E-commerce Is a business model that lets firms and individuals buy and sell things over the internet, e-commerce operates in all four of the following major market segment, business-to-business, business-to-consumer, consumer-to-consumer, and consumer-to- business.
E-commerce is conducted through computers, tablets, and smartphones, and can be thought of as the digital version of mail order catalog shopping.
Nearly every imaginable product or service is available through e-commerce transactions, this includes books music plane tickets Financial Services Stock Investing, and online banking.
E-commerce is considered to be a very disruptive technology and has shaken the world up since its debut.
Online shopping is not exactly new in this day and age but with the latest world developments such as covid-19, many businesses who were getting by fine are now struggling to catch up with the businesses that invested in e-commerce prior to the outbreak.
For those smaller businesses looking to start selling online and getting a piece of the pie, we
have a quick guide on e-commerce and some of the most notable names in the industry.
What Can An E-commerce Platform Do For Me?
For an e-commerce platform to be an ideal solution for small business owners,
several key features are required to best fit your needs.
Only E-commerce platforms that
meet all of these criteria made it onto our list.
1. Simplicity And Customization
First impressions are extremely important and this does not change for your e-commerce website, a good-looking website is more likely to sell more volume of products and services.
The platform needs to be simple enough that almost anybody will be able to build a good-looking, modern store, with themes that match the mood of your product.
There should be plenty of customization options that can easily be adjusted to best fit the color scheme and branding of your products.
These Ecommerce websites are all built around Simplicity and ease of use. we didn't include any platforms that required basic knowledge of coding because we just don't believe the average small business owner has the time to learn that skill unless they already have it.
2. Physical And digital Goods Support
All the platforms on the list allow you to sell what you want, where you want, and to who you want, within reason of course.
This means that the platforms will have to be able to deal with both digital and physical goods and be able to integrate with multiple forms of payment processes.
Additionally, when selling abroad the platforms need to be able to handle the various forms of sales tax on a national and international level.
3. Manage Orders and Inventory
The platforms on the list need to be able to help you manage orders, ship goods, and track your inventory.
The better the software for this task the easier it will be to logistically run a small business. The platforms on the list all have tools available for handling the tasks accordingly
The platforms on our list can integrate with plenty of other software to make life a little bit easier for the average small business owner.
Plug-ins or extensions from our platform choices can help to increase your social media presence and sales or automatically add customers to mailings lists and such.
Lastly, no small business owner wants to fork over a small fortune just for the services of the platform.
The platforms we suggest are all reasonably well priced and should have no problem fitting into a small business owner’s budget.
The pricing for some of these platform’s services is done a little differently than other services. It takes a bit of calculation to get your total cost estimate, let’s have a closer look at what goes into it.
Firstly, the monthly charge for just being able to access the services of the platform. These fees can range from being free to hundreds of dollars per month.
The average for such services usually falls around $25 - $35 dollars monthly.
Secondly, there are gateway fees. Certain platforms operate their own gateways such as Shopify and Wix, while others rely on services such as Paypal. When charging a credit card, there is a fee paid to the gateway, the normal fee is around 2.9% of the cost of the overall charge plus an additional $0.30.
Lastly, we have the transaction fees. These fees are layered over top of the standard 2.9% gateway fee. Many platforms will offer and advertise 0% transaction fees, while this sounds great it’s just a sneaky way of saying there are no additional charges on top of the 2.9%.
What Are Gateways And Gateway Fees?
Payment Gateway is a technology used by merchants to accept debit or credit card purchases from customers.
The term includes not only the physical card reading devices found in brick-and-mortar retail stores but also the payment processing portals found in online stores.
These gateways are key components of electronic payment processing systems and are the front-end technology responsible for sending customer information to the merchant acquiring Bank where the transaction can been processed.
- 1Salesforce Commerce Cloud
- 3Big Commerce
1. Salesforce Commerce Cloud
Salesforce has formerly been known as Demandware, is an e-commerce merchant account solution that was offered from 2004 to 2016 as an enterprise-class cloud-based payment platform.
Since then Salesforce acquired Demandware for 2.8 billion and in 2016 became “Salesforce Commerce cloud”, all falling under one product branding.
The first thing to note with Salesforce Commerce cloud is that they don't disclose their pricing services.
Instead, they claim their sales team will work with you to tailor a package that meets your requirements and price considerations no matter your company size or industry.
Going through multiple third-party reviews of Demandware shows that the company historically prefers to offer custom price quotes that were more closely tied with the company's growth within the platform rather than a fixed amount.
As mentioned before, it is clear the company gears its eCommerce software to enterprise-level businesses, hence the personalized pricing scheme.
