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What ecommerce platforms are best for small businesses?

The quantity of Ecommerce platforms can be daunting when you’re choosing where to start for your small business. Let’s look at five services, their customization, and development options.

 

Shopify

The most simple and out-of-the-box solution for a non-technical business owner is Shopify. With cloud storage, this subscription service aims at taking a lot of the technical hassle away for business owners. Everything for their service is aimed at small sellers who don’t want to mess with coding. Because it is a subscription service, Shopify handles all credit card payments for hosted shops. While this means that businesses have to pay a credit card fee to the company, it also takes out the confusion of payment plug-ins, tax extensions, or other coded modules. Additionally, the site builder itself is a drag-and-drop system that uses intuitive visuals to create the page layout. You can edit the HTML and CSS of the page, but it is definitely not necessary, and the site has plenty of premade templates to choose from for your front-end design.

 

BigCommerce

BigCommerce is another subscription-based option. There are different levels that offer more customization and services such as automated marketing for the more expensive accounts. No matter what level you use, all of your site information is stored in their cloud-based system. You can use either a premade template or one coded by a developer, but the tools for BigCommerce are not as intuitive as Shopify for those who are non-technical. It does however have a large selection of tools and resources for developers to use while coding in their system, which makes it a good option if you know you want to work with a coder but need a subscription based tool.

 

Magento

Magento has become one of the leading Ecommerce platforms online. While you technically do not need any coding skills to use Magento, it definitely favors those who are able to. There are two options when creating a site: Open Source and Commerce. The base site builder for Open Source Magento is completely free, and can be downloaded to your local machine. In order to make your site more robust, you will need extensions and plug-ins from the Magento Marketplace. While some of these are free, many specific extensions or packages cost to download and use. These coded snippets include an incredible number of options like “customers also viewed” sections, customer product photos, drag-and-drop content blocks, and coupon managers. If you’re looking for a low-cost starter site that has great scalability and customized options for down the road, then Magento Open Source is a solid choice. 

The second option when creating a site is Magento Commerce. This is a robust subscription service that starts at $2000 USD a month. This option can be likened to many other business’ “enterprise” levels; it’s aimed at large companies that need unlimited cloud storage, more integrations, and a customer support account manager. While all of these features are great, most small businesses will not be able to start out at the Commerce level, but accounts can be upgraded at any point in time. By starting with the free version and adding extensions later on, small businesses are able to get their sites up and running while saving desirable, but more expensive options, like cart abandonment automation for later when there is more capital to go around.

 

PrestaShop

PrestaShop is a Symfony PHP based open source option that specifically encourages coding collaboration between developers. With an open GitHub repository, developers can edit and share everything they’ve changed from the downloadable base code. Additionally, PrestaShop is locally stored on your system. While this means that you own all of your data and have more control over its security, storage can be an issue, unlike cloud based systems. Similarly to other Ecommerce solutions, there is an add-on and extension marketplace. An interesting note about PrestaShop’s marketplace is that while some of the extensions are developed by the company itself, you can also purchase code created by individual developers for things like SEO, custom side tabs, and image compressors. This option is better for developers or small business owners who want to work with a developer. There’s no subscription fee, and it is highly customizable, but requires more technical knowledge to get the full value.

 

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a WordPress based, free, and open source platform. While many sites use WordPress, it is most popular for information sites such as business pages and blogs. This option would be most useful if you already have a website that is built and hosted using WordPress, or if you are working with a developer that is an expert in it. WooCommerce has its own main site theme that is completely free and is focused on a light code load to make for faster sites. While it is customizable, the initial free options are limited. This platform also has an extension marketplace where you can purchase specialized site themes and add-ons for services such as Square, PayPal, and UPS shipping. Additionally, There are various extensions to use on your site for user experience like shipment tracking, coupons, and wish lists.

 

For the most part, any option that you choose will require at least some software development work. While Shopify and Magento Open Source can be good starter options for the non-technical, strongly consider working with a skilled software engineer to get the most out of both your website and your Ecommerce platform.

 

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