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We have come a long way since the dawn of eCommerce. Today, there are more eCommerce platforms than we can even list in one sitting which mean more options for small businesses to create remarkable online stores.
But many small businesses and startups get confused when they see that many options. No one wants to choose the wrong eCommerce platform and doom their business from the start. If you’re one of them, then this expertly curated list is for you.
In this article, we’ll cover the top eCommerce platforms for small businesses and startups. We’ll also look at the best eCommerce hosting companies that you need to know for your small business.
Let’s dive right in.
Managed & Self Hosted eCommerce Platforms
Before we discuss the best eCommerce platforms, you should first learn about the two main types of these websites. eCommerce platforms can be managed or self-hosted. Both offer several advantages but also have their limitations. Here’s a quick comparison between the two:
Comparison Of Self-Hosting and Managed eCommerce Platforms
|Key Feature||You install the required software yourself and also need experts to maintain it in the long run.||All the software required for your website will be installed by the hosting provider|
|Cost||Set-up costs are higher because you need to set everything up.||Long term costs are higher|
|Development Expertise Required||✓||✘|
|More Control on Server and Flexibility||✓||✘|
|Key Pros||You can run more than one website/ store on a subdomain.|
You can create extra unique features in your store.
|Maintenance and upgrades are managed by the hosting provider, hence might save long term costs and time.
You don't need to take extra measures to secure your website.
|Main Drawbacks||Lack of support in case something goes down and it’s out of your developer’s expertise.||Limited customizations|
|Examples||Mangento, Opencart, WooCommerce||Shopify, BigCommerce, Wix, Squarespace|
3 Best Ecommerce Platforms for Small Business
As I said earlier, there are many eCommerce platforms available. With more choices also comes a lot more uncertainty about which ones are the best. Here are the top three eCommerce platforms for small businesses in 2022:
Small business owners with no technical experience can benefit greatly from Shopify. This eCommerce software can be integrated into your website or if you want to create a separate eCommerce store, then Shopify is ideal for that as well.
Some of the features that make this one of the best eCommerce platforms for small businesses include:
- Easy integration with social media
- Excellent customer support
- Various payment options including in-person point of sale
- Reliable security
- Remarkable file storage in all plans
We picked it as a top eCommerce platform because of the amazing pricing, built-in design features for layout and logo and multiple plans suitable for different sizes of small businesses. Since it’s easy to set up and maintain, small business owners find it convenient to use.
Hence, Shopify is the top SME eCommerce software according to our research. All of its features make it a great choice for small businesses that are expanding and need more options from their eCommerce software. You can also create a Shopify mobile app and expand your business.
BigCommerce is leading the race in the eCommerce platforms market. It’s scalable, offers you the feature to sell on multiple channels and can accommodate multiple staff accounts.
It has made it in our top eCommerce software list because it has various advanced features that aren’t available in Shopify. These include no additional transaction fees on credit card payments and more options for displaying products such as a drop-down menu, date fields and more.
The key features of BigCommerce that make it the best eCommerce platform for small businesses include:
- It Supports 70+ types of discounts by default without using third-party apps which saves your operational costs.
- BigCommerce has excellent SEO features for all plans.
- Features for product comparisons and quick view to ease conversions.
- Makes it convenient for your customers to edit carts before checkout
- Small business owners can create terms and conditions forms by default without using third-party apps.
One key drawback of using BigCommerce is the limit on the number of sales your small business can make in a certain plan. That can be limiting for some businesses that can’t afford the bigger plans or don’t want to make that move just yet.
Selz is a remarkable eCommerce platform whether you sell physical products or services. It is also one of the cheapest ones. A lot of Selz’s features resemble Shopify, such as integrating a buy button in your already built website and selling on social media.
Some of the key offers of Selz that can benefit small businesses include:
- 24/7 customer support
- Wide range of theme options suitable for most small businesses
- Product pages are easy to create with the various drag-and-drop options.