WooCommerce Belongs to a category of open-source platforms that are free to use. in the case of certain businesses which already have web hosting and a domain name in place.
Woocommerce cuts the difference between a complete online business solution and just a piece of the puzzle.
WooCommerce Is completely free to get started the only catch is you must have a website hosted and WordPress already in place.
When it comes to customer service, there is an extensive support forum for WooCommerce that should be your first go-to source of information. searching through the forum, you can easily find many people who have been in your situation and gone through the troubleshooting issues essentially solving the problem for you.
3. Big Commerce
Bigcommerce is a top e-commerce website builder that swings around an impressive amount of weight.
This platform is perfect for large and fast-growing businesses, and offers a fantastic solution to any company looking to quickly grow and move forward.
Small businesses and beginners should look in another direction for a platform that is more user- friendly and will teach you the ropes.
Many people report that Bigcommerce is more difficult to use than Shopify and the main reason people struggle with Bigcommerce was because of the design interface.
One of the biggest complaints about this program is that the interface is split into two major sections which can make setting up your storefront a little bit confusing.
A simple way to combat this is to simply set up the inventory section of your store first and then move over to the next section which is a storefront editor to personalize all your products.
Important to note that Bigcommerce is an e-commerce Builder that is specifically designed to carry stores and businesses into the big game.
It has all the advanced tools that you are going to need to take your online store into a real expanding business.
If your store is on the smaller side and you choose to go with Bigcommerce, you must understand that your journey is going to be a little bit more difficult, however, this also means you will be better prepared to greatly expand your business when the time comes for it.
Pricing for BigCommerce is approached a little bit differently than most other services. BigCommerce suggests choosing the appropriate business plan level from your company’s previous 12-month revenue.
Of course, you can jump brackets and choose higher-level plans as you wish. The plans are divided into 4 revenue brackets: Standard ($0-$50k) $29.95, Plus ($50k-$180k) $79.95, Pro ($180k-400k) $299.95, Enterprise ($400k+)Custom Pricing.
|Enterprise ($400k+)||Custom Pricing|
Squarespace is a website builder tool that is mainly aimed at small business owners and “solopreneurs”.
It's a solution to let people without developing skills build and manage their own website, which was started all the way back in 2004.
It has clearly been very successful as Squarespace now Powers 2.6 million sites and online store. along with Wix and Shopify, Squarespace is one of the most well-known Site Builders and e-commerce platforms available today.
Squarespace is better thought of as a website builder that is not really designed for those who want to play around with it too much.
It's a platform that encourages you to pick a template add some content and hit the “go” button.
I’m not the biggest fan o customization as I don’t feel very, I can appreciate a website builder that focuses more on the tools rather than the looks of the page.
That being said the templates are very contemporary and well- designed, meaning that even without a lot of time put in your website is going to look very clean and elegant.
Squarespace does a great job of maintaining an easy-to-use interface it has arguably one of the most user-friendly content management systems available.
This includes a very easy-to-use image management system that helps you get the clearest picture across to your customers Squarespace is best suited to somebody looking for a simple brochure website, or hosting a portfolio site.
People such as artist photographers or musicians will benefit most from Squarespace’s simple and user-friendly website building.
Another industry which would benefit greatly from Squarespace has image management system would be restaurants.
4 restaurants having the best quality pictures of their food and offerings is the easiest and best way to increase sales.
All those Squarespace still needs to work on some improvements to its e-commerce functionality it still offers a great solution two small businesses and individuals looking to set up their first website.
Squarespace pricing plan is based on annual payments and is divided into four separate plans, Personal, Business, Basic Commerce, and Advanced Commerce( $12, $18, 26$, 40$ ).
If you are looking to try out the software before buying it then there is a 2-week free trial available as well.
I want to make sure that everybody knows and is aware that the personal Squarespace plan is the only plan which doesn't allow you to sell products at all.
All the other plans allow you to sell an unlimited amount of products in your store but the Commerce functionality varies depending on your level of plan.
When it comes to Gateway fees Squarespace takes a 3% cut of all transactions you make by all your online store.
Wix powers over 500,000 businesses worldwide, giving their customers a straightforward and simple way of building a website or online store.
Wix offers over 500 free mobile-optimized eCommerce themes and creates your store in over 90 languages for a complete Global reach.
When first signing up with Wix, you are asked to fill out a questionnaire that Wix will then use to set up some preferences.
At the end of this, you get the option of 1 of 500 templates to make your own personal site.
If that is still not enough then you can choose to answer some more questions and the Artificial Design Intelligence on the platform will do more for you.
