E-commerce – selling stuff online – is an extremely popular business model. And for good reason. More than half a billion dollars are spent annually on e-commerce transactions right now, and this number only looks like it’s going to grow.
While Amazon holds a huge slice of that pie, there’s still plenty of room for small businesses to compete and there is plenty of money to be made in the e-commerce space.
You may want to look at e-commerce marketing platforms if you have a small brick-and-mortar business because it’s wise to have your inventory listed online for your customers to browse when they aren’t in your store and to give you a bigger reach into the marketplace. Another reason to look at e-commerce platforms is if you want to do all of your business online and have no physical locations at all.
In any e-commerce platform, one of the most important things to look for is how easy the shopping and checkout process is for mobile customers. That’s because, mobile has surpassed desktop for product searches on Google, and for all website traffic in general.
All the platforms below will work well on mobile, but it’s always a good idea to do your own testing to make sure you like the functionality of the platform.
E-Commerce Marketing Platforms for Small Businesses
Shopify: Shopify is a huge platform. It hosts over 300,000 stores online. And it has a nice “out-of-the-box design”, good mobile responsiveness, and is relatively easy to use. Some of the benefits of Shopify include its large library of themes that are both free and paid – themes determine the look and feel of your store, a huge amount of apps – over 1500 at last count – that can do everything from creating loyalty programs to highly detailed shipping tracking, and excellent customer service.
Some things to note:
- Shopify apps aren’t free (for the most part) and those charges can add up fast. If you’re not using an app, take it off your store.
- Shopify is also hard to customize outside of the themes and apps. If you need a unique approach to your shop, then you may want to choose a different platform.
With that being said, Shopify is excellent for beginners. It’s easy to use, it has great support, and it does everything most people need it to do.
WooCommerce: WooCommerce has the huge advantage of being a free WordPress plug-in built on the free WordPress platform. If you are on a budget and already understand how to use WordPress, then this is an e-commerce marketing platform that you may want to consider.
There are some extensions that you can use that do cost money, but the platform itself is free. Another big benefit to WooCommerce is that it’s flexible. Because it’s built on a modular structure, you can get it to do almost anything you want. This includes how products are handled, how payments are taken, how you handle shipping, and much more.
WooCommerce isn’t limited to just physical products either. It can be used to sell digital products, appointments, subscriptions, or anything else you want. If you need a flexible solution and are on a tight budget then WooCommerce is a good platform to try.
BigCommerce: This is a platform that some of the biggest brands in the world use. Toyota and Martha Stewart both use BigCommerce and it works for stores of all sizes – with over 55,000 stores using this platform. If you don’t want to mess around with code or have little technical knowledge, BigCommerce is a great choice because it offers a huge list of built-in features. It’s affordable. BigCommerce plans start from $29 – and they don’t have transaction fees like Shopify does, which is appealing.
It’s never been easier to set up an e-commerce store and start marketing. We covered three of the most popular solution in this article, but there are many other platforms you can look at to compare feature and pricing and determine which is the best solution for your specific situation.
Keep in mind, setting up your storefront is just the start. Once you're up and running you'll need to learn the best ways to market your business online.