E-commerce is a way of conducting business online, buying and selling goods and services.
That’s why it’s important to have the best ecommerce platform for your specific business needs.
Many companies have been using ecommerce for various types of businesses across different sectors.
While setting up shop in a physical store is a serious hassle, online store building platforms like Shopify have made setting up one’s web shop an easy task.
E-commerce is growing at a rapid pace. Over $100 billion was generated from online orders in 2015 during the holiday season alone.
And, 40% of all holiday shopping took place online. Ecommerce showed significant growth in 2016 as well across many retailers, and is set to post big gains in 2017 as well.
What is an Ecommerce Platform?
Like every other platform, one needs to build a structure for expanding a business or adding new features to it.
When a company or an entrepreneur decides to go for e-commerce, this very structure needs to be built from the ground up.
Some of the major benefits which e-commerce software provides include automated tax calculation and shipping process.
Simplified marketing, easy management of products, order and customers, a user-friendly platform and fast processing capabilities.
E-commerce software can be divided into 2 broad categories:
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
Best Ecommerce Platform for Small Businesses
Among the wide range of benefits that e-commerce has brought to the business world, the emergence of many small businesses is probably the greatest.
Many aspiring individuals, despite having potential were unable to start their own businesses due to a lack of resources, were given an opportunity to show their talent to the world.
Like all others, small online businesses also need good e-commerce platform to manage their business and to ensure its smooth functioning.
To help small businesses in finding the best e-commerce software, we have reviewed many of them and have come up with a list of the best among all of them.
Take a look and choose one that best fits your needs and requirements.
1. Shopify – The Best Platform in General
Among the large number of e-commerce software that we have reviewed, as a whole,Shopify has been selected as the best for small business.
Shopify offers everything that one needs not only to start a small e-commerce business, but also to manage and run it smoothly.
The fact that one does not need to have specialized technical skills to operate the software is probably the greatest benefit that Shopify offers to its users.
Also, one does not need to look for another e-commerce software as the business grows because the software has the feature of adjusting itself to the increasing demands of a growing business.
The wide range of services and features that Shopify provides for your business include:
- Development of an online storefront
- Shopping cart
- Social media selling
- Payment processing
- Web builder
- Web hosting
- Back-end functionality
- Management of inventory
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Tools for effective marketing
- Mobile access
- Analysis and reports
Let’s take a detailed look at some of the greatest benefits that Shopify offers to its users:
Automated Sales and Easy Payment
This feature of Shopify is particularly helpful for those users who lack specialized technical skills. Also, the automated sales save your time and the availability of an online shopping cart.
Makes the payment process much easier as it allows customers to make payments through PayPal and/or credit cards.
Shopify’s in-built payment gateway eliminates the need for hiring 3rd party processors to overlook the whole payment process.
At the customer’s end, Shopify makes online shopping a hassle-free and quick process. All a customer has to do after selecting the products and/or services is to select the preferred shipping method and provide payment information.
On the other hand, business owners just need to take care of the shipping process as every other process is automatically managed by the software itself.
As soon as a customer places an order, the order section on the manager or owner’s dashboard gets automatically updated, eliminating any chances of missing an order because of human error.
Taking effective measures for finding new customers and retaining the old ones is one of the core needs of any business because after all, a business only runs because of the customers who use their products/services.
This is something which is done through ‘marketing’. This is why businesses invest so heavily in devising marketing strategies.
When you are using Shopify for your small business, it makes this process easier by providing many marketing tools that will help you in attracting and retaining customers.
If you are buying Shopify, you can expect to get the following tools for effectively marketing your product/service:
- Custom gift cards
- Social network integration
- Facebook advertisements and selling
- Google advertisements
- Discount code generators
- Product reviews
- Email marketing (targeted)
Shopify is one of the easiest software to use. Not only does it have a simple and user-friendly interface, the process of setting up an account also takes only a few seconds.
With shortcuts to the most frequently used features as well as a navigation menu, Shopify makes getting around a lot easier.
It offers a huge variety of ready-made themes to select from as well, something which is particularly helpful for those who do not have technical specialties needed for website development and/or designing.
For advanced and specialized uses, the software offers the option to customize the website as well.
Wonderful Customer Service
Shopify offers 24/7 customer service via multiple channels which include live chat, email and phone calls to help those who need assistance.
Initially or for resolving any problem in the management or functioning of the website.
Also, customer service representatives are friendly, ever-present and provide quick help.
FAQs, user guides, tutorials, discussion forums, videos, and much more material is also available in the software library for ‘self-help’ if you choose to solve your problems on your own
For small businesses, Shopify is highly pocket-friendly. It offers different packages according to the unique requirements of clients, with the most basic ‘Shopify Lite’ package starting from as low as $9/month.