- Built-in features to sell digital products which is a huge plus for certain small businesses. These include fast downloads, automated updates and limited downloads per customer.
- Unlimited storage and 2 staff accounts in the basic plan which is mostly what small businesses use
The main limiting feature of this eCommerce platform is the lack of advanced features that your small business might need as you scale. But for now, it can serve you really well.
3 Best Ecommerce Platforms for Startups
Small businesses and startups have slightly different goals. While small businesses may not need many advanced features, startups need eCommerce platforms that are highly scalable and offer unique features that their competitors might not have.
Luckily, there are some great options for eCommerce solutions for startups. Here are our top picks for 2022:
WooCommerce integrates with the world’s most commonly used CMS –WordPress. It gives startups over 300 features to make their store remarkable including a variety of payment channels, bookkeeping and accounting functions and shipping options.
But that’s not all. Here are some more features that make WooCommerce the best eCommerce platform for startups:
- Free themes for your storefront along with many customizable options
- It’s open-source so startups can make changes as they like.
- No limit on sales
- Scalable platform that can handle an unlimited number of products
- It can handle heavy traffic if you choose the right eCommerce hosting (more on hosting later).
Although WooCommerce is highly affordable, it does come with the additional cost of hosting since you need to get a separate hosting provider. You’ll also need technical knowledge for operating your store, especially if you’re making changes in the back-end code. But there are no pricing plans as in Shopify and BigCommerce since it’s open source.
Wix has a special eCommerce platform to cater to startups. It’s one of the most affordable options with the most features such as phone support and sit’s SEO audits. Since Wix eCommerce can accommodate all kinds of products, it’s perfect for all types of startups.
Here are some additional features that make Wix eCommerce attractive to startups:
- Not just for online stores. You can use it to make reservations, sign up for classes, make payments and more.
- The flexibility to customize the store with apps from the Wix App Market.
- Wix eCommerce takes no commission from your sales
- Excellent product display. It has zoom-in and out options, meta tags, descriptions, expandable information sections and more.
- Features to improve the user experience which is vital for startups. This can include customized design, fast loading and user rating widgets to name a few.
Wix eCommerce is scalable as well so startups can stay on the same platform and grow. It also has a mobile app and email marketing tool which makes it one of the best eCommerce platforms for startups.
You’ll only need to abandon Wix eCommerce if your store becomes massive. That’s because there are certain limitations for larger businesses such as the site’s navigation being limited to one sub-category and language limitations.
Since startups want to reach many more people quickly, they tend to prefer platforms that have great features for mobile phones. For that, Squarespace takes the lead. Although you can set up all the other eCommerce platforms on mobile devices, the layout of Squarespace makes it the best option.
Here are some of the top features of Squarespace that all startups need:
- Build-in features for adjusting the layout for a mobile experience.
- Responsive image loader – a feature where Squarespace makes copies of an uploaded image or adjusts them according to the different screen sizes to give users the best experience.
- Advanced features such a social media integration and email marketing
- Highly unique templates that help you stand out
- A budget-friendly option with free domain
Although Squarespace is ideal for most startups, it doesn’t offer as many eCommerce features as some of the other platforms on our list. That isn’t an issue for most startups but can become a problem for certain businesses.
3 Best Ecommerce Hosting for Small Business
Some of the platforms mentioned on this list such as WooCommerce don’t give hosting. Hence small businesses and startups have to buy hosting from a third party.
Choosing a hosting provider demands some attention because a good one can give you many benefits such as fast load speeds and substantial bandwidth. Likewise, a bad hosting company can damage your eCommerce business.
Here are three of the best eCommerce hosting companies for small businesses in 2022:
DreamHost is a great hosting company for small businesses because of its eCommerce specific features. From free daily backups to free domain name for the first year, this hosting company truly puts your small business first.
Their plans cost between $2.59 and $27.50/month.
