coming to your store and what they are doing. You won’t need GA if the shopping cart provides its own website metrics, but it’s still a good tool to consider using with your store.
Many e-commerce tools offer trial periods. Take advantage of the trial to learn how to work with the shopping cart dashboard. If you find it annoying to see the placed orders, enter products, or fulfill orders, move on to a shopping cart that fits into your workflow.
Finally, think about security. While many of your customers will shop while using a virtual private network (VPN) service, there are still plenty who won’t. To protect them, make sure your online store and its underlying web hosting provider either offer a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate or can accommodate a third-party certificate you purchase from someone else. In addition, make sure to invest in a dependable website monitoring tool to stay on top of any security or performance issues in real time.