To make sure you are on the right track, Wix provides a very comprehensive to-do list that ensures you set up all required info and tasks such as hours of operation, contact, email setup, advertising, etc.
Wix is an amazing all-around tool to help you manage every part of your online business and really starts to shine at the Unlimited subscription level and up.
Pricing is based on annual payments. This is the cheapest option and you
additionally receive a free domain name for a year.
Please keep in mind that many options are locked behind subscription tiers, so be sure to research what options are most important to you and choose the appropriate plan.
Shopify is a titan in the industry with more than 15 years of experience and over a million stores built using the platform.
With such a great reputation behind their backs, it's hard to find a better solution for small businesses looking to get set up with an online store as fast as possible.
Shopify offers a credit-card-free 14-day trial and within minutes you can have the first field test of your store ready to go.
The set-up guide walks you through everything there is to set up your store from setting up payment methods, to connecting your own domain and even customizing the look of your store.
While the idea of building your own website may seem intimidating, Shopify is extremely intuitive and makes it simple for everybody to create a good-looking website.
Most standard tools that a small business owner would use are very obvious and self- explanatory.
For example adding a product is as simple as clicking the add products button, Killing In The Name, price, quantity you have on hand put some other various details then you post it up and it's ready to go.
Shopify being the most popular platforms for starting your journey into e-commerce is not too coincidentally one of the most beginner-friendly ones.
Offering 3 payment plans after the expiry of your 14-day free trial. Basic, Standard, and VIP plans are $29, $79, and $299 respectively. Under any subscription tier, store owners also have 24/7 customer support.
Shopify comes with 10 free themes with the option of 50 more themes starting a $140.
The nice thing about Shopify is that if none of those themes are to your liking you can actually go to a third-party website and find other solutions.
One of the places you could look for this is on ThemeForest Which has over 1,200 different themes end templates available, all designed by a global community of independent designers and developers. Square space
Payment Plans: 3 tiers, Basic, Standard, Advanced ($29, $79, $299)
Shipping Discount: Basic 64%, Standard 72%, Advanced 74%
Gateway Fee: Basic 2.9%, Standard 2.6%, Advanced 2.4%
Other provider fee: Basic 2%, Standard 1%, Advanced 0.5%
|Plans||Payment Plans||Shipping Discount||Gateway Fee||Other Provider Fee|
When it comes to making the best decision for your online store there are multiple options that are both free and paid. it would make the most sense for small businesses to aim for using as many free options as possible as this would definitely be more lucrative.
It is however important to note that paying a little extra often means you get a little extra. Sometimes those extra few dollars shelled out every month can mean the difference between hours of work and not.
Individual / New Business / Portfolio
If you are a brand new small business or even just an individual starting your own journey into online sales, then my suggestion would be to take a close look at Squarespace, and for those with a little extra know-how, Bigcommerce.
Squarespace is perfectly designed for the aspiring artist to get started as quickly and easily as possible, whereas Bigcommerce has all the necessary tools to propel your business forward once you start gathering momentum.
Please note that Bigcommerce requires a lot more technical know-how than Squarespace does, so choosing that option will be a little bit more involved.
For the average small business looking to set up a website and begin the journey into eCommerce, going with a proven and reliable choice such as Wix, Shopify and Squarespace is a reliable choice.
These three platforms are single-handedly responsible for the majority of small business websites online today.
If that many small businesses and individuals had success using their services then you will definitely find what you are looking for within their offerings.
Wix offers the most amount of customization for the lowest price, however, opting for a higher paid plan is advised as the cheaper plans are simply not worth looking at.
Shopify is the most well-known and popular eCommerce site builder out there for a reason.
They have a great balance of templates and useability combined with plenty of third- party support if you don’t find exactly what you are looking for or are interested in hiring a professional to design for you.
For the larger companies looking to propel their business to the moon, some of the best choices will be ones that avoid catering to beginners and simplicity.
You are after powerful and specialized tools. WooCommerce and BigCommerce offer great solutions to a large and fast-paced growing company.
The more complex tools and features are designed for those who are more advanced and can afford to hire a professional in the industry to help steer the company in the right direction.
At the end of the day, any of the platforms on this list will give you the tools necessary to start building your e-commerce website today.
Of course, choosing the appropriately designed platform will make your life that much easier. the aspiring photographer fresh out of school shooting be using WooCommerce to set up their website as their first foray into online sales.
If this photographer had the required knowledge to design the site using Woocommerce then all the power to you however as I mentioned it is not the most simple and user-friendly of options.
There are platforms best suited to each and every case so please do your due diligence before committing to any choice.