Another plan that includes payment processing, unlimited products, 2 users, 1 custom domain and 24/7 customer support is available only at $29/month. This is the basic package perfect for any startup e-commerce business.
Several advanced features are available in other packages for businesses that are fast growing. Another wonderful feature of Shopify is that there are no hidden charges.
2. BigCommerce – Best Platform to Grow Your Sales
With more than 100,000 live sites currently using the BigCommerce platform for an online store and selling items online.
There’s no better reason to notice that BigCommerce provides a viable and relatively strong interface that can cater to any e-commerce user.
Early on in 2016, BigCommerce underwent through complete re-branding of their services, with far more integrations and so many new features for their clients.
Basically, the company stated that the change of their logo pretty much echoes what their new service is about.
Like some of its competitors, BigCommerce is packed with features and e-commerce tools that’ll help your business grow:
- A wide array of website themes
- App store with many add-ons and plugins
- No transactional fees (Other than what a 3rd party like PayPal would charge you)
- Abandoned Cart Saver service
- E-mail marketing and SEO tools
- Multi-channel marketing
- Mobile capability
The most basic package, called Standard, is currently priced at $29.95/mo and offers a full featured online store. It has no transactional fees, unlimited file storage and bandwidth, no limit on products, and as many staff accounts as you like.
This of course applies to all the different plans. The important things you won’t get with this plan is the Abandoned cart saver, unlimited API calls, and the dedicated SSL. And, if your sales are more than $50K per year, this plan is probably too low for you.
The Plus plan is $79.95 per month but offers slightly more. While you still don’t get the SSL with this plan, you’ll get to use the Abandoned cart saver feature which can save you a lot of potentially lost orders over the course of the year.
The Pro Plan is currently $199.95/month which fits companies that average up to $1M in sales per year. If you are a high volume website, this is for you.
With this plan, you get all the features of the Standard and Plus plans, as well as sitewide HTTPS, fraud monitoring and analytics, product filtering, and a few more features.
A big and strong platform like BigCommerce deserves all raves. Their support team is beyond great. You can have a great product and not so good support and that would kill your brand.
Every time we’ve spoken with BigCommerce (even as a client) their customer service was helpful and attentive. In many cases, they even sent us e-mails after the call to follow up on certain questions we had.
If you are just getting into setting up your store, you can call or use the chat to speak to the support team. They are always there to solve any technical difficulties. I always got a quick and solid answer to my question.
Even if the customer service representative had to speak to a few people to resolve my problem. So definitely a big plus to work with such a supportive team for this software. They really do a good job in this department, hands down.
3. Volusion – A World of Integrations
Volusion was one of the visionaries of e-commerce. In 1990, web designer Kevin Sproles noticed that his clients needed a shopping cart feature so they can sell online easily.
Volusion now serves more than 45,000 online stores, including sites for clients like Intel and 3M. As a comprehensive shopping cart platform, Volusion offers the capabilities and features merchants need to power up their online business.
Some of the features Volusion offer include:
- Unlimited product options (t-shirt can be sold in 4 or more different sizes or colors, etc.)
- Customized email address for your employees (costs extra)
- Accept international payments (will automatically covert the local currency for you)
- Return merchandise tool (RMA) to make your life easier
- Mobile management (Manage your online store from tablet or phone)
- Cross-sell on platforms like eBay, Amazon, and Facebook
- SEO and marketing tools
- 75 free themes (23 of them and mobile resposive)
Volusion offers a deal you can’t refuse, with their 14 day trial and no credit card information required. You can get their software a test drive with no risk at all.
If you end up giving Volusion’s platform a chance, you have four pricing tiers to choose from. All of them are billed monthly and there are no setup or cancellation fees.
Although, if you have a third party service, don’t forget to cancel them too. Even though there’s no yearly contract with Volusion, you can save 10% by paying for a full year in advance.
The Mini plan is just $15/month and offers unlimited storage, no transactional fees, 1GB of bandwidth, 24/7 online support, free templates, mobile app, social media tools, and more. This plan is limited to 100 products though.
The Plus plan is our favorite because for $35 a month you get all of the above plus 24/7 chat support, abandoned cart reports, ratings and reviews, import and export capability, and access to newsletters. This plan is limited to 1000 products.
The Pro plan gets all of the Plus plan’s benefits, but also gets phone orders, the ability to feature the deal of the day, customer loyalty incentive.
Batch order processing, API access, Amazon and eBay integration, and even some CRM tools. This plan goes up to 10,000 products.
Finally, the Premium plan is $135 a month and gets everything we already mentioned above plus a dedicated account manager.
It can be worth it if you have a lot of questions and need someone to work with you closely. You also get unlimited products and 35GB of bandwidth with this plan.
All of Volusion’s plans, except the Mini, get access to phone support, e-mail, and chat. If you have the Pro or Premium plan, you can get faster support through your account manager.