The top features of DreamHost for eCommerce include:
- Great storage space
- Excellent speed and uptime for superior user experience
- Build for WordPress and WooCommerce so you can set it up really fast.
- Unlimited traffic even on the most basic plans which is ideal for growing businesses
- Easy to use yet still offers powerful customizable features for your store
One downside of this amazing eCommerce hosting for small businesses is its customer support. You can chat with the company from 5:30 am to 9:30 pm PST but you can’t call them at all. They can reach out to you after you’ve submitted a query but that can be annoying for a small business that needs answers fast.
Bluehost is one of the most widely used hosting companies by eCommerce businesses and other websites alike. That’s because it can offer features that not many others can. These include regular data backups, affordable plans and designing freedom.
Their plans cost between $2.95 and $9.95/month.
Here are some more features that got Bluehost on our list of best eCommerce hosting companies for small businesses:
- Unlimited domains for your eCommerce store
- One-click setup for WordPress or WooCommerce websites.
- Secure Shell access (SSH) and Spam Assassin protection
- Free domain for a year
- 99.98% uptime which means your customers can access it practically always.
The only downside of Bluehost for startups is the limited storage on the basic plans. But considering all the other benefits you get with it, the storage is not a big concern especially if you can afford to upgrade to a heavier plan.
HostGator is one of the best eCommerce hosting for small businesses because it supports two specific platforms – Magento and WordPress. It offers several unlimited features such as unlimited file transfer protocol (FTP) accounts, email accounts and bandwidth.
They offer some of the best prices for eCommerce hosting. HostGator plans range between $2.75 and $5.25/month.
We have included HostGator in our list of the best eCommerce hosting providers for its features, which include:
- Excellent 24/7 customer service
- Highly affordable for startups with a small budget. The monthly plans start with $2.75/ month.
- One-click installation on eCommerce platforms namely WordPress and Magento. You can install it with other platforms as well with a bit more work.
- Functional payment gateways on all plans even on the most basic ones.
Although HostGator supports WordPress, it doesn’t have specific hosting plans for WooCommerce. So you don’t get any additional benefit for using it for eCommerce as compared to what you’d get when hosting a website. Nevertheless, you get a free SSL certificate, great uptime and excellent security with HostGator.
Things Small Businesses Need to Consider When Choosing an Ecommerce Platform
Not all small businesses have the same budget for a website. Nor all of them share the same goals and need the same features. That’s why you should identify the things that matter to your startup the most, and then select the eCommerce platform that offers you the best value for your investment.
A few things that should be front-and-centre for all small businesses are:
- Maintenance needed
- User experience.
You might not find a platform that’s best in all of these so you need to identify what matters to you the most.
Here’s an overview of the best eCommerce software discussed in this article. You can look at the comparisons of the various key features and make the most suitable decision for yourself.
Comparison of The Top Ecommerce Platforms for Small Businesses and Startups
|Cost of plans/ month||Free trial||Security features||SEO Tool||Do you need technical knowledge?||Automatic mobile-friendliness|
|Shopify||$29 - $299||✓||✓||✓||✘||✓|
|BigCommerce||$29 - $299||✓||✓||✓||✘||✓|
|Selz||$26 - $599||✓||✓||✓||✘||✓|
|WooCommerce||You have to pay for hosting||-||✓||✓||✓||Not always|
|Wix eCommerce||$4.50 – $24.50||✓||✓||✓||✘||✓|
|Squarespace||$12 - $40||✓||✓||✓||✘||✓|
Build Your Ecommerce Website with ClickySoft
Knowing about the best eCommerce platforms is not enough to create a profitable online business. You also need a team that can leverage all the features of these platforms. If you’re looking to build a store in 2022, then contact ClickySoft for our eCommerce development services.
We not only use the eCommerce software mentioned in this article, but we also design stores on open-source platforms to give you the flexibility your small business deserves. Learn more about our services and see how we can help you.