If you don’t wish to contact Volusion and want to figure it out by yourself, check out Volusion’s knowledge base section or watch the video tutorials. You can also contact their support via Facebook and Twitter.
4. 3dcart – The Most Payment Gateways
3dcart was founded sometime in 1997 and is a leader in ecommerce, helping online businesses remain competitive in their market.
With a wide array of features built directly into the platform, running a store with their software makes things easy.
As of 2016, they have more than 24,000 clients worldwide.
Their interface is similar to that of Shopify, so it’s fairly easy to use. In addition, there’s a walkthrough guide to help you get familiar with the software.
However, 3dcart wouldn’t retain clients if not for their features:
- Over 100 payment providers to use
- Five (really affordable) different pricing plans (from $9.99 to $99.99/month)
- Over 100 optimized templates
- Easy inventory management
- SEO & Marketing tools
- Level 1 PCI compliant security (like large banks)
- Nano Plan – Just $9.99 per month, up to 25 products, a maximum of 2,000 monthly visitors and 1,000 newsletter e-mails sent.
- Mini Plan – For $19.99 per month you can upload as many as 200 products, get 4,000 monthly visitors and send 1,000 newsletter e-mails.
- Starter Plan – For $35.99/month you can upload up to 1000 products, with a limit of 8,000 monthly visitors and 2,000 newsletter e-mails.
- Professional Plan – For $65.99/month you can upload 10,000 products, get as many as 20,000 monthly visitors and send 5,000 e-mails via your newsletter.
- Professional Plus Plan – Introduced as the best plan at 3dcart and with a price of $99.99/month, it allows for unlimited products, up to 50,000 visitors per month, and up to 20,000 newsletter blasts.
If choose 3dcart, their customer support is there for you 24/7. We believe that people who want the ultimate customer service will get exactly that when using 3dcart.
You can contact their service department at any hour of the day, send them an e-mail or visit their knowledge base center to find information on your own.
Videos, user manuals, webinars, blog articles and their very special Ecommerce University can help you get familiar with their system.
You can even speak with a third party design expert if you wish to change your website’s look and improve your branding.
5. Magento – The Finest Platform for Enterprises
For those want to stand out from the crowd through having a customized website, Magento offers the best services.
An open source software for e-commerce, Magento allows businesses to make their websites a reflection of their own personality by using virtually any design they want.
Also, it allows managing and running more than one online store at the same time, making it perfect for growing businesses.
However, this does not mean that every business needs to develop its website from scratch. A large number of themes are available in the software as well which can be further customized in terms of design, functionality etc. to fit a business’ needs.
According to a study, out of all e-commerce websites/online stores, 20% use Magento. Since Magento offers advanced features, non-skilled or inexperienced designers may face some difficulty in using the software.
This is why it is generally not recommended for startups unless they have the skills and/or money for hiring a professional.
As a result of offering a wide range of features, Magento is used by many large businesses as well. Some of its major features include:
- Marketing and promotion tools, such as product bundles, coupon codes, management of newsletters, SEO etc.
- Catalog and site management
- Product and catalog browsing
- Order management
- Gift registries
- Private sales
- Mobile commerce
- Store credits
- Customer support
- Analysis and reporting
Keeping in view the numerous features that the software provides, it gives the best value for money. Also, there are different types of solutions for businesses at different growth stages.
The ‘Magento Community’, the free version of the software, is ideal for new users and for startups. The ‘Magento Enterprise’ package is a bit costly but the features that are included in it make it totally worth the money.
The basic enterprise package starts from around $1,500/month. When you buy this package, you not only gain access to a wide range of Magento’s services, but also to those offered by its partners.
Unlimited Customer Support
Users of ‘Magento Enterprise’ are provided with unlimited customer support through their online portal and phone. Customer support at Magento works on a ticketing system.
The support turnaround time is between 1-4 hours, depending on the type of package the customer is using.
For users of ‘Magento Community’, online tutorials, articles, community and an e-commerce library are available. Phone help is not offered to Magento community’s users though.
You are Not Forced to Use Magento’s Server
Unlike most e-commerce software, Magento does not require its users to host their websites or online stores on the software’s server. You can install and run the software on any web hosting source that you like.
However, you need to be tech savvy to manage your website when you choose to do this because when your website is running on any other server than Magento’s.
The software company will not deal with the back-end management, upgrades and/or to resolve any problems or errors.
6. WooCommerce – Ideal for WordPress
Whether you are looking forward to launch an online store using WordPress or want to convert a WordPress website.
Into an e-commerce business, you can do it for free with a WooCommerce shopping cart plugin with multiple options of in-built themes, customization opportunities, and a large number of plugins and extensions options.
WooCommerce is the most popular shopping cart software and hence it is used by a large number of online businesses, including many big names from the industry.
According to a report, out of all e-commerce websites, 37% of them use WooCommerce. This e-commerce software offers an open source plugin for shopping carts exclusively for the websites.
That run on WordPress and a wide range of features for launching, managing and growing your online business. Some of its major features include:
- Payment processing
- Storefront development
- Marketing tools for promoting business and increasing sales
- Reports generation, including those regarding store’s performance, incoming sales, reviews, stock levels etc.
While the software is downloaded for free, businesses need to pay for web hosting and for gaining access to extensions required for running various advanced features.
However, businesses do not consider it as a problem because of the availability of on-time purchases. Website themes are available from $70 and go up to $139.
Also, there is no transaction fee or monthly payment when you are using WooCommerce. The software is directly integrated with PayPal.
Eliminating the need to have a merchant account for payment processing. Also, you can transfer your funds form your PayPal account into your bank account for free.
A Wide Range of Extensions
A wide range of extensions, both free and paid, are available in the huge in-built library of the software.
These include extensions for all stages of online shopping and store maintenance such as accounting, payment processing, analytics, order completion etc.
Unlike a majority of other shopping cart plug-ins, WooCommerce does not bound you to only use its services. Also, it does not limit the back-end options for a business and allows using widgets and extensions provided by WordPress and any other 3rd party developer.
Thus, WooCommerce provides businesses with a number of options to customize each and every feature of their e-commerce website or online shopping store.
WooCommerce provides support and assistance to its customers through a variety of channels. For those who want to resolve problems on their own, the e-commerce software provides a large number of tutorials.
And articles in its knowledge base regarding each and every step starting from installation of the software to the customization and resolving any issues or errors.
Other channels providing information for self-help include Woo Themes Documentation, FAQs, video tutorials and access to a large community of WooCommerce users.
Users of WooCommerce who need one-to-one assistance can submit a help ticket mentioning the problem and their contact details and the customer service personnel will call them back as soon as possible.
7. Selz – The Top Most Digital Downloading Platform
If your business is based on dealing with intangible products and/or services such as e-books, online music, streaming subscriptions for videos.
PDF files or any other type of digital content or the distribution of these intangible products and services by sending download links to customers, you should buy nothing else than Selz.
Selz is an e-commerce software specially designed for such businesses and offers automatic processing of orders, receival of payments and then, sending the links for downloading products and/or services.
As everything is automatically done, you do not always need to be present or keep an eye on your business to ensure its smooth functioning.
Following major features are offered when you subscribe to Selz:
- Easy website development
- Shopping cart
- Payment processing
- Security for online stores and transactions
- Analytics by integration of Google Analytics into your business
- Secure, efficient and automatic delivery
- Email marketing
- Disqus integration
- Customer support
- Designing customized receipts
Easy to Use
Selz is one of the e-commerce software that is easy to use. For launching and managing your online digital content business on Selz, you do not need to have any kind of specialized technical skills.
A simple navigation menu is available on the software’s dashboard that makes getting around very easy.
A menu bar with the option to label/divide each product according to its category and its availability (such as sold out, active, on sale etc.) makes a Selz-integrated e-commerce store easy to use for customers as well.
When you subscribe for Selz, you do not need to make monthly payments; rather, you only pay when a sale takes place.
Even when you do make a sale, only 2.9% of the sale price as well as an additional 30 cents processing fee is charged for credit cards.
For every transaction, you will only have to pay a 2% fee.
There are different charges if you are opting for a 3rd party to overlook the payment processing function. For small businesses that only offer up to 5 products or services, this software is available for free.
All the basic features that small business may need are included in this free package such as unlimited storage, Facebook store, buy buttons, secure delivery and customer management.
For those businesses that offer more than 5 products, pocket-friendly packages are available that start from as low as $12.99/month.
Custom domain, unlimited customization options, marketing tools to attract more customers and increase sales and an unlimited range of all other features are included in this very basic package.
Selz can be contacted by filling the software’s ‘contact us’ form. However, if you want to talk to a customer service representative on the phone, send them an email or get help through the live chat service.
The software also has a support page where users can find information regarding each and every step of installing, running and managing your online store through Selz.
Additional Benefits of Using Selz
Selz users are provided with so many benefits that they will never feel like replacing this e-commerce software. In addition to the ones mentioned above, Selz also offers:
- Protection of your digital content against illegal sharing and distribution
- Ability to personalize products and/or services for each customer
- Help customers decide what to buy by providing previews of audios and videos
What Is The Best Ecommerce Platform?
We hope we answered this question with our review. While there are many other good e-commerce software for different types of online businesses as well.
The ones mentioned in this guide have the best packages when it comes to pricing and functionality. The aim of these reliable Ecommerce platforms is to make your business grow.
What’s important to you when it comes to an Ecommerce